Fiction Ruined My Family by Jeanne Durst

After starting to read a book about mental illness, I read this book about a woman who grows up with a writer father who makes very little money and an alcoholic mother who doesn’t work either.  It was significantly more entertaining than the book about mental illness, but that’s not really saying much, especially when a whole chapter is devoted to dealing with pubic crabs.  It then just occurred to me that modern life, at least the one portrayed by these rather sad sacks, is pretty pathetic.  Here we are, living in America, with the one of the highest standards of living in the world, the highest per capita incomes, the latest and greatest technological innovations that are supposed to make life so easy and convenient, and we’re nothing but a bunch of mentally ill, self-medicating, boring, solitary, occasionally funny, sad sacks of shit that are mostly self-pitying, self-centered, and not in the slightest bit happy, interesting, and likeable. 

 Of course, I now know why.  Americans have been sold on the wrong dream, the wrong goals, the wrong attitude, the wrong ideas, the wrong values, and the wrong lifestyle.  We were not created to pursue an easy, comfortable life where we indulge ourselves in hedonistic pleasures or even artistic and academic pursuits to glorify ourselves and self-actualize or something grand and eloquent like that.  This is what we were led to believe.  Some react to this by becoming mindless workaholics who drive the economy and then spend all their money on expensive luxuries and status symbols.  Then you have the writers and artists who have little money and do very little work outside their art, and for the most part, they live a very solitary, suffering, self-medicated life of constant torment and misery, much of which is self-inflicted.  And they think this is cool, because artists should suffer, etc.  So, basically, the ruling class, which by-the-way, is also a victim of its own success in taking over the world and economy, have won, because you are either a mindless automaton that does all the dirty and hard work for them, whether fixing their cars or their backs, or you’re a harmless rebel whose self-destruction does not threaten anyone but yourself and the unfortunates who surround you, watching like rubber-neckers over the wreck of your life.

 Then we have to read their books where they are quite confounded as to why they suffer so much, and they do their best to give it an air of eloquence or somehow tease out some pithy meaning or irony.  Any which way, they desperately try to make their solitary struggles seem cool, their awkward social forays that blow up in their faces seem witty (think Curb Your Enthusiasm), their self-destructive tendencies seem frat-boy glorious, etc.  It’s literary Jerry Springer. 

 In a world where the ruling class have won, where everything that is normal is what they want everyone to be doing, it actually is a good thing to be different, to not be normal, but not in the way that you self-destruct, self-medicate, tune out, and turn off, but rather in a way that threatens them and the world they manufactured and control.  What you want to do is become, as you were born and as you evolved into, the apex social being.  Instead of self-medicating, reach out, help others, share, teach, and befriend.  Of course, it’s a chore when the vast majority of people still think solitary self-indulgence and self-medication is normal, and as a result, the vast majority of people lack passable social skills.  But there is no other choice.  The answer is becoming increasing independent, and voting with your dollar to consume less, consume more conscientiously, and consume locally.  Opt out of the dual-party system and corporate brands.  Quit chasing cool, even when cool is defined as anti-corporate.  Do things not because they are cool, but because they are natural and in your long-term interests and the interests of a sustainable natural world.

 I used to think that writers and comics were often the last line of defense for rebels.  Somehow, corporations and the elite have not figured out a way to control writers and comics, and they spoke the truth.  But this is not entirely true.  There is a style of writer and comic that is not actually a threat to the ruling class and the status quo, and that is the self-medicating, self-indulgent, narcissistic writer and comic who may spout rebellious invectives but then turns around and snorts a line of coke, flips off a cop, speeds, commits various crimes, and then everyone thinks he’s so cool and rebellious, and in the end, he gets burned out and washed out.  What really has he accomplished but turn a bunch of potential rebels into self-medicating, self-indulgent narcissists who waste their entire lives thinking they’re rebels but actually wind up self-destructive assholes who have live a pointless, cliché life that those in power actually find funny and harmless.  Write a book about it why don’t you?

 The second part of the book is soberingly dull when the author stops drinking and being a raging, blacked out party girl.  What you have left is sober reflection on a self-absorbed, sad life.  I’m beginning to get the feeling that most parents these days are anti-social, and they make the worst parents, impatient, neglectful or over-controlling, emotionally detached just like they make the worst bosses.  Think about this.  If we lived in a society where the goal was to maximize everyone’s happiness, we would be teaching everyone social skills and celebrating our social capacities.  Instead of recognition, awards, and money for people who achieve greatness, great art, great intelligence, great inventions, great personal accomplishments, we would be recognizing excellent social skills, i.e., sharing, giving, teaching, mentoring, coaching, etc.  In a society where money supposedly represents value, when people give away stuff like they do when they share, teach, mentor, and coach, we think it’s worthless.  Hey, it’s free, it must not be worth much to them.  This is the big lie and misdirection.  Of all things, sharing, teaching, mentoring, coaching, helping others are actually the most precious and valuable of all things, and it is money that cheapens them.  People who seek money are actually running in the wrong direction of life, away from the free stuff that is actually the most precious and valuable things in life.  My parents told me that my academics were the most important thing in my life, and socializing was like this forbidden fruit that would corrupt me and undermine my chances at happiness and success in life.  In fact, in school, we are constantly punished for socializing in class, for basically building teamwork.  In fact, we have to find secret ways of socializing like using our smart phones or passing secret notes in the past.  It’s all a big lie, because happiness does not come from a successful career or academic performance.  It actually comes from the very socializing my parents told me was worse than unimportant but damaging. 

 People will argue that if you just let your kids socialize, they’d just go to parties and become lazy and complacent dropouts.  This is the other lie.  If you don’t do well in school and get a good career, you’ll become a homeless bum or alcoholic.  It’s like there is no in between world.  You either obey and conform, or you’re a criminal homeless person who will burn in hell.  Sounds familiar?  Sounds like organized religion.  In fact, allowing your kids to socialize and telling them learning is important, you can get both a smart and sociable kid.  In fact, it is the socializing that truly stimulates our mind, and there is growing evidence and understanding that humans became intelligent because of their socializing and vice versa, a mutually beneficial cycle of evolution.  Smarter primates socialized better and more socialized primates became smarter.  Nothing motivates you to learn more than hanging out with people who are experts in their field and feeling inadequate around them.  It only took a couple visits with my brother-in-law who loves wine for me to commit countless hours drinking wine and hours reading books about wine.  My knowledge of wine comes from one person’s social influence.  Just think of what kids would do if they were exposed to all sorts of experts in their fields.  Yet, in our modern world, we quarantine kids in this bizarre, unnatural, vacuum-sealed building called a school where their only exposure is to a bureaucratic teacher who sometimes hates their job, and nobody really wants to emulate them except a few dorks in the front row.  But unconsciously, we all copy the behavior of our teachers, we drone on incessantly with long, boring monologues thinking this is conversation.  We impulsively correct people for spelling and grammer mistakes or just about anything we disagree about.  We think this is socializing.  What we are in fact doing is trying to adopt the bureaucratic teacher role with everyone we meet, and they are doing the exact same thing with us, so there is constant friction and fighting for that teacher-student position, because nobody wants to be the student anymore and be told they’re wrong and stupid. 

 Society, in fact, has no intention of maximizing anyone’s happiness except those who rule at the top.  For everyone else, money defines everything like a diseased green bacterial film that cloaks everything on the planet.  Another big lie is that money will make you happy or at least keep you from suffering and being sad.  So everyone believes this and studies and works their asses off, and in the end, the only ones who benefit from this are the ones we are all really working for, the rulers and owners of everything.  If America is supposed to be the apex of modern, progressive, technological society, then shouldn’t Americans be the happiest people in the world?  Shouldn’t upper class Americans be even happier than middle class Americans?  Why are so many upper class kids so miserable and divorced from reality, stuck in their odd Instagram world of selfies and status symbols?  The fact is, kids would rather have loving, sharing, teaching, mentoring, coaching parents and role models in life than Lambourginis, yachts, and trips to Dubai.  Fact is, their parents give them Lambourginis, yachts, and trips to Dubai, because they have nothing else to give them, and they have been taught themselves that these things are supposed to make you happy, so they think they’re making their kids happy, when in fact, they are really just manufacturing entitled, selfish, narcissistic, insecure, and probably medicated, unhappy little shits who will then turn around and become the same uninvolved, selfish parents themselves. 

The most important things in life are sharing, teaching, mentoring, coaching, and loving.  This is not new age hippie shit.  Our rulers want you to believe all that stuff is new age, flaccid, wishy-washy hippie shit.  It’s a fact, it’s what evolution did to us to make us social, cooperative, potent primates in a world of less social, uncooperative, impotent competition.  And today, we have returned to being the very antisocial, uncooperative, impotent, unhappy shits we once triumphed over hundreds of thousands of years ago.




Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson


This book is about suffering from mental illness and making light of it.  One in six Americans take a psychiatric drug.  They’re probably overmedicated, but what this indicates is that one in six Americans at least report to their doctor or psychiatrist that they suffer some mental, emotional, or psychological pain.  While a small percentage of humans probably suffered mentally since the beginning of humanity, I would argue that we are suffering more now than ever before, and by now I’m not talking about this decade or century but rather since we settled down in agrarian societies and adopted a hierarchical social system.  There are a number of reasons why we suffer.  Primarily, we have evolved over millions of years to live freely in sparsely populated conditions.  Living in dense, crowded cities or even villages and towns, is a new phenomenon that humans have simply not adapted to yet.  Put any animal in dense, crowded conditions, and they will suffer mentally and develop anxiety and depression.  This is why most of us have to fortify ourselves with a drink before attending any large gathering.  It is simply not natural for humans or animals to gather in large crowds. 

Another reason is our diet.  As hunter-gatherers, we did not eat regularly.  There were times when we went without eating or ate very little vegetation or fruits.  Today, we eat mostly a grian diet which is highly processed and causes spikes in our blood sugar.  This is unnatural, and we have not yet adapted to this.  As a result, these blood sugar spikes make us extremely nervous and anxious and then when our blood sugar level crashes, we become extremely sedentary and depressed.  Recently, our food has been adulterated with countless toxins including pesticides, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, MSG and other neurostimulants, antibiotics, and hormones.  Not only has this all weakened our immune system, but much of it contributes to imbalanced mental and physiological states.  While it is arguable whether the anxiety and depression of animals can be passed on to humans who consume their meat, it is inarguable that anxious and depressed animals get sick easier, and their meat is then adulterated with more harmful bacteria, viruses, and poisons. 

 Another reason is exercise.  Increasingly, we have replaced manual labor with automation and replaced traveling by foot with traveling by car.  We are not naturally sedentary. 

 A big overlooked factor is the hierarchical social system we have adopted and take for granted.  Certainly, in ancient human culture, people honored and respected their elders and treated them with more reverence, but they were never constantly bossed around and heavily punished or threatened by them.  Animals have a hardwired desire for autonomy and freedom.  Put any animal in a cage, and it will initially attempt to escape.  Put any human on a hallucinogen, and it will initially fight to remain in control.  While social animals have a mirror instinct which allows it to run in a herd with coordination and synchronicity, animals generally enjoy the feeling of control over their own minds and bodies.  One of the most terrifying parts of taking hallucinogens is when you feel like you are losing control of your mind, your freewill.  While freewill itself may be an illusion, it’s an illusion we cherish and crave just as much as food and sex.  In fact, people who have their freedom taken away for the wrong reason go on hunger strikes. 

 Control is a huge issue that when undermined becomes the basis of a lot of mental and psychological disorders.  Certainly, if we felt that we were in control of our minds and moods, we would choose to be happy, positive, outgoing, and carefree.  It is when people have no control over feelings of sadness, negativity, shyness, and anxiety that it becomes a disorder, and they feel it necessary to take drugs to mitigate these unwelcome feelings.  Of course, I would prescribe a better diet, exercise, friends, improved social skills, volunteering, and helping others over drugs as well as adopting a non-hierarchical mindset. 

 In a hierarchical system, you have the illusion of control over the people below you and the real feeling of powerless and lack of control over those above you.  While we enjoy the illusion of control over people below us, we are repulsed by the feelings of powerlessness.  In an attempt to restore balance or order, we try to control other things or people, and this invariably backfires, because it is nearly impossible to control things or people, and it just winds up making us feel even more powerless.  On the other hand, we start to crave more and more power, just as the lack of money makes us crave wealth and become greedy.  The feeling of lack of control in conjunction with the unhealthy desire for power makes us mentally sick.  It also has the unfortunate side-effect of supporting a political system that is controlling, autocratic, and oppressive.  You may initially think that this makes no sense, but just like the craving for power, it is an overcompensation for the complete lack of control and power.  When people crave power, they also crave some powerful, central entity that has control over everyone to make everything better and nice.  This is misguided.  It is this very system that robs people of control over their lives and bodies, unfortunately, a self-perpetuating system of misery. 

 What is mental illness?  Just like physical illness, persistent debilitating mental pain is a simple warning signal from our bodies.  Something is not working.  What our bodies are telling us is that modern life is not working.  Hierarchies, crowded cities, toxic diets, and lack of exercise is not working.  Our bodies are sending us a persistent signal, and instead of listening to this signal, instead of even investigating the roots of this signal, we simply put masking tape over it like we do with a check engine light.  All drugs do is dim down the signal.  They don’t fix the problem which is modern life itself. 

 It’s like constantly reinjuring an ankle because you don’t give yourself sufficient recovery time before constantly punishing your ankle with parkour.  All drugs will do is dim down the warning signal and allow you to continue punishing and harming your ankle until it finally gives in.  But even if we are smart enough to identify the root cause of most of our mental problems, we are convinced that there is nothing we can do.  Modern life is the necessary evil for greater technology, progress, and advancement of humanity.  Read that sentence again.  Does that make any fucking sense?  Isn’t technology, progress, and advancement supposed to make our lives better?  Can we finally admit that it doesn’t?  Certainly, if you define better as making more money, living in a bigger house, driving a nicer car, and sleeping on 800 thread count sheets, yes, we are better off, but then why are one in six Americans so mentally sick they need to take drugs just to get through the day?  In other words, we have high paying jobs, live in big houses, drive nice cars, and sleep on 800 thread count sheets, and all the while, we have to take drugs to dim down the mental pain we suffer in our supposedly better lives. 

 In reality, the lie that we are sacrificing for technology, progress, and advancement is a trick to distract us from the real reason we suffer and sacrifice.  We suffer and sacrifice for the ruling class, just as we have been doing so since the beginning of agrarian society.  The ruling class sits on top of the pyramid hierarchy scheme, so they get all the benefits of everyone’s labor, suffering, struggles, and pain.  Instead of fixing their lives to alleviate their suffering, they are medicated or self-medicated, just like cows and pigs in factory farms.  If the cows and pigs were in control, they would simply leave the factory and return to the wild.  Obviously, farmers would never allow this to happen, and likewise, the ruling class would never allow humans to leave the factory and live independently on their own land.  From birth, we own nothing, and we are bound to work to earn everything including land to live on, food to eat, fresh water to drink, and supposedly a romantic partner.  It’s a wonder that we are not charged rent for air, but that would be too obvious.  If we are led to believe that we must work in order to live, we have been brainwashed to work for someone else, to be nothing but livestock.  Give every newborn land to live on rent free, to grow food, to raise chickens, and provide for a romantic partner, and you wouldn’t have a labor force to enrich the ruling class, to advance technology so that the ruling class can get all the benefits of technology while everyone else gets scraps and anti-depressants. 

 I couldn’t finish this book.  It was just a series of blogs about quirky mental illness thoughts that might be funny but weren’t.



Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar and the Future of the International Monetary System by Barry Eichengreen

I spent four years studying Economics, and yet I never truly understood just how much of an advantage the US dollar hegemony gives America.   Americans are purposefully not being told the truth behind America’s so called greatness, and perhaps more insidious, the real reason America’s military is so invasive in the affairs of almost every country on the planet with military bases or campaigns in over a hundred of them.  What you and I may consider a rather inefficient and wasteful use of taxpayer dollars to assert American influence over security interests actually becomes a rather good investment on maintaining the supremacy of the dollar which in turn helps finance that very military interventionism.  It isn’t just the profits of the defense industry we’re talking about, it’s the profits of every American business and also its residents.  If America were to pull back its influence to its borders, it could well lose the dollar hegemony to the EU, Russia, and China, and as a result, massive amounts of wealth.  It would also then be required to stop importing more than it exports and stop consuming more than it produces.  It would not be able to rescue its economy nearly as effectively by simply printing more money.  In other words, it would not be able to recklessly allow Wall Street to behave irresponsibly by gambling huge sums of money on highly risky and volatile derivatives with huge margins for profit and failure. 

 Most Americans I think believe in the old myth that America is great, because we’re just oh so ingenious and hardworking.  There’s something great about good, old American ethos of diversity and rugged individualism.  Certainly, we have our positive qualities, but by far, our global supremacy is more the result of the dollar hegemony, the complete annihilation of Europe in two world wars transferring all their stolen wealth to us, stolen land from Mexico and Native Americans, and stolen free labor from Africa.  With all those advantages, actually, you would expect America to be twice as wealthy as it is today, twice as dominant, but the reason we aren’t is simply because like all monopolies, lack of competition makes us soft, wasteful, greedy, inefficient, and self-destructive.  Every major American industry is a pig at the trough not working for profit but rather buying politicians to write laws that give them unfair market advantages.  As such, American industry is not as competitive as it could be.  Perhaps fortunately, because this simply allows non-American industry to flourish, catch up, and possibly bypass us, even with the huge handicap of the American dollar supremacy.  Sorry to tell Americans, but we were never great, we were lucky, sneaky, and criminal.

 On top of this, you have the Kevin Durant phenomenon.  If you’re highly talented, powerful, or rich, you want to be part of a team that can get you to the championships.  The richest and smartest of the world come to America, because they know, in America, they can get even more richer and the smartest have access to the best universities, labs, as well as networking with other of the most smartest.  Okay, if you don’t know who Kevin Durant is, he’s a basketball player who played for Oklahoma, a mediocre team, and he transferred to the LA Clippers and then won the championships.  This is also a reason why America has so many Olympic medals. 

 I’m not besmirching America, because I like it.  I grew up brainwashed and believing that America was God’s gift to Earth.  I still believe America can be a great nation, but if and only if it stops becoming such a weak, wasteful, rigged, criminal enterprise.  I like America’s diversity which is unmatched in the world, actually, a major reason for our diversity is our dollar hegemony but also as mentioned before, the stealing of land and free labor and America’s incredible natural resources luck.  But it is also proof that people of all backgrounds can come together and work together, and in that experimental society, new and innovative things can emerge, and I’m not just talking about food mashups like Korean tacos.  I’m not a fan of the cultural conservatism of Germany or Japan or actually much of the world.  Earth needs a place where we can experiment, and probably being as much a product of my habitat, I like to experiment and be in an experiment rather than live a more deterministic life where rules and norms are already well established and accepted.  If anyone can bring us out of the evil and corrupting Industrial Age with its emphasis on conformity, production, repetition, control, and massive centralized hierarchical structure, it is America.  But first, I believe, Americans need to wake the fuck up.  We won’t get there with most of our industries relying mostly on political favors and an unlevel market playing field to get ahead.  This is how pretty much every empire collapsed, like all monopolies, they got fat, complacent, weak, and greedy.  If you think some brainwashed, red-hat wearing simpleton has a better shot at making America great over a cynic who actually knows what is happening, then America is doomed.  Only the cynic can present the problem clearly which is half the solution.

People can also argue that America needs to be a hegemonic asshole, because it’s a dog-eat-dog world, and if America were not so vigilant and militant, Europe or even worse, Russia or China might dominate the world, and they wouldn’t be nearly as nice as America.  Every day, however, I start to wonder if Russia or China would be as much an asshole as America.  Would Chinese drones be indiscriminately bombing and killing say South Americans if some South Americans happened to bomb China in terrorist attacks?  Can you envision China having over a hundred military bases around the world?  Seriously, what would you say if China had military bases and troops operating in over a hundred countries?  Why is it okay for America, and America is not commonly viewed as a imperialistic hegemonic asshole while China would be?  Even if you agreed with the premise of this dog-eat-dog argument, America is doing it all wrong, spending way too much money on wars and old military technology while China and Russia develop more dangerous high-tech weapons like cyber warfare, satellite weapons, and nuclear drones.  America wastes hundreds of billions on eleven aircraft carrier groups when Russia can easily destroy an entire aircraft carrier group with a nuclear submarine drone.  Increasing the cost of doing business in America by granting major US corporations and banks near oligopoly powers is also a tremendous drag on technology and competitiveness.  It is without doubt, America’s economic, monetary, and military strategy is not intelligently orchestrated to dominate the world and protect it from Russian and Chinese competition, but rather, it is a mish-mash of cowering to short-term and special interests to give a few powerful people, corporations, and banks short-term profits and oligopoly powers which in turn enfeeble and weaken them in the long-run. 

 For those who think the EU might be a better global steward AKA hegemonic imperialist mono-power, let us not forget the Suez Canal Crisis where England and France invaded a sovereign nation rightfully nationalizing its own resources.  The only reason you don’t see European nations invading and occupying foreign nations as much these days is because America is doing it, and let us not forget that there are English troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The second America collapses and the EU becomes the world’s mono-power, I guarantee you, they will stop acting like semi-passive lapdogs and sidekicks and become full on tyrants and imperialists once again.  America will then take on the semi-passive lapdog and sidekick role just as they did before World War I. 

 I wish Americans would read the first chapter of this book.  America would never be the same.  You may argue that it might scare Americans into supporting an even more defensive, militant regime to protect our dollar hegemony, but I’m more optimistic.  I think it would begin the important discussion of how we can make America competitive again, especially as the clock is ticking ever closer to the day that the dollar hegemony will not exist and mask our incredibly corrupt, wasteful, complacent, and weak industry and economy.  Perhaps, we would then outlaw any type of unfair market advantage, truly enforce antitrust laws.  We would finally decide to take on the banking, healthcare, defense, agriculture, insurance, utilities, oil, telecommunications, alcohol, and pharmaceutical cartels that are like huge anchors on the economy like our lives depended on it.  Of course, this will never happen.  More likely, our cartels will become ever more fragile, codependent, weak, and inefficient.  Another financial crisis will finally end the dollar hegemony and diversity the global monetary system which will include cryptocurrencies and even more advanced monetary technologies.  Throughout history, I don’t believe there is a single instance of any superpower making hard preventive choices to forestall decline.  Once the fat hogs are at the trough, you can’t pull them back short of killing them.  America will simply get weaker and weaker and weaker until it collapses, and then all the wealth and talent will simply jump ship like rats and infest the next great superpower. 

 This is not the easiest read and sometimes it gets bogged down in technical details.  I’d recommend just reading the first and last chapters.  Unfortunate, because it hinders the popularity of this book, although, its technical detail lends it a lot of academic credit.  A very important quote in the last chapter, “With one out of every five tax dollars committed to interest payments, it will be tempting to maintain other services by running deficits and issuing additional debt.  At some point, however, (foreign) investors will recognize this behavior for the Ponzi scheme it is.”  The author is saying, our monetary and economic policy is a Ponzi scheme, and he is dead on.  As I’ve always said, our world, and America specifically, is run by organized criminals, and their mode of operation is criminal, and there is nothing to stop them from running a global Ponzi scheme that enriches them today while impoverishing everyone else tomorrow.  The sooner you realize and accept this, the sooner we will be able to confront them and, the longshot as it may be, defeat them.






Extraordinary Adventures by Daniel Wallace


I am getting sick and tired of reading novels by shorter-than-6-feet-tall (this one’s a giraffean 5’10”) shy dudes who can’t get laid and fantasize about women while literally masturbating in bed.  Jesus!  The opening was hard to take, because it starts off with the narrator, Edsel, “winning” a vacation package to Destin, Florida.  It sounds like a scam, so you think the narrator is a total dimwit.  Perhaps one day I’ll write a novel about a 6’2” stud who gets all the women he wants, and how he dreams about not being so tall and popular, and he actually envies his brother/roommate/friend who’s 5’8” and gets to spend all his time reading books and writing novels about getting laid. 

 It wasn’t until about halfway through I realized that they were talking about Birmingham, Alabama and not Birmingham, England.  I was wondering how Bronfman seemed to know where Destin was and why all the characters were Americans.  So get this, I bought several books from my local store, because mostly, I was in the V and W section and I just didn’t want to move.  Northline by Willy Vlautin, Cosmic Banditos by AC Weisbecker, and Loner by Teddy Wayne were all 224 pages.  Loner takes place at Harvard.  This book takes place in Alabama.  Anthill by Edward O. Wilson takes place in both Alabama and Harvard. 

 In this case, Bronfman is considerably less creepy than the Loner and although, he’s a bit of a wuss, his life is a lot more interesting than the ant-loving lawyer in Anthill.  He has 72 days to find someone to accompany him on his “free” vacation to Destin, and he’s never had many dates, and he’s a virgin.  At the same time, he has to maneuver around a mother who’s suffering from progressive dementia and a neighbor who’s selling meth.  At first, I skimmed the first few chapters, but then the novel really does pick up and become interesting.

 One of the core themes of this book is the contrast between Bronfman and his mother.  Bronfroom views his mother’s life, in particular, having him with a one-night-stand, as impulsive and reckless.  So, he’s lived his entire life methodically, slowly, and cautiously.  Obviously, he’s swung the pendulum in the completely opposite direction.  I wrote the following separately but concurrently, but I think I can get away with bridging the two.  If we had an AI assistant, we wouldn’t want it to be a Bronfman, overly cautious, over-analytical, too conscious of everything, while at the same time, we wouldn’t want it to be reckless and impulsive.  We would want something in between or a balance of both.  Likewise, our conscious mind may seem beneficial in its cautious, analytical ways, but sometimes, this can be deceptive and undermine our true desires. 

 For perhaps a very brief period of time, we will have invented an AI that actually listens to us and does what we want it to do, at least, what our conscious minds think it wants it to do.  As mostly irrational and unconscious beings, the question arises, do we want what our  conscious minds want, or do we want what our mostly unconscious minds want?  Our conscious minds are not entirely rational.  It is dominated by strong sentiments that sway us out of rational considerations and into fantasies of irrational bliss or relief from irrational fears and worries.  Can we be certain that we possess our conscious minds, and obeying it will truly serve us in the long term, or should we start to consider serving our unconscious mind as well, if not more so, and what might that look like?  One might argue that listening to our unconscious mind, our AI would deliver us a constant stream of pizzas, donuts, chocolates, and alcohol.  But would it?  Are not our addictions conscious delusions and not unconscious cravings?  I would rather argue that if the AI listened to our unconscious minds, it would call up a friend and suggest hanging out.  Our conscious minds may object arguing that we really truly want privacy and time alone and going out is so cumbersome and awkward and strange, but in this scenario, in the long-run, listening to our unconscious mind may be the better option.  For us to assume that an AI only listening to our conscious wishes would be best for us is flawed, gravely flawed.  We are witnessing this today when our conscious mind is calling the shots in choosing friends, food, recreation, leisure activities, etc.  It is way too much concerned with self-gratification and not social stimulation. 

 Right now, ask yourself, what would you rather be doing, reading this, watching Netflix, perusing your social media, or calling up a friend and going out to hang out by the river for no other purpose but to just hang out with a good friend and talk about whatever comes up?  Often our conscious mind simply tricks us into believing that we will be satisfied with certain short-term fixes when in fact, what we really crave and need are initially uncomfortable things that lead to long-term rewards.

 I like to say that we suffer greatly from the conceit of the conscious, rational mind.  If humans are led to believe that they are in total control of all their thoughts and actions, that whatever comes across their conscious screen is what matters and what exists, then they simply become the biggest, ignorant fools with blinds on, ready for anyone to mount and whip and drag through the fields with a plow on back.  Once we accept that our conscious, rational mind is actually a rather small peek at our entire mind, that what we believe are rational thoughts are in fact corrupted and irrational, when we admit that we have a thinking problem, only then, can we embark on a path of truly influencing our real minds and also listening to and appreciating it.  In other words, allowing our conscious mind to become even more powerful with the assistance of AI would perhaps turn our lives into a hedonistic nightmare with few long-term rewards and an endless, meaningless series of empty highs.  Others might be tempted to allow an AI to manage our lives, our choices, and decisions, but this only gives the manufacturer of the AI the ability to direct us toward the most profitable product or service just as a stock broker directs clients to stocks with the greatest commission for them and not the greatest long-term returns.  We ought rather learn and trust our own minds, the one that is mostly hidden from sight.  The most powerful tool then is not the AI but rather tools that allow us to listen to this mind, understand it, and attend to its interests and concerns.


Anthill by Edward O. Wilson

Rating: Recycle

 Anthill follows the life of a nature-loving kid, Raff, whose father is a working class stiff with low aspirations and his mother is a southern belle debutante who settled for less with her husband.  In the middle of the book, we also encounter the story of ant colonies and a super colony that appears to be a metaphor for humans, because it ravages its habitat killing everything in sight and creating a dead zone. 

 People don’t really understand nature.  They like to say things like, humans are unnatural, we’re being unnatural, our behavior is unnatural.  Humans are an integral part of nature.  Certainly, there are uniquely human-made things like cars and computers, but as a subset of nature, it is nature that actually makes cars and computers.  There are certainly many instances in nature where an organism will truly fuck up its habitat and destroy everything around it including members of its own species.  Cancers, viruses, harmful bacteria and parasites come to mind.  But animals are also known to kill or eat their own young if they are stressed enough.  If we want to change our destructive ways, we shouldn’t say, we should be more natural, because cancers, viruses, and cannibalistic animals are completely natural phenomena.  What we should say is that we should be more symbiotic and collaborative with each other and our habitat. 

 Nature uses destruction for a reason, and it also uses collaboration and cooperation.  We should choose collaboration and cooperation, not because it is more natural or seems nicer, but rather, we must argue that given our circumstances, it would better serve our long term interests.  In fact, the vast majority of human history, our superior ability to collaborate and cooperate allowed us to triumph over other primates and animals with lesser capacity to collaborate and cooperate.  This is why the vast majority of humans are born with a predisposition to collaborate and cooperate, but it is also the reason that when stressed, this predisposition goes out the door.  Only for a short period of time, the agricultural and industrial era, has competition, exploitation, and destruction actually been more beneficial for the proliferation humans.  Today, however, we must agree that we have reached the maximum beneficial limit of competition, exploitation, and destruction, and we now face complete and total self-destruction if we continue along this natural, albeit no longer useful strategy. 

 The novel leisurely covers Raff’s life, his youth before the ant life diversion, and then his adult life after.  Interestingly enough, he attends Harvard Law School, and I return there, a place previously covered in the book, Loner, albeit under much different circumstances and somewhat horrifyingly a bit similar.  Both dudes are what the Loner book would refer to as beta males.  Raff is described as 5’8” and about 140 lbs.  Raff encounters a wildflower but is then summarily dumped, and it makes me wonder, who would accomplish anything in any field and write so many books if it were not for 5’8” or shorter guys getting dumped by women and being forced to concentrate on their studies and career aspirations?  In fact, you could almost argue that being a somewhat attractive 6-foot-tall dude might be a disability as far as trying to get anything done when your life is so blessed with the attention of women.  It also is worth mentioning that I just watched the Black Mirror episode called USS Callister.  Perhaps to the annoyance of loners, I describe introversion as unhealthy and not normal human behavior, but perhaps I should throw in a caveat.  Human behavior covers a large spectrum, and certainly, in any group of 148 humans (the apparent maximum effective size of any human group), there are natural introverts, members who either are naturally introverted or become so.  Every group relies on members finding their niche and become different from the rest so that the group, as an organism, takes optimal advantage of their habitat which is also diverse.  For example, if everyone loved strawberries, they would eat up all the strawberries and quarrels would arise from people fighting for a common, rare resource.  However, if some didn’t like strawberries, they would exploit and get full on blueberries which are being ignored by everyone else. 

 My argument is that modern civilization is creating a dangerous mono-culture of anti-social introverts, and it is turning everyone, extroverts and borderline introverts into introverts, because a group of humans that are loners and alienated and unorganized is much less of a threat than a group of humans that are strongly connected and well-organized.  As the book, Loner and USS Callister indicated, left to themselves, loners are melancholy and harmless, but give them any power, and they become either passive and allow bullies to proliferate, or they become tyrannical bullies themselves.  In either case, the world becomes full of powerful bullies and their enabling, cowardly cronies.  When you socialize, and I’m talking about having trusted, long-term relationships, not a coterie of loose acquaintances, you engage in assertive behavior and reinforce assertive principles like standing up to bullies, questioning antisocial behavior, and protecting your rights.  Show me an assertive person, and I’ll show you someone who has a lot of strong, trustworthy friendships.  Unfortunately, unlike 200K years of human evolution and perhaps millions of years before, assertive, prosocial behavior is no longer rewarded.  Even worse, those who get promotions and gain wealth and power tend to be passive, cowardly enablers or aggressive bullies.  In either case, they are antisocial.  In fact, since our society values wealth, power, and status, and since most people who acquire these things no longer need to rely on assertive, prosocial behavior, we tend to associate rich and powerful people with antisocial, passive or aggressive behavior.  Perhaps even unconsciously, we promote and empower those who are least social. 

 I read an article where a company picked a CEO who was ruthless, aggressive, what they might call an alpha, because they believed the company needed that strong, bullying figure in a cut throat corporate world.  But, I’ve also read articles about the sociopathic CEOs and how they live in an echo chamber of adoration and how it corrupts their judgment and they tend to take unreasonable risks which become systemic threats to the company.  Certainly if short-term profits were your main goal, you might want a sociopath who has no qualms about firing half the staff, forcing everyone to work overtime with less pay until they quit, acquiring huge debt, and selling off assets for a quick buck ultimately condemning the company to doom.  But in a quick buck, racket economy, it makes total sense.  Organized crime is similar.  Why put a humanist, assertive boss in charge when at any time, the entire criminal empire could be wiped out by a police raid?  Everyone is only in it for short-term gains, the natural goal of any criminal endeavor.  If criminals were interested in long-term gains, they simply wouldn’t be criminals, they’d get jobs and work hard and be patient for larger returns.  In every sense of the word, our modern economy and society have turned into nothing but organized criminal enterprises, and as such, their leaders are passive cowardly enablers or aggressive bullies.  If you’ve ever read one of the many Wall Street expose books, what you realize is that these guys who are endowed with the heavy weight of the world’s global finances are nothing but a bunch of immature, criminal, mentally unstable assholes.  They engage in criminal behavior on the side like any gangster or mobster, snorting coke with escorts.  It’s almost cliché.  Oh, look at me, I’m snorting coke with escorts, I’m a gangsta!  I’m bad.  I work in a bank.  Bunch of nerds who were never cool in high school, finally thinking, delusionally, that they’ve suddenly become cool, because they’re snorting coke with escorts like a gangsta.

 What is most disturbing, however, may not be the Wall Street sociopaths but the loners of Silicon Valley.  It without doubt that guys like Zuckerberg and Musk, both who suffer from social phobias, believe that they know what is best for society, and using that classic fallacy of internalizing success, they incorrectly surmise that if everyone lived like them, they’d be a success too.  Losers overly externalize losses and winners overly internalize wins.  Unfortunately, neither are what I would define as assertive but rather passive enablers.  Would either of them stand up to government or Wall Street bullies?  Have they?  Many tech companies have yet to stand up to government intelligence agencies’ demands for cooperation and information on their customers.  Many tech companies don’t even understand the concept of privacy in search for commodifying personal data.  And just like all antisocial loners, they throw more weight and value at wealth, power, and status.  Talk to any tech loner and ask about their dreams.  Sure, it may start out with, I want to save the world, but anonymously?  Pretty soon, you realize, they want to be great, they want greatness, but not anonymously, they want the whole world to know what a great, smart, awesome, smart person they are, and that all their years of slaving away in solitude and misery was worth it, because one day, everyone would worship them like they do Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg, all who happen to be famous billionaires.  If that’s not an empty, antisocial goal, I don’t know what is.  If anyone of these loners happen to successfully program and mentor an Artificial Super Intelligence, well, god help us, that ASI will end up just like them. 

 Unfortunately, and profoundly, this leads me to the unfortunate conclusion that I should never be king, I should never have inordinate power, that I should not be trusted, because I don’t regard myself as a fully assertive person with a strong network of trusted and long-term friends and family.  Being self-aware doesn’t cut it.  If I were given real power, invariably, it would easily corrupt me, and if you think an occasional scathing Yelp review is indicative of my insecure nature, imagine having the real power to shut down businesses that piss me off and fire, dispossess, imprison, or even kill people who annoy me.  I used to imagine that I would want an ASI molded after my way of thinking, but god help us if that were to happen.  People love to simplistically believe that if you gave a few people all the power, whether right or left wing, somehow they would fix everything, because the problem, in their mind, is the stalemate that occurs when differing opinions from equally powerful positions collide.  But fact is, power corrupts, and it also attracts loners who have nothing in life but dreams of power and fame.  This is why I embrace a political ideology where power is dissipated and decentralized as much as possible.  In this scenario, those who properly use social connections and trusted social networks become powerful over those who do not.  This is how it has always worked in human society before civilization.  It ensures that the most social and long-term-minded people become the most influential in society, and since they are trustworthy and long-term-minded, naturally that society flourishes.  We live in an upside world where those who are least trustworthy and least social acquire the most power, and as such, we live in this diseased, unequal, exploitative, and increasingly unhealthy and unsustainable system.

 The novel was slow at first, and I even started reading the Anthill Chronicles before finishing the first part of Raff’s story just out of boredom, but it picks up in the second half of Raff’s story.  Unfortunately, it ends with a rather melodramatic, goofy-ass ending.  Apparently, the novel chooses religious radicals as a villain, which is predictable when the author is a scientist.  The old villain is the developer who threatens wildlife, but the novel seems to be saying that developers can be harnessed, but the real villain, religious nuts can’t.  I would disagree.  The real villain remains big business and big developers who are still pushing urban sprawl and destruction of wildlife despite the growing interest in in-fill development and urban living.  In fact, many scientists and professors have made an unholy alliance with big business which funds a lot of their research now and expects, not so much scientific proof that big business doesn’t harm anyone or anything, but rather, studies that provide sufficient conflicting potential results that doubt is seeded in the public mind whether climate change or the safety of certain foods and drugs.  I’d rather believe that religious zealots will become more tolerant of other faiths than the notion that big business and big developers will ever compromise profits for the nature conservancy. 





On War by Carl von Clausewitz

Have you ever given much thought to history?  How do you frame history?  What is history?  Where do you focus your studies and why?  One of the big problems I have with public schools is that it gives free rein to the state on how to shape the minds of our children.  What is the purpose of the state, and how would they shape the mind of our children?  People just ignorantly assume that the state’s goal is to provide our children with tools to sharpen their minds and become productive members of society, and how and what they teach is determined by some scientific committee that wants to impart factual information that is supported by a community of scholars.  This is all unmitigated bullshit of the highest order, and if you believe this, you have been brainwashed well.

 Perhaps there was a time when political leaders may have believed this or carried this agenda-less, purist sentiment, but over time, the more sinister and purposeful thinkers took things over, and this book proves how it was accomplished.  During the early Progressive Era when much of public policy and public education planning occurred, Darwin and rationalism were huge, social science was created, and so was the complete misinterpretation of Darwin and science.  Everyone believed that Darwin informed us that life was a brutal struggle, competition between species, races, and individuals.  Eugenics was a popular bastardization of this sentiment pitting one race against another, and only the most ruthless, dominant race (already armed with the advantages of technology and an initial lead) would triumph over the lesser “savage” races.  The sentiment of the day was a merciless, cruel, winner-take-all paranoia and obsession with power, capturing resources, aggression, and domination.  To that end, people did not want children to be raised as independent thinkers, creative minds, compassionate and caring citizens who would urge collaboration, peace, and sharing.  What a nation required was a pool of cool, calculating, even sociopathic, brainwashed automatons to evolve into efficient soldiers, efficient factory workers, or exploitative and dominant business leaders.  There was no room for flowery, weak, reflective, independent lovey-dovey types who would only funk up the efficient machine. 

 You might argue that the study of English literature defied all this, but I would then counterargue that what was studied in English literature was not the drama, the emotions, and the personal lives and stories but rather the abstract extraction of every conceivable literary device in an orgy of witty use of symbolism for everything.  Remember that scene in Dead Poet’s Society where Robin Williams’ character tells his students to rip out pages of “‘Understanding Poetry,’ by Dr. J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D. “To fully understand poetry, we must first be fluent with its meter, rhyme and figures of speech, then ask two questions: 1) How artfully has the objective of the poem been rendered and 2) How important is that objective? Question 1 rates the poem’s perfection; question 2 rates its importance. And once these questions have been answered, determining the poem’s greatness becomes a relatively simple matter. If the poem’s score for perfection is plotted on the horizontal of a graph and its importance is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the poem yields the measure of its greatness.”  Modern schools even turned poetry and literature into some twisted science to serve the state’s pursuit of ‘greatness’ and ‘glory.’

 The reason most students hated studying history is that everything human was extracted from it.  Instead of incredible stories of suffering, tragedy, drama, and a few triumphs, it was distilled into an inane series of unrelated conquests, wars, and dates.  Isn’t it truly odd how students walk away from American history thinking about how great it was how American saved the world twice in two world wars, and in recent history, we accomplished suffrage and civil rights?  But nobody walks away utterly shocked and stunned at how we stole land from the Native Americans, enslaved millions of Africans, and then right after liberating the world from tyranny and imperialism, we became a tyrannical imperialist empire.  You may argue that if students truly understood the magnitude of American evil, how would they protect America and work hard to continue American global dominance?  Why make kids ashamed of their country?  Why not force them to pledge allegiance to the flag every morning and gloss over our failures and tragedies? 

 In a dog-eat-dog world, as this book explains, you cannot afford to be kind, collaborative, and nice.  Certainly, you could argue that this mentality was necessary in an age where many European nations were becoming real and horrifying military threats to one another.  It truly became a matter of self-preservation and survival of the fittest, but much of this was precipitated and encourage by the popular philosophy of the time, bureaucratic rationalism, the allegiance to the state and unfaltering support of state warmongering, conquest, militarization, and imperialism.  If you look over at your neighbor and watch him reading books about how to be a ruthless, callous, Machiavellian asshole who must strike first to gain the element of surprise, wouldn’t you become paranoid and defensive and heighten your military capacities?  It simply became self-fulfilling prophecy.  When you adopt the philosophy of an asshole, you become an asshole, and then your neighbors must then become even bigger assholes to protect themselves from you.  Upon realizing what big assholes your neighbors have become to protect themselves from you, you become an even bigger asshole.

 For the vast majority of human evolution and history, we triumphed, because we were not assholes, we were the kindest, most compassionate, collaborative, loving, sharing, giving, most honest and trustworthy creatures on the planet.  We were so caring and loving that we bred dogs as companions and protection, something no other creature had ever accomplished through thoughtful effort.  Unfortunately, agriculture and then industry turned us all into selfish assholes who believed in creating social hierarchies allowing us to be assholes to anyone unfortunate enough to be below us in status, class, wealth, power, and rank.  Certainly, in a dog-eat-dog world, this book is invaluable in teaching you how to not only survive but triumph, and it requires that you become the biggest asshole of them all, that you stop thinking, feeling, and caring about others and start obsessively plotting the utter demise and destruction of all your enemies through trickery and deception.  Of course, the side-effect is that you become utterly unhappy, guilty, remorseful, empty, and soulless, but you get to live to the next day and you’re so vested in the concepts of glory, power, and greatness that you actually think you’re happy. 

 Is there any reason to stop thinking like this and for humanity to stop becoming a coterie of pathological, sociopathic assholes?  I’d like to think so.  First of all, Americans have, initially perhaps as a joke, been convinced that they deserve to be happy, and should pursue happiness.  We can fucking have it all, power, money, status, AND happiness.  What the state and our true rulers never anticipated was that our ability to understand happiness is become more and more sophisticated, and we are actually learning that becoming power-hungry, money-obsessed, status-loving assholes is NOT the best path to take to become truly happy, that in fact, they are paths toward bipolar depression, anxiety, paranoid, mild schizophrenia, and countless other mental disorders.  So first off, the ever advancing sophistication of technology reveals not only hard science facts but also concepts about humanity, our social instincts, our psychology, and our mental well-being.  The problem was that at first, our understanding of psychology was rudimentary and biased toward Darwinism and bureaucratic rationalism which made us believe that we were all better off power-hungry assholes.  The more we study psychology, the more we understand that, ironically, the state oppresses us, most laws are corrupt and designed to rig the system in favor of existing wealth and power, and if we want to liberate our minds, we ought to think critically and extremely differently that how we think today, and if we want our children to be happy, we need to completely change the way we teach them and unshackle them from the state and its notion of dog-eat-dog and turning everyone into mindless assholes who love the flag but can’t figure out how being forced to pledge allegiance to it every morning and loving that darn flag are related.

 The second, and more important reason to stop being an asshole and thinking like one is that it no longer pays to be a mindlessly, sociopathic, cruel, ruthless asshole.  Now, you may argue, hey, one just became our President and the richest people on this planet are probably all a bunch of narcissistic, sociopathic assholes.  This is because they accumulated wealth when the old rules of industry still applied.  I am arguing that with the advent of the Internet and the Information Age, the most powerful weapon will not be the biggest gun, the fastest missile, the most horrendous bomb, or the largest aircraft carrier.  The most powerful material weapons will be virtually invisible, and the most powerful strategic weapons will require mental flexibility and creativity beyond existing imagination.  Fortunately for us, this level of mental flexibility and creativity will require teamwork and collaboration of the highest order and the full embrace of independent, innovative, even rebellious and disruptive thinking and attitudes.  In other words, the old style way of mindlessly following old strategies and simply being the biggest asshole about it will fail.  The Vietnam War and even the Chinese civil war indicated that pure power and overwhelming force could be defeated by ingenuity, asymmetric guerilla tactics, incredible teamwork and trust, stronger faith, and creative propaganda.  A rationalist soldier is motivated purely by fear, discipline, and rigorous routine.  Back in the day, these soldiers dominated, because they could be convinced to charge a wall of fire without hesitation.  But warfare has changed.  Charging a wall of fire is suicidal and idiotic.  Instead, guerilla tactics mean circumventing the wall of fire, disrupting the enemy, and inflicting random attacks causing your enemy to spend inordinate resources to mitigate randomness.  It cost terrorists a few million dollars to pull off 9/11, and since then, America has spent trillions on security and war to prevent another 9/11 attack.  If that is not asymmetric warfare, I don’t know what is.  But our military spending is unsustainable just like the Soviets before us.  So it only took a few millions dollars to put the American empire precariously on the edge of bankruptcy.  Amazing.  The 2008 Financial Crisis was caused in part because we had so much wealth already invested in defense that we could not mobilize our wealth sufficiently to immediately mitigate the crises, so basically al Qaida spend a few millions dollars to put the American empire on the edge of insolvency in a matter of seven years.  And America is now so much in debt from war that another similar financial crisis may simply destroy us completely. 

 Am I arguing that to be even more creative and ingenious war makers that we should decentralize the education system and teach children the value of love, sharing, kindness, and creativity?  In a sense yes, but also in a sense no.  Just like the previous ideology emphasized becoming an asshole to become better warriors and hence created a world of unmitigated assholes doing unholy and despicable things to each other, the new ideology emphasizing becoming more collaborative and trustworthy to become better warriors will create a world of unmitigated nice people, and chances are, they will never want to employ their creative weapons and powers for immoral and antisocial purposes. 

 Thirdly, the asshole, as he has always been throughout history, is ultimately, a self-destructive idiot.  Europe embraced the concept of ruthless, exploitative, imperialist, militant asshole and took over the world.  But what did they really accomplish?  They certainly never accomplished happiness.  They were always on a state of alert, and the vast majority of Europeans were peasants and soldiers dying in horrific conditions all over the world.  Ultimately, Europe self-destructed as they embarked on two ruinous wars that left them mostly dispossessed of all their foreign assets.  Meanwhile, China, Japan, and America ascended in power under the radar while Europe imploded.  As a long-term goal of dominance, Europe as the biggest asshole failed.  Unfortunately, today, America has now taken up the rein as the biggest asshole around, and as such, it too will self-destruct.  Ironically, if the Europeans believed in Darwinism and the war of the races, it failed too.  Europeans killed over a hundred million of each other.  The white race has now become easily overshadowed by all the other races, and in America, the white race will become a minority.  What nature ultimately informs us is that being an asshole doesn’t pay off in the long run, and even in the short run, the life of an asshole is short, brutal, unequal, and oppressive. 

 The most insulting thing is that the asshole is led to believe that they are dominant and in control of their destiny, that by depriving others of their power and control, they acquire greater power and control.  This is false.  Becoming an asshole is a lifelong investment in thinking that is not original and not your own.  You essentially become a slave thinker to asshole before you and your more primal, selfish, self-preservation instincts, the ones animals evolved before they became social creatures.  At least a social creature can withhold an impulse in favor of an action that is more fitting to benefit them in the long-run or to benefit a group.  An asshole realizes that giving into impulse, regardless of the long-run consequences and the impact on others, is exactly what being an asshole is all about.  So, in essence, you become slave to your selfish impulses, not master of them.  Furthermore, as a slave to your impulses, you never learn to master anything or anyone.  You rely on bullying and fear.  But ultimately, you easily become the pawn of others.  Trump may think he’s the alpha male of the cosmos, but I can guarantee you, he’s met the true rulers of our world, those who decide defense spending, wars, banking and economic policy, etc.  Invested in the strategy and ideology of the asshole does little to empower you to master your own destiny, to actually fulfill your own long-term and social goals.  It actually makes you an easy pawn to control, intimidate, deceive, and exploit.  What greater defense against exploitation than to be able to think independently, to pause your selfish impulses to consider long-term and social consequences?  You throw away these tools in favor of becoming an asshole, but you fail to realize, these tools are your only defense against other assholes. 

 * * *

 One of the things you will first notice when reading this book is how utterly confused and confusing the writing style is and also the thought processes.  I’ve encountered this a lot throughout my education.  Most of us give up and believe the lie that we are just too stupid to figure things out and understand what must be more enlightened, intelligent thought processes.  It never occurs to us, that people who cannot write intelligibly and concisely are actually idiots who don’t really understand what the hell they’re writing about.  The ability to convey complex ideas in a straightforward, articulate, concise, and understandable manner is actually the ultimate form of intelligence, because it means, you have a natural aptitude to disseminate complex information quickly and effectively in your mind.  It means, you can basically cut through all the bullshit that is often the mark of a deceptive, convoluted mind that doesn’t truly understand things clearly and simply mimics what he half-understands here and there just to sound smart.  One great example is George Orwell making fun of a contemporary English trend of using double negatives, “The not unblack dog chased the not unbrown cow across the not ungreen field.”  I am not entirely unconvinced of this.  Confused and diminished thinking is marked by the passive voice whereby things happen to you instead of the other way around.  You are a passive witness to powers beyond your control and not an agent of action in your own world.  I grew up mimicking this convoluted, passive style trying to make myself appear smart to my teachers, but all I was doing was exposing my confused, foggy thought processes.  I will eternally credit a journalism class with teaching me to write and think more clearly, concisely, and intelligently.  After all, we rely on journalists to cut through all the bullshit that is often used to deceive the masses.  Bill Clinton’s remark comes to mind, “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is…” or Donald Rumsfeld, “There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” 

 Why do people talk bullshit-ese?  The answer is simple.  First, they don’t understand what is going on in the first place.  Second, they don’t want anyone else to know what is truly going on.  Language was first used by humans to help us work as a team and understand what everyone else was looking at, not only just for hunting but for our dynamic social relationships.  We needed to put ourselves in other people’s shoes in order to work together as a team and trust one another, so language acted as a way to help people understand what was going on inside our heads.  When we became a civilization of assholes, this was no longer needed.  In fact, what was needed instead was for other people to have no clue as to what the hell we were thinking, because we were usually thinking of ways to screw them over, exploit them, hurt them, and take things away from them that they valued.  It is no coincidence that a writer of the art of war is also a terrible writer and fails to convey his thoughts clearly.  He should not be doing so as a general to expose his thoughts to the enemy, so why should he clearly expose his thoughts to the public, to anonymous readers? 

 We have wasted our minds on 12 years of education that has filled it with nonsense, obfuscation, misdirection, lies, disinformation, and overall poor thought processes leaving us confused, perplexed, and poor thinkers.  Instead of using the most powerful brains ever created to fix our problems, understand what is important in our lives, and collaborate with others, we use our brains to worry about likes on Facebook, our debt, stress, problems at work, schedules, and a whole cornucopia of petty, meaningless bullshit designed to keep us distracted from the truth.  You would think the smartest people with the highest IQ and best grades would be able to cut through all this bullshit and scream to the world about how much it’s all bullshit and lies, but they’re not really the smartest people now are they?  What do they do instead?  They commit their hyperactive, anxious minds to monumental pettiness, incessant worries, and obsessive meaningless thoughts and trivia.  What our schools achieve is not smart people capable of cutting through all the bullshit and understanding what is important and truthful, but rather, obsessive, anxious cluttered minds incapable of escaping the paper bag that is their faulty, self-destructive construct of their lives and reality. 

 There is a saying in science that the truth is elegant.  The main reason that this seems to be true is that falseness, deception, and confusion is not elegant.  It is wrapped in misdirection, wordiness, distraction, and obtuseness.  If you simply ask a company why you can’t get a refund, they will reply usually in bureaucratic, legalese.  “Please refer to the Return Policy F130-c in our Policy Guidebook which details the circumstances by which partial and full refunds may be issued, and in so much as they are fully in conformance with these conditions that they may be considered valid and warranting of the proper submission of a written request within the qualifying date of the purchase…”  What they really mean to say is, “We’re money-grubbing assholes who don’t believe or trust customers, so fuck off.”  The truth may not actually be elegant or simple, but I can guarantee you, lies will be shrouded in the endless clatter and cacophony of pure, unadulterated bullshit speak.  There may actually be a few gems in this book, but it is utterly drowned in horseshit, and I couldn’t continue reading.  You’re better off reading Sun Tzu.  “For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”  How brilliant and elegant is that?  Now read Clausewitz, “Here, again, on account of the various significations of these means, so likewise it will be found that neither of them will be identical in its signification in all cases if the objects are different.  The smallness in general of this difference must not cause us perplexity, for in reality the weakest motives, the finest shades of difference, often decide in favour of this or that method applying force.  Our only business here is to show that, certain conditions being supposed, the possibility of attaining our purpose in different ways is no contradiction, absurdity, nor even error.”  What – the – fuck? 

 In school, you may have been forced to read original material like this book, and trust me, it isn’t the fact that they lived in a different time that you can’t understand them.  But what would that accomplish, forcing some poor kid to struggle through this idiotic tome of wordiness and inarticulate horseshit?  It would utterly destroy your confidence and interest in reading and learning.  You would be possessed by feelings of inadequacy for not understanding anything the author is saying.  You would doubt yourself and suffer panic attacks about writing an inadequate essay and running out of time, simply because you can’t get through this easily or quickly.  And that is EXACTLY the purpose of forcing kids to suffer poorly written horseshit from the horse’s mouths, and why I am more than happy to give up reading this piece of shit.  In school, I would get an F, but in life, I would continue my enthusiasm for reading and learning.

Loner: Oh It’s a Novel BTW by Teddy Wayne

The relationships in Loner: A Novel (its original title) are formed by observation – by creeping – and not by conversation.  The heroine captivates the scopophilic sociopathic Divad because he can only surmise as to the mystery of the ambiguity of Veronica’s behavior beneath her deceptive, problematizing righteous pulchritudiness. 

I purloined that passage from the book which referred to another book and adjusted it as a meta-review of this book.  The book is about a literature dork who goes to Harvard and chases a girl.  Gee, original.  Only it has a somewhat original plot twist to do with feminism but is basically a very disturbing, gross book about creeping.  The dork overanalyzes every possible minute and minutia which I suppose in some elite circles counts as great literature, elongating real time to fill it with personal, loner musings that are often gross overgeneralizations and massive assumptions about things you really have no idea what they mean, because you’re too afraid to expose your position and thereby discover their true position and qualities.  If it weren’t for creepy, short dudes, who would write so glowingly of women from a distance only for studs to discover that they’re a pain-in-the-ass up close and in person.

 The narrator’s inner world is comforting to him, but ultimately, I recognize it as a delusional world full of conceited assumptions about others and their motives, usually derogatory.  If your mind finds yourself unable to meet people and befriend them, why not portray them all as monsters unworthy of your attention?  Your mind confabulates like crazy, confabulates motive, freewill, consciousness, the self, whatever.  If it can’t make sense of something, like your inability to find happiness through human companionship, it makes shit up to make you feel better, but often times, it then just enables you.  This is often what happens with loners and in particular losers.  Every challenge and difficulty in life can be explained easily if you simply blame others and refuse to take personal responsibility.  Not only does it encompass friendships but everything.  Athletes who refuse to accept personal responsibility for their shortcomings and flaws will never take the necessary steps to fix them, but at least in the short-run, it is comforting and soothing. 

 Loners have a great way about universal moralizing, but they fail to understand that morality is a feeling not a logical philosophy.  You don’t hurt others not because you believe in the proposition that everyone should not hurt each other and this helps promote a collaborative, high-functioning society, but rather because they have been hurt and know how it feels and they also possess mirror neurons that make them flinch when they see someone else get hit in the balls.  But when you remove yourself socially, you don’t exercise your mirror neurons.  You don’t get to empathize with friends when they talk about difficulties or even joys.  Your only frame of reference is yourself, and hence, you actually do become a bit sociopathic.  On top of this, morality and personal responsibility are connected, so that if you are creating excuses for not being happy and not having friends, then you are developing a habit of not taking responsibility for your actions which is how morality works. 

 The best example of how loners deal with others is when they are invariably put in charge of others since they have accumulated expertise in a technical field.  There are two types of loner bosses.  The first is the passive one who basically spoils their staff and tries to be the cool, buddy boss.  This would be harmless except for the fact that they allow loner bullies in their department or team to flourish.  The second type of boss, you may have guessed it, are bully bosses.  Whenever you see a bully boss, they’ve usually had passive bosses who promoted them.  It is one thing to hate a bully boss, but never forget the passive boss who enabled them and allowed them to abuse and harass other workers.  Passive and bully bosses are codependent, and they are also loners.  They need each other and feed on each other.  The bully boss senses that the passive boss is weak and unwilling to make tough decisions and be firm, so it emboldens them to be more aggressive, ruthless, and mean.  It’s basically what dogs do with frightened, passive owners. 

 The same is true in relationships.  I really can’t stand the saying, “nice guys finish last” and women prefer assholes and the concept of alpha and beta men.  Certainly, in a dimwitted binary universe, sure, but in real life, you have passive, aggressive, and then assertive.  Socialized people are assertive.  That is their language.  They don’t allow their friends to be dicks to each other, their girlfriends, boyfriends, etc.  You may argue that this is not the case with your friends, but I would then argue, they’re not really your friends, and you just hang out superficially.  You’re afraid to criticize or stop their inappropriate behavior, because you don’t really trust them, and they don’t really trust you.  In fact, you even enable their inappropriate behavior by saying nothing and still hanging out with them.  It may be an unfortunate thing that most writers tend to be on the passive side, and they tend to be attracted to women who are either similarly passive or the opposite of the same coin, aggressive. 

 The only way to escape the passive-aggressive personality and attraction to such personalities is to make friends and trusted relationships where you discover assertive behavior and normal people raised in relatively normal families where they engaged in assertive behavior with one another. 

 This novel is nothing more than a high-browed version of a Jerry Springer episode, and it really feels like one especially when the narrator talks about jerking off with the bath robe belt stolen from the object of his creepy obsession.  Perhaps introverts may not like the fact that I am basically calling introversion unnatural and unhealthy.  We are the most socialized of all beings on the planet, and it is society that teaches us that we are born anti-social or asocial, that society and civilization gifts us our good attributes.  So people might believe that to rebel against society is to accept that you are born antisocial and you refuse to accept society’s training that turns you into a social person.  So you do drugs, get wasted, mistreat people, act like a sociopathic narcissist and go, look ma, I’m a real rebel when in fact, you’re just an idiot.  You’re basing your rebellion on the faulty premise that you are naturally an evil, selfish, or at the very least asocial asshole, and you’re admitting that society and civilization teaches you to be good and caring which is a total lie.  To rebel against society and civilization is to believe that you are born good and loving, and ignore society’s demand that you befriend people only for their money, status, and power.

 When you can look at yourself honestly in the mirror, as I have, and admit that you are an antisocial asshole and that you have a problem, and you want to be a social person and find happiness in relationships, that is when you can finally take responsibility and change yourself for the better.  But if you look in the mirror and kid yourself into believing that your are intrinsically antisocial, that you’re just naturally introverted and shy, you’ll never unshackle yourself from what I believe is society’s trap, depriving you of your main source of happiness, social interaction, and making you believe you can only regain it through hard obedient work, conformity, wealth, status, and power.

 Some may argue that there is a very real physiological obstacle to socializing, i.e., panic attacks and social anxiety, and I’m not only aware of this but I have suffered from it.  How the hell am I supposed to make friends when I’m basically having a heart attack around other people?  The answer is, again, practice.  Unfortunately, I believe our environment is to blame for panic attacks and social anxiety, namely the toxins we put in our bodies compounded by the atomized, obedience-driven indoctrination we suffer.  Our teachers constantly judging us makes us believe our peers are constantly judging us and we ought to also judge each other like they do.  How many times do you find yourself correcting others or being correctly for grammar, spelling, or what you believe to be nonfactual discussions?  Do you think this makes you a trustworthy friend or an annoying acquaintance to keep at arm’s distance?  Also, we also suffer panic attacks when hitting on people for the first time, speaking in public, and playing a sport for the first time in a real game, but we learn to get over those initial nerves.  Excuses and rationalizations and labels like ‘introvert’ are the only difference when it comes to giving up on socializing.  I may not be the most extroverted guy in the world, but I’m making a real effort, which is better than giving up and consoling myself with an introvert label and life.  Been there, done that, didn’t like it.

 This novel fails on so many levels, except one, the traffic accident page-turner.  You can’t put it down, because you want to see this idiot crash and burn in a raging fire of humiliation and pain.  I would say that there is an interesting twist in the end, but it all seems too melodramatic and unbelievable.  But isn’t that how modern literature goes, the shady, unreliable narrator with the book-turned-into-a-movie M Night Shyamalan ending.  At one point, I almost thought that he was going to wake up and realize that he dreamed the ending.  It was that unbelievable and stupid.  At the same time I would also say that for women to think that turning the tables on men and humiliating them makes things right, all it does is make you equally as idiotic as men.  When Europeans went pillaging and enslaving the world, when they introduced terrorism to the Middle East, when they introduced Marxism and crony Capitalism to Latin America and Asia, their victims did not rebel and triumph by turning it around and becoming terrorists, Marxists, and crony Capitalists.  They simply became just like their oppressors.  To rebel and triumph over your oppressor is to NOT become like them, but to bypass them, to continue traveling on your own path while maybe adopting a few of their weapons to protect yourself from them.  But for women to find equal footing with men is not to indulge in fantasies of humiliating, raping, or killing men just as they have done to women.  To do so would be to become just like them.  Just grow a dick while you’re at it. 

 I would presume the author likes to echo the novel using concepts brought up in the novel like feminism, objectifying women from afar, and the tragic hero, but in this book, there is no tragic hero.  There is a pathetic villain, and unfortunately, we have to visit his twisted mind for 224 pages with very little payoff, much like eating junk food.  Yuck.  Perhaps before meds, isolated loners would be for the most part harmless, but I am convinced that meds that destabilize and stimulate their brains cause introverts to actualize their fantasies of revenge and rage.  It is modern society that atomizes and alienates us all, trying to convince us that we are born loners, that being a loner is natural, that modern society then teaches us to be civil and kind.  But then it also throws in the catch clause.  You can bypass being civil and kind if you acquire wealth, status, and power, so really, you never really have to be social, civil, and kind, and as a result, whether people successfully achieve wealth, status, or power or spend their entire lives attempting to do so, they never really have to ever be civil and kind to one another.  And we have the audacity to call people living in the jungle uncivil.

 By the way, for whatever cosmic reason, the last three books I’ve speed read were exactly 224 pages.  Look it up.  Not sure what the cosmic significance is, but it’s just funny.  Maybe I should go out and put all my money on 22 and 24 on a roulette table.