You Harm Yourself with Excuses

How easy is it to make excuses? Any honest person would have to admit that they make excuses every day, and often multiple times a day, because that is often the easiest option in a situation. Why were you late to work? Traffic was bad. Why didn’t you take out the trash? Oh, I thought about it, but then I got distracted by this other thing and forgot.

Excuses are our way of preserving our ego from admitting failure. We use them to paint over our faults and excuse ourselves of blame. Sometimes we even do this over more consequential and ongoing issues in our lives. Why can’t we make meaningful emotional connections to others? Well, my parents didn’t hug me enough. Why did you cheat on your wife? Because she wasn’t having sex with me as much as I would like. Why do you drink yourself to blackouts every night? I’m under a lot of stress.

We excuse away all of our bad traits and behaviors so we can still tell ourselves that we are good people and that all of our problems are the faults of others. While this seems easy, meaningless, and sometimes justified absolving yourself of your faults does you more damage than you can understand.

Each of us is an individual who makes decisions in our lives. Those decisions shape the course of our existence. All of our success and failures stem from these decisions. If we discount the decisions that make up our failures we immediately discount those decisions that made us successful. By making excuses and refusing to live up to your faults and failures, you remove from yourself all agency.

Many people smarter than myself have stated that a person’s happiness and wellbeing are directly linked to their belief that they have agency in their lives. Therefore, refusing to face the darker parts of yourself that make mistakes on a regular basis, you are also defeating the brightest parts of yourself that have allowed you to succeed to whatever level you have in your life. You can only do this so long before you find yourself incapable of believing that you control your own destiny at all.

The best part of this message is, while looking at your faults honestly is painful and difficult, when you do this the strong parts of you only get stronger. Being honest about your faults is like weightlifting for the soul. And just like a real gym, only you can make the decision to go in and do the hard work. If I may be a little lame and quote lyrics from a mid-2000’s song to prove my point; Allow me to remind you of the words of Incubus…

“Sometimes I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear

And I, I can’t help but ask myself

How much I let the fear take the wheel and steer

It’s driven me before

And it seems to have a vague, haunting mass appeal

But lately I’m

Beginning to find that I should be the one behind the wheel.”

Drive by Incubus


Virtue Signaling the Fall of Man

Social media has been a great boon to society in many ways. Being able to post onto a site where millions of people hang out has allowed smaller content creators and businesses to break through monopolistic barriers in stagnant industries such as the music and movie industries. Access to different cultures and ideas have made the world both a vast landscape where infinite is seemingly at your fingertips and simultaneously so small that you can become intimate friends with a person on the other side of the globe.

Yet, as with every human endeavor, the immense good comes to us as a well paved road with steep cliffs at either side. Social media has allowed vanity to run rampant in our culture and has many people acting as their own PR firms, doing shallow acts in the public eye to increase their stock with their peers without accomplishing anything.

Welcome to the stage – the virtue signal.

I am not naïve enough to believe that humans have always been virtuous before our current culture, that would be an act of blindness so immense one would have to wonder if I still possess a pulse, but we did have societal standards that tried to call attention to our base desires and point us in a more productive direction. These were the Cardinal Virtues; Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance.

Virtue signaling has become commonplace because the act gives you all of the social capital that actual virtues will get you without the work. We see it every day when someone scrawls posts of empty-worded sloganeering all over their page for a few dozen likes or when a corporation pretends to care about a hot-button issue because they think it will help their bottom-line or when a politician pretends to care about an issue to get your vote with no intention of following through with their promises. We have devolved as a culture to reward these vane practices as morally high-minded and worthy of praise.

We shouldn’t mince words, virtue signaling is a selfish act of pride only meant to bolster the signaler and no one else. Pride is a vice we should try to extinguish from our culture. Pride is the mother of all sins because pride deludes us into thinking we are beyond reproach. Pride demands respect and attention from those around us. Pride does not give anything back to the world. Pride only takes.

If you want to do something good in the world, practice the four Cardinal Virtues. Be prudent in your decisions, be just to yourself and the world around you, have the fortitude to weather life’s unavoidable struggles, and temper your desires so they don’t overtake you. And also, live your values quietly. Your silent greatness will speak louder than that weak voice in the void asking for attention.

2021 Reading List

Here is my unofficial reading list for 2021. I might change it up here or there, but I don’t plan on changing much, maybe only the order. According to my math this should get me to 33 books which is my goal…I might even try to do better than 33 books. We shall see.

  • Logic: A Complete Introduction
    by Siu-Fan Lee
  • Wheel of Time Book 10: Crossroads of Twilight
    by Robert Jordan
  • White Guilt
    by Shelby Steele
  • Wheel of Time Book 11: Knife of Dreams
    by Robert Jordan
  • How to Have Impossible Conversations
    by Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay
  • Wheel of Time Book 12: The Gathering Storm
    By Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  • Irreversible Damage
    by Abigail Shrier
  • Wheel of Time Book 13: The Towers of Midnight
    By Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  • Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life
    by Jordan Peterson
  • Wheel of Time Book 14: A Memory of Light (Finally! I mean, the story is good, but 14 books! I’m ready for this point in the year)
    by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  • Return of the God Hypothesis
    by Stephen C. Meyer
  • 1984
    by George Orwell
  • False Alarm
    by Bjorn Lomborg
  • The Kill Artist
    by Daniel Silva
  • Apocalypse Never
    by Michael Shellenberger
  • Timeline
    by Michael Crichton
  • The History of the Ancient World (I listened to the audiobook last year…feel like I need to read the physical copy this year…)
    by Susan Weise-Bauer
  • The Expanse Book 1: Leviathan Wakes
    by James S. A. Corey
  • The History of the Medieval World
    by Susan Weise-Bauer
  • Mistborn Trilogy Book 1: Mistborn
    by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Plantagenets
    by Dan Jones
  • James Bond: License Renewed (First Bond novel after Ian Fleming’s death. Hope it’s good.)
    by John Gardner
  • The Wars of the Roses
    by Dan Jones
  • Witcher Series Book 2: Time for Contempt
    by Andrej Sapkowski
  • Reinventing Racism: Why “White Fragility” Is the Wrong Way to Think about Racial Inequality
    by Jonathan D. Church
  • Witcher Series Book 3: Baptism of Fire
    by Andrej Sapkowski
  • One Vote Away
    by Ted Cruz
  • Paradise Lost
    by John Milton
  • The Naked Communist
    by W. Cleon Skousen
  • A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, and The Cricket on the Hearth (yearly tradition around Christmas)
    by Charles Dickens
  • Meditations
    by Marcus Aurelius
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
    by Harper Lee
  • The Rational Male 3: Positive Masculinity
    by Rollo Tomassi

Books I Read in 2020

2020 was a wild year for me as far as reading goes. I had always wanted to read more but never lived up to what I wanted for myself. This last year I found the advice of Scott Adams extremely helpful. Never set goals for yourself (or at least don’t pay too much attention to them) it is more important to set up a system that you can work every day. Eventually the daily system will lead you to a larger goal if you calibrate it correctly. This list is living proof of this method (one of the many for me this year). I decided to read 30 pages as my daily system, which roughly translates into an hour of reading. With this system in place, I read more books this past year than I have in the last decade and I plan to increase my yearly goal for 2021. Here’s to the end of a wild year and to more success in the next!

  1. The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome
    by Susan Weise Bauer (Audible)
  2. The Wheel of Time Book 4: The Shadow Rising
    by Robert Jordan
  3. Carnival Row
    by Stephanie K. Smith (Audible)
  4. Elizabeth II: Life of a Monarch
    by Ruth Cowen (Audible)
  5. Mere Christianity
    by C.S. Lewis
  6. Cari Mora
    by Thomas Harris (Audible)
  7. The Happines Hypothesis
    by Jonathan Heidt (Audible)
  8. The Wheel of Time Book 5: The Fires of Heaven
    by Robert Jordan
  9. Magna Carta
    by Dan Jones
  10. Congo
    by Michael Crichton
  11. The False Promise of Single Payer Healthcare
    by Sally C. Pipes
  12. The Last Wish
    by Andrej Sapkowski
  13. The Madness of Crowds
    by Douglas Murray
  14. Sword of Destiny
    By Andrej Sapkowski
  15. The Keys of Prolific Creativity
    by David V. Stewart
  16. The Wheel of Time Book 6: Lord of Chaos
    by Robert Jordan
  17. Loserthink
    By Scott Adams
  18. Blood of Elves
    by Andrej Sapkowski
  19. #Blackprivilege
    by Charlamagne Tha God
  20. The Wheel of Time Book 7: A Crown of Swords
    by Robert Jordan
  21. Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity and Why That Harms Everyone
    by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay
  22. Dune
    by Frank Herbert
  23. The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land
    by Thomas Asbridge (Audible)
  24. Lose the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America
    by John McWhorter
  25. The Wheel of Time Book 8: The Path of Daggers
    by Robert Jordan
  26. The Go-Giver
    by Bob Burg and John David Mann
  27. The Wheel of Time Book 9: Winter’s Heart
    by Robert Jordan
  28. Charter Schools and Their Enemies
    by Thomas Sowell
  29. A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, and The Cricket on the Hearth
    by Charles Dickens
  30. The Law
    by Frederic Bastiat
  31. Brave New World
    by Aldous Huxley

Best Non-Fiction book of 2020: This was a difficult decision to make…I read a lot of great books this year, but I think the best of them was Cynical Theories by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay. The book was packed full of information often citing or quoting original materials from the subject matter they were discussing. This gave me more confidence in the conclusions they were reaching in their overview of the Critical Theories that we see invading our current culture. I definitely recommend picking up this book if you are interested in philosophy or want to understand the craze of calling everything racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic.

Best Fiction book of 2020: I have to go with Dune for this pick. I originally listened to Dune on audiobook a couple of years ago and couldn’t enjoy it. The vast universe that Frank Herbert created is almost too obscure in audiobook form because you can’t see how the strange terms the characters use are spelled and you don’t get the appendices at the end of the book that explain so much. This year, inspired by the Denis Villaneuve film that was SUPPOSED to come out last month, I decided to pick up the physical copy and give the story another shot. Upon the second reading, with the appendices for help, this book really stood out to me as a testament to fantasy and sci-fi storytelling.