0160 - Percentages - 2020.10.26



Regular readers of my Twitter (you all follow me on Twitter, right?) know that I sometimes keep all my comics and writing and commissions and household chores straight using a fun little daily to-do list. I colour-code all the different tasks (pink for "Warrior", domestic chores; yellow for "Poet", physical art; green for "Philosopher", writing and coding; blue for "King", digital art), and I can hit various combos and multipliers if I complete groups of tasks, all striving to get to one hundred points by the end of the day.

This sets past-me in conflict with future-me.

You see, past-me organizes the list to manipulate future-me into getting things done that he might not want to do. Future-me tries to beat the list, getting to that 100 by doing as little uncomfortable work as possible. Past-me is future-me's boss, and I have an ingrained tendency to thumb my nose at bosses whenever possible. I never allow myself to cheat, you understand, but if past-me was dumb enough to set up a multiplier that rewards doing something relatively easy, future-me is going to take advantage of it.

Of course, if I ever completely broke the system, I'd have to stop doing it.

It's a lot like a diet, or any other sort of self-imposed rule. If you find a loophole in your diet plan that lets you eat a cup of brown sugar as long as you follow it up with a single radish, and you find yourself doing so multiple times per day, you need to change diets - regardless of the points on the sheet or the green star on the app, you're not going to lose weight.

So now, naturally, I'm going to talk about Jesus and the Sabbath.

In the gospel of Mark, chapter 2, JC is walking past a field with his homies and starts grabbing some grain for them to eat (it's not their grain, but "private property can get fucked" is a sermon for another time). A big mean Pharisee criticizes Jesus for working on the Sabbath, and JC responds that "the Sabbath was made for Man, not Man for the Sabbath" - i.e., this Rule has been put in place to achieve a given result (rest, prayer, devotion to God), and, if the outcome of following the Rule is counter to that Purpose, the Rule can and should be ignored.

Now, far be it from me to criticize the King of Kings, here, but it seems to me that if doing work to feed yourself officially excuses breaking the Sabbath, wouldn't a cynical person just never take the time to prepare their bagged lunch on Friday, thereby perpetually excusing working every Saturday? After all, if your neighbours are all doing it, you'd have to follow suit to keep pace with their productivity. And, once the practice is commonly established, you'd have things like employers forbidding their workers from setting up food on Fridays, because it's an excuse to get out of working on Saturday.

(Sounds like a bit of a stretch, doesn't it? Good thing employers in the real world never take advantage of fiddly technicalities by, say, scheduling their workers for thirty-nine hours a week to avoid giving them bennies, huh?)

Anyway, my point is... well, I have three points, what I'll call Tailsteak's Rules About Rules:
1) Any and all rules or laws or guidelines or schedules need to be written operating under the assumption that at least one person following the rules is a lazy, greedy, amoral gremlin who would slit their grandmother's throat if a poorly-written rule said that doing so was technically allowed.
2) All rules should have a known Purpose for existing, and rule-followers should be empowered to break the rules if the results of following the rules run counter to that Purpose.
3) Any rule that is regularly disobeyed needs to be scrapped and rewritten from scratch.

This is as true of my little daily to-do lists as it is of every religious commandment, every legal statute, and every calorie-counting diet. Lee's to-do list is poorly written, Lee is taking advantage, and that is human nature. They are not properly motivated to follow the spirit of the exercise, despite the fact that this List was made for Lee, not Lee for the List. They want to do as little as possible to technically succeed at the List, because then, when their situation doesn't improve, they can blame it on Doc's List, and not on their own gremlinitude.

Perhaps a change in motivation is what's needed, hmm?


0160 - 2167/07/06/16:08 - Lee Caldavera's apartment, living room.
LC: Okay, so... list twenty percent done. Have I earned cartoon time yet?
Doc: What? What are you talking about? The list isn't twenty percent done! The list isn't one percent done! You haven't completed item one: Make List!
LC: ...I assumed that you two filled the rest of it out for me. You guys added all those tasks!
Zoa (counting on its eight fingers): Make list, Authorize me to get creds back, Order sandwich, Read ahead, Organize stuff, Plan outfits and meals, Obtain notebook and pen, Look into new living space..... that's only eight.
LC: Ah, but not if we count "plan outfits and meals" and "order notebook and pen" as two things each.
LC: ...aaand I just placed an order for a moleskin and a fountain pen. I'm at forty percent! Just one more thing, and I'm at a passing grade for the day!
Doc: You haven't. Eaten. The sandwich.
LC: You never said eat. You said order. Eating it is extra credit.
Zoa: They've gotcha there, Doc.
LC: Man, I should make to-do lists more often, if it gets you off my back this easily.
Doc: Lee, getting me "off your back" is not the point of the list. The list is not the point of the list. The point of the list is to encourage progress towards your goals, not to obfuscate inactivity.
Zoa: Also, I'm reasonably certain you just ordered the pelt of a burrowing mammal, not a usable notebook.
Zoa: The mole skin is lab-grown and cruelty-free, though, so that's nice.