Hate Speech is Fascism, not Freedom

I am losing my tolerance for the disingenuous protection of hate speech as “free speech.” I used to say, “Let the assholes out themselves,” when it came to bigotry. But what does that accomplish? What do you do with white supremacists after they “out themselves?” If there are no laws in place that can touch them, only laws against punching them like they deserve, then outing them only gives them more visibility. They’re like a bunch of toddlers pushing the boundaries, realizing they can do as they please and not get in trouble, so they keep pushing the walls of acceptability. As more people realize, “I can say horrible shit now? I can do whatever the fuck I want?” more people follow their example until decent society is destroyed.

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Pier 1’s Tasting Spoons are an Abomination

I’ve had this misshapen lump of inert matter shoved in the back of my cupboards for a few years, after receiving it from people I didn’t know who were hosting a Christmas dinner and felt they had to give everyone something. It would have been better if they’d given us nothing – they’d already served a nice dinner after all. Why spoil it by foisting junk on people? I admit I didn’t receive it well, with a quiet exclamation of, “Tasting spoons? What the hell?” It was an obvious regift, bought by the kind of idiots who buy idiot junk for other people thinking, “I’m sure they won’t have this!” Yes, I’m sure no one would have set of “tasting spoons” because it’s possibly the dumbest fucking idea ever conceived out of a brain-diseased foodie’s asshole.

I’m going to sound like a total ingrate, because we’re all supposed to receive gifts gracefully no matter how ill thought out they are. No matter how much of a burden they’re inevitable to be, cluttering our cabinets while serving no function other to annoy us with their existence. My hatred for this shit can’t be measured in magnitudes of any scale. There is no hyperbole large enough to contain it. If you share with me the idea that all things should be either beautiful, useful, or otherwise consigned to the scrap heap, join me on my joyful rant as the yule tide floods us all with more crap we never knew we didn’t want until it lands in our laps with a shiny bow and dares us to confront the void of brain-dead consumer spending and the society that pisses away people’s lives to make literal garbage. Fa la la la la la…

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Wastefulness: the Eighth Deadly Sin

The movie Bedazzled (the original with Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore) had a scene where the devil complained of his lack of creativity since the old days in coming up with new sins, listing advertising as the only one he’s come up with after the last seven. I can think of one more, and find the absence of wastefulness among the originals disturbing. Besides greed its one of the greatest sins destroying us today.

Wastefulness is so commonly chided, it’s surprising not to see it listed in any religious texts (so far as I know). It’s related to greed or gluttony, but it’s not quite the same thing. Greed means accumulating more due to excessive want, but wastefulness is the lack of want. It’s not giving a shit about the things you have. Gluttony is closer, when it means over-consumption, but again it seems to assume you actually consume all you take rather than acquiring it only to throw it away.

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How a Life Lived Entirely Online Can Turn You Into a Bitter Sadsack

In the wake of the growing phenomena of online mobs dragging people to the pillory, often for the most ridiculously minor offenses, I’ve been thinking about what we can all do to be better than this, and the answer is we all need to go the fuck outside. This is not an original observation, of course. Viktor Frenkl made it a century ago in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. Therefore, I’m going to let the man who survived Auschwitz do some of the explaining:

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Reasons Why You’re an Idiot: Gettin’ Mad on the Internet

Anger is an addiction. Righteous indignation is a disease. This is how I came to see my own online behavior as I got into comment slapfights and fell for endless streams of rage-inciting clickbait. Rage is a poison in the brain, an infectious one that poisons the air around you, like smoking. Isn’t it about time we all quit?

Imagine a dude bashing himself in the head with a laptop. You ask him why he’s doing that, and he says, “Because people on the other end are idiots!”

You point out, “But you’re the one smacking yourself in the head. If you keep doing that, you’re going to turn yourself into a jibbering idiot.”

He replies, “But I need to smack myself in the head. I keep trying to get information, and other people keep being wrong, so I need to smack myself to get their wrongness out of my head. There’s no other way, so I’m going to keep beating myself until other people stop being wrong.” And he turns his brain to jelly.

Do you see how ridiculous this is? Maybe you do, but you still don’t stop. Fine, we all get like that sometimes. Every one of us has to make a concerted effort to not keep poking at our sores. It’s there. It’s being sore. It’s maddening. And you don’t like it, so you keep poking it, but the only thing you’re accomplishing is making yourself more sore. You rub yourself so raw that even the tiniest grain of sand feels like a hot knife in the wound.

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From the Competency Plateau to Mastery Mountain

Mastering any skill is a long process filled with learning, practice, and failure. Without learning, all practice will do is ingrain bad habits. If don’t practice, everything you learn will fall right out of your head. And if you never risk failure, you’re hobbling your learning. You need all three, otherwise you plateau.

The slow climb to mastery mountain usually starts with a gentle slope. As you rise in skill, you’ll meet many hikers along the way. At this point, everyone’s a dabbler. There are no real stakes involved. This part of the climb tends to be fun, unless some jerk is hiding in the bushes throwing stones at other people. At this stage, harsh criticism is neither welcome nor helpful – we’ll come to that later.

If you keep at it, you’ll reach the competency plateau. The work is still fun and comfortable. Your skill may even make you money at this stage, because it’s finally good enough that people will pay for it. You’ll have much congenial company here, but don’t fool yourself: most people resting on their laurels aren’t going anywhere. There are three types of people who climb no further:

1. Dabblers are the people who’ve tried something for long enough to figure out they didn’t like it enough to continue. They’re often distracted by far more attractive mountains on the horizon, so they climb down and make the slow ascent up some other track. However, all mountains look blue on the horizon. If you turn from them as they turn to muddy grey, you’re turning away from reality to chase a dream. If you want to turn a dream into reality, you need to grasp the jagged rocks ahead and start climbing.

2. Hobbyists are perfectly happy staying on the plateau because they’re doing it as an escape from their real jobs. Hobbyists are generally chill, so it’s best to leave them to do their own thing. Again, harsh criticism is often not welcome here. Hobbies are great, so don’t come down on someone for not taking something seriously because they’re just having fun.

3. Hacks either keep to themselves, turning out a decent living with competent work, or are pernicious “gurus” who offer to teach you how to climb the mountain ahead, even though they’ve never conquered it themselves. Beware the latter, because he is either a dunce who doesn’t know how awful he is, or is out to scam you. Though, if you only want to learn how to be a competent hack yourself, he has much to teach you. He’s this guy:

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How the Talent Myth Hurts Everyone

“Some people are just naturally good at some things, and other people aren’t. If you’re no good at something, don’t give up. You just haven’t found what you’re good at yet!”

If you’ve heard that, or any variation thereof, feel free to roast whoever said it over an open fire because that person is feeding you a comfortable lie. It’s bullshit – especially that “don’t give up” bit, because that’s exactly what they’re telling you to do. Here’s a similar quote to put the first one in perspective:

“Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.”

—Homer J. Simpson

How are those quotes even close to the same thing? Here’s what the first quote really says: “If you’re not good at something first try, then give up and keep giving up until you find something you’re instantly good at, because that’ll totally happen. In the meantime (meaning until the day you die) you can pretend your genius is all pent up inside instead of taking a big scary risk to do something you actually enjoy with your life.”

The above sentiment is often trotted out when someone complains that something is “not fun” or “too hard” and desperately looking for reasons to give up instead of useful advice about how to tackle the problem. However, the most pernicious lie is in the first sentence: “Some people are just naturally good at some things and other people aren’t.” Because this plays on the myth of “talent” and the idea that skill is innate instead of learned.

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Why Participant Ribbons Are Bullshit

I’ve read a lot of gripes about whether or not every kid should get a trophy just for showing up. The defenders talk about how competition divides kids into winners and losers. The detractors talk about how rewarding kids for bare-minimum effort leads to entitlement and failure. Both sides have valid points, but what the self-esteem supporters fail to realize is getting a trophy for doing badly, or fuck-all, does nothing for anyone’s self-esteem save the back-patting school administrators who think they can do the bare-minimum to make every child feel included and call it a day.

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