I’m back in office (or, as I like to call it The Love Den) after a weekend of travel. Maybe I’ll do a travel post. Or maybe, like always, I’ll plan on it and never get it done. Anyway, this is my first post in a few days that wasn’t written by breaking my fingers on a tiny electronic keyboard on an iPad. As such, I’m pretty happy. -Ed.
Are things getting better or worse? My personal theory is that things have always been shitty and it’s a remarkably consistent thing. Were people more “evil” in medieval times or in present day? My guess is that both were about the same. The only difference is that we think things should be better today and when they’re not our brains incorrectly interpret the difference between reality and perception expectations as some kind of disconnect.
Our helpless brains then think things like, “Things are going to hell.” Only they’re not. The more things change the more they remain the same.
I remember when I was a kid. A service dog was something limited to blind and deaf people. These were highly trained animals that were rarely seen in public. And when they were nobody questioned their legitimacy. Why would we? What kind of freaking asshole would you have to be to take advantage of laws for disabled just because you want your pet to tag along when you go shopping or out to eat?
We also used words like “please” and “thank you” and held open doors for other people.
In today’s world an amazing number of us have no such ethical quandaries. We want something ergo the ends justifies the means. Period. The only criteria that must be met is that we want it. And, let’s be honest, that’s a pretty darn low standard to meet.
Park in a disabled parking space? I’ve never done it once in my life. A few months back I fell out of a boat and smashed my ankle on a rock while whitewater rafting. The damn thing still hurts like hell. I could have asked my doctor (if I had one) to fill out the paperwork for a temporary permit. Why the hell would I? I can limp the extra 20-50 feet just fine. What kind of an amazing prick must you be to think you are entitled to take a parking space from someone who really needs it.
I recently spoke with a person who freely admitted to doing it. And why wouldn’t they? In their mind there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. No recognition of ethical boundaries translated into no reticence about freely admitting what they had done. Their brain literally couldn’t comprehend their might be something wrong with such behavior. It would conflict with The Want.
This same person, though, had a major issue about people touching her dog. The dog is high strung and has a lot of anxiety. It doesn’t like to be touched except on its own terms. But when she took the dog out in public, like grower’s markets, strangers would pet the dog without asking and without permission. This was greatly upsetting to her.
Later, she took us to a public park where there were signs posted that said, “No dogs allowed.” It never crossed her mind that her dog shouldn’t be there. Run loose, doggie. Be free!
Her mind was literally incapable of discerning the reality of her beliefs and actions. Under one set of mores people were rude assholes for breaking rules and in the other she saw nothing wrong with her behavior. Both were able to sit comfortably in her brain at the same time and she never noticed anything wrong about it.
When I lived in San Diego I had a daughter who was deathly afraid of dogs. They would make her scream, shiver and become emotionally withdrawn. The fear may not have been realistic or logical but it existed nevertheless. As such, we didn’t take her to public spaces like dog parks. We’d search out public parks where dogs were prohibited. There was one of these near the ocean where we liked to go to fly kites.
There were other dog-friendly places. They even had their own beach. But invariably someone would show up and unload their dogs and let them run free. The dogs would rapidly approach us and the owners would say things like, “Don’t mind Fluffy. He would never hurt anyone.” Well I guess we have your word on that, don’t we? The word of a known criminal. Meanwhile the day was ruined, for us, with my young daughter back at the car and wetting her pants.
Well played. You get your dog area for backup and our space as your primary. You probably didn’t want to go there because there were too many dogs, right?
So are we bigger assholes to each other today or does it only seem that way? We certainly seem more narcissistic and masturbatory. But back then there less rule of law and other things in abundance like slavery, racism, gender oppression, genocide and more. Maybe as a society all we’ve done is redistribute the evil in new and interesting ways? Maybe the amount always must remain constant?
Today we’ll explore another fascinating facet of GUNT (Grand Unification Negativity Theory) that offers supporting evidence that every human enterprise is gamed to the Nth degree.
At the Guru of Negativity I happen to love Yelp. (Their politics aside. That’s another story.) Surprised? Think about it. Start with the word “yelp” itself.
yelp: a short sharp cry, esp. of pain or alarm
Yep! The negativity is built right in. Don’t blame me. I’m not the one who named the service. It’s intended to be a place where you share your sharp cries of pain. Now that’s a blight idea!
The Yelp business model is simple. You criticize each other and we’ll make money off it. What could possibly go wrong?
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When one is an atheist in small town conservative America, one learns to play things close to the vest. Maybe later, after getting to know someone, the truth may be divulged. But it is known that premature sharing comes with a significant amount of risk. It’s a lovely place where the wrong bumper sticker will get your car keyed.
One company in that small town, named after a biblical location no less, asked about my religious beliefs during a job interview. That was my first clue that the game was afoot.
Later, when applying for another job in that same small town, my due diligence ended up freaking me out. I didn’t particularly get a good feeling from my research and, thanks to the internet, learned the owners of the company were flamboyantly religious. I was on a quest to get out of the frying pan and into the fire, so naturally I didn’t let this slow me down.
Despite shouting his religion for all to see, the man was one of the most unethical business people I’d ever met. And that’s saying a lot. He was no slouch. Yet there he was, up on the high ground, at least in his mind, looking down his nose at everyone else. Compensate much?
When office discourse finally turned to matters of politics and religion, I defiantly let fly with my disclosures. His reaction was one of thoughtfulness and class. “Atheist, eh? I have a question. Why don’t you kill people?”
Although flabbergasted by the audacity, I still think I handled it with style and aplomb, especially considering the source. “You don’t kill people because God forbids it,” I said. “I don’t kill people because I choose not to. It’s my decision.”
Right and wrong. Good and evil. Yin and yang. Night and day. Black and white. Betamax and VHS. DVD and Blue-ray.
But now, after assessing more empirical data, I now think, perhaps, I was a bit hasty. It’s time to bust out with yet another theory. I got a million of ’em.
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Braking Bad! The best part, though, is after the 49ers put him in the game, they still lost. That’s justice NFL style.
Presumably, you are aware that yesterday marked the final episode of Breaking Bad. The show first blipped onto my personal radar as one of AMC’s two flagship original programs (along with Mad Men, which I’ve been all overfor a while). Though I’ve never seen an episode, I am planning to watch the whole show some day (perhaps once it’s all up on Netflix). Remarkably, the finale has not yet been spoiled for me – and I’d like to keep it that way.
In the meantime, I couldn’t help but notice that those who have seen Breaking Bad just can’t get enough of it — to the extent that some have even found reason to make the pilgrimage out to Albuquerque. So for those of you suffering through symptoms of withdrawal in the wake of the finale, have no fear — the dream of the 90s may be…
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