The Conundrum of Conforming

One of the primary reasons that human society works is that humans have a strong instinct for conforming. We place an inordinate unspoken emphasis on it.

It the reason most people in a region dress in a generally identical way. You will notice that as our society became more global our conforming has made more and more societies begin to blend their customary dress into a big global conforming behavior.

It’s important. Its why we get along. Because people conform to accepted behaviors, we respond when someone speaks to us, we wait in lines and we stop at traffic lights. We do that because that is what is normal and we conform to normal.

When someone doesn’t conform we feel a sort of instinctive offense at this behavior. And because it is so deeply ingrained in our psyches to conform to norm, we highlight the person with various punitive rituals – in schoolyards they get bullied, in churches they get shamed, in the media they become the subject of endlessly pointless arguments or ridicule.

We build up IMPORTANT reasons for conformity. We attach words like respect or patriotism or decency to these ideas of conformity. But those things are also just made up ideas that we created to support conformity. Only rarely do we attach laws to conformity when nonconformity will create unreasonable harm.  Mostly we support our instinct to conform with ideas.

For example, we made up the idea of patriotism so that people would be willing to die for their country.  So that they would identify themselves with where they live. So they would stand during anthems and salute flags. So that they would Conform.

When people don’t conform we have an emotional reaction. And then we reach for all the ideas that have been raised over hundreds and sometimes thousands of years to support conforming.

But it’s important to remember – many of those reasons are merely ephemera. Ideas that we give weight to because they have lived with us for so long. Ideally these ideas support conforming behaviors that have group advantage. But not always.

Sometimes someone doesn’t conform to highlight where an idea that supports the conformity is no longer viable or never should have been viable. Rosa Parks comes to mind. Breaking conformity is a powerful use of our conforming bias. It makes everyone stop and notice. It makes everyone discuss the ideas that support conforming and question them.

Sometimes people don’t conform to make a statement about a different issue entirely. This is probably a mistake. Because what happens is that people will talk about the non-conformity. The offense of it, or the right to do it. They will debate the ideas that support conforming. But they won’t discuss the separate issue that this intentional nonconformity is supposed to highlight.

Because the conformity is the thing we all instinctively understand. A thing we all participate in. And we all feel justified in having an opinion. We won’t be diverted. So as a way to highlight a different issue – it won’t work well. It’s just too many steps away from the conformity issue and the monkey in our brains won’t pay attention. We are busy discussing the break in conformity.


Because this is life. Why is this even a question?

Being single is not a problem that needs an explanation. It just is where life is at that moment. It’s a changeable state that doesn’t require changing.

Life does not end up where you are today because of one thing that happened, or one person or one choice. Life is a huge web of things we did, or we didn’t do, things we believed or didn’t believe, things that happened or didn’t happen, people we met or didn’t meet.

It’s NOT a question that can be answered without just giving you a moment by moment account of my life. It cannot even be narrowed down.

And all attempts to find a reason, to narrow it down are foolish and self destructive.

Life is here. This is where we are so far. There’s no accounting to be given to anyone, so fuck the people who ask for it.

The idea that couplehood is the better state is the root of so much unhappiness.

And that idea is at the root of this meme question. Fuck That Noise. Reject the premise.

If you value the concept of couplehood over yourself, you make bad choices for a partner.  You start including the value of couplehood in your choices for someone to be with.  And that leads to bad decisions.

You have seen it happen.  You may even have done it.  Imagine if our society didn’t value couplehood over the single state.  Imagine how differently those situations would have unfolded.  Imagine how many people would be doing entirely different things with their lives.

People may still end up in bad relationships without valuing the concept of couplehood, but I would bet on at least a 50% reduction in bad relationships.

OK.  I’m getting off the soapbox now.

Guidelines Not Rules

We are a society that is in love with RULES.  But Rules are not good things.

It’s better to have Guidelines, rather than Rules.  Because circumstances dictate the decisions when you have guidelines, but Rules dictate decisions when you have Rules.

People don’t have to think much if they live by rules.  They merely have to reference The Rule.  Then apply it without regard to whether it will make things better or achieve the stated goal.  Its The Rule.

Guidelines give us a starting point.  They are a place to build from.  But they can be ditched when the situation doesn’t fit.

Religions, of course, are the stars of Rules Based Living.  But governments are also full of Rules, generally called Laws, often called Regulations.  And corporations have many rules.  They give you a handbook when you start at most companies – and it’s full of the Rules.

The intention of the rules is usually good.  To get people to consistently act in a manner that benefits the most people.  They are considered a way to make sure things are fair.  If you have a rule and you apply it consistently no one can complain, so the theory goes.

But of course we all know of situations where that old saw was brought out on display because the rule was applied and left an appalling mess in its wake.  Where it felt deeply unfair and the only fair thing about it was the fact that it has always been consistently applied to other people as well.

But think about that.  Why does the fact that it was an equally distributed application of the rule make the injustice of it any less wrong?

The reason we like Rules is because they are simpler than making choices based on complex and changing situations .  It’s easy to explain, it’s easy to defend, it’s easy to follow.

Humans seem to be born feeling a sort of scarcity and we are constantly looking to find some justice and equity in this life.  So we cling to these Rules as though this will provide for the Equity.

But it doesn’t.  It never has.  Because the rules can never be fair to the individual.  They can only hope for consistency.  They are static and monolithic and they are being applied to complex problems.   And they end up like a sledgehammer on a Tiffany Window because it’s hot in the church.  Nothing of value is left but the heat problem became a window problem and it was supposedly destroyed.  Except another window can be built.  And eventually will be.  And the church will be hot again.

b765fdb1ca8b9e9147cb7bd03f89fea9Rules do not fix problems.   They merely hit whatever is in front of them.  A guideline might also lead to hitting what is in  front of it, but it allows for the possibility that the problem is not the immediate thing in front of you.  It allows for possibility of a complex issue that might be better solved by opening another window, or opening the door, or going outside, or putting in air conditioning.

Guidelines are places where we start to think.  To recognize the situation in all its complexity and its far reaching solutions.  To allow kindness and compassion and the best of the human spirit to live.  Rules are where all those things go to die.

Why I think Clinton will be a Great President.

RuPaul in an interview with The Vulture.


This sums up the reasons I have considered Clinton more qualified than any candidate in 4 dozen years.  LBJ is probably the last candidate that could pull off what I think Clinton is capable of.

I have found Sanders ideals attractive.  But Clinton shows all the grime and scars that comes from a lifetime of battles and success.  She knows how to GET IT DONE.

She’s not nice.  My mother called her a bitch when she first came up as First Lady and she probably called it accurately.   I could write an entire post on why her Bitch is a product and projection of our culture, but it’s been written by many.  So Look It Up.

But just imagine If she is lucky enough to get a Liberal Congress, we could really see shit fly.

When It’s Not True


This is making the rounds on Twitter at the moment.  It’s not something he said.  Granted he says many absurd things, but this isn’t one of them. It was part of a satire article by Andy Borowitz.

Neither is this:


People magazine has done an extensive search of their archives and so have other people.  It just doesn’t exist.

You would think, with so much obvious and real fodder for outrage, that people would stick to the reality, but no.  That’s not how humans work.

I’ve watched 3 Presidential elections unfold on twitter.  And I can say that people are just as happy to be outraged over false information as accurate information.  As long as it’s about the other guy, they are willing to fall headlong into the pitch of anger.  Without pause.

I dislike being fooled.  And I guess I’m weird because I dislike it most when it’s the people on my side.  I don’t want to be misled.  It presumes I’m an idiot.  And I own very few qualities I find worthy and my ability to think is one of them.  So when someone tries to juice me with bad info assuming I’m not going to check because I agree with them politically, it pisses me off.


Politicians Lie. Why don’t we care?

Keith pointed out that Trump has 16 lies in his economic speech.  Deliberate lies more than likely.

There are studies that show that humans will believe things that are familiar. So repeating a lie makes it feel familiar and therefore believable.
Politicians know that.

We also have a bias toward believing people whose beliefs align with our own.
Politicians know that.

We also are also more likely to believe a statement that we can connect with a personal bias. If I think I pay too much in taxes and Trump says we pay more taxes than any other country, then I will probably think that must be true.
Politicians know that.

If a statement is made of which I have no prior knowledge, referencing any sort of specific data or number will make it more believable. Politicians know that.

They have no reason to tell the truth and every reason to lie. We don’t hold them accountable for their lies. At all. We expect them to do it and think it’s just the nature of the process.

The reality is that we should have some legal sanctions for deliberately misleading the public. But any perusal of a fact checking site shows why that would be a very hard thing to implement.

Most of them have to put things in a spectrum. From Truth to Pants on Fire. Where is the cut off? How would anyone decide what causes sanction? Do we put the sanctions on a graded system so they can be adjusted for the spectrum how untrue something is? Or is based on its impact? How do we define the impact. From denying you had sex with an intern to invading Iraq is a really big difference.

Are lies free speech?  I would argue we have a right to lie.  But should politicians and government officials be exempted from that right?

It all seems straight forward until you think about it.

Ideally, our outrage and voting would be the ultimate guide.  But as I already mentioned, that won’t ever work.

99% of Millionaires Vote

Yup.  In 2010, only 47% of eligible US citizens voted BUT 99% of Millionaires stepped up.  Apparently it’s not just money that controls the election. It’s the votes.

Don’t let their block of votes run the lives of the rest of us.

Republicans have consistently been creating voter laws that have blocked people of color and people without easy access to basic services from voting.

They are doing that because voting matters. Having a bunch of POC people vote scares them. THEY WILL LOSE if People of Color all vote. Because they aren’t going to vote Republican.

They will lose if all people under 30 vote.  Because the younger people are drowning in the debt and despair of a shrinking share of the economy.

They will lose.

Do you know why people who struggle need to vote? Because the people who don’t struggle are going to vote. And most of them aren’t going to vote like the people who struggle.

The Republicans know that. They also know there are more than enough people to vote them out, if all of those people voted.

It clearly matters. They vote and they want to stop people from doing it. They want to stop the people  who want to make things better for everyone , instead of just better for a tiny percentage of the population.


You are right. It’s not going to change tomorrow. But it will change. With the right people in the right places. It will change.

It is changing. Things don’t look good from the ground. But from the distance, the arc of history is starting to turn in favor of the people who struggle. The people who made it change.

It’s teetering on the edge. They are afraid.  And like all animals who are afraid, they are getting nasty.  So it needs your attention. It needs your voice. It needs your vote.

If you haven’t registered, if you don’t know where or who or how – go here, find your state and easy as that you can find out.

When Language Becomes Reality

Donald Trump wants the electorate to focus on the imagined evils of immigration instead of the clear problem of the growing gap between the uber wealthy like himself and the rest of  us.    He is using supremacist language to distract from Wealth/Poverty gap.

He flings insults at Muslims and discussed deporting them and how he would increase his war on terror.  He wants to build a wall to block out Mexicans and presumably every Latin American Immigrant.  He calls Mexican’s rapists and criminals.  He disparages the Black Lives Matter campaign.  All of these things are coded white supremacy language.

Hitler used similar tactics.  He came to power during the depression, when there was a huge disparity between those with money and those without.  Class distinction was the big issue then.   One of Hitler’s strategies to gain power was “removing the language of class warfare and replacing it with bonds of shared racial society which crossed classes“.

Trump is not qualified to fix the complex problems facing this nation.  But he is good at distraction.  And if he became President, its hard to imagine him being able to accomplish much legislation, he has antagonized so many of his own party and he certainly isn’t going to get help from Democrats.  So he will have to turn to more extreme distractions.  It’s desperately important to remember how Hitler escalated his own language of racial supremacy.

This isn’t a reality show.  It’s real.