Critical Failures

Specifically Critical versus Vaguely Whining

I have an analytical mind.

This is useful and helpful in diagnosing problems and finding ways that things might work better.

This is destructive and unhelpful in relationships and broader life circumstances.

I have noticed a difference between what is helpful and what is not, and it pertains to the specificity of the complaints and criticisms my mind creates.

Specific criticisms can often be helpful. They can fix something.

I hate how that door squeaks and wakes everyone up in the morning.

I dislike how the lawnmower is leaving clumps of grass around.

I don’t like it how so-and-so is always late and makes me late as well.

With things like this, I can address them. I can use WD-40 on the hinges, I can sharpen the blades, and I can address so-and-so’s relationship with time, or go without them.

Broad Complaints

Then there are the broader complaints the mind cooks up.

My workplace is just such a toxic environment.

My marriage just isn’t what I thought it would be.

So-and-so is lazy.

The world is just such a mess.

These are broad and unaddressable and don’t really mean anything.

They fall apart under scrutiny.

They are not even mostly true.

They cannot help us understand why we are against something.

They globalize and create unfixable problems.

Critical to Survival

The mind is supposed to scan the environment for danger and trouble. It is expected to keep us safe, and to make sure we are getting the best deal available. This can skew it toward negativity and broad assessments.

Notice the mind’s criticisms and complaints.

Are they real and addressable and concrete, or are they vague and hazy and ultimately useless?

If a problem is too indefinable to really be a thing, could it be that there is something else that is bothering you?

Can you address that instead?


Entitlement and Reality

Living in West Texas (or Texas at all) you hear this word a lot, almost always directed at the poor and disenfranchised. The nicer people will just say that other people are not entitled to cell phones and new cars. The more hardline will say they aren’t entitled to healthcare. The true believers will say no one is entitled to anything at all. Everyone must earn everything.

If we strip it down, I suppose I agree. Nature does not entitle us to anything when we are born. A wolf will eat any baby it finds. Things like hunger and thirst do not discriminate. The problem is that we are not just born into nature, we are born into the human-construct of society. Things like fairness and compassion and structural inequality have to be taken into account. I feel like talking about entitlement is something of a distraction from this point.

Having said that, the poor do not have a monopoly on entitlement. In fact, it often seems that having money and status and prestige leads people to the mistaken assumption that nature will bend to their will, or that other people should magically behave a certain way. I see them become upset over things that many other people would not, and they often exhibit confusion regarding cause and effect. Entitlement is a human thing.

Entitlement versus Reality

The idea of entitlement, in general, is odd. We emerge into the universe to take part in reality and promptly start putting rules on what we are supposed to have and what we are not meant to have to deal with. For many things, this makes sense – it does seem like existing in society (through no choice of our own – there is hardly anywhere one can live entirely free of society anymore) should have some essential benefits (I thought you said you were a communist, James). I think we all agree with this. We just disagree on what constitutes essential benefits.

This is all fine, but when we start to approach this as a function that is necessary to reality, we are in trouble. Being entitled to anything at all is a social construct. It does not even exist outside of agreement between people. Things like the weather and the laws of physics and biology do not have any time for entitlement. But, it is important to note, that being born into a family with money does not entitle you to anything either if we are going with the strict laws of the universe. Inheritance only happens as a result of human agreement, and is, therefore, an entitlement.

What do you feel entitled to in life? What is this belief based on?

Where does your sense of entitlement conflict with other people’s?

Where do you discount what other people feel entitled to? What is this based on?

What does our birth actually entitle us to?

Money, Money, Money

Communist James versus Money

I mentioned my cup of tea with communism on Sunday. It drifted into a long-term affair with socialism before dying off. This left me with a bit of struggle with how I feel about money. It is still difficult for me to put things in terms of money. I feel vaguely guilty when I do.

 I dislike a lot of what I learn about online marketing and sales because people expect others to purchase their product before there is any relationship. They often turn into people who turn every relationship they have into a potential customer. This is one of the reasons I avoid people who are caught up in the mid-level-marketing thing.

I also resent people trying to push a product that doesn’t offer any value. There are a lot of get-rich-quick schemes out there, and I’ve never wanted to take part in them. I think I would prefer to give stuff away for free than try to sell something of low value, and I never want to price anyone out of anything. It’s all much easier before money gets involved.

Everything Takes Money

Here’s the thing though: without money, you can’t do anything or help anyone in any real way. I don’t want to have money for conspicuous consumption. I want to have enough to take care of my family. I want to be free from this modern-living-lie. I want to be able to help other people with cool things they are creating. I would like to be able to help people in need concretely, and in a way that could have a lasting impact instead of putting a Band-Aid on the problem. It takes money to do this. 

I have come to believe that there is a difference between allowing money to have a place and a purpose and being caught up in having it for the sake of having it. There’s a difference between working for it and wanting to figure out how to make it work for you. I think that as long as the project you want to put it to work on is a good one, there is nothing wrong in trying to do that.

I don’t know that I would ever want to be extremely wealthy. Many of the richest people I know are also the unhappiest, but I also know I want to get above the soul-killing effects of debt and skimping by. I also know I want to help other people do the same. I believe we are probably in for some tough times in the future and I want to be able to be useful then as well.

I am pretty okay with these goals, even if Communist James is crying somewhere.

Looking Forward Part 2

Looking Forward

I wrote a post a little over a year ago detailing the plans I had for the year. Seeing as how we are within 20 posts of finishing the blog-a-day-for-a-year plan, I figure it’s time to look ahead intentionally again.

1) I am currently re-doing my website under, so I can move away from Embracing Fate. I have started to hate that URL, and I hate giving it out to people. One of the toughest things for me in all of this has been the increasing level of exposure it has brought. A year ago I was struggling with the idea of actually posting what I wrote, now there’s a podcast, and I’ve started on videos. A website with my name on it is daunting, but my attempts at pithy or profound URLs have been weak.

2) I am planning to make the podcast a more regular thing. I can tell I am aging out of understanding things because my default for consuming media is to read it. This is not true of most people anymore. I have started to watch a lot of video tutorials on different things rather than reading them to get a feel for how they work. Suprisingly, I am finding I prefer them as well. If I can just get myself used to them and make them feel normal it will be easier for me to make them.

3) I am taking a class on building e-courses, so that is one of my goals for the next year as well. I’ve had to confront the fact that right now I am limited in both my ability to reach people and make money by having to be present for anything to be going on. It’s odd for me to even think in terms concerning money, I’ll write about that tomorrow. In short, I’ve recognized that I have to find a way to diversify what I offer if I want to turn this into anything more than what I already have. I have been incredibly fortunate with my practice, and I am at my ceiling there.

4) As I’ve mentioned before, I am going back and updating old posts for SEO, grammar, and just general presentation. I am leaning toward taking a break from the daily blog so that I can pull some of this other stuff together. If I do post daily it will most likely be one of these re-worked posts, and on the new site. I have enjoyed blogging every day, but I have to ask if I can take on these other projects and still write daily. It’s not even a matter of time management at this point. I don’t have any dead space in my day (I don’t consider time with my family as dead space, so I’m not willing to compromise there).

So, there are some goals for the next year. New website, podcasts, videos and e-courses.

Lets talk about money tomorrow.

Nostalgia and Nonsense

Welcome to the Sunday Pop-Up where I write about whatever pops into my head. It’s a good way to avoid getting stuck on one topic, as I am prone to do.


I’ve been nostalgic for the last little while here, which is weird for me. I spent a lot of years entirely exiled from anything related to my past. I remember reading a biography of Mao and had a sort of resonance with how they went through and just clear-cut everything that came before. I am glad my date with communism didn’t last long. It was only three biographies long – Mao, Che and Stalin. I am not sure how infatuation survived Mao, but Stalin will kill your Utopian dreams very quickly.

Along with this nostalgia has come watching a lot of older movies and cartoons. He-Man, Ghostbusters, the Smurfs, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I am struck by how much more mature these shows are, especially the cartoons. There are heavy shades of gray in almost every villain, and much of it is dark. I don’t think this hurt the people I grew up with or me. It seems like it’s a more accurate representation of how reality works.

I also feel like these old movies and cartoons have a depth that is lacking in a lot of what I see now. I get it there was a lot of shallow stuff during the 80’s and early 90’s, but the kids’ stuff seems to have escaped this in many ways. It feels a lot less disposable at least, but this was also a time when you couldn’t find the next great thing online in 5 minutes, so maybe it had to be built to last. Or, it may just be clouded by it being from my childhood.

That’s it.

Nostalgia and nonsense. Old man yells at cloud.

Enjoy the week.