who the heck knows anything, anyway

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Giving What We Can

Today I officially joined Giving What We Can (a long time coming, I know!) and took the pledge to donate at least 10% of my income for the rest of my earning life to eliminating extreme poverty on a global scale. We are all humans, we are all family, and (being a Gryffindor with strong loyalty tendencies) I'd do anything to help my family.

If you're interested in evidence-based giving (charity + science!), you should check out the Giving What We Can website, and also check out GiveWell for charity evaluations. And if formulae aren't your jam, look at charities like Deworm the World and the Against Malaria Foundation, which save lives (and promote education as a result--you don't miss important days of class if you don't have to deal with malaria) in a super tangible way that will give your heart warm fuzzies.


And here's John Green talking about these feelings in the context of Syria and the refugees in search of safety. I recommend the whole video, but skip to 7:17 or so for the heart of the message:

While we're on Syria, I also donated through Google, since they were matching donations 1:1 up until ~$6 million, and from the conversations in effective altruism circles and the articles I've read, unless you're a politician, the best we can do as private citizens in the USA is to write letters to government officials and send money. I sent money today. D and I are writing letters on Sunday. Here's a link to the UN Refugee Agency--a very reliable place to send your donations. You can also donate to places like Doctors Without Borders.

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Friday, September 11, 2015

The two peer groups I interact with most are: 

1. Rationalist Utilitarians (or those who identify generally in one or both of those terms)
2. Existentialists who Do Art

This makes my brain a mashed potato of feelings. If forced to pick a Philosophical Camp, I'd definitely identify as an Existentialist, but I've spent a ton of time with (and am married to an) utilitarian(s). They rub off on you. You start to incorporate effective altruism with your more heart- or passion-motivated giving. You consider your political biases and think "wait, but WHY do I feel this way, and what does the EVIDENCE say?" And then sometimes you change your mind. It's awesome!

However, my Existentialist brain promotes thoughts like "TAKE CHANCES, MAKE MISTAKES, GET MESSY!" My existentialist brain says: "You want to live in the woods by the water? Go move to the woods. Go live by the water. Pete did it. Pete is a beautiful writer. Pete is probably sad, because every good writer you've ever met is sad, but he also loves his life, and you'll always be sad, so how can you love your life?"

My rationalist brain says: "Factor in costs, factor in distance from your people, factor in practicality, factor in expected emotional impact, factor in factors on factors on factors."

I'm lucky. I'm starting in on tattooing, which is a super mobile career (especially on the west coast of the USA). I could move to a beach town and set up shop. My partner is a contractor, and his work is online. We're free to go (theoretically) anywhere. Most people do not have that luxury. But, like most people, the things holding us where we are, are family, friends, roots, normalcy, convenience. And I don't mean "convenience" as some kind of lazy synonym (although it is partially that, too) but the fact that living in a city means you don't need to own a car. There's an airport a 20 minute drive away, and the buses take you there in an hour if a family member can't drop you off. You can walk to the grocery store. You can meet your BFF at the park at 11. These things change when you move. A person is required to depend on a car to see family regularly, even if you're lucky enough to live in a walkable town.

I just want to melt into the forest ground and talk to animals. I want to be Saint Francis. 

I don't know what to do. And people are going to tell me that what I should do, what I want to do, is stay here--but when do you know you're staying because it's easy and not because it's good?

How the flip do people make decisions?? And when you're married, two people have to AGREE on those decisions. Decisions are crippling, man. They can be your whole life. And some decisions that seem huge are essentially inconsequential when it's all added up, and that's stupid, too! Just be honest, life! Ugh!

#feelings or whatever