Word is Bond, Empathy is Connection

Honesty and consistency are two of the rarest qualities in a human except for, I suppose, a consistent tendency for laziness. It takes effort to actually follow through with something you’ve said and telling the truth can be scary especially when you’re unsure what the truth is.

I think I know a thing or two about laziness being an incredibly lazy person myself. I often attempt to justify my laziness through my lack of physical coordination and proclivities against any sort of athletic activities (ironic given my height). However; humans did not evolve for stationary movement, it is a sign of our modern prosperity that so many humans have the luxury of remaining in their homes communicating on our various electronic computing devices. Many of us in developed countries now need reminders to stand up and move. We also need to remind ourselves to go out and interact with people in-person – in the physical space.

It can be difficult to transmit a sense of empathy over electronic screens through text communications. Even across video-sharing platforms there are still barriers between people – you have an incredibly limited view of what you see around the other person, you cannot smell their environment (your sense of smell is most closely connected to memory), and you cannot touch the other the person (an incredibly important factor in forging connections). The ease at which we can “block” people from our lives is also problematic regarding community-building and maintaining lasting connections. One cannot block a person in real life. IRL, you must deal with a person and all their flaws. Fortunately, the fun part about flaws is that everybody has some; no one is alone in that regard. Perhaps our flaws can be a point of connection in the physical space – let’s all get together and talk about our flaws! 🙂

I value honesty and authenticity above anything else in another person but it seems like, the further we go into a more digital environment, the more rare those qualities become in people. On the world wide web, everyone is crafting an image – a façade – to project to whatever sub-community of which they’re a part. The people putting their real selves out their for the world are drowned out by the people wearing masks and trying to fit into something.

If you want to understand other people, first you must understand yourself, both of which can be a great undertaking.

2014 Personality Lecture 01: Introduction and Overview, An introduction to the great clinical, psychobiological and psychometric theories of personality, Professor Jordan B. Peterson (2014).

American Education

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

I spent five years in a university under the assumption that a college degree was all I needed for a decent life as an adult but I feel as if I gained more life experience in the work force outside of the official academia sphere. This general feeling of dissatisfaction is not uncommon among college graduates and it doesn’t help that the cost of college tuition has more than doubled in the last thirty years (Bill McCarthy, PolitiFact, 2019). 58% of Americans say that college is worth current costs and 72% of Americans are in support of free tuition at public colleges and universities (Staff Report, American Public Media-Research Lab, 2019). So about half of Americans do not think college degrees are worth their price and a super majority of Americans are in support of making colleges cheaper in some capacity. I’m with the super majority who wants cheaper college.

Thinking back on my time in American schools, it’s difficult to credit any of that time with any practical knowledge of adult life. Perhaps the biggest contribution schools made to my professional development was knowledge of how to research information and how to distinguish between different sources of information. Practical specifics like job applications, tax documents, and rental agreements I learned on my own after I left the public school system. I think this is an issue worthy of our collective attention. Schools need to place more emphasis on the practical specifics of life especially junior high & high schools. A high school student should be able to navigate the fundamentals of independent living the day that he/she graduates. Basically, high school should be what college is now.

I think there are two primary strategies for reforming American education. The first strategy is to increase funding for public schools allowing for more opportunities for a wider variety of students as well as mandating free tuition for all citizen applicants and increasing pay for teachers. Taking the emphasis off test-taking and giving each student a more hands-on approach with a more personalized curriculum. The second strategy is basically the opposite approach, to decrease funding for public education forcing schools to re-organize and reallocate their budgets and strip down their curriculums with the intention of rebuilding public schools from necessities. Whereas the former strategy is a more Keynesian approach to public education, the latter strategy is a more laissez faire approach to public education.

A separate issue with American education is not the schools themselves but the civil society in which they exist. I think a particular attitude has developed in the American consciousness around educational institutions: that the institutions are beyond criticism with the belief that a college degree is the only way to to make one’s life “successful.” While I agree that more education can only be an improvement to a person’s life, I do not believe that institutions should hold a monopoly on education; a school and an education are two different things. A good education begins with parents and/or family fostering an inquisitive mindset into children. One idea my mother drilled into me in childhood was to never be afraid to ask a question. I think this invoked a curious nature within me about what kinds of questions to ask which people. Curiosity towards the world around you as well as curiosity regarding how the world has been is necessary for an informed populace. Parents need to be more active in their children’s development and push them to ask questions, perhaps even challenge their teachers.

A school and an education are two different things.

I do not believe that any one institution (be it educational, governmental, etc.) deserves a people’s absolute and unwavering trust. Any person is susceptible to corruption and, by extension, any institution is susceptible to corruption. It is healthy to question any decision especially if it comes from a position of authority. Wirelessly connected computers and the world wide web have increased access to information on a scale never before seen in human history but despite that, I fear humans are becoming even more ideologically reclusive. It’s as if too many choices in news media is causing people to retreat into their own comforts and biases further balkanizing the political landscape. There must be ways for communities (and the broader society) to foster curiosity and encourage people to step out of their comfort zones. My advice for now, to anyone reading this, is simply to watch less and read more.

Milk Mustachio Stout – Tractor Brewing

Creamy, smooth, muted hints of coffee, and superb drinkability – this stout is Tractor Brewing‘s coup de grace (if you like stouts).

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Milk Mustachio Stout, Tractor Brewing Company, 2019.

A smooth coffee-flavored, alcoholic beverage seems perfect for a Friday night as a lone guitarist provides some euphoric background tunes.  I may have been a little harsh in my last review of Tractor, one cannot judge a brewery by on beer.  It’s a good place to relax after a busy day at work serving fried food to fat Americans, a place where nostalgic millennials can go to lament about their lost hopes and forgotten dreams.

Happy holidays, you degenerate pig fuckers.  Be safe out there.

Remember Self-care

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

Happy Friday, people.  It feels good to be productive after a vacation, be it your day job hustle or your side hustle, and I’m in an especially good mood considering I get paid today. 🙂

It’s also easy to get caught up in your hustle which is why it’s important to take some time every day to take care of yourself and relieve some stress; working is virtuous but not if you forget to live as well.  Being health conscious includes your mental health as well as physical health (perhaps more so) so remember budget time for yourself to avoid burning out.

Personally, I like putting on some lo-fi music in the evening when I’m unwinding from my day job at Wingstop.  There are several channels to choose from on YouTube but lately, I’ve been tuning in to some synthwave.

The Future is Now

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

I remember when the year 2020 was the quintessential year for futuristic landscapes in science-fiction.  Now, that year is less than a month away.  For myself, it will be the year I turn thirty.

When I was a kid, I thought thirty years of age was “old as fuck” (I still jokingly describe that age as such).  In all seriousness, thirty can be as young as twenty for modern humans considering how long we can live today and the fact that medical science will only improve our lifespans in the future (disregarding a potential apocalypse that sets our civilization back by centuries).  Statistically speaking (assuming that you take care of yourself), thirty-year-olds today are less than halfway through our total lifespan.  We have MORE time today to get started doing what we love to do.

Life is what you make it so, what are you waiting for?

 

Claudio Tolousse Chills Out Zinc Bar

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

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PHOTO: Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 11/21/2019.

Musician/Songwriter Claudio Tolousse jazzed up the Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro Thursday night.  No band, no back-up singers, just Claudio.  It was a chill performance.

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PHOTO: Claudio Tolousse Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro, 11/21/2019.

Albuquerque gets a negative reputation from news media pessimistic attitudes and too few people overlook the city’s gems.  From my own experience, the best neighborhood in the city is Nob Hill (surrounding the University of New Mexico) with a stretch of Central Avenue that caters to nightlife entertainment and chill brew hipsters.  The Zinc Bar is just one of the many hangouts where you can order a beer, listen to some guitar strumming, and forget about life’s troubles for a while.

Claudio Tolousse also hosts a podcast called Art Talk Music in which he talks about “all thing music” with a variety of musical talents.

Embracing the Ordinary

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

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An internet connection is an incredibly powerful tool for storytelling.  Unfortunately, most of the attention on the Web is focused on mindless entertainment over education and productive discourse.  I’m guilty of this (I am human after all) but I try to create something of value on this blog, something with which people can connect.  Perhaps that is all anyone wants out of life, connecting with someone through a mutual value, and we just don’t know how to connect with each other anymore because of all our distractions and superficial life indicators.  There are so many voices shouting into the void today and we are all chasing an image of fame.

Perhaps a key to a fulfilling life is to start turning off much of these distractions and focus more on the physical world, the things right in front of us.  To focus on the extreme examples of fame is to focus on illusions, most people (by definition) are not going to become exemplary.  The best that each of us can do is simply what brings us joy regardless of whether or not it brings you fame.  This may be a hard truth for a lot of young people today: most of your life will not be something that can be turned into an action movie; most of your life will be mundane, tedious, and boring.  However, if you find something to do in life that brings you joy and fulfillment then fame shouldn’t matter.

Take it from Woody Harrelson, “enjoy the little things.”

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Image still from Zombieland.

Juxtapositions of Modern Success

As I walk through my city streets, I see a strange juxtaposition of modern progress.  I see rising infrastructure along the skyline with empty windows and “for rent” signs.  I see people in suits with high-tech phones stepping over the tattered and dirty homeless.  I see cold and desperate people sleeping outside of night clubs filled with affluent and arrogant college students.  I see middle-class workers with their heads in their phones hustling between multiple jobs while lower-class street-walkers beg for some charity.  I see all these examples of the dichotomy in America’s current success story and I don’t know what to do about it.  I don’t have any answers for the poor and the down-trodden besides all the cliches that have already been preached publicly hundreds of times over.

What happened to our sense of community across America?

Old Address, Out-of-Date Voting

I went to a polling place today to vote in a local election and I was confused when I realized that my new address was not updated in the City of Albuquerque’s list of registered voters.  Earlier this year, I relocated from Albuquerque’s District 1 (West ABQ) to District 6 (Nob Hill) and immediately re-registered to vote (as I usually do).  Perhaps municipalities should update their voter registration records more frequently, but what do I know?

I still voted this morning, I just had to vote for my former neighborhood rather than my current neighborhood; not a big deal in the macro.

(If I’m missing something, let me know in the comments section below.  Don’t forget to tell me how big of an idiot I am.)

 

Stay the course, resist your vices.

Life has a lot of distractions especially in modernity, it can be difficult to stay focused on what is important.  Computers may have worsened our attention spans but they are not going away, so we have to become more disciplined with ourselves regarding how we manage our time amidst all of this technology.  Create a long-term goal for yourself and remind yourself of that goal every day; resist the temptation of your vices and avoid instant gratification.  The best things in life require effort so work for them.