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).

Representation or Chaos

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

Testimonies on Insurrection

Today, members of the Capitol Police give testimony (Live Coverage: House Panel Holds First Hearing on Jan. 6 Probe, The Hill Staff, 7/27/2021) in the House of Representatives regarding their experience during the insurrection that occurred on January sixth of this year. Their recollections from that day are vivid and horrifying, they even describe the insurrectionists as domestic terrorists (which I think is an honest description). I think any reasonable person would describe the events of January 6, 2021, as nothing short of a rebellion against the United States government. However, there are still people who would describe the rebels as American patriots while describing the police officers as traitors.

How did Americans become this polarized?

The two majority political parties have seen growing polarization over the past two decades with over a third of voters from each of the parties showing stark (Staff Report, Pew Research, 2021) differences in political opinions. The linked article above shows differences in opinions on voting rights, an arguably staple issue. Only 38% of Republican Party voters favor automatic voter registration of American adults compared to 82% of Democratic Party voters; the same percentage of Republican Party voters are in favor of early voting compared to 84% of Democratic Party voters. Support for differing positions is growing more and more stark within each party.

I think this polarization is tied to two different phenomena in 21st century America. First, the balkanized news media ecosystem in which we find ourselves swimming amid the many electronics screens that dominate our households. We have so many choices of news and commentary channels that we are increasingly retreating into our own ideological bubbles and shutting out any opposing view points. It’s imperative that individuals make efforts to search for sources of information outside of their own ideology (assuming self-awareness of one’s own ideology which can also be difficult to achieve).

The elimination of the Fairness Doctrine (WikiPedia, accessed 7/27/2021) is another contributing factor to political polarization. Repealed in 1987, the Fairness Doctrine (Victor Pickard, The Washington Post, 2021) mandated radio and television broadcasters to present opposing views of allegedly controversial issues to the American public operating under the justification that, because there were so few news broadcasters, a mandate was required to maintain a diversity of opinions (correctly assuming that news media has an significant impact on the political opinions of American voters). The conservative argument to this in the era of digital media is that there are so many outlets for news & commentary today that a government mandate on media organizations is no longer necessary. However, this assumption fails to explain how a handful of companies control (Ashley Lutz, Business Insider, 2012) the legacy media (established news sources like CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, etc.). The fact that more Americans are capable of accessing a plethora of news stations today is beside the point of contention regarding who owns most of those news stations. The digital era presents Americans with more opportunities in news but most of the money still resides with legacy media (not to mention the political parties that influence respective news stations with their war chests). In other words, the laissez faire argument falls flat as usual – Americans cannot rely on private organizations to police themselves or forgo opportunities for profit in pursuit of a public interest. There is also the issue surrounding the advent of digital social media. Platforms like YouTube and Facebook have become primary players in so-called alternative news media but they are technically not broadcaster themselves, not subject to traditional regulations over periodic content.

“With respect to the regulation of personal attacks made in the context of public issue debates, the FCC’s requirement that the subject of the attack be provided with a tape, transcript, or broadcast summary, as well as an opportunity to respond without having to prove an inability to pay for the “air-time,” insured a balanced and open discussion of contested issues. The requirement that political editorializing be presented for and against both sides of the debated issues also contributed to the balanced discussion of public concerns.”

Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, Oyez, accessed July 27, 2021, <https://www.oyez.org/cases/1968/2>.

The second phenomenon that has fueled polarization is the growing influence of money in political processes. American elections have been growing more expensive through our history. Since the start of this century, every national congressional and presidential election has topped (OpenSecrets, accessed 7/27/2021) billions of dollars. A specific Supreme Court case (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Oyez, accessed July 27, 2021) has only exacerbated the issue with election spending growing exponentially since 2010. Concern over large financial interests in elections is nothing new. The first attempt to regulate financial expenditures on elections was the Tillman Act of 1907 (WikiPedia, accessed 7/27/2021). The act, signed by President Theodore Roosevelt prohibited corporations from spending money from their own treasuries on specific election campaigns. Obviously, the Supreme Court of the United States has taken the nation in a different direction since then. Today, independent organizations can spend unlimited amounts of money advocating for a specific political candidate which ensures that people with more money are able to crowd the media air waves with advertisements, effectively shutting out less fortunate voices. I think advocacy for limits on campaign spending by independent organizations could be argued for using the Equal Protection Clause as justification but I’m not a lawyer.

The corrupting influence (OpenSecrets, accessed 7/27/2021) of capitalism on democratic-republicanism is obvious at this point in our history. Donations of $2,500 or more from individual people (large donations) make up the bulk of expenditures to political candidates, donations $200 or less (small donations) make up barely over 10% of all political expenditures. Health insurance companies, for instance, donate (OpenSecrets, accessed 7/27/2021) millions of dollars every cycle to political campaigns. This fact could be one factor in why the United States is the only industrialized country on the planet that does not guarantee a universal healthcare policy to its citizens despite a majority (Bradley Jones, Pew Research, 2020) of Americans supporting universal healthcare.

Oligarchic Intrusion, Apathy, Polarization

The high costs of elections coupled with the overwhelming influence of money in politics has led to a majority of Americans abdicating the civic responsibility of voting (Drew Desilver, Pew Research, 2020) under the justification that votes do not matter as much as in past generations, leaving the democratic to the more ideologically charged activists who are less likely to make strategic compromises with their political opponents. The 2016 elections saw 56% of the voting population turning up on Election Day – that percentage was a slight increase from 2012 but lower than the record year of 2008 when 58% of voters cast a ballot. It’s easy to cast blame onto these apathetic citizens, shrugging them off as lazy and irresponsible, but I think the more significant question is why these citizens feel so disconnected from their own government – from their democratic process. Half the nation feels so disconnected from democracy – from the republic – they don’t know where to turn to make their voice heard and, when large groups of people feel disenchanted, disaffected, and desperate, violence is more common.

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.

Rediscovering Books & Repeating History

Computers may have ruined my literary attention span. I used to devour books in my childhood but, since I discovered the World Wide Web, I’ve not been as much of a reader of books; I read a lot of news articles and journals but physical books have sadly been fading out of my life. I would like to reverse this trend.

One of my favorite things to do in a quixotic rediscovery of books is coffee shop camping – simply go in to a coffee shop with a book, order a coffee, sit at a corner table, and lose yourself in your book for a couple of hours. Obviously there are a few safety measures to take when coffee shop camping during a pandemic (bring a mask and perhaps a bottle of hand sanitizer and keep a reasonable distance from other people). If the shop is too crowded, maybe turn around, and come back another day. You may find coffee shop camping to be incredibly rewarding for your mind.

My latest literary endeavor is a secondary source of American history, The Elusive Republic: Political Economy in Jeffersonian America by Drew R. McCoy Ph.D of Clark University. At its core, it’s a book about the philosophical foundations of America’s Founding Fathers as well as that generation of people. McCoy references many familiar names such as Samuel Adams, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Adam Smith and describes common ideas from that time period revolving around Britain’s apparent corruption and a growing necessity for the colonies in America to break away from the empire. The ideal was for the colonies to become a model for “republican virtue” on the world as well as a trading source of raw, agricultural materials for the rest of the world – an ideal that I think still has merit for modern humans.

The philosophy behind the republican ideal of an agrarian republic is an interesting theory on the development of human civilizations and describes stages through which civilization advance. These philosophical “stages of civilization” are:

  • hunting;
  • pasturage;
  • agricultural;
  • and commerce.

Whereas hunting is the most simple form of civilization and commerce is the most complex, hunting is also referred to as the “rudest” stage of civilization. The republican ideal and a prevailing theory in colonial America preached that the agricultural stage of civilization was the most ideal for liberty because it was the stage of civilization that was most conducive to the human propensity for productivity (the Protestant work ethic) and allowed for the greatest degree of happiness in individual citizens. These supposed stages of civilization was a part of an Enlightenment-era effort to apply a scientific process to human sociology.

This supposed scientific method for sociology largely comes from the French philosophe Montesquieu and his French and Scottish contemporaries including:

  • Claude Adrien Helvétius,
  • Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de l’Aulne,
  • Adam Ferguson,
  • Henry Home, Lord Kames,
  • John Millar,
  • Adam Smith FRSA.

The dilemma amongst purveyors of classic republican theory in colonial America was how to maintain virtuous simplicity throughout the republic’s cultural zeitgeist in an effort to prolong the agricultural stage of civilization, staving off the corrupting influences of the later stage of civilization. This dilemma provided republicans with a convenient justification for westward expansion to provide a surplus of land to “virtuous republicans” looking to establish homesteads for their ideal America.

Is it accurate to classify 21st century America as in a post-industrial stage of social development?

The classic republican ideal for early America revolved around financial independence for each citizen through land ownership. We have to remember that citizenship and civil rights were limited to a select group of people in 17th century America but the ideal was fairly progressive for the time considering it was a divergence from the strict gentry and titled nobility of the old European societies. The ideal was for “virtuous citizens” to become land owners and establish themselves as productive members of society through industrious farming. The antithesis of this ideal was that settlers might become disconnected from the rest of the nation and devolve into a lower stage of civilization in their isolation. The republican solution to this antithesis was to expand public infrastructure to keep frontiersmen connected to the fledgling republic’s internal markets.

Is it possible to maintain the classic, republican ideal for an agrarian republic but with a large post-industrial economic sector?

Reading about 17th century America, I’m noticing similar concerns to the issues that plague 21st century America – worries over large populations of unemployed, skepticism towards immigration and fears over emigration, concern for future generations and changing trends, etc. The predominant political debates seemed to be over the preservation of the agricultural sector versus the growth of the manufacturing sector with the democratic-republicans (Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, etc.) on one side and the federalists (Alexander Hamilton, Robert Morris, etc.) on the other; the fear being that an excessive manufacturing sector would lead to “superfluous luxuries” and ultimately “corruption in government” and “effeminacy in citizens.”

How often do we hear politicians today chastise the population on accusations of degeneracy and a lack of personal responsibility and “masculine values?” It’s funny how history tends to repeat itself.

Why is cannabis illegal anyway?

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

(I wrote this essay in college and it has been in my Google Drive since. After submitting it to two local newspapers two weeks ago, I finally just came to the conclusion, “fuck it! I’ll publish it myself!” So, here it is.)


The cannabis plant is relatively easy to grow, it can grow almost anywhere on the planet, and humans have neural receptors that respond specifically to cannabinoids (THC and its relative chemicals in the plant).  Cannabis possesses multiple medicinal properties as a pain and stress reliever and it seems to be impossible to overdose on it.  The fiber from the plant can also be used for multiple industrial and commercial purposes.  Why would a government criminalize such a versatile plant?

In the first half of the twentieth century, three legislative acts defined American drug policy: the Harrison Narcotics Act, passed in 1914 under President Woodrow Wilson; the Marijuana Tax Act, passed in 1937 under President Franklin Roosevelt; and the Boggs Act, passed in 1951 under President Harry Truman.  The Harrison Narcotics Act and the Marijuana Tax Act were designed to control movement of opium, coca leaf (cocaine), and cannabis products throughout the nation.

The flaws in these acts of legislation involved limitations on medical professionals to assist so-called “non-patients” with addiction troubles and drove a sector of the drug market underground.  Medical professionals came out against these two acts of legislation in a plethora of medical journals.  The federal government, recognizing an increased national issue with drug addiction, passed the Boggs Act in 1951, which set criminal penalties for drug possession.  Naturally, this punitive measure did not help in reducing addiction.  On the contrary, it increased drug crime by inadvertently placing more value on black market products.  While the Marijuana Tax Act was eventually declared unconstitutional in 1969, it was soon replaced with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which created categories for different drugs.

Cannabis was placed in the most restrictive category supposedly temporarily while President Richard Nixon commissioned a report on the drug’s level of danger.  However; despite the Shafer Commission’s recommendations, President Nixon kept cannabis under the “Schedule 1” classification arguably to push back against the counter-culture that emerged from the 1960’s.  In the decades following the Controlled Substances Act, cannabis’ “Schedule 1” classification severely limited scientific research on the plant.

Momentum for reform grew out of citizen-led movements like the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws at smaller government levels.  The states of Maine, Oregon, and Alaska were the first to decriminalize (not legalize) cannabis after President Nixon’s Controlled Substances Act.

The past efforts by the United States government to regulate drugs have been about controlling the crop and regulating the behavior of individuals; this does not fostering a safe environment for entrepreneurs.  Drug usage is an issue that revolves around a human conditioning for instant gratification, which comes from arguably the strongest part of our brain: the limbic system, which houses our emotions.  Governments are not going to rewire human emotions with punitive laws against drug use.  A more pragmatic method for dealing with drug use and the issue of addiction is to place it exclusively under the jurisdiction of medical professionals rather than law enforcement agencies.  Driving a product into the black market just creates more issues for our society, issues that are more dangerous than the original issue of drug addiction.  As a society, we should not be pushing the weakest among us into the arms of violent criminal enterprises, we should be shining a light on the black market with a benevolent domestic policy of liberty and justice for all.

New President, Same Shit

In the wake of a tense presidential election, amid an uneasy truce between two presidential administrations (one outgoing and the other just starting up), it’s important to remember that the average American is still fucked into submission by a twisted democratic process and a rotten economic system that exploits the down-trodden while rewarding the most ruthless.

The jig is up for President Donald Trump. A federal appeals court has ruled against the outgoing one-term president in Pennsylvania and stock numbers are rising in the face of a new president. The Republican Party now has some important questions it must ask itself as we move forward.

As we move forward as Americans, let us remember that winning an election is actually the easy part of the political process. The harder part is actually governing. Anyone can talk up their game during an election with the intent of gaining power but candidates need to back up all that rhetoric afterwards (if they win). The reality is that our two dominate political parties have been failing us for a long time.

Tricky Transition

The final electoral vote count for the 2020 election is 290-214, Joe Biden is going to be the next President of the United States of America. Of course, President Donald Trump is throwing a temper tantrum over the election results because it did not go his way and he’s nothing but a spoiled New York socialite whose was handed success by his father.

I’m not going to pretend that there are not a lot of undemocratic things about American democracy but that is par for the course. As far as American elections go, Biden is the clear winner. President Trump needs to stop the whining and accept defeat; there’s a first time for everything.

Let us not forget the setbacks that the Democratic Party experienced this year. While Democrats were optimistic about picking up as many as fifteen seats in the United States House of Representatives; they lost at least six seats in the House.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in Florida’s 26th District is out – defeated by Republican challenger Carlos Gimenez.

U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala in Florida’s 27th District is out – defeated by Republican challenger Maria Elvira Salazar.

U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn in Oklahoma’s 5th District is out – defeated by Republican challenger Stephanie Bice.

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson in Minnesota’s 7th District is out – defeated by Republican challenger Michelle Fischbach.

U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres-Small in New Mexico’s 2nd District is out – defeated by Republican challenger Yvette Herrell.

U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham in South Carolina’s 1st District is out – defeated by Republican challenger Nancy Mace.

What do these losses mean for the Democrats? It doesn’t matter, it’s not like they’re going to learn from any of them.

Post-Election Madness

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

In the aftermath of an incredibly close election, it looks like former Vice-President Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States of America. The current electoral vote count is 264-214.

I did not expect this election to be as close as the final results are showing but, in hindsight, it makes some sense. I’ve heard pundits on both sides of the aisle brag about the energy of their own voters claiming that the election would be a landslide for their candidate. NPR even reported this election containing the highest voter turnout in American history. With each side being galvanized to the teeth by punditry, a close race is a logical conclusion.

Let us not dwell too much on our collective orgasmic experience that was #ElectionNight and let us get back to the reality of the two shitty options that we Americans had to choose from in our supposed democratic-republic. Personally, coming from a family of loyal disciples to the Democratic Party, I expect the Republican Party to put up a shitty candidate (a childhood full of partisan brain-washing has engrained that bias in me). But the Democratic Party started this election cycle eleven candidates and THIS SHIT IS WHAT WE ENDED UP WITH?! Pervy-old Biden and Copmala Harris? Notwithstanding the fascistic corruption of the 2-party duopoly that has maintained control of American politics for a century, gradually dumbing down the national conversation with increasingly similar “opposing” candidates both favorable to the corporate interests that have become akin to a new aristocratic class. Presenting #Election2020 – the chance to choose between a Democratic Party man with a voting record of fraudulent war, “tough on crime” bullshit, and further degradation of higher education and a Republican Party outsider born into money with the emotional intelligence of a toddler and grabs whatever junk he wants to grab. If this is the best we can do as a nation, than we don’t deserve to hold the reigns of global power.

I used to be more involved in American politics – I’ve volunteered for three presidential elections and one gubernatorial election – and I’ve come to realize just how undemocratic our democracy really is. The democratic systems that govern Americans are far from ideal democracy/republicanism. I like to view our progressively degrading political candidates as a sign of our increasingly declining empire.

Is anyone interested in learning Mandarin with me? Which Chinese language would be more practical to learn: Mandarin or Cantonese?

What holds people back?

Take the right turn in Duke City and you can find anything.

The feeling of “living just enough for the city” as Stevie Wonder so elegantly phrased it is becoming more common in American cities.  Housing prices are soaring above wages and the gap between the working lower classes and the upper affluent classes is stark but opportunities remain.  There are always opportunities for the less fortunate, it just requires a little creativity.

I commute to my job on public transit and every day I see people who look as though they are going hard times – not well dressed, poor hygiene, a little spaced out (possibly on a foreign substance) – but they all seem to be able to scrape together enough money for a bus ticket.  What’s even more amazing is that most of these people have a smartphone in-hand with ear-buds or headphones on their heads.  Regardless of how my lower-class peers are able to afford these small luxuries, I don’t think they realize the kind of opportunities they can access with these devices alone.

A mobile phone can provide one with organizational tools for planning a day and recording other phone numbers for future reference (the start of any entrepreneurial endeavor) as well as grant you access to an internet connection via any public library or city-owned building.  Are most people even aware of the existence of public libraries these days?

I’m not the most entrepreneurial or business-minded person but I can still hold a job and keep hold of some money; it doesn’t take a lot of thought or effort.  What is holding so many people back?  Drugs, mental health, an inability to utilize money effectively, obsessive personalities combined with addictive (or even criminal) behaviors?  I genuinely want to know.

7-Ways-to-Stay-Motivated_v3-01-1

The Game Awards 2019 (Round-Up) — Daily Gaming Report

The Game Awards 2019 (Source: GameSpot) – The Game Awards happened tonight, December 12th, live from Los Angeles, California.  In case you missed it, The Game Awards streamed live on YouTube and was hosted by the show’s creator, Geoff Keighley.  The most notable moments include: The brand new Xbox console, Xbox Series X, trailer, The Muppets . . .”

via A Round-Up Of The Game Awards 2019 — Daily Gaming Report

Watch the awards here: