All The Things I Know
I’m done mulling over whether these things are so or not; I’ve made up my mind they are so. I can’t tell you why they are the way they are. I can’t tell you what they mean. I can’t even guarantee that all the people who are smarter than I am, agree with all these things. Many smart people don’t.
But I know these things are so. They are things I know.
POSTED AUGUST 12, 2005:
1. Very few people who have four-wheel drive have any reason to expect they’ll need it. Ever.
2. For every man who maintains his opinion because of preponderance of evidence, nine more maintain theirs simply because they’re already on record and want to stay consistent.
3. Mercy is the opposite of justice.
4. Most of us want to be capitalists on payday, and Marxists on the day before.
5. It takes a lot of maturity to keep your silence on an important decision, simply because you recognize it belongs to someone else.
6. Initiating or maintaining a verbal conversation across a parking lot is a sign of diminished intelligence.
7. A lot of what passes for bad news in a technological society, wouldn’t be discussed in an agricultural one because it would be a waste of time.
8. It is hard to get people to argue about private matters, but easy if you can somehow turn them into public matters.
9. International disputes, like any other problem, can be postponed indefinitely and this always seems to make them bigger.
10. Men can’t see dirt and women don’t know how to work one of those itty-bitty cheap can openers.
11. I can no more trust the man who tells me a thing is so, but not what I should think about it, than I can trust the man who tells me what I should think, and can’t explain why.
12. The word “should” rolls off our tongues easily when we talk about another man’s purse.
13. When a man says childbirth can’t possibly hurt that much, childless women are quick to anger while mothers laugh with him.
14. The brain is not the only part of you that has a tough time absorbing arguments you don’t like. When you read such things the words seem blurry. When you hear them the syllables run together.
15. It’s hard to be truthful to others that you’re worried about something. Often, it’s hard to be truthful to yourself that you’re not.
16. A man’s determination to punish the guilty tends to wax and wane with his prospects for living amongst them.
17. A man may not kill a fly for a cause he believes is right; but he might do terrible things for a cause he believes is righteous.
18. A pretty woman notices men noticing her long before the men notice themselves noticing her, even if the men honestly don’t know if she noticed them noticing her.
19. Beware the Government-Entertainment Complex, for the power to surround a weak-minded man with the same message in several directions, is the power to tell him what to think.
20. An effort to silence an idea doesn’t make an idea wrong, but it doesn’t make it right either. When people tell you to shut up they may be afraid of the truth you speak, but it’s also likely you’re making an ass out of yourself.
21. Caution is fitting for the poor man who relies on an argument that would crumble if he were wealthy; and it’s good for the wealthy man who convinces himself with an rationale that would dissipate if he were poor. If you take your life in your hands by the things you notice and the way you think, you’re probably doing it right. If not, then maybe you’re not.
22. Leadership is the presentation of answers before your following has fully absorbed the questions. Time is of the essence, for decisions are deeply offensive to the indecisive.
23. A man might be willing to bet a nickel on his opinion, but you can often quickly increase this to ten dollars simply by arguing with him.
24. A dog can pick out a master and follow him; a lemming can detect a consensus and go along with it; a monkey is capable of showing compassion to the weak; but only a human can honor a pledge.
25. A lot of tempting things get repulsive when you get too much of them. These include: conversation; beef jerky; travel; ice cream; opera; and being attractive to the opposite sex.
POSTED JANUARY 9, 2006:
26. There really aren’t too many things in the arena of human existence louder than a pair of women recognizing each other at a Starbuck’s coffee shop.
27. Information has a tendency to flow one-way, which greatly increases the effort involved in noticing little details, while one is engaged in attention-whoring.
28. People who drive great big cars don’t mind following other great big cars, but they absolutely have to get out from behind a little itty-bitty car even if it involves passing over a double-yellow line.
29. There is substantial, and mutual, potential benefit to be realized from scrutinizing questions — unwelcome as they may be — anytime you’re advised “you are not supposed to” do something.
30. A lot of people who crusade against absolutes, employ absolutes quite frequently, especially while crusading against absolutes.
31. He who does a noble, brave, heroic thing, tends to draw a seething hatred from he who could have done the noble, brave, heroic thing — but chose not to.
32. There are a lot of people walking around among us who like to re-define the baseline obligations carried by others, particularly toward them, simply because they find it painful to say “thank you”.
33. If you see a lot of bugs crawling all over the computer lately, it might be a good idea to go into that room with the refrigerator and the sink and see if there’s something that hasn’t been cleaned for awhile.
34. We are a tribal species, although we’re loathe to admit it, and it comes much more easily to us to bear silly grudges against entire cultures, than legitimate grudges against individual persons.
35. The individual attribute ascribed to the aggregate entity, manifests a weak argument ripe for re-thinking.
36. The words “public good” are very, very rarely applied to self-directed criticism, certainly not as often as they are used in criticism directed toward others.
37. The first time someone asks you a question and then interrupts during the answer — from that point onward, you are best off smiling, nodding, and suddenly remembering you have something you need to go away and do.
POSTED JANUARY 19, 2006:
38. Where smoke of outrage rises from a fire of moral indignation, all targets presented as legitimate, must also be compulsory.
POSTED APRIL 23, 2006:
39. It’s important to know things. But it’s a lot more important to know how you know things. Knowing what you don’t know, is even more important than that. And knowing what you need to find out, versus what doesn’t matter, is the most important of all.
40. We are a tribal species, although we’re loathe to admit it, and when people extoll the virtues of “diversity” they tend to talk about skin color and nothing else.
41. Those who are out of danger, worry about food. Those with food, worry about discomfort. Those who are comfortable, worry getting things done on time. Those who have time, worry about money. Those who are solvent, worry about their legacies. And the lucky souls who spared the plagues of danger, hunger, discomfort, time, solvency and legacy issues, worry about fashion.
42. Is it a wrinkle in the brain or a strand in our DNA? Religion has tried to say, and will not; science has tried to say, and cannot; in the end, it is up to us to decide it by the things we do.
43. When people ask me a question that begins with “Why did you…” they almost never want any information out of me.
44. A little bit of fear once in awhile is a healthy thing.
45. It’s good to know more than what you say, because when you say something, you prove the need for you to say it.
46. No statement achieves a unifying force without first achieving unidirectional flow. People aren’t inspired by slogans containing the word “but”.
47. A bureaucracy reaches critical mass, at which point it is no longer effective, when its leaders are selected according to their mediocrity.
48. This world makes no sense. NO sense. There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who carry around big, perplexing, unanswered questions about why, and how, the world works the way it does. And, those who have simply given up on asking such questions.
49. You know, there’s always one good thing about never having any money. Uh…well, I just wanted to make sure you were paying attention there.
50. The decisions we make out of a sense of fair play, an appreciation for fun, a sense of responsibility, a sense of concern, and even an sense of entitlement, we sometimes remember fondly. The decisions we make out of guilt, we never do.
51. When we serve on juries, everyone is terrified over the prospect of convicting an innocent man. Very few people lose much sleep over letting a guilty man go free.
52. Angry people who demand things, don’t stop being angry when their demands are met.
53. We are a tribal species, although we’re loathe to admit it, and we have very little to say to our neighbors who enjoy a different set of luxuries or who labor under a different set of burdens.
54. Find me ten men who will argue with me about something, and I’ll show you one man who has something to tell me, and nine jackasses who are just showing off for someone else.
55. Anyone objecting to the presence of a young lady in a skimpy outfit, or her attire, is someone I don’t want to know. I can think of several reasons to so object and not one of them is the least bit healthy, helpful or benevolent.
56. Courage cannot be banked. It is used, or else it is nothing.
57. Few people have more blind faith, than those who condemn others for having some.
58. To insult a man says nothing about other men, but for some reason, anything said against one woman is perceived to be said against everything female who ever lived.
59. Truly rewarding life-decisions have no need to be marketed toward those who are down on their luck.
60. Sound ideas have this in common: Those who speak of them, lack any passionate ambition to broadcast them to a great audience, or to keep them secret. The idea is what the idea is, discussed or not, believed or not, practiced or not.
61. Disaster is sure to follow when the legacy of a man who has courage, is decided by other men who have none.
62. Throughout history, very little of note has been accomplished by people who made a paramount of concern out of what others thought.
63. Risk is personal, profit from risk even moreso. Men will share their wives long before they share profits realized from risk.
64. You know you have courage when you see the flimsiest spoiler of fortune decides if history will focus on your breathtaking stupidity, or your enormous balls.
65. Against all expectations, one of my most reliable ways for picking out “independent thinkers” in a world where so many desire that distinction, is this: They blaze their own trail only when it makes sense to do so. Others seem to want to build a better mousetrap whenever they’re being watched.
66. Those who give advice usually have more problems than those to whom they give it, and those who wait for it tend to have more problems than those who seek it.
67. Some among us seem to think an election is the only time public opinion is important; others seem to think that’s the only time it isn’t.
68. If you listen to some spoken ideas, you’ll pick up that there’s a pressing need to getting them vocalized as frequently as possible, to as great an audience as can be reached. If you dismiss such things out-of-hand, you almost never regret it.
69. Comments of condemnation and praise, from those who lack the authority to back them up, are stunningly useless; they’re only slightly more useful when they come from people with said authority.
70. Courage has very little to do with being outspoken.
71. Tell the truth for your own sake, for those who want to doubt you will do so no matter what you say.
72. I don’t understand what’s going on with driving cars. So many people like to “brag” about their ineptitude with computers, but nobody ever confesses to their own poor driving skills.
73. The only time unnamed sources are used to vouch for something that is supposed to have happened, is when whoever is telling me about the sources, is happy with what was supposed to have happened.
74. Wealthy people never seem to see any UFOs. You need some really cheap booze to see a UFO, or else there’s something about poor people that the aliens really like.
75. Our lingering interest in malicious and depraved acts is inspired not by graphic details, or by a recognition of pure evil, or by the lessons we can learn from what happened, but because of how the protagonist reminds us of our own darker selves.
76. Old married people who share an e-mail address, just like they’re used to sharing a real mailbox, can’t be reached by e-mail. Not really.
77. What we call “activism” seeks to provide comfort, not to solve problems. Actually, comfort tends to have more to do with making problems in the first place, than with solving them.
78. If someone is constantly criticizing you and seems to want to cut you down, you should allow for the possibility that they love you and have a large vision for you. If the criticism is dealt before an audience, you can safely exclude that as a possibility because the sonofabitch is out to burn you after all.
79. I know we are gradually losing our ability to survive in the wilds, because nowadays it’s so rare to hear someone praise the talents of someone to whom they’re opposed. It seems that intelligence is measured entirely by ideology, and worrying about the incompetence of allies or the genius of enemies is a thing of the past.
80. Beware of those who have no humility, and of those who have some and are anxious to show it.
81. There are a lot of people walking around who seem to think “politics” is the process of re-defining “justice” to be something pleasing to many and unpleasant to few. That isn’t what “justice” is.
82. You need to be careful when helping desperate people, because there’s a fine line between finding out what it is they need, and borrowing some of the habits they had just before they got desperate.
83. The nature of “multitasking” determines that those who do it, know far less about how well they’re doing it than those who watch.
84. There are perhaps a dozen different reasons why a fellow motorist’s head doesn’t rise far above his steering wheel, and almost every one of them compels the prudent driver to stay away.
85. As the standard of living improves, people slowly lose their need for a Supreme Being, while their need for a spiritual leader remains.
86. History looks back on times when information flowed slowly, and remembers great men who got things done. It looks on more recent times when information flowed more quickly, and remembers great men who talked about things just before someone else got them done.
87. In the past few years I notice the people with the largest television sets are the ones we are supposed to call “poor”.
88. A natural instinct for trying a different approach in the face of repeated failure would be handy thing, and it’s curious that evolution seems to have defeated this trait instead of strengthening it.
89. Since biblical times, what we have come to call “news” has always been a curious hybrid. It blends whatever is written in the messenger’s scroll, with what the Emperor is ready to hear.
90. A committee is a group of four or more people, each of whom are invested in an all-consuming mission to appear more important than the others. Through their dedication, good judgment, and continued persistence in these efforts, they have an excellent chance at making the committee itself utterly useless.
91. “Esteem” is something sought with the greatest urgency by those who struggle with doubts about whether they’ve earned it.
92. Useful people have a fear of becoming useless that is exceeded in intensity only by the fear useless people have of someday being useful.
93. People tend to change the way they think when they’re in groups. Generally, an idea generated in a group is worth a lot less than an idea someone thinks up on their own.
94. There are a lot of people walking around who put lots of energy into telling others that something can’t be done.
95. Even very wise people can make bad decisions when they’re too close to what is being decided.
96. History bears the marks of those who were mean, vicious, even pernicious, but not from those who were inconsiderate.
97. There is always someone who believes what I’ve been told “nobody believes,” and there is always someone who contests what I’ve been told “everybody agrees.” Quite a few of both, actually.
98. It’s easy to brag about how much experience we have, but it always takes humility to discuss how we got it.
99. Companionship complements a new adventure for some; for others, it is a substitute for it.
100. There are a lot of people walking around who seem to think “leadership” is the process of making decisions that a large number of people expect to be made, that could have been made by anyone. The unexpected has a lot to do with what leadership really is.
101. Most men who have been married for a long time rarely discuss themselves or the things they want. This is not necessarily true of married women.
102. There are jobs in which excellent performance generates a wholly different result compared to adequate performance. There are other jobs wherein it doesn’t. There are still other jobs where excellent performance carries no definition save for longer periods between catastrophes. When a job is re-associated from one of these classes to another, the man who holds that job never ends up happy.
103. So many problems people have with what they call “love,” would be avoided if love was recognized as a package, which includes respect.
104. A good and popular idea is promoted on its merits. A bad and popular idea is promoted because it’s popular.
105. Judgment has everything to do with choosing from options as they are, and nothing to do with declaring what those options should be.
106. Making sure no one is offended, virtuous as it is, seems to be antithetical to real achievement.
107. Happiness is the companion of men who know their limits; things that make us happy, were conceived by men who knew no such thing.
108. People give each other unlimited allowance to live their personal lives however they will, until it comes to the raising of children.
109. There is an inversely-proportional relationship between the ability of people within a culture to think problems through logically, and the frequency with which they use ridicule to persuade.
110. Everyone’s willing to bet an unlimited measure of resources from a company, corporation, committee, council, organization or club, that the “smartest guy in the room” really is the smartest guy in the room. Because of that, the smartest guy’s ideas usually go unopposed. I have noticed it’s extremely rare that anyone, anywhere, would bet one dime of their personal fortune that he’s really that smart. This may explain why some of the best decisions I’ve seen, were made outside of conference rooms.
111. It’s one thing to love freedom when freedom means people should do what you want. To love freedom all the time, even when people use it to ignore you, is quite another thing.
112. Strong leadership is a dialog: That which is led, states the problem, the leader provides the solution. It’s a weak brand of leadership that addresses a problem by directing people to ignore the problem.
113. A crisis precedes logical thinking. Logical thinking precedes a solution to the crisis. Too long a time without a crisis, precedes indulgence and sloppy thinking. Indulgence and sloppy thinking precede the next crisis.
114. I can put up with people who are naturally inclined toward rudeness, for so much longer than I can put up with people who are genuinely afraid of being polite.
115. We are a product of life as we have lived it, but this in itself is a product of life as it is, and life as we have made it.
116. Crime does not pay. I have found that following rules that are followed by nobody else, doesn’t pay either.
117. I feel really bad when I start a project and my progress is unnoticeable after a week or more. When I pass a construction site that has been where it is unchanged, for months, this feeling suddenly vanishes.
118. The more logically-sustainable the point, the less ambitious is the effort to silence those who disagree.
119. A single woman who has a dog, and a boyfriend, actually has two boyfriends. The two-legged boyfriend is the more expendable of the two.
120. It isn’t hard to find someone who is more interested in why a process is bad, than why the results of the process are bad. It isn’t hard to find someone who is more interested in preventing problems, than solving them after they occur. It is exceedingly rare, somehow, that anyone’s concerned about keeping a poor process from being formed.
121. One verifiable fact can sell a whole package of unlikely speculation. One appealing opinion can sell a whole package of outright falsehood.
122. Our love of opportunity is strengthened through addiction; our love of security is strengthened through estrangement.
123. Diplomacy is an exchange that places a premium value on refined strategy and positive results. The diplomat with the least-refined strategy obtains the most positive results.
124. Discuss politics and religion long before personal finances. I have found people conceal those aspects of their personal decisions that might expose them to critique, without even knowing they’re doing it, and if this part of the discussion eludes you then you’re best off ignoring all the rest.
125. They tell me rules are needed for civilization, but I notice civilization is needed for the rules. Civilization arises from where a wild frontier was tamed. On the taming of a wild frontier by a rulebook, history stands mute.
126. Life is not fair. I have found that with hard work and the vigorous exercise of poor judgment I can make my life a whole lot less fair.
127. The measure of a person’s happiness and success is proportional not to his ability to form opinions, or to his tenacity in sticking to them, or his outspokenness in arguing them or to the number of people who agree with him, but to the sense of personal responsibility he places in having them.
128. Everybody who got something significant done, was an optimist. I know of no exceptions to this. Every optimist who got something significant done, tempered his optimism with a pragmatic appreciation that broken things needed fixing. I know of no exceptions to that, either.
129. Leaders; votes; clergy; academics; pundits; prevailing sentiment; political expediency. Wherever these decide what is & isn’t true, an empire will surely fall.
130. The noble savage gives us life. Then we outlaw his very existence. We call this process “civilization.” I don’t know why.
131. Women fart.
132. There’s no limit to how happy a man can be when his job is substandard. But a man with a substandard woman is an empty shell.
133. There are lot of people walking around who seem to have a phobia against leaving things unsaid. The years have left me with few regrets about things left unsaid, and many more about questions left unasked.
134. The hug is a gift from God to men who like to mash their chests into the breasts of good-looking women and could use a good excuse to do so. Guys hugging guys, that’s a waste of this gift.
135. A leader can commit no greater betrayal of the public trust, than to allow someone to live, who won’t stop killing people.
136. The mediocre leader promotes the subordinates who do things the way he would do them if he were they. The superior leader promotes the subordinates who produce the results he wants, working the tasks in whatever way they will.
137. I have no reason to believe straight couples fight with each other more often, or split up more often, than gay couples do.
138. It’s very difficult to acquire good judgment without experience. It’s very difficult to acquire experience without bad judgment.
139. Beware the critic who drones on at length about how you should do something, but cannot name a consequence of you not doing it.
140. Some of the worst ideas a man has, have to do with getting admiration from the ladies. The worst ideas among those, are the ones that eventually succeed at this.
141. Voting on ethical issues is a huge mistake. People are slow to surrender their personal moral cognitions to a group, but quick to expect others to do exactly that.
142. What we call “cartoons”…they have a coyote and a road-runner, or else they’re CRAP. No exceptions.
143. Collectively, our track-record for guessing who will show leadership, and a capacity for learning, seems to be on par with random chance. Worse than that, I think. Perhaps the child prodigy is dilatory in showing the qualities everyone “knows” he has, and is anxious to cultivate the strengths everybody “knows” he’s missing.
144. In what deserves to be called “science,” you save the drama for your mama. People debating science, getting angry and testy about the skepticism from others, are advancing and defending what would more properly be called “religion.”
145. “Excellence” is a funny word. It has something to do with conformity or lack thereof. Some of us think going with the group is a prerequisite to excellence; some of us think it’s mutually exclusive from that, and finding your own way is the prerequisite. Nobody is neutral on this. On the disagreements that result from this fundamental split, people argue; on the split itself, they keep their silence. It’s like a fart in church. Socially it doesn’t exist. It’s as if we’re afraid to discuss what “excellence” really is. Both sides can present a solid, compelling case, so this strikes me as being really weird.
146. The day a lingering challenge finally abates, atrophy starts setting in. People lose their capacity for dealing with the challenge; slowly on their own, and much more quickly in groups.
147. It is frequently said that cell phones are electronic leashes. I have found there is an entire gender of persons who rarely have their cell phones turned off; they see the leash as something that binds them. The other gender of persons, rarely have their cell phones on. They see the leash as something they wield. I’ll leave it to the reader to figure out which is which.
148. Reassurance is a funny thing. People crave it. The more they get, the more they want. Eventually, it becomes impossible for anyone to get anything they want or need, without making one or several bogus reassurances to someone about something. I have noticed when the same people are summoned to provide the same reassurances to the same people over and over again, the next thing that happens is never good.
149. Nobody’s willing to admit it, it seems, but so many among us are ready to presume altruistic motives on the part of whoever talks constantly, while jealousy is confined to those who speak occasionally, only when they have something to say. I have found the reverse is closer to the truth.
150. I know of three ways to kill yourself slowly. You can make plans around people changing their fundamental patterns of behavior; you can pretend to like something you really don’t; you can refuse to try new things.
151. Choosing between “truth” that comports with our personal experiences, and “truth” that contradicts that experience but that we’ve heard several times before, we have a persistent and unsettling tendency to reject the truth we could personally verify and accept the truth we’ve heard before. There is no logical explanation for this. It would seem that if we are products of evolution and continuous improvement and survival-of-the-fittest, this must be a piece of unfinished business.
152. I wish, when I was younger, I worked harder at identifying with older people; people who were at the age I am now. Now that I’m here I don’t have such regrets about identifying with younger people. It’s automatic. I’ve been there. People older than me, it seems, just might know something I don’t. Perhaps there’s a lesson here for people of all ages.
153. Lately I notice sarcasm is used, more and more, to discuss opinions without considering facts. In those situations the opinion that “wins” is almost always wrong.
154. With only occasional exceptions, you’re on safe ground dismissing any statement containing the phrase “the Christian Right” as complete and utter crap.
155. There are some things a woman does better than a man. Everybody understands this; everyone is willing to point it out. There are things a man does better than a woman. Everyone understands that too, but they’d rather keep that one quiet. One of the things men do better, is owning and training dogs. Few people realize that. But the more I see, the more certain I am of it.
156. When I read about people who lived generations ago, I read about issues among them involving “trust.” People today have issues with each other involving “trust.” I don’t think the generations use the words the same way. Our grandparents often talked about character issues with this word; we usually use it to talk about financial motivations. Whether or not a man’s promise is good to us, is something we don’t talk about very often. I don’t know what that says about where we’re going. It can’t possibly be good.
157. If a man and woman are really “together,” the woman can’t be unhappy when the man is happy. The man can’t be happy, if the woman is unhappy. But for the man to be unhappy while the woman is happy, is very possible. There are people who have understood this difference between men and women, and gambled on it, and won, for generations. They’re called “salesmen.”
158. What makes us happy, is a determination each of us must make for ourselves. Our ability to figure out what that is, has ramifications for everyone in our community. It’s much harder than it seems to be, and I notice the people who seem the most certain about what they want, change their minds about it most reliably later on, to the injury of those around them.
159. People who are right and know they are right, get only so angry. Anger beyond that critical event horizon, is the exclusive domain of those who don’t believe in their own positions.
160. Being better than everyone you know; being the same as everyone you know. You can have one, not both. I think we all get that. But too many among us want both. They know they can’t have both, but they’re unwilling to do things differently from the crowd, or to take second-place. They want it all. And they don’t know why they end up unhappy.
161. Justice depends completely on truth; anarchy, not so much.
162. Over the long term, American businesses seem to live out the life of a fruit: Green to juicy to overripe to trash. I notice the ones that have peaked, have it in common that the decisions owned by smaller groups must involve more and more groups as they are recognized as important, and input must eventually be gathered from everyone across the board. Successful businesses that are still growning, do it the opposite way: Only on the trivial, meaningless business is input gathered “across the board.” The most critical issues are decided by a small circle, or by an individual. Someone getting in trouble for leaving so-and-so “out of the loop” is something you hear only rarely.
163. In Journalism, the word “Analysis” is used when someone knows an editorial doesn’t belong where they want to put it but if they put a different name on it, it’ll look okay.
164. Some ideas look serious, only because they’re never taken that way. The most devastating thing you can do to a dumb idea is to take it seriously.
165. A word has a definition not when you can look it up in a dictionary, but when there is widespread agreement about what it means. There is no definition for the word “racist.”
166. I hear it said often, about one public issue or another, “of course just about everyone already has an opinion on this.” This is generally a bad thing. I’ve noticed it is much closer to the truth to say, “everyone” has identified a class of antagonists and an opposing class of sympathizers, and is ready to believe uncritically any allegation hostile to the antagonists or friendly to the sympathizers.
167. Regarding TIK #166: I also see that overall, the more difficult it is to get the facts about a public concern, the quicker I am to hear that everyone’s mind has been made up. I seldom hear that about other issues where facts are readily available. You’d think things would work the exact opposite way, but they don’t. That is a bad thing, too.
168. People with limited attention spans get peevish when they see other people doing a better job of paying attention; people who consistently champion peace over justice, get downright pernicious when they see someone else uphold justice.
169. I’m often told war is waged for ulterior motives, but it continues to come to my attention that it is prevented or delayed by people insincere about their intentions. Stands to reason when you think about it. We understand what war is; “peace” has far less definition. And few among us desire war, whereas peace is something everyone wants, or is supposed to.
170. Women seem to be most capable of out-thinking men, when they are outnumbered.
171. Some people love free speech so much they’ll insist on having some of it. Other people love it so much they’ll insist on having all of it.
172. I hear quite often that a new idea is supposed to be bad because “it will hurt the poor.” I agree that would be a bad thing, but what does the critic have in mind as an alternative? Does he agree with me that hurting people in general is bad, or does he have a different targeted class in mind?
173. I often become aware of people coercing those around them to support a certain position, citing educational credentials held by themselves, or some prominent figure in the disagreement. I don’t believe these people maintain the fascination in the topic they imply they have. I’ve noticed the slightest bit of skepticism causes them to change the subject.
174. Being an atheist; maintaining a distinction between right and wrong; respecting the viewpoints of others. You may have two of those. Max.
175. Atheists are supposed to value their independence, and be determined to live out their lives to appeal to no one, and at the pleasure of no one. But when they’re around other atheists they don’t act like this.
176. I’m slow to figure out what people expect when they clamor for higher taxes. They must expect their own tax bills to go down or to stay the same, because they’re consistently surprised when they’re expected to pay more like everyone else. And they must expect to unilaterally dictate where all the money goes, because they’re consistently surprised when other people have some kind of say.
177. Two women will harmoniously and happily share your bed long before invention and convention share your allegiance.
178. It’s a human failing to do whatever angry people say they want done, without inspecting the usual stuff first: What’ll happen if we do it, what’ll happen if we don’t, potentially complicated cause-and-effect mechanisms to be put in motion either way…or even what it is that made the arguer so angry in the first place. Human nature is to just do it, because someone’s angry. It’s a form of dictatorship. People say they wonder why there is so much anger in politics nowadays. I think that might explain some of it.
179. Children seem to be “diagnosed” with lots of things lately. It has become customary for at least one of their parents to be somehow “enthusiastic” about said diagnosis, sometimes even confessing to having requested or demanded the diagnosis. Said parent is invariably female. Said child is invariably male. The lopsided gender trend is curious, and so is the spectacle of parents ordering diagnoses for their children, like pizzas or textbooks.
180. There are very few things you can do in life that will be subject to the outspoken and self-important opinions of others, about how you should have done it, than this: helping your kid build a pinewood derby. People describe it as “something neat the father and son can do together,” but very few people really act that way.
181. So many of our friends are attached not to us, but to our abilities and circumstances, be they weak or strong. How easy and simple life would be if people advertised what exactly they were befriending, when they became our friends. But alas, it is simply not so.
182. Some men say what they believe and believe what they say. Some men say a tiny piece of what they believe, and believe all that they say. Other men say what other people believe, and themselves believe a tiny piece of what they say. Watch out for that last one.
183. When an education has given you the ability to dismiss ideas more quickly, it’s not really an education.
184. One stimulus, one response, this says very little about a man’s character and motives. A pattern of behavior says a whole lot more.
185. Half the problems we have with each other come from forgetting things that were said and done. The other half come from remembering them.
186. To be told something, to take the trouble to verify it, to alter your behavior accordingly if you find out it’s true, to leave your behavior unchanged if you find out it’s not. This is all part of one skill. It’s a survival skill. I’m convinced, like never before, that we’re all rounding an important corner and losing this skill. When it’s gone, we’ll all have to be told what to do and what to think, and we’ll have no alternative to it.
187. When you talk about people and what they think, “a bunch of nutcases” is a negative reference and “everybody” is a positive one. But these are not mutually-exclusive.
188. When a man and a woman argue, inanimate objects in the room side with the woman.
189. People who complain that nobody does their own research, usually don’t want anyone to do their own research; they just want everybody to believe what they say instead of what someone else has to say.
190. To destroy yourself and betray all who may be your peers, the first step is to apologize for simply being.
191. It is an endessly seductive temptation to insist all around you behave the way you do, and to ostracize all who do not. To succumb to this is a weakness, and we all know this. But it is often treated as a strength. Those who are most enslaved to it, end up running things. The rest of us tend to insist on it.
192. Some folks think it’s important to get an opinion out but more important to understand what’s going on. Some folks think it’s important to understand what’s going on but more important to get an opinion out. Watch out for that last one.
193. Court the lady, marry the family.
194. It takes a great deal more intellectual constitution to declare support for something than to protest something.
195. Love is a behavior. It isn’t a willingness to be abused. It isn’t a willingness to supply the abuse. It isn’t an invitation to provide more abuse. It has no place alongside, in tandem with, interlaced with, or procreated with, abuse. If abuse is salt then love is the slug.
196. Real freedom is actually pretty boring. It has very little to do with noteworthy events, save for the one event marking its arrival. When classes of people take turns, over time, enjoying special privileges, not one man among them enjoys genuine freedom.
197. People who try to sell me things, and make a great show out of controlling my vocabulary, are selling something nobody well-informed would ever want to buy.
198. When people say they don’t consider it their place to make moral judgments, rest assured their first order of business is to make moral judgments.
199. Men believe whatever they think they’ll be punished for doubting; women believe what they think will keep their friends around; a louse will believe whatever his latest slut will find appealing; and a slut believes what she wants to. Behold, all the justification for regarding men and women as the same.
200. Sometimes our beliefs must be distanced from the expectations of others in order to comport with the evidence, or distanced from the evidence in order to comport with expectations. Some folks think the former of those two is some kind of sin, and as a consequence, indulge in the latter reliably. And then compulsively. This is a form of slow suicide.
201. Snowflakes in Hell last longer than truth, whenever and wherever our leaders regard the popular viewpoint as a commodity, and place a priority on shaping it.
202. People who use “evidence” and “overwhelming” in the same sentence, are usually selling a bad product.
203. Superman’s adventures are only fun to read about when Lois is still clueless about who he really is. As soon as Clark Kent lets her in on The Big Secret, everything gets lame.
204. It seems history is almost always made by people who broke rules. And rules, I notice, more often than not are written to keep people from making history.
205. People who draw their sense of right and wrong from the opinions of others, obviously don’t have one. It’s a mistake to gauge their depth of character from the volume of their voices, because out of necessity this is always very strong. But they can’t be relied-upon for much of anything.
206. Democracy would work much better if an inability to admit what you really are, ensured your eventual defeat. Alas, many battles are won by coalitions and factions that cannot afford to admit what they really are.
207. Dismiss all anecdotes and parables containing these three things: A hero who can do nothing wrong, a villain who can do nothing right, and a setting in which all events are hearsay and can never be validated first- or second-hand. You’re being snookered. Count on it.
208. History seems to repeat, like a broken record, spectacular examples of unfairness, lying at the ends of chain reactions started by well-intentioned people trying to make life fair.
209. A plan to make women stronger and more powerful, generally works fine if it involves bringing them closer to their men. Otherwise, no.
210. People who “know” what “everyone” thinks, don’t know that much. What they do pretty much boils down to declaring all opinions different from theirs, irrelevant. Loudly.
212. Some of the words that end with “ist” seem to support weighy, urgent ideas, but enjoy very little by way of definition, especially the ones tossed around over the last thirty years. Chauvinist. Racist. Feminist. People who use these words the most often, seem to be frustrated by something. Maybe they’re frustrated because nobody has any way of knowing exactly what it is they’re trying to say.
213. Being a grown-up is all about being able to choose from two options, both of which suck — selecting the one that sucks less. We seem to have a lot of people who’ve managed to reach legal maturity without cultivating this skill; they want a good feeling out of every decision they make, and every decision they see someone else making. I don’t remember anyone, with or without the authority to do so, promising anyone else that this goal must always be within our reach. So when real life makes this an impossibility, nobody should be surprised.
214. Poor kids can be spoiled rotten, just as easily as rich kids.
215. No bias is more persistent than the one nobody wants to admit is there.
216. Those who seek to decide logically, will decide fashionably sometimes, other times not so much. Those who seek to decide fashionably, will decide logically sometimes, other times not.
217. Populism, according to the hard evidence that has managed to come my way, has a tough time staying positive. It seems there has to be a dirty so-and-so who’s due for a come-uppins, behind every energized populist movement. That might be because populism seeks to decide issues according to the satisfaction of the majority, and most of us like to feel our way to a decision rather than think our way through. Naturally, laying the smack down on an enemy feels a whole lot better than actually solving a problem.
218. Contentment is to making life better for others, as quicklime is to growing vegetables. What is good in our lives, we owe to the gloomy, agitated curmudgeons of yesteryear. Our more content forefathers contributed, perhaps, some genetic stock; nothing more.
219. Whoever is frustrated at the sight of “everyone” doing something they themselves are not doing, shall be frustrated forever.
220. An explosion is imminent whenever someone promotes dogma over common sense. All it takes is contact with someone clinging to the common sense. That is the match to the gas. Kaboom.
221. As I look back over the years, I’m amazed how many ways people have of saying “I don’t want you to keep doing what you’re doing but I don’t want to go on record stopping you; nevertheless, stop you I shall.” My regrets have to do with failing to call this out sooner and exposing it to more vigorous debate. Stopping things is a good idea, about half the time. But it’s inherently easy to do and we don’t have much need for more creative ways to stop things. An ever-expanding panoply of ways to stop things, using empty rhetoric, in practical anonymity, is injurious to many, and doesn’t help anyone.
222. People who tolerate evil, because of their hidden agendas, fear of consequences or retribution, knowledge of their limitations, laziness, whatever, want everyone else to tolerate it as well. Being allowed to make up their own minds, to opt out of any movement to oppose the evil, to be left alone while braver men confront what they will not, never seems to be enough for them. Always, or nearly always, there is this passion to stop others from doing what they lack the courage to do. They talk about this passion and the resulting frustration a great deal. But they won’t explain it. I wish they would.
223. Real liberty labors under a disproportionate burden of fair-weather friendships. Everybody cherishes freedom of self, freedom to live life as they choose, unfettered by any obligation to decide mundane things for the pleasure of others…until they perceive themselves to be in the majority.
224. Anytime people can be counted on to send money in a specific direction as a result of believing a certain thing, there will arise an effort to get more people to believe that thing. The people participating in that effort will be very loud. Some of them will be paid to participate, although most will not. Some of them will truly believe what they’re telling others, although most will not. The effort always appears from a distance to be based on reason and facts, but on close inspection consists of just a lot of bullying. What really drives this is, when people are in that magic phase when they suspect they’ve been fooled by something, but haven’t quite settled on this, they’ll try like the dickens to get other people fooled the same way.
225. I’ve not yet seen it fail: People who nurture contempt toward money — the claiming of it, the receiving of it, the reluctance in others to spend it — make the claim that money gets in the way of positive human relationships, but they do little to demonstrate they even know what a positive relationship is. I never hear them say anything complimentary toward anyone, except as a quid-pro-quo, or on a comparative basis where they hold some third party in low esteem for being inferior. In other words, they have criticism for somebody in everything they say. I’ve come to conclude that this cantankerous attitude toward money, seldom has anything to do with money at all; I’m more receptive to the idea that it’s all about disliking people.
226. Gorgeous women always have boyfriends. For every gorgeous woman who thinks she doesn’t have a boyfriend, there are three guys who think they’re the boyfriend, and at least two of them have good reason to.
227. What is a bureaucracy? It is a fermented and rotten version of what it once was. It is a hierarchy of officers who by convention are responsible for ensuring that nothing goes wrong; but in practice, they’re responsible for making sure when something does go wrong,it’s somebody else’s fault.
228. We offer just a morsel of anger toward malicious slander, compared to what we reserve for unsettling truths.
229. We need to be reminded of it over and over and over again, and we never seem to get it. A tidbit of news does nothing to make a bad idea good.
230. We’d call them “rationalists” if they thought things through rationally; that’s why they’re called “socialists.”
231. My dictionary says a peer is someone who is equal to another in ability, qualification, age, background and social status. I have learned that socially, it is best defined according to a similarity in goals, advantages and burdens. I have also noticed that people, once recognized as peers, will sacrifice a lot to keep that recognition: justice; financial solvency; individual potential; family; truth. Especially truth. People are almost eager to sacrifice truth for the peerage.
232. Real liberty labors under a disproportionate burden of fair-weather friendships. Everybody cherishes freedom of self, freedom to live life as they choose, unfettered by any obligation to decide mundane things for the pleasure of others…until they perceive themselves to be in the majority.
233. Among all who express thoughts, those who purport to express the thoughts of many others instead of their own, are the last to have any doubts about whether they’re expressing the right thoughts.
Anytime people can be counted on to send money in a specific direction as a result of believing a certain thing… Some Things I Know are duplicates of other Things I Know.
235. What a self-parodying mess it is when a command hierarchy is constructed within any rebellion, for there it becomes undeniable: The rebel is only a fair-weather friend, at best, to the act of rebelling.
236. When a society first learns to walk, it denies all potential advantage to followers of convention; those who live there can achieve efficiency only by finding their own way. When lying on a deathbed, society twists around from this arrangement, reserving efficiency only for those who follow convention, denying all advantage to those who would flout it. In all the days in between, it becomes progressively friendlier to those who conform, and more hostile to those who do not, until there’s no benefit at all to deciding things for yourself. To think. To observe. To infer. To decide, outside of echoing what others have said. Therefore, to live. At this point the society dies, for it must.
237. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between being held accountable to a higher standard, which is an act of love, and being staked to the ground by a shorter leash, which is an act of hate. There aren’t too many ways to distinguish these things. I do know of one: Love is reserved for individuals. A class can’t be loved.
238. If you could make a magic pie chart that would show the causes of all major screw-ups in human history, the biggest chunk would have to be the confusion between what’s moderate and what’s extreme. It would look like Pac Man’s head.
239. Whenever & wherever a challenge of truth is rebuked with a challenge of knowledge, something is rotten.
240. A bureaucracy has achieved total dysfunction when its goals find many passionate defenders, and its tactics find none.
241. We like to enforce rules with zero tolerance when we don’t know why the rules are there.
242. There is a deadly and suffocating toxin taking effect whenever there is research without edification…deadlines…progress…real learning…paradigm shifts…things being re-written out of necessity. Real science moves in a more-or-less straight line. Phony science moves in a circle.
243. With an amazing consistency, ideas mature into dark futures and cloudy legacies after having been repeatedly expressed in passive voice. When they are unowned. “It was decided that…”
244. People who follow the law are inclined to give a break to those who don’t follow the law; people who follow convention tend to really crack down on people who don’t follow convention.
245. People who form relationships with other people through shared weaknesses, have a tendency to demand all other people know others through their weaknesses; people who form relationships with other people through shared strengths, have a tendency to leave well enough alone.
246. He who does, is a bigger man than he who does not. He who does not, but thinks out what is done, is better than those who think not. He who does not and thinks not, but respects those who do, is a bigger man than he who respects not.
247. People have a way of remaining ignorant of things that are not written or spoken, even if those things should be obvious. For this reason, perhaps, I’ve found it’s a mistake to presume something need not be said.
248. Guilt is the final refuge of really bad ideas. When somebody accuses you of something and you have no idea why they’d think this of you, look at what they’re trying to get you to do. And you’ll realize, not only is it a bad idea, but there’d be no way to get a man to do it, if he felt good about himself.
249. People insist that others agree with them about an idea, when they like what the idea does, but don’t want to own it. When they think those ideas are wrong. When people are sure an idea is right, they don’t care how many people agree with it, they’ll back it anyway.
250. Those who speak of their wishes for a “dialog,” more often than not, demand, instead, a monologue.
251. A clock needn’t tell the wrong time to be busted; an opinion need not turn out to be wrong, to be worthless.
252. If there are some rich people who steal, and there are some poor people who don’t, then you can’t justify or explain crime with a bad economy.
253. Men are not inherently better than women. Women are not inherently better than men. But a woman who’ll bring a man a beer, is much better than a woman who will not.
254. We tend to express our wishes in superlatives. This is the critical reason why the things we say we want, are so different from what we pick once we’re given our options. Women sought by multiple suitors, do not pick the “nicest” available boyfriend; people do not hire the guy who “can do” the job; we do not vote for candidates most likely to reduce crime or bring us together as a people. And what strangers our children become to the living of life, after we announce we’re doing things for them!
255. People take good care of things when, and if, they’ve given up other things to acquire them. The more personal the thing sacrificed, the better care and maintenance applied to the thing that was gained.
256. If you obey the speed limit, you don’t have to worry about where the cop is. If you worry about where the cop is, you make a big mess for everybody else. All of life is like that.
257. Atrophy is a real thing, in mind as well as muscle. All change is not necessarily good, because some change carries atrophy. You don’t emerge from a change as a stronger person, if you lose the ability to do what you once were able to do.
258. Women organize, men prioritize. The male mind is taxed when called on simply to ensure the clean clothes are in one bag and the dirty clothes are in another. Masculinity is designed for emergencies; while men deal with urgent things, on the vital tasks they’ve deferred to another time while they so deal, they can recite details no better than a fireman can recite the inventory of a department store while he’s extinguishing a blaze on the roof. In fact, throughout history, most of the men who have really made a practice out of keeping things organized, did so only because they would have lost their lives if they had not. Generally, this has involved explosives.
259. The first grade teacher says “may I see a show of hands…” and this should not send a roomful of heads swiveling from side to side. But it does. Always. Left…right…swoosh, swoosh. Everyone wants to see how the other guy is answering. Most of them never grow out of that. In fact, those are tomorrow’s bosses. Trouble is, nobody ever solved a problem by emulating the guy who made it.
260. The two-party system is the very picture of timeless human politics. ONE schism between TWO major tribes, its intensity far more visible than its real origin or purpose; within each tribe, nobody is allowed to comment aloud that someone else within the tribe might be wrong about something, or someone from the other tribe might have a good point. And, a whole bunch of outlying tribes splintered up from all the participants who are sick to death of it, but that will never amount to anything. Look upon that, and you’re seeing the very picture of human programming. If we’re around after scores of millenia, it will not change.
261. There is probably no more useless triplet of empty words used by us today, than “Excellent Communication Skills.” For it is one thing to express a thought, and an entirely different thing to comprehend one expressed by someone else. And it is one thing to comprehend a single thought that would find a consensus of support among a group, and another thing to accurately perceive the priorities and values of the individuals within it. Every year, I meet more and more people who are gifted at expressing thoughts, but can’t be told anything unless it’s something that has found, or would find, widespread support. They are deaf and blind to the unique idea.
262. Kids have a certain “critical mass” to them. Or more like an exponential growth. It’s four times as hard to keep an eye on two of ’em as it is to keep an eye on one.
263. The one thing that’s wrong with higher education that nobody ever seems to want to discuss, is that it is valued through something called “prestige.” Get this prestigious diploma. Get that prestigious degree. Attend a prestigious university. My alma mater is more prestigious than yours. Trouble is that genuine learning has very, very little to do with prestige. It is, arguably, the exact opposite.
264. Chaos is easier than order. It’s far more stylish, too.
265. You can’t be better than everyone else when you’re trying to be like everyone else.
266. People will flock, like moths to flame, to a way of showcasing some inner decency that is costless and doesn’t really mean anything.
267. When technology depends on convention and protocol, it must eventually betray those or lose all purpose; technology is the opposite of doing things that have been done before by others, the way they’re already being done.
268. I consider it an eminent tragedy of the twentieth century that association has become more precious to us than achievement. It is tragic, and it is a mistake, for it is measurably more worthwhile to achieve something without coming together to achieve it, than it is to come together without achieving something.
269. We have a strong tendency to confuse pulling your weight with fitting in. We’re therefore easily confused in the presence of people who pull their own weight but don’t fit in…as well as people who fit in but don’t pull their own weight.
270. Problems that are blamed on capitalism, exist in economic systems and industries that haven’t very much left to do with capitalism at all. Those industries were capitalistic once, but they aren’t anymore. It continues to amaze me how well this pattern holds up.
271. Someone please enlighten me on this hero worship for people who are good at selling things. An excellent salesman is useless in selling an adequate product; an adequate salesman will move it just as quick. You only need an excellent salesman to sell a crappy, substandard product, or excessive quantities of a product, that people don’t need. Fact is, if you’re in sales, you want to do a superior job, you want to realize the benefits of being better than the rest, but you also want to deal honestly with people, you’re in the wrong line of work.
272. When people accuse you of doing something or being something and it isn’t true; when it comes as a surprise to you that anyone would think such a thing about you; I’ve found it is a mistake to put any effort into proving them wrong. If they’re sincere, something is coloring their perception, and whatever it is, it’s outside of your control. If they’re not, then they’re trying to get you to do something that’s probably contrary to your interests. Either way — you aren’t going to change their minds. Don’t try.
273. This is the flip-side to TIK #272. When you want someone to do something, and you don’t have the authority to force them to, it’s contrary to their interests, and they’ve figured out it’s contrary to their interests or they’re plenty bright enough to figure out it’s contrary to their interests — accuse them of something. It’s your only option. Make sure they aren’t guilty of it. If they’re guilty, they’ll resign themselves to the fact that you’ve figured them out; if they’re not guilty, they’ll do anything you want to prove it. Then you just tie that in to what you want them to do.
274. Heath Ledger’s Joker had it exactly right. People will choose brutality, injustice, carnage, malfeasance, death or destruction every time as long as the alternative is true chaos. They want to know there is a plan. If they get the idea there is no plan, they go nuts. If there’s a plan, they’re somewhat satisfied, no matter what that plan actually is.
275. The path of least resistance is more appealing to people in the realm of the mind, than in the realm of the body. People show substantially greater willingness to research things within a narrow range of whatever they’ve researched before — invited to expand their horizons, the typical response is “I can’t find the time” or some such. It’s the learning curve that scares them. They tend to want to learn only a few things they already know.
276. Why do I give a rat’s ass where your education level is, if your head’s crammed full of things someone else put in there — with or without your conscious consent — and holds nary a speck of anything you’ve figured out for yourself?
277. We have an awful lot of people walking around who seem determined to surround themselves with others who agree with them on the important things. There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, except when they occasionally bump into someone who sees things differently, they appear to feel like they’re being attacked. I’m sure it does feel that way when it only happens occasionally, but that doesn’t always mean that’s what it is.
278. Rebellion is attractive to the young because the juices that slosh around in their systems compel them to be attracted to it. To their more senior counterparts, the appeal is that it offers the opportunity to advance civility and moderation in appearance, while in substance, advocating the rawest, most savage form of extremism.
279. Gear maintenance is preventative, or a waste of time. Batman does not inspect, clean, repair or replace his batarang after he’s started his fall from the building.
280. How do you draw from the benefits of a conspiracy without all those problems that go with having one? You redefine the notion of good manners to exploit the public’s fear of offending others. This corrals people into a straight line, like ants to a dollop of syrup, or cows to a slaughterhouse. This is a passive conspiracy. It holds all the benefits and none of the complications or costs. No secrets necessary, no meetings, no rules to enforce. Just a centralized message that something is to be avoided, and strangers from the most remote corners will labor tirelessly and faithfully toward the opposite, expecting nothing in return, each of them convinced, emphatically, that he is thinking for himself.
281. The community that browbeats its inhabitants into a feeling of connectivity with one another, is blessed by no such feeling, and ceases to be a community at all. The individual that entertains such a feeling of connectivity to suit his own convenience, also is blessed by no such feeling, and is a part of no such community. Community is a minimal thing, but also a permanent thing. Or else it is nothing.
282. Once a man fixes a target in his mind and searches for some complaint to make against it, the complaint becomes meaningless before he even finds it.
283. Free markets are vulnerable to two destructive forces: The first is contamination, since wherever capitalism is intermixed in with socialism, the thought comes quickly to many that capitalism created all the problems for which socialism is truly responsible, and some find it easy to persist in this even when evidence makes it problematic. The second is motive. People don’t want to admit they’re doing something to benefit themselves, or an elite community of consumers or subscribers from which others may be excluded. In the end, capitalism relies on the character of people participating. The ability to learn will prevent corrosion by the first agent; candor will prevent any damage by the second. Some among us lack one or the other of these things. Many are glaringly deficient in both.
284. Some women are unhappy with a man who is disobedient. Not argumentative, which is a completely different thing, but showing a simple sluggishness when the time comes to obey. Some women are unhappy with a man who can perform feats of physical strength they themselves can’t do. Some women deplore men who grow facial hair. I have concluded that these are all the same women. I have concluded, further, that no man who acts like a man, can do anything, or refrain from doing anything, to make them or keep them happy for very long.
285. The movie is bad, to the point of toxicity, if 1) it stars a gorgeous woman with an incredible body and 2) she spends the entire time onscreen running around with all her clothes on. It’s not a knock on her acting ability (some of them are quite good). It’s a matter of soundness of judgment in production decisions: Premium services were acquired for a commensurate price, and then not properly used. The audience was disappointed, so that an elite group of busybodies could be gratified. It’s a safe bet the whole movie was made this way, resulting in profound suckage.
286. We have a lot of people walking around among us who seem to make it a habit to persuade those of unlike mind to their point of view, through the orbito-frontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that says “don’t.” It bypasses rational thought. The sizzle of your finger on a hot stove, a swat on a child’s butt, the spark leaping off a doorknob onto your hand, these all go through the OFC. These people substantiate every thing they know, when it’s challenged, by declaring the challenge to be awful or repugnant in some way, grasping at straws to fill in the details about why it’s awful. It’s an unhealthy reflex, and they don’t see it that way, because they don’t spend very much time among people who would challenge their ideas. When they are so challenged, it’s the only tool in their arsenal: Phony outrage.
287. To live a life devoid of recklessness, is the most reckless thing any thinking human can do.
288. No correlation has been found between speedy communication and effective government, and the longer I am witness to the relevant events, the more convinced I become that the correlation is upside-down. Rapid, widespread communication confers political power upon whoever can organize. Dumbasses, by their very nature, are much more easily organized.
289. Where harmony endures, and enigmas remain unresolved, mental illness reigns supreme. A capable mindset laboring under concerns is soothed only through explanation, or at least enlightenment.
290. An “apology” involves an implied promise to stop doing something, or else it means nothing.
291. Some folks see ambiguity where there is none. These seem to be the same people who don’t see it when it’s there.
292. Problems are created when people aren’t specific about things. Such problems are solved only when they start being specific about things.
293. Making money and producing wealth are two entirely different talents, commanded by entirely different types of people.
294. People can’t be relied on to shake off deleterious modes of thought, even if experience provides compelling reasons to do so.
295. If it’s among your goals to get things in your noggin other people don’t have in theirs, the price to be paid for that is that you can no longer speak for others.
296. We have a lot of admiration for that guy or gal who knows exactly what to do, what’s goin’ down, what it all means, and hell with what the outsiders tell him what to think about things. That independent-thinker guy. We just love him all to pieces, until he’s actually in front of us, doing his thing, and then we suddenly despise him. It’s a massive paradigm shift, albeit a reliable one, and I’m not sure what causes it. My educated guess is, we’re very fond of people who shut out the voices of others, right up to the point where we’re the “others.”
297. If we know it’s one guy’s place to decide an issue and not another guy’s, our tendency is to respect the proper ownership of the issue — until we find out about some third guy who’s been somehow slighted or oppressed. Then we lose this respect for proper ownership. Our compassion is our undoing. We favor anarchy over order and we don’t even consciously realize it.
298. The passion and urgency involved in “proving” something, measurably increases when the fellow attempting to prove it knows, deep down, that it isn’t true. His criticism of others becomes more shrill, when he sees them doing things that, in the same situation, he knows he’d be doing too.
299. The willingness to express an opinion, is that, and nothing more. Some people confuse it with courage. Some people confuse it with wisdom. Some people confuse it with an unwillingness to compromise. I have found these are all the same people…the ones that confuse it with positive things, the ones that confuse it with negative things. Their predilection for confusion remains constant; what to confuse with the willingness to express an opinion, depends on who is expressing the opinion.
300. People talk a lot about “coming together” to do vague, undefined things, when they want to present those things to outsiders as creative efforts, but what they’re really trying to do, is destroy something, or destroy the people who would be building something.
301. People are incremental creatures. They talk a lot about revolutionary things in culture, technology and governments, but whether they want to admit it or not, there is always a stabilizing residue of heritage in everything they do. The “pure” progressive is therefore a myth, and people who talk that way are usually idiots, nearly always lying. We poke away with little bits of creativity, but the skeletal framework of our actions is rooted in tradition. It is how we achieve certainty with the things we do.
302. A critical choice confronts us when we are given directives to go do things, and don’t understand the motive or the necessity. History has been fairly consistent in counseling us to investigate prior to action. To acquiesce without scrutiny into the things we’re being told to do, generally precedes disaster; when we ask the important questions as a first step, catastrophe is generally averted.
303. A young adult single man is given flak about when-and-if he’s gonna get married, whether he’s picked out a bride or not. After he’s married, the flak stops. If he’s married and then the marriage turns unhappy, the flak is still stopped. If he’s divorced, and left without any money, there is no flak. He’s subject to legal action to make sure his debts are settled, during and after the divorce. If the debts are left unsettled but his money is all gone, that’s alright; if the debts are settled but he still has money, people are left unsatisfied, resentful, and generally unhappy about that. Also, if a man’s happily married, and able to autonomously manage the household finances, people squawk about that too. If his wife has the final say in household finances, people are satisfied. I’m left with one and only one conclusion about this: People don’t want men to control money.
304. People with no ambition to lead others, nevertheless put abundant energy into these calls to total strangers to “come together.” We seem to learn quickly that this inclines people to do what we tell them to do, without blaming us for anything if it turns out to be bad.
305. When you have an opinion, you’re wallowing in negativity, nastiness, bile, slowly poisoning yourself to death. When I have an opinion it makes me courageous.
306. Smart women, dumb women, all kinds of women, refuse to dispatch a man as a go-between when dealing with other women. They’re probably right to do so; men are no good for this. Women who choose to task men in this manner, therefore, aren’t concerned with victory. If they wanted the message sent correctly, they’d be doing it themselves.
307. We’ve got an awful lot of people walking around who want to be thought of as “intellectuals,” but when they’re confronted by arguments they don’t like, start issuing commands and directives that people shouldn’t say things, comment on things, think about things, joke about things, et al. They reject entire trains-of-thought because of tiny scintillas of impurity — never to see them ever again. That isn’t what a real intellectual does.
308. A man faced with an economic crisis feels the pressure of coming up with good ideas; a group faced with a common economic crisis feels the pressure of coming up with stupid ones.
309. The clock on a typical microwave oven is about as accurate as an article in a typical womens’ magazine telling you what men want in bed.
310. Some folks don’t like punishment for its own sake. A man leaves things worse than he found them, and they’ll demand no end of justification before punishment can proceed against him for leaving things worse than he found them. Now you take a guy who leaves things better than he found them — he shot a burglar, he used a pistol to keep his wife from being mugged or raped — and this all changes.
311. Figuring out how a mistake was made makes for good politics, right up to the point where a mistake is made that is worth figuring out. There really is no such thing as “transparent politics.”
312. Some of the most damaging and unsolvable problems in life have nothing, and cannot have anything, to do with “justice” because they don’t have a bad guy. Some of the people who are least successful in finding solutions to problems, seem to believe every problem has a bad guy causing it.
313. Fairy tales end with “and, they lived happily ever after.” Real life always more complicated than that. Happily-ever-after is all about stasis, and life is a dynamic thing.
314. Only when optimism is exuberant and irrational can people maintain a sense of fidelity to it. When it represents the purest strand of sensible hope, when it forms a vision of something that can really be done, suddenly all kinds of people find it easy to cast it down in the dust, trample on it, leave it baking in a setting sun, as they walk away without looking back. What is it? Is it the weight of responsibility that goes with realizing a discharge of effort might yield some positive results? Now pessimism — that is different. Whether pessimism makes sense or not, people have an easy time hanging on to it, and they find it tough to let go.
315. Simple men are often forced to admit and reverse their mistakes. Men of letters tend to compound theirs with more mistakes. The issue is not knowledge, but ego; an ego that has cost some real money to pump up and make all bloated and tender, is worth protecting from the exigencies of real life.
316. Teamwork is not the same as ability; in fact a lot of times these qualities are antithetical to one another.
317. Following Rule 1440 makes your bank account thicker and your waistline slimmer. Flouting Rule 1440 has the opposite effect.
318. It’s not a “right” if someone else has to pay for it.
319. Trust the man who is anxious to get a point across but is unconcerned about what people think of him, before the man who is anxious to prove something about himself and is unconcerned about supporting the point he’s trying to make.
320. Want to convince people of something? Stop supporting the point rationally. Abandon any discussion of logical merits or demerits. Talk about a belief contrary to the idea you’re trying to proliferate. Talk in pejorative terms about people who support that contrary idea; accentuate the negative attributes of those people. Invent those people if you have to. Spin a tall tale about them. People will eat out of your hand. It’s called “enemy of my enemy is my friend” and it works very, very well. Especially if the ideas you’re trying to sell are just plain bad.
321. We have an awful lot of parents walking around who seem intent on raising their kids so that problems of future generations can be avoided. That is a good thing and it is to their credit. But they seem to think the biggest problems of those future generations have to do with people not feeling good about themselves, being unready to claim special perks and privileges. I don’t know how they settled on that. I wish they’d put a little bit more thought into this.
322. Feminism exists today to make women disposable; it attempts this by confining their energies to those specialties a man could pursue just as capably.
323. Classic Kurtosis risk is invited with an excessively keen reliance on scripted process.
324. Truly good-natured humor selects a truly random target.
325. It is to our shame that we demand a higher standard of satisfaction as we seek assurances we won’t be ripped off, compared to when we seek assurances some other guy won’t be ripped off.
326. Most everything I learned about people, I learned from paying attention when prevailing viewpoint and reality got into another one of their bloody bare-knuckle fistfights.
327. A century of aggressive churning in our educational institutions has created a situation in which the premium and rare commodity in personal intellect has been transformed. It is not the ability to demonstrate exposure to something said, but a willingness to expose such things to balanced skepticism. The demonstration-of-exposure, once a prized and coveted commodity exchanged among elites, is now a form of pollution.
328. Nothing sensible or intelligent ever follows “In Times Like These,” “With The Economy The Way It Is,” or “Things Being The Way They Are [Right Now].” What follows is always mind-blisteringly, skull-crushingly, bone-achingly stupid. No single individual with a reputation worth guarding, would ever sign on to it. But it’s gonna happen anyway.
329. When people labor at a common task but retain separate measures of success and are free to act in their own interests, it seems they are at their most capable and constructive. When they labor at a common task and all succeed or fail as a monolith, they maintain their enthusiasm but lose their creative energies. When they labor at the common task and share the resources, they lose not only their creativity but their problem-solving acumen as well. The finest minds among them congregate to pour vast reserves of energy into bellyaching about their disappointments with provisions, tools and services; toward no remedy of the problems. Just staggering quantities of bitching.
330. A man who doesn’t know the difference between a fact and an opinion, is not to be trusted in delivering either one of those.
331. The elimination of any & all possibility of failure is a toxic thing.
332. If everyone agrees it’s a bad idea, it’s almost certainly a bad idea. If everyone agrees it’s a great idea, it’s probably even worse.
333. Not all tragedies in life have a villain who made it happen.
334. We’ve got quite a few people walking around among us who seem to think all tragedies in life have a villain. These people seem to be dedicated to identifying the same villain for each and every tragedy that comes along.
335. If it really and truly does make sense in crappy economic times, then would mean it makes sense anytime.
336. Generally speaking the people most renowned for their excellent communication skills work the hardest at avoiding specifics.
337. A force of intellect, on a collision course with an unintelligent force of nature, must, by definition, yield.
338. We’ve got an awful lot of people walking around who, when they say a certain thing is so, really mean to say “I find it easy to think this thing is so.” This is problematic, for if what’s correct correlated with what’s easy to think, all of life’s challenges would be manual rather than cognitive, there’d be no confusion about anything, and we’d all be zillionaires.
339. I’m not the first cranky old fart to say this and I won’t be the last. Back in “the day,” grown-ups yelled at kids, punished kids, shushed kids up, made kids feel like subhuman vermin anytime they felt like it; the kids grew up to cure diseases, invent wonderful machines that revolutionized civilization, and kill Nazis. Now, kids are wonderful no matter what they do. “Oh, Susie! You didn’t burn down the school today! Oh Johnny, you didn’t crap on the teacher’s desk! So precious!” And the kids learn how to text each other, play games, and do nothing else. You can’t tell them a goddamn thing. But don’t you dare call them lazy, unimaginative or inattentive. It’s a disability.
340. We have an awful lot of people walking around who seem to think if there’s some law on the books that fails to meet with their approval, and it’s actually enforced against someone, then that somehow means we’ve all lost some kind of “freedom.”
341. Looking back on a life spent in business, I recall an occasional emergence of what I call “musical chairs people,” who seemed to labor under a vision that the enterprise was destined to shrivel rather than bloom. Their actions betrayed a hope that, when the inevitable occurred, they’d be among the last to be let go. They wielded considerable influence over the prevailing viewpoint, since they sought it; but as parasites, they ultimately failed to achieve their goal of lasting sustenance as wards of the employer. They succeeded in everything else but that. In fact, the bleak and rocky road ahead for the enterprise itself, invariably became a self-fulfilling prophecy. As you might expect, of course everyone else was to blame for this.
342. Being strong involves a loneliness very few will ever know, I think. Especially in those terrible family moments when strength is needed the most, and most especially when you aren’t supposed to be the strong one, but everybody knows, quietly, that you really are that guy. When neither you, nor anybody else, is allowed to mention it in words. That’s a special kind of loneliness.
343. The hard obligations of “charity” wax, the charitable feelings wane.
344. Commonplace and cheap is the man who says “How come that guy has more things than I do?” Rare and precious is the man who says “How come he has to do things I don’t have to do?”
345. People who take responsibility for producing more than they consume, once they come into contact with other people who take no such responsibility, are more influenced by the others than those others are by them.
346. We have an awful lot of people walking around who seem to think they’ve demonstrated some sort of intellectual prowess by coming to a conclusion about something, but I notice more and more that the conclusion isn’t meaningfully different from their underlying premises they produced when they started thinking about it. That isn’t intellectualism, because no work is being done when you end up exactly where you started.
347. Funny thing about people and the connections they feel with each other when they badmouth third parties: I think that guy’s a psychopath, you agree with me, we don’t bond. You and I may disagree about other things much more important to us. I think that guy’s a liar, you agree that guy’s a liar, this too has little or no effect on our relationship with each other. But if we get together and decide so-and-so is a dumbass — suddenly we’re blood brothers. Our disagreements on any other matter become trivial. We agreed some guy is stupid, and that makes us family. We connect.
348. An office in which everybody is the same sex, is an office in which not a lot of work is getting done.
349. An office in which e-mail is used more than any other computer application, is an office in which not a lot of work is getting done and there’s going to be a bloodletting soon.
350. An intellectually vigorous mind is quite capable of producing thoughts that can only be conceived through intellectual laziness. Within or outside of the discipline known to have once demonstrated the vigor. We all get lazy sometimes.
351. If we make it taboo to talk about a certain thing, we also make it a taboo to ignore the thing being talked about when someone within earshot breaks the taboo. We introduce a requirement to attack those who talk about it because such a taboo always arrives with a rider amendment of “silence equals consent.” We also create a social incentive to broaden the definition of the infringement, so that the worst of intentions must be presumed when something lands in the gray area. The ultimate outcome has to be that discourse will become more heated and less thoughtful.
352. If I wanted to kill an advanced civilization, and communication was my chosen murder weapon, I would promulgate the notion that the correct definition of “technology” has something to do with replicating what someone else has already done, or is doing. I honestly cannot think of a better way than that.
353. We’ve got an awful lot of people walking around who extol the virtues of “humility” often, but when you study their words and deeds for a time you discover they only want humility to be practiced by certain other people, not themselves. They use humility as sort of a cudgel.
354. If it chafes, if it’s loud, if it interrupts you, if it gets in your way, if it keeps you from doing things, if it’s annoying — it will never, ever, ever be found to be harmful to the environment. Ever. Only fun, soothing, pleasantly exciting, and tasty things are found to hurt the environment.
355. We’ve got an awful lot of people walking around who go through the motions of desiring some freedom they don’t have yet — wanting, desperately, to live their their lives in peace and harmony outside of the oppression and coercion of others. But this is not what they want. Isolation would have nothing whatsoever to do with their real goal. When you watch what they do for any length of time, you see they want to force everybody to do things their way.
356. Time-travel stories, especially the ones that have to do with suspended animation, are unsatisfying when they’re written for the gratification of love-struck overly sentimental females. They all seem to have it in common that the passive male triumphs in the end. He’s the one who gets the girl. By waiting for decades or centuries. Sleeping. Proving his dedication, passively. Usually, while she’s tearing up the sheets with a more active male.
357. If I tell you two and two make three, we can have a civil conversation about that. If I tell you two and two make three and there’s something really bad about you if you don’t agree…then we can’t. And the reason we can’t have a civil conversation is because of the actions of the person who so generalizes. As we recognize civil dialogue is becoming impossible, we need to make sure the blame goes where it belongs.
358. Some of the most aggressive schemes to extract the greatest amount of money out of people while rendering negligible service to them in return, have it in common that they require the consent of the mark if they are aimed at the lower classes; but are forced upon the mark if he is a member of the more solvent classes. The humble are worked-over through some form of entertainment, and with the affluent it has to do with regulation and taxes. Perhaps, if your lucre can be separated from you through entertainment, you’re not going to be affluent.
359. We’ve got an awful lot of people walking around, pretending to be engaged in political activism when they’re really just trying to feel good about themselves. We’ve got a whole lot of other people walking around who are pretending to try to feel good about themselves when they’re really engaged in political activism.
360. This recent campaign to manufacture learning disabilities is a late effort from the dying political-correctness movement to preserve itself. Think about it; if you wander into a room and forget why you’re there, I can make all kinds of jokes about it and we’ll probably laugh about it together. But then, if only your (quite common) affliction is assigned an ICD number, you become a handicapped person, I am laughing at your expense, it is absolutely excluded as a possibility that there can be anything self-deprecating about my remarks, I become a reprehensible monster, and the reasonable thing to do is find out what my career is and bring it to the inglorious end it so richly deserves. So this is a way of making things offensive that really are not, so we can alienate and eliminate each other. We’re tired of doing this but not finished with it quite yet.
361. My B.S. detector goes way up when I hear anything about “working with people”…”people skills”…”excellent communication skills”…”getting along with people.” I’ve found these are catchphrases used for the purpose of putting people out who should be kept in, and letting people in who should be kept out. Also, they are cliches of shelter for the technologically inept.
362. Expounding a bit on TIK #361: Generally speaking, people who brag about their abilities with regard to getting along with other people, aren’t very good at getting along with other people compared to other people.
363. High drama is slow suicide.
364. Future generations will look back on political correctness the way we look at fourteenth-century bedside bloodletting.
365. Holy guacamole. I know enough things to fill up a desk calendar.
366. The human instinct to nourish, manifest, and make use of one’s distinguished individual profile of desires & abilities, is a lot like sleep — it must be indulged. If it is suppressed by means of conscious will, it will yield at first but then after awhile body & mind will join up and force the issue by means of base impulse. And so I see a lot of the uglier things our anti-individualists do are in fact individualist in character, and quite out of control. It is not a pleasing sight by any means.
367. We’ve got a lot of people walking around who seem to think, if they offer a suggestion to someone and it isn’t accepted, that they have suffered from some horrible slight. Even with someone else’s business they can’t handle the word “no.”
368. With regard to TIK #367, I think these are the people who naturally gravitate toward “public service.” God help us.
369. Talking about experiences we have shared together is easy. Talking about influences we commonly have on certain things is much harder, because for that discussion to matter we have to pledge to work together.
370. I’ve met many an individual who will brook no criticism of the way average people think; they find this kind of talk to be arrogant. But it seems whenever they attempt to describe the way people think, in terms sufficiently robust to explain a questionable decision that has been made, they as individuals have to distance themselves from it. As in…most people tend to do this. I don’t. It’s a peril inherent to placing feeling over thought: The honor of others must be guarded, until guarding their honor starts to chafe uncomfortably against the guardian’s own ego.
371. Nothing unifies people like a common enemy. The final defeat of that enemy will surely divide them.
372. Whoever sacrifices all other things for the sake of popularity, will ultimately lose that as well.
373.Capitalism must necessarily involve agreements among people with disparate interests. Therefore, there can be no such thing as unfettered, unbridled, unrestricted, unchecked, unrestrained or out-of-control capitalism.
374. For a government to be unfettered, unbridled, unrestricted, unchecked, unrestrained and out-of-control, all it needs to do is stop being afraid of the people it governs…and voila, there you are.
375. In any position of executive responsibility, if you make the mistake of mentioning your predecessor too often, people will start to wish he was still there.
376. When the student is graded too much on process and too little on outcome, the first casualty is the ability to learn from experience.
377. Once tolerance is extended to intolerance itself, it isn’t tolerance anymore.
378. It doesn’t say anything bad about a man’s character when he errs in math, logic, set arithmetic, “one of these things is not like the other,” or anything of the like. It doesn’t say anything bad about his character when he gets these answers right, either. But we’ve got a lot of people walking around ready to derogate the character of others who get these answers right. They insist all others must make expected mistakes in order to be decent.
379. It isn’t virtuous to tolerate it if it depends on people lying to you.
380. We have a lot of people walking around who claim to be wanting to change something so they can be left alone to quietly live out their lives in a way that makes the most sense to them. These people are frauds. They want their fifteen minutes of fame. Or, they want to change how others live. Usually both of those.
381. From all I have been able to read about how wars got started, I can’t point to too many that started because people failed to understand one another. I can think of quite a few wars that got started because people understood each other just fine.
382. The words “Racism” and “Socialism” are being brought to end-of-life simultaneously but in opposite ways. The “R” word is being broadened to apply to more and more things, the “S” word is being whittled down bit by bit so it may be applied to nothing. In both cases, the ultimate effect is that the word has been robbed of all descriptive power and might as well not exist anymore. But I suppose I’m a racist for noticing it.
383. If you can convince the right people that you’re competent, you can make limited amounts of money by working. People will come to depend on you, and you’ll have power over them, but only if you make good decisions and do a good job. If you can convince the right people that you’re among the ones who say who’s competent, then you can make unlimited amounts of money without working. And people will come to depend on you, and you’ll have power over them, no matter what.
384. Inclusiveness begats inclusiveness and nothing else does. You cannot bring about inclusive results by excluding people. By excluding certain ideas, maybe, but not by excluding people.
385. We’ve got an awful lot of people walking around who seem to find it difficult to distinguish among “this happened,” “this is very likely to happen,” “it would confirm my prejudices if I saw this happening” and “it makes me feel good to think about this happening.” Of those four, I notice the last category is bristling with examples that are negative, and so these poor blind devils stumble around, creating toxicity and conflict where it didn’t exist before, blaming others.
386. A bureaucracy is a system made up of people with goals, functioning within another system made up of people with different goals. The goals of the larger system have something to do with sustenance, and the goals of the smaller system do not. Losing track of some larger picture is not only inevitable; it is the bureaucracy’s core function.
387. It is a mistake to assess the ability to decide things well, according to the decision reached. But I suppose if you’re going to do that, you should match the decision reached against the decisions of those who have some regular need to decide things correctly. If your lodestar for this is someone who has no real need to make good decisions, that’s a bigger mistake.
388. To see highly influential decisions made by people who disagree with us about what words like “moral” and “ethical” mean, or by people who have no standards for these concepts at all and don’t care to form one, is the price we have to pay for living in a free society.
389. If the behavior is a requirement upon you, acting it out does not demonstrate anything about you outside of one thing: You’ll do what you’re told.
390. We’ve got an awful lot of people walking around who seem to assess their own intelligence according to how quickly they can assimilate someone else’s opinion as their own. That’s a small mistake; the larger one is to resolve all conflict by placing infinite weight upon whichever opinion they heard first, and responding with absolute skepticism against the contrary opinion they heard subsequently.
391. Some of us figure out who among our acquaintances say things that carry great weight; others of us figure out who among our acquaintances we can trust. Weight and trust are two very different things. Trust means, if this person ever does reach a judgment that injures you, it won’t be because of deficiency in character or a desire to injure you. But it still might happen because the person is flawed like all the rest of us — inexperienced in some matter, ignorant, or perhaps thoughtfully prioritizing in a way that is just. “Weight” is more of a childhood fantasy thing. It implies deference — “I know one and two make three, but this person says the answer is five so I should at least consider it.” It also implies a sense of immunity from erosion I find to be not too grown-up or helpful: The person carrying the weight gave the wrong answer the last time, and the time before that and the time before that. But he still carries just as much weight as before.
392. As long as people have free will, there’s always going to be “still some [fill in the blank]-ism out there.” As long as people vote more power to politicians because there’s still some [something]-ism out there, freedom will be in a state of decline.
393. We’ve got an awful lot of people walking around in possession of some magical power that has no name and that is difficult to describe. It is probably most accurate to call this magical power “If I laugh at something it becomes untrue.” They have this magical power…or, at least, they seem to think that they do.
394. All truths we are socially stigmatized from commenting upon in a mixed venue, or are required to reject, with the passage of just a little bit of time will become even more true. They will continue to become more undoubtedly true until we stop doubting them, and are allowed to comment on them.
395. You can’t come out on top when you’re helping a woman pack luggage as you’re checking out of a hotel.
396. Once disaster is perceived as inevitable, people will resist any efforts to thwart it.
397. When people can’t or won’t pursue a logical thought, they arouse in themselves a primal impulse to project this onto the other, to conjure up an impression that the other side abandoned logic and reason first. They want to stop examining the evidence & what it might mean, but make it look like it’s the other guy who stopped doing that.
398. If the problem persists after effort has been allocated toward solving it, the effort was not honestly applied or it wasn’t focused on the problem’s actual source. People presume it’s the first of those two although experience suggests it’s more often the second.
399. In any community in which you have to be gullible to show your good membership standing, and skepticism is punished according to taboo, gullibility will win out over skepticism as the populace obeys the taboo. And then, reliable as a sunrise, there will gush forth a great deluge of tall tales and stuff and nonsense — therefore, a need for the skepticism that can no longer be found.
400. Lately I’m noticing a prevalent and widespread sickness in which opinionated people conflate or confuse their preferences with regard to what should happen, with what might make sense. In other words, they cannot understand “surprise” events, or events contrary to their vision. They are often heard to protest that such a contraband event is senseless. They say this when in fact it is perfectly reasonable given the antecedent events related to it — what is senseless, is the failure to anticipate that it would happen.
402. We’ve got an awful lot of people walking around who can’t seem to tell the difference between supporting evidence and their own intransigence. It’s as if they’re saying, “I am inflexible and therefore correct, I know everything because I don’t let anybody tell me anything”; and I’m expected to say, in reply, “I can see your mind will never be changed even if it is proven to you that you’re wrong…so I might as well change my mind and agree with you.” Did they meet with someone else, perhaps, who intentionally or otherwise accustomed them to such deference?
403. Life entails inequality; so does freedom; therefore, a dogmatic insistence on equality must involve loss of liberty and, ultimately, death.
404. You can’t be counted on to retain all the virtues of that process as you re-engineer it, if you couldn’t see the virtues of that process in the first place.
405. People tend not to see inferior performance even when it plays out right in front of them, if it’s part of a larger, more complex, and enigmatic system. They’ll continue to protest “It Just Works!” when it might very well be experiencing a complete breakdown, and blocking what they’re trying to do for weeks or months. What they really mean to say is they can’t be bothered to figure out how any of it works, so they’re just going with the system that is less transparent.
406. We’ve got an awful lot of people walking around who are anxious to get their thoughts out where others can hear them, but they don’t want too many others to hear about them because they don’t want to have to deal with dissent. I’m noticing these thoughts they want to get out, all have to do with new rules they want to have applied to the very people whose dissent they don’t want to hear.
407. If your argument consists mostly of statements to the effect that opposing arguments ought to be dismissed, then it’s probably a bad argument. And it should probably be dismissed.
410. When the guy telling you what to do keeps coming up with the same solution for every single problem, that’s a problem.
411. That’s okay; if you walk away from the problem without solving it, the problem will seek you out so you can give it another try.
412. Yoda’s right, difficult to read the future is. While loaded up silly with possibilities that are remote and not-so-remote, by its very nature it lacks certainty. Nor is it assembled for the gratification of any specific individual, faction or group entity; like the rest of nature, it is what it is. We seem to have a lot of people walking around who labor under great difficulty keeping these fundamental things in mind when they speak.
413. The enduring tragedy of the human condition is that people are very often caught behaving as if their tethering to reality is an expense and not an asset; that is to say, they maintain as little of it as is allowable without placing their immediate prospects for survival in undue jeopardy, with “none at all” being the most appealing and optimal level of said maintenance. As a consequence of this, it is very commonplace for people observed over the longer span of time to engage in as much prodigal thinking as they feel they can afford — very little silliness and fantasy in the lean times, and a surreal excess of such things when the situation is more comfortable for them. It is as if, when circumstances allow them to, they forget that the more disciplined grown-up thinking is not supposed to be pure drudgery and overhead, it’s an investment that ought to be offering a measurable return.
414. We’ve got a lot of people walking around who are very opinionated and loud about a lot of things, who don’t really have their own opinions. Their belief is invested, instead, in some kind of pecking order involving organizational authority, educational credentials, celebrity status, or some combination of all those. One argues the “what” and the “how” and the “why” with these types, and the discussion leaps, like iron filings to a magnet, to the “who,” as in, who says so and who says otherwise. They surely must understand that it is better to say “I know it is raining outside, because I looked out the window and checked for myself” than “I know it is raining outside because the weatherman said so” — and so, since they’re opting for the latter, they must have calculated they are unable to engage in the former. They must be people who do not “know” much of anything, if knowing means to internally understand an inference, the evidence that points to it, and all relevant concepts. They are effectively outsourcing all knowledge, displaying their fear and loathing of people who do not do this. What an awful way to live, to say nothing of, what an embarrassing thing to make public. I feel badly for them.
415. From “Differences“: No practical or effective thinking can proceed from a fundamental confusion of a thing with its opposite.
416. A plan involving any complexity at all consists of multiple tasks. If the plan is managed with such competence that enjoys a likelihood of success greater than that yielded by random chance, then the tasks will have to be prioritized. Prioritization is a task in itself, involving computations of urgency, prerequisite-relationships, and cost-benefit. You cannot compute cost-benefit, without factoring cost. And here we come to the modern folly: We’ve got an awful lot of people walking around who think they’re pretty good at managing complex plans, who “manage” costs of things simply by not thinking about them, and dissuading others from thinking about them.
417. When a very large number of people is seduced into buying bad ideas, they tend to buy them in bulk.
418. What follows is a crude over-simplification, but it works at a high level and it’s an accurate depiction of the critical differences: In science, the belief comes last and in faith, the belief comes first. In the former, you start with the data and you use measurements and reasoning to arrive at a conclusion; in the latter, your rationale is not the emphasis, and if you inspect it it really just amounts to something like “I want the guy in the mirror to believe in such-and-such, I like him better that way.” There is a certain logic to this, as beliefs affect motives, and motives have a lot to do with morality. We shouldn’t assume people who work on faith don’t know what they’re doing. We should assume that of people who fail to separate science from faith, who mash it all up together.
419. If you’re so sure of it that you have to exclude the voices and statements that say anything to the contrary…then you’re not sure of it. Certainty means you know the truth will stand up for itself.
420. Strollers are weapons. Crowd-control weapons. They are tactical devices used to achieve superiority of control of an area. Moving a “baby” around is a secondary purpose…and perhaps this explains why so many children riding in strollers lately are not babies.
421. We’ve got a lot of people walking around looking for opportunities to take a bold stand, but I notice they keep taking the same bold stand every time and that stand is not truly bold; it goes along with the grain of whatever is the most frequently voiced and most forcefully reverberated opinion. At the same time, I notice a recent crescendo in the opposition against those who take truly unpopular positions on things. I’ve often noticed the people taking these “bold” but fake stands, which are actually popular, are one and the same as the critics against people who have taken the genuinely bold stands that are unpopular.
422. “Fat worship” is wrong. Controlling, unhealthy and wrong.
423. Pretty sure we’ve crossed the point where we can’t afford any more “help from the government.”
424. Among the wanna-be dictators who seek dictatorship over matters well outside their dominion of knowledge, the major factor must be one of trust. They seek control where they lack knowledge, because they lack trust. They demand a monopoly on power because they demand a monopoly on trust. They want to receive all of it, and to give none of it.
425. One-foreground-dancer many-background-dancers is a format that can go away, never to come back again, anytime. As far as I’m concerned.
426. We’ve got a lot of people walking around seeking to challenge the concept of property rights, or to erode those rights in some way…can’t help noticing the most outspoken and famous ones among these are really, really rich.
427. One of the tragedies of the times in which we live is that children are not assets anymore. They used to be. Now they’re liabilities. If you have lots of kids, it’s just expected this problem comes up where you have to “pay” for them; children used to pay for their parents in all sorts of ways, MOSTLY material ways. Also, the generation in charge right now is the generation that grew up rebelling, and in many ways has never stopped rebelling. So we have two sets of laws, the written law, and the unwritten law championed by the authorities. All sorts of “crimes” break the one law but not the other, other crimes break the other law but not the one. I see connections among these wrinkles in the fabric…life will remain interesting until they’re smoothed out…
428. We’ve got a lot of people walking around who generate conflict because that’s the only way they’ve learned to deal with disagreement. Consciously or otherwise, they have become practiced over time, as one would logically expect, at making this conflict appear to be the product of the efforts of someone else. We’ve got a lot of other people walking around who haven’t developed any coping tools, for dealing with…conflict. I have noticed these seem to be the same people: They manufacture conflict that didn’t exist before, where they find someone disagreeing with them or challenging their most cherished beliefs, and then they can’t deal with the conflict they’ve manufactured.
429. Engineering is the application of science. Engineering relies on the individual’s power to differentiate between “it works” and “it doesn’t work,” which necessarily entails the ability to recognize the third-state of “it seems to work but under what conditions, I don’t know exactly.” Science, boiled down to its fundamentals, is ultimately a lot of practiced thought-exercises proliferating from a governing value system that seeks to distinguish “it doesn’t work” from “I don’t understand it.”
430. Wealth inequality doesn’t necessarily signify some societal ill or imminent disaster. Neither does income inequality. Some people despise money and the making of it, and when they are intermingled with those who do not hate money — inequality, far from being a symptom of something gone terribly wrong, is the expected outcome.
431. The first Christmas was not in the Honeymoon Suite at the Waldorf-Astoria, it was in a manger. It’s important not to obsess over the way things should be, to such a great extent that one misses the wonder and beauty of the way things really are.
432. Actually, if we’re looking for a symptom of imminent social-structure demise, we could probably go with: Too many people seeking to establish their stature in their communities and in their peer groups, by their beliefs, rather than by their behavior.
433. Life is short and precious. We don’t have the time to assign, or accept, blame for established problems in the wrong places, and then try to effect solutions at that wrongly located epicenter, hacking away at the leafy part of the weed, hoping for the best outcome, ending up feeling disappointed but smug. Diagnosis matters.
434. Life is short and precious. We don’t have the time to go setting up bad processes, hoping for good outcome to emerge at the end of them. Relying on good luck when there’s no need to so rely on it, is an abuse of it. Process matters.
435. I notice there is an ability some people have and some people do not have. We might think of it as the ability to comprehend definitions that have provide no objectively discerned meaning, applying interpretations that require the human element. Is this room tastefully decorated, is that joke funny, is it fun to watch that person give a speech. In our time, this ability is generally mutually exclusive from the ability to perceive truth. It isn’t hard to demonstrate: Was so-and-so only kidding when he said such-and-such. We see people heckled, ridiculed, scolded, for failing to “get the irony” or for having taken something too literally. The danger involved in diagnosing learning disabilities in, and prescribing medication for, these people is that it sidelines most of the people who might have the ability to get something useful built. An irony-genius, or denizen of a relative-reality universe, isn’t in a good position to build anything involving any level of complexity because you have to perceive hard, concrete, cause-and-effect relationships to do things like that.
436. Human history, recorded from antiquity as well as what I’ve seen in my lifetime, seems to rise and fall around a tidal cycle of sorts. The metric measured has to do with values, personal responsibility, taking things seriously. It’s high, then it’s low, then it’s high again and low again. The two unavoidable and obvious conclusions to be made anytime such a sine-wave-shaped pattern emerges in societal behavior are: There is something happening at the nadir of each cycle that tends to initiate an ascent; and, there is something happening at the zenith, conducive to a decline.
437. The thing about reasoning processes is, it’s the strong stuff that is entirely ineffectual in shaping the outcome. When the outcome is at the mercy of the reasoning, you know the reasoning is weak. Ignorance is at the extreme end of that spectrum. You can “prove” anything you want when your reasoning process is rooted in selective ignorance, it’s just a matter of ignoring the “right” facts.
438. If you laugh at it, that doesn’t make it untrue. No matter how many people hear you.
439. If you fail to understand it, that doesn’t make it untrue either. No matter how many times you express this failure to understand.
440. If you are being obstinate, pushy, cantankerous or intransigent, refusing to consider something, refusing to discuss something, that doesn’t prove anything at all about anything besides you.
441. Since everyone has the opportunity to be right or wrong, noticing a statement came from a certain source does absolutely nothing to prove it, or to refute it.
442. Repeating a prediction over and over again doesn’t make it more likely to come true.
443. The first step to forming a solution to a problem, is to think about it. The first step to forming a solution that is effective, is to show some curiosity and humility when you’re thinking about the problem. The first step to showing curiosity and humility about a problem, is to admit that nothing you’ve tried thus far has succeeded in solving it.
444. We’ve got a lot of people walking around, in fact, being elected & appointed to hold some sort of authority over the rest of us, who seem to be in the habit of opening “probes” and “investigations” with some pointedly solid ideas in mind about what the outcome is supposed to be. When I hear words like “probe” and “investigation,” I tend to think the primary focus of effort is going to be toward gathering facts not yet gathered, and then going wherever those facts are wherever that may be. This, I think, is an implied contract that isn’t going to be upheld until a lot of people insist on it, and we’ve got a problem because most people aren’t insisting on it. In fact, much of the time lately I see a lot of the most-interested people are insisting on the opposite.
445. Definition is an enduring but necessary cause of human conflict. The most persistent and profound conflicts among people, tend to be between those who rely on clear definitions of things, to do the things they want to get done; and those who have some interest in rejecting or resisting these definitions.
446. I see people losing, rather than strengthening, their grasp on reality when they measure things. It’s a given that the measuring will strengthen confidence in the result, but not so well established that the confidence will have something behind it. When people measure things, at a high level there are three influences on their final conclusion: 1) the measurement itself, 2) their prejudices, 3) the “hubbub” that arises in the aftermath. The conflict of influences between the last two of those three, and the first, is a conflict between politics and reality.
447. You don’t make new friends by giving enemies what they want.
448. Making speeches about the effects of a plan not yet executed, is what planners do when they haven’t been planning as much as they know they should. Getting into arguments about such predictions and insisting on having the last word, is what planners do when they don’t know as much about planning as they know they should.
449. You see how the values of a society change over time as the subtle nuances change in its language, written and spoken. Modifications of language are both cause and effect relative to changes in cultural values.
450. Certainty is manufactured, and poorly, when it relies on consensus; consensus is manufactured, and poorly, when it comes from the systematic expulsion of everyone who doesn’t go along.
451. If you challenge the plan and the proponent of the plan replies with something like “You can’t do anything about it,” you have a concession that the plan is bad. If any defense of the plan’s merits could have been provided, you would have been given that instead. As it is, the only way the plan could possibly be a good plan is if it’s good because of something unknown to those who are in favor of it. Which of course isn’t likely at all.
452. If the mother has a son, and has to raise him without the dad, and isn’t fully aware of how to communicate with him, the kid will be diagnosed. We as a society have installed a sort of jumper-cable between those two circuit-points; the ohms are at zero, there is no resistance there, no decision-making other than the mom’s potential to see things are messed-up and resolve to correct the course herself, certainly no “science.” Once the former happens the latter is pretty much done.
453. Social-service dependency is an intergenerational thing. And it isn’t just because the bureaucracy makes it hard to get off the dole, although it does; it isn’t just because it seems natural to be on it when you’ve never known anything else, although that’s true too. Welfare people want to make more welfare people. In fact, the energy some of them spend on it is impressive. We could power whole cities with it if we just bottled, I estimate, maybe just a fifth of it.
454. Outlaws have their own laws. If ever you could have the chance to converse with the thief who broke into your home and stole your furniture, you’d invariably uncover some silly rationale that makes your stuff his. He’d tell you he was merely taking back “his” property. The content of this idea may be laughable, but you’ll find his belief in it is rock-solid, as unflinching and unchanging as your belief in the laws against theft. He’ll think you’re the thief. The same is true of muggers, rapists, kidnappers, maybe some murderers…people who dash out of restaurants without paying the tab. Yes it’s a problem of lack of respect for the law, but that is based on another problem involving two different systems of “laws.”