Saturday, February 14, 2015

Let the Hate Flow Through You

Happy Valentine's Day!

This is a follow up to my last blog. Oh the irony! Today I thought would be a good day to talk about some HATE!

I was sitting in on this class a few years ago about a certain issue in public policy and how to deal with it. It was an online video feed so I wasn't actually there. After all these suggestions were mentioned on what could be done to influence the public and policy makers, a woman kindly suggested that one should “get angry!” That’s right convince people of your position by getting outraged!

Arguing from outrage (a variation of the appeal to emotions fallacy) has always been a tactic people have used to “convince” others, and social media really plays upon it. In fact, it is a common theme I have heard over the past few years with people asking, “Where is the outrage?“ For me, getting outraged over something doesn't mean someone has special access to moral superiority that others don’t. I think sometimes people get a little too tempted into using it as if it somehow makes them feel morally stronger.

What I am about to say I would suggest you already know, but I am just going to mention a few things about this that seem to be going on in a situation like this. Yes, I have had this used against me online and in public. The sad thing is in just about all cases I was trying to be reasonable and present good factual information, but then comes the “how pathetic” type of response to me. It’s like, “what do I do now?” This is because when someone is outraged he or she doesn't want to hear reason anymore. It then becomes a case of throwing a few one liner cheap shots back and forth at each other.

One of the words connected with all of this is the word “passion”. You know, “follow your passion.” For example, this person was very passionate about this, and that makes everything they did okay. As if it justifies any bad behavior. Passion can be a good thing, but if it not kept in check can become obsessive. Which might not be a good thing.

In my experience, people that get outraged means they can’t give you good reasons to persuade you, have run out of good reasons to persuade you, or can’t handle what you are saying to them. They are fed up and had it. They are using it as a shaming tactic.

That might work on some people, but in my own experiences you don’t win people over by acting that way. In fact, quite the opposite. It will harden them, and they will resist you even more later on.

What typically happens when a person feels outraged is they FEEL they have the moral high ground. In that psychological state they feel the righteousness flowing through them in such a way that they can’t be wrong. You are wrong, and I am right! I will not back down now you idiot! Lol. If you think I am wrong about this, think of all those times you have been outraged yourself. Did you ever think while the outrage was going on that you were in the wrong? The Emperor (Darth Sidious) in the above video was speaking to you during those times. It was the power of the dark side in you.

Like a lot of things I have mentioning in the past few blogs, there is a time and place for getting angry over something. However, if not kept in check can be a very bad thing. It’s the type of thing that can lead to fist fights and wars. In the end, getting outraged as you see on some of the social media sites over and over just leads to desensitization. People will stop caring, and it will just be noise.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Virtue: Internal or External

I started out my first blog of the year saying something that should have been a little odd. I didn’t think anyone would take what I said seriously about my resolution to be a better person by finding fault in others. That’s sort of a joke I have said among friends and family over the past few years when people start talking about having a resolution for the New Year.

I’ll start this one out by saying that I think everyone has an idea in their head about the way people should be, society should be, governments should be, and the world should be. The problem is everyone has, at the bare minimum, a slightly different view of how the world should be. We all recognize that just because something in the world IS a certain way that it doesn’t mean it OUGHT/SHOULD be that way. So, everyone wants to see the world become something like they think it should be.

One of the problems that comes up with that is we don’t live in an IDEAL world. Nor can we make it an ideal world because one can always think of ways the world can be better. Many dictators of the 20th century shed much blood in attempting such experiments. I’ve seen many younger people think that all we have to do is pass a few laws and magically everyone will be much better. Like, all we have to do is pass a few laws against evil and everyone will be good.

Traditionally, going back to the ancient Greeks like Aristotle to the biblical writers to a good portion of thinkers in western civilization, the primary issues of morality were internal. Meaning, one’s concerns about morality, virtue, ethics, etc. were inside of you. You are not naturally good in this view. You actually have to work to become a better person. It is an internal struggle inside of you that constantly goes on. It takes discipline and you might never become the person you should be, but the internal fight is what is important.

What bothers me the most right now about how the internet has become is it appears to me that a good percentage of people out there think they are already morally good, and it is anyone that opposes their ideas is the problem. For example, take your typical Yahoo news article. You read the article. Then you go to the comments and you see all sorts of fighting back and forth about whose fault it is. For the record, I tend to skip comments altogether on about 95% of all articles out there, but I know what I am about to describe is usually how it works. Typically, it is either some political party, the president (or any leader anywhere), some corporation, etc. that is the fault or to blame. Now, politically speaking, there could be concerns there, but I always wonder if even if a person got his or her way politically on every issue that they believe that would make them a better person. Or, more tragically, that a person only believes he/she can be happy only if a certain political party is in power or certain political views are imposed.

Some time back I was reading something I have an interest in. One person complained that the other person should be a protester and the right thing to do would be to go outside on a street with a sign protesting what was wrong. First, there is a time and place for these sorts of things, but I think in most cases these types of protests don’t really get the results they think they do. I mean, sorry, I usually do not read all the signs and bumper stickers out there. If I do see one I tend not to take that very seriously because it takes a lot more than a few rhyming slogans to persuade me. Second, and the real point, being a protester does not necessarily make a moral person. I’ve seen many a parent use a child in a protest, and I have to admit I have serious doubts they are truly teaching any sort of moral discipline to that child. I worry that people try to use “noble causes” as an outlet for some bad behavior they have. When one demonizes others it becomes a lot easier to justify one’s own moral inadequacies.

Here’s one way I try to do this for myself, but I am going to use it as an application for everyone. So, please don’t get the wrong idea here. This applies to me first and foremost, but to make the point I have universalize it. If you wake up every morning and look into the mirror not seeing the most evil person on the planet then something is wrong. This is just the first step in a mental approach I’m suggesting. I’m not saying we are all 20th century dictators, but there is so much in our lives we do everyday that does not contribute to the good of ourselves and the good of others. I mean, how many times have we walked by someone in need and done or said something. Or, lacked the discipline to stop whatever bad habit we have that could be causing us to harm ourselves or others. Given the power of a 20th century dictator maybe we would be a lot closer to them than we would care to admit. There is a time in place to judge others, but we humbly need to look inside ourselves first.

The pictures were taken at Gull Lake off the June Lake Loop. That hawk was in a campground that some gentleman pointed out to me. It was huge! The biggest I had ever seen. You don't get the size of it based on that picture. I used the tilt shift effect for that last picture as an experiment to give it that miniature effect.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

"Legend of the June Lake Slot Machines"

(GPS: N 37° 47.955 W 119° 03.815)

For Americans, today is one of the most holy days of the year. The day families gather to eat, drink, watch commercials, watch two teams play football, and most importantly watch half-time entertainment. Yes, it is that most religious holiday: the Superbowl! May it bless us!

I'm not going to say too much other than I used to attend Los Angeles Rams games as a kid since my father had been a season ticket holder for decades. I loved watching football. I'll probably tune in a few times today to see how the teams are doing, but I just despise how the modern Superbowl is shown. All the stuff that doesn't matter becomes important. It really bothers me when I hear people say they will watch the Superbowl only for the commercials. What the? Seriously?

(Edit Feb. 2, 2015: I watched some of the second half. As soon as I saw the Seahawks go into shotgun formation, on 2nd down at the one yard line, on the final crucial play I said, "What the? What are they doing?!They should not do this! This is not good!" I didn't care about who won to be honest, but it made me sick to see how that went down for Seattle. It really was a no brainer.)  

Enough of that. Lets talk about an oddity I discovered a few years back. I was out driving around the June Lake Loop and found this odd monument. Apparently, it had just been put up a month or so before I saw something odd off the side of the road. It was a slot machine! So, in this last October I went back to get these two pictures.
"During the 1930′s in central Mono County, demand for gaming entertainment skyrocketed with the influx of hundreds of employees working on the Mono Basin Project. To accommodate the workers, many local bars and cafes installed slot machines. Although illegal, there use in Mono County thrived for many years. Unfortunately, upon completion of the aqueduct in 1941 and transfer of all workers, demand for this activity diminished. Within a few years most slot machines were voluntarily removed. It was rumored that the last slot machines were hastily dumped into June Lake in the middle of the night by local merchants in response to an imminent raid by the State Revenue Agents, however, the legend of the slot machines did not end there. Over the years, numerous attempts to locate them by special cold water dive teams failed. Although no one has inserted a coin into one and pulled the handle, many people still gamble on hitting the jackpot and finding those 'one armed bandits' at the bottom of June Lake, forever lost? Time will tell."
A little tidbit that I had not known about the area. I have doubts that there are any slot machines at the bottom of June Lake.