Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Can your brain tell time? 

Before I get to the main topic, take a look in my sidebar; I've got a neat new calendar doodad, complete with a coffee monster that looks kinda like Nessie (there's a whole loop of action it goes through, so if it already has Nessie showing when you check it out wait a few seconds and it'll re-start)... and no, I don't know what the stuff in Japanese that comes up when you click where it tells you to means. This was a simple enough addition to make, but it still took a fair chunk of time because that inexplicable wide strip of orange along the bottom of the calendar bothered me enough to make me try to find a way to crop it off; Flash images scale themselves to whatever size table, frame or whatever you try to put them into, it turns out, and, although a programmer would probably know a way to fix it, I was thwarted. For now it's not that big of a deal, but if I'm still bugged by it once the novelty of the doodad wears off I might yank it; time will tell.

Oh, and I've got a couple of eBay anecdotes, too: I got a shirt in the mail today that was folded up so small and tight that it was literally in a sandwich bag, and I feared that major ironing was in my future (and I don't really know how to iron), but I shook it out and it was totally wrinkle-free... it's a vintage shirt of old-style polyester that you CAN'T wrinkle, what a relief!! The other amazing thing was when I opened a package the contents of which were immediately identifiable as an elegant high-end business shirt, black with a little bit of a pattern, and dumped it out only to find that TWO items had been in the envelope, both of the same material. My 1st thought was that the seller had made a mistake and sent me 2 of the same shirt, but upon unfolding them both I discovered, to my puzzlement, that one of them was SLACKS. A note from the seller fell out of them, and said that since the slacks matched the shirt, and she hadn't been able to sell them, she'd included them as a GIFT. I was really excited... until I saw the tag on the slacks, which said they were a size 6, which I might be able to wedge myself into if I wanted to do a tight jeans thing but was a disaster with slacks. Or was it? These were designer slacks, and had that poofy hip thing, so... was it possible? I hurriedly tried them on; perfect fit!! HOORAY!! I put the shirt on too, and, because of the lightweight material and the little pattern it sorta looked like pajamas; if I wear the shirt open, though, with a solid shirt underneath, voila, I've got a pantsuit, a NICE one, that I could wear anywhere but the most conservative offices, plus I can wear the pieces separately for a more standard (non-geek) office.

Here's the BIG thing about this: Both of these items are new with all their tags, which show them as having come from one of those stores that takes leftovers from nicer department stores and sells them at a discount, and the prices they were sold at were, brace yourself, $64 for the shirt and $74 for the slacks, so imagine what they must have originally sold for... and all I paid, even with shipping, was $16.84!! :-)

Hmmmm, my supposedly main topic's gonna look puny after that long "preamble," lol... oh well. Last night, I was having a dream in which I was looking at an eBay auction for a shirt (surprise surprise); there were a bunch of measurements and other #'s I couldn't quite identify all in a block of text, and then there was what I assumed was a price, "4.04," just like that without the dollar sign, and as I tried to figure out if it was the starting bid, the shipping, or what, it kept getting bigger, as if to make the point that it was important and I needed to figure it out... and then I woke up. I glanced at the digital clock; it was 4:04. I thought I was still half-asleep, and having one of my lingering-dream overlaps of computer screens and clocks, but no amount of eye-blinking and head shaking changed anything; it was 4:04AM.


How did I KNOW?!! There are no grandfather or cuckoo clocks in my home bonging/tweeting at the top of the hour to have given my subconscious mind a hint that 4AM had just passed, and I'd been asleep for hours at that point, so it's not as if my brain was just adding a few minutes to the last time I'd seen; is this a psychic thing, or is my brain keeping unbelievably accurate time, even when I'm sleeping?

Needless to say, we did NOT evolve to tell time in terms more exact than sunrise, just after sunrise, morning, etc, so it doesn't seem possible for the human brain to keep track of time accurate to the minute without conscious effort like counting the seconds (1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi... did you ever wonder what people in other countries who've never heard of that state use for this?), but... I've got a long history of waking up a few minutes before my alarm goes off, even when my schedule varies wildly and my wakeup time is all over the map, and also go through phases where I'll wake up at the exact same time every night no matter when I went to bed, not for any particular reason, just waking up, seeing the time, and going back to sleep, and this tells me that something purposeful is going on-it can't all be coincidence. I'm one of these folks that's almost psycho about keeping track of the time, and I look at a clock or my watch constantly; could this have trained my brain to keep unusually close tabs on the time? CAN the organic brain do that kind of time-keeping... what would it base the passing of X # of seconds or minutes on, without a swinging pendulum or vibrating quartz crystal to help it? Can it tap into something in the very fabric of karma that's tied into the flow of time? I don't expect to know anytime soon, but it's an interesting line of thought...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Are women really naturally less sexually aggressive? 

Men are instinctive sexual pursuers, yes, as their genes push them to have sex with as many women as possible, and thus to spread their seed as widely as possible, which is their best chance of passing on their DNA. And yes, women's genes tell them to not rush into wanton sex, but to check out all the available males and pick the fittest ones to have sex with, because those men will give them the fittest children and provide the best for them, giving THEIR DNA the best chance of being passed on. The problem with those biological drives is that in the modern world they're thwarted by clothing that covers the body parts that're meant to be sexual signals, and by the bathing and deodorizing that eliminates the natural odors we respond to, making it necessary for us to use actions or words to indicate the desire for sexual contact. My question is; does the societal "norm" of men always asking for it and women usually saying "no" represent each gender's natural level of sexual aggressiveness or just the idea that a woman should show herself to be "pure" in order to make a man certain that he won't be raising another man's children should she become pregnant? There are still debates raging as to whether or not women feel sexual desire as strongly or as often as men, but let's sidestep those unprovable issues and focus instead on the concept of the behavior of modern men and women under circumstances where they'd feel equally free to show sexual interest; do women show LESS assertiveness than men about trying to get their hands on the ones they want?

What brought this to mind was a music video that showed a very common thing; a bunch of girls getting onto the stage and flinging themselves onto the band members, in some cases so many girls per guy that the latter were no longer visible except maybe for the tops of their heads, or even got dragged down to the ground. Before you say "so what?" ask yourself this; have you ever seen a FEMALE performer get mobbed and clutched at onstage by a bunch of GUYS? No. Have you ever wondered WHY? It's not like guys can't get onto the stage; they're bigger and stronger than girls, so they'd have an EASIER time of it if they wanted to try. Can you even IMAGINE a bunch of guys jumping onstage and group-groping a female performer? No? Does this disparity make it seem like women are LESS sexually aggressive than men?

You might argue that those girls aren't trying to have sex there on stage, and, although they ARE climbing on those guys because they're attracted to them, you'd have a point; as someone who spent a reasonable amount of time backstage and hanging out with musicians, however, I can assure you that, given the chance to approach without the threat of being dragged away by a roadie, girls line up to wrap themselves around the performers in the least subtle ways imaginable... and the equivalent thing does NOT happen to female performers from their male fans... so WHO is more sexually aggressive?

I myself, in my rocker chick days in the 80's, wouldn't hesitate to get inside a musician's jacket with him, put a hand in his shirt and fluff his chest hair, or fondle his butt right out on the Sunset Strip or in a club... and, although they'd have the expected male physical response to this, they'd be FAR less bold in return, even with girls who were doing more extreme things to them than *I* was willing to do in public in front of my friends. Looking back, it's amazing to realize that very young women, teenagers even, were more aggressive than much older and more sexually experienced men, but that's the way it was... and most likely still is, since women in general are far more open and forceful in their sexual pursuit nowadays than they were back then.

I've even read that younger women are getting SO aggressive that men are being intimidated into impotence and falling back on Viagra at ages when you'd expect them to be, er, granite-like at the slightest provocation; I think the idea of women being less sexually aggressive will one day go the way of the old myth that women don't enjoy sex.

This topic brought back a memory of one time when I WAS pretty thoroughly groped out in public by a man; he wasn't a musician, though, he was a drag queen, although out of drag at the time. No, really, lol. I snuck up behind him and covered his eyes; he could have gotten away easily, but like most people he wanted to guess at whose hands those were instead. He tried to persuade me to talk, but he knew me well enough to recognize my voice, so I gently shook his head in refusal. He attempted to get his boyfriend to give him a clue as to my identity, but I shook my head at him, so he nodded to me, grinning, and declined to help out. Thinking he was clever, my victim started trying to figure out who I was by feeling around behind him... which would have worked really well with quite a few of the men he knew, as he was young, hot and active. He groped my groin, but failed to make the connection between the lack of, um, protrusions and my not being male, as he assumed I was another drag queen and had male parts tucked away; it's hard to say who was more amused at that point, his boyfriend or my husband... I stood my ground without flinching, although I rolled my eyes dramatically. The moment of truth came when he grabbed one of my boobs, braless under a thin t-shirt, leapt away with a shriek of "Oh my God, that's a REAL breast!!" and spun around to confront me; I, and all the observers, were laughing uproariously as he gaped at me in shock. "I can't believe you let me DO that!!" he squawked; I replied, "Hey, that was probably my last chance to get felt up by a hot 25 year old." "I can't believe I touched a TIT" he marveled, looking at his hand as if he expected it to have been marked by the experience; "Yeah, and then some" I reminded him... he looked vaguely faint. My final volley was, "That's probably the freakiest 'sexual' thing you ever did, huh?"; he had to laugh and agree... and then made the point that it'd be the ONLY such incident EVER in his life.

Kinda cool in a way, don't you think? ;-)

Friday, February 24, 2006

And now, an Omniverse news report 

Here are the top stories in the Omni household:

3) The shirt replacement project that I posted about on 2-16-06 is proceeding at breakneck speed; as of when I'm writing this, I've won auctions for ***25*** shirts and sweaters, with more auctions still to go. I actually counted them today, and nearly fainted when I saw just how many I'd gotten; most people in the world don't have that many shirts TOTAL, and I'm just getting these to replace the ones I tossed out, and to have some nicer stuff available should a non-geek occasion arise that I had to dress for... YIKES!! In my defense, these shirts and sweaters cover warm, cold and in-between weather, nice-office and dressy, a couple of things to wear in case I go to a concert or club, and then a couple of casual ones that I spotted in my searches, and... and it's still ALOT, I know. I've been getting smokin' bargains, at least, and my husband, to his everlasting credit, agrees completely that I need to have an adult wardrobe that'll allow me to dress for any occasion short of a ball or other really formal event, so... I really need to wrap this up and move onto the next project; pants other than jeans. And I will. Soon. Really.

2) Bad news; we haven't seen any of our little possum friends for WEEKS now. First the little female vanished, then the alpha male became very sporadic and then stopped coming, then the gamma male didn't show up for a while, reappeared one night with alot of his fur ripped out, and then disappeared for good, and finally the beta male, who for a couple of weeks was the only one left, stopped coming too. We have no idea what happened to them; are they hibernating? Have they been trapped and relocated, even though they're shy and inoffensive creatures who, unlike the other critters targeted for removal, don't dig up the landscaping (ground squirrels), stink (skunks), or scare little kids (coyotes)? Or, are they


maybe being scared away by an aggressive dog that's moved in near wherever it is they'd been sleeping? Whatever it is, we're VERY sad to not see them any more, and keep hoping that at least some of them will return, particularly the alpha male, who was our 1st possum and our favorite.

Wild animals will break your heart; it's not a safe world for them, and you're helpless to protect them. Still, I love them passionately, so there'll always be some food and water out there ready for whoever comes to visit.

1) My mother called last night to make sure she still has a ride for her 2nd chemo session, which will be for 5 hours (!!!) on Monday. During this call, she announced that her tumor, which had grown to about 6 cm (!!!) before the 1st chemo session, has, unbelievably, SHRUNK TO 2 CM!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm not a doctor, but I've read a zillion cancer-related articles in my life, and I've never heard of anything that could reduce a tumor by 4 cm after ONE treatment... what the heck are they dosing her with?!! I DID ask her, and of course she doesn't know, sigh; I'm going to prod her to get some sort of printout from them describing what they're giving her, so I can look it up, and of course I'll post it here so that any readers with loved ones with breast cancer (or maybe other cancers, I don't know how specific this stuff is) will have something to suggest they ask their doctors about.

When she told me a few weeks ago that the oncologist had said that the chemo might totally eliminate the tumor, I thought he was giving her false hope, especially given the size and aggressiveness of it, but it seems totally possible now; at the very least, she should be able to have MUCH less radical surgery to remove it than the partial mastectomy and skin graft they would have needed to remove such a big tumor in that particular spot (a couple of inches below her collarbone, where there's not much spare flesh) had the chemo not worked. The cautionary note is that the tumor could become resistant to the chemo at any time, and not only stop shrinking but start growing again... and it's always possible that the chemo will become too much for her heart, or mess up the white cell or platelet counts in her blood too much, or that she'll develop an allergy to it (she saw that happen to a man who was being treated at the same time as she was, which really made her nervous); still, we're optimistic.

Never a dull moment...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The karma of lying 

A 3rd consecutive spiritual post-HOORAY!! It's either feast or famine with spiritual insights; I hesitate to bog you down with too much consecutive karmic commentary (nifty alliteration, huh?), but I've gotta strike while the iron's hot, so:

I finally managed to sort out the karma of lying, and... it's not good news, sadly. Karma is an engine, NOT an entity making value judgments; it gathers up all the energy we produce, applies certain rules to it, and produces an outcome, just like a computer program receives input and creates output... which means withOUT applying a moral or ethical analysis as part of the process. Because of this, some behaviors we humans consider "bad" don't necessarily lead to bad karma; lying appears to be one of those things.

I'm NOT saying that there aren't ever bad outcomes from lying; if you're caught in a lie, especially if the lie upsets people or has caused problems attributable to you, obviously you could be in for trouble, but that's cause and effect, not karma. People might direct negative thoughts and feelings at you because of your lie, and that IS bad karma, but it's part of the cause and effect, it's not from the lie itself; that sounds like hair-splitting, but hang on a minute and I'll show you why that distinction needs to be made.

Let's take the being caught part out of the equation, to eliminate the cause and effect issue. The next layer to ponder is; isn't there negative karma created by the telling of a lie when you do it with mean intent, because you're radiating negative energy with your thoughts and feelings when you do it? Sadly, no; ugly thoughts and emotions DO create negative energy, of course, but you can have them withOUT lying, so they're a separate issue from the lie itself... we have to look at JUST the lie in order to properly analyze it.

So, then, let's look at the actual telling of the lie; speaking is an action, and so is typing, writing, sending smoke signals or any other method you could use to tell a lie... and doesn't taking an action with bad intention create negative energy? Yes, BUT, and here's an even finer splitting of a hair; the negative energy was created because you were trying to be mean, NOT because you told a lie, and that goes for if you were just lying for the evil glee of it as well as if you were lying to try to do harm.

Ok, now here's what I've been working towards; suppose you told a "pure lie," in other words one with no possibility of causing any sort of harm, one you can't ever be caught at and upbraided for, one backed by no evil thoughts or feelings, just an absolutely plain, emotionless telling of an untruth... that would allow us to do a REAL test of the karma of a lie, wouldn't it? Let's look at a theoretical example of telling a "pure truth," then: Imagine informing a co-worker that you got home from work really late last night and were too tired to cook, and they asked you what you ate; you had a sandwich, but you tell them you had instant mac and cheese... what's the karmic impact of that? NOTHING. Your co-worker wasn't affected in any way by what you said, in fact not a single person or thing in the entire world was affected by it, so the mere giving of an untrue piece of information MUST BE karmically neutral; telling a lie does NOT in and of itself bring bad karma.

Sucks, doesn't it?

This is why people who are compulsive liars, like my husband, don't get the karmic kick in the butt we think they deserve for doing something wrong; people like this often just blither out the 1st thing that comes into their minds without any thought or feeling behind it, or they might see lying as being the most effective way to handle people and be doing it in the same mechanical way they'd shake hands with someone they're meeting for the 1st time... as long as they don't get caught, they suffer no ill karmic effects. It gets worse; they might feel pleasure and pride while they're lying, as if they were accomplishing something admirable by hoodwinking their listener(s), and this would, horrifyingly enough, radiate POSITIVE energy and bring them GOOD karma... how grim is THAT? Even if they're just feeling relief that they're successfully lying their way out of doing a chore or getting in trouble, that's still positive; as long as they don't intermingle the feeling with thoughts like "I tricked you, you stupid jerk," or mean-spirited joy in doing wrong, they're still on the plus side.

The bright spot in this sad state of affairs is that when you tell a so-called white lie, such as assuring a mother that her ugly baby is beautiful, as long as your mental focus is "I don't want to hurt her feelings, so I'll say something nice to make her happy" rather than "Man, that kid is UGLY, I wish I could tell her but I'm gonna fool her instead," you'll be generating positive energy and thus good karma. If you're absolutely emotionless about it, are NOT thinking about how the baby looks like a balding baboon, and are merely reciting what you know is expected of you, you're karmically neutral; that sort of thought control is tricky, but, as always, you really need to make the effort to not focus on unpleasant things, to keep from drawing negative energy into your life.

Here's a final twist; if you tell the TRUTH, and by doing so cause problems or upset someone, that generates negative energy and gets you BAD karma... exactly the opposite of what our concept of morality says should happen. Now, granted, lying WILL usually bring trouble, either via cause and effect or the negative thoughts and feelings which generally accompany it, and telling the truth usually helps AVOID trouble, as do the morally-approved white lies, so most of the time the end result IS what we think it "should" be; you might want to think long and hard about the comparative merits of brutal honestly vs tact and diplomacy, though, if you want to keep your karma clean.

This whole concept has thoroughly bummed me out; I HATE anything that makes it easier for evil people to get away with their wrongdoings. Since karma doesn't "handle" liars for us, we need to make extra effort in that area ourselves; if you catch someone in a lie, I don't mean a trivial social lie but a REAL lie, don't EVER blindly believe them again, and make sure that no one else in your circle of mutual acquaintance does either... and take it as a red flag for other bad behaviors that are just over the horizon, too, because it's a rare person that just has ONE bad thing they do. Remember; the evil people of the world only win if YOU let them.

Monday, February 20, 2006

New spiritual insight, part 2 

Pleased and relieved to have my spiritual engine revving again, I was casting around for another topic to pursue, and was tentatively starting to analyze the karmic impact of lying vs telling the truth... when an extension of what I said in my previous posted popped into my head:

There are other ways to influence a person's behavior besides taking an action that changes their emotional state.

For example; what if you informed someone that their romantic partner was cheating on them? It's the partner's actions that'll be the cause of the ensuing emotional train wreck, not yours, but do you get NO karmic feedback for being the bearer of bad news?

What if you withhold the information about the cheating, or even lie to protect the cheater (eg if he were your brother), and then he gets his innocent partner pregnant before he gets up the nerve to dump her, leaving her to deal with an abortion or the harsh realities of a lonely pregnancy and single motherhood on top of her devastation from being dumped, and forcing 2 people who by that point despise each other to be stuck in each other's lives forever if she has and keeps the child... what's your karmic burden then?

What if you gave a co-worker some inside info about office politics that allowed them to win a promotion; would you get karmic benefits in addition to their gratitude? When their family starts enjoying having more $ coming in, and thus is sending out positive energy, will any of that be aimed at YOU?

What if you give someone a stock tip and they make a mint... or go broke?

What if someone's spying on a private conversation you're having with another person to whom you give a stock tip, and the eavesdropper uses the tip with major results? Does everything you say hook you up karmically to whoever hears you, even if you weren't aware they were listening, and didn't mean or want them to be?

Does EVERYONE who receives info from you in ANY way have the potential to affect your karma if that info influences their actions, feelings or even thoughts? What does that mean for your karma if you're a journalist... or a blogger?

What about when someone admires you and emulates you, not because you told them to, not because you gave them info that made it seem like a good idea, but purely because they want to do what you're doing? What if a friend buys a flashy sports car because YOU bought one, and gets injured because they can't really handle the stick shift and so get into an accident? Is it ridiculous to think that that'd bring you bad karma? Are you SURE?

I'M not, and I wish I was... but that's a luxury reserved for those who have a religion or other spiritual doctrine that tells them what's what. As a mystic, I'm outta luck where being given answers is concerned; I have to find them all myself.

There are all sorts of ways in which you could, directly or indirectly, deliberately or accidentally, knowingly or unknowingly, willingly or unwillingly, influence how other people think, feel and act; where do you draw the line between which ones lead to karma flowing back to you and which ones don't? How CAN you draw a line, based on what? Wouldn't it have to just be a matter of degree? Do some of those degrees approach zero, or does ANY significant event in which you had some non-zero input pack a karmic wallop?

Reading over what I've written is giving me chills... and I mean that literally, there's gooseflesh on my arms as I type this. Does my visceral reaction mean I've hit a vein of truth, or just that the implications of what I'm talking about are freaking me out? Either way, it shows me that I'm headed in the right direction...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

A major spiritual insight, at LAST 

A few days ago, I was power walking, and my mind was drifting around as it often does during extended exercise, touching on ideas both mundane and bizarre; one of the things it spent a few minutes on was a fictional scene in which I was trying to explain karma to a small group of, of all things, gangsters... when I say bizarre, I'm not exaggerating. They were low-level thugs, and not too bright or given to contemplating esoteric concepts, so I was trying to give them something physical to visualize that'd portray the basic rules of my version of metaphysics; out of total left field, with no conscious plan or awareness of what I was going to say, I told them:

"When you take an action that affects others, it's as if you handed each of them a long string that you've got one end of, along which the karmic energy you created by that action travels to them, and along which THEIR karmic energy in response to your action flows back to you... not just then but at every future time that they take action or otherwise produce energy (ie via thoughts or feelings) because of your action. Then, every time any of those people, let's call them "the 2nd person" because you're the 1st person in the chain and they're after you, affects someone ELSE (the 3rd person) because of your action, it's as if they took hold of the string somewhere in the middle, passed the end of it along to that person, and sent energy, yours and theirs, to them along it... and then the 3rd person's karmic energy in response to the 2nd person's action flows back up the string to the 2nd person, AND to YOU. If the 3rd person takes action based on what your action influenced the 2nd person to do, they pass on the end of the string to whoever THAT action affects, and THAT person's karma flows back to each person along the string, all the way back to YOU. The process continues on out to as many people as this ripple effect manages to reach... and it happens with everyone who was directly influenced by your action. Theoretically, dozens, or even hundreds, of people could eventually be affected by an action you took, and you could get karmic energy, positive, negative, or possibly both, from every one of them."

Is this sheer lunacy, or did the asked-for spiritual insight just drop into my mind as soon as it was receptive? Does putting out karmic energy REALLY form a pipeline between you and every person affected by it, however indirectly? If you've got a headache that's making you cranky, and as a result have a fight with someone at work, and they go home and lash out at their kid, who goes to school the next day and takes their upset out on some other kid, who picks on another kid, and 10 more kids down the line the little scrawny kid who has no one below him in the pecking order goes home crying and kicks his dog, does that dog's pain travel back along the chain, affecting everyone including YOU?

How could it?

How could it NOT?

This would mean that there are alot more people and events influencing our karma than we previously realized, almost certainly including people we've never even MET and events we'll never learn about; maybe not very often, as most of us don't do things extreme enough to others to cause the effect described above that frequently, but unless you're a hermit living in a cave it's gotta be happening SOME of the time.

Now here's the terrifying part; when someone does us a favor, pays us a compliment, or otherwise passes us positive energy, the glow we get from it dissipates quickly, more often than not before it prompts us to do a good turn for someone else, but anything negative that happens to us tends to get replayed over and over in our minds, causing us to be tense and angry or upset for WAY too long, making it easy for us to spread the unhappiness and stress to plenty of other people along the way... which means that negative actions can be far more powerful than positive ones, and that we're much more likely to get energy back from negative things we do than for positive ones... YIKES!!

That seems unfair, of course, and it IS, but karma does NOT adhere to the rules of fairness, which were invented by humans after all and aren't part of natural law; karma is just energy with certain properties, properties that are sometimes counter-intuitive or contrary to our ideas about how a "greater power" is supposed to be handling things, but nonetheless logical and consistent when seen as part of the big picture.

My question now is; does the karma coming from people further down the chain get weaker as it passes through and affects the intervening folks, or is it as if it were a person going down a line of people, hugging, or hitting, each one equally? My guess is that it probably fades over distance as other kinds of energy do, but that's JUST a guess; either way, we clearly need to show a great deal more self-control when we're upset, because we never know when the person we cut off in traffic or bark at when they try to serve us in a store might be put in a really bad mood by it and go home and smack their kids.

Actually, there's an even bigger question; just how interconnected ARE we?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Odds and ends 

Although my mind was still filled with thoughts of evil people and how they operate, I've forced myself to let the matter drop for now, because:

"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Increasingly as time goes by, I see the wisdom of that quote; the more I study evil with the intention of learning to better combat it, the more I see how effective it is, how helpless nearly everyone is against it even when it's clumsily done, the more tempting it becomes to adapt evil methods for my own use... and if I do that, how long would it take for me to cross the line from fighting fire with fire to becoming the human version of napalm? As for the abyss; it's as good of a metaphor for the collective power of negative karma as any, and if you focus on evil things (which are karmically negative, remember) that draws other negative things to you... and that's why I'm letting the topic drop for now.

I've had more insanity from Amazon.com; you might recall that I ordered a couple of items from them last month, only to have the order delayed when one of them suddenly went from allegedly having been released in December to not released yet (Amazon's started holding orders until they're able to send all the pieces at once)... that sucked, but at least it was consistent with their policies as they were recently explained to me. Amazon apparently loathes consistency, though, because a check of our account there a few days ago showed that the 2nd item had been delayed another MONTH, but the 1st item had been SENT; I received it that day, oddly enough. How did this happen? Did they change policies again? Was the customer "service" rep who explained their policy confused? Did their system belatedly alert them that the 2nd item was showing as in stock when I placed the order, and is that an exception to the policy? Is the fact that the availability of the 2nd item has been delayed TWICE what changed things? Is some combination of those factors involved? I'm sure I'll never know... but I'm REALLY going to think about it before ordering from them again, because they're out of their collective MINDS on that site.

And speaking of insanity; I posted on 8-19-05 about how I'd had an odd underwear-related early midlife crisis, leading to me throwing out a bunch of socks and panties and replacing them with nice new ones from eBay... and now, a similar frenzy has hit me in reference to my shirts. It started with a seemingly innocent event I posted about on 2-8-06; I found an old shirt in my closet that was too small for me now that my formerly-bony upper body is starting to fill out, so I tossed it in the Goodwill bag... and then I looked speculatively at the rest of my shirts, and BOOM, I was off on a tear, yanking out junior-sized shirts and finding a dismaying # of others that no longer fit over my boobs and/or are too clingy where all the crunches I do haven't managed to keep my middle tight. I tossed alot of shirts, and identified a bunch of others that are marginal at best; all of them were "dressier" shirts that I haven't worn in ages because I don't have occasion to (by "dressier" I just mean "not t-shirts," not that they were DRESSY), so the loss of so many of them meant that I'd be in trouble if I had to dress nicely... even though I'm a geek, it COULD happen, right? It was obvious that I had to get more shirts, so I did what I do for most things I need; I got on eBay and started composing searches. Having to think things out like that made me realize something else; although I get to dress like a college kid all the time, I'm NOT one, and I need to have a proper adult wardrobe, in other words one that'll let me dress properly for a wide range of possible occasions... and I'm not even CLOSE. I don't just need some "nicer than t-shirt" shirts, I need a few "office-acceptable" shirts in case I have to go to a meeting at a more formal workplace, or maybe out to a nice restaurant for brunch or something with people who're going to dress above t-shirt level, and I need a few long-sleeved casual shirts so I don't just have short-sleeved shirts and then sweaters and sweatshirts with nothing in-between for "in-between weather" (I've been wearing a jacket with a t-shirt for that, but it's sorta silly), AND I need a few honestly dressy shirts to be prepared for a more formal party than anyone I know gives, and that means shirts that aren't too clingy and aren't just t-shirts with some lace or fringe sewn onto them... I'm looking for ALL of those sorts of shirts currently.

Note to people who sell shirts on eBay: Because sizes vary wildly, especially for women's shirts and sweaters, do NOT just say "medium" or "size 10" on your auction page; take 30 seconds and measure the frigging thing and include the measurements as part of your description... don't make people email you to get them. Also, put in the fabric content, disclose if it's dry clean or hand wash only, and mention if it's sheer or semi-sheer so a woman doesn't belatedly discover that she's doing a "Madonna in the 80's" thing with her bra showing clearly through the shirt she got from you... one of the shirts I've already gotten turned out to be that way, and now I have to either find the right kind of camisole to wear under it that won't look grim under sheer black or give up a darling new-with-tags shirt that fits perfectly, GRRRRRRRRRRRR. And finally, as with any auction, you need to include the item # in all correspondence; it's NOT enough to say "re: black shirt" or anything equally vague... and don't wait until 10 minutes before the end of the auction to provide the info prospective BUYERS have asked for.

The other 2 shirts I got today were fine, though, and I have high hopes for the others that're in transit... and of course for the others I'm watching and waiting to bid on. Yes, I'm getting a PILE of shirts, but I'm getting them really cheap, so I don't feel bad even though it might literally be years before I wear some of them, if ever; I've gotta have grownup clothes, and that's that.

Shirts are a little trickier to get on eBay than underwear, because there are infinite styles, all sorts of things that affect how they fit and look, and other people will be seeing and paying attention to them, so they have to meet a higher standard than socks. Because I don't want anything sexy, though, that simplifies things a little; I won't get anything bare, skimpy, fitted, or sheer. I'll also avoid shirts small enough to emphasize my pear-shapedness, or that another half inch gained anywhere on my upper body would make unwearable... if you're getting slightly oversized shirts, there's much less worry about fit. I ignore anything remotely trendy, so that I don't end up with shirts I can't wear in a year or 2 without looking like a dork; I pick very basic, simple styles, in colors that I know look good on me, and take great care with patterns, because most of them are too "young," too conservative (and thus aging), masculine (especially vertical stripes) or just icky.

There WILL be some shirts that don't work out; that's unavoidable when you're getting things through the mail from people who aren't providing professional-level pics and descriptions. Still, through sheer #'s I'll end up with plenty of usable stuff in all the different categories; it may take a couple of months, but there's no huge rush, seeing as I'm still living a geek lifestyle and wearing my ample winter wardrobe of sweatshirts and the occasional sweater. The really tough part will be when I'm done with shirts and have to face the fact that I barely have any pants other than jeans, and have to begin the endless, excruciating task of finding khakis or slacks that fit a big butt when they make them as if they were being cut for teenagers...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!! :-) 

If you're reading this on the 14th, you'll have seen my cool Java thing pop up with a greeting (if you want to see it again you'll have to delete the cookie for it, because it's a show-once deal): if it's no longer the 14th and you missed it, fear not, it'll come back for the next holiday. In either case, I hope today's a day of love for you... or at least NOT one of torture.

I'm amazed at how many blog posts I've seen bemoaning the lack of flowers, gifts, etc that those bloggers will be enduring on this official day of romance; would you be surprised to learn that all of them were female? Is it that men don't care about getting stuff, or that women care too much? Many men say that both are true; they don't care about getting anything but extra sex, and would rather not be put on the spot to fulfill a woman's fantasies of what she should get, not to mention her desire to compete with her co-workers, all of whose partners are paying through the nose to have flowers delivered to the office so they can rub it in the faces of the single women that they've got men... what is the POINT of that? People living paycheck to paycheck spending all that extra $ to NOT see the look of joy on their partner's face when she gets the flowers; does anyone besides me think that's NUTS? Heck, it's silly to give flowers at all today, because it's MUCH more expensive than on other days (2-3 TIMES as expensive as on other days in some areas); if you or your partner MUST have flowers on the 14th, why not arrange to give/get them on the 13th and use the extra $ for something else? I'd be dismayed if I got over-priced flowers today; I'm practical, not romantic, and I'm given flowers regularly throughout the year, so it's not a biggie for me to get them like it is for most women... as often as my husband screws up, are you surprised that he keeps our florist busy?

I don't expect to get anything today, and couldn't care less; I've got more stuff than I need, my husband already gave me Godiva coconut truffles over the weekend (all the candy ads made me want some), and after my many years as a married woman I do NOT want lingerie that's in fact a gift for HIM. We won't be going out, no candles will be lit, and in general it'll be just like any other day; we're geeks, and we've been together too long to make a fuss.

Most people DO want Valentine's Day to be something special, of course, and that's easier to accomplish than you think: Men, if you want to make your ladies feel special, make it clear that you're giving them the goodies withOUT any expectation of sex. Ladies, if you want to make your men feel special, tell them you'll give them sex withOUT having to be bribed with the romantic trappings. Yes, that's contradictory; boys and girls are DIFFERENT.

My husband and I did do ONE holiday-ish thing; we've got our Valentine's Day display out for the 1st time in several years. In order to do that, we had to pack up a significant % of our Christmas stuff; yes, it was ALL still up, including the tree, and we now have Valentine's things in one half of the main living area of the house and Christmas things in the other... if you think that's freaky, wait until next month, when we stick a little St. Patrick's Day stuff in there too. We MIGHT get the tree down by Easter this year; I'm not holding my breath, though, as it's a HUGE project, and my husband resists it for as long as possible. I haven't had my Easter display for several years either, but I'm determined to this year; if necessary I'll just pack up the Valentine's doodads and have the Easter stuff alongside the remaining Christmas stuff... I doubt that the Valentine's doodads have much chance of going away before then, in any case.

Did I mention that we're GEEKS?

I don't often cover news or anything political, since a billion other blogs do in-depth coverage of those things, but I had to toss out a few comments about Cheney accidentally shooting Harry Whittington (who I of course hope will recover soon and suffer no long-term ill effects). First off is what I'd say is the funniest one-liner about it:

"Cheney's got a gun... everybody is on the run"

If you don't recognize what song that's from, here are the lyrics:


and you can hear a clip from the song here


Most people can't remember vice presidents for very long after they leave office, but this'll make Cheney an exception; people will still know this story 100 years from now. Our descendants will think he must have been a really macho guy, given that the things he'll be remembered for will be the shooting and the much-remarked-on photo


where it was clearly visible that he wasn't wearing briefs... apparently because he couldn't find any, er, big enough.

A couple of people have reason to be pleased that Cheney's gained this new notoriety (aside from the liberals who're ecstatic to have an easy way to take a shot at the VP, no pun intended); Gerald Ford, aka "The World's Most Dangerous Golfer," and Jimmy Carter, aka "The Bunny Basher," are heaving sighs of relief that THEIR unfortunate incidents will no longer seem so bad. A couple of others were disappointed: Ted Kennedy had a hopeful moment when he discovered that Whittington was seriously injured, but his hopes were dashed when he heard that the latter is fully expected to recover... and people in the vicinity of Lyndon Johnson's grave swore they heard his voice saying "Too bad no one photographed it" followed by the yelping of beagles.

Ok, enough politics; if you're a romantic type, and coupled, enjoy today... and if you're romantic and NOT coupled, get a group of other singles together to go to happy hour, and maybe you'll spy a cutie over by the crudites.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Some more thoughts on evil 

I had the urge to do a Google search for a screen name I used to use on forums a few years ago; my conscious thought was to see if any of those places, or any posts to or from me, were still in existence, but I think a deeper part of my brain wanted me to expand my understanding of evil... because I was in for a surprise.

I found something that was obviously a reference to me (that screen name was VERY distinctive, let's just say) on a site I knew I'd never been on; naturally, I went to take a look. I read the entire post, but had no idea who it was from or how I fit into what he was saying; the screen name was just a plain admin one, so that didn't help. I looked around the page for clues, and, at the top, where it showed the path of links that led to that thread in that section of the forum, I found the name of that section... and saw that it was the name of a "club" I'd been in when Excite still had that service available. With my head swimming, I tried to remember who the cockroach was that'd been the admin of that club; I'd only managed to recall part of his moniker when my continued searching led me to a post where he'd used it... all the intervening years didn't prevent me from instantly recognizing his name.

Scroll back to the year 2000; I'd just gotten online, and didn't know how to go anywhere or do anything other than click bookmarks my husband had created for me for my inbox and my listing of Excite clubs. I was still high on being able to have discussions with people from all over the world, blah blah bah, and wasn't yet aware that there was anywhere else to do this other than a handful of Excite clubs run, for the most part, by REALLY unpleasant individuals who'd somehow managed to gather little groups of people and keep them posting, so I was in several clubs with admins ranging from nasty to maniacal... and this guy who posted about me was one of the latter. It never ceases to amaze me how evil people don't have any trouble gathering themselves bunches of folks willing to accept their authority; it's just like in the movies, where the bad guy, whether he's a Bond villain, scifi mad scientist or whatever always has swarms of henchmen... don't you ever wonder how he GOT them to work for him?

Evil guy: Hi, I'm going to do a great deal of evil, and I need some help; I can't offer health insurance, but the wages will be good, and tax free as I'm operating in secret. Doesn't that sound fun? Do you want to sign up?

Random guy: Um... sure, I'll quit my legitimate job and go to work for you doing evil.

I know, that's facetious, but every time multiple people are involved in doing wrong someone had the idea to do it and somehow persuaded the others to go along with it; I'd love to have hidden camera footage of how this is done, especially when strangers are being recruited... or do evil people just automatically say "yes" if they're asked to join up with other evil people, with no persuasion necessary?

On the Excite system, while I don't know how people with no discernible social skills got their clubs going, I know what KEPT them going; folks want to post on active forums, and will endure all sorts of cr@p to do so... and they MUST endure it, because a forum that's active long-term is almost guaranteed to be run by someone who's sorely lacking in niceness, fairness, reasonableness, or any of the other qualities you'd assume were necessary for a forum admin to possess. WHY does it nearly always require a jerk in charge to keep a forum going... in other words, why do people prefer to post on forums run by jerks? Why do we accept authority so readily from mean people and nutjobs, and chafe under it if it's from a nice person? {sigh}

Back to the admin under discussion; with typical unoriginality, we'll call him John. When I found his club, it was barely hanging on; MY posts in the many empty threads, which other people then materialized to respond to, are, looking back, probably the only thing that kept it from dying completely... and if you think that the new life my presence brought to the club gained me any friendship or gratitude, you're not grasping how evil works. I saw John make several arrogant, high-handed, belligerent, and totally inappropriate posts publicly chastising other members; I was taken aback, as he was vicious even by Excite clubs standards, but I didn't know the history he had with those people, so I shrugged it off like I did the endless bad admin behavior in all the other active clubs I was in. Several months passed, with me remaining by far the major poster of that club.

Meanwhile, in another Excite club, I got into a debate with a couple of women who, when I refused to back down from my position even after about 100 posts were aimed at me over a period of a few days, not to mention countless personal insults and threatening messages, decided that I was "the enemy"; as I've seen happen several times since then on different online club systems when evil people targeted folks who didn't knuckle under, they searched through the hundreds of discussion-type clubs on Excite to find the others I was in (evil people are willing to go to unimaginable amounts of trouble to "get" their victims, which nice people don't expect and so are unprepared for, to their detriment), and suddenly showed up in all of them and started hurling snippy posts at me. They were so blatant about it that they got stopped most places (at least once I had to prompt the admin about who was a long-established member and who were the newbies that'd started being disruptive as soon as they showed up, though, grrrrrrrrrrrrrr)... but John was different; although quick to jump all over people for any minor, or imagined, infraction of his rules, 2 newbies attempting to bully ME in a club where supposedly no flaming or personal remarks were allowed didn't seem to concern him. A private message to John was replied to with pompous claims that HE didn't see anything wrong in the posts they'd made; if I'd been even a little more experienced with forums, I'd have known that that meant it was time for me to bail out, but I foolishly assumed that he'd get the point sooner or later... when in reality, he'd recognized that 2 people as evil as himself had shown up, and wouldn't have acted against them for the world.

That's another important point about evil people; they smell each other out, like drug users can supposedly do, and are drawn to each other, band quickly together, and will act as a unit from then on. Nice people, in contrast, have never, in my extensive online experience, been able to form those sorts of tightly bonded groups that'll act as one against whoever they've decided are their enemies; WHY can't nice people do that, instead of most of them fading away when there's trouble, and most of the rest being conciliatory towards the wrongdoers? WHY? I've been infuriated beyond words time after time when I've seen the rotten eggs working together like a well-oiled machine while the few nice ones that dare post against them are left begging fruitlessly for THEIR friends to join with them against the gang; is it any wonder why the evil people of the world manage to do as they please so much of the time when nice folks don't have the guts to even make a frigging forum post against them?

The really amazing thing isn't that the nice can't stand up against the bad, as it's human nature to fear being singled out and targeted; it's how the evil manage to maintain their tight alliances rather than mistreating each other the way they do everyone else and causing their gang to dissolve in acrimony. What is there about being a turd that allows a person to be part of a group where everyone is watching each other's backs and willing to make and carry out often very elaborate plans against others? Why can't nice people manage something this simple?

My death knell in John's club came when a political discussion started up; it turned out that he and both of the "ladies" were flaming liberals, and I'M slightly to the right of Attila the Hun... and I hadn't yet learned that it's foolish to argue politics online, and INSANE to do it when you'll be one against a group. It was them against me, and they made no attempt to be civil; as if that wasn't grim enough, John started make scathing "official admin posts"... against ME, for daring to rebut their attacks. If that doesn't make sense to you then, again, you don't understand evil; to the evil person, attacking someone, even a group attack of an innocent victim, is perfectly fine, but if the victim stands up for themselves, however politely in comparison to the viciousness of the attacks, that's seen as a high crime.

Pointing out that the personal attacks were contrary to his rules, and that *I* wasn't breaking any rules by rebutting, cut no ice; the "debate" raged on. The one bright spot was when another member stuck his neck out and put in a post with a bunch of links to sites backing up my argument (which I couldn't find myself in those days because I'd never even heard of a search engine); John was so infuriated that someone had helped me, not spoken in my defense, not posted an argument in agreement with me, but just helped me by offering references, that he made an all-caps admin post excoriating my benefactor and declaring that no one could provide URL's for anyone else; isn't that outrageous? Doubly so since he and the other 2 had been tag-teaming each other with URL's all along, and continued to do so no matter how many times I pointed out that he'd forbidden it... hypocrisy is standard with evil people.

Finally, the absolute last straw came; he made an admin post that essentially said that if I didn't lay back and let the 3 of them attack me every which way without defending myself, and give up all my arguments and admit that they were right about everything as soon as they rebutted me, I'd be thrown out of the club. In response to that, I finally realized that I was wasting my time there and needed to quit; as most people do under those sorts of circumstances, I put in a post telling them all exactly what I thought of them, especially John, with his ugly behavior, gross misuse of his admin power, blatant favoring of people who agreed with his views when he claimed to be impartial, and inexcusable supporting of newcomers who'd made it obvious that they'd joined specifically to harass ME, the established member... but before I did that, I did one other thing. I had a friend who'd joined the club a while before, at my request, for the sole purpose of putting in a massive post on the complicated political situation and history of his country, which John was eager to know about and turned handsprings over when he got it (fat lot of good that favor ever did me), and to answer John's endless questions; this friend had never returned to the club after that, as he's not the debating type, but I asked him to come back one more time... to go through and delete all of his posts, which he quickly did. I then edited the header post to the thread (which I'd put in myself because my friend was hesitant about starting a new discussion) to say that the info had been removed at my request, as a protest against how I'd been treated. My last line was something like; "I bet you never backed up this info, did you? Maybe from now on you'll spend more time handling admin duties like archiving and less time treating your most productive members like dirt."

My friend received a series of emails begging him to re-post the info, which he of course refused, making it clear that he was appalled by how John had treated me and allowed others to treat me; it was nearly worth all the abuse to actually have someone get right in an evil person's face, metaphorically speaking, and pass judgment against them.

The man that had posted the URL's for me stayed a while longer in the club; he was eventually targeted and driven out for the crime of not agreeing with John. He started writing to me within a couple of days of my departure, and kept in touch with me for 5 YEARS after, until his poor health made him give up online life; he informed me that he'd posted in protest of my being kicked out, that John shouldn't be using his power as admin to beat up on whoever disagreed with him... he got publicly bashed in return, of course. He gave me regular reports of John's continuing tirades against any who didn't parrot his opinions until the day he quit; another standard aspect of evil is that evil people will seek out new victims as fast as they get rid of the old ones.

Now here's the scary part; if you've been online for at least a few years, think of the minuscule % of people you get friendly with, and post on forums with, that you're still involved with even a few months later... and compare it to how, as I discovered in a further search of John's area of the forum I found him on, he's still involved with those 2 "ladies" almost 6 YEARS LATER. I couldn't have recalled their names if I'd tried, but I recognized them when I saw them; I shouldn't have been surprised to see those twits there, because it's a truism of evil people that they clutch tightly to each other in a way that nicer folks can rarely be bothered to make the effort to do, especially with people they just know from online, but... 6 YEARS!!

The post that I'd found via Google explained some aspect of the admin policy about how they handle troublemakers who try to spoil the enjoyment of the forum by others, and as an aside said that old hands would remember that incident with ME... which was why I had no clue what the deal was at 1st, since naturally I've NEVER made trouble ANYWHERE, much less tried to spoil anyone's enjoyment of ANYTHING. Does he really remember it that way? Did he keep telling himself even after TWO other people confronted him with his and his sidekicks' atrocious behavior that some sort of distortion of time and space had occurred, making THEM the ones who were posting pleasantly when *I* showed up and started posting attacks? Heck, why assume he mentally doctored the truth afterwards; at the time it was happening did he lose track of just who had shown up with the clear intention of spoiling whose enjoyment? That's another thing about evil people that we need to understand; their perceptions of reality are often massively warped, which is necessary for them to see themselves as being in the right and anyone who acts contrary to their wishes as in the wrong... this is part of why it's so hard to deal successfully with the evil ones, because we expect the truth to influence people, but nothing you can say will ever count for anything against what a bad person has decided the truth is.

Can you believe that after SIX YEARS he remembers me, remembers my exact screen name from those days, felt it necessary to include my name in a post on a site where I'd never been, 99% of whose members weren't in the Excite club... and that he expects those other 2 to remember also, and to recall it his way even though THEY were the ones that carried out a meticulous plan to track me down and jointly harass me in every possible club, making THEM the troublemakers by any definition of that word ever invented? Given how close they obviously are, I'm sure they DO mimic his psychotic memory pattern of those long-ago events; it's mindboggling that this would be so when *I* couldn't remember any of THEIR names until I saw them, and hadn't given any of them one second's thought after my URL-buddy left their club in disgust and stopped reporting on their actions.

And that's the final important thing to be aware of with evil people; they become utterly obsessed with whoever they decide are their enemies, and, while normal people move on with their lives and gradually forget things like arguments with total strangers, or even the specifics of most arguments with people they knew well, the evil treat their memories of these events like a dragon does its gold, hoarding them and going over and over them... and looking at them with eyes that aren't quite human.

I've said it a million times, but I'll say it again; a person who does evil is an evil person, and such a person should NOT be given a place in your life, but should be shunned, rejected, and driven away if possible. You should never support, trust, believe or defend them, and if you see them attacking someone you should step up to the plate and let 'em have it... don't go slinking off to leave the victim to fight a losing battle, because next time it'll be YOU who's been targeted, and you'll want karma to bring someone to help you.

I'll finish off with something amusing; tonight, as we were eating Chinese takeout and watching Metal Mania on VH1 Classic, Def Leppard's "Foolin'" came on; without forethought, I started singing along, using the jumbo eggroll I'd just put on my plate as a "microphone." I noticed my husband was looking at me. I noticed he was STILL looking at me. Finally:

Me: Quit staring at me!!
Him: You're using an eggroll as a microphone.
Me: If you don't like it, you can leave the room until after this song.
Him: No, it's CUTE.
Me: Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!!
Him: It's really cute how you're doing that.
Me: Be quiet, you're crazy.
Him: {laughing}

And that, contrary to what's in the movies, and of course those eHarmony.com ads, is what love looks like.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The day I realized that my father was evil 

That sounds a little melodramatic, but I don't know of any better way to put it; he IS evil, a person for whom the focus of his life is to do harm, and I've known it since I was a little kid.

I didn't see much of my father for the first few years of my life, as he was over in Vietnam; as a Navy man, he was of course on a boat, not in the jungle, but he nevertheless considers himself the equal of those vets who were actually in danger, and speaks of those who couldn't re-integrate into society upon their return with contempt, calling them cry-babies and liars who are too lazy to work and so playacting at being mentally ill... aren't people who served in the same war supposed to feel camaraderie? My father never did find it necessary to feel normal emotions about anyone, sigh. Anyways:

Given where we lived when the event of this post occurred, I'd have been 4 or 5. There was a tiny Italian restaurant that we went to regularly, and every time we got close enough to be able to see it, my father'd say the exact same thing; "Look how small it is; it looks like it's just a kitchen, not a whole restaurant." About the 20th time we went there, when he started off with "Look how small it is," I piped up from the back seat with "It looks like it's just a kitchen, not a whole restaurant"; imagine my utter astonishment when he barked "No it doesn't!!" Once the shock faded enough for me to regain the power of speech:

Me: But... but... that's what YOU always say!!
Him: No it's not!!
Me: Yes it is!!
Him: NO IT'S NOT!!
Mother: You know perfectly well that you always say that; where do you THINK she got that line from?
Mother: Yes you have, many times.
Mother: You certainly have, and stop your bellowing, we're in a CAR.

They went another half dozen rounds in that vein, but I wasn't really listening anymore; I was wrestling with the horrifying realization that my father was LYING, not in a joking or kidding way, but screaming like a maniac to try to force his claim down my and my mother's throats. He wasn't lying the way kids do, to avoid punishment or persuade others to grant favors, in fact I couldn't see anything he stood to gain, or any reason at all for what he was doing; he had just, on a whim, decided to toss a belligerent denial at me, and was so determined to make it stick that he was arguing fiercely with my mother and ruining everyone's dinner before we even got into the restaurant. He'd shown himself to be the sort of person who would attack anyone at any time, with no reason and no warning.

Evil, in other words.

I'd never even guessed that adults lied before that very moment; why would they NEED to, when they had all the power? To a small child, adults are godlike figures, and, although they could be arbitrary and cruel, in the way of most gods, the assumption is that adults have moral rightness on their side; I knew that lying was absolutely WRONG, I'd been told that countless times as all children are (the gray area of white lies and such was years away from being explained to me), so if my father lied that meant that HE had done wrong, that, by the only logic I had at my disposal, he was BAD. The more he ranted and raved in contradiction of my mother's unwavering insistence that he HAD been saying that, the worse he appeared in my eyes; even the most troublesome child didn't scream denials at an adult over and over, and that he WAS doing that was putting him into some new zone below anything I'd ever contemplated human beings existing in.

I couldn't tie my own shoelaces yet, but I'd already done a deadly accurate analysis of him, one that it would take many, many years for even the adults who knew him best to catch onto. Knowing his true nature, I had to live under his absolute control for another 20 years; how I ever managed to create a good life for myself after that is a source of constant amazement to me.

Like all evil people, my father didn't just let his true self show ONCE; he did so over and over, not just in general but in that specific way... there were plenty of other times that he viciously denied something objectively inarguable that I'd said. My mother eventually caught on, after about a DECADE (she's no genius), and would say, "Quit contradicting her just for the sake of being contradictory," and he'd argue that he wasn't, launching into full-volume diatribes replete with foul language to try to intimidate her into ceasing the debate (which didn't do him much good, I've gotta give her that). When he couldn't find something suitable in what little I said to him to pull this stunt on, he'd throw out something outrageous, like "There's no cream in cream cheese, they call it that because it spreads like cream" (I only WISH I was making that one up, it's a real-life example), and when I refuted his nonsense he'd be off and running; sadly, it wasn't until he was long gone that I learned that when someone's spoiling for a fight like that the way to thwart them is to ignore them if possible, and, if not, to brush them off with "Whatever," which gives them nothing to argue with.

Looking back, I can take comfort from one thing; from the time I was about 10, I was able to out-argue him... oh, he still "won" because he could tell me to shut up or leave the room, and that's how every such battle ended, but he KNEW he'd been out-argued, and it must have galled him no end that I was smarter and had a quicker mind. I gained something from all that fighting, too; I can out-argue or out-debate ANYONE, because I learned at an early age to instantly review all aspects of an issue and have a lineup of points ready to be tossed out before I begin, while most people don't even have ONE point thoroughly thought out before they start spouting off. I'm guessing that's behind my essay-writing style as well; I had to be sure and check everything from every angle so that my father couldn't blindside me with a question I hadn't prepared an answer for, and to follow ever possible idea out to 10 decimal places to be sure I didn't come out with something wrong that he could pounce on... doesn't that sound like how I blog a topic to death?

There's one unanswered question; no, not "why did he act like that?", because evil people just do what comes naturally to them, the way rabid dogs do... why didn't I quickly revert to the idea of "the parent is in the right" as a normal child would do upon witnessing something that shook their belief in their parent's virtue? A normal kid can see their parents do nearly anything, and be the victim of varieties of abuse too hideous to describe, and STILL believe that their parents are "good," that their actions are proper, and that anything they themselves suffer must be because of their own badness to which the parents are validly responding... why didn't *I* react that way? I honestly don't know; I'm infinitely grateful for it, though.

After writing that last line, the urge hit me to do a search for my father on Google; he has a very unusual last name, so it wouldn't be like with most names, where you find 100 different people, but there was no reason to expect there to be any info online on a random old man. My "urges" are still on target, though, because I found him; he's a professor at a small college now, and has a slew of articles in his area of expertise available at dozens of places online... he's been a busy beaver, apparently. It amuses me that the man who retired from the Navy at 45, claiming he'd never work again, and was instead going to be a real estate wheeler-dealer and investment wizard (both of which he failed at, but not before wiping out a big chunk of my parents' life savings) is working so hard at 70; too bad he didn't use some of that industriousness when he left the Navy, instead of dedicating himself to making my life, and to a lesser extent my mother's life, a living hell. I guess his 2nd wife wouldn't let him sit around doing nothing, or, more likely, the 1/2 of his retirement pay that he gets (my mother gets the other half) plus whatever $ she had wasn't enough for them to live off of, and he had no choice; in either case, at an age when he SHOULD have been able to be retired and living comfortably, through his own poor judgment and stubborn stupidity he's stuck working hard instead of being on permanent golf holiday with a pension and investments to add to his Naval income.



Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The spiritual desert... and a ray of hope 

It's been dismayingly long since I've had a spiritual breakthrough; these things don't keep to a schedule, of course, but STILL. A close friend with whom I have a 20-year history of being able to call her whenever she thinks of calling ME commented recently that I'd missed one of my "prompts," which is totally unlike me... can I have burned my perceptive circuits out by pushing too hard?

I did have a brush with karma last week, though, which has made be cautiously optimistic. You might recall the huge epiphany I posted about on 2-20-06 about how we end up favoring the non-virtuous over the virtuous; you might also recall my having said at various times in the past that when you make a major decision or realize something major and are correct in what you realized or decided it apparently releases a big burst of positive energy that brings something positive back to you... something not only big but odd enough to raise the hair on the back of your neck, and that happens FAST, usually within 24 hours. In this case, it only took 12 hours:

The 1st time I checked my eBay account the day after the epiphany, there were 2 new messages. The 1st one was from a seller giving me a 2nd-chance offer at an item I'd been outbid on; that's nothing shocking, but it'd been NINE days since the auction, so it was a little weird. I instantly decided to NOT accept the offer, although I still wanted the item; declining was an instinctive reaction based on nothing I could point to, and that was a little weirder. The 2nd message was from someone whose member name I recognized; I've never had any contact with her, but she shares one of my collection passions, and we've bid against each other many times. At a loss as to why she'd ever contact ME, I opened the message to find the following:

"Hi. Noticed you bid on this ***** too. I found another seller who has them for sale. Even though we may bid against each other, I was excited to find this auction & thought you might be interested too. The item # is: **********."

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!! Why would she have remembered NINE days later that I'd bid against her in an auction we both lost? Why would she have CARED, given that I'm not only a total stranger but a rival as well? Whatever possessed her to take time out of her life to contact me and do me this favor? (It was a BIG favor, too, because I was able to get the item for less than a 1/3 of what the original seller sent me the 2nd chance offer for.) How is it POSSIBLE that both she and the seller just happened to think of ME over a week after the auction we were all involved in? Just as eerie; what made me not take the seller's offer when I was perfectly willing to buy that item at that price... can you imagine if I'd used the 2nd chance offer and then discovered when I opened the next message that I could have gotten it wildly cheaper? When a freaky synchronicity, not to mention a psychic episode, happens right on top of a major epiphany, there's only one explanation; karma.

As exciting as that was, there's nothing new about it; I'm thrilled with both my wildly enhanced understanding of human nature and my new collectible, but I'm getting desperate to make some spiritual progress... October was the last month that I really produced anything substantial, which is GRIM. I got unspeakably exhausted by the end of last year, and then the holiday season added its own problems, and... I fell out of the groove, focusing instead on how I'd get enough sleep to keep functioning. Since I started blogging on alternate days, I've caught up alot on both sleep and getting things done, but have been too distracted by trying to do all my projects at once, cleaning endlessly for all the company that's been here, and my mother's announcement of her breast cancer, to have ANY really deep thoughts (aside from the one epiphany), much less any spiritual ones. The last time I said that in a post was 9-28-05... and the following month was a good one, so hopefully I'll get a similar boost this time.

To end this post on a positive note, here's a marital moment my husband and I had a couple of days ago; in shuffling things around in my closet, I discovered a shirt that's too small for me to wear anymore... I tried it on to be sure, and, although it's stretchy, it's just too skimpy for me now, especially since my boobs have gotten bigger (it's genetic for women in my family to gain a cup size in their late 30's/early 40's, I did NOT get a boob job). I wandered down the hall to the kitchen, where my husband was, to express my dismay at having to give up a really cute shirt, and his response was to get all bug-eyed and start panting; mind you, I was in sweatpants, and the shirt has long sleeves, so there was no skin showing... the only different thing about my appearance from the way he sees me every day was the snugness of the shirt. I made some exasperated comment about his behavior, and he, apparently thinking I was implying that he was faking, lifted his shirt away from his groin area to reveal that he was... er, NOT faking his excitement. When I called him a filthy creature for having such a ridiculous over-reaction, he pointed out that for a couple our age, who've been together for as long as we have, to have the man still so enamored of his wife that he's THAT stimulated by something so trivial is pretty impressive. He's right, of course; oh, he's still a pig, lol, but he's right. I wonder if eHarmony.com could've predicted THAT? ;-)

Monday, February 06, 2006

The 2nd cutest sidebar doodad EVER 

Karma Kitty is still the cutest, but if you're observant you've noticed something at the top of my sidebar that comes close; his name is Neko, and you may have seen him before, as there's an all-white version of him in several popular animated gifs... he's not a gif, though, he's a dazzling example of DHTML (the "D" stands for "dynamic"). Click on him, and then move your cursor away; he'll follow it in any direction, OVER anything on the screen. When you pause, he'll stop by your cursor, at which point he might: scratch his ear with his hind leg, scratch an imaginary wall to the left or right, scratch in front of himself, or, VERY rarely, scratch behind himself. He'll do 0, 1 or 2 of these things, at random, and take a random amount of time in between them and in doing them collectively... after which he yawns, lays down and goes to sleep, with z's floating over him and his little sides moving in and out as he "breathes." When you move the cursor again, he shows a "startled" reaction (his tail goes up and he gets that halo of tiny lines around his head, plus he sits up if he was laying down) and runs after it. Occasionally, though, he'll run for the bottom left corner of the screen, and do his little routine down there; if you move the cursor some more, usually he'll run back at it, but not always... very catlike. Moving the cursor over onto your menu or scroll bar will also make him run for the corner; when you return to the regular screen area, he'll come back. If he's in his "home spot" and you reduce the size of the screen, he won't move along with the rest of the sidebar, but will soon reappear at the edge of the screen as he runs back to his area; if you re-widen the screen, he'll be left behind again, but will quickly return to his spot. To make him go to his area and settle down there when he's running around, just click on him; if you can time a click on him as he's running back, he'll return to cursor chasing.

Have you tried him out yet? Go ahead-I'll wait. :-)

Isn't he FUN? When I 1st saw him, I thought he was an animated gif that the blogger whose site I was on had somehow managed to put in the upper left of his page, overlapping the Blogger logo; I pulled up the source code and looked for the gif, so that I could get what I assumed was code to put stuff in that corner, but I couldn't find it. It was LATE, and I needed to get ready for bed, so I asked my husband (who wasn't doing anything in particular) to search the code for whatever page it was calling that had the gif on it, and thus the command(s) I wanted; with his usual sniveling and ill grace, he complied... and then tried to pretend he didn't know HOW, so I had to tell Mr. High Tech to do a search for "http" in the source code and check each URL he found.

When I came back from washing up, he had a surprise for me; the kitty wasn't a gif, it was a script doing something slick with DHTML... and then he showed me how it worked, and with a shriek of delight I jumped in and started madly playing with all the versions available at the home page for the Neko game


Then, I did something VERY hard; I ignored my rampant desire to try installing him, bookmarked the page and went to bed... and if you're a long-time reader, you know how passionately I love my blog doodads, so you should be duly impressed. I went right to work on it as soon as I got up, of course; my 1st step was to just stick the code in with no attempts to customize it, to see if it'd work with my template... I was relieved to see that it did. Then, I put the code in the sidebar part of the template, rather than after the body tag as the website said to, to see if it would still work; it did, but unfortunately Neko still came out at the upper left corner of the page rather than in the sidebar. I took the h1 references out of the code, thinking it was this that might be making it go up there; no change in Neko, but a link to the website appeared in the sidebar. I tried to put him in an iframe; I got a rectangle of gibberish. Out of ideas, I emailed the programmer who'd created the game; he replied promptly, and told me that he had Neko on the right-hand side of this site


and that if I could adapt the code he had there for my sidebar I was welcome to use it... but that it wasn't something I could just copy and paste. My husband, who knows some programming, looked at the code and said that it seemed like it was feeding info to the script, because (as I'd already verified) the variables being used didn't appear elsewhere in the source code; this was good, because it meant that I didn't have to try to define the variables in my template, which could cause possible conflicts with other stuff. He also told me, and this was the pivotal point, that the #'s in the code were coordinates counted down from the top of the screen and in from the right, so I should be able to plug my own #'s in and get the kitty down in the sidebar (rather than in the corner); I copied the extra bit of code, stuck it in, put in my best guess for how many pixels down and in I needed to go to get Neko right on top of my sidebar, republished, refreshed, and... PERFECT!! :-)

Flushed with victory, I added a line of code to give usage instructions, so people wouldn't make the mistake *I* did of thinking it was a gif rather than a game; THAT came out perfect the 1st time too, scarily enough... I won't get used to it, of course, but it was nice. After that, all I had to do was little tweaks; I altered the wording to make it shorter, then played with the coordinates until Neko was centered over the instructions and as close as possible to being right on top of them so that people would grasp that they were "his"... and then I was done.

In case he uses the URL I sent him and visits my blog; thanks to ace programmer Greg Bell, both for creating this adorable version of Neko and for writing back to me on a Sunday and being friendly and helpful... you ROCK!!

I hope you all enjoy playing with Neko; be sure and play with Karma Kitty too, so we don't have a cat fight. ;-)

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Some comments on control freaks 

"Control freak" is one of those terms for which the meaning is starting to get distorted; its actual meaning is

"One who has an obsessive need to exert control over people and situations"


but too many people use it to refer to when someone tries to control their OWN life... especially when the name-caller themselves is trying to control that person and failing. Let me be perfectly clear; someone trying to have control of their OWN life is being an ADULT, not a control freak... and if anyone tries to insist otherwise, it's probably because they're a manipulator who's trying to gain control of you, so run, run, RUN.

Another misuse of the term "control freak" is with the intention for it to be a more extreme version of "anal" (aka "anal retentive," NOT the other meaning, this isn't a porn blog); the sort of person who uses it this way will always be the less powerful member of the relationship they have with the alleged freak, and have issues with the amount of control they perceive the other person has over them... my husband is a perfect example of this (if that surprises you, you must be a new reader, lol):

Me: Are you ready to go?
Him: Yes, let's go.
Me: It's gotten chilly in the past hour; I'll get my jacket.
Him: You don't need a jacket.
Me: Yes, I do.
Him: No, you don't, it's not that cold.
Me: I'll be cold without a jacket, so I'm getting it.
Him: You're not going to need it.
Me: Yes, I am, and I'm taking it with me.
Him: Why do you always have to be such a control freak?
Me: It's not being a control freak to make the decisions for my own life.
Him: But... yeah... but... er...
Me: A control freak is someone trying to enforce their preferences on someone ELSE'S life; that'd make YOU the control freak in this scenario, not me.
Him: Yeah, but... but you don't need... if you're insisting on doing something unnecessary...
Me: It has nothing to do with being a control freak. Furthermore, it's extremely arrogant for you to assume that you have the ability and authority to decide what other people need, especially in circumstances where someone else's physical perceptions, about which you know nothing, are involved.
Him: Yeah, but...
Me: Can we go now?
Him: Yeah, fine... I still say you won't need the jacket...

Although my husband isn't above trying to be manipulative (it never works, but he TRIES), he's not attempting to manipulate me in these sorts of exchanges, or to control me either (he's bright enough to know THAT'S pointless); he honestly, although of course incorrectly, believes that reasonable things like taking along a jacket on a chilly night, turning off lights in rooms you're not in, and closing up food packages so they don't get stale or full of bugs are anal, and that he's helping me by trying to steer me to "non-anal" choices. His inability to persuade me to change my actions to match his theories frustrates him, and leads to him using incorrect wording in his efforts to push me into doing things "the non-anal way"; given his awareness that I have greater control in our relationship, using the term "control freak" might also be a Freudian slip.

If this description reminds you of someone in YOUR life, be aware that they feel powerless and resentful, and can be expected to pull passive aggressive stunts such as always being late and forgetting things (2 of my husband's specialties) to even the scales.

It's important to be on the lookout for control freak-ism in those around us, especially in the early days of relationships (romantic or platonic) when people are normally on their best behavior; everybody likes to get their way, but control freaks get a charge out of making you do whatever they ask, including things that don't involve their own welfare but are purely to showcase their power... and that makes them BAD relationship choices.

I had a close call with a man like that, many years ago before I met my husband; I'd been single for a while, and was getting pretty desperate... and so was extra-excited when a man who at first seemed high-quality showed an interest in dating me. Towards the end of the phone conversation in which we'd decided we were going to start going out, he used a trick you see all the time in cop films; he waited until I felt like we had a done deal, and my defenses were down, and then hit me with something else... in the cop movies it'd be a pivotal question that the victim was trying to conceal the answer to, but in this case it was a demand. It was brilliantly done from a psychological viewpoint; what protractedly single woman, with what apparently was a solid man interested in her, would risk losing him by refusing to do what he asked?

ME, that's who.

Him: Oh, I almost forgot; I think you should grow your hair out 3 inches.
Me: You're JOKING, right?
Him: No, I just think your hair's a little too short, and you should grow it out 3 more inches.
Me: I'm happy with my hair the way it is.
Him: Well, it's ok, it just needs to be 3 inches longer.
Me: No it doesn't.
Him: Why are you being stubborn?
Me: It's not being "stubborn" to refuse to let a total stranger dictate how long my hair should be.
Him: Yes it is.
Me: No, it's NOT, and I'm NOT going to grow my hair out, not 3 inches or any other amount.
Him: Well, I'm not willing to go out with anyone who won't agree to do a reasonable thing like grow their hair 3 inches.
Me: That's fine, because I'M not willing to go out with anyone who's so controlling that they need to dictate how many inches of hair another person has.
Him: I'm NOT being controlling, I just think you need to grow your hair out 3 inches.
Me: You're not just thinking it, you're trying to force me to DO it, and that IS being controlling, not to mention ridiculous; what difference could 3 inches of hair make one way or the other?
Him: Never mind. {click}

There's no exaggeration in the above; he really did make a repeated issue of THREE inches of hair, and did in fact hang up on me once he realized that he wasn't going to be able to get control of me as he'd intended... and it remains, to this day, the most outrageous example of attempted control of someone by a stranger that I've ever heard of. Perhaps he thought that something so trivial would have a high likelihood of being accepted, thus giving him the opening wedge he wanted to obtain further control? Or did he just demand some random alteration of my appearance to see if he could "mold" me? It doesn't matter, I suppose; he was bad news either way, and I'm lucky that he didn't hold off on his controlling maneuvers until AFTER we'd been on a few dates... as tough-minded as I was even back then, the stakes would've been high enough at that point that I'm not 100% certain I could've held firm.

The next time someone tries to push you to do something that's not for your benefit, doesn't impact THEM, and so shouldn't be anything they'd validly want or need to influence you on, make sure all your alarms and red flags are deployed; you're dealing with a control freak, which means they're probably a manipulator, and might even be a sociopath... and if you give in to them, expect plenty more where that came from.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A MAJOR epiphany 

I've agonized many times, not just on this blog but throughout my life, about why even basically decent people end up being buddy-buddy with habitual evildoers and turning their noses up at the virtuous, judging the former as "better" than the latter in direct contrast to their respective records of behavior, and siding with the former over the latter even when the former has attacked the latter without provocation. If you ask anyone if they'd rather have a good person or a bad one as their friend, lover, co-worker, whatever, they'll ALWAYS unhesitatingly reply "the good one," but in reality virtually no one actually follows that alleged preference when choosing who gets to be in their life; you'd be hard-pressed to find even a single person who makes a point of gathering good folks around them and pushing away the bad. WHY?

I'm well aware of the discomfort most folks feel around the virtuous (because they feel inadequate by comparison), that they're certain they're being looked down upon by the virtuous (even if they've never seen evidence of any such thing), and that they suspect that the virtuous must be deceiving them about their degree of virtue (and thus aren't actually superior). I'm also aware of how rotten types, in contrast, cause no such angst, and are seen as exciting, fun, glamorous and sexy. However, these attitudes were never quite enough to explain how if you actually CALL someone on the illogic of the preferences they're showing their explanation seems to indicate that they're living in a parallel universe where the virtuous person has consistently behaved badly and the non-virtuous person is a near-saint... how, in other words, they seem to have no memory of any of the countless incidents that should lead to an accurate judgment of the relative merits of those in question, and to be focusing instead on distorted perceptions of anomalous behavior of the 2 parties. Even worse, if you REMIND people about the REAL behavioral records of the virtuous and non-virtuous individuals, they never seem to think it counts for anything compared to the incidents that THEY recall, even if they outnumber them a thousand to 1; WHY?

Since it's contrary to a person's best interests (not to mention common sense, fairness and SANITY) to choose the baddies over the good guys (and gals) of the world, it made me nuts that I knew that folks were overwhelmingly doing it, and demonstrating a totally consistent pattern of denial and misinterpretation of the facts in the process, but couldn't see the mechanism behind it although there clearly HAD to be one.

Today, at long last, I SAW.

I was writing an email to a friend with whom I'd started a conversation about this topic, and because he didn't seem to know all the ways that virtue is hated and non-virtue is pursued I was trying to come up with a comprehensive list of examples... and suddenly, I saw how some of my examples formed the basis for an actual explanation of how people look at the virtuous and the non-virtuous and decide to favor the latter.

The pivotal issue was the earth-shattering realization that, although *I* keep track of the behavior of people in my life, objectively judge EVERY action, and add all the "scores" together to form a judgment on each person's level of virtue, NO ONE ELSE DOES THAT. What normal folks do, astoundingly enough (at least to ME), is IGNORE most of the things people do that SHOULD be counted towards their level of virtue, forget most of the ones they DID notice, and fail to make a moral judgment on any of it; instead, they keep track of those few actions the people they know take that are in CONTRAST to their normal behavior, multiply their importance by about a million and use THAT result to judge how good a person is.

I couldn't understand at first why this method would exist, much less be the one everyone uses, but when I thought about it I realized that it would actually work extremely well for judging those of AVERAGE virtue (in other words the vast majority of us), whose day-to-day actions probably DON'T mean much virtue-wise, and thus for whom focusing on the unusual things they do, in other words those rare things that are notably good or bad, would in fact give a really good picture of what sort of folks they are, withOUT the major time and effort required to keep track the way *I* do.

The dark side of what's really an impressively efficient system is that when it's used on people of particularly high or low virtue it gives a result that's the exact OPPOSITE of the correct analysis... and THAT'S why people's judgment even of the virtuous and non-virtuous that they know well enough to have a clear picture of is always the opposite of what it should be. I've laid out the steps that lead to this grim result so you can see how the process works:

1) People take however an individual typically acts as a given, on which no judgment is made and for which no credit is awarded, which means that they

a) shrug off the ugly things their badly-behaving friends and acquaintances routinely do, rather than using them as reasons to cut the wrongdoers out of their lives if they can, or at the very least stay aloof from them and not trust or support them

b) ignore the many good things that the virtuous folks they know routinely do, rather than seeing them as reasons to pursue or intensify relationships with them, much less to trust and support them

2) People make an exaggerated issue of when someone acts in an atypical way, which means that

a) when a NON-virtuous person does something good, everyone notices and makes a big deal about it, giving them all sorts of praise and treating them like a hero

b) when a virtuous person does something even slightly wrong (which WILL happen, since no human being is perfect), or even does something that's less than ideal but not bad, people act like they've committed a murder

3) People remember atypical behavior FAR more clearly than they do typical behavior, which means that

a) when they think of a NON-virtuous person, they remember good things they did, and have amnesia about their endless wrongdoings

b) when they think of a virtuous person they remember negative things they did, and have amnesia about the endless good things they've done

4) The enhanced memory of atypical behavior, combined with the greater weight given to it, means that

a) the NON-virtuous are seen as swell people and liked, which leads to judgments being habitually made in their favor

b) the virtuous are seen as unappealing people and DISliked, which leads to judgments being habitually made against them, especially when they're pitted against the non-virtuous

I can't tell you how deep the satisfaction I feel at figuring this out is. I'm sharing it with you, 1st because I'm proud of it, and 2nd because I hope, as always, that I'll make some folks THINK instead of blindly following the standard behavior patterns, so that a few bad people get what they deserve, and a few good people end up victorious.

I'm aware that some of my assertions might seem insane if you haven't been consciously observing this dynamic, but test it yourself and you'll see it; next time you observe a situation in which a virtuous person is in a conflict with a non-virtuous one, ask around, and you'll hear a litany of praise for the non-virtuous person, and some mean-spirited complaints about the virtuous one... which will explain why everyone's siding with the former, even if they're supposed to be friends with both of them. I've seen it countless times, and it always made me crazy because I didn't know why people acted in such a consistently illogical way... but now I know. YES!!!!!!! :-)

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