Hijacking your mind, with your permission.

Tristan Harris is an expert on how technology hijacks our psychological vulnerabilities, and spent the last three years as a Design Ethicist at Google caring about how to design things in a way that defends a billion people’s minds from getting hijacked. He asks this question: Where does technology exploit our minds’ weaknesses? He gives 10 answers. His comments dominate. My few are underlined.

Hijack #1: If You Control the Menu, You Control the Choices. When people are given a menu of choices, they rarely ask:

  • “what’s not on the menu?”
  • “why am I being given these options and not others?”
  • “do I know the menu provider’s goals?”
  • “is this menu empowering for my original need, or are the choices actually a distraction?” (e.g. an overwhelmingly array of toothpastes)

Hijack #2: Put a Slot Machine In a Billion Pockets. If you’re an app, how do you keep people hooked? Turn yourself into a slot machine. The average person checks their phone 150 times a day. Why do we do this? Are we making 150 conscious choices?

To maximize addictiveness, tech designers link a user’s action (like pulling a lever) with a variable reward. You pull a lever and immediately receive either an enticing reward (a match, a prize!) or nothing. Addictiveness is maximized when the rate of reward is most variable. Slot machines make more money in the United States than baseball, movies, and theme parks combined. Relative to other kinds of gambling, people get ‘problematically involved’ with slot machines 3-4 times faster according to NYU professor Natasha Dow Schull, author of Addiction by Design.

But here’s the unfortunate truth — several billion people have a slot machine their pocket:

  • When we pull our phone out of our pocket, we’re playing a slot machine to see what notifications we got.
  • When we swipe down our finger to scroll the Instagram feed, we’re playing a slot machine to see what photo comes next.
  • When we swipe faces left/right on dating apps like Tinder, we’re playing a slot machine to see if we got a match.

Hijack #3: Fear of Missing Something Important (FOMSI). Another way apps and websites hijack people’s minds is by inducing a “1% chance you could be missing something important.” I don’t necessarily agree with him on this one. Is it the website, or the user–us–who is inducing FOMSI? Who decides what’s important? A similar phenomenon is people-usually men-who walk around with bluetooth earbuds, like an important phone call is imminent. Maybe it is, but when they are dressed like a bum, I assume the earbud is there to make them look important.

Hijack #4: Social Approval. How many “friend requests” do you get on Facebook? How many do you accept? Do you have criteria for accepting or rejecting? I decided that I would accept NO friend requests unless it was from a person I truly want to spend time or deepen a relationship with.

Hijack #5: Social Reciprocity (Tit-for-tat)

  • You do me a favor — I owe you one next time.
  • You say, “thank you”— I have to say “you’re welcome.”
  • You send me an email— it’s rude not to get back to you.
  • You follow me — it’s rude not to follow you back. (especially for teenagers)

We are vulnerable to needing to reciprocate others’ gestures. But as with Social Approval, tech companies now manipulate how often we experience it. In some cases, it’s by accident. Email, texting and messaging apps are social reciprocity factories. But in other cases, companies exploit this vulnerability on purpose.

Like Facebook, LinkedIn exploits an asymmetry in perception. When you receive an invitation from someone to connect, you imagine that person making a conscious choice to invite you, when in reality, they likely unconsciously responded to LinkedIn’s list of suggested contacts. 

Hijack #6: Bottomless bowls, Infinite Feeds, and Autoplay. Another way to hijack people is to keep them consuming things, even when they aren’t hungry anymore. How? Easy. Take an experience that was bounded and finite, and turn it into a bottomless flow that keeps going.

Cornell professor Brian Wansink demonstrated this in his study showing you can trick people into keep eating soup by giving them a bottomless bowl that automatically refills as they eat. With bottomless bowls, people eat 73% more calories than those with normal bowls and underestimate how many calories they ate by 140 calories. I’m surprised the calorie underestimation isn’t much greater.

Tech companies exploit the same principle. News feeds are purposely designed to auto-refill with reasons to keep you scrolling, and purposely eliminate any reason for you to pause, reconsider or leave. It’s also why video and social media sites like Netflix, YouTube or Facebook autoplay the next video after a countdown instead of waiting for you to make a conscious choice (in case you won’t). A huge portion of traffic on these websites is driven by autoplaying the next thing. I turn off autoplay on every app that features it.

Hijack #7: Instant Interruption vs. “Respectful” Delivery. Companies know that messages that interrupt people immediately are more persuasive at getting people to respond than messages delivered asynchronously (like email or any deferred inbox). Given the choice, Facebook Messenger (or WhatsApp, WeChat or SnapChat for that matter) would prefer to design their messaging system to interrupt recipients immediately (and show a chat box) instead of helping users respect each other’s attention.

In other words, interruption is good for business. It’s also in their interest to heighten the feeling of urgency and social reciprocity. For example, Facebook automatically tells the sender when you “saw” their message, instead of letting you avoid disclosing whether you read it (“now that you know I’ve seen the message, I feel even more obligated to respond.”)

By contrast, Apple more respectfully lets users toggle “Read Receipts” on or off. The problem is, maximizing interruptions in the name of business creates a tragedy of the commons, ruining global attention spans and causing billions of unnecessary interruptions each day. 

Hijack #8: Bundling Your Reasons with Their Reasons. Another way apps hijack you is by taking your reasons for visiting the app (to perform a task) and make them inseparable from the app’s business reasons (maximizing how much we consume once we’re there). For example, in the physical world of grocery stores, the #1 and #2 most popular reasons to visit are pharmacy refills and buying milk. But grocery stores want to maximize how much people buy, so they put the pharmacy and the milk at the back of the store.

In other words, they make the thing customers want (milk, pharmacy) inseparable from what the business wants. If stores were truly organized to support people, they would put the most popular items in the front. Tech companies design their websites the same way. For example, when you you want to look up a Facebook event happening tonight (your reason) the Facebook app doesn’t allow you to access it without first landing on the news feed (their reasons), and that’s on purpose. Facebook wants to convert every reason you have for using Facebook, into their reason which is to maximize the time you spend consuming things.

Hijack #9: Inconvenient Choices. Instead of viewing the world in terms of availability of choices, we should view the world in terms of friction required to enact choices. Imagine a world where choices were labeled with how difficult they were to fulfill (like coefficients of friction) and there was an independent entity — an industry consortium or non-profit — that labeled these difficulties and set standards for how easy navigation should be.

Hijack #10: Forecasting Errors, “Foot in the Door” strategies. Lastly, apps can exploit people’s inability to forecast the consequences of a click. People don’t intuitively forecast the true cost of a click when it’s presented to them. Sales people use “foot in the door” techniques by asking for a small innocuous request to begin with (“just one click to see which tweet got retweeted”) and escalate from there (“why don’t you stay awhile?”). Virtually all engagement websites use this trick.

Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, and your princes feast in the morning!

But I Want It! campaign

Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, and your princes feast in the morning! Happy are you, O land, when your king is the son of the nobility, and your princes feast at the proper time, for strength, and not for drunkenness!” Ecclesiastes 10:16-17. No, that passage from wise King Solomon is not a reference to our current president. Rather, it describes two of the plagues that God sends on rebellious nations….like ours. If I were to translate it into modern terms, woe to a nation ruled by immature fools, whose rulers are in it for themselves rather than service. George Washington university is a great example of both plagues.

In Campus Reform’s latest video, Ethan Cai asks students at George Washington University if they’d be willing to sign a petition calling for banning the iconic white stick figure in “walk” signals because they are “oppressive.” Part of the reason Campus Reform chose GW for its “offensive” and “oppressive” white walk signal guy petition is because of the students’ recent vote to “remove and replace” the university’s mascot, George (Washington) the Colonial, which “is received as extremely offensive not only by students of the University, but the nation and world at large” because it “glorifies the act of systemic oppression,” a petition calling for its removal claimed. The measure was passed in March by 54% of the students who voted. Keep in mind, George Washington was the kind of President who surpassed all future presidents, and could have been crowned king, but wanted nothing more than to be of service to his nation. He was also the only president who didn’t want the job.

In an attempt to test how deep concerns about “offense” and “oppression” go at GW, Campus Reform went undercover to the university to see if students would sign a new petition, this time calling for the banning of white stick figures in walk signals.

As we students cross the street, we are told by the symbol of a white man when it is okay to cross,” Campus Reform’s faux petition reads.Many students from diverse backgrounds, including individuals of color, gender fluid individuals, and LGBTQA+ individuals, feel oppressed by this.Students who sign the petition are supposedly letting the university know that theyvehemently urge the University to consider changing the crosswalk signs.”

The result: many of the students, and even one university faculty member, are willing to put their signature on the phony petition. Most in the video made a point of saying they can “absolutely” see how someone would be offended by the “white man” telling them what to do and felt that changing the sign helped promote “diversity.”

Facts: As of 2015, George Washington had over 1,100 active alumni in the U.S. Foreign Service, one of the largest feeder schools for the diplomatic corps. GWU is consistently ranked by The Princeton Review in the top “Most Politically Active” Schools. Notable alumni include former and current presidents/prime ministers of Iraq, Georgia, Croatia, Pakistan, South Korea, Mongolia, Togo and Venezuela. GWU’s website home page says in very large letters, “Whether you want to follow in the footsteps of giants or forge a new path, this is the place to start.” Satirizing their statement in the light of the petition is too easy. I am not a cheap shot artist. GWU is the low hanging fruit of satire. Woe to a nation whose diplomatic corps hates her history and ideals!

White triggering” marches on: In a segment on Sunday’s “A.M. Joy,” Elie Mystal of AbovetheLaw.com said white people who voted for Donald Trump should be destroyed. This came after a segment in which he argued there is no moral difference between avowed white supremacists and any white person who votes for Trump. I must then ask, what do you have to say about a black person who votes for Trump? Does it rhyme with Oreo? In the clip, host Joy Reid asked how those who are “drugged” by the president’s rhetoric should be communicated to and convinced they are wrong. That’s when Mystal got even more heated, saying:

You don’t communicate to them, you beat them. You beat them. They are not a majority of this country — the majority of white people in this country are not a majority of the country. All the people who are not fooled by this need to come together, go to the polls, go to the protests, do whatever you have to do. You do not negotiate with these people, you destroy them.” Ironically, this comment came on the same day the New York Times ran a piece arguing that Fox News is inciting white supremacist violence by using words such as “invasion” to describe the situation at the border. When is fiery language and hyperbole an “incitement” to violence and when is it “justified outrage”? The answer is obvious: If it comes from the mouth of a Trump supporter, it’s the former; if it comes from a Trump hater, it’s the latter. SIMPLE!

I will give the Babylon Bee the last word: U.S.—“A new candidate has come out of nowhere to surge in the polls in the Democratic primary, and she’s only six years old. Susie Peters of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was on a local news segment where children gave their opinions on world problems, and she asked, “Why can’t we just give everyone everything they want for free?” The message quickly went viral and really resonated with Democratic voters, propelling Susie from unknown to third in most polls, ahead of Bernie Sanders and just behind Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden. Susie has unveiled her new popular campaign slogan, “But I want it!” and has already qualified for the next Democratic presidential debate, though she may not be able to attend since it will be on past her bedtime.

“Crisis” du jour, a vessel for your theories.

Chaos Theory

Whenever a series of seemingly “non-random” acts of violence are perpetrated, everyone’s obsessed with finding “the cause”, as if somehow that will make us safer. “Mass shootings”—where one perpetrator, typically armed with multiple firearms, kills four or more (the baseline death toll for meeting the definition of mass shooting)—have so many bogus patterns theorized that they really have none. Every agenda seems to spawn it’s own set of explanations and theories plumbing the dark recesses of the perpetrators’ minds.

So, mass shootings. We have easy access to guns. We have a “frontier mentality.” We have a media that only censors when it self-censors (if our press wants to tell a story, it can). We’re a huge country with a huge population, and a far less obedient, “pacified” attitude than our neutered Canadian and Western European pals. Even our poorest denizens have access to mood-altering meds for mental illness, but at the same time, we have a system that places freedom for the mentally unstable above forced institutionalization, so mental cases who choose to go unmedicated can wander freely among us. To make matters murkier, publicity-seeking gurus try to tag every act with a greater agenda, like terrorism or white nationalism. Back in 2002, ancient history, sniper-style attacks all but paralyzed the nation’s capital, as people were shot at random while going about their everyday life — pumping gas, buying groceries, and for one young boy, as he went to school. The shooters—John Allen Muhammad and Lee Malvo, used a high-powered rifle, firing from the trunk of a modified Chevy Caprice until they were tracked down at a Maryland rest stop. Muhammad was executed in Virginia in 2009. Even CNN simply reported the circumstances of his execution without pontificating or blaming racism or some other ism. Ancient history indeed.

The Virginia legislature had passed an anti terrorism law after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, envisioning al Qaeda-style terrorism. The law defines terrorism as a crime committed with “the intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or influence the policy, conduct or activities of the government … through intimidation or coercion.” Prosecutors said the circumstances of the October 2002 sniper spree fit that definition of terrorism like a glove. Muhammad and Malvo demanded a $10 million payment from the government to stop the shootings and left notes at shooting scenes promising “more body bags” if their demands weren’t met. That’s before white nationalism or supremacy became a thing. Both Muhammad and Malvo were black, but so were some of their victims. There were various theories, including Gulf War Syndrome, Islamic terrorism (Muhammad had joined the Nation of Islam previously), but the $10 million “ransom” demanded loomed larger than the theories.

Most mass shooters are nonideological, and among those who do possess some type of political agenda, you’ll find far-leftists (Colin Ferguson, James Hodgkinson, Micah Johnson), far-rightists (Dylann Roof, Buford Furrow, Robert Bowers), jihadis (Omar Mateen, Nidal Hasan, Hesham Hadayet), and even a bicyclists’ rights activist (failed congressional candidate Alan Winterbourne, who killed three government bureaucrats and a cop after years of railing against traffic tickets for cyclists who run stop signs). Sometimes people do terrible things because they’re rebelling against their instruction (the whole “most Satanists were raised Christian” thing). The Columbine kids embraced Hitler because they knew society disapproved. Regarding religion, Sutherland church shooter Devin Kelley and Amish schoolhouse shooter Charles Roberts had both been deeply religious at one time. Roberts, in fact, framed his massacre as an act of rebellion against a God he absolutely believed in. They had not lacked moral instruction. They’d had plenty of it, and they chose to rebel.

Consider the following questions: 1- From the perspective of a resident of Washington DC, what’s scarier, a person out in the open, killing 10 people in the course of two minutes, or a hidden sniper, using a bolt action hunting rifle to kill 10 people seemingly at random over a period of a month? I think the latter is much more frightening. 2- If you were in a restaurant or schoolroom, and a shooter entered, brandishing an automatic rifle, what would be preferable, an armed citizen who was immediately able to dispatch the killer with a headshot, or waiting 10 for S.W.A.T. to show up with overwhelming firepower? 3- Whether fearing a sniper or the shooter in question 2, what is uppermost in your mind, “what is his motivation” or “how do I save lives, including my own?” 4- What are the families of shooting victims more outraged about, the sniper who demands $10 million or the ideological idiot who penned a manifesto? Are these purely theoretical questions? If you say yes, then you either don’t think you’re in any danger from “mass shooters”, or you think those acts are rare enough that they aren’t something to give much thought to. If you say no, and are really taking those questions seriously, then how useful are the “more gun control” arguments or the half-baked theories of motivation?

In 2019, it seems that just about any “non-random act of violence” becomes the “crisis” du jour, a vessel to fill with useless theories that promote someone’s agenda. As I write this, an email came in discussing stabbings in Sydney, Australia, in which a man absconded from a mental hospital killed a 21 year old woman and injured a 41 year old man. Of course as soon as something like this happens the news goes worldwide and is added to on social media. People have already speculated that this was an Islamist attack because the attacker was shouting Allahu Akbar and had material about the New Zealand mosque massacre and the recent mass shootings in the US. It turns out the woman was a prostitute he was “visiting.” Neither logic nor facts will deter the publicity-seeking theorists. 

There’s something that CAN give comfort. I SUGGEST YOU WATCH THE MOVIE, The 15:17 to Paris, in which three American friends-Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone-and another traveler subdue a lone wolf terrorist armed with automatic weapons, before he can get many shots off. It may not be a great movie, especially because the actual three friends play themselves, but their bravery saved a lot of lives. They were ready to sacrifice themselves to save lives. Would that the rest of us contemplate heroism rather than speculation!

Leaving hate, but not stupidity, behind.

Genocide comes in many flavors

From World Magazine https://world.wng.org/2019/08/leaving_hate_behind

“Many former extremists who are now active in condemning hate also warn against hating members of ‘hate groups’. TM Garret, a former Klan leader and now an activist against racist violence in Mississippi, makes it his mission to humanize former white supremacists, whom he says deserve compassion: ‘It’s OK to dislike their ideology, but never, ever hate the human being.’ The Bible teaches that all human beings are created in the image of God. Garret began wondering: What if nothing made sense because his beliefs were wrong? What most people don’t realize is that ‘everyone in hate groups have doubts,’ Garret said. But whenever he expressed doubts, other Klansmen shushed him: The Jew-controlled media’s tricking you. Satan’s deceiving you. ‘It’s like standing on quicksand,’ Garret recalled. ‘The more you try to get out, the deeper you sink in.’

Does that last sentence sound familiar? “If you ask me to define racism, then you’re a racist.” “If you deny your white privilege, you’re a racist.” “If you say ‘I have lots of black friends, you’re a racist.” “If you deny being a racist, you’re a racist.”

Exhibit A+ in how “anti-racism” makes otherwise smart people stupid is “Harvard Legal Scholar” Lawrence Tribe. Sunday morning, for reasons unknowable to anyone rational, Tribe took to Twitter to bless the world with this gem, “White Supremacists oppose abortion because they fear it’ll reduce the number of white infants and thus contribute to what they fear as non-white ‘replacement.’ Never underestimate the way these issues and agendas are linked. This turns “intersectionality” on its head.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s most recent figures (2015), black women accounted for 40% of all abortions in the U.S., despite black Americans making up only about 13% of the population. For white women, the numbers were 49% and 72%, respectively. So on a long enough timeline — say, one dating back to Roe v. Wade — the end result of readily available legal abortion has been to keep the black population growing more slowly than the white population. So you’d have to be pretty stupid, even for a white supremacist, to support both white supremacy and outlawing abortion. In Tribe’s case, it’s the worst kind of stupid: Credentialed stupid!

Some ideologies are more persistent than others. As bad as racial animosity and racial vainglory are, they have been overcome in far more cases than Perfectionist Progressive (i.e. utopian) ideology. Every murder that has issued from racial animosity does not even comprise a measurable fraction (unless you want to get into quantum numerology) of the murders due directly to utopian ideology. Whether the label is Fascist, Nazi, Communist, Socialist, Leftist or Progressive, the unifying theme is “we will remake the imperfect world of the “people store” into a ___________(fill in the blank) paradise led by perfected humans”. We might have to break a few million eggs to make this omelet, but that’s the price of progress. 14 million dead in the “Great Leap Forward” (thank you Mao); 23 million dead in Stalin’s various purges; 1.2-3 million dead in Pol Pot’s regime (21-24% of Cambodia’s population); 9-10 million killed by Nazis (Jews and Soviet prisoners/civilians) not counting those who died fighting in WWII. ALL IN THE NAME OF AN IDEOLOGY. P.S. “Reproductive Freedom” is an ideology too.

Call me “old-fashioned”, but….

Team Moron….so what

Team Mitch and the Weaponization of White Male Awfulness by Sady Doyle (Author of “Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear… and Why”). “The photo appeared on social media late this past Monday: a group of white, red-faced, beaming teenage boys in “Team Mitch” T-shirts, clustered around a cardboard cutout of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They were pretending, variously, to kiss her, strangle her, and grope her crotch. The Instagram caption — because, like the geniuses they are, the boys posted this to Instagram — reads “break me off a piece of that.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the titular “Mitch” whose team these lunkheads seem to have joined, can’t seem to decide whether to deplore the boys or defend them.

Okay Sady, I may be old fashioned, but since when is it in the job description of Senate Majority Leader to deplore or defend a group of teenage boys, who are acting like….teenage boys? I would hope that Congressional “lawmakers”, WHO REPRESENT THEIR CONSTITUENTS IN A CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC (just in case you can’t figure it out Sady), spend their time more productively. Why should Mr. McConnell take up your offense to “deplore” anyone, let alone some typically thoughtless and insensitive teens?? Oh, you know, maybe it’s because your “greatest living president ever”, Barack Obama, took time out from his busy schedule to criticize police shootings, then attended the subsequent funeral for 5 Dallas police officers who were killed by a sniper the day after his comments.

The officers — Michael Smith, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa — were killed during a Black Lives Matter protest (the night after President Obama criticized police for racism) by a black sniper who told police he targeted white officers. Elected officials should do the job they were elected to do, NOT insert themselves into public conversations about events they were not present at. Whether it’s Trump, Obama or McConnell, the less they pontificate the better. Unfortunately, people like Sady have come to judge politicians on their public personas rather than their constitutional job description.

She writes some intelligent things about young men, then can’t resist turning political: “So we come back to Team Mitch, and those grinning little nitwits in the Instagram photo. They’re not the most violent young men of their moment, nor do they necessarily have the most extreme politics. Yet they are among the most depressing examples, precisely because they stand at the threshold of all this violence, about to enter in. The indoctrination that begins in that photo—the ability to bond with other men through shared hatred of a female target, the sense of power gained through common sexual humiliation of a woman, the idea that political participation is about finding a woman you’re allowed to hurt or hate and going to town on her—will end in another mass shooting, somewhere soon, even if none of these boys are directly responsible. Republicans won’t disavow it, because the ugliness we’ve instilled in those boys’ souls is crucial to their power, and to the functioning of the world as we know it.”

How stupid is that last sentence Sady? Yes, that’s the hidden agenda of the Republican party, “Weaponizing White Male Awfulness.” And is the hidden agenda of the Democrats “weaponizing every possible or imaginary grievance?” Young, stupid men usually grow up, young, stupid leftists usually don’t.

Who made me a white, male, citizen of the USA? Hint: I didn’t create myself.

Some might say I don’t even notice my “white privilege.” They would be right. Recently, I read a very thoughtful piece on how “white privilege” is embedded in the very language use without thinking of the implications: If most of us white people were telling a story, or conveying a news item, and we are describing a person, we assume that the modifier “white” is unnecessary, unless he’s some other race. Then it’s racial adjective time. He’s a black guy or an African American. Or he’s Asian or he’s Hispanic, but never he’s a white American. Since I’m white and almost all my relationships are with white folks, I don’t know how blacks or Asians or Hispanics describe people in their own stories, nor how they address each other. Since that piece was written by a white man, he wasn’t explicit about how people of other races describe someone of their race, but he implied that they all use the same modifiers we do. In other words, they too assume white is the default race and modifiers are needed for anyone else. All of which is to say, “look how pervasive white privilege is, how damaging it is to the self worth of non-whites.”

Do I, being white, disagree? Not necessarily, I really don’t know 1- how people of other races describe characters in their stories; 2- whether they even care about this issue; 3- whether they wish they were a different race or gender or whatever; 4- whether they hate or resent me for being born Caucasian; 5- whether they admire Rosanna Arquette for hating her whiteness. Gee, that’s a lot of stuff to know before feeling defensive or guilty about being Caucasian. Since I don’t have the answers to those questions, and frankly don’t care enough to make the effort to find out, and do not meet the Perfectionist Progressives’ definition of a good person (probably because of my cavalier attitude), I will simply revel in my white privilege.

Who, after all, decided what race, sex, citizenship and family I would be born into anyway? Was it not God, the Creator of all? Did He decree I would be born Caucasian, male, American so I could feel guilty about it all? Is the Creator honored because Rosanna hates her melanin content? She claims to be Jewish, but what does that even mean when she’s in effect cursing God for creating her as she is? It means that her desire to be virtuous in the eyes of her friends takes precedence over honoring God. Is that something to respect, to be proud of? Not for a believer, nor a true Jew. Let’s all bow down to the idol of popularity, shall we? Rosanna, I’m probably sorrier than you that you were born Caucasian. I have no desire to denigrate what God made me.

Can I be Caucasian and still honor God in my life and my dealings with others? My father lived the example of treating others fairly and honestly. He was a white shopkeeper in a black neighborhood. On the rare occasions when a teenager (notice that I didn’t modify teenager with his race, though given the neighborhood you can draw your own conclusions) stole something, he was always dragged back—literally—by a parent or neighbor and made to return the item and apologize. My dad hired from all races, and kept those who earned their pay, and fired those who were slackers, who happened to be mostly white. His modeling of behavior is what I took up. I treat everyone the same: trustworthy, unless they prove otherwise; diligent, unless they prove otherwise; intelligent, unless they prove otherwise.

Incidentally, there’s a show on FX network called Snowfall, supposedly a dramatization of how the crack cocaine epidemic started. It takes place primarily in Los Angeles, features a CIA agent, arms to the Nicaraguan contras being financed by cocaine sales, and lots of “local color” dialogue between denizens of a rundown black community and an equally rundown Hispanic community. The Hispanics are portrayed as addressing each other as Ese and Vato, and referring to whites as ….(sneer) whites. I guess that’s enough of an insult. The blacks most common self address is Nigga and Homie, and whites as….yeah, (sneer) whites again. Is this realistic? How would I know? But I suspect that if I addressed a black or Hispanic person the way they probably address each other (if rap lyrics are indicative?) I wouldn’t last long.

There are 42 nations in “the Americas.” How dare you call the U.S.A. America!

Colorado St. U., home of the inclusive Rams

So says the Colorado State University Inclusive Language Guide. Yes Virginia, there really is such a tome.

The Americas encompass a lot more than the United States. There is South America, Central America, Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean just to name a few of 42 countries in total.
That’s why the word ‘americano’ in Spanish can refer to anything on the American continent. Yet, when we talk about “Americans” in the United States, we’re usually just referring to
people from the United States. This erases other cultures and depicts the United States as the dominant American country

“Erases other cultures”: Any culture that can be so easily erased by my saying “I’m an American” probably deserves to be erased. “United States as the dominant American country.” Well, if we aren’t, who is? How many of the 42 countries of the “Americas” matter to anyone but themselves? Even more to the point, how many of those 42 countries are trying to regulate droves of immigrants trying to get into them by any means, legal or otherwise? If any of those countries really objects to our calling our own country the United States of AMERICA, then why do none of them include the word america in their name?

Why doesn’t Mexico call itself the United States of Central America or Canada call itself the United Provinces of North America? Maybe they don’t give a shit about this deadly serious issue, maybe they have bigger problems. What, Canada has problems? Ask any victim of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunals. And speaking of Canada, WHEN ARE ALL THESE “AMERICAN” LIBERAL CELEBRITIES WHO THREATENED TO MOVE THERE GOING TO DO IT? No doubt in November 2020.

Have you ever been to Ft. Collins, Co.? My god, of all the places to get upset about non-inclusive language. I think what’s going on is that the mandarins of C.S.U. are upset that most people could name Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs as cities in Colorado, but Ft. Collins? Where? If the Inclusive Language Guide is what it takes to put Ft. Collins or CSU on the map, don’t expect me to stop saying “I’m an American.”