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Earlier this year

2018 July 9 -- Romeo and the Environmentalists

The film makers obviously saw it as a classic Romeo and Juliet story, two people from warring families in love with each other, but tragedies don't sell, so (not a spoiler: it cannot end any other way) the lovers abandon their alleged principles and walk hand-in-hand off into the sunset. Maybe "abandon" is too strong, she never had any, and he lost only his business.

She was a singer with an environmentalist agenda, he an architect posing as a housing tract developer. Politically, the screenplay sided with the environmentalists and against corporate interests. Besides the fact that Hollywood always plays the corporations as evil and the artists as good, you could tell they didn't like him because he always gave his motivation as "money." At least that makes sense in today's anti-Christian culture; her motivation was laid on her from outside and she couldn't even answer simple questions in her own defense. She was a singer, not a politician. But all that is boring.

I didn't like either agenda -- obviously not the corporate greed of the guy, but the screenwriter and director did that to us intentionally -- nor the hypocrisy and greed of the environmentalists, which nobody bothers to mention. Ever. Everybody is greedy: selfishness is the nature of sin, and we are all by nature sinners. Some forms of greed (properly restrained) are constructive and made this country the richest in the whole world and in all time -- Solomon's reign possibly excepted -- other forms of greed are destructive. The developer in this flick did argue the constructive vs destructive qualities of the two agendas, but without mentioning greed.

I have never seen nor heard of any environmentalist who is not a hypocrite. They claim to want to stop the depredation of the land, but they seem unwilling to forego all the benefits from that development that they enjoy as citizens of the richest country in the whole world. Take for example, the singer in this flick (and leaving aside the fact that she was too young to have actually thought about the agenda she sang to promote), who wore dangly earrings. When you poke holes in human flesh, that flesh tries to heal itself from that depredation, so if you want those holes to linger, you must put something aseptic through the holes to keep them holes, something clean like metal or plastic. Both products come out of the ground by unnatural means, plastic more so, because you must convert the oil in big stinking refineries. All the surface minerals are gone, so to get more gold or silver or copper (for making presumed eco-friendly jewelry) you must make ugly holes in the ground and process the stuff that comes out in ugly smelly factories.

But like I said, the singer was ignorant. Her environmentalist father had been around long enough to have had time to think about what he was promoting. He had gold earrings too. He lived in a very nice house in Marin County, which when I lived there had the highest median income of any county in the USA. Perhaps no longer now or when the film was made, the left-wing-bigot idiots in Sacramento have been very successful at driving the state economy in the same direction that their political colleagues did in what used to be the richest country in Africa, and now (only one generation later) ties with Haiti as poorest in the world. But the houses this developer wanted to build there in Marin County were huge, and the houses the so-called environmentalists lived in were not much smaller. They did not live in city slums of the kind that arise in places like Oregon where the government implements policies like what the environmentalists in this flick only hoped to achieve. I know, because I live there now. I am not in the worst neighborhood in this county, but the houses in this flick were all much nicer than I could afford.

All of the environmentalists in this flick had vehicular transportation which burned gasoline (see above comments on petrochemicals). Perhaps they wore clothing made only from natural fibers -- it's hard to tell -- but the fabrics were woven on mechanical looms that ran on energy drawn from the ground, which we know because hand-woven fabric is much coarser than anything any of them wore. They didn't show it in this flick, but they ate food that was not grown locally -- all that pristine land they didn't want houses made on? There were no farms on it either!

In another place I argued for factory farms as part of why we live in the richest country in the whole world, where there is so much wealth that it spills over onto people with more dollars than sense, and the leisure time they do not use up growing and preparing food to eat, they can therefore spend promoting political causes that if implemented, would reduce this country to third-world status where nobody has that kind of leisure any more. There are no environmentalists anywhere living as if the country had implemented everything they argue for, they cannot afford to live that way, nor in those kinds of countries. They are all hypocrites, every last one of them.

The most we could hope for is responsible, sustainable development, but nobody listens to the voice of reason, not the greenies, and certainly not the developers. So we get political balance, neither the unrestrained pollution common in Marxist countries where there is no oversight because the government owns the polluting businesses, nor the absence of development you find in undeveloped third-world countries where nobody (except predatory Chinese and/or American investors) has money to pay for development. Local entrepeneurs need to get rich, so that everybody else -- including the unthinking environmentalists opposing them ;-) -- can also get rich. It happened here. It happened in reverse in former Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. You don't want to go there.

2018 July 2 -- Turnabout Is Fair Play

Whenever I find myself in an uncomfortable or disagreeable situation, I need to ask myself, "Am I doing this same thing to other people?" Last month an author acquaintance I knew from several years ago sent me a greeting, and in the course of the conversation she said she was doing an AI (Artificial Intelligence) sci-fi story, so I volunteered to read and comment on it. She sent me a partial manuscript, and I read it and wrote up the kinds of comments I (having done some fiction writing myself, see "Balance" six years ago) would want to (and did) receive.

Unlike fifty or a hundred years ago, when novelists merely told a story, modern novelists consider it their God-given duty to jerk the reader around. I don't much care for it, and I've said so several times. This young lady considers her efforts in that direction to be different from other authors, but if her story is different, it is only in being less subtle at it. Suddenly, half-way through, everything I had written about her story became irrelevant when she jerked. I said so, but she wanted to see my comments anyway.

I always accept criticism on what I've written, and negative criticism is extremely important, because it tells me what I need to improve. If it's negative and untrue (or ad hominem, which is almost always untrue), I try to say something innocuous like "Thank you," and then quietly ignore it. But the constructive negatives, it's most helpful if they are not buried in a mush of affirmations.

Anyway, I knew this young lady is a Feeler -- indeed I have observed that almost all writers are Feelers: "Those who can, do; those who cannot, teach (or write) about it" -- but I got caught up in trying to be helpful, and completely forgot how hostile she gets when I do that. The proper way to "relate to" (because you cannot really work with) Feelers is to constantly affirm them. "Never criticize," one pastor said in my hearing. Her response was clearly in attack mode, but she has matured somewhat, so she was able to do it using qualified barbs that carried what is sometimes called "plausible deniability" and thus leaves no defense to her victims (not even an appeal to the truth).

One of her characters was a tech geek, and although her one-dimensional characterization made him out as "he didn't seem to possess any personality. At all." -- she was the same person who thought baroque music was "before they learned to convey emotion" (see "Music & Emotions" four years ago) -- she actually gave the guy a lot of Thinker personality. It would appear that she totally misunderstands the personality differences that Myers & Briggs categorized in their MBTI code. If you are not a Feeler, you don't "possess any personality. At all." If you are not a romantic, you have no emotions. If you are not a female, you probably aren't even human.

Belay that, she's married now, but he's a Feeler (another writer, who also works in theater). I also know he's a Feeler because of her big cheesy smile in the recent pictures (with him). She described it as "learn[ing] incredible things about the nature of God through the times of ... circumstantial happiness." That sounds like affirmation, which is a Feeler thing. Thinkers may (slowly) learn to do it, but not so early in life. The only way she could be getting that kind of affirmation from her husband a year after they tied the knot is if he's a Feeler. Her previous (more reserved) smiles she attributed to "hardship." Certainly not like the hardship experienced by Christians in other parts of the world where they are actively persecuted, but perhaps she was implicitly contrasting the affirmations she currently gets from her new husband with the perception of less than affirmation she might have had from her father, whom I knew to be a Thinker. He knew the church language, and (like me) his father was a missionary, so I understood him very well. His wife is a Feeler, and they had the usual misunderstandings that go with the typical American Thinker-Feeler marriage, but to call it "hardship" for the children is a bit myopic.

I allowed as she probably would not be in a position to understand Thinker types, because her husband and her new church (which she claimed is giving her the same kind of affirmation) were not going to give her that experience, and she reacted the same as I do when somebody claims to know something about me that I didn't tell them: "You don't have any idea..." It is true I wasn't given the alleged missing information, and she didn't fill it in, partly -- at least in her case -- because knowledge is power. That's a Judger thing (she is, I'm not), but you don't want to give to your enemy the weapons they can use to defeat you. I neither wished nor tried for that status, but it's probably irreversible now (Judgers are not into forgiveness). That's also why I know she doesn't have any Thinker friends. If she'd had one, and she did to him what she did to me, he wouldn't want to be her friend, and she wouldn't want him. Feelers prefer to associate with people who like trading affirmations; Thinkers prefer to associate with people who want to get something worthwhile done, and are willing to put up with the discomfort necessary to do it. There's no overlap. There would be no opportunity for dialog at all between these two personality types, except that half of the men and half of the women cannot marry their own type, so if they want to be married at all, it's going to be with the other type. Her mother understood that, but the daughter is in no position to. That much I can infer with good probability from what she did give me.

The last time somebody took issue with my interpretation of MBTI, he wanted to accuse me of being a "hermit" -- meaning he was making assumptions about parts of my life (98%, not counting the parts I told him about) he had no access to -- and I felt like a parent being accused of child molestation: there's no way to defend against it, you lose, and evidence doesn't count. Maybe that's true in a lot of "debates" but I like to think otherwise. I do live and work alone, but I go to church every Sunday, rain or shine, and I go to the grocery store and the library. At the time it was a small library, and I was quite good friends with two of the librarians with whom I would socialize up to a half-hour or more -- the third librarian, I was told she didn't like me because I took up too much of her time, so I tried not to do that. I also knew a couple of the checkers at the grocery, and we made conversation. Basically, disproof of the "hermit" charge. Whatever.

Lessons learned:

1. I bungled the critique of her novel. I should have said "That's nice. Be warmed and filled." That line is from the Bible, where it is a criticism of people who say it to the hungry and homeless without actually helping them; I use it to reflect that I cannot do anything to help because the person I'm saying it to doesn't want my help.

2. I am reminded -- I don't think I really forgot, but the reminder is useful -- when somebody is offering useful criticism, do not attack them if I don't like it. If it's false, but there are true things among what they said, concentrate on the true and ignore the false. If it's all false, maybe provide evidence to inform them (if they are willing to accept it), or else just shake the proverbial dust off my shoes and get on with life. Fighting people with an unteachable spirit is a waste of time. My mother told me at an early age, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." It's still true. Feelers get bruises from words, but not me. I may not be a guy's guy, but I'm still a guy.

3. I am reminded that the people who tell you most vigorously that they are doing something as "A Christian writer, using the Cross as a compass..." are most likely to fall into all sorts of unChristian behavior, myself not excepted. If I need to tell people that I'm a Christian, it's probably because they can't see it in my life, and I need to fix that first, before I start beating them over the head for their (supposed) peccadillos.

4. She is a published fiction author, I am not. She complained in her blog that she has a very tiny readership -- perhaps because every romantic woman who imagines herself an author writes the same fluff as this one -- there are many more romantic women to read it than there are authors, but not as much as the difference between macho guy authors and their readers.

I already knew authors need to write what they know -- the novelists I like the best are the ones who came out of a career in whatever discipline they write in -- she, well, every young woman is a romantic, and (I suppose, but I don't like the genre, so my opinion isn't worth much) she writes tolerably good romance, but she's never worked in a large corporate cube farm, and she's rather weak in her science. It shows. If I ever get back to trying to write, I must remember to avoid writing about what I have not lived -- or else spend a lot more time researching than she did. Research is never as good as working there, and even best-seller Michael Crichton got it wrong a few times (see my review of his Next and Prey).

5. If they don't want to make nice, walk away from it. Life is too short to pick unnecessary fights.

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