Crazy Landlord

I have recently arrived back home in Cerritos. Why I came back I will mention in another entry; right now I would like to record an important experience while it is still fresh. In my entire life, I have never met a more unreasonable person than my landlord in San Francisco. I do not want to go too much into detail, but I will give one example. She decided to deduct $50 from my security deposit because the chair that I had on the carpet left imprints. One would think that any adult would understand that when something is placed on carpet that it will leave a mark, but apparently not my previous landlord. If she had expected me to not put anything on the carpet that would have been unreasonable as well since the carpet covered most of the room.

I am convinced that her unreasonable personality is a result of bad experiences and the want to make money, the primary source being the former. After having a few encounters with her, it is difficult to imagine how she could have turned out like this if it were not due to her life experience. I can only imagine how difficult it is for her to form lasting relationships. Exacerbating her unreasonable character was the want of money. If I had not left imprints on the carpet I am sure she would have tried to think of another excuse to deduct money.

This experience has significantly increased my self-control. I cannot tell you how much I wanted to insult her, yell at her and make her suffer; I even played out scenarios in my mind. Luckily, I did not act out on any of these inner thoughts; it would have only made the situation worse. I am ashamed that I had these hateful feelings towards her; I was unable to avoid or repress them. Maybe one day I can give out love when faced with unreasonableness.

Ignoring a Beggar

I just had another encounter with a beggar that left me feeling sad. No matter how many times this happens and no matter how many times I tell myself that what I am doing is ok, it still feel like a bad person.

I was waiting at the bus stop when the man approached me. He looked like a typical homeless person - dirty, unshaven and little crazy. He did not even bother to step onto the platform when he started mumbling to me. I was texting my friend at the time so I was distracted. In fact, I was not even sure he was talking to me until I put my phone back into my pocket. When I realized he was looking straight at me, I automatically assumed he was crazy because of his quiet mumblings.

I ignored him and he continued to stare. A passing taxi honked at him which broke his focus and forced him onto the platform, but soon after he continued to mumble and stare at me. My plan was to keep ignoring him until he went away, but it took much longer than I thought it would.

Right before he left, I faintly heard him mumble, “all you have to do is say 'no' man.” It was then that I realized that he was probably asking for money the whole time.

This entire experience left me feeling miserable. I know that it was not my fault that I did not hear him, but just trying to see this from his perspective makes me disappointed in myself. I should have asked him what he wanted even though I thought he was crazy and even though I would not have given him any money. It was wrong of me to completely ignore him when it was clear that he was talking to me.

I wonder if beggars incrementally lose hope in humanity every time this happens to them.

Industrial Aristocracy

The following is an excerpt from Tocqueville's “Democracy in America” written in 1835.

It is acknowledged that when a worker spends every day solely upon one process, general items are produced more easily, rapidly, and economically.

It is likewise acknowledged that the larger the scale on which an industrial undertaking is conducted with large amounts of capital and extensive credit, the cheaper its products will be...

I see nothing in the political world which should be of closer concern to the legislator than these two axioms of industrial science.

When a craftsman is constantly and solely engaged upon the making of one single object, he ultimately performs this work with unusual dexterity; but at the same time, he loses the general capacity to apply his concentration on the way he is working. Day by day, he gains in skill but is less industrious; one may say that as he, the workman, improves, so does he, the man, lose his self-respect.

What can be expected of a man who has spent twenty years of his life making pinheads? To what might this powerful human intelligence, which has often stirred the world, apply itself except research into the best ways of making pinheads?

When a workman has spent a considerable part of his existence in such a manner, his thoughts are forever taken up by the object of his daily toil; his body has contracted certain fixed habits which it cannot discard. In short, he no longer belongs to himself but to the profession he has chosen. It is no use laws and customs striving to break down all the barriers around this man or opening up on every side a thousand different paths to wealth. An industrial theory more powerful than custom or law has tied him to a trade and often to a place, which he cannot abandon. It has assigned him a certain station in society which he cannot escape. It has brought him to a stop in the midst of universal movement.

As the principle of the division of labor is applied more completely, the worker becomes weaker, more limited and more dependent. The craft makes progress, the craftsman slips backwards. On the other hand, as it becomes clearer that industrial products are all the better and cheaper as production lines are more extensive and capital is greater, very wealthy and enlightened men appear on the scene to exploit industries which up to that point, had been left in the hands of ignorant or restless craftsmen. They are attracted by the scale of the efforts required and the huge results to be obtained.

Thus at the very moment that industrial science constantly lowers the standing of workers, it raises that of the bosses.

While the worker, more and more, restricts his intelligence to the study of one single detail, the boss daily surveys an increasing field of operation and his mind expands as the former's narrows. Soon the one will need only physical strength without intelligence; the other needs knowledge and almost genius for success. The one increasingly looks like the administrator of a vast empire, the other, a brute.

So, the employer and the worker share nothing in common on this earth and their differences grow daily. They exist as two links at each end of a long chain. Each holds a place made for him from which he does not move. The one is dependent upon the other.

The dependency the one has upon the other is never-ending, narrow, and unavoidable; the one is born to obey as the other is to give orders.

What is this, if not aristocracy?

As conditions become more and more equal in the body of the nation, the need for manufactured products is universal and ever greater; the cheap prices which bring goods within the reach of modest fortunes become a great ingredient of success.

Richer and better educated men emerge daily to devote their wealth and knowledge to industry; by opening great workshops with a strict division of labor they seek to satisfy the new demands which are evident on all sides.

Thus, as the mass of the nation turns to democracy, the particular class which runs industry becomes more aristocratic. Men resemble each other more in one context and appear increasingly different in another; inequality grows in the smaller social group as it reduces in society at large.

Thus it is that, when we trace things back to their source, a natural impulse appears to be prompting the emergence of an aristocracy from the very heart of democracy.

But that aristocracy is not like any that preceded it.

In the first place, you will notice that it is an exception, a monstrosity in the general fabric of society, since it applies only to industry and a few industrial professions.

The small aristocratic societies formed by certain industries inside the immense democratic whole of our day contain, as they did in the great aristocracies of ancient times, some men who are very wealthy and a multitude who are wretchedly poor.

These poor men have few ways of escaping from their social conditions to become rich but the wealthy are constantly becoming poor or leave the world of business after realizing their profits. Thus, the elements which form the poorer classes are virtually fixed but those that produce the richer classes are not so. In fact, although there are rich men, richer classes do not exist, for the wealthy do not share a common spirit or objective or traditions or hopes; there are individual members, therefore, but no definite corporate body.

Not only are the rich not firmly united to each other, but you can also say that no true link exists between rich and poor.

They are not forever fixed, one close to the other; moment by moment, self-interest pulls them together, only to separate them later. The worker depends upon the employer in general but not on any particular employer. These two men see each other at the factory but do not know each other anywhere else; and while they have one point of contact, in all other respects they keep their distance. The industrialist only asks the worker for his labor and the latter only expects his wages. The one is not committed to protect, nor the other to defend; they are not linked in any permanent way, either by habit or duty.

This business aristocracy seldom lives among the industrial population it manages; it aims not to rule them but to use them.

An aristocracy so constitute cannot have a great hold over its employees and, even if it succeeded in grabbing them for a moment, they escape soon enough. It does not know what it wants and cannot act.

The landed aristocracy of past centuries was obliged by law, or believed itself obliged by custom, to help its servants and to relieve their distress. However, this present industrial aristocracy, having impoverished and brutalized the men it exploits, leaves public charity to feed them in times of crisis. This is a natural consequence of what has been said before. Between the worker and employer, there are many points of contact but no real relationship.

Generally speaking, I think that the industrial aristocracy which we see rising before our eyes is one of the most harsh ever to appear on the earth; but at the same time, it is one of the most restrained and least dangerous.

However, this is the direction in which the friends of democracy should constantly fix their anxious gaze; for if ever aristocracy and the permanent inequality of social conditions were to infiltrate the world once again, it is predictable that this is the door by which they would enter.

One Way Love is No Less Beautiful

It is like standing behind a one way mirror. I can see and almost feel your every move, but as you approach your reflection and as I approach on the other side with my breath creating moisture on the glass, it is as if I were never there and never will be.

I am a ghost who can see all of your happiness and suffering, all your surroundings and your inner thoughts.

I am an invisible observer, experiencing all of your successes and all of your failures.

I can watch you live your life a million times and still not be numb to your smile.

And even though you will never sense my presence, even though these feelings will never be returned, I find that one way love is no less beautiful.

School Pride

I had the privilege of visiting UC Santa Cruz last weekend for the first time since graduation. One of my friends from high school, who just happens to be in San Francisco, wanted to visit a farm in the area and invited me to come along. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity to revisit my beautiful university.

The first thing we did when we arrived was visit the farm which was very interesting although different from the one I visited in Denmark. This farm in Santa Cruz was much smaller and had much more connection with the community. For example, they hosted multiple educational programs and offered internships for people who wanted to learn more about food. The farm in Denmark, in contrast, had much fewer people working on the fields and much larger machinery; it was more commercialized so to speak.

After an hour and a half on the farm, I had the further pleasure of giving my friend a comprehensive tour of the campus. I have to say that it was very enjoyable to see my campus again. From the hill top along the bicycle path with an ocean view to the amphitheater surrounded by cliffs and redwoods, I was reminded why UCSC is repeatedly rated as having one of the most beautiful campuses in the world. My friend was also impressed of the natural beauty within and surrounding the campus which is only expected because it is truly a magnificent place to study. Anyone who can appreciate the beauty of mother earth would enjoy what UCSC has to offer.

In the middle of giving him the tour, I went into the campus bookstore and finally bought a UCSC sweater. It was the first time that I ever bought anything with UCSC written on it. When I was still a student, I never thought much about buying any school paraphernalia. I simply did not see the point, and on top of that, it was expensive. Why would people have pride in their universities? I did not understand. That mentality perfectly reflected my immature stage of development in which I did not want to learn. Even though I understood that UCSC had its uniqueness, I failed to understand why people would have school spirit. It was not until after graduation that I began to be proud, but unfortunately, I was unable to buy any school merchandise until recently.

I would like to take this opportunity to switch tracks a bit and describe the cause of my change in opinion. I understand that this entry started as an update on events, but I think it is more important to elaborate further on my previous development.

The reason why I started to become proud was because I began to understand the critical role my university played in shaping the man I am today. I am an environmentalist, an intellectual and a dissident because of UCSC. I am who I am because of the unique environment my university offered. It is no secret that Santa Cruz is filled with people living "alternative" lifestyles. What is normal there is odd everywhere else.

This special opportunity to be in this environment allowed me to observe different types of people with different types of philosophies. And being immersed in a diverse culture naturally led me to be open which, in turn, led to discussion. What followed was not only tolerance, but also assimilation. I am "alternative" because of UCSC and I am proud of it.

Why am I so proud of being different you ask? The answer is simple.

The existence of different lifestyles and opinions means that there is more hope of society progressing. If we want to improve the world, we need to discover better ways of doing things and better means different than what we are doing now. There is no progress if there is just sameness.