Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Cloak of Invisibility

If you've read the title of the post, you might wonder whether I'm going to be constructing some elaborate metaphor about marginalized people or whether I'm posting about video games again.

It's video games.

I've been playing a lot of Hearthstone dungeon runs. It's very fun single player content which is what I want out of computer card games. I find Hearthstone fun to play, but when I play against other people, those people use up an
entire minute
deciding on their mulligan and then another entire
minute
before passing the turn without doing anything on turn one. I open up video games to play video games, not to fantasize about other humans beings choking.

I've written about hearthstone single player content previously. Sky at Bright Cape Gamer had written about the challenge in single player content and I had a very different take where I largely disparaged the idea of challenge in single player content. This time I am also launching off of something Sky wrote but instead of woe I am writing with incredulity. I agree with Sky's assessment - I like the dungeon run, there is challenge but it doesn't feel like just rolling the dice over and over, it's fun to keep doing even after you win. He's also right about
Potion of Vitality
. But he raises something I find super weird:
I have found it super interesting that people have wildly differing ideas of the power level of various items.  Some are obvious, such as the Captured Flag which gives your minions +1/+1.  It is excellent, one of the best for every class and strategy.  However, there is one in particular, the Cloak of Invisibility, that seems to have some serious disagreement on its strength.
Okay, so I guess I'm not surprised that Hearthstone players are not sold on the power of Cloak of Invisibility. Apparently people weren't sold on Dr. Boom when he came out. I heard people disparaging Darkshire Councilman when it was first available. The Hearthstone community is not good at evaluating how good cards are.

As above, Sky is right. It's good. Partly because it allows you to have good trades in combat, and partly because it has the potential to break the game against some encounters, particularly the Darkness, leaving them stranded with a full hand and unable to do anything for the rest of the game.

But what struck me is that anyone could even debate whether it's good or not in a general sense. I'm sure no one is debating whether doubling your battlecries is "good". There are a couple of decks that effect is very good in, but for most decks it's very close to useless.

Cloak of invisibility gives all your units stealth permanently. That doesn't obviously interact with cards the way double battlecries interacts with battlecry cards or sceptre of summoning interacts with cards that cost 8, 9 and 10.

Hearthstone is full of minions that have devastating effects while they are on the battlefield. It's
pretty obvious
that if your opponent can't remove your KelThuzad you win, but there are plenty of other cards that are very problematic if they stick around. Pirate and murloc decks that have cheap minions that buff other minions become very difficult to beat. Cards with powerful inpires like Thunder Bluff Valiant and Nexus Champion-Saraad are brutally overpowered when they can't be attacked. Frothing Berserker sometimes seems outrageously unfair when you can attack it, but when it can't be attacked it's easy to trade other minions while you beat them dead with a 15/4.

Cloak of Invisibility is the most broken effect of any of the passive treasures. Breaking the game is good, but you have to make sure it breaks in your favour.

It would be silly to try to say whether Robe of the Magi or Ring of the Justicar are good without thinking about what class you are playing. Khadgar's Scrying Orb is sometimes good and it sometimes isn't that good, but you can't evaluate it the same for
a warrior and a shaman
.

Active treasures lend themselves a little better to a strict ranking list where some are just plain a lot better than others. But aside from
a few
that are just all-around good and
one
that is all-around bad, the value of all passive treasures is "it depends."

Monday, 18 December 2017

Sex-Blindness

I was reading an article from the Atlantic about the American Republican party's troubles holding onto supporters who are female. I'm not exactly recommending it, since it could be summarized pretty easily by saying that the Republicans have long thought that they have a problem in the way the communicate with women, and they are being rudely awoken to the fact that they have a problem with their actual policies.

But there was one part I found a very interesting insight into how patriarchal policies work:
“This is one of the main differences between the left and the right: We don’t see every issue as being a ‘man’s issue,’ or a ‘woman’s issue.’ It’s not a men-against-women, us-against-them mentality,” said Sue Zoldak, the head of communications for RightNOW Women PAC. “I don’t understand the idea that something is a ‘women’s issue.’ I don’t comprehend that as a statement.”
This is an interesting way of casting right wing thinkers as the righteous ones on sex equality. Well, I say "interesting". It's not that interesting because it's exactly what they do with race as well.

The subtitle of The New Jim Crow, which I do recommend, is "Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness". The book explains at great length how "colorblind" language is used to justify policies that as a matter of fact disadvantage people of colour, but that never overtly target people based on colour.

The penalties for drug possession don't actually say that black people will be put in prison for longer than white people, but the laws against drug possession have clearly been used as a tool to incarcerate black people.

It's undeniable there there is a difference in the wages people get paid based on their sex. If you were to choose a sex based purely on maximizing salary, you'd choose male. While there are fools who deny it, some of this gap is based on straight up inherent bias - the employer simply offers a person who looks like a woman to them less money than a person who looks like a man. However, there's lots of reason to think that kind of bias is only a fraction of the gap.

This Vox article goes through a bunch of data and puts together a few patterns:
  • jobs where certain hours are of higher importance and jobs where working long hours are valued tend to be jobs where the gap is higher
  • the gap increases when people are 30 and 40 and then goes down when they are 50 and older
  • women are disproportionately doing the work of raising children
You put all that together and it looks an awful lot like women's duties to their families prevent them from achieving the same salary as men in jobs where work hours are very inflexible and/or long. None of this is all that new to anyone who's watched this discussion. It's actually a very common explanation of the wage gap from people who want to downplay it's importance - that the wage gap results from real world differences between how men and women work. If a man gets paid more because he was willing to work longer hours, then that wage gap is justified, they say.

The Vox article doesn't go this way, but instead suggests that something we could do to help close the wage gap is change our attitudes about work. Some jobs have inflexible hours for very legitimate reasons, others have them just because that's how it's always been.

What it stops short of saying is that financially rewarding people for their ability to adhere to inflexible work hours are a discriminatory practice hidden behind a veil of sex-blind language.

We like to think there is a clear ordering of things, a clear way to say what causes what: A person who is male has their wife take on more of the after work childcare duties which means they can stay late which makes their boss think that they are more committed to getting the job done which makes them more likely to get promoted or get a bigger raise, which creates a gender wage gap.

But that way of telling stories is systemically discriminatory. I could tell the story in reverse: It is pointed out that there is a gap between the wages of men and women at a company which causes people who are in charge of determining wages to come up with a rationalization for that gap that doesn't make them look sexist, which causes them to latch onto working longer hours as a reason to promote people and give them higher wages, which causes them to actually promote people based on that criterion despite the fact that everyone knows it's a poor criterion.

I could tell the story starting in the middle of the chain and cascading in both directions. I could tell the story as feedback loops with no clear beginning or end.
We can write stories in lots of ways.


The same goes for the story that women don't negotiate as hard for salary when they start a new job, or that women take maternity leave. We know that paying people more because of their salary negotiations and that paying people less if they took a year off to look after dependents are two ways of doing things that result in women being paid less than men. But we refuse to acknowledge that those two things are themselves sexist policies because they are coated in sex-blind language.

I think one way we can emphasize how sexist these policies are by pointing out that they serve no real world purpose. Rewarding people for working longer hours is likely counterproductive. The Vox article briefly mentions this:
It also means not giving disproportionate rewards to those willing to work the longest, either. Numerous studies find that long hours aren’t always productive. One study published last year found that managers couldn’t tell the difference between those who worked an 80-hour week and those who pretended to. 
"The research is clear," the Harvard Business Review declared last summer. "Long hours backfire for people and companies."
This isn't a revolutionary idea from last summer, though, it's been standard, accepted theory of business administration since Henry Ford if not longer. People who work longer hours are not more productive.

Similarly, is paying people more because they drove a harder bargain during their interview actually a way to get better employees? It might make sense if you are hiring people to do sales since for sales staff their ability to drive a bargain is a direct asset. For most jobs I think the answer is almost certainly no.

When we have widespread implementation of a policy that seems to sacrifice better outcomes in the name of producing more sexist ones, it's probably pretty easy to think of that policy as sexist. What about a policy we can make sense of, like paying people more if they have worked more years?

Maternity leave seems to connect to the idea of seniority. You pay people who've been there for five years more than you pay people who've been there for one. Therefore you pay someone who has been there for ten years more than someone who has been there for nine - that is, ten but took one of those years off.

But if you think that pay for seniority comes out of the idea that people with more experience are better at their jobs, I think you're applying a contemporary reasoning to a policy that has existed in many places for a long time. It's just as true that pay for seniority is about rewarding people for staying because turnover is hard on companies. For that latter explanation, a year of maternity leave doesn't change the reasoning for why you would pay an employee more. The rationalization we choose for our cultural tradition affects women's equality, and we chose the rationalization that goes against equality.

My arguments that these polices are sexist are, in a way, speculative. What I can say for sure is that discussing any of these polices without acknowledging their contribution to the gender wage gap is definitely sexist. Unequal pay based on gender is a bad thing. If it is the consequence of a policy, that policy had better be at least good enough to outweigh the harm.

Like if a company pays sales staff by commission and is convinced that paying by commission greatly increases the success of the company, they may acknowledge that it can also contribute to a gender wage gap by rewarding working for longer hours but say that it is nonetheless a policy they need to keep. Firefighters don't relax their rules about how much you have to be able to carry even though those result in discrimination based on sex. You can justify a policy as being important enough to overcome it's downside. But choosing not to even evaluate gender-based wage inequality as a bad thing is
explicitly
promoting sexism. It's shouting sexism from the rooftops.

Trying to frame policies in a way that is blind to discrimination is directly promoting discrimination. Policies may promote discrimation, they may reduce it, they may have no effect. If you don't care which one of those your policy does, you don't care about discrimination, and that means that you
support
whatever form of discrimination shows up in popular culture.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Solving the American Healthcare Debate

Whenever someone raises the idea starting a single-payer healthcare system in the United States, someone says it would cost too much. They act like people are naive and say things like, "I want a free pony too!"

According to OECD numbers, Canadians spent $4071 of public money per person in 2015. Americans, by contrast, spent $4692 of public money per person in 2015.

The Canadian system doesn't just cost less, it costs fewer public dollars than the American system. The private dollars poured into it by individuals are on top of this public spending.

We aren't talking about free ponies here. We are talking about stopping paying the full cost of a pony plus 15% to make sure no one has a pony, and then telling people they have to buy their own pony if they want one. I can't think of a reason for such a public policy other than lawmakers who feel indebted to the pony industry.

But I started thinking about those numbers. Suppose American lawmakers could wave a magic wand and having the Canadian system. In addition to all the private money that could be used for other things, the government would save $621 per person for 323.1 million people. That's just barely over $200 billion.

So you might think they are throwing $200 billion in a hole, but they aren't just throwing it in a hole, they are spending it. They are spending it to kill Americans. A 2009 study concluded that being uninsured meant about a 40% higher risk of death. America has a death rate of 823.7 per 100,000. The uninsured rate in America is was 11.3% in the first quarter of 2017. That death rate, is therefore composed of the 11.3% of people who have a 40% higher risk of death and the 88.7% who have a "normal" risk of death, which means the "normal" risk of death is 788.1 per 100,000. So the excess death rate caused by lack of insurance is 35.6 per 100,000. With 3231 groups of 100,000 Americans, that would give us
115,092 Americans dying each year from lack of insurance
.

Divide that into $200 billion and you get a price of about $1.74 million per american killed.

Now, let me ask you, what do you think it costs to hire an assassin?

That's not something I can google easily, nor is it even something I want to type into google. But I feel like it's safe to say you could procure that service for less than a million dollars.

So I have a solution to the current American healthcare problems. First, implement a single payer system that works much like Canada's does. Second, in order to mollify the people who don't like assistance from the government, also hire assassins to kill about 100,000 Americans a year.

Better health outcomes, lower prices. That's a win-win.

A Note for Those Interested in Making a Counterpoint
The math in this post looks simple but it's not that simple. Estimating the number of people who die from a lack of insurance is hard to impossible, and some people dispute there being any causal relationship between those two things at all. Some people want to say that no one dies from lack of access to healthcare, some people would probably point out that my figure of 115,000 is much higher than any other estimate, almost three times as high as the estimate from the study cited in one of my linked articles that was conducted before the ACA when there were more uninsured Americans.

So why would I use such a high estimate? I was being generous towards the current system. My calculation was the cost per American killed. More Americans killed by the current system means a lower cost per American killed. If a million Americans died a year from the lack of single payer healthcare, the cost would only be about $200,000 per death. At that point, you might say, "Humbabella, can you really get assassins for $200,000 a target? Maybe you could under some circumstances, but through government procurement processes?"

Then I'd have to admit that my plan probably wouldn't save money. But if only 10,000 Americans die for lack of healthcare then the cost is $20 million per American killed. There's no way that assassins aren't cheaper than that.

And if you think that no one dies for lack of healthcare, like some American politicians seem to, then I have two things to say.

First, you are transparently disingenuous and think I am stupid. Otherwise, you wouldn't want healthcare for yourself. If something that saves lives costs a penny more, other things being equal, some fraction of a statistical person dies. There's no way around that math.

Second, in that case you are paying $200 billion and not killing even a single one of your citizens for that? What the hell are you paying for?

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Dating Advice

I was watching a stream when one of the people in chat asked the streamer what to do in a romantic situation. The asker liked a girl but had done something to put her off. I didn't see the details because I don't real chat.

The streamer started answering that the best approach was to find ways to spend more time with her. Like walking home alone the same path she does. It doesn't matter if you actually live in that direction if she doesn't know where you live, the streamer explained. If she doesn't want to walk with you that's fine because it's not illegal to walk down the street. If she started running, you can run alongside her, because it's not illegal to run.

The streamer was joking. I was glad they clarified that because there wasn't really a way to be sure.

I can't rule out the possibility that the asker wasn't asking because they had a real problem but because they thought it would be funny, so maybe everyone got what they wanted. But it wasn't the first time that I've seen people in a chat for a Twitch stream treat the streamer like a kind of father figure who can provide advice about life. It feels odd to me. I don't think I have any reason to believe someone who streams videogames is going to also do well in a Dear Prudence type role.

But whatever the reason it got me thinking about what advice I have for the young people who see me as a source of wisdom. To be clear, there are none of those, but because of that, I want to offer the following.

If you are a
boy and you like a girl
and she doesn't notice you or doesn't seem to like you or just doesn't like you the way you like her, use that as an opportunity to learn that you are capable of tolerating your emotions.

First, realize that the feelings that are tormenting you are your feelings and they aren't something she is doing to you. There is nothing she can do to help you feel your feelings. Even if it turns out she's crazy about you, you are still going to have feelings. Sure, you'll recontextualize them as wonderful instead of agonizing, but you still need to deal with them.

Second, remember that feelings tend to get more intense when you try to deny them or avoid them but get less intense when you accept them. That doesn't mean you should profess your undying love so as not to "deny" you feelings. Professing your feelings to someone else is asking that person for help in dealing with your feelings, not dealing with them yourself. I'll borrow from Jalaluddin Rumi's "The Guest House" and say that we ought to treat emotions as welcome guests in our mind and invite them in to entertain them. That's not an easy thing to do, which is precisely why it's a good idea to get some practice in with your highschool crush.

Third, I said that telling someone else about your feelings was asking for help. I didn't mean not to do it. In fact, you should ask for help, but ask an appropriate person for help. It is pretty obvious that going up to someone you are infatuated with and saying, "I don't know how to handle my powerful emotions about you, perhaps you'd help me even though you don't really know me?" is not a strategy for a successful relationship. But going to a friend and talking about the anguish you are experiencing might help. If you don't have friends who you think you could talk to, that's actually a bigger problem than the infatuation situation, and you should probably seek some emotional support in the form of counselling. If you are a teenager or in university/college you undoubtedly have free resources available to help you.

Do not grow up to be a man who thinks that every time he is tormented by a powerful feeling there must be
someone else
to blame. That's way more important than getting someone to reciprocate your infatuation.

Also, if you want to get laid, start a band.

Friday, 8 September 2017

I'm Not Really An ACLU Fan

So I read an ACLU blog post today about a case where a wedding cake designer is discriminating against gay customers.

The case is clear cut discrimination. A gay couple went into a bakery that makes custom wedding cakes, asked for a wedding cake, and were turned away because the shop did not make custom wedding cakes for gay weddings. Anyone who doesn't agree that is
discrimination
is not sufficiently engaging with reality. A state-level court agreed with this obvious conclusion, though the decision that it was illegal discrimination was a little more complicated than you would think. I'll get back to that in a moment.

The government of the United States of America has decided this is a really important case that they'd better get themselves involved in. So they've filed an
amicus brief
in favour of the cake shop owner. That's no surprise because the Department of Justice is run by a bigot. But even though it's obvious straight up bigotry, the brief does actually make a legal argument, and one that might sway a judge.

The defense of the cake shop owner is that making wedding cakes is a matter of personal expression. He would sell any baked good in his shop to a gay couple, but he won't engage in a personal creative effort to express support for a gay wedding. That is, he's saying it's his first amendment right to not express himself in a way that violated his religious beliefs.

The court that ruled on the case originally considered this argument, they didn't dismiss it out of hand. The question was whether creating the wedding cake was a sufficiently expressive thing to trigger the first amendment. They said it was not, but part their reasoning noted that the couple hadn't actually discussed details or custom messages of the cake before leaving the shop. So the cake shop owner hadn't refused to write, "I love butt sex" on a cake, he had refused to make a cake merely on the basis of the couple being gay. If he had kicked the couple out of his store for wanting him to write that on a cake,
we wouldn't be having this discussion
.

The ACLU post engages in a very silly slippery slope argument where they suggest that if this ruling was made a doctor might refused to treat people who are transgender or a restaurant might refuse to follow food safety laws citing food preparation as a kind of free artistic expression.

Neither of those make any sense at all. You don't trigger first amendment freedom of expression protections by employing technical skills like medicine. Your right to free expression has never included the right to poison other people and never will.

I think what the ACLU is doing here is encountering cognitive dissonance as they realize their position on the first amendment generally is a pro-discrimination opinion. When Charlottesville tried to deny a permit to hold a rally to neo-Nazis, the ACLU came to the defense of the Nazis and precipitated the events of August 12. Their position was that it is more important to protect free speech than to prevent Nazis from marching in our streets. They've been grappling with that position since, and they've decided they won't support violent hate groups that plan to bring weapons to rallies. So basically they will continue to stand up for first amendment right to advocate genocide, but won't do it if people are also exercising
second amendment rights
. Fundamentally, their position hasn't changed, though: crowds shouting pro-genocide slogans in the street should be protected.

If someone wrote custom poetry to be read at weddings and didn't want to write poetry about gay love, the argument the US government is making on behalf of the cake shop owner would work. In fact, based on the factors considered in the lower court, we'd never be at this stage, as the lower court would have supported this as
protected first amendment speech
.

Legally speaking, the constitution of the United States protects freedom of speech and does not protect gay people against discrimination. Well, it seems to protect them from discrimination within the legal system by guaranteeing equal protection under the law, but it doesn't protect them at a bakery. The case for the baker rests on a legal quibble about whether the first amendment applies, but if the first amendment applies, the ruling is clear. The argument that the baker is using to defend his decision not the make the cake is legally the same argument that another baker would use to refuse to make a cake with a swastika on it. The difference is that in one case a baker is refusing to acknowledge the validity of gay people's love, in the other they are refusing to acknowledge the validity of Nazi ideology.
Without noting that this is a question of rights butting against one another
, we can't tell those two things apart.

If I'm being kind, I think they ACLU, and Americans in general, have to grapple with the fact that giving one kind of human right - freedom of expression - primacy over other kinds of human rights - the right to be treated equally without regard to race, sexual orientation, etc. - means devaluing the latter right. It means being against the latter right in some cases. There are decisions to be made about how to proceed with that information.

If I am not being kind, I'd say the ACLU's readiness to engage in spurious slippery slopes from wedding cakes to doctor's visits combined with their unwillingness to engage in factually supported slippery slopes between Nazi rallies and violence means
they are an anti-semitic hate organization
.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Race to the Bottom

How do we know what a thing is worth? That's easy, the marketplace will reveal it's value by assigning a dollar cost to it.

But if a thing is worth the amount it costs then buying it isn't a good deal, it's a neutral proposition. So we'd better try to get a better price.

If we can't support our concept of value with something other than the revealed value of the market then it is a race to the bottom for everything, and the only thing we value is money itself.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

The Void

Trigger Warning: This post contains apparent sympathy for Donald Trump

Here's a slightly outdated article about Trump being a vessel of positive emptiness (via BoingBoing). I'm not sure if I recommend you read it. If you do you may have to overlook the rocky beginning in which it is implied that
dogs don't have emotions
.

The point of the article is that we should be beyond the point of wondering what Donald Trump believes or thinks. It doesn't matter whether he really supports Nazis, because his calculation on the matter is probably something more akin to, "People are saying I'm bad for what I did so I will tell them I was right," rather than anything that factors in real world consequences beyond his own emotions. I think that's probably right.

What I don't think is right is that this makes him a "blank sucking nullity" or a "human void". Ordinarily I'd be fine with a novel insult for Trump, and in this particular case I am also basically fine with it. Still, this also awkwardly strikes home for me in a way that is a little tough to explain.

I am not much like Donald Trump as far as human beings go. I certainly have some similarities but I think personality wise most people would say I'm extremely far away from him. There are, however, a lot of dimensions on which you can measure things, and two things that are very different in an ordinary sense of how those things would be compared might be very similar along an unusual axis. If we believe a certain dossier then people who are into golden showers may have something very much in common with Donald Trump despite them being generally nice people who might bristle at the comparison.

That is not what I have in common with Donald Trump.

The thing about Trump that makes him so hard to understand for most people is that he seems to exist in a different dimension of personality. Most people will lie or tell the truth, and a person might be a liar or very honest. Donald Trump says things without regard for whether they are true or not, substituting an entirely different axis of decision-making. Some people know etiquette and some people don't, some people who know etiquette for a situation obey it to be polite and other flaunt it to be rude or to show rebelliousness. Trump behaves how he is going to behave regardless of what etiquette may or may not exist.

Trump isn't a liar or a boor, he exists on an axis orthogonal to those considerations. I keep hearing political commentators try to return to what they think the point is - how will this help or hurt Trump's agenda. But Trump doesn't have a political agenda, he has something perpendicular to that.

You probably have a moderate-to-good understanding of other people. Maybe that's a very intellectual understanding or maybe it's a very emotional one. However you came about it, the reason I can say you probably have it is because you have to have it to get on in your life. If you have or have had a job, or a romantic relationship, or friends, or a twitter following, you must have at some point figured out how to relate to people in some way they understand. You figured this out because your brain is a pattern matching machine and you were perpetually exposed to hundreds of data points on how humans behave.

If a human comes along who is a real decision-making outlier - who operates on decision-making axes largely independent of those that you are used to - they are going to seem inscrutable. That's why you don't understand Trump. There are few enough people who are like that that you've never had enough data to put a model together. Analogies to five-year-old children help, but it really is more like trying to understand the mind of a cat. If you've spent years around Trump you'll get better at it, but that's by developing a Trump-specific model, not by assuming you can work him into your human model.

There's only one place I could be going with this, and many of my readers may be tempted to stop me right here and say, "Come on, you aren't that different."

I am.

In my life there are a number of people I've strongly related to. People whose thoughts and feelings look like mirror images of mine even if they aren't the same. I wrote about this years ago when I wrote about John Campbell and his Kickstarter meltdown. Somehow his huge explanation of his life and himself seemed totally relatable to me while most people found it nonsense and
hardly a reason to burn books
.

There is someone who is widely regarded as a troll on a forum that I sometimes visit who just makes sense to me. To others, they must be trying to derail the discussion because their posts are too disconnected from what everyone else is talking about. To me, it makes perfect sense, and when I respond to them I get
coherent
responses back.

And yes, seeing Donald Trump spoken of as someone who can't be comprehended made me think of myself. Sure, that's probably only because I think of myself as
essentially bad
. But I've never really had much trouble understanding what Trump was like or who he is. I'm not troubled by questions like, "Does he support nazis?" because it's just not a hard question to answer - that is, unless you are caught up on what the word "support" would mean if you "supported" something and you are trying to look for an analogue in someone who just doesn't do that.

I've always gotten conflicting results on introversion vs. extroversion scales on personality tests. In
Jungian terms
introversion vs. extroversion is about your flow of energy: extroverts get energy from being around others and need energy to spend time being alone. Introverts need to spend energy to be around others and need to be alone to recover energy.

The reason my results are conflicting is because I am an extrovert - I get energy from being around other people - but I find having energy to be an intolerable state that I can't handle, so I need to spend time by myself to allow it to dissipate and return to being sedate. Being around other people makes me manic, and mania is terrible. That's a recent realization that fits a general pattern. I'm a funhouse mirror of a normal hedonic scale. Sometimes I'm better at my job because I'm depressed. I can have a negative reaction to feeling good. Most people probably wouldn't even know what that could mean.

Our zeitgeist tells us that people act out of self-interest, and that's embedded deeper in our thought processes than we are aware. While Trump is the ultimate example of someone who acts only in terms of immediate self-interest, I am probably as close to a counterexample of that as you will find. My actions are usually governed by the interests of others that I substitute for my own because I don't know what my interests are or by the desire to just stop, regardless of the cost.

The best strategy for most people to deal with Donald Trump is to stop trying to understand his internal workings and instead just look and how he works on a cause-and-effect level. I am the same and opposite to that - the best strategy for most people to deal with me is to assume my internal workings are the way they assume everyone's are because I will do the work to limit the possibility of challenging that assumption.

I was once told that fundamentally there are two kinds of mentally ill people - those that take it out on others and those that take it out on themselves. I think it's possible that Trump and I - aside from that one very important dimension - are much more alike than we appear.