Now What?

I’m going to start this one with the signature sanitized praise you have come to expect when I comment on the current state of my beloved homeland. I promise, I will shift toward an emotional take on a momentous occasion.

I was 15 years old, talking to aunts, uncles, cousins, a grandmother, and other relatives, when my beloved great uncle noticed a toe or two protruding through the sole of my left shoe. He told me in his typical (appreciated) bluntness, “You need new shoes, kiddo.”

I replied, “I guess.”

He came back with, “Get some new shoes,” to which I replied, “I don’t have any money.”

Well, I’m not sure if mi padre also noticed my podiatric predicament independent of my grandmother’s brother, or if one gave the other some instructions, but when I got home after a car ride during which I bitched relentlessly about the state of The States, my dad gave me 60 big ones. He told me to buy myself some new shoes. I stubbornly said, “I have better uses for 60 bucks. I’m not going to use this for shoes.” I was talking about my credit card bill and car payment.

Oh yeah, I lied. This happened when I was 29.

Yes. I know. I got too much car, but at the time I entered the lease, I was cash rich and assumed I would land at least an OK gig.

But you see, as the American market pays you exactly what you’re worth, my clearly disqualifying ineptitude and debilitating laziness had me making under one thousand dollars a month. I could have sought more work, but I also went to school full time for a year in hopes of becoming a history teacher and relied on my savings to sort of… wait for something better. I mean something better than under a thousand dollars a month, not something better than being a teacher because I can’t think of anything that really is.

Just a quick aside, I’m pretty sure an episode in which I earned some of the points that would eventually add up to me being selected as one of three Captains of my high school football team was when I told my coach I was ready to practice (everyone hated practice) a day after suffering a deep thigh contusion (kneecap straight to the femur; black and blue as far as the eye could see) and upon being told, “You need to be cleared by a doctor,” I replied, “Do I have to wait until after practice? Can I go get cleared now then come back and suit up for whatever time is left?”

Anybody who knows me will tell you there are two things I lack: work ethic and energy. Yeah man, I’m a miserable waste. I deserved those ratty shoes.

I must mention that I realize this is a long complaint about how tough I had it, and I was extremely fortunate to benefit from the mercy of family and all kinds of privilege. I absolutely chose to use those privileges to slowly but surely set myself up for better things. But god, did it take some patience.

Then I got a quote for treatment of a bad toothache that added up to a month’s pay. Then I fainted and hit my head while walking to the table for Mothers Day brunch and told an ambulance driver to fuck off because I wasn’t paying a few thousand dollars for a five mile ride and a saline drip.

My complaint here is not that America didn’t value me (she didn’t, though) or that I got a raw deal (I did not, just a pinch of mild adversity). I just wanted to get my fucking tooth looked at and not have to do a cost benefit analysis of continuing to pursue my teaching certification.

Anyway, it was about then (perhaps summer) in 2014 that I finally came to the conclusion that, “Fuck this shit,” I should just go back to Japan.

I started drawing up a scheme. I came up with a five year plan to be executed over the subsequent six years. Here it is.

2015 Summer: Get back to Japan via the exchange program I used from 2009 to 2012, except as a government office worker rather than an English teaching assistant.
2017 Summer: Move to Tokyo to run that same exchange program for the national government.
2020 Summer: Parlay those two experiences into — if I’m lucky — a decent job with some kind of foreign company in Japan.

The first step was not quite a long shot, but it was far from guaranteed. I needed to improve my Japanese language abilities and wrestle with what is often seen as a competitive yet arbitrary application process.

Not only did I get into the program, but I was sent to the exact office in which I wanted to work: the Miyagi Prefecture International Affairs Division in Sendai. Check.

While there, I worked harder than an outside critic might acknowledge. Even today, some friends think I’m still teaching English on a sort of Japanese holiday, but from 2015 to 2017 I was working for the weekend as a civil servant, executing almost all tasks in my second language.

I got way out ahead of the application process to run the program (my goal for 2017). I even worked directly with the organization in charge on various projects to get on their radar. In a still much more competitive application process for a much more prestigious and highly-paying job, I somehow stood out enough to get the call, right on schedule. Check.

I was limited to three years of service, so, always on a ticking clock (not in the sense that we’re all on a ticking clock, but subject to a literal contractual limit) I worked in the most professionally rewarding and personally challenging job of my life, again primarily in my second language. Also again, I worked harder than an outside critic might acknowledge.

Then out of nowhere, I got a great job offer that effectively meant the conclusion (achievement) of my five year plan exactly five years after it began, a full year ahead of schedule.

As of Monday I will be in uncharted waters. Tomorrow is the last day of my five year plan.

I did it.

Advertisements

Nothing Dead Can Last

Surrender now your wasted hours
The past is in the past
Carouse devout with thoughts about how
Nothing dead can last

Who Said It? Part XIII

Who said it?

On rats:

“You have Howard Schultz and Michael Bloomberg — two billionaires — telling people why they can’t have health care. Listen to this! Two billionaires telling everyday Americans why we can’t afford for them and their families to have decent health care.

“That’s bankrupt. They’re going to be laughed out of the race for that.”

Who Said It? Part XII

Who said it?

On a living wage:

“I’ve had some pretty intense arguments with wealthy people about a living wage, and I’m like you’re out of your fucking mind if you think someone should be working for less than 15 dollars FOR AN HOUR of their time.
“So I’m telling you a guy’s going to go in your back yard; he’s going to dig a fucking hole for an hour. You want to give him five dollars?
“How much do you want to give him? You want to give him seven dollars?
“Fuck you.”

“I don’t care if he’s 12 years old. I don’t care if it’s a 12-year old. A 12-year-old digs for an hour? Give him 20 bucks.”

Guns in America Part III (Fuck You, Marco Rubio)

“If someone has decided, ‘I’m going to commit this crime,’ they will find a way to get the gun to do it.”

– US Senator “Little” Marco Rubio

 

Gun deaths in the US, annually: over 30,000 (Link)
Gun deaths in Japan, annually: like 10 (Link)

Wow! Only 10 or so people in Japan decided they wanted to shoot someone with a gun.

Clearly 3,000 times as many violent people live in America. Well, adjust for accidents and multiple-victim shootings: say a generous 1,500 times as many violent folks. How about we even go per capita and just call it 500? That’s rounding in the US’s favor each time we calculate and with the original figures.

Americans are at the very least 500 times more likely to decide, “I’m going to commit this crime.” That’s what Marco says.

So, then America has just WAY MORE KILLERS than all these other countries.
So why don’t we let the country with the most killers have the MOST GUNS!

Or maybe for some reason, some of the Japanese people who would otherwise have liked to kill someone with a gun… didn’t… find a way to get one?

BUT HOW CAN THAT BE?!

Or maybe Marco means if an American decides, “I’m going to commit this crime,” they’ll find a way to get the gun to do it.

That’s because…

That’s right, folks:

“Gun control won’t work here, because we don’t have gun control now, and people still get shot.”

– US Senator Marco Rubio, paraphrased

 

I wonder what he drives.

Evolved Taste

This is about as nutty a post as I will ever write, but waaaaait for it…

I am a scientist.

PART I: Pew Research

Pew Research is an American organization that self-describes as, “a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world.” They, “conduct public opinion polling, demographic research, content analysis and other data-driven social science research,” and, “do not take policy positions.”

To try to put it simply, Pew aims to measure and document various aspects of global society.

So when they published a study in 2009 that detailed the proportional representation of Americans who do not believe in evolution and those who do believe in evolution (with the subcategories of evolution as a result of a natural process and evolution guided by a god), Pew was not trying to make a statement about the legitimacy of either category or either subcategory of those who believe in evolution.

 

 

I am.

PART II: Teach the Controversy

“Teach the Controversy” is a movement that exerts political influence to try to force American schools to brainwash children with the idea that evolution is a theory, which the movement’s patrons intentionally conflate with speculation, and that equal or greater weight should be given to the idea that a big salacious dick lurks over his toy planet and moves his little action figures (us) around as he sees fit, predicated of course on how well we behave.

They want to throw the cumulative data of all human observation — from the discovery of fire to the age of landing rockets on barges after launching them into space more than once — into the ring with ghost stories written more than 500 years before humanity really started getting close to possessing the technology to make glass windows a reality, and then let people who think Africa is a country in South America figure out which of the “controversial” “theories” is true.

One is a theory and is true; the other is folklore and is false.

PART III: The Science of Evolution (in the form of common sense)

The science of evolution does not require leaps of faith (“I see God all around me.”), and it does not require circular reasoning (“Then explain why in Genesis it says…) or feelings-as-proof reasoning (“If you find a wristwatch on a sandy beach…”) in order to be believed. It requires a simple conversation about sex and shit.

As is typically the case in this blog, when I say “shit”, I mean feces.

Below are two examples of natural selection.

Sexiness

Or more specifically, sexual reproduction…

Perfectly normal. We’re all products of it. Settle down.

Reproduction allows for the passing of genetic material to subsequent generations. The catch, though, is that a genetic code is not passed exactly as it exists one parent. Obviously, that is because it is combined in sexual reproduction to create offspring that posses some genes from each parent.

With the understanding that every child has genetic material from each parent, it must be accepted that no child is an exact copy of either parent.

That doesn’t mean anything on its own, though. This combination of genetic material could be imagined to just recycle a finite gallery of traits. The real kicker is selective breeding, a key element of natural selection and driving force of evolution.

Natural selection, in 2018 human terms, could be crudely explained by saying, “The most attractive (not necessarily physically) people get to reproduce the most.”

In prehistoric and ancient times — and even modern times in the cases of perhaps all other animals — attractiveness could be likened to physical superiority. That’s the meaning of the term “survival of the fittest”.

If there is a group of prehistoric primates walking around, and one of the males is a foot shorter, slower, and weaker than all the others, the female primates are more likely to chose the other males for sex, which would make it harder for his genetic material to survive.

Undesirable traits (not to as significant an extent in civilized human society in 2018) negatively affect the chance of reproducing.

But it’s not just lack of game that removes your genes from the pool; lack of fitness for environment stops your line too.

Long story short: reproducing beings can and do reproduce in a way that eliminates features, and though it happens unfathomably gradually, the incomprehensible longevity of humanity and botany among other realms allows microscopic changes to be stretched and stretched into small changes.

Shit

We don’t eat shit because it smells bad, right?

Right. And eating shit makes you sick, so thank god it doesn’t smell like churros!

Or what if we find the smell unpleasant because eating shit makes you sick?

Suppose there was a male primate who found the rank heat of another specimen’s dead lunch to be the choicest spice, and couldn’t keep his hands off. Do you think he dodges E. coli long enough to have children?

If there was a trait available in the human genome that allowed for the birth of folks who crumbled at the aroma of a Filet of Squish, do you think it would ever survive a generation?

Now, if 10,000 years ago half of all homo sapiens were genetically pre-disposed to swoon at the scent of stool, do you think that particular characteristic would have made it to the 21st century? Even with all the pestilences we’ve faced and the level of disease in our discharge? No way.

Nobody is making it to adolescence with a diet that includes scat, let alone finding a mate. But how, Steve, does this prove evolution?

Obviously it doesn’t. But it is an imaginary illustration of how a trait could be removed from a species. There may never have been a case of people who loved to eat poo, and I don’t even know if olfactory preferences are hereditary, but the simple principle — unaffected by the question in the prior clause of this sentence — is that if there are traits that cause the specimen carrying them to be more likely to die of illness or unfitness, the traits are less likely to be passed on. Replace love of log with fragile femurs and repeat the train of thought above.

It’s a cruel world, and disadvantageous characteristics or predispositions can make specimens unfit. And if you ain’t fit…

Humanity is, in some ways, beyond this due to our intelligence — the intelligence we posess because due to physical inferiority to predators, only the smartest survived.

To wrap up this odd section, if certain specimens are undesirable, they are less likely to pass on their genetic material, as are those whose genetic material leads to unsuitability for their environment. It doesn’t have to be eating poo; it could also be not having the hand strength to open the shell of your primary food source.

If you can’t survive or you can’t breed, your genes will have a hard time moving forward, and the future of the human race will look less like you. It will evolve away from you, if you’ll excuse the cloudy over-simplicity.

Conclusion:

According to Pew’s study, only 32% of the American public believed in evolution by natural process (like natural selection). Thankfully a further 22% aren’t completely blind, but they do see a divine hand in evolution. 31% of respondents believed that evolution doesn’t happen, or more specifically, “Humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.”

Almost a third of Americans (as of 9 years ago) believed that if no woman on Earth ever mated with a man under seven feet tall again, the normal range of human height would continue unchanged.

So if you believe the statement, “Evolution is just a theory,” exposes a lack of verification, or if you believe we should, “teach the controversy…”

why don’t you go eat some shit?

 

Fuck You, Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan says, “We’re going to take on welfare reform, which is another big entitlement program*, where we’re basically paying people — able-bodied people — not to work**, and we’re depriving them with all these disincentives from going into the workforce.”

*Learn to speak.
** The assumption is that all people on welfare are ready to work, but because they are receiving money, they won’t. That frames the problem as the enterprise and spirit of these Americans rather than the difficulty of actually finding work or the fact that a single parent working full-time for minimum wage will not earn enough to reach the poverty line.

So Paul, let me get this straight. We have a group of people who are capable of working, but can’t be bothered? We are paying them? That takes away their incentive? WAIT; that applies to everyone on unemployment benefits?

So just humoring you in regard to your assertion that all these people can actually work, which surely some of them can…
Is the disincentive the financial support itself?
Or is the disincentive the fact that even if these people do go out and work, they will never make much money and won’t see an increase in standard of living?

You think the answer is cutting out the safety net and dangling people by their dark blue collars over the cliff that is the prospect of having zero money.

Paul Ryan might say, “Why maintain a system to assist people when you could just fundamentally alter their human nature?”

I think the answer might be to leave that safety net in place for those who truly need it, then instead of threatening desolation, dangle the carrot of more money, purchasing power, and financial liberty in front of those who could theoretically join or rejoin the workforce.

Leaving the minimum wage argument aside for now, I will conclude this rant with a translation from Ryanese to simple English of what Paul “Penis” Ryan was really telling the American public.

  1. “take on welfare reform” – work to end support for the unemployed
  2. “big entitlement program” – system we as a community installed to guarantee a standard of living for all citizens
  3. “able-bodied people” – candidates for work
  4. “depriving (people)” – turning work candidates into non-candidates
  5. “disincentives (to) work” – similar reward with no effort or downside

Republican legislators will work to cripple or destroy the support measures we Americans created as a country to guarantee a standard of living for all of our people, because it costs money. None of these people really need it anyway, and actually, they’d be better off without it.

-Paul Ryan (translated and paraphrased)

Fuck you, Champ.

 

On Net Neutrality

I don’t think I’m needed for this one, but…

FUCK Ajit V. Pai.

There will be a fight on the grounds that these proposed actions are an attack on three of the freedoms granted by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. If that process fails, it’s all over; get out of Dodge, because the fire will have jumped the river and reached town.

Just…

Why aren’t people this hot about health care?