The unexamined life

Building walls

Back when I was still focused on Alison, there was a young man named Rich who was just enamored with Trump.

Him: He wants to build a wall, protect the workers here.
Me: But most people don’t come into the US in a way where a wall would work.

It turns out that, the wall had been conceived by two consultants “to get Trump to remember to talk about immigration.”

Put another way, it wasn’t meant to ever be a literal thing, it was just meant as a shorthand to keep someone as jawdroppingly stupid as Trump on the right page to have something to talk about with immigration.

But he took it and ran with it.

Even though it didn’t make any sense. Even thought it didn’t do what it was ostensibly meant to do – keep out immigrants – it did what it was really meant to do, which was keep Trump talking about immigration.

You’ll note that he never mentions it or the wall anymore. But I digress.

I got into a FB tiff with a friend because I told her that rent regulation didn’t work. Because it doesn’t.

Do you know why rent regulation was invented? It was invented to stop an emergency: To keep WWII veterans from coming back and getting price gouged.

That was the emergency.

Do you know of any other 75-year-old emergencies? Kinda really stretches the concept of an “emergency,” yeah?

Rent regulation goes against basic economic principles: If you take away 45% of the supply – NYC is roughly 45% rent-regulated – then the remaining 55% becomes astronomically high. It makes it so that the people lucky enough to get it, get cheap rent, while everyone else subsidizes them.

After all, non-market income doesn’t change the fact that everything else – utilities, taxes, mortgages – is a market expense.

Study after study shows that rent regulation doesn’t work.

Just like study after study shows the wall won’t work.

I mentioned this and she wrote back, “So, you just want to fuck the poor, Logan?”

Rich, when I told him the wall won’t work said, “So, you just want to steal jobs from Americans to give to criminals?”

I said once that I live by some basic rules: Is it true? seems like such a stupid one.

And yet, it’s the one that people mess up the most, I think.

My female friend wants to believe that rent regulation works and if I don’t believe that, I must want to “fuck the poor.”

Rich wants to believe that the wall works, and if I don’t believe that, I must want “to steal jobs from Americans to give to criminals.”

Funny thing is that they both defriended me.

That’s what happens if you don’t ask yourself that simple basic question: Is it true?

The less you ask that question, the more you find things that are actually true, repulsive.

The truth becomes grotesque.

When you live an unexamined life, you start becoming part of the world’s problems.

You build walls, to protect the comforting untrue things from the repulsive true things. And people just become another ugly thing you don’t want to see.

Eh, I don’t blame them.

I find myself grotesque and I’d defriend me too if I had the chance.

Podcast Version
Location: still in this fucking house
Mood: homesick
Music: I was just guessing at numbers and figures (Spotify)

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Owing a debt

Mother is the name of God

Podcast Version

Him: Why do you stay in contact with her and people like him?
Me: I owe them a debt. Anyone that shows a kindness to my family, I owe a debt.

My head’s quiet again.

That’s more than I can say about the state of the nation, what with a pandemic, murder hornets, cannibal rats, state-sponsored murder, and now race riots.

The thing is: I get it. As my buddy from my gym said, you never get over the anger. And what’s the anger all about? Inequity.

It’s bullshit that Alison died so young, so close to her dream of finally – finally – getting a family. Bullshit.

I said earlier that I couldn’t watch the whole video. I stopped when Floyd cried out for his mother.

That broke my heart. As a regular, run-of-the-mill-normal human being, it broke my heart. That someone could die for no fucking reason whatsoever.

And what crushed it to powder was the thought that in the darkest moments of his life, my son will cry out for me. Because he didn’t know Alison.

And I’m half the person she was. You see, Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of children.

Except for mine, that is. Fuckballs.

I counted the days. Alison lived exactly 13,893 days. HALF of what she was promised. What we were promised. The inequity makes my blood boil.

Alison and George are gone now, for no good reason whatsoever. So, I understand the rage.

But there’s another facet to the rage. And that’s the debt.

In 1847 – after the Trail of Tears – the Choctaw heard about the starving Irish during their potato famine and somehow, managed to scrape together and send $170 (about $5,000 today) to help these people strangers.

For every bit of inequity – where one isn’t given what one’s owed – there’s a flip side. There’s grace; that’s when you’re given something you didn’t earn.

When Alison was sick, the grace I saw, humbled me. To those people that helped us, my family owes them a debt. That’s it.

We owe them a debt.

The Choctaw owed the Irish no debt but they paid a value to someone in need. And 173 years later, the descendants of those with the debt paid back some of it.

I think I hold a special place of contempt in my heart for those in mixed-race relationships – particularly white male and Asian female relationships – where the white male doesn’t realize the debt he owes the African-American community.

Like the the officer that murdered Mr. Floyd, who is married to a Laotian woman.

That officer doesn’t realize the debt his family owes to the black community, that was regularly lynched for just looking at a white woman, and had to go to court to gain us all the right to marry any one of any race we wanted.

I was able to legally marry Alison because a white man named Loving – of all things – wanted to marry a black woman, named Mildred. My family would not exist but for Mildred and Loving. The debt every interracial couple owes to them cannot be overstated.

If you’re white and in a mixed-race relationship and you don’t feel any rage over what happened to Mr. Floyd and don’t recognize the debt you owe to that community then I gotta point it out to you now.

You owe them a debt.

But rage against inequity works both ways.

Chauvin’s wife just announced that she was divorcing him.

Podcast Version
Location: 95th and Broadway
Mood: angry
Music: so sick of being so lonely; miss all my family (Spotify)
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Picking up the pieces we break

Ended up with a completely jacked computer

Asus ET2700 disassembled
Part of the reason I splurged on the new desk because – on the days that I work at home – I spend almost the entire day sitting there.

So if I’m going to spend money on anything, it should be a nice work space.

Similarly, a few years ago, I bought myself a really sweet computer. It was a single piece computer with a touchscreen; essentially, it was like having a 27″ table computer to work on. I loved that thing and it made working that much nicer.

Last week, I decided to upgrade the processor for a slight step up in power. I installed it during the mess of building out my desk and everything else and ended up blowing out my computer.

Complete black screen of death. There seems to be a string of completely destroyed computers in my life.

Meanwhile, I had a portfolio of work due to client so I had to do that on my office computer or my actual 10″ tablet (which is as fun as a root canal) while rushing back to (a) finish building out my home office and (b) trying to salvage my machine.

tl;dr: The furniture is essentially assembled but my computer has given up the ghost. So my physical and digital states are both a mess right now.

I ended up buying a set of parts – essentially, this exact list of components – to build myself a dual-booting Windows/Macintosh system.

This has been a really expensive and tiring few weeks. Hopefully, after I’m done, I’ll be happy I did it.

As always, it’s about making it to the other side.

 

Location: in the midst of computer and furniture parts
Mood: still so tired
Music: in the strangest places, picking up the pieces we break
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It’s good to be wrong

Our lives are not a football game

Eagle Statue in Riverside Park, NYC, UWS

I didn’t vote for Obama. I felt he didn’t have enough leadership, management, or business experience to run the country.

Having said that, two terms in:

  • Unemployment is at 5.9%, versus 7.8% when he first took office.
  • Both wars have significantly drawn down.
  • The markets are significantly up – the S&P is up 126%.
  • Gas prices are just over $2 a gallon here.
  • We have nationwide healthcare, based on a Republican plan, for the first time.

I was wrong. Obama has been a pretty good president – his foreign policy, or lack thereof, notwithstanding.

I think that most people don’t actually understand politics, economics, or history. But they want to look like they have some deep-seated knowledge.

So they imitate one side or another – like when you’re a kid and become a genre of a person – and have a team. The same way they root for a football team. And they are incensed when their side loses.

But we are the side. If the country is doing well, that means we’re doing well, irrespective of the team.

I’m glad I’m wrong because it wasn’t, he would have been a terrible president and our situation as a whole would be much, much worse. Instead, my investments are going up, my family has health insurance, and we can take the whip for a spin without breaking the bank.

The world would be vastly different if people could say, I was wrong, that’s a good thing.

Those that don’t look at it as a negative mark against their intellect rather than a positive mark for their character.

Eagle Statue in Riverside Park, NYC, UWS

Above is a chart from the non-partisan Factcheck.org.

Location: home, waiting for an appraiser
Mood: better
Music: seen sunny days that I thought would never end.

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What does religion mean?

Arguing your religion

Cathedral in Spain

While I’ve been pretty busy lately, I’ve not been so busy to avoid getting embroiled in religious arguments – online and off.

And I’ve gotten into no less than three just in the past 24 hours – mainly due to Pope Francis supporting evolution, which the Church as done since at least 1950.

Oddly, all three arguments have been with atheists. The thing is that they don’t understand the basic definition of the word, “religion.”

Is religion a belief in god?

No, because that would mean that religions like Taoism and Buddhism, which have no god, are not religions. Yet they are.

Religion is “an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence.”

It’s how we organize the world for ourselves.

The reason why you get so annoyed with all those gun enthusiasts, staunch vegetarians, rabid animals righters, virulent Liberals/Conservatives, etc. is because you’re tired of having their religion shoved down your throat.

It’s how they see the world and they want – badly for some reason – for you to see it the same way.

In any case, atheists see the world and our role in it sans god. And that is absolutely fine with me.

But just like you probably don’t want to be harangued at the airport by (American) Christian fundamentalists, I don’t want want to asked to explain how I see the world as it relates to me while eating a late-night gyro.

Logically, there’s zero difference in those that utilize peer pressure and shame to put down a religion as there is to build one up. The core point is the same: see the world as I see it, or you are dammed/wrong/stupid, descended from apes, etc.

It’s this weird militant atheism that people seem to have that I find the most peculiar – like furiously sleeping. As if how I see the world affects them.

Some people just wanna eat a gyro in peace and I say, let them.

Him: You don’t really believe in god do you?
Me: Why does what I do in my head matter so much to you?

Location: work
Mood: wishing for a breakfast gyro
Music: can’t stop can’t stop, I’m still looking now
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We love death more than you love life

At the very least, they’re honest about that

Polished concrete floor

A few years back, had to replace a large section of floor and was given a number of options like ceramic tile, wood, etc.

One guy suggested stained polished concrete, which we chose because of its versatility.

The guy that installed it said that he worked with concrete because it’s one of the oldest, strongest, more durable construction materials out there.

We stained it a leather brown, polished it to high gloss, and sealed it with wax. Everyone that comes by always asks about it.

It cost me about half of what it would have cost to put in anything else because, while the labor costs were the same or more (for the specialized knowledge), the raw material is just so cheap.

60 pounds of concrete costs $3.00 here in Manhattan. Three dollars.

And everything’s more expensive in Manhattan.

Recently, I’ve had a number of heated discussions with well-meaning but staggeringly ill-informed people regarding the current Israel/Gaza strife and lately, I’ve just been asking one question:

Where are the bomb shelters in Gaza?

There are at least 30 tunnels – at a cost of $30 million and  at least 1,780 rockets (all fired). Where are the bomb shelters?

There answer is that there are none. There is nothing to protect the people of Gaza by the ersatz government of Gaza because that’s not how Hamas sees the role of government.

But no one says it better than Hamas themselves:

We are a people that love death for the sake of Allah as much as our enemies love life.

That is their slogan. Their motto. Their trademark.

And the trademark lawyer in me cynically thinks, “Well, at the very least, they’re honest about that.”

Location: the interstate
Mood: cynical
Music: A spray of stars hit the screen As the 10th impact shimmered
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The people that make NYC miserable

Demolished a room and got hit by a car

Hit and try-to-run-but-cannot-run-driver
Had an interesting weekend.

Walking out of my gym in midtown, met a young guy who worked at a masonry shop a few doors down.

Yes, it’s odd that there’s a masonry in the middle of Manhattan but where we are, there’s still a lot of old NY there.

After a little chatting, mentioned that I was thinking of fixing up part of my apartment and exchanged info. Got a call later on that week that he was in the neighborhood. Within ninety minutes of that call, cabinets and appliance were ripped out and hauled away.

Sometimes, things  just move quickly.

Which is the opposite of what was happening on the street in front of my apartment on Saturday morning because of the garbage truck you see in the picture above.

This was enough to cause some jerk sit on his horn and wake up everyone in the hood.

When I came out to take a picture of him, he proceeded to bump me with his car.

Again: He hit me with his car even though he could not move because of the garbage truck in front of him.

I was unhurt – although it’s my ACL leg so it’s a little sore. Shoulda called the police but I had my usual bout of insomnia the night before and didn’t think it through.

Ended up calling the cops afterward, but by then, figured it wasn’t worth it. Interestingly, the cop that came was actually another student from my old gym and we chatted about my current wrasslin partner, whom everyone in NYC seems to know cause he’s such a nice guy.

The opposite of this guy here, who’s the type of self-important NYC douchebag that make life miserable for everyone else.

He drives a fine German automobile and wears a button-down shirt but was clearly raised by wolves.

Like I said, young broken people grow up to be old broken people.
Selfish New Yorker
And now, a new week. Let’s see what happens.

Location: back to wrasslin in just a bit
Mood: sore
Music: you know it don’t matter anyway. You can rely on the old man’s money
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How I met your mother in a refrigerator

This is why you’re bothered by the HIMYM finale

How I met your mother
Wasn’t planning on writing two back-to-back opinion posts but these things have been bothering me enough to say something.

[SPOILERS AHEAD]

If you’ve watched the finale, you know that the mother was a red herring the entire time. The story really was, and is, about how Ted and Robin end up together after years of orbiting around each other.

But if it left a distaste in your mouth and you can’t figure out why, let me tell you about the Women in Refrigerators issue in comic books.

The term comes from a 1994 story where a superhero returns to find that his girlfriend has been killed and stuffed into his refrigerator.

It’s a plot device, whereby a female character is killed or maimed in a male-centered story purely to make stuff happen for that male character. And it happens enough to have a name.

Turning back to HIMYM, we essentially meet the mother in a refrigerator in that we met her when she was already dead six years.

The purpose of the refrigerator in comic books is to shock and horrify; ditto for the reveal in HIMYM.

Green Lantern Kyle Radner finds his girlfriend in a refrigeratorThat’s why the finale bothered me. Because this character was ostensibly there purely to provide story impetus – and offspring – for Ted and then is conveniently killed off to make room for the person he’s loved all this time, Robin.

The entire last season, which could have been a look into the mother’s life – let’s call her Tracy, because characters of meaning deserve names –  was instead just about Robin’s marriage, which itself was a red herring.

And Robin’s life is essentially a waiting game for Ted. So both females lives are disposable and there to serve the protagonist of the story, that is all.

We’re not even told how Tracy died or why, that’s how marginal her death actually is.

Of course, does this happen in real life? Sure. Girlfriends and wives are killed every day, spurring the men in their lives to take action. But men are killed as well and this isn’t a major trope in writing.

Ultimately, to devote close to a decade of storyline to characters only to do a fake out seems cheap and easy.

I’m no hardcore feminist, but this is so glaringly distasteful that it’s difficult not to notice it.

End rant. Back to nuthin later on this week.

 

Location: apartment on a rainy Monday morning
Mood: still irritated
Music: Girlfriend in a coma, I know, I know – it’s serious
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People who are willing to sacrifice their rights for safety, deserve neither

Another thing with an air of truth

Spent Sunday actually relaxing cause I finished almost all of my projects for the year – and by “relaxing” I mean fixing stuff around the house.

Also read a lot of Facebook.

Two friends separately, and coincidentally, paraphrased a Benjamin Franklin quote; one while talking about NYC random bag searches, the other about US gun owner rights.

But it’s one of those commonly referred to quotes that have the air of truth but no real truth to them at all – at least depending on how it’s paraphrased.

Both quoted it as saying: People who are willing to sacrifice their rights for safety, deserve neither.

But that’s not what Franklin said. What he actually said in a book called, Memoirs of the life & writings of Benjamin Franklin, was:

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

The following words are often and conveniently left out:

  • Essential – are guns essential? I’ve lived 40 years with only firing one less than a handful of times. In other words, does everyone need to own guns like the way everyone needs a voice in government. I doubt it.
  • Little temporary – is the ability to not get blown up in a bus a little temporary safety? I’d hope not.

Franklin was saying quite the opposite of what my two friends and many people use his quote for.

He wasn’t saying that every right was equal, he was saying that essential rights – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – were not worth exchanges of small temporary safety.

A bag search is not that. Sane gun laws are not that. They are both the opposite of that.

Sorry, every once in a while I have to be a lawyer and lawyers aren’t allowed to be inexact.

Like that quote that goes, First kill all the lawyers…, what a quote actually means, often means the opposite of what they think it means.

Here are more quotes that have the air of truth to them but either have no real truth to them at all or are misquoted/misunderstood:

Location: desk, being a lawyer
Mood: nerdy
Music: don’t mind the traffic cops or the TSA Long as I’m with you I’m having a good day
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Guilt by association

You may have more in common with Joe Lhota than you think

Another political rant, but this time on local elections. Sorry, it’s the season.

For those of you that don’t know, in part of my day-to-day real life, I deal with trademarks. What a trademark is, is shorthand for actual critical thinking.

For example, if you buy a good cuppa joe at a place with a green mermaid called “Starbucks” for a while, you eventually learn that you can expect roughly the same level of quality at any other place with a green mermaid.

Recently, I’ve been involved in a dozen or so conversations with friends asking them the following about New York City:

  • Are you pro-NYC charter schools, which tend to help lower-income and minority children?
  • Are you pro the legalization of marijuana?
  • Are you pro-same-sex marriage?
  • Are you pro-abortion rights?
  • Are you anti-new taxes?

Across the board, everyone answered yes. The funny thing is that those positions are exactly what Republican for mayor Joe Lhota has according to this NY Time article.

De Blasio has essentially said he will cripple the charter school system and will raise taxes – something that Democratic Govenor Cumo said is both (a) not going to happen under his watch because it is (b) dangerous for NY since it will force people to move to more welcoming areas.

When I pointed this out to most people some changed the topic completely, several got (very) angry, and one put up a passive-aggressive link to look up things on Google.

But not one could point out a reason why they would vote for de Blasio over Lhota.

It’s little different from the Republicans that are just furious over Ombamacare even though it was an initially Republican conceived plan.

It’s disappointing how little thought – let alone critical thought – people I know in real life actually give to the issues that matter to them.

And the reason behind this is because everyone believes very easily whatever he fears or desires.

The person that posted the passive-aggressive link and one of the people that’s furious with me both wrote about how much the charter school program meant to them. So I asked them both why they didn’t support Lhota if they were so passionate about it.

Obviously, you don’t know what you’re talking about if you think [a Republican] is pro-charter schools.

Obviously.

Location: -120 mins, making sure the boiler was on
Mood: disappointed
Music: I’m stuck with them and they’re stuck on you
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