John Locke's Politics

Locke had some good ideas about political philosophy:

  • People have natural rights to life, liberty and property.
  • Natural rights make sense according to reason and are also God's will.
  • Individual rights limit what other citizens and the government can do to individuals.
  • The government and law should treat everyone equally. Everyone is politically equal.
  • The government has limited power, not arbitrary or unlimited power.
  • The government's legitimacy comes from the consent of the citizens who prefer the government over the state of nature (anarchy).
  • The reason people form a government is to help resolve conflicts and protect rights.
  • The people in the government should work to benefit society, not for personal gain.
  • If a government is bad enough, the people have a right to rebel against it.

But Locke had some very bad ideas about education.

This info is from my newsletter. Read the whole thing to find out about Locke's nasty education views, the Barbary pirates, and some political links.

And sign up for the free newsletter. (2-4 emails/month)


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Letter to Jordan Peterson on Antidepressants and Rational Discussion

I like your videos, e.g. about identity politics, university, insight into human life, and the value of skill at thinking, writing, speaking, arguing, and reading. Let's have discussions to advance human knowledge and find truth.

I believe you're mistaken about antidepressants. Logically, at least one of us is mistaken. It'd be good to resolve this and find the truth.

You say [1] that if an antidepressant works, you'll know in a month. But how would you know? If your life improves in a month, it could have been for an unrelated reason, due to trying more, or due to placebo. The correlation between taking the antidepressant and then getting better doesn't imply causation. To know causation you have to figure out explanations of how antidepressants work.

You suggest that antidepressants either work or don't work, and are harmless. You suggest this by saying there's no good reason for people to resist trying antidepressants when they're "depressed". But antidepressants are harmful.

The explanation of how antidepressants "work" is they're brain-disabling [2]. That's what they do, not a side effect. That makes it harder for people to think about or complain about their problems, and harder to fight with others. It also motivates some people to lie that they're better in order to get off the drugs.

Peter Breggin explains [3]:

... except for the brain dysfunction and biochemical imbalances caused by psychiatric drugs, there are no known abnormalities in the brains of people who routinely seek help from psychia­trists ... All biopsychiatric treatments share a common mode of action: the disruption of normal brain function. ... all the major categories of psychiatric drugs—antidepressants, stimulants, tranquilizers (antianxiety drugs), mood stabilizers, and anti­psychotics​—​are neuro­toxic. They poison neurons, and sometimes destroy them. ... The currently available biopsychiatric treatments are not specific for any known disorder of the brain. ... they disrupt normal brain function, without correcting any brain abnormality.

I can elaborate on this, and on the additional issue that "depression" and "mental illness" are myths [4].

I searched for information refuting this position, particularly by you or referenced by you. I was unable to find it. E.g., I checked the six neuroscience books you recommend [5], searched your Quora, and listened to Rethinking Depression [6]. I also looked at other criticism of Breggin [7].

In Rethinking Depression, you say you disregard human antidepressant trials because of human complexity. It's too hard to measure the results, control all the factors like other drugs being taken, and prevent bias. I agree. But the same issues apply to judging whether a drug works in one individual's life.

You positively bring up animal trials. But human complexity also poses a problem for extrapolating from animals. Can you link a detailed, written explanation, citing animal studies, that you think should change my mind?

You say critics of antidepressants have unrepresentative experiences and don't appreciate the depths of human misery. You're right about some critics, but Thomas Szasz and I agree with you about human tragedy. I have nothing against people getting help (it's not a crutch), as long as that help is compatible with science and liberalism. I'm not denying the reality and severity of "depression" and suffering, I only deny that it's a medical problem and that antidepressants can medically cure it. Note that being a non-medical and non-genetic problem doesn't mean it's easy to solve, I actually think that means it's harder to solve. (Memes are more fearsome adversaries than genes.)

This is similar to identity politics in two ways. First, saying people lack appropriate lived experience, perspective, etc, isn't a good answer to critics. If they don't know something, it can be explained. Second, people have assumed that, since you object to trans pronoun laws, you deny the reality of bigotry against trans people and are unfamiliar with their suffering. Critics like that exist, but that isn't your reasoning.

Do you have additional arguments which address my points about antidepressants?

I like much of what you have to say, and don't think it depends on these claims about antidepressants.

Below I discuss objections to discussion and methods of rational discussion, then provide references.


You may have some objections to discussion like:

  • You're busy.

  • You're skeptical that I'm smart and knowledgeable enough.

  • You expect discussions of this nature usually don't reach conclusions with anyone changing their mind, ever, let alone in a timely manner.

  • If it turns out you're correct and I learn something, where's the value for you?

There are solutions to these problems which don't require giving up on addressing criticism and disagreement from the general public.

Today people get flooded with incoming ideas. People normally filter by prestige, popularity, gatekeeping authorities, social circle, subculture, and proxies for those. These filters are bad at finding the truth. Great new ideas often start off unpopular and look just like bad new ideas to the filters.

One of the solutions is a public, online, discussion forum where other people answer questions and arguments, so you don't have to personally defend everything. (For this, it's necessary to have competent supporters – without those, it's kinda only fair and reasonable that a serious intellectual must do a lot of work explaining stuff himself.)

Another solution is reusing ideas with links and references. If something has already been answered, simply provide the link. And take personal responsibility for any mistakes in that answer, even if someone else wrote it, since you're using it for your own position. Or if no one on your side of the debate has ever created an adequate answer to the criticism, then it's worth some time and attention.

This link reuse approach means only a new argument requires a new reply. And one can write general answers which address an entire category of arguments at once, and then only a different category of argument requires a new answer. Writing quality, canonical answers, and then reusing them, also helps avoid making ad hoc arguments for a position one has a bias about. It also builds up human knowledge.

Methods like these address the question: "If I'm mistaken, and you know it ... how will I find out?"

Answering all critical arguments is important because you could be mistaken. It's also a good way to learn. And providing answers allows for your critics to learn why you're right, or to give follow up arguments you haven't addressed.

People don't do this well. They go through life having inconclusive discussions, using filters to ignore some arguments, and staying mistaken about issues where better ideas are already known. There's a better way [8], which I can elaborate on.


References:

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuQgJxYriYI

[2] http://www.wayneramsay.com/drugs.htm

[3] Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry, 2nd edition, Peter R. Breggin. pp. xxiii, 2, 7

[4] https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Mental-Illness-Foundations-Personal/dp/0061771228/

http://www.wayneramsay.com/depression.htm

[5] https://jordanbpeterson.com/2017/03/great-books/

[6] http://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/rethinking-depression-part-1-1.2913549

[7] E.g. this criticism of Breggin is bad. I can provide details. http://quackwatch.com/11Ind/breggin.html

[8] http://fallibleideas.com/paths-forward


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (5)

Philosophy Consulting Service

I'm available for hire for philosophy consulting.

Philosophy is a big field. It includes reason which is a general purpose means of figuring things out, solving problems, dealing with mistakes, making good decisions, judging what's true or false, and more. Whatever issue you're dealing with, reason is important to handling it well.

Broadly there are two main uses for philosophy consulting:

1) You want to think better. Reason is my expertise. I'll help you learn it.

2) I apply my expertise with reason to solve your problems. You don't have to learn all about philosophy to benefit.

Visit my consulting page for more info. I explain who I am, what I do, how it can benefit you, example projects, etc.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Philosophy Consulting: Make Your Business Initiative

Rami Rustom wanted to increase sales at his 5 cell phone stores. He came up with a Make Your Business Initiative for his 15 sales representatives. He hired me to edit the document presenting it to his team. He liked my work:

I like it a lot. Way more positive. And of course way more understandable.

Definitely a good investment to set the stage for my reps.

Here's what I created for Rami:


Hey Team,

Ten years ago, this industry was full of order takers. An order taker is like a McDonalds cashier. They sit around and wait for sales to come to them. Our industry used to get away with that because there wasn't much competition.

Today, things have changed. The industry is very competitive and order takers are falling by the wayside. To succeed, we have to be more proactive and create sales, upsell those sales, and get more referrals, instead of hoping people will just walk in the door and place an order.

Verizon came down on us two years ago and again last August because our Smartphone Mix and MBB was much lower than their average. That means they considered us as passive order takers. And I agree with them partially. We were proactive with WOWing customers but we were too passive with upselling.

So I created the Smartphone/MBB initiative and we hit it hard and now we kill Verizon's average numbers. So no one can call us order takers anymore. I was proactive by creating the initiative and you were proactive by trying hard to make it work. So now we're good at upselling.
Today, I want to talk about the two components of the sales process that we're going to improve on next. They are follow-ups and referrals. Everyone, including Jason and I, have been too passive about this, and now it's time to get better. This will generate more sales, make more money for you and for Wireless Express, and better please our customers.

Follow-ups

Follow-ups are a way that you can take initiative to get more sales. If the customer doesn't make a purchase today, but he plans to in the future, then it's important to actively follow up with him and get that sale done. The way to do this is by scheduling a later time when he will come back and calling him to confirm the day before. And we're providing the perfect tool to do this right in gmail and we even have a video training to walk you through it; its called gtasks.

Follow-ups are also important with leads. We need to get leads on potential customers and then follow through with those leads to bring in more sales.

Referrals

That brings us to the second component which is getting as many referrals as we can in order to get leads on more customers who don't just walk in the front door. The best way to get leads is to ask for them. After you WOW a customer, let him know that you appreciate his business and see if he knows anyone else who might be interested that he can refer you to. Then follow-up on the referral.

Some referrals will happen by themselves, but by taking initiative with referral marketing we can do better.

Why do referrals work?

Let's consider how customers think:

  • Customers are not usually thinking about sending you referrals

  • Customers typically feel awkward when cornered into giving a sales person a referral

  • Customers worry because their reputation is at stake

  • The solution is to gain customer trust

  • Build rapport and WOW the customer

  • If they are confident in you, they'll often be happy to give you referrals.

  • Make sure to ask for your referrals. Take initiative and let them know that you want referrals. They probably won't volunteer referrals.

  • We’re bombarded daily with so many marketing messages. People have learned to filter them out.

  • But people don't filter out their friends and relatives.

  • When you get a referral, you have enough of a human relationship to get a little attention instead of being filtered out.

  • Most traditional ways of getting leads cost money. For example you can buy advertising. By asking our exist customers to help, we can acquire leads for free. And customers like giving high quality referrals because later their friend will thank them.

The Benefits of Referral Marketing

  • Consumers today have developed cynicism and distrust of advertising messages. When considering a purchase, we’re now much more likely to ask a trusted friend or acquaintance for a recommendation.

  • We listen to those we know and trust. When a friend of theirs has referred a potential client to you, a level of credibility and trust has already been established. They are more open to hear what you have to say.

  • Referral leads can turn into sales more quickly because the referrer (original customer) may already have told the referee (new lead) about what we do and why it's a good value.

  • Referral marketing is more profitable. That's because referred customers do less shopping around for the best price, so we don't have to price match as much. And we don't have to pay for advertising to bring them in.

  • To generate a steady stream of referrals will take effort, but may cost little or nothing at all. Did you know that Paul spends no money at all to get his referrals? Did you know that Paul gets zero walk-in traffic and earns 100% of his company profit from referrals?

How Do You Get Referrals?

  • Your service must be top notch. In today’s competitive marketplace, simply meeting your clients’ expectations isn’t enough. Aim to exceed expectations.

  • Under promise and over deliver. Remember: the person referring you is putting his or her reputation on the line. They must have confidence in you! So you must WOW them! Make them think, "WOW no cellular-guy has ever done that for me before!"

  • Ask for referrals. Your customers aren't thinking about you. You must make them think about you by asking for the referral. Be proactive!

  • Don't worry if you're not sure about how to do this. We've got more information in our WOWing document and our referrals training videos.

Follow-Ups!

  • Once you get referrals, follow-up on them.

  • When a customer doesn't complete a purchase, try to schedule when he will come back and call the day before to confirm the appointment.

  • Don't hope for sales to complete themselves, take initiative.

  • We'll cover all the details in our training videos.

But Referrals and Follow-Ups are not that easy, as we all know. So we've come up with a plan to make it easy. We'll discuss the plan below. First I want to help you understand the situation a bit more.

Think of it like this: out of the company revenue, we pay rent, advertising, your hourly wages, etc., just to keep our doors open to be able to bring in walk-in traffic. But that traffic is not enough to be profitable. It's a competitive marketplace and people can buy from so many places besides our stores. We have to be proactive to compete with all the alternatives.

Here's how our business can be successful:

  1. WOWing our customers, [we're already very proactive with this]
  2. Upselling, [we've already very proactive with this]
  3. Scheduling follow-ups, [we're going to improve on this]
  4. Driving referrals [we're going to improve on this]

What causes passivity?

What do we need to watch out for in order to do better?

I think it based in psychology. We think that our potential customers will come back to us because we've WOWed them and we think that because we've WOWed them that they will refer people. So it is hope. We 'hope' that they will do these things. But we've learned that hope is disastrous.

Remember the Sales Jeopardy video? It explains the dangers of hope: video link

Our potential customers are not thinking about us as much as we 'hope'. And they may not understand how commissions work. So help them out and tell them what they need to know. Tell them:

  • Tell them that you appreciate their business.

  • Offer them an ongoing relationship; that you should be their "cellular guy" for all their needs.

  • As part of the relationship, take notes on their situation. They'll appreciate not having to explain anything twice.

  • Tell them that you're looking for more customers.

  • Ask who they know that should have a “cellular guy” like you.

  • When they give you referrals, get names and phone numbers so that you can follow-up and so you don't have to hope that they'll bring the leads in the door for you.

If you don't bring these things up, they probably won't think of it by themselves.

*** THE MAKE YOUR BUSINESS INITIATIVE ***

So, we've come up with the Make Your Business (MYB) initiative. It will help you learn the tools and habits you'll need to be proactive with scheduling follow-ups and driving referrals.

And you know this is going to work. Why? We've thought hard about how to design this so it'll be just as successful as our past initiatives. Just think back to the results we got when we started the initiatives to increase Visual Voicemail take rate, 5Star take rate, Smartphones mix, and MBB percentage.

We've got a good plan and we know you'll be able to execute it when you give it a try, just like you've succeeded in the past.

The 'Make Your Business' initiative has three simple components:

1) Training

We've created videos to show you how to do everything for the MYB initiative, which you can find in the WX Video Training Log. There is also the audiobook 7 Habits of Highly Effective People which you can find in WX Files. I understand that its a 5 hour long book so please listen to that ASAP during your downtime at the store.

2) Tracking Metrics

Keeping track of our progress can help us improve. It can help you know what to focus on, and we need the data to do our job as management.

When people keep track of stuff, they can usually improve it. Why? Because it helps them reflect on your performance and as we've learned, reflection causes learning which then causes increased performance. But if they don't keep track, sometimes they let things slip, they don't reflect, and they miss out on opportunities.

I know it can seem like micromanagement to track a lot of information. But it will help you understand the MYB initiative better and see how you're doing, and we'll look at the information to help coach you and help you reflect to improve your sales.

For tracking metrics, there are two new sheets in the Sales Reflection doc, MYB Goals and MYB Daily.

You'll be inputting 9 figures each day on MYB Daily. Mouse-over each column header for an explanation of how it works, and we also have a training video explaining how to use the sheet.

MYB Goals will help us set and meet goals as we improve. We guess that you currently earn less than 10% of your company profit from referrals, so we put in an initial goal of 10%. You can change it if you want to. Each month, the goals will increase and your actual percent of referrals will increase too. And of course this means that your company profit will increase and that means lots more commission for you!

Once the MYB initiative is off to a good start, we'll be able to keep track of our progress metrics less. Who will be the first one to reach that point?

3) Motivation

We're adjusting commissions to better reward success in the MYB initiative. The old KPI commission structure is being replaced with the new Make Your Business commission structure. We'll now be focused directly on profit. The more profit you bring in, the better for us and the better for you.

These changes to commissions are not a raise nor a pay cut. It's just restructuring and you can expect to make about the same amount of money as before -- at least to start with. As the MYB initiative moves along and generates more profit, then we'll all be doing better.

Here is the new structure, which is a lot higher than the industry average:

    Starting at @ 8%

     $6,000+ @ 12% = at least $720

     $8,000+ @ 16% = at least $1,280

    $10,000+ @ 20% = at least $2,000

    $15,000+ @ 22% = at least $3,300

    $20,000+ @ 24% = at least $4,800

So as an example, say you earned $6,500 in company profit, that puts you at 12% commission, and that equates to $780 in commission. If you earn $8,001 in company profit, that puts you at 16% which equates to $1,280.16.

The MYB initiative is about being proactive. We'll do that with follow-ups and referrals. And that will bring in more profit. Higher profit will benefit Wireless Express and earn you a higher commission. Customers will also enjoy the proactive treatment because they come to our stores to get help. If they didn't want a salesperson's attention they would shop online.

The MYB initiative is all about initiative. So who's going to take the lead?

-- Rami

PS. We'll be discussing this during our next conference call so write down your questions. Or if you want you can reply to this email with your questions.


You can compare with the original document to see what changes I made.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fake Burke Quote Attacking Godwin

I found a quote of Edmund Burke trashing William Godwin:

'Pure defecated Atheism', said Burke [of Godwin], 'the brood of that putrid carcase the French Revolution.'

I was especially interested because I'd been unable to find any other direct quote of Burke saying negative things about Godwin. People claim Burke disliked Godwin, but I have my doubts and have searched for the evidence that those people never provide.

So I tracked down the citations, and ultimately the quote is unsourced. While doing that, I found another quote of Burke trashing Godwin which also turned out to be unsourced.

I also contacted an academic expert who agreed the quote is fake.

Here's what I looked up:

The defecated atheism quote is from Godwin's Moral Philosophy: An Interpretation of William Godwin by D. H. Monro.

I originally found it in a different Godwin paper which didn't even try to source it.

Monro says it's quoted from Ford K. Brown, Life of William Godwin (London, 1926), p 155

So I got that book. It has the quote along with a footnote. The footnote states:

Edmund Burke, who is also said to have called Godwin "one of the ablest architects of ruin." (Gilfillan's Literary Portraits (First Series, Edinb. 1845), p.16.)

I found the Literary Portraits book. On page 16 it has the architect of ruin quote, unsourced. It doesn't have the defecated atheism quote at all.

It's no good to source a quote to a secondary source without following the citations back to an adequate source. That spreads myths.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

By Any Means Necessary: A Violent Marxist Cult

(Co-authored with Justin Mallone.)

When you see violent thugs rioting in the streets, you may assume they're strong, scary zealots. They claim to care deeply about strongly-held political views. They present themselves as being so inspired and motivated that they're willing to fight for their ideals.

I want you to reconsider. Most of them are ignorant victims. They are abused and controlled by a few leaders (aka "community organizers"). Just like how cults control, indoctrinate and abuse people. Most of the violent thugs are actually weak, pathetic wretches with no money, no control over their lives, and no idea what's going on. They're sad victims to be pitied, not strong zealots to be feared.

Violence is a serious matter and the police need to provide protection and arrest rioters. Don't walk up to these people for a chat; they're dangerous. But do change your perspective on them.

Yvette Felarca & BAMN

Yvette Felarca is a leader in a left-wing, American, political cult called By Any Means Necessary (BAMN). They use violence for political purposes. They indoctrinate and abuse children. They're Marxists. They've been in the news recently for violently shutting down speeches by conservatives.

The ridiculous full cult name is Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary.

BAMN was created in 1995 by Attorney Shanta Driver, in Berkeley, California, in order to oppose Proposition 209. Proposition 209 ultimately ended affirmative action in the state's university system. Affirmative action is racist – it's literally about treating people differently according to their race – so BAMN is a racist group. More about BAMN.

Riots and Violence

BAMN participated in violent riots that shut down Milo Yiannopoulos's talk at Berkeley earlier this year, and Felarca defended the riots on TV! She said rioting was necessary to shut down Milo, who she victim-blamed as a fascist. She defined fascist as "someone who’s organizing a mass movement that’s attacking women, immigrants, black people, other minority groups in a movement of genocide." Milo hasn't called for killing anybody. Felarca is a liar who wanted violence first (to suppress ideas she hates) and made up an excuse second. BAMN's violence also led to suppressing the free speech of Ann Coulter and David Horowitz, and the students who invited them, at Berkeley.

Felarca has a history of personally participating in violence. She attacked a man and incited others to attack him at a gathering of white nationalists called the Traditionalist Workers Party in Sacramento in June 2016. That violence left seven people stabbed and nine hospitalized. A California Highway Patrol officer said Felarca's group started the violence, “If I had to say who started it and who didn’t, I’d say the permitted group didn’t start it." A statement from the California Highway Patrol agreed, saying that the Traditionalist Workers Party had obtained a permit and that "non-permitted groups confronted the permitted group, leading to violence."

And this violence is all part of a conscious strategy of, in Felarca's own words, building a "mass militant" movement.

A Danger to Children

This would all be bad enough if Felarca was a full time communist activist working for George Soros. But she's actually a teacher at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley. She uses her position of authority over children to recruit for BAMN during school. She pushes her political agenda when she's supposed to be teaching.

And BAMN isn't just a group of violent communists (that'd be bad enough!). It's worse. It's a cult which abuses children. BAMN lures children to join (including directly from public school) and uses intimidation, threats and force against its own members to prevent them from leaving. It has dozens of dirty tactics including lying to get people psychiatrically institutionalized when they try to leave BAMN and placing guards on people to prevent them from leaving.

BAMN Cult

There are numerous testimonials regarding BAMN's cult-like operation and recruiting methods. Secret Survivors of BAMN is a blog where people who escaped discuss their trauma and how the cult operates. They made it private after BAMN's recent rioting drew attention, but a copy remains publicly available.

I'll present three testimonials so you can judge for yourself what BAMN is really like and whether the police should shut them down:

Jevon's Testimonial

Jevon (PDF mirror) is a UC Berkeley Alumni. He was recruited into BAMN at age 14 and then pressured to leave his family (in Detroit) and live with BAMN members in Oakland. BAMN said he could get legally emancipated soon after and rejoin his family if he wanted to. But after he arrived in Oakland to live with Yvette Felarca, Jevon was instructed to change his name and cut off all contact with friends, family, and even other BAMN members in Detroit. (Isolating people and cutting them off from their old life helps cults control them.)

Jevon wound up being told he could go home after some time had passed, but the time to return home never came, a charade that continued for almost a year. Eventually he reconciled with his family and his mother bought him a plane ticket back to Detroit. But cults don't let members just walk out the door:

When they realized they could not talk me out of leaving, they got physical. Yvette Felarca came into my room one night and instructed me to read out loud a statement that Shanta Driver had written and convinced me to sign about how my family was abusive. Tired of debating my decision with them, I refused. That night, Yvette and other BAMN members took turns sleeping by my bed to “make sure he doesn’t go anywhere.” They confiscated my house keys to restrict my movement.

While trying to make his flight, BAMN members tried to take away his suitcase. Then three cultists assaulted him to grab his phone to prevent him from arranging to leave. Jevon fought off the assault enough for his mom to hear what was going on over the phone, and she called the police. BAMN lied to the police who were then hostile to Jevon. He eventually managed to talk the police into letting him leave after BAMN stole all his money and ID cards.

With the help of a neighbor Jevon made it to the airport and escaped. BAMN still did what it could to punish him for leaving the cult:

When I tried to inform other BAMN members about what had happened to me, particularly other youth many of whom I had recruited and therefore felt responsible for putting at risk, I learned that BAMN had denounced me to everyone. They told people that I had went crazy and turned against the organization and went to the police and that everyone should call off all contact with me. They were also instructed to report my whereabouts to Shanta because they were looking for me to put me in a mental institution.

From talking with people afterwards, Jevon learned that BAMN had treated other people in a similar way to his own nightmare experience.

Alex From Detroit's Testimonial

Alex from Detroit gives an account (PDF mirror) of his experiences with BAMN. He was manipulated by his girlfriend who threatened to dump him if he wasn't in BAMN's inner circle. And he tells us about BAMN's recruiting methods:

So they start out luring kids with field trips and the chance to skip classes for meetings. When I was at [Cass Technical High School] they had a very strong presence because Steve Conn was one of the math teachers and most of their student leadership came directly from Cass. The kids who are just in it for ditching school are [used] mostly as bodies and extra mass during the rallies and protests. They could care less what happens to these kids but the more numbers they have on their side the better the protests look to the media.

School teachers exploit their captive audience to recruit for BAMN. Children come to meetings to get out of school. What kind of system is that? Teachers shouldn't be encouraging kids to cut class and attend Marxist cult meetings instead. And then they use bored, powerless students as extra bodies at political rallies and protests which they sometimes turn violent!

Alex explains how involvement escalates as children are pressured to do more and more BAMN activities:

If you are not just in it for ditching school and had actual political leanings, they invited us to after school meetings where we would discuss current group events or if there was a particular rally, protest or election coming up we would do things to contribute to that, such as making signs and calling people who had signed petitions with their contact information. Here again, is where I specifically was pressured into doing things that made me uncomfortable. I do not like talking on the phone. I can talk to family members and I have, after years of doing it, been able to be comfortable talking at work. I used to have extreme anxiety about it. I expressed this very clearly to my ex and to the leaders of BAMN but was given the impression that there would be consequences if I didn’t ie: Being ejected from BAMN’s inner circle which would lead to being dumped.

It's cruel to make Alex work the phones when he could have easily done a different task instead. But uncomfortable, stressed, anxious people are easier to control. BAMN wanted to keep Alex off-balance.

Alex also describes being pressured to attend events even when he didn't know what he was protesting or why. In one city council meeting, Alex read a new Harry Potter book and only looked up or chanted when another BAMN member elbowed him.

At a political debate, Alex didn't know what he was protesting. His mom asked him but he couldn't answer. He was "instructed to come along to the protest, hold a sign, chant something and walk in a circle within a specific radius outside of [the protest location]. There was no other information given."

Interestingly, BAMN seems to recognize the ignorance of its members. BAMN's own pledge says:

To those who criticize the legitimacy of our walkouts or other youth-led mass actions by saying “most of the students/youth cannot even say what they are fighting for”, I say rest assured we are always fighting for our dignity, equality, respect and justice.

So the kids don't learn anything at school from their BAMN teachers who tell them to cut class for BAMN, and then they don't learn anything at BAMN either!

Jason Wright's Testimonial

Jason Wright's testimonial (PDF mirror) is about the Revolutionary Workers League, a predecessor to BAMN involving some of the same people like Yvette Felarca and Shanta Driver.

Jason reports members being publicly condemned for their private romantic problems, and then engaging in "Maoist self-criticism" where they talk about the struggles of revolutionary consciousness under capitalism and profusely apologize to the group for their private behavior.

What happens if you privately question any RWL decisions, such as kicking someone out because he didn't want to financially support a jobless RWL member? Shanta Driver "began shrieking" that Jason was a racist (the person kicked out was white, the person to be financially supported was black).

Being denounced as a racist by a cult leader had consequences:

The experience had a somewhat scarring effect on me in that it showed a number of comrades, already [possessing] a certain appetite for Stalinist style [bureaucratism], that I was fair game for criticism in the leaderships eyes. As such my political life was for several months very difficult in Albany. Sarah W. and Yvette F. were continually denouncing me for one thing or another and I was held at [candidate] membership for an extended period of time.

RWL did not care about Jason's health or well being. People are easier to control while in extreme poverty and dependent on the cult for shelter and food:

While formally enrolled in college I neither attended classes nor worked. The RWL did not have many paid staffers, nonetheless I was subsidized (in an extremely minimal manner) by the organization in order so that I could work for the org. full time. I was constantly broke, without money for books or an adequate diet, couch surfing at various comrades apartments.

Later, RWL lied to have Jason involuntarily held at a psychiatric facility in order to prevent him from dissenting at an upcoming meeting. Jason explains:

I was horrified, I never felt so trapped against my will.

[...]

the RWL, in ordering comrades to undergo treatment, is utilizing a form of [bourgeois] medical process to marginalize inactive or oppositional cadre and isolate them from the party. This is horrible.

Cults don't allow dissent.

When Jason and his girlfriend decided to leave the cult, he was in a such a powerless situation that they had difficulty with basic matters like bus fare and packing luggage.

The RWL must have sensed [something] was amiss [...] From that moment on we were never left alone together.

They actually risked packing luggage to leave while being watched by a spy who, thankfully, didn't rat them out.

Felarca Indoctrinates Students

The Berkeley Unified School District has catalogued allegations against Felarca going back to 2009 which it detailed to Felarca in a 30-page letter. These included "immoral conduct, evident unfitness for service, persistent violation of or refusal to obey school laws, dishonesty, unprofessional conduct and unsatisfactory performance." Berkeley Unified School District's complaints include:

  • In 2009, Felarca "repeatedly solicited students to participate in protests" against a proposed charter school during the work day, in defiance of a formal reprimand.
  • In 2011, she asked for permission to take an after-school club on an all-day field trip to protest against Proposition 209, and was told she couldn't because it would be a chance for her to "indoctrinate" students and violate what she'd been told in 2009 regarding non-permitted activities.
  • In 2013, Felarca repeatedly used leave to attend immigrant rights marches in Washington, D.C., which is not a permissible purpose for leave. They docked her pay and told her to stop, but she kept doing it. When they tried to have a private meeting with her, “employees in the District office were confronted with a loud group of over ten young people … chanting and carrying signs” protesting “teacher harassment.” Felarca refused to answer how the students knew about the meeting.
  • Felarca wrote a celebratory Facebook post that the District was backing down on discipline and "encouraged supporters to sign a petition that called Felarca a hero and role model, and said she should be allowed to use personal leave at her discretion."
  • The District said “it was evident that you and your [By Any Means Necessary] representatives were actively trying to brainwash and manipulate these young people to serve your own selfish interests in not being held accountable to the same rules that apply to everyone else. As a teacher, your conduct was particularly reprehensible.” [Emphasis added.]
  • In 2014, Felarca allegedly misused her leave again, protesting UC regents and participating in Black Lives Matter demonstrations. She then lied and claimed she had no recollection of these events, despite the fact that:
    [Felarca] had taken two full days off work to attend, had spoken during public comment [as documented on YouTube], had a large bullhorn in [her] hand outside and spoke to a large group of students, and passionately and loudly advocated for [her] cause; and despite the fact that [she] clearly wanted the attention and media coverage. [Felarca's] continued and repeated claims, frequently accompanied by long pauses and a smirk on [her] face, that [she] could not recall being there, were patently dishonest.
  • In 2015, Felarca requested permission to take students to immigration court for the hearing of a woman seeking asylum, and didn't disclose BAMN's involvement in the case. Felarca's request was denied, but she went anyways and was interviewed on TV during the event.
  • The District also claims that a parent contacted them and said Felarca had “marginalized Caucasian students” in her classroom and presented controversial issues in a biased manner.

After all this and her Sacramento violence, Felarca finally was put on leave in September of 2016.

What was Felarca's reaction to being put on leave? She followed her previous pattern of weaponizing her students and other supporters against the administration in a high-pressure campaign.

At an October 5, 2016 meeting of the Berkeley School Board, various Felarca supporters spoke out, with some making references to Felarca teaching them their "rights" as immigrants as they were cheered on by the crowd. One particularly troubling scene makes clear how much this was an organized political action and not a spontaneous outpouring of support from students. A young boy appears to be directed to read a statement by a woman wearing a BAMN t-shirt. In the course of the statement, he says "That's not fair, that the District don't let Yvette bring kids to protest." A young girl speaks immediately after (with the BAMN minder still present), repeating the same theme and saying "It's not fair what you guys are doing, because Ms. Felarca deserves to take kids out to protest on her free time" and concluded her statement by bashing President Trump. Observe that this defense of Felarca is the very behavior the District had been asking her to stop since 2009 (that is, taking students to political protests).

The October 5 meeting ultimately descended into chaos when protestors started shouting & chanting when the Board attempted to move to the next agenda item.

Felarca also filed a lawsuit against the District in October, claiming that "BUSD had interrogated her students, removed her from a staff meeting, and threatened to withhold funding, for longstanding programs, from colleagues who expressed support for her." And Shanta Driver filed a lawsuit on behalf of 8 students against the District in November "alleging [the students] were racially targeted and intimidated by district officials."

Felarca was ultimately reinstated on November 2, 2016. One might reasonably think this a result of Felarca's high pressure tactics and the use of her students as weapons against the BUSD. But it may be more because Felarca has friends in high places: the Mayor of Berkeley, Jesse Arreguin, is a member of BAMN's Facebook group and Facebook friends with Felarca.

And what did Felacra do in 2017 after keeping her schoolteacher job? Organize anti-free-speech rioting (discussed earlier) which destroyed over $100,000 of property.

It's disturbing that Felarca still has a job as a school teacher after all this violence, indoctrination of children, and refusal to do what her employer asks.

A Sad Story of Victims

Members of BAMN and other "anti-fascist" organizations present themselves as zealots so committed to their political cause that they're willing to use violence.

But the reality is different. We've seen that many members are children abused by the BAMN cult. People join to skip school classes or get lured away from their family and aren't allowed to leave. Children are tricked by authority figures like their teachers. Many are victims, not zealots.

And then BAMN uses criminal tactics to prevent members from leaving: violence, guards, lying to members, lying to the police, and lying to psychiatrists. As well as pressure, psychological manipulation, denunciations, etc...

This is a monstrous evil. The cult leaders should go to jail. But the victims actually could use rescuing.

Perspective

BAMN's leaders are violent criminals who are a lot better at exploiting children than understanding politics and economics. They should be prosecuted and shut down.

The bulk of BAMN's membership are abuse victims who would benefit from learning American values and the American way of life. They're not protesting because they disagree with society – they never learned how to be part of society in the first place.

Next time you see an anti-free-speech riot, remember it's just a facade. Behind the mask of strong, violent zealots are weak, pathetic sheep. They may be able to throw a few rocks and start fires but, as usual, evil is impotent.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (59)

Liberalism + Popper = TCS

I was asked:

How did people find out about how to find Common Preferences and TCS [Taking Children Seriously] stuff?

Here are two of the big ideas that went into TCS:

  • Karl Popper's philosophy, which is about how people learn.
  • Liberalism, which is about how people deal with each other.

Liberalism includes some of the world's most important ideas. Many thinkers and writers have tried to advocate it. And its opponents often try to steal its concepts. Some liberal ideas are peace, freedom, progress and cooperation. Today, everyone says those are great – even the people who actually hate peace, freedom, progress or cooperation.

Liberalism talks about how peace, freedom, progress and cooperation imply capitalism and free trade.

Most liberal thinking focuses on politics. It looks at topics like government, laws, rulers, production, wealth, commerce, and fighting (including big stuff like wars and genocides, and also little stuff like robberies or assaults).

Liberal ideas also have a place in families. Families need peace and cooperation, not fighting. People in families need freedom and want to make progress in their lives.

Liberalism has criticisms of authority. Families usually have the parents as the authorities over the children. And sometimes the "man of the house" is the authority over his wife, too.

So part of where TCS comes from is taking liberal ideas, and understanding them well, and applying them to families.

Popper focused the most on how learning works in science. But his ideas apply to all learning. And he knew that. But he didn't write much about children or students learning. He didn't write much about education.

TCS took Popper's ideas and worked out what they mean for education and parenting. We looked at what the implications are.

Popper's ideas contradict authority. They don't fit with having authorities.

Popperian philosophy says to judge ideas by what the idea says, not by who said it. So if the child says an idea, it doesn't matter who said it, it's just an idea. You have to look at whether the idea is good, not whether a child or parent said it.

Popperian philosophy says that people have to think in order to learn. The learner has to do most of the work. You can't pour ideas into someone's head like water into a bucket. The learner has to figure stuff out.

Popperian philosophy says that finding and fixing mistakes is really important. People make mistakes. So we should look for them and fix them. And to find and fix mistakes we need criticism. Criticism means trying to point out mistakes. Lots of people don't like criticism, but it's really helpful. Parents should be happy to get criticism from their kids, but usually they aren't.

If someone understood liberalism and Popper really well, and then they thought carefully about education and parenting, they could come up with some ideas similar to TCS. Maybe not all the details, but a lot. It'd be really different than regular parenting. But people don't do that, instead they hurt their children's ability to learn.


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Can Win/Win Solutions Take Too Long?

Win/win solutions don't ever take too long.

Suppose you have conflicting ideas X and Y. Then you can decide: "this would take too long to sort out whether X or Y is better. so I will just do Z right away b/c it's not worth optimizing". Z can be a win/win.

note: Z could be X or Y, but is more often similar to X or Y but not exactly identical. Z can also be some kinda compromise thing that mixes X and Y. or Z can be something else, like a simple, unambitious alternative.

if doing Z is something that the pro-X and pro-Y factions in your mind can be happy with (since they value saving time and not over-optimizing), then you have a win/win.

so that's why win/wins never take too long. the cases where choosing between X and Y would take too long are addressed in this way.

if you cannot find a Z which is a win/win, you have a problem to address there. it's worth some attention. why does one or both factions in you reject every Z you think of? the reason is worth considering more than zero. it ought to be addressed somehow. you need to know what's going on there and come up with something OK (not terrible) to do about it; don't just ignore the problem.


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Cosplay and Effortful Appearances

Cosplay (e.g. dressing up as anime characters), goth and various other less mainstream fashion hides how naturally beautiful (by our current cultural standards) you are or aren't. Costumes cover you more and divert more attention to your clothes and accessories, and they sometimes include heavy makeup or even a mask. This is attractive to people who'd have less success with mainstream beauty. It's not a coincidence that you get lots of less-pretty people in fringe groups favoring appearance styles which make their physical appearance less relevant. Less-pretty people also decide to be trans at higher rates.

Cosplay also lets you put lots of effort into your appearance. It makes it socially acceptable to try hard. You don't have to pretend, "This old thing? I just threw something on." when you make a costume. That's appealing to people who are less naturally beautiful (by our culture's current standards) and want to put in effort to compensate.

More mainstream fashion has a lot of behind-the-scenes effort where you do subtle makeup and try to look like you didn't put much effort into your appearance (that would be shallow!).

This relates to the "law of least effort" explained by PUA site Girls Chase. The law is clearly explained in the book: whoever appears to put less effort into a social interaction has the social status advantage. Note it's about appearances, not actual effort behind the scenes.

Cosplay is an exception which lets you openly put lots of effort into your appearance in a socially-acceptable way.

So what? I think social dynamics that no one talks about or points out (afaik) are interesting. And mean.


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Compulsory Government Education

The Final report of the Commission on industrial relations is a large government report from 1915. It has a disturbing section on education [emphasis added]:

All minors entering industry after 14 years of age are entitled to further aid from organized society in order to enable them to complete their vocational and cultural education. This is possible only through the establishment of compulsory daytime continuation schools of at least five hours per week at the expense of employers, and night schools.

This is supposedly about helping people. Why is compulsion the only possible way to help people?

These schools, in order to be of value, must be compulsory upon all minors in industry up to at least 18 years of age.

Why? No reasoning is given.

Our children need to know more as to their economic value, and more of their social duties and responsibilities. The schoolhouse is the place where much of this should be taught, in order that the duties of honorable citizenship shall be appreciated. Real social service is the highest attainment the individual can aspire to reach. All education is of value in life and the State should properly be held responsible for the education of her children, in order that the best possible use shall be made by the greatest possible number of the opportunities of life as they present themselves from year to year.

This says the State owns "her" children and must educate them to appreciate their social duties so the best possible use of their lives can be made.

This is really scary... And lots of it has now been implemented in today's "public" (state) schools which indoctrinate children on a massive scale.

The report also states:

The minimum amount of education which any child should receive is certainly the grammar school course, yet statistics show that only one-third of the children in our public schools complete the grammar school course, and less than 10 per cent finish high school.

How things change in 100 years! Now our society takes k-12 schooling for granted without much thought.


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Health Insurance and Psychiatry

A Health Care Plan So Simple, Even A Republican Can Understand! is Ann Coulter's new article advocating the free market regarding healthcare. It's good. I have a point to add:

INSURANCE COMPANY: That will be $700 a month, the deductible is $35,000, no decent hospital will take it, and you have to pay for doctor's visits yourself. But your plan covers shrinks, infertility treatments, sex change operations, autism spectrum disorder treatment, drug rehab and 67 other things you will never need.

Unfortunately, having coverage of things you will never need isn't merely wasted money (or, essentially, hidden taxes to pay for other people). In some cases it's actively harmful. Rather than paying for zero value, it's paying for negative value.

The main issue is involuntary psychiatry. It's harder to subject people to unwanted "treatments" when you have to find someone to pay for it. The victim doesn't want to pay, the people who don't like the victim usually don't want to pay, and the mental prison won't pay. So who pays? Sometimes the government steps in to pay, but not always. You know what makes it easier to victimize someone? When the victim's insurance company pays. You can have a psychiatric "treatment" you don't want -- such as being imprisoned without a trial -- paid for by your own insurance company, against your will. Sometimes this makes the difference and gets you imprisoned when you wouldn't have been otherwise due to lack of funding.

Unfortunately, millions of Americans are harmed by psychiatrists every year, so this kind of issue is not as rare as one might wish. I provide some details on this in the next section, below.

There's also a milder scenario, which is you're pressured to see a psychiatrist. Or you're pressured to make your kid see a psychiatrist. Pressure can come from a teacher, friend, spouse or boss. Sometimes the pressure is tiny, and sometimes it's heavy pressure. And if you don't have insurance, you can use price as an excuse not to go or not to send your child. But if your insurance (or employer, school, or government) will pay, then you'll have to come up with some other reason to resist the pressure. Losing a particularly convenient, socially-acceptable excuse to say "no" will result in some unwanted trips to psychiatrists for some people.

So it's worth cash not to have psychiatric coverage. It'd be worth paying a higher monthly premium for it to exclude psychiatry coverage, if that were allowed (it's not). How much it's worth to get rid of psychiatric coverage is difficult to judge, but it's something.

It's the same with drug rehab. Suppose I took drugs for some reason, and then my friends were all pushing me to go to rehab but I wanted to quit on my own at home. The price of rehab – which my friends wouldn't want to pay – would be a good excuse that would help me resist their pressure and stay home.

I also wouldn't want coverage for any kind of "help" from social workers.

An interesting case is marital counseling. That can have value to people who go voluntarily, but it can also hurt people who are pressured into it. Even surgery depends. It's possible for a sports player to be pressured into a risky, expensive surgery that wouldn't have happened without an insurance company to pay for it.

The big picture is it's actively bad for you to have money readily available to pay for things you don't want. It's easier to avoid harm when finding money to pay for it is an extra obstacle in the way of it happening.

Also: read Thomas Szasz's short article, The Myth Of Health Insurance.

Psychiatric Harm

Just in California, there are over 300,000 involuntary psychiatric imprisonment orders per year. Many are converted to "voluntary" status because they will be locked up longer if they don't. Sucking up to one's captors is the standard path to freedom, rather than standing up for yourself. Many people are released quickly if they confess they were in the wrong and take a drug which causes brain damage.

Any time during a 72 hour hold, the doctor may arbitrarily place the victim on a 14 day hold if he wants to. At the end of the 14 day hold, the doctor may add another 30 days if he wants to. Meanwhile, family members are discouraged from showing up at all if a probable cause hearing takes place. And the probable cause "hearings" do not involve standard legal protections like excluding hearsay from counting as evidence. Victims commonly don't even get to wear normal clothes, they are forced to wear a hospital gown which is prejudicial.

In Florida, 194,354 involuntary (Baker Act) examinations were done in one year, and the number has been increasing significantly over time. This count intentionally ignores up to another 5,952 instances where the examiner forgot to write the date on the form. These involuntary examinations can last over 72 hours. This number includes children who were 22% of the victims. Roughly half of time time this is initiated by "mental health professionals", and half the time by law enforcement. Children are more likely to be victimized on school days. 22.7% more men are victimized than women, which the sexist report downplays as "slightly more" men.

The Florida numbers are substantial underestimates about psychiatry's reach. How many people say "no" to an authority when told they can agree to be examined now, and if they hesitate, are told their alternative is a legal order that they be examined anyway by a now-hostile examiner and lose their rights for 72 hours? That's common and documented.

The California Hospital Association says 4.1% of American adults are labelled seriously mentally ill per year and 58.7% of them receive some form of "treatment". After a little math, that means 6 million American adults per year are labelled seriously mentally ill and then have something done to them by psychiatry.

This is scary stuff. And there's a lot more info like it, and plenty that's worse. E.g. look up the present day use of electroshock "therapy" (torture) and lobotomy in the US. The FDA actually came out in favor of electroshock last year.


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Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (2)

Syria Missile Strike

My quick thoughts on Trump's missile attack on the Syrian airbase which Assad launched a despicable chemical weapons attack from:

Trump's attack was a pretty moderate, normal, mainstream thing to do.

It was OK, not great.

It's not what Trump said he'd do. E.g. in 2013 Trump wrote a bunch of tweets about staying out of Syria.

I'd prefer if Trump focused on his campaign promises more – destroy ISIS, get out of the Iran deal, build the wall, repeal Obamacare, and move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. None of those issues are going very well so far.

There's a selective attention issue. Why is this the right conflict to intervene in instead of a different one?

Trump and others haven't explained the self-interest of the attack in a clear, convincing way. What are the big-picture goals we're hoping to achieve by intervening? Spending $75,000,000 to help a few foreigners in the short term is bad policy which is contrary to the purpose of the US government and the purpose of our taxes.

Most people believe military actions should be proportional. That's wrong. They should involve whatever force is necessary for effective defense and resolving the problem.

It's bad to get drawn into back-and-forth tit-for-tat conflicts with only minor escalations. Ongoing fighting is awful. Instead, take little or no action until you're ready to go all-out and win. Trump's strike isn't anything like a last warning or second-to-last warning. It was just a response and Trump has threatened to do more small responses if Assad behaves badly again. That's a bad approach. (But note also that it's a moderate, mainstream approach. I'm the one who is out of the mainstream in my views here.)

If you're going to get involved in military conflict at all, there should be a plan to win in a fast, brutal, one-sided, non-proportional manner which is either pursued immediately or else threatened and ready. If you're just bluffing and have no plan for winning, stay out of it.


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Don't Bring Up Your Own Negatives

People are often nervous, defensive and stressed out about flaws they have.

For example: they are short, they have a small dick, their breasts are too small, they weigh too much, they have a blemish...

If everything else goes well, many of these issues frequently wouldn't matter to their date. But people bring up their own flaws and then act weird about them. The social awkwardness of saying, "I know I'm too fat but please don't be a bigot against me" is a much bigger problem than an extra 10 pounds. Saying, "I'm going to warn you in advance that I have a small dick, but I'll be really try-hard to make up for it." is even worse. (They don't say "try-hard" in those words, but they say stuff which has this meaning and is unattractive for this reason.)

It's ironic because people create their own disasters by awkwardly drawing attention to their own flaws. Then they take that as evidence their flaws are a big deal, deal breakers even, and so they're even more worried the next time.

If you don't bring up a flaw, a lot of times it will never be brought up. Relax and focus on stuff that matters, not "flaws" that aren't even a big deal you're just worried the other person will care about. If you don't want someone to care about something, don't start talking about it!

The same issue comes up in other contexts. Don't have a lot of work experience when applying for a job? Or maybe you haven't already done work exactly identical to what this job involves. Or you had a 2 month break between jobs. Or you got a B in a relevant university class. Or you and your previous boss didn't get along. In general, don't mention it. Don't start objecting to yourself and telling them reasons not to hire you. Address it briefly if they bring it up, but often they won't.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (6)

Vacation Travel Is Overrated

People go on vacations and enjoy them. But they routinely mix up several different benefits, some of which are unrelated to traveling and staying at a hotel somewhere.

Traveling to a place with something good about it (sunny beaches, museums you want to visit, etc) is one benefit of vacations.

Not working for a while is another benefit. People have more free time while on vacation. You'd still get this benefit if you took the same time off work but stayed home.

Another reason people like vacations is they spend more money. Not just on travel and the hotel, but also on food, spas, massages, entertainment and conveniences (to save time or hassle at the cost of money). They are less frugal about buying luxuries while on vacation. It's a common mistake to attribute some of the fun of this additional purchasing to travel. They could stay home but go to nice restaurants for a week and buy some other stuff they want, like they would on vacation, but without also buying a plane flight and hotel room.

I consider vacations (and travel) overrated. There are some good things about them, but try not to mentally bundle everything together. Recognize that you could do some of the stuff you do on vacation (take time off work, spend more money on your happiness for a week) without traveling, and save a lot of money, and it'd be better and more convenient in some ways. (Your home is nicer to stay in than a hotel room unless it's really expensive, and even then your home has all your stuff. And you have your car if you stay home.)


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