A point comes in everybody’s life when they are no longer able to accept new ideas. They arrive at “the Truth” and close themselves off to anything that doesn’t confirm it. Their inner lives become a closed chamber where the same broken record plays on an endless loop. For many people, this happens quite early in life.

A human mind, however, is much bigger than this locked chamber. If anybody manages to break through, disrupt the loop, and bring a new idea into the mind of such a person, he (which it normally is) becomes an object of an intense attachment to the close-looper. This can be a guru, a religious leader, an ideologue, a self-help peddler, an artist, or a political demagogue of any kind. The attachment is a product of the close-looper’s realization that their brain is capable of bigger things than the looper once thought possible and the resulting gratitude. But this process also produces a lot of fear because the looper is untrained in intellectual expansion. The disrupting guru becomes an object of fixation, which is the mind’s attempt to block off any further intellectual discoveries.

The whole purpose of my blog is to serve as a workout for my own brain to prevent it from closing off and going stale. I prod and poke my own certainties because, as somebody else said:

This kind of rigidity comes when critical thinking is abandoned. To close oneself off to the possibility of alternative opinions, and only to see the world through the lens of confirmation bias, is a form of intellectual death.

People who read this blog often find this process disturbing because it happens in real-time and is based on a constant prodding of certainties that is often hard to tolerate. It’s easier for me because I’m the driver of the process on my own blog. But I understand that it can be extraordinarily annoying to observe.

Those who have stuck with the blog for years are quite unique in their capacity to tolerate the disruption of their inner truths. This is a capacity that speaks to a great intellectual strength and curiosity. I don’t think I’d be able to let go of my own rigidity to such a degree. I only do it in an environment that’s completely controlled by me, and that’s a very different thing.

I don’t, however, blame those who fall off over the years. From the outside, the whole process looks quite schizophrenic. First, I say one thing, then something completely different, then it shifts again. Then I arrive at something new and get stuck on it and try to process it by endless repetition, which is even more obnoxious. I need this because it helps me think but I understand how it can be frustrating to watch.


New Sexual Morality

Wow, this is actually worse than 19th-century sexual morality. This is a suggestion legally to punish not even false offers of marriage but simply allowing somebody to make an assumption that a marriage offer might be forthcoming.

And look at how blatantly the language of consumerism is incorporated into this way of thinking:

This legal standard is modeled on how we treat misleading commercial branding through statutes like the Lanham Act. In both the world of brands and the world of dating, there’s an incentive for sellers to misrepresent what they are peddling to gain an advantage

P.S. The comments are really scary. I obviously didn’t see all of them but way too many people enthusiastically agree with this ridiculousness.

Kardashianization of Politics

Conservative obsession with attacking Ocasio-Cortez is keeping her in the news 24/7 and only making her stronger. They’re going to make the mistake as the libs did with Trump and end up making her president.

— Murtaza Mohammad Hussain (@MazMHussain) November 18, 2018

Journalists simply follow ratings. The Kardashians have a huge following. When you see a woman who is a parody of a star on the Kardashians, you’ve got to put her on to attract viewers. I tune in for her like I don’t for Elizabeth Warren or Paul Ryan because she’s simply so goshdarn funny. It’s the Kardashian-type funny but it’s still entertaining.

Complexities of Immigration

Social media use is a great predictor of how well an immigrant will adapt to the new country. It’s always important to see who the target audience of an immigrant’s social media output is.

In the notoriously unadaptable Russian-speaking immigrant community, for instance, there are some very popular bloggers, YouTubers, Instagramers, etc. But they speak exclusively to people back home or people who are immigrants from their own community. Facebookers prefer to write in Russian and address a Russian-speaking group of friends even if they have perfect English.

These are people who rank high in terms of educational and financial attainment and who don’t find it hard to make six figures but who have only emigrated in body and not in soul. (For obvious reasons, people who live in misery in our countries don’t emigrate to North America. Those who come here are already successful academically and professionally. The ones who flee misery go to Portugal.)

I recently had a conversation with somebody who emigrated from Russia at least 20 years ago and is living a very successful, comfortable life in the US.

“What do you think about the elections?” I asked, and my interlocutor plunged into an enthusiastic discussion of the elections of the mayor of Moscow. It took me a while to explain I meant a different election, and when I did, he lost all interest in the discussion.

It’s like when Russia and Canada played a major hockey game a few years ago, and the newspaper of the Russian immigrant community in Canada came out with the headline of “Our team won!” on the next day. When I saw the front page, I thought Canada won and felt happy. But that’s not what the publishers meant.

Immigration is very complex and can’t be understood with simplistic approaches.

NYTimes: The Long-Term Cost When Graduates Move Back Home

In a discovery that should surprise exactly no one, graduates in need of financial help do a lot better if they get financial assistance from their parents than if they move back home.

Everybody in the article seems stunned by this but it’s obvious how this works. Moving back with the parents puts you in a role of a child. And a child isn’t supposed to be professionally successful. People live up to their roles. It takes a person of rare strength and courage to avoid living up to an assigned role. But that person won’t be moving in with parents to begin with.

Another reason is that a dynamic where parents aren’t offering financial help instead of moving back in and children aren’t asking for it is already one of controlling parents and a beaten down child whose initiative has been sapped out. Being professionally successful is unattainable to such a person.

A much more interesting question is where the drive, the hunger for more, the restlessness of mind come from. I have no idea but since they are not as crucial as the capacity to be an adult, it doesn’t matter. Everybody needs to eat but it doesn’t have to be caviar.

Series Disappointment

I was enjoying the Spacey-less season of House of Cards until they showed a 60-year-old woman who’s never given birth before getting pregnant the moment she decided it was convenient.

I don’t mind series being unrealistic in all aspects except the physiological. When people sprout wings and fly, that’s fantasy genre. And I need to be warned about anything that smacks of fantasy so that I can avoid it.

Amazon and Debt

I saw a meme on FB, “Instead of giving money to Amazon, why don’t we just cancel the student debt?”

The answer is: because the result is the same but the way it works now takes less time. And leaves students a bit richer.

Explanation: cancel student debt, and the debtors will immediately go buy stuff on Amazon (and a couple of its competitors) in the amount slightly higher than the canceled debt.

There’s no way of avoiding the money ending up in Bezos’s pocket. Let’s just relax and enjoy it, I say.

P.S. This is supposed to be a funny post. I know from experience that people tend to grow grim around Thanksgiving and take everything very seriously. So warning: I’m making a joke here. Ha ha. I’m not in the least opposed to student debt relief.