#55 On moving some place better (part 12: the starving artist phase– South Beach, FL)

The idea of the “starving artist” is one, which during the first part of my time in South Beach, I revered and practically worshiped. It’s one thing to tell you about my “aesthetics” specifically, but quite another to tell you about how I conceptualized what an “artist” is, how I evolved in the sense of identifying myself as an artist, and the story behind that evolution.

This story begins with my father who was a photographer and a painter who possessed extreme (maybe excessive?) fascination with female sexuality, nudity, and pornography, and who exposed me to the imagery of female sexuality before I was even a teenager. It was through my father that I was also exposed to and influenced by the works of Picasso and Van Gogh. As far as my own interests were concerned, by the time I was 9 or 10, I discovered the world of television, movie acting, and John Travolta. In fact, Travolta became my hero and idol. I became a sort of expert on his career and he is one of the earliest direct influences in my attempts to conceptualize art, as well as career, and to have a career as an artist. 

Even before I developed a conscious love for movies and acting I was, it seemed, inherently creative. I would pretend my life was a series of television shows. I would determine theme songs of these “TV shows” and when nobody else was around, I would ever pretend to give interviews about them or explain what had happened “previously on…” whichever imaginary show, or what would happen in the next “episode.”

Through studying the works of Travolta (along with Tom Hanks and other actors) I grew exposed not merely to film acting performances and a notion of career, but also I became a kind of autodidact of film in general, specifically film dialogue and the themes in movies, such as race relations, the Holocaust, American history, love, art, et cetera. 

The girlfriend I had while living in South Beach, was, herself, an aspiring filmmaker with a profound passion for film. By the time I was living in South Beach I was more interested in poetry than film but the notions of art and film that propelled my artistic inclinations as such were so deeply embedded within me that despite other problematic aspects of our relationship, our shared love for film became a foundation for our romance. 

(TO BE CONTINUED…) 

***PUBLIC COMMENT is a podcast presented in the form of extemporaneous personal essays about a political, philosophical and artistic millennial as he tries to wrap his mind around the complexities of the human experience.****

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On the Mueller testimony

News organizations widely reported that the Mueller testimony failed to capture much of the country. As to why, exactly, I think it is more complex than some may think. Beyond claims of apathy, cynicism, or Mueller’s failure to “perform” as some would have liked, there is the rather important consideration that many of us have to work and experience varying degrees of economic anxiety and other day-to-day pressures that make wrapping our minds around the upsetting drama in Washington something much easier said than done. While I was able to listen on my drive to the tutoring center, I did still have to “work” on things beyond the production of Public Comment, and when I didn’t, I still had my own marketing, branding, and aesthetic contemplations to improve Public Comment in mind. So, while I am concerned that too many people are apathetic, to be fair, I don’t know how much has more to do with juggling life than general apathy. As for the main stream media, I was saddened by those who placed so much emphasis on Mueller seeming not “as sharp” as he used to be as I wondered if in so doing they may have overlooked a number of other possible, contextual factors, such as possible anxiety over the high stakes of his testimony, and/or what he knows, but can’t tell us, but perhaps wishes he could tell us? Whatever you make of Mueller’s testimony, I hope enough Americans come to care so that as a nation we can get our act together and start taking care of our troubled government. 

***PUBLIC COMMENT is a podcast presented in the form of extemporaneous personal essays about a political and philosophical millennial as he tries to wrap his mind around the complexities of the human experience.****

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On why I am so verbose

These many contextually loaded “thoughts” I have….like my favorite writers– Montaigne (the genius philosopher and personal essayist– how he is able to combine the two amazes and inspires me… to combine them but via podcast…spoken word….extemporaneous ((but more on other aspects of aesthetics another time…)) Dostoevsky, Musil & Proust: oh, his 20+line sentences…)))– these thoughts, which one cannot even empirically seem to find and which nonetheless move us to speak, write, act, et cetera….in the days of Montaigne, one would call it a very active “imagination.” I just want to be transparent, direct, up front, straight-forward about them with you, and that it happens to be (is a genetic thing, or a deeply held, maybe in some aspects, subconsciously intellectual thing?) that this is how I happen to express myself with as much honesty as I can. That’s what this episode is about. 

*” I used to talk to myself quite a bit and what I would do is I would pretend that I was being interviewed. Some long, long, in-depth interview about my success. I’d pretend it was many years later and I would talk and I would sort of go on and explain my thoughts on things and that was just something I did. It was just a weird habit. I don’t really do that anymore. Not positive when I stopped doing it but… I used to… for example, pretend I was being asked questions about my poetry or ask questions about whatever it was I was writing or philosophers I was interested in, or those kinds of things… and it was… I mean I would feel weird about it.

“I would think there must be something wrong with me but it didn’t stop me from doing it and there are different motivations for it at different times …I was really young…a kid or teenager. What really started all that though was combination of… it was very influenced by TV… as a kid as I think many of us millennials probably…we had TV Before the Internet was really a thing… TV was like our big…was the big mental consumption of our youth… probably pre-Internet youth. I imagine that the Z. Generation… younger people… younger than millennials probably take in more computer stuff and they’re probably a bit different psychologically just from that context alone but I digress… but the thing is. ..I like to digress which I take from Montaigne… but I’ll talk about that later. You probably wondering where it was going with his yes today. I’m talking about my own verbosity… (4:20-6:40)

* “I cannot say in one sentence what I want you to know and I don’t mean that out of pretentiousness or arrogance…. some people are just tall or just short. Some people don’t say so much …” (12:00)

* “I have a definition of “thoughts” that doesn’t quite go with the definitions that dictionaries provide” (37:00)

*”I tend to have a very active brain. That is a reason why I suffered pretty severely from insomnia and need to be on both Effexor and Lunesta… it helps me put my thoughts at a better pace… one reason why it was not a good idea for me to smoke pot. One of the things that would happen actually is either smoking pot would induce racing thoughts unlike I ever experienced before or smoking pot would create such a sort of pause in my pace of thinking that it was actually shocking… literally shocking!” (56:00)

*”Sex is a very fascinating topic. I will talk about that in the future …thoughts on sexuality… particularly the idea of… you know… like the question of how private should we be about sex… and then there’s the whole phenomenon of you know exhibitionism, voyeurism, swinging… these kinds of approaches to human sexuality that are perhaps not so widely endorsed by people and is there a reason for it. I don’t… I’m not gonna get in to it now except to say that I try to have a viewpoint of liberality with respect to how people express themselves sexually… as long as they’re not hurting, abusing anybody. That’s besides the point… self expression… but see… that’s the whole point… is that I like like to say these are things that I think about…  (1:15:09)

***Produced by: Ashley O’Connor and Montaniz Stills!

  Thank you again for visiting the Public Comment, a multimedia website that embraces social democracy and a holistic pragmatic clarification of concepts and seeks to promote a universal dialogue about politics and philosophy among intellectuals, politicos, artists, and humanists– the critical, creative, and introspective thinkers;  a dialogue I hope you’ll join in the comments below.

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On my conversation with Clean Water Action New Jersey (Vlog)

So, I’m in search of political organizations to establish relationships with and collaborate with in the efforts to bring more about more global justice. Clean Water Action New Jersey was one organization I decided to interview with and see how we might work together. Maybe we will become allies in the future but as I was a little concerned with some of the organizations approaches both to its employees and in its political planning/lobbying priorities.

Hi! Thank you for visiting Public Comment and welcome!

I’m Sean O’Connor, a political activist, philosopher, writer, vlogger and podcaster. My goal here on Public Comment is to contribute to a universal dialogue of critical, creative, and introspective thought on politics and philosophy.

Thank you so much for taking the time to consider my contribution to the public discussion on politics and the occasional tangent. I am extremely grateful and flattered and hope you are able to find some of the information on this blog valuable.

Please feel free to share with me any feedback you want to give, positive or negative. I do not shy away from criticism. I want to be a good writer and to do that I will always need your help to keep me accountable, clear, reasonable, and diplomatic. Speaking of diplomacy, that’s my only caveat when it comes to criticism. I don’t have patience for insults or anti-intellectual attacks on character, et cetera. I like to foster a polite and diplomatic civil discourse.

Thank you again.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

On ethics and political activism (part 2)

How can we even begin to think about ethics and political activism until we think about the complexities behind it all, starting with whether or not there is such a thing as ethics to begin with. Even if one reaches the conclusion that it is in fact important in life to be politically aware/informed, how does one go about that in an effective way when faced with so many day to day challenges? In my opinion, one thing that helps is thinking in terms of prioritizing at which point it seems to me, the twin issues facing us today, in America, are bringing president Trump to justice (and removing him from office) and finding a way to make quality healthcare available to all. 

***Produced by: Ashley O’Connor and Montaniz Stills!

Thank you again for visiting the Public Comment, a multimedia website that embraces social democracy and a holistic pragmatic clarification of concepts and seeks to promote a universal dialogue about politics and philosophy among intellectuals, politicos, artists, and humanists– the critical, creative, and introspective thinkers;  a dialogue I hope you’ll join in the comments below.

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-we2n5-b748ea

On Ethics and Political Activism (Part 1)

Politics is on my mind at an ever more intense level these last few days but so are the ethical reasonings behind my desire to be constructive in my efforts as a political activist. For example: how can we expect our society to be rich in its ethical thinking (and thus in its political thinking) when we don’t even require basic philosophy and ethics to be taught in our high schools?  

***Produced by: Ashley O’Connor and Montaniz Stills!

Thank you again for visiting the Public Comment, a multimedia website that embraces social democracy and a holistic pragmatic clarification of concepts and seeks to promote a universal dialogue about politics and philosophy among intellectuals, politicos, artists, and humanists– the critical, creative, and introspective thinkers;  a dialogue I hope you’ll join in the comments below.

On Mediums of Self Expression (The second Public Comment pilot)

What is the right way to express one’s self?  I felt, for far too long in life, conflicted by this question. The “Public Comment” experiment had gone through several different iterations: vlog, video diary vlog, political commentary show, podcast…what was I actually doing!?! And why? What should I really be doing? And why?

The more research I did, and the more thinking I did, the case for focusing on a making Public Comment a podcast grew stronger and stronger. From the perspective of pure logic it seemed to follow that my thought could reach more people if they didn’t have to “sit and watch” me for an hour; if instead they could listen, whether driving or just “chilling” on the couch.

Up to this point though, I was fixated and the vlogging idea. (I remain in love with the talking-head vlog, however think the most effective approach to the medium is to keep them under 15 minutes or so, and think they work great as part of a wider, supplementary multi-media approach, along with the website, essays, et cetera). I was so inspired by Proust, Musil, Dostoevsky, Montaigne, Joyce, Whitman, and all the great artists who dared to share their consciousnesses without concern for their verbosity, how time consuming their works were, et cetera, and how intimate a glimpse we have of their souls, that as far as I was concerned, I was simply exploring and capturing the soul. Thus, Public Comment had been mostly developed as a vlog it no longer seemed logical to me. Frustrated with how tangled my aesthetic and multimedia thinking was, I decided to experiment with a second “pilot” launch, but this time, I was consciously intending to create a podcast, and develop the series from here on out as a podcast.

On money & value (Vlog #53)

Listen to the podcast

or watch the video

It’s embarrassing to discuss my struggles with money. For me at least, it’s harder to talk about money than sex, religion, or politics because it forces me to address my deep insecurity regarding how I might be perceived based on my “economic status.” Maybe some think I’m audacious for trying to make a living as a vlogger but I’ve got to stand up for my desire because I want to live in the kind of world where people can make money fulfilling their dreams.

***THE NOTES***

*Only death & illness are harder for me to discuss

*I’m not “good at” money & I fight with my self-esteem when contemplating my financial life

*What it means to love one’s job

*Free talking…upfront….sharing thoughts

*The temptation to envy those who earn more money

*My financial difficulties are, to a tremendous degree, my fault…I take responsibility for it

*I like being upfront about things that matter to me

*If there are people out there getting paid for things they want to get paid for then why shouldn’t I try to get paid for what I want to get paid for?

*Talking about money makes me so nervous I trip over my words

*Remember when we had to pay much more for video content?

*You must stand up for your values

*To me vlogging is art (& so is talking)

*Being an “outside-the-box” person

*One reason why I love politics is because moving policy forward can move humanity forward ethically

*Would you overlook your ethics if someone offered you the money to do so? (figurative prostitution, “Selling your soul to the Devil,”)

*Sometimes I get overwhelmed with this feeling that everyone wants my money

*I don’t want to be a f**** up when it comes to money

*I fear how many can corrupt relationships

*I’d like more time to read, watch vlogs, socialize on social media, be a philanthropist…

*Opening up about this is so embarassing

*I hate complaining that my work doesn’t get properly compensated but don’t so many of us feel that way sometimes?

*I tell myself that if I like my vlog then maybe someone else will too

***IF YOU APPRECIATED THIS VLOG PLEASE CLICK “LIKE,” SHARE, & SUBSCRIBE 🙂

On what it means to me to be an American (Vlog #52)

*Happy independence day! In this vlog I suggest that grappling with being an American starts with grappling with notions of capitalism which led us where we are today as well as contemplating what kind of capitalism moving forward would be of the ethical sort. Or can there be no ethical form of capitalism? *

***THE NOTES***

*Why does America mean to me what it means to me?

*Ideology & nationhood/countryhood?

*Is America in theory cosmopolitan as opposed to nationalistic/ethnocentric like certain Russian, Israeli, Palestinian tendencies?

*Thinking about America I think requires thinking about capitalism– I think it’s the most inherent part of being an American

-different TYPES of capitalism?

-slavery & genocide in the name of American Capitalism

-what does it mean to claim your own land? Who gets to claim land & why?

*Foundation of America versus other countries: example, UK, Candada….

*Is the theft of Native American land a manifestation of actual capitalist ideology or is it just in the name of capitalism?

*There is no appropriate contemplation about being an American without grappling with atrocities perpetrated against the Native Americans

*Kirsten Gilligrand: “we want healthy capitalism, not corrupted capitalism”

*Andrew Yang on “Human Centered Capitalism

*I think capitalism as such is fair but I wonder if I am at all influenced by confirmation bias

*Capitalism is like democracy- both imperfect but the best options

*Some freedom & opportunity versus none versus ways to maximize

*Relationship between private property, creativity, self, privacy, individuality, soul, freedom

*I’m more than an American, I’m a human!

***PLEASE LIKE, COMMENT & SHARE 🙂

On moving some place better (part 10) (vlog #51)

* *Living in South Beach I conceptualized my sense of self as that of a “starving artist” but to understand how I reached that point requires understanding how I developed a sense of self as an artist, from my admiration for John Travolta and The Bee Gees to my fascination with Charles Bukowski & Allen Ginsberg*

***THE NOTES***

*Early morning gaffes

*Move to South Beach was especially unique…it was an act of pure rebellion…something I was “not supposed to do”; my act of rejecting academia

*The people who inspired me philosophically during my pre-philosophy phase

*The importance of understanding the artistic side of myself as I came to conceptualize myself as “starving artist”

*Around 1996: Discovering acting & John Travolta/Grease/Saturday Night Fever

-Travolta seemed to have charisma, coolness, the characters he played seemed to “get the girls”… made me want to become a “movie star”: my first major “dream” in life which I fantasized about all day, every day, while at school

(do young people still say “whatevs?”)

*Sometime between 1997-1999: Discovering The Bee Gees–> deeply romantic, benevolent song lyrics which I studied and which got me into writing song lyrics

*Around 2002: J.D. Salinger (he seemed real & unpretentious) & Alanis Morrissette whose songs didn’t rhyme which inspired me to think “outside the box”

*& then on prom night I discovered Charles Bukowski: he seemed so free, open, easy to understand, reflective, real (& I wanted to be like him)

*& then there was Allen Ginsberg: the 1st poet I read who was an atheist like me, and who moved me (inadvertently) towards irrationalism, “trippy” stuff, “madness” as a sort of philosophical principle

*I thought Ginsberg, Kerouac, & the Beats were the geniuses of their time….Kerouac’s On the Road made me want to drop out of college and hitch hike America

On moving someplace better (part 9)(Vlog #50)

*** NOTES***

*Places can be like music, the way make one feel

*Some memories hurt to recall but still must be recalled anyway

*Nightmares of ex-girlfriend’s mother’s hatred for me

*Life & what we take from it as life continues…as we try to make ourselves better… & the memories that bask in us…

*Working at the liquor store I’d hear the song “Demons” by Imagine Dragons, which haunted me with bad memories of South Beach

*I started a lot of fights….how do I tell you about it without violating her privacy or mine? I was addicted to attention and compliments, I didn’t think I could help my negativity (and I didn’t try)so I was self negligent and maybe masochistic?

*I wanted my ex-gf to rebel against her parents the way I rebelled against mine….I hated almost anytime her parents/family was around and caused a bit of a scene once at how her parents could afford to eat at a nice restaurant

*That our relationship was going to end seemed hauntingly inevitable to me

*”Over My Head” by The Fray : another song that reminds me of South Beach and how I felt when I lived there

*I was closed to virtually all constructive criticism/useful suggestions people offered me

*I lacked the maturity to realize I should not have been in a romantic relationship at that time

*I thought myself a starving artist and wanted to be like Rimbaud & Baudelaire…two very depressing, pessimistic poets

“I managed to make every trace of human hope vanish from my mind…bad luck was my God”

-Arthur Rimbaud; “A Season in Hell”

On moving some place better (part 8) (Vlog #49)

***THE NOTES***

*Some of the philosophical questions related to choosing where to live (proximity to those we love, aesthetics, spiritual refreshment, et cetera…)

*This move to Basking Ridge feels like a chance for a “clean slate…” ; a bombardment of newness (new town, new roads, new condo, new desk, new neighbors, new geography, new economy, new internet provider, et cetera…)

*A gaffe….contradicting myself about why three moves to FL in a row amounted in disaster for me…

Do I contradict myself?

Very well then I contradict myself,

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Walt Whitman; Song of Myself, Part 51

*Montaigne’s sexism & cynicism…

*Another reason why I love Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground

*My love for romantic love goes back to when I was about three and a half years old…by about 10/11 years old I grew obsessed with Grease and West Side Story— both of which impacted how I idealized “romantic love,” “love at first sight,” wanted to fall in love on the beach, processed contradictory examples of theoretical romantic love (how to explain my seemingly apolitical, otherwise Democrat by default father and my former, very Republican stepmother!?!)

*My superficial, mystical, irrational notion of romantic love

*Prior to the girlfriend I had at Florida Gulf Coast University/South Beach I never really had a “serious” relationship

*I didn’t tend to appreciate girls for who they were, mostly just how they made me -FEEL-… even the first girl I ever spent almost all my time with (though we did manage to connect in certain respects…example: both artistic…)

On moving some place better (part 7)(Vlog #48)

**THE NOTES**

***!!!!****!!!! Anxiety. Depression. Self loathing. This is an exceptionally dark period in my life and one which is upsetting to talk to you about, though it is important to talk about it nonetheless. Untreated mental illness and irrational metaphysical views are awful things to go through and can lead to behaviors which are destructive both to relationships and to one’s self. I know this, because during the months I lived in South Beach, thinking I was living my dream as some starving artist, what I was really doing was destroying my life and hurting others. If someone you know is suffering from a feeling that life is all bleakness, I hope you will care to brighten up their day some how, if you can, or try to challenge their assumptions somehow. ****!!!!****!!!!

*The horribleness of my time spent in South Beach must be understood in the context of my nihilism which must be understood in the context of certain psychological challenges and prior philosophical assumptions

*My nihilism: aimlessness and purposelessness (I wonder, is this a cause for suicide for some?)

*Suggested supplementary literature: Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground.

*This was a uniquely complex time in my life mentally which I believe all starts with the intensity of anxiety I felt & which had been exasperated by a year of smoking a lot of pot

*Where did my anxiety come from? I hypothesize that it’s chemical– too little serotonin, since increasing it via Effexor has made my life significantly better: more calmness & self-esteem

*As a kid I was convinced that virtually everyone hated me; it was like a fundamental philosophical assumption which caused me to fear most people and experience further social anxiety

*Depression runs in my family. My grandmother (on my father’s side) for example, received multiple shock therapy treatments and was hospitalized for her depression.

*My esophoria (eye condition) also induces panic attacks, vertigo, sweating, shaking, etc, and I believe may explain why I couldn’t/didn’t color in the lines when I was in pre-school, as well as why I walked awkwardly, struggled with depth perception, posture, and consequentially viewed myself as incompetent.

*School in general made me anxious due to my view of myself as incompetent which led to more anxiety and depression as well. The twin psychological struggles became fundamental philosophical principles for me and smoking marijuana made it worse.

*Panic attacks– by the time I was living in South Beach– were interfering with the romantic relationship I was in. Though I had previously been prescribed Zoloft I felt too afraid of taking it and thus lingered on, untreated.

*One major symptom of the depression I experienced was a lot of sobbing.

*My fear that I would die young like Rimbaud or Jim Morrison also worsened my anxiety, depression, sense of doom and gloom.

*On the other hand (and maybe ironic, some of you might think?) my atheism, which was my ultimate gateway into poetry and philosophy, gave me relief from anxiety and depression. IT have me a sense of intellectualism and self esteem, but because I viewed most of society as brainwashed by Christianity I disliked and distrusted most people, and fancied myself uniquely free-thinking.

*On top of all of this, I had no real education in ethics (by that I mean I never learned about ethics as an official, academic, philosophical subject with a wide variety of essays about it) and so one of the only things I managed to value was my own notion of romantic love and that certain couples are just “meant to be” even if they lack chemistry and don’t get along.

On the second Democratic primary debate (Vlog #47)

PART 1: HOW THE DEBATE HAS IMPACTED MY POLITICAL THINKING THUS FAR
PART 2: WHO IMPRESSED ME & WHO CONCERNED ME MOST

**THE NOTES**

*2 nights of political debates: very intellectually stimulating & culturally special (brings us all together)

*Most important election since 1960? Of the 21st century? For more on the nature of these revolutionary times, check out my essay about it. I think Andrew Yang seems to get it, though he did not get fair coverage from MSNBC at the debate. The Hill says he only got 2 minutes and 50 seconds of speaking time compared to former VP Joe Biden’s 12 minutes and 53 seconds. Did MSNBC not learn from the mistakes of 2016 and how unfair VT Senator Bernie Sanders was treated?

*These debates have led me to further develop and hone my political thinking and so I have a few new political thoughts:

1 HEALTHCARE

-why should 1 person get better healthcare/insurance than someone else? If private is ultimately better than maybe nobody should get it as that would technically be unfair, would it not?

Humans are more important than money

Andrew Yang

-I am not convinced we should just outright abolish private health insurance here and now but we must work towards equal quality for all– “universal” in some sense, which Gillibrand & Buttigieg appear to understand but Biden did not.

2 UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME

-I’ve been contemplating this for months thanks to the persistence of my friend Montaniz Stills and determined that so long as SOME people get government subsidies in one form or another (Green energy, Lockheed Martin, big Pharma, small business loans, National Endowment for the Arts, et cetera…) it would only be fair if everyone got a little money…if the government invested in PEOPLE which would be a real UNIVERSAL approach to combating poverty, as opposed to a “special interest pandering” only approach.

-That said…I don’t know why it must be $1,000 specifically but just a little bit of money can bring a person a long way…I know from personal experience

3 CONCERNS ABOUT PANDERING

-This leads to certain oppressed minorities being overlooked. Example: Native Americans. This is why I beef with the ageist pandering of CA Rep. Eric Swalwell who kept saying “Pass the torch” to younger people. This disturbed me and was disrespectful.

I think Rep. Swalwell is the worst of the candidates running for president among the Democrats.

-to be fair to him though, I respect how ambitious and successful he is for a young man his age, and, in fact, I was ageist against Pete Buttigieg for seeming too young/inexperienced, which Sen. Bernie Sanders helped me realize.

*Another candidate who concerned me was former VP Joe Biden. I am sorry for previously questioning whether or not he may be senile though. But it does seem as though he has failed learn from the 2016 elections. It seems he is still very attached to Obamacare as opposed to universal healthcare. Also he was very defensive about criticisms for his mistaken vote on the war in Iraq, then praising how the Obama administration ultimately withdrew from Iraq, despite the fact that this led to a huge mess in which ISIS took over. He seems not to have learned from this and wants to repeat this mistake in Afghanistan.

*Biden was also very defensive towards Sen. Harris’ criticisms of his past record on integration of school districts.

*AGAIN, REGARDING MSNBC’S UNFAIR TREATMENT OF YANG:

-His idea on universal income really is worth more discussion. What could be more lucrative than really investing in people? Imagine also investing in people who were taught how to be a good consumer and how to think philosophically starting in middle school! Even some Libertarians support a Universal basic income. )

-So check out yang2020.com

*I was especially impressed by NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. I think she really understands the key ethical issue we are dealing with: the problem is GREED, NOT CAPITALISM, which VT Sen. Bernie Sanders does not quite seem to understand.

*Gillibrand is my favorite candidate for president thus far. I like that she wants publicly funded elections (she brought up how this would empower teenage protesters against the NRA…and why was Biden kissing up to the NRA by the way?), less private prisons, and called for competition in healthcare insurance industry between private & public.

[RELATED: Reasons to Vote for Gillibrand or Warren & Not for Biden]

*Pete Buttigieg also impressed me, which surprised me considering my ageist bias. He was, like Gillibrand, right on about private-public competition in healthcare, called out hypocrisy within many of the Religious Right, and realizes it’s important to ensure that people who did not go to college still live well. He also made a valuable point about investing in rural America.

*As for Sen. Bernie Sanders: I think he could win because he is right on about the need for revolutionary thinking, has a charismatic approach to rhetoric, though he doesn’t explain himself so well sometimes and also sometimes fails to answer questions he is asked. Is he even a real socialist?

On the first Democratic primary debate (Vlog #46)

THE CANDIDATES WHO MOST CONCERNED ME
THE CANDIDATES WHO MOST IMPRESSED ME

*THE NOTES:

*A brief digression: It’s so wonderful to be clean shaven– the symbolism of it!– reminds me of when I first started shaving after a seven year phase of always growing a beard

*New subject: the first 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary Debate– the first group, from the perspective of the informed voter

*My political activism/commentary/analysis mission statement:

My goal as a political activist is to discuss matters pertaining to informed voting, keeping elected and appointed officials accountable, and visualizing a logical and fact based policy agenda that promotes and advances justice for all.

*My broader political perspective/philosophy: the ethics of compassion & the political philosophy of social democracy; (in the two videos below, should you seek more context & details regarding the I evolution of my political philosophy, it is explained there)

*CANDIDATES WHO CONCERNED ME

-Washington Governor Jay Inslee:

he wants to do away with the filibuster which I think is dangerous as it stifles debate and lowers the Democrats to Senator Mitch McConnell’s & the GOP’s level of abusing power to constrain the minority party

-Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard:

she seemed robotic to me most of the time/ to lack passion. She started an argument with Ohio Representative Tim Ryan over Afghanistan policy, pushing for extremely swift withdrawal– does she not see the disaster of withdrawing from Iraq as ISIS took over?!?

[SEE MY VLOG ON THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN ]

*Julian Castro:

(btw, ever get paranoid that you got one of your facts wrong?)….

…despite his federal executive branch experience as HUD Secretary he seemed excessively cantankerous (though I do appreciate his passion for “Section 1325″(( see Slate’s explanation for more on this))– he also seemed to pander to LGBTQ & LatinX as opposed to appreciating plights of ALL minorities, like the disturbingly underrepresented Native Americans , Muslims & Arabs, Jews, Blacks, Senior citizens, Asian Americans, et cetera… [sorry if I forgot a group I should have mentioned…please leave a comment!]

-NYC Mayor Bill di Blasio: though I liked his policy assertiveness, his proposal to tax the richest 1 percent up to 70 percent seems to me an excessive and rather irrational, overly emotional and un-thought out scapegoating of the rich, and unethical

(I say this as someone who’s had money and had none)

I had money, and I had none

I had money, and I had none

Jim Morrison; The Changeling
LISTEN TO THE DOORS SONG I QUOTED

…I don’t think we should ever tax someone most of or even half of their income…so maybe not more than 44%

*THE CANDIDATES WHO MOST IMPRESSED ME

*MASS Senator Elizabeth Warren (She did seem, unfortunately, and unfairly so, though to no fault of her own, to receive the most questions/attention and I don’t like how the media treated her like the favorite…even if she is and should be…)– I do think she is a genius communicator

“By the time I graduated from high school, my family didn’t have the money for a college application, much less a chance for me to go to college. But I got my chance. It was a $50-a-semester commuter college. That was a little slice of government that created some opportunity for a girl. And it opened my life.

Elizabeth Warren; June 26th 2019 Democratic Primary debate

[!!!!…that said, do note the observation made by the Washington Post about the dishonesty of her story:

Warren actually went to a private college, George Washington University, on a debate scholarship. She attended GW, which cost much more than $50 a semester and is definitely not a commuter college, until her high school sweetheart proposed to her. She accepted, got married, dropped out of GW and followed him to Houston, where he worked for IBM. That was when she enrolled in her $50-a-semester commuter college, the University of Houston.

Henry Olsen; Washington Post

-MINN Senator Amy Klobuchar:

She came across to me as calm, poised & rational. For example, consider her emphasis on establishing a public option for healthcare as opposed to rushing into complete abolition of private healthcare. Another example is her view on the border as she expressed the importance of both being humane in our treatment of those who cross our borders but also being mindful of security and the fact that we should defend ourselves against & prosecute violent criminals & sex traffickers.

-Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan:

(btw, shout out to philosopher & writer Matthew Snope for bringing Ryan to my attention)

-Rep. Ryan is my top choice for VP thus far . He is extremely passionate (perhaps a touch angry though?) and rich in policy proposals which are mindful of cultural complexities. For example, he wants more emotional support for our youth in schools, and he is inclusive/universal as opposed to pandering to one group or another. Finally, he’s right on and realistic about Afghanistan in contrast to Rep. Gabbard who I believe started an irrational argument with him on the topic.

*The two candidates I was unsure of are former TX Rep. Beto O’Rourke and my own NJ Senator Cory Booker. I thought O’Rourke was right on about a public option as opposed to abolishing private insurance from the getco, but I also thought he was a bit of a grand-stander for speaking in Spanish first thing, and pandering. Also, he didn’t always answer the questions he was asked. Neither did Senator Booker. Booker seemed, at times, overly emotional to me, but I do like his position on guns, that they should be treated like cars, and require similar licensing protocols.

On moving some place better (part 6) (Vlog #45)

*THE NOTES

*Longest I’ve gone without shaving in a long time—> reminds me of bad times: my “fuck the system” phase, when I thought I was remaking my default sense of self which I hated inside & out

*The iconography/symbolism of artists & their ethos that propelled me into that “fuck the system” mentality

*The struggle to manage time when juggling a move some place & unexpected challenges that arise such as power outage or smoke alarms going off, et cetera…

*I believe everybody should have a dignified home of their own

*The first place I lived in South Beach was a hostel, roughly a block away from the beach, but I was too nihilistic to appreciate it

*A girl from Brazil compares me to Nietzsche

*Some of my worst memories though for a time there was no place I preferred to be

*My first autumn since preschool not in school/college

On moving someplace better (part 5); Vlog #44

**THE NOTES**

*Here I am in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, vlogging from my very own official PUBLIC COMMENT VLOGGING STUDIO (A spacious walk-in closet; 🙂 )

*The symbolism of moving and of certain key life experiences

*The symbolism/meaning/significance of our move to Basking Ridge: an attempt at an objective reflection of the personal meaning– as opposed to subjective (i.e., only feelings based))

*Conscious contemplation of the notion of a move from one place to another– it’s personal meaning—how does this change us?—- self expressiom & desire fulfillment @ exceptionally high intensity (a lot of mental stimulation thus higher intensity of introspection)

*Being aware of the experience of moving itself (I mean, if I were writing a novel about it how would I narrate it?)

*Flood of memories of when Ashley & I moved to Oceanside, California– the first move I had ever made with a woman– (this move to Basking Ridge is our first move as a married couple…exceptionally romantic but during drive I felt regret about my poor character during our move and time in Oceanside—- I’m determined to be a gentleman this time around!

*Our first time owning residential property!

*My astronomical gratitude to live in Basking Ridge with my wife!

On moving some place better (part 4) (Vlog #43)

2 days until we move to Basking Ridge, NJ– almost all I can think about. This move is a striking contrast to my move to Fort Myers/Estero, FL back in 2005, which led to deepened mental illness, obsession with marijuana, dropping out of college and a kind of psychological downfall.

*It’s seizing my consciousness: only 2 days until we move to Basking Ridge, NJ!

*What does it mean to think about living somewhere?

*Personal/inner revolution…major changes– like the world of Heraclitus

*The dark, revolutionary period when I moved to Fort Myers/Estero, FL in contrast to our upcoming move

*I did not really think through my move to Fort Myers/Estero, FL

*I was, in general, an oblivious person

*paranoia, panic attacks, and other consequences of my marijuana obsession

*morality & time

*convinced I suffered from severe intellectual disability

*unable to even enjoy a romantic relationship, convinced of the worst in everyone, including myself and believing Fort Myers was cursed by evil spirits

*My fantasy vision of myself as a rich & famous Ex-pat poet living in Europe only to end up a nihilist in South Beach

*My troubled epistemology

*Questions I should have asked myself & tried to answer

A few brief thoughts on art (short philosophical essay)

[Note: I began this essay in the autumn of 2017 initially intending it to be a poem. It has been revised numerous times to reach its current form]

Music plays on my Apple laptop…the back reads: “Designed by Apple in California Assembled in China.”

According to the “executive summary” for the China Labor Watch Website “workers making the iPhone” are exploited, paid just $1.85 per hour.

(Compare to my $11; compare to $7.25, America’s minimum wage).

The Guardian reports that the Foxcon Longhua factory in China, which manufactures iPhones, has body catching nets to curtail its suicide epidemic.

Should I trash what the workers produced in protest, and boycott?

I sigh…the music plays on…a man and woman sing: “I-I-I-O-I-I-I-O-I-O-AH- I-O-I-O-O-AYYYY! AYYYY! YEAHHH!…”

According to a Business Wire article published June 23, 1999, it was a husband and wife singing “a vocal chant” called “Jubilant Drinking Song,” recorded in the late 1970s and incorporated without their knowledge in this international top ten hit– the 1993 song “Return to Innocence,” by a music group that calls itself “Enigma.”

This resulted in a lawsuit and then eventually a settlement.

The music continues…I think of wind…wind…blowing through American beachgrass…

…the sound of ocean waves crashing while I’m walking on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk, gazing at the snow falling from a dark gray, nighttime sky.

I show the winter wind my toughness as it persists, whipping my exposed skin.

The music inspires, and facilitates contemplation and day dreams…

On a few perambulations in late Autumn of 2018 in East Windsor, NJ

Walking helps me meditate. My thoughts: streaming, roaming, like wind, or birds flying. No obligations… except to walk, and meditate. The sky, a sheet of blank white paper. I wish it would snow. Yes, let winter arrive early! Make it colder. Cold air, so blunt, stimulating, ordering me to feel its intensity, like masterpiece art work or extra dry gin, and refreshing, like pure cranberry juice (without any added sugar) from the refrigerator, or like waking up late after a much needed, long night of sleep, and exciting too, like the first French kiss in series, igniting my nerves. At least the air this afternoon chills enough to repel the gnats, and mosquitoes. Autumn’s rustic bouquets blooming…I wish I could walk through its maze all day. The air’s force, when it gusts, feels like God’s blessing, an extract of pure benevolence, a grandparent’s kiss.

Dream catcher (a short philosophical essay)

[Note: the writing of this essay began back in the fall of 2017, intended originally as a “poem” and was completed within a year’s time and now ultimately takes the form of a short essay)

Fear of dying in my sleep…of dying in poverty, no career I climbed up to reflect on… just a plethora of aspirations and thoughts racing like a flock of thousands of birds headed south…while America’s democracy and rule of law corrode…gin and prayers fail to relax me…

But I am like my grandmother.

She used to listen to talk radio late at night as she fell asleep, sometimes not until three a.m.…

I watch the news on my laptop…

…five splits in the screen so we can see the face of each expert on the news panel… strikes my eyes like the rays of a plasma ball, the dendrites of a neuron under a microscope, octopus arms, jellyfish tentacles inside an aquarium…

President Trump called NFL players “sons of bitches” for kneeling during the singing of the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality.

Nuclear North Korea threatens the inevitability of violence…

Even on Friday, at 11:30 p.m. when one could be doing anything… many, like MSNBC’s Brian Williams analyze our Earth’s environment and community- its well-being or lack thereof.

Caretakers indeed abound: bureaucrats, military, police, fire fighters, hospital workers, and nocturnal intellectuals, with integrity.

Thank you.

It helps me sleep…

On moving some place better (part 3)(Vlog #42)

The developing complexity of my psychology, my determinism, my nihilism, and my marijuana obsession, as I transfer from Kean University to Florida Gulf Coast University (From Elizabeth/Union, NJ to Fort Myers/Estero, FL) between 2004-2006

*My desire to drop out of college and emulate Jack Kerouac, hitchhiking America

*Moving to Fort Myers/Estero, FL to attend Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) felt like a miracle, an artist’s “dream come true.”

*The irony of feeling “liberated”– falling into the depths of determinism & nihilism

*WHY was I really even attending college? I didn’t know…I was just waiting for riches and fame because I was convinced that was simply my fate. Bob Dylan put it so well when he sang:

SOONER OR LATER ONE OF US MUST KNOW

THAT YOU JUST DID WHAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO DO

Bob Dylan; Sooner or Later

*Trying marijuana for the first time and falling in love with it

*The place you live and the philosophical ideas you develop when you live there and come to thereby associate with your time spent living there

*My addiction/obsession with marijuana

-I believed I “needed” marijuana to be a “good” poet or become “one with the universe”

*second time I tried marijuana I suffered extreme paranoia and panic attacks, yet I kept smoking it…

On moving some place better (part 2)(Vlog #41)

From my childhood obsession with the Caribbean Sea while living in Robbinsville, NJ to my frustration with urban Kean University in Union/Elizabeth NJ in 2004-2005.

*The role of memoir/autobiography/personal essay/introspection in philosophical contemplation

*Falling in love with the Caribbean Sea & “the beach” in general

-a love poem I wrote about the beach when I was 18 y/o back in 2004

**ah the naivete of youth!**

*18 y/o @ Kean University, not standing up for my love of the beach

-loved the people but too urban for me (Union/Elizabeth, NJ)

*I’m very sensitive to geography/ picky in my taste

*Kean University: disgusting dorms/ felt like a prison cell in contrast to Florida Gulf Coast University dorms in new, beautiful apartment with my own room

*Ignoring my dream & happiness: that had to change

SEE RELATED: Geographical preference: a philosophical flash fiction

On the Confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh

[Note: this essay was written during a very psychologically complex time in my life. First of all, this was happening around the time my grandfather passed away. Secondly, in the midst of my final semester of undergraduate studies I was in a state of profound confusion concerning what my next step in life ought to be. Though it seemed clear I ought to do all I could to break into the opinion-writing scene within the journalism world there were two very particular things troubling me: A) I honestly didn’t know initially what to make of the Kavanaugh hearings, especially after we learned that he had been accused by multiple women– and without evidence– of sexual misconduct. No matter how much I read on the subject I didn’t want to end up saying something or thinking something biased or blatantly demonstrating how little I know about legal nuances. In a word, I felt unqualified to “think” about what was happening; B) I felt confused about the aesthetic questions behind how one ought to write a political commentary. Moreover, I felt two competing impulses: one was to be completely detached from this rather fascinating but unpleasant period of U.S. history and the other was to in fact record my thoughts on what it was like to “experience” the occurrence of such a dramatic span of political events transpire. Spiritually and philosophically I thought, as someone who loves to write, it seemed there might be a kind of ethical obligation to document how this historical crisis within the Senate and Supreme Court permeated my mind, not as a mere political analyst or commentator, but as a human living in the country where this was happening.

This complex reaction led me to wonder if I should perhaps experiment with approaching the current political events from more of a “poetic” perspective, or “artistic” or “humanistic” or “personal” perspective– though I was not sure exactly what that should ultimately mean.

As a result, this essay was initially conceptualized as a “poem,” and one composed in a very complex intellectual-psychological-aesthetic frame of mind.]

Don’t fret 

Warriors will keep alive in the blood

-Simon Ortiz

The fight for justice…hands stretching, muscles tearing, reaching for the sky- daunting, tempting to surrender, and submit, assuming futility, but people walked on the moon, made a vaccine for malaria, polio, and other diseases.

I contemplate my White Privilege, resenting every remnant of it, and scowl at America’s White Supremacist bigot bullies…oppressing…Native Americans, African Americans, Arabs, Jews, Women, the non-heterosexual, the poor, the vulnerable, the non-Christian, non-Caucasian and it disturbs me, makes me drink my whiskey with a little extra intensity…

I fear that nothing, not a single atrocity, would have moved Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s supporters in the Senate to oppose his confirmation (not that we know whether he was guilty or innocent… “the allegations fail to meet the more likely than not standard,” Senator Sue Collins said in her speech, explaining her vote to confirm him…but the way Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations were “investigated” in a rush- “More than 40 people with potential information into the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have not been contacted by the FBI, according to multiple sources that include friends of both the nominee and his accusers,” NBC News reported…and what about Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick who also made accusations of sexual misconduct…ignored by the Republicans in Senate, the F.B.I., President Trump ((outright misogynistic deference to Kavanaugh, it seems to me))– a “sham” as many Democrats in the Senate called it!)

Even months later, Trump says he knows acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, then says he doesn’t know him, adding to the reeking junkyards, and mountain chains of venom filled sewage lies, poisoning our politics, government, law enforcement, rhetoric, relationships, and the Republicans– not a…flinch…

A NIGHTMARE AND AN OUTRAGE!

But hope…hope…hope…look at things like New England, where the snow seems to grace with its elegance as it falls- the homicide rates there, among the lowest in the nation…look at the gentlemen like former F.B.I. Director James Comey, and the ladies like newly elected Congress woman of Kansas, Sharice Davids…

More Americans voted for Clinton than Trump.

More Americans voted for Clinton than Trump.

More Americans voted for Clinton than Trump.

Geographical preference: a philosophical flash fiction

Jewel and Israel were on their third date, driving from East Windsor to Ocean Grove in Israel’s new, red 2015 Volkswagen GTI. He lamented letting go of his dark green 1997 Saturn S Series SW 2. What an irrational attachment to that vehicle he had—even to the name, “Saturn”; like the Mercury cars, it made him think of outer space and this felt more exciting than the names of most other cars. How strange, Israel thought, that both Saturn and Mercury ended up defunct within years of each other. The Saturn was his first car and he didn’t want to get rid of it—he liked holding on to relics: a couple of nine year old t-shirts, his VCR for example, a record player his grandparents had given him, their old plasma ball, their copy of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment… but alas, that damn Saturn, it cost him, on average, a thousand dollars plus, a year—sometimes as much as three thousand dollars a year– in repairs. A year earlier he had to replace the catalytic converter, the oil pump, and needed air conditioning repairs. In search of a reliable but cheap automobile he scoured consumer reviews online and stumbled upon a February 2015 US News and World Report article on the Volkswagen GTI which claimed the vehicle was the “best sports car” for the money in 2015. A year earlier the GTI had been ranked by the US News and World Report as the best “upscale small car” for the money. Perhaps not the most “attention grabbing” but the bright red color was. He actually would have preferred a sky blue car, but he didn’t have so many options, and anyway, he liked how red pierced with ambition and passion in his mind so Israel, ultimately, was pleased.

The drive—straight down New Jersey Route 33– took about 45 minutes. Route 33—at least the eastern portion of it– was one of the few nearby highways Israel enjoyed. He liked passing through communities like Manalapan and Howell which leaned more rural—more open fields to gaze at from the corners of his eyes (because he prided himself on focusing on the road)—in contrast to suburban East Windsor—where he lived all his life (Jewel lived there now too); the open space always relaxed him; for him, it symbolized the free and undeveloped, uncharted terrain of consciousness, ripe for discovery and cultivation of new thoughts. Israel told this to Jewel as they were driving, and she told him she also found a deep, personal connection to certain aspects of the environment. Then she brought up her love for mountains and her desire to live in a community where views of them were ubiquitous.

“I fell in love with them back in 2008,” Jewel said. “It was my senior year at William Paterson University. I thought Clinton and Obama running against each other that summer in the primary, and then Obama winning general election was just so amazing.”

“Yeah, it was. I remember that night too,” Israel said.

“Yeah! So…it literally gave me this, like, natural ‘high,’ and…with the university happening to be on mountains, this theme of…you know… of interconnected elevation… and… that was the night…” she paused, and Israel, who had been falling in love with her, was falling deeper now, and feeling even a touch turned on (and a touch guilty about it) by her passion, the volume of her voice increasing, her hands moving to accentuate her words and expressiveness…“that I decided I was going to be a history professor, and that I could get a spiritual high out of history…these events of such significance! And so the image of mountains are kind of like a memento of that, like a reminder of my purpose. Does that make sense?”

On President Obama (a short essay)

[Note: This is a one of a short series of essays which had originally been conceptualized as a “poem” at a time when I lacked a firm notion of what it was I really believed a “poem” to be. This piece is also interesting because I spent years not only writing it but furthermore I had spent a number of years wanting, in general, to write something about President Obama as such, or as a topic, as opposed to something very policy specific, which had been excruciatingly challenging for me. No doubt, if I compare exactly my approach to writing about a topic now to what my approach was when this essay was completed, in December of 2018, it would be somewhat different however not so much in sentiment or substance.]

January, 2016: I see President Barack Obama crying.

Small splotches of white salt under his dark brown, snowy night eye seem dabbed on there by a paint brush; of course, it’s just the light reflecting off his evaporating tears.

The photo was taken by Jim Watson for AFP/Getty Images when President Obama was giving a speech on gun control.

November, 2008: I was 22. It was my second time voting for president.

I voted for Barack Obama.

Just the past month my father had died because his colon exploded.

After he died, I thought I lived in some other universe.

The yellow, red, orange, and brown leaves falling from tree branches seemed to be all that could comfort me, reminding me of my father’s book of Van Gogh paintings that I inherited.

On occasion, when those trees shook, and threw their leaves in the air, especially when it rained, I thought maybe my father’s… ghost… was trying to tell me something.

November, 2012: In my naiveté, I betray my fellow Americans, voting against Obama and for Romney– my… Republican phase… failing to notice things like, say, the nature of my own poverty, and the poverty that surrounded me and my coworkers in the retail industry.

I failed to realize the exploitation.

I was a college dropout then, holding false assumptions.

Example: if people fail to “think and grow rich,” blame their skepticism, not their exploiters.

Less government, more optimism.

Mix errors like that with tornadoes of panic attacks… (extremely low… serotonin level…a doctor and I later hypothesized) almost deafening, blinding, throwing me all over the place, meddling with my thought process…

I returned to college, combating my anxiety with knowledge, learning to think and analyze more critically…as I reflected on President Obama over the years, I came to miss him.

On a Romantic Evening (A philosophical, personal “micro-essay”)

[Note: This piece was originally written in the summer of 2017 as a poem. Over the past few years it has been revised and re-conceptualized to its current form as a very a sort of personal micro-essay on romantic love]

Things we do not desire, which I do not prefer to list, do exist in this universe but not in here, where our hands are touching like water touches the surface of the Earth as we float a little, on a black, leather couch and watch a fictional cop and a criminal shooting bullets at each other, on the television screen, or is it congress versus President Trump’s corrupt conspirators, or jeez, is it a shielded window through which we see countless episodes of good versus evil- life’s most basic theme? Now my wife’s hand slips away, innocently, like a leaf on a branch would shift in the wind, so she could grab her glass of water from the small table in front of the couch. A little while later we turn towards each other and lean in for a long kiss. After that we both smile- our lips spreading like a sunrise, bit by bit, pushing out night’s darkness, diplomatically exiling it, and we continue watching the TV.

On the 2018 Midterms (A short essay)

[Brief note: This brief essay, which was completed around December of 2018, and is a reflection of thoughts and feelings I was having around the time of the 2018 midterm elections, is mildly experimental in nature, and is perhaps somewhat “lyrical” as it is part of a series originally intended to be categorized as a so called “prose poem.”

Since that time however, my views on aesthetics have evolved significantly. The exact definition of a “prose poem” will make for an interesting essay in the future but at this point in time I can tell you that at the time in my life when I was writing a number of so called “prose poems” I was in fact writing short, highly compressed, highly personal essays. That is to say, I was writing straight forward, matter of fact thoughts on particular subjects of interest. Now in a frame of mind where I believe this piece is properly categorized and understood with respect to its intentions I am happy to share it with you here for your contemplations]

Now everything’s a little upside down, as a matter of fact the wheels have stopped

What’s good is bad, what’s bad is good

-Bob Dylan, “Idiot Wind”

“‘Can one be well while suffering morally? Can one be calm in times like these if one has any feeling?’”

Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

This election feels like a spaceship heading for a black hole.

Please don’t explode…please don’t explode…please don’t explode, and shatter like the German democracy did in 1933…

Last Sunday night at 9 p.m.– the Sunday before the election–instead of “Headliners,” which is usually on at that time on MSNBC, there was special coverage discussing the “big day”– the anticipation, a spectacle like fireworks on New Years’ Eve… or Christmas trees decorated with bright red, green, orange, pink, and blue lights, and a diversity of ornaments…like steaming, spicy mulled wine still in the pot.

Just two weeks ago, pipe bombs were mailed to prominent liberals, and what the Washington Post called “the deadliest [attack] on Jews in U.S. history,” took place at Tree of Life Synagogue.

Voter suppression…reported in Texas, North Dakota and Georgia… targeting… Native Americans and African Americans…in particular.

America these days is like a toilet, filled with excrement, and vomit, that just won’t flush.

I say this categorically, and in pain.

I apologize with fervor, writing such nauseating words, but…at least the Democrats won the House of Representatives.

Though I strain, I do see the light of one, glittering star dancing on the horizon.

Some Brief Remarks on the Question of Whether or Not a God Might Exist (A short essay)

(Brief note: this short essay was originally completed on November 4th, 2018. I initially wrote this with the interest of making it part of what I referred to at the time as a “essayistic poem.” Although I have since abandoned that particular project and the accompanying view of aesthetics I possessed at the time of undertaking that project I maintain, after over half a year of hindsight, that the thoughts in this essay in themselves are a sufficient introduction to my thinking on the question of whether or not a God might exist and thus, this blog being devoted to my “Public Comment” on my views of things, it seems reasonable to include this here)

There is no empirical evidence to suggest a God exists yet even if the universe arbitrarily happens to be,and even despite atrocities [things I hate to acknowledge like disease, genocide, tsunamis, accidents…] there is beauty-the beauty of stars sparkling, mystifying, burning, illuminating; there is the beauty of the wind, whether it is tossing autumn leaves or brushing palm tree fronds, or making contact with water, ground or the skin of a living, conscious human, or a French kiss [mmm, just the thought of one!]-or fantasy!-all only a sliver, only a microscopic speck of the beauty that we indulge in with such  pleasure.

Virtually each of us, if we try can find some beautiful things that bless us. From the atheistic perspective: how serendipitous! And that is all.  From a less presumptuous perspective such blessings do provide grounds at least for suspicion -and thus for hope that some creative “entity” one might call “God” is a genius artist with profound bravura composinga masterpiece universe.

There is so much to it! Think, just think about the diversity: humans that evolve from the discovery of fire to the inventions of the internet and space stations, ah, and strawberries, planets, colors (so many colors), oil, mountains, lightning, gemstones, jellyfish, cats, dogs, horses, snakes, milk, wood, sand, ocean waves, atoms, genes, silk, Aristotle, Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Meryl Streep, my wife Ashley O’Connor, my mother Amy Hanselmann, my stepfather John Hanselmann, music, wine, Effexor, coffee, blizzards, motion picture, the New      York Times and the Washington Post, Proust, Walt Whitman, Montaigne, gravity, ink, blood, consciousness, language, memory, mineral water, birds flying (flying!) hot springs, seahorses, broccoli, brussel sprouts, pizza, moons, temperature, states of matter, sexual and asexual reproduction, sky, seemingly infinite particulars that just so happen to be and with such nuanced particulars within the particulars-all the cells in a human and their nuclei and mitochondria, the layers of the Earth, its biomes, the gasses of Jupiter and Saturn, every planet’s orbit around the sun, the position of every star, et cetera…

If there is that much fascinating complexity, and variety, in this universe then why mightn’t there be such a thing as a God? Some creative thing that possess something like a mind that imagines, reasons, produces, just by its glorious, unfathomable nature.

Oh yes, do I ever suspect there may indeed be a God, and do I ever hope, now on the cliff before I dive into the good kind of crying…

On moving some place better (Vlog #40)

-Why I’m so thrilled my wife & I are moving from East Windsor, NJ to Basking Ridge, NJ

*What’s worth our time– a quote from Charles Sanders Peirce on “economy of research”

*A personal and autobiographical approach to philosophy/ philosophical aspects of our life stories

*Growing up in white, rural Robbinsville, NJ, in the 1990’s

*My father’s house in rural Cream Ridge, NJ– 2 acres of land!

*My earliest 2 memories are of the beach

*Why I dislike East Windsor

**In the video I mistook my estimation of precisely how white Robbinsville was. I do not recall more than one African American in my class until I was 4th grade when I met someone of Egyptian background and someone mulatto. When I was in 6th grade I recall meeting two people of Indian backgrounds in my class. The bottom line is that Robbinsville was exceptionally white.

Of course I believe that things are always more complex… (Vlog #39)

More on identifying a “target audience” and the development of this vlog.

*Annoyed by postmodernism, nihilism, sophistry?

*Want more “real” talk?

*Building on Montaigne’s personal approach to philosophy

*No elitism or populism here!

*The evolution & development of the Public Comment Vlog

It’s a fine day… (Vlog #38)

Improving my vlog’s marketability, content strategy and sense of “target audience.”

*Even more on the art of talking

More on the art of talking on this vlog here

*The aesthetics of productivity

*Ethics & Sense of self

*What is my “target audience?” Is it pretentious to say “creative & critical thinkers?”

The amusing thing then… (The Video Diary of Sean O’Connor– Episode #35)

Uncanny connections to contemporaries and people from over a century ago, reading routine, balance.

Thursday, June 13, 2019; East Windsor, NJ

IN THIS EPISODE:

*Connections like the “pragmatic clarification” of Charles Sanders Peirce and my “practical clarificationism”

*Plugging the Philosophase YouTube Channel

*Seeking to develop a daily routine

*What to read and for how often? (Fractal reading)

*Balanced preparation

Life is something, isn’t it? (The Video Diary of Sean O’Connor–Episode #34)

Brief remarks on the art of talking, pragmatism & Charles Sanders Pierce. –Thursday, June 13, 2019; East Windsor, NJ

IN THIS EPISODE

*Scripting what to say v talking off the cuff

*The creativity of talking

*How the subconscious takes over our plans

*The imperfection of even the finest education and Bertrand Russell

*The audacity of citing Wikipedia

So, clarification is a value….(The Video Diary of Sean O’Connor– Episode # 33)

Further explanation of “practical clarificationism.” A departure from the “Objectivism” of Ayn Rand and why I don’t like the word “pragmatic.” (part 1 of 2) -June 12th, 2019; East Windsor, NJ

MORE ABOUT THIS VIDEO DIARY ENTRY:

*Clarification strives for objectivity without succumbing to perfectionism

*”Pragmatic” v “practical”

*Talking from where we are as opposed to trying to sound like we’re authorities on something

*The “practical” v the “esoteric”

So I have come up with a sort of idea…(The Video Diary of Sean O’Connor– Episode #32)

I propose a philosophical concept: “practical clarificationism” and explain (part 1 of 2) -June 12th, 2019; East Windsor, NJ

More about this video diary entry:

*revised writings versus extemporaneous speaking

*revising “Objectivist” philosophy, based on its epistemology (the law of non-contradiction…)

*the problem with complete, absolute, 100% certainty (margin of error)

The Era of Revolutionary Debate

There are few eras as exceptional and consequential as this one we’re currently living in.

There’s the advents of fire and language, money and democratic government, Aristotle’s laws of identity and non-contradiction, the printing press, the industrial revolution’s sort of destruction of feudalism (though these days the richest 1 percent seem to me like new age lords and nobles, and the niches of the working people– though lacking in their rights to strengthen as official unions– seem like contemporary guilds, and bursting through the caste system of sorts, despite proof of so many so- called “American Dreams” fulfilled can feel impossible when you haven’t done it and the way through seems unwritten)…

…and I wonder, really, since the Civil War, at least from an American perspective, when have we seen a time as radical and revolutionary as this?

When, since the tumult related to World War II have we seen so much global radicalism and revolution?    

Nationalism continues to spread like a global fever (so much so that the March/April 2019 Edition of Foreign Affairs titled the issue “The New Nationalism” and the publication’s editor says Nationalism “has come back with a vengeance” ).

Indeed, it has, from Brexit to the fighting between Israel and Palestine, from Russia’s lust for Crimea and more to “the ascent of strongmen in states such as China, the Philippines and Turkey,” as Jack Snyder puts it in one of those Foreign Affairs articles”

The Global Nationalism trend though is just one piece of a fascinating strand of the intensity throughout the world lately.

Vox reported this weekend that New Zealand “released the first-ever ‘well-being budget’ on May 30.” Happiness is starting to matter more.

The Economist reports that “According to India’s telecoms regulator, subscriptions for mobile-broadband services more than doubled between the end of 2016 and the end of 2018, from 218m to 500m.”

People in severe poverty which once kept them from accessing the internet increasingly are gaining access, especially to make and watch videos.

As of 2017, according to an article by The Verge, “the aggregate time people spend watching videos on YouTube’s home page has grown 20 times larger than what it was three years ago.”

Some people, like Caleb Cain, according to a New York Times feature on the YouTube vlogger,  “f[a]ll asleep to YouTube videos at night.“

The New York Times adds:

With two billion monthly active users uploading more than 500 hours of video every minute, YouTube’s traffic is estimated to be the second highest of any website, behind only Google.com. According to the Pew Research Center, 94 percent of Americans ages 18 to 24 use YouTube, a higher percentage than for any other online service.

With YouTube in the midst of a dramatic rise, forget how this might impact network television. How will  Netflix, Amazon and Hulu compete for viewers in the 18-24 demographic?

Will some of the biggest vlogs become Netflix vlogs? What is this mean for the Maddow-Hannity style political commentary we got used to?

Meanwhile: “Public support for left-wing policymaking has reached a 60-year high,” Vox Reports.

So just like there was a consciousness revolution in the 1960’s from the politics of that decade to the increased depth of Bob Dylan & The Beatles style music, something distinct yet comparable is going on now.

Donald Trump, a former reality TV Star, is president of the United States. He’s the first president without any meaningful experience and he’s on the verge of becoming only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

To be sure, his attempts to obstruct investigations into his suspicious ties to Russian interference with our elections (mixed with a plethora of other disconcerting , abusive, and criminal acts, including violation of the constitution’s Emoluments clause) make him far  more impeachable and criminal than Clinton’s lie about oral sex. And the law on which President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment was based was ultimately deemed unconstitutional.   

The political response is likewise, historical: as Bloomberg reports: “There are more current and former governors and members of Congress running this year than there were total candidates in any party primary in the last several decades.”

Politico’s David Siders writes in his headline and subtitle:

Trump backlash sparks avalanche of 2020 policy proposals–The sheer multitude of policy proposals is staggering.

He calls it “an unlikely renaissance of ideas” and says “For brooding Democrats, the primary field’s position papers are an emotional refuge — this summer’s dreamy must-reads.”

And those old tried and true conventional ideas such as “electability” which Trump destroyed in the 2016 election (read Bob Woodward’s book Fear for example after example of Republican operatives dismissing Trump, after each of his missteps, as “unelectable” and Stephen Bannon’s consistent rebuttals to them) are undergoing further demolishment as mainstream media darling, the former Vice-President Joe Biden seems to flaunt his aura of unbreakable “electability”  with the utmost cockiness in a way that is shattering support that he might not have lost eight years ago.

Consider the following quotes Politico documented this weekend:

“It’s not just a flip-flop. It’s like a double axel flip-flop, and he’s not even nailing the   landing,” said Democracy for America Chairman Charles Chamberlain, whose group has supported Warren and Sanders in the past.

“Look. He’s running for president,” Marianne Williamson, the self-help author running in the Democratic primary, said of Biden’s changing position on the Hyde Amendment on CNN on Friday. “People came up to him and said you’re really behind the times on this, Joe. You’ve already got a problem with women, all of that, and so he changed his mind.”

And Politico published another article poking more holes in the “electability” concept and demonstrating why we can really now call it– and please excuse my profanity on this one occassion, this would be one of the very few instances in my blogging life where it seems like the appropriate word– bullshit!

[Read the Politco article here: “Why You’re Wrong About the Democratic Primary– the Wild History of Presidential Campaigns Has a Lesson:  Nobody Knows Anything”]

The 1973 Supreme Court Case on Abortion rights, Roe v Wade this year is being systematically and methodically challenged by a number of state legislatures. ABC News says their

News Supreme Court Contributor Kate Shaw, a law professor who regularly writes about reproductive rights, explained the new spate of abortion restrictions, acknowledging that they present an unprecedented attack on one of the country’s most controversial laws.

“Since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, these are absolutely the most extreme laws that have been passed,” Shaw said.

Over 40 prosecutors, including state attorney generals, signed a statement pledging not to prosecute these laws. In other words, we’re in the midst of a major legal faceoff.

What does it mean to live through such an age?

I think it means there’s a special chapter, or maybe even a series of special chapters reserved in the history textbooks of the future which will be taught to posterity. I believe that furthermore this means what how we act in these very particular times will be extremely consequential.

While those of us who are deeply embedded in social media communications and politics are more energized than we’ve been in nearly half a century, and while access to the internet is growing exponentially, especially on already massive sites like YouTube, that doesn’t mean those who live outside our niche, our clique, our Twitterverse if you will, necessarily care.

To illustrate, as someone said to me recently, while the crowds on social media for are calling for Trump’s impeachment, (myself included), that does not necessarily represent the majority or a plurality.

Not that I suggest this is an argument against impeachment and why it’s a losing political move. Rather, I’m thinking of Massachusetts Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren and what she said at the recent MSNBC Town Hall event:

See 10:15-10:54

If most of America isn’t with ya, then you talk about it. You make the arguments and then you listen…you start with what you believe is right then you go out there and fight for it.

My bottom line then is this: however revolutionary the times may be, however liberal the plurality of Americans may be, even if internet access is opening up for the severely poor, Nationalism is on the rise, and there are traps like the U.S. Electoral College, gerrymandering, and a Supreme Court which is a product of those– I mean that the revolutionary fervor is alive and well on both the left and the right from different angles and if we want posterity to look back and say this age- not just of revolution, but of revolutionary debate- was won by those who care about things like…abortion rights, not just internet access as a means to distract the poor from their miseries but to help them grow intellectually and economically, and happiness for as many as possible, those kinds of things…we need to make the most of it.

This is not a time like the mid to late 1990s when things seemed so well and yawning in apathy and lethargy didn’t seem to come at such a cost. Like the democracy of Ancient Greece and Rome, like Aristotle’s discovery of logic there’s a lot we can either embrace or lose for who knows how long under the sand inside some time capsule.

Speaker of the House & Senate Majority Leader Have Too Much Power

Observing a Democratic House of Representatives spar with the Republican Senate reveals how the leaderships within both parties– I’m talking about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi here– possess far too much power, stifling the democratic elements that are supposed to propel our legislative processes.  

Thus, our congress now operates in a fashion that seems entirely out of touch with a much wider, international populist revolution of sorts extending far beyond politics, challenging the mainstream media, academia, traditional 20th century corporate models– including even the way companies market with the goal of establishing genuine connection with those they serve– and even cultural ethical assumptions, in the wake, for example, of the #MeToo movement.

Politically speaking though, the most revealing aspect of this global populist revolution is not Trump winning the 2016 Presidential election, and is not the worldwide nationalism and protectionism, at least as I contemplate it. Rather, what strikes me most is how many Democrats are running in the 2020 Primary elections.

The plethora of candidates indicates to me an uptick in passion and earnestness to cast aside assumptions of electability, and “Establishment” choices of who the next president should be.

Put another way, “the people” are hammering a stake into the dying heart of conventional concentrations of power.

Not in congress however.

(And even less so with respect to the presidency. Read this excellent article by Foreign Affairs for more on that specifically)

Unfortunately, the extreme concentrations of power held by Pelosi and McConnell are stalling and weakening our country from any kind of truly political productivity.

Tell me (really, please do!): what is the last major congressional achievement you can think of (if you don’t count when the unanimously passed a resolution “to reject [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s proposal to interrogate US officials.”). Maybe repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” nearly a decade ago?  

To be clear, this is a problem which is exacerbated by both parties!

Consider just how it seems, at times, like Speaker Pelosi gets treated as if she were Queen of the Democrats.

The growing call among her fellow House Democrats for President Trump’s impeachment serves as an illustrative example.

As Politico reports,

[Rep.] Nadler [of NY} pressed Pelosi to allow his committee to launch an impeachment inquiry against Trump — the second such request he’s made in recent weeks only to be rebuffed by the California Democrat and other senior leaders

Why should any lawmaker– or any person for that matter!– enjoy the pedestal of such a high status that she or he gets to deny or “allow” significant legislative  “requests”–?

Please don’t get me wrong here. I get that leadership and management are paramount to making things happen and, theoretically, with efficiency, but “leadership” in a democracy should not be confused with exceptional powers such as has been granted to Nancy Pelosi.   

Maybe it doesn’t seem so awful to some of you when the one granted with so much power and status is part of your own political party, or your faction of your political party, but, if you’re a Democrat these days, how exactly do you feel about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s power to prevent the House’s legislative progress from moving any further?

How do you feel about the way he prevented a vote from taking place on the confirmation of Judge Merrick Garland, former President Barack Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court?

Would you rather “bite the bullet” as they say, and chalk it up to a consequence of American politics when things of this sort occur, or are you inclined to think it would be better if McConnell never had that kind of power and that future Senate Majority leaders never do either?

As Salon’s Daley Gruen writes:

How is it possible that one man, for whom odds are neither you nor I voted, has absolute control over the ignition switch to our country, as well as the brakes, the gas, the wheels, the seats and the windows? After a bloody revolution to escape monarchical rule, our Congress was designed to be a conference of extraordinary citizens representing a polity of constituencies as equals, pushing and pulling our country towards the truest manifestation of the popular will. It’s why we call it the People’s House. But instead, “Mitch and Nancy” and their predecessors have enjoyed unchecked rule.

In a democracy, what comes to a vote should be determined by a process, a system, a democratic mechanism – not the whims of one person. If a bill fulfills some reasonable procedural trigger point, it should automatically go up for a vote by the entire body.

Gruen informs us further in the Salon piece that although it seems mostly like lip service, at least since the Democrats took back the House

any legislation that achieves 290 co-sponsors will automatically get a floor vote in the House. That threshold, however, is exceedingly high and not so different than the almost never used “Discharge Petition,” which already allows the House to force a vote if an absolute majority of 218 members sign a petition for it. [But] A democratic process should be regular order – not an act of defiance.

Indeed!

That’s why I believe Democratic Presidential primary candidates like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke (O’Rourke has been calling for impeachment just shy of a year now), along with other clear-headed legislators like Representative Al Green of Texas, and my own Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (though not for much longer as my wife and I are moving out of this congressional district) who don’t let Pelosi dictate their apparent convictions, are exceptional and worth our appreciation.

We should support more politicians like them.

Also, as suggested by Gruen, congress as a whole should vote on which bills go the floor for consideration. Why not a simple plurality?

The concentrations of power held by Pelosi and McConnell are unfair, undemocratic, and out of fashion. Giving the rest of Congress more say in things like its own legislative agenda would be a step in the right direction.

[Click here for an interesting read on the history of power growth within the position of the Speaker the Sen. Majority Leader]

Reasons to Vote for Gillibrand or Warren & Not for Biden

I can appreciate that former Vice-President Joe Biden is willing, so it appears in some respects, to speak his conscience and advocate for unpopular policy positions.

That said, his stance on abortion– upholding the Hyde Amendment (which prohibits use of federal funds for abortions with the exception of rape, incest, and the life of the mother) more specifically– troubles me.

Also, Biden recently “elicited confusion” — as The Daily Beast’s  Emily Shugerman puts it— because, before changing his official stance today, he had voiced his support for abolishing the Hyde Amendment.   

CNN’s Rebecca Buck reported by tweet today

The Biden campaign says he misheard this woman on the ropeline and thought she was referring to the Mexico City rule

(The so called “Mexico City rule,” as Planned Parenthood website explains, “prevents foreign organizations receiving U.S. global health assistance from providing information, referrals, or services for legal abortion or advocating for access to abortion services in their country — even with their own money.”)

I cannot help but wonder, is this really what Biden thought?

While I don’t mean to doubt his honesty or his sharpness of thought, I ask because I’m not sure why he thought she was referring to the “Mexico City rule.”

The ACLU activist, who goes by Nina according to the ACLU tweet sharing the video– did ask Mr. Biden rather directly, “Will you commit to abolishing the Hyde Amendment which hurts poor women and women of color?” and he really had absolutely nothing to say about this policy other than to immediately emphasize how he’s “got a near perfect voting record my entire career” and to add “Right now it can’t be, it can’t stay. Thank you,” and then he walked away.

How aware was Mr. Biden of this specific interaction, and how genuine? To me, it comes across as (though I cannot prove it is) insincere, as if he was sort of mindlessly going through the rhythms of shaking hands, saying hello, and quickly acting on hasty guesses as to what he thinks the people want to hear.

Not that this is a unique problem among politicians and not that Biden should be singled out as the only one guilty of this. Still, between the dynamics of Trump’s electoral success in 2016 for appearing “different,” and Hillary Clinton’s failure in part for seeming like more of the status-quo, one would hope Democrats and sympathetic #NeverTrumpers have learned that politics in the last few years has been changing drastically. Likewise, the kind of politicians we are in need of has been changing.

More disconcerting though than Biden’s inability to appear especially genuine and cognizant of what he’s saying and who he’s saying it to is that his belief in upholding the Hyde Amendment disadvantages women who don’t earn much income.

As the Planned Parenthood website says, “When policymakers deny a woman insurance coverage for abortion, she is either forced to carry the pregnancy to term or pay for care out of her own pocket.”

Biden’s position is thus an affront to efforts made both by women’s advancement in society and efforts to promote the well-being of the economically insecure. Moreover, along with the basic unfairness of the policy, it contradicts conventional Democratic values.

Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren are quite savvy and pro-active on this point.  Of the 20 plus candidates running in the Democratic Presidential primary, along with the 89 year old former Senator from Alaska– Mike Gravel (who is not making a substantial splash in the polls)– these two are the boldest when it comes to their protectiveness of abortion rights, making it clear that they believe it ought to be a matter of law that women be permitted to have abortions should they so choose.

In the process of evaluating Democratic candidates in the midst of this primary, Gillibrand and Warren put their exceptionalism thus far on full display. In contrast, Biden, the mainstream media sweetheart, seems to be either somewhat confused, trying too hard to play politics, or simply fails to demonstrate his awareness of the consequences of his continued support of the Hyde Amendment.

House Democrats Should Begin Impeachment Proceedings Now or They’ll be Hypocrites Pandering to Re-Election Obsession Just Like Republicans

Just shy of a year ago,  President Trump confused many of us with what seemed like dogmatic deference to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was, Trump said, “extremely strong and powerful in his denial” of interference in the American 2016 elections.

Trump said in addition that he didn’t  “see any reason why it would be” Putin or the Russian state in particular that was involved.

At that point Mueller was still investigating. Not that it mattered to me. By then I was amping my calls for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. A common response I received and heard was to wait for the Mueller investigation to conclude.

Now it has.  

And now there is indeed more talk of impeachment, across the aisle (even if Representative Justin Amash is the lone Republican in the bipartisan mix among members of congress currently in office).

And if the House of Representatives did manage to pass articles of impeachment against the president– which Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is doing her best to prevent–  “it would be disposed of very quickly,” Senator Lyndsey Graham told The Hill.  

I cannot help but consider what Washington Post Columnist George Will recently pointed out: as of now, it does seem, that if Trump were impeached it “will not result in Trump’s removal.” He adds, “Today’s congressional Republicans…  would make a Senate impeachment trial a partisan debacle ending in acquittal.”

Washington Post columnist Max Boot puts it another way: while “there is no doubt that [impeachment] is justified legally and morally” there are concerns among many as to whether or not it  “makes sense politically.”   

Ross Garber, a lawyer, professor and legal analyst, in an article for CNN explains why it may be unreasonable or hasty to suppose it won’t ultimately “make sense politically.” He writes:

the speaker [Rep. Nancy Pelosi} has set a novel and unrealistically high burden for simply initiating an  impeachment process. It would also be unfair and improper to begin an impeachment process only if conviction has been conclusively predetermined.The whole point of an impeachment process is to conduct a fair evaluation of the facts and constitutional standard.

Initiating an impeachment process also provides a forum for the public to learn about the relevant facts and the constitutional burdens. Impeachment hearings might also develop new evidence. The speaker’s notion of requiring certainty of conviction before even considering charges is wrongheaded and improper.

Moreover, if we consider Max Boot’s point that impeachment is “justified legally and morally” just how willing are Democrats (and Republicans for that matter) willing to sacrifice what really should be done with re-election concerns?

At what point does one say it is more important to do what is ethical, legal, and just, than what is politically likely to succeed? In other words, what is the proper  principle for defining when it is better to stand for the right thing at the cost of possibly losing than casting the right thing aside in the interest of “winning?”

No doubt, the former Prussian Prime Minister spoke with wisdom and understanding when he said that “politics is the art of the possible” and yet I cannot help but find myself in agreement with Democratic 2020 hopeful Elizabeth Warren who said:

There is no political inconvenience exception to the United States Constitution, If any other human being in this country had done what’s documented in the Mueller report, they’d be arrested and put in jail.

We took an oath not to try and protect Donald Trump, we took an oath to protect and serve the Constitution of the United States of America, and the way we do that is we begin impeachment proceedings now against this president.

Afterall, is it not the outrage of so many Democrats and independents that the Republicans defer to winning strategy over the right thing to do? Is that not why we arein the current political mess we are in? Do the Democrats not realize the political vulnerability they will find themselves mired in when their opponents and critics accuse them of hypocrisy?

2007-2011: Prologue to the Prologue (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment Video Diary Vlog)

… I seek this balance of operating with excellence in life all the while…I don’t want to be pedantic. Certainly not to the point that I stifle any forward motion towards constructiveness.

TRANSCRIPT:

I think one of the most important things I could possibly say at this point in time in my life is that I am so sorry for all of the destructive mistakes I made in my past, whether they hurt someone, or me, or not.

Most of all, I’m sorry for all the times I disrespected or offended my wife, or my mother. And I’m sorry about friendships I may have ruined.

Looking back on my past it seems something must have been deeply wrong with me for I was just so incapable of basic, rational, critical thinking. The perfect illustration of this was that, despite inheriting money from my father when he passed away, and despite having people in my life who loved me so much, I spent all that money, strained all those relationships (I am beyond grateful to have repaired many of those relationships) and I achieved…really…nothing.

A college dropout making at times no money, contributing nothing tangible to society, flaunting my cockiness, my arrogance, my pretentiousness, acting as if I was a philosophical genius despite seriously lacking in basic education, acting as if, with all of my failing relationships, that it must be them that is the problem and not me… these memories, the fact that this was me… particularly prior to about 2017, but especially prior to about 2011, these memories haunt the hell out of me but I don’t want to be marred by them anymore.

I  take just the slightest bit of comfort from a quote in a book my mom bought me when she traveled to Ireland. It’s a book about James Joyce and censorship. James Joyce is cited as writing this to his wife:

Now my darling Nora, I want you to read over and over all I have written to you. Some of it is ugly, obscene and bestial, some of it is pure and holy and spiritual: all of it is myself

How many of us, I wonder, if we look in the figurative mirror…or maybe even a literal mirror, can find something about ourselves which we find horrifying and never want the world to see, hiding in shame?

As much as possible, I do not want to “hide” in shame.

How do I reconcile that with the shame I feel towards so many aspects of my earlier self? How are we to deal with mistakes? Well, we must not let them ruin our lives and interfere with finding happiness or defining what we have become– that which we prefer.

And so…what of memories that we cannot seem to block out which trouble us so?

What of those wretched things?

What of the time I said to my mother “Fuck you” which to this day nauseates me, horrifies me, tortures me?

What of the times when I treated women like extensions of my vanity or people to use to assuage my deep depression, anxiety, paranoia, anger, loneliness, dread, and that whole plethora of troubling mental states?

And how I failed to be “responsible”– to clean this or that, to throw out the garbage when I should have, when I went to some job high or drunk…when I drank too much?

When I insulted anyone!?! When I started an argument just because I wanted to feel like I might win it? I hate my old self so much that sometimes all I can do is crucify him as to show I am no longer him. But if this person was someone else, how would I treat him or her? I’d ask; what’s up now that’s constructive and good?

I’m a bit frustrated this afternoon because I don’t make very much money and because I don’t know exactly what “job” is right for me while I take my time learning how to make money vlogging.

I do realize, if I really want to keep a video journal that is of substantial worth, it is not going to happen over night. I want to do this correctly. In the meantime then, I must find work…I must find a job where the workplace culture consists of people who believe deeply in the ethics of compassion and who believe in enough objectivity as to not fight each other physically or verbally, or with lies, double crossing each other out of terror that he or she won’t make as much money as the rest or that someone else will take his or her job from him or her.

Are my standards too high?

Would I not find at the end of the day that the New York Times does not lay on a pedestal? That people on NBC are not perfect?

The truth is…while I work on this artistic endeavor I am terrified of aiming for the wrong job, for missing something else, for not approaching the search correctly. I am quite capable of doing things wrong. And I don’t want to do this wrong. I was wrong after all, about my aim for graduate school and frankly it hurt and makes me feel like I wasted a lot of time and mental energy…but I also can’t be pedantic.

Isn’t it ironic? We try and uphold this belief that we’re supposed to do things right and when others to wrong, we can be hard on them, chastising them. Not always. Sometimes we watch from the sidelines and are willing to support them in thinking for themselves. But even the supposedly non-judgmental, I would imagine, are critical. In my hippiest of hippie phases, with all my “peace and love” I was still critical and harsh. So….I seek this balance of operating with excellence in life all the while…I don’t want to be pedantic. Certainly not to the point that I stifle any forward motion towards constructiveness.

I despise the clips I am about to share with you here. They horrify me. At times because I try too hard to sound like some kind of “cool” Jim Morrison poet hippie or cold stone realist Charles Bukowski type guy. But should you watch what follows, you will see I try to wrap my mind around thought, around sharing thought, around our economic system, around metaphysics, politics, art, et cetera. It was a lot of “jive talking” but to get to Joyce’s point…it was me.

And if I want to do this video diary thing right…and if I want to really commit to the value of preserving an evolution of my thoughts on things day to say, it seems reasonable for me to share with you a sort of prologue to the prologue, a rough draft of the rough draft, as I experimented with topics of focus, and how I dressed and wore my hair, and how I interacted with the camera, et cetera.

Recently it was suggested to me that the way I write can be perceived as uninviting and that I keep my audience at arms length. I don’t know if I agree. Or maybe I did. And maybe you think I still do. But hey…here I am, at least trying to be honest, and to get closer to you, to be more inviting the best I know how here and now. Moreover, imagine if we never taught our children, or if we never learned, what happened during the Holocaust, or what Americans did to African Americans or American Indians. Just because I am not proud of who I was in these videos doesn’t mean I should erase who I was either.

My name is Sean O’Connor and I thank you for checking out my video diary vlog. I call it “Public Comment” to underscore the value of commenting on one’s most valued thoughts publicly, of soul-sharing. Though I like to think wide and deep in our increasingly specialization -and -niche oriented international society the three most basic subjects my diary tends to focus on focus on include politics, culture and self. Though my approach is philosophical, political and intellectual, I’m also emotional and artistic. I’m a registered Democrat and thus lean liberal but I don’t bind myself to any political party. I’m 33, live in New Jersey with my wife, recently graduated William Paterson University with a BA in Liberal Studies, and currently work as a writing tutor for Mercer County Community College. Please enjoy my videos, subscribe if you want to follow along, and join the conversation in the comments sections.

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On Ayn Rand, Senator Kamala Harris, etc… (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment Video Diary Vlog– Episode #25)

I am utterly in love with the experience of thought. It’s like one can grasp any aspect of the universe one wants to touch and make sense of it, or integrate it with some other aspect….thus…keeping records of thoughts for me helps me pay homage to my love for them. But also, I believe that keeping records of thoughts is akin to tracing pieces of a soul…akin to aiding in the effort of expanding awareness of one another beyond the conventional depths.

TRANSCRIPT:

For the first time in… I actually don’t know how many years—maybe as many as half a decade (?)– I’m taking a look at Ayn Rand’s diaries.

Why?

Since my artistic interest here developed into keeping a video diary, and since I appreciate Ayn Rand’s epistemological clarifications of Aristotle’s laws of identity and non-contradiction, and her talks on objectivity and “Objectivism,” I thought I could at least find some insight or common ground with her, even-though ethics and politics…there Ayn Rand I essentially go our separate ways…Ayn Rand’s being an egoist, and myself…believing in what I call an ethical principle of compassion, which, requires caring about both one’s self, and others– not as an act of self-sacrificial or altruism;(ironically I think it is in one’s self interest to care about helping others, lest the society one lives in should crumble into a rather miserable ethos).

One thing I like about what Ayn Rand writes in the December of 1935 (when she’s only roughly 31….just two years younger than I am now) she is identifying her purposes for what would become The Fountainhead.

This leads me to wonder if I’m doing a good enough job defining my own purposes.

To review and perhaps clarify (?) first and foremost: I am utterly in love with the experience of thought. It’s like one can grasp any aspect of the universe one wants to touch and make sense of it, or integrate it with some other aspect….thus…keeping records of thoughts for me helps me pay homage to my love for them. But also, I believe that keeping records of thoughts is akin to tracing pieces of a soul…akin to aiding in the effort of expanding awareness of one another beyond the conventional depths.

(One reason I love YouTube so much more than Twitter is that someone can post a vlog that is really as long as they feel like, you can gaze into his or her eyes and see the expressions on his or her face as he or she bears his or her soul to you… very little is more precious to me than this.)

There is also my love for preserving time…and essentially traveling time in a way… one reason why I am willing to share with you old videos of myself…despite feeling actually depressed by re-watching them; they bring up awful memories and a lot of shame and humiliation. It is… nonetheless, life preserved…kept…tangible…time travel of sorts again as I was saying.

Anyway, I don’t want to get too caught up with my refrain of purpose though in the context of pointing out what I read from Ayn Rand it seemed appropriate to me.

Whenever I think of Ayn Rand I think also of my Grandfather. When I was…roughly 13 and told him I was an atheist he encouraged me to read The Fountainhead and talked about how Ayn Rand was an interesting atheistic philosopher. He said sometimes that she was his favorite philosopher.

I’ve been waiting for the right time to begin talking to you about Ayn Rand more…a woman who changed my world so fundamentally and so powerfully that I suspect the impact will last most of my life.

To be sure….I can’t tell you everything in a single entry because it’s a complex and extraordinarily long-winded topic…and I think Ayn Rand is complex to discuss because her epistemological ideas are so different than her political ones.

Its like she’s two different people. Objective and then idealistic.

I barely recall the first time I read Ayn Rand…The Fountainhead… I was 23 and a half. Living in Chesterfield, NJ. All I took from the novel… initially was the value–which I already possessed, I thought– of not shying away from one’s individuality, not being afraid to be “different” and challenge [like the novel’s protagonist Howard Roark] the conventions of the masses [Toohey, et al]. That was nothing new to me though… so on a first reading it was essentially Ayn Rand preaching to the choir.

[see 17:41- 20:34 in the video here to get a sense of what I was like at 23 years old in Chesterfield.]

The seocnd reading a year later was quite different. I had just recently turned 25 (or was just about to. I don’t have my dates exact here) and had just thrown out my second novel and quit my brief ustream.tv/YouTube vlogging phase, and was reading Ulysses by James Joyce, which was just too hard at the time for me to read or appreciate.

The problem I had with Joyce was that I would spend hours just looking up words because he went out of his way at times to use words that were obscure and archaic. I can in hindsight appreciate the artistry of that effort. Maybe I’d enjoy his writing more today. But at the time it was not resonating with me. I don’t know what it was I felt I needed to read or expose myself to intellectually then that Joyce just wasn’t offering but I felt myself in a tremendous rut.

I don’t know how many of you know the story but I confided in my wife about the rut and…noting (because she always knows me so well) that I value individualism, she suggested I re-read The Fountainhead and that maybe I’d find some inspiration from it. It felt like I was reading it for the first time. I saw “individualism” in a new light…not as an obvious self-esteem thing but rather…as a philosophical idea deeply in contrast to what she called “collectivism.”

I mean, I hadn’t thought of the philosophical debate before…I hadn’t thought of individualism as a theme to delve into because prior to this…again…the value of individualism… to me… was just a given.

Why did I need to therefore plunge into something which seemed so obvious?

It was also the case, as I recall it now, that, having failed to sell my self-published book, and noting that Ayn Rand managed to write best sellers, perhaps I could learn something from her. How had she managed to be a philosopher who could also make a lot of money?

That was when I decided I needed to delve into her and see if I could figure out her secret.

In exploring the writings about her and things she wrote herself, I was exposed to the notion of money as private property…something you work for that… when taxed… is taken from you… despite your right to that money.

I lacked a nuanced way to contemplate the concept of taxation then but I was thinking for the first time about rights and function of government on the one hand, and delving also into Ayn Rand’s more “esoteric” writings on knowledge, logic, conceptualization and such. I was, for the first time, gaining an understanding of knowledge… as possible! (My prior subjectivst epistemology is a loaded discussion. Let us just say for now I refused to accept any absolute, unchanging sense of “reality.”)

So key aspects of fundamental philosophical consciousness were developing within me directly as a result of exploring and contemplating Ayn Rand. That summer especially, I spent every second I could, when not working at the grocery store, studying my Ayn Rand books. I borrowed someone’s copy of Atlas Shrugged and took that novel on, taking notes and writing responses to ideas and such. I want to cite just a few lines from this novel that remain today central to my thinking :

She writes the axiom:

existence exists….something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of percieving that which exists.

A is A. A thing is itself… the law of identity….a leaf cannoty be a stone at the same time…”

And she defines reason as

the faculty that percieves, idenifies, and integrates the material provided by [one’s] senses

the art of non-contradictory identification [adding that] A contradiction cannot exist

(see pp 929-930)

Say what one will about where Ayn Rand unfortunately deviates from there but… the importance of embracing these fundamental metaphysical and epistemological principles, in my view seems like something that one just can’t overstate. It is the basis of science, journalism and truth…of constructive thought.

Still…oh the irony of how Ayn Rand made this tremendous contribution philosophy yet…alas…beyond that, fails to apply her own ideas of non-contradiction.

As opposed to being an Objectivist I think she is more like an idealist…I think she sees ideologies in there pure forms, and sees them only in their pure forms, and I believe Ayn Rand has this view of humans as sort of naturally prone to extreme rationality and thus…in the case of say…a  libertarian political system, where people are given immense freedom…they abuse it…slavery, exploitation, et cetera.

I’ll have more to say about Ayn Rand in the future but I will stick to bringing her up only as is appropriate to where my thoughts are in a given point in time, as opposed to writing some massive thing about her.

***

Two Friends of mine and I yesterday debated some of the candidates in the Democratic Presidential primary election. We spoke specifically about Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. My friend criticized Kamala Harris for changing her views on prostitution.

At one point, he says, she apparently supported legalization and then flaked out. A New York Times article published…conveniently…just today….reports Sen. Harris as on the record in support of decriminalizing prostitution, citing an undated Facebook interview from The Root.

She did also say at a CNN Town Hall event on April 23, that she is in favor of decriminalizing prostitution. Strangely, Reason magazine characterizes what she says as not decriminalization.

Literally putting words in her mouth and misrepresenting her, Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes:

Harris still thinks paying for sex should be a crime, she just wants to classify all female sex workers as victims so as to avoid arresting them.

Disturbingly…in my opinion…. Brown completely ignores Sen. Harris’s point that pimps trafficking minors should be prosecuted. Sen. Harris did not say “paying for sex should be a crime.” I’m not sure why Brown says this. Harris says

we should not be criminalizing women who are engaged in consensual opportunities for employment

My other friend made a comment saying that Kamala Harris flip-flopped on healthcare. I am not sure where he got this information from but it is inaccurate.

Conservative and Libertarian sites widely reported that Kamla Harris said she wanted to eliminate private health insurance plans and then changed her mind. That’s not what she said though. She listed complaints about how private plans tend to harm people and said “let’s eliminate all that” but she never said “let’s eliminate private health insurance.”

It is really haunting how people put words in one another’s mouths. One more reason why I feel so passionate about keeping this video diary…it seems as if many in the media get away with not really listening and that people seem to believe it regardless of what the record actually is.

The first friend I was telling you about….this fellow also criticized Elizabeth Warren for being so adamant about the need to impeach president Trump. This friend emphasized that a year ago when the two of us were passionately pro impeaching president Trump, Senator Warren was not. He thinks she is merely an opportunist who, now running for president thinking she can score political points, says she wants to see the president impeached.

My friend contrasted her to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, saying Pelosi is is more measured. But I disagree. I think Pelosi may be trying to appear measured but comes across as tepid and a slave to re election anxiety.

(By the way…news just recently broke around 10 am this morning…from The Hill and The New York Times:  that Sen. Warren is calling for making it clear that a president can be indicted. This by the way, makes sense, and I am impressed by Sen. Warren saying what absolutely must be said with respect to where policy must go!)

But back to impeachment…my friend views Pelosi’s cautiousness as politically smart…that by leaving the option open but not committing to it quite, she is rallying support so to speak without alienating independents and moderate or uncertain Democrats who will be turned off by rushed impeachment. But Sen. Warren says over and over again that… essentially… some things matter more than “politics” and I agree!

What my friend fears is that if rushed impeachment hurts Democrats that could lead to the GOP’s taking back power and abolishing Obamacare and other healthcare protections. I do understand feeling protective of healthcare policy but I think if every policy position is excessively based on gauges of public support or constituents giving up their support then what conscience does one have? How safe would our healthcare be in such a world then?

My name is Sean O’Connor and I thank you for checking out my video diary vlog. I call it “Public Comment” to underscore the value of commenting on one’s most valued thoughts publicly, of soul-sharing. Though I like to think wide and deep in our increasingly specialization -and -niche oriented international society the three most basic subjects my diary tends to focus on focus on include politics, culture and self. Though my approach is philosophical, political and intellectual, I’m also emotional and artistic. I’m a registered Democrat and thus lean liberal but I don’t bind myself to any political party. I’m 33, live in New Jersey with my wife, recently graduated William Paterson University with a BA in Liberal Studies, and currently work as a writing tutor for Mercer County Community College. Please enjoy my videos, subscribe if you want to follow along, and join the conversation in the comments sections.

Subscribe at https://www.youtube.com/user/seanoconnoressays/featured
For the full transcript to this vlog, visit publiccomment.blog
Visit me on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/publiccommentblog
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Email me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com

On Certain Aspects of Socializing– (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– Episode #24)

…my point now is with the internet age and such, even though the internet is becoming shall we say, more colonized and even though there are power structures to navigate through, like search engine algorithms and web design sophistication and such…if you can get an internet connection, you can get a Facebook account, and if you can present yourself effectively enough…who knows how much influence you just might have!

TRANSCRIPT:

I still don’t know what the perfect greeting is to begin these videos. Do I want to say “hi,” “hello” or “hey y’all” or “how are you?”

I like to have a reason for everything so there should be a reason why I begin one way as opposed to another. I thought about saying “hola; como estas” or “ciao” but then I thought…well, I don’t want to give anyone the impression that this is not in English and have them leave before the video even starts.

There was a tornado warning last night– roughly between 5:30 and 6:00 pm. Very rare for nj. When I was in high school a tornado hit the school while we were in class.

I don’t remember it so well.

(I’ve managed to block out almost all of my high school memories. I had a dream last night of someone I went to middle school with. He pretended to be nice to me for awhile but then asked if I still hated him as I mentioned in something I had posted online many years ago. I said I was stupid in those days and didn’t mean it. He did not, in this dream, forgive me though and spewed a few insults. The insults didn’t really bother me though. Insults in general really don’t mean much to me other than someone else’s own clear anger, negativity, anxiety and such.

I think when someone is not being constructive, that says all one needs to know— that they’re not being constructive. And by constructive, I mean encouraging– showing someone you care about his or her well-being in some way, shape, or form, wanting to know more about his or her goals, or offering some kind of feedback that can be of help advancing those goals. I mean that kind of thing.)

Anyway, the tornado watch made me mildly nervous so I called my Mom and my wife Ashley to make sure they were okay.

It was exceptionally dark out when we looked through the window at the tutoring center. Then one tutor remarked about how there was no lightning. Then wouldn’t you know it, lightning struck, and I said for believers in God maybe this was a sign that God was listening. I don’t remember it being that dark while raining in a few years but maybe I just haven’t paid attention in a few years.

Last summer I was in a bad way….extreme panic disorder, exhausting panic attack after panic attack, and Esophoria with my eyes so they were constantly bugging out, I was experiencing severe vertigo-like symptoms and at the time wasn’t sure what the hell was wrong with me.

Plus I was extraordinarily worried about what Trump might do to this country and what Russia might do to this country, and I think still….if Trump manages to advance without impeachment or prosecution then the damage has been done to this country… and if Republicans remain Trumpian in their ideology…insult heavy, lying, trying to get away with crimes, conspiring with foreign governments and trying to cheat in our Democractic elections…damage done.

***
Last night I listened to MSNBC’s Brian William’s and his panel discussing Robert Mueller’s statement. Listening to the statement a second time, what stood out was his closing remark. He said:

And I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments, that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American. Thank you. Thank you for being here today.

Brian William’s called it “chilling.”

I agree with that.

Specifically the reason I likewise found it chilling was that Mueller– who in fact says extremely little and perhaps…understates things?– said his that the “multiple, systematic efforts to interfere with our election….deserves the attention of every American.” That’s a powerful assertion coming from him.

Moreover, I think about what it means to say something

deserves the attention of every American.”

Remember all I was saying yesterday about our niche’ society– the idea of people only paying attention to things that are relevant to their niche?

But Mueller essentially says that the attacks on our elections is of universal concern in America– that we should all…care…that it should be a topic of contemplation and discussion among everyone in this country.

I wonder how many or how few things “every American” thinks about— you know…those things that bind us together as oppose to those things which divide us within our niche communities.  

***
So I’m persisting in my desire to improve my interactions with others on social media. Facebook and Instagram seem easier for me at least when it comes to contributing to conversations. On Twitter I feel like I’m just talking to myself. Also, lately I’ve opened Reddit and Tumblr accounts but it occurs to me…I really know nothing about these social media platforms and find them a touch intimidating— like Twitter I find the visual stimulation a bit…almost overstimulating because so much is jumping out at my eyes. So many posts— like a mad swarm of bees or a mad flock of birds and it almost makes me a little dizzy to be honest. Maybe part of that has to do with my esophoria because even with my glasses it is still hard for my eyes to withstand too much visual stimuli. Shopping at the grocery store can still make me ever so slightly dizzy with that feeling of so many people and so many food and drink items jumping at me!

But I realize so many things in life are about time, investment, practice, exploration, experimentation, commitment to learning, et cetera. Maybe we can’t all have the genes that make us the Michael Jordan of basketball per se, but I think most people, if they are willing to put in the time and effort, can excel where they want.

Of course, this belief has been put to the test. I thought that if I did everything that my research told me to do I’d get a teaching assistantship at a graduate school but that did not happen.

On the other hand, when I think more about that, I also think that all the time I spent researching academia and tweaking my creative writing application portfolio and statement of purpose was time lost getting a broader understanding of where the real champions of free expression seem to be, which is I think, largely in social media, or media more broadly. Media is more accessible to anyone willing to learn and produce. Graduate school to me seems like a fraternity or sorority for people who suit the power paradigms which the admissions committees cling to.  I mean…maybe this is partly speculative. I can’t prove exactly what goes on in the minds of admissions committee members but I have read interviews in which they concede that often they can’t even explain why they chose to admit this person over that person and that on a different day they might have admitted other people instead. To me that sounds extremely subjective.

I do by the way appreciate that there is such a thing as skill and that some people are just better than others at particular things and that not everyone can be a graduate school student per se.

But i can’t help but think…the degree of exclusiveness…the tens of thousands of dollars you must borrow for some people to say they think you are worthy of a creative arts type degree…I mean…I am tempted to call that a scam and a scheme in a world where really anyone can dive into the digital world, study, work, practice and prove his or her diligence at very little cost. The piece of paper and the enforcement in my opinion are simply not worth it!  

This makes me think of a YouTube video I was watching by a young lady named Vanessa Lau

Published on Jan 15, 2019:  she has this video where she suggests using Instagram like a micro-blog & uses the principle “know, like & trust” but she also talks about how not worth it it is to say…pay for people to give you social media likes, views, et cetera and she talks about the value of establishing real, and credible, tangible connections with social media engagements.

What I mean then …and I’ve talked about this before…the extremely democratic times we are living in…

…it is somewhat remnant of the mid 19th century…when Lincoln didn’t have to go to law school to be a lawyer or the president, when Walt Whitman didn’t have to get a Creative Writing MFA to become one of America’s greatest and most revolutionary poets, — there was….as I understand the ethos, especially around the 1830’s— the people I think who came of age around that time when Andrew Jackson was president…though he was evil, and committed genocide and is one of the worst presidents we ever had, he did personify, as historians note, a democratic ethos…he appealed to the “every man” or….the newly liberated white man.

Right…just around this time, virtually all white men could finally vote as opposed to just the rich property owners and such.

So my point now is with the internet age and such, even though the internet is becoming shall we say, more colonized and even though there are power structures to navigate through, like search engine algorithms and web design sophistication and such…if you can get an internet connection, you can get a Facebook account, and if you can present yourself effectively enough…who knows how much influence you just might have.

So, in that context, as opposed to jumping the hurdles of $20,000 plus of debt, the opinions of your professors, and the politics of who knows who and does a favor for who and gets who a book deal, et cetera, I mean…if you can cultivate strong social skills..all of that really is just a bunch of bs now…it seems to me…

So speaking of social skills…I really do need to cultivate my own, at least on social media. Socializing has always been difficult for me. I am not the guy who spends nights after work at the bar or “hanging out.” I don’t really “party” or go to the club or whatever it is really social people do.

Now, part of it is due to the fact that I just enjoy working. I love working! I love reading, researching, writing, producing, connecting with people online, exploring the internet universe. So when I was running for political office for example, I was always quite social. At the Tutoring Center, I enjoy staying late with co-workers, and I’m very social at parties. Outside of the job though, I want to do my other “work” as opposed to just “hanging out.” Am I doing something that is advancing my political hopes? Am I producing anything artistic that I believe really captures the soul in a meaningful and evocative way? Am I resonating in a kind of economic, marketing sense?

Well, that will be all for today. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

My name is Sean O’Connor and I thank you for checking out my video diary vlog. I call it “Public Comment” to underscore the value of commenting on one’s most valued thoughts publicly, of soul-sharing. Though I like to think wide and deep in our increasingly specialization -and -niche oriented international society the three most basic subjects my diary tends to focus on focus on include politics, culture and self. Though my approach is philosophical, political and intellectual, I’m also emotional and artistic. I’m a registered Democrat and thus lean liberal but I don’t bind myself to any political party. I’m 33, live in New Jersey with my wife, recently graduated William Paterson University with a BA in Liberal Studies, and currently work as a writing tutor for Mercer County Community College. Please enjoy my videos, subscribe if you want to follow along, and join the conversation in the comments sections.

Subscribe at https://www.youtube.com/user/seanoconnoressays/featured
For the full transcript to this vlog, visit publiccomment.blog
Visit me on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/publiccommentblog
Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/publiccomment.blog/
Tweet me at https://twitter.com/sopubliccomment
Connect with me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/soconnorwritingtutor/
Email me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com

On Mueller Statement, Keeping a Diary, Finding a Niche (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment Video Diary Vlog– Episode #23)

That the president, even if he or she in theory indeed committed a crime, is essentially above the law, and, from Mueller’s point of view, should only face congress—if they choose to examine the president– this is literal unfairness. This is a perfect example of what is wrong with American society today. Special treatment for people who are lucky enough to know how to abuse the system to protect themselves from criminal and abusive and unethical behavior. I try not to get too caught up in my emotions but this angers me.

TRANSCRIPT:

Hello dear audience! I hope your day is going well. Around 11 AM this morning former Special Investigator and FBI Director Bob Mueller spoke.

I got an alert on my cellphone a little bit prior to his brief statement being made and kept the TV on to hear him but the damn “smart” TV my wife bought… there seems to be something wrong with it…specifically the YouTube TV app because it turned off without me realizing.

(YouTube TV works on all our other devices so I blame the TV which we bought at Best Buy which of late has not seemed to me…the “best buy” as there are now so few items in stock at the store –if you enjoy the experiencing of actually shopping at a store, physically, as opposed to only online. I don’t hate online shopping…it saves time where this is a lot to do but I also enjoy actually shopping in a store…moving my feet, grabbing an item to look at it physically… also, two items within the last year which I’ve purchased at Best Buy turned out defective).

Mueller said really quite little but I think the take away was that he made no effort to imply in any way, shape, or form, that he viewed the president as innocent of a crime. Instead he reiterated that Department of Justice policy advises against indicting a sitting president.

Politically, in the context of our current climate, I can understand that decision, however, in a more ideal…ethical…sense…a more just sense…the president should not be so protected politically as he or she is today.

That the president, even if he or she in theory indeed committed a crime, is essentially above the law, and, from Mueller’s point of view, should only face congress—if they choose to examine the president– this is literal unfairness. This is a perfect example of what is wrong with American society today. Special treatment for people who are lucky enough to know how to abuse the system to protect themselves from criminal and abusive and unethical behavior. I try not to get too caught up in my emotions but this angers me.

I always think back to the thousands of dollars I was fined for speeding related traffic violations when I was 23 and how that kept me from driving throughout most of my 20’s…the president however, can in theory, conspire with a foreign enemy and obstruct justice and if congress doesn’t care it’s an open invitation to get away with it.

This is a travesty and I hope…dear audience…that we will not stand for this and that as we conceptualize what the politics of our future ought to be, we include fairness, and true equality under the law as the 14th amendment of the Constitution suggests we should.  

***

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of the diary for just about the last day– my thoughts on the concept have evolved over the years….though I’ve been writing probably since about I was about nine, I have been keeping notebooks (to the best of my memory) since I was 19.

I don’t remember exactly when it became a habit though I know for sure by 19 I often wandered around with notebook in hand, usually writing little poems.

Around 2008 at some point I started a prayer diary.

Here is one of the oldest notebooks I could find..

It’s from the Fall of 2006/Winter of 2007— roughly….mostly from when I lived in South Beach.

I’m tempted to throw it out because I despise who I was and the things I wrote then…but… just because I dislike who I was does not, in my view, justify destroying records of it. (There are some things I am tempted to destroy….especially certain videos…I’ve not decided where I stand on records one should keep versus the ones worth destroying. What would the proper principle be? What do you think? I could use your advice on that.)

When did I first start just taking “notes” as I do now throughout my day? (My good friend Bernard Foyuth also does this. It’s a very good habit in my opinion.)

I experimented with this a little bit in 2009 when I began investing more in the keeping of a diary and would weave between sketching “notes” and writing out thoughts more fully. But I think by 2010 I largely abandoned this diary practice, taking more interest in simply “writing” and at the time working on selling my awful book though I would stick to keeping notes in little notebooks. At some point in the fall of 2010 I did attempt a sort of “public diary” but failed to commit. I was briefly quite interested in tracking every movie I watched, book I read, et cetera.

I’m not sure why I abandoned the interest except to say my mind was very all over the place (it was this way since childhood) and I was very conflicted about what the hell I was doing with myself. I had been seriously convinced when I self published that this book would succeed.  

Damn cockiness. How it can destroy your life.

With my sense of self as a failure as opposed to any sustained sense of self merely needing to conquer adversity I…again…went “all over the place” in mind…anything to distract myself from those bad feelings.

By early winter 2011 I think (?) I grew quite depressed with a failed attempt to sell the book, I had despised a novel I wrote, and attempted a sort of vlog/internet live stream talk show concept and to compile ideas I was interested in talking about. To the best of my ability this was when I began the notebook keeping method as I still more or less maintain today.

My fascination with keeping a video diary ultimately has to do with…as I’ve been saying…interests in preservation of thoughts, and sharing of them, and self expression in general…

One issue that’s been pressing me is not wanting to sacrifice one’s self expression to the confines of what one thinks about how one ought to according to others. But important to think also about how to “sell” one’s self in the sense of knowing your value! Your uniqueness. so here comes questions of finding one’s niche.

A lot of sources insist on having a narrow specialization  / niche to market. But what’s my niche. Not quite a philosophy vlog though I am philosophical… but I’m interested in more .. in thought process and sharing it… so why not “essay”? Why not personal essay? I think… or theorize (?) a real quality “essay” reads formally enough that it’s been significantly revised. This is merely looked over and fixed up for the purpose of enjoying the experience of looking over a thought before sharing. I want something… as I’ve said… raw… but not so raw that it hasn’t been looked over for a basic vetting and some kind of directed structure.

This is what prompted me to really understand my interest in public diary/ video diary as opposed to just thinking about this effort as “vlogging” in general.

What KIND of vlog is this? What is my “niche?”

Must I have one?

If I have one…it begins with my desire to think freely quite “Wide & deep” as opposed to with the narrowness that comes with specialization. Ironically I think that is narrow, specialized & niche in itself so now I am experimenting with the tagline

Thinking deep & wide, providing fresh air for niche specialists

Do you think that sounds pretentious? I’m always paranoid of sounding either stupid or so pedantic as to be pretentious!

But while that describes the essence…the function…or distinctness of what I do here now with this vlog I still needed to conceptualize it ….categorically for a lack of better terms.

I began thinking…..video diary….but with respect to how to market this I began having a kind of semantic paranoia.

DO I call it a “vlog diary” or “diary vlog” or “video diary vlog” or just “video diary?”


I literally spent hours on my smartphone last night googling this really to little avail though pure logic helped me deduce that “video diary” is a perfect description for this kind of vlog. As oppoised to saying “vlog diary?” Actually I’m still not positive but aesthetically I like the expression “video diary vlog” because it’s direct in saying exactly what kind of vlog….as opposed to what kind of diary….but why? I really may want to develop and clarify this more.

Beyond that I have also been thinking of structure here…That to me is an important part of this… doing “thought scans” (that is the term I use… “thought scans” based on my top interests… news/politics, culture (from philosophy to technology) and self ( from deep questions to readings/ viewings and other contemplated experiences. )

I want to make one last comment today.

In my last vlog I lamented the war in Afghanistan.

My Friend Rahinne Ambrose inspired me to read up on Yemen.

Makes me think of how Afghanistan is not the only war/ military entanglement we Americans are involved in.

The gist of what I learned is some of the history. I used my old textbook from the course I took on Modern Middle Eastern Civilization which was helpful, and also a BBC article.

The one thing I didn’t really figure out yet is exactly what the Houthis in North Yemen want that those in South Yemen don’t want…I mean beyond the fight over whether or not Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi who essentially is the president though in exile …and I don’t yet know the more nuanced policy debates in Yemen though I do know there’s a power fight between Iran and Saudi Arabia for influence over the country’s politics and that we– the United States— have been supporting to some extent, Saudi Arabia. Oh, always more to learn.

I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

My name is Sean O’Connor and I thank you for checking out my video diary vlog. I call it “Public Comment” to underscore the value of commenting on one’s most valued thoughts publicly, of soul-sharing. Though I like to think wide and deep in our increasingly specialization -and -niche oriented international society the three most basic subjects my diary tends to focus on focus on include politics, culture and self. Though my approach is philosophical, political and intellectual, I’m also emotional and artistic. I’m a registered Democrat and thus lean liberal but I don’t bind myself to any political party. I’m 33, live in New Jersey with my wife, recently graduated William Paterson University with a BA in Liberal Studies, and currently work as a writing tutor for Mercer County Community College. Please enjoy my videos, subscribe if you want to follow along, and join the conversation in the comments sections.

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On the War in Afghanistan & Ethical, Courteous Marketing (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #22)

Children killed in war. And not just that day. But the day before and throughout the week. Such a thing should not be. I am not a Utopian but…in a world where we can do so many complex things with tiny “Smart” phones, is it not mind boggling that we cannot at least stop children from dying in war?

And are we even winning this war?

TRANSCRIPT:

Happy Memorial Day to y’all. But actually isn’t it inappropriate to say “happy Memorial day” about a day that is in fact…about something inherently sad…reflecting on our extremely courageous ladies and gentlemen who lost their lives as part of their service in our military? A very sad day it is indeed…to acknowledge that there should ever be such a thing as war…that political entities at times go so mad that the only way to address the madness is through fighting.

We are still fighting in Afghanistan- 18 years- the longest war our nation has ever fought, if we exclude our battles with Native Americans. And maybe we shouldn’t.

And how much coverage does the war in Afghanistan get in the news? How many people remember throughout each day that we are still in fact…fighting a war. I want to let that awful word sink in.

War.

Aside from ensuring quality healthcare access to all, and removing President Trump from office from his plethora of crimes and abuses of power and of the office of the presidency, should we not consider finding a proper way to end the war in Afghanistan a political priority? Why does it not get treated as such?

If it does get treated such…I must tell you, I haven’t heard of it and I need you to show me by who.

I want to spend a few minutes talking about this  out of respect to those who have fought there, who have lost their lives there, who have lost their loved ones there, who are without their loved ones today in one respect or another because of this war.

I really think it is important to remind ourselves today our nation remains in this war with insufficient talk of bringing it to an end.

I just found out today while researching a little about updates on the war that the New York Times keeps a “Afghan War Casualty Report.” I need to start reading this more. The report states that:

[on]  May 22 Ghazni Province: two security forces and two civilians killed. Two children and two members of the security forces were killed and 12 people, seven civilians and five members of the security forces, were wounded, when a Humvee laden with explosives was hit by a rocket before reaching its target in Ghazni City. Four suicide attackers inside the Humvee were also killed. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.”

Children. Children killed in war. And not just that day. But the day before and throughout the week. Such a thing should not be. I am not a Utopian but…in a world where we can do so many complex things with tiny “Smart” phones, is it not mind boggling that we cannot at least stop children from dying in war?

And are we even winning this war?

There was a sobering article published last week– May 21– the headline reads: “Attacks on Girls’ Schools on the Rise.”

The article mentions how:

on two successive nights, armed men on motorcycles set fire to two girls’ schools just outside Farah city, the provincial capital. Both were badly damaged and the teaching materials inside were destroyed, ending classes indefinitely for nearly 1,700 girls.

Now, between destroyed school records and traumatized girls, their education has been severely disrupted. While some within the Taliban claim to condemn this, others don’t. And while we are in the midst of so called “peace talks” what does real peace in Afghanistan look like?

I remember Ashley and I watching an episode of Madam Secretary which depicted an agreement whereby the U.S. supported Afghan government accepted a deal with the Taliban– that the Taliban would agree to a Democracy if no women were allowed to have seats in the legislature, raising the fundamental question– is such a compromise an acceptable one? I was enraged by that episode. I understand that international politics is complex and severe in its difficulties but I don’t think democracy as such is enough of a fundamental political principle for a polity to develop itself upon. I think the Weimar Republic is astounding proof of that.

It’s really a strange time for democracy isn’t it?

How can we even pressure the Taliban to surrender to a certain kind of democracy when ours is so divided, being put to the test by President Trump and his gang of obstructionist Republicans who seem hellbent on accountability from the executive branch…who seem to have surrendered their oversight responsibilities now that Hillary Clinton isn’t being investigated for her failures in Benghazi anymore.

Not only does it sadden me to see the war in Afghanistan linger into its 18th year on this memorial day, but that our commander in chief is so fundamentally corrupt…this does not give me so much confidence in what may come of our efforts in Afghanistan.

I do however, have tremendous confidence in our ladies and gentlemen in our military and want to again reiterate my gratitude and I want to say…I can’t wait until we get you all home with your loved ones.

Something else I’ve been to other than lamenting our situation in Afghanistan this memorial day is trying to improve my marketing skills.

Article after article on marketing, YouTube vlog promotion and such insists on emailing people about your vlog.

I find this nerve racking, imagining how busy people might be, and feeling like just one small voice in the wilderness of voices competing for five minutes of your time or my time. But, like snake skin, my insecurities are shedding because I do believe sharing is paramount to worthwhile relationships.

Healthy relationships.

Telling each other “Hey!Here is what I’m up to! And what are you up to? Let’s trade stories and feedback!” I vow to no longer feel ashamed of this mentality. Afterall, attitudes should be encouraging and constructive, not discouraging and destructive, right?

Why did I feel ashamed of sharing my thoughts? As I’ve mentioned before part of it has to do with how I used to view myself as incompetent. But also, sometimes I can get these day mares of people thinking I’m a vain narcissist, thinking “Who the hell does this O’Connor Cat think he is for supposing his little contemplations are worth my time? It’s not like he’s going to make me rich, powerful or healthier. This O’Connor guy is obsessed with himself!” I don’t want to be perceived as obsessed with myself. Because I’m not.

I am obsessed with “thoughts” though and as I mentioned yesterday, preserving them, polishing them, and sharing them which someone’s got to do if we truly value them…these pieces of our “selves,” our souls…so for me to treat this as vain narcissism is…illogical…inaccurate…and so I can begin to feel more confidence about it and indulge more in the fun of it.

Of course, there is such a thing as excessive interest in the self… that would be narcissistic vanity…when you allowing it to cloud your concern for the “world around you,” like president Trump does. (Not sure how it doesn’t occur to him that when literally everything must be about him being the biggest, the greatest, the most, of this or that…I mean…it’s like this obvious con-artist formula BS thing…does he know how obvious his nonsense appears to the world? Or does he and just not care? Which is the more disturbing prospect?

Where did I develop a fear of being a narcissist?

As a kid and teen and young adult I had a dislike for cockiness in general… people who seemed only to think of themselves as infallible (again, president Trump serves as a most unfortunate example) and the only one whose endeavors are worth discussing.

As a kid also I always tried so hard to be “nice.”

One teacher joked of her shock when I talked a lot on class and called me a goody-two-shoe. I got sick at some point of thinking about myself in such terms and worried that “nice guys finish last” (to use that cliche phrase) and I grew aware of the importance of self confidence- self esteem, positive thinking.

As a result I really began forcing myself to believe I could do anything… which led to an inflated ego.

And during my Ayn Rand phase…i guess roughly 2011-2014 or so… I thought I was a genius of philosophy and that I could come up with an answer for anything and alas… I became quite the pathetic elitist.

I remember once refusing to attend a Christmas party because I was not a Christian and didn’t want to corrupt my integrity by associating with people who hold a belief I thought was so “wrong”…I didn’t want my attendance at the party to somehow suggest to them I condoned their religious beliefs. I was elitist, snobbish, pretentious, cocky, anti-social and isolationist.

I also recall the brief time Ashley and I spent in California, when I told someone I think I was going to save the world with my philosophy…I mean…as if I really did know everything about the universe somehow.

And I had this belief that we were all “Goddesses and Gods” with karmic thought powers that were responsible for the co-creation of the physical laws of the universe.

Now I don’t think that way. I still don’t subscribe to a religion but I deeply cherish the freedom to think what one wants as long as one values human life and other people’s’ freedoms to believe as they wish.

So…I really have been reading up as much as possible on marketing and self promotion lately.

Last night I was up till about 12:30 am reading– probably the latest I’ve been up since the winter when I had some time off from work the Tutoring Center. You see…I’m determined to improve my marketing skills!

I want to not just because I want my vlog to be successful, but because I really do care about my political activism as well and want to be effective on that front. Moreover, I think that marketing/self-promotion is just a reality of social life and a crucial element of self-confidence.

Not that our conversations need to be myopically fixated only on our business endeavors so to speak but I suppose one of my themes for today is–and I think this is also a continuation from yesterday’s points I made about actually enjoying commercials and ads– our businesses are so much a part of who we are–the fantasies of our minds in the process of fruition.

To that end though, I’m also determined to become knowledgeable and practiced in theory of ethical and courteous marketing and integration of business into social interactions, whether the marketed item is political, technological, artistic, academic, financial or otherwise.That is to say, I want to present myself in the most palatable but yet honest way I can. I do believe one can be both. I do not believe one has to choose between bluntness and diplomacy.

So what have I learned and employed from my research on Marketing? (Thus far, backlinko.com has been quite informative)

Well, one example would be the alteration of my YouTube layout. It comes pretty widely recommended that we make some of our playlists horizontal and others vertical as to stand out from those YouTube channels where the creator is a little less invested. I also learned to write 1-3 sentence introductions in my video summaries followed by  descriptions of my channel. Something else I read said that thumbnail text should be blue, green, orange, or yellow. So I’ve also been making new thumbnail texts to that end.

Something is going right because now when I search “vlog” and “public comment” some of my videos are showing up on the top 10 search listings.


The first time I ever found my own work on top any list of any online search. This is what I found when I searched the keyword “vlog.” Screenshot taken 5/27/19
This is what I found when I searched the keyword “public comment.” Screenshot taken 5/27/19

This is really quite shocking and unbelievable to me honestly as I feel I’ve failed so much in life, from self publishing a book to my runs for political office to my pursuit of a teaching assistantship. Anyway..that doesn’t even matter anymore. I feel so free from all of that. So beyond it…so purely and solely interested merely in….talking to you.

It really is amazing how permitting myself freedom of thought is revolutionizing my sense of self. I just can’t begin to tell you. Lately I feel so…cleaned up…so remade…so new…so fresh…so reborn…

Part of it, I imagine, no doubt, is my anti-anxiety medication but I mean…more so in the long term because even when the medication first kicked in, even as my doctors increased the dosage…this feeling I’ve had…really since I began this vlog…it’s one of the most exceptional feelings I ever had. I think only the feeling of being with my wife brings out of me a better and more purifying, clean kind of feeling.

I suppose another element is no longer having the burden of homework assignments. My mind has finally been freed up do contemplate more extensively based on its own interests as opposed to being compelled to do this and that and that and this that way and this way for professors. Not that that was a bad thing. It made me who I am now and taught me how to think critically and work harder than I ever had before. Still…it’s nice to have more time to think on my own without worrying about some assignment due in three hours. Also…to be free of whether or not some graduate school program is going to like me…I was really fixated on that. I forget if I mentioned that to you in an earlier video.

But I wasted a lot of time….a lot of mental energy, having anxiety attacks over whether or not I’d amount to something by getting a teaching assistantship at a graduate school. Now…while I have nothing but adoration for the concept of academia…I’m not sure that’s where the most constructive community is anymore. I think social media is redefining our concepts of constructive community building.

Public Comment is a personal journal vlog where I share my free thoughts on politics, culture, and self.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at 
https://twitter.com/sopubliccomment 

On the Opposite of a Tweet & a Woman President (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment Video Diary vlog– episode #20)

Yesterday I pledged to vote for a female candidate in the 2020 Democratic Party Presidential Primary and this generated a lot of discussion and debate on Facebook so I want to delve into this deeper.

TRANSCRIPT:

“G’Day folks! Today there are two things I want to discuss with you.

First, I want to clarify my purpose for making these vlogs.

You see, YouTube recommends I work on a trailer to make this channel more enticing so you and so many other people will want to subscribe. Like a college student who wants to get a 100 percent on his senior capstone thesis, I’m trying to adhere to every bit of seemingly reasonable advice. It comes highly suggested that I explain to you my purpose, that I describe my content, the type of videos I produce, and what you can expect to get out of my channel.

Well, this is a video diary. What does one get out of watching such a thing?

In theory, greater knowledge of humanity, “the human condition,” “the human experience” as artists, philosophers and readers might say (?)… greater knowledge of….a RECORD OF what people, in their deepest depths, appear to be like.

The way I look at it…someone has got to do the record keeping of the so called soul searching, of the individual’s streaming consciousness, or thoughts, or mind… whatever you might want to call that phenomena which is that “inner life of the self.”

I figure it is logical for me to do this because I’m in love with uninhibited personal thoughts that seek clarity of meaning in life because I believe it leads to greater universal understanding, thus facilitating a deepening empathy among us.

Like my favorite essayist Michel de Montaigne— and I’m gonna quote the back of my book collection of his essays here:

he discussed subjects as diverse as war-horses and cannibals, poetry and politics, sex and religion, love and friendship, ecstasy and experience. But above all, Montaigne studied himself as a way of drawing out his own inner nature and that of men and women generally.

My goal is to follow in his footsteps, and explore humanity’s inner nature within the medium of the vlog which I believe is a most revolutionary form of self expression for its intense intimacy. Video hasn’t been around much longer than a somewhat over a century compared to other art mediums, and vlogging in particular is radically new.

I’d like these vlogs also to reflect…somehow…a spirit of unconventionality married to logic (as I think all good innovation is)–…. And since the medium of the vlog really still is in its early, early infancy, I think now is a perfect time to try it–I want do talk to you in a way that is (and forgive me for the brief oncoming  adjective storm here)…in a way that is philosophical yet artistic, theoretical yet practical, intellectual yet emotionally open, to utter the opposite of a tweet– I mean the opposite of fast paced, short, off the cuff thoughts on this and that. Instead, I strive for depth and the fulfillment of an aspiration I’ve clung to since I was 18 (I’m 33 now) which has been to do contribute to something culturally exciting, revolutionary and which makes the world a better place.

Some people that come to my mind: Like Michel de Montaigne, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Nietzsche, Van Gogh, Helen Keller, Dostoevsky, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Martin Luther King Jr., Marlon Brando, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Ariana Huffington, Mark Zuckerberg, President Obama— they’re not the only ones but I hope they might bring to your mind a sense of what I aspire to.

Yesterday I pledged to vote for a female candidate in the 2020 Democratic Party Presidential Primary and this generated a lot of discussion and debate on Facebook so I want to delve into this deeper. (I do want to also point out that I am not alone in this point of view, though I did think maybe I was as I hadn’t stolen this or adopted this opinion from anyone on tv or in the media. But I did discover this morning an article from VOX, written by Matthew Yglesias also calling for us all to vote for a woman president.

My friend William Scott Smith from West Texas deeply disagrees with me here and remarked that I “blame gender” in general for the fact that a woman has never been president of the United States.

To be clear, I do not and never said I do “blame gender.”

I do blame misogyny and sexism though.

Sadly, anti-woman thinking is all around us which is perhaps most evident in the anti-abortion laws emerging, especially the one in Alabama which outlaws abortion entirely, even when the woman is raped, unless the procedure will save her life. (It is ultimately a woman’s body, and I do think nature makes it therefore, quite clear that the woman should be in charge of what goes on with respect to what she does about her pregnancy. One could ask, “what about the body of a fetus, and what about when it can live outside the womb?” which I do think is a fair question however my answer to this, to the best of my thinking is that you have to ask, is a woman a slave to that which is unborn inside her and until outside of her, subject to her body?

Metaphysically speaking, the answer seems to speak for itself. I wonder then if it might be fair to suggest that constitutionally protected, defined person-hood should begin at birth. I would think, if we are contemplating from the point of view of moral theories, that the Natural Rights theory, properly applied would suggest as much.)

William Scott Smith also says I am “voting for a woman because she is a woman” which he adds is “identity politics.” Maybe it is identity politics but that doesn’t prove it’s illogical or destructive politics. When someone expresses something with greater clarity than I can I like to cite that person, so I’m gonna cite Washington Post columnist Helaine Olen here. She asks:

[what about] a form [of identity politics] that goes mostly unrecognized and unacknowledged. A minority with power and money — white men, mostly wealthy, often religious or pretending to be so — [which] has controlled societal and political norms so effectively that when those left outside simply insist on their rights, they are viewed as angry, resentful, demanding and divisive. When ‘identity politics’ is practiced in such a way that it allows a small group to access and maintain power, it gets labeled as ‘norms’ and treated as simply the way the world works.’

To that I say “amen!”

Part of understanding the well-being of the individual must include the well-being of the individuals within the wider society. In a society that fails to value inclusiveness and diversity sufficiently there is prejudice, bigotry, racism, sexism, classism, exploitation, elitism– unhealthy social trends run amok.

And in the interest of improving society and thus…to speak figuratively here…cleaning up and purifying the air on this earth which we ALL breathe,  we do need to ask, what actions can we take to bring more inclusiveness and diversity to our society, to our global community.

Does that mean I am voting for a woman simply because she is a woman?

No.

I am voting for a woman because there are so many candidates, men and women, who are in my estimation, equally qualified, (among the men for example, I think Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro are qualified) that it complicates the usual criteria and that we thus need to look to other criteria for how we elect a president and how we understand what it means to elect a president as well as what we understand the role of the president to be …(versus the question also of what the presidency ought to be. For example, I do not think a president ought to have as much power as the president has come to possess. Foreign Affairs and Washington Post have both written about how the excessive power of the president and the weakness of the congress– how this imbalance has harmed America on various fronts…)

But based on where we are now, as Matthew Iglesias puts it:

“One of the important ways electing a woman to the presidency would matter is by providing a role model. Role models make a large, quantifiable difference in life. Detailed empirical studies by the Equality of Opportunity Project show that girls who grow up in places where there are an unusually large number of woman inventors are unusually likely to themselves grow up to become inventors. Similarly, Amelia Showalter’s research shows that when women get elected to statewide office, more women start running for state legislature.”

(With respect to role modeling and the power of images in media I would also refer you to research I cited in my essay on Native AMerican writer elissa Washuta and her approach to bringing down stereotyping)

The bottom line is that in a pool of so many talented people of different demographic sorts, when the leadership position in this country has for so long exluded those qualified demographic sorts, it is fair to say it is time for us to open that leadership position up to those who for so long have been denied it.

I am going to leave it there for today and want to thank you for your time. Please let me know what you think in the comments below and I hope you subscribe to my channel!

Public Comment is a personal journal vlog where I share my free thoughts on politics, culture, and self.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at 
https://twitter.com/sopubliccomment 


On Sexism Against Women (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #19)

...out of six women candidates, to suggest that they’re all uniquely unqualified in contrast the remaining 18 men would be highly suggestive of an appearance of a prevailing misogynistic or sexist impulse in our politics.

I see no reason why, after over two centuries of male leadership in the executive branch, at a time when a quarter of the candidates are female, a woman should be denied the presidency at this point. I do believe there is a role for inclusiveness in things…when there is a disproportionate amount of people excluded from something I think we need to ask how there can be more inclusion.

TRANSCRIPT:

It delights me to chat with you today folks. (By the way, I’m searching for the right greeting. I’m sick of “greetings ladies and gentlemen!” because it assumes everyone watching is a lady or a gentleman” ((not that I’m assuming impolite society is watching here but I do strive for as much accuracy and objectivity and as few assumptions as possible)) and “greetings” as I’ve said in videos for over a decade now just sounds too…generic…to me. Greetings?What kind of greetings? Right?)

Anyway…today I’ll be chatting with you exclusively about women.

Evidence suggests that my vlogs–almost entirely… fail to interest the female sex, compared to men and this troubles me. Last night before bed I was contemplating this issue, worrying, thinking, wow, what the hell is wrong with me? How could I so unilaterally repel– virtually– an entire sex?

You see, I use an application called “Tube Buddy” to track how many or how few people watch my YouTube vlogs. For example, Tube Buddy tells me that 60.7 percent of my viewers are between the ages of 25-34. 68.4 percent of my audience watches these vlogs on a desktop computer.

Now, when it comes to male versus female viewership, 94 percent of my audience, according to Tube Buddy is male.

I find this unacceptable on my part and this means I do need to seriously evaluate possible causes. Forgive me if something seemingly, and implicitly sexist ever came out of my mouth for I seek to live as decent person.  

My friend from William Paterson University, Rahinne Ambrose, suggests I ask you directly- what issues are important to you? So I’m asking you: gals out there…lasses (i love the words “lad” and “lass) what issues are important to you? And I suppose another thing I’d like to know– do you have any thoughts on why men might not prioritize these issues as much as you do?

In the meantime, I’m an extremely impatient person so I wanted to start researching this issue of matters that women care about in 2019 to gain a better understanding now.

Three particular articles struck me most this morning.

The first is an article from ThoughtCo which highlighted sexism and gender bias as a top issue on the female mind these days.

In the context of this as a video-diary vlog of a white, straight, heterosexual male, I wonder, what might be the most appropriate and meaningful way for me to appreciate this particular concern of sexism and gender bias?

I suppose taking the time to think and talk about it would be a good start.

I feel especially sensitive to this issue of sexism and gender bias.

I lived for a time under the roof of a single mother. My mother left my father when I was three. So that would have been around 1990. I remember the day we “left.”

My mother picked me up from preschool and said we were moving. I said “is Dad coming?” and she said “no.” Strange though it may seem, I didn’t appear on the surface worry about my father not moving with us. I had not seen him so much up to that point in my life. Or if I did, I don’t have any memories except for one…him sticking his dirty, hairy feet in the bath tub when my little brother and I were taking a bath. To the best of my knowledge my father worked long days and come home late and wasn’t so much a part of my earliest upbringing.

I don’t really know the full details of why the marriage between my mother and father ended. But to bring this story back to the topic of sexism and gender bias I actually, just upon thinking about this, note some things.

My mother had custody of my little brother and I. Yes, every other weekend I saw my father and that was okay, but what does that signify about my father’s view of fatherhood, man’s role in raising children, in contrast to the woman’s?

I do realize my mother was bound to be the one who had custody over us…but that to me is a major point for consideration. My mother took responsibility for raising my brother and I…she did so in a manner that was quite gung-ho.

What did this mean to my father?

To what extent (if it all) and how (if it all) might he have grappled with this?

In some respects his apparent negligence really seems without excuse.

My father was a psychologist who specialized in couples counseling. To say he couldn’t have wrapped his mind…intellectually– around a father’s responsibility to his children, not just as a father to his children, but as a partner in parenting with the woman he had children with, as someone with concern about her well-being in the situation, quite regardless of their romantic relationship …I just think that seems like an illogical supposition.

My father liked, also, to cling to how awful his father was.

(That is one thing he opened up to me about quite vividly in our final years together).

The story goes, as I know it, that my father’s dad, according to my father, only married his mother because he wanted to know he could have her…to have sex with her and make her his wife and that after this he no longer was interested in marriage or family life and so he went to fight in World War II.

Upon returning he started a new family with a new wife, had a daughter and acted for many years as if he was not my father’s dad.

I am told my father once went to visit him at the insurance agency where he worked for decades and when my father introduced himself to his father’s secretary asking to see him the secretary said something to the effect of: “I’ve known your father for so many years and he never once said anything about having a son,” and this is something my father pointed to as traumatizing for him.

I don’t doubt that but still don’t believe this excuses his lack of emphatic parental responsibility and respect for the undue burden this put on my mother, who for a time, went to night school, while working a job…meanwhile, how very comfortably my father lived with his substantial income as a private psychologist. I don;t claim to know the economic/ fiduciary details of talks and agreements or lack there of or issues between my mother and father but I have no evidence that he went out of his way to help my mother out in any truly substantive way beyond child support money which was often late.

What exactly explains my father’s treatment of my mother and his fatherhood role?

He was perhaps not so different in certain respects from his father because he can’t even claim to have some kind of intellectual disinterest in women considering the fact that one of his life passions was photographing nude women and speaking at length of his views on the justification of sexual liberation, pornography, and things of that sort.

It almost seems…but I won’t say I can quite claim…but still it seems…as though my father actually objectified women and viewed them mostly as sex objects, prioritizing his nudist photography and stock pile of pornography over a substantive relationship with a woman.

Of course…things are never that simple.

Philosophical, psychological and contextual questions would need to be addressed.

By that I mean….what was the source of my father’s view of women?

I think a Nietzschean examination would be interesting. One of Nietzsche’s most interesting points…to me… is his Will To Power idea…his idea that people cling to that which they believe brings them so much power. A possible suggestion then, from this point of view, might be that my father viewed…sexual prowess or sexual indulgence as more empowering than husband life and fatherhood?

That seems still like an over simplification though.

And meanwhile, maybe I’m talking too much about him right now and not enough about my amazing mother.

He had the experience of retreating from the demands of day to day parenting and all the stress and complexities, from the psychological, to the economic to the practical, et cetera, that my mother did not have.

I cannot help but think of that line by Jason Isbell

all the years I took from her just by being born.

What if it could have been the other way around? If my mother could have explored something in life (for my father it was psychology, and sex…it would seem) that deeply interested her beyond parenting, and intense economic concern (not that we were poor so much as we grew up mindful that we were not rich and that every dollar counted. In contrast, my father often didn’t hesitate to hand me a fifty dollar bill and say “get outta here.”)  

I’m not suggesting my mother would have wanted it another way, or not significantly another way.

I understand that being a mother is something she was interested in.

But how could her life have been better if she had been treated better by my father.

By the way…I am not saying that has to mean I wish they stayed together. I love my stepfather and every way I imagine the possibilities I see him as the best thing in the world for her. My stepfather treats my mother right– he openly speaks about his interest in her well-being.

Sadly, I do not recall my father ever saying “how is your mother?” Maybe he did and I just forget but clearly then he never went out of his way in such a fashion that it burned in memory.

I think my father may have indeed been a sexist.

 He failed at marriage three times. Now I have no right whatsoever to delve into the details behind precisely how those marriages ultimately failed but I can tell you I saw more of an indication from my father that women served a purpose of sexual thrills than deep relationships that took interest in the wider well-being of the women he was most intimate with…well at least in the case of my mother.  

I don’t begrudge my father’s deep interest in sexuality, or his deep interest in sexual connections with women. That seems to me, unfair, over simplifying things, even to a point of mistreating women…because women are sexual just as men are and those aspects of life are important aspects of life…but did it take precedence over my father’s view of the ramifications of a society where men and women did not and still do not often quite fare the same? Did my father feel profound concern for my mother’s economic well-being? Did he feel concern about how his negligence in the field of parenting negatively impacted my mother and how deeply unfair and harmful it was?

Another article I came across that struck me is an article published by the American Psychological Association. In this article I read in the introduction that

a large number of cross-sectional, longitudinal, and cohort-sequential studies have provided evidence that across cohorts, samples, and measures […] men tend to have higher self esteem than women

This is another troubling finding about our society today and I believe in fact that the topic of self-esteem stretches beyond sex and/or gender though for the remainder of my time with you, I will confine this to the element of this topic concerning women.

While I do not believe politics ever serves as a panacea, I do believe policies can have tremendous cultural impacts.

In light of this, I believe, with the 2020 Democratic primary election coming up we are in a unique position to bring special attention to women’s issues.

6 of the 24 candidates for president in the Democratic primary election are women. Now….I’m very poor at math but I know 6 x 4= 24 which means one fourth, one quarter of the candidates are female.

In my thinking….out of six women candidates, to suggest that they’re all uniquely unqualified in contrast the remaining 18 men would be highly suggestive of an appearance of a prevailing misogynistic or sexist impulse in our politics.

I see no reason why, after over two centuries of male leadership in the executive branch, at a time when a quarter of the candidates are female, a woman should be denied the presidency at this point. I do believe there is a role for inclusiveness in things…when there is a disproportionate amount of people excluded from something I think we need to ask how there can be more inclusion.

We have the means for women to become much more inclusive in American politics than ever before in this election. I believe this is something we ought to do. And I believe this could pay major dividends in elevating the self esteem not just of women but all oppressed groups.

I believe this would be taking a lesson from winning corporate practices in Europe. As the economist reports in the February 17, 2018 article “Ten years on from Norway’s quota for women on corporate boards:”

In 2008 Norway obliged listed companies to reserve at least 40% of their director seats for women on pain of dissolution. In the following five years more than a dozen countries set similar quotas at 30% to 40%. In Belgium, France and Italy, too, firms that fail to comply can be fined, dissolved or banned from paying existing directors.

Following this notion of a quota, of ensuring inclusiveness, I believe pledging to support a female candidate, when so many women are running, is a good move.

Public Comment is a personal journal vlog where I share my free thoughts on politics, culture, and self.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at 
https://twitter.com/sopubliccomment 

On my Atheism Phase, “Universally Speaking,” As Anthony Kiedis Puts It (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #18)

I dismiss entirely a notion I believe is in part upheld based on postmodern type grounds that confine people to little groups of their own values which have nothing to do with groups beyond theirs… (even if so called intellectuals want to think themselves the only people who can intellectualize in a meaningful way)– I mean…this is not directed to so called “intellectuals” though I admit there are grounds to describe my tone as “intellectual” or “esoteric”

TRANSCRIPT:

Hey ‘y’all! (Yes, yes, my fondness of the expression “‘y’all,” despite my coastal, NJ/NY Metropolitan intellectual “Yankee” ((?)) upbringing and cultural practices ((?)) manners of putting things ((?)) continues to grow)

I understand, based on viewer feedback that I might want to try not speaking so slow. Why do I do it? Can I blame my poetry phases? My acting phases? I don’t know. I do like the weight of a word.

Anyway, I want to ask you: do you identify with any particular religion?

I mean, when “push comes to shove” as they say (Yes, I love to say “as they say” and I love those little sayings “they” say— of course…who is they? Some mysterious crowd of people in our minds?) …

I mean, when faced with your sense of mortality or your contemplations on the subject of life in a general way…you know…that very wide angled panoramic view of our births, our childhoods, teenage years, young adulthood (ah…channeling Walt Whitman’s genius poem “Eidolons” here?) the intense desire for sex and whether or not you believe in the depth of romantic relationships, and whether or not you believe in monogamy, marriage, parenthood, sense of purpose, sense of meaning….the meaning of the work you do and the money you make, spend, save, how much you do or do not care about how what you do impacts your health, what you make of social life, whether you want friends, what those friendships are supposed to be like in your mind, how you handle disagreements, when you think about what care about, what some of us might refer to as your “values” or “priorities” or “interests”– when you feel sad and reflect…do you in that context call yourself an Atheist, a Muslim, a Jew, a Christian, a Sikh, a Buddhist? (Just to name a few “religions” or “ideological identities” of the many possibilities).

To what extend have you, within the greatest depths of your convictions, justified, on the granular level, those kinds of religious, ideological, philosophical beliefs you have?

I remember the first ideological/philosophical/religious thought I ever had.

Now, I don’t know where I first heard of the concept of a “God” but I remember at roughly three years old, I asked my grandmother if God was a boy or a girl and my grandma said: “God is whatever you want it to be.”

That is one of the earliest memories I have in general and perhaps closest to the vertabtim of any of my early childhood memories.

I don’t know when it occurred to me that my father’s side of the family was theoretically “Christian” and my mother’s “Jewish,” but I remember when a dear friend of mine asked me what my religion was. I was not older than 13 when that happened and first I joked and said I was Jatholic because all I knew was that there was contradictory religions professed in my complex family with mother, father, stepfather and stepmother all possessing very unique ideological notions.

My dear friend pressed me to really think about what in fact I identified with regarding religion.

I got to thinking about “Santa Clause” which I knew was a lie by then (or a fun, make-believe idea perhaps we want to call it?)

I got to thinking about scientific concepts such as empiricism (terribly ironic too because I failed Math class and didn’t care at all about science…yet science reined supreme in my mind regardless of my interest in it)

No. I did not know the word “empiricism” or if I did, I don’t remember knowing  or using it then. But it did appear to me…whatever God could theoretically be, it is beyond empirical reach…and absent any legitimate scientific proof as far as I could understand, atheism seemed a perfectly fair mentality to me.

And I thought….the God idea is exceptionally comforting…and I thought…interesting that someone would claim to be the son of a God with no proof and people just believe it…and just believe these heaven and hell ideas. And they have the pretentiousness to tell you that God is something you just have to be primed to “feel” and have “faith” in and if you can’t there is something wrong with you.

I became a full fledged atheist and yet my best friend at the time was what he called a “Seventh Day Adventist Christian.”

Our deepening ideological differences, as opposed to creating some kind of crack in our friendship, appeared to give it tremendous strength. I cannot begin to tell you how many countless hours this individual and I spent debating, from every angle we could, the question of why one should or should not believe a God exists.

And moreover, how should people regard a text such as the Bible?

And…what would the implications of these things be? For example, from certain Seventh Day Adventist Christian perspectives I was exposed to, various aspects of sexuality were regarded as sin.

No sex before marriage.

No masturbating.

No lust.

That always troubled me as much as the notion of a God. I thought the notion that a person should not masturbate or explore his or her sexuality was one of the most absurd notions one could possibly come up with.

And there was music many of these kinds of Christians were not supposed to listen to, and ideas of women as subservient that some of these Christians possessed, and a perplexing fixation on Republican politicians…

Other questions that were raised… from the perspective of many who believe in God– I came to learn from this friend of mine-. For example: since God absolutely existed, they thought, truth in general was an absolute thing.

So this was all an introduction for me to the questions of “philosophy” and ethics.

I wonder…if it were not for this brilliant person…this deep, intellectual, philosophical thinker I was so lucky to meet, whether I would have delved so deeply into those topics so many people I know refer to as intellectual or philosophical.

Beyond the scope of the atheism versus Christianity debate I had with this person and then others as I began to develop my own beliefs….and whatever questions arose in this realm…I never thought about concepts such as “philosophy” or “intellectualism.”

I didn’t even…as a teenager, know the meaning of “philosophy” and ironic as this may seem, anyone who, at that time, might have thought themselves “intellectual” was probably somehow — I don’t know how I arrived at this conclusion– detached from life in a more visceral sense.

Because I was an “artist.”

I wasn’t troubled by (or in fact in possession of the confidence to contemplate) notions some might consider “esoteric.”

I want to digress briefly on this concept of the esotertic here.

I am very opposed to a real niche type approach to communication—that is to say, I try to the best of my ability to speak to you in as universal a way…as universal a perspective as I can.

And what do I mean by that? By Universal?

I mean…I don’t view myself as talking exclusively to “intellectuals”  or “artists” or “academics” or “YouTubers” or “Facebookers” or “millennials” or my contemporaries…I mean…for all we know…someway and somehow, this video file will reach an alien life form that can somehow….decipher it.

My point is this…I dismiss entirely a notion I believe is in part upheld based on postmodern type grounds that confine people to little groups of their own values which have nothing to do with groups beyond theirs… (even if so called intellectuals want to think themselves the only people who can intellectualize in a meaningful way)– I mean…this is not directed to so called “intellectuals” though I admit there are grounds to describe my tone as “intellectual” or “esoteric”

((Oh, that reminds me of another “conviction” I had growing up as a kid and a teenager…I didn’t believe in cliques….didn’t want to belong to, confine myself to, or identify with a clique…I didn’t want to be a “jock” or a “nerd:” or a “dork” or a “geek” or a “stoner” or a “goth” or a “punk” or an “emo” or a “band geek” or a “theater geek” or a “bad kid” or any type of group-oriented identifying thing… (though naturally I was an atheist in a purely objective and descriptive sense).

This actually contributed to chronic loneliness as everyone around me seemed to gravitate towards a particular crowd and even when I did gravitate this way or that way I never felt bound to or married to my gravitation.

Getting back to my point here… I’m not targeting anyone IN PARTICULAR here.

What’s that line by Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chilly Peppers?

“Universally Speaking I win in the long run”

And this chain of particular thoughts is to be continued because it’s complex and who doesn’t love a good “to be continued?”

LOL as I love to say. Talk to you tomorrow


Public Comment is a personal journal vlog where I share my free thoughts on politics, culture, and self.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at 
https://twitter.com/sopubliccomment 

A Better World? Who’s Gonna Care? (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #17)

…suddenly it occurred to you that in fact, if you look at it from this other perspective, you could make more money doing x, reach more people doing y, keep your soul doing z, et cetera…

TRANSCRIPT:

To what can I attribute the confusion over the decades plaguing me with respect to matters of career?

So many things happen to interest me.

In the broadest sense, I suppose we could perhaps characterize my condition as culture transfixion syndrome? (My father– who was a psychologist– actually hypothesized sometimes that I suffered from ADD. Ironically now I’m the opposite of the ADD type– I enjoy hyper focus to the point that the slightest distraction irritates me like nails on a chalkboard– even innocent things like a text message alert from my cellphone while I’m reading and taking notes on the news.)

Anyway, my point is that in my utter fascination with life and culture, naturally–I hope you’d grant– I like envisioning cultural improvements: better movies, better politics, better literature, better philosophical principles. How does one pick from that lot when one wants, in the broadest sense, to conceptualize what it might mean to help and do one’s part in advancing us towards “a better world?”

Yes, since I was a kid I’ve had lofty ambitions though in those days perhaps those ambitions were… more egotistical?

Marred by my sense of utter and complete incompetence, I suppose the perfect elixir was the dream that one day I might be the opposite.

You know…day in and day out envying like mad hell the people you think look so much better than you, who are so much smarter than you, who come from so much more money than you— of course you might, in this context, dream of something that feels better. I think even when I used to want to be president of the United States— at least the first time I believed I wanted to do that– in part I just wanted to believe I really could achieve it! When you have the bizarre notion that everyone around you is just inherently better than you…if you have a certain kind of defense mechanism you want to think you could be as good…maybe even sometimes you want to think…I could be better…to feel like you are better…or best! Have you ever “been there and done that?” Wished for the feeling of true excellence? The kind that wins you praise, money, sense of power?

But at some point– I can’t say exactly when– I began to change and care more about…just wanting to prove to myself I could acquire and develop a basic sense of competence and critical thinking ability.

One reason I’ve always been so shy is because I knew at least that I didn’t really know how to think about things critically– how to process, for example, the latest news that…oh…for example…if we were to apply this to today’s news…that Google said to hell with Huawei! And what that means..

. (I say, Go Google Go! Right on! God bless China and all but I’m not for enriching those who imprison critics and Uighur Muslims just for being critics and Uighur Muslims. And I think Google demonstrates some sense of integrity– even if in theory it is good PR to suspend business with Huawei and the protest isn’t entirely genuine– Google didn’t HAVE to make any kind of stand. There’s plenty I don’t know about Google but I know I respect that they’re not afraid to make Huawei think!)

Anyway, my point is that just a few years ago I would not have had the courage to even contemplate technological news because I lacked the confidence.

And so now…to get…psychological with you…it would seem…my sense of ambition is transforming…focusing less on maybe…subconscious (?) needs to believe I can grow more valuable than I believed I was — and now…more on …very…direct…interests.

Is “direct” the right word?

I’m interested in thought in a very cut and dry sense…personal thoughts on navigating through life, interpreting and processing the surrounding culture, and acting ethically, thinking logically, talking “straight” as some may put it…straight as in straight forward, not heterosexual…though I am heterosexual but I have nothing but love and support for the LGBTQ movement, sexual liberation, and all of that.

I should tell you, the career aspiration confusion though…it was more complicated than that.

(Hey…if you want to know the value of an English degree or a few literature courses…it’s understanding in a visceral way, beyond the psychology “research” papers, the complexity of human nature…I think we are rather rarely so 1, 2, 3, or 4 etc dimensional.)

Even when I’ve been at my most belligerent and condescending, would you believe me if I insisted to you that I had good intentions?

Really, even if my thinking has suffered severely from extreme irrationality and subjectivity, I’ve usually had good intentions and usually have desired deeply to do my part in making this a “better world.” Even in my acting days, as a young teenager…for example, I played an Auschwitz survivor, and wrote the one-man- movie about him, and the goal was to raise awareness about the importance of never forgetting the Holocaust.

I also played a cocaine addict. I didn’t write that movie but took the role seriously because I believed in raising drug addiction awareness.

Even in my love for the Bee Gees by the way…their music is about romantic love…as opposed to anger, hatred, utter depression and despondency…

So…you get these lofty hopes for the world in your mind and you wonder—well I don’t know if you do…but I have…I wondered…what is the best way for me to make this a better world based on my understanding of what a better world might be!?!

And the little things can mess it up. For example, at times I’ve not wanted to be a poet SIMPLY because I know very few people care about poetry and therefore my efforts could be in vein.

At times I’ve not wanted to write political commentaries because…unless I have a column…who is gonna care. It’s not like the New York Times is gonna publish my Facebook note. It’s not like my opinion holds so much weight. So…when your ambitions are intense and for awhile your convinced of a particular strategy by which to express your ethical hopes only to find that some bit of information suggests…seemingly credibly to you— that your strategy and your plan is ultimately useless…that no one will care…(isn’t that the worst one…feeling no one will call in the massive din of competing voices?) or that suddenly it occurred to you that in fact, if you look at it from this other perspective, you could make more money doing x, reach more people doing y, keep your soul doing z, et cetera? Could I get an amen on this one folks?

Have a great day in the meantime and I shall chat with you tomorrow.

Public Comment is a personal journal vlog where I share my free thoughts on politics, culture, and self.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me at sean.publiccomment@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter at 
https://twitter.com/sopubliccomment 


On Finding My Dream Job Because YOLO (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #16)

How does one determine one’s dream job and why does it matter?

TRANSCRIPT:

Good day, folks! (Yes, I’m playing with my opening line today. Usually it’s just “greetings ladies and gentlemen!” but I want to embrace experimentation)

But moving on: What do you want to be when you grow up?

This question, and my variety of answers through the years (I’m 33 years old now…does that count as “grown up?” Sometimes I think not working one’s “dream job,” or not earning a desirable wage are things that can make one feel less “grown up,” “adult,” “empowered to practice responsible adulthood,” et cetera, as the “grown ups” talk about property taxes they pay on the homes they own, the expenses related to bringing up their children, et cetera. This is all worked in to my confused notion of equating landing your dream job with growing up).

One of the privileges that I believe Americans and other Western countries, along with the wealthier factions of other nations, get to enjoy is aiming for that  “dream job”— conceptualizing such a thing—what is my dream job?

As the strangeness of our still relatively new internet economy continues to shake up the old order of things, that seemed to endure… approximately from after  World War 2, and into the early part of the first decade of the 2000’s, and as a millennial in this changing marketplace, the notion of a job worth putting all of my effort towards capturing has boggled my mind a bit.

For example, intellectually speaking, since I tend to think about and approach questions in what I think is an academic way, I thought seeking a job in academia was entirely logical for me.

With over two years of experience as a writing tutor “under my belt” (as they say) and a lovely 3.98 GPA, graduate academia seemed like simply a natural progression of what I’ve already been doing.

But academia’s prospects, as I’ve scoured Indeed.com and Glassdoor.com, and as I’ve heard insiders speak out on the budgetary bleakness of prospects even for those armed with a PhD under their belts, and as the revolutionary abundance of information and resources for digital productivity available on the internet seem only on the uptick, I’m not sure, as a long term investment, that the depths of academia seem so wise—at least, not for me.

I’ve been troubled over the question of where I’m supposed to look for a “job,” how exactly I’m supposed to look, et cetera.

Obviously, I could render my college education, which I poured my very life and soul into – perhaps to excess?—utterly useless and just dive back into some easy retail position where I won’t make so much money, unless I rise on up into management, but that simply doesn’t interest me.

Ha!

This reminds me of something someone recently said to me: “you young people” he said, “have to be happy” — as opposed to just finding work.

But why not?

YOLO, as they say.

(Do they still say that?)

I do not want to waste my life negating and denying the depths of my soul engaged in activities that mean only a simple means to an end.

If there is a God, which I speculate there is, what an insult to IT, (I don’t call God a he or a she as I think God is neither quite a person or an advocate of sexism) to simply ignore one’s potential, one’s soul, one’s dreams!

Okay then, so what the hell do I want to do with myself?

Perhaps you’ve heard this story of mine. By the time I was 10 years old I thought I wanted to be an actor, screenwriter, movie producer. In the years that followed I idolized Meryl Streep, John  Travolta and Tom Hanks—among other actors. When I was about 13, In the depths of my John Travolta craze ,I fell in love with the unique and romantic style of their Bee Gees and the music they produced for Saturday Night Fever.

(I asked a handful of my coworkers if they had seen it. Most had not. It reminded me of middle school days and how I felt very, very alone in my love for the Bee Gees. Everyone else was into Brittney Spears and Eminem. I could not relate to either. )

But I wanted to do what the Bee Gees did: write songs.

That became my new dream. Of course, I could not sing or play a musical instrument, so I’d just have to be a poet.

Upon my entrance to college, I juggled desires to write novels and poems, and in a fit of cockiness and naivete I dropped out, thinking some how I could “make it” as a poet. And then I wanted to be a philosopher (though  not one who got a university degree). And then I wanted to be a politician. And then I wanted to be a documentarian. And then I wanted to be a political commentator. And then I wanted to do this. And then I wanted to do that.

My point is this: I’ve contemplated so many possible jobs and through the years, struggled to “stick to one.”

Of course…some of you might be able to relate as we now live in what is for some considered a “gig economy.”

Unless you’re relatively young and have a job in the STEM fields, you may likely be forced to learn how to juggle and integrate a number of jobs just to pay your bills. In this context, the swirl of job prospect confusion worth injecting a deep personal investment in seems understandable.

Anyway, so goes the story and context of my contemplations regarding “dream job” over the last few decades.

What about now? Now I have a bachelor’s degree. What do I do? What do I want to do? What do I really want? (And what SHOULD I do?)

Do you think I am a narcissist if I say THIS, HERE, is what I want to do? (Well, people buy Charles Bukowski books…he wrote this way, but he glamorized his misogyny and alcoholism, so I have to believe this could be [ or ought to be] more marketable than that, as I strive to project a more constructive world view…Identifying what I think, and sharing it all in that context?

Talking to you about my thoughts.

I realize not everyone can be what some call a “YouTube Star.”

I’ve plunged myself into research on the question of how vlogs and blogs manage to become widely shared. Some tips WordPress rather ambiguously suggests: be “interesting, important and/or funny.”

Of course what does that mean?

By the way…I’m not funny.

I cannot be funny. I don’t know how.

I may have told you this before but it seems to be a genetic defect. Anytime I make someone laugh it seems to have been pure accident. Moreover, and perhaps this explains it…I don’t really enjoy trying to be funny. Not that I don’t enjoy those who do. It’s a pleasure working with, and socializing with such people. But it’s simply not me.

I have a “serious” disposition. (Maybe we can blame my father? He used to say, when he took my picture, “don’t smile” in a dark, quiet, ominous voice.).

To be clear, it is not as though I’m depressed or depressing or melancholy or incapable of smiling. In fact, I tend to be in a good mood most of the time.

So what do I mean by “serious” anyway? Less so than serious, I suppose, overall I simply just tend not to joke a lot.  More so then…a lack of joking than extreme impersonal “seriousness.” That, and I always tend to be in the depths of my psychological and philosophical evaluations of things—do I agree with workplace policy? If not, that tends to annoy me and I try and conceptualize a better policy.

For example, at the community college where I work: how do they decide how newly admitted students will be placed into their first English or Math classes or if such coursework ought to be required? This is a loaded discussion in itself so I won’t digress, but I have my opinions, and my opinions seize me like air seizes my lungs. (Or should I say, like my lungs seize air).

So perhaps more so than serious, I am extremely “opinionated” and passionate about my opinions. (The opinion page is my favorite page in the newspaper, and for awhile I was an opinion page editor for the College VOICE, so I suppose that much adds up).

Then with respect to the question of what job out there I desire…first and foremost, I want a job where my opinions count.

One of the most miserable aspects of working retail is that my opinions counted for nothing. (In fact I felt as if I counted for nothing since I was paid severely little…I think a whole 10.50 an hour in my prime with a random and inconsistent number of hours per week?)

For example, the customer, they tell you, is always right.

That is far from true. Sometimes the customer is right and sometimes the customer is wrong.

Not that I fail, by the way, to appreciate doing all one can to make one’s customer happy. I do believe in exceptional customer service.

But not at the expense of being insulted, being treated as a robot, not being worth a “hello, how are you” and just turning into a receptacle for the customer’s anxiety to get out of the store as quick as possible and lodge their sometimes irrational complaints at you, maybe because a coupon was expired for example, but they demanded it to be honored anyway.

Meanwhile…they’re on their cellphones treating you as if indeed, you are literally just a transactional machine. I tried to articulate my beliefs in a set up where cashiers could preserve a bit more dignity but…I will give you a perfect example of how little management cared.

A man who used to work for this one place I cashiered, his name was Bob— may he rest in peace now— he was an older man, I think close to his eighties if not already in his eighties, and had given decades of his life to this grocery store company and Bob had some ideas on how the store might improve its operations.

So he wrote it all out in an 8 page letter—that is what he told me—and gave it to the man who owned the stores. The man never so much as acknowledged reading it or even receiving it.

If at all possible, I do not EVER want to work for such an arrogant, disinterested company ever again.

Opinions, if they are backed by facts and logic, ought to at least count for something such as basic respect.

I’m not saying I’d rather be on the streets. We do what we must in this life. But to the degree which we can identify and strive for what we most deeply want— I’m stating as much for the record!

The WordPress article also says to be “important.”

I’m not sure I know how to be important— at least not in your eyes, though I do know at least what’s “important” to me, and in fact, I try to treat that which I view as important with “the utmost importance.” (I’ll give forms of that word a rest now. Ha ha. As I try to be slightly funny. I didn’t say I would succeed but I give myself credit for trying)

That’s why I try to read and take notes on the news every morning. What, of consequence, is occurring in the world? Even when things don’t appear to affect me directly—take the abortion question for example, as I am not a woman and thank God and knock on wood but my wife and I don’t appear to be embedded in a scenario right now where we have to address the question—it affects the society I live in, and I believe the well-being of society impacts the well-being of the individual, even if it is beyond the scope of his or her recognition…unless you choose to be totally oblivious…which by the way… I’ve done before…

I don’t mean to suggest that not having an x amount of knowledge on the news necessarily means someone is oblivious.

That would be unreasonably and rudely presumptuous. Though I would say, getting back to this YOLO issue….

If you only live once, will you make the most of your look at the world…at the universe…will you see it with as much depth and understanding as you can, or will you…cheapen your experience?

Thus, you see, I find a relationship between importance and richness of life experience even if I have not quite figured out how to make myself important and enriching to others, or how to show that I could.