How to Lyft oneself Uber a growing population of frogs and pipe dreams

I’m writing at the train station in Hollywood (Florida, that is) this morning, and then on the train itself, because I decided to take a Lyft to the station before even starting to write.  I used one yesterday morning, but only after the initial draft of the blog post had been written.  I just feel too worn down from this URI to want to bother with the bus, and in fact, if not for the Lyft, I might not have gone in to work yesterday or today.  Thankfully, I should have this weekend completely off, since it is my coworker’s second weekend, making up for the two weekends I took in a row.

Further bulletins as events warrant.

I have to admit, I find those ride apps—Uber and Lyft—rather useful.  I’m not going to make a habit of using them; that would just end up being way too expensive.  But it is nice to have the convenience when I’m not feeling well.  I wish I had tried them before, about three or four weeks ago, because I had been thinking about going to see Guardians of the Galaxy 3 in the theater, but my bike tire had gone flat and I was having trouble with my back whenever I rode it, in any case.  I was feeling pretty discouraged that weekend, and ended up just saying to heck with it, but if I’d been familiar with Uber or Lyft, I might have used one.

You may ask why I couldn’t just go see the movie this weekend, but that urge has more or less passed.  Also, I’ve gone back on a more restrictive food regimen, so I wouldn’t be able to eat popcorn, which was something I anticipated if I went to the theater.  Now I wouldn’t eat any, and that would remove a large part of my enjoyment of the theater, a part which might have overbalanced the discomfort of being alone in a theater surrounded by so many people.  As it is, now, since my initial urge to see the film soon (largely due to the presence of Adam Warlock) has more or less passed, I’ll probably just wait for it to come to Disney+.

It would be nice if I had a good enough metabolism and/or had been able to maintain better fitness habits over time (my back injury/surgery/failure to completely recover has gotten in the way of that a lot).  Then, I wouldn’t have needed to worry about eating popcorn.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid I need to minimize such things not merely for long-term health—about which I have little concern, since in the long term I expect to be dead—but about moment to moment health.  As someone who already feels pretty bad psychologically a lot of the time, I don’t need the added physical weariness and discomfort that comes almost immediately if I eat the wrong things nowadays.

On a more positive note:  I saw a frog (possibly two frogs) this morning.  Indeed, one of them hopped into my room as I was returning from taking out the garbage, and I had to usher it back out as carefully as I could.  This may not seem like much of an event, but it’s nice to me.

Back when I was little, and we used to come to Florida to visit my mother’s parents, after many big rains there would be oodles of frogs and toads out.  We would sometimes try to catch them, and if we did, they would pee in our hands, which was both gross and hilarious when I was a young child, though I imagine it was terrifying for the poor amphibian, which probably thought it was about to be eaten.

Also, when we first moved down to Florida—that’s my now-ex-wife and my then-few-month-old son and I—when we first stopped in a motel in central Florida for the night, it was raining and there was a veritable biblical inundation of frogs of various sizes.  The motel didn’t have those flap things at the bottoms of the doors, and smaller frogs actually came into the room through the gap.  That didn’t bother us.  We thought it was funny and kind of cool to be moving to such a place.

Well, my son probably had no thoughts about it one way or the other.

However, over the intervening years, frog numbers appear to have drastically reduced.  I am under the impression that there was some form of blight or other that hit many frog populations worldwide, though I don’t recall the source of that impression.  In any case, something seemed to have happened to the frogs in Florida, because for many years now, even after a significant rain, there have been none to be seen.

For all I know, the frog I saw this morning may be the last I will ever see in south Florida—though I thought I saw another one as I rolled the garbage out, hopping to get away from me—but I would like for them to be making a comeback.  I am a fan of most insectivores, especially ones that eat things like mosquitoes and flies and—during swarming times—termites.  Of course, there are various lizards and birds that also eat such things, but they don’t seem to be as assertive about their jobs as the frogs and toads are.

Anyway, that’s all a lot of silliness.  It’s an okay way to end the week, though.  Maybe I’ll play a little guitar if I get to the office early enough.  I did a tiny bit of strumming yesterday, when I had some morning free time, though I didn’t know The Man Who Sold the World well enough to be able to appreciate fully the chord progressions as I played them.  They definitely had the David Bowie flair for interesting changes and sounds.

I have not thought about a tune for my dreary little poem from the other day, nor even reread it.  Maybe it would be funny to give it a jaunty, happy, major key tune of some kind.  As I think I’ve said before, I enjoy irony.

Probably nothing will come of it.  It’s not as though I’ve done any more work on the song of which I did a demo on YouTube—I had called it Mercury Lamp based on the inspiration for the song, but I think now I would call it Hollow Doll.  And though I like the tune and stuff for Come Back Again, the trial arrangement and mixing/recording I did was blurry and muddled, and I think it could use some lead guitar.

Again, though, this is all a collection of pipe dreams—or guitar dreams, I guess, though “pipes” can refer to someone’s voice, and I do sing on the songs, so maybe the original term is okay.  Come to think of it, A Collection of Pipe Dreams* might be a good name for an album.  It could be a follow-up to a first album called Iterations of Zero after the title of my other, now more or less unused, blog.

I must be sicker than I thought to be entertaining such things.  Well, it’s a bit of fun to imagine them, at least.

I hope you all have a good first weekend of June.

*Or even A Collection of Guitar Dreams

When we shall hear the rain and wind blog dark December?

Hello and good morning, everyone.

It’s not only Thursday—and thus time for my “weekly” blog post, which goes back to when I was writing this blog only one day of the week and working on fiction every other morning.  It’s also the first day of June in 2023 (and thus, inescapably, also the first Thursday of June).  So, we begin a new month.

Before the end of this month, we will have the Solstice—the summer one in the northern hemisphere and the winter one in the southern hemisphere.  After that, officially, the season either of summer or of winter will begin, and the days, having reached either a maximum or minimum of the sine curve of their “daylight” length, will begin to head in the other direction.

Of course, the change will be very gradual at first, since the derivative of a sine curve—its rate of change—is a cosine curve, and where a sine is either at a maximum or a minimum, the cosine is at zero, albeit only instantaneously.  It’s at the equinox that the rate of change hits a maximum (or, technically it could also be a minimum, but when we’re discussing absolute rates of change, a minimum and a maximum are interchangeable, |x| being a positive number at any time, and all).  Anyway, that’s enough of that minimal review of the rates of change of seasons and the nature of sine curves and cosine curves.

Sines and cosines are well-behaved curves, at least.  Tangents and secants and so on are not so well-behaved, at least if by “well-behaved” you mean, “staying between a specified range of the y-axis instead of tending towards infinity in multiple places on that axis”.  Of course, a sine or cosine do go to infinity in both directions on the x-axis, come to think of it.  I don’t think I’ve considered it quite the way ever before.

Wow, talk about going off on a tangent*.

Anyway, not much else is new currently, not that I was just discussing anything new other than my new way of looking at the infinities of sine curves and, of course, the new month, which isn’t really all that new when you get right down to it.  Is June named for Jupiter (i.e. Juno)?  I should look that up.

…Okay, I did, and reminded myself that Juno was the Roman name for the goddess equivalent to Hera, the wife of Zeus/Jupiter, so it’s indirectly related to Jupiter, not directly.  That was an embarrassing mix-up of names and ideas in my head.  Good thing I didn’t write it down and publish it for everyone to see!

Of course, July and August are named after Julius Caesar and Caesar Augustus (née Octavian).  Then we have months that used to be named for their ordinal place in the calendar:  September (7), October (8), November (9), December (10), but I guess they all got shifted over two spaces at some point after they were originally named, though I don’t recall quite when and why that happened, and that isn’t something in which I’m interested enough right now to look it up.

I don’t know why I’m writing about this sort of stuff today.  I’m just following whatever random—or at least stochastic—impulse occurs based on the preceding thought or statement or whatever.  It’s not as though there’s any reason for me to do anything different.

I had a brief moment or two of “inspiration” yesterday evening, during which, on the train heading back to the house, I wrote a poem/song lyrics on the notepad function of my smartphone.  Having been written by me, it’s a very gloomy sort of poem/song, and I don’t have even an inkling of a melody for it.  I just felt a bit of a dip in my mood, even relative to baseline, and decided to express that the way I sometimes used to do.  That’s how I wrote what turned into the lyrics of my song Come Back Again, and something related to it was responsible for Catechism and Breaking Me Down, though the latter two were semi-deliberately written as song lyrics from the start.

A little later, I was watching someone on YouTube reacting to the “unplugged” performance of a few Nirvana songs, and I decided to look up the chords to Come As You Are; I downloaded a PDF of those.  It’s not a very complicated song, but it sounds quite good.  Kurt Cobain had a way of writing melodies that were unlike anything just about anyone else ever wrote.  Though, I also like his/their performance of The Man Who Sold The World, which is originally a David Bowie song.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard Bowie’s version of it, though.  I should have looked up the chords to that; maybe I will today.

But, of course, the odds of me ever doing anything with such chords, let alone writing a tune to and making a new song of my own seem vanishingly small.  Right now—by which I mean “now in general” not “now this very moment”—I’m just meandering through each day rather thoughtlessly, certainly pointlessly, with no goal or aspiration or anything of the sort.  There isn’t any point to anything I do.

I do really miss my kids.  I miss everyone else, too—my old friends, my immediate and more distant family, living and dead, all those people—but especially my kids.  I’m very lonely, but I’m also very socially withdrawn and incapable/incompetent.  I don’t think it’s at all possible for me to seek out and meet with or connect with anyone, new or old, in the world—except for my kids.

If they wanted to meet with me, I would do it.  I don’t even think it would be a struggle.  As far as everyone and everything else goes, though…well, I’ve lost my communication/connection hardware and software or whatever, or maybe I just didn’t get the updates, and so my system is hopelessly outdated, and when I even think about such things, the application crashes.

That’s a pretty weird couple of metaphors.

Anyway, I’m not capable of reaching out to people, other than through here, even when I want to do it.  I’m also not capable of trying to take care of myself (medically, psychologically, whatever), or take care of any other proactive business of life.  Life isn’t my domain anymore, I think.  Nevertheless, I can’t be darkly cool and quote the Bhagavad Gita like Oppenheimer:  “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”  It would probably be more appropriate for me to say something like, “I am become Drizzle, the dampener of spirits.”

That was sort of the subject of the poem/song I wrote yesterday.  But most people don’t like to drink watered-down spirits—though I do, sometimes.  I also like watered down soda, I’ve come to realize.  Go figure.

Anyway, that’s enough of all that.  I think it’s time to head off to go to the train, thence to the office.  If I get there early enough, maybe I’ll play some guitar.  I doubt it.


sine and cosinetwistedanddistorted


Concision, irony, illness, and a first use of Uber

I’m going to try to be a bit more concise today than I was yesterday, though concision in writing has never been my strongest point.  Still, with effort, I can do it.  After all, I pared down Unanimity by a bit over 50,000 words from its original form.  That’s right, it’s actually slightly shorter than it would have been initially, even though it still ended up being so long I could only publish it as two volumes.  I had no idea it was going to be so long when I started it—I merely had the story, which I wanted to tell, and it ended up taking that long.  I don’t know if anyone but I has even read the entire thing, but I’ve read it many times, both as part of the editing process and even once or twice since it was published.

Well, that wasn’t a very concise first paragraph, considering I was discussing the very intention to be concise.  But I like irony, so I guess that’s okay.  I’ve often thought that the song, Ironic, by Alanis Morissette, is a meta-level joke, in which the ironic part of the song is that essentially none of the examples she gives in the lyrics are actually ironic.  If she did that on purpose…wow, what an amazing artist!  Also, she was pretty brilliant when she played God in Dogma.

Okay, what else is going on?  Well, I’m still a bit under the weather, but I’m already on the upswing, physically.  I was very tired by the end of the day yesterday—much more so than usual—which made it clear to me that I really am sick, though I was already entirely clear on that fact.

Ha ha, thinking about being sick just made me sneeze twice.  Or, well*, I happened to sneeze twice right after writing that sentence.  It’s unlikely that writing about being sick was actually what triggered the sneeze, but it isn’t impossible.

So, anyway, I was very tired and still was/am sick, so I was a bit more impatient than usual when I got to the bus stop near the train station last night.  The bus’s arrival time (17 minutes after I arrived, by schedule) came and went and the MyRide thingy didn’t show its usual real-time update on when the bus would actually be there, or if the bus would actually be there.  So, after waiting another fifteen minutes, with no updates and no sign of any oncoming bus, and with lightning flashes occurring about once every ten or fewer seconds (with the thunder gradually getting a bit louder), and an early few drops of rain coming, I gave up and gave in.

I walked back to the train station and I popped open the Uber app—not necessarily in that order—and I requested a ride.  It turned out the driver had literally just dropped someone off at the train station**, and so I didn’t even have to wait the estimated two minutes.  Though I’d wasted more than half an hour at the bus stop, I still got back to the house slightly earlier than I would have had the bus arrived within five minutes of my arrival at the first stop.

It was quite a good first experience using Uber.  It’s reminiscent of my first time in Vegas, when I won $80 on my first play of a joker poker machine***, because both events were so positive and fortuitous.  I gave the driver a good rating and a good tip, and based on the profile the app gave me afterward, he’s had many similar reviews.  I don’t know if Uber has engineered the app to arrange such rapid pickups for first-time users—it seems like something that would be quite hard to manipulate—but if this is typical of how the system works, it’s something I may use again.

There certainly have been times, at the end of a long day, when I’ve looked at the app (and its competitor, Lyft) and seen how much it would cost to get one of them all the way back to the house, rather than taking the train.  There have been times when I’ve thought, “You know, it would almost be worth $45 or $50 plus tip to use it.”  Maybe someday, if I decide I need to leave early because I’m not feeling well, then I might just do that.  Still, that’s a lot of money for a commute.  It’s even a comparative lot to go from the train to the house, though that’s a lot more palatable, especially when the buses are running late.

Speaking of buses, I need to wrap this up and get heading out for the bus.  It’s payroll day, which tends to be stressful, but I did a lot of catching up on the weekly process yesterday, and once my momentum was going, I actually got a bit ahead, so it should be no worse than usual.  I hope you all have a good day, since the sort of people who read my blog are the sort of people who deserve to have a good day.

*Imagine the author of 1984 and Animal Farm introducing himself by saying, “Hi.  I’m George.  Or, well, that’s my penname.”

**I thought this sort of thing seemed possible, which is why I walked back to the train station in the first place.  It also has, by design, good pick-up/drop-off locations.

***And here is yet more of my neuro-atypia:  Not only did that not lead me to getting hooked on joker poker, but I have never played it since****.  Contrariwise, one time my ex-wife and I lost our entire allotted casino budget for a weekend—$1000—in half an hour playing blackjack, but I still enjoy playing blackjack.  I almost never do it, of course, partly because I find all the casinos down here in south Florida rather seedy, especially compared to the good Las Vegas places and Foxwoods (the place we lost the grand).

****Let’s face it, despite the fact that you can occasionally win money, the gambling video machines are never going to be as fun as playing, for instance, Tempest™ or Robotron® or Pac Man© or any of the other classic arcade games back in the day.

I was out sick, yesterday. My apologies.

Hi there, all.  It’s Tuesday morning, not Monday; I didn’t write a blog post yesterday.  That was not because the office took yesterday off—they worked until 4pm, as it turns out—but because I was at the house fighting a respiratory virus.  It’s not a severe one—I had a bit of a low grade fever at first, but it rapidly went away*, and I just felt physically crummy, with a dry, scratchy throat and runny/stuffy nose and the like.

I’m now going in to the office, though the boss suggested that I take a couple of days off.  However, if I do take a couple of days off, then when I go back, which would be tomorrow at the latest, there would be so much on which to catch up that it would be overwhelming.  Life is overwhelming enough for me nowadays.  I don’t need to make things worse.

So, obviously, I’m still feeling physically a bit under the weather**, but I’m going to wear a mask today, and I have a batch of spares with me, in case the first one gets unusably compromised.  I actually don’t mind wearing respiratory masks.  Quite apart from having needed to wear them sometimes when I was a practicing doctor, I also like to cover and hide my face.  I don’t like my face very much.  I can entirely sympathize with Doctor Doom for not wanting to show his.  I don’t like how I look, and I don’t like who I am.

Weirdly enough, as I think I’ve noted before, my self-hatred doesn’t make me hate things that I’ve made or created.  I rather often reread my own books—recently I reread both Mark Red and Son of Man—and I listen to songs I’ve done, either covers or originals.  I probably comprise almost the complete numbers of those who have “viewed” my videos on YouTube.  I even like to look at my various drawings and the like, which I scanned long ago and saved to Google Drive, thankfully, so they weren’t completely lost along with everything I owned back when I was arrested and sent away for trying to treat people with chronic pain, but naively not recognizing the other things that were happening at the time.

I guess this is a kind of living proof that I never have done my “artwork” (if you will) to please other people—though I’m delighted when other people like my stuff, and I would be more delighted still if more people did—but have done it because it was what I liked.  I think, if there’s a story that I would like to read, but no one seems to have written it, I should write it myself.

Of course, if someone has to make a living by their arts or crafts, then they have to cater at least somewhat to other people’s tastes over their own, but I think most creative things happen because the creator just wants to create something, at some level.  Then again, I can’t exactly extrapolate the way I feel and think about things to other people—I’m thoroughly weird.  I’m not really even the same species as people around me.  At least, that’s the way it feels to me a lot of the time.

So, the company of most humans is always a bit uncomfortable, though that certainly varies depending on the human, and I also don’t find my own company particularly pleasant.  I mean, it’s often the best option I have available, for what that’s worth—just to be by myself—and I certainly prefer the quiet of solitude to the chaos of whole flanges of naked house apes ooking and shrieking and throwing their feces at each other***.

Sorry.  I don’t mean to be so curmudgeonly.  I’m just tired, and I’m sick, and I’m sick and tired of most everything.  It would be nice if I had the energy and enthusiasm to want to play music—especially to write music—and to write new fiction and all that.  Or to draw, for that matter.  But there’s only so much I can do for what is, essentially, an audience of one, especially when that one is not someone I like.

Yesterday, I saw the thumbnail of a YouTube video that was offered up to me by the algorithm, Why Do Depressed People Have Low Self-esteem?  The specific wording might not be exact, but that was basically the title.  I didn’t watch it, because part of me just thought, “Is that a joke?”  I mean, that’s part of what depression is, surely.  But I’m sure there’s more to the story than that, and I believe I marked it as a “watch later” video, but it is strange.

I am trying not to be too dismissive, though.  The YouTube algorithm has been useful at times for pointing me toward knowledge that I wouldn’t otherwise have had.  I would never have really thought about autism spectrum disorder—beyond the fact that my character, Michael Green, in Unanimity thought he might be on the spectrum—if YouTube hadn’t suggested several related videos to me.

It is interesting how such thoughtless algorithms can produce interesting insights—thoughtless in that they aren’t actually thinking, themselves, but are merely following a general pathway, like elementary particles obeying local laws of physics, and thereby given rise, in the end, to all the immense complexity of macroscopic reality.

I wish I had someone in my actual life with whom I could talk about such things, or similar subjects, but instead, I’m here on my blog, writing about it—still mainly for an audience of one, though there are other people who read it, of course, and I thank and appreciate those people—you are one of them, if you are reading this.  Thank you!

But there is no real endpoint, no point at all, to what I do from day to day, and I have no plans or goals or expectations.  It’s merely continuance, like an automated machine left behind and running in a world in which all living things have died.  The machine cranks away, mindlessly, pointlessly, no longer benefiting anyone at all, and certainly not benefiting itself.  It just keeps going until, finally, it will catastrophically break down, and there will be no one around to repair it, let alone to maintain it, or to notice that it has failed.

I can already hear the belts squeaking and the gears grinding.  The whole thing is vibrating in a way that shouldn’t be happening if it were functioning properly.  I sometimes even think I can smell smoke coming from friction in the mechanism, but that may merely be wishful thinking.

Oh, well.  Enough for today.  If you’re still with me at this point, I doubly thank you, yet again.  And I apologize.  I wish I had given you some uplifting and empowering thoughts.  Those, however, do not seem to be my strengths.  Have a good day.

*Though, given the amount of NSAIDs and acetaminophen and whatnot that I take, fevers tend to be suppressed.  That’s why, when I got COVID and my temperature went nearly to 102 F, I knew I was pretty darn sick.

**Come to think of it, it’s rare that I’m ever “over the weather”.  The last time I flew in a plane was more than twenty years ago.  I don’t think I’ve flown since before 9-11-2001.

***This is figuratively speaking, of course.  Usually.

What should I title this blog post? Wait, I know…

Well, yesterday was seriously painful, in the literal sense and also in a more figurative sense, though the figurative pain was at least partially due to the literal pain.  I tried various postural and furniture-based changes, altered and/or tried some exercises, all sorts of things.  It’s hard to tell whether any of them did any good.  It’s also hard to tell—assuming that some or all of them did any good—which one(s) did the good, and how to tease it out.  This is, of course, why in a proper, scientific exploration of such things, one would try to change only one variable at a time, holding all the others constant.

However, when one is in soul-grinding pain while still trying to do one’s job, one tends to be willing to split away from pure scientific rigor.  At least, I am.  And I’m as committed to the notion of scientific rigor as anyone I know.

I slept reasonably well last night—for me, anyway—only waking up at about two in the morning, and being able to get back to sleep for another 35 minutes or so starting at 3:15.  That may not sound like much, but for me, it’s comparatively restful.

I also went rather off the script with respect to food yesterday.  I decided, since I was feeling so much like crap as to be barely distinguishable, I would just eat what I felt like eating, when I felt like eating it.  So, I did.  Mind you, there wasn’t all that much available, but I did order a pizza and so on, and even got a Mountain Dew® with it, something I haven’t had in certainly over a year, but probably far longer.

I’m likely to relax my dietary restrictions today as well—I really don’t feel great, but I can’t quite tell if I’m going to have another day like the previous few or several—but then, since I have this weekend off, I’m going to go back, much more strictly, to some food regulation, so to speak.  It’s easier when one doesn’t have much to do.

And, yes, I do have tomorrow off, so I won’t be writing a blog post.  I guess, technically, Monday is Memorial Day, which I only realized quite recently, but we generally work on Memorial Day at our office.  It’s a good day for sales and all that, though we often close early.  Of course, the buses and trains will be on a “Sunday” schedule, which is a minor pain, but they are on lower schedules on Saturdays, as well, and I’ve gone in to the office the last two Saturdays without difficulty.  Still, I do find myself tempted just to call out on Monday, at least if I don’t feel much better than I’ve been feeling.

Actually, if I don’t feel much better soon—at least back to my ordinary baseline, however unpleasant that both is and makes me—I feel I should call out from everything, permanently.  I’ve been back on my historically best-working antidepressant for about four or five weeks now, if my reckoning is correct (it’s not very careful, so I could be off).  It doesn’t seem to be making a huge difference, but it’s possible that it’s making some difference.  I certainly did, for a few days, pick up my guitar(s) a bit.  But then—now—I haven’t played or wanted to play for several days.

Some of that is pain related, and a lot of it is depression related, and it’s also just a feeling of pointlessness about playing.  I had thought about working on a cover of Ashes to Ashes, as I’d mentioned here (I think), a sort of sequel to my own cover of A Space Oddity, as Ashes to Ashes was for David Bowie.  But at least for right now, I don’t see that happening.

I don’t see much happening.  The farthest ahead I can really think is laundry on Sunday—will the washer and dryer be clear for me in the morning or not—and then whether or not I’m still going to be in pain on Monday, Memorial Day.  After that, as Paul McCartney sang in You Never Give Me Your Money (and I sang in my “bad cover” thereof), I “see no future…”  Though I will pay rent on the first.  I may even pay it slightly early, because it takes a load of tension away, since then I don’t have to worry that I’m going to forget.  That’s about it.  That’s as exciting as life is for me, which is to say, it’s not very.

I don’t know what would help put the wind back in my sails, or if that’s even possible—what might renew my interest in writing fiction, or playing music, or even writing and making songs.  I don’t really have anyone that I hang out with, since I only really socialize at work—but, then again, I don’t know that I would want to hang out with much of anyone I could possibly encounter near me.  I don’t have much in common with most humans, and that fact seems to become more overpowering all the time.

It would be nice to do some good in the world again, and to have a friend or similar that actually shares interests, but it seems unlikely.  Most people I’ve encountered—or so it feels—seem to want to take advantage, or else find me too unpleasant to stay friends with (I can’t blame them), or have their own stuff going on.  And, frankly, I’m rotten at socializing anyway, even with people I like.

Even on-line socializing, which I briefly did a bit of in the past, has become tense and unpleasant for me most of the time.  Leaving comments—whether on a video or a blog, or whatever, let alone replying to a tweet or a Facebook post—fills me almost immediately with a good deal of tension and anxiety.  I fear that someone will engage with my comment and I’ll have to get involved in some kind of discussion or argument, or else willfully ignore it, which will feel rude.

I know, it’s  a trap of my own making, or at least of my own nature.  I certainly can’t blame the other people.  But that doesn’t make it cease to be a trap.

Ah, well, it really doesn’t matter.  When I’m in a lot of pain, I’m not interested in socializing, anyway.

And now, I need to start heading for the bus stop, so I’m going to wrap this up for today.  I won’t write a post tomorrow, and if I don’t write one Monday, it will mean either that I decided (or needed) to take that day off, or something else has prevented me from writing.  I guess, if I don’t write any more posts at all after that, you’ll be able to infer at least that something relatively drastic happened.

But if I return no later than Tuesday…well, you’ll know that I’ve returned, at least for the moment.  I’m not sure which outcome I prefer.

Anyway, have a good holiday weekend, those of you who live in the US and are celebrating.

Be fire with fire. Threaten the threat’ner, and outface the brow of blogging horror.

Hello and good morning.

It’s Thursday again.  It feels as though it ought to be Friday—some Friday in 2029, or 2929, or 20,299 or something, given how horribly long this week feels as though it has lasted.

I’ve rarely felt as unpleasant as I do this week.  First of all, as you know, despite medication and my attempts to improving my schedule and lifestyle, my depression has been very bad, and it doesn’t really seem to be improving.  Also, my pain has just been awful this week.

Yesterday I felt as if everything from my left shoulder blade on down was being eaten away by Drano™ or something similar from the inside out.  Then it spread out a bit.  It’s not much better now, though it’s not as severe as at its worst.  I don’t know what has set it off.  I’ve tried not to do stupid things, physically.  I’ve tried using knee braces and ankle braces and shoe inserts, but those quickly seemed just to make things worse (annoyingly).  I’ve tried various different brands and types of shoes.  And, of course, I’ve slightly but frequently overdosed on naproxen and aspirin and acetaminophen, which don’t help me feel much better.

There have been several times that I’ve been tempted just to grab a double fistful of aspirin and/or acetaminophen and just gulp them down—I only have about ten or twelve naproxen left in the little bottle on my desk, so I could add them to the meal, but they probably wouldn’t make much difference.  However, I know that the process of dying from even a large overdose of such combinations would be extremely drawn out, and I would probably have bad nausea and vomiting and the like as part of it.  It would be hard to tolerate without seeking some kind of help, and certainly without being obvious and intrusive to other people.  I hate nausea probably more than most anything else (I doubt this is unusual, given the nature of nausea and the purpose it serves).

I have to admit that I have harkened back with some nostalgia to the time when I had prescription opioids of one kind or another.  The side-effects and the dependency on those is annoying—so annoying that I weaned myself off the meds on my own—but at least they definitely work, for a while, to alleviate pain.

I’m getting very tired of pain.  That’s an unusual reaction, isn’t it?  Ha ha.

Seriously, though, I’ve been in chronic pain for a little more than twenty years now, and it’s not really getting better, or stabilizing, and although I’m still alive despite it—obviously—it cannot be said that I’m getting used to it, other than to say that it’s become almost a part of my identity by now, which is a horrifying and infuriating thought.

I keep thinking of a line from the movie Dragonslayer, when the wizard, Ulrich, says, “When a dragon gets this old, it knows nothing but pain, constant pain.  It grows decrepit…crippled…pitiful.  Spiteful!”  I can definitely sympathize with the dragon’s wish to burn the entire countryside, the entire world, out of frustration and rage and hatred because of constant pain—though I have no interest in burning and eating young virgins.  Is that the dragon equivalent of veal or lamb?  I don’t know.

I’ve tried many massagers (and I used my seat and feet massagers about five times yesterday at the office, to little or no avail), and patches, and creams, and ointments, and stretches, and exercises, and of course, medicines.  I’ve tried herbal things, and I’ve changed chairs, and I’ve changed the way I sleep.  I’m not a person who gives up easily; I tend always to be willing to check things out and experiment.  But there is a reason that opioids exist, despite the fact that they can be abused by those who suffer from psychological as well as physical pain:  they work.  What’s more, unlike the various OTC meds, when necessary, their doses can be increased without causing inescapable and catastrophic organ failure and a lingering, horrible death.

Even when one does die from opioids, it’s liable to be more peaceful than dying from too much Tylenol.  That is a terrible spectacle, involving total liver failure and all the dreadful, slow, wretched, painful ordeals that brings to the body.  NSAIDs, including aspirin, are not much better.  I suppose if one has a sudden, severe GI bleed from aspirin, it can be relatively quick, but it is likely to be messy, and extremely unpleasant, with nausea and pain as well as vomiting and/or defecating blood.

It’s somewhat ironic that the main cause of my disgrace and loss of career and what little was left of my life was born of my desire to try to help other people who have chronic pain—people who might not have the resources I had—to get their pain treated with the best medicines we had, however flawed they may be, in a society that looks at everyone* who picks up a prescription for an opiate or opioid as a disgusting, weak, criminal, degenerate drug addict who doesn’t really have any serious pain.  Only people with terminal cancer get a pass on treating their pain, even though, ironically, their course is usually much shorter.  It’s okay to treat your pain if you’re dying—which it ought to be, of course—but if you have to keep on living with your pain, and to keep on trying to make a living, then treating your pain makes humans see you as just a disgusting lowlife, which makes no sense at all.

Even those on the floors of hospitals taking care of patients with, for instance, sickle cell disease sometimes have the temerity to sneeringly refer to “drug-seeking” behavior in their patients.  As if they would not seek drugs for pain if I were to take a large baseball bat or sledge hammer and smash their major limb joints into powder for them, which is much of what the experience of a sick cell crisis can feel like.

Believe me, it was sometimes tempting to do such a thing.  Okay, it was often tempting.  See above about the whole “burning the countryside” thing.

Was I naïve about the pain treatment practice?  Of course I was.  I don’t tend to look for ulterior motives in people unless and until it’s glaringly obviously that I need to do so, and I don’t generally even try to understand hidden motivations and machinations of humans, who rarely seem to understand their own minds.  But even the book promulgated by the Florida Department of Health (or lack thereof) said—correctly—that there is no way accurately to test the degree of a person’s pain, and the general guideline is to take patients at their word unless and until there is a clear and good reason not to do so.  They actually sent this book out to all the doctors in the state who worked in that business.

Patients, in other words, should be considered innocent until proven guilty.  Too bad our justice system doesn’t have a principle like that to apply to it.  Oh, wait!  It supposedly does.  However, that really only applies to those who are wealthy enough to hire private defense attorneys (a rather obscene notion if you think about it).  It certainly doesn’t apply to the average person, certainly not to a person who has to use public defenders because he cannot afford an attorney, a person who hasn’t saved any money because his own life is in disarray from chronic pain, and because he doesn’t have a clue about money management or life management, or the ability to focus on them, and ends up giving much of what he earns away, and having the rest of it taken from him, because humans tend to take advantage of people like him, who are very smart and capable in some ways, but who are so very bad at taking care of themselves, and who find it hard to understand people who use others and take advantage of others and set them up to take a fall, and so on.

Again, see above about the burning of the countryside and/or the planet.  Doing that becomes more and more attractive with every moment.  Not just humans, but every life form on Earth is unworthy of existence, frankly.  At least, that’s how I often feel.  There is no innocent form of life.  Even green plants compete ruthlessly, choking each other, jockeying for the light and for water and all that stuff.  It’s all ugly and disgusting, even when it’s beautiful and amazing.

Anyway, that’s that.  I don’t even really know what I’ve written, other than general vague impressions, though of course, I will reread it as I edit it before posting.  I hate the universe at the moment, though not as much as I hate myself.  But I’m still grateful to those of you who read this blog, and so, to you especially, I hope you have a good day.



*This includes doctors, as I knew from repetitive experience.

A hump is just a dip when viewed from the other direction

It’s Wednesday, now.

At some level, I feel as though that’s all that’s worth writing about today.  But of course, if people only wrote what was worth writing about, most of the material online—including the online versions of venerable print media like the New York Times, the Washington Post, the various other big newspapers and magazines in all their incarnations, and many books—would never exist.  While that often seems like it might be a good thing overall, when I think of the matter soberly, I think that’s probably not true.

While it is true that, especially in the era of anti-social media, much of what is written in the world is at best noise, at worst anti-information, I suspect that reducing the overall amount of it wouldn’t improve the net amount of good or useful stuff.  It would just shrink everything in proportion.

I suspect that most of everything that’s ever been written or said (or drawn or sung or what have you) is probably forgettable and pointless.  But the way the forgettable is sifted from the memorable is…by memory.  I don’t just mean storage, obviously.  Somewhere out there, I’m sure one can find some stored version of a significant fraction of all that’s been written, for instance, in the twentieth century and later, and even on back into, say, the sixteenth century, though we’ve lost more of the latter, I’m sure.  Nevertheless, back then, when writing was not as easy as it is nowadays, there was probably a greater pre-writing filter.  But even so, it’s only a tiny fraction of the stuff then written that survives, in recollection and in use, to the modern day.

For instance, I’ve read at least one play by Christopher Marlowe, a contemporary of Shakespeare, and although it was good, it wasn’t great.  But, then again, not all of Shakespeare’s stuff was truly great.  Some of it survives just because it was Shakespeare.  But the truly great Shakespeare stuff—well, wow!  There’s a reason people are still reading it after four hundred years, and even still making movies of it.  It may be that even greater writers’ works have been lost entirely, but that doesn’t seem as likely as the possibility that the work of more mediocre writers has been lost.

Anyway, I don’t know just at what I’m getting.  Certainly, I don’t expect that my own thoughts or writings will survive me.  They probably won’t even survive as long as I will, which is a rather sad thought, and one that I hope is wrong.  Still, I don’t really expect that I’ll be some newer instantiation of the old Herman Melville, Moby Dick situation, in which a work is barely noticed during the author’s life, but is later considered one of the greatest works of its era’s literature (especially if you leave out all the trivia about whaling…of which, by the way, there is very little in my writing).

Even if it turns out that my fiction and/or my non-fiction writings not only survive me but endure into the centuries of the future, it’s not as though it will do me any good.  I’ll be dead either way, and the world will almost certainly be better off—and certainly no worse off—for that fact, even if it happens today or tomorrow.

Of course, today I’m going in to the office, because it’s payroll day, and so I need to be there no matter what.  Though yesterday, during the part of the day when I was feeling most depressed and stressed and despondent and miserable—you know, most of the day—I considered just not showing up, not coming in, not doing anything ever again.  I’m not really much more enthusiastic this morning, but I don’t like to leave people in the lurch, not when I’ve allowed them to depend on me even to a minor degree.

Of course, letting people down in the long run is something at which I seem to be exceptionally skilled—or perhaps “talented” is a better word.  I certainly seem to have a knack for disappointing the people I love the most.  I suppose that I may also have a knack for disappointing people about whom I don’t give a flying shit, but, well, in that case it doesn’t exactly weigh on me much.  Let strangers and would-be users be disappointed in me.  I don’t really care.  I’m disappointed in myself, too, but I don’t like myself anyway, so I don’t really care what that asshole thinks about how much I’ve let him down.

But I do feel horrible about having let down my parents and my ex-wife, and especially my children.  Many of my strongest feelings and memories are those of loss and horror when those people have found that I was not worth keeping around in their lives…not too close, anyway.  I can’t actually blame them; it’s hard to live with someone who has chronic pain and dysthymia, let alone (apparently) some form of neurodevelopmental disorder.  But, of course, I disappointed and alienated people before the chronic pain, and sometimes when the dysthymia was not fully active and/or hadn’t dipped down into its many occasions of full-blown depression.  As for the other, well, if it’s there, it’s always been there and always will be there.  I don’t know how much it’s contributed to me being an allergen to people (metaphorically), and it’s a bit of a moot point, since there’s not much I can do about it.

Anyway, I’m very tired.  I don’t even know what I’ve written this morning, or why, but I have to go in to the office because it’s payroll day.  We’ve had a prosperous and productive few weeks, but for me that just tends to mean that things have been busier and I’ve had more work to do, and—worse—there has been more noise and chaos and more interruption in routine work.  This doesn’t help much when I’m already frankly veering even more than usual toward violent self-destruction.

But I can’t do anything much about that except try to continue and try not to inconvenience and be a bother and a detriment to the people around me if I can help it.  That’s about as high as my aspirations go anymore, and I don’t think I succeed at many of even those not-so-lofty goals very often.

Oh, well.  I hope this will all be over soon.  I need this all to be over soon.  I want everything (from my point of view) to be over soon.  I can’t tolerate it all much anymore.  At least it feels that way, though who knows what my breaking point actually is?  I’ve felt many times before that I was approaching it, but it hasn’t happened yet.

It has to be there, though.  I’m finite, I’m mortal, so there is a point at which I will no longer be able to endure, and I will finally and catastrophically and permanently break.  I’m kind of looking forward to it.

What would a moribundt cake taste like?

It’s Tuesday now, in case you weren’t aware of that fact.  I’m feeling less perky this morning than I was yesterday, which I guess isn’t all that odd.  I’m also not sure what to write today—even more so than usual.

I’m rather tired, both mentally and physically.  Yesterday during the early part of the day I had a fair amount of energy, but then in the afternoon, sometime a bit after three, I think, my mood just crashed.  I felt physically fine; my pain wasn’t worse than usual, and was probably slightly better than average.  But I just felt the wind go out of my sails and lost nearly all my motivation.  I’m not sure why.  It was while I was drinking a Coke Zero®, which I don’t usually drink, but I doubt that it was the cause.

Possibly part of it was that my coworker had shown me some pictures from his daughter’s christening, and it reminded me of some baby pictures of my daughter and son, and so I pulled those up on my phone and showed a few to him.  Then, having opened that particular Pandora Brand™ can of worms, I looked through a lot of other pictures of my kids on my phone, and was reminded how much I have missed of their lives and how much I miss them, and how I’m probably never going to see them in person again.

I’m a surprisingly sentimental person, but I don’t think anyone else at the office is ever able to tell when I’m feeling so.  I’m not sure much of anyone around me is ever able to tell when I’m feeling down.  It’s frustrating, as I’ve written here before.

It’s rather as if one were in the process of drowning, coughing up water, waving, hoarsely calling out for help, and all people from the shore or the pool-side—very nearby, more than capable of tossing a life preserver or something similar—do is say thing things like, “That’s a good sidestroke you have”, and they mean it with complete sincerity.  They’re not teasing or taunting.  They’re not trying to be cruel, and they’re not knowingly being callous.  They honestly don’t seem able to tell that I’m about to drown…even people who’ve known me all my life.

Or perhaps they figure I just want to drown, and they don’t think it’s their place, or their right, to intervene.  I certainly sometimes make arguments and diatribes that might make it seem as if I’ve arrived at a desire to die because of some philosophical thought process; I’m well-read and I’m good at making sophistic arguments, so apparently it comes across as convincing, as a well-thought-out and definitive personal statement of rational, or at least reasoned, intent.  But all I’m really doing is trying to express how absolutely morose and hopeless I feel.  Such moods, however, are apparently rather opaque, whether on my face or in my speech or my behavior, and perhaps even in my writing.

Honestly, yesterday afternoon, I fantasized about finding the nearest pawn shop, of which there are many near where I live, and buying a gun and shooting myself.  I tried to imagine the process of doing it, and I didn’t feel hesitant.  I was very depersonalized, as I think the term is.  I felt that I could have cut off some of my own fingers with minimal difficulty.  I also felt that, even in the office, if someone had handed me a loaded pistol—especially if it were a nice, single-action revolver—I could have put it in my mouth, pointed it toward my soft palate, and pulled the trigger.

At that stage, what would have stopped me would have been mostly the issues of mess and rudeness.  It would be better to go find one of the areas of south Florida—there are many—where there basically are just lots of plants growing (and oodles of arthropods), such as along the train tracks but between stops, and do it there.

Anyway, obviously I didn’t have a gun, and I didn’t do that stuff yesterday, unless I’m a ghost who is able to write a blog.  I do sometimes feel like I’m undead, as I’ve said before on this blog, but that’s not a literal thing.  I don’t think ghosts or zombies or any of the rest of such things actually exist, at least not in any supernatural sense.

I wish I could find some situation or circumstance where I could readily do something that would be good, that would maybe save some people’s lives or something, but would kill me.  Stepping in front of a child that was about to be shot or something like that might be good.  And, of course, I would wish that I would have the will, the courage, to carry out the act.

That’s always a worry.  Oh, well.  Life sucks.

I at least got a relatively good walk in last night.  I arrived at the destination train station and walked to the nearby bus stop and waited for the bus to arrive, but the app didn’t even show the usual real-time update on its position.  How quickly we become spoiled by such things!  So I watched as the arrival time of the bus came and passed and then five more minutes, and then five minutes after that, with no sign—in person or on the app—of the bus.  So I gave up, after wasting half an hour, and walked the five miles back to the house.

I considered stopping at McDonald’s© on the way, but decided I didn’t want anything from that particular fast food shoppe.  One of the great things about not eating during the day is that, by the time it’s time to eat for dinner, I don’t really feel hungry.  And, weirdly enough, walking the five miles back to the house was easier after not having eaten than it ever was after I had eaten, in the past.  This makes sense, biologically.  All my system’s resources were available for moving and walking; none were diverted to digestion, and I certainly have more than enough stored energy for the trek.

Unfortunately, since I’d foregone the fast food€, I needed to stop at a convenience store¥ and get something for dinner, but the one I chose didn’t have much that I wanted, so I had to settle, and had a relatively small and not terribly good dinner, at about ten o’clock at night.  Oh well.  Life, as I say, sucks∞.  Frankly, I think it would be nice just to stop eating entirely.  I may see if I can work my way toward that.

Anyway, this morning, my dips—the exercise, I mean—were noticeably easier than just a few days ago, which is always nice.  It would be nice to die with a lean but toned body, though I suppose it hardly matters.

And, now, I’m really going to have to head toward the bus stop, because I hate getting there when other people are already there if I can help it.  I hope you have a better day than I have, no matter how good a day I may be surprised to haveΩ.

[P.S.  Later in the morning:  The train announcement by the conductor includes the sentence, “We would like to remind you that safety and security are our top priorities.”  This is clearly false.  If those were their top priorities, the train would never run at all, and no one would be allowed on it.  Thus it would be as safe and secure as was possible…and the train would be utterly useless.  Safety and security can never truly be top priorities, at least not in any simple-minded sense, and even sensible safety is often not prioritized in any rational way.  I know people who fret over whether someone with a minor cold touched something of theirs, but who habitually drive over the speed limit, fail to signal, fail to come to complete stops, and not don’t pay full attention to what they are doing when driving.  It’s maddening.  People are idiots; life is idiotic.  I do not hold myself as an exception to those last two statements.]

Tell me why I [no longer] like Mondays

It’s Monday morning, the beginning of that day whose child just learned to tie its bootlace, according to Lady Madonna.  That may be just about the only good thing that can be said about Monday—though the Mama’s and the Papa’s sang that it was so good to them.

I’ve always felt that there was a bit of irony or sarcasm in Monday, Monday’s lyrics, but perhaps I’m projecting my own feelings onto it.  I need to be cautious about drawing unwarranted conclusions.  That’s all too easy a trap into which to fall, to insert one’s own feelings into the mind of another, so to speak, just because one’s feelings are so strong that they feel that they must be there.  As I’ve said here before, and not too long ago (I think), just because you infer it doesn’t mean it was implied.

Still, my own sentiment toward Mondays is rather negative.  Not that yesterday was particularly great or anything—actually, I was rather stressed out by my laundry situation, since that is the only day on which I can do my laundry, and there were some impediments around which I had to go to do it, which made me feel very uncomfortable and rather angry.  But I did nap a fair amount during the day, and I resisted eating until after 6, which is hardest to do on a day off.

Once it was time to eat, after I had gone most of the day without eating, I was frankly not very hungry, which is one of the great things about that process.  Nearly all (and possibly in fact, all) of the times in my life when I’ve been most present and effective and when I’ve been sharpest and most successful have been when I had a habit of not eating breakfast or lunch.  (I wrote a bit about this the other day, I think—how when one’s stomach is full, biology wants to make one slow down and digest, and to go into storage mode.)  I mean to continue this process.  I can already tell that it’s helping after only about three days, because it’s already easier to do my pull-ups in the morning.

When I was younger—so much younger than today*—I used to like Mondays, which was unusual among the people I knew.  I almost always liked school, because I always liked to learn new things.  It was a joy I absorbed from my parents and my older siblings, and it was not a case of “do as I say, not as I do”.  Both of my parents clearly loved education and learning and thinking, and had always encouraged it in us.  So I liked going to school.

School was where I had friends, too.  I’ve always needed to have a venue in which to socialize; I can’t just make friends in purely social settings.  But when there were a bunch of us there anyway, with automatic starting points about which to converse—classwork, for instance—that made the process much easier.  Also, it helped that we didn’t move during my childhood.  By which I mean, we didn’t buy another house and go to live there rather than in the one we’d had previously.  Clearly we moved, otherwise how would I even have gone to school?

It was easier to make friends then, when we were all the same age, and we all had a good deal in common because we were all in school and in classes.  And by the time I got to high school, that usual place of such peer-based evil and whatnot, I had a core group of friends, and I was in the orchestra, and I was already known to be a smart guy (along with my friends).  We were not in the least afraid of the stupid people**, and we certainly didn’t give a crap if they didn’t think we were cool.

We were the cool ones, as far as we were concerned, and that made it so.  Coolness is in the eye of the beholder, after all, and from an objective, outsider point of view, all the humans are just funny-looking, mostly hairless apes with hilarious and absurd and stupid habits and peculiar ways of doing things.

“This—all this—was in the olden time, long ago,” as Poe wrote in The Haunted Palace.  Not that I’m any more worried about what so-called cool people or other fashion victims think now.  When one is an adult, such people are all the more obviously laughable and even worthy of pity, not realizing to what degree they are merely analogues of bower birds and peacocks, strutting and fretting and trying to outdo one another, not even realizing they’re motivated by old, old, instincts and drives for reproductive competition and dominance hierarchies that no longer fully apply.

Life would be a tragedy if it weren’t so comical—and it would be a comedy if it weren’t so tragic.

Oh, by the way, I missed another chance at a palindromic recording number this weekend.  We approached it steadily, and got close enough that I thought, “If we get another deal in a few minutes, we may just hit this one.”  Alas, there then followed a longish stretch of at least an hour before the next sale, and when it arrived, we were well past the target.  So—to no sensible person’s surprise—the universe is not yet sending me any messages that it wants me to survive.

That’s fine.  I feel pretty much the same way about it.  So, there!

With that, I’d better get heading to the bus stop for another oh-so-glorious day of productive work, of which Ayn Rand would surely be proud and toward which she would feel awe, if she weren’t dead***.  I hope you all have a decent day and a good week.  If you’re lucky enough to have friends and family around you, cherish them.  They provide a strong positive counterweight to a lot of the negatives of the world.

*It’s kind of funny that John Lennon wrote that when he was in his mid twenties.  Just how much younger could he have been?  I guess it’s all relative, and the perceived duration of any given time span becomes shorter and shorter as we get older and older, as each new passing moment is a smaller and smaller fraction of our total lives.

**To be fair to them, I don’t think there were many bullying stupid (is that redundant?) people in our school.  People who were badly adjusted and too troubled, or too “cool”, tended to get involved with using and sometimes dealing drugs, and otherwise getting in legal trouble, and often ended up dropping out, which is rather heartbreaking.  I don’t know how many such people died young and unhappy, but it was a sadly large number.  According to some statistics I read, only 80% of the people who started high school in my city finished it, and only about 4 or 5% of them finished college.  These statistics are not true now, of course—they don’t even apply.  My old high school and junior high and elementary schools are all closed, and are falling into ruin, as is much of the Detroit area.  It’s very sad.  For a long time, it was a fine and impressive place, as were those schools.

***That was sarcasm, in case it wasn’t obvious.

Random Saturday thoughts on loyalty, free expression, and the supremacy of Nature

I think I mentioned that I was working again this Saturday—which is today—making it two Saturdays in a row that I’m working, and thus that I would be writing a blog post today.  I might not have mentioned it yesterday, however, so I hope this doesn’t come as too unpleasant a surprise.  Of course, one has to wonder why anyone would bother reading the post if it were unpleasant to them, but some people can be very loyal, and that’s a trait that—up to a point—we want to reward and encourage, so if you are one of those people, I thank you.

Of course, truly blind loyalty isn’t generally a good idea.  For instance, I’ve never been a fan of notions such as “my country, right or wrong,” which surely would have been welcome in any totalitarian regime from Nazi Germany to Communist Russia (or to modern Russia, alas), back to the Roman Empire and so on.  It has no legitimate place in the United States, though there have been and are people who espouse it.

This is a nation founded on the principle that governments derive their just power only from the consent of the governed, and are in place only to secure their rights, such as those to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  It is also founded on the principle, stated in the founding document, that when governments become contrary to the rights and principles of the people, they should be changed…but that this should generally not be done for light or transient reasons.

So, maybe the guiding thought, far superior to “my country, right or wrong” should be one that gives one’s country the presumption of innocence in a sense, i.e., to grant the present government provisional loyalty, but not to give it carte blanche.  Unquestioning loyalty breeds not only abuse—for when no one is telling a person they might want to reconsider their actions and choices, they are liable to become more and more extreme over time, even if only because they have a wider phase space in which to meander—but also failure.

We can imagine and see this happening in Putin’s Russia—where the head of state is a man surrounded by sycophants who, out of self-preservation, will tell him only the best news about their readiness, the strength of their army and their economies, and will tend not to give him bad news for fear of being imprisoned or poisoned or falling to their deaths in a “freak accident” from some balcony.

There should always be openness to dissenting voices; they should certainly be allowed to speak, though I suppose one cannot be required to listen.  A heckler’s veto, or coerced disinvitation, or any other de facto censorship ultimately will rebound upon those who do the censoring, for they will, over time, become less and less aware of many of the facts of reality.  But, as Feynman famously said during the Challenger inquiry, Nature cannot be fooled.  It makes no exceptions.  It doesn’t care about ideology.  In its absolute implacability, it makes the Terminator look like Charlie Brown.  And, to bring in another saying that’s a cliché because it’s true:  Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.

Of course, you cannot do anything but obey Nature.  If you think you are disobeying it, you’re just obeying that part of it that allows you to delude yourself.  But survival and thrival (which apparently is not a real word, but I’m leaving it there, anyway) are generally best served by having accurate information.  And the quality of information, of ideas, is honed and improved by testing it against other, contrary ideas, seeing which ones are better supported by evidence and reason, which ones are more convincing, not just in quality of rhetoric—which is, after all, just a game of manipulation at its root—but in ability to convince the truly disinterested and dispassionate, and above all, in how well they match reality.

I’m not quite sure how I got onto this general topic and subject, but it’s clearly an area about which I’ve thought a great deal.  When I first read John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty about five years ago, I felt frankly impoverished that I hadn’t been introduced to it in my youth.  But, it’s not too late to have read it now (obviously), and it wasn’t as though freedom of speech as an ideal had never occurred to me before.  I just hadn’t quite encountered as well-made a defense of it.

I think many of the young and “educated” and in-education people these days have clearly not read it, or at least have not absorbed or considered it very carefully.  Oh, well, young people are always foolish.  The trouble is, foolish young people grow into older people who are still foolish, though usually in slightly different ways.  I do not exclude myself from this general pattern—not by a parsec or a Planck length.

Wow, again, I don’t know where this all came from, but it’s probably at least a little improvement over some of my other posts.  Maybe it’s partly because I fasted during the day yesterday—i.e., I ate no breakfast or lunch, and only ate anything once I’d gotten back to the house.  This was my general habit during the times in my life when I’ve been both most successful and healthiest.  It’s also, quite possibly, a more natural way for humans (and anthropoid replicants) to behave.  In ancestral days, food generally had to be hunted and gathered prior to eating (duh!), so those activities were pursued during the day.  A recently well-fed and satiated animal does not tend to get up and go hunting.  Better to let the digestive system do its work.

But when one has an empty belly, one is sharper and more motivated, at least up to a point—a belly that has been empty for a very long time, obviously, is not so great.  Though I kind of think it would be nice for me to try.  I have enough stored fat to last me quite a while, even if I ate nothing.  We’ll see what happens.  But it would be welcome if my mind became sharper than usual.  It’s not as though it could readily get much worse.

And, now, I’d better leave to head to the bus stop.  Thank you for your patience and your loyalty in reading my blog, and in particular, for reading this little rant for today.  Have a good remainder of your weekend, if you’re able.