Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Failure of Relationships

I have been having a lot of conversations with people lately about the failure of their last relationship. (Either a lot of relationships have been ending lately, or I'm just hanging out with a lot of people who are at key transitions in their life. Since I've been in a key transition for a couple years now, it's quite possibly the latter.) They all describe how wonderful their relationships were, and how long they lasted (sometimes as long as 25 years, sometimes as short as 6 months), and what they think are the reasons it ended. ("She cheated." "We grew apart." "He was abusive." "There wasn't enough sex." "He only wanted sex.") It's always sad when a relationship ends. Because it's hard for most people to be alone (and even those who can handle being alone still crave human contact). Because so much time and energy went into creating and sustaining the relationship for as long as it lasted. Because life was just more beautiful and satisfying when you were in love. We've all heard it. Most of us have lived it. But there's something more going on here than just the classic, cliche tales of breakups. In talking to these people, I asked them about how they got along with that person now that the relationship had "ended." And while there were a few who truly had no more contact with their ex, most had some form of continuing contact. Some even said that now that they had divorced/separated/broken-up, they got along better and were good friends. Those with children in common often said that they still collaborated in raising the kids, and met regularly to talk about those remaining ties. And it occurred to me that their relationships didn't "fail." They didn't "end." The relationships had just...changed. They still had a "relationship" with their ex. It just wasn't the same relationship that they had before. And now, instead of looking at those relationships as "failed," I started to see them as part of the natural order of things. Because everything changes. *Everything*. The weather changes. The seasons change every year. The world changes in geologic time. The stars themselves change in "galactic" time. And we change. Our moods, our experiences, our wants and desires. We change all the time. And so must our relationships. To think that a relationship is a static thing that will forever remain the same is just silly, once you think about it. I mean, all of us know that relationships take some work, and that to stay together sometimes takes *hard* work. But does separating mean that the relationship "failed?" Or just that it ran it's course - it had its time in the sun and then changed, moved on. It takes two to make a relationship work. It only takes one to change it. The amazing thing isn't how many relationships "end" (or change) - it's how many happen at all, how two people can make something that must inevitably change last as long as we do. It's a normal human emotion to fear change. Change is uncertainty. Uncertainty causes fear. We fear what we cannot control, invent stories and fictions to explain that which we neither control nor understand. But change happens whether we want it to or not. Constantly. All around us. Everything changes. But...even though a relationship changes, it should take nothing away from the fact that it happened. It existed for a time. It was real. And it was good. That should be a good memory. Not a bad one. We should revel in the goodness of our current relationships. Appreciate them. Because they are ephemeral. They will change. And then we will have new relationships in which to revel and appreciate.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The New Larmarckism

One of the most remarkable developments in biology in years is the discovery of epigenetics. A more technical discussion is down below, but let me start with an analogy.

DNA has often been described using a recipe metaphor. The recipe is just some words on a piece of paper, but describes how to combine ingredients in the environment to produce a dish.

A chocolate cake is quite different in looks and taste to the ingredients that go into it. And we all know that the quality of the ingredients, as well as the skill of the cook combining them, can dramatically influence how that cake turns out. Even though the recipe is exactly the same.

It's the expression of the recipe that makes the difference between good cake and OHMYGODITSDELICIOUS! cake.

This last idea is Epigenetics. That is isn't just our DNA (recipe) that determines how we will develop. How that DNA is read and expressed has just as much to do with the outcome as the basic recipe does.

Which means that what you eat, drink, smoke, huff, shoot, and accidentally expose yourself to can affect not just your body for that hour, day, or week, but how your cells will develop from then on. And more importantly, it can affect how your kids will develop as well, long after the exposure.

(For you Intelligent Design advocates out there, if you think the recipe analogy makes the case for an Intelligent Chef being necessary for the meal, I'm afraid you are once again confusing scintillating metaphor for scientific method. They are not the same. One is a useful method for predicting outcomes, the other is just words that tell a story. Sound familiar?)

More Technically...

[Wikipedia] ...the term epigenetics refers to changes in gene expression that are stable between cell divisions, and sometimes between generations, but do not involve changes in the underlying DNA sequence of the organism.[1] The idea is that environmental factors can cause an organism's genes to behave (or "express themselves") differently, even though the genes themselves don't change.
This is huge.

Your environment (which includes what you eat and breathe, as well as what you *do*, like exercise, read, think) can cause a change in gene expression. This concept has been around a couple decades, and is being exploited in all kinds of genetic therapy ideas (viral, miRNA, siRNA).

What's new and interesting is that these changes can be permanent. They can stick around through cell replication, so all new cells of that type now behave differently in the same way. This is epigenetics.

And what's truly new and remarkable is that it has been shown that these permanent markers that change gene expression can also modify germ cells (sperm, and probably eggs) in the same way. Meaning that what happens to you in your environment can not only change you, it can change the genetic legacy you pass on to your children!

Early indications are that many forms of cancer, schizophrenia (and other mental health failures), obesity may be caused not only from your environment, but could have been caused by experiences of your parents or grandparents.[link - requires subscription]

For example, if Mom smoked before getting pregnant, but quit and never smoked again once she had you, your genetic expression will still be different than if she had never smoked at all.

This is just the teeny, weeny beginning of a whole new understanding of how evolution and genetic expression works. Soon we will not only be able to cure our own genetic disorders, we can make these fixes permanent and inheritable. A further understanding will allow actual improvements to your existing genetic recipe. And these can be passed along to the next generation as well.

Have you ever thought, "If I could change anything about myself, what would it be?"

Start making your wish list.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tortured Dreams

"Wake up Kalid."

I heard my name from a great distance. I tried to move, but could not. I tried to open my eyes, and succeeded - somewhat. Progress. The light was painful, but I could make out a man with a beard and an umamah. Another prisoner?

"Keef halak, Kalid," I heard. How are you? I realized I was hearing my own language again. Another prisoner, to be sure. Do I know him? He seems to know me.

"Sho...," I try to say "Who are you?" but only a raspy croak emerges from my parched throat. "Sho Ismak?"

"Insh'allah," I hear. "You survived!" The face comes into view again, closer this time. He looks familiar. Why can't I think?!

"Kalid, listen to me. You were hurt in the escape. Your neck...can you move at all?"

Escape? No, I try to shake my head, but feel nothing. "Nothing..." I try to say.

"Ok, lie still. We have to move you again, get to a safe place. Stay with me, brother!"

Brother...brother...I fade again into unconsciousness.

Some uncounted time later I awake again. The light is dim, making it a little easier for me to see. I still can't move - not even my head. A rising sense of panic wells up within me, and the frustration when I cannot even flail my arms adds to the wave of fear that has taken hold of me. Am I paralyzed? Will I ever move again? What has happened to me?

I hear someone coming closer, and once again a vaguely familiar visage crosses my field of view. Brother...Ahmed! My brother? It cannot be - he is far away, fighting the infidels in Afghanistan. When I was captured he was still living out of his safe refuge in the mountain caves of Pakistan.

"Can you hear me?" he asks.


A broad smile takes over his face. "God is truly great. Yes, brother, it is I. You are safe now."

Safe? How can this be? I am trapped in this land forsaken by God, undergoing interrogation day by day. A trick! This is another trick?

"It cannot be you," I finally say. I close my eyes to slits.

I don't feel him grab my shoulders, but the room shakes around me. "Kalid - it is me. I shall explain when you feel better. Now rest."

A trick...I sleep again.

When I awake nothing has changed. Still I cannot move. Still the ceiling of the cave is the only thing I can see. I shout "Where are you!" but my voice is still muffled in my ears. Weak. I shout again. And again. Eventually I hear someone coming, but they don't come to where I can see them. "Who is there?"

"I am Abdul. Can I get you something?"

"Water, please." I feel the trickle of coolness on my lips, and I open my parched mouth to drink in what is given. "More..."

"I must go get your brother, he will want to know you are awake," I hear the man called Abdul say, and I hear him leave. Not long, I hear another approach.

"Kalid, I was told you were awake. How are you feeling?" It is the voice of the man who claims to be Ahmed.

"I cannot move. What have you done to me?" I ask.

"Brother, brother...I am so sorry. We were betrayed, and you were hurt in the attack. I am trying to get a doctor, a real doctor to come and look at you, but it is difficult."

"Betrayed? Explain."

I see the face of Ahmed again briefly as he leans over me, then settles somewhere on my side, perhaps sitting. "You were released as part of a trade. We had some of their soldiers, one of them the son of one of their lying politicians. We worked out a deal."

Then his voice bitter, he said, "But those spawn of Satan tried to trick us! As you were coming across to us, they shot you. In the back, Kalid! In the back! Cowardly dogs!" He stops, and I hear him breathing hard. "But we knew their perfidy, we were ready. Our men came out of hiding, and we managed to get you out."

A long pause. I felt the slightest of pressure on my hand. A feeling! As gladness starts to reenter my soul, I hear. "Kalid. Da'ud was killed in the escape."

Da'ud. My friend from the time of our childhood. Captured the same time as me, I saw him only once more at the prison. Even beaten and abused, his smile when he saw me managed to sustain me for weeks.

"I don't remember any of this," I said.

"What do you remember?" asks Ahmed.

"I remember being captured. I remember being tortured - the dogs, the drowning, the beatings where no one could see."

"Kalid. I am so sorry, my brother." A long pause. "Kalid?"


"I want to give you the time you need, but we must know. What did you tell them?"

Was this truly Ahmed? I was already starting to think of him so. But so many tricks... "Ahmed, when we were children, our mother...what was the last thing she told us before she died?"

"Our mother is dead?! This cannot be - I saw her only days ago! Kalid, why do you say this? What do you know?"

I relaxed. The Americans could not know this - our mother had been in hiding for almost as long as we had.

It was my brother. I was free. The horror of my captivity done.

"Ahmed." I sobbed, and once started couldn't stop. The weeks of torture, fear, loneliness came flooding over me. "Am I really free?"

Once again the slight pressure on my hand. "Yes, Kalid. You are safe. You are back with us, thanks be to God." He leans over me, and I can see him once again. "Now please, Kalid - it is important to get this in time. We must know what operations to shut down, who to move. What did they get out of you? Do not be ashamed. Many of our brothers break down, denied the chance to be martyrs. But we must know - many lives depend on it."

I sighed. "I told them next to nothing, Ahmed. Only operations long over, brothers long ago captured, cells we already know were blown."

Ahmed smiled. "That is wonderful, brother. Now let me catch you up. What do you remember about The Fist of God?"

The Fist of God. In the works for two years, it would bring a crushing blow down upon our foes.

"I remember the planning. I remember the date. I remember dreaming of the day."

"We've had to make some changes, Kalid. We've had to change the date as well. What was the last you remember?"

"The date? It is no longer to be on the anniversary of our first strike? But that was when their politicians were supposed to be in full session! Their President is only speaking there that one day."

A pause. "Somehow they got wind of the date, Kalid. We've had to find a new date. We may not be able to get their President. And we may need a new volunteer to carry out the final phase."

"What happened to Ali?"

"We think he may be compromised," said Ahmed.

"Ali? Never! I don't believe it! His cover as a page was perfect!" I remembered their conservative senator, so proper in public, so soft with his pretty boy Ali - our pretty boy Ali - in private.

"Perhaps, brother. But it has been difficult to get close to him since you were captured."

"Why? That makes no sense! It was Da'ud that he trusted most." Da'ud. My Da'ud. My dead Da'ud.

Suddenly I felt so heavy, so tired. Confused. "I think I must sleep some more Ahmed. Let us talk more on this later please."

"Of course, Kalid, of course. Rest now." I drifted off once again.

I did not see or feel the men tear the helmet off my head, pull the straps from my limbs. I did not feel or see them as they moved me to a gurney and started to wheel me out of the room, the room that no longer sounded like a cave.

But in my dreams, my endless nightmare, I hear them...

"That was a pretty close call with the Mother thing. How did you know she was still alive?"

"That was the easy part - didn't you ever listen to the tapes of his drug sessions? She was all he talked about for a while. Must have been quite a momma's boy."

A laugh. "Well, we have a lot to go on. We had nothing on that Fist operation, and now we may have enough to roll it up completely! I gotta hand it to you - I never thought that high-tech sci-fi crap would work for shit."

"Ye of little faith. Not like our boy here. Time to put away your water boarding and guard dogs, Billy. That's so medieval. And useless. You see how much more we get with a little twenty-first century tech."

"I do now. Who would have thought that those virtual reality video games had such a promising future in prisoner interrogation?"

"Me, for one. And what's even better, those Red Cross weenies can't even complain - nothing "cruel and unusual" in letting a prisoner play a little immersive video game, is there?"

Another laugh. "You're too much, man. Let's get this intel to ops pronto - and get this sand monkey back into his cage. I'm thinking it's maybe Da'ud's turn next. What do you think?"

"I'm thinking I have a new convert. Go get Da'ud, buddy - I'll run this stuff up to ops."

My nightmares...Allah, hast thou forsaken me? What have I done? Da'ud! Ahmed!

My nightmares are my reality...

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Yes, I disappeared for a while. But I only heard from a few of you to start writing again, so I didn't give it much thought. (If no one hears the sound of a blog disappearing, was it ever really there?)

I'm thinking of writing again. I keep getting these vivid visions of people and events that take place in a near future dystopia, and it feels like I should be trying to capture them.

Writing is a very self-indulgent exercise. It takes time away from family, friends, and work. And when your work also involves a large amount of writing, which mine does, it is tough to get back in front of the screen at night.

But to paraphrase another, if not now, when?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fare Thee Well

I've started using Farecast.com to help me decide when to buy an airline ticket. Using strong statistical algorithms, this site is better that Orbitz (or Kayak, etc) because it tells me what the lowest fare should be, and the probability that it will go up or down in the next 7 days.

This is yet another capability brought to us by using the power of statistics to make better decisions. (I'm reading the book Super Crunchers by Ian Ayres. I'll have a lot more to say about this book and its implications later this week.)

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I was catching up on some random blogs and found these pictures and video of some white kids giving their rendition of Jena 6. It made me ill.

I was fortunate to be brought up largely free of racism. The small town in California in which I was raised didn't suffer from the black-white divide that I would see only on television. (Although in retrospect, there was a current of racism against hispanics in that community stemming from strained relations with the migrant worker population that would come to work the fields).

My first blatant exposure to racism, the incident that forced me to confront its ugly reality, occurred when I went away to college. One of my roommates was (and still is, I believe) of African-American descent. Black. A bright kid studying biology at UC Berkeley, he was raised in another small town in California in a middle class family as I was. We became good friends when we met in the dorms, then moved into an apartment the next year.

It was while we were still in the dorms that he was getting ready to head to the airport on a trip. He was dressed in a suit, and had his small travel bag and suit carrier in his hands. We were walking to the parking lot when I joked that this girl he'd been trying to avoid was approaching, so he broke into a laughing run to the parking garage.

Coming up the street at the time was a Berkeley Police Department vehicle. As my friend ran into the parking garage, this cop turned on his flashers and whipped into the parking lot after him. Pulling his gun, he told my friend to halt. Which he did.

As I jogged up, the cop was questioning my friend, having him open his suit carrier and asking him where the suits came from. Shocked, I stormed up and shouted at the cop something about WTF was he doing, this guy lived in the dorms across the street, etc. The cop wheeled around and told me that unless I wanted to go to jail too, I'd better shut up and move away. "On what charge?" I asked. "Obstructing a police officer, and whatever else I come up with. Now step away!"

I was stunned. I had never come face to face with such blatant racism and abuse of power before. (And this was nothing, I realize. But it was my first exposure to this aspect of the real world.) My sense of helplessness, the horrible pain of empathy as I saw the look of anguish and humiliation on the face of my friend...

It made an impression.

Since then, I've managed to get some experience on the "other side". Traveling around the world, being the only white face in a restaurant or a plane, being ignored or treated poorly. Americans certainly aren't the only ones in the world who suffer from racism.

But it does appear to be deeply rooted in the formation of our country. And 300 years later, in the midst of universal education, globalism, and the village of the internet, it still amazes me to see behavior like that in the video.

Fear Leads To Hate...

I believe "fear of other" is the basis of most forms of racism. I think this sort of fear is tied to ignorance. I've noticed that people are usually only racist in the abstract.

By this I mean that most people I have met who make what I consider to be racist comments only make them about a generic stereotype of people they haven't met. These same people can be very racist against blacks (or, as in Texas and California where I grew up, hispanics), but be very kind and friendly with an individual of that same persuasion. In fact, they point to the fact that they have "a black friend" to demonstrate how they couldn't be racist. You know..."I'm not racist! I love black people. I took one to lunch just the other day..."

They seem to view any individual they know and like as an exception to whatever racist stereotypes they've formed. But strangers of that race are guilty of a big bag of negative associations, until they prove that they're "like me."

As George Lucas once said (via a muppet called Yoda), "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to the Dark Side."

Racism, homophobia, religious jihads...they all stem from fear and insecurity. Given the strong selection advantage that fear provides a species, I'm afraid (pun intended) that we'll never solve these disgusting tendencies.

We can only strive to recognize the Dark Side, and intentionally choose against it.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

The Necessary War

I just finished watching the Ken Burns documentary on World War II.

As you'd expect, there are a number of parallels, and stark differences, between that war and the war that we're fighting today.

A few things really stood out.

The people supported the war, because they felt we had no choice. We were attacked. When you are attacked, you have no choice but to defend yourself or die. Japan attacked us, so we fought back. Germany declared war on us and started sinking our merchant ships, so we fought back. We went into the war reluctantly, because going out of our way to kill other human beings wasn't something most people thought they'd ever do. But we went, because we had no choice.

Even when attacked, to ensure that the will of the people and the integrity of constitution, President Roosevelt went to Congress and asked them to declare war. On record, a vote was taken whether or not to go to war, and against whom. The mandate was clear, as was the accountability.

I compare this to the recent past, where military forces were committed by the President before any request to Congress to support said actions (although in almost every case, the Congress passed a resolution authorizing the use of force - after the fact. When your troops are already in harm's way, is there really much choice?).

I'm not just talking about President Bush - this has been the mode of operations for every military action taken since WWII. And it's also clear that the popular support for the actions varied dramatically from that for WWII. As did the outcomes. Can history teach us any lessons here?

We can't say it isn't a war. If a nation bombed the U.S., or sent troops across our borders, what would we call it? I do think the enemy is different. Whether you believe our enemy is a terrorist group or Islamo-facism, it is definitely a different enemy than a nation's leaders who decide to attack. Yet we use the same tactics that we used when we fought nations. We respect borders, we invade a specific nation, we remove that nation's leadership, and we cause destruction and death among the civilian populations of those nations. Our tactics are those of WWII.

The fact that the nature of the enemy is different should suggest different approaches to countering the enemy. Are WWII type bombings and invastions effective against terrorists? Is "War" the wrong paradigm for countering a terrorist threat?

The parallels to WWII all regard the horror of war - just how much happens that is so far from the realm of day to day thought, just how brutish and barbaric man can become when he throws off the constraints of civilization. I don't have the words to describe the atrocity and horror.

I recommend, though, that you watch the series. Everyone should understand what it really means to be in a war. And no one should have to come any closer to that understanding than the arms length distance a documentary provides. To gain any better understanding is to live the nightmare and be forever changed.

Yet it seems that almost every generation has to learn this over again. Not being exposed to the horrors of war, it appears all too easy to glamorize and oversimplify the use of military force. Admittedly, some of those who actually serve in battle do the same. And although I have served in the military, I was never under fire, so I won't presume to understand or explain this thinking.

But it does seem to me that the majority of those who are most adamant and vocal about the use of force are those who have never served.

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Slave to Safety

Quote of the Day

"I would gladly give up my freedom if it meant my kids would be safe." - Overheard at a Starbucks

While I could envision a scenario where this would be true for me (e.g., "come with us now or we will shoot your kids"), I'm pretty sure this wasn't how it was meant by this person. He was talking about his willingness to give up democracy and his unalienable rights if it would guarantee the safety of his children.

Noble. And perhaps morally right. But it struck me as too simplistic, too reactionary...this statement, for me, boiled down so many of the platitudes, certitudes, and questions that the War On Terror seems to elicit.

Platitudes to "keep America safe" ...at any cost? Are there some prices too high to pay for safety? Or is safety the trump card, taking priority over the Bill of Rights and the Constitution? Is the life I want to pass on to my children one in which they are slaves?

Certitudes that everything is black and white; you either love the U.S. or hate the U.S.; you either want to win the War On Terror or you want to cut and run; you're either for us or against us; Good or Evil.

Questions...how to regain the concepts of dialogue and discussion; how to reverse the trend toward fear, illogic, and irrationality; how to get out of either/or and into options a, b, and c; how to get people to think and to solve problems.

As talk of war with Iran starts to bubble into the mainstream, can we perhaps have a public discussion? Can we see Congress debate the myriad of questions (Is the threat real? What other options are available to remove the threat if we determine that it is real? How did going to war in Iraq work out for us? Did it remove the perceived threats? Can our military support even the missions in front of them without breaking, let alone a new front? Does refusing to talk help or hurt the problem?)

I don't have (all) the answers, but I do have legitimate questions. Can they be asked without causing a reactionary pigeonholing? Can we have a discussion?

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mind Games

We have so many misperceptions of the world. Contributing to this are "blind spots" in the way our bodies and brains have evolved.

Here is a list of some fun sites that explore various sensory "blind spots."

(You can't trust your eyes)
Your brain will make stuff up
And it may ignore what's actually there
Things can change right in front of you and you won't notice
You can miss huge gorillas
And lots of other interesting misperceptions of color, contrast, and shade

(you can't trust your ears)

How our expectations affect what we hear:

Vision/Sound systems affecting each other:
www.faculty.ucr.edu/~rosenblu/lab-index.html (Look for McGurk effect under Demonstrations)

How thoughts and emotions can affect how you perceive things:

So...How do you feel about witness testimony in your trial?

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

By George, I Think He's Got it

I've been reading Something That Will Surprise the World: The Essential Writings of the Founding Fathers.

It amazes me how many of the pitfalls and foibles of our system of government were anticipated by these learned gentlemen.

Take this bit from George Washington's farewell address when he left the office of President (given Sep 19, 1796).
Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party, generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseperable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human Mind. It exists under different shapes in all Governments, more or less stifled, controuled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissention, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction more able to more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of this own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.
It serves always to distract the Public Councils and enfeeble the Public administration. It agitates the Community with ill founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions.

Sound like any political party system you know? How about this one from Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 1.
And yet, however just these sentiments will be allowed to be, we have already sufficient indications that it will happen in this as in all former cases of great national discussion. A torrent of angry and malignant passions will be let loose. To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives....History will teach us...that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.
I particularly like this next one (again from Hamilton, Federalist No. 70). Not only is it applicable to politics, I've seen it time and time again in other setting that it must be a fundamental failing of human nature...
Men often oppose a thing, merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike. But if they have been consulted, and have happened to disapprove, opposition then becomes, in their estimation, and indispensable duty of self-love. They seem to think themselves bound in honor, and by all the motives of personal infallibility, to defeat the success of what has been resolved upon contrary to their sentiments. Men of upright, benevolent tempers have too many opportunities of remarking, with horror, to what desperate lengths this disposition is sometimes carried, and how often the great interests of society are sacrificed to the vanity, to the conceit, and to the obstinacy of individuals, who have credit enough to make their passions and their caprices interesting to mankind.
Don't you wish we could vote for someone with the education and insight that these men demonstrated? Someone who uses history and human nature as their guide (as opposed to truthiness :-).

I know that if I'm to learn anything from history myself, it's to apply these lessons to my day to day life. Next time I oppose a plan, I'll look a bit deeper within for the reasons why. And next time I propose a plan, I'll try to figure out how to get buy in for the particulars before launching the generality in an attempt to keep from poking this temperamental button.

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