Furthest Right

To Reclaim America, Try Production Instead of Criticism

So what do we do about uniparty Amerikan Democracy, Comrades? I obviously can’t vote my way out. It’s who counts the votes that is decisive. One possible method to this end is to become less vulnerable and exposed to the current rainfall of stupid from the people in charge of Amerika. I can’t fix everything, but I do have a Circle of Influence with a non-zero radius.

Around that Circle of Influence people generally make the error of inscribing a larger Circle of Concern. If the radius of the Circle of Concern (Rc) is greater than the radius of the Circle of Influence (Ri), then the poor person who lets this happen will tend to feel powerless and experience a very low level of success. This is regardless of how they individually define success. That delta (Rc-Ri) can be a proxy for three things. A demoralizing lack of success, an immiserating sense of failure, and a mordant sense of dread. None of these three will make you a hit at the next party. So what do?

So perhaps the best way to cope with the decline we see all around us is to worry about less while developing the ability to accomplish more.

Think of it as lengthening Ri while reducing Rc until the delta (Rc-Ri) gets as close to being zero as possible. You can choose to a certain degree which things you care about and can reduce the value of Rc by creative elimination of pointless stressors from your life. If you can’t fix it, don’t kill yourself trying. If it condignly isn’t your decision, stop trying to make it. The first set of links below will discuss how to constructively stop caring.

  1. Discard the Unnecessary: The more things you hoard in life, the more of these things will turn out being bad for you. These things don’t have to even be tangible. Getting rid of sub-optimal intangibles can make you happier, better, and less vulnerable to the iniquitous people that try to prey upon you.
  2. Jesus Addresses Unnecessary Anxiety: The ten verses here from The Sermon On The Mount tell an important story. The Tilldeer version of this involves verses 33 and 34 where Christ drives home his rhetorical point. Verse 33 is a nicer way of telling you to clean up your room and get your defecation in proper sequence.

    25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
    26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
    27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
    28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
    30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
    31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
    32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
    33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
    34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

OK, so the Big Guy Upstairs expects me to start being more of what I should be. That can and should be pursued via several different avenues of approach. I refer to this as Steelmanning. But to use this term the way I want to, I need to nail down the original meaning and then validly demonstrate that the meaning can be expanded as I seek to without loss of generality.

To Steelman is to strengthen.

A steel man is an (opposing – Eds.) argument that has been improved as much as possible – “armored” or “steel-plated” – so as not to have any unnecessary vulnerabilities, while still attempting to faithfully represent the same essential idea.

It is the opposite of a straw man.

It comes from a description of a method of winning debates. This technique involves a rigorous examination of your point. Then you purge the bad while augmenting the positive aspects until your point is sharpened and hardened to the point where an interlocutor can never successfully refute it.

So how do we steelman other aspects of our lives beyond our points of argument? Remember, the steelmanning process is the rigorous and repetitive quest for being better. The next few links are some possible areas of improvement and techniques to get there.

  1. Fuel Yourself Properly: We start on the very bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If life is a journey, you need fuel to produce the energy to transverse from alpha to omega. That fuel is what we eat and drink. People will sell you a million different plans. One possible way to optimize your fuel source is to eat what the healthiest people in the world are currently eating. Here are some basic characteristics of this sort of a diet.

    The 4 Principles of the Food Revolution Diet Plan:

    Eat fewer processed foods. Our bodies weren’t designed for sugar, white flour, bottled oils, or chemicals.

    Eat fewer animal products. Modern meat and dairy products — especially from factory farms — are leading drivers of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity, as well as culprits in widespread environmental destruction.

    Eat more whole plant foods. Fruits, vegetables, and other whole plant foods give you an abundance of the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, flavonoids, and other phytonutrients your brain, lungs, heart, immune system, and cells need to thrive.

    Source consciously. When you buy more organic, non-GMO, humane, local, and fair-trade foods, you’re taking a stand for your health and for your planet, as well as supporting farmers who do the right thing.

  2. Take Care of Your Machine: Pace Horace, within a strong body resides a strong mind. Being in proper physical shape is not just for sweaty lunkheads. Your entire life improves if you devote a portion of your time to taking care of your body. Here are the benefits beyond just being like Ahnuld!

    Working out can have positive effects far beyond those rippling biceps. Gaining self-confidence, getting out of a funk, and even thinking more creatively are some of the great reasons to exercise on a regular basis.

    1. Ditch The Fat: One of the worst and most stupid ways in which our current culture cozens us into greater self-annihilation is fat acceptance. Being overweight is like a gateway drug to a lot of other bad problems that will undermine your existence. When you can’t even tie your own shoes while standing at age 40, you are the gazelle that the lion will eat first.

      You can save money, time, pain, heartbreak and tragedy by winning your own personal Battle of The Bulge. I could link about 150 ways to do this. Some of these might even be workable and based upon legitimate science. I’ll just offer one tried and true. Get angry at yourself and become determined to fix it. The ways and means will match what you are capable of and very rapidly take care of themselves.

    2. Wield Golic’s Hammer: Regardless of the competitive endeavor, when two men compete the physically more capable man will always have a higher probability of winning. This is true of rugby, Five-Card Draw, or Parcheesi. Physically powerful individuals emanate a certain superiority that intimidates others whether it has anything to do with the competition at hand or not. Being at your physical best will allow you to control situations that have nothing to do with punching out Mike Tyson.

      There are four levels of fitness you need to master to wield Golic’s Hammer as if you were really Mike Golic. You need cardio-respiratory endurance, then you need strength, and then power (strength plus coordination and control), and finally sustained power. There are a million ways to get there. If you are starting from couch potato, it basically should work like this. Make yourself move, make yourself move for a long time, make yourself lift things, and then learn how to lift them in a dexterous and controlled manner. Once you’ve done this, develop the ability to exert great physical power all day long and you’ll normally be the one wielding Golic’s Hammer.

  3. Take Care of Your Thinking Machine: The brain is analogous to a muscle. Mental processes, like hitting fastballs in a batting cage, are frequently perishable skills. Perishable skills are abilities that go away if you don’t practice performing them. Here are some ideas to mentally pump some iron.
    1. The Nexus Between Music and Math: Pattern recognition is a vital mental activity. Phillip Marlowe, Mozart, Enrico Fermi all three lived or died by being good at this. Musical instruments have scales, most forms of advanced mathematics have series relationships. Getting the notes right in a scale is synonymous to nailing the next term in a series. There’s a rhythm to Fourier Series problems. Your average guitarist would like to make the same claim when he nails down a gig. Figuring out the rhythm of one is conducive to nailing down the other.

      During a child’s growth, it’s important to have music as a part of their life. Studies show that children who are active in music, whether as a result of playing an instrument or listening to a wide variety of music, perform better in math. The studies indicate that this is a result of their brains developing in such a way that they are able to discern patterns and repetition among the musical notes. The art of calculation lies in understanding the pattern. When you follow a pattern, it shall take you to a conclusion. The key lies in knowing the pattern, be it a simple or a complex pattern, it needs to be followed for the same conclusion.

    2. Fuel Yourself Properly: Your mind gets fueled just like your physical body. Read on a daily basis and I promise you an additional 600 IQ points. Bad puns aside, what you read or listen to will put things into your mind that partially determine what comes back out when you think and communicate.

      The NCTE Policy Brief on Reading and Writing across the Curriculum states that “discipline-based instruction in reading and writing enhances student achievement in all subjects … Without strategies for reading course material and opportunities to write thoughtfully about it, students have difficulty mastering concepts. These literacy practices are firmly linked with both thinking and learning.”

    3. The Games People Play: Depending on what sort of thinking you are attempting to get better at, the games you play as a hobby may help you get there. Play either Chess or Texas No Look Hold’em against a capable opponent and you will grow smarter. One of these two courses of action is even affordable.

      All joking aside, Chess will teach you logic and strategy.

      Researchers over the years have found enough evidence that show a direct correlation between playing chess and improvement in logical thinking. The fact that these researches, conducted across different countries and different timelines, show the same result reflect what chess players have always known – that the game is more than a pastime – it is a way to increase concentration, strategic planning, analysis, rational reasoning and critical thinking, among others.

      Texas No Limit Hold’em is an awesome, if expensive, tutorial on stochastic operations research and probability theory. It also teaches intuitive skills such as people reading. Some champions count the cards, other winners beat the people. At its core, Texas No Limit Hold’em is a war game that is obscured by runs of good and bad luck. If you don’t know how to mentally crush somebody, Hold’em will teach you how.

  4. Learn How to Deal with Others: Everything thus far has involved how to improve yourself independent of other people. This section involves how to improve your interactions depending upon what you want to get out of them.
    1. Learn How to Communicate: Here’s a silly joke about The Autistic Mafia. They’ll make you an offer you can’t understand. Nobody respects The Autistic Mafia. Communication skills are a bedrock to any meaningful self-improvement. There are forms and techniques. The best technique is to overcome introversion and get out there and make yourself do it.
    2. Learn How To Appreciate Negative Feedback: Once there was this guy who was a better than average athlete but nothing special. He decided to enter the NFL Draft and play Sportsball for a living. A bunch of experts with loads of expertise scouted him at an NFL combine. It wasn’t sexy.

      What did NFL people say about Brady at the combine? Here’s the list Brady shared in an Instagram post from March 3, 2017:

      • Poor build
      • Skinny
      • Lacks great physical stature and strength
      • Lacks mobility and ability to avoid the rush
      • Lacks a really strong arm
      • Can’t drive the ball downfield
      • Does not throw a really tight spiral
      • System-type player who can get exposed if forced to ad lib
      • Gets knocked down easily

      As Tom Brady prepares to quarterback at The Super Bowl for the tenth time in his amazing career, he still kind of sucks at a lot the things on the list above. As he ages into his mid-40’s he sucks even worse at a lot of the things on that list.

      That’s partially OK. He knows enough to know where he sucks. A lot of people aren’t that intelligent or well-informed. Part of self-improvement is being man enough to listen to somebody dress you down and tell you how you ain’t no manly man. Brady accepted unpleasant and brutal feedback as a gift. It taught him what to fix and work around. He plays in a fashion that minimizes lots of flaws.

      Six Super Bowl wins later, and he can reasonably argue that he sucks a wee bit less than the scouts at the combine accused him of sucking. This isn’t totally accurate. He probably has a lot of human weaknesses. He just knows what those faults are and how to prevent them from killing him. He knows this because he didn’t deny unpleasant truths. If you want to be a better human being, then listen intelligently when you are criticized by others.

Just listing what I think I need to fix with me could make this post go all day. That’s before other people get their turn to “help”. It may well be awhile before I’m a Steelman. But I’d advise we all practice steelmanning far more than just our arguments and points of view. A brutal, declining society will grind people to death. It will grind the losers down first. If you are both good and fortunate, it may not get around to grinding you.

Also, there is just the whole problem of how to have a happy, worthwhile existence. Worrying less about things you can’t fix and learning to fix more of the things that worry you will make it all seem a lot more worthwhile. Half of accomplishing that feat involves steelmanning. As you successfully steelman, you lengthen your radius of control. Steelmen are far less easy to grind. And that’s a great reason to accomplish more on that project in the mirror.

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