The Problem with Everything

The problem with everything is that human beings have a tendency to take the short term self-interest choice over the long terms self interest choice. We are, for some reason, wired for it. I understand this, but I’m having a hard time explaining it in words. Let’s say there is an apple tree next to … Continue reading “The Problem with Everything”

The problem with everything is that human beings have a tendency to take the short term self-interest choice over the long terms self interest choice. We are, for some reason, wired for it. I understand this, but I’m having a hard time explaining it in words.

Let’s say there is an apple tree next to a town. The tree provides enough apples for everyone. Perfect, right? Wrong. Every person in the town will feel a little bit of an urge to hoard or to take more than their fair share. Will they all do it? Probably not. I believe there is an intrinsic altruism built into some people – maybe altruism is the wrong word – maybe golden rule practicality is the phrase I need to use here. So, the golden rule crowd will realize that they don’t want anyone to take their allocated share, so they won’t take more than their share – it’s a sort of long term self-interest but it comes out as looking like altruism in the short term. If there are people who are genuinely altruistic – they are exceedingly rare – I would suggest that there are only long term self interested and short term self interested people. There are also those who are playing a different game – they give up their share for some percieved benefit. There are many such – pity, honor, respect, or something else. The bottom line is that everyone looks at the apple tree and sees a benefit for themselves – and if the consequences outweigh the rewards for keeping everything even – everyone will have their share of apples.

But we all know that the world does not work like that. Those who seize the advantage early, generally have less consequences than those who do not. Some people realize that and are watching for that opportunity. In any event – the apples become a problem because some people are taking more than their fair share so others are getting less than their fair share. Cause and effect.

The headman of the town – whether appointed by strength, ability, or election – it doesn’t matter. A person steps to the fore and says the apples are a problem now – so we need to make some rules about them…and not everyone agrees. The person taking too many says something like “I work harder to take the apples so I deserve more” and the person getting too little says “Just because I am shorter, doesn’t mean I don’t deserve the apples growing higher” and the person who is canning the apples say “I am taking apples that would otherwise rot and making them into something that will keep” and everyone has a reason why their self-interest is more important than the other people’s self interest.

So, assuming a Kansas cattle grazing war doesn’t break out over the apples, rules are made and people are given the job of making everyone keep to the rules – which of course fails because the people keeping the rules suddenly have an advantage that will be expolited by themselves or by those smart enough to seek to exploit the advantage. So, ultimately, some people are left hungry, some people get fat, some people get rich, and others become poverty stricken. The poverty stricken and the hungry say “Hey, what about our interest?” And the rich and fat say “Why should we have to take care of those who don’t or can’t work as hard as we do?” And everyone is ultimately fucked because eventually, a cold, poor, hungry person cuts the apple tree down to use as firewoodpor simply to even the playing field so that no one has any apples.

The End.

What if, however, there was a way to change the way people think? What if, instead of focusing on the short term self interest, there was a way to get them to focus on the long term self interest? In that case, the apples would be harvested by all, the excess would be canned, and the needs of all would be met by the work of all. Wouldn’t that be awesome if something like that could happen?

The problem is that it can’t. Humans are short sighted, selfish, and ultimately unable to work together for a long term collective good.

And that’s the problem with everything.

USMC Bootcamp PTSD #metoo

I saw a story today about a drill instructor who hazed his recruits, called them names, and destroyed them in some cases so badly that they killed themselves. I’ve been suffering from post-USMC bootcamp PTSD for more than twenty years. I remember being put in the dryer at MCT in California, I remember being brutally beaten, I remember having our platoons lined up after hand to hand combat training and being told that only the best of the best could be sent to Iraq and to get ready to kill or be killed by the recruits in the other platoons. We believed it, it was the eve of the first Gulf War, we were told that we were heading to our deaths every day. We had a recruit break on the firing line during M-16 qualifications and turn the gun on the rest of us – no one was hit. We had low crawl excercises with (we were told and I believe it to be true) live weapon fire over us as we crawled through concertina wire. We were beaten, called every name you can imagine and instilled with a disgusting and racist hatred of Arabs, Muslims, and Russians. We had boxing ‘smokers’ where little guys like me got the shit kicked out of us over and over again by big hulking monsters. The drill instructors were like demons. I asked for help dealing with the nightmares and the constant panic attacks after I got out – I’d developed a severe self-medicating and debilitating alcohol dependence during my four years in the service – I had multiple alcohol related incidents – I was sent to rehab and then put back in the hard drinking barracks environment – I sought help for that too when I got out and for that and the panic, and the ptsd, and the night terrors – I was assigned to a VA psychologist who didn’t ask me anything but used our sessions to reminisce about killing Vietnamese and fucking prostitutes. Now, at forty-five, I feel like I finally have things under control – but those twenty five years of severe PTSD and ill advised self medicating with drugs and alcohol – it’s no wonder I don’t own a home, haven’t built a career, and haven’t managed to save anything for retirement – thanks a lot USMC. Happy Birthday. Uh-rah.

This Brave New World

I’m happy that the world is getting safer for people who are not in power positions. I’m glad that the people who have been abused – whether sexually, intellectually, or physically can now come forward and not fear reprisal.

I do wonder, however, whether we have entered a new era where guilt is presumed and a court of law is no longer needed. The instant media makes it possible for a lone quiet voice to be picked up and amplified – and more voices can be added until the accused no longer has any sort of presumption of innocence. It seems that those in a power position are given the least liklihood of actually being innocent of their charges…which is probably as it should be – the exception being the President of the United States – who despite multiple accusers appears to still be gathering more power.

The President aside – the accusers of others are given full throat and no proof really needs to be presented in order to destroy a career, a body of work, or previous accomplishments. I am happy that the accusers, many of whom or even most of whom are undoubtedly actual victims, are able to come forward and to voice their injuries. I do wonder, however, whether we are crossing a threshhold which is perhaps more dangerous to society as a whole.

I’m no fan of our human society nor the capitalistic machinations of our leaders. I’m no fan of the powerful exploiting the weak. If this is the needle which will cause the collapse of the haystack then bring on the accusations and throw them where you may, however, it might be a good time to take a deep breath and consider the implications of what we are doing. It is only a matter of time before a false accusation ruins an innocent person – thus far, that doesn’t seem to be the case, but certainly it is coming and my hunch is that in our enthusiasm to destroy the powerbrokers who have exploited the weak we will perhaps have a tendency to ignore the mistakes or lies in our mad rush towards this brave new world.

Dear White Men – please stop … just stop…

Dear White Men,

I’m one of you, I’m a white man. An American, born and raised. I’m a vet. I’m heterosexual. I’ve hunted animals with guns. I’ve driven drunk, paid for it, and learned my lesson. Seriously, I”m one of you. I played football in school. I’ve owned a pickup truck. I’ve owned guns – all kinds of guns. I can go on, but do I need to? Have I got white guy cred yet? Will you listen?

Please stop. All of it. Just stop it.

You know what I’m talking about. Yes, I’m talking about the murder of innocent people – defenseless people. Kids in elemntary schools, people at the movies, people in church, people at concerts, people playing sports, in general – people just trying to live, trying to get by, trying to figure out why they are here and why life is so fucking confusing, people just being people.

Stop killing people. Just quit it.

I know you are mad and looking for someone to blame. The world isn’t what you were told it would be. You didn’t get what you wanted. None of us did. We all have to deal with it. You’re making it worse though.

It’s not just the killing though. The whole bro-culture thing, the macho date raper and sexual asault things, the gay bashing, the racism, the road rage, the internet trolling, the calling of people snowflakes or libtards, the rest of it. All of that stuff…it’s disgusting and it’s fucking up everything. You are making things worse for yourselves and for other white men. You are creating a world where being a white man is an ugly thing. You are doing it. Stop it. Just stop.

Look, I’m a white man and you are making me hate white men. Imagine how you are making people who aren’t white men feel? Do you think they are appreciating white men more because of you? Do you think they are attracted to white men more because of you? I can promise you, that you are not making the world a better place for anyone. You are making the world a scary, ugly, awful place and you are making it awful for everyone – including yourself and other white men.

Please stop it. Please.

Sincerely,

Christopher Damitio

Getting Left Behind – A Technological Cautionary Tale

I was riding high in 2011 and 2012. I was living in Africa and traveling the world with an office in Istanbul, an office in Morocco, and a fake office in Hawaii – just because it was the only way to stay connected to my home. I was publishing an online magazine and employed a dozen award winning writers, photographers, and social media experts. I had two virtual assistants and my website was routinely fighting for the top tier of travel sites and blogs. I was earning close to $10k per month and life was really really good. My ego was blown up like a three week dead donkey’s bloated stomach. I was going all over Europe on press trips and to travel conferences. I bragged to a friend that I was being smart about my good fortune by investing it all back in the business that was most profitable for me – travel websites of any quality on which I could sell advertising. I remember his words of caution when I said “There are only so many good domains for websites so at some point, the big travel companies are going to have to buy mine. It’s like investing in real estate.” As a real estate investor, he knew better. I didn’t

And then, in the seeming blink of an eye, shit changed. It was a process that stretched over about two years – but looking back, I can see that it happened pretty quickly.

My business was based on gaming search engine results, most notably Google. I pushed my own sites higher and higher while using those metrics to sell links which pushed other sites higher and higher. At my highest point I had close to two hundred travel websites and then – while waiting for the next page rank update – something awful happened.

First of all – Google suspended my adsense account and cut me off from everything I had earned since the last payment – several thousand dollars. It pissed me off and I appealed the decision, but Google answers to no one. I still can’t use adsense. It wasn’t my biggest revenue source so it wasn’t that big a deal but it was the harbinger of more to come.

Next, a whole shitload of new social media jumped on the scene. Reddit, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus, Tumbler, Snapchat, Vine, and a thousand or so that didn’t work or last long. I was trying to stay on top of them all, trying to maintain my pole postion, and trying to keep my sites relevant. It was full time and more changes followed quickly. The first was a sort of non-event. Google simply stopped updating pagerank – they gave one last PR update which penalized my sites for some low quality links I’d allowed through – finance and gambling thinly disguised as travel. My PR5 site was stuck at a PR3. That brough all my other sites down as well…a huge number of my sites dropped to PR0.

Suddenly PR wasn’t the metric that the SEO agencies were using to determine ad rates. They were using a whole bunch of metrics that I didn’t really understand and that I ranked pretty badly in. I’d taken a whole bunch of shortcuts and it was showing. I rode a bubble and it popped. Google updated their search algorithms and I dropped hard in the rankings. My traffic dropped from 10,000 per day to 1,000 and by 2013, despite my frantic efforts to harness the new social media and new SEO, I was outpaced and left behind. My traffic dropped to 400 visits per day. Nobody wanted to pay for that.

GooglePlus seemed like the answer. Google was taking on Facebook and me and nearly everyone else thought GooglePlus was going to dominate – but of course, that didn’t happen. I went all in for Google Plus. I began ignoring Pinterest and Facebook and Instagram and everything else to focus on G-Plus. I fucked myself with Google that time. They simply gave up on it when they realized that they were going to get hit with a whole shitload of privacy invasion lawsuits.

In early 2013, we moved to the United States. Video and streaming technologies got seriously cheaper and better. Youtube became the most important platform. I had nothing there. I tried to keep things going but advertising and revenue dried up. I let writers and photographers go, I stopped updating, and I deleted hard won sites and media from social networks. I got bitter and angry and I started to become paranoid about the level of privacy intrusion the internet was reaching. I moved backwards in time and began selling antiques.

As I’ve written before, Blogging, like I’m doing now, is pretty much irrelevant. The big travel companies learned to bypass the small media. In 2017, I earned $1000 blogging. Residual from my work in 2012, but that has dried up. Next year, unless something seriously changes, there will be even less. My social media accounts are irrelevant at best. Facebook realized it was foolish to share everything users shared when it could charge users for the same sharing. My other accounts don’t amount to much. Maybe 50k followers total and who knows how many of them are actually real people or still active.

I find myself today, left behind. I was an innovator at one point – but I couldn’t keep up. I tried to go in every direction and then I went all in on the wrong platform. In hindsight, I should have made a good Youtube channel and focused on it, but the truth is – my whole approach was flawed from the get go. I wrote books that help people without money to live better and none of my interests tend to be really commercial or marketable…I don’t write about new phones or makeup or things that can be unboxed or airline points or how to make money on the web.

I point out the shortcomings of our fucked up human civilization and the imminent demise of it. I’m not telling people to buy gold or build a bug-out shelter. My goal is to get people to think about how fucked up we are as a species and to stop being consumers, to stop being ruled by capitalists, and to stop being assholes. There isn’t really any money in that. I’m willing but haven’t found the right product yet. Or maybe I should say that the right product hasn’t found me yet.

Most likely, our civilization is going to keep moving forward and the pace of people getting left behind, like me, is going to accelerate as artificial intelligence, big data surveillance, and normal capitalist fuck-youism contineus as usual. So, what’s the moral of my tale? What’s the lesson?

I suppose it comes down to this – shit is changing faster all the time. Look both ways before you cross the internet or a self driving truck is going to leave donuts all over your fucking lawn.

Cocoo the Coconut – A Tropical Children’s Story

I’ve written a nice children’s story. It doesn’t have any of the dark themes that I usually write about in it. It’s simple, lyrical, and nice. You can have a listen to it here

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2147418989/cocoo-the-coconut-a-tropical-childrens-story

And, if you are interested in seeing it in print – you can help by claiming some of the fun rewards I’ve put together on my Kickstarter page. I’ve found a wonderful illustrator and I’m trying to get enough money together to pay her to illustrate the rest of the story. I only had enough to pay her for one watercolor painting so far, but I’d like to have each stanza illustrated.

Thank you for your support! Even if you can’t support it financially – any help you can give in sharing on social media or websites or personal contacts would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

Cocoo the Coconut