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On insurance Fri, Sep 22, 2017
This Twitter saga about a young conservative who didn't want to be forced to pay for insurance under Obamacare but then got in a car accident and needed insurance, is a good illustration of two important points: 
  1. Insurance exists because of this.  It's a redistribution of wealth, or a collectivization of the cost of care for health or injury or accident or other large unpredictable expense.  The young pay for it, the old pay for it.  That's how it works.  All young people feel like they shouldn't be paying for it; all old people are thankful for the young people who do.  We need this.  So suck it up and get over it.
  2. Many ideas and issues only become relevant when they happen to you.  Like that conservative politician who changed his tune on gay marriage after his son came out as gay.  Or the people who are anti-abortion until they unexpectedly get pregnant.  Or the people who say all drug users should be imprisoned until one of their family members gets hooked on painkillers and goes to rehab.  It's fascinating to me how entrenched people can become in their beliefs, only to quickly and drastically change their minds when faced with the proper experience.

Heritable tribalism Wed, Sep 20, 2017
Tribalism, or the tendency for humans to break off into groups to which they're extremely loyal, makes sense and has been shown to be evolutionarily beneficial.  Tribalism tends to lead to pride in one's tribe.  I think it's weird when the tribe you're a part of was an accident of your birth, like race or ethnicity.  White pride?  Why are you proud of something you literally had no control over?  Proud to be an American?  Why, when you had no choice in the matter?  You haven't done anything to be proud of, aside from being born to parents of a certain race and in a specific location.  That's just genetics and geography. 

I think this matter extends a little further to religion.  Religious affiliation is largely dependent on the religious affiliation of your parents and/or your community.  Claiming pride in one's religion, or espousing its virtues above other religions, is ignoring the coincidental nature of essentially being assigned a religion at birth. 

Finally there's the topic of sports fandom.  This is almost entirely dependent on geography, and it's even memorialized in a song with the words "Root, root, root for the home team".  It's morbidly fascinating to watch people get into physical fights because they believe the team from their geographical area is superior to a team from a different geographical area. #sociology

Legalize all drugs Tue, Sep 12, 2017
I think all drugs should be legal.  I'm kind of surprised people are opposed to this idea.  I mean I get that drugs are sometimes dangerous and addictive and tend to ruin people's lives.  But here's the deal: 
  1. Making something illegal doesn't reduce consumption or usage.  The fact that our country is in the midst of an opioid epidemic proves that people use drugs regardless of their legality.
  2. Legalizing drugs wouldn't cause everyone to use them.  If heroin was legal, would you use it?  If you haven't already, you probably wouldn't start.  Drugs can maintain their level of dangerousness regardless of their legality.
  3. The war on drugs is widely regarded as a failure, both in terms of usage reduction and crime prevention.  It has cost an inordinate amount of money and imprisoned countless people needlessly with mandatory minimum sentencing.  America has the largest prison population per capita in the world, and taxpayers pay for that, both economically and sociologically.
  4. We already have legal drugs:  caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.  Smoking cigarettes is a near-certain death sentence, and alcohol causes all kinds of health and societal problems.  Drawing the legal line after these drugs is arbitrary at best, racist at worst.
  5. Drugs can be dangerous, and we should treat them the same way we treat alcohol:  use it responsibly, don't drink and drive.  The same guidelines can and should apply to all drugs.
  6. Illegalizing a product that people desire creates a de facto black market.  Removing those restrictions should essentially remove the black market.
  7. Black markets thrive on secrecy, secrecy breeds misinformation, and misinformation is harmful, especially when it involves putting foreign substances into one's body.  A legal open market would provide consumers with information necessary to make an informed decision.  Plus the federally regulated sale of drugs would ensure ingredient purity and dosage.  These things are all sorely lacking on the black market.
  8. Drugs could cause an economic boom.  There's money to be made in farming, chemical manufacturing, taxing, and shipping.
Maybe we could change the name of the Drug Enforcement Agency to the Drug Enjoyment Agency. #health

Male expectations Thu, Aug 31, 2017
An extended family member was complaining about her husband and how he doesn't have a steady job, doesn't cook or clean up after himself, doesn't show up to family functions, and has a history of infidelity.  Just by doing something as simple as having a job or cooking a meal, I'm already way ahead of the competition.  It occurred to me that expectations for males in general are quite low. #sociology

Conversational pivot Thu, Aug 31, 2017
Standard political discussion these days: 
Interviewer:  What are your thoughts on the health care debate? 
Politician:  Health care would be more affordable if we stopped spending money on unnecessary wars.
This is an example of a conversational pivot, which is a device commonly used by politicians to either dodge an issue completely or change the emphasis from one aspect of an issue to another.  It's not simply changing the subject, or transitioning into something else.  It's an abrupt evasion, used intentionally.  It's effective in debates when the question doesn't fit the politician's narrative.  Political talking heads also use the tactic constantly.  And it seems to have carried over into "friendly" political discussions among us common folk. 

I find it to be a really shallow way of avoiding a topic.  Can we not just talk about a single thing?  It seems to be getting worse lately, possibly as a result of the political regime change, where people will constantly pivot to something about Obama or Hillary.  Obama is done, and Hillary lost the election.  Literally no one cares about a birth certificate or some goddamn emails.  Let's address an issue, talk about it, then move on. #politics

Confederate monuments Wed, Aug 30, 2017
To further expand on one of my points about Charlottesville, I believe all Confederate monuments should be torn down.  Not the war memorials to dead soldiers, but specifically statues of Confederate generals and commanders. 

These statues should've never been put up in the first place.  Many of them were erected in the early 20th century, decades after the Civil War ended.  Many more were erected during the Civil Rights era of the 1960s.  Historians have suggested this was to promote Jim Crow laws, enforce racial segregation, and promote white supremacy.  I heard an interview of a black southern citizen who said something along the lines of, "When you walked by the confederate monument in the center of town, you knew who was in charge." 

The Confederacy lost the Civil War.  I could be wrong, but it's probably uncommon to revere a general who lost the war.  A Confederate statue is a participation trophy for showing up to the Civil War.  Oddly enough, the political party that wants to keep these statues is the same party that's outspoken in their criticism of "special snowflakes" and our "everyone gets a trophy" society. 

Not only did the Confederacy lose, but I believe they were guilty of treason or some other crime against the country.  There's a special kind of hatred reserved for people who want to destroy a union.  It's like cancer.  You can't just hate it like a virus that grows inside you; it's literally a part of you.  We don't make monuments to cancer.  A country shouldn't make monuments to people or causes that literally fought against their own country. 

I think it's fairly widely agreed-upon that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of history.  They held views that we no longer find acceptable.  Sort of like Hitler.  Germany, as far as I know, doesn't have statues of Hitler.  If you fought for the losing side, whether or not you held those values, you don't deserve to be memorialized. 

Finally, there's the topic of erasing history, which is seriously a stupid argument.  Do people honestly think we'll forget about the Civil War, and who the generals were, and what battles were fought, and what the reasons were for fighting, and who won?  The history is already recorded, in books and movies and museums and our collective consciousness.  Move the statues to museums.  Keep the memorials of fallen soldiers.  This isn't complicated. #politics

Experiencing empathy Wed, Aug 30, 2017
From a HuffPost article titled, "I Don't Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People", the following sentences stood out to me: 
"I don't know how to convince someone how to experience the basic human emotion of empathy."

"Our disagreement is not merely political, but a fundamental divide on what it means to live in a society, how to be a good person, and why any of that matters."

"But if making sure your fellow citizens can afford to eat, get an education, and go to the doctor isn't enough of a reason to fund those things, I have nothing left to say to you."
I'm sure there are legitimate counterpoints to the arguments raised, but overall it presents the basis for perhaps the most major divide in politics and society these days. #politics

On Charlottesville Wed, Aug 30, 2017
It's been a few weeks since the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville and the ensuing protests.  I have a few thoughts I wanted to write down.  I'm relatively ignorant about a lot of things, so these are partially formed opinions.  I'm probably wrong about some things. 
  1. Expressing positive views on white supremacy, the Ku Klux Klan, and Nazism is protected by the first amendment as far as I can tell.  It's offensive, disgusting, misguided, ignorant, dangerous, and wrong, but it's legal.  I'm partly in favor of changing the constitution to restrict stupidly hateful shit like that.  Germany did it.  Several other countries too.  But it's hard to know where to draw the line. Maybe we could just start with Nazi stuff.  We fought a war against Nazis, and we won.  That issue and that side should be dead.
  2. It's unfortunate that antifa got involved.  Or rather it's unfortunate that the protesters were viewed as anti-free-speech.  Being anti-free-speech in general is bad, but being anti-fascist is good.  I think it's good when a Nazi gets punched in the face.  Since the law allows Nazis to exist, I don't have a problem with people punching them.  Sure it might be physical assault, but that argument doesn't fly in post-Hitler Germany.  Germans wished they punched Nazis when they had the chance.  Again, we fought a war over this and won.  Nazis shouldn't exist.  That said, restricting the speech of Nazis is equated with restricting the speech of right and left speakers on college campuses, which most people agree is a pretty childish way to conduct yourself at an institute of higher learning.  The opposite of alt-right shouldn't be alt-left.
  3. Trump had an opportunity to say the right thing, and he specifically didn't.  He could've said, "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence" and left it at that.  But instead I believed he ad-libbed the words "on many sides" which completely negated the point of that sentence.  Sure, antifa is viewed as bad and there was some violence and whatnot, but the thing which should be universally condemned is white supremacy and Nazism.  Hands down.  It's not a gray issue; it's black and white, pun not intended but appropriate.  Saying there was blame on both sides is the definition of a false equivalency.  "The Nazis shouted about their hatred of Jews and black people, but the antifa people shouted mean things too."  Those things aren't equal, and if you can't see the difference, that's a problem on your end.
  4. Confederate monuments are Civil War participation trophies given to the losing side.  They should be torn down.  They should've never been put up.  It doesn't change our remembrance of history to remove a statue commemorating a traitor.  We still remember.
  5. On a positive note, it's literally astounding to me that there was no gun violence that day.
  6. Some dude drove his car into the protesters and killed a person.  When this type of thing happens in any other country on earth, we call it terrorism.  It's strange that that narrative hasn't entered the mainstream in this instance.  It's almost like people only associate terrorism with brown people.
  7. The Vice documentary about the incident provided a pretty good assessment of the agenda of the alt-right and why we as human beings should oppose them.  It's not a free speech thing, it's a white supremacy thing.
It's disappointing to talk about this stuff with people in person.  Part of it is that I think I'm right about everything, so that's an issue.  But one side of this argument is so obviously wrong, it's sickening.  History won't look back at this time period or this event kindly. #politics

Stressed about not working out Tue, Aug 22, 2017
I guess I'm a gym person.  I go to the gym, I lift weights, I run or do other cardio things.  I never used to think of myself as a gym person, and my physique certainly doesn't suggest it, but I like to be active.  Going to the gym is one of the easier ways for me to maintain a healthy level of activity.  I'm pretty good with self-motivation, so I go to the gym regularly. 

What I've found, however, is that when I'm unable to work out, I get stressed about it.  It's like an addiction.  It's an additional component of the psychology of exercise.  It's not that I really enjoy working out, but I certainly don't enjoy not working out. #health

Don't drink after 8 Thu, Aug 17, 2017
I've found through trial and error that if I drink a certain amount of alcohol, I'll later wake up in the middle of the night covered in sweat and with my heart pounding.  I don't know why this is, but my hypothesis is that it has something to do with my body processing the alcohol and raising my core temperature.  The weird thing is that it happens pretty reliably at around 2 a.m.  I don't have an explanation for that part. 

Obviously this effect is undesirable.  In addition to alcohol already affecting sleep quality, it seems to have this additional effect on me, causing me to feel like shit the next day.  It's like that scene from Family Guy where Lois says to Peter, "You're drunk again!" and he responds with, "No, I'm just exhausted 'cause I've been up all night drinking."  It's not a hangover per se, I'm just exhausted. 

But recently I've found, again through trial and error, that if I cease alcohol consumption by around 8 or 9 p.m., it appears to give my body enough time to process most if not all of the alcohol, and I can get a decent night's sleep.  This is probably something normal people learn in their 20s.  I'm a late bloomer. #health

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