Play to Strengths

Mind/body: people are so proud to go to the gym; so ashamed to go to the therapist.

– Alain de Botton

The difference in social acceptability between staying physically healthy and mentally healthy puzzles me. Even (Especially) at public school, I encountered a strong “sports are good; thinking is bad” culture. Obviously, it’s got a macho bullshit element: real men play rugby in shark-infested radiation sumps without feeling any emotion other than rage and manly non-erotic attachment to one’s fellows. Of course, I was mildly subversive about it when the opportunity presented. Which is why my sixth-form sport was bridge; I even have sporting colours for competing in competitions.

But it seems utterly backwards. Pick any physical challenge and there’s another animal that’s better at it than we are; we’re not strong, fast, aquatic, enduring, atmosphere resistant, poison resistant. The only physical thing humans are better at than any other animal is being sexually attractive to humans; which admittedly is another thing that real men are – but only in a heterosexual way. Whereas, we are arguable the most mind-possessing species on the planet.

Which makes focusing on the physical and disdaining the mental about as sensible as an electrician being laughed at for rewiring a house using tools and experience rather than painting his face with tapir spit and waving a balloon around his head.

And, as any good tradesperson will agree, you take care of your tools. So, we should be proud to take care of our minds.


Mock Trial

There are two sorts of people in the world: people who are not involved in a legal proceedings, who think that the law is somewhat ridiculous; and people who are involved in legal proceedings, who think that the law is of the utmost seriousness. However, it can’t be denied that there are sometimes cases that tickle my fancy; although not always for the reasons they please most.

Life Outside the Tank

You say we don’t understand your experience.
So we ask.
And you say that it ain’t your job to educate us.
Which is true, but doesn’t help solve the issue.
And solving the issue’s not your job either,
But that don’t mean you aren’t allowed to try if you want.

Which is why there are your stories out there.
Stories we get to read if we find them.
But they aren’t everywhere.
They aren’t common enough that we see the nuance just by breathing.
Because it’s not your job to educate or to fix.
And because of the cheap-shooting, foul-mouthed,
Logical-only-when-it-suits minority.
Those unhappy few who spew hate at anyone who dares to
Not be a bitter little pill
And who deserve

To be treated like human beings.
Because that’s how it works.
If humanity, decency, and virtue are about more than my tribe’s gonna kill yours,
Then that’s how it works.
They don’t have a right to come to your forum and talk shit about your faith.
The don’t have a right to come to your post and make jokes about your mother.
But they do have the right to be treated like a human being.

Because Kant’s idea that we make the rules
So we treat you the way we want to treated
Has problems.
But if you turn it round:
Create some rule about treating others the way you don’t want to be treated?
The clue’s in the name: Tnak.
Because, that’s not just an idea that will tank society;
It’s muddled thinking too.

Because we all share one experience:
Someone smacks you round the head, you want to smack them back.

Why Oppose When You Can Embrace?

Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody rather than for somebody.

– Franklin Pierce Adams

I understand the desire to prevent someone from gaining power, to seek the path of least danger, but if the system isn’t producing candidates you can vote for then you need the system to change. And how do you achieve change by doing the safest thing?

Or to put it another way, as Herodotus says, each part of a binary contains its opposite: so a vote for Labour is a vote for the Conservatives.

Therefore, I’ll be voting for the world I want rather than against only one of the ones I don’t.

Prior Unreasoning

There’s a famous aphorism “Do what I say, not what I do” which is often trotted out either to show one person or everyone is a hypocrite when it comes to morals. And, whichever interpretation you favour, it’s hard to deny that it’s often much easier to suggest a moral choice from the comfort of an armchair than it is to make a moral choice in the moment. The harder question is whether or not someone should be judged harshly for these deviations from higher morals.

The answer to which might begin with whether they are truly choices. As this talk by Robert Saplosky shows, the choice might have been rigged decades earlier:

The Miracle of the Mundane

On Saturday, I played another rather excellent session of 7th Seas LARP. During the course of that, my character ended up in an interesting conversation with a priest over whether miracles were inexplicable and obvious events, or tiny changes deliberately hidden behind rationale explanation to not compromise our free will. The priest remained adamant that they were son et lumière, glorious in their imperviousness to logic, and things moved on.

However, this morning, I went to look up something in my dictionary of quotations and it opened on this quote:

I suspect the truth is that we are waiting, all of us, against insurmountable odds, for something extraordinary to happen to us.

– Khaled Hosseini

Which made me wonder: is the miracle in neither the obvious defiance of natural law nor the hidden influence that we can interpret either way, but in the moment when we are living rather than waiting.

Or perhaps I’ve read too much Colin Wilson.