Last Updated: October 14, 2022

Things I will probably never get a chance to do

Real Americans

  1. Real Americans understand that an embrace of reason is a foundational imperative of a livable and just society.
  2. Real Americans never subordinate their rational faculty to their emotions, neuroses, and whims.
  3. Real Americans are not solipsists; they understand that other people have to live and thrive in the same society they themselves live in, and that respect for difference is reciprocal.
  4. Real Americans know how to agree to disagree, to be civil with their opponents, and understand that a difference of opinion doesn't necessarily constitute an irreconcilable clash of values. People's experiences, education, and gut feelings about the world may simply be different, yet well-intentioned.
  5. Real Americans make a serious effort to prevent their personal problems and bullshit from becoming other people's personal problems and bullshit.
  6. Real Americans understand that individual responsibility is a precondition for a free society, and that exercising one's freedoms irresponsibly, especially in a flamboyant manner, will create a growing sentiment antithetical to freedom. This may imperil the freedom of all of us.
  7. Real Americans don't invoke "muh rights" every time they are asked to stop being an irritating shithead.
  8. Real Americans know that they themselves do not know everything there is to know about everything, and are therefore tentative in their statements, open minded to opposing opinions, embrace nuance, and recognize expertise.
  9. Real Americans do not block roadways or interfere with emergency personnel, people due at courthouses, or people driving to a hospital. Real Americans do not seriously believe that they can irritate or enrage people into submission because Real Americans are not complete chuckleheads.
  10. Real Americans do not seriously expect candidates to perfectly mirror their values, policy positions, aesthetics, or personality types in a nation populated by over 330 million people.
  11. Real Americans vote, even when they aren't enthusiastic about candidates. Real Americans understand that a choice not to vote may hand power over to monsters. Real Americans clear the low bar of voter registration by Googling, "How do I register to vote?" and following the instructions.
  12. Real Americans understand the difference between actions that create measurable and tangible progress versus symbolic street theater bullshit, inane bumper stickers, and endless flags.
  13. Real Americans confront inconvenient or horrifying truths with courage and humility. Real Americans do not put their heads in the sand or double down on delusions, faulty thinking, or indefensible arguments. Real Americans know only the weak refuse to be moved in light of new information. The strong honestly concede, and are grateful for the chance to level up.
  14. Real Americans change their minds, because Real Americans grow and learn and encounter new perspectives, information, and arguments.
  15. Real Americans do not take cheap shots at others who change their minds, for this reason. Life-long consistency indicates a stunted, intellectually uncurious, and dishonest mindset. A change of heart is a cause for celebration, for all involved.
  16. Real Americans know they live in a reality tunnel, and that few (if any) people are truly "free thinkers." Real Americans make allowances for this when they confront actual reality, and pivot when necessary.
  17. Real Americans read critically across the political spectrum. Real Americans know when their own viewpoint is being flattered by a "news" source, and identify that source as being biased. Real Americans know they are being consistently manipulated by those who pander to their own passions and insecurities. Real Americans are concerned with their own mental ecology and the way they themselves are being manipulated by being told what they want to hear.
  18. Real Americans mind their own business and do not seek to control the behavior, thoughts, or emotions of other people, except when those behaviors, thoughts, or emotions, affect the rights or security of others. Real Americans are honest and self-critical about the possibility that their own behaviors, thoughts, or emotions, may be making someone else completely miserable, and will question whether what they are doing is truly necessary. Real Americans carefully and judiciously pick hills to die on when it comes to their rights, because the world is crowded, and that they themselves may require a little charity and consideration one day.
  19. Real Americans know that everyone else knows that the phrase "separation of church and state" does not occur in any of our founding documents, yet is, nonetheless, an indispensible principle at the heart of a free society. Attempts to force a creed on another will only invite others to do the same. Separation of church and state protects the religious as well as the irreligious, equally. Forcing either religion or atheism on others is tyranny.
  20. Real Americans do not litter. Real Americans clean up campsites. Real Americans do not throw cigarette butts out of windows. Real Americans do not shit on the toilet seat. Real Americans do not pollute, dump their garbage illegally, or vandalize things that do not belong to them. Real Americans are cognizant of the risk of fire in dry climates.
  21. Real Americans are polite. Real Americans know boorishness has never been a virtue.
  22. Real Americans call out terrible arguments on their own side. Real Americans know that at some point they themselves will make a terrible argument and will recognize and admit their error.
  23. Real Americans do not engage in "struggle sessions" or demand ideological purity. Real Americans know these are the demented hobbies of our adversaries.
  24. Real Americans do not use the term "the lesser of two evils" when a choice needs to be made involving two less-than-ideal candidates. Real Americans do not do this because they know that this is a boring and trite, but more importantly because the endless use of the term "evil" for people we disagree with is adolescent, reductive, and dishonest.
  25. Real Americans endeavor not to be a Karen, and apologize and make amends should they act like a complete bastard in public.
  26. Real Americans forgive, because Real Americans know they are guilty of most of these terrible behaviors from time to time.
  27. Real Americans do not crack jokes about Canadian politeness or the British penchant for forming orderly queues, because Real Americans know our impoliteness and australopithecine ineptness in forming lines is, or ought to be, shameful.
  28. Real Americans know that repeating we're the greatest country on earth is a sad proxy for actually taking action to be the greatest country on earth.
  29. Real Americans know that like a car, society requires maintenance. And maintenance comes at a cost. Real Americans pay that cost. The cost is time and money. Real Americans admit when they are being parsimonious when it comes to spending either time or money maintaining their society.
  30. Real Americans do not believe they actually live in isolation from society, and that fantasies to the contrary are juvenile and intellectually dishonest.
  31. Real Americans know who their representatives are.
  32. Real Americans do not attempt to divide people by race, class, ethnicity, gender, or sexual preference, because Real Americans understand that liberty is, fundamentally, the right of people to be different, self-actualize, pursue dreams, often in ways which befuddle us or run contrary our tastes, aesthetics, and inclinations.
  33. Real Americans understand that while their own government is guilty of moral transgressions, the same is true of foreign governments. Real Americans do not give aid and comfort to the enemy. Real Americans spend time applying pressure on their own government to reform.
  34. Real Americans understand that standing by and doing nothing while a foreign state commits atrocities, while it may serve a strategic end, does not serve a moral one. A refusal to stand up to oppression, tyranny, and violence, does not score you any moral points. A refusal to stand up to predatory individuals, similarly. Find something else to be sanctimonious about other than surrender.
  35. Real Americans understand that practically all hate that exists in the world is justified by a tangle of haughty self-righteousness, and is not unlike their own. Real Americans wrestle their own hatred to the ground, then drown it in the bathtub, and refuse to participate in movements -- even ones which mirror their own desires -- which traffic in hatred, and its praxis, violence.
  36. Real Americans do not apologize for, rationalize, or justify, horrible things in their cultural or political system.
  37. Real Americans understand that time moves in one direction only.
  38. Real Americans do not treat the actual (or their preferred) political or economic system as a religion, or as pagan gods. All economic or political systems must serve justice and human dignity, or they are simply cults.
  39. Real Americans read Thomas Paine.
  40. Real Americans give due credit to the opposition when the opposition has done something salutory. Real Americans are fair-minded about checks and balances, restraints on power, and political realities, and do not mindlessly attack the opposition for things they cannot control.
  41. Real Americans do not treat other people like commodities. Real Americans understand that oppression and exploitation exist in our society in ways which are fully legal, and that a thing may be fully legal and yet morally repugnant. Real Americans remember that before we are workers, employers, friends, enemies, fellow-travelers, or adversaries, that we are human beings first, born equal.
  42. Real Americans do not forget the metaphysical importance of the individual as the atom of society. Real Americans know individuals are not resources to be disposed of or sacrificed to any other individual or group. How we rationalize our present economic system (or any proposed economic system) with this principle is part of an ongoing debate which will not resolve itself in our lifetimes.
  43. Real Americans conversely understand that they are part of a larger society and their actions, or refusal to act, may hurt other people. Real Americans don't like it when other people get hurt because real Americans understand that others, like them, are individuals, deserving of dignity, justice, and security.
  44. Real Americans know that freedom as an abstract principle written on paper only is insufficient to guarantee a just, free, and prosperous society.
  45. Real Americans do not worship our framers as religious figures or our founding documents as religious texts. Real Americans know that our framers were fallible mortals, just like we are.
  46. Real Americans recognize that none of us were consulted, and therefore never consented, to any economic or political system, and we are all in the same boat. We therefore have the choice between either anomie and chaos, or else making the best of a system generations of people have tried to shape into something workable, equitable, secure, and just.
  47. Real Americans value civilization over chaos, and institutional justice over vigilantism. Real Americans have done due diligence when it comes to developing their own conscience, and don't need this explained to them.
  48. Real Americans do not resort to revolution and uprising when they know, deep down, they've barely scratched the surface of attempting political change through above-board civic mechanisms available to them.
  49. Real Americans do not blame their selfish lack of capacity for solidarity on others.
  50. Real Americans know a radical is just a political extremist or fanatic who doesn't like to be called a political extremist or fanatic.
  51. Real Americans know that accelerationists are sociopaths. Many are psychopaths.
  52. Real Americans are at least as suspicious of non-mainstream political movements which promise quick and easy solutions to the world's problems, as they are the establishment itself.
  53. Real Americans understand every child deserves a quality education, and that poor children deserve the same as wealthy children. To believe otherwise is to be a supporter of aristocracy and caste.
  54. Real Americans understand that short-changing education is shooting themselves in the foot, imperiling the prosperity and security of society as a whole and WHY DOES THIS POINT EVEN NEED TO BE MADE.
  55. Real Americans pull for Breakin' 1 because Breakin II: Electric Boogaloo gets all the press and Real Americans are all about the underdog.
  56. Real Americans understand that only fools think humility is weakness. Humility is the strength in understanding your own limits of experience, knowledge, and information. Humility is the foundation of personal growth. Except for me, obviously. I rule, and you can take that to the bank.
  57. Real Americans do not mock people for the cards they have been dealt. Real Americans encourage others to transcend, evolve, reform, develop, atone, apologize, with an eye toward redemption.

Important and Underrated Films

These are films I think are important. Some of them are obscure. Some are films people have heard of but haven't taken the time to see. Some of them are flawed, but all of them are worth your time.