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Thread: It's Getting Better All The Time

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    Default It's Getting Better All The Time

    A thorough article on this topic: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24835822

    That is of course an uplifting read, and I think it's also true that people the world over (with a few exceptions) generally regard themselves as more happy than unhappy.

    Jesus is reputed to have said "You will always have the poor among you"...I suppose the goalposts will have to be moved!

    But despite all this, I am ultimately pessimistic in nature because I am mortal and because it does not feel me with merriment that for humanity, this is the greatest time in history. Even things like too much traffic get me down, nevermind no more pandas.

    It does seem however that there are irreversible changes happening that will greatly diminish the prospect of people living under tyrannies...which is nice.

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    thanks, now I've got the Beatles song in my head

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    Edit: I wrote several little captions here, none of them seemed to fit... it's because the vid speaks for itself.

    Ultimately, this is how we are. Our simple generosities have brought us through a million generations, no matter the society and cultures around us, and we will continue to have generous natures for countless generations to come. Cooperation is the only sustainable truth.
    Last edited by wacey; 02-22-2014 at 06:19 PM.
    "If this to end in fire, then we should all burn together. Watch the flames climb higher into the night."

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    In terms of the markers of development, technology, health and the like being at an all time high then sure I agree with the article. In terms of the thriving of culture in the sense of the creative explosions found in Ancient Greece, the European Renaissance and the like? Lmao not even fucking close.

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    "Since photography has emerged at the beginning of the 1800s, the number of pictures taken each year increased exponentially to reach a boom in photography at the end of the 20th century.

    In the year 2000 we took 85 billion photos (2500 frames per second) and this figure continues to increase with the appearance of new digital technologies. Today, there are more than 2.6 billion mobile phones fitted with cameras in the world and it was even revealed that there was in one month a receipt of 6 billion photographs on Facebook.

    Indeed, according to the statistics today, every two minutes, we take as many photos as these taken throughout the 19th century."
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    This should not need saying, but it does. There are people today who think life was better in the past. They argue that there was not only a simplicity, tranquillity, sociability and spirituality about life in the distant past that has been lost, but a virtue too. The rose-tinted nostalgia, please note, is generally confined to the wealthy. It is easier to wax elegiac for the life of a peasant when you do not have to use a long-drop toilet. Imagine that it is 1800, somewhere in Western Europe or eastern North America. The family is gathering around the hearth in the simple timber-framed house. Father reads aloud from the Bible while mother prepares to dish out a stew of beef and onions. The baby boy is being comforted by one of his sisters and the eldest lad is pouring water from a pitcher into the earthenware mugs on the table. His elder sister is feeding the horse in the stable. Outside there is no noise of traffic, there are no drug dealers and neither dioxins nor radioactive fall-out have been found in the cow's milk. All is tranquil; a bird sings outside the window.

    Oh please! Though this is one of the better-off families in the village, father's Scripture reading is interrupted by a bronchitic cough that presages the pneumonia that will kill him at 53 - not helped by the wood smoke of the fire. (He is lucky: life expectancy even in England was less than 40 in 1800.) The baby will die of the smallpox that is now causing him to cry; his sister will soon be chattel of a drunken husband. The water the son is pouring tastes of the cows that drink from the brook. Toothache tortures the mother. The neighbour's lodger is getting the other girl pregnant in the hayshed even now and her child will be sent to an orphanage. The stew is grey and gristly yet meat is a rare change from gruel; there is no fruit or salad this season. It is eaten with a wooden spoon from a wooden bowl. Candles cost too much, so firelight is all there is to see by. Nobody in the family has ever seen a play, painted a picture or heard a piano. School is a few years of dull Latin taught by a bigoted martinet at the vicarage. Father visited the city once, but the travel cost him a week's wages and the others have never travelled more than fifteen miles from home. Each daughter owns two wool dresses, two linen shirts and one pair of shoes. Father's jacket cost him a month's wages but is now infested with lice. The children sleep two to a bed on straw mattresses on the floor. As for the bird outside the window, tomorrow it will be trapped and eaten by the boy.

    If my fictional family is not to your taste, perhaps you prefer statistics. Since 1800, the population of the world has multiplied six times, yet average life expectancy has more than doubled and real income has risen more than nine times. Taking a shorter perspective, in 2005, compared with 1955, the average human being on Planet Earth earned nearly three times as much money (corrected for inflation), ate one-third more calories of food, buried one-third as many of her children and could expect to live one-third longer. She was less likely to die as a result of war, murder, childbirth, accidents, tornadoes, flooding, famine, whooping cough, tuberculosis, malaria, diptheria, typhus, typhoid, measles, smallpox, curvy or polio. She was less likely, at any given age, to get cancer, heart disease or stroke. She was more likely to be literate and to have finished school. She was more likely to own a telephone, a flush toilet, a refrigerator and a bicycle. All this during a half-century when the world population has more than doubled, so that far from being rationed by population pressure, the goods and services available to the people of the world have expanded. It is by any standard, an astonishing human accomplishment.

    Averages conceal a lot. But even if you break down the world into bits, it is hard to find any region that was worse off in 2005 than it was in 1955. Over that half-century, real income per head ended a little lower in only six countries (Afghanistan, Haiti, Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Somalia), life expectancy in three (Russia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe), and infant survival in none. In the rest they have rocketed upward. Africa's rate of improvement has been distressingly slow and patchy compared with the rest of the world, and many southern African countries saw life expectancy plunge in the 1990s as the AIDS epidemic took hold (before recovering in recent years). There were also moments in the half-century when you could have caught countries in episodes of dreadful deterioration of living standards or life chances - China in the 1960s, Cambodia in the 1970s, Ethiopia in the 1980s, Rwanda in the 1990s, Congo in the 2000s, North Korea throughout. Argentina had a disapointingly stagnant twentieth century. But overall, after fifty years, the outcome for the world is remarkably, astonishingly, dramatically positive. The average South Korean lives twenty-six more years and earns fifteen times as much as income each year as he did in 1955 (and earns fifteen times as much as his North Korean counterpart). The average Mexican lives longer now than the average Britain did in 1955. The average Botswanan earns more than the average Finn did in 1955. Infant mortality is lower in Nepal today than it was in Italy in 1951. The proportion of Vietnamese living on less than $2 a day has dropped from 90 per cent to 30 per cent in twenty years.

    The rich have got richer, but the poor have done even better. The poor in the developing world grew their consumption twice as fast as the world as a whole between 1980 and 2000. The Chinese are ten times as rich, one-third as fecund and twenty-eight years longer-lived than they were in 1955. Despite a doubliing of the world population, even the raw number of people living in absolute poverty (defined as less than a 1985 dollar a day) has fallen since the 1950s. The percentage living in such absolute poverty has dropped by more than half - to less than 18 per cent.
    (From The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley)
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    A talk / documentary by Hans Rosling covering much of the the data in this thread (ignore the first 20 seconds):
    https://youtu.be/PVjZjPbHrFE?t=20s

    He's a little hard to follow because of his Swedishness...here is a six minute segment rather than a full hour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JiYcV_mg6A
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    Quote Originally Posted by Capitalist Pig View Post
    thanks, now I've got the Beatles song in my head
    fuck, it happened again

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    It's self-evident that man is in a golden age post WWII, but how long will it last?

    Material development and progress is migrating to Asia, South America, Africa and regressive forces are on the prowl in North America and Europe.

    It's very easy to be pessimistic about the first world because the room to improve is so much more difficult and regressive forces tend to arise in peace due to a steadily degenerating elderly population. Typically what happens is the young is blamed for the problems, violence, that arise but who raised the young and such and who did the young inherit their problems from anyways?

    The 1st world are still very progressive in answering various ethical questions(gay marriage, drugs, racism) but this is largely because of the difficult of the material questions(class war, climate change, energy) that exists.

    In the difficult realms where ethical interests collide, the 1st world is taking a lot of initiative in setting the new standards, but in the material realm, the response is often merely token or cynical & regressive.

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    I think in the long term future, after extreme poverty and its associated ills have been eradicated, and after hopefully solving issues over climate change and sustainability in part through the stabilisation of population numbers, the main concerns will be the impact of neutral or negative economic growth on a national and global scale, the antibiotics crisis or similar, and the depletion of various rare resources.

    I suspect by then though, national and global boundaries will be a lot more irrelevant and there will be a lot more of a focus on measures like a Happiness Index.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Subteigh View Post
    I think in the long term future, after extreme poverty and its associated ills have been eradicated, and after hopefully solving issues over climate change and sustainability in part through the stabilisation of population numbers, the main concerns will be the impact of neutral or negative economic growth on a national and global scale, the antibiotics crisis or similar, and the depletion of various rare resources.

    I suspect by then though, national and global boundaries will be a lot more irrelevant and there will be a lot more of a focus on measures like a Happiness Index.
    It's almost inevitable with ongoing peace populations will stabilize but to what level?

    The demographic pyramid will be a demographic condom, and this doesn't bode well for progress. The people driving society will be old and this is a dangerous mix not for conflict or war but for stagnation. It's no suprise Japan shifted heavily to the regressive in the last 30 years and it won't be a surprise if Europe does in the next 30. What happens when the political apparatus of democracy facilities only regressive forces within the society. I think democracy is great but if there is a weakness in this organization method, is that it's largely demographics driven.

    England is a good example I think of a very regressive shift to the right, the demographics lends itself to the Tories win elections for the 30-40 years straight. Corbyn winning the election is kind of like the Labour party entering a hospice. How can a Labour party win if the demographic is retiring or retired? And I don't see Corbyn with enough support to progress, more a ethical progressive but isolationist, and only token measures for material progress(because the people voting will not support them). I don't see him having the influence or power and mainstream support to stop the class war going in England.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Subteigh View Post
    It does seem however that there are irreversible changes happening that will greatly diminish the prospect of people living under tyrannies...which is nice.
    Nop. The world in its "civilized part" moves to more tyranny, but not less. The world of Big Brother becomes the reality under USA's flag.
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    This has got to be an absolute joke, where do I begin? Low population socities intermixed with societies exterminated by expansionist states in the stateless column.

    Looks like he's gonna have a good harvest of cherries this year.
    salmon

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    Quote Originally Posted by ouronis View Post
    This has got to be an absolute joke, where do I begin? Low population socities intermixed with societies exterminated by expansionist states in the stateless column.

    Looks like he's gonna have a good harvest of cherries this year.
    Those stas are taken in conjunction with data from archaeological sites to show for example that hunter-gatherer societies in historic (modern) times have similar rates of violence to hunter-gatherer societies in the archaeological record, as well as to make comparisons between contemporary state societies and those in the archaeological record.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Subteigh View Post
    Those stas are taken in conjunction with data from archaeological sites to show for example that hunter-gatherer societies in historic (modern) times have similar rates of violence to hunter-gatherer societies in the archaeological record, as well as to make comparisons between contemporary state societies and those in the archaeological record.
    Link to the study?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ouronis View Post
    Link to the study?
    The sources are in the links I provided: often, clicking on the graphs presents more data.

    Last edited by bg; 05-22-2016 at 10:08 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Subteigh View Post
    The sources are in the links I provided: often, clicking on the graphs presents more data.
    Ok, I just want to go into more details about my objections for now. These dates are all AFTER the west found these places and introduced advanced weapons and started conflicts with them, in some cases. I do not have the precise knowledge of the events of each of these conflicts, but for the American Indians, I know that the violence was caused by the pressures of American expansionism, and I suspect any glut of chaos in tribes in the Americas from the time of discovery to about the 1920s were because of instability in their societies because of this.

    The link did list sources but I am juggling whether I should go through with them or not. Could be that there's a different story. The above is just something to keep in mind.
    salmon

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    Quote Originally Posted by ouronis View Post
    Ok, I just want to go into more details about my objections for now. These dates are all AFTER the west found these places and introduced advanced weapons and started conflicts with them, in some cases. I do not have the precise knowledge of the events of each of these conflicts, but for the American Indians, I know that the violence was caused by the pressures of American expansionism, and I suspect any glut of chaos in tribes in the Americas from the time of discovery to about the 1920s were because of instability in their societies because of this.

    The link did list sources but I am juggling whether I should go through with them or not. Could be that there's a different story. The above is just something to keep in mind.
    The scale & range of the violence in contemporary hunter-gatherer societies is similar to that observed in the archaeological record: There is no real reason to doubt they are a reliable reflection, especially considering that the archaeological record is more likely to underestimate than overestimate, albeit with some sites being known to be more reliable than others for various reasons.
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    FUCK FUCKING BEATLES AGAIN IT'S LIKE INSTANT SOON AS I START READING THE TITLE WHAT THE HELL

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    Quote Originally Posted by Capitalist Pig View Post
    FUCK FUCKING BEATLES AGAIN IT'S LIKE INSTANT SOON AS I START READING THE TITLE WHAT THE HELL
    wut?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bg View Post
    wut?


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    The Sun King had dinner each night alone. He chose from forty dishes, served on gold and silver plate. It took a staggering 498 people to prepare each meal. He was rich because he consumed the work of other people, mainly in the form of their services. He was rich because other people did things for him. At that time, the average French family would have prepared and consumed its own meals as well as paid tax to support his servants in the palace. So it is not hard to conclude that Louis XIV was rich because others were poor.

    But what about today? Consider that you are an average person, say a woman of 35, living in, for the sake of argument, Paris and earning the median wage, with a working husband and two children. You are far from poor, but in relative terms, you are immeasurably poorer than Louis was. Where he was the richest of the rich in the world’s richest city, you have no servants, no palace, no carriage, no kingdom. As you toil home from work on the crowded Metro, stopping at the shop on the way to buy a ready meal for four, you might be thinking that Louis XIV’s dining arrangements were way beyond your reach. And yet consider this. The cornucopia that greets you as you enter the supermarket dwarfs anything that Louis XIV ever experienced (and it is probably less likely to contain salmonella). You can buy a fresh, frozen, tinned, smoked or pre-prepared meal made with beef, chicken, pork, lamb, fish, prawns, scallops, eggs, potatoes, beans, carrots, cabbage, aubergine, kumquats, celeriac, okra, seven kinds of lettuce, cooked in olive, walnut, sunflower or peanut oil and flavoured with cilantro, turmeric, basil or rosemary … You may have no chefs, but you can decide on a whim to choose between scores of nearby bistros, or Italian, Chinese, Japanese or Indian restaurants, in each of which a team of skilled chefs is waiting to serve your family at less than an hour’s notice. Think of this: never before this generation has the average person been able to afford to have somebody else prepare his meals.

    You employ no tailor, but you can browse the internet and instantly order from an almost infinite range of excellent, affordable clothes of cotton, silk, linen, wool and nylon made up for you in factories all over Asia. You have no carriage, but you can buy a ticket which will summon the services of a skilled pilot of a budget airline to fly you to one of hundreds of destinations that Louis never dreamed of seeing. You have no woodcutters to bring you logs for the fire, but the operators of gas rigs in Russia are clamouring to bring you clean central heating. You have no wick-trimming footman, but your light switch gives you the instant and brilliant produce of hardworking people at a grid of distant nuclear power stations. You have no runner to send messages, but even now a repairman is climbing a mobile-phone mast somewhere in the world to make sure it is working properly just in case you need to call that cell. You have no private apothecary, but your local pharmacy supplies you with the handiwork of many thousands of chemists, engineers and logistics experts. You have no government ministers, but diligent reporters are even now standing ready to tell you about a film star’s divorce if you will only switch to their channel or log on to their blogs.

    My point is that you have far, far more than 498 servants at your immediate beck and call. Of course, unlike the Sun King’s servants, these people work for many other people too, but from your perspective what is the difference? That is the magic that exchange and specialisation have wrought for the human species.
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    Stalin: "To live have become better. To live have become more merry."
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    @johanknorberg
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    Nice video @Alioth, however, I would posit that it ain't the fossil fuels that are the biggest problem. They were merely the instigators of the far greater threat to our continued existence. If you haven't heard of John Calhoun and his experiments at NIMH, specifically "Universe 25" then I suggest you look that up. Population density, you see, will be the doom of us all. In the "Utopia" of Universe 25 there was unlimited food and water, everything was kept clean as well. The only constraining factor was space, and how that was the only factor that was limited.

    If one looks to the conditions of today one is reminded of the very beginning of the "die off" phase that eventually lead to the total extinction of the mice within this "utopia" he created for them. Worst of all, the decay was irreversible once it hit that point. He took some specimens out of the social hell it devolved into, hoping that they would return to normal behaviors in the absence of insane overcrowding and the general madness they were surrounded by within the hell he extracted them from. No dice. He coined the term "Behavioral Sink" to describe this phenomenon. Once it hits a certain point, according to his exhaustive research, the whole society is irredeemable. It's fucked, totally and completely, and NOTHING can or will reverse it. Extinction, once the behavioral sink kicks in, is inevitable.

    Not that there wasn't some glimmer of hope. Some individual specimens seemed to thrive in the social hell created by the overcrowding. He termed these specimens "High Social Velocity" mice and sought to find a way to encourage this trait to develop within the general population. Other mice seemed to get creative as well, while not achieving the High Velocity trait they nevertheless managed to make a decent go at surviving through pioneering behaviors that were decidedly unlike natural mouse behavior. Still, these sparks of hope were never enough to stop the ultimate doom. They merely... delayed the inevitable. Calhoun strived to find a way to avert this ultimate doom, but failed to do so in his decades of research. I encourage everyone to look up that work. Oh yes, it's getting better all the time they say. Perhaps one shouldn't be too happy about that fact.

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    Landlord of the Dog and Duck Subteigh's Avatar
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    EII-Ne
    5w4 or 1w9 Sp/So

  38. #38
    the flying pig Capitalist Pig's Avatar
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    i don't know what this is, but it's close enough to the original and youtube is a fuckin copyright war zone



    edit: actual version for anyone who uses spotify: https://open.spotify.com/track/3LtOmWpTXLhilL5odoKysR

  39. #39
    What's the purpose of SEI? Tallmo's Avatar
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    GETTING-SO-MUCH-BETTER-ALL-THE-TIME

    I am listening as I'm writing this post. Let's see what comes of it.

    Ok, so it's obvious that life has become so much better in many ways if we look at health and material stuff.

    This should not need saying, but it does. There are people today who think life was better in the past. They argue that there was not only a simplicity, tranquillity, sociability and spirituality about life in the distant past that has been lost, but a virtue too. The rose-tinted nostalgia, please note, is generally confined to the wealthy. It is easier to wax elegiac for the life of a peasant when you do not have to use a long-drop toilet. Imagine that it is 1800, somewhere in Western Europe or eastern North America.
    Excuse me, but long-drop toilet is my favorite. I always use one if I am in the countryside without water and electricity. That's when I feel close to Mother Earth. There is something perverted with flush toilets.

    Anyway, but life WAS simpler, more tranquility, more natural, social and spiritual. If you lived in a rural area in 1800 in Europe you probably lived in the same village where your ancestors had lived for centuries. Working with things that hadn't changed much. Imagine the connection to earth and nature that those people had. Imagine the local culture uninfected by state pedagogy. The village was a part of their psyche. Not just any place where you "happen to live". You knew everyone, you knew their background, and stories about what had happened in the village in the past. You knew your place and there was no existential worries on what to do with your life etc. Folk culture was still rich in 1800. Mythology, folk tales, lots of superstition (can be compared with art), dancing and singing. Traditional craftsmanship. All this as a living reality, not some museum stuff.

    People in the past had a better connection to the symbolic / artistic side of life. That's the problem today, we have all the things we need but spiritually we are lacking. Modern life killed it.

    Of course there were lots of hardships like the ones mentioned. But the spiritual side and naturalness of life was better in the past. At least in rural areas. Today the individual has a big responsibility to himself create the meaning in his life. But that's hard. And many people don't know how to do it. It's a burden.

  40. #40
    In Transition Raver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tallmo View Post
    GETTING-SO-MUCH-BETTER-ALL-THE-TIME

    I am listening as I'm writing this post. Let's see what comes of it.

    Ok, so it's obvious that life has become so much better in many ways if we look at health and material stuff.



    Excuse me, but long-drop toilet is my favorite. I always use one if I am in the countryside without water and electricity. That's when I feel close to Mother Earth. There is something perverted with flush toilets.

    Anyway, but life WAS simpler, more tranquility, more natural, social and spiritual. If you lived in a rural area in 1800 in Europe you probably lived in the same village where your ancestors had lived for centuries. Working with things that hadn't changed much. Imagine the connection to earth and nature that those people had. Imagine the local culture uninfected by state pedagogy. The village was a part of their psyche. Not just any place where you "happen to live". You knew everyone, you knew their background, and stories about what had happened in the village in the past. You knew your place and there was no existential worries on what to do with your life etc. Folk culture was still rich in 1800. Mythology, folk tales, lots of superstition (can be compared with art), dancing and singing. Traditional craftsmanship. All this as a living reality, not some museum stuff.

    People in the past had a better connection to the symbolic / artistic side of life. That's the problem today, we have all the things we need but spiritually we are lacking. Modern life killed it.

    Of course there were lots of hardships like the ones mentioned. But the spiritual side and naturalness of life was better in the past. At least in rural areas. Today the individual has a big responsibility to himself create the meaning in his life. But that's hard. And many people don't know how to do it. It's a burden.
    I think you hit the nail on the head. Anyways, I think life and society rarely completely improves or degrades over time. We constantly gain and lose something as time passes by so society simply changes through the decades and centuries. Each generation having plusses and minuses compared to the preceding and succeeding generations.

    Obviously, it is not completely equal in those plusses and minuses when you compare one time period to the other and some time periods are better than others. However, to say that life is completely improving or degrading is either overly optimistic or overly pessimistic. Life and society is just constantly changing for the better and for the worse IMO.
    "Nothing happens until the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change."

    Ne-IEE
    6w7 sp/sx
    6w7-4w5-9w1

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