Trump really resonates

There is a fascinating Reddit post on Trump’s appeal to the working class.  I think the conventional thinking of Republican strategists was that the rich white people would call the shots and the poor white people would fall in line voting against their economic interests as long as the conservative media played up culture war issues.  Trump shows that logic no longer works.  Poor white people want what all people want, jobs.  Trade deals, immigration, and offshoring have gutted the kinds of jobs these people could get.  And Trump is the only candidate that promises to fight against these things.  As a web developer who has to price their work to compete with companies in India (where the cost of living is magnitudes cheaper), Trump’s message really resonates with me.  His antics have pushed me away from ever voting for him but I can understand why someone would give him their vote.

It’s just funny to me the Republican elites wringing their hands over losing a block of voters they never gave a rip about in the first place.  The poor cohort of the Republican party has decided to abandon the rich cohort.


Article on the wellness culture and overwork:

We’re working longer hours than ever before, and as our employment conditions continue to worsen, they’re simply repackaged into a new version of normal in an effort to make the truly pathological state of many of our workplaces appear acceptable. And despite the fact that the very best evidence we have about the causes of work stress and burnout point to factors present in the workplace rather than in us, the stress reduction industry and the helping professions’ focus on individual self-care strategies is at an all-time high.

Happiness Where the Aftertaste is Better Than the Taste

From a comment on a great NYTimes article on moral courage:

Much is made of the pursuit of happiness in US society but rarely do we talk about the two main types of happiness as delineated by ancient philosophers — hedonic vs. eudaemonic happiness. The former, centered around the usual things we think of as making us happy (status, money, love, food, sex, etc.), is overemphasized where as the latter, which is about living a meaningful life, is rarely discussed. People like Mr. Sayarthi have the latter in spades.

I like to call eudaemonic happiness the happiness with the better aftertaste.  Home brewed root beer with real sassafras root is like it.  The taste is fine but the aftertaste is even better.  Eudaemonic happiness is meaningful, communal, and often takes some maturity and legwork to derive pleasure from (hedonic happiness the pleasure is usually immediate, even an infant eating ice cream can experience it).  For example volunteering at a soup kitchen might not lift your mood as much as a session of video games but it will likely leave a longer term positive after effect.

Also we tend to remember things in story form.  Negative things usually unfold in story form (for example a jerk cut you off and you had to swerve into another lane).  A lot of hedonic things like sitting on the beach or eating a great meal are pleasurable but not easily turned into stories and thus often only called to mind when one is in another pleasurable state.  Eudaemonic happiness involves things that are often stories.  For example moving your friend into a new apartment often stuff will happen that people will joke or commiserate about for years to come.  The things might not be pleasurable but memories of them will generally elicit a positive response.

Effects of eudaemonic happiness are fragile.  If you are altruistic and loving and people don’t reciprocate with gratefulness, you will get a lot less of the positive effect.  This starts a vicious cycle where people stop giving because the receivers aren’t grateful.

Gay Marriage and Euthanasia

I have yet to hear an argument against gay marriage that doesn’t invoke something written on bronze-age parchment.  Denying people who love and are committed to each other the right to marry is bad enough.  But it gets worse, by sinking its resources into this battle the church is losing the younger generation who realizes they are on the wrong side of history.  But it’s even worse than that because the next battle, euthanasia, the church has a compelling case against.  But it’s wasting its credibility on gay marriage so when the euthanasia debate does come to the forefront people will not be willing to hear the church out.

Sufjan Stevens Ticket Buying Guide

Sufjan Stevens is coming to Grand Rapids this spring, Tuesday April 28.  Tickets go on sale tomorrow the 30th at 10:00 A.M.  They will sell out very quickly.   Here is my guide for maximizing your chances of scoring some.

  1. Create a TicketReturn account right now.  To do this commence a purchase of a random cheap event like River City Improv.  During the process it will let you create an account.  After the account is created it will ask you for credit card info which you can cancel out of.
  2. Be logged into your TicketReturn account at 9:40 A.M. tomorrow.   It’s important to be logged in ahead of time.
  3. At this time start reloading the Sufjan Stevens TicketReturn URL: especially as it gets closer to 10

There are no guarantees obviously but Calvin’s servers are going to grind to a halt so it’s better to go right to the TicketReturn URL.

Loaded Words

These are some loaded words Christians and people in general use.

Solution: a “solution” is meant to convey that there is some kind of middle ground where parties can negotiate to, something efficient and painless where economic factors like comparative advantage come into play (for example farming out front end web design to a firm in India who spend all day doing front-end designs).  The problems with the church I write about have no solution (in the conventional sense of the word).  Hitting people’s pain points, goading them towards acting in the interest of collective happiness at the expense of individual happiness is anything but a solution.  In fact it’s more like creating a problem.

Service: this almost always goes with the grain of the power structures.  Institutions ask and ask of you but when you ask of them usually you get a lot of push back.  My church experience has been that people treat me like I’m invisible but are still trying to get me to do things for them.  There is no concept of reciprocity or even awareness that I’m not being included.

Forgive: in most cases where one is asked to forgive it’s really just the person with less power deferring to the person or institution with more power.  I think Frank Lutz would agree with me that “defer to the entity in power” doesn’t have the same ring to it as forgive.

Bitter: this is almost a slur in the Christian world.  It describes people who left the faith and don’t sugar coat accounts of their experiences of it.  Bitter people are often passionate, it’s just that their passion is in the opposite direction of where the church wants it to be.

Mind Games

I have realized the way I think does not produce much happiness.  And a lot of it has to do with the fact that I am not good at playing mind games.  I’d say apart from ameliorating physical suffering mind games play the most important part in one’s well-being.  Below I’ve outlined some of them:

Have a fortuitous relationship with the placebo response.
Putting a charm on your door to ward away evil spirits may sound stupid to a western mind but I imagine it works and the placebo effect is the thing doing the heavy lifting.  The ability to pray in faith successfully requires expertise in navigating the intricacies of the placebo response because you have to believe you’ll going to get what you ask for while not expecting it—all while not letting successive disappointments get you questioning the mechanics of your belief.

This applies for the prayer example above because you are effectively cordoning off parts of yourself (not doubting) to keep your beliefs going.  One cannot be a Christian (at least not an Evangelical) without compartmentalizing.  Without compartmentalizing one would be devastated over the eternal torture that awaits most in the afterlife.  Without compartmentalizing one cannot believe cats and pigs should be treated differently just by respect of their location.  Also you have the ability to check your brain at the door before entering a room (be it a church, a board room, a bar, etc..) this will do wonders for you  partly because then you won’t be so bothered with the things those in power in these contexts are presenting.

Your soul is a structure, cordon every room off with firewalls
Today’s world asks too much of us emotionally.  The only way one can survive without losing their sanity is sandboxing all their relationships (this is a computer science term that in this context basically means holding your soul at arm’s length).  Having faith is not something one wills like ordering pancakes.  It is something that happens naturally behind one’s back.  And by the time one realizes that they had faith in someone or something it is usually far to late to salvage anything (this usually happens when said faith has been broken).  I’m not advocating not trusting anyone, just guarding your heart and not letting anybody get too close and monitoring your thoughts of someone for signs of having too much faith in them.

All three of these come into play and help with perhaps the worst problem one can have with their faith, having faith that God will do something and then being totally devastated when he doesn’t act (to the person’s credit, said devastation seems to prove they had a lot of faith).

Uncomfortable Questions

For almost three years I have been writing down questions, many of them relating to the Christian faith.  I have made a subreddit of them (a subreddit is an online forum on the popular website Reddit).  You can see them here.  Interacting with them requires a Reddit account which is free.

Artprize: Artist Statement

Sometimes it’s difficult to be an artist because what happens when you have your training is you learn to draw and you learn to look and you learn to listen and observe and then in this process you grow this very tall antenna and then you start collecting all this information and then you have this buildup in your heart and your soul and you try to speak it and you find that people are oftentimes not interested, don’t get it, or afraid of what you’re saying.

– Rick Beerhorst [see video]