Category: Meta

Life As We Know It

Reposted from Drafts on October 30, 2019

It would be incredibly arrogant of me to suggest that through this blog–this non-marketed, constantly down and unreliable blog–I have some sort of influence. I know that with things like my post, Christy Clark is a Lizard PersonI make bold endorsements and act as if people read it and care what I think. I’ve always found the role of influence interesting, and I want to talk about it a little here.

Pushing the arrogant notion that what I say matters aside, what responsibility does someone in my position have? I write whatever I want and publish it on the internet. Since we live in an era with an unprecedented amount of nonsense, of fake news and alternative facts, what’s my role in all of it?

I don’t write fake news, except for sometimes when I write things that I feel are obviously sarcastic. I don’t like to joke too close to the truth because I feel like that can be misleading. But I also don’t write news!

I don’t know.

What I’m trying to say here is that I think about what I write, as much as it may not seem so. I know that I don’t have authority, or even a sense of credibility. But I don’t need it yet. My dream for the blog is to one day talk about real things in a real way, and we’re slowing pushing towards that reality. At that point it’ll be important for these words to have weight. Anyone who read the first iterations of the blog, way back when I was writing as Esmeraldo and Mac Shekoda, can probably see that the tone has shifted significantly already. There’s still a ways to go.

For now, I’m going to continue to call out politicians for being lizard people. And I think I’ll keep writing about the things I struggle with on a day to day basis as well.

This probably reads as a sort of conversation with myself. Here’s the summary:

Responsibility, authority and credibility. And what do I owe you, the person reading these words?

For the future, there are a lot of things I want to bring into the blog. I’ll try to keep posting every day (I know I missed yesterday, and I’ll keep missing days here and there, that’s just the way things are) and I want to talk more. I’d like to talk about mental health, keeping in mind that I’m not an expert. Along that line, I’ll talk about addiction as well.

I’m a white guy, but I’d like to talk about racism and discrimination. I’d also like to talk about feminism.

I want to talk about work! Not my job, but work in general. Unions, exploitation, economics, and that kind of thing.

I’ll talk about movies, television, books, magazines.

I might talk about renting a place in Vancouver.

I’d like to travel, and if I manage to get out of the city I’ll talk about that.

Like right now, for instance, it sounds like my landlord (who lives upstairs) is building something. She’s quiet old, but she’s making a lot of noise. It sounds kind of like she’s hammering something. I won’t speculate.

The point is, we’re kicking it into gear. I think.

The Things We Don’t Know We Don’t Know

Reposted from Drafts on October 30, 2019

Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones. 

Circa 2002, Donald Rumsfeld, the US Secretary of Defense, gave that statement in response to a question about the lack of evidence connecting Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. As we know now, there was no evidence, and what little information the US government used to justify the war was fabricated.

I love this quote. It’s a classic example of the bullshit phrases that defined the Bush Jr. administration. Most of them weren’t really said by Bush, and some weren’t said by anyone, but you probably remember some of the classics. Remember that the french don’t even have a word for entrepreneur? Or, a zebra can’t change its spots (which may have been said by Al Gore, but it’s hard to be sure)? They’re slip-ups, everyone makes them, but they came to define W’s two terms.

Anyway, I wanted to write about my favourite phrase:

the things we don’t know we don’t know.

Because although Rumsfeld was a neoliberal war-profiteer, he is the father of my favourite quote. This is not enough to redeem the war criminal, but I’ll save that for another day.

I remember the first time I heard it, probably in elementary school, my parents or older relatives were talking about it. People who understood a lot more than I did and found it hilarious. For me it made perfect sense. Of course there are things we don’t know we don’t know.

There are those things we know we don’t understand, like why are we here? What’s the meaning of life? Is there a God? But it’s much harder to imagine the things we don’t know we don’t understand. As Rumsfeld said, it’s the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones. 

That reminds me of another one I remember from that period. I think this quote, wherever it originated, I first heard on The Boondocks (the cartoon). The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. Another great phrase which makes perfect sense, but was used to justify the continued occupation of Iraq.

A little off topic, and I can’t remember where I read this, but someone wrote (maybe it was Chomsky?) that the biggest strength of the American military is how unpredictable they are. They’re chaotic and they don’t play by their own rules. From a leadership perspective there’s even a term for it: Madman Theory. It was a defining aspect of Richard Nixon’s foreign policy. The idea was if his enemies believed he was irrational and easily angered, they wouldn’t do anything that might provoke him.

EDIT (30-10-19): I originally wrote this post on April 25, 2017. Donald Trump had held office for about a year and his dealings with North Korea showed that he seemed to be very fond of Nixon’s Madman Theory.

Anyway, if you were wondering why the tagline on the website is the things we don’t know we don’t know, now you know.

It’s a known known.