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doomer thoughts

Y’know, the simplest way to solve humanity’s problems is to end humanity. Although I’m not saying this solution is desirable, nor am I saying this solution should be pursued. It’s there if we need it. I guess.

What’s the cause for all this alarm? Well, where do you want me to start?

Most of humanity’s problems have incredibly complex solutions (other than the aforementioned), and the ones that have simple solutions are difficult to implement. There is no easy solution to global warming, or the evil of capitalism, or the fact that private tech companies have the ability to spy on us. We actually have overwhelming evidence that these things are issues, and it seems like nobody cares about them.

The climate in Seattle has gotten more extreme. The hot days have become unbearable, and it snows every winter. Hurricanes hit the East Coast of the US every year (a phenomenon caused when the Atlantic Ocean heats up in the late summer months, by the way). Large parts of California are on fire all summer. These are not normal things to be happening. Yet climate change deniers and perpetuators prevail. It snowed in Texas last year and people died or something? Yeah. Not normal.

People talk about democratic socialism or communism like they’re legitimate alternatives to capitalism, but these political ideologies are destined to fail because they require the perfect combination of criteria to succeed. The most important of which being: honesty and integrity from everyone involved. Humans are not always so. Any vision of an earthly utopia comes from naivete.

And yes, your mobile devices are always listening to you. You can’t speak to activate your Alexa if it’s not listening to you at all times. But what are you going to do about it? Put on a tin foil hat? No. There’s nothing you can do about it. Nothing. Your phone knows where you are (even without Location turned on) and it’s always listening.

Business practices are getting more malevolent, megacorporations are getting even bigger, and the common person is more than willing to contribute to it. Don’t get me started on Apple and their business policies. Steve Jobs was outspokenly unphilanthropic and is still lauded as one of the greatest humans to walk the earth. His evil lives on through his company.

There are unending wars in southeast Asia. Our president can’t speak and can barely stay awake. Chinese companies now own huge pockets of real estate in the States. Our future is looking fairly Chinese. And on top of all this, AI is expanding at an uncontrollable rate.

I’m going to stop. There are too many issues in the world for me to cover in a few blog posts. All we can do is wait and see what will happen.

Good night, and good luck.

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Brief Thoughts on Los Angeles

I just got back from a trip to Los Angeles with a handful of my friends, and I wanted to document my thoughts on LA while they’re fresh in my mind. Here are a few assorted rambled thoughts in no particular order.

I don’t think I’d survive living there. I’m not used to the density or the lack of green, but I do like the diversity of options at any given time. The sweltering heat and my pale Seattle skin do not get along, but I’m sure I could get used to it.

People in LA are incredibly nice to strangers, which was a pleasant surprise. It’s easy to strike up a conversation with the person standing in line next to you in the grocery store or at the gym. In Seattle, we just look at you funny. “Why are you talking to me? Leave me alone.” I’m definitely more comfortable with the latter.

Every retail store has a security guard on site, as do many fast food restaurants. I wonder how useful they can be. I assume they’re there just as deterrent, but I didn’t get to witness any of them in action. A good number of the security guards are elderly men with lingering eyes.

Yes, before you ask, the average level of attractiveness in Los Angeles is higher than that in Seattle. Everybody has really nice skin. Must be the sun. I burned very quickly and stayed burnt the whole week. There were many, many people of Latin descent. So many so that they seemed like the majority. Fewer white and black people than I expected to see. Either way, there are tons of gorgeous women around and everybody knows it. The skincare / makeup industry must do very well here. Or maybe it’s the pollution.

LA tap water is filthy, and gave me a strange feeling in my stomach when I tried to drink it filtered. We stuck with bottled water after that, except when drinking water in restaurants. I’m not sure if they serve non-tap water in restaurants or if my body got used to it near the end, but those problems faded about halfway through the week.

The food is either very cheap or incredibly overpriced. I had a pastrami sandwich that costed $20. A normal-sized sandwich, one that you could make with bread from a grocery store. But also, my entire meal at In-n-Out cost less than $10. I’m not sure of the explanation for this discrepancy, other than relative fame of the restaurant. The sandwich was from Langer’s, home to the self-proclaimed best pastrami in the world. The In-n-Out was from In-n-Out.

The homeless run rampant there. Tents are set up in various locations, off to the side of streets. There is garbage everywhere, the streets smell like piss, and you’d be hard-pressed not to go a day without seeing puke on a sidewalk.

But despite this, people flock here, seeing it as the land of opportunity. Many careers require connections. Dense population equals connections. It makes me sad to think about the number of people who move to LA from Nowhere, USA, only to end up on the streets. The bar for talent is incredibly high, and very few people in the world are able to be in the right place at the right time.

Drivers are wishy-washy, if not incredibly willing to let others in. It was surprising. I expected everybody to drive aggressively, and was preparing myself for such. They’re not aggressive, just bold in strange ways. Taking a left across multiple lanes of traffic, not caring about halting oncoming traffic. That sort of thing.

I need to go on a diet.

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When might you NOT want to sneeze into the inside of your elbow?

Various health organizations around the US have been recommending that people sneeze into the inside of your elbow instead of your hands, and the reasoning is pretty sound. For one, you touch things with your hands. Imagine someone offers you a handshake after they sneeze into their hands. yuck.

And that’s about the only advantage I can think of.

If you have a thin arm, or if you mistime or misplace your arm, you’re basically stuck releasing some or all of your sneeze into the wild, where people may be. And regardless of if you miss, if your sleeve isn’t covered with something, the air is going to go up your nose, down the front of your shirt, and your elbow will be wet. The double-hand coverage of the nose and mouth doesn’t suffer these issues. Mostly.

But I’m here to offer a third solution: cloth. And obviously, I don’t think any one solution is perfect, but I think this solution makes the case for the best.

I’ve made a habit of sneezing into my shirt, through the collar. I turn my head as far down as a can, and away from as many people as possible. This way, the shirt catches all the moisture, and the air is directed toward my waist. Some air still escapes, but at least it’s not going into my nose.

If you’re wearing a dress or something, maybe it’s best to keep a handkerchief on hand. You’ll be the classiest lady in the land. Don’t have pockets? Keep your kerchief tucked in your purse or under jewelry. You’re a grown woman, you can figure it out. Just be aware that if you don’t layer the handkerchief before you sneeze, you’re going to get warm air on your hands.

Obviously this means the ideal solution is to bunch up your handkerchief and put it into your elbow before you sneeze into it. It solves all the problems. Or just don’t sneeze.

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I’m going to miss quarantine.

Quarantine is coming to a close soon, here in Washington state. When I get through a major phase in my life, I like to pause and reflect for a bit about what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown, but this time it feels a little different.

I can definitely tell you what I learned. I learned audio mixing, video editing, the basics of air conditioning and how to build a house, and that I can make consistent money in the stock market. But I can’t tell you how I’ve grown.

What I can tell you, though, is that my social skills have gotten worse over the past year. It’s hard to determine the extent of damage that has on my ability to interact with people face-to-face, or how long it will take me to recover. But I’ve become comfortable in isolation. The quarantine has allowed me to bypass social situations I don’t like.

I hate getting invited to parties and I don’t like large groups of people. There’s always some social obligation to show up, because I feel like I’m letting down the host(s) and other guests if I don’t. I also usually can’t find a better reason for declining an invitation than, “I don’t want to,” or “I don’t like your friends.” Might as well go and practice getting comfortable with people I don’t know or like. That’s what I tell myself, anyway. But it doesn’t work. I usually end up sitting on the side, wishing I was at home.

Furthermore, I have zero idea what’s acceptable in social-romantic situations. Zero. Zero. I never have. It doesn’t come naturally to me. There have been a few times when I thought about approaching a lady I thought was attractive, but I don’t know what I can and can’t say. I don’t know how to act or be. If somebody in the far future came forward with allegations about me, I can guarantee you I would have no idea what I did or why it was wrong. So prevent that from happening, I instead opt not to approach anyone. If I die alone, that’s fine. I’d rather do that than life with knowing I accidentally hurt people and not knowing why.

Something else I learned is that I objectify everything and everyone. I don’t discriminate, and it’s not intentional. If a person or thing does not bring value to (or creates negative value in) my life, I cut it out. Relationships are complicated, and I’m still trying to figure out how social things work. Sorry if we used to be friends and we don’t talk anymore. I’m working on it.

Lastly, I’ve been trying to be more aware of my attention span. I had an interaction with a few younger people and I couldn’t help but notice their attention span was atrocious. Mine is a little better, and I’m trying to work on it. I can sit through movies and five-minute songs without getting bored. Just recently I was able to focus on two things for long periods of time: one for six hours and the other one for 16. I focused on one thing for sixteen hours. (It was a video game.)

I blame social media for this destruction in global attention span. It’s poison. Tiktok might be the worst of them in this aspect.

But hey, I saved a bunch on gas money last year, and I’ll miss that too.


edit:

Some people, in the 1960s, predicted that the literacy rate in America was going to fall to zero by the 2000s. I have no source for this, I just remember seeing it on one of the pages in the back of 1984 when I was in high school. I wonder what their definition of “literacy” was. Was it simply the ability to read and write, or was it also about mastery of grammar rules and the like? Because I’d argue that the latter has fallen nearly to zero.

I’m willing to bet that the average social media post is written at a third-grade reading level. Don’t get me started on Twitter. Why are people even trying to have nuanced discussions on that platform?

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oversocialization

A few months ago, I wrote about Ted Kaszynski’s manifesto on my 2020 wrap-up post. However, he wrote a section titled, “Oversocialization,” and I did not cover it then. Let’s talk about it now.

what is it?

“Socialization” is defined as the process by which someone internalizes social norms and ideologies. Socialization is a necessary part of development, and is more effective in children than in adults; not only because children’s minds are more plastic than adults’, but because adults are more likely to choose the sources of their information based on the opinions they already have. We’ll get to that.

Socialization plays a critical part in determining whether a person is able to fit into society, in developing a person’s personality, and in guiding their behavior. Obviously, this makes socialization incredibly important in a person’s development, all the way from birth to death: studies show that people are shaped both by social influences and by genes.

If somebody’s personality has been shaped more by genes than by social influences, you’d call them “undersocialized.” Imagine a socially awkward person you know; someone who seems fine in every aspect, other than a few oddities.

On the flip side, if somebody has been shaped more by social influences than by genes, you’d call them “oversocialized.” Someone who fits in the middle is just considered “well-socialized.” Take Kaszynski’s definition:

The moral code of our society is so demanding that no one can think, feel and act in a completely moral way. For example, we are not supposed to hate anyone, yet almost everyone hates somebody at some time or other, whether he admits it to himself or not. Some people are so highly socialized that the attempt to think, feel and act morally imposes a severe burden on them. In order to avoid feelings of guilt, they continually have to deceive themselves about their own motives and find moral explanations for feelings and actions that in reality have a nonmoral origin. We use the term “oversocialized” to describe such people.

Industrial Society and its Future, pgph. 25

He then goes on to argue that “oversocialization can lead to low self-esteem, a sense of powerlessness, defeatism, guilt, etc.” and that this is one of the key personality features of some powerful figures of the political left. Somebody who is oversocialized tends to feel guilt when non-social thoughts or activities come across their minds. Feelings of hatred, or even slacking off at work, provides such guilt for the oversocialized person that they need to justify it somehow.

effects of oversocialization

The oversocialized person also has no problems with harming the individual “for the good of the society.” They can be seen belittling others who don’t follow all of society’s rules, or enacting violence on those who disagree with them. It’s not about morality, even though that’s what they would have you believe.

It’s about the person’s own feelings of guilt and powerlessness in this society. It’s an attempt to bring others down to their level, and a feeble and hypocritical attempt at rebelling against the status quo, even though this person is maintaining the status quo by doing so.

On a slightly unrelated note, it never made sense to me to use force to change peoples’ minds.

You can read the original text on oversocialization here. Kaszynski includes other points that I don’t feel like discussing here. Keep in mind this was written in 1995.

agents of socialization

There are six:

  1. Family
  2. Schools
  3. Media
  4. Religion
  5. Political parties
  6. The state

(source)

#3 stands out as one I’ve been outspoken against. The preceding Wikipedia article has important facts about the effects of media on socialization, if you’d like to read further.

is he right?

I’d say so, but also don’t let me just tell you that. Read through his writing and make your own decision. I’m not here to socialize you.