Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘anger

Anger and politics

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In the family of texts on who the real extremists and the real science deniers are, there is room for a text on “Who are really the angry ones?” (“Who are the real angry young men?” or similar). Well, from what I have seen so far, anger seems to be a greater problem on the Left, making the accusations of e.g. “angry young men”, so often directed at the opponents of the Left, the more hypocritical. Certainly, many or most cases of alleged anger among non-Leftists do not meet that mark, instead being annoyance, frustration, or similar—or even “said/did something that the Left disliked” (regardless of actual inner state).*

*The Left often uses similar misrepresentations, as with e.g. “racist”, “sexist”, “hate”, and “hate speech”. Consider the two latter: Any negative feeling, even say annoyance or loathing, is condemned as hate; and any statement that the Left does not like stands the risk of condemnation as “hate speech”. (Cf. an older text series.) Indeed, often even the presence of negative feeling is mere speculation on behalf of some Leftist.

However, here I will look at two other questions, namely (a) whether anger is automatically a bad thing and (b) whose anger* is or is not justified. (There is an obvious overlap both between these two questions and the “Who are really the angry ones?”.)

*In as far as, cf. above, the word “anger” actually applies, a complication that I will ignore below.

To (a):

The Left seems to consider (non-Leftist!) anger an immediate disqualification from debate, as if anger was somehow morally or intellectually wrong, or as if it would invalidate any underlying arguments. Worse, often there seems to be an implicit assumption that someone already is angry and therefore comes to oppose the Left in order to find an outlet (or similar). Here, I suspect a great amount of projection, that this attitude tells us much more of the anger, priorities in life, disappointments, whatnot of many Leftists. As a specific, and very telling example, many Feminists seem to jump to the conclusion that any man who opposes them is an “incel”, “can’t get laid”, “can’t find a woman”, or similar—and only ever opposes them because not getting laid has made him an “angry young man” who “hates women”.* In real life, it often appears to be the exact other way around, that this is a projection of the female drive to have a man and the consequences of the failure to get one on some women. (See excursion.) The true reason that so many men cannot stand Feminists is the Feminist ignorance, idiocy, or outright lunacy, combined with the absurd Feminist wish to lecture those who disagree because they are better informed or stronger critical thinkers than the Feminists. (Cf. any number of earlier texts.) Indeed, my own low opinion of women stems, to a very large part, from absurd Feminist behavior and how many women still identify as Feminist.

*More generally, Leftists, and especially Feminists, tend to be weak on facts, factual arguments, reasoning, whatnot—and very keen on personal attacks of various kinds.

Anger can, of course, be both harmful to the individual and lead to unclear thoughts in the moment, especially when we look at “acute anger”. However, neither does this automatically negate any arguments, nor does it necessarily apply to more long-term anger—there is a major difference between, e.g., blowing up because of an unprovoked punch in the face and having long-term negative feelings about a legal system that takes unprovoked street violence too lightly (as in many current U.S. jurisdictions in the wake of “defund the police” campaigns and the influx of AGs/DAs who are Leftist activists).

Most importantly, we have to ask whether the anger is justified. Not only is justified anger tautologically justified, and should not be a cause for criticism, but justified anger can be outright valuable when channeled correctly, because it can make the source of the anger tread more carefully or even cease his anger-causing actions.*

*On the flip side, unfortunately, the justification of anger is rarely measured, while the scope of it is. Consider e.g. the immense harm caused by and the great political influence of the entirely unjustified BLM riots—based on faulty premises, hate propaganda, racial agitation, and, I suspect, often a wish to merely wreak havoc or get a new TV. This anger should have been roundly condemned even by the Left, but, in another spectacular display of Leftist hypocrisy, was either trivialized (“mostly peaceful”) or lauded.

At the end of the day, whether someone is angry matters far less than whether someone angry is so for a legitimate reason.

To (b):

Non-Leftist anger* is very often justified. Looking at me, for instance, I have observed the Left in several countries beginning in the 1980s—and it is the same shit everywhere: lies, defamation, sloganeering, hypocrisy, unsound politics, calls for more of the politics that already failed in a counterproductive attempt to rectify that failure, restrictions on the rights of the individual, punishment of those intelligent and hardworking through high taxes, while the lazy and stupid are rewarded for being lazy and stupid, etc., etc., etc. If I am angry at the Left, or the world we live in because of the Left, I have every right and reason.

*Here I re-iterate that complications around what is truly anger and what is, e.g., merely annoyance are ignored.

This is particularly frustrating when destructive and unfair changes are combined with rhetoric and faulty claims of fairness. For instance, a staple of the Left is to demand higher taxes for well-earning groups, which is a punishment for success and will reduce the overall economic growth, with the pseudo-justification that “the rich must pay their fair [sic!] share”. This while the (true or, often, merely claimed) “rich” already pay through the nose to keep an overlarge government bureaucracy running and to finance the Leftist redistribution or, worse, vote-buying schemes.

To make matters worse, the Left often engages in deliberate provocation, be it to make life miserable for others or to later be able to point at someone angry and have his arguments ignored because of the anger. (“Not touching! Can’t get mad!”) Leftist and Feminist blogs and/or comment sections tend to be filled with such provocation,* systematic and repeated misrepresentation in an obviously deliberate manner is common,** unwarranted insults and (incorrect) speculations about motives abound,*** etc.

*See e.g. [1] for an older example. (I have avoided them like the plague for a number of years and lack new material.)

**I have, for instance, experienced situations where one of my statements is grossly misrepresented in a comment debate, I write a comment to clarify that this was a misrepresentation, and I see the misrepresentation immediately repeated. Generally, the Internet Leftists often use the methods of Internet trolls.

***For instance, I have repeatedly been accused of being a supporter of a particular party or group for saying that its members should have the right to free speech—and seen my assertion that I am a supporter of free speech laughed out of the house, because, apparently, no-one can actually be in favor of free speech, per se, only free speech for supported groups and censorship against others. (However, in many cases, as here, the border between “deliberate provocation” and “plain stupidity” can be hard to tell.)

If we look at Leftist anger, on the other hand, it is usually unreasonable and often stemming from a pre-conceived attitude of hate or “us vs. them” (especially in Marxist or Marxist-inspired groupings). A particular problem is anger based on a grossly faulty worldview, e.g. in that many lack the brains or have failed to do enough leg-work to see through many propaganda claims, say the 77-cents-on-the-dollar fraud. If women really did earn 77 cents on the dollar for equal work, yes, this might be a valid reason for anger—but they do not (cf. link). In reality, women earn as much or more as men do for equal work and any nominal difference arises through unequal work, e.g. in that men tend to work longer hours, or other unequal “inputs”, e.g. that men might use a riskier negotiation strategy. If Black men were killed by the police at the drop of a hat, even when not engaging in a crime, this would be a reason for fury—but this is not what happens, not even remotely: Black men are rarely killed by the police, the number of killings is unremarkable relative Black crime (compared to e.g. White crime and Whites being killed by the police), the likelihood of a Black men being killed by the police when not doing something criminal is negligible, and the main source of killed Black men is other Black men—by a gigantic distance. The whole “tabula rasa”/“nurture only” thing is particularly harmful: it was discredited by the 1970s, and has since seen decade after decade of further evidence accumulate against it, yet it forms a central portion of Leftist propaganda, the (official*) Leftist worldview, and the Leftist calls for anger in the 2020s.

*It is not always obvious what Leftists, especially higher-ranking ones, genuinely believe and what they merely claim to believe. The evidence against “nurture only” or for “I.Q. is important”, e.g., is so overwhelming and so well documented that large portions of the Left almost must know the truth—while merely pretending otherwise in order to keep the “useful idiots” useful.

Of course, there are many true and obviously gross injustices, which should be cause for fury and which should be so even to those who follow a strong us-vs.-them ideology, but here the Left seems entirely calm—or even approving. Take for instance various cases of “civil forfeiture” or fines-for-the-sake-of-earning-money as described in e.g. [2] or consider the many scientifically unfounded (!) and highly destructive policies used against COVID. This extends even to hate crimes and murder—consider how fast the noise died around the Waukesha massacre, or how nothing came of the genuine murder in cold blood of Ashley Babbit, while the “murder” of George Floyd had the Left frothing at the mouth and screaming for vengeance for weeks or months.

Excursion on men, women, and who wants/needs whom:
A complete analysis of this might take an entire book. In short, however, I note that my personal observations point to women wanting men (and sex, romance, whatnot) more than men want women (and sex, romance, whatnot), that this is the natural evolutionary expectation, that women, unlike men, tend to blame their romantic failures on the other sex,* and that the cost–benefit ratio of having a partner and/or getting married are decidedly more positive for women than for men in today’s world. Then we have many a “lady” that doth protest too much, e.g. by claims like “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”.

*To take just two examples: A crazy young woman calling men immature because men grew less interested in marriage when they grew older. (Used to be present as [3]. Proofreading, I see that the link just redirects elsewhere right now.) Unrealistic expectations on what men must be in order to be “worthy”, as exemplified by Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding out for a Hero”.

Chances are that what goes on in the head of many Feminists is, in only a slight caricature, “I want to hurt and denigrate that bastard for not agreeing with me. What is the worst failure of my life? What has hurt me the most? I cannot get a man. Ergo, I will accuse him of not being able to get a woman—and that will make him curl up and weep in front of the TV with a pint of ice-cream. Mission accomplished!”.


Written by michaeleriksson

October 5, 2022 at 11:24 pm

Follow-up III: More on my current situation (and complaints about politicians)

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Early in the morning, I went grocery shopping—to find that my bank card did not work. (Fortunately, I had enough cash with me.)

Later in the day, my smartphone, used for my Internet connection, suddenly decided to spontaneously turn on WIFI and try to connect to a commercial WIFI network that I have not used in more than a year. This, of course, did not work, leaving my computer without an Internet connection; equally of course, the source of the problem was not obvious and I wasted minutes troubleshooting on my computer* before I concluded that something must be wrong with the smartphone and/or its connection.

*Which has been prone to lose the connection. (Otherwise, I might have been more suspicious of the smartphone earlier.) Both my old and my new computer tend-ed/-s to interpret a minuscule movement of the USB-connector as “someone has just pulled the plug and immediately re-inserted it”, with an ensuing loss/restart/whatnot of whatever service is involved.

After I turned off the WIFI bullshit, I found the USB-tethering interrupted and failing to automatically reconnect (which it should have done). Only after I physically detached and re-attached the USB cable did the tethering work again.

Nevertheless, on the whole, it felt like a good day, for some reason. I did not dare attack my mail, obviously, but spent a few hours watching old episodes of “Chuck”. The sun was, by the standards of February, shining, and it felt like spring. For the first time in several weeks (!), I found myself spontaneously smiling—and I realized that I had even forgotten the feeling of a spontaneous smile. I felt that everything would be alright, after all, that I was far enough in my recuperation from the construction noise and other problems that I would soon be OK.

I was very tired, as my sleep pattern was out of order, and I went to sleep sometime between 13 and 14 o’clock.

At around 14:30 I was torn out of my sleep by … construction noise.

It only lasted for around an hour this time around, but this was still enough to thoroughly ruin my sleep, my day, and my hopes, because now I do not know what will come next. This might have been a one time event, it might have been a once-every-two-weeks-event, or it might have been the renewed beginning of daily terror.

I managed to go to sleep again a few hours later—only to be awakened again by some type of ruckus from an idiot neighbor.

This is the worse as an involuntary awakening not only risks a further sleep disturbance, but also leaves the body in a very different state from a “natural” awakening, with a degree of tiredness and lack of energy that makes any type of intellectual activity (often even non-intellectual activities) harder or even, especially with an existing sleep deficit, impossible for hours afterwards.

Looking at just sleep, I realize that there can be no guarantees in the daytime. But: in this house, there are no guarantees at any time of day or night. The spans between midnight and 02 respectively 06 and 07 are particularly likely to see disturbances during the last few months. Note well: These are disturbances with a non-trivial likelihood* of waking a sleeper in another apartment (!) who wears ear plugs (!).

*I do not know what proportion of these disturbances have ruined my sleep, as I have not always been troubled when asleep at these respective times (if so, because I slept through a disturbance or because there was none?), but it is often enough. I have certainly often had stretches of consecutive days when I have not been able to sleep past 06-something-or-other because of some ruckus somewhere in the house.

Written by michaeleriksson

February 22, 2022 at 9:32 pm

Follow-up II: More on my current situation (and complaints about politicians)

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Concerning my previous text:

I have managed to print again through the pseudo-solution of removing and re-adding the printer object in “system-config-printer”. I have no idea what was wrong or how to fix it again without repeating the same pseudo-solution. I have no idea what might or might not cause the issue to re-occur, e.g. whether it will be with every printing, every unplugging of the printer, every reboot of the computer, whatnot. I do know that CUPS, or something CUPS related, has screwed up royally, as there was no valid reason for not printing (let alone pretending that printing had taken place)—the physical printer (and everything around it) was identical and identically configured before and after the re-add.

Of course, such a re-adding more than once-in-a-blue-moon would be unconscionable, as various manual settings now must be restored. Indeed, the document that I just printed was an A4 document destined for the A4 paper in the printer’s paper tray—but the default setting of the printer object in CUPS was the U.S. “letter”*, leaving me with odd margins and the spurious feed of a blank page after the two printed pages. I just hope that the config files that I backed up contain everything—and that re-adding them does not cause another malfunction. Actually having to go through the 1001 settings manually is not something that I wish to do again.

*I suspect that A4 dominates “letter” outside of the U.S. making this an odd default choice.

More generally, the delete-and-add-again, reboot-the-computer, reinstall-the-OS, whatnot school of “fixing” problems is a destructive dead-end, a sign that the “fixer” is not up to the problem. When it comes to professional IT-support, as with Chris O’Dowd’s mantra of “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”, it is an utter disgrace. In these cases, a true fix of the problem is avoided for the short-term convenience of the support—and often in a manner that indicates that the support worker knows too little about the topic at hand. (Indeed, my own knowledge of CUPS is far more superficial than my knowledge of, say, Vim and Bash.) The complete ignorance and the mania with rebooting, even among many Linux users volunteering as “experts” on stackexchange, can be disturbing. For instance, it is fairly common to see “advice” like “Add kernel module X to /etc/modules-load.d*. Reboot. If everything works, carry on. Else boot into rescue mood and remove module X again.”, where it should be basic knowledge that something like “Do modprobe X. If everything works, add X to /etc/modules-load.d* so that it will be automatically added again in two months time, when you next reboot. If not, do modprobe -r X.” is far better.

*Reservations for the exact directory. It has been a while.

Written by michaeleriksson

February 22, 2022 at 3:53 am

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Follow-up: More on my current situation (and complaints about politicians)

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Unfortunately, the problems continue and continue to block me, bring me to the point of fury, and whatnot. For instance, in dealing with my overdue (snail) mail, I naturally want to print. I have already set up printing for my new notebook—indeed, I did so well in advance so that I would not have to tackle any printer problems once I actually needed to print something. At that time, a few weeks ago, both a “print test page” from within “system-config-printer” and a manual test print with “lpr” worked perfectly.

Today, I tried to print a letter for the first time and … nothing works. Specifically, the print jobs appear in the queue, stay around for a very short time, and then disappear from the queue—without anything actually being printed. There is no error message anywhere with normal CUPS-logging; and even with logging set to “debug” nothing obviously helpful appears. On the contrary, every step mentioned is claimed as successful.

The Internet is not helpful either (so far), with most promising hits leading to someone asking a question about a similar problem but receiving no answers, a “please turn on JavaScript” page, a “too many requests” page, or similar.* Notably, the ill-conceived and does-more-harm-than-good stackexchange-network refuses to show any pages on approximately half my visits, which is horrifying in light of its near-monopoly on questions and answers. (Of course, this type of single-point of failure is yet another reason why stackexchange is a bad thing.)

*Note that I use TOR for most browsing, which could make the situation worse. However, until somewhat recently things usually worked. At some point in the last few months, these problems have exploded.

I have not dug down in detail, e.g. with “strace”, yet, but I suspect that the many indirections (for want of a better word) that CUPS has will make even that tricky—and I note that these indirections make for an over-complicated and unnecessarily error prone system for most single-user, one-computer-with-one-printer systems. I will not go as far as to call it a flawed design, as many systems have more complicated needs and there is a cost to maintaining several different printing setups. However, there are times when I really do wish that I could just pump a PostScript file into a device (in the “/dev” sense) and see printing without any middle-men.* (Maybe I can, somehow, but it is a well-hidden secret, if so.)

*Here we have a bigger problem than CUPS involved: The year is 2022 and it should be an obvious requirement that any and all printers support one of the standardized languages, notably PostScript and PCL. and/or otherwise provide a standardized interface. Instead, they continue to brew their own proprietary solutions. More generally, this attitude abounds in the hardware world. By all means, if something is not covered by a standard, a proprietary extension to allow additional functionality is fine, maybe even good, but any modern hardware should work out-of-the-box and with generic drivers for at least the basic functionality. This appears to still be very far from the case.

A similar problem happened with a tool with a simpler-but-more-clearly-flawed architecture: I use “udisksctl power-off” to ensure that occasionally used external hard drives (e.g. for backups) are safely powered down before they are detached. I set this up a few weeks ago and it worked like a charm. After a reboot, it failed to work. (I suspect, due to a not-yet-running dbus.) Interestingly, there does not seem to be any direct means of causing the same action. Instead, udisksctl goes onto the dbus, sends a message to a daemon and the daemon then powers-off the hard drive. That this is possible might be good, but why is there no direct access? A good developer would have provided a tool with the ability to directly do everything that udisksctl and/or the daemon can do in one step—if in doubt, because this would make the life for testers, debuggers, administrators, whatnot easier. This tool might be restricted to root or some other user/group of an administrative or ad-hoc character, but that is not a problem. Then write a daemon with similar capabilities/with the same API calls (or even a daemon that calls the hypothetical tool directly to ensure consistency*); then write a tool like “udisksctl” to handle per-dbus access for regular users.

*Disclaimer: Based on first principles, I suspect that this approach will often be superior to programming directly against an API; however, I have never tested the approach in real life and there might be complications that I have not considered. (Some overhead during runtime might obviously be present, but will usually not matter on a modern computer and/or with a great many tasks.)

As an aside, I very strongly suspect that use of dbus and similar mechanisms poses a greater security threat than suid programs do—and then it might be better to use the hypothetical tool above, with suid set, as the sole point of access. Certainly, it is far easier to understand who can do what with that approach–and, indeed, dbus-solutions often work on assumptions that are unnecessarily lax, that almost everyone should be able to do almost everything., which I strongly disagree with. Interestingly, when I have looked into the possibility of getting rid of dbus, the answers seem to fall into two categories: 1) “I did it, but it took days of work.” and 2) “It simply cannot or must not be done, because without dbus regular users will not be able to do X.”, where X is something that I never do, either at all or as a regular user.

More generally, many in the dbus/sudo/pkexec/whatnot camps seem to simultaneously reason that “You must never, ever, under any circumstances log in as root, because root can do anything and your system might become compromised.” and “We need dbus/sudo/pkexec so that any user can do [what amounts to everything that root can do].”—and they do not seem to see the problem with that reasoning. Looking at the above, do I really want a regular user (account) to be able to power off hard drives? Only under the assumption that the physical user behind the account is some type of administrator or other highly trusted individual. But, if so, it would be better to have him login within an administrator account or, on the outside, make him a member of a restricted group with this right.

Generally, there seems to be a strong drive to use dbus or some other client–daemon setup as a default solution, even when it is not really needed and where a single-tool solution would often be superior. Separation of concerns is a good thing, but, outside of enterprise solutions and areas where complications like networking play in, separation by means of e.g. a clean API is usually a better road than separation through e.g. client–daemon. “Let’s see. I want to write a ‘Hello, World!’ program. Hmm … I write one component that the user can call. This component sends a message by dbus. Then I have another component to serve as a daemon. It reads from dbus and outputs the text. Neat. Or … maybe I should have third component, so that the second only determines what string to print and the third does the actually printing? Oops, I cannot pawn off a mere command-line tool on my users. I’ll write a KDE application instead.”

Oddly, there seems to be much inconsistent thinking. On the one hand, when it comes to security, very many seem to work on the basis that every individual system has exactly one physical user—so why should we care about access controls? (Incidentally ignoring some arguments like lowering the attack surface and avoiding privilege escalation that apply even when there is only one physical user.) On the other hand, compare above, when it comes to tools like CUPS, very many seem to reason that the standard case is far more complicated—resulting in software that is often overkill, a top-of-the-line tractor to move a wheel-barrow’s capacity of dirt from one side of the yard to the other. (A wheel-barrow is certainly not to be underestimated.)

In a bigger picture, looking at my overall situation, it is the sheer amount of things going wrong that is problematic—and of which I have mentioned just a fraction. A great number of these fall into the category (as with e.g. CUPS above) of “should work as is, but for some f-ing reason does not”. To give an illustrative example: After my ANC-headphone issues (cf. earlier texts), I went through what various other headphones and whatnots I have available. While there were surprisingly many (at least six regular headphones, at least two “earphones”, and at least one “in-ear” set) they were not very helpful. What I really wanted to try was the in-ears, but I simply cannot find them. (They are included in the count on the basis that I know that they are somewhere in the apartment.) Earphones are fairly useless; and of the regular headphones only one set is really good (Sennheiser HD 598).* Unfortunately, these have a 6.35 (?) mm plug, while my notebook needs 3.5 mm. A search also found one adapter, but this low-quality product drove me up the wall—unless the headphone-plug and the adapter were aligned exactly correctly, the sound went monaural. That is, unless it turned into nothing or spontaneously alternated between states every few seconds. Of course, aligning it perfectly bought be very little time, because even a slight movement caused the perfect alignment to cease. Tired of this shit, I disassembled the adapter and rigged it manually. This works well—most of the time.** Usually, I get hours of sound without any issue, but maybe once a day, the sound goes and I have to re-rig it. Of course, this usually happens just when I have something ready to eat in front of a movie, which causes both the meal and the movie to be delayed. Worse, the re-rigging does not usually take on the first attempt, forcing some experimentation and repetitions.***

*I also have a good pair from Beyer, but the plug has been bent over the years and I want to avoid the risk of it breaking off inside my notebook.

**Follow my example strictly at your own risk.

***Chances are that I could find a better solutions, with no need to re-rig at all; however, when it works I have no thought on the matter and when it does not work, well, in my typical mood over the last few weeks, it is safer that I wait.

Written by michaeleriksson

February 21, 2022 at 10:08 pm

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More on my current situation (and complaints about politicians)

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Apart from a few hours on the 11th, there has been no construction works for some time. I am still bordering on being a wreck, however, between the accumulated damage from construction noise, countless other issues, and, of course, frustration with the anti-scientific, anti-democratic, anti-civic-rights, and anti-individual political climate that manifests again and again. Only over the last week or so have I moved away from having bouts of anger, sometimes to the point of shouting out loud, on a near daily basis.

Do not even try to tell me that COVID would be a problem in comparison.

To illustrate how viciously such prolonged* stress can damage someone: Yesterday, I read that Germany was finally caving and beginning to lift its destructive and scientifically unfounded restrictions of various kinds. This with the likely additional implication (knock on wood; there was no explicit mention) that the threatened forced vaccinations would be off the table for the time being. Truly good news! This is something that should have put a smile on my face and made my day. What happens instead? Within five minutes I am in fury over the situation until now, having to restrain myself from shouting out loud that Merkel should be thrown in jail and have her Ph.D. revoked.

*Note e.g. that the COVID situation has been going for close to two years and that the construction noise has, in bouts, covered more than an accumulated year of my total stay in this apartment. Also note that the COVID situation often has blocked escapes and “rest and relaxation” that would have been open to me during other times. Also see excursion on built-up tension.

It is that bad.

Indeed, I have begun to avoid some news sources, even when valuable, because the contents are too frustrating and slow the restoration of my own normalcy. Indeed, I have hardly written a word for my books since December, because I have not been able to gather the energy. (Blogging is easier.) Indeed, I have over a dozen unopened and unanswered letters lying around, the oldest from October—first because I wanted to wait until the construction works ended (but they went on forever), later because I feared that too bad news before I had reached some normalcy would cause me to snap to the point of, say, throwing my notebook at the wall. (But, no, that is not what happened to the old one.)

These letters include sources like my bank and various government agencies, notably the German IRS—exactly the type of letters that it can be harmful to neglect. Still, I have simply not dared the attempt.

Beginning today, I am going to (try to) take a few a day (with reservations for what happens). The two that I opened today were perfectly harmless, but my pulse was still raising due to sheer nervousness—what if this is some really bad news and my progress over the last week is ruined?* (Not to mention whatever the bad news might involve more directly.)

*I realize, of course, that most letters do not bring bad news—some might even bring good news. Maybe, they will all turn out to be harmless. Still, the risk is there, and, at least in Germany and at least where banks and the government is concerned, the risk is not trivial. Moreover, there might well be some item that has only grown to be a problem due to the delays.

Excursion on built-up tension, etc.:
As an extension to an earlier text, I note that any fit of anger leaves me more prone to have another fit of anger in the course of the same or even the next day. When there is no time to, to use the metaphor from that text, empty the basin, the risk of further fits increases, and when the stress is constant over weeks or months, e.g. through construction noise, it is a disaster. Positive events leave me almost untouched; negative ones, even minor, cause the basin to overflow. (Cf. above.)

Excursion on forced vaccinations:
A few weeks ago, I read a German article that loudly proclaimed that no-one would ever be forced to take a vaccine. (Bodily self-determination, and all that—we are not Nazis after all and any longer.) No, to speak of forced vaccinations would be horribly unfair towards the poor politicians, because no-one would ever be held down with violence while some physician stabbed him with a needle. No, all that would happen would be fines—honest. Well, from what has been suggested so far, and looking e.g. at Austria, these fines might have been very large, highly damaging to most and preventative to many. If that is not enough, barbaric German laws still allow for various forms of imprisonment for not paying government-proclaimed debts and whatnots to the government. An enforcement with bodily force would not be much worse, would at least be honest, and would expose the government to a greater resistance from the population. (The latter likely being the true reason for why bodily force is avoided.)

Excursion on the need for a reckoning (and Merkel et al):
In the last few weeks it appears (again, knock on wood) that the public opinion has finally turned enough that politicians begin to cave and (whether a separate event or not) journalists and government agencies appear to finally begin to report the actual science, instead of their own panic-mongering pseudo-science. This is not enough. To prevent repetitions, we need a reckoning, we need countermeasures, we need consequences for the main perpetrators—and, above all, we need the broad masses to understand how very thin the protection against another Communist or Nazi dictatorship or an Orwellian dystopia actually is. Among measures, we need more political transparency, “evidence based” politics, and a ban on politicians dictating to the people what the people should believe. (A complete discussion might take hundreds of pages.)

As to consequences for the main perpetrators: Above, I speak of wanting to shout that “Merkel should be thrown in jail and have her Ph.D. revoked”. While this, of course, was not a reasoned opinion but a “heat of the moment” thought, there is more than a little to it—and many others, including Biden, Fauci, Macron, and Trudeau, should be prosecuted.* Even if they are subsequently acquitted, this will set a warning to future leaders to tread more carefully; if they are convicted, the more so.

*Speaking from an abstract ethical point of view. Whether the current laws in their respective jurisdiction allows this is another matter.

Merkel has been a particular disappointment (for the umpteenth time!): Unlike many of the others, who have a comparatively weak education, say a bullshit bachelor and a J.D. for most U.S. politicians, she has a STEM Ph.D., she has research qualifications, and she has worked as a scientist. Nevertheless, her behavior has ranged from the un- to the anti-scientific. She has betrayed science, just like she already had betrayed the traditional values of her party (Christian Conservatives) to form repeated coalitions with the Social-Democrat archenemy and often seemed more Left than “Right”, herself. She might no longer be the chancellor, but she had done a tremendous amount of damage to Germany and her party even before COVID arrived. During the COVID-era, she has been a disgrace. Indeed, Merkel embodies the type of politician that I so loathe—and the reason that I once was a fan is that I assumed that her scientific background would make her the opposite of what she turned out to be.

Written by michaeleriksson

February 18, 2022 at 7:55 am

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A few thoughts on stimuli and emotions

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Watching a horror piece*, a few similar phenomena with, I suspect, a common explanation are brought to my mind.

*The “Black Mirror’ episode “Playtest”.

Specifically, I* often experience a build-up of emotions, emotional reactions, and whatnot, where a (for want of a better word) stimulus initially has little impact, but eventually becomes something major. This would be well explained by assuming that certain (again, for want of a better word) channels of the mind, likely with a physiological** background, are continually drained by some mechanism, much like the drain in a basin. When a small stimulus is present, the equivalent of a slightly opened faucet, then the basin remains more-or-less empty, because the drain swallows the water almost immediately. When the faucet is opened wider, the basin will have some water in it, but the amount will be more-or-less fixed***, because the drain still swallows it all, at roughly the same rate as it enters, but there might be some time before any given water particle is swallowed. When the faucet is opened wider yet, the drain will eventually not swallow the water at a sufficient rate and the amount of water will increase until the basin overflows (unless a secondary drain comes to the rescue, as is the case with most modern basins, but not necessarily the human mind).

*I suspect most others too, but I can only actually speak for myself.

**The exact nature is beyond my speculation as my knowledge of e.g. brain physiology has never moved beyond the informed layman’s and my latest readings are a good many years behind me. I do note, however, that some set of this-and-that receptors, re-uptake, etc. would make a decent fit.

***I.e. we still have an equilibrium, or something close to it.

Consider e.g.:

  1. Watching a (scary, non-laughable, non-splatter) horror movie and how the tension and anxiety, even fear, felt increases until the viewer wishes to take a break or otherwise relieve the tension (also cf. below)—and how a short break can make watching a few more minutes that much easier, until the tension has built to the critical level again. This, while a longer interruption, e.g. to write a discussion relating to horror movies,* can lead to a much greater respite before the tension becomes critical again. Of course, in all three cases (continued watching, short break, long break) the actual movie remains the same.

    *However, the aforementioned “Playtest” is not that bad. The situation of the protagonist, in universe, is repeatedly truly horrifying even by a horror-movie standards, but the viewer has it easier than with many other works, as there is a fair amount of comic relief and relief through threats that turn out to be harmless, and at least some of the episode is less horror and more “meta-horror” and the usual “Black Mirror” investigations into consequences of technology. Besides, this is a second watching. (Now, “Alien” or “The Blair Witch Project” on a first watching …)

    Similarly, the increasing fear that I have experienced during prolonged times close to potential falls. I am afraid of heights, but usually in a controllable manner. However, I can e.g. recall how I once was in a museum looking down on a few very large statues from several floors up for, possibly, ten minutes. By the end, the originally weak fear had risen so close to a panic that I had to move away, unable to take the anxiety any longer.

  2. The increasing mirth when watching a good sit-com, where the first joke or humorous situation might bring a smile or a giggle, while similarly funny portions bring a stronger and stronger reaction, until the point of major laughter is reached. Here too, on rare occasions, I can wish for an outright break, e.g. by putting an episode on pause for a little while. This in part because any further jokes might prolong the laughter and the positive feeling, but not* make it stronger, implying that it is better to take a break, to let the metaphorical water level sink a bit, and only then continue for a new build-up; in part, because it becomes hard to simultaneously laugh and pay attention to what happens on the screen.

    *Or, if it could, possibly to a degree where the situation, literally, became unhealthy.

  3. The increasing annoyance caused by a continuing disturbance, which goes from a triviality* to a horror as it continues, on and on and on and on. In my case, with sufficiently long disturbances, they can even cause rage. Compatible with the metaphor, I have also found that anger surfaces much more rapidly on days when I have already been angry, often through such a disturbance, e.g. in that I have a first understandable anger because someone has ruined my sleep by raising hell at 6:30 in the morning** and that I have a second anger over something much more trivial later in the morning, e.g. because I prepped my coffee maker before showering, but forgot to turn it on. (Something, which would normally just give me a brief moment of disappointment.)

    *After it first enters the realm of awareness. The pre-awareness time is probably usually fairly short, but it might involve some other mechanism than the “faucet and drain”.

    **Unfortunately, not a fictitious example. This has happened quite often the last few weeks, complemented by several past-midnight incidents and quite a lot of odd stomping, hammering, and whatnot during the days. That the anger, understandably, grows worse with every occurrence is probably yet another mechanism. (Yes, I try to apply stoic principles, but it is not that easy in the moment.)

It seems likely to me that the channels are not entirely separate and/or that the conscious mind can be distracted from one channel to another. Consider e.g. comic relief* in the case of a horror movie—a sudden joke will not only reduce the anxiety from the scary parts, it will also typically have a much stronger humorous effect than the same joke would have in a less stressful situation. (The phenomenon of “nervous laughter” is likely related.) Or consider the rare works of fiction that manage to hit a spot where the viewer/reader/whatnot is simultaneously laughing and crying**: I hardly ever experience it, but it is an immense feeling on those rare occasions.

*Disclaimer: It is possible that I slightly misuse the term here, but my meaning should be clear.

**Due to a very sad (or very happy) situation—not because the laughter has grown strong enough to cause tears in its own right.

More speculatively, I could see a connection with mood swings. For instance, I have the subjective impression that I am more prone to a strong negative reaction when I am on a (positive) emotional high, e.g. after having watched a particularly funny sit-com. Say that I hit my elbow on something: when I am in a neutral mood, my reaction tends to be an equally neutral “that was painful”, but when I am in a strongly negative or positive mood, the reaction is likely to be in the fuck-this-piece-of-a-shit-of-an-object direction.

Looking at autism*, just assuming that autists/aspies/whatnot have a smaller drain (or a smaller basin) would go a long way to explain many differences in behaviors and preferences relative NTs, in that they are, in reality, not that different, but happen to be triggered by a different level of stimulus, be it through a difference in magnitude or duration. Even the likely most stereotypical** behavior, flapping, appears to be more a matter of exceeding some level of excitement or anxiety than anything specifically autistic. For instance, some type of flapping is regularly used in animes*** to indicate exactly extreme excitement—but not autism. On the contrary, it seems much more common in everyday outgoing high-school girls than in even introverted high-school boys. (The boys, those hentai-kuns, appear to be more prone to nose-bleeds, however.)

*I am a suspected aspie.

**Possibly unfairly: I have no recollection of flapping myself and have only very, very rarely seen another suspected non-NT flap (and I worked for two decades in the software industry).

***It might, conceivably, be a trait shared by autists and the Japanese, but that seems less likely.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 19, 2020 at 8:39 pm

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