Don’t Do Anything that you Hate

I’ve spent some time thinking about this particular axiom, because it really gave me a hard time. At some point in our lives, we will all be called on to do things we really don’t want to do; such is the nature of life. Therefore, how can we avoid doing things that we hate, when inevitably we will have to do them to survive?

Except there is a difference between doing a task that we find odious or distasteful, and one that we truly hate. A task we find distasteful is one that we do not enjoy doing; we might even avoid doing it, perhaps to our own detriment. We find it boring, or hard, or counterproductive. Most office workers can come up with at least a handful of tasks that fall into this category, let alone retail workers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, sewer company drivers. My father falls into that last category, and he’s been covered in some things I don’t even want to spend time thinking about; but despite that, he doesn’t hate it, even though he’s not particularly fond of it.

Hating a task goes several steps further. When you hate a task, it not only has little or no productive quality, it also makes you hate yourself for doing it. These are tasks that are truly awful to undertake, and for each of us, it’s different. For example, a person that feels awful for taking the life of an animal would not make a very good hunter; nor would it be a great quality in a vet. If you hate taking the life of an animal, a hunter cannot complete their job, because they use hunting and killing as a means to feed themselves and their family. Over the years, my family has used hunting, either deer for meat, or coyotes for bounties, to supplement our income when we were very poor. In fact, the population of coyotes and coydogs, a hybrid animal that combines the cunning and tactics of a coyote with the sheer lack of fear of humans common in dogs, was so high that there was a $25 per animal bounty on them. My father and his friend would go night hunting and come back with the money for that week’s groceries after a weekend. My father doesn’t hate taking the life of an animal, though he by no means revels in it; thus he was able to feed our family by an alternative means.

To someone that hates hunting, truly hates hunting, they won’t even hunt to preserve their own life. A good example of this may be a vegan, who is sworn only to eat plant matter, may find themselves lost in the woods. Under these circumstances, they would be forced to eat whatever it is they can find for sustenance. In many cases, lacking the skills to hunt as it is not a method by which they feed themselves, they would resort to finding tree nuts or other natural plants to eat. Despite that, they are surrounded by food in the form of edible insects, an easy form of protein to acquire when you are lost in the woods, much as the soldiers that attend SERE School, the Army’s Search, Evasion, Resistance, Escape training center, learn early in their time there. With some rudimentary tools, they could easily make a weapon, giving them the means to hunt small game, though it may take them more time to build that skillset than it does for them to be rescued. A spear is an easy thing to make if you have a knife, and even lacking that a sharp rock will do the work if you have the patience. Not that all vegans are opposed to killing animals when necessary; after all, a farmer, even a vegetable farmer, may have to kill a woodchuck or prairie dog that is eating her vegetable garden. Their very survival depends on having a good harvest, and that harvest will not be plentiful if all of the vegetables are half eaten.

I myself was moved on this particular issue last year. As a Vermonter that grew up in a hunting family, I never really took issue with hunting; I enjoyed the rewards of a successful hunt when family or friends did so, and tried my own hand at it, though I was never patient enough for it as a child. However, I have never held any particular animosity toward varmint animals such as woodchucks or squirrels, and thus refused to take a shot at them when they crossed my path and I had access to a firearm. I felt killing them was utterly unnecessary, and therefore hated the idea of picking them off for no reason, particularly the kits. I would feel awful about myself for killing an animal that was causing me no harm, and only asked for a bit of space under a shed to live.

This changed however, when the garden started to grow. As the vegetables started to grow up, we found the fruits of our garden were being eaten. The eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes were all being eaten right on the vine. Even my jalapeño plant, which I had carefully cultivated peppers on with the intention of making poppers, was not immune despite the capsaicin in the peppers that were probably a rude awakening for what was eating it. Unfortunately it appeared to enjoy the natural chemical irritant, much as I do when I eat them, because by the end of the first week that we had discovered our veggies were being poached, the animal made off with the whole plant. Stem and all. From then on, I understood what a menace woodchucks were and was ready to do my duty to protect our garden, no longer hating the task, though I was still not enthusiastic about it.

Avoiding the things you hate means avoiding the things that make you hate yourself for doing them. By doing the distasteful things you have to do, you accept responsibility for your life and take care of what is important. By doing things you hate, you diminish your life, and feel awful for having even made an attempt, let alone a successful attempt, at the task. When doing a task, ask yourself: do I find this distasteful, or do I truly hate it? If the answer is the latter, do whatever you can to stop doing it as quickly as possible.

Tell the Truth

It’s been almost six months since I last wrote on this blog. It has been a time of difficulty, as I try and navigate my way through an ever changing world. With the COVID-19 pandemic finally on the wane, and life starting to return to some semblance of normal, I’ve come to realize that I have neglected many aspects of my life, and need to take time to mourn the things lost during the last year and a half.

See, the last eighteen months wasn’t just lost time in a lockdown, for which I am fortunate that I live in Vermont and we hardly closed, though we took many precautions. It was damage to relationships, of which the relationship of five and a half years I was blessed to have, ended in the early days of the pandemic. Alienation from friends; I have only kept in good contact with one of my friends from before the disaster, though I attend a virtual tea group on a weekly basis, something I directly attribute the current status of my mental health to. Job issues, something I did not experience despite the business I was working for closing (not due to COVID, it was planned); I was quickly picked up by another agent that needed my experience. Now as COVID wanes, we see the aftershocks as the economy sluggishly tries to restart amid overwhelming government programs that were designed to keep people alive during a forced lockdown still in place as we try and gauge the proper reaction, and inflation looms, threatening to strip the value from the savings of the people that managed to save despite the downturn.

In times like these, most people turn to the things that help them manage through the hard times. For more traditional persons like myself, I turn to my faith and try and get a grasp on the foundation of those things we have in life generally. It’s not that I am overly religious, though I do attend the church of my grandmother irregularly and am trying out the idea of a small group Bible study, something I have rejected in the past; but rather my knowledge that the Judeo-Christian framework is the foundation for western values and social structures informs my need to dig into that philosophy to ground myself.

I also remember what helped me get my life back in order in the first place, and return to the voices that kept me going when my life was in utter Chaos. The irony of this being that in many games, particularly the Warhammer and Warcraft Mythos games, I often play either a villain or anti-hero–Tzeentch-aligned Chaos in the former, and a Death Knight in the latter– I had found that for the first time in many years, where I used the Chaos and entropy to disallow the order that my life required from making me too rigid, I had slipped into a time period where the opposite had finally taken hold.

It was in this time period that I ran across Dr. Jordan Peterson, a man whom I heard of from a YouTuber I watched, Lorespade. After a livestream Lores posted on his channel, I was compelled to look this quirky psychologist up, and discovered something I had desperately needed–the seed of a new foundation to rebuild the life I had abandoned when I returned to my family’s halls in Vermont, half a continent away from where I lived in North Dakota. In his lectures, and his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, I was able to rebuild the foundation of the life I had left and start to remember who I really was; to put myself back into order.

As I did this, it became obvious that the structures I had built for myself during the time of tumult had become outdated, and I evolved in such a way that it caused me to do things I never would have done prior to then. I directly attribute this as a leading cause to the demise of my romantic relationship; not because she or I did anything wrong, or that we didn’t necessarily love each other; it’s that we had developed in such divergent directions that we were no longer compatible at a fundamental level. This became apparent after a dispute over one of my McBain Moment segments that she felt was a jab at her employment, even though it had not been intended as such. I share in the guilt over that, as I had not considered my words to be controversial, though I have reviewed the video and could see her point. It took me nearly a year to properly mourn that loss, but it has been done, and though I regret that it ended, I understand why it had to, and wish her well.

At the same time this was happening, we lost my grandmother to a Cancer that we knew was taking her for some time. It was something that she herself admitted was ultimately self-inflicted; much like my grandfather, who died of cirrhosis of the liver brought on by alcoholism, my grandmother had been a smoker in her younger years, quitting only after the age of 50, and the long-term side-effects of that had taken their toll. My grandmother’s initial reaction had been in her humorous way; she broke the news to us shortly after Christmas, and to paraphrase her announcement: “bring on the cheeseburgers and tacos”. She then had me serve her enough wine to make here giggly; she was always a silly drunk; though I have only seen her as such a handful of times in my lifetime. Throughout it all, she attended church until she could no longer do so, and then the priests of her church came to us, giving her time to speak, and speaking in turn; then giving Communion. I think, in the end, that’s what drew me to return to the church as the pandemic has left; I attended service alone for the first time in almost a decade this Sunday last. They truly cared about her, not only spiritually, not because she donated into the box (which she hadn’t been able to do for some time), but because they actually cared for her.

As I had dug into what I have dubbed “Petersonian Philosophy”, of which I am a student and hope the term catches on, I have come to understand why Dr. Peterson’s words have so much impact on me, and perhaps on the disaffected people that have come to love his work. The things he says ring true, in a world that has been overwhelmed in the mundane and shallowness that technology brings. Not that I hate tech; I am someone that is stepping headlong into VR and hope that by the time I leave my mortal coil, my body has had enough cybernetic modifications to make a character in Cyberpunk 2077 blush, but I recognize that there is more to life than the mundane.

To that end, I have decided to try and parse the 42 Quora axioms he posted many years ago, and have served as the foundation of two of his works, and write an essay on each. Although I don’t know how successful I will be in this journey, I will endeavor to complete this effort better than I have paid attention to this blog in the past. Thus I have started with the first axiom, and given you the truth of my life in the last eighteen months as best as I can give it. The truth shall set you free; it is the core of trust, and the most important thing you can do. People will love and hate you for it, but you must continue to speak the truth if you are going to be true to yourself and others.

And I promise to do my best to always tell the truth to you.

“Always tell the truth; or at least don’t lie.” –Rule 8

Why is Among Us Fun!? Because it is.

Among Us has become a cultural staple in the realities of the Pandemic, and it’s not obvious why. A game that is several years old, and can be purchased for a pittance compared to most modern games (The Steam version is a mere $5), gained prominance in 2020 as we all were locked down in our homes and forced to take a two week* break from life. The game itself is actually quite simple, and the graphics are reminiscent of an old SNES game, 2D and using a set of controls so simple you could play with a NES controller. Yes, I realize I’m showing my age here.

For those that aren’t familiar with the game, it plays thusly: you and up to nine other players, tatertots in spacesuits called “crewmates”, are dropped onto a ship, and must complete a set of tasks. The number of tasks are set by the room owner, but the tasks themselves are random. In order for the crewmates to win, they have to complete all tasks before the Imposter(s) kill too many crewmates. Oh and if you die? Your work isn’t done; your ghost must complete the tasks.

Speaking of Imposters, between one and three players, depending on how the room was set up, are not what they seem. They aren’t crewmates, and they don’t complete tasks. Instead, they run around, commit sabotage, and attempt to murder the crewmates before they can complete their tasks. When a player runs across a body, which my group has dubbed “butt-ham” because of how it looks, they report it, and everyone gets to guess who the Imposter is, voting to kick off the ship the person they think is guilty. They can also skip. The Imposter has to try and lie their way into not being the one ejecteed.

Game ends when either all Imposters have been kicked off, the crew finishes all tasks, or the Imposter kills the whole crew, minus one (it’s assumed they sabotage the ship or otherwise would be able to kill the remaining member). When a player is thrown off, it’s in a suitably final manner: for the space ship, your fellow players toss you out an airlock; for the weather station, you’re dropped off the platform; and for the terrestrial HQ, they drop you into a lava pool.

So what is so fun about this game, which you’d think would be more likely a way to cause anxiety than have fun? If I had to guess it’s that you get the benefit of the adrenaline rush, along with getting to spend time with your friends. In this age of social distancing, finding a way to socialize is especially difficult. Among Us is, in a lot of ways, a return to the old Party Game, where you and friends all get together and just have fun together. While I know not all groups do this, my group has gotten comfortable enough to have open comms while we play, with the rule that we can’t talk about the game. Other groups will mute mics during play, but turn them on when in meetings (deciding to throw others off) and between rounds.

Additionally, there is an unofficial game mode called “Hide and Seek”. The setup is such that the Imposter has almost no vision, and to play correctly is denied sabotage. Then they have to reveal their identity at the beginning of play. Players can’t throw anyone off the ship, and thus they must complete the tasks before the Imposter finds them. Overall, this is my favorite way to play, and when imposter we all range from laughing evilly to giggling uncontrollably when looking for other players. The whole thing is hilarious, and reminds me of days long ago when playing things like Trivial Pursuit with family in the early 90s.

In the end, I’m pretty sure that’s what causes it to be so awesome: Among Us is a fun party game that has helped all of us weather the nightmare that was 2020, and whilst we still have some “rough sledding”, to use the vernacular my own Governor used, it will certainly be remembered as a serious contributor to us getting through it.

Stakeholder Capitalism

In my podcast that will release tomorrow, I take on The Great Reset, and how it plans to use “Stakeholder Capitalism” in order to solve the inequities of our world. Stakeholder Capitalism, as proposed by Klaus Schwab, is a method in which public-private partnerships are used to ensure that our economy works for everyone, and that business owners, the government, and employees, all have a say in how the company produces. In theory, this three-way partnership would allow for everyone to have a say, and a share, of the profit that the company produces. For the government, they can educate the company on what would be most beneficial to society and the nation as a whole; for the owners and shareholders, they would reap the benefits of a market where there is almost guaranteed to be a buyer; and the employees reap the benefits of a business structure that is focused on ensuring that they get the lion share of the profit. Win-win-win, right?

As I researched this, I watched podcasts on it from various pundits. Majoritatively they were from the right, with Glenn Beck being the most prominent, though the Lotus Eaters (which includes the highly controversial Carl Benjamin) and (form the Left) Tim Pool have also weighed in on it. I also sought out other commentary on it, though it was sparse, in support of the Great Reset. Then I dove into the World Economic Forum’s website, and started watching what they had on offer.

I have done both a written review of The Great Reset, which immediately precedes this article, and tomorrow’s podcast, so I won’t get into the meat of it, but being a Finance guy, I dug into the economics of it. After all, no system is perfect, and if the economics of the system work, we can keep the good and ditch the bad. As I was reading, keeping an open mind and trying to ignore the allegories from both Beck and Pool on how this was going to lead to Fascism or Neo-Feudalism, respectively, I came to a startling conclusion: this has been done before.

Stakeholder capitalism was a wildly successful economic system used in the mid-twentieth century, and helped several nations climb out of the Great Depression through industrialization, social programs, public-private partnerships directing economic growth for the benefit of the nations they were implemented in, and their allies. It could have easily been implemented world-wide, and the leaders of the nations that did so garnered high praise, one of which even rose to be Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.

By now I’m sure you’ve figured out that I’m referencing Economic Fascism, and the person in question is Time’s 1938 winner, Adolph Hitler. While Germany did not practice Fascism, instead adapting a similar system known as National Socialism, the economics were essentially the same; the latter simply had some more integrated social programs. The way Schwab introduces this method to the people is insidious, talking about how it will make people more equal, and resolve the environmental and economic problems worldwide. He can assert this because it was done in Italy in the 1930s, and had Germany not decided to make everyone equal by eliminating all those who had the misfortune not to be “ideal” in the eyes of the regime, would have worked in similar fashion in Germany. That’s the problem with fascism: if you ignore the brutal authoritarianism, it actually works. Considering the efficiency of the economic system in rebuilding nations, it’s understandable that one would attempt to extract the economic system without adopting the less desirable elements of the system.

Unfortunately for Schwab, even in his own writings, it’s obvious that you cannot extract the economic system without implementing the authoritarianism. The very economic system itself requires the authoritarianism in order to function, and whilst you can in theory eliminate the worst excesses of both fascism and National Socialism by getting rid of the genocide part, you will still be required to oppress a large proportion of your population to make the machine of the largely government-operated economy move. This is a similar problem to that of Mainland China, where the CCP has essentially adopted the basics of the economic system while retaining the particular flavour of Maoist communism. It’s arguable whether they crossed the line from Modern Chinese Communism to Fascism, which contrary to what everyone in the political class seems to think, are so similar in many ways that they’re hard to separate.

So now we’re looking at a society that is either neo-fascist (maybe without the genocide, but probably not), maybe Chinese Communist (maybe without the starvation, but probably not), or neo-Feudalist (maybe without the widespread serfdom, but probably not).

Welcome to the Cyberpunk Dystopia!

The New Counterculture

Recently I started a podcast, “The Julien McBain Show”, where I use the motto “We’re navigating the Cyberpunk Dystopia.” There are many reasons to dive into why I believe we live in one, which I have gone into at length in my various Entropia Universe videos, and will expand upon in the new podcast; that is not the purpose of this article. Instead, I want to talk about why I am doing the podcast, and why I believe it is so important to establish the “Lawless subculture” that has been the staple of the Cyberpunk Genre since its birth in the book Neuromancer. We have to be able to push back against the Establishment Elite that our system, formed in good faith and adapted to the changing times, was unable to prevent. With COVID-19 still a global issue, and the people starting to rail against the increasingly arbitrary and authoritarian lockdowns, where the mere act of having a family gathering is now an act of defiance, while the Aristocracy continue living their lives as if nothing is happening, we have to be ready to face whatever those in power will do to retain that power that was handed to them in fear. So what will this counterculture look like? That remains to be seen. In all likelihood, it will have to consist of many different people with varying political and cultural backgrounds and beliefs; a Coalition that seeks to return us to something resembling the normal we had prior to COVID-19, and in direct opposition to the Great Reset, and its motto of “Build Back Better.”

I just saw several of my American readers blink at that. “Build Back Better” was not invented by the Biden Campaign, but rather adopted by it. The motto, along with its atrocious grammar, is actually German in origin, and is a common theme in Europe as the World Economic Forum pushes for the Great Reset to fundamentally alter how we live our lives. It calls for powerful governments, with some strict control over markets, and implies heavy-handed central planning. Don’t believe me? You can read about it here. This isn’t some conspiracy theory, nor a tin-foil hat trick; they’re telling us what they’re planning. Part of that plan includes the lockdowns themselves, since it’s the lockdowns that are demolishing the world economies. With the wealth extracted from the people and put into the hands of a few large Corporations, we can be directed through public-private partnerships on how we will live our lives from now on.

Included in the rhetoric are things like “You won’t own anything, and you’ll be happy. Everything you have, you will rent, and will be delivered by drone.” Ignoring the fact that this would be a fundamental violation of the Right to Property, it also implies that we won’t have the ability to own anything; while not explicit in my research, it seems to contend that we are unhappy through the simple act of having property. Thus we should not be permitted such property, but rather pay our fees for use of the possessions we need and when we are done with them, faceless drones will carry them away. Without property, there will be no wealth; thus we will all be equal in our social standing…except for those that rule.

This is the part that is often glossed over, as it puts it in a very positive light, despite the despotic undertones. World leaders will determine how the economy will operate, form a single, global economy, and somehow manage it at scale. Experts will give us programs to accomplish the goals of the Reset without the input of the People; we are not to be trusted. After all, it was us, acting in our personal best interests, that created the largest and most successful economy in history before the Virus came out; an economy that could not be controlled. The downside of a more laissez-faire system is that it’s prone to bubbles; we find something that we like, it trends, the prices balloon, then as the house of cards is discovered, summarily collapses. This happened with the Dot-Com bubble, and later the housing bubble. However, this very system has, in the last hundred years, brought more people out of absolute poverty than any other system ever created before it. This doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but it does mean it’s worth defending.

Thus we must push back. In the Cyberpunk tabletop game, the people of the Counterculture were known as Cyberpunks, or Edge Runners. We must be willing to become those Edge Runners, willing to defy the mandates of our government when they violate our fundamental rights of Life, Liberty, and Property, and remind our government that they are there to serve us. This does not mean we should act violently; quite the contrary, violence often leads to a loss of the message, corruption of those that use force, and a net detriment to all. Instead, we must show the Aristocracy and Technocracy that we see what they are doing, we understand it, and we will act using whatever means we have available to ensure that we retain our rights. I encourage you to read the US Declaration of Independence and US Constitution, and internalize what they really mean. Then, if you are a US Citizen, read the Constitution of your state, or if you aren’t, the equivalent of your nation. Be the educated rebel; the one that pushes back on the Establishment and states that you will not accept the propaganda they’re feeding you.

Most of all, realize that the majority of people don’t pay attention; they are low-information. This isn’t an attempt to cast shade; often times their lives are inundated with the nuances of what they need to do and contend with to live. After all, life itself isn’t easy; and when you’re on the grind trying to get beyond surviving, you often ignore the stresses of how the people in power regard you. Especially since they don’t regard you well. They are a club, and we aren’t in it. Thus we need to form our own, become the very Cyberpunks that were conceived of in fiction, and do what we can to succeed in an ever-more authoritarian world. I look forward to seeing you out there.

Are We Cyborgs?

I’ll be covering this at length in my Wednesday podcast, but having written the production on the subject, I had some thoughts I wanted to get out. As technology continues to develop, and we become increasingly dependent on it, the cyborgization of humanity has become inevitable. From the early days of science fiction, we have assumed that at some point, humans will start to graft technology directly to our bodies, and in an example of life mimicking art, it has indeed begun. From wearable technologies to subdermal body modifications, we have created a localized Internet of Things around each and every one of us.

So then comes the notion: are we already cyborg? To some, the mere act of wearing glasses makes us a cyborg, even though it’s a 100% passive effect; you wear a supplemental lens that is perched on your face, and you can easily remove it. However, no person that wears glasses, including myself, would argue that we are at a loss when we aren’t wearing them. In my case particularly, as my vision has gotten progressively worse over my lifetime, the mere act of dropping them causes a small amount of anxiety lest I step on them before finding them.

In a more modern sense, however, we are cyborg not because of how we interface with tech, but because we are dependent on it. Take away a person’s smartphone, and watch how they flounder. We have become so wired into our devices, that they are essentially an extension of ourselves. A mere ten years ago, having a cell phone out at work was a disciplinary problem, which often led to termination. Now, many companies are encouraging people to use their phones in the course of their work, most notably Best Buy, who have designated cellphones used by both Blue Shirts and Geek Squad as their “sidearms”. This expansion of technology use has created a world where we view our devices as extensions of ourselves, a piece of our body that isn’t necessarily attached, which if you think about it is very machine-like on its face.

While many technologies help to reduce or eliminate handicap (such as glasses, and hearing aids), others expand our senses and capabilities. With a few taps on my phone, I have access to the World Wide Web (yes, that is still technically what it’s called), and the sum of all knowledge that humanity has come up with (although good luck verifying the veracity of what you find). I can download an app that uses the phones inboard sensors to detect radio signals, ambient radiation (with an attachment), light, directional sound, and other environmental factors. I can instantly communicate with everyone in my network, no matter where in the world they are.

That last part, taken to its extreme, will of course result in a Borg Collective, however I doubt we’ll go quite that far. That said, it is not too far to state that we should start looking at ourselves as having started the process of integrating into the very technology that we have come to depend on. So next time you are compelled to pull out that cell phone, or reach for the Bluetooth collar you wear as both fashion and device, take a moment and think about where this could eventually go.

Honestly, I’m waiting for the port in the back of my neck so I can play videogames using only my brain.

A Torch in the Darkness

So over the course of many months, I have been doing some soul searching, and am trying to come up with a better way to serve those that consume my content. I know I haven’t been spectacular about updating this blog, nor the other written content that I had intended to pump out this year. Ironic, considering COVID-19 kept most people stuck in their homes, I know, but as an “essential worker”, I didn’t haven’t had down time.

As 2020 fades from “waking nightmare” into “awful memory”, and we watch to see if our governments will indeed keep their promises to us with the advent of the vaccine, I have come to realize that I’m not optimistic. Governments rarely give up power they have managed to claim, and this age of soft martial law, rule by executive edict, increasing censorship, and monitoring by Megacorporations that would make the writers of Shadowrun novels stare in awe, it came to my attention that we are now living in a Cyberpunk Dystopia.

Dystopia were once the realm of novels; primarily written by the likes of George Orwell, HG Wells, Ayn Rand, and the plethora of people that write for the Warhammer 40K universe. Now it has come to real life. We are ruled by a technocratic and oligarchic elite; our lives managed by an aristocratic ruling class that issues rules for us, but flaunts them in our faces. We are monitored 24/7 by the very tools we use to make our lives easier, and that data is used in order to cater to our every desire and need, serving ads to us, providing us with the products we want, keeping us happy while the Constitution is slowly eroded into meaninglessness.

This week, I started production of the Julien McBain Show, a podcast dedicated to navigating this Cyberpunk Dystopia. With it, I will help hold a torch up against the darkness. Furthermore, I will be adding improvements to this site, increasing the amount of content (I swear I’ll make it happen this time), and have plans to institute a membership program on this site, to eventually phase out my Patreon (which has a history of censorship).

I will be increasing the amount of work I do and start providing exclusive content to my members by the end of 2021, which I plan to include extra videos for subscribers. I will roll out exclusive content to Patreon in early 2021, then transition them to this site as I figure out how this site works more in-depth.

So I want to thank you for joining me on this journey. The Cyberpunk Dystopia is upon us, so we must pick up a torch and navigate it as best we can. I will continue to be a voice, and push back against the excesses of those that would rule us, and remind them that in Cyberpunk, underneath the censorship, and the oppression, there is a lawless subculture ready to challenge their status quo.

Time Management and Batching

Time management is the most illusive dream for many of us that spend our time juggling competing priorities.  How best to use the limited time we have in the day, to be the most effective we can be, while still accomplishing everything we set out to do for the day.  To some, Time Management requires rigid adherence to a schedule, that allows them to put together their day the best way possible; to others, it’s just a habit they have acquired over the course of years of practice, either by accident or because it was required of them.  Lee Iacocca believed that the ability to effectively use time was everything, and that concentration was the key to success.  He was right, of course; without the ability to concentrate, you won’t be able to complete the tasks you have set out to do for the day.

When thinking time management, you should also keep in mind the Pareto Principle: that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.  Thus if you can hone in on what 20% of the work you do provides that 80% results, you can prioritize it effectively, and thus have greater results in less time.  In fact, whole books have been written on the subject, most notable The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.  While I personally have yet to pare down my week into four working hours, I have noticed a technique, first introduced to me by Sunny Lenarduzzi, on how to be more effective in using my time: batching.

Batching is the act of taking all of the work of one particular type and scheduling a time to do the entire week’s, or even month’s, work in one or two sittings.  As an example, like me, Sunny is a YouTuber amongst other business interests.  She therefore needs to produce her weekly videos in a time-effective manor, so she can provide the content her hundreds of thousands of subscribers want to see, without taking too much time away from her other responsibilities.  This is where batching comes in; she schedules a time each month to do all of her weekly video production, a time period of about four hours, according to her video on the subject, to produce the videos she produces for each Monday of the month.  This allows her to effectively manage her channel, without taking swaths of time out every week to make sure the next week’s video is ready.

In my own work, I’ve done some experimenting with batching, and where I have used it, it tends to work very well.  My Let’s Play series were all batched each week, and when done correctly, I always managed to have the content produced and uploaded on time.  When I don’t batch, I have noticed that it’s easy to drop the ball and miss a scheduled upload, much to my chagrin.  In order to combat this, I have decided to implement some changes in how I produce videos, and will be making those changes in early September, to see how well they work out:

–Video Content for any individual segment will be produced in one sitting, split by a short break between videos. This means when I sit down to produce content, it will likely turn into a two-hour session.

–Thumbnails will be produced at the same time, in one sitting. This should only take approximately one hour for all seven weekly segments.

–Uploads will be done in one session. This should take only two hours per week.

–Articles for will be written in one sitting for the month, with an eye on producing content with a full month buffered (so articles written in May go live in July)Video content for any individual segment will be produced in one sitting, slit by a short break between videos.  This means when I sit down to produce content, it will likely turn into a two-hour session.

You may wonder why I’m telling you this.  After listening to Ferriss talk about how much time he recovered by focusing on his high-effectiveness activities, and how they have allowed him to recover a large amount of his free time, I reviewed what it takes to set up, and break down, for a recording session.  I realized that when I record my Fallout 76 videos, which go live every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, my work is usually efficient, set up happens once (usually taking about 15 minutes), as does breakdown (5 minutes), and the inevitable breaks in-between each video (5 minutes each if nothing happens).  This means that on top of the 90 minutes of recording, I also use 30 minutes of set up, take down, and rest.  In the event I don’t batch, and do videos separately, that same time would add up to 60 minutes extra (15 minutes of setup for each recording, 5 minutes of break down, but no break times).  This means I’m saving 30 minutes by batching these videos.

You may scoff at saving a mere 30 minutes of time, but to put things in perspective: I do 7 segments a day.  If each segment I batch together saves approximately 15 minutes in production time, less the first one per day, that means I’m recovering almost an hour and a half of my week.  This is the same amount of time it would take to produce all seven thumbnails, if done in similar fashion.  Additionally, while I upload videos in batch, I can use that time to do other things while I wait for the videos to upload and process, and start adding things such as end screens to my videos, something I have been long neglecting.  If you have ever tried producing anything on YouTube, you’ll know that end screens and postproduction extras really help grow a channel, and it’s something I’ve neglected, thus this will be an effort to correct for that.

So while I try my grand experiment in batching, I encourage you to do the same, and let me know how things go.

The Philosophy of the Sword

As a fencer, I find myself deeply rooted in the philosophy of what I am doing when I practice. There is measure, tempo, beat, rhythm, commitment, and balance. There is work, and there is pleasure. There is purpose, and there is recreation. While reading like something written by Lao Tzu, there is a definite wisdom to be had when practicing the Art of Defense, or any martial art; it is the wisdom of perfecting a skill.

In the modern world, we value competence, even when we don’t admit it. When we lack this competence, we look for other values to replace this core one, or come up with alibis for why we can’t become competent. This set of excuses does not work in martial arts, whether in forms, or in competition. This is because when practicing a marital skill, the exact level of competence in the art becomes readily apparent. In fencing, which is marked by speed, grace, precision, and calibration (control of how much power is in a blow) it becomes inescapable.

The sword is a weapon; in fact it was the first weapon that was designed specifically with the purpose of fighting other people. To date, it is the only personal weapon that can be used for no other purpose effectively (with the notable exception of the cutlass, which Americans call a machete when not used in warfare). To the fencer, however, the sword is not just a weapon; it’s a part of their being. To quote Lt. Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation in the episode “Reunion” when introducing his son Alexander to the Bat’leth, a sword unique to that series:

“No, no. Do not think of it as a weapon; make it part of your hand. Part of your arm. Make it part of you.”

This is what every fencer strives for; they seek to make the sword an extension of themselves. Fencer or Fighter becomes an integral part of their identity. This is because they are learning to do something that by its very nature is hard to do. It takes years of practice to perfect the art of defense; and I doubt there are any masters that would state it’s possible. However, in attempting to achieve that perfection, the fencer learns something that many of us have lost:

Perseverance, grit, and the pride of competence.

While I am not suggesting that everyone should go out and learn how to use a sword (although I do encourage you to take up a martial art for at least a year), I would encourage you to think about what such a philosophy of competence could do for your life.

In the meantime, I will continue working toward finding competence in my own art, even during these interesting times.

You Won’t Be for Everyone

As a content creator, you often find that what you produce is something you take great pride in. You live it, you breathe it, and you want your content to not only do well in the marketplace of ideas, but also to be genuinely enjoyed by your readers, viewers, or listeners. Sometimes, however, you run into someone that comes upon your content, and it’s not what they expect. Sometimes it’s because they ran into older content you made that was dynamically different than what you produce now; other times it’s because they were looking for something within your niche, but you didn’t provide them the information they were looking for.

Most people that run into that issue simply scroll on by; they realize this wasn’t what they were looking for, and continue with their lives. Others, on the other hand, decide that they need to let you know. In most cases, that feedback may be due to a genuine misunderstanding of what you were producing; for instance, criticism of an article that explains a procedure, but it’s for a different piece of technology than they were looking for, despite a similar or identical name (look for content on the Legend of Zelda and you’ll find yourself in a mess if you are imprecise in your search terms). Occasionally, you’ll find someone that decides they don’t like the direction your content developed in, and need to voice their opinion on it.

Rule #1: Don’t take it personally. Many people feel the need to express frustration, for any number of reasons, and in all likelihood you aren’t even the source of their underlying frustration. Nod at the comment and continue with your life. If you feel the need to respond, do your best to remain positive; biting remarks, sarcastic retorts, and the like do nothing to help the situation, and frankly make you look bad.

Rule #2: Don’t delete the comment unless it contains objectionable content. By objectionable, I mean the FCC’s definition of the term, OR the term as defined by the Terms of Service for whatever platform you provide content on. This allows people that search your content to know what criticisms you have faced for producing it, so they can provide constructive feedback if such feedback is needed.

Rule #3: Don’t give up. All too often we’ll find these comments inevitably come on the heels of a rough day; this can often rob us of our desire to continue on whatever path we’ve chosen to take. No matter what, you have to shake it off. Don’t let the negative feedback stop you; rather, let it feed your desire to build on what you already have.

Last but not least, while I have mentioned “haters” in the past, it is more often the case that the majority of these comments aren’t coming from true haters. Haters are people that are jealous of what you are doing, and the success you are building on by doing so. You will run into haters as you build yourself up, and you should appreciate every one of them; they tell you you’re succeeding. The majority of the people mentioned as the subject of this article, however, are just people that didn’t click with you. Thank them for their time, and keep on sailing.