Things Nobody Wants to Hear, but Probably Should

This post is entitled “Things Nobody Wants to Hear, but Probably Should”, but I imagine you already gathered that as it’s about 3 lines above this text. The reason it is named such, is that over the years, I have determined a number of patterns in people, Americans especially, that I wish to expound upon. This article is a mechanism for organizing my thoughts on the matter, and is provided to you as entertainment. It will contain many claims you may find offensive, but I encourage you to read between the lines to see if I am really trying to offend people, or simply tell them what I’ve discovered. Outside of that, I don’t particularly give a fuck what you think.

One of my favorite authors is Kurt Vonnegut. A man who pulled no punches, especially when describing himself. I am no Vonnegut but I will attempt to do the same.

If you are not familiar with me, I am a software engineer. Some of my code runs on your cell phones, some of my code runs on nearly every modern server and developer workstation deployed in the last 10 years. I have made numerous open source contributions from big to small, and literally none of this article is about any of this horseshit. Honestly, I just spent two hours setting up vim because I was too stubborn to use a shell script I wrote almost 15 years ago. Despite my experience and love for programming, I do not enjoy using computers these days. Honestly, you folks cocked it up chasing money and users largely suffer for it. It’ll all crumble eventually, and we’ll hold our dicks wondering where we went wrong. You made it too fucking complicated because you were too busy stroking your own ego, dipshits.

Again, this article is about people and I will start with the person I know the best, myself. I am 44 years old as of this writing. I have a young daughter that’s 3 years old. I am going through my second divorce, which probably says a lot about me as a husband. My first wife couldn’t conceive, and even though she spent the vast majority of her adult life encouraging me to grow and better myself, not being able to have children easily destroys marriages. Eventually, I took an extremely selfish route and left her. It was not pleasant and I do feel quite a bit terrible about it. My second wife is a first rate con artist who is using my daughter as a token to extend her long, 32 year career of living off others for another 15 years. I guess that’s what you do when you have nothing else to offer the world. As you might suspect, this use of my daughter irritates me greatly. I can think of nothing more frustrating than thinking my daughter is going to grow up thinking the thing between her legs grants her immutable rights to living that everyone else has to work for. There is no greater insult to women in general, if you ask me. Why bother with women’s suffrage if all you’re going to use it for is to complain about how you’re unfairly treated? If men did this, we’d just be called a pussy.

One thing, as you might expect from my prose, that I love to do is argue, and honestly, I like challenges. I like to argue with intelligent people. There are few things more frustrating in life than arguing with a moron that thinks they’re right. If the opposing party refuses to listen to reason, there’s literally no point in the discussion. My experience is that all folks will usually resort to insults when they are unable to concoct a reasonable defense of their argument, and how this typically carries out differs between genders. Men will try to find a way to make you look like an ass, and women will usually insult your ability to … meet women. Men are pretty easy to deal with, as usually ignoring them does the trick, or enrages them more, which almost certainly leads to yelling to get their way. Women are generally more subtle but the playbook is essentially the same. What I’ve always found interesting is that women will usually pull out the “good luck meeting women” argument in defense of losing a rational discussion. I can’t think of something more offensive to all women than to suggest this, are you suggesting that I simply let you be right, even when you are wrong, just to appease your insecurities? That’s pretty fucking sad and honestly, I’d much rather talk to a woman who is willing to think through the problem, or heaven forbid, find cause to change their mind. The easiest way to deal with an insecure women has been played by men for the last 6000 years: you let them talk until they run out of steam, then you go back to whatever they interrupted after saying something curt and polite like “yes dear”, or “mhmm”. I’m pretty sure Jesus did this to the whores who washed his feet.

Speaking of arguments, let’s talk about intelligent folks for a moment. The saying goes in Silicon Valley, “A people hire A people, B people hire C people”, a saying that is largely true in my experience. When I heard this phrase I was much younger, and over the years I have paid close attention to the behavior of people I would judge as “A people”, in an attempt to see what makes them so different. One thing has stood out amongst all of them, which I will explain in a minute.

You see, software is full of bullshitters. There aren’t many software engineers that are willing to admit when they don’t know something, or even worse, when they’re wrong. This isn’t constrained to software, it’s just that in other industries that are far more established, like the physical sciences or legal profession, it’s a lot more obvious when you are incorrect, so it’s much harder to bullshit people. Software is a furiously changing world and there is a LOT of tech out there. Nobody knows everything in tech. But a lot of engineers sure try to project that. In fact, I’d say the vast majority of them do. This is how bugs end up in your code: a design meeting happens, technical details are discussed and someone invariably tries to play “alpha male” (don’t worry, women do this too) and spews out a line of crap that would impress P. T. Barnum, but isn’t actually correct. At all. So this gets codified and sooner or later, it’s discovered as a bug or incompatibility or design flaw, at which point it’s corrected, if you’re lucky. All too frequently, it’s papered over, or marketing does the job software engineers could not. These people are absolute cancer to the software industry, and I sincerely wish they’d find new lines of work.

“A people” are frequently at the top of their field, or heavily respected for their capabilities. What I have discovered is that “A people” know one phrase most software engineers don’t, or aren’t willing to say in front of their peers, managers, or executives. “A people” do not need to prove anything to anyone. They are already established and the vast majority of them do not have their skills held in question about their respective domain experience.

That phrase is, “I don’t know”. See, because “A people” do not need to prove shit to anyone, they have no fear of saying it, which is usually the problem with other engineers. “A people” are also typically wise enough to know that software engineering is an extremely vast field and literally nobody knows everything, even if they know a lot. The combination of their notoriety and their wisdom give them enough chutzpah to say that, because they simply don’t fear the consequences of saying otherwise. Your javascript contractor, however, is probably largely worried they will be replaced, and “I don’t know” is a prime trigger phrase for nervous managers trying to meet deadlines. That is why in software engineering and infrastructure operations interviews, I aim for one thing: I draw on all my experience, anecdotes and knowledge with one purpose… to get them to eventually say “I don’t know”. If they never say it, I won’t pass on their interview. I have yet to have an interviewee answer all my questions correctly, but I have heard a lot of bullshit over probably hundreds, if not thousands of applicants. A young engineer that is willing to say “I don’t know” is probably the best hire you can get your hands on. They have no life yet so they will work tirelessly, and because they are humble enough to admit their ignorance, they will learn like a sponge. Quite literally the best ROI you will get out of an employee.

Now for a very delicate topic: race and culture. I should probably start out this section by say that I not only appreciate all races and cultures, but I enjoy learning about them too. Race in particular is a hard thing to learn about when you’re a white man in america, as some questions will invariably cause people who can answer them to either feel threatened or attacked, no matter how well intentioned they are, or even if they’re simply ignorant. I suppose we can thank the framers of america, who are well documented as carrying dentures later in life made from the teeth of their slaves. I cannot change this, but I can make a suggestion: before becoming offended, try to figure out what the goal of such a question is. You might teach someone something they really want to know instead of just causing them to be even more quiet the next time they have one.

Anyway.

I generally take issue with anyone who feels that a race or culture is inherently “superior”, and of course white people are probably the worst notable offenders of all time. After all, we are a genetic fluke, propagated largely by Norse men who fought the most important parts of their numerous wars with their cocks. Most of europe was quite literally raped into existence, and they manage to survive for some godawful reason.

People like to pick on Arabs in particular in America. When I was 20 or so, I worked at a convenience store. On september 11, 2001, I had the day off, so I played a video game. When I turned off the game, I saw two burning towers on the television I was using. About an hour later I got a call from work. A nice Arab man I worked with was exasperated, asking me to come in. I asked him why, and he told me it was because people were coming into the store and spitting on him. I did the rest of his shift. This was in Portland, Oregon, which if you’re not good with math is approximately 3,000 miles away from the World Trade Center. I sincerely doubt he was involved.

I’d like to take a brief moment to remind all of you that Arabs, not white people, not Asians, not anybody fucking else are responsible for some of the most crucial mathematical discoveries of all time. The number 0 (yes, really), that crazy “Al Gebra” and the foundations of geometry were formed there. Quite literally everything in the world runs on Arab discoveries.

And honestly, when you think about it: we spent 1 trillion dollars and lost 10,000 military in the conflict in Afghanistan, all to find some dude hiding in a cave. If that wasn’t pathetic enough, I’ll remind you that Osama Bin Laden only needed 20 people, and didn’t even pay for his own fucking planes. Who really won that conflict? I’m not sure giving our military and politicians a reason to get an inappropriate boner is really a win. And I’d like my fucking tax money back, which beyond the war provided a lot of those dipshits with guns G. I. Bills and housing subsidies which my hard work pays for.

Ok, the absolutely sensitive one: Black Americans. Black people have a lot of good fucking reasons to be mad at white people, even if by and large, the people who were hurt the most are dead. I mean, we kind of forced them to pick cotton, be beneath us, and deliberately forced mating of the strongest with the strongest, much like you’d breed a horse. But I’ll have to admit that black folks won that war, even if most white people are too big of cowards to see it. You can quite literally see it on hundreds of pornography sites on the internet, it’s almost impossible to avoid. So my hat’s off to you, black folks, for sticking it out.

Paul Mooney is famous for a lot of quotables, but the thing he’s said that resonates the most with me is loosely paraphrased as: “America is obsessed with black men. Others imitate them, but they will not be them. They refuse to admit, however, that we are better than them.” It is possibly the most profound criticism of american culture that I have ever heard. While I would certainly hope that we can find an equilibrium between races in america, Paul couldn’t be more right. We as a nation are absolutely enthralled with black culture. That’s a great thing, but watch a black man walk into a courtroom and you see a significantly different picture. When nobody’s really paying attention, black men get it in the ass more than the taker from goatse.cx. It’s not only disingenous, but it’s cowardly, and it doesn’t really help anyone. It gives black folks even more reasons to dislike other races, and it’s not really progress. So maybe fix your fucking attitude.

Now, the negative stuff. There are a few things I don’t really like about black folks in general, like their inability to talk on a cell phone quietly, or their propensity to use their phone as a music playing device on public transit. It’s obnoxious and irritating. Also, a lot of you seem to think you’re gangsters. I had a neighbor about a year ago who was unashamedly black name his child “Giovanni”. Neither of the parents are italian, and the man in question definitely wasn’t holding a mac-10 at his hip so seriously, why would you punish your child like that? You think you’re a thug. I get it. Just don’t project that shit on to your kid. Maybe put down the 2pac before it’s time to name your child for life. At least Tupac Shakur knew that “The Prince” had very little to do with italian folks.

One last comment before I concede this part: if you dropped 5 fully kitted navy seals in a room with Harriet Tubman in her prime, I’d put my money on Tubman. What a badass.

Honestly, I don’t have many negative things to say about indian folks. Your kind has been put through the ringer and you made it out alive. By and large, most of the highly intelligent folks I know refuse to eat meat. Also, you’re largely responsible for the cultivation and spread of cannabis, which I adore very much. So thanks, potheads.

Eastern Asians are another matter. I like a lot of them, and nearly everyone will tell you that knows me knows I find asian women incredibly attractive. After all, I did marry one, and my child is half chinese, so you can probably do the rest of the math without my help. You ladies definitely won the gene pool lottery there. I can’t think of a white woman on the planet who won’t take beauty advice from an asian woman. Seriously: they’re jealous and it shows.

I generally take issue with the fact that the vast majority of you – men and women alike – tend to isolate yourselves amongst your own culture. You’re in fucking america. Talk to the people around you and grow, you pretentious assholes. Literally the only race I can think of that takes this to it’s logical extreme. It’s incredibly annoying to have to deal with. I get that 99% of americans probably can’t appropriately pronounce your name but maybe that’s because you’re too busy being offended by that, or thinking you’re better because they get the tones all wrong, to teach any of them. It’s condescending and unbecoming of someone that lives in a multicultural society. I once had my wife exclaim to me that she, too was a minority. I have been to china. There are very few people in china that aren’t, you know, chinese. In fact, this was so prevalent that I really got a strange, but useful window into what a black man might feel like living in rural kansas, as I had people rubberneck me on the bus, and in one adorable instance I had a grocery clerk chase me down two flights of stairs, into a parking garage, just to come up to me, shake my hand and say “Hello, is my english good?”. Seriously, as someone who has lived as a white man in america all his life, it was quite a transformative experience. So when I pointed this out to my wife, that she was actually more of a majority in her own country than I was, as a white man, in america, she never brought that topic up again. Go figure.

Ok, another particularly sensitive race topic, and then I think I’ll be done with race in general, which I’m sure anyone who takes the time to read this drivel will certainly appreciate. They’re the jews. The chosen people, the kingdom of israel, etc etc. The one thing about jews that is nearly universal, is that they usually can’t shut up about any of this.

Some of you may not be aware that there are two primary subclasses of jews. When the jews were pushed out of israel in the stone age (figuratively, of course), well, there were only two major directions to go. East and West. The ones who emigrated west all referred to as “Ashkenazi”, but don’t fault me for the spelling. The ones who emigrated east are called “Sephardic”. While it’s certainly hard to see the differences, you can see the european influences in Ashkenazi jews, and the asian influences on Sephardic ones, in both physical and cultural effect.

Now, I could be wrong here, but the vast majority of jews in america are Ashkenazi, which is because of the Russian Revolution, and you know, that Hitler guy. I only know one Sephardic jew and for that reason alone (becuase boy, does that guy have issues) I will decline to comment further on them.

The thing about jews is that by and large, they are great people, fun to talk to, thought provoking for sure. Being a rabbi means you are generally really, really fucking smart. But of course, there are issues too. We’ve all heard the phrase “jewish princess” and that term exists for a reason. A lot of jewish men simply have never, ever learned that is indeed possible to say “no” to a woman and still remain breathing after the fact. I’m sure this has no effect whatsoever on the arrogance, narcissism and ego of jewish women, of which I have had the displeasure of knowing far too many who fit this stereotype. In fact, I am blood related to a few of them. The rest of the world won’t serve it to you on a platter, and the sooner you learn it, the better off the rest of us will be.

And what might be my favorite part of this rant, national politics. I’m sure all the readers formerly in the military stopped reading after that Osama Bin Laden comment so I can go ham here. Yay.

There’s a reason for this, but most of my discussions with native-born americans usually result in me walking away thinking they have all the intelligence of a Haitian peasant and all the arrogance of a middle aged frenchman. Yes, you are a lot less intelligent than you think, and no, being more arrogant doesn’t absolve you of that. If there’s no other good reason for immigration reform, it would be to get enough intelligent people into the united states to vote down a man who willingly lets Russia pave over a free state, which has done nothing wrong, while he whines about the cost of gasoline. It’s a borderline embarrassment to call myself an american or speak of american pride amongst my contemporaries from around the world, especially europe, where they pour a ridiculous amount of money ensuring free health care and education, while forcing their young women and men to enlist in military service, rendering any perks for doing so absolutely redundant in perspective. I seem to recall in Sweden they put whole schools into their jails; probably because they know that only a society of fools needs to commit crimes to put food on the table. Meanwhile, I strongly suggest you don’t have an abortion in Texas.

It’s not exactly a huge secret that the majority of high intellect research papers and the most skilled names in fields like technology do not have traditionally american names. This is because a large quantity of them are exchange students, and went to school in places other than ours to get their primary educations. This is extremely unsurprising if you’re willing to have a 20 minute discussion with anyone who teaches children in america. Teaching in america is not only a 7 day a week, 24 hour a day job, it costs real money the teachers generally provide themselves, and the pay is absolute shit. Combined with a severe lack of funding, teaching in certain areas can be an incredibly cutthroat profession to be in. Teaching in many states also requires a master’s degree and requires that several tests be taken that make the SAT look like an IQ test on facebook. Seriously, it’s a losing proposition if you do not care about educating children. You are not in it for the money.

My first wife was an elementary school teacher, and to the best of my knowledge, still is. When we were together, she taught in North Philadelphia, which by anyone’s account is a pretty rough area, and unabashedly black, which my wife was not. She imparted to me many stories which I will tell.

The first, most disturbing thing was that a lot of children in one of the poorer areas of Philadelphia were merely at school because it was more or less free day care for the parents, and the children were of course keenly aware of that. I will get into the reasoning later, but school attendance is arguably a lot more important to the school than the children, in these cases. When children think they have power over something, they tend to abuse it, and a school environment is definitely no exception. The teachers would respond to this by “ripping them up”, which usually involves a lot of force after gripping the collar of a shirt the child was wearing. My wife never did this herself, as she was a white woman and in a black community… Do I really have to spell this out for you? So she’d call other teachers to come in and do it for her.

The second thing is that by and large – big surprise – children in america aren’t encouraged to learn anything at home, and in poorer communities this is definitely exaggerated. Teachers were very highly encouraged to assist students with their tests, and in some cases, the teachers would quite literally fill out of the scantrons themselves. These children are not only in the most disadvantaged places fiscally, culturally, and geographically, but they quite literally get fucked out of an education as a thank you.

The reason for all this? In the early 2000’s, a piece of paper flew past George W. Bush’s desk called the “No Child Left Behind Act”, which he was more than happy to sign. It not only severely cut funding for the arts and sciences, but made school funding almost entirely based on two subjects: reading and math. The funding is based on performance, which is evaluated through periodic tests which are issued to students. It also made funding based on child attendance.

I’ll remind you we’ve had two democrats in office, one who is black as night, and this law still exists. We are systematically fucking america in the ass with this law. Sure, if you live in suburbia, where a large portion of funding comes from city governments and the volunteering and donations of parents, you don’t notice it. But the rest of america, well, they can get fucked I guess.

So I guess I can’t be too surprised when I walk into a company in Silicon Valley, and out of 200+ people the only other person I see the office that is a natural born white american (black people have had an incredibly rough time in tech, and I’m glad that’s changing, but it’s a fucking fact) working on the technical bits isn’t doing anything important. The rest of the people are by and large indian, chinese, or eastern european, and are either here on H1-B’s or already have rights to work in america. I’m not blaming those folks. We voted that prick into office, and we keep voting in pricks that don’t care, so I guess we’re doing it to ourselves. I don’t think Mike Judge and Terry Crews intended to film a documentary, but it’s possible they did accidentally.

And a couple of quick quips about the military. Only in america will you see a 65 year old man, 40lbs overweight and hasn’t seen a gym in 30 years tell you he can kick your ass because he shuffled paper for the marines for 4 years. Seriously now, we give those guys more than anyone else in america and most of them only come out with a false sense of superiority and great tax incentives. Then they become police officers and make our lives hell for the rest of their lives because they don’t have enough basic intelligence to deal with a problem without hitting it with a baton or pointing a firearm at it. It’s fucking pathetic.

I’m burnt out on shitting on america. Honestly, it’s a futile exercise, and the country will likely become a footnote in history, with the only things truly remembered being it’s ability to provide corporations with enough tax loopholes to build enough lattices to create a human being from raw DNA and it’s undeniably liberal capital gains tax rate. Great job innovating, fuckers. I guess you can thank the chinese for making the flag stickers on your bumpers, too.

So, religion! And I think this will be it, so hold on to your butts.

Religion in general is the thing likely keeping most people alive, as well as obedient and kind to others, on this planet. It is the foundation for most of law, as well as what the world reveres as “morality”. Another way of saying that is that most of the way you treat other people can largely be traced back to religions from all over the world.

Religion is (gee, I’m sure this is surprising to hear come out of my fingers) also the biggest atrocity of the human race. More people have died on this planet simply because one powerful dude wanted to make sure his football team was more important than the other football team.

The fundamental problem with religion is that it provides all knowledgable people with a template that can be used to immediately pre-judge anyone who follows it, or doesn’t follow it. You can see this in all religions, and even in the most pious people. Alan Turing, probably the most important man in the last 150 years, was chemically castrated for being a homo, and eventually committed suicide. I probably would too if I could no longer bust a nut. I’m sure religion had nothing to do with homosexuality being illegal in England at the time. England didn’t even honor him until 2013, long after the rest of the world did. Go read about him. He’s definitely more important than Einstein or Oppenheimer, who spent most of their old age regretting what they had done, were.

I will impart one personal story, which unfortunately lightly jabs one of the kindest, most generous people I know, who if he were significantly older than me I would think of as a surrogate father. Truth. He practices Jainism, which if you want to read about you can, but in short, they are an indian religion with extremely strict dietary habits, and my friend is the most pious Jain that I know. At our baby shower, him and his wife politely rejected the party gifts we offered to them – smores – because marshmallows contain gelatin, which of course comes from cows. Jains believe they should not eat anything that kills the being, so even root vegetables like potatoes and carrots are out. While this may seem weird to many americans, personally I find that level of dedication to faith a characteristic of extremely high regard. That shit can’t be easy, and they do it because that’s what they believe is important. I mean, most of the christians I know have never even read the fucking bible.

Anyway, we were in seattle on a work trip, and the group wanted to get dinner. Due to our friend’s (and several others) dietary restrictions, he was overjoyed to find an actual Jain restaurant in the city. We drove quite a ways to get there, made reservations for about 10 people, etc etc. We get there, and our friend immediately asks to speak to the chef. Again, he takes this shit incredibly seriously. But you should have seen the look on his face, when a white man in traditional indian dress comes out to greet him. It was honestly pretty god damned hilarious. What followed next is only what I can describe was my friend, interviewing this white man like david letterman would, trying to determine if he knew his shit. Eventually he was satisfied, and we ate well. Templates, folks.

One other thing is on my own beliefs, which I think I have formed for a great deal of time at this point, pondering heavily over it the last year. I have been pondering 3 words for the last 25 years, imparted to me by a man I categorically hate, but that does not deny his wisdom. He is a freemason and a member of the Ordo Templi Orientis, a sect of ritual magick practicioners founded by Aleister Crowley. His teachings (as well as the masons, and other christian churches) were reportedly taken from the Gnostics, which survived until around 500 A. D. The story goes, the Apostle Paul went one way, made a lot of noise and eventually formed the Catholics, and the Gnostics were other apostles that thought Paul was a blowhard or something. I don’t know the whole story.

Any way, if you know anything about freemasonry you will be aware that all members must believe in a “Grand Architect of the Universe”. As I understand it, you are not required to explain what you believe, but you are required to believe in it. Many of the allegories and teachings the masons share rely on this universal truth in their fraternity, and so it is required.

The phrase? “God is Math”.

I’m sure some of you have seen that movie “Pi”, you know, the one where that dude lobotomizes himself. It actually makes many important points that coincide with this phrase. When you think about it, if god is math, not only is god the earth itself, but all the formulae and discoveries that are revealed from it. Space exploration and understanding the universe; fuck, even steering a god damned boat is impossible without math. This is universal from the subatomic level all the way to gas giants, includes quantum theory and all the things in between. Citing a computer is easy, but do you think the room you’re sitting in could be built without math? Nope.

So, I firmly believe that god is not some super universal being that wags his finger at the world every time someone jacks off, but instead is all around us. God is the great discovery, and god quite literally is also science. I also believe a minor corollary, which may or may not be true, but we’ll see. I believe that in many ways, our lives are a basic algebra problem, and any time we do the wrong thing, god just balances that shit for you. I believe that the hindis and buddhists call this “Karma”, but don’t hold me to that.

If you made it this far, I hope you found it entertaining. Otherwise, I’d like to remind you that you just destroyed precious moments of your life reading my drivel instead of treating your loved ones with care. That is probably more important than any other achievement in this world. Go do it.

-Erik