Sunday, February 26, 2017

The greatest social experiment of the 20th century was a complete failure

How the baby boomers destroyed everything
Boomers weren’t genetically predestined to be dysfunctional; they were conditioned to be. They were the first generation to be raised permissively, the first reared on television and subject to its developmental harms, and the only living group raised in an era of seemingly effortless prosperity. Can too much license, TV, and unearned wealth distort personalities? May I suggest looking south toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
I've been saying this for 10-15 years, but only in the past couple of years has bashing the Baby Boomers become a real thing.

Although, my blame goes back farther than the Boomers. I blame their parents. And WWII, I guess, but still.

You see, up until WWII, everyone lived in multi-generational homes. The concepts of "family" (that includes extended family and close family friends) and "community" were the overwhelming social movements for centuries. Sure, the idea of community was local, but it was still there.

With WWII came economic freedoms that the United States hadn't seen before - and may never see again, frankly. Men were shipped out so fast that women had to be recruited to do what were traditionally seen as "men's jobs". And with jobs came a new sense of financial and social independence, when previous to that women had to depend wholly upon men.

After WWII, that sense of freedom remained, and many women who had worked and men who had seen battle didn't want to be saddled with their parents or their in-laws telling them how to run their own homes. The traditional concept of home and family were still there, but they'd been reduced to parents and child(ren). Anything outside of that wasn't allowed by most couples.

So, for probably the first time in human history, you had the widespread notion of the nuclear family - a couple and their children only - being considered "normal". Previous to that, and we're starting to slide back into it again, it had been multi-generational homes as I'd said before. The Baby Boomers had been raised in this artificial environment, and believed it to be the natural way of going about doing things.

There's also the technology aspect, but mostly it was cultural. I mean, yes, Boomers were the first generation passively raised in front of TVs. And that might've done something to them as well, but most generations previous to them had to deal with some kind of passively neglectful parenting like that. There's something to be said for being able to entertain yourself without anything electronic, I guess, though.

Regardless, the Boomer generation made recreation drugs, promiscuous sexual behavior, and irresponsibility to be socially acceptable as Hippies and in the Disco era. The made nursing homes, divorce, and conspicuous consumption socially acceptable in the 1980s. They made fear of aging, plastic surgery, and senior communities socially acceptable in the 1990s. They made war profiteering, fear mongering, and ostracizing people not like them socially acceptable in the 2000s.

They're currently revisiting their parents' mistakes with deportations, walls, and other such stupidities in order to try to "Make America Great Again" like it was when many of them were children.

And in the future? They'll re-invent medicine with their fear of aging and death, which is undermined by their constant and unwavering underlying irresponsibility. (Nothing is ever their fault, you know.) Their obsession with youth and beauty are unparalleled in probably any human society - current or otherwise. And in bringing this country to the brink of collapse (we're not there yet, but they're working on it), they'll unintentionally re-invent politics, culture, and society until it's completely unrecognizable from before.

That's not the say that Generation X, Millennials (or Generation Y), or Generation Z (iGeneration?) are wonderful and perfect and wouldn't do anything wrong. It's just that the Boomers are so overwhelmingly bad at life, it's hard not to point fingers. And of course this is all sweeping generalities, as with individuals your mileage may vary.

The one thing that the Boomers got completely wrong - and we're all paying for it now - is making that switch from the importance of community and family to the importance of the individual. This is why in politics, no one bothers with trying to reach a consensus anymore. They want to win, and compromise is seen as loosing. Even though compromise is what's often best for the community at large.

What this article is trying to sum up, really, is that Donald Trump is the epitome of Baby Boomers. They don't do it very well, but that's what they're getting at. Who this man is and how he operates is pretty much the perfect example of the gross generalization of his generation. It'd be hard to find someone else in the public eye who would fit the stereotype so perfectly, in fact.

Although, I'd say his out-of-control inferiority complex in addition to his psychopathy is really the problem. But then, I suppose that can apply to a great many Boomers, too. They're probably trying to live up to their parents' example of supposedly saving the world (when the Soviets were really the ones who won WWII), and feel like they're failing miserably.

I mean, that's pretty much why many Millennials are kind of screwed up - because of Boomer (and a few GenXer) parents who felt insecure. Participation medals, ribbons, and trophies were never about the kids who got them, but about the parents who viewed their children's performance as being a reflection of themselves. The philosophy of "I deserve recognition that I tried" is very much a Boomer ideal. It's why helicopter parents are a thing, and why "adulting" is now a word. The Millennials got screwed over by the Boomers, and they're starting to seriously realize it.

Now if only the Millennials would realize that the best way to screw with the Boomers is to go out and vote en masse every single year, then we'd see some real change in this country.

Meanwhile, Generation X is trying to quietly clean up the Boomer mess they're leaving behind and getting zero credit for it. Not that we expect or want recognition, but it'd be nice. Still, if the Boomers and Millennials want to have it out while we're fixing stuff up, that'd probably work out better for everyone involved.

This is partly what helps keep me sane

3 Words That Can Change Your Perspective, Your Mood, and Your Life
In that moment, I realized something big. Something life-changing big. I am lucky. I don’t have to go to yoga; I get to go. Those three words — I get to — completely changed how I experience life.

It wasn’t a fell-swoop change. It took effort and time. It took me being aware of my perspective, even catching myself in the backslide. I learned that if we’ve chosen to do something, there’s a good reason why; there’s something we’ll gain from it, even if we can’t see what that is. Yet.

After that day I saw how much I categorized things in my life. There was the “have to’s” and the “should’s.”

And when I lived from that perspective—the one of obligation—it completely stripped me of the fulfillment of all the things, even those I disguised as should’s, that are actually extraordinary blessings. They are things I want to experience, do, and learn.
I'd read something similar to this years ago, and it really helped put things into perspective for me.

People will often dismiss things that are seemingly simple, as they view life as complicated and believe there's no such thing as a simple solution because of that. But in reality, that's not at all true. Life is painfully simple; it's just that the simple things are very difficult to explain so it seems far more complicated than it really is.

I mean, explain to me why water coats things (that aren't hydrophobic) until it evaporates. There's a reason for it, even if you don't realize it, but it seems like it should be this wildly complicated answer. The reason is because of how the water molecule is shaped, and how that shape interacts with other molecules. That's it - that's all there is to it.

It's doubtful that Albert Einstein actually said this, but....
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." -Albert Einstein
Or this one; he probably said something like this:
"Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated." -Confucius
You get the idea.

Here's the thing. Life is made up of choices - or decisions, if you'd prefer. Rarely is there a point where we're are actually forced to do something. Rather, we choose to do something because we don't like the consequences of not doing it.

Let me put it this way. At any point in time, you could choose to just walk away from your life and start a new one. As kids, that's called running away. As adults, it's disappearing and assuming a new identity. It happens all the time, actually, but it's not as common as movies and TV make it out to be.

Why won't you? Because you're afraid of the consequences, that's why. Or maybe you enjoy your life as it is, so there's no reason for you to choose that option. But it's always there, whether you realize it or take it seriously or not.

So because of that, everything you do is because you want to. Everything you dread doing is because you don't like the consequences of not doing it. These are all choices that we have, and the future cannot happen until you make the decision of doing something or not.

(This is why reading the future can be tricky. Decisions change possible outcomes all the time. And sometimes the smallest decision can have the biggest long-term effects, while the biggest-seeming decisions can have little to no long-term effects. And nothing can happen until someone decides to do something when presented with a choice. Which is why even the good fortune tellers or psychics are labeled as charlatans; because your average person likes to believe that the future is fixed, when it's not.)

Back to the "I get to" part of this post.... As I've said before, words matter, and especially the things you say to yourself matter. The words you use in your own head, even though they're private and seemingly harmless, control your entire outlook - and sometime even your mental health.

If you say to yourself "I have to do this" thing, then it becomes a chore. And no one likes doing chores. They're tedious, odious things which we all do our best to avoid. Even if doing this thing means you get everything that you want in life, we'll still try to avoid it because of the chore aspect to it.

But if you say to yourself "I get to do this" thing, then it becomes something else entirely. Even if it's something you still don't really want to do, it doesn't seem like it'd be such a bad thing after all. It takes on an air of privilege, and maybe even makes it a little bit special. And if it's something you want to do, it helps create some urgency and motivation to follow through and do something. You get to do it, so you start to want to do it, too.

And all you're changing is one little word in your own head - you go from "have" to "get", and suddenly what you're going to do isn't such a bad thing.

I still fall into that sometimes. I rarely say "have to" to myself, but when I do, I try to reframe it in my head as "get to". But occasionally, I'll fall into using "should", and I need to be better about catching myself with that.

This is the first step towards living a more grateful life, though. And when you're more grateful, you're more forgiving of yourself and of others. And that's what helps get you through the hard times - being appreciative of the little things in life, especially when you feel like you lack control over the big things.

Quote of the day

"We have to go for what we think we're fully capable of, not limit ourselves by what we've been in the past." -Vivek Paul

Friday, February 24, 2017

Song of the day

Just looking at you makes me itch

Katie Ledecky’s 500-free time is faster than Ryan Lochte’s as a college freshman
On Thursday night, the five-time Olympic gold medalist and freshman at Stanford lowered her American record in the 500-yard freestyle in an unreal time of 4:25.15 at the Pac-12 Championships — more than 10 seconds faster than the second place finisher.

To put the time in perspective, NBC Sports noted that the 19-year-old Ledecky’s time is faster than when Ryan Lochte — one of the best male swimmers of all time — was at the same age.
It's not too often you'll see a woman out-perform a man in the same athletic event, especially at the same age, but there you go.

Swimmers are a weird lot, in my experience. Competitive swimmers, I mean. They aren't like most other athletes - they're similar to runners in track events, but with a much odder twist to them. It's hard to explain, but the ones I knew in high school were strange, even to me.

The one thing I couldn't get past, though, was their appearance. Being in the water as much as they are takes a toll on your hair and skin. People in their teens and twenties shouldn't have lines on their faces, you know?

So skin is my thing, right? We all have that one part about ourselves that we're constantly trying to fix, and mine is my skin. Just looking at them made me all itchy and break out into patches of eczema.

It mostly all comes down to moisture - or too much of it. It strips your skin of its natural oils, and makes it all dry. The obvious sign of dry skin is flaking, but the less obvious are lines and wrinkles. If you're looking significantly older than your age, then you might need to start putting lotion on your skin.

Especially if you take multiple showers a day, swim often, and / or take excessively hot showers. Some people can take it...up to a point, usually. After that point, your skin gets tight, flat-looking, and itchy. And that's if you have normal or even oily skin to begin with. It's much worse if you have eczema (like I do) or naturally dry skin even before you start doing that stuff. And with hair, you should be deep conditioning it once a week to keep it looking like it should.

The other issue, especially with swimming, is the chlorine. Theoretically, if you're in a pool a lot, you should be using shampoo and conditioner specifically made to help counteract the chlorine when you shower after you swim - to get the chlorine off of you. Otherwise, your hair gets brittle and kind of crunchy, and can break more easily.

Chlorine also does a number on your skin, too. There's a reason why swimmers rinse off in the shower after they get out of the pool at the Olympics, after all. And you're supposed to rinse off before you even get into the pool to help take off excess dirt and dead skin.

There's a whole process that goes on that a lot of people miss with swimming in chlorinated pools. My high school had a lap pool and a diving pool, so we were all told what to do and how to do it before they'd allow us into the pool area. They were pretty strict about it, actually, so it was clear this wasn't just diving into a lake or anything.

Then my best friend in high school had an older sister who was a swimmer, so I got the rundown on how that whole thing works. And I knew guys who were swimmers, too. You could always tell who they were at a glance, though, by the odd sheen to their hair from the chlorine and the dry tightness of their skin.

And I get it - if you're always in the water then what's the point of trying to maintain skin and hair, right? But even if you put some lotion on right before bed, that'd be something. Some of them do, but not many. Mostly it comes down to if their skin is uncomfortable or not, and also if they live in a cold or particularly dry climate.

If the skin is bad enough, though, just lotion isn't going to cut it. Oh, it'll help, but it's like a band-aid. You're going to need something heavy-duty to fix things.

You'll have to resort to something like Bag Balm or Burt's Bees Hand Balm. Or I just picked up HEMPZ Sensitive Skin Body Balm (for my feet and elbows, mostly, but I'll put in on wherever - including my face - since it helps prevent eczema). There are a ton of these things out there, so there are a lot to choose from if you need something.

Body oil could work, but it can also be messy and doesn't travel well. An oily-waxy skin balm is the best way to go with really dry skin, I think, but you can't slather it on; a little bit goes a very long way. I also have skinfix ointment for my face - mostly because I prefer plant-based oils over anything that starts with "petro-" or mineral oil (which are the same thing; they're crude oil byproducts).

Heavy-duty not-oily stuff exists, but it's harder to find. They're usually glycerin-based, which can upset the vegans out there. The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is Neutrogena Norwegian formula hand cream (unscented it better than scented), but it comes in a small tube. I've looked around, and while there are other things out there, that's probably the best one.

The funny thing is that the more expensive products aren't necessarily better when it comes to adding moisture. They're just more expensive. The times that more expensive products are worth it are occasionally with acne or anti-aging stuff - but even that's hit or miss.

Diving and water polo are a couple of the few Summer Olympic events that I like to watch, although swimming can be good, too. But whenever I see anything to do with swimming, it makes my skin itch because I know what all of that water would do to me. So while I enjoy the competition part, I just can't help but think what that would do to my poor skin. Every. Single. Time.