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On progress Wed, Mar 16, 2016
I guess I'm a progressive.  I say "I guess" because it's hard for me to imagine being the opposite, i.e. regressive.  What's the final outcome of moving backwards from progress?  Living in caves, crawling back into the sea, and being subsumed into the Big Crunch?  It literally makes no sense to me.  In fact many regressive ideas make no sense to me: 
  • Opposing gay marriage?  I think gay people should be allowed to legally marry, because the alternative is arbitrary, benefits no one, and hurts many.
  • Anti-abortion?  I think people should have control over their own bodies, and I think abortion should be legal.  The alternative is state control over personal freedom, which I've been led to believe is a bad thing.
  • Anti-immigration?  I think people fleeing war should be treated like people who might be criminals, instead of criminals who might be people.
I haven't always been progressive.  I used to be conservative, which is a belief system that wants everything to remain the way it is, or the way it was, or the way it used to be thousands of years ago.  Thousands of years ago, we didn't know the concept of zero.  We used to own people as property.  We used to publicly execute people whom we believed to be practitioners of witchcraft and magic.  These are all ideas that we progressed out of, rightfully so. 

Progress is sort of unavoidable.  When machines made farming and manufacturing more efficient, if you didn't jump on the bandwagon, you went out of business.  When germs were discovered to cause illness, if you didn't wash your hands, you died of dysentery.  Progress is often called a march, i.e. it's happening whether you join in or not. 

I'm a progressive not because I necessarily have benevolent feelings towards my fellow man or benevolent feelings at all.  I'm a progressive because regressivism is a ridiculous alternative and a dying ideal. #psychology

Receiving gifts Tue, Mar 08, 2016
Let me just come out and say it:  I don't like receiving gifts.  I know that makes me a terrible, selfish person who is incapable of enjoying the well-meaning benevolence of others.  Oh well.  At least I'm honest. 

At first, it was about money.  I didn't like the fact that someone was spending money on me, because gift-giving is largely a social convention that's often a de facto obligation.  That's why there are gift exchanges.  You get a gift, but you also have to give a gift.  We all like to pretend that's not the case.  Go on, keep pretending. 

I've realized some people just honestly like giving gifts.  It makes them feel better, which is an oddly selfish form of generosity.  But I try not to think about that, or the fact that they probably can't afford it, or how many more worthy things they could be spending their money on.  People enjoy spending their money, for better or worse. 

Getting past the financial aspect of it, there's the practical aspect:  If I want something, I'll probably buy it myself.  I have a job, and I make money.  I buy the things I want.  If I haven't bought something, it probably means I don't want it.  There are exceptions to this rule, and most of those exceptions are consumables.  Honestly, buy me all the chocolate and whiskey you want.  I'm fine with that.  But don't buy me a large appliance.  Don't buy me a decorative object that doesn't serve a purpose.  Yes, I have a house with lots of empty space at the moment.  No, that doesn't mean I want to fill it with somebody else's ideas. 

I know, I know.  First world problems.  But that's how I feel. #psychology

10000 hours at work Mon, Mar 07, 2016
The "10000 hours rule" is the idea that people who are great at something tend to spend roughly 10000 hours getting there.  I was thinking recently, in light of my post about trusting experts, and I realized I passed the 10000-hour mark at work quite a while ago.  If there are 52 weeks in a year and you work maybe 48, and you work 40 hours per week, that's 1920 hours per year.  That means it would take 5.2 years to surpass the 10000-hour mark.  Of course not all those hours are spent productively performing the core duties of one's job.  But probably sometime between 5 and 10 years at a job, a person essentially becomes an expert. #business