Seeking Advice from Gamers and Computer Geeks

Dear Gamers and Computer Geeks,

if you could recommend the best gaming desktop for games like Call of Duty costing between $2,000-$3,000, I will be very grateful.

– Happily Partnered with a Gamer in Illinois.

Very Annoyed

It’s the first day of the semester, and already somebody managed to annoy me beyond what I can express. And I’m not even at work today because I teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays this semester.

This is what happened: I worked hard on a project for people from another department. Finished it well ahead of time and sent it in. Today, I received the following response (I edited out some details but the format is preserved faithfully):

“I’ve looked at her project. . . It’s hard to tell right now. . . Of course, if I could look at the text, maybe then. . . As it is, I’m not sure I could say anything. . . It might have an even wider use than we anticipated. . . Or it could be of no use at all. . . One can’t say anything at this point. . . Maybe she can address these concerns and then. . . Wondered what made her think about doing this project. . .”

That’s the response I got, folks. The incomplete sentences, the discussion of me in the third person without once mentioning my name, the “. . .” at the end of EVERY single sentence, the weird act of faking forgetfulness of the fact that it was their direct request that made me do this project.

And now guess what discipline the professor who wrote this idiotic message teaches.

Law. This is a scholar of jurisprudence.

I’m now supposed to “address the concerns”. My main concern about these concerns is that the person who wrote this message is a babbling fool who somehow ended up being hired at my school.

Is this some sort of a code used by legal scholars where they use ellipsis marks almost a dozen times within a short professional email? I’m not used to responding to messages written in this format. I find it insulting. I deserve to be addressed in complete sentences by my colleagues.

Oh, and the person who wrote this email? She is at least 20 years older than I am.

Lukewarm Elections That Await Us

The Liberals in this country, for the most part, entertain very tepid feelings towards President Obama. Most will vote for him because the alternative is even less appealing.

The Conservatives aren’t wildly enthusiastic about Mitt Romney, either. (I think we can all agree that Romney will be the Republican nominee, can’t we?) Every Conservative analysis I have recently read has concentrated on the idea that the Right needs to support Romney to prevent Obama from getting re-elected. (Here is an example.) As the we have seen, the Conservatives have been searching hard for an alternative to Romney and failing to encounter one. The Conservative attitude towards Romney can be summarized as, “Well, I guess I’ll support him if there is nothing better. . .”

The reason why Obama is not making Progressives flock passionately to his support is that – let’s just be honest about it, OK? – he did not live up to his promise that we all saw in him on the night when the election results were announced in 2008. I haven’t been able to get over him appointing Summers and Geithner to repair our broken economy, and I don’t think I ever will get over it.

The reason why Conservatives aren’t passionate about supporting Romney – even though he is the only real chance they have to beat Obama – is, in my opinion, his grievous lack of charisma. Every time I see him, he reminds me of John Kerry. Kerry said all the right things but could one really get excited over him?

This is going to be an election where people will come to the polls unenthusiastically and support a candidate for the simple reason that the alternative is even worse. In such a big country as this one, don’t you think we could do better? And by “we” I mean all of us.

Are People Aware of Doing Evil Things?

Francois Tremblay says:

People don’t do things they consider evil.

I find this a fascinating topic for discussion, which is why I’m glad to have an opportunity to blog about it.

A great Russian writer Vladimir Dudintsev discusses this issue in his novel White Garments (it hasn’t been translated into English, unfortunately). According to Dudintsev, people are always aware when they are doing something evil.

Let’s imagine, Dudintsev’s character says to explain this idea, that scientists have discovered that cancer is caused by evil actions we commit or contemplate committing. (Nobody is saying that this, indeed, causes cancer. We all know it doesn’t. This is just a hypothetical.) If we have reliable scientific evidence that every evil act and intention makes us likely to get cancer, don’t you think people will start catching every instance they even begin to contemplate doing something bad? If our lives were at stake, would we not immediately start gauging not only the things we do but even the things we think for their degree of evilness?

Thus, Dudintsev says, any suggestion that people are unaware of the evil nature of their actions is simply not true. Just ask yourself: when you are feeling envious of your friend, when you are planning to undermine a colleague, when you are plotting to do something you know will hurt another human being, do you really and honestly not realize, at least at some level, that your actions are not right?

Of course, we build complex defense systems to rationalize our wrongdoings. However, we always know. I know I do.

Towards a Happy Personal Life: Is It Unhealthy to Want Someone?

I have received many grateful messages for my series of posts on dating. This makes me think I should continue discussing issues people may confront as they attempt to build their personal lives. Today, I am inaugurating a new series called “Towards a Happy Personal Life.”

Blogger Miriam makes the following observations on her blog*:

Similarly, people are expected to be “happy on their own” before they can be dateable. That’s preposterous. If you’re 100% happy being single, why would you need a serious partner in the first place? Why is it considered unhealthy to really, really want someone to share your life with?

I believe that addressing these concerns is crucial for anybody who is currently on a journey towards personal, romantic and sexual happiness.

Let me start with the last of the questions Miriam poses:

Why is it considered unhealthy to really, really want someone to share your life with?

I am one of those people who considers this unhealthy and who always fled at a fast pace from folks “wanting someone to share their lives”. It is wrong to want “someone” because nobody wants to play the role of “someone” in your life. People normally hope to be wanted not in the capacity of just someone but, rather, individually. Wanting a specific, concrete John, Anna, Daniel, or Pepita is healthy. Imagining a relationship and then trying to massage live human beings you meet into this vision of what you want your personal life to look like scares people away.

In the course of my long and eventful dating life, I met quite a few folks who were looking for someone, for a relationship, for marriage, for commitment. Every single time, these people turned out to be completely toxic as romantic partners. They were incapable of caring about me, a specific, concrete human being with a multitude of issues, problems, distinctive features, etc. They needed a “someone”, an actor to play the part of a romantic interest in the scenario they had created for themselves. This made them completely incapable of loving another person. They loved the idea of having a partner. The actual partner, however, was a lot less exciting to them.

So here is my advice: stop wanting “someone”, stop creating scenarios of relationships in your head. Look around yourself, identify a specific Jill or Jack you like and concentrate on wanting them. If there isn’t anybody like that and hasn’t been for a while, this means you have a serious problem that you need to address.

* None of this is supposed to be a personal criticism of Miriam who is a blogger I highly respect.

(To be continued. . .)