Empathy

I’ve been thinkin’ a lot about empathy recently. I’m trying to be open with people in my life apropos me not liking being near other people.

Here’s a fun game that everyone can play:

  1. Find someone that enjoys ten pin bowling.
  2. Tell them that you do not enjoy ten pin bowling.

They will simply not understand. I have tried this with pretty much everyone on earth and they’re all the same. Here’s an example conversation:

Me: Do you like ten pin bowling?

Them: Oh yeah! Who doesn’t!

Me: Me

Them: [head explodes]

You see?

Now, find another one, but don’t tell them you don’t like ten pin bowling (seriously, their heads just explode and they’re of no further use to you, you have to plan this shit out). Ask if they consider themselves and empathetic person. They will, of course.

Ask them if they are capable of feeling empathy for people just like them. “Of course”, they will say in italics. Like, duh.

Ask them if they are capable of feeling empathy for people that are not like them. “Of course”, they will perhaps say more carefully. “That’s what empathy is, right?”

“Great, walk me through the thought process of a pedophile. Leave out the actual kiddy fiddling, just how they might feel about children in general, about their desire to mess with them sexually. Walk me through how you imagine that makes them feel.”

“Jesus, no! I’m not going to act out some filthy…”

“So, you don’t have empathy for pedophiles?”

“Of course not!”

“Aah, now we’re getting somewhere. You like fishing?”

“What? Like, with a rod? No not really.”

“OK, so tell me about fishermen. What do they like about fishing?”

“I don’t know, it’s stupid, just standing…”

“Stop. Shush. Shut up. You are not an empathetic person. You like people that are like you. You understand people that are like you. You have no desire to understand people that aren’t like you, and that’s just fine. You don’t need to. But you should be aware that the little gold trophy one deserves for genuine empathy does not belong on your shelf of personality achievements.”

The person has walked away now but I’m still talking.

“It isn’t too late, though. Empathy is something that can be developed. Start small, come to terms with the fact that some people don’t like your favourite food. Dwell on that, know that fact. Many many people don’t like your favourite TV show. Shit loads of people hate your cat and its stupid face. There is no good or bad in this. Just is. Once you feel you’ve got the hang of the inane stuff, step it up a notch, try to understand people that do things that you don’t like (you do what with sundried tomatoes?). Some people steal washing off of other people’s lines. Some actually, literally, club baby seals. Some rape babies*. If you can empathise with someone doing something you find utterly reprehensible, congratulations, you are a black belt empathiser.”

Yes, it was trophies, now it’s a coloured-belt ranking system**. Later I might make it a badge of some sort. Like scouts have.

But it’s slippery slope***, isn’t it? Am I sure that understanding doesn’t imply condoning? I mean, if I can imagine being in someone’s shoes, I’m kinda telling myself that this is OK. I’m in a way becoming that person. I don’t want to be that person. Best I don’t try to understand them.

Let’s get back to ten pin bowling. Or less specifically, extroversion and introversion. I’ve found that if I feel like opening up to someone about my deep dark feelings and general dislike of being in large groups of people, it’s a good idea to first suss out if they have at least some beginner-level empathy badge.

If they don’t, but I tell them how I feel, and they care about me, I’m going to get weird fake annoying empathy which goes something like “Oh we all sometimes don’t look forward to big events, but you’ll have fun once you’re there and you’ll be glad you went afterwards.”

If I hear that one more time I’ll fucking scream. “You are describing you. Not me. I will dread it before hand. Feel uncomfortable and awful during, and regret going afterwards. I am not wrong, and I am not lying to you.”

I have decided that I will offer people the opportunity to punch me in the face as hard as they can in exchange for me not going somewhere. It’s a pity it has to come down to “I don’t like 80’s themed dress-up parties in the same way that you don’t like being punched in the face.”

But I can’t say that, I can’t get mad, because they’ll feel like they deserve a gold star/badge/belt/trophy for trying to understand me. They were just trying to help.

Fucking help.

They will conclude that if the dread-before/be-fine-afterwards hypothesis is not true, I must just be weird. I will feel a little bit shitter than before, and we will all move on with our lives.


* I’ve been thinking a lot about pedophiles recently (shoots from a seed planted by Amy Lykins). For some percentage of these people, it’s an unwanted urge that they have and they try everything they can do to be rid of it. It’s really hard to even think about it without judgement. Near impossible to have a public discussion about it without judgement. Even writing this here I want to put disclaimers everywhere that it’s awful because somehow understanding is getting a little close to saying its OK. But it’s fucking not, OK?

Making it impossible to discuss a problem is absolutely the best way to hamper addressing said problem. And if you ever accuse someone of condoning a particular action just by discussing it (sex, catholics, etc.) then fuck you for making the world a worse place.

** I wonder if colourblind karate people get unexpectedly kicked in the face a lot? “Jesus, didn’t see that coming, you’re pretty good for a greyish belt!”

*** Weeeeeeeeeee!!

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Butchers

I’ve often wondered where the punniest place on earth would be. There are many contenders, but I think it would be at a meeting of butchers.

Because butchers are like that.

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Why Gift Cards Have Expiry Dates

Recently I saw a tweet from a comedian that I otherwise respect, asking why gift cards have expiry dates.

I have an answer and a response.

Why gift cards have expiry dates.

First, ‘fuck the corporations’ is so in right now; let us do away with that emotion and imagine you own a corner store. You live above it and struggle to make ends meet. You own several double-ended candles that you made yourself distilling midnight oil. And you re-use them. The last ten years have worn you down and you now look like those before/after photos of meth addicts (fucking hell, Heather!).

To quell the tide of imminent and catastrophic failure (words!), you decide to offer gift cards. I like it.

Now, I walk into your shop, give you $50, and you give me a $50 gift card.

You now have a $50 debt to me. If a bank was to value your business today, it would be worth everything it’s otherwise worth (including the $50 I gave you for the gift voucher), minus $50 for the debt.

Nothing wrong with that, really.

Let’s say you sell a thousand of these things. You’re now in debt for some serious coin but hooray, people start cashing in their gift cards. That’s product off the shelves and debt of the balance sheet (no cash in the drawer mind you). But alas, they often leave a remainder, so there’s a bunch of $10.05 debts outstanding (damn you $39.95 festive coffee mug set!). The gift cards go in the owners’ second drawer down next to their bed with the spare buttons, box of tissues and the second key to the 1986 commodore they sold when they were 23 and are forgotten about forever.

Now you, lowly shop owner, have a debt of some amount and you have no way of paying it back. Having debt that’s impossible to pay back is an insanely bad idea, right? (Question as a statement.) You go to the bank, you want a loan to extend your shop with a brothel that does ‘extra sick shit’. The bank turns you down because you have so much debt on your balance sheet that cannot be paid. Because in the worst case, all those gift cards could be cashed in tomorrow (or even worse: later today!). And it’s the worst case that the bank is interested in.

So your bank turns you down, your wife leaves you (you’re lesbian or male in this story) and you’re fucked, and not in the good asphyxiation way.

Belatedly, you start adding one year expiry dates to your gift cards. That’s reasonable, right? A whole year? There’s still cash flow implications, ideally gift card cash should be held in a separate account to offset the gift card debt, but you’re headed in the right direction.

Congratulations.

Naturally your customers will accuse you of being greedy, but their words won’t hurt you. You’ve had enough. You barely have the emotional strength to get out of bed each morning. You long for the day that sweet sweet death will take you away from all of this.

That’s my answer, now a response.

Questions as statements.

If you’ve got a great question, a disruptive question, something that makes people think, that will instigate a healthy debate (but let’s face it, probably not actual change) then ask away like it’s a statement. I’m all for it.

Why don’t pedestrian crossing lights have an orange? Why do they call them ‘pairs’ of underpants? Why don’t petrol stations have vending machines that I can pay for with credit card at the same time I’m filling up with petrol? And why oh why don’t ATMs have a flat spot and a hook for me to put my coffee and hang my shopping bags? *

These are all legitimate questions.

Problem is, if the answer is obvious to 40% of people, 60% of people will say “Yeah! You tell ’em” with much gusto and the remainder will switch off.

So questions as statements, or worse, questions as accusations are a dangerous game.


* I could have added “Why do water bottles have expiry dates?” But there is an answer and it’s interesting. The clue is in the question. The water bottle has an expiry date. After that date, the plastic will start leeching poisonous deadly chemicals into your water and you will die.

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Chickin Surprise!

I made my world-famous chickin surprise last night.

Ingredients:

  • Chickin (boobs or upper legs will do)
  • Vegetables (orange and green look nice together, adjust to suit crockery)
  • Cream (whipped from a can or the one for cooking – whipped turns out surprisingly disgusting)

Put chickin in a mixture of water, salt and sugar and put into fridge for half a day (remember to read this recipe the day before so you see that bit coming).

Put chickin/water/salt/sugar mixture on the stove until the water is lukewarm. Leave for an hour or two, just whenever you remember it’s time to eat is fine.

Mix chickin, vegetables and cream together.

Eat.

I was four-out-of-four with this recipe. The chickin comes out really juicy and soft and keeps that bird flavour that you can sometimes lose when cooking it properly.

But not last night.

It was everywhere. I swear I vomited more out than went in. At one point a bit splashed into the toilet and came back up into my mouth. This made me, literally, vomit. Which actually isn’t so bad when you’re in the middle of it anyway.

There’s plenty of leftovers so I’ll try again tonight.


OK I’ve just given this a read over and removed a few embellishments (there was originally a tyrannosaurus rex). It’s now 100% true. Gross, right?

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Why Cheating Happens

This is part one of a two-part series* on how infidelity comes to pass**.

Disclaimer up front, the love of my life has a bit of experience in the cheating arena (what with the husband and all) and neither of my theories apply to her experiences. So… do with that what you may.

Part One: Chicks.

I may have rambled about this in the past, but you must understand how the brain works with regards to models. Car analogy, why not: you come from a little island to a big city for the first time. Lots of stuff you’re unfamiliar with. You see a bunch of four-wheeled metal machines and hear them referred to as cars. Your brain now has a model for ‘car’. If you see something, even a car you’ve never seen before, your clever little brain will see if it fits the model it has for ‘car’. If your brain deems it close enough, it will tell you you’re looking at a car. As you come across more and more cars, if you’re interested, you may begin to notice ‘sports cars’, or ‘SUVs’. You can continue to branch these models into more and more specific models. This is what becoming an expert in something is. This is why some people see ‘old sports car’ and some people see ‘1972 Porsche 911 2.7’. I have one model for ‘tree’, one for ‘shrub’, etc. My Grandma, god rest her soul*, has hundreds of models. This one has about a million.

It’s also why some people see an ‘Asian’ and some see a ‘Korean’. If you’re seeing North Koreans then you’re either in the wrong place or you’re right where you are now and it’s 2022*.

A little aside: I’m miserable today, writing is helping.

We should get to the cheating. Let’s imagine for a moment I was the type to have a person who was in my life on some sort of constant basis. Shudder. I would see her in the day and in the night. By candle light and with the sick fluorescent light shimmering on her skin***. Through short hair and long, blonde and brunette, makeup and no. Onesies and ballgowns, naked and whatever the opposite of naked is.

The model in my brain for this ‘significant’ other would even out all of these differences. There would be just her. When I looked at her my perception would transcend the physical; my eyes would see light reflecting off her epidermis, but my brain would see the model of my beloved, everything she is, and is to me. Everything that was and all that will be.

Which means I won’t notice that she changed her hair.

Meanwhile, Nathan, the new delivery guy at her work has no such model. He sees her once a day for 100 seconds. So of course this dick notices that she’s wearing a different shade of eyeliner today. Casanova cunt face.

And that’s just swoon-city for bitches. They’ve got Mr. Notices Everything delivering the goods and Mr. Oblivious at home seemingly unaware of the minor facial tweaks taking place.

It won’t take much of this before her giney tingles every time Prince Perception walks through the door, and hey presto you’ve got yourself an affair.


* That’s right, I can see the fuuuuutuuuuure.

** Comes to pass? That sounds wrong. I recently learned that I’ve been using ‘benevolent’ incorrectly. Oppositely, in fact. Which explains why verbal attacks on my enemies hadn’t been landing with quite as much force as I had hoped.

*** Not my lovely words.

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I’d Prefer the Change

Assuming, dear reader, that you’re not an idiot, you’re all over this climate change business. With that out of the way, I pose to you a question. Gonna try some quote mark style, see what that looks like.

If you could turn off climate change, would you?

Forget about how, just keep in mind that you can’t tell anyone. Scientists will simply begin to discover that there is, in fact, no climate change. Everything is fine. Always was. The whole thing was just a big misinterpretation of the data.

Great, you might think. The Maldives will stay dry, the Nigerian rainforest uninhabited, and the reason Iceland got it’s name will remain quite obvious to future generations.

But.

Every climate-change denier on earth will think they were right all along. You will want to tell them, but you will have no comeback. They will mock your science; you will sit biting the crap out of your tongue. I can’t begin to imagine the form that Donald Trump’s smugness would take. I couldn’t find any recent quotes from Michael Crichton, but he’ll no doubt have something to say about it. And around 4% of taxi drivers. Those cunts knew all along.

Not to mention all the people who didn’t really care, but will jump on the yeah, I didn’t think it seemed right bandwagon. Oh, god it would be terrible.

So, would you?

Just answer quietly to yourself and go on with your day.

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