Sunday, January 1, 2017

Certainty, the system behind the unjust

Every injustice I've encountered have been when a person is certain.

A little knowledge is a certain thing

The peak of "Mount Stupid" is where I encounter people who are in some position of power, unfortunately making decisions about the thing they're being stupid about. These are ordinary people, with an extraordinary talent at remaining right, even in the face of being terribly wrong.

Honestly I haven't figured out how these people really tick, they're still a mystery for me to solve. But I've collected some information about them over the years:
  1. They rise to power easily. Certainty looks like confidence, I talk about this in a previous post. And since 51% to 100% of promotions are based on how you seem, rather than what you did, the hot air rises.
  2. They have a hard time with not knowing, being on the fence, being unsure. They believe it's a weak, vulnerable position. They avoid it, always making sure to have a decision ready as soon as possible. And they are derisive towards people who are uncertain, and haven't come to a decision yet.
  3. They have a vested interest in remaining certain. It's part of their identity, and they must maintain this identity for others.
  4. They are justified in their actions. But all actions can be justified, if you know the right arguments. The worst atrocities in history had justifications. The smallest injustices at home, like between siblings, have valid arguments on both sides.
  5. Disdain for nuance. Kind of like point 2, they consider it a weakness to their integrity to not be fully committed into one side. 

Certain people cause suffering

Certainty causes inflexibility. People who are certain, 
  • become inflexible in their hearts. They are less compassionate. They are less patient.
  • become inflexible in their minds. They are less open. They don't doubt, hence they don't question, and thus they don't learn.
  • become inflexible in their emotions. Over time they become strict, and negative. They lose the ability to enjoy and appreciate.
  • become inflexible in their behaviors. The are certain of what's right, and what's wrong. Their world becomes finite, everything is already known. Thus moral judgement is simple and quick. Any new information is easily assimilated and chunked up into the right and wrong buckets.
These, in combination, are the cause of suffering for people. Irregardless of your economic system, your local resources, or the culture in which you live; independent of your class and social standing within your locality; what will bring you the most pain in life is other people's certainty, and your certainty that they shouldn't be so certain.

They are certain that you are a lowlife. You doubt that. You're not certain that you're a high life, but a low life? Really?

They are certain that you don't deserve something. They're certain that it's theirs right and duty to allocate other people's time and resources. And they're certain that you don't get a part of it.

They're certain that you owe them something. You're not so sure. You know that there's a lot of thing you've done for them, and you've never collected. And you're not exactly sure that they did so much for you, for them to feel entitled. But they seem to be really certain of it.

Ignorance, unraveling the certainty

The only thing we know for certain, is that we don't know.
The first time I encountered the idea of using ignorance to undermine people's certainty was from lessons about Socrates in school. It's said, when he heard that the Oracles had named him wisest in all the lands, he decided to prove the Oracles wrong.

He knew that he didn't know lots of things, while plenty others attested to know. He went to these masters of knowledge, and asked them questions, coming at it with genuine, annoying, ignorance. He decided that he would show everyone that he didn't know as much as these masters did, thus he couldn't have been the wisest.

If you've ever dealt with a truly ignorant, yet highly curious person, I think you know how annoying it is to deal with them sometimes. You begin the conversation feeling like you know the answers to their simple questions. You might have spent a lifetime on this topic. But, so quickly that it surprises you, they get to the heart of what has still remained a mystery to you. You realize, and often not with your head, but with your emotions of shame and frustration, how little you knew, and how fragile was the deck of cards of your certainty.

This is what Socrates encountered. He would annoy everyone in town with his ignorance. And after some time he realized that the Oracle was right, he was the wisest person, because at least he knew that he didn't know. That's a +1 that he had over everyone else's inflated 0.

Dealing with the unjust

But feigning ignorance, and trying to approach the certain tyrants in your life like a fool, is easier said than done. People tried to imitate Socrates, but where Socrates had tact, humor, and self deprecation, his followers didn't have any of these. They came off as arrogant and unruly. So much so that the city decided that maybe Socrates should have something to drink and take a nap.

Honestly I don't know how to deal with tyrants. The problem in dealing with the certain, is that they're so certain they have it figured out. Sometimes I want to sit in front of them with a whiteboard and argue the entire thing out. But often they close themselves up in their certainty bubble.

Lots of things about being wrong is not what they want to deal with. They have other, more important things to worry about. They know they're justified in the bigger things. Maybe they could've done the smaller things better, nobody's perfect, they tried their best. Who is this doubt-filled wimp, coming in here and criticizing things? These tyrants have gone through a lot of shit in their lives, they know. They know what the world's really like, and everyone will find out how right they are in the long run. Just you watch.

Monday, December 26, 2016

5 Tips on How to Dream

Instead of dreaming about having some thing, dream about what to do with it.

When I was younger I wanted a BMW. Any of the Z series, I wanted a German engineered sports car. But when I thought about what I'd do with it, I saw only one vision: me getting out of the car in a public place, wearing a suit and shades.

Besides that, there was nothing I was looking forward to that would justify that expense, as compared to my current income. So I haven't bought that BMW, yet. The cost doesn't justify my one dream.

I did have lots of vivid dreams of owning a house and making rent from it. Of owning multiple properties in locations over the world. Unlike the BMW, these are well in progress.

Now I have dreams of running a business I helped create. How to hire employees. How to give all-hands speeches. How to make business deals and financial decisions. Let's see how that pans out. And a business might make that one image of me getting out of a BMW worth my income some day.

Your dreams are personal. They're the haven you go to escape and hope.

Don't ruin it by telling too many people. Either people will hold you to them, and thus turn the dream into another chore to avoid. Or they won't care, which makes telling them not worth it. Or they will persuade you out of it.

Some people want to believe that by saying it out loud, or posting it on a dream board, or telling your friends about it, will manifest the dream into the universe, and increase the likely hood of it coming true. 

Maybe. Even if this were true, the followers of such pseudo-science admits that you aren't aware of all that you are putting out into this "universe." So if you were to start expressing your dreams, how do you know that you didn't sneak some of your ego and your fears into it?

Don't take your chances, keep the dream pristine and clear. Don't use it to gain attention. Don't whore out your precious dreams.

Keep your dreams 60-80% achievable, the rest fantasy.

By having dreams that are couched in reality, it remains tantalizing to you. "If I only just did this and that..." should be what eats at you. The fantasy part of it is the "what if" of the dream. 

What if the business I create wasn't just profitable, but super successful and I became a celebrity?

If there's too much fantasy, then you wouldn't take this dream seriously, and it'll drift away just like any of your childhood fantasies and imaginations.

And if there's too much reality, then it's not a dream, it's a task. A chore. Another responsibility. Lame.

Don't be pressured into dreaming bigger than you want to dream.

This goes back to how it's your dream. Americans like to pressure each other into having "big" dreams. They sometimes make you feel bad for dreaming small. 

It's ok to have small dreams, medium dreams, big dreams, whatever you want. 

Don't ask for someone's opinion on your dream. You can ask them how it could be achieved, but don't take advice about what you should be dreaming of. It has to remain your dream, not someone else's.

You can borrow someone else's dream if it really appeals to you, that's fine. You can give your dreams away to others who it might appeal to as well. But it's a transfer, not an amendment process. Once amended, it stops becoming yours.

Have dreams

I can imagine that lots of people have stopped dreaming. I can understand that life is unfair, and people unjust. I know that dashed hopes are the worst feeling. I also feel the fear of losing and failing.

But I think that healthy, functional people have dreams, especially during times of adversity. I know lots of stories of famous people, and not famous people, who had nothing at one point except their dream.

Dreaming is something worth maintaining as a child. It's sad for humanity, the day that a child gives up on a dream. But it's not too late as an adult to bring them back. To nurture your dreams slowly, and get back into the practice of imagination.

I think it's natural to dream. Your brain wants to do it. If you have a hard time dreaming, then look for blocks. Look for fears. Look for things that you've told yourself as a child, maybe after some powerful experience. Look for ways that you're preventing yourself from dreaming. Maybe you think it's childish, maybe you think it's a waste of time, maybe you're afraid of being stuck "in the clouds."

Please, don't be afraid. Let go, it'll be alright. You won't suddenly become immature, or stupid, for dreaming. No ones going to laugh at you, and those who do, are sad people who deserve pity.

Sweet dreams.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

How to be amazing, like me

I’m often asked, “how are you so amazing?”

Shucks! Honestly, I can’t say for sure how. But don’t worry guys, I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I think I’ve figured out a few things:

I have patience. Others seem to live in a haze of fear.

The fear of missing out. The fear of getting caught as a fraud. The fear of their short, uneventful, future.

I don’t know where I got this patience. Maybe it’s because I didn’t think I’d do anything great, so I didn’t need to rush towards something. No one else seemed to expect anything of me, so I didn’t need to maintain some image.

I know, sounds weird, being so amazing, with so many accomplishments, how can I have been so insecure? But fellas, inside, I’m just a humble guy. Very much like the rest of you little people.

I observe. Patience allows me to shut up and listen.

I’m not quick, and I’m not terribly talented, and I’m also lazy. You might think otherwise of course, looking from the outside at this perfect specimen of a human that I am.

But I’ve met many who are quicker than I am, harder working than I am, and much more talented. They make me feel jealousy, but I’m also glad I can be around to observe, and take away their glory as I slowly surpass them. I have more patience than they do.

I do things wrong on purpose. I’m fearless like that.

Probably came from a lifetime of being ridiculed or ignored. It didn’t matter whether I failed at something, I didn’t feel like anyone expected me to win anyways. No pressure. I was free to be myself.

I didn’t endanger my life. I’m constantly scared of falling, hitting my head, and losing vision for the rest of my life. 

But I always have a different way I want to do things. That frustrates some, it makes others laugh at my naive stupidity, and I don’t succeed as quickly as most. It’s ok, I have patience.

I’m happy with little gains. What I have is truly mine. And it’s growing.

I’ve tried to keep from robbing people of their time, their property, or their happiness. Yet other’s haven’t been so careful with me. Yet, I still come out well, maybe better. Because, what I have left is more than just rightfully mine, it’s NOT YOURS.

What people want, are the best parts. The best toys in the bin, the best choice of meat, the best of life. I am left with the scraps. But you’ll never know how to use your imagination and craftiness to play with broken toys, or how to make delicious stew out of bones and dark meat. I do, I know how to enjoy it all.

I’m the tortoise, smiling at the sleeping hare as I trudge by.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Racism and sexism is your blindspot

  1. Thinking that you're fair, does not make you fair. 
  2. You don't know all the ways that you are being unfair, it is a BLIND SPOT. 
  3. Everyone has sexist and racist blindspots. Everyone. 
It is hard to identify a blindspots. When you're driving, you have to move your body forward or turn your neck into uncomfortable positions to see your blindspot.

In personal life, it requires similar discomforts, and repeated checking over your blind spots, to avoid colliding into bigotry and sexism.

Jon Stewart describes his personal experience with a blindspot.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Confidence doesn't look like confidence

  • "I got this, don't worry."
  • "Nothing's going to go wrong, trust me."
  • "Here, let me show you how to do that"
  • "What? You don't know what that is?"
These, along with many other, behaviors are how people have learned to hijack our brains and exude confidence.

In Bangladesh, when things used to be cheap, someone like me with a steady job in America had lots of money. And I have a few cousins with lots of business ideas. And they would exude confidence about their business idea. And at first, I fell for it, being very young, but soon I started seeing through it. 

They would give me guarantees, that was the red flag. I would tell them that "guarantees are impossible." And they would have no response. I would ask them what could go wrong, and they couldn't tell me, "Nothing's going to go wrong, trust me." I would ask them what they'd do, if this or that went wrong, "You wouldn't understand. But trust me, I know what I'm doing." And my reply, "No thanks, I can't help you with your business."

Here in America, people are better at business. But, for every truly confident, successful, businessman, there's an equally confident and success-exuding shyster.

Here's what real confidence looks like:
  • "I don't know, I'll find out."
  • "Hmmm... I wonder."
  • "Are you sure? What makes you so sure?"
  • "I've seen this before, and that happened. I think it's because of so and such. What do you think?"
  • "..." Silence. Listening.
Real confidence doesn't look like confidence.

Real confidence is knowing, and accepting that:
  • There's always a chance of something going wrong.
  • People are often innocently unfair and unjust. They are blind to being unfair, from not having thought about it. 
  • There are a few who know they're being unfair, and still continue and don't care to change. You will encounter these people. They will probably hold some position over you. People like that easily come into petty power.
  • Things take time. You must have patience.
  • Things will always change. Whatever you are doing now, won't matter so much later. 
  • Things ten tend to break apart with time. Your business, your relationship, your ideas, your body. If you don't want it to, you must prepare it fight against the gravity of time.
  • Everything worth doing is going to be hard. There is no easy way. The hard way is the easiest way in the long run.
  • Often, good intentions lead to bad consequences. And sometimes bad intentions lead to good outcomes. Time will tell. And often it's surprising.
  • Every action has both good AND bad consequences. The ratio of good:bad might be a way to rationalize it. Sometimes it's not.
  • There's most likely a better solution, but it will be hard to find, and it will take time.
People with real confidence, I've noticed, seem and look weak to those who don't have real confidence, which is unfortunately the majority of people. People with real confidence, but don't know how to also exude that confidence with a strong handshake and smile, don't pass job interviews easily. People with real confidence, who don't know how to compromise with idiots, piss of people who can't understand why they're asking so many "why?"s and "how come?"s, and don't hop on the bandwagon of their stupid, thoughtless, impatient ideas.

Real confidence causes people to be wary, to be careful, to slow down, to pause and think. They explore new ideas and ask questions about different ways something can be done. They reject old ideas that others hold onto, even though they don't make sense anymore. They're not afraid to do that, they have real confidence. Confident people are used to the unknown, and they've long ago built fortifications against being wrong about what they're doing. 

Why can't I do it this way?
I don't know if it's any better, and I won't know until I find out. You go off and do it the usual way, I'll let you know if this way works or not.
Yah, something can and most likely will go wrong. Yes, it won't be very easy. Yes, it might be impossible. Yes they might be laughing at me. Yes, I might get hurt, but I don't think I will too badly.
Who knows though right? I'd like to find out. Why? Cause I can see how everyone else is doing it, and I can see where they're going, and it looks fine where they end up. But, I'd like to see if I can go somewhere else.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Drugs: Doing it right

A healthy Life looks like this.

The structure of a healthy Life requires a lot of time doing things you don't want to do, but need to do (Chores). This is within the realm of Hell, meaning it doesn't feel good, and it's not supposed to.

Work can still feel like hell, but sometimes it can feel like Heaven. Where Chores are things you need to do to maintain a Life-style, Working allows you to increase your Life-style. Work provides rewards beyond the necessities.

Play, if done right, should feel great. It lives on top of Work. Sometimes we want to fool ourselves into thinking we can Play and then do our Chores, then our Work, but that's foolish, and we know we're fooling ourselves.

Enter Drugs

Drugs are the sky above Play. Drugs make you feel like you're flying through Heaven.

Some drugs include:

  • Alcohol
  • Pharmaceuticals, like opium and meth
  • Sugary processed food
  • Sex
  • Gambling, with life and money
If done safely, and in moderation, drugs can help you soar sometimes.
They key to doing drugs safely is to keep the structure of your Life intact. You do the chores, you do your work, you play, and then you do drugs sometimes. You drink when you're relaxing, not during work. You eat a little bit of sugar, the cherry on top of your vegetables and proteins. You have great sex with the love of your life.

Addiction and abuse

You begin to abuse drugs when you are trying to constantly fly. To have a Life, you need to frequently be working at it, taking care of your chores, doing your work well, and playing without the use of drugs. And sometimes you can go out into Heaven and fly, free of any concerns because you've done the best that you could do.

Instead some people feel the need to fly all the time. Maybe they've never had a structured Life and all they know is chaos and pain, and the freedom of flying with drugs. Or maybe they've had a Life, but it became badly damaged, and they are hopeless in repairing it.

But, when you keep flying, all the time, your Life withers away quickly without your attention. It's not a structure built of bricks, Life is built on habits. Habits that are broken when you replace them with other, toxic, habits. Without your constant love, your structure will wither away quickly, remarkably quickly.

And when you try to soar without a base to jump from, to go back to a Life after you're done flying, you end up stuck in hell.
Being high causes you to continue feeling like you're soaring through Heaven. But some part of you can see how the structure is collapsing. Or the structures you want to build never get complete or fall down too quickly. This worries you, upsets you, and there's a craving to soar again, to feel the freedom again.

You are in a spiral.

"Just Saying No" to drugs doesn't work. You can't D.A.R.E. kids out of never trying just how good they can feel on drugs. How "all drugs are, are a perfect solution to every problem you have right now," as Louis C.K. complained of when musing about what to tell his kids about drugs.
  • Never think that you are stronger than drugs. Respect drugs. You are your brain, not stronger than your brain. When you trick your brain by hijacking it with chemicals, you're tricking yourself.
  • Don't use drugs to spice up your Chores or Work. That's Stage Two of your spiral down into addiction.
  • Enjoy some play without the use of drugs. Drinking responsibly doesn't mean to get hammered and throw up in your DD's backseat and then have him drag you into your house and make sure you forced enough water down your throat. Drinking and drugging responsibly, means finding joy without drinking at all.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

What's the point, if it doesn't stick?

I don't like diets. I don't like leveraging debt. I like shortcuts, but I don't like short-cutting.
I don't understand the point of doing things that won't stick. 
I workout to practice structure, so my body doesn't ache when I'm old. I put my money and time into building assets, either physical or mental. I try to shift my diet gradually to something healthier.

I don't follow fads as much as other people. I can't seem to get myself into any of the popular things until long after they're out of fashion. I wait until the filter of time sifts out the shit, and then I sit back and enjoy the greats like Rocky or Apple products.

I'm a late adopter, I have no shame in being one. I can't get myself to spend time on things that don't stick around for long.

I like to make slow gradual progress so that I can take rests without losing. I feel like others can't rest, they have to keep struggling to stay afloat, or else they'll sink. I like to float around sometimes and enjoy where I've gotten myself to.

What's the point of struggling if you can't take a real break?

I like to start at the basics. The small simple things. And I like to teach myself how they piece together to become complex things. I like understanding all of it, top to bottom, that's my ideal. I can't understand people who are happy jumping to the top without knowing what they're standing on.

It comes from being scared. I'm scared a lot. But I feel like that fear has served me rather than held me back. I don't walk the beaten path, I am concerned about where the path came from, and where it's leading. Instead I walk my own path, but I do it slowly and carefully.

Fools rush around blindly, both on the beaten path, and off-road.

I don't have a lot of trust in my fellow human beings. But I don't know if that's a bad thing, it doesn't seem like most are trustworthy anyways, and they know it. So I don't understand why people suppress and sacrifice so much, just to fit in with those who don't know any better about what's right, what's proper, what's just.

I don't see the point in hanging out with people I don't feel comfortable being around. Why do people force these things to stick?

The times I've cheated on games, the game becomes lifeless to me very quickly. All that time and energy by the game makers, gone to waste because they put in cheat codes. I remember as a kid that real video games had cheats that allowed you to change the color, that's it. Or unlock an even harder level, I still yearn to play those again sometimes.

The times I've short-cut my way to the top of things, like trying to play the guitar through tabs and covering other popular easy songs, it just ended up being a waste of time. Now I'm practicing fundamentals, like scales, and I hope it sticks.

I've walked some beaten paths, like going to university for a degree in programming. I wonder where would I be now if I had cultivated my natural curiosity for programming when I was 13, instead of relying on the academic system. I don't regret that one though, academics have opened my eyes to different things.

But I do wonder what if's often.

I probably deal with a lot more Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) then those rushing around. But I deal with it, not let it deal with me. I feel it deeply. The feeling of seeing others pass me by. The feeling of being alone when it's too much work being not-myself around others. The feeling of smallness, of being the slowest person in the group, or the most immature. I'm slow because I'm trying to do it right, but that's little consolation when I see others doing it better with seeming ease.

I have become numb to those feelings from practice, and have gained wisdom with time. I'm not missing out on the wonderful reality present before me every single moment.

Time proves me right. The people who've passed me by, I see them again eventually. Usually as I slowly pass them by, like the tortoise.

I'm not perfect in my sticking to things that stick. There are very few who do what I do, there are some who do it better. I have learned from them the importance of things that stick. These are the people I call mentors. They have taught me patience. They have taught me the importance of fundamentals. They've shown me what they've accomplished through simple practice.

I have less than others. I have less friends, less things, less experiences. But the few that I do have stick. They'll be there for the rest of my life, and probably beyond.