What Happens If We Use GPS Coordinates Instead Of Country Names?

The concept of a “country” in 2017 is, honestly, a pretty toxic thing.

There are some positives though.

They give us clear delineation for national sports teams, for example.

Regardless of that absolutely essential benefit, by and large, nationalism promotes racism and intolerance – and ultimately war.

Nationalism and “countries” as a concept allow us to dehumanize, murder and abuse each other. That a sad, but irrefutable fact.

The names of countries are absolutely charged with emotional baggage. Get yourself a large enough sample size and pick a red state in the US (or any other large group of humans, really) and see how they feel about Syria, Iran and Iraq.

Then repeat the process, ask them for the first things that come to mind when they hear Sweden, Australia and New Zealand.

The difference would be staggering, and yet we are all the same people.

Now take the same folks, ask them how they feel about the people at 34.8021° N, 38.9968 W

99% of people won’t have a clue where on Earth that actually is, but that doesn’t matter. Ask them what they think they’re probably like?

Good enough folk I’d bet. They probably have their own issues they’re working on but ultimately they’re likely nice enough people once you get to know them. They probably have a teenage daughter who is a bit of a pain in the ass, a son who they’re trying to keep “on the rails”, and a reasonably onerous mortgage they’re trying to get a handle on. They probably live in a modest house, maybe there is some crime in their neighborhood. They probably go to a public school, it’s alright but they wish their kids would apply themselves more.

It demonstrates the absolute idiocy of nationalism. Football stadiums in the UK are abhorrent, barbaric things. Humans ingesting as much alcohol as they can reasonably stomach and then attack each other because the human next to them is wearing the wrong colours.

Or we use words like “terrorism” and throw in the name of a country far away that we don’t understand like “Syria”, and use that to dehumanize to the point at which mothers are more than happy to send their children to war to kill the “bad guys” and “keep us safe”.

“Those Syrians are evil terrorists and they need to die, we need to kill them for the safety of everyone!”

That’s nationalism.

Did you know that people that live near 37° N, 95° W shot each-other more than 107,000 times in 2013? (Wikipedia) They are literally murdering the shit out of each-other right now. 

They’re terrorizing good folk! Those 37,95vers are probably Islam lovers – I’ve heard about them on the news. They’re bad hombres!

Send in the Marines

When you’re shooting people in your own country apparently it’s fine, but on the minute chance someone that doesn’t live near 37° N, 95° W kills someone that does it’s time to launch the jets.

Nationalism ties into everything and it is incredibly toxic.

We are brought up to love our country. Our flag is the best and our country is the greatest country on earth. That’s a really nice story – but that’s all it is. It’s an absolute fiction that hurts a lot more than it helps.

I love New Zealand, I think it is a fantastic location on earth. The people are amazing, the landscape is mind-blowingly sublime. I feel a little funny in my stomach when I see the New Zealand flag and I get a little emotional when I see the haka.

New Zealand is not the greatest country on Earth – that title is a shame worthy of no country.

Earth is our planet, we’re all human beings and we need to pull our heads in, drink a little bit less of the Kool-Aid, and realize we’re all in this together.

Syrians (The good people of 35° N, 39 W) are no different from your God-fearing neighbor Bob who has that car you like, the pretty wife and the great kids. You’ve always liked Bob.

LGBT folks are just like Bob, too.

We’re all Bob, man.

Money Can’t Buy Happiness

Many people are brought up with the old expression “money can’t buy happiness”, and I think that holds true for a great many people. I heard it a bunch.

It certainly doesn’t hold true for everyone, though, and is absolutely used as a crutch at times.

Putting more money into a broken system is unlikely to bring about any positive change. More money in the hands of people who are not mentally and physical “at peace” is unlikely to help. It certainly won’t make a broken, unhappy person a fixed, happy one.

On the other hand, putting more money into a “functional” system, or into someone who has a solid foundation is likely to bring about positive change.

Examples:

  1. Starving child cannot afford food, money absolutely buys a long-term increase in happiness here.
  2. Billionaire sociopath gets another million dollars, unlikely to change much.
  3. Middle-income family gets more money, assuming they’re already happy they will likely continue to be happy and will use that money to generate even more happiness.
  4. Middle-income family gets more money, family is a mess, members are extremely unhappy and unfulfilled. The money probably won’t lift happiness levels. That’s money into a broken system.

Maybe I’m over stating things a little, maybe most people are miserable, but I would like to think most people are somewhere in the proximity of number 3. More money and semi-sensible spending will probably increase happiness, at worst it is unlikely to decrease it. If they take the money and start a meth-lab well shit, that’s just unfortunate.

If you’re happy without additional money you’ll likely be happy with it as well. Money tends to magnify the qualities you already have. If you’re a douche-cannon – you’ll be a rich one of those. If you’re an upstanding citizen, you’ll likely continue down that path.

Folks should be working to increase their happiness every day (probably wishful thinking, lets say every quarter?) – so realistically more money is very unlikely to be a problem.

And yet, we shun the dollar.

Let’s say Bob goes to work and somehow manages to earn an extra $10 despite being a salary-man, or maybe he’s lucky enough to work for himself and thus making the extra $10 is easy.

Bob has $10 extra, he doesn’t need the money. His family is fed, housed, clothed and reasonably happy.

Bob is a bit of a bad ass. He decides to give the money away rather than spending it on a 6-pack of beer, or buying 2 coffees from the local cafe.

What could Bob do?

The options are ridiculously vast in terms of how many different ways he could make the world better with his unassuming $10 note.

Where I live, in New Zealand, he could buy almost 8kg of rice for a family in need. That’s 80 servings of rice, a real “super food” (what a bullshit term, nice work marketers and nutritionists of the world) in that it has a high caloric density, is readily available, is cheap and is good for you.

I did some quick Google searching to see what that money would buy in super poor countries, and it turns out they pay about the same for stuff as us “first world” posers. Ain’t that a crock of shit and a half.

Let’s look at some quickfire alternatives to rice/food (which is an amazing option).

Here are 10 off-the-cuff:

  • Buy someone else that really needs it a small gift. Make their day, and make your day in the process – you selfish bastard!
  • Pay a kid to mow an old, infirm persons lawn for 2 weeks.
  • Buy a caffeine addict a reusable cup and tell them about how damaging waste is to the world. Potentially save hundreds of single use coffee cups going into landfill.
  • Go to the local primary school and give the $10 to the receptionist. Tell them to credit the money against the student with the highest current outstanding balance to the school. Chances are that student’s family really needed that.
  • Buy some trees, plant em. Bring your kids back to see them one day.
  • Give the money to a local animal rescue/shelter. That money will care for abandoned pets.
  • Invest the money, give away 5-7 cents per year forever.
  • Buy a homeless person a blanket.
  • Buy the right book for the right person, change their life.
  • Donate $10 to any of a million charities. (Or get the best bang for your buck and look at services like Effective Altruism)

That was $10. Image what you could do with $50.

Hell let’s get crazy – $1000.

That money can provide an unbelievable amount of value in your own, or other peoples lives.

“Money can’t buy happiness”, what nonsense. There are absolutely edge cases where money is a horrible thing to add into the mix, but I think the majority of the time money is overwhelmingly positive.

Think of the change you could create in the world if you earned another $5000, another $50,000? another 500,000?

Someone making minimum wage who struggles to make ends meet may be a real crusader for civil rights, for equality, and for awesomeness in general.

Sadly however their likely effect is very, very small.

That same person bringing home 6-figures? Now we’re talking.

Once your basic human needs are met; the more money you have, the more good you can do in the world.

If you knew how much good the Gates Foundation (Bill) has done it would likely blow your face off. Bill has a few dollars to his name, and that let him do some things.

We should stop touting anti-money nonsense and get young kids excited about creating value, generating big incomes and changing the world for the better with that money.

Being a poor left wing liberal simply isn’t good enough.

Crohns Disease And The Sad Train

Chronic disease can be a horrible thing.

After a while it’s not even the disease itself that is the real problem. Give it enough time and enough negativity and your mind becomes the real inglorious bastard. “I am sick” becomes your default state of mind on both good days and bad days. Welcome to the world of chronic depression.

You see it in Crohn’s groups online every day. Everyone is sad, everyone is a victim, nothing is fair.

Every day someone posts a picture of a sad kitten with sad words written over the top. Hundreds of replies follow from people who are sad too. They’re not the “supportive” kind of replies though, they’re not “Get well soon Timmy! You’re doing really great! You’ll be fine!” style ripostes.

They’re the “me too” kind of replies. Everyone throws their hat into the ring of miserableness so as not to be left out.

Let’s all be sad together, there is plenty of space on the sad train!

It pisses me off just a little bit.

“Who is this fucking guy telling me not to be sad because I have Crohn’s?!”

To simply know that you have Crohn’s means you’re incredibly likely to be the 1%. You were born into or live in an affluent country and the word is quite literally at your feet. There are millions of people on the planet that don’t have first world medical facilities and have no idea what Crohn’s even is. They’ve got it, they’ve no idea what it is and they can’t get help.

Put down your soy latte and chew on that one for a little bit brothers and sisters.

I’ve been sad before. Super sad. Super sad and super sick. There is nothing wrong with being sad, be sad.

There is everything wrong with continuing to be sad. Day in and day out, you’ve no business being sad long term.

We’re all going to get flare ups. We’re all going to have really bad days. That’s just how it has to be, normal people have terrible days too.

Normal people feel like no one understands them. Normal people think no one understands what they are going through. Millions of folks wander around suffering from clinical depression, their mind is trying to screw them over every day. Bob from down the street has problems. Your neighbor has problems. Your teacher has problems. Your physician has problems too.

The absolute cry-fest that has developed around diseases like Crohn’s does nobody any good.

If I told you today was the last day you were going to get you sure as shit wouldn’t spend it moaning about the hand you were dealt.

You’d go and be awesome.

You’d possibly get a pizza first.

(This really needed that food reference for credibility, Crohn’s “street cred” as it were)