Tag Archives: people

We are drones. Good slaves. Obedient.

A co-worker, Angie, and I had dinner tonight. A meal and a drink.  She chose a fine glass of wine I had never heard of. I was immediately drawn to the dark beer they had on draft, locally brewed, of course.

Angie grew up in a well established suburb of north Atlanta – her neighbors included a few famous Braves baseball players from the mid-90’s you’ve probably heard of and she went to a top private school. Her father is the proud owner of a PHD in religion from Yale. He even did a short stint on a conservative late night radio show some years back.

Angie spent a few months in Europe and was a member of a popular sorority. She and her father are both recent converts to Catholicism. Her mother refuses to call herself anything but Southern Baptist.

To be honest most guys would probably enjoy the company of Angie, but to me she is almost as uninteresting a person I can imagine.

She’s traveled around Europe, but had almost nothing to say about really being there. She spoke fondly of Catholicism, but wrinkled her forehead in disapproval at the mention of Islam.  Privilege and opportunity without an ounce of character or depth.

Angie is an A+ student. Money, fashion, cars, diplomas, education, job titles, religion, and an SUV all mixed together in a carefully blended milkshake of American-made mental incarceration. Life is blurred by lens of perspective that can almost certainly never be undone.  It’s a phenomena I can barely explain.

Angie is a person, but not one.  She’s there, but I can’t have a conversation with her. It doesn’t work – there’s a part missing. The spark that makes us human – the part that allows us to have the basic interaction that proves to one human to another that you are alive – that you are thinking – is missing.

That thing that used to make us human – thought, love, discussion, disagreement, depth. That connection you can only sense from instinct that draws you to an individual, and says, we’re on the same team, we get each other, we’re both human!  It has been replaced with smart screens and anti-social networks. We are drones. Good slaves. Obedient.

I finished my dark beer. A milky head, slightly sweet.


People who Disgust me

I think I am becoming disgusted with people.

Today I was in the elevator with two terribly obese women. Each at least 300lbs.  We went up 7 stories which took approximately 1 minute. For each second of the entire minute the two fat ladies complained. They complained about the heat. They complained about work. They complained about their co-workers. They complained.

“It’s so HOT! You’ll never hear me complain about winter.” One obese women said. I noticed her neck jiggle as her chin moved up and down.

Frankly she was disgusting to me. She had two huge chins and her clothes fit more like sheets fit a water bed than a t-shirt should fit a person. Plus, something rubbed me wrong about a person complaining about the heat in Florida. What the hell is she expecting?

The entire time I thought to myself: “You wouldn’t be so fucking hot if you weren’t so goddam fat.”

Do you know what bothers me? People who complain about so much about nothing. When the  person comes in such a disgusting package it irritates me even more.


People are no longer Free Thinkers

It never fails to amaze me how easily people are fooled by propaganda. Especially if said propaganda aligns with the beliefs an individual already holds. I find case after case of this on Facebook. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t find Facebook terribly scientific nor do I care for it much; however, I do find it a useful tool to check the pulse of people’s thinking. Especially people whose views are being shaped by popular media sources.

A prime example was today when I logged in and found literally a dozen of my connections sharing an article supposedly written by Bill Cosby. (You can read the entire article here.) The article goes on to critisize social programs, “spread the wealth” ideaology, lazy people, and even Muslims. I immediately knew this couldn’t by something legitimately accredited to Bill Cosby – especially publicly.

I did a quick Google search and quickly found dozens of sites (including Bill Cosby’s personal website) saying the article was a fake. So why was everyone else so easily fooled, so apt to propagate the lie, and too lazy to fact check? Was it because it so easily confirmed their own beliefs?

This is a pattern. People immediately accept whatever falls in their lap as complete truth. People are no longer free thinkers – rather they are sheep-sponges who obediently fall in line, absorb, and spread any information provided to them in which they find convenient.

A respected pop-culture icon and black leader, like Bill Cosby, spouting popular conservative ideals was just too delicious to pass up – thus it spreads like wildfire on social networks. A few items of hate speech, sprinkled in with a few lines of truth, and suddenly the entire message is accepted at once. The lies and hate are absorbed in the blood stream as inconspicuously as they landed on everyone’s homepage.

My biggest fear is that my peers have forgotten how to think for themselves, how to distinguish a lie from the truth. They are now good slaves propagating whatever they hear or see on whatever screen is in front of them. That is dangerous.

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3 Key Components to an Awesome Relationship

Today Holden sent me a very insightful email that I would like to share with the world. 

I think the key to getting along and having a fruitful relationship with your spouse, family, co-workers and anyone else has three essential elements.

1. Look Beyond Yourself

The first element is, you and the person you are trying to have the harmonious relationship with need to be able to look beyond themselves. They have to be able to recognize their own bias and remove the cloudiness of their own personal perspective and see other’s perspective.

For example, I never realized just how boxed in and self centered I was until I worked at GISTech and really got my ass handed to me over and over by my two senior co-workers who were as self centered as I was. When you have three extremely self centered people who always think their perspective is the only perspective, its going to spell disaster, and I was the low man on the totem pole so I got shit on there and bullied. I think this might be where Stoicism could play a helpful role. Removing yourself emotionally to free yourself to survey the surrounding environment.

I remember I use to trash my wife’s dad the way your wife will freely trash yours, then I finally realized that despite everything I said being blatantly true and her feeling the exact same way, maybe I should just leave the bashing to her. I still take jabs at the guy, but I shouldn’t. I should just leave it to her, because she really doesn’t need me to remind her that her dad sucks. She knows it, she lived it. It took stepping outside my own little box to realize that.

2. Roll with the Punches

The next element is part reciprocation, part just letting shit roll off your back.

Sometimes people say things that really do not jive with or annoy you. You just have to learn to let it roll off your back, but the other person also needs to learn to reciprocate and return the favor when you’re being the asshole. I think my and your wife’s issue is that she doesn’t reciprocate well. I feel like she expects all of us to simply let anything she says roll off our backs, but she doesn’t take it well when we say anything that slights her in the least. Then I eventually get to a point that I stop letting things roll off my back, and she thinks I’m bullying her and hate her guts. I don’t really how to address the problem. If it were you and I we’d just tell the other to quit being an asshole.

My wife and I used to have the same problem, She’d take my bullshit all day, but then if she dished a little, I would blow up on her ass. Hell, it still happens sometimes. Its a lifelong growing process. I’m still guilty of dishing more than I take sometimes. Its just important that you don’t let me get away with it if I am.

3. Admit when You’re Wrong

The final element is admitting when you’re wrong.

When I do something really shitty (like punching a hole in the wall, throwing a tantrum… etc) I’ve learned just to suck it up and admit I’m a douchebag. Fuck it. I’m a douchebag. The first step to a de-douching yourself is admitting your own douchiness. Some people just can’t admit it. Some people really can’t stand to lose face or look foolish. You have to get over it if you’re going to have successful relationships. You have to learn to admit you’re wrong.

So, there you have it. This is what I’ve been personally working on. The lucky part of my marriage is that my wife just seems to naturally have most of this down and she’s very receptive to me just calling her out, as you are. I’m the one who needs most of the work. Luckily, I’ve grown up enough over the last few years to finally realize it. In your case, the tables are turned I think. I think you know everything I said above to be true and you follow the philosophy. The next step is just bringing your wife along with you.

A New Year. An Old Man.

“You better give your Peepaw a hug, I don’t think he has much longer left.” I told my wife.

His eyes were watering, he was struggling to breathe, and sometimes I would see him shake a little as he was trying to move around. The rest of the house was rustling about almost like they didn’t notice the poor old man coming to terms with his own demise.

It was only a year ago, Christmas time last year, that I had spent time with my wife’s Great Grandfather. He seemed so much more alive then, but now his body seems ready to give out. To let go of the life still in his eyes, to rest.

I wonder to myself if he feels alone. The children running around the house, parents chatting about nothing, but Peepaw sits alone in a comfortable recliner enjoying what will probably be his last Christmas. My observations are full of mixed emotions.

Here sits a man who has had a full life, much better than most. He has been married to his dear wife for over 60 years, he has started and handed down a successful business, and has a wonder family surrounding him. What more could a man ask for in his final days. How much more peacefully could anyone go?

On the other hand I feel a hint of dread. The curtains are closing, his inevitable death is coming quickly, but he is alone in his journey in this. No one can truly empathize with what he must be feeling – it must be a little strange that everyone moves around so carelessly going about their daily business as he knows that these are his final hours. Literally his final moments of existence on this planet. Everyone pretends not to notice – getting dessert almost seems more important.

Of course it’s not that no one cares. He’s an 89 year old man and his death is something almost everyone has accepted – even if it’s just subconsciously. Something unsaid we have all agreed to. Inevitability. Finality.

Still part of me feels like we should all be crowded around him – appreciating the man and his life – while he’s still coherent enough to appreciate the gesture. Part of me wants to lean in and whisper a question: “What is the one thing I should know about life?” Oh the knowledge, the wisdom, he must have during these final hours. Regrets, pride, advice.

If there is any sort of afterlife. Any karma. Any higher power. Or even if there isn’t. Let it be known that a young man noticed you that day – your final Christmas. Maybe its some comfort, some justice. A young man unrelated by blood, a young man that never said more than a few words to you, a young man who only shook your hand and stared you in the eyes and tried to communicate at that moment that I appreciated your existence, noticed, cared.

I didn’t ask anything, you never lectured me, but I learned a lot from you.

I think I’m a Stoic

Recently I ran across this Wikipedia article on Stoicism. As I read through the basic tenants it hit me: I think I’m a stoic.

Reason Over Emotion

There are a few things that ring completely true to my own way of thinking:

Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions; the philosophy holds that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows one to understand the universal reason (logos). A primary aspect of Stoicism involves improving the individual’s ethical and moral well-being: “Virtue consists in a will that is in agreement with Nature.” This principle also applies to the realm of interpersonal relationships; “to be free from anger, envy, and jealousy,” and to accept even slaves as “equals of other men, because all men alike are products of nature.”

This passage rings almost totally true for me. Often when I find myself boiling with anger I think to myself : “Take a step back, think clearly, logically.” I have always valued the searched for truth with unbiased data and thinking. I especially appreciate the idea of freedom from emotion to see the world clearly.

This certainly does not mean you are free from feeling emotion. Everyone feels emotion. I think the overall point is honing the ability to transcend the emotions you are feeling and examine yourself externally for the self. Almost like an objective outsider examining the facts of your own situation.

The Stoics believed that knowledge can be attained through the use of reason. Truth can be distinguished from fallacy; even if, in practice, only an approximation can be made. According to the Stoics, the senses constantly receive sensations: pulsations that pass from objects through the senses to the mind, where they leave an impression in the imagination (phantasia). (An impression arising from the mind was called a phantasma.)

The mind has the ability to judge (sunkatathesis)—approve or reject—an impression, enabling it to distinguish a true representation of reality from one that is false. Some impressions can be assented to immediately, but others can only achieve varying degrees of hesitant approval, which can be labeled belief or opinion (doxa). It is only through reason that we achieve clear comprehension and conviction (katalepsis). Certain and true knowledge (episteme), achievable by the Stoic sage, can be attained only by verifying the conviction with the expertise of one’s peers and the collective judgment of humankind.

This idea also seems naturally true to me. How many times has an eye witness been wrong based on misinterpreted data they “thought” they saw or experienced? True answers, it seems to me, come from data and examination.  Emotions are important, but they are subject to error and manipulation by ourselves and external forces.

My wife and I have arguments all the time because she says I’m emotionless and too logical while I accuse her of being overly-emotional.  She will laugh or cry easily while I can’t remember the last time I felt emotion strong enough to cry. It’s hard to feel an emotion strong enough to take action if you naturally take the “I need to think this through” approach.

My natural inclination is to stop, wait, and examine the facts.

Ethics and Morality

Even my natural deriving of morality seems to be borrowed from Stoicism.

…the foundation of Stoic ethics is that good lies in the state of the soul itself; in wisdom and self-control. Stoic ethics stressed the rule: “Follow where reason leads.” One must therefore strive to be free of the passions, bearing in mind that the ancient meaning of ‘passion’ was “anguish” or “suffering”, that is, “passively” reacting to external events—somewhat different from the modern use of the word…The eupatheia are feelings that result from correct judgment in the same way as passions result from incorrect judgment.

The idea was to be free of suffering through apatheia (Greek: ἀπάθεια) or peace of mind (literally, ‘without passion’), where peace of mind was understood in the ancient sense—being objective or having “clear judgment” and the maintenance of equanimity in the face of life’s highs and lows.

For the Stoics, ‘reason’ meant not only using logic, but also understanding the processes of nature—the logos, or universal reason, inherent in all things. Living according to reason and virtue, they held, is to live in harmony with the divine order of the universe, in recognition of the common reason and essential value of all people…

Following Socrates, the Stoics held that unhappiness and evil are the results of human ignorance of the reason in nature. If someone is unkind, it is because they are unaware of their own universal reason, which leads to the conclusion of kindness. The solution to evil and unhappiness then, is the practice of Stoic philosophy—to examine one’s own judgments and behavior and determine where they diverge from the universal reason of nature.

These ideas are beautiful. Recognize the “common reason and essential value of all people”. I wonder why the Greek people were such sophisticated thinkers? It’s kind of amazing to think people had these brilliant thoughts a thousand years ago, but they are still applicable today. It seems human’s haven’t changed all that much.

Drones and Children

Someone I know sent me this link today. It is a list of 47 children who have perished due to Drone strikes under the Obama administration.

I think this list is meant to be an interesting juxtaposition to the “crying for the children” Obama presented to the public after the tragedy of Newton, Connecticut.  Leaving many Americans wondering what makes the Newton County children any more a tragedy than the deaths of 47 innocent brown children over the past few years.

Grey Area

Of course it isn’t that black and white. Some might argue that the end justifies the means as related to the deaths of 47 middle-eastern children. They are casualties of war – a sad consequence of terrorism and radical Islam even. War is dirty and the loss of innocent life inevitable while those children slaughtered in Newton remains completely unjustified and purposeless.

Still – I can’t help wonder why Obama doesn’t occasionally take a step back and express his deep regret for every innocent life lost as result of Drone attacks – especially the children. Especially in a war against “terror” and not against any particular nation.

Doesn’t the Administration owe it to every country to apologize for the death of their citizens as result of our mission to kill a particular individual? Maybe not – I don’t know how this works. What is the etiquette in a war like this? And no doubt a legion of right-wingers would be waiting to pounce and call Obama weak at the first apology uttered.


I guess what I’m saying here is that tragedy is everywhere and we should take time to reflect on the cost of war. We should appreciate and mourn the loss of every life – not just those in our own nation.

For myself – I wonder why the death of 22 children in Newton is so much more difficult a pill to swallow than the death of 47 children in some distant land I can’t fully conceptualize? This post goes out to all 69 of the innocent lives lost as result of someone else’s mistakes.  A sad reality of the world we live.