Imagine if Kyle Rittenhouse Had Been Black?

If he hadn’t been shot to death that night, he would surely be in prison for his entire natural life.

Imagine this, Kyle Rittenhouse is a 17-year old Black kid from Illinois. He drives across the border into Kenosha to support the Black Lives Matter protests and on his way, a friend gives him the AR-15 he was holding for him because he’s too young to own one himself.

Fearing that other BLM protesters might be endangered by armed Trumpists, Black Kyle mingles with the marchers to let the Trumpists know that there is armed protection. Things quickly get out of hand and the young, Black, and armed, Kyle raises the weapon and fires it in self-defense. Two white Trumpists are killed and third one wounded.

Kyle, our Black one, then proceeds to run toward the police who are moving in on the crowd to investigate reports of shots fired. With the AR-15 hanging at his side and hands in the air, he moves briskly toward the police who now look like a US occupying force from Afghanistan.

What do you think happens to Black Kyle at this moment? I am willing to bet that he would have been mowed down by no less than 30 guns of the converging police. The amount of bullets soaring his way would have cut him in half.

Put yourself in their shoes, though: A young Black kid with an AR-15 is running toward them. Sure, his hands are over his head but he’s still a “young, Black kid with an AR-15,” right? There are shouts from the crowd that the kid coming at them had just shot people — sure, the cops, mostly white but not all of them, would have reacted the way they usually do when Black people are involved: Shoot first and ask questions later.

If Black Kyle managed not to be executed by the police that night, he would have by now been sentenced to an eternity of time in prison. Black people can shoot Black people and get away with it — they aren’t supposed to be shooting white people, though. Especially Trumpist white people who are backed by Fox News and the Republican Party.

Let’s get back to our reality for a bit.


He Was Protecting His Community

No matter how it would have been sliced, the Right was going to make the Kyle Rittenhouse story a rallying point. In the current iteration, white Foxified Trumpist slaughters two Americans aligned with the Black Lives Movement and, of course, they cry in mob-like unison, “he was protecting his community.”

This is the first lie, not that truth ever really matters to these people. Rittenhouse wasn’t from the community in which he pulled the trigger of that illegally-possessed weapon of mass destruction. He is not a resident of Kenosha but Antioch, Illinois. He drove himself across the border, and not his mother as has been wrongly reported.

The protests in Kenosha kicked off because 20-year old Jacob Blake was shot by police while being arrested. Blake, who was left crippled as a result of the shooting, had a knife in his possession. The police opened fire on him. Remember this moment when we remember how Kyle raced toward the police with his arms raised after he had finished his shooting people — they let him pass without a word being said to him.

Suffice it to say, the right has made Kyle Rittenhouse a hero.

He has been praised by all wingnuts starting with Trump and trickling down through the Pachinko machine of hate the Republican Party has become. Tucker Carlson has a special report in store for us thanks to a camera crew that was embedded with Kyle during the trial — even though his lawyer was against such a manipulation orchestrated by Fox News. The esteemed, and alleged rapist Matt Gaetz, has offered Rittenhouse a job — God Bless America and God Bless guns! Yippee!

Rittenhouse was protecting his community, the one that consists of course of white, Foxified Trumpists. He was protecting the “community” of white Americans, the ones who are being “hunted” by white liberals and illegal immigrants. Rittenhouse is a hero in his community — he is a soldier on their made-up front.

Forty, thirty, twenty, maybe even ten years, ago, Kyle Rittenhouse would have been found guilty, at least for involuntary manslaughter. He’d be in prison at this moment. The right, however, made this their cause. The right wing machine needs Rittenhouse to be innocent because with his innocence comes big plans — a big, bloody and not justified future for Trumpist fascists: Shooting liberals is now okay so long as you make it seem you were scared.

We already know that shooting Black Americans is cool with them — and quite often, if not always, the shooting are justified by white juries. Now the bullets can be earmarked for the rest of us and very little law enforcement will be enacted to keep us safe.


The Other Slice

Had Kyle Rittenhouse been Black and he somehow managed not to be killed that night by the police or the mob of white “patriots,” then Fox and the right would have been out in force in cities and towns all over America, gunned up like the dummies they look like, while they awaited the verdict.

Marjorie Taylor Greene’s nutty declaration that liberals are “hunting patriots” would have carried so much more weight, and even made her seem right in their eyes. The whites killed in my make-believe tale, would surely have already had parks, schools, strip malls and shooting ranges, named after them. Martyred for the cause of American fascism, eternal fires would be flicking in town squares all over the land they have us American patriots unwanted.

Had Kyle been Black and he was acquitted — something that would never happen in America — the proverbial shit would have hit the fan. It might have even been the turning point; the event that historians later would identify as the one that unofficially started the Civil War.

Take for example what some historians consider the moment when the South Carolinian, and pro-slavery, Senator Preston Brooks nearly beat Senator Charles Sumner to death with cane on the floor of the Senate in 1856. Some call this the moment when a civil war became inevitable.

Black Kyle, even if he was “defending” himself like the white Kyle, never would have been acquitted. The jury would have convicted him so fast, and the judge, who was clearly rooting for white Kyle to go free, would have thrown every possible year he could at the poor, Black kid.

I am not sure Kyle Rittenhouse is guilty of murder. I don’t believe he went there with the intention of gunning people down. I think he is a dumb and impressionable kid who was in a place he never should have been. I think the horseshit excuse that “bearing arms” is our constitutional right, and so we all get to walk around like a bunch of gunned-up losers looking for trouble, also led us to those deaths.

At a minimum, Rittenhouse should have been found guilty for manslaughter; instead, he will walk free and straight onto the sets of the right wing media machine. He will declare to the army of ignorant Trumpists out there who are envious at Rittenhouse’s good fortune — after all, he got to gun down a few liberals and was found not guilty.

Rittenhouse’s trial, no matter how it could have been sliced, would either become a case where the system is fixed against Trumpists and so the system must be torn down; or, with acquittal it becomes a declaration that hunting season on liberals is now open.

Guess we are now, my fellow non-Trumpists?


Yes Trolls, COVID Deaths Have Been Racially Disproportion

Ironically, this racial disparity has increased the risk for white folks too

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the almost unimaginable loss of life, rationality has been among America’s greatest casualties.

Thus, the proliferation of those who think doctors and nurses are the ones killing patients brought to the ICU, rather than COVID being the culprit for that.

Or those who believe taking horse de-wormer and inhaling hydrogen peroxide is better for attacking the virus than anything a hospital might do.

This lack of critical thought is also evident in the way some understand (or, more to the point, fail to understand) the data on COVID deaths.

To wit, several persons who have recently written to me insisting the claims about COVID disproportionately killing Black people and other folks of color are false.

As they explained it, those who push a racial disparity narrative do so only to besmirch the good name of America (and white people in particular) for letting it happen.

But as with all things, they’re wrong.

First, COVID has most assuredly hit Black folks especially hard — as well as Latinos and Indigenous persons — and the data is clear on this point.

Second, my purpose in pointing this out is not to shame white people but to wake us up, not only to the racialized injustice of COVID but also to how that injustice, ironically, has increased the risk to us.

In seeking to debunk COVID’s racially disparate toll, my electronic detractors pointed specifically to recent CDC data (see below), indicating that the share of COVID deaths among whites (61.4 percent) has been roughly equal to the white percentage of the population. In fact, they noted, the white share of fatalities has been slightly higher than the white proportion of the nation, which stands at 59.7 percent.

While the Black share of deaths (15.1 percent) has been above their population percentage too (12.6), the fact that this is also true for whites — and that the Latino death share (18 percent) is below their population percentage (18.6) — suggests COVID has been a pretty equal opportunity killer.

Centers for Disease Control, Health Disparities, Provisional Death Counts for COVID-19

But this is all kinds of wrong.

And if the people who sent me this had read the entire report whence these numbers came — or could merely understand it — they would know that.

Racial disparity in COVID deaths is evident once you adjust for age

To understand the racially disproportionate impact of COVID, one must remember that this virus is especially deadly for the elderly due to underlying health issues more likely experienced by them. And since white folks are far more likely to be elderly — a function of systemic racial and economic inequity suppressing life expectancy for others — a large share of the dead will be older and white.

But that’s why you have to age-adjust the data. Only then can you get a clear sense of racial risk at every age group.

And when you make those adjustments — which the CDC did in that same report mentioned above — you can see the magnitude of the problem.

Although COVID does kill older folks at racially disparate rates, the disparities above the age of 65 and especially 75 are not as significant due to the consistency with which this virus kills the aged.

Where things change significantly is when you examine the non-elderly.

Among persons 55–64, whites are 69 percent of the population, but only 45.5 percent of those who have died in that age group.

For persons 45–54, whites are 61 percent of the population but a little less than 37 percent of the dead from COVID.

On the other hand, Black folks are 12 percent of the 55–64 population but 21 percent of COVID deaths in that group — a rate nearly 1.8 times what it would be if their deaths were consistent with their share of the 55–64 age cohort.

For 35–44-year-olds, Black folks are a bit less than 13 percent of the population but more than 23 percent of deaths in this group.

Latinos are 18 percent of the 45–54 age group, but 35 percent of that cohort’s deaths — almost double the share we’d expect if deaths mirrored the population percentages.

And the data is genuinely stunning for Indigenous persons.

For 35–44-year-olds, Indigenous folks are 0.7 percent of the population but nearly 3 percent of deaths — a share of deaths fully four times their population percentage of that age group.

For 25–34-year-olds, Indigenous persons are 0.8 percent of the population but nearly 4 percent of the dead in this group.

A few calculations from the following chart also demonstrate the magnitude of COVID’s racial disparity.

While only 15 percent of white COVID deaths have been to persons under 65, nearly a third of Blacks who’ve died were younger than that. And while only 1 in 33 white decedents have been younger than 50, almost 1 in 10 Blacks who have died were that young.

For Latinos, nearly 4 in 10 of the dead have been under 65, and around 1 in 8 have been under 50.

For Indigenous persons who have died, 42 percent have been under 65, and 1 in 7 have been younger than 50.

Racial disparities in health outcomes are NOT just about economics

Some might say that these racial disparities in COVID deaths, though real, aren’t about race per se. This is the kind of racism denial you often get from certain quarters of the left. Such persons don’t dispute the disproportionate disadvantages Black folks face, for instance, but merely insist that those disadvantages have less to do with race-based unfairness and more to do with socioeconomic status.

But denial, no matter how “progressive,” is still just bullshit.

Although COVID data hasn’t been broken out by race and class together, we know that when it comes to the co-morbidities that tend to make COVID fatal, Black, Indigenous, and Latino folks suffer more of them than whites at every level of economic condition.

Indeed, better-off persons of color typically fare no better than lower income and working class whites when it comes to health, and often quite a bit worse.

For instance, in one study of severe maternal morbidity (SMM) — a leading indicator of population-level health — Black women in low poverty neighborhoods were more than four times as likely to experience a severe maternity-related complication as white women from high poverty neighborhoods.

Likewise, Black women with at least a Bachelor’s degree had SMM rates 2.4 times higher than white women who never graduated high school.

In other words, racial health disparities before COVID, which have now driven COVID disparities over the past 19 months, are not simply about Black and brown folks being poorer, on average than white people.

It is not a matter of “class, not race.” It’s about how racial mistreatment and discrimination, historic and contemporary, have affected Black and brown people, even when they are educated, employed, and have decent health care coverage.

But ironically, all this Black and brown death has also hurt white people

Having said all of this, just because persons of color have borne a disproportionate share of the suffering from COVID does not mean white Americans can breathe easily.

As I’ve discussed previously, the trajectory of COVID has demonstrated how interrelated we are and how dangerous it is to think you’re not at risk just because others seem to be taking the brunt of the damage.

When the early reports last April indicated the impact of COVID mainly was falling on Black folks in large urban areas, many seemingly decided the virus wasn’t a risk to them.

That was the point when conservatives, led by President Trump, started demanding the re-opening of temporarily shuttered businesses and the resumption of normalcy. Now that they knew those people were doing the bulk of the dying, it was as if they decided they could go back to their regular lives, confident they would be safe.

And so they did: they refused to mask, scoffed at social distancing, and then when the vaccine became available, they were the ones disproportionately refusing to take it.

Now, look what’s happened.

In March and April of 2020, white folks were only about 30 percent of those who had died from COVID, even with the way this virus primarily affects the elderly and even with whites being a disproportionate share of such persons.

But by the end of 2020, 55 percent of those dying monthly were white. Now, over 60 percent of the overall dead are white. And increasingly, this toll is falling on white folks in precisely the conservative, Trump-loving states where people felt immune.

It’s no exaggeration to say that hundreds of thousands of white people have died who wouldn’t have died had we taken COVID more seriously early on when it seemed primarily a problem for those who weren’t white like us.

But because of the early disparities — still evident once you adjust for age — we took our foot off the brake, and here we are, pushing 700,000 dead. More than 1 in 500 Americans have now died because of COVID.

Yet, in the face of this mass death, millions are choosing, out of allegiance to a real estate developer and former game show host, to rely on Facebook friends, Reddit threads, and MAGA TikTok for advice rather than scientists and doctors the world over.

Between their medical ignorance and their inability to interpret basic data, there is no reason to think things will get better for America anytime soon.

The 99/1 Rule That Will Make You Unstoppable

Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.

Oprah Winfrey

Do you know why there are people who succeed in almost everything they set out to do? They don’t have more time, they don’t have skills that you or I can’t have, they have simply known how to go one step further to Pareto’s Law until it becomes the 99/1 rule.

Until I learned about Pareto’s Law, I thought productivity was about getting as much done as possible.

The way I had to finish the tasks was to spend time at the end of the day when the head is not totally optimal and the quality of your work decreases considerably.


A first step to being unstoppable

Pareto realized that 80% of the wealth in his country was owned by 20% of the population. Over the years he also observed this interesting effect in different aspects such as:

  • 20% of the people you know provide you with 80% of support and satisfaction (friendship, love… etc).
  • 20% of the customers generate 80% of the revenue of a business.
  • 80% of your success depends on 20% of your effort.
  • 20% of the exercises you do will bring 80% of benefits to your body.

Forget 80/20 and focus on 99/1

By now you will have read this theory an infinite number of times. What was later demonstrated is that within that 20% the 80/20 rule occurs again. Thus we have that 4% of the population has 64% of the wealth. And from that 4%, we could do the same rule again.

If you have any doubt about what I am talking about, here are some examples:

  • 1% of businesses have the same capitalization as the remaining 99% of companies.
  • 1% of F1 racers are paid the same as the rest of the pit lane.
  • 1% of Medium accounts have 99% of followers.
  • 1% of works of art are worth the same as the remaining 99%
  • 1% of the world’s richest people own 85% of the world’s stocks
  • 1% of our personal relationships bring us 99% of our happiness.
  • 20′ of sport at very high intensity per day produces changes in our body far superior to those of walking for 4 hours.

So all the extraordinary benefits come from 1% (or even less) of the tasks we do. Look for asymmetries in your life and focus on them.

Have you ever had a partner or friend that you don’t know how he/she can possibly have time to do everything he/she does? When we were little there was always a classmate who was the best in sports, in studies, the one who was the most flirtatious, and even the one who went out partying the most.

Knowing how to be within that 1% in many areas of our lives can make us unstoppable.


Where can I apply the 99/1 rule?

The 1% rule is applicable to all areas of life: studies, work, soft skills, sports, investment, business, art….

Many people have no idea of the enormous capacity we can immediately possess when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.

Tony Robbins

In other words, 99 percent of your results should come from 1 percent of your time. Does that mean you should work less? Not really. What this concept seeks is to motivate you to focus on the things that really matter, especially the tasks that help us reach our goals.

How do you identify that 1% of super-productive actions focus on them and leave aside the rest that is not?


Think again about the things you have to do

You want to take on too much. In addition to the projects you’re taking on, you feel like you have 50 other smaller tasks that require your attention. You have a ton of unanswered emails in your inbox. A colleague working on another project urgently needs your opinion and they’re already on deadline. And that’s not to mention the pounds of laundry waiting for you at home.

But it’s not all bad news. Solutions for prioritizing tasks and making decisions are not new. In fact, one of the best decision-making and time management frameworks was invented half a century ago by old-school productivity master and busy man Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States.

He created a matrix that bears his name and states that tasks can be classified into four groups:

  • Important and Urgent tasks: you should focus all your attention on completing them.
  • Important but Non-Urgent tasks: tasks that are important for your professional and personal development and should be done once you have completed the tasks in the first group.
  • Not important but urgent tasks: these are the tasks that you should delegate
  • Not Important and Not Urgent tasks: don’t do them, use this time to watch Netflix or read a new book.

Stop to think and classify the tasks, focus on the first two groups and forget the rest.


Create habits

This is the point that will get you where you want to go.

Focus on that 1% of tasks that give you results and turn them little by little into habits. Successful people, if they have gotten to where they are, it is because they have good habits. Locate those habits that detract and turn them little by little into positive habits. Habits are the first stepping stone in building a system.

Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress

James Clear, Atomic Habits

Repetition is more important than volume or the importance of the action itself. The important thing is to put it into practice not in speed, but in the quality of the result.

When we talk about a small change we think of trivial, ridiculous actions. Set a point to start your habit and dedicate 2 minutes to implementing it.

What can you do with two minutes? 10 push-ups, prepare your clothes to go for a run, write two lines of a post …

Every day dedicate these two minutes, when you feel confident increase this and dedicate 2 more minutes to the next action that requires the habit.

Ritualize the process, standardize it before moving on to the next one.


Generate Momentum in your life

Momentum is a double-edged sword. It can propel you to new heights or keep you locked into previous choices and old habits. Years are wasted for the sole reason that we tend to keep doing what we are already doing. Inertia eats up opportunities.

James Clear

Why is it so easy for us to get into bad habits, but so hard for us to form good ones? The simple answer is that bad habits give us instant results, satisfying our instant gratification monkey, while the results that come from good habits are delayed.

Concatenate productive actions and they will magically bring you closer to where you want to go.

Improving 1% every day will lead you to be x37 better than your current self in a year. Conversely, being 1% worse every day for a year takes you back to basically zero.


ProTip

I’m going to show you one of the biggest pain points in today’s society and how you can benefit from it.

Deep Work is one of the most demanded skills in the multitasking society we live in. Knowing how to focus on a single task and not stop until we develop it.

In this new economy, three groups will have a particular advantage: those who can work well and creatively with smart machines, those who are the best at what they do, and those who have access to capital.

Deep work is like a muscle, which means you have to build it.

5 Ways To See How Committed He’s to You

Words aren’t enough to prove that he wants to make the relationship works.

Every man can say he loves you to death that he doesn’t think he can live without you. But how true is that sentence? Does he mean what he said?

I talked about how it’s a waste of time trying to change his mind and make him commit to you last week. But what about those men who say he’s committed, but it doesn’t feel 100% right to you?

He clearly loves you and wants a relationship. But his actions day to day make you doubt it. You want to see how committed he is, so you don’t just waste your time in the relationship.

I don’t like thinking too much about relationships. It’s mentally unhealthy. But I also think we should reevaluate our relationship once in a while just to see if we are still on the same page with our partner.

He has concrete plans for the future with you.

A clear sign he wants to spend the rest of his life with you is by seeing what’s on his future plan. Are you included? Does he use a “we” when he talks about it? If the answer is no to both of those questions, then maybe you shouldn’t invest too much in the relationship just yet.

For men, having concrete plans about the future, which includes the woman he loves isn’t always easy. But if he really wants you in his life forever, then he’d figure it out.

He introduces you to his family and friends

The tricky thing is, sometimes a man has a traditional family who isn’t cool with all of this “dating culture,” so that might be his main reason for not introducing you to them yet.

But at least if you’ve been dating for quite some time, you got to know his friends. You can’t be the one who introduces him to all of your close people, but when it comes to his social life, he doesn’t want you to know.

If that happens, then you have the right to bring it up and ask for his sincere explanation.

He doesn’t treat you as a backup plan

It’s fair to say that men who aren’t committed enough will try to keep their options open. How do you know? Simply by seeing whether he flirts easily with other women or not.

I’ve seen men who are already taken but still on Bumble trying to find “new friends” to connect with. Or you probably heard those common stories where they’re out of town for a business trip but then actively seeking hookups and dating apps at the same time.

He can convince you however he wants that you’re the “one” for him, but if he always acts like he wants the cake and eats it too, then it’s surely not a good sign.

He supports your goals and dreams

It’s highly recommended to have your own things going on so you don’t get obsessed with your relationship too much. But what if he doesn’t support you? Should you take it as a red flag?

I will personally reconsider being with the man for the long run if that happens. Supporting each others’ goals and dreams in a relationship isn’t actually that hard. If he doesn’t even care about it, then there are a couple of reasons:

  • Either he doesn’t plan to stay in your life for the long haul (which means he isn’t that committed to you).
  • Or he thinks your goals aren’t important enough

Whatever the reason is, it’s totally normal to expect your man to support you with your personal goals just as much as he wants you to support his.

He doesn’t play with the “breakup” words easily

Who wants to be in a relationship with someone who, every time a big argument happens, throws the “breakup” words like it’s nothing? If you are with someone like this, I can assure you he’s not 100% in it.

Because no committed man likes to say “let’s just break up then” in every fight that’s happening. He should figure a way out to solve the problem rather than acting like he’s so ready to exit the relationship at any time.

A relationship like this is also very toxic. I’ve been there before, and I can tell you, it doesn’t matter how many times he told me “I love you”, I never fully trusted him that he wouldn’t break up with me in the future.


Parting Words

Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes, but no plans.

Peter F. Drucker.

It’s true that women are easily tricked by the words she hears from the man. So it’s no surprise many of them stay in a relationship that’s actually going nowhere. Her man keeps saying we’ll get married eventually, and that’s enough to make her stick with him for years.

I’m not saying it’s easy to get away from a man like that but it’s certainly not worth it.

Don’t hurt yourself by trying to put “more” so that he can see your efforts and finally change his mind.

’Cause I’m sure you’ve got better things to do.

On Meaningful Work

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

Chinese proverb

‘A job that teaches you nothing, is just a job. And because it teaches you nothing, you’ll remain stuck there. Unless you do something about it.

Most employers don’t care about what you think. They care about your labor. You become a more valuable asset when people care about what you think. If all you’re selling is your labor, you’re selling yourself short. The modern economy is built on ideas.

You have something valuable to give to the world, and it’s easier than ever to do it. Give the world your best and see where it leads. The creative person you were as a child is still part of who you are now. You are a vault filled with ideas waiting to be unlocked from within.

It’s not a lack of ideas that holds us back, it’s usually a lack of execution. We tend to wait for someone else to give us permission. Give yourself permission.

Whatever makes you unique, is what makes you remarkable. Whatever makes you remarkable, is what makes you marketable. There’s room in the world for your individual uniqueness. It just might take awhile to find the people who will value it.

It’s a beautiful thing to be able to do what you love. It starts by being bold enough to try. You have to start somewhere to get where you want to be. And if you’re fortunate enough to do the things you love, you should be grateful. Be grateful for the opportunities you’ve been given.

Why Do I Feel Stuck?

It happens every once in a while, and it’s normal.

In life, there are moments when we feel like life is monotonous. And in those moments, we often ask ourselves: “What am I doing with my life?”

It is normal to feel this way because these moments often happen in life, and they will always come and go.

Sometimes the trigger would be our self-doubt, which will lead us to compare ourselves with other people. We might also overthink what other people think or say about us.

And once you felt that way, you’ll go down the rabbit hole of attacking yourself until you feel like shit.

Overthinking about being stuck will not get you anywhere. But it would be best if you didn’t avoid or deny this feeling. It’s something that we should accept, as it is a process that makes us grow.‍

It is a way for us to be able to understand ourselves better.

So take some time to grasp the feeling, declutter your mind, and try to figure it out. It will take time to do so, but you can’t “unstuck” yourself just by thinking about it. You have to do something to untangle yourself.

Just like how you wouldn’t know if you’d like to eat something before trying it, sometimes we need to experience the things that we don’t enjoy to understand what we want in life.

It’s not stupid to do the wrong thing, be at the wrong place, or have bad timing. At least you tried, and you should be proud of trying.

You’re Not Lazy. That’s It. That’s The Problem

You’re not lazy.

That’s not the problem.

It’s not that you’re scared or distracted or something else. You don’t have to hustle like Gary Vee. You don’t have to just do it. You don’t have to be a living embodiment of the swoosh. It’s interesting how many times this idea comes up. Even Shia LaBeouf has a spin on it.

Here’s the big secret…

We think being lazy is the opposite of being successful and productive. What if it’s not? What if being lazy was necessary? What if procrastinating weren’t a bad thing? What if you were just bad at them?

Maybe being lazy is a skill.

We’ve forgotten it.

Everyone is lazy.

Here’s the most basic definition of lazy:

Unwilling to do work.

I’m pretty sure that includes all of us. Nobody loves work. Some of us have managed to make money off doing things we enjoy. We call it “work” because it earns income or brings us some kind of reward. The dirty little truth is that we do it for its own sake.

We got lucky.

There was a point in human history where laziness couldn’t exist. You either found food and shelter, or you starved. You froze. You got eaten. Once you had food and shelter, you didn’t go about making more shelter just for the hell of it. You kicked back and relaxed. You painted the walls of your cave because you wanted to, not because it was “work.”

My neighborhood has a few stray cats. They don’t do anything more than they have to in order to survive. They enjoy long naps.

This is what animals do.

We’re animals.

None of us are exactly “willing” to do work. What we’re willing to do is exchange our time and energy for things we need. We want to do as little work as possible for the maximum outcome. Doing more work than necessary is actually the root of our biggest problems.

Laziness is good for you.


We crave homeostasis.

Do you know what really motivates people?

A desire to do nothing.

We operate on what psychologists call drives, or needs. Our biggest need of all is homeostasis, a point where we can stop worrying about everything and just chill out for a little while. We do things so we don’t have to do them anymore, at least not until tomorrow.

We don’t allow ourselves to do nothing anymore.

We’ve bought into the lie that doing nothing is wrong. If it’s not unproductive, it’s just plain boring. So we look for fun.

We eat out.

We go to movies. We play games. We throw parties. We bathe. We get drunk. We do anything but stay home.

The closest thing we have to nothing is called meditating. We’re supposed to do it sitting upright, with our legs in a pretzel. We’re supposed to by special clothes and download apps. We have to consume it. We write about it in journals. We track it in apps.

You know the worst part?

We’re constantly sold homeostasis. Every ad out there sells the idea of lounging around doing nothing. It’s just that they’re doing it in an exotic location, or in leisure, because that’s approved. The marketers and influencers have taken something we can do for free whenever we want, and they’ve turned it into the most exclusive form of luxury.

Only the rich can be lazy.


Being lazy is the best type of rest.

Tell me if this has ever happened to you: Your family goes on vacation, or you take a trip with friends. It’s supposed to be relaxing.

You come back exhausted.

Stuff like this has happened to me my entire life. I do something that’s supposed to be restful and restorative.

It makes everything worse.

We think we understand rest. We don’t. There’s actually seven types of rest, and you need them all:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Sensory
  • Creative
  • Emotional
  • Social
  • Spiritual

Some people get all these types of rest without really trying. I remember those days, before I had a spouse or a kid. I could do whatever I wanted, and I almost never felt tired. I could be lazy, and there was nobody around to heap demands on me or pass judgment.

Those days are gone.

If you’re like me, you have lots of pulls on your time and energy. It’s easier to get worn out. It’s hard to figure out what kind of rest you need.

It’s even harder to justify getting that rest.

 Now I’ve honed the ability to procrastinate. I don’t have to clean the counters right now, or the toilets.

They can wait. My rest is more important.

Rest, it’s one of my favorite things. I enjoy it more than Netflix.

It’s even better than sex.

I love being lazy.


Drop the ball

One of my favorite books is Drop The Ball, by Tiffany Dufu. It’s one of the most underrated self-help books of all time. Maybe that’s because it suggests there’s nothing wrong with you, except one thing:

You do too much.

Some of us are overworked because we’re taking up the slack from coworkers and spouses who don’t pull their weight. We take on their responsibilities, and over time it becomes an expectation.

They feel entitled.

There’s a simple solution to this problem.

Stop doing it.

Being lazy is hard work for some of us. We have to learn the art of not doing their work, to the point it becomes a problem. It will bother us to see work not getting done. We have to get over it.

It’s called learning to be lazy.


Being “busy” is killing us

The true opposite of being lazy is having something to do. They fit together. We do things in order to satisfy our drives. Once they’re done, we’ve achieved homeostasis. We can go back to being lazy.

We’ve twisted purpose into something else. Now our lives our full of things we have to do that don’t achieve homeostasis.

They throw us further out of whack.

Most of us don’t need 40–60 hours a week to do our jobs. It’s not even close. And yet, we’re pressured to fill up that time. In fact, our jobs are often filled with disruptions and distractions.

Whenever we do finish our work earlier, we’re not rewarded.

We’re punished.

Our bosses give us more work. They cut our hours and send us home. So we find ways to look busy. We write memos. We hold pointless meetings. We attend professional development workshops.

It’s all a waste.


Bring back lazy

Maybe you feel out of whack. Maybe you struggle to focus. You have actual things you want to accomplish, not just busywork. For some reason you just can’t get started on them.

Maybe it’s not because you’re lazy.

Maybe it’s because you’re not lazy. You’re doing too much. You’re trying to please your family, your boss, and even total strangers. You’re not doing the things that would actually satisfy you, and it’s keeping you from achieving homeostasis. Either that, or you’re mistaking your body’s need to do nothing as a bad thing, and you’re depriving it of valuable rest.

I have a suggestion, and it goes counter to the Nike slogan. They say, “Just do it.” For some of us, that’s the answer — not always.

Just don’t.


This is the Dawn of the Age of Collapse

Our Civilization is Now Reaching an Omega Point — the Point of Irreversible Collapse

This gentle world that you and I know, that I love, of old parks full of ancient trees, long walks through them — all that is now coming to a swift and sudden end.

We are reaching what I call the Omega Point. “O” for game over. The Omega Point is the inflection point at which our civilisation will no longer survive — and we are coming closer and closer to it by the day now. We are surely going to hit it within the next two decades, perhaps the next decade, on the trajectory we are on.

Omega isn’t some kind of abstruse notion — it’s just simple economics, which any grade schooler can understand. Let me explain it you conceptually, and then I’ll describe how life will change as we begin to hit it.

The world’s GDP is about $80 trillion. Omega is theoretically hit when the costs of the existential threats of the 21st century that our civilisation now faces — climate change, mass extinction, ecological collapse, and the pandemics and social upheavals and economic depressions they’ll ignite — exceeds the world’s GDP. At that point, we are spending every dollar, euro, and renminbi we have to fight floods, hurricanes, fires, and pandemics — which leaves nothing, and I mean nothing, over for air, water, food, energy, medicine. Bang. The lights go out.

In the real world, though, Omega is hit long before the costs of our existential threats reach the ceiling of global GDP. As we fight climate change, ecological collapse, mass extinction, pandemics, authoritarianism, we must still feed and nourish and clothe and mend ourselves — that is, we need to spend a significant percentage on the basics, food, water, air, medicine, shelter, clothing, and so forth. That’s about half of global GDP right now.

So realistically, Omega — the point at which our civilisation collapses, for sure, permanently, game over — is hit at about half of global GDP spent on combating our existential threats.That leaves us too little left over for the basics of life, and civilisation descends into chaos, ruin, and social collapse — just as it has, for example, in America, as people fight each other bitterly for self-preservation.

So we hit the Omega point when the damage caused by our existential challenges — climate change, ecological collapse, pandemics, authoritarianism, etc — reaches $40 to 60 trillion at our current level of global income and wealth.

Now, if that doesn’t make sense, think about it this way.If you had to spend 100% of your income, say, mending your roof, or shoring up your home’s foundations, you’d be effectively broke. Sure, you could borrow, maybe, if you were lucky, and you had good credit. But you would still be bankrupt in net terms. And as a world, we have no such luxury — when we are broke, collectively, nobody is left to lend to us. Omega therefore represents the point at which our civilisation is effectively bankrupt: when we’re $40 trillion to $60 trillion in the hole.

At that point, there will be no way out. We will be broke, and not have the economic capacity to mitigate, avert, or address problems like climate change and ecological collapse anymore. Their costs will have exceeded the total economic resources of our civilization.

Nice theory, Queen, you might say — but so what? Surely Omega, this sci-fi concept you’ve invented, is in the distant future. It’s something our great grandkids might have to worry about! Relax, dude! Everything will be fine!

Wrong!

Let me put in context for you just how close we are to hitting Omega. $40 to $60 trillion might sound like a lot — but in fact, it’s not. It is frighteningly little. Take Covid. It’s a relatively minor problem compared to climate change or mass extinction, in scale, scope, and intensity. Its damages won’t remotely approach those of a melted down planet. And yet the IMF has estimated that Covid has already cost us $24 trillion.

Covid alone takes us about 40 to 60% of the way to hitting Omega. Covid alone. My God. This afternoon, when I thought about this, and ran the numbers in my head, my heart skipped a beat. We are in serious, serious trouble, I thought. My God. Are you seeing the problem here? Let me spell it out.

So what about climate change? The IMF has estimated that climate change costs about 7% of global GDP — but that’s just subsidies for undercharging for carbon (if that makes your head spin, don’t worry about it.) That doesn’t factor in the damage caused by climate change — megafires, megafloods, mega-hurricanes, and so forth. It doesn’t even factor in, for example, the global microchip shortage, that was essentially caused by climate change.

So how much is that? Easily twice as much again — so now we’re at another 15% of global GDP. And even that’s sure to be a significant underestimate. We don’t know how much climate change is really going to cost us — all we know is that the costs are going to be singular in human history. The costs are going to be so great at some point they can never be repaid at all — do you know how to make the Arctic ice freeze again, how to make a rainforest? I didn’t think so. So doubling that estimate of climate change’s costs is far too conservative. I’d put the truer number at closer to 25% of the world’s GDP. But we can put it on a spectrum from 15% to 25%, because even that conservative math makes the point frighteningly clear.

In a world of Covid plus climate change, we’re already close to hitting OmegaCovid costs us 10 percent of the world’s GDP, and climate change another 15% to 25%. That’s 25% to 35% of global GDP — just on these two threats alone. Omega’s hit somewhere near fifty percent, remember. That means that we are more than halfway to hitting Omega, right now. That we are almost sure to hit it by the end of the decade or so.

We haven’t even factored in the biggies yet: mass extinction and ecological collapse. We are used to living in an alienated, hyper-technological, disconnected way. But the truth is that the basics of our lives come from…the earth. The insects and worms turn the soil in which we harvest our crops and medicines. The fish clean the rivers which supply our reservoirs. The trees, like the ones in my park, breath out the air we breathe in. The earth’s great ecosystems are reaching tipping points, because industrialisation and its predatory economics rips their roots out at the bottoms, killing off the most vulnerable things: little insects, fish, young saplings. Where and when they’re “replaced,” monocultures are made, which are no substitute for natural ecosystems and their complexity and productivity.

As the planet’s great ecologies collapse, our civilisations basic systems will fail. The most basic of all. Air, water, food, medicine, energy. The ones we have long taken for granted. And that’s when the fireworks will really begin. Life will become a bitter, brutal battle for self-preservation. Neighbour will turn on neighbour, and friend on friend — not just at local scales, but at national and then international ones. What will you do when the food, water, medicine, and air begin to run out? Well, the first thing you’ll do — have to do — is pay through the nose for what’s left. And the ensuing despair, poverty, and rage will kickstart a new wave of fascist-authoritarian movements globally.

If you think all that’s some distant fantasy, take a hard look at how long it took America to collapse. The middle class became a minority in 2010, and by 2016, Trump was made President, by an enraged, downwardly mobile white majority. That is how fast a society comes apart — even the richest one in the world. And in that way American collapse is a tiny warning of what awaits the world in an age of civilizational collapse. People turn ugly and stupid as they fight for self-preservation. Politics turns fascist. Economies go south. And a sense of indifference takes over. Because life becomes a bitter struggle for each isolated, disconnected individual. If you’re living, like the average American, a life of unpayable debt, facing an impossible challenge till the day you die — what emotional or economic room do you have to care about anyone else? You don’t. Bang. That’s how societies collapse: poverty.

So how much will ecological collapse and mass extinction cost us?Physicists have a point called a singularity — where all the laws of physics break down. This is an economic singularity. Nobody knows, and in a sense, it doesn’t matter, because the question makes no sense. How much does it “cost” to live on a planet where the air isn’t breathable, the water isn’t potable, and the food isn’t edible? Where life itself is poisonous? The question itself is absurd. The only good way to frame it is the opposite: it costs so much that nobody really realises their potential. People live short, dull, stupid, angry, desperate, lives, where they get sick, die young, and nobody much cares about anyone else. That’s what it costs. Attempting to quantify all that is an exercise in futility — all that we can say is that the cost is civilisation itself.

Still, for the sake of argument, let’s say, conservatively, again, that ecological collapse and mass extinction cost us another 25% of global GDP. They do so by causing widespread shortages of the basics. You used to be able to go the store, and buy anything you liked — now getting good water and fresh food is a daily challenge, which often goes unmet. Then there are the pandemics, which seem to erupt every five years or so. There’s the shortage of life-saving medicines, which cost a society huge numbers of life-years. There are the costs of migrations — people simply abandon those places which have become deserts, as the topsoil eroded away. Fire Belts, Flood Belts, Plague Belts — all these are the vocabulary people speak now, and the price of being poor is living in one. If you have the money, you flee, at all costs.

As a result, financial systems begin to break down. Who’s going to insure a Fire Belt, Flood Belt, Plague Belt?Those who did go broke — bang! There goes a whole asking sector and insurance industry. Who’s going to write a mortgage against a home that’s going to be incinerated or flooded — or already is, every year? Who’s going to insure a life whose expectancy is declining due to a new pandemic every few years? As financial crashes follow ecological ones, as natural disasters metastasise into economic catastrophes, whole economies begin to seize up. Banks don’t lend, businesses shutter their doors, mass long-term unemployment is the new normal. Getting money out of the bank is an iffy affair. Paying your bills — who knows if you’ll do it this month.

All that? Easily another 25% of global GDP.

And that puts well past the Omega Point. 20% Covid. 15 to 25% climate change. 25% ecological collapse — in truth, the number will be much higher. Still, all that is enough to put our civilisation past the point of no return. Add those up, and you get somewhere between 60 to 70 percent of GDP as the costs of our existential challenges. Bang. That’s too much. We can’t pay it. We can’t afford it. It makes us broke. And growing, poverty produces across our civilisation what it always does in societies: despair, rage, hostility, cruelty, stupidity, violence, fascism.

Omega. Game Over. The point at which the costs of our existential threats exceed our civilisations economic resources. When that point is hit, there is no turning back. Collapse is inevitable. We are, in my estimation, somewhere between 10 to 15 years away from hitting Omega.

Those are words that are frightening for me to write. They take my breath away. I’m not often wrong on issues of economics — I predicted everything from the crash of ’08 to the wave of authoritarianism sweeping the globe to American collapse. That’s not to toot my own horn. It’s to warn you.

The problem of imminent civilizational collapse is not being taken nearly seriously enough. How do we fix it? We invest, right now, like never before.

While we still have the money, energy, time, While we still have the resources to address our existential problems. Before they swamp us, flood us, incinerate us, spin out of control. Take Covid as an example. It was better to swallow a bitter pill, like New Zealand and Taiwan and Vietnam did, and lock down swiftly and hard — they have, by and large, bounced back. Those that didn’t swallow the bitter pill, like America, Britain, and Europe, are now paying a price without end — a pandemic that has spiralled out of control and won’t go away.

The lesson couldn’t be clearer. We have to get serious about our existential threats now, before they spin out of control.The closer that we come to Omega, the uglier life will get. The poorer we will grow as a civilization, and the uglier, stupider, more violent life will get — and the more powerless we will be to change it all. Just like it has in America.

I’ve estimated it will cost about $20 trillion to begin really addressing all these problems — a quarter of global GDP. 

That’s the scale at which we’re talking right now. Do you hear anyone — a single prime minister, politician, leader, CEO, talking at those scales?

I didn’t think so. And that, my friend, is the problem. We are about to be engulfed by our existential threats, and it is already hitting us faster, harder, and more severely than anyone much thought. Civilizational collapse is now the theme that will dominate the rest of our adult lives. Covid is a warning. This is the dawn of the age of collapse.

I’m Sorry, but Climate Change Will Not Be Stopped

Don’t get me wrong. Your heart is in the right place, but you are still living a delusional life, thinking that your desires are reflected in our politics because a 70-something-year-old in political office said some words once. You’re kind of like a smoker saying they’ll quit tomorrow, right after they finish this pack.

Tomorrow never comes, however. The smoker buys another pack. They’ll quit after this fresh new pack, after all.

You vote for another corporate politician who is paid to be liked by you, paid to say the things you want to hear, who enacts legislation favorable to big industries — in this case, any industry reliant on or producing fossil fuels. Like that smoker, you’ll quit your bad behavior tomorrow. The behavior of electing the same people who make the same promises over and over that they then break over and over. The same behavior of purchasing goods and services from those corporations that create all the emissions that cause the climate issues.

Today, though? You still have hope. The future is always full of potential correct choices that we can make. You can always quit smoking tomorrow. The past and present, however…

I’m sorry liberals, but climate change is coming. Your carbon taxes and credits won’t stop the easy money of fossil fuels from either simply paying for those credits and taxes while still burning fuel in excess, or from avoiding those regulations altogether through accounting tricks and the systemic reality of global capitalism.

Dodging some phone calls

Corporations consume, just like whatever ate most of this mushroom.

How can corporations avoid those regulations? Well, depending on the implementation of these liberal political solutions, big firms will either just drill elsewhere, refine elsewhere, or find a consumer base elsewhere.

That “elsewhere” is whatever country doesn’t have those carbon-reducing regulations. If you think this won’t happen, I offer the entire history of neoliberal global capitalism as proof of how these regulations will be avoided.

New labor markets get exploited elsewhere when unions are a problem locally. Corporations move headquarters for tax avoidance all the time. They also find new markets to sell their goods within when consumers in one location can’t afford the price of the goods locally — the consumer can always import them from elsewhere if they want them enough and have the extra cash.

Cash is king. Screw the environment. That’s not your home, is it? Capitalism is your culture, now. Accept it.

Regulatory pressure and the corporations avoiding that pressure are no different — it will either be cheap enough locally to pay off politicians to prevent regulation, or corporations will just move their headquarters somewhere else, a place that doesn’t impose regulations on them in exchange for the jobs and GDP growth to bolster that country’s tax receipts.

The politicians love that stuff.

No, I don’t mean wherever you grew up, or wherever your parents are. Wherever that home is might be underwater when climate change is in full swing — depending on the surrounding topography, of course.

I mean go back home.

The interesting scientific fact of life here on earth is that we are all related. I’m related to you, even if the distance of our relation is large.

The other interesting scientific fact of life here on earth is that all life is related. From the tiniest little fungus growing on a fallen branch, to the huge oak tree whose branch fell off and is rotting on the ground, to the snake that lives under the fallen branch, to the coyote that just trotted past the fallen branch, to the human hunter tracking the coyote because it killed a chicken… We are all related.

Everything you look at that is alive is a distant relative.

You haven’t been home in a long, long time.

You’ve been in a world of steel and concrete and carbon and asphalt and glass and drywall. You’ve been in a world of on-demand air-conditioning and heating — all reliant on carbon, of course. You’ve been in a world of on-demand entertainment, unable to entertain yourself in the ways humans have entertained themselves for a million years. You’ve been in a world of on-demand McDonald’s and Panera and Subway and the French Laundry and Door Dash and Uber and Lyft and AirBnB and artisanal soaps and just this once, you know, treat yourself!

Your nature has been replaced with capitalism.

You’ve been renting an apartment in another city in another country on another continent, far from your home.

You speak a language that nature doesn’t know, now. Your home doesn’t speak your language, and you have forgotten how to listen to the words it uses. They’re not literal words — the home you left long ago speaks in a language of signs and symbols, able to be divined only roughly, and only learned through some intuitive form of semiotics.

Your home speaks a language of chirps, and barks, and rustles, and wind, and dampness, and sharpness, and roughness, and dirtiness, and growth, and decay, and heat, and cold, and fangs, and beauty, and fear.It’s a language you would need to know if you wanted to stop or reverse climate change — it’s how we didn’t notice a problem until recently. We didn’t hear the words our home was using to tell us about it, and now that it’s screaming, we’ve finally taken notice. It’s too late.

Without knowing the language, you will never be able to be comfortable in a carbon-free home. You will never stay there willingly. You will never make the pilgrimage back home because you will not be welcome there. You may crash there for a weekend, but you will go back to your normal world immediately due to the discomfort of not understanding the language. There will be nowhere for you to sleep comfortably, no food for you to eat, and no company to share.

There will be no one to talk to back home. You are a stranger to your family.

How to become welcome again

The religious know of a concept called revelation. As an atheist, I can’t say I have ever experienced religious revelation.

But I have experienced natural revelation before. The religious will try to attach their rhetoric to this somehow, but I know better. I received natural revelation when I started to remember the language, when I began to sense the dialect of our home.

I received a completely subjective form of knowledge that I couldn’t give anyone else — no attempt at translation could transmit it between you and I. It was knowledge only I could have. I could describe the steps to take to get there, but I couldn’t describe the knowledge sitting at the end of those steps.

And I could only describe my steps. I don’t know if your steps will be different. It brings to mind a quote I know, although it describes the inverse of this situation between us:

There is a false saying: “How can someone who can’t save himself save others?” Supposing I have the key to your chains, why should your lock and my lock be the same.

Friedrich Nietzsche

I know my lock and I have my key — but I don’t know your lock, and I do not have your key. You have to find those yourself for natural revelation.

It was easier for me to pick up the dialect of our home again than many others, I suppose. I spent most of my youth in the woods. I probably chopped down one hundred trees before I was twelve. I spent years in the military in the bitter cold of the arctic and the extreme heat of the desert. I’ve caught wild fish with my hands in a jungle pond. I’ve seined for bait fish to catch bigger fish to eat. I’ve seen cows, alienated from their natural world by human forces, get stuck in the mud of a ravine and die. They are not home just like you are not home.

Climate change may very well be your mud.

So, I have always been able to intuitively understand bits and pieces of the language of our home. My alienation was not as complete as most of us today — it’s harder for me to get stuck in the mud than many. I could tell there was a language being spoken, even if I couldn’t speak it, much like how I know when someone is speaking German and I understand the general idea of what they are saying, while I can only speak English fluently.

But, you? It’s very likely you’re reading this somewhere in a city, on a floor of a building not at ground level, or on a train scrolling through articles displayed on a phone that has a million times the processing power needed to get to the moon and back.

You likely speak a language completely foreign to your home. You need to go back — the door has always been open, and your family has been waiting for you. They’ve missed you, even if they don’t know what to make of you any more.

When you start to speak their language — when you have a naturalrevelation after some time spent at home — you will be welcomed again. Just like we always were, until only very recently in our history.

It’s not too late for you. It’s never too late to go back home — your real, ancestral home. You will only be judged there if you do not speak the language. That can be overcome.

When you can speak their language, you are what your family calls an apex predator. They respect you greatly. Only humans will ever debate whether you are one or not — a luxurious argument that only another apex predator could make.

The first painful steps

The first steps are the hardest in any journey. You know the road ahead will be long and difficult and maybe even dangerous.

The first step in going home is to go home. There is no way out of the process but through the process. It is natural and personal.In the language of humans, this means… Put your shoes on. Put on a hoodie or a jacket if it’s cool outside. Take a backpack or a bag you can walk with comfortably. Throw some bottles of water in there. Skip the snacks — you’re going hungry today. Trust me, food will only slow you down.

And now, just go walk somewhere that humans aren’t. That’s it. That’s how you go home.

And I don’t mean go to an abandoned strip mall, either. I mean go to where the woods and forests are. Go out into the desert. Go up into the mountains. Go down into the swamps and jungles. Go out into the grasslands. Go far down the beach, way past the parking lot where all the tourists are. Step off of a path and keep walking. Keep walking for hours in your home. And keep walking still, until you are exhausted. And then, sit there for a while. Regain your strength. Look around. Poke stuff with your fingers. Listen.

Maybe don’t eat anything just yet. You don’t know the language. Yes, I know you’re hungry. Let the feeling pass through you. It doesn’t have the power over you that you think it does.

Then, turn around and come back to your apartment in the human world, far from home.

You won’t speak the language at first, or even hear it. You will be startled by wild animals. You will be feasted upon by mosquitos or ticks or leeches or flies or all of the above. You will be tired and thirsty and hungry and sore and uncomfortable. You will feel not welcome.

But if you do this enough — if you practice this immersive form of learning the language of your home over days, weeks, months — you will understand what nature is saying when it’s trying to communicate with you. You will understand what your distant relatives are saying again, like you used to before the concrete and steel.

It will be that form of natural revelation that you are alienated from now that you will feel, the subjective knowledge that I cannot give to you. A form of knowledge only gained by experience. No words can suffice. No translation is possible. Your key is not my key.

Why you must go home

You have to go home if you ever want to reverse climate change. Capitalism has alienated you from a fossil-fuel-free life. Even if we stopped all use of fossil fuels — and thereby saved the climate and the world’s ecosystems from collapse, if we were lucky enough to have done it thirty years ago — you would be screaming and crying for fossil fuels to return within the next day.

That first night at home would be unbearable to you. It would be a Pyrrhic climate victory. You do not know that which you wish for.

This alienation is complete as long as we do not recognize it. We only do not recognize it because we do not feel the discomfort of going home and trying to speak to our family. The discomfort is unbearable and slaps you in the face with the alienation you have succumbed to unknowingly. A passive alienation you couldn’t detect, because it was made so easy for you.

The more you are home, though, the more you will be immersed in the language of your family. You will become comfortable around them. They’ll stop running away from you when you show up — not always, and not all of them, hell… some of them don’t even have legs — but you will be speaking their language and know what not to say to them that would cause offense.

They’ll share their culture with you freely. It costs nothing but your time and discomfort.

Have you ever wondered how wildlife photographers can take photos of lions and bears and poisonous snakes up close? They’ve spent a lot of time at home and they speak the language fluently.

If you want to save the climate — if you want to fix the world — you have to go home first. That’s the first step.

They miss you. You’ve been avoiding their calls. Stop sending them to voicemail just because you no longer speak the language fluently. It can be learned again. It’s natural for you.


Please, Joe Manchin, Get with the Program

The West Virginia Senator is blowing his chance to be a true leader.

Take, for example, his initial opposition to the COVID relief package. As Bob Woodward and Robert Costa document in their new book, Peril, Manchin was concerned that the package as initially proposed would incentivize people not to work. When I read this, I had to do a double-take to make sure that I wasn’t reading about a Republican, given that this is one of their key talking points when it comes to anything that helps to lift people out of poverty or give them assistance when they badly need it. Nope, instead it’s coming from the man who has been hailed as one of the most powerful people in the Senate, single-handedly capable of tanking his own party’s domestic agenda if it suits him to do so.

What I find especially frustrating about Manchin’s continuing recalcitrance is that it doesn’t even make political sense according to his own terms. Yes, he comes from one of the Trumpiest states in the nation but, and this might come as something of a shock, it’s also the poorest. Meaning, of course, that it would be one of the states that could benefit the most from major investment from the federal government.

Let’s start with infrastructure. If you’ve spent any amount of time in West Virginia, you know that its infrastructure is, to put it bluntly, shit. There are a number of reasons for this, but most of them can be traced in one way or another to the fossil fuel industries that have exploited the state for decades and show no signs of abating anytime soon. Not only do massive coal and oil and gas trucks wreak havoc on roads, the industries in question have spent decades making sure that enormous amounts of money flows right into the pockets of their pet legislators. Add in the fact that they’ve also managed to create a state Supreme Court in their own image, and you have a perfect recipe for disaster. One need look no further than the huge water crisis of a few years ago to see just how bad things can get in a state where regulation of any kind is a bad word and where there is no infrastructure investment to help defray the significant costs created from fossil fuel extraction.

Then there’s the social spending package. For several decades now, West Virginia has ranked near the bottom in all sorts of rankings when it comes to health and well-being. In fact, it’s become something of a running joke for many, including my parents, to say at least not one of the states that are worse off, like Mississippi or Alabama. It’s not that the state’s plight is actually humorous, of course. Instead, it’s more the fact that, if there’s nothing you can really do to change the course of events, you might as well react with a certain form of gallows humor.

More to the point, the population of West Virginia is a rapidly aging one, and it’s one of the only states to lose population over the last 10 years. It’s not hard to see how this is going to affect the lives of its citizens going forward. With fewer and fewer young people moving in — despite the state’s much-publicized efforts to draw in new talent with a variety of incentive programs (which have come in for their own well-deserved criticism) — it’s going to become quite an issue finding enough people, especially qualified people, to take care of the the elderly.

And, of course, it’s also worth pointing out that other programs that Biden has proposed, including paid family leave, would also benefit West Virginians, because it will certainly help alleviate the pressures that are inordinately felt by the working poor. It will come as no surprise to you that there are quite a few of those in West Virginia as well. I’m sure they would like to know that their Senator has their best interests at heart, but his disingenuous claims that he’s wary of supporting legislation that incentivizes people not to work must ring awfully hollow to those who are struggling desperately to make ends meet while also raising a family.

And, of course, it’s also worth pointing out that other programs that Biden has proposed, including paid family leave, would also benefit West Virginians, because it will certainly help alleviate the pressures that are inordinately felt by the working poor. It will come as no surprise to you that there are quite a few of those in West Virginia as well. I’m sure they would like to know that their Senator has their best interests at heart, but his disingenuous claims that he’s wary of supporting legislation that incentivizes people not to work must ring awfully hollow to those who are struggling desperately to make ends meet while also raising a family.

What I find especially galling about Manchin’s continued intransigence is how short-sighted it ultimately is. Part of the struggle that every politician faces is the elaborate juggling act between representing your constituents’ interests and desires and doing what you know to be right for them. Every elected representative knows that all it takes is one wrong move, one unpopular piece of legislation, and they’ll lose in the next election cycle, shut out of the halls of power that they enjoy so much. Manchin is, at the end of the day, a politician like any other, and so it’s easy to see the calculations that is constantly making to ensure that he stays in power. However, at some point he’s got to realize that he has the opportunity to really do something for the people of West Virginia, in the way that Robert C. Byrd did throughout his tenure in that august body. Say what you will about the late Byrd (and he was hardly a saint), but he really did make sure that a significant amount of money flowed into his home state, bringing it into the 20th Century. He understood that his job was to help his state become a competitor in the nation rather than the butt of every joke, and while he may not have succeeded as much as he would have liked, he still did a lot of good.

Manchin, on the other hand, seems to have allowed his newly-minted position of “most powerful man in the Senate” to go to his head. That wouldn’t be so bad, if he actually did something useful with his power, but as it is he is largely a speed-bump, earning himself the opprobrium of progressives (and, believe it or not, there are some of those in WV, too) and even some moderates in his own party. Far from a leader, he’s become yet another example of Washington egotism run amuck.

I earnestly hope that someday, in the future, Joe Manchin realizes that he actually owes something to the people who have continued to put their faith to him. It might also occur to him that he can both satisfy their desire that he be the sort of maverick politician that he aspires to be and vote for the sorts of legislation that will do the most good for those who live there. Unfortunately, if past is prologue, I have to say that I don’t have a lot of confidence in this ever happening. If Manchin refuses to change how he does business in Washington, I fear there’s a very real chance that Biden’s domestic agenda could founder on the rocks of his own party. If that is the case, then Manchin might also have the dubious distinction of being the man who tanked his party’s chances of maintaining their hold on power in the mid-terms. Let’s just hope he doesn’t go down this route.