Trying to Approach the Day with the Right Mindset

“Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil.

But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense, but as a fellow creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading.

Neither can I be angry with my brother or fall foul of him; for he and I were born to work together, like a man’s two hands, feet or eyelids, or the upper and lower rows of his teeth. To obstruct each other is against Nature’s law – and what is irritation or aversion but a form of obstruction.”

Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations, ~170 – 180 CE

I’ve been doing a lot of reading on Stoicism and came across this quote by Marcus Aurelius. It’s a very grounding message.

We should understand people’s bad behavior to be a normal, inherent part of life and living in a society. Rather than be affected, we should make sure that we continue to do the right thing and press on, understanding that people who behave badly are coming from a place of ignorance. And rather than retaliating or getting into a confrontation, we should continue to do our best because it is in the best interest of all involved, including ourselves.

Or at least, that’s what I understood from the quote. I’m not there yet, but it seems like a nice goal to work towards. Basically, not letting other people’s BS affect me and continuing to strive for excellence.

Thoughts on the 2020 Census Low Response Rate

Let me ask you this: if someone walked up to you in the street and offered you $1,091, would you say “No thanks”? According to a George Washington University report, every person that failed to respond to the 2010 Census cost their state an average of $1,091 dollars.

People complain about their communities all the time, especially in the Bronx. The Bronx is one of the worst off areas in the entire country. But people also don’t want to do anything to improve their situation, even when doing it is free.

You use public transportation, the school systems, the hospitals, the roads. Maybe you get EBT (food stamps). Maybe your Mom is elderly and gets some sort of medical assistance. You get a lot of services, but those services don’t just appear from thin air. Someone has to pay for that, right? They’re all partially funded by the federal government.

How does the federal government determine how much money to send to each community? The Census! The Census Bureau counts people, removes personal details, and releases statistics to the rest of the government for the purposes of allocating funding and determining representation in the House of Representatives.

Tables source:

It’s pretty simple. The more people that get counted, the more federal funding your community gets relative to the rest of the country. So if you don’t complete the census, you’re cheating yourself and your community out of essential services. You’re cheating your parents. You’re cheating your children.

It takes 5-10 minutes to complete the Census online. You can call someone to get the Census done if you don’t understand the questions. There’s really no excuse.

It doesn’t matter if the government has your social security number. It doesn’t matter if you’re on welfare and they “already know where you at”. That’s not how the government works.

If you want that money, if you want your neighborhood to improve, then you have to respond to the census. If you don’t, then funding for services and/or programs that you use could get cut and/or run out before funding is reallocated after the 2030 Census. This only happens once every 10 years.

Completing the census is more important than voting. When you vote, the politician that gets in office does whatever they want regardless of what they promised during their campaign, but when you complete the census, the government has no choice but to allocate funds according to the count and give your area more seats in the House of Representatives if that’s how the numbers play out. That’s just how it works.

Why do I care so much? Because people being willfully stupid bothers me. Because when I hear someone say, “No thanks” when a census taker asks them to complete the Census, that response is so stupid that it just stays with me. They’re not selling you something. They’re trying to give you something that you need. All you have to do is spend 5-7 minutes and take it.

Only 55% of New Yorkers have responded to the census, but guaranteed next year someone who didn’t bother to respond will be complaining about how the federal government doesn’t do enough to help poor communities like the Bronx.

The Myth of Police Protection & the Importance of Gun Ownership

The riots clearly showed that the police cannot protect you. I don’t say that to demean the police in any way. It’s just a numbers thing. There aren’t enough police to deal with the mob if the mob decides they want to attack.

The mob did attack here in New York City. They looted and burned and destroyed. They set a building on fire next to where I live. Multiple police vehicles drove right past them as they looted. I can’t imagine they didn’t see the hordes of people. They didn’t try to stop it. Not because they didn’t want to, but because they had other issues they were trying to deal with already. They were overwhelmed. I’m just glad the FDNY showed up in time to put out the fire before it took the whole building or jumped to our building.

In the news there were plenty of videos of store owners standing guard with guns, both black and white. There were also videos (mostly mocking) of white people with guns standing guard around their neighborhoods. People were mocking them (especially the white people with guns) as if they were stupid or doing something wrong or borderline illegal, but they protected themselves and their property. They still have homes and businesses while others do not. Why? Because the police can’t respond to every call when the mob starts to riot and those business owners and homeowners ensured their own safety with their own guns.

The Left wants to take away people’s guns. The Left wants to riot. The Left doesn’t want people to be able to defend themselves against roaming mobs. The Left wants to defund police departments. The Left wants to be able to attack people with impunity and also be the ones to dole out their own brand of justice through “community enforcement teams”.

These riots showed that gun ownership isn’t just a Constitutional right, it’s a necessity.

We need more of this:

Signal to Noise Ratio Online

This week was much quieter than previous weeks. It’s not that there isn’t as much going on. I suppose it’s just that I’m tuning it out more and focusing on my own issues. Caring about other people’s problems is a luxury and a burden, and sometimes that burden just gets tiring.

What I mean is that there are people on social media platforms that are constantly whining about the plight of some particular group of people or vociferously advocating some political agenda. There’s so much spin online that it’s a chore to try to find content that doesn’t suck and to sort through the noise in the responses to see if there’s anything meaningful.

I’d like to think that there was some magical era in the Internet’s past when this type of behavior didn’t exist. I remember trash talking in AOL chat rooms in the late 90’s. I remember griefing in MMO chats in games like Ultima Online and World of Warcraft. But it wasn’t this widespread and pernicious. It was localized. It was something you could turn off and walk away from and it was separate from your real life. Or at least that’s how it felt.

Probably three things led to the escalation and spread of the problem: smartphones, more widespread social networks like Twitter and Facebook, and the idea that you should use your real name online and “put yourself out there”, which later evolved into the idea of building your “personal brand” online.

The idea that you could turn yourself into a “brand” and attract attention led to polarization to gain and influence people politically, which fueled the spread of conspiracy theories and crackpot ideas on all ends of the political spectrum. And of course there are all the idiots eating tide pods and creating challenges to monetize their notoriety.

I had this idea when I was a kid that the Internet was going to help me learn things and that I would meet interesting people from all over the world that could teach me how to be a better person. In some cases that’s true, but there’s a lot more chaff than wheat in the field.

I guess I need to put more effort into curating the content that I look at, but the Internet seems geared towards overcoming people’s personal preferences to push sensationalized content for ad revenue. I would like to believe that if the barrier for self-hosting content (like, on a server in your house) were lowered both in terms of education and hardware/access costs (some ISPs charge extra to open the ports necessary for a home server to connect to the Internet) then we could overcome a lot of this BS, but I also feel like this somehow ties in to larger issues of wealth disparity and that some people are willing to push anything online if it’s going to make them money.

Maybe I’m just getting old and this is the equivalent of wanting young people to stop playing their boomboxes so loud, but I hope that one day the Internet is more than it is today in terms of quality.

A coronavirus kind of weekend

With all of the extra time I’ve been able to search around online for nice channels on YouTube, freebies, and stuff like that. The station above has some really smooth, low key jazz. It’s fantastic as background music in the afternoon while doing other things around the house. Work. Reading. Chores. Laying on the bed with the cats. Whatever.

Another weekend at home. We stayed in, except for my wife going downstairs to feed a stray cat near our building. We look out the window and we see people on the train platform going out, but it just doesn’t make sense to us in the long run. I’d rather pass on a weekend out now and be alive for many years of weekends out in the future.

Corona-chan as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

I introduced my Mom to Corona-chan. She thought it was pretty neat, and especially appreciated this particular image:

The shortages continue online. It’s starting to get annoying because I’m about to run out of all purpose flour. What the hell is going on that flour has been out of stock everywhere for so long? What are people doing with all of that flour? I need flour to make biscuits. My wife needs flour to make banana pudding.

Spent time yesterday while watching “Shtisel” to look for a new wallpaper background for my phone. Finally settled on the image above. It’s clean and elegant looking and it doesn’t interfere with the visibility of the app icons.

I miss going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.