That’s my pecker

He said it proudly. His accent was a thick Russian, and that annoyed me as well.

The three men, his “peckers”, nodded to me, avoiding making eye contact, no surprise, and took their seats in front of the monitors.

What are they doing? I asked.

“Their job,” the man answered glibly. This irritated me and before I could mask it, the irritation manifested into a narrowing of my eyes.

“They look fucking autistic.” I said.

“They’re professionals,” the man was unphased. “but if they’re distracted from their focus, they can be…erratic.”

“They don’t know the objective,” I said.

The man looked surprised, “You need to find the spread of a virus.”

I shook my head, the irritation rising a grade to exasperation. “It’s not a virus…It’s-”

“Malware… we understand,” the man interrupted.

“No,” I said. “You’re not listening.” Fucking men. No patience. All assumption. “It’s not like anything you’ve seen before, anyone’s seen before.”

I saw his face grow the self-assured look of someone who had heard this kind of decree before. I went on, but choose my words carefully, not wanting to bruise his male ego.

“Your men’s job is detection. And they’re the best at it.” I saw his eyes soften. “But this isn’t a virus, or a bug.”

He was expressionless, So what is it? he asked. I went on:

This.. is… a predator. It probes for its target, it doesn’t get run, like a program. It’s dropped into an environment and it self-executes. There is no lag, there is no latency. This has an infinite timeline, it is chronic.”

The man was listening intently. And his peckers had turned and were listening intently as well. After a moment, one spoke of it

“And this predator has evolved. Its scope has grown to all industrial controls… Water, Electric, transportation. And it has the payload to take these control systems down.”

This evolved predator evolved from Stuxnet, a worm developed by the US and Israeli governments that targeted machine controls to cause the machine to malfunction. It was deployed in 2009 and 2010 to cause the Iranian centrifuges in their uranium enrichment facility to spin out of control and explode.

Here’re the interesting parts: The worm was causing direct damage in the real world and it didn’t need internet network connectivity to jump between machines to infect them. The worm’s code was changed by the Israeli’s to be more aggressive and it resulted in it being discovered by the Iranians, and worse still, it led to the worm spreading to computer systems all over the world, including the US, where Homeland Security spent resources trying to protect the US from the worm it helped create.

And a computer predator the US created has escaped again. Today, and affected transportation systems and hospitals. When will we learn how to contain these digital weapons we create? When the damage it does is too great to ignore. Until then….

Beware of Skynet.


Electing tyrants

beer hot tub

He is usually of the elite but has a nature in tune with the time — given over to random pleasures and whims, feasting on plenty of food and sex, and reveling in the nonjudgment that is democracy’s civil religion.

He makes his move by “taking over a particularly obedient mob” and attacking his wealthy peers as corrupt. If not stopped quickly, his appetite for attacking the rich on behalf of the people swells further. He is a traitor to his class — and soon, his elite enemies, shorn of popular legitimacy, find a way to appease him or are forced to flee.

Eventually, he stands alone, promising to cut through the paralysis of democratic incoherence. It’s as if he were offering the addled, distracted, and self-indulgent citizens a kind of relief from democracy’s endless choices and insecurities. He rides a backlash to excess—“too much freedom seems to change into nothing but too much slavery” — and offers himself as the personified answer to the internal conflicts of the democratic mess.

He pledges, above all, to take on the increasingly despised elites. And as the people thrill to him as a kind of solution, a democracy willingly, even impetuously, repeals itself.


Life penetration


“Most of us could easily compile a list of goals we want to achieve or personal problems that need to be solved. But what is the real significance of every item on such a list?

Everything we want to accomplish—to paint the house, learn a new language, find a better job—is something that promises that, if done, it would allow us to finally relax and enjoy our lives in the present.

Generally speaking, this is a false hope. I’m not denying the importance of achieving one’s goals, maintaining one’s health, or keeping one’s children clothed and fed—but most of us spend our time seeking happiness and security without acknowledging the underlying purpose of our search.

Each of us is looking for a path back to the present: We are trying to find good enough reasons to be satisfied now.”

Sam Harris

A woman’s place in society

In the basement of the brewpub there was a collection of enthusiastic youth from the university.  The graduate students were reading their favorite poet’s work, and one caught my ear. It was talking about penis.

“Is he reading from a female author or male author?” I asked a young woman nearby.

“Female,” she replied.

“Hmm. I’m kind of surprised,” I said. “I thought it would be a male.”
She gave me a look, “That’s sexist.” she said.

I started to explain myself.  “Well, I mean, I thought a man would be more likely to know about the penis…” I was about to explain that although I had deep and meaningful experiences with vaginas, I still wouldn’t feel comfortable writing a piece focused on what it’s like having the organ. But she had started looking elsewhere.

Later I thought, “Was what I said sexist?” Sexism is prejudging the person based on their sex… Like if you think a woman is better at raising a baby, or a man is better at being a soldier.

So what I had said was sexist, because I thought it more likely a man would be talking about a penis than a female…which thinking more on it, perhaps females talk about dick as much as men. I do sincerely hope they do anyway…

In her New Yorker article, Jai Tolentino rightly observes the importance of furthering the feminist cause beyond the complaining.  She directs us on how to distance from the individualist and capitalist culture. Why individualism and capitalism? That’s a good question. And it that reveals what makes feminism uniquely female.

Feminism comes from being female (There is no other way to frame it, by definition). Therefore, it must come to be recognized that the female spirit is different from the male spirit. Not at odds, but different. The feminine is here to complement and balance the male’s tendency, which, Jai describes, as being for individualism and capitalism, ie owning things, buying and selling things, making things.

Individualism and capitalism are not automatically bad things. Individualism taken too far prevents a community from working together and causes suffering. Capitalism with only profit as the goal leaves a task that is without joy, whether you are middle class or upper class.

You can see now that asking Why females should try to distance society from individualism and capitalism uncovers our true natures: The nurturing, sensitive, relationship-building, maintenance-mindset of the female. And the male nature that is less personal, less sensitive, and more about economy and production.

These are generalizations, but they are from scientific studies that show the sexes are indeed different in their emotional IQ’s and their ability to relate to others in social interactions: Females simply connect better than males. Their ability to empathize makes them better nurturers. The male’s lack of empathy makes them better killers. (Look at prison populations and this becomes immediately apparent)

As Jai stated in her article, feminism should not favor female individual empowerment within the current patriarchal system.  This leads to the endless chase of high incomes and thoughtless accumulation of wealth. In pointing feminists away from this male, capitalistic paradigm, it clearly differentiates women from men, and counters the error of many feminists, who, in their effort for equality, have fallen into making the sexes the same.

The responsibility of feminists is to use their special spirit to improve society. And this larger scope goes beyond complaints of men’s negative influence on society, but in bringing the value of women into society. 

And so we come to the How to bring this change about, which Jai noted. Merely complaining about the paternal foundation of society doesn’t address how to address this obvious reality.  There is a feminine power that women must bring to bear in their partnership with men. And paradoxically, in order to be heard, women must gain the individualistic strength to force their message of soft power.

“Listen to us,” is clear, but ineffective. “Listen to us, because we have something to add to this construction of society which has become focused on accumulation and growth instead of the quality of relationships and building your communities.”


A scarcity mindset creates scarcity in life

Humanity fails. At the same time, it succeeds. This pattern is sequential and coinciding.

We allow suffering when it is within our power to alleviate it. And we also help, when we have no reason to help, other than to feel good about ourselves. This is the reality of being human.
And as a human, I can fail myself. I can choose to make bad decisions, and then have no money to feed my children, or money to pay for housing. There is enough blame to go around. However, the most influential person in my life is me.
Not my boss.
Not my partner.
Not the President.
Not immigrants.
Not the 1%.

And when I see suffering around me, the first thing to do is to see if I can help, not who I can blame for not helping.  When I see a need, the first thing I do is figure out how I can help, not blaming others for not sharing.

A scarcity mindset creates scarcity in life, even when you’re surrounded by abundance, because perspective can make opportunities unrecognizable.
Change your perspective,
change the world.

Compulsive masturbation

stop terror, turn off tv

“Obviously, some part of us loves feeling 1) right and 2) wronged. But outrage is like a lot of other things that feel good but, over time, devour us from the inside out.

Except it’s even more insidious than most vices because we don’t even consciously acknowledge it’s a pleasure.

We prefer to think of it as a disagreeable but fundamentally healthy reaction to negative stimuli, like pain or nausea, rather than admit that it’s a shameful kick we eagerly indulge again and again, like compulsive masturbation.”

-Tim Kreider

How you can beat science

Chill it's only chaos

As soon as I was exposed, I was hooked.

It was there to get me the answers…to solve a problem by the simple start of guessing at why something was happening and then trying to prove it with a detailed protocol, documenting everything along the way. It was all so functional (and it helped me focus my scattered brain)

Science. Even considering the imperfect human application of it by scientists, with their biases and competitiveness, science will slowly discover the underlying reality of life. After more and more results, opinions and biases are squashed, pounded down by waves of unrelenting discoveries. Not statistics, which can be used to manipulate a perspective towards a biased agenda, but actual experiment-driven results.

Science simplifies things from the ego-muddled human mind. It drags us along with its data regardless of favoritism or money-influences.  Its story changes as we discover things. It doesn’t use dogma to force any truth upon our life. In fact, it leaves truth to be found by ourselves.

Science makes no claims to truth.

Science is a continual process of learning and revision: Guess, test, results, conclusion. Then repeat. As for Truth…the truth about living, the meaning in your life…these human truths are left to us.

The terrifying question of Why?

Why are we here?  After all the discoveries of the natural world around us, this question leaves us naked and exposed. No matter how much we learn about the world, we will always be left to ponder the meaning of our life in it.

Science doesn’t care about our feelings, but in the end, our feelings will determine whether our life means anything, and how to spend this short time we are alive.

“Your paintings are good,” I told her.

I'll show mine if you show me yours

“You should put them online to share.”

“Why?” she replied.

“To share,” I said, surprised at the question. “There are people who would love to see your stuff, it’s unique, the colors are have a great style.”

“I don’t want to put them online. That’s weird,” she said.

I knew she was shy, but I wanted her to open up, and this would be a great way for her to see how she could be widely appreciated.

“It’s easy,” I said.

“I don’t want to share my stuff. It’s for me.” she said.

We haven’t communicated in a long time. But I am happy today, because today I saw her art. Online. She had begun to share herself.

She had stopped hiding, and started becoming an inspiration.

An inspiration for others to share themselves, too, despite their fears.


Cheese and syrup

Kim Kardashian
In the future, scholars will study and hypothesize the downfall of the United States.

Was it stretching themselves too thin, in military endeavors around the world? Or was it the Federal Reserve, which encouraged careless spending and unstable growth in our market?

It may be many causes, but at root they will find two main culprits…

Cheese and corn syrup.

It was them that dulled minds and bodies. With bellies fed, the fire was quenched, and others who were more hungry would take over the world.

“Go look it up,” she told me.


“The top 10% have hundreds of billions in wealth, but it would only take hundreds of millions to cover the health insurance of all the uninsured,” she told me. She was grading papers. She was an instructor at Antioch College. She had told me the plagiarism of ideas in the papers was abhorrent.

“Wow,” I said, “if that’s true, I’d support moving that wealth around somehow.”  I went on, “I would like to see the breakdown though…Who has how much of the wealth in the top 10%. And where is their wealth…”

She got an impatient look on her face, “You can look this stuff up. It’s out there. Do some research.”

My irritation flared up, and I grew impatient, too… but I checked it, reminding myself she was an academic and her experience was probably more from published data, and less from real-world data.  And anyway, what good would my impatience get? I wanted to learn, not get into an argument.

“Shoot me some links on that,” I said. “Ok,” she said, but sounded more bothered by my ignorance.

I soldiered on, wanting to share my inclinations, “I’d rather focus on helping people, to empower them to be able to pay for health insurance themselves.”

“That’s kind of naive,” she said.

The comment did not cut deep, since by this point I was getting accustomed to her authoritative style. In addition, I was on my third beer.

She left after a few minutes. I gave her my contact info, to get the data from her.

Then I sat thinking for awhile. She was cute. I liked her passion. I wish I had steered the conversation away from the generalities of politics and sociology, and more about her.

I finished the last of my beer and thought, “There are really two kinds of people in the world. There are the ones who want to focus more on empowering people. And there are others who want to focus more on empowering the institution to help people. One is about giving power to the individual, while the other is about taking power and decision-making from the individual.”

Satisfied in my conclusion, I got the attention of the bartender, “Cash me out please.”

I gathered my things to go home, and found myself feeling regret.

Although I had solidified my philosophy, I had missed an opportunity to truly get to know another human being. And that misplay went against the very essence of my philosophy.