Strategies of Pleasure and Pain



Hedonism is the school of thought that happiness comes from pleasure and/or avoidance of pain. This pleasure is held as the highest good. But is this true? Is pleasure the highest good?

My way of philosophy is different from those of others because most philosophers try to reason their way to some undeniable and inescapable conclusion usually after some extended Platonic word game. I think this is stupid. Over 2000 years of philosophy should show the futility of this approach as philosophers today seem no further along than Socrates in his day when it comes to discovering truth. The reason for this is because they define truth in the wrong way. For them, truth is what can be deduced logically and cannot be contradicted. Yet, philosophy is filled with contradictions, paradoxes, and ultimately, meaninglessness. This is to be expected when rationalism is put as the cornerstone.

Truth is simply that which exists. Truth is whatever is real. As such, science has shown the progress that philosophy has not. This does not mean that science answers all questions. It cannot tell us whether the Mona Lisa is beautiful or not. Science cannot tell us whether it is wrong to euthanize a brain dead individual. Science simply provides us with facts and data. Questions of value are another matter.

Philosophy to be done well must never lose this empirical foundation. Philosophy is less a search for what is true so much as it is a selection of strategy. A person's philosophy is essentially their strategy for living, and those strategies can be judged solely upon whether or not they achieve the ends desired. It is pointless to debate whether or not Marxism is the proper political philosophy when it has been shown again and again to not work. It might be nice to consider a classless utopia of total equality, but the fact that it does not happen indicates it is a fantasy on par with the myth of Valhalla or Mount Olympus. You might as well argue for the necessity of being gods or having eternal life while you are at it.

I do not believe that happiness and pleasure are the same thing. My basis for this is empirical. You simply have to look and observe the various strategies for hedonism to see that they fail to deliver the desired end. Conversely, asceticism as the antidote to hedonism also fails to deliver the desired end. A scientific understanding of these things will show why they succeed in some respects and fail in others. It also suggests a new strategy for living a more pleasurable life.

The Cyrenaics

The Cyrenaics were a Socratic school that existed in Greece and was founded by Aristippus who lived from 435 to 356 B.C. The Cyrenaics believed that pleasure was the highest good. Bodily pleasures were more important than mental pleasures. Immediate pleasures were more important than future pleasures. They were the originators of the phrase, "Let us eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow, we die." The Cyrenaics were crass hedonists. They were the frat boys of the ancient world.



Crass hedonism delivers the goods in terms of pleasure. Fucking, eating, drinking, and doing drugs are great. They feel good. The problem is they all come with nasty consequences--hangovers, obesity, drug arrests, drug overdoses, marriage. It seems that pleasure comes with pain. Conversely, no pain comes without pleasure. For instance, water tastes better after enduring a hard workout on a hot day.

Pleasure and pain are like a two-headed beast. You cannot have one without the other. Attempts to increase pleasure will only yield greater pain. This inescapable fact may depress some people, but it shouldn't. But what it shows is that crass hedonism will not yield the desired result.

Epicurus

The philosopher Epicurus had an answer to this Cyrenaic dilemma. Epicurus famously said that pleasure knows no increase only variety. Epicurus taught a refined hedonism where the goal is not a maximum of pleasure but the absence of pain. By tending to one's needs, you eliminate the pain and discomfort of life. Instead of eating a gigantic fattening meal, you eat simple foods that sate the hunger without disturbing the digestion or contributing to weight gain. Epicurus counseled this strategy in all things yielding what we could call today the "simple life."



People who live the simple life want to live carefree. They want to live pleasantly with few worries, concerns, or troubles. This pleasant life sounds appealing until you realize its impossibility. You can retire to the countryside for an idyllic life and to escape the rat race. But you adjust to this new reality such that new things become unpleasant. You replace honking horns with chirping birds until the chirping birds become annoying. This phenomenon is what psychologists call the "hedonic treadmill." You adjust to whatever the new normal is such that you are back where you started. The effort to create a more pleasant life merely results in a lower tolerance for pain. At this point, you can feel a bit depressed.

Asceticism

If hedonism doesn't work, why not become ascetic? Why not renounce worldly pleasures for higher pleasures? Why not devote yourself to a philosophy, a religion, art, music, or what have you? Why not live a life of virtue and renounce base pleasures and embrace pain and hardship? This was the answer that the Stoics gave us who counseled us to seek the only good which was virtue. The Stoics were the bad asses of the ancient world. Today, they would be Navy SEALS.



By living a more painful life, you enlarge your capacity for suffering. The hedonic treadmill works both ways, so why not become accustomed to hardship? Just embrace the suck and live there. There is some wisdom to this approach. The Stoics would do just such things. They would embrace cold statues nude in the winter or sleep on boards like the emperor Marcus Aurelius. They believed these practices made them tougher and more resilient. But is this actually the case?

The Stoics would debate amongst themselves what the Stoic Sage would do in the bull of Phalaris. For those unfamiliar with this device of torture and execution, the bull of Phalaris was a brazen ox that had a door in the side. They would put the condemned in this bull and set a fire underneath roasting the poor guy alive on the inside. His screams and the steam made a nice bellowing bull sound as it exited the bull's nostrils. Debating the happiness and serenity of a Stoic Sage in such circumstances is ludicrous.

The fact of human beings is that we inhabit physical bodies. There is no escaping this fact. We are our flesh, and our flesh is us. A wide body of scientific knowledge attests to this fact. Our systems of pain and pleasure provide us important feedback when it comes to our bodies. Hedonism reduces us to these sensations, but asceticism cannot lift us above these sensations. There is no virtue in needless suffering.

These three strategies in dealing with pleasure and pain come with inescapable problems. The problem is trying to separate pleasure from pain. This is an unsolvable problem. Instead of trying to separate pleasure and pain, they need to be unified. We must accept the dual nature of the two and learn to use them for our gain.

Duality and Syzygy



To grasp this new concept of pleasure and pain, we must leave the West and go to the East and to the teachings of Taoism. Taoism teaches that nature is filled with these dualities. There is day and night. There is male and female. There is life and death. The word psychologist Carl Jung used to describe these concepts was "syzygy" or a pair of opposites. They seem opposed, but they are complementary. You cannot have one without the other.

These concepts must not be confused with the concepts of good and evil. They are devoid of these moral meanings. Pain is not necessarily bad nor is pleasure necessarily good. A sore muscle from a workout is a good thing. A broken leg from a fall is not a good thing. Similarly, water on a hot day is a good thing while a heroin overdose is not a good thing. You can see that the judgments we make on these matters is whether or not they improve or destroy the body. This was the evolutionary reason behind our sensations, but we have found ways to short circuit these things either for our benefit or our detriment.

In light of this Eastern perspective, the proper attitude to take towards pleasure and pain is to embrace them and use them. We should be both hedonists and ascetics and neither of them. If this sounds confusing to you, it shouldn't because we already have people who embrace this duality. They are athletes.

Athletes are simultaneously master of their bodies and servants of their bodies. They will punish their bodies in the weight room, ice them in excruciating torment in a tub, and then sleep for twelve hours and eat healthy delicious foods. They join together both punishment and pampering.



We should mimic this duality of pleasure and pain in our own lives. We need to enlarge our capacity for suffering with ascetic discipline but also enjoy the sublime pleasures that come from the relief of that suffering. The easiest way to do this is to go out for rigorous physical exercise such as running or working out at the gym. Then, enjoy some healthy food and plenty of rest. In short, you need to embrace both the weight set and the couch. The occasional beer is not so bad either.

Some will counsel moderation in all things, but this isn't going to cut it. There is nothing moderate about a CrossFit workout. People like extremes. When they find something they like, they want a lot of it. This is as true of pain as it is of pleasure. With syzygy, you get to satisfy these appetites. You increase the pleasure. Epicurus was wrong. Pleasure does know increase. It just comes with an increase in pain.

The bad pleasures and pains are those things which are destructive to the mind and body. This would be the world of drugs, tobacco use, and excessive drinking. Couch surfing, watching TV, or eating good food do not apply because they are good things in relation to running twelve milers, hitting the weights, or puking your guts out with a CrossFit routine.

Science backs me up on this as there exists lots of data about the need for both the stimulus of exercise and the benefits of rest. What science doesn't tell you is how great all this feels. Eliminate either the yin or the yang on this, and your body will rebel. Being a couch potato is not a pleasurable life and neither is being a sleepless robot living in ascetic denial. Speaking from personal experience, I have lived at both these extremes, and they both suck equally as much.

The syzygy strategy can be applied to other areas which I will explore and write on in the future. I just know that in this area we should not make enemies of the couch and the gym. They belong together, and you should feel no guilt for enjoying pleasures earned.

PRINT-The Pirates of Somalia by Jay Bahadur



Jay Bahadur's The Pirates of Somalia is one part adventure travelogue and one part socio-political commentary. In 2009 and 2010, Jay risked his life to travel to Somalia to chew khat and learn about Somali piracy. My interest in the book stemmed from a larger interest in the subject of anarchy. The book was incredibly interesting and eye opening.

Somalia is not precisely an anarchy. It lacks a central government, but it is governed locally. This would be like abolishing the federal government in the USA but leaving state governments behind to do their thing. In Somalia, these local governments are largely a joke. Without a large tax base, strong government is not possible.

Piracy was a response to the loss of fishing as a viable industry as foreign fleets came in and overfished. This was the initial reason, but it is obvious from the book that this reason is not valid but mere PR for the pirates. Piracy is lucrative for them, and Bahadur goes into painstaking detail on profits, losses, and the economics of the trade. This book is Paul Theroux meets Freakonomics. Like Freakonomics, Bahadur discovers that piracy is not so lucrative for the foot soldiers and grunts but is very lucrative for the pirate lords in much the same way that drug lords in the USA are prosperous while their grunts make less than the minimum wage.

My interest in the book was primarily political since libertarians get hit with the anarchy in Somalia argument. Without a doubt, there is less government in Somalia, but it is not Hong Kong. They have Toyota SUVs and cellphones in Somalia, but they also have large amounts of crime. This is why I favor minarchy over anarchy because I see government as being indispensable to creating a sphere of order for the free market to operate in its most optimal state.

It is a fascinating book, and I recommend it for anyone interested in Somalia.

TRUE SHIT-Sleeping Dolphins



No one believes me when I tell them this, but this shit is true. Dolphins sleep with half their brain. One side shuts down while the other side remains awake. Then, they switch to the other side. During this sleep, they are not very active either remaining at the surface to breath or slowly descending and ascending to get a breath.

It is obvious that dolphins evolved this sleep pattern because they would drown if they slept like humans. It also points to some need for sleep that is indispensable since the sleep thing did not evolve out of them despite being advantageous for survival.

Intense Single Tasking

Multitasking is out. Turns out this badge of honor from the ’90s is more fiction than fact. Our brains don’t multitask, they just rapidly switch between tasks, sometimes fast enough for us to believe we’re doing many things at once. Problem is, every time we switch, there is a “ramping cost” in your brain, it takes anywhere from a few second to 15 minutes for your brain to fully re-engage. This makes you feel insanely busy, but simultaneously craters productivity, creativity and increases feelings of anxiety and stress.

Multitasking also requires you to hold a lot of information in your working memory, which is controlled by a part of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex (PFC). But the PFC is also responsible for will-power, and for keeping fear and anxiety in check. Multitasking increases the “cognitive load” on the PFC, overwhelming it and effectively killing it’s ability to keep fear, anxiety and the taunt of distraction at bay.

Simple solution–just say no. Do one thing at a time in intense, short bursts.


JONATHAN FIELDS

I don't believe in multitasking. It doesn't work. I have a friend at work who disagrees with me. He says he has no choice. But I use my method, and it works. He uses his method and fucks shit up. His reputation is that of a fuck up. It isn't because he is stupid or incompetent. He simply multitasks and fails.

I do what I call IST or intense single tasking. The goal of multitasking is to get things done faster. In practice, this doesn't happen. You can point this out to people, cite research on the subject, and explain why it doesn't work. This will not deter them. This is because they see no alternative. IST is the alternative.

What I do is simple. I focus intensely on single tasks and do them as quickly as possible until completion. Things that are automatic I leave to themselves like a microwave meal. It is amazingly effective as I rip through tasks. Unlike multitasking, I feel the rush as I run out of things to do.

When I multitask, the opposite happens. I shift from one thing to another and back again. I'm here. I'm there. One or two of the tasks I am juggling crashes to the earth. I become frustrated. The irony is that I am better than many others at doing it. But I am not better than when I single task.

It takes discipline to do IST. It goes against your instincts. It requires that you outright ignore some things and even some people. But when you start doing it, those people may be mad but only for a short period. This is because you can please everyone. You just can't please everyone at the same time.

At the computer, it is the same thing. Close that Facebook window. You only get two windows open at one time. This assumes you clinked a link in the first window. Read or deal with whatever is in the second window. Then, return to the first window. You will find that you read more stuff.

The car is where I fail. I eat in the car, and I used to talk on the cellphone behind the wheel while eating and listening to music. The result was bad driving, bad eating, and a person on the other end of the line wondering what I was saying between bites of food and Bachman Turner Overdrive. Basically, you get to do two things in the vehicle. You get to drive, and you get to listen to the radio. A cup of coffee is permitted. No phone calls. Hang up and drive. If someone calls, you have two choices. Finish your drive, or pull over and call them back. The best thing I find to do is call them back as soon as the drive ends. Park the car in your spot and return all calls unless nature is calling. Keep the calls short and sweet. Explain to them that you were driving, and you have finished driving. I haven't had one person tell me that I was a dick for this. I have heard people frustrated with the multitasking approach. Plus, calls are most often dropped while in a moving vehicle.

Multitasking is the illusion that you can increase time and productivity through layering. You can't. You are finite. Time and productivity are increased through focus and speed not layering. Intense single tasking decreases stress and makes people happier. You get more done.

Sam Harris on the Future of the Book

Where publishing is concerned, the Internet is both midwife and executioner. It has never been easier to reach large numbers of readers, but these readers have never felt more entitled to be informed and entertained for free. I have been very slow to appreciate these developments, and yet it is clear even to me that there are reasons to fear for the life of the printed book. Needless to say, many of the changes occurring in publishing are changes that neither publishers nor authors want. The market for books is continually shifting beneath our feet, and nobody knows what the business of publishing will look like a decade from now.

The Future of the Book

This is a brilliant essay and a rumination on what the future of publishing will be. Like it or not, that future is digital. Is the book dead?

Right now, I am writing a book. I could just as easily post the chapters as blog posts, and I think about that as I write them. But they don't work as blog posts. The chapters cannot stand alone. They are like bricks in a structure which would make no sense on their own but make sense in the context of the book. The chapters build on the previous chapters. If you only got one, it would feel incomplete, and you would feel cheated.

Sam Harris is pondering how authors can get paid in this new digital landscape. I think he is asking the wrong question. Bloggers like Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, and Leo Babauta manage to get paid. They aren't rich like a Stephen King, but they show you can make a living from writing. The internet has actually made things more accessible to writers that would otherwise have no shot. The question is not how writers will get paid. The question is how big shot writers along the lines of Stephen King and J.K. Rowling can continue to be rich. The answer is that they won't. Rock stars are the first major casualty of this revolution. Big time writers are right behind them.

The reason that all these creative types became rich is because of intellectual property laws. Copyright enabled someone other than the creator to own the work, publish it, and distribute it. Publishers and record companies were notorious in their dealings with talent. Then, their competitive advantage vanished with the internet. The IP cartel was broken.

The upside of this new order is that creative types have the means of distribution and production in their hands. The downside is that there is little chance of them getting paid for it. Just yesterday, I had an online conversation with an aspiring novelist wanting to be widely read but also get paid for it. I told him that he could not have both. If success is measured in eyeballs, it is very easy to become a successful writer. If success is measured in money, it isn't going to happen.

Joseph Schumpeter called this process "creative destruction." New orders in the marketplace displace the old orders. This is why I tell people that the future is not online in terms of making money but in the physical realm. People who produce food, build structures, maintain cars, and all the rest are the ones who are going to command premium pay. Why is this? Because no one wants to do this work anymore. I know because I see it now. This is why jet mechanics now command higher pay than jet pilots. No one wants to turn those wrenches. The pay has increased to try and attract people into these unglamorous but necessary careers.

The difference between blue collar work and the work of the mind is that blue collar work is not scalable while intellectual work is. Under an IP regime, scalable creative work can make you rich as fuck. This is because you can spend a year writing a novel like The Stand and then sit on your ass collecting royalties for that year of work for the rest of your life. But when you are a rock star getting decimated by online piracy, you get your old ass up and start touring and selling tickets to shows. There is a reason all these geezers are out there on the road, and it isn't personal enjoyment. They need the money. Hell, many of these rockers hate each other's guts, but they put up with each other to make a buck. Welcome to the real world of work, motherfuckers.

All intellectual work depends on protectionism for its income. It could be a license for a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer. It could be copyright for a writer or a patent for an inventor. But the real moat for these castles came from the cost of distribution and production. That marginal cost is now virtually zero. In the long run, there is no protection for intellectual property. It is eroding. Publishers are the next to die followed by universities and movie studios.

What is the future for the workers of the mind? The answer to that is they will have to go back to their day jobs. Guys like Sam Harris are going to have to get a job in a restaurant working the grill. I already see this with rock stars. They can drive a bus and listen to music, or they can ride in a bus and play the music each night. But the pay won't be that much different. The tragedy is not a cost to culture but the erosion of personal fortunes. I think that is wonderful. This is the way it should be.

HEROES-Cliff Burton



A lot of rock and rollers die young. There are Hendrix and Morrison. You have Kurt Cobain. You can add Bon Scott and John Bonham. Then, there is Nikki Sixx who died and came back. Death and rock and roll has become a cliche. The music and the lifestyle implies self-destruction. Then, there is the tragedy of Cliff Burton.

Cliff Burton died on September 27, 1986, when the tour bus the band Metallica was riding in flipped over. Burton was sleeping in a bunk when he was tossed out the window, and the bus fell on him killing him. The irony is that he had won the bunk from guitarist Kirk Hammett by pulling a higher card from a deck of cards. It is said the card was the ace of spades.

The death of Cliff Burton was a massive loss to Metallica. Burton was an exceptional bassist especially considering that he was only 24 when he died. There is no doubt that had he lived he would have cemented himself as the greatest bassist to ever play the instrument in much the same way that Hendrix is revered on guitar. The fact that he chose bass over some other instrument indicates that his intention was to be the best. Burton played using distortion and a wah pedal, a device used principally by guitarists. His playing style and personality brought the bass to the front and was showcased in great Metallica songs such as "For Whom the Bell Tolls," "The Call of Ctulhu," "Orion," and the extended bass solo "Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)." Burton's bass solos were a highlight of every Metallica show, and fans revered Cliff.



Cliff Burton was also the soul of the band. He rejected the commercial crassness of other bands and urged Metallica to get the fuck out of glitzy LA and make their name in lesser known San Francisco. At the time, this was considered musical suicide since LA was where all the action was. But this was the home of hair metal, and Cliff Burton hated that shit. The man dripped integrity, and that integrity is what has earned the respect of millions of Metallica fans.

Cliff Burton was also a complete individualist. Even within a band like Metallica, Cliff stood apart with his bell bottom jeans and demeanor. He was way cooler than James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, the band's founders. As Lars Ulrich put it in an interview, "My fondest memories of Cliff are his total disregard for convention and his total disregard for playing things out the way you expected them. He was up to challenge the normalcy, to challenge the status quo, to just fuck with things musically, attitude-wise - the way he dressed, the way he carried himself, his sense of humor, his relationship with the music that inspired him, the music that he played. It was always very unconventional, and it was very unusual." Cliff took Metallica to places they had not considered.

Cliff also contributed significantly to Metallica's second and third albums. Those two albums stand as the best Metallica ever did, and the band has never sounded that good since. Does Cliff deserve the credit? He obviously didn't write everything, but it is clear that he exerted a certain influence over what was good and what wasn't. At the time, he was clearly the most talented and developed on his instrument, and this must have made the others in the band elevate their game considerably. Cliff also brought melody to the band and showed that you could use it without selling out your thrash roots. Burton brought a third dimension to what would have been a two-dimensional band.

Cliff died, but his death was not like other rock and roll deaths. It was sudden, unexpected, and unfair. You can blame Hendrix and Cobain for their tragedies, but Cliff was not like those other casualties. He had just begun to live and to amaze when he was snatched from the world of the living. This was not a drug overdose or a suicide. This was a goddamn accident that snuffed out a truly exceptional and unique individual. Metallica had lost two members previously without a second thought, but the loss of Cliff Burton made them seriously consider hanging it up. They were never the same band again.

Cliff Burton is sorely missed, and the two bassists that have filled his shoes in the band are always compared to Cliff. It is unfair to them, but this shows the legacy the man still casts 25 years later. He was on the cusp of some really amazing shit when he was killed. He played the Star Spangled Banner on the bass the night he died. He was the Hendrix of bass players. We can only imagine what he would have gone on to do with that instrument had he lived.



VIDEOS







TUESDAY

1. Leo posted a new vid, so I'm sharing it:

Free Habits Webinar from Leo Babauta on Vimeo.



2. One of the fringe benefits of being a cop is letting a woman fellate her way out of a speeding ticket.

3. Another fringe benefit is spraying mace in the face of a female protester on Wall Street.

4. They want Chris Christie run now that Rick Perry has turned out to be such a complete dipshit in the debates. I like Christie, but for a fat guy, he is a lightweight compared to Ron Paul.

Q & A

Q: Why are you always down on yourself?

A:
I'm not a big believer in self-esteem. I read somewhere that people think criminals have low self-esteem, but studies indicate this is not true at all. In fact, criminals are overwhelmingly narcissistic. They have no trouble with self-love which may explain why they show virtually no remorse in relationship to their crimes.

The opposite extreme of this narcissism would be self-loathing and self-hatred. I don't suffer from that either. If you doubt this, look no further than this blog which has one overwhelming theme connecting all of it--my individuality. I can make fun of my appearance, my mistakes, and be brutally honest about myself because I accept myself as I am. When others hear this honesty and self-deprecation, they can't deal with it. This isn't because they feel sorry for me but because they cannot endure such an honest appraisal of themselves. I can.

I like who I am. In addition, I honestly don't give a fuck what others think about me. I like the feedback both positive and negative, but I don't take it personally. If you doubt this, click the "fuck you" button at the bottom of this post. I am fairly thick skinned.

I think I firmly occupy the midpoint between narcissism and self-hatred. I don't do either of those extremes. I laugh at myself because I am comfortable with who I am. Life is simply too short to pretend to be anyone other than who you are.

[SOC]

I've been spending a lot of time reading and researching the subjects of self-control and willpower. It is stimulating and fascinating to me. The fact is that we all have bad habits and behaviors we want to deal with. The problem is that it seems so totally impossible. It gets to be frustrating, and you just give up. The reason I never become a smoker was because of watching my parents struggle to quit and fail while growing up. I learned early on that bad habits were tough, and it was better to not start than try to quit them later.

I think habits can be your friend. I am surprised at how disciplined people can be in certain areas of their lives and be totally undisciplined in others. Watching the documentary on Lemmy Kilmister, I was struck by both the man's exceeding vices but also his virtues. Even if you don't care for the music of Motorhead, you have to like Lemmy. That guy is one of a kind and one of the nicest people you will ever meet. They asked him what the secret of survival was, and he said, "Not dying." Awesome shit.

But back to my self-discipline thing, I am always struggling with the same basic four things. I call it the Big Four, but they have remained constant throughout my life. The first is to eat healthy. This means low fat and low sugar. I eschew fried foods, sugary sodas, hamburgers, desserts, etc. When I am doing well at it, my weight drops like a motherfucker, and I feel like a million bucks. When I lapse on that shit, my weight goes back up.

My second thing is exercise. Basically, I move forward as rapidly as I can. Sometimes, this is called running. Other times, it is just walking. I do body weight exercises and martial arts practice. Being disciplined in this area is no big deal, but I find the conflict comes with my writing. Right now, I am writing this when I really should be outside getting in a few miles. I am good at keeping a blog. I am not so good at getting fit. Let's face it. I SUCK.

The third thing is cleanliness and organization and all that. I end up collecting detritus around my desk as I eat and drink while writing blog posts and reading reams of shit. As I write this, I have twenty soda cans standing at attention beside the screen. It takes about five minutes to clean this shit up because being a minimalist makes cleaning fast. But why does this stuff pile up like this? That is easy. It is because I am writing the shit you are reading now.

The fourth thing is working more. I like working lots of hours on the job, and I am still trying to implement the Gene Simmons advice to work seven days a week. If you count writing as work, I achieve that easily. But I consider it a hobby, so I am nowhere near achieving that goal. Why is this? Because I write so much.

The fact is that I don't make progress on my virtues because I have one major vice. That vice is writing. I can't keep to a fitness program, but I can keep a blog almost daily for five fucking years. If I don't write, I get irritable as fuck. I don't know why I do this, but I do it.

Ben Franklin tried to improve himself, but what he found was that as he did well on one area it would cost him on some other area. Consider Anton Krupicka who is pretty dedicated as a runner. But he is a complete slob in everything else. This is the price he pays to run for all those hours every day. On the flip side, there is Leo Babauta who seems to have all his shit together though not perfectly. This achievement comes from reducing everything to simplicity. It is a great strategy.

The thing I have learned from all three of these individuals is that there are limits to life. I write considerably more than other bloggers, but it comes at a price. The computer pile is evidence of this. The time I could have taken to clear that shit away is now on this screen. It is the words you are reading now. I had to make a choice between being a writer or having a clean desk, and I chose the writing. It sucks because I want both.

Should I give up writing? The thought has crossed my mind. During the times when I am not writing, those big four habits/goals improve considerably. I make massive progress on those things. The fact is that writing grows larger in my life. The other thing is reading since it serves as a catalyst to my writing.

I want to reconcile this conflict in my life between the writing habit and the other things. I am not sure how I am going to pull that off because I actually write less than my intentions. You wouldn't believe the list of projects I have in my notebook. But like the Big Four, it all seems to exceed my grasp. This is why Leo Babauta's dictum to simplify and go with less works so well. It is what David Allen says. You can do anything, but you can't do everything.

[U.] RODS! CLONES!! CHEESE!!!

BITCHES!!!!!!! U-Daddy is HERE!!!!! come give the u-man some love and some head while you down there. unknown blogger is up in this MOTHERFUCKER. message to the haters--RECOGNIZE!

here's some mindblowing shit. they can read your FUCKING MIND:



shit is real! you think and they know it. GET THOSE TINFOIL HATS!

drug companies giving kids CANCER. alex jones k-bomb to the brain:



DAMN! pure fucking EVIL! fight back. fuck vaccines. fuck FLORIDE. shit will KILL you.

here's some CRAZY TRUE SHIT:



rods are REAL!

guess what else is real. FUCKING CLONES! believe your EYES:



it is the ILLUMINATI bitches. don't say you weren't told.

a little grilled cheese sandwich from RANDY GAGE:



stacking cheese BITCHES!

uh-oh. nut busting time. i jet my spunk in your FACE. money shot from the u-daddy all in your GRILLE. time to cut. oh yeah. one last thing. SHIT ON THE HATERS. you ain't got shit on me motherfuckers!!

peace out!

Quotable Quotes

All, all is theft, all is unceasing and rigorous competition in nature; the desire to make off with the substance of others is the foremost - the most legitimate - passion nature has bred into us and, without doubt, the most agreeable one.
MARQUIS DE SADE

I have no right, by anything I do or say, to demean a human being in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him; it is what he thinks of himself. To undermine a man's self-respect is a sin.
ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPERY

The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.
EMILE ZOLA

I thank fate for having made me born poor. Poverty taught me the true value of the gifts useful to life.
ANATOLE FRANCE

Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.
HONORE DE BALZAC

[Buzzard County] Chapter 4

Mike loses his shit-Coop has another beer-A farewell and a promise

Mike Hunt held the note in his hand. He read it. Then, he read it again.

"What the fuck?!"

"What is it?" Anita asked. Mike handed her the note.

"This is just someone funning with you," Anita said. "Ignore it."

Anita recognized the handwriting. She knew it was Coop's handwriting. He had written her before. Anita wished she hadn't fucked him, but she did. She was weak just like she was weak last week with Big Troy. She knew Coop was in love with her, but how can you build a life with a man from the sawmill? She knew Eric liked Coop. But he always reeked of beer.

"What are you doing?" Anita asked.

Mike was opening the trunk of his BMW.

"Fucking hillbilly rednecks," Mike muttered.

Mike pulled out the shotgun. He started putting shells in the gun.

"Mike, don't do this."

"Who wrote this note?" Mike asked. "You know this person?"

"I'm not going to tell you," Anita said. "You need to put that gun back. He didn't mean nothing by it."

"So, you know this guy. Who is he?"

Anita darted a glance over at Coop's trailer.

* * *

Coop woke with a start.

"What in the hell. . ."

Another blast.

"Goddamn. . ."

Coop came out of his trailer and saw as buckshot peppered his truck. The windows were blown out. The tires were flat. The body was pocked with pellet holes. Mike pumped the gun and fired again. He was out of ammo. Anita was sitting on the ground crying.

Coop was stunned. His truck was destroyed. All for a goddamn note on a man's car. His mind raced. Should be blow the man's brains out with his .45? Should he beat his head in with a tire iron? Should he just knock his teeth out with his fist? Then, Coop cracked a smile.

"Yeah, that truck ain't much. But at least it don't smell like shit."

Coop laughed and went back inside his trailer. He pulled a beer from the fridge and went back to bed.

Mike dropped the shotgun. He felt ashamed. Anita was still crying.

"What the fuck is wrong with me?" he asked himself.

"Why did you do it, Mike?" Anita asked.

"I'm just tired of other people's shit. That's not it. I just want to blow her fucking brains out is what I want."

People were peeking out of their trailers to see what the commotion was about.

"The law will be here in a bit," Anita said. "They will take you to jail. I can't clean this shit up for you."

Mike didn't want to go to some redneck jail.

"I'm leaving," Mike said. "But I'll be back. Tell your neighbor I'm sorry about his truck, and I will pay for it when I get back."

"Where are you going?" Anita asked.

"I'm going back to Connecticut to finish my business there. Then, I will be back."

"Are you gonna kill her?" Anita asked.

"I don't know," Mike said. "But if I don't come back, you will know that I did. I just know my life there is over."

"Why would you come back to Buzzard?" Anita asked.

"I don't know," Mike said. "But your neighbor was right. My life looked good on the outside, but it was total shit on the inside. My best friend and partner fucked my wife while a stranger let me blow his truck to pieces."

"You need to let it go, Mike."

Mike kissed Anita.

"I'll be back. I promise. Tell your neighbor I'm sorry."

Mike got into his BMW and left. Anita watched him drive away.

"I'll never see that son of a bitch again," she said.

Chapter 5


MONET, Poppy Field

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects

1. THE EXECUTION OF TROY DAVIS

The state of Georgia executed Troy Davis for the murder of police officer Mark McPhail. I believe the death penalty is a suitable punishment for murder. The problem is that we have already had cases where the innocence of people wrongfully convicted has been established. In practice, the death penalty is a permanent punishment that cannot be undone. The execution of a possibly innocent man would be the worst crime the State could ever perpetrate. As such, I think we should abolish the death penalty for the sake of those innocent people.

Was Troy Davis innocent? I don't know. He was certainly no angel. But I think there was enough doubt about the case to at least commute his sentence to life in prison. I suspect they will be arguing the facts of that case long into the future with no firm conclusion either way. The problem with the death penalty is that those who argue for it do so from almost purely a priori reasoning. Acknowledging the possibility that an innocent can be executed and probably already has been is beyond their worldview. It goes as far as denying DNA evidence that has later reversed convictions and freed innocent people.

I don't get into whether murderers deserve to die. I think they do, and they should die in the same exact way that they murdered their victims. If Troy Davis killed Mark McPhail, I think he should have been shot in the face and heart in the same manner that McPhail was killed. But what if there was a law that made it a capital offense to execute innocent people? What if the punishment for misapplying the death penalty was the death penalty? That thought experiment changes things considerably. What if the cost of your mistake is that you pay with your own life? You would make damn sure that person was guilty. But the more likely response is to not apply the death penalty at all. We think it barbaric to execute people for their mistakes in this area. Well, isn't it even more barbaric to execute someone else for your mistakes?

We are not blessed with perfect knowledge, and that is the basis of my opposition to the death penalty. It sickens me that some murderer might get away with a crime. What sickens me more is that some innocent person would pay for that crime while the guilty party gets away with it. Mistakes are going to happen because they already have. And there is no way we can let murderers free to kill again. The only rational thing to do here is to admit mistakes may happen and write in the pencil of life imprisonment rather than the permanent ink of capital punishment. You can free the innocent, but you can't bring the dead back to life.

2. CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME

New research casts doubt on a viral cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. CFS is profound fatigue and exhaustion after minimal exertion. It is almost identical to being out of shape.

My personal belief is that chronic fatigue syndrome is a bullshit disease. I am willing to change my mind on it in light of the evidence, but the evidence just isn't there. There is no diagnostic test or physiological marker for the disease. Basically, you take their word for it. Smells like bullshit to me.

I acknowledge that conditions like multiple sclerosis were considered bullshit diseases, too. But we know better now as we have numerous tests and physiological markers for that disease. Seeing someone in the later stages of MS leaves virtually no doubt that MS is a real disease.

Chronic fatigue syndrome doesn't even come close to being another MS. Health organizations cannot come to agreement on a definition of the disease much less a test for it. They admit there may be psychological causes for the disease. In other words, it is bullshit. Sometimes, being tired means you are just tired. Or you may just be lazy and looking for attention.

3. REM

REM announced they are breaking up. Some people on Facebook remarked that they didn't even know they were together. The truth about REM is that they should have pulled the plug when Bill Berry decided to put away his drumsticks and go back to working on his farm back in 1997. The band has made no significant music since Berry's departure. Meanwhile, bands like U2 and Radiohead have gone on to make great music and put on great shows. Why didn't this happen with REM?

REM's problem is stagnation. Creatively, they were spent by the time they made Out of Time. They were already experimenting with that album with Peter Buck trying out the mandolin which lead to their biggest hit "Losing My Religion." But for the last 15 years or so, most of their music has started sounding the same, and I don't mean in the AC/DC way.

I take a keen interest in all creative types--musicians, artists, architects, writers--because I like to see their solutions to the problems of stagnation. Some innovate like mad such as Radiohead. Others keep pounding away with what works like AC/DC. Others innovate when they don't really need to such as U2. The problem is always the same. What can I create that is fresh and new? That is heavy labor there. It is so heavy that drummer Bill Berry opted to retire to farm hay. As someone who used to do that work, I can tell you that is not easy work. It is brutal. But mentally, it is easy because you don't have to be fresh and innovative day after day.

I have a theory about this relationship between creative work and repetitive work. I think you need both to be truly creative. This bears on a larger theory of opposites that has been in my mind lately. I think the yin-yang part of Asian philosophy is seeping into my thinking, but I find that you need opposing poles in your life. Balance is not so much moderation as holding firmly to two extremes. Applied to creativity, the reason people stagnate is because they become successful. You figure that with the freedom that success brings it would be the opposite. But when I reflect on the greatness that is Cormac McCarthy, I realize that guy is a tremendously creative individual and a profound writer as an old man. He also struggled for his entire life. It is only in age that he has acclaim. The bulk of his life was spent as a loser. I will revisit this topic again in a future post.

3. GOP PRESIDENTIAL RACE

Gary Johnson finally got on TV and practically gave Ron Paul his endorsement when asked who he would choose as a running mate. Ron Paul did not return the favor focusing on trying to become one of the top two in the running. As it stands, he is solidly in third place behind Perry and Romney. But Rick Perry looks weak. Meanwhile, Chris Christie talks about changing his mind and running. What are we to make of this?

None of this shit matters. Michele Bachmann was the frontrunner once. Now, she looks like dead meat on the highway. Rick Perry was like Elvis coming in. Now, he looks like the next flash in the pan. The only ones who seem to have reliable support are Romney and Paul. Both are building on their previous runs, and both offer striking differences in temperament and philosophy. From what I see, it is going to come down to those two guys. Both of them are coming at Perry from opposite ends and are destroying that guy. But they don't really bash on each other. This is because Romney and Paul appeal to two completely different wings of the party. Perry is poaching from both sides and getting his bell rung.

This race will be a civil war within the GOP. The GOP is desperate to find a candidate to bridge this gap. They went for Bachmann first. Then, they basically drafted Perry. Now, he is feeling the butt hurt, so they are trying for Chris Christie. I don't see them pulling this off. It is going to be a war for the soul of the party between Ron Paul, the true believer, and Mitt Romney, the lying slimeball sack of shit. I see an epic battle brewing here. This will be memorable.

Beverage of Choice



A few years ago, I made two decisions. The first decision was to stop drinking. This was not the result of a drinking problem as much as I never wanted to have a drinking problem. The easiest way to accomplish this was not to drink. The second decision was to never preach to others about their drinking. The result is that I have been dry for at least four years now, and I haven't written much on the topic at all. But, lately, my anger over the issue has been stoked, and I feel compelled to write about the topic.

I despise Alcoholics Anonymous. I don't think alcoholism is a disease. Drinking can be a bad habit, but it is not a disease. A person can get typhoid fever or cancer against their will. No one is an alcoholic against their will. No one holds the mouth of the drunk open and pours the hooch down his throat. As such, the disease metaphor does not fit. Yet, why does AA push this metaphor? Because it lets you off the hook for your behavior. You're not an asshole who likes to drink. You just have a disease.

This brings us to the Jekyll and Hyde metaphor. While sober, the alcoholic is a nice person. While drunk, they become the mean person who is destructive and not nice at all. This is simply bullshit. I've known alcoholics, and I can tell you that every damn one of them was as much an asshole sober as they were drunk. One of my ex-girlfriends was an AA fool, and she never touched a drop of alcohol the entire time I dated her. But she was one total bitch, and she admitted it. There is no Jekyll and Hyde. There is simply drunk Hyde and sober Hyde. Jekyll left a long time ago.

I am not an alcoholic, and I never have been. I have never had this "disease." I simply had a habit I liked for awhile, and I changed that habit. Basically, I enjoyed beer and whiskey for a time. Now, I enjoy lots of coffee brewed especially strong. I chose one beverage. Then, I chose another.

I don't consider myself an asshole though I get called one every so often. Even when I would get blitzed on beer, I was still a nice guy. I never got in a fight or destroyed my car or perpetrated drunken date rape on some helpless female. I simply acted silly much as I do when I am sober. The fact is that caffeine seems to bring this side of me out more than alcohol ever did. I torment my co-workers daily with my caffeinated buzz.

But I made a mistake recently. I told someone about my past with drinking. I usually share these tales because I become concerned that people who choose to drink will think that I am judging them for their choice to drink because I am someone who does not drink. The fact is that I don't care as long as you don't get behind the wheel of a car. But the impact was not what I thought it would be. This person began to judge me for this past habit. Nevermind that I don't drink now. Suddenly, I was a potential alcoholic. This is the "disease" metaphor I was referring to before that I fucking can't stand. I went from being a teetotaller trying to be cool to being a potential Mr. Hyde ready to burst out and fuck shit up all without drinking a single drop of alcohol. This is fucking stupid. I became a ticking time bomb ready for that one drink to set me off on oblivion. Nevermind that I was not like that when I used to drink, and I am certainly not like that now that I don't drink.

It is my belief that this person has had an extensive past with alcoholics. She strikes me as the enabler type who would do anything in the world to try and help these stupid drunks but gets slammed hard for her troubles. I have family members who exhibit the same thinking and behavior. The belief is that if the drunk can be sober they will be normal and well adjusted people. But people don't become fucked up because of excessive drinking. They drink excessively because they are fucked up. They are shitty human beings in the core of their being. They don't care who they hurt. Trust me, I have known quite a few alcoholics and all of them had a supreme don't-give-a-fuck attitude when it came to other people. This was sober not drunk.

I don't think drinking makes you a bad person. On the flip side, I don't think being a teetotaller makes you a good person. This is why I don't care to preach about the evils of demon rum. Why do I choose not to drink? It is simply my preference. I like being in control of my faculties. I like living in the real world with all my senses working. I like thinking clearly. My favorite part of the day is when the java hits me, and the fog of sleep lifts like a veil. I can attest that I have been unable to write only to crank out an epic a few cups later. I have tried the Hemingway writing while drunk thing, and it utterly sucked. The fact is that Hemingway's best writing came from those French cafes while his worst writing came from that pickled brain of his later years as the alcohol took its toll.

Caffeine is the fuel of robust living, and I don't really care to go back to PBR or Jim Beam. But alcohol does have its useful purposes. It relaxes you and eases the stress you may feel. It liberates you socially. It is good for the circulation. In moderation, a beer or cocktail is a wonderful thing. But I am one of those crazy idiots that drinks coffee in the evenings and does all night writing binges. To be honest, coffee gives me the license to be nuttier than I ever was when I used to party and hang with my drinking friends.

I still go to bars, but the usual is Diet Coke with a splash of Diet Coke. A Red Bull is also nice. No one seems to notice or care that I am not shitfaced like they are. But I do get the assumption from others that I am some sort of recovering alcoholic who is on the wagon. There is that AA bullshit again.

I am past the point of caring on this shit. I just find it ironic that I get judged by people holding a beer in their hand while I have a espresso in my own. But maybe it is my own fault for putting up with this ignorance. My choices are mine, and this is how I choose to live. I don't drink, and I don't judge those who do. Those who don't like this can fuck off.

Minimalist Regret



Fans of Doctor Who will recognize this device as the sonic screwriver. The sonic screwdriver was an all purpose device that mostly allowed the Doctor to open locks, but it did other things as well. It was basically a high tech Swiss Army knife for Time Lords and a handy way to let television script writers off the hook when they had written themselves into a corner.

In real life, the best analogue to the sonic screwdriver would be the smartphone. That thing can send and receive calls, email, and text. It can be a map, GPS, reference device, or what have you. Its functions are always expanding as dictated by app developers. It is very handy until you have scorched the battery just two hours later or run up your bill astronomically with data charges.

Not every device can be as handy or as useful as either the sonic screwdriver or the smartphone. Most of the things we buy, collect, and accumulate don't have multiple uses or do us the favor of being small enough to fit in our pockets. They are big and usually are of limited usage. They do one thing when we need it and occupy space and collect dust the rest of the time. The accumulation of all these things comes from theoretical uses that we anticipate. This anticipation is the genesis of hoarding.



If you ever watch an episode of Hoarders, you will notice the pathological nature of the hoarder's mindset. They have to cling to things. They can't let them go. They always say the same thing. "I might need this." Yes, you might need this. But what is the likelihood of that? Does anyone really need a storage bin filled with old newspapers? Even if you needed to look up an article, how could you ever find it in those stacks?

It is obvious to me that hoarders derive some sort of security from their clutter. This may seem like insanity until I point out the security you feel from things like having your smartphone. I remember a time when I traveled across multiple states with nothing but a quarter for a payphone and a bottle of water. Now, I can't go around the block without my phone. But I never carry change now. I put it all on the debit card.

Convincing someone to stop being a hoarder boils down to this security issue. They must become convinced that they can live without their clutter. The fear they have is that they might need that stuff, and it might come in handy except it won't be there. Imagine the Doctor locked in some alien prison without that sonic screwdriver, or you broke down on a long stretch of interstate highway without your cellphone. This is how those people feel about going through life without the clutter. It frightens them. Clutter creates options in a chaotic world and gives them resources against many contingencies. This might seem like madness but not to them.

Most people are not hoarders, but they are not minimalists either. They fall in-between. When those people see the closet of a minimalist, they are aghast. They always ask the same thing. How do you live with so little? The dirty secret is that the minimalist lives with the same amount many others do. Most people wear the same week's worth of clothes over and over while they have closets and drawers full of things they never wear. If you only kept what was actually worn and put it in an empty closet, it would be identical to that of the minimalist.



The word "austerity" crops up a lot in discussions of the minimalist lifestyle, but those who live that way don't find it austere. They find it is almost identical to the old way except they have less clutter and more space and freedom. There is no deprivation. There is simply the elimination of psychologically meaningful but utterly useless crap. To be a minimalist requires supreme self-confidence in your ability to innovate and improvise during a crisis. It also requires a willingness to endure and do without. The lifestyle requires psychological fortitude, and most people simply don't have it.

When people embrace this lifestyle, they eliminate the clutter. They pare back. They get to what they consider the essentials. Then, they realize how unessential those things are and pare down further. When this is achieved, there is a rush of exhiliration and freedom. Then, it hits. It doesn't happen at first. It happens later. This is minimalist regret.

Minimalist regret happens when a situation comes up, and you realize that you have the solution to that dilemma except you tossed it in the garbage or donated it to Goodwill. For instance, a friend may invite you to go golfing except you sold your clubs at the yard sale because you never went golfing. Now, here is the opportunity to do what you never do except you are missing the equipment you never use. You have to tell your friend that you gave up golf though you might have otherwise enjoyed that one day on the links. That feeling is minimalist regret.

I get that feeling all the time. It usually hits when someone asks me about sports, but I have to tell them I don't follow sports anymore. I hope they don't ask anymore than that, but they do. Why do I not follow sports? I just tell them I don't have the time for the trivial nature of it all. This makes them feel that you are judging them, and you must be some sort of douchebag or possibly homosexual. The minimalist regret is most acute when you hear of how a team you used to follow just won a huge game. You missed that. Nevermind that you are in better shape because you use that time to work out instead of working on growing the beer gut in front of the tube.

There is no way to avoid minimalist regret. You just have to recognize it as a trick of the mind. Undoubtedly, the human race has evolved to consider these things as they impact our survival. We have to make choices, and regret is simply rethinking a choice that is already made. The hoarder wants a life of fewer regrets, so he or she accumulates their options with most of them going unused.

This brings us back to our sonic screwdriver. The things we choose to retain must have the qualities of that device. It must be multifunctional, compact, and reliable. This is why minimalists can go without TVs or cars, but everyone of them owns a laptop computer. This is also why they buy quality because their few things get maximum usage. Looking at nomadic minimalists gives you an idea of what this is about as they choose those things that will fit in a backpack. Granted, having more stuff gives you more options, but it also gives you more burdens. That realization is the antidote to minimalist regret.

I can only speak for myself, but I have fewer regrets these days. This is because as a minimalist I accept that life is about trade offs. You cannot have your cake and eat it, too. In a life of finite time, money, and energy, I have learned to say no when I would have said yes before. I have learned to count what I have gained when the minimalist regret comes along. Ultimately, regret is the belief that you could have had a better life. I realize that is a lie. Garages filled with the detritus of all those possible other lives are evidence of the lie. As for the crisis, the ultimate multipurpose device is money. Most problems you encounter in life can be solved with a check or a swipe of the debit card. The best way to have money is to not blow it on shit you don't need.

Entertainment Options



The recent Netflix debacle and corporate tomfuckery is on such a massive scale of stupidity that I have to stop and reflect on a subject that I should never have to think about. This is the subject of entertainment.

I cancelled my Netflix membership, and I did that on the spur of the moment. Do I regret this move? Fuck no. Netflix should regret losing me as a customer. But I have to consider whether or not losing the ability to watch all those movies and TV shows is a loss. I asked myself a serious question. Do I really enjoy watching movies?

If the movie is something like Pulp Fiction, the answer is yes. I think that movie is the greatest ever made. But it is the exception. Most of the movies made today are CGI-infused eye candy smorgasbords of overwrought action, bad acting, and shitty endings aiming less for catharsis than establishing the franchise in order to milk more money from an unaware and stupid public who think that maybe--MAYBE--in the five to six sequels they will watch there might be a decent movie in there. I despise this shit. Cinematic evil has a name, and it is Michael Bay.

Movies largely suck. Television does not suck. It used to suck really bad. Then, it got better. It got way better than movies. This is because with limited budgets and more time to develop stories and characters, TV shows got better especially the ones on HBO and Showtime. Shows like The Wire are not compared to other shows. The only thing that comes close is the novel. Watching that show was almost the identical experience I get from reading a really good story like The Count of Monte Cristo. You end up coming back to it again and again. Unfortunately, there not many shows on this level.

People ask me on Facebook what I was going to do in a post-Netflix world. My answer was simple. I was going to read books. The bulk of movies suck, so I'm not missing anything there. The best TV shows are like the books I like to read. It seems to me that the answer to my entertainment dilemma is to go back to real entertainment which is the novel.

The last movie I watched was Inception which was decent if complicated as a story. I was not satisfied at the end. This is because you can't tell a decent story in two hours. It would have made a better book. The fact is that all movies and television shows would work better as novels. I can't think of a single movie that was as good as or better than the book except Fight Club.

The upside of the visual medium is that it affords a shared experience. I meet few who have read Monte Cristo or even have read a book outside of school. But I meet a lot of people who watch Dexter. That is a great show. I will continue to watch that show, but I think it would be cheaper to buy the DVDs than continue with the Netflix tomfuckery. One season costs $30 on the Walmart website. This is what I was paying per month with the Netflix DVD/streaming split. That show is about the only thing I cared to watch on the site.

Is there anything to take away from this? The best option is to go with print and gear the bulk of your entertainment time towards reading. This will give you a better experience.

The other really cool thing I have found is the documentaries page on Reddit. I have starred many of those selections for later viewing because I don't have the time to watch all the good selections there. I watch a lot of science and history stuff.

People recommend piracy as another great avenue. The problem with piracy is that you end up downloading shit you wish you hadn't like Stuxnet. I don't see piracy as stealing because I don't believe in IP. But I would prefer to get it from the source than a secondhander which is why the original creator will always have a competitive advantage.

I think the answer for me here is a minimalist answer. Just go with books and eschew the videos except what I find on Reddit or television. This may lead to "minimalist regret" which I will write on later. Life is filled with regrets, so if I miss some great movie, I will live. But the fact is that I am missing a lot of great books, but I don't know about it because no one reads and tells me what I am missing. I'm just going to simplify this part of my life to make it better.

[SOC]

I am doing a quick hit-and-run before work. Made some "instant" coffee. It isn't real instant since I'm not a big fan of that stuff. It is the tea bag coffee with the singles in the baggie. I have a new coffee maker in the box, but I haven't had the time to run some water in it and clean it up. I need a steel carafe. The glass one on the ancient coffee maker shattered in the sink. I went into immediate java withdrawal. That shit was not pretty.

I've been back at the bachelor thing for awhile now. I'm not sure where I want to go from here. One part of me wants to hang out at Hooters all the time like a total loser. The other part of me wants to practice kung fu in a path of asceticism and discipline. I already know I'm not a debauched hedonist though playing one lends itself to a lot of humor. The fact is that I would rather get in a work out than sit in a bar sober among drunk people watching people fight on TV. I would like to think I can manage both, but I have to be real with myself. I only have 24 hours in a day. Some things must go while others remain.

In other news, I have become utterly fed the fuck up with Netflix. They are now the epitome of corporate stupidity. I could launch into a diatribe about their mistakes, but I really could give a shit. It is time to cancel these fuckers. Books are better anyway, and I enjoy watching online documentaries more than just about anything else. I'm just tired of Netflix's utter imbecility. They are a great company gone stupid.

[U.] Italian UFO Mystery

attention all BITCHES!! the u-man has been busy sending his k-bombs to the C-man at his email. LAZY FUCKER never posted them. he ain't blue collar. he spends all his time beating off to GRANNY PORN. what a PUSSY!

give up to the u-daddy in the HOUSE. i am bringing it STRONG. the u-man's pimp hand will not miss that ASS. get ready for the U-LANCHE!

check this shit out:



SHIT IS REAL!! believe your eyes and spread them thighs.

alex jones has the special K on the New World Order:



feel the k on them BRAINS!!

can you smell that? randy gage cuts the CHEESE on yo ass:



LIVE RICH BITCHES!!

oh yeah. u-man's balls are draining DEEP inside you. when i bust that nut i has to cut. UP OUT THIS MOTHERFUCKER. you know the rest. SHIT ON THE HATERS. peace to the u-fans. u-daddy loves ya.



(Hat tip: Ishmam Faisal)

MONET, The Boat Studio

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects

1. GOP DEBATE/RON PAUL

Most of the talk on the interwebs that I read deal with two main controversies brought up at the last GOP presidential debate. The first has to do with Rick Santorum's lame ass attempt to pull a Giuliani and call out Ron Paul for not being neocon fuckhead. The other was a hypothetical from Wolf Blitzer about a guy without health insurance that gets fucked up and needs medical care. I must be the only person who doesn't see the irony of those two things. This country spends billions killing people overseas while wringing its hands over health insurance. It boggles the mind that this is the sort of discourse we are having in this country. It really boggles the mind when the ones who scream the loudest about compassion are strangely silent when their own president is the one perpetrating these crimes.

2. OBAMA JOBS BILL

I like tax cuts. Those might pass. But this is Obama's Hail Mary pass because he is trying to save his own job. The fact is that the Obama vs. Whoever in 2012 is going to be Whoever. Nothing is going to change this. There is no way Obama can win except a third party candidate come in and totally split the opposition vote. Obama is fucked, and he deserves to be fucked.

3. PALIN GOSSIP

News on the grapevine has it that Sarah Palin had jungle fever in her younger days and satisfied her craving for black cock by chasing down and fucking basketball player Glen Rice. She is also rumored to have had an affair with one of her husband's friends and did cocaine. Do I believe this shit? Absolutely. Do I care? Not really. Why does it matter? Because she is a Biblethumper preaching to everyone else. Christians are fucking scum like everyone else.

4. EUROPE IN THE SHITTER

Europe is fixing to collapse under debt. Who comes to the rescue? The Federal Reserve. And who will come to our rescue?

The world banking system is a monstrous illusion. This house of cards is going to collapse and only those holding gold will see it out. This would be the Chinese and the Paultards. I would buy some gold, but I seem to be spending all my money on gas and food these days.

5. ISRAEL

Israel is in a world of shit at the moment. Turkey told them to fuck off. Egyptians trashed the Israeli embassy. The UN is fixing to give recognition to the Palestinians. Meanwhile, the Israelis have been losing the PR battle abroad as they are seen more like apartheid South Africa. This leaves the US as being Israel's only ally. I predict that popular opinion in the US concerning Israel is fixing to change. People are opening their eyes.

TRUE SHIT-Magic Mormon Underwear



I tell people this fact all the time, and everyone says I am full of shit. But I don't make this shit up, folks. Mormons wear special underwear.

Mormons call these things "temple garments," but normal people know them as underwear. The practice of wearing this special underwear is supposed to remind LDS church members of their consecration to their faith. There is no info on whether or not skid marks would qualify as a desecration of the holy garments.

This is old news to atheists since we find this shit extremely funny.



PRICKS-George Lucas



George Lucas changed the world of movies with Star Wars. I remember as a little kid seeing that movie for the first time of many repeat viewings. It became a cornerstone of my childhood. Later on, I would watch Raiders of the Lost Ark which sprang from the mind of George Lucas. Both franchises were huge for me growing up. Then, something happened.

Somewhere along the line, Lucas lost his senses. I'm not sure when that happened, but it is clear to me that he lost it back in the 70's. I think he had a brief creative spell where he got all his great ideas which have made his life ever since. I suspect drugs may have been involved with this creativity. Whatever the guy was taking, he needs to get back on them because he really sucks these days.

What makes Lucas a prick is the fact that he goes back and edits those original Stars Wars movies which are classics. The most famous fuck up is the famous Greedo-Shoots-First controversy. In the original, Han just shoots the guy and establishes himself as a complete cinematic bad ass. That moment made the character, and he is the coolest hero that Lucas ever created. Then, he went back and bastardized his classic work by having Greedo shoot first. That was fucking lame as hell.



Star Wars fans can be divided between the Han Shoots First people and the Greedo Shoots First people. I can understand why Lucas wanted that change. In the original, Harrison Ford played the character like you would expect in the moral ambiguity of 1970's America. The guy is a rogue and a scoundrel. He is ambivalent about the Rebel cause. He doesn't give a damn about politics or being a hero. In short, Han Solo is a complex guy. All of the other characters in the films are either good or evil. Han is in between. Lucas wanted to erase this complexity because he is an idiot.

This tone deafness to the audience is what kills Lucas. The other aspect is that he made the Star Wars franchise a colossal marketing scheme to sell toys. This would explain Jar Jar and the Ewoks. I understand kids love this shit, but adults wanted something they could enjoy as well. The beauty of Star Wars was that the whole family could enjoy the thing. Lucas destroyed this.

Great movies are ultimately great stories. This is what moves people. Star Wars was a great story. George Lucas forgot this. Back in the day, he had people who told him what worked and what didn't. Somewhere, he stopped listening. The result is that his legacy is now becoming not one of a great director or a great storyteller but a lucky hack who caught a lucky break and milked it for everything. This is a shame. People will forgive your mistakes and forget them. But to fuck up your successes after the fact is a colossal dick move. Lucas betrays the fans, and this makes him a prick.

Q & A

Q: Where is your compassion?

A:
I get this question frequently usually when questioning the welfare state and entitlements. The gist of the argument goes like this. Because I don't want to steal from other people or because I recognize that these programs do more harm than good, I am some sort of cold hearted bastard. I get this crap so much that I have to ask the people asking the question where their compassion is.

But this extends to broader subjects. For instance, I was recently called a "heartless cocksucker" because I pointed out that the human race is not monogamous. I'm not sure how a statement of fact like that makes me heartless. This is like pointing out to a poison ivy sufferer that certain plants secrete toxins to protect themselves from being eaten. Is this not showing sufficient "compassion" for the poison ivy sufferer?

Here's the deal. There is this thing called reality, and reality is indifferent. It is neither hostile nor benign since these are anthropomorphisms. Even the indifferent tag is an anthropomorphism, but I don't know of any other term to put to it. The bottom line is that reality doesn't care. People find this difficult to deal with, so they concoct various myths and even religions to accomodate these things. This myth extends into the political realm as people demand that their government do everything to provide for their well being and safety. I point out that this can't be done.

When people say you lack compassion, what they are really saying is that you are not deluded like everyone else. You will notice that all these delusions aim at providing comfort and relief. But the other side is paranoia. Many people think things are much worse than they are conjuring various threats and what have you. But I again point out where this is false.

These twin delusions of compassion and paranoia come from the survival instinct. They both aim for safety. This is why we have a welfare/warfare state. This is why compassion for your fellow man ends when the Predator Drone lays some bombs on a family's dwelling overseas killing everyone inside including women and children. Where is the compassion in that?

I have found that the two biggest threats to freedom and flourishing are government and religion. Both engage in massive deception and perpetrate colossal frauds on the people. People buy these lies for no other reason than because they make them feel better. To a lesser extent, you have the family and your significant other. But you have to face the fact that they are the ones most likely to do you harm.

The antidote to this madness is twofold. The first is a willingness to seek the truth and acknowledge it no matter what. The second is a belief in non-aggression. Compassion goes against both these things because it leads to both delusion and aggression.

My typical response to questions of compassion is to mock it for what it is--baseless fear. So, I will point out how the poor can make hobo stew out of other poor people. Or I say we should loot and execute the rich so poor people can each have an XBox. I do my best to provoke the maximum outrage that I can because the arguments these people make have no basis in fact. They are based on emotion. Emotion is no basis for rational action. Like Dr. House, you learn that it is best to leave your heart out of it. At the end of the day, you don't want someone to hold your fucking hand. You want the goddamn cure.