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Saturday, January 01, 2011
happy 10th birthday lil bloggie, truth
Listening to:crowdsourcing disaster management
Reading:Beer Tasting Guide
Weather:rainy, 40
Double digits. Woot. It's funny how we humans like to measure time and create imaginary milestones around it. Time isn't even a constant. What the hell is a week, anyway? Seriously, I understand the concept of a year pretty easily, it's actually a point in space we've come back to. But what the hell is a week? Why 7 days? Is it just a biblical thing?

nonsequitor: I tend to spring clean in the winter. I suppose that's when I notice the accumulation of clutter most. I get something new from santa and have no obvious place to put it. So I deduce where would be a good home for this thing and set my mind to clearing and preparing that spot. Then I have to figure out what to do with the accumulated crap that is already there. Typically I'll find there's some stuff ready to trash, some stuff that is one step away from trash (the broken, the incomplete, the gunky), and some stuff I need to put somewhere else. Seems like it should be easy to methodically take care of this, but inevitably I get the zigzags. That is to say some other pressing thing pops into my mind and I take off to go do that (make food, check my facebook, throw in a load of laundry). Then in the middle of that adventure I get some other bright idea and zag off to do that. I'm sure you get the picture.

Yesterday I fought the urge for ziggery and set my mind to priming the dark paneling in my guest room with Kilz2, a latex stainblocking paint primer. Mission actually accomplished, Dubya! Took 2 heavy coats, and it's still imperfect, but a nice color coat on top will rock it large. Now to pick a color. Vivid apple green? Dusty mulberry? I guess I'll decide when I see something at the paint store that grabs me.

My mom got me basketball tickets for WVU at Georgetown. I'm hoping the weather holds out so I can comfortably make the trip. A cool coincidence is that Livi wants to see a show at the 9:30 Club the night before, so we'll both have good incentives to make this trip and visit my mom. We skipped out on xmas for the first time in my entire life this year because of the snowy travel conditions. I have braved worse, I'm sure, but my days of brave and stupid are waning. Plus I'll be there soon for this ball game and I just got back from staying with her a few weeks ago for the Nat'l Aging and Law conference. Add it all up, cat chose to chill at the wigwam instead of crossing the mountains and heading east.

another nonsequitor: I've been thinking about how atheists tend to be portrayed as assholes or at least unkind. I'm thinking about both some real and imaginary atheists: Richard Dawkins, Gregory House, Daniel Dennett, Salman Rushdie, Christopher Hitchens, Fidel Castro, Penn Jillette, Sheldon on Big Bang Theory, Andy Rooney, etc. I don't think they are necessarily assholes or unkind, unless you define kindness to include lying for the purpose of protecting someone else's feelings. And most people do define it that way. But not me. I think true kindness can only come from keeping it absolutely real.

A simple illustration of this concept: If you play piano and I always tell you you sounded great even when you suck, you will consciously or subconsciously learn that my compliments on your playing can't be trusted and are meaningless. So when you actually do sound great and I tell you so, it'll just roll off you without making an impression because you've heard it so many times before, even when you sucked. But, on the other hand, if I honestly tell you that you sucked after a performance that did actually suck, you know me as a truthteller. It might not feel great when I say you sucked, but when I tell you after some other performance that you rocked, you can swell up with good feelings knowing that, unlike every other congratulating chump, I gave you a compliment that is the real deal, the genuine article.

In this example after the sucky performance you may think I'm an asshole for saying you sucked. But although it was an unpleasant truth for you to hear, imagine how unpleasant it was for me to tell. I don't like making you unhappy. I take no joy in delivering such unhappy news. And, believe me, I have endured many a sucky performance in this lifetime and have not told the performer my opinion. But if you're my friend I'm willing to be that guy, the one who will say "hey, you've got some shit stuck in your teeth," because I don't want you walking around looking stupid all day with that shit stuck in your teeth. I don't want you to keep going onstage and playing that chord wrong, looking stupid to the people who know the right chord, or to the people who don't know squat about chords but know that didn't sound right. I'm willing to take the uncomfortable step for you and also for me, because I think if you're a person of integrity you proactively tell the truth.

You don't merely avoid telling untruths, either. "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything" is absolute bullshit. People assume you're all good with something because you didn't object; silent acquiescence is presumed. So if you're serious about truthtelling you not only don't lie, you proactively correct and prevent misunderstandings.

It becomes somewhat complicated when you try to determine how much of your opinion is appropriate to put out there in the world. I'm sure we can all remember some idiot slamming us in some way and our immediate thought in response is "who fucking asked you, anyway?" And certainly the uneducated opinion of someone you don't give a shit about is most likely not welcome in almost any circumstance. Of course, I don't want to be that guy. But it's not always clear who values your input or expertise.

But I'm here ta tell ya: If you ask me my opinion, you will get the real thing from me. And you may hear the sound of an asshole in that moment, but that's your deal. If you don't want truth, don't ask me anything. But if I tell you you rocked, whether solicited or unsolicited, you can take that shit to the bank, too. And I suspect it'll stand out in the chorus of "you rocked" as perhaps the only clear voice of truth, because you know I wasn't afraid to tell you when you sucked.

So I'm wishing you a happy new year now. Just like everybody else. Sound any different? :)


permalink posted by cat 10:14 AM

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happy 10th birthday lil bloggie, truth
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