2013: What’s wrong with the white knight?

Last year, it took me until late June to publish my resolution, Taylor Swift World. I’m quicker this time. Did I live life more passionately? Well, let’s first review 2012.

  • UN Member States Travelled: 7. In order of visit, USA, Mexico, Italy, Philippines, South Korea, China, North Korea. Plus two observers, the Holy See and Sovereign Order of Malta.
  • Flight Miles: 59,616 over 43 segments. This is 30,269 less than 2011.
  • CV Lines: 4. One teaching, at the Pyongyang Summer Institute. One peer-reviewed paper, How attorneys judge college mock trials as second author behind Ruth Wagoner. One conference discussant, at the IASE Roundtable which should become a peer reviewed paper in 2013. One service, as President of MESA, the mathematics education student association.
  • Class Grades: 8 A, maintaining my unsullied Georgia record.
  • Facebook Friends: 248, including 16 added in 2012.
  • Kisses: 0.

In many areas, it appears things went well. Nevertheless, one could easily argue that even though I have approximately 804,000 airline miles, 478,000 hotel points, and 120,000 credit card points, I have a zero in the most important metric. Maybe the only important metric. I aspire to use other numbers to help me modify that zero. I don’t mean the way I saw in Cebu, either. I need to build appeal to women that I find attractive as potential partners.

I thought appeal might be by virtue. Because of media decisions, when there are tales like Dawn Hochsprung and Victoria Soto, people have the idea that heroism only arises during catastrophes. That’s not true. I’ve written before, about the Stockdale Paradox and Medals and Goodness. I recall the citation written by Andrew Carnegie: “The false heroes of barbarous man are those who can only boast of the destruction of their fellows. The true heroes of civilisation are those alone who save or greatly serve them.” I still think that among the 100 channels on TV, one of them should dramatize the citations of the Carnegie Hero Medal. Instead, I get Honey Boo Boo and a bunch of “Wars”, like Storage, Shipping, Property, and Cupcake. Why are cupcakes fighting? Did buttercream insult ganache’s family?

American culture’s jaundiced disposition and loss of heroic memory has clearer expressions. Terms have become subverted, like “White Knight”. Starting about 1:45 in this behind the scenes video for The Guild. “What is this term that they’re using with such disparagement?” Felicia Day asks. Apparently, White Knighting is now a pejorative insult. Why? There is a defensible complaint, that some men think rushing to defend a woman, no matter the need or validity of position, will increase romantic chances. Maybe that happens, but I’m not interested in a woman with terrible ideas or too much unsolved trouble, waiting for a savior. Manic Pixie Dream Girl? I’ve said as much. But not a Damsel in Distress. I support, not save. And since we’re going with tropes, I’d be a Celibate Hero.

The Internet is a heartless place. It was never designed for emotional support, I know. What about other culture? Movies? With my parents, on Christmas Eve we watched The Princess Bride from 1987. On Boxing Day we watched The Dark Knight Rises from 2012. Both are well liked and have high ratings. The Princess Bride is higher on rottentomatoes, 98% to 87%, while on imdb, voters have The Dark Knight ahead 8.5 to 8.0. Both have plots related to revenge over a dead father. The difference, the shift over 25 years, was startling. Yes, I know I’m picking a light 1987 film. The book is more satirical, and I think not as good. And yes, I’m picking a dark 2012 film, though it’s not that un-representative. What about TV? Game of Thrones? Homeland? Breaking Bad? The Walking Dead? Mad Men? I have more hope than those five shows combined, and I’ve used Rihanna’s We Found Love and Kanye West’s Heartless as semester theme songs while at Georgia. Hip-pop is good for increasing my pre-test focus.

Anyway, back to my resolution. I’m changing my song. No more Heartless, even though it summarizes the Malthusian contest of academic life. Negativity pushes me towards more zeroes. I will be working harder overall, because courses are the easy part. Graduate school is not a job; it’s only the means. My advisor and I will build a plan over January and February. I want out of the penalty box. Hey, I might be able to escape before the NHL does!

What’s my new song? I don’t fully know. For now I’ll return to the opening theme to Chrono Cross, a great RPG game. It’s about adventure, and heroism, and realizing that destruction is not the best ending. I’m still going to practice the chivalric virtues, protecting the weak and testing the strong. It’s not Internet White Knighting, because I’m not looking for some sort of carnal reward. As I said, I don’t want a damsel in distress. It’s acting like the person I want to be. And then, maybe I’ll become someone deserving of more than zero.

About Adam

My quest is a world where calling someone "virtuous like a fairy tale hero" is routine, not fantastic or ironic. My vocation is the teaching and learning of statistics. My dream is a long happy life with a wonderful wife and kids. Who knows if any will become true? More information is at my homepage on the twelvefruits network: http://adam.twelvefruits.com
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