How Are You?

I never say “I’m fine” When asked this question. Well okay, almost never. Even when I was reasonably healthy I hated the “How are you?” and “I’m fine” responses. It is all so meaningless. Just say hello.

Just say hello, because you don’t really care how I’m doing. I can prove this general assertion. If someone launches into a list of their illnesses when asked “how are you?” it is demonstrably seen as a breach of manners. They don’t really care and the mannerly response to this feigned interest in the other person’s health is the discardable reply “I’m fine.” This allows the real conversation to commence.

So why ask? When I’m asked this question as part of a greeting I try to give “fair to middling” as my response. Why? Because it evades the question and makes a mutual joke out of the feigned interest in my health. Unless that person is my doctor or a fellow chronic illness sufferer, I assume the question is just an assumption of familiarity that does not exist. If we were familiar, they would know not to ask me that question unless they wanted to talk for an hour.


The Wife took me to task for this beef of mine.

…one thing I find highly annoying is your beef presumption that the person who asks how you are doing is just babbling meaninglessly. That is the utmost arrogance. Yes it is part of polite conversation but it is intended as a conversation starter and can be as short or as long as you chose. How often have you seen me ask that question without wanting the real answer? That’s probably why so many people talk to me and though yes they do sometimes give me more that I wanted, it starts connections. Just something more to chew on.

She is allowed to give me beef in return because I have been forced to wait on her for half an hour to an hour while she talks to clerks and cashiers, fully engaged in a total stranger’s complaints and whims, and I’ve done this more times that I can count. I’ve gone out to the car on more than one occasion. Gone out to the car, gotten in the driver’s seat and pulled out of the parking space. Started to drive off. This is the only way to get her to come out to the car so we can leave on some errand that can’t wait for a spontaneous conversation to end.

When I go into a convenience store, it is inconvenient to talk to the cashier for a half-hour when all I needed was a doughnut and something to drink. A five minute excursion, tops, when it is just me. When she’s along, pack a lunch to eat in the parking lot waiting on her to finish her conversation. She is on the other end of the spectrum from the average person when it comes to conversation. An anomaly. An outlier. The exception that proves the rule.

Chronic illness sufferers know this to be true. No one wants to hear about your pain. A good portion of the time even the people you pay to care don’t care about your pain. This fact is demonstrated to us repeatedly until we learn to shut up about what is bothering us. Just say hello. It’s not too much to ask.

Relatability

Carl Sagan always used to say that when he was trying to explain something to someone, he would go back to that time when he didn’t understand it, and then he would retrace his thought steps so that he could make it absolutely clear, and that’s one of the infinite number of things I learned from him.

Ann Druyan

hat/tip to SGU #787. I found an alternative version of the quote here.

John Lewis

Our actions entrench the power of the light on this planet. Every positive thought we pass between us makes room for more light. And if we do more than think, then our actions clear the path for even more light. That is why forgiveness and compassion must become more important principles in public life.

John Lewis

hat/tip to:

brainpickings.org
nytimes.com
ABC NewsBarack Obama’s eulogy for Rep. John Lewis – Jul 30, 2020

Imposter Syndrome

Some years ago, I was lucky enough invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things.  And I felt that at any moment they would realise that I didn’t qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things.

On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name*. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of, “I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.”

And I said, “Yes. But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”

And I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an imposter, maybe everyone did. Maybe there weren’t any grown-ups, only people who had worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth, all of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for.

Neil Gaiman

hat/tip to Eric Buck

The Grand Delusion

In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance occurs when a person holds two or more contradictory beliefsideas, or values; or participates in an action that goes against one of these three, and experiences psychological stress because of that. According to this theory, when two actions or ideas are not psychologically consistent with each other, people do all in their power to change them until they become consistent.[1] The discomfort is triggered by the person’s belief clashing with new information perceived, wherein they try to find a way to resolve the contradiction to reduce their discomfort.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Imagine a circus – the spotlight is on the entertainment while all the real issues take place behind the scenes. The convention takeaways are never the back-room deals and the negotiations that take place off of the convention floor. The show never includes those details anymore than it includes beating the elephants and the other entertainers into submission. Cleaning up the trash that the audience leaves behind.

Third parties being entered into the mix allows for a full three-ring circus, but again, the things that are of important are those subjects that are in the ring farthest from the one that the barker tells you to pay attention to, and probably not even taking place in the ring at all.

The bigger problems remain unaddressed as the media continues to prattle on about issues that are not really issues. Brown suits and laziness. Age and sickness. Individual enforcement transgressions instead of the central codifying theme of policing (which is racist and racism to the core) I’m still boycotting the news, myself. Let me know when Trump implodes, please?  Wouldn’t want to miss that, and the political discussions will only be relevant after that point.

America spells competition
Join us in our blind ambition
Get yourself a brand new motor car
Someday soon we’ll stop to ponder
What on Earth’s this spell we’re under
We made the grade and still we wonder
Who the hell we are

STYX

Editor’s note. I wrote this on October 30th, 2016, with the exception of what is in italics in the text. It’s funny. I quit paying attention to the news in 2016 because it ceased to be news in 2016. Every now and then I come up to sample the air, but it still isn’t worth spending my time paying attention to closely. We still have a reality TV president with delusions of grandeur, and the media is catering to his Stormtrumping supporters who are equally deluded.

The media does this because they are deluded into thinking that Stormtrumpers represent a legitimate majority of the population. They know, intellectually, that only a third (at most) of the voting population supports Trump. But their experience tells them that the status quo has a tendency to be maintained. Ergo they weight the political field (erroneously) in favor of what they see as the status quo.

It isn’t. Joe Biden represents the status quo, and the majority of Americans know this. The Orange Hate-Monkey will never be the status quo because he simply doesn’t have the depth of knowledge to be able to heft a telling argument in support of his ill-defined Trumpist movement.

There is a reason that Trump’s hardest core of support comes from Evangelicals and White Supremacists (but then I repeat myself) They are the ones with the highest levels of cognitive dissonance. They are the ones that see the most disruption between what they believe and what they see in the world around them. If whites are superior then cops killing the darkest skinned people more often is the way the world is supposed to work. If the Bible (and what the average Evangelical believes about the Bible that they haven’t read) is true, then anyone who makes you feel wrong inside is an insult to god and should be driven out.

They are trying to make their wrong-headed beliefs real. It is our job to stop them. This is the one instance where not bargaining with my opponents is the only way to victory, because bargaining with my opponents means they have the right to hurt people that never hurt them. This circus has to end.

Featured image from Flickr – H. Michael KarshisWelcome To The Grand Delusion

Civilization

…any complex society characterized by urban development, social stratification, a form of government and symbolic systems of communication such as writing.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

We called ourselves civilized long before there was any evidence that we were civilized. I still don’t think we’ve reached civilization yet. Civilization should mean that no one has to kill another person, steal from another person, just to eat. Civilization should mean that no one goes without shelter or medical care unless they refuse to be sheltered or to seek care.

Until we reach that demonstrably low bar, that members of our society need not fear for their lives and property being taken from them to feed some other needy person, then we are not civilized and it is false advertising to suggest otherwise.

Sacred Life

No, if we truly value LIFE, if we truly believe it to be SACRED, then before it even begins we as a people and as a nation must bend every effort to ensure not only its survival, but that it thrives to reach its full potential.

Twitter – Stonekettle

Editor’s note – I planned to add this quote to the end of Roe-v-Wade Was a Conservative Decision If I hadn’t broken the blog (05/16/2020) Now that it’s back up, I think I will add it to something even better than that post.

Point of Inquiry Has a New Host

I’d like to Welcome Leighann Lord to the legion of hosts that have been heard on Point of Inquiry since I first started listening to the podcast way back at the dawn of time (2010ish) I first mentioned the podcast on the blog in The Ethics of Brain Death where I reference Lindsay Beyerstein’s interview with Arthur Caplan. But I was listening to the podcast when Indre Viskontas was first brought on as a host, and I followed her and Josh Zepps on to their next endeavours (Josh to We the People Live and Indre to Inquiring Minds) so my listening to the podcast predates that blog entry by several years.

The show had been on hiatus for quite awhile recently, but has come out strong again with Leighann Lord interviewing Ian Harris On Comedy, Skeptical Audiences, And Atheism. I first heard her working on Startalk when the Son and I would listen to that podcast driving to and from his high school. She’s great, and I look forward to hearing more from her and Point of Inquiry for awhile. Please?

Point of Inquiry – Ian Harris On Comedy, Skeptical Audiences, And Atheism – May 7, 2020

The Meaning of Design

If you don’t stretch you won’t know where the edge is. I was constantly stretching into areas that I didn’t know very much about.

Designers don’t just look, but they see. They don’t just hear, but they listen. And they don’t just touch, but they feel. To design is to attempt to make a world a better place.

Sara Little Turnbull
The Mask – Throughline – May 14, 2020