Losing momentum

Cause I haven’t been writing every day, I feel the write is just draining out of me. So this is me trying to fill it back up again.

Reading: I finished listening to Heart of Darkness and found it a bit disturbing, and also very well written. It was referenced in Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald, which I loved so much, and that’s why I picked it up. I’m now listening to the Castle, by Kafka, and it’s very similar to The Trial in that he’s overwhelmed by senseless bureaucracy. In this one though, he’s trying to do something (get to the castle) and being impeded, instead of having something thrust on him.  I also finished Burial Rites, and got a bit bored in the middle parts, cause it’s all about what happened, and I don’t really care what happened. I want to know how she feels, what she’s thinking, how it affects her. The details of how she got into the situation are kind of meaningless to me.

I’ve also been wasting a lot of time playing chess, which is distracting me from writing. Oh well, what can I do but follow my interests! I must make it a point to write some today…

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how ‘the customer is always right’ culture is ruining our society

Happy May Day! Workers’ rights are important, and are ignored quite a bit in this capitalistic country (one of the few countries that doesn’t have May Day as a day off for workers… quite ironic.)

Here, it seems, even workers treat other workers like crap. And I don’t think it’s necessarily because they are bad people, but because they’ve been trained to be assholes by this ‘customer is always right’ idea.

Imagine going out to eat, and always being given your food free if you complain and yell about it enough. Imagine getting pulled to the front of the line if you scream and make a fuss. Imagine being apologized to profusely and groveled before if you howl and threaten convincingly enough—this is the state of customer service in America. He who screams and yells the loudest is given the quickest, best service.

It’s not hard to imagine this spreading to other, non-consumer areas of society. After being trained for their entire lives that yelling gets you your way, why shouldn’t someone take this strategy home, and yell at their wife or kids? Or at someone online in an argument? Or any other area of life?

We’ve trained people to be assholes by rewarding them for shitty behavior, at the cost of our workers’ sanity. It has to stop!

No one should be given a free meal for yelling and treating the server like shit, they should be thrown out and banned from the restaurant. They should not get to talk to the supervisor before everyone else in line because they started screaming, they should be thrown out and not allowed back in. People need to learn to behave civilly if they want to be helped and served by another human being.

But until we stop worshiping the dollar above all else, no company will change their ‘customer is always right’ policy–which translated, is really ‘the dollar is always right.’

Even more right than the rights of your workers to be treated like a human being.

dying, now or later…

The Plague has been getting more interesting. One part I enjoyed was, as the characters are now all quarantined inside the town, and death is all around, one character is sitting in his house trying to write a book, and rewriting the same sentence for days and weeks, trying to find just the right words. He’s asking his friends for advice, agonizing over it, switching out words for similar ones, and then putting them back, and so on. All while hundreds of people are dying all around him every day.

But we’re all dying, right? Even if these characters survive the plague, they’ll just die five or ten or twenty years later. So why not spend your time fussing over the first sentence of a book you’ll never write?

Life is strange…

is love just imagination?

I was listening to some classical music on my local classical station on the way in to work today, and one song was said to have been composed for a play about a sculpture who fell in love with his statue. After some googling, I think this is Pygmalion, in Greek mythology.

This made me wonder how one could fall in love with a statue. Can one really feel love just from how someone (or, thing) looks? Human’s have great imaginations though. We fall in love with people we haven’t even met by imagining personalities for them based on how they talk or smile or walk or laugh. I suppose it’s not much further a step to fall in love with a completely imagined person who you only know of from an image.

Any kind of love takes a bit of imagination, though… the way someone acts or talks or words they say can be taken many ways. Do we  interpret someones actions in a positive light because we love them, or do we love them because we choose to interpret their words and actions positively?

Maybe we imagine the things we love about real people, too…

Little islands of life

I like to take breaks at work to walk around and think, but it was raining so I walked around in the parking garage. With springtime arriving, the spiders are out in force, and I noticed that nearly every overhead light I walked under was surrounded and covered in spiderwebs, with multiple spiders clearly visible–a few I even saw in the process of building. These were not dead webs piled up over time, but new arrivals, and all of them centered on light sources that would draw insects into those webs.

How could these spiders know to build their webs around the lights? Light sources other than the sun like that are a new invention that the spiders could not have yet adapted to…

But of course, it’s not the light attracting the spiders. Instead it’s the same thing that draws them into your house in the winter: the heat.  Each light fixture is a hospitable planet in the cold emptiness of space.

Temperature differences are often a focal point of life. Life on earth is thought to have started at thermal vents in the deep ocean, those cracks of heat in the icy depths…

I wonder, if life capable of interstellar travel exists in the universe, whether it would even bother dealing with planets. Would they not go straight for the greatest temperature difference of all, that of stars and space? Maybe the alien life we’re looking for is orbiting our sun, and soaking up endless energy, instead of bothering with little, cold, rocky us.

 

 

 

Cultural evolution produces hot garbage

Evolution is not a ladder. Even the tree metaphor is flawed because it gives the faulty impression of ‘progress’ upward. Evolution is only change in whatever direction leads to the most reproduction.

Cultural evolution is the idea that our ideas and way of life evolves generation to generation much the way an organism does, based on how easy the ideas/traditions/etc are to imprint on the next generation.

In much the way that you could sit down and design a self replicating organism that is way better at existing than a lot of life on earth, you can also come up with ideas and art that are way better than whatever music/art/entertainment gets passed on and on and on.

If evolution produces junk so often, maybe it’s time we start trying to influence it. Biologically, we can do this by editing our own genes. We are well on the way to doing this already.

But culturally, how do we do it? How can we change what is popular so that it’s something beautiful and meaningful that is gets created, instead of Transformers 8, season 10 of Jersey Shore, or a billion copies of 50 Shades of Gray?

The answer is probably education, as it seems to be with almost every problem in society. Someone who’s read history’s greats, and seen the most elegant art and been taught enough about the world to appreciate its most amazing creations, is going to have a lot less interest in the basic, surface level schlock that floods the market every day.

 

Knowledge is power–that’s why it’s so expensive

In America, you have to pay lots and lots of money to get an education. So much so these days, that if you aren’t born well off, it’s pretty prohibitive. The steadily rising costs of education could be seen as the natural end result of a capitalist society–a product in demand will rise in price. Or if you are the sort to see conspiracies, it could be something else.

Those in power naturally want to stay in power. And if knowledge is power, the best way to keep it from getting into the hands of others, is to prevent the average person from being able to get an education.

The rich stay rich, and their kids stay rich and pay for a nice education, and so on. The poor stay poor and their kids can’t afford an education, and so on.

After all, if everyone was well educated, who would the rich have to exploit?