Who are you R. Anthony Steele? Just who are you? I’d like to know the answer to that question myself. I ask that question of myself pretty regularly. Strangely, I rarely have an answer. Once upon a time I worked for a living. I worked in the sun if I had to. I worked in an office when I could. Like most people I defined myself by what I did for a living, and for about twenty years I was a CAD Guru. Specifically, I was very good at using CAD to document architectural projects. I was so good at this process that I eventually was granted an architectural license and could call myself an architect even though I had never attended an architectural college in my life.
That phase of my life came to an end when I was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, a rare disorder that inflicts vertigo on the people who suffer from it, sometimes for days at a time. That was in 2003. I applied for disability in 2003 and was eventually granted disabled status from the United States government in 2005. That subject is a novel all by itself, as is the subject of my time in the architectural/construction/real estate development community. But I’m not my disease. I’m not my disability, and I’m not a CAD guru anymore. So, what am I then? What exactly am I?
I love to argue. I’ll argue any subject if the mood hits me. I’ll also leave conversational landmines untouched for years just to prove that I can avoid a conversation if the whim suits me, if the person I’m speaking to asks politely and if I respect them. I can leave that conversational landmine laying in plain sight for decades only to turn right around and step precisely on that fucker if I feel like it. I will roast your sacred cows and serve them to you with a garnish just to prove a point about the sacredness of your cows. I don’t do this out of spite, I do this because testing limits is how you find breaking points. This is what I did in the office and in the field when I was a working stiff. I look for weaknesses in a proposed product and then remedy those weaknesses by proposing alternatives. Weirdly, this kind of behavior gets me labeled a troll on the internet. So be it. I am also a troll as well as being a meniere’s sufferer and a former CAD guru. I don’t use that word to define me, but if the label fits there is little use in objecting to the label.
When challenged to write a short bio, as most of us are on social media sites these days, the bio runs something like this, Freethinking objectivist-humanist with Libertarian political delusions. Former CAD guru with an architectural fetish. Happily married husband and father. Meniere’s sufferer. Freethinker means atheist, for those who are confused by softer descriptive terms. I use freethinker because I don’t wish to be dismissed as an atheistic devil worshipper when what I am is a Pastafarian and happy to adopt that pretense as reality for the purpose of defeating religiously based arguments. Anyone can have beliefs they can’t substantiate. This does not change the universe in any measurable way. Apologies to the religious who are offended by this. These are facts, and you’ll run across a lot of those here.
I like the word Objectivist because I like to set out the fact that objective reality exists very early on in any discussion. It exists and we can perceive it, even if that perception is flawed. Post-modernists can go fuck themselves. I have no time for their wishy-washy philosophical claptrap. What I don’t like about the word Objectivist is that Ayn Rand stole it for her philosophy and then made her philosophy something that was pretty whimsical all in its own way. That is also a novel-length monologue that I will not get into here. Suffice it to say that the word is hyphenated with Humanist because humanism is the abiding philosophy that keeps humanity pointed in the right direction. Keeps humanity focused on serving human needs, not the needs of some false god or its prophet, even if that false god is capitalism itself.
Which is why libertarian delusions are delusions. Because libertarians in the United States worship at the altar of capitalism. They are deluded by the belief that a dollar has value and that working for dollars produces value that can be stored indefinitely. Hopefully that delusion will be washed away soon so that we here in the US can get on with progressing into the future; whatever shape that future might hold. Children are that future, which is why I have children and why I spend time worrying about what the future holds. Because I have a stake in that future. The things you care about are worth arguing or even fighting for.
The time I spent working on architectural projects in the past is now spent on synthesizing news and playing video games. Something that is generally done together. TV is a distraction, and a poor vehicle for delivering news content. Aside from which, you can’t participate in an MMO event and watch TV at the same time. I’ve tried it, it can’t be done. Keeping yourself informed is how you survive in the modern age, and the accuracy of your information can be the difference between surviving and going extinct as a species.
If it isn’t worth knowing, if it doesn’t have value translatable to the consumer’s life, then it isn’t news. I like entertainment just like anyone else does, I just don’t get it from the TV. I play games and I listen to audio programs, even though my ears are failing. Listening to audio frees up my body to do other things while keeping myself informed. Feedly is an excellent news aggregator, as is Nuzzel. Podcasts are streaming into my ears pretty much all the time I’m conscious and sometimes even when I sleep, if I forget to turn the headphones off. Bone conduction audio streams take my mind of the tinnitus, the ever-present reminder of my illness.
One of the podcasts I started out listening to occasionally started with the warning If he hasn’t offended you yet, he will. That disclaimer doesn’t go nearly far enough for me. I would actually go so far as to say, If I haven’t offended you yet I either don’t know you exist, or you are probably already dead. I offend everyone, even that podcaster on his own BBS before he took it down. The fact that I seem to offend everyone eventually is a fact I find myself apologizing for, repeatedly. This doesn’t appear to alter the behavior, though. I revel in playing the devil’s advocate and not telling anyone that’s what I’m doing. What is the point of a Devil’s Advocate that comes with a business card? They already know you’re pitching ideas for the Devil, they won’t give the ideas credit anyway. I am frequently a nonconformist simply for the sake of nonconformity. I will alter my own behaviors mid-conversation just to be different. I jumped off of large structures just to challenge my own fear of heights when I was young and crazy. I stopped jumping off of structures when I realized I might actually die doing it. I took mind altering drugs as a teenager even though the contents of my brain were already altered beyond the recognition of most of my peers by years of reading weighty tomes that they would never bother to pick up.
Physical limits exist to be tested and broken if possible. Mental limits are self-imposed and thus false. Distinctions are largely illusory and illusions should be subjected to as much light as can be focused on them. Illuminated not just to disprove the difference but also for the teaching that illusion can inspire.
I am offended by people who are mindlessly offensive. I have never had any time for shock jocks or conservative, conspiratorial windbags; people whose public gyrations are so transparently fake as to be indistinguishable from simple bad acting. Social Justice Warriors piss me off, even though I am probably the original SJW. I would befriend the fat kid on the playground specifically because everyone else picked on them. I would hang out with the children my parents told me to stay away from (for good reason, as the mind-altering drugs should have illustrated) White guys piss me off largely because I look like a white guy and I’d really rather not be associated with the rest of them, especially the ones who identify as white. The behaviors that become stereotypical of a group are the behaviors the members of that group should refuse to engage in, just on principle.
Is any of this true? Who knows. Maybe all of it is. Maybe none of it is. Ask someone who knows me, if you can find one. Lots of people think they know me, almost none of them really do. The one thing I will say that is certifiably true is, I live to be proven wrong on a subject. Those are the moments I value most. Starting to write a piece based on something I had the wrong interpretation of, only discovering during due diligence research the erroneous precept I was working from. Rewriting ensues immediately, accompanied by the reformulation of concepts on the fly. A miracle of finger-strokes is performed and prestoe! The error is avoided, the change synthesized, the new knowledge incorporated. To be shown to be wrong is the moment when you learn something. Everything else is self-congratulation and pride.
If I’ve written anything that offends you then I hereby offer an unqualified apology. It costs me nothing and saves me having to look over my shoulder constantly. If you think I’m wrong about something, feel free to let me know. Fair warning. I expect footnoted references for all attempted refutations. I expect clear writing in American English, although British English may earn you extra points. If you think you’ll use the comments section to get back at me for some slight or other that an apology will not cover, think again. As the comments page says “Ad hominems will be mercilessly deleted.” This is true even of the comments that are correct observations. Attacks on the person who writes this blog are not tolerated here. Attacks on the arguments are appreciated and awaited; in an amount that can be correlated to the well-crafted nature of the counter, the correctness of its punctuation. Which is to say: Any comment in all caps will be deleted without even a cursory reading.
Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeedBertrand Russell
Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the ‘transcendent’ and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.Christopher Hitchens
Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self.Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is something which you can do better than another.
Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that.
I moved your comment here, Michael. Leave me an email address next time!