My brain likes to do this annoying thing, usually when I'm trying to sleep, where it replays every social interaction I've had throughout the day, allowing me more time to think of something stupid I said. 

This process gets amplified when I drink, both because alcohol makes me more talkative, thereby increasing the likelihood I'll say something stupid, but also because it turns off my filter, thus all but ensuring I'll say something stupid. 

So nearly every time I drink alcohol with people in a social setting, I lay awake at night, not only because alcohol disrupts my sleep, but also so my brain can do its due diligence in criticizing me.  Thanks, brain. #psychology

Second chance
I was watching a documentary about Michael Vick, the former football player who was convicted of running a dog fighting ring, and on the one hand I think truly remorseful people should get second chances.  This guy did a bad thing, he went to prison, he's made some positive moves since then.  So in that sense, I wasn't mad that he got a second chance in the NFL.  I understand why some people were upset about it, but I feel like his recognition of his bad actions made a second chance at least permissible. 

However, having a second chance doesn't mean you automatically get your former status back.  You don't necessarily get the same influence you used to have, or a platform, or sponsorship deals.  You get a second chance at freedom from jail, to operate in a society with laws.  Maybe you get some of your old life back.  But you don't necessarily get all of it back, no questions asked.  People still remember the terrible things you did, and being remorseful about it is good and all, but it doesn't erase the past. 

There's this weird underlying belief system, taught by Disney movies or something, where if a person does a horrendous thing but apologizes for it, it's all good.  This is patently false.  Apologies don't need to be accepted.  Also, people generally don't "deserve" a second chance.  They might be given one, but it's not a right. #psychology

When I grow up
I spent a sizable portion of my childhood planning to grow up to become a professional athlete.  I might be wrong, but I thought that's what all kids thought.  It seemed so reasonable at the time.  "I like baseball and football.  I can become Bo Jackson."  Apparently my parents didn't discourage this line of thinking.  It wasn't until what felt like much later in life that I starting viewing music as a potential career choice.  Thankfully this only lasted for part of my teens, until I figured out I was good at math and science and could maybe become an engineer. 

Maybe it's the whole "age dilation" thing (a term I literally just coined for the feeling that time passed slower when you were younger), but I seriously planned on being a professional athlete for a long time. #psychology

In praise of ignorance
I think ignorance is unfairly maligned.  We use "ignorant" as an insult; it's something we look down on.  But really, ignorance just means lack of knowledge.  You didn't know; that's it.  Ignorance can be fixed ... with knowledge.  Ignorance is really just an opportunity to learn something.  It doesn't mean you're stupid, or that your brain is broken, or that you're less than.  You can learn that piece of information, or that set of facts, or that concept, and you'll no longer be ignorant.  Ignorance can be a positive thing, if we just approach it that way. #psychology

Everyday phrases
Here's a brief list of phrases I say every single day of my life: 
  • It's [current year].
  • How are you literally this bad at [your task]?
  • We've launched rockets to the moon, but we can't accomplish [some simple task].
  • Can you just be better?
  • Are you fucking kidding?
El fin. #psychology

Everyone against me (1)
I just realized I've felt for a long time that everyone is against me.  Or mostly everyone.  I've consistently felt like I've held a minority opinion on a lot of issues, and it's felt sort of alienating.  I'm starting to think this is a manufactured feeling, largely because of my experiences of changing my mind.  When I was religious, I felt like everyone was anti-religion.  Now that I'm non-religious, it feels like everyone is hyper-religious.  When I leaned conservative, it felt like everyone else leaned liberal.  Now that I'm liberal, it feels like everyone is ridiculously conservative. 

Since I've been on both sides of two polarizing issues, it occurred to me (like yesterday) that maybe this is just how it feels to hold a particular viewpoint.  I would say it might have something to do with the people I interact with or where I get my information, but honestly those things have remained largely unchanged.  The only change was within me, so maybe everyone isn't really against me. #psychology

Activation energy
I like snowboarding.  It's a good hobby to have during the cold winter months, and it provides a use for all that otherwise worthless snow.  Even on the coldest and wettest days, I have a great time.  And it counts as exercise. 

But at the same time, I consistently have trouble summoning the motivation to go snowboarding.  It takes a significant amount of activation energy.  The day typically starts by getting up early, packing all the gear into the car, driving an hour (or five for a nice mountain), pulling into an often crowded parking lot, getting suited up in 20- or 30-degree weather (if you're lucky), hobbling up to the chair lift where you wait in a line, then ascending the chair lift while the wind whistles through your goggles and you can feel the frozen seat on your butt cheeks.  This is all for a leisure-time activity. 

So when people invite me to go snowboarding, I think, "Ooh I like snowboarding, but oh yeah there's all that other stuff too." #psychology

The philosophy of pacifism makes a certain amount of sense.  We're taught as we're growing up to not hit other people, to find a solution to our problems without resulting to violence.  This is well and good and true.  Violence isn't the solution to all problems.  Avoiding violence works in many circumstances, like in de-escalating a drunken fight at a bar, or in trade sanctions against a hostile country. 

But one name always trumps pacifism:  Hitler.  There was really only one way to fight back against a crazy authoritarian who tried to take over the world and kill all the Jews, and it wasn't non-violence.  It's never made sense to me how there were conscientious objectors during World War II.  Like I get that your religion prevents you from fighting in a war, but it doesn't seem quite fair that you'll benefit from the post-war peace that other people fought to achieve.  If people didn't fight in your place, you'd be dead and the world would be German.  Pacifism only makes sense until it doesn't. #psychology

Learned disgust
A recent episode of NPR's Hidden Brain called Crickets and Cannibals talked about the idea of disgust and how it's a learned instinct.  Most, if not all, traits we consider instincts are ingrained from birth.  Survival, how and what to eat, and rearing young are all generally things that will happen without learning them.  Disgust is sort of different in that young children aren't disgusted by things like poop and snot, but they learn those reactions and then internalize them as a sort of instinct. 

This is especially obvious when considering the diets of different people groups from around the world.  What we eat is essentially prescribed to us by our culture, and that's not entirely a bad thing.  But you really don't have to look that far to see cultures that eat horses or bugs -- animals that are considered immoral or repulsive to most Americans' palates.  But there's nothing inherently immoral or repulsive about eating those things.  Horses are essentially just skinny cows, and bugs are called shellfish when they live in water.  We obviously have no problem eating either of them. 

The main problem is that disgust is a particularly difficult instinct to break.  It's clear that certain "disgusting" things really aren't disgusting and are merely the instincts learned from our respective culture.  But knowing that fact doesn't change how we feel.  I ate a cricket protein bar once, and aside from it not tasting very good, it was hard to get over the idea that I was eating crushed bugs.  It really shouldn't bother me; plenty of people and animals eat bugs, and crickets are an efficient source of protein.  But it still wasn't a pleasant experience.  I wonder how long it would take, or how many repetitions would be required to break a person's learned disgust? #psychology

On insurance
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.

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