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By American standards, I’m a long way from rich. Though I’ve had tremendous advantages in this weird & wonderful life, I grew up mostly below the poverty line. I didn’t come from family money, and neither of my parents had any (at least when I was young). I paid for the vast majority of my college education myself, and graduated without debt because I worked the whole time (and because I was lucky enough to live with parents while going to school).

I’ve worked hard my whole life. Harder at some times than others, granted.

When I was 10 years old working the cash register at my mom’s gift store, I wasn’t putting in an 8hr day. When I was selling CDs and merch at my Dad’s gigs, loading/unloading the van, soundchecking, etc. it was arguably more work though in less time. When I was building contact databases for my stepmom’s PR business or folding thousands of mass mailings on the kitchen table, it was easier. All that was before I was old enough to work legally. Then I got real jobs bussing tables and working in kitchens, and weird jobs like being a Star Trek alien at a theme park and making drum noises with my face. I’ve been willing do roll up my sleeves and dig ditches or tackle other physical tasks my puny body was ill-suited for. Though my mental efforts have paid off much, much more.

From hard labor to easy labor to weird labor, I’ve done a lot of laboring in the last 30+ years. I know how to work. I know how to put in more time than others will and not give up when others do and get more creative than others seem to want to.

But none of this equipped me for handling Capital very well. And I’ve recently realized that I’m not that great at it, frankly. I have a lot of the theories down pat, yet in practice…I still just resort to working harder.

And that’s simply not how the whole rich thing works. I know enough rich people to know, because I grew up around them too. I was born in Napa, California. Raised between there and the affluence of Marin County. Lived and spent time around most of the most privileged parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. I really should know better.

I should know that it’s money + interest that creates riches — not hard work. And that’s why I’m not rich by American Standards.

I’ve always used excuses like “If I cared about money, then I’d have more of it” which is indeed true. It’s also a cop-out.

While I’m an interesting blend of liberal and libertarian, politically, I think it’s fair to say that I support Capitalist ideals. I’m no fan of how it’s been deployed in my country, but I like the idea. I’m just not very good at it. At least not yet. Even though I’ve had my own company for the last 15+ years, looking back I’ve probably acted more like a Laborist than a Capitalist. Looking at the meager savings that remain after this wacky 2020 year, and the preceding 6-months of labor high-ground that failed to deliver any actual capital, I’m certain of it actually.

Money has always had all these emotional stops for me. Trust, deservedness, permanence, illusion, meaning, fairness. It’s just all wrapped up and tied down and never got out from under all that weight, in my case. Fortunately I’ve lived a very rich life anyhow. When I tell people about my life thus far, they tend not to believe me. Sometimes I don’t believe it either, it’s that beautiful and even more odd.

Here’s to the continually odd adventures of yours truly…and hopefully with a bit more capital-mindedness going forward. Capital idea, that!

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Here’s one story to demonstrate how the current civil situation in our country is irredeemably broken.

A Nebraska bar owner and former vet, Jake Gardner, was inside his bar when the windows were shattered by a peaceful protest turned riot.

Gardner received multiple traumatic brain injuries while serving as a Marine in Iraq, and was granted medical discharge. Though he still suffered from PTSD, he successfully started a new civilian life and was a successful business owner. That is until he heard what he thought was a shot (it was a pole thrown through the front window of his business), and saw people coming in his front window and vandalizing his property.

He pulled the fire alarm. He called 911 to report the incident. Then he went outside to try to diffuse the situation while waiting for help from the authorities to arrive.

That’s when he saw his father shoved violently to the ground by protestors. Gardner still maintained his composure. As a video from the scene shows, Gardner was trying to backing away from three men when they attacked him.

Gardner ends up on the ground, with an attacker on top of him. But former Marine Garner had a firearm, which he knew how to use all too well. Back on the ground and pushed to his breaking point, he killed his attacker.

The county prosecutor reviewed the video evidence and confirmed that Gardner acted properly and in self defense. And he stated that he would NOT charge Gardner.

It was a sad outcome of a peaceful protest that turned ugly, and a brutal mob attack targeting the wrong man at the wrong time in the wrong place. That man defended himself, too aggressively perhaps, but understandably and legally.

If only the tragic story stopped there.

But it gets worse…

Many were not willing to accept this outcome. So they harassed Garner on social media, spread lies, and directly threatened his life. Garner was instructed to leave town for his own safety. So amidst the pandemic, he did. He left for California…just in time for the fires.

Protesters also surrounded the courthouse where a Grand Jury decided to charge Gardner with manslaughter. This can as a shock to the legal community, and especially to Garner.

Still getting death threats by phone, he planned his return to Omaha (with a fellow friend and fellow vet as a bodyguard) to defend his innocence. But the social media storm, constant harassment, and disillusionment of it all was too much for him. He’d lost his livelihood, the business he’d built, and his standing in the community.

He feared for his life, but he really had no life left to protect, so he beat the mob to the punch. He took himself out. Another vet, another suicide. 17 per day here in the USA, at last (pre-COVID) count.

More than that, Garner is a casualty of our crumbling social structure, as is the protester he shot and killed: James Scurlock. They don’t get to come back from this one.

And at this point, I don’t think our country gets to walk back from this civil precipice either. We’re going over. Civil society R.I.P.

Here’s the link to the local news story

And if you know someone like Jake Garner, please get him help

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At the beginning of the global Coronavirus outbreak, I ended up under a self-imposed lockdown. At the time I had a lot of reason to suspect that I had the virus, though as it turned out, luckily I didn’t.

During my two-weeks of not leaving a small confined space or seeing anyone, I scoured the internet for information. Due in part to those two articles above, I became a goto for a lot of panicked friends and family too. I talked quite a few people though their own assessments and decisions, and researched the crap out of every little thing.

Then I began to get a bit more selective about my inputs. As COVID cases reach their highest levels yet here in the US, I’d like to direct you the only two source of news I think are worth hearing at this point.

Dr. John Campbell does near-daily breakdowns of the most recent science & interviews with fellow scientists & medical experts in the field around the world. He’s been right more often and much faster than anyone else I’ve found, and I’ve changed some of my behavior (such as supplementing my Vitamin D) as a result.

I’m not a doctor. But he is. If you have trust issues with our leadership and our media, here’s a low-hype high-science alternative on YouTube. Plus he’s funny, in a very British deadpan way.

The other source is only good for the US, but it’s got the best data available in our country, IMHO. The official numbers are a known farce, and if you have to ask why you probably don’t believe this pandemic is real anyway, amiright?

Covid Act Now is a volunteer organization and daily update newsletter that has specific info beautifully and simply presented, down to the county you live in. I subscribed when it was just getting off the ground back in March. It started as a friend of a friend’s daily email and has grown into a distributed and respected group of scientists, data analysts, and writers. It’s current, useful, and won’t hype the bejesus out of anything.

These two sources — one domestic in scope and one international — are really all that are needed to be better informed than the major news networks are. Hope it helps!

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This wacky 2020 year makes it plainer than ever. Either we humans learn to share and adapt, or we perish.

We’re actually pretty good at solving problems and learning new behaviors when our backs are up against the wall. So here we are, with our backs against the wall. It’s sad, but I guess that’s what it takes.

Change is inevitable. It’s just a matter of how much suffering we need to endure to embrace it.

So…had enough yet?

No? Okay. Things will get worse then. More death & discomfort is on the way for us all.

Yes? FINALLY!!! Thank you! Things will still continue to get worse for a while. Don’t be disheartened, the only way out of this dumpster fire is through it.

Keep picking learning. We do get to pick, y’know. That is until we don’t.

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Eat how you wanna eat. Just know that what you’re choosing is one of the more important choices you get to make in your lifetime. It affects how good we feel, how long we live, how much damage we do to the world around us, and how much damage the world around us can do back to us too.

This year I fully transitioned to a plant-based diet. It wasn’t that hard. I like to cook and I still eat really well.

I am not pretending to be better than you, and I didn’t do it to be nice to animals. I did it for health reasons. With a strong history of heart disease and cancer coming from both sides to my gene pool, cutting my statistical likelihood by between 25-85% with one lifestyle change seemed like an easy win.

Yes, the 25% and 85% leaves a wide statistical variance, but while the scientific specifics differ, the trends all undeniably point in the same direction. I don’t care to debate it, because I won’t get 25% of a heart attack or an 85% of a case of cancer. You either 100% get something like that, or you 0% get it. I’m doing everything I reasonably can to be on the zero end of the data model.

And as 2020 has turned into a shitshow of a year, it is not lost upon me that our current pandemic (as well as most previous ones) very likely came from the animals we eat. As this lovely article points out, there’s another health angle to consider here too, and it’s akin to vaccinations. By not eating meat or dairy, I automatically remove a ton of pathogens and a lot of attack vectors from my life entirely.

Ultimately, it comes down to what we want to support and how we want to live. Will you have to take Vitamin B to stay healthy if you go all-vegan? Likely yes. Beats trying to stay healthy if you don’t though.

We can take our support away from the ugliness that is the factory farming industry. We can be safer. We can be healthier. Really, it’s not that hard. And it’s damn tasty, if you do it right.

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