The Inscrutability of the Relativity of Popularity

I’ve said it before, but I can’t resist noting again that, as I begin writing this, it is Wednesday morning at 5 o’clock.  It’s the beginning line of one of my favorite Beatles songs, She’s Leaving Home, as many of you probably already know.  And as people who know me closely—if there are there any such people anymore—will know, I love to quote lyrics and books and poems and so on.  But I particularly like when things in the real world evoke or even literally iterate the events of a song.

It’s liable to happen again if I keep writing this, since I generally get up at least this early, even if I don’t have anywhere I have to be.  My insomnia is rotten—or, one could say, it’s very good at what it does, though what it does is not very nice.

I’ve noticed a curious thing.  Yesterday, the post that I wrote in which talked a bit about the physics of black holes—asking some questions about it, among other things—got very few “likes”.  In fact, as of the last time I checked, it had gotten one.  It wasn’t especially long, for me anyway, and I thought it was interesting enough, but I guess it wasn’t appealing.

However, the quite long post I wrote on Monday, dissecting the Bob Dylan song Blowin’ In the Wind got oodles of reads and likes, even though it was about 1800 words long.  This makes it one of my longest posts, possibly the longest, not counting my sharing of sections of Outlaw’s Mind.

I’m happy that people still like “longer” blog posts and read them, at least.

I remember being told once that the optimal blog post length was about 800 words, which seemed horribly short to me to try to convey anything interesting.  It’s nice to know that estimate may be wrong.  I’m steadily disheartened by how little most people seem to read anymore, but even more disheartened to think that—possibly—most people have never been very inclined to read.  Perhaps social media isn’t drawing people away from reading but is simply giving them newer things to do instead of other things they used to do instead of reading.

If that’s the case, then at least I’m glad that there are some excellent YouTube channels with educational and interesting materials about science, mathematics, history, literature, and so on.  I have doubts whether anything educational ever happens on TikTok or Instagram or even Facebook or Twitter, though the latter two can at least be used to share links to educational articles or videos.  And I have seen some creative and hilarious TikTok videos.  These were shared with me by coworkers; I do not use TikTok myself, though apparently my music is available on it.

Referring again to songs, and specifically to lyrics, I often recall the words of the Steely Dan song, Reelin’ In the Years, in which the singer says, “Well, you wouldn’t even know a diamond if you held it in your hand; the things you think are precious I can’t understand.”  This is how I tend to feel about a lot of the world in general.  I really don’t get why some things are popular and some things aren’t.

Which is not to say that I understand none of these things.  Some works of art and music and science and whatnot are so broadly universal in their greatness that even an alien like me can recognize why they are loved.  The music of the Beatles, the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and Shakespeare, movies like The Godfather or Alien or the original Star Wars movies, the writing of Poe*, TV shows like Seinfeld or M*A*S*H—these are things that are enduringly popular (some more than others) and of which I understand the appeal quite well.

But I have no idea why anyone cares about the Kardashians**, or why the “music” of Cardi B is popular.  (This assessment is quite apart from the person, Cardi B, herself—from what I’ve seen, she’s charming and funny and seems quite nice, so I don’t begrudge her success.)

Don’t even get me started on wondering why The Donald ever became popular, let alone admired.  The man has bankrupted casinos!  These are places where people come and willingly—one could say willfully—give the house their money!  I, myself, have given my money to a few of his old casinos, and I enjoyed it quite a bit; they were nice, and I used to relish a little blackjack from time to time.  I’ve even been to Mar-a-Lago, quite some time ago, for an AECOM*** Alumni Association event.  It was a bit gaudy, but then, so is Versailles.

But it was horrifying when I was there to see accomplished, well-to-do, middle-aged-and-older adults fawning over the man, even gaggling about him looking for autographs!  I can kind of understand wanting a book signed by its author, especially if it has a “personal” message, or wanting to own an album that was signed by the Beatles, say.  But why fawn over a rather questionable**** businessman who is—admittedly—colorful, in more ways than one, but whose greatest skill seems to be surviving his own mistakes and passing the costs on to others?  And why in the world would anyone think he was qualified to be President of the United States?

Alas, humans are inexplicable to me in many ways—at least when I try to understand them as intelligent individuals.  It gets easier when I recognize them as a large population of unusually brainy primates, who, when you pay attention, are merely doing the stuff that all other lemurs and monkeys and apes do, just on a larger, more complicated level, and who fool themselves into thinking otherwise—it gets easier, but not more reassuring.

So, that’s a rundown of thoughts triggered by the fact that I don’t know specifically why my Monday post was apparently quite popular (relatively speaking), but my Tuesday post, which dealt partly with a bit of General Relativity (in a popular style, I think), was apparently not.  Maybe yesterday’s post is a slow-burner, and people will come back and read it in the future and will consider it some of my finest work.  I doubt it.  Honestly, I don’t truly think it’s some of my finest work, but I don’t think Monday’s post was either.

I don’t understand.  But why would I expect to?  I am a stranger in a strange land.  Your customs and your ways are foreign to me.

Maybe I should just go home.


*Though, man, you should’ve seen them kicking him.  Goo-goo-ga-choob.

**Unless you’re talking about the alien species that first appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation and was more prominent in Deep Space Nine.  They’re not as interesting as the Klingons or the Romulans, but they’re way more interesting than a family that’s famous for the fact that its former patriarch had been part of O.J. Simpson’s defense team, and then for the rest of the family being rich but dysfunctional.

***That’s the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, not the infrastructure consulting firm, of which I just now became aware.

****Yes, he was questionable even back then.  And, yes, I thought so even back then, and well before.

You pick the space and I’ll choose the time, and I’ll climb the hole in my own way*

It’s Tuesday now, the day that Professor Coyne, aka PCC(E), over at Why Evolution Is True calls “the cruelest day”.  I’m not sure the origin of that expression; as far as I can recall, his website is the first place I encountered it, but I like it.

It’s not the beginning of the week, which has a certain hectic energy at least, with everyone in a kind of recovery from their—hopefully restful—weekend.  It’s not “hump day”, which many people call Wednesday, when things are starting to coast toward the end.  And, of course, it’s not its counterpart:  Thursday, which is a day on which anticipation of the coming weekend can energize one for the day’s work.  And, quite obviously, it’s not Friday, when those who are on a 5-day-a-week schedule are effectively already beginning their weekend**.  Tuesday is the day with the least to make it stand out.  Which, of course, makes it stand out.

Also, as the Beatles pointed out, and as I often note, Tuesday afternoon is never-ending.  And, if time were to be truly continuous and infinitely divisible, then one could effectively make Tuesday afternoon never-ending in a Zeno’s Paradox sort of way, just by subdividing the time in between each moment as each moment passed.

Or, of course, one could fall through the event horizon of a black hole.  To distant observers, that fall would indeed seem to be never-ending (though before too long the image of the faller would redshift into invisibility).  And for the person falling, the end would come rather quickly.  Assuming that person survived the gravitational tides, according to General Relativity, time literally comes to an end in the singularity of a black hole.

Though I always picture the heart of a black hole a bit more like one of those “Gabriel’s Horn” shapes in mathematics, which has an infinite surface area but a finite volume.  Of course, I don’t have the skills and expertise to work the equations of GR, but it feels to me that, if spacetime is endlessly flexible****, then there need never be a true “end” to time; it could just stretch longer and thinner always, infinite in “surface” but finite in “volume”.

I know that’s all a bit esoteric, and I’m sure my understanding is incomplete.  If there are any theoretical physicists specializing in GR reading this who can help me think more clearly about black holes and singularities and why it would be necessary for time to completely end if spacetime were continuous rather than simply to stretch—making a mathematical singularity, but not literally an end—then please do let me now.

I realize that there may be concepts that can only be dealt with rigorously using the mathematics, but on the other hand, clearly the mathematics is translatable into “ordinary language” at some level, or no one would ever be able to teach it or learn it.  And I have at least a bit of mathematical background, though I haven’t formally studied how to do the matrices and whatnot involved in GR.  Still, Einstein himself didn’t know how to do it when he came up with the initial ideas, so he had to learn it and then work with it, but he had the ideas first.

I don’t have his brilliance, obviously—which is certainly not an insult—but if there’s a way to demonstrate why time literally ends at a singularity***** rather than simply stretching out into an endless tube, with shrinking cross-section (in higher-dimensions) but ever-expanding “area” (again, in higher dimensions), I’d like to know.  I mean, according to the whole Dark Energy paradigm, the expansion of spacetime is accelerating now and there’s no theoretical limit to how much it can expand, which seems to mean, at some level, that it has infinite stretchability.

Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that spacetime can continue to be created between any two points that are stretching apart, somewhat—but not quite—analogous to the way in which if you try to separate two bound quarks, all you do is create two new partner quarks with the energy you’ve put in to try to stretch them so now you’ve got two pairs of inseparable quarks.  Neener neener neener.

Anyway, I know that Penrose and Hawking developed their singularity theorems for black holes and those are accepted by physicists and mathematicians throughout the world.  They are/were brilliant people, there’s no doubt about that.  But does the theorem mean that spacetime literally vanishes at some literally infinitely dense point in the middle of a black hole—which strikes me as implausible given the stretchy-stretchy nature of spacetime—or is it a singularity more in the pure mathematical sense like the function 1/x as x approaches zero?

Enquiring minds want to know.

Wow, that wasn’t at all where I thought I was going when I started this post today, but those random, drunken walks can, at times, at least lead past interesting scenery.  No one would be likely to argue that a black hole doesn’t necessarily belong in a wasteland; in a sense, it is the ultimate wasteland, at least this side of the heat death of the universe.  But it is interesting, topographically (and topologically, to a novice such as I), and though it would be nice to be able to enjoy such scenery with company who would appreciate it in a similar fashion to the way I do, well…one has no “right” to such a thing and no good reason to expect it.  It’s lonely, but at least the wasteland has places of beauty.

And if one gets tired of walking, and/or one is curious enough to see where it leads, one can always just jump into that black hole.


*This is a slightly altered line from the Pink Floyd song Fearless, off their excellent album Meddle.

**Some of us work every other Saturday, of course, and when you have no life, like I have no life, a weekend is not something to which to look forward, except for the chance to rest one’s back.  I don’t really do anything for fun, have no friends with whom I spend time, no places that I go for entertainment or for shopping or whatever.  All such things are too tainted by memories of loss, and anxiety, and the feeling of not belonging on this planet.  My life is more or less a wasteland.  But I can’t see any way out of it (other than the obvious), and I can’t even really tell if I’m just walking in circles within it.  I think I’m walking in random patterns, like a “drunkard’s walk” (though I rarely drink).  And, of course, in a random walk or drunkard’s walk, one will eventually get arbitrarily far away from one’s origin point (though the average location will be the origin, interestingly), but the distance between one and the origin increases—I think, if memory serves—only logarithmically.  And I suspect that the exit from the wasteland is very far away, if it exists at all (other than, as I say, the obvious).  Oh, well.  Life promises one thing and one thing only; anything else is just luck***.

***A footnote within a footnote, just to note the mildly amusing fact that, so far, my footnote is longer than the main text of this post.

****A big “if”, of course.  It doesn’t seem to jibe with quantum mechanics, apparently, but we have no convincing theory of quantum gravity to settle the issue.  I’m so frustrated.

*****Again, according to General Relativity—I know it’s thought not to be the correct picture in such extreme circumstances, because of the uncertainty principle, among other things.

How many rhetorical questions can one man ask?

Well, it’s Monday again, the start of another work week.  I think it’s a bit unfair that we’ve made the day that we named after the moon—arguably our most unique and interesting and certainly among the most important of nearby astronomical bodies—into a day that’s associated with the return to drudgery after a minor respite.

But that’s not what I mean to write about today.  I’ve been thinking recently about a list I saw of “Greatest Songs of All Time”.  I think it was one of those “WatchMojo” or “WhatCulture” lists, but that doesn’t matter much.  What matters to me is, what had this list declared to be the greatest song of all time?  Well, the answer, my friend, was Blowin’ in the Wind.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with the song.  It’s a simple folk tune, pleasant and catchy enough for what it is.  But the greatest?  Musically, it’s not terribly interesting.  It has only three chords, which change in not terribly imaginative or impressive ways, and the tune itself is also not especially beautiful or catchy.  It just repeats its structure 3 times in a row.  That’s all fine, don’t get me wrong, but…surely it can’t be because of the tune and the chords that they think it’s the greatest song of all time.

It must be the words.  After all, the person who wrote this song was recently given a Nobel Prize for his words (all of them, not just this song), so they must be the reason some people consider this the greatest song of all time.  Presumably the Nobel Committee doesn’t give those awards out just for any old lyric writing.  They haven’t given one to Paul McCartney or Bernie Taupin or (God forbid) Tim Rice.

So, Mr. Dylan—if that is your real name*—let’s examine the lyrics of this supposedly greatest not just of your songs, but of all songs.

With the first line, I already have problems:  “How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?”

It’s internally contradictory.  If a man is walking down any road at all, as the lyric says, you’re already calling him a man.  If the starting point is “a man walking down a road” then he doesn’t need to be a man walking down a road at all before you call him a man.  For a man to walk down a road, he has to be already a man.

Then comes the line “How many seas must a white dove sail before she sleeps in the sand?”

This one just doesn’t make sense.  Do white doves sail?  Aren’t doves land birds?  Does any bird, other than a pirate’s parrot or similar, actually “sail” at all?  Do white doves tend to sleep in the sand?  I thought most dove species nested well above the ground.  Or is this “sleep” a reference to dying?  In which case, maybe a white dove will die if it tries to sail—since they aren’t sea birds—and so it will die at once, and the answer is “one or fewer”.

Next comes “How many times must the cannonballs fly before they’re forever banned?”

Well, I don’t think you need to ban cannonballs.  They’re a long-since obsolete form of military projectile.  What good would “banning” them “forever” do?  Cannonballs are easy enough to make, but again, they are obsolete.

Well, this one I’m willing to accept as a catch-all term referring to all military weapons, but surely banning will not be the way war is ended, since “banning” something requires an implicit threat of force in and of itself.  Surely only by advancing as a civilization to the point where war is no longer in any sense desirable by anyone is the way things will go, if it goes that way at all.

Next comes the title verse, “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.  The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

Now this is clearly just an evocative image (so to speak) showing that the answer is not something that can be grasped, calling to mind poetic queries such as “Who has seen the wind?”  But ever since I were a wee lad, I’ve heard this and thought, “So, maybe the answer is ‘a leaf’.”  Which doesn’t quite make sense, but a leaf is the sort of thing that can be found blowing in the wind.  Or we could go “meta” or whatever, and say, “The answer is, ‘dust’.  Dust in the Wind is the answer.”  And for my money, it’s a much deeper, more evocative, more haunting, and far more beautiful song.

But that’s a digression.

Now, the first lyric of the second verse is one I frequently forget, because it’s partly banal and partly misses any point.  The whole “How many years can a mountain exist before it’s washed to the sea?” is a bit of trivia, and it would differ for every mountain.  Also, I would think that not every mountain is, in the end, washed to the sea.  I don’t really think that’s how geology and plate tectonics work.

As for the third line of the verse, “How many times can a man turn his head and pretend he just doesn’t see?” it’s basically an empirical and uninteresting question***; I suppose one could run a test on a statistically significant number of men and have them turn their heads over and over again, pretending not to see, until they get fed up with the process, or fall asleep, or develop some form of repetitive stress injury, then publish the result with error bars and significance estimates, but why would anyone do such a thing?

The middle line sticks in my craw in a worse way, for moral philosophical reasons:  “How many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free?”

Well, if freedom is something that people are “allowed” then they aren’t free at all.  They are being given a privilege, not claiming a right.  Freedom is something that is demanded, that is seized, that is declared.  It is not given nor taken away—ethically, anyway—at the whim of other people.

It is certainly questionable, as a matter of physics, whether anything like “freedom” actually exists, but from a civilizational point of view, if you think you have a right to “freedom”, you don’t ask to be allowed to be free, you insist upon it, and—if it’s important enough to you—you put your life on the line to seize it.

Then comes the little chorus again.

Now for the last verse, which starts, “How many times must a man look up before he can see the sky?”

Well, honestly, we don’t have enough information to answer that question.  If the man is in a closed, windowless room, then it doesn’t matter how many times he looks up.  He’s not going to see the sky.  On the other hand, if he’s in the basket of a high-flying balloon, for instance, or in a plane, he may not need to look up at all to see the sky.  But if he is outdoors, and it’s not cloudy (unless clouds count as “the sky”) then he only has to look up once to see the sky.

The next line is “How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry?”

The most straightforward answer is, “At least one.”  I would be willing to include in this definition of “ear” anything that transduces sound into decipherable neural impulses reaching the appropriate brain centers for interpretation, including those amazing new devices that have allowed previously deaf people to hear for the first time.  When those are turned on, and you see the recipients’ reactions, anyone with half a soul can’t help but cry.  That’s poetry in real life.

But it’s orthogonal to my point.

Next comes perhaps the silliest line, to me:  “How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?”

There are a lot of assumptions made in asking this question, such as the notion that death is inherently bad in and of itself.  If that’s so, then we’re all hosed, because as far as we know, every human born will die someday, somehow.  As far as we can tell, the universe itself will eventually reach some stage of “heat death” with the development of maximal entropy and no free energy, where there will no longer be any arrow of time.  But in any case, every human will die eventually, that much is effectively certain.

So, how many is too many?  I suppose if the last mating pair of humans alive in the world die, leaving the human race extinct, then “too many” people would have died…from the human point of view, anyway.  Maybe to other creatures on the planet this would entail “just the right number of deaths”.

This line is part of a general attitude toward which I have antipathy.  It is not death per se that is the evil.  It is premature death, and death that causes or entails unnecessary suffering.  Suffering is the real tragedy, not death.  Everyone who is born will die.  If not—far worse—they’re eventually going to find themselves floating in a featureless, timeless haze at just-above-absolute-zero, and they’re going to be alone there until the next Poincaré recurrence, estimated to be on the order of 10120 billion years, if such a thing even happens at all.

That doesn’t sound fun.  Why not just be content to die and then come back whenever the laws of physics accidentally recreate you, somewhere****, which is going to be more likely to happen sooner than the whole universe recurring, not that you’ll experience the intervening time.  That’s all assuming that the laws of physics don’t contain bigger surprises than anyone expects, which they probably do.

This should all be enough to show my irritation with the notion that Blowin’ In the Wind might be the best song ever.  It’s obviously memorable, of course, and it made me think—but only in the sense of thinking of the ways that it’s awkwardly worded or ham-handedly metaphorical.  All Along the Watchtower is a better song, in my opinion.  Even The Times They Are A-Changin’ is a little better.  Or The Man in the Long Black Coat!

Then again, I’ve written a lot of words picking apart this one, simple song, with a simple chord and verse structure, with many lines that could be considered what Dan Dennett calls “deepities”—words that sound profound, but which are fairly banal and even trivial or nonsensical when you look at them closely.

But I did stop and look at them and pick them apart and think about what they could mean if they were slightly better worded, and they made me think about possibly better questions to be asked.

Maybe it’s a pretty great song after all.  Who would’ve thought it?


*That’s a joke.  I know it’s not his real name.  His real name is Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov**.

**That’s a joke within a joke.  It’s not actually Bob Dylan’s real name.  Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, Dylan is Dylan, just as Muhammed Ali—another famous poet—was Muhammed Ali.

***Though I know it’s really a rhetorical question referring to people’s ability to ignore injustice, and I don’t actually have any issues with it as such.  So I apologize for being picky about this line.

****Possibly as a so-called Boltzmann Brain, which frankly doesn’t sound appealing.

Imagine this post to have a title with a quote from a song about eyes.

I’m not sure how well this is going to go today.  Last night, sometime not too long after midnight, maybe, I must have done something to scratch the conjunctiva of my right eye behind the middle of the upper eyelid, and it wasn’t long before I woke up with real, sharp pain.  I haven’t been able to see anything in there, such as a foreign body, despite mirrors, lights, and bright flashlights, and a complete lack of squeamishness about looking around under my own eyelid.  All I can see is that it’s irritated, though it feels as though there’s a needle in it.  But, of course, I can’t see very well in there even with lights and flashlight and lack of squeamishness, because the eye in question is impaired by the irritation, so there are limits.

I would offer to take and include with this post a picture from my cell phone camera, but I don’t see how that would help.

It’s so bad that I was tempted just to stay home from work, but the problem is, there are too many things in and around the house that are irritating to my eyes in and of themselves—dust from work that’s being done, residual cat dander from the people who used to live in the room in which I’m currently staying (and who had two cats), the general feeling of being annoyed because of where I live…these are all reasons not to want to lie around the house.  Anyway, I would probably just feel guilty, even if I had a good reason—which I I do, in a way.

I suppose I could claim to have—or fear that I have—“pink eye”, but even if I had it, it would be bacterial conjunctivitis, since it’s entirely unilateral; the viral form spreads so easily that it frequently occurs in both eyes.  Also, I just don’t have any other signs or symptoms that go with pink eye.  I am shedding a lot of tears—ironically, not because of my mood—but they are not tainted with pus.  Conjunctivitis tends to produce a greenish discharge.  Mine is as clear as more ordinary tears.

Nevertheless, those tears are annoying, as is the process itself.  And it’s not as though I could just pop into my primary doctor’s office to get it looked at, and maybe get some prescription eyedrops; I don’t have insurance, and I don’t have a primary doctor.  This is what comes from a combination of apparent “neurodivergence”, dysthymia, possible other neuropsychiatric issues, chronic pain, a completely ruined life, a comparative lack of higher-level self-preservation drive*, and a near-total lack of social supports (a complete lack, locally speaking).

So it’s not as though anyone else is going to take care of me when I’m not feeling well.  That’s not surprising, really, and it’s probably no more than I deserve; I’m not the sort of person other people seem to want to take care of, and I usually have been better at (and preferred) taking care of other people than the reverse.  I’m still the one to whom people at the office always come if they need band-aids, or antiseptic, or Tylenol, or to have an MRI report explained to them, all that kind of stuff.  I’m a bad patient, but I’ve almost always been considered a good doctor by those who are qualified to judge.

Anyway, my eye is really annoying me, and I want to give it a rest, so I’ll draw to a close here for today, and also for this week.  If this post is too short, well, at least yesterday I wrote a longish one, with pictures and video and everything.  Feel free to check it and/or any of my other, older posts out.  Have a good weekend.


*Though, as I’ve commented before, here and on Twitter, even if one is intellectually okay with the fact that one is going to die, it’s hard to ignore the fear of death that evolution has baked into us.  “And thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of”…well, instinct, not thought, in this case.  But terminologies change over time, and I think Hamlet was basically saying what I mean.

His intellect is not replenished; he is only an animal, only sensible in the duller blogs.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, the “traditional” day for my “traditional” weekly blog post, and so I began with one of the variations of my traditional “Hello and good morning” greetings.  I’m probably the only person even to notice such things, let alone to care, but I can’t seem to help but do both.

I don’t have many interesting things to report about myself lately, as you probably know, since I’m still not writing any fiction, and I haven’t played any music—either in the sense of playing an instrument, such as a guitar or cello or keyboard, or playing music on a device just to listen to it—in recent weeks, either.

Yesterday, though, when I was taking out garbage from the office, I encountered the little owl below, of whom I got a few grainy pictures and even a grainy video (it was still pretty dim out, and I didn’t want to try to get too close and scare the creature).  The video is silent because my phone, due to the humidity, had done as it often does and gone into headphones mode, even though there were no headphones attached to it.

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The owl and I startled each other nicely, because when I came out, it was barely three feet from me.  We both jumped a little, almost identically and simultaneously.  I’m pretty sure, after doing some Google searching, that it’s an Eastern Screech Owl, perhaps a juvenile one.  It didn’t fly away from me, just sort of hopped and trotted, but its wings appeared functional and symmetrical from what I could see, with no clear sign of injury.  After I made the video, it let me get about 4 feet away, where I knelt down and said hello.  It looked healthy and not terribly alarmed.

There is quite a lot of wildlife in south Florida, and particularly there are many birds and reptiles.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the owl and its ilk are gorging themselves on the many lizards, including the unusually large number of young iguanas we’ve had lately.

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Earlier this week, I saw the subject of this picture outside in the back, and it ran and ran, then I went past a construction dumpster, carrying garbage destined for a more standard dumpster, past where it had been.  I thought it might have already headed toward the little, wooded seating area in the shopping plaza, but then I realized it had tried to climb away only to find itself in the pictured basket, apparently puzzled about what it should do next.

Iguanas don’t seem to tend to be that all that bright.

We’ve had some other life in the long alley behind the office, including some good-sized frogs and their tadpoles, and what I think is a Cuban Knight Anole, pictured below, and one of which I saw quite a while back on the fence beside the house in which I live.

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But perhaps the most interesting—in some senses—life form encountered was that seen in this video, in a wooden fence behind the aforementioned slightly wooded, rather pleasant, outdoor seating area in the shopping plaza/strip mall.

There was a time in my life when I would have been terrified even to get this close to such a swarm, but nowadays I just find it fascinating, and I wasn’t the only one.  I’m not sure what I meant when I asked about where the bears are in the video—apparently it was a sensible joke, because my coworker laughed about it.  But all I can think of now is fictional bears trying to get honey from beehives, a la Winnie the Pooh or similar.  And I don’t know why I should have thought of such a thing, even for comical purposes.

Oh, well.  I say and think a lot of things that are bizarre and peculiar, even to myself.

Of course, there is other “wildlife” in south Florida, both native species, like the owl, and invasive species, like the iguanas, the anole, and the humans.  There are other mammals besides humans, as well.  Around the house in which I currently live, there are of course quite a few semi-stray cats, and last night when going out back, I encountered a youngish male raccoon, who was at first nervous of me, though he hadn’t even realized I was there until he practically walked into me, at which time he retreated a bit—apparently I’m pretty quiet.  I spoke calmly to him, and he seemed reassured enough to come back past me to go wherever he was going, through a gap in the fences.  I took no photos, but who hasn’t seen raccoons before?

There’s plenty of food in the neighborhood for an enterprising raccoon or twelve, so I’m not surprised he looked quite healthy.  I know he has older kin, because I’ve seen other, chunkier relatives (presumably) of his in the area in the past, including once what I believe was a mother with her child.  There are also at least two opossums, probably a mother and child based on their relative sizes.

It’s all rather interesting, I suppose.  Unfortunately, nothing about me or my life is nearly as interesting as these animals, except perhaps in the “Chinese curse”* sense.  I still have my usual chronic pain, and this morning my back and side were quite stiff, so before I got dressed I rolled on lots and lots of “Icy Hot”.  I don’t think that was a good idea, because all I have now is that irritating, burning sensation all around my skin in the left half of my midsection, overlaying the stiffness and pain that was already there and persists.

Maybe such products do their work by making you feel relief when they fade away, so you think you feel better when you’ve just reverted to baseline.  It would be a pretty good joke by way of a pain-treating product.

Icy Hot does actually tend to help when I’ve got inflammation and soreness in joints, such as the base of my thumb, so I don’t want to denigrate it too much.  I’m just speaking tongue in cheek—which is a good way to set yourself up to bite your tongue badly if you hit a bump or just forget what you’re doing with your tongue.

That’s about all I have for today.  At least there are some interesting animals, and some exceptionally mediocre pictures and videos of some of them.  If it weren’t for all the people (me included) south Florida would be a really cool—though actually quite muggy and hot—place to be.

Wherever you are, please take care of yourselves and your loved ones.  Relish the time you have with them; it is finite, and you will not necessarily have any warning before it comes to an end.  Revel in your time, as Tyrel said to Roy.

TTFN


*I.e., “May you live in interesting times.”

Methought I heard a voice cry, “Sleep no more!  Microsoft does murder sleep!”

I occasionally have my bones to pick with Microsoft, though on the whole I think they do a good job and make products that I use all the time, and that I have used since I was maybe 12 years old.  But last night, my Windows-based laptop did an automatic update at around midnight or twelve-thirty, and the consequences thereof made me feel less-than-charitable toward the company and its people.

I had gone to sleep watching a YouTube video of a British comedy panel show (one I’d seen many times before, which was why it helped me go to sleep), but once the aforementioned update was over and everything restarted, that show restarted, from its beginning, along with its raucous opening music.  This, weirdly enough, woke me up violently out of what had been, up until then, a reasonably sound sleep.  I had to scramble first to figure out what was happening, then to input my password just so I could get to the screen with the video and stop it playing.

I’m not saying I would have slept through the night like a log otherwise; that almost never happens.  But I was asleep until then, at least.  I had gone for a nice long walk in the evening after work the night before, which helped make me sleepy.  And once I’d been startled awake by the video, it was a long time indeed before I was able to get back to sleep, and my sleep was intermittent after that, as it often is after the first few hours of the night.

What I don’t get is, why does the system trigger a re-starting of such videos after it updates, even if the lock screen is up so that one cannot access it without entering the password?  It doesn’t make sense.  If one’s computer is dormant after restarting, such that to use it one must input one’s password, then videos certainly shouldn’t be relaunching until and unless someone returns to the relevant page.  Surely the code for this can’t be too hard to add to the system; I’m amazed that it wouldn’t simply be the default setting.

Maybe it’s not a problem with Microsoft as much as with Google, who produced the browser I was using and, of course, who owns and operates YouTube.  If they’ve deliberately made it so that videos start playing when a system has restarted after an update, even when the lock screen is on—knowing that most automatic updates are set to happen late at night to minimize user inconvenience—then they need to rethink their software, and indeed their very lives.  Those of us who already suffer from insomnia would be delighted to be tasked with keeping the responsible programmers from ever having more than one hour of daily sleep for the (very brief) remainders of their lives.

Perhaps I should only speak for myself.  It’s not as though anyone else has nominated me to speak for any group, and I certainly haven’t been unanimously elected to represent all the insomniacs of the world or even the USA.  Still, it’s irritating.  This isn’t the first time it’s happened, but it happens intermittently, and rather unpredictably—since updates happen irregularly, and I don’t tend to notice ahead of time that they are coming.

And I enjoy using such YouTube videos to help me go to sleep.  Dropping off at night to a favorite British comedy panel show is at least a pleasant beginning to a night’s slumber, even for those of us with both difficulty falling asleep and difficulty staying asleep.

You would think that such an issue would be a minor problem, and I suppose it would be, if not for my already troubled sleep.  But, as I’ve mentioned before, I can literally remember the last time I had a restful night’s sleep; it happened in the mid-1990’s.  I’ve had general anesthesia since that time, but it’s just not the same.

And though I can induce somewhat longer sleep using medications, they don’t make me feel rested—I don’t know that they make anyone feel rested, since they tend to screw up the normal sleep processes—and I really can’t use them during the work week, because they all make me feel foggy and woozy the next day.

Sorry.  Here I am complaining again.  But I guess I can do that if it’s what I want to do.  As I’ve said, I hoped to use at least these daily (nearly-daily, anyway) blogs as a kind of therapy or catharsis* of some kind, and so, given that, well…it’s my blog and I’ll whine if I want to.

I don’t know that any of it is doing any good one way or another, though I suppose if word of this happens to reach someone at Microsoft or Google (or both) and encourages them to change their software so they don’t further damage people who are suffering from insomnia on top of dysthymia/depression and ASD, decreasing such people’s chances of survival past the end of the present month, which was already not terribly great, then maybe—just maybe—it will have done some good in the world for someone, even if it hasn’t done any good for me.

For me, it’s doing about as much good as the dream-voice that troubled Macbeth did for Duncan after he had already been murdered.  It might almost just as well be a dagger of the mind, proceeding as it does from this heat-oppressed brain.


*Though I’m pretty sure the more or less literal notion of catharsis as a psychological process has been disproven, at least in its semi-literal idea that some form of “pressure” builds up and needs to be released.  But maybe I’m conflating catharsis with something else.

“It’s just the kind of day to leave myself behind”

It’s Tuesday now, which generally follows Monday, which was yesterday.  Of course, in a sense, Tuesday also precedes Monday, and has done so for practically every Monday we’ve officially had.  But it’s not guaranteed either way.  There may, for any of us and even possibly for all of us, come a Monday not followed by any Tuesday, or a Tuesday not followed by any Monday.  But I don’t think that both things can happen, not for any given person.

Someday I will see my last Tuesday, and it will follow or be followed by my last Monday—but one cannot be certain of the order of those two final iterations of days, can one?  For those who die on a Monday, their last Tuesday is followed by their last Monday.  Otherwise the reverse is true.  I suppose that means that there is a six out of seven chance that one’s last Tuesday will follow one’s last Monday.  Which makes it quite likely but far from certain.

This Monday was a frustrating day at work for me—more so than most Mondays, to be honest.  But I suppose that isn’t terribly unusual.  Work is work, and for most people, it’s not expected to be a place one goes for fun.  If it were, why would they need to pay one to go?  Well, mainly because, even if you enjoy doing what you do at work, you still have to earn a living.  If you don’t do it, then someone else has to earn it for you.

I do think it’s fair to guess that, a lot of the time, even if they would have needed to do it anyway or else die, our ancestors enjoyed hunting and gathering.  Those who enjoyed doing the activities that kept them alive were more likely to do those things, and to do them well, and so were more likely to thrive and to leave more offspring and all that.  It’s one reason cats, for instance, like to hunt and kill things even when they’re well fed.  People are quite similar to cats in many ways, but our social milieu is far more complicated than that of cats—even in the wild—so we have more complicated things that we are built to enjoy, like both hunting (and gathering, presumably) and also doing social things with other members of the tribe.

I say “we”, but of course, I really mean “you”, using that word as a collective pronoun rather than a singular one.  I’m able to learn to do the whole social interaction thing, but it doesn’t come naturally; it often seems unintuitive to me, and I don’t tend to enjoy it except with a highly select few people.  And even most of the people I like to socialize with end up not wanting to socialize with me, so apparently, even when I like socializing with someone, I don’t do a very good job at it.

Maybe that’s because, with the people I really love and want to spend time with, I let me guard down and act like my natural self more, and my natural self is unpleasant to most humans.  I don’t really know.  I know that my natural self is unpleasant to me, at least when I’m not around the people I love, which is all the time nowadays.  But you can’t judge by me, since I don’t tend to like the same things the average human likes in many cases, or not in the same way.  I’m apparently quite weird.  That can work nicely to make interesting characters and situations in sitcoms and movies and the like, but in real life it causes trouble and is not fun.

Not that I want to be normal, either.  The antics and depredations and pantomimes of “normal” people are puzzling and disheartening and disappointing and frankly embarrassing and often infuriating.

Anyway, I don’t know what the hell I’m writing about today or why.  I honestly just feel exhausted and overwhelmed.  I don’t know what to do to try to alleviate my mental and physical discomfort…I’ve tried lots of things, believe me; I am very stubborn, and I don’t give up easily.

I honestly almost wish I had a drug problem.  If you have a drug or alcohol problem, at least you have those occasional, (apparently) sweet moments of escape, and even if your life begins to crumble, there are resources and people all around the place who will stage interventions and help you get back on your feet and will sometimes even praise you for your courage in fighting your problem.  Even jail can be a respite, and badge of honor in some circles.  And if you fail ultimately, and die from an overdose, for instance, well…I guess that’s no worse than most deaths, and better than some*, and people will mourn it and see it as a tragedy.  Not that this will do you any good once you’re dead, but still…

If you just have dysthymia/depression and an ASD (apparently), but you don’t find drugs or alcohol pleasant or relieving of your issues, people just think you’re shit to be around, just a downer, and they don’t like to spend time with you or certainly to spend your life with you.  And if you die because of your illness**, people kind of blame you and have the temerity to wonder why you would choose a “permanent” solution to a “short-term” problem.

As if depression were a short-term problem.  Depression is eternal.  Depression can make a single day feel like an infinity of freezing, caustic, malodorous, gray emptiness, like a bad acid trip that’s produced by the malfunctioning circuitry of your own brain, without the need for external pharmaceuticals.

Whatever else depression is, it entails a malfunction or lack of function in one’s very ability to feel joy, analogous in some ways to how one can lose one’s ability to see or to hear***.  The term is anhedonia, but that word doesn’t capture the Lovecraftian horror of it.  Imagine (if you’ve never experienced it for yourself) doing the things you’ve previously most enjoyed—eating your favorite meal, watching your favorite show or movie, reading your favorite book, going on your favorite vacation, just spending time with the person or people you love most—and being unable to feel that joy anymore, except perhaps in a very blunted and transient way, just a teasing reminder, while all your senses of the unpleasant and painful**** are working quite well, thank you very much.

I won’t say I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.  For one thing, I frankly don’t have any actual enemies.  Also, I think there are and have been people in the world who might “deserve” such a thing, or in any case in whom anhedonia and depression would be a benefit to society at large; I’m thinking of some world “leaders”, past and present.  But in general, I don’t recommend it.

Again, I don’t have any idea what point, if any, I’m trying to make.  But maybe that’s appropriate, since I don’t see any point or purpose to my day-to-day life, either.  It makes sense that my daily blog posts should seem meandering and senseless and unpleasant.  That’s simply a reflection of my true nature, I guess.


*Cancer, or COPD, or liver failure, things like that.  We keep ourselves alive long enough to die horrible, slow, painful and erosive deaths nowadays.

**And, by the way, depression has a mortality rate comparable to many cancers, and at least in some senses can engender greater suffering in those stricken with it, certainly for longer times—sometimes for decades, many of the days of which feel paradoxically as if they last for years.  And you never do hear anyone praising someone’s “courageous battle” with depression, do you?  Depression is too horrifying…a malfunction or malignancy in the very “soul”, and people stricken with it have a hard time coming across as “heroic”.

***You’d never really imagine, though, a scene in a movie where someone slaps a blind person and tells them to “snap out of it” and just start seeing again, already, would you?

****Which are, of course, more fundamental for survival.  People who don’t feel pain and/or fear die much more quickly and certainly than those unable to feel joy.  By logical implication, at least they don’t die in pain or in fear, and that’s good, I think that’s a kindness.  But they also don’t tend to leave many offspring.

When you shout into the abyss, does it do the limbo?

Hooray, it’s Monday.

That sentence is meant to have been delivered in a deadpan, sarcastic tone, but I realize that it’s difficult to convey such things well in print, so I decided to make it clear to you.  Everyone knows a joke is funnier when you explain it in detail afterwards, right?

Anyway, as usual, I’m not sure yet what I’m going to write about today; I’m stuck merely obeying the inscrutable exhortations of my soul, to paraphrase Calvin*.

Here’s something that popped into my awareness just now:  The little weather symbol—or moon phase symbol, maybe—on the tool bar of this computer in windows uses a highly stylized moon, which looks a little bit like a cookie with a very round bite taken out of it, with the “horns” of the crescent moon extending well past the midline of the disc.  It doesn’t look much at all like the real crescent moon.  If anything, it looks like a sun beginning to be eclipsed by another celestial body—perhaps a moon—that is slightly smaller in angular diameter than the star is, so that it can never be a complete eclipse.

It certainly doesn’t match the appearance of the actual crescent moon, because the dark part of an actual crescent moon is merely that portion of the moon that isn’t presently illuminated by the sun.  The sun’s “rays”, coming from so far away, are very close to parallel, so the shadow of the dark side of the moon is almost exactly half of the moon.  So the horns of the crescent moon cannot extend past the midline of the disc, or if at all past, negligibly so.

You would think that a place like Microsoft—I’m writing on a Windows-based computer—a technology company that relies on high-end scientific and technological advances for its products and services, would be able to keep on top of simple scientific and logical matters such as what a crescent moon really looks like.

Of course, I suppose there’s no requirement that one have a grasp of simple astronomy and geometry to design graphics for a computer system.  But if one is really trying to understand the world so one can get a functionally limitless number of things done, as opposed to learning by rote a highly limited set of skills to be able to do a particular job and only that job, then one should develop as broadly useful, internally consistent, a map of reality as one can.  At least, that’s the way I think of it.

Would you rather have a doctor who has memorized, by rote, every page of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, but only recalls it in the literal order and words of the textbook, so the doctor can only deal with the specific matters addressed therein…or would you rather have a doctor who understands, broadly and deeply, the matter contained in it, even if that doctor couldn’t quote a single part of it verbatim?

This is one of the reasons that in school, when you’re asked to summarize something that you’ve read, you’re asked to do so “in your own words”.  It’s not merely to prove that you have actually read the material.  It’s also to try to make you absorb it conceptually, so that you have a model in your brain of whatever ideas are being discussed, not merely the equivalent of a docx or pdf of the words.  It’s a useful skill, even if any particular bit of school reading is otherwise not broadly relevant to your life.

I suppose all this isn’t very deep or interesting to anyone but me, but this is my blog, so I can write what I want.  Maybe the process itself will help me**.  I seem to recall that studies have shown that any kind of talk therapy in general provides some improvement in people who have mood disorders, with some better than others but all providing some benefit.  I cannot cite the sources, but the idea seems plausible.  I think it’s that just having someone to talk to who is there to listen to you is beneficial, is “ego syntonic” as the saying goes***.

I’m not sure this can honestly be extrapolated to blogging.  It may be so, but one thing about therapy is that one actually has another person, listening and sometimes interacting, asking questions, probing, intervening more actively if there is danger, things like that.  Whereas with blogging, one is firing one’s words into the void and wondering if they are ever read, and if so if anyone thinks about them at all.  At times it can feel worse than futile, as if one were hollering into a canyon and not hearing one’s own words echo back, but only hearing echoes of derogatory laughter, as if the very abyss itself were deriding one.

Of course, on much of “social” media, the very abyss itself does tend to laugh at you or do worse than laugh.  But I’m not prominent enough to get that sort of response, and anyway, internet troglodytes are unlikely to make me feel worse about myself than I already do.  Which is not meant to imply that I don’t think I could ever feel worse about myself than I do.  I suspect self-opinion is an unbounded thing, more like the real number line than the absolute temperature scale; there is no lower limit.

I merely wish to say that the sort of things people say and do in comments and replies and tweets in trying to deride or “cancel” someone are more likely to make me hold them in contempt than to make me feel worse about myself.  Though they do often gradually erode what little confidence I have in humanity, which hurts my mood if not my self-image.

Seeing other people being so stupid so often doesn’t make me feel superior in any way, even by comparison.  It’s a very low bar to clear to be less idiotic than some people online; it’s frankly astonishing to know that there really are so many people who seem able to limbo under it.  That can be terribly disheartening.

Anyway, that’s enough for this Monday, the 8th of August in 2022.  I hope you all had restful weekends—at least more restful than mine—and that you have slept well and are energized and cautiously optimistic about the coming week.  I can at least live vicariously.


*The cartoon boy, not the religious “thinker”.

**Though I doubt it.

***Okay, it’s not a saying, it’s a psychological term, but the point doesn’t change.

You Were and Have Been Warned

Well, as I warned you would happen, it’s Saturday, and I’m doing a blog post, because I work today.  And, as I also warned you, I did in fact post my video The Superman Neutrino Hypothesis to YouTube yesterday afternoon, and I’ll embed it here, below this sentence.

As you’ll see when you watch it (or have seen, if you’ve already watched it), it’s just a bit of meandering, rather silly stuff, with me applying scientifically valid physical thoughts and questions (and making a few arithmetic errors along the way) to the nature of a comic book hero—the most archetypal comic book hero, though never one of my personal favorites—whose powers have always been rather puzzling to me.

Not that such puzzlement is surprising or unusual.  There’s no good explanation for most of the many powers superheroes have.  I think the closest I’ve seen to someone trying to give a “mundane” physical explanation for a superpower was when, in the first Spider-Man movie, they zoomed in on Peter Parker’s fingers and we saw squillions of tiny little gripping projections growing out of his fingers.  Presumably the same thing was happening with his toes.

But then, if that’s the explanation for his ability to stick to and climb walls, how does it work when he’s wearing gloves and boots?  Did he somehow design a special fabric so fine and porous that it would let this “stickiness” come through, undiminished?  How in the world did a teenager from Queens, however brilliant he might be, come up with such a thing?

At least Sam Raimi had the sense not to have Peter Parker just invent his webbing—which would be an almost Nobel-worthy breakthrough in materials science and engineering and possibly condensed matter physics—in his little house in a poor neighborhood in Queens.  Then again, Raimi still had to make the webbing come from Peter’s wrists, for valid, story-based reasons, but that fact is rather odd.  No spider secretes web from near the ends of its legs, but rather from glands in its posterior (or “abdomen”).

If Peter had developed a more natural bodily location for the production of his webbing, that would have made for an awkward superhero, huh?  Raimi was probably right not to do that.

Anyway, that’s pretty much all I have to talk about for today.  This is quite a departure for me in terms of post length, and I don’t know if people in general will be happy or disappointed that it’s so comparatively short.  It doesn’t matter much, either way, though.  I’m just not interested in writing much, today.  I’m not interested in doing much.  My back and legs have been acting up even worse than usual these past several days, and that’s saying something.  In addition, and possibly exacerbated by that pain, I’m almost always stressed out, whether at work or at the house or even during my commute, though the latter is perhaps the least stressful time.

It really gets old.  I’ve got to do something about all this; it’s just not worth the effort to keep going, especially when there’s really nothing at all to which to look forward.  My “epic quest” looks harder to carry out when my pain is so severe, though I’m trying to find ways to counter that.  Otherwise, I feel like just giving up on it, and on everything else, and just shutting down the game.

I guess we’ll see what happens.

This is the post that the blogger has made

It’s Friday.  I say that just in case you didn’t know (or perhaps in case you’re reading this some day other than the one on which I posted it, which is possible).

As usual, I don’t know what I’m going to write about today, but if experience is any guide, I’ll probably just write something anyway, and I’ll have more words than I ever intended to have written before I’m done.  You can all see how my book Unanimity grew to be more than half a million words long in its first draft.  I just write and write and write and write.

I guess it’s much the way some people just talk and talk and talk and talk.  I often do that, too, if it’s a topic in which I’m interested, and if there’s anyone around to whom to talk about it, but I often soon get glazed looks from other people, so I have to catch myself and shut up and walk away, chagrined.  When I’m writing here, there are no glazed looks to be had, and if anyone really isn’t interested, they don’t have to keep reading.  If they do keep reading, it must mean they were interested.  That’s a nice thought, in a weird way.

I’m going to write a post tomorrow, since I’m working tomorrow, but I may just share a video that I’m considering posting to YouTube.  I made it quite a few months ago (I’m not sure when), and just haven’t yet uploaded it.  I can’t recall what made me reluctant to do so, which probably means I didn’t have terribly convincing reasons.  It’s a silly video, but it was a bit of fun, about a comic-book-science idea I had regarding whether, perhaps, Superman’s powers were derived from solar neutrinos*.  I describe the process of my thinking, my “back of the envelope” calculations, and my conclusion, which will probably be obvious from the title of the video.  I won’t say more right now, but if I post it to YouTube, I’ll probably embed it here, tomorrow.

As for anything else, well, there’s really nothing else going on in my life as far as I can see.  I had a pretty good response (for me, anyway) to my blog post yesterday, in terms of number of people who came to read it, and that was rather gratifying.

It would be nifty if I could reach the number of readers that Jerry Coyne has for Why Evolution Is True, especially if I could get his level of engagement from readers who comment.  I read his website every day (except when I’m not working), and I often comment and almost always “like” the posts, which is not dishonest, because I actually like the posts I “like”.  It’s one of the few reliable refuges of sanity and intelligence that I have found in the world.

Yet, weirdly, even there, I almost always feel embarrassed after making comments, like I’m probably just annoying to PCC(E) and everyone else who comes to the site, and I really ought to shut up, if not for my sake, then for everyone else’s.  This is how I tend to feel about life in general.  Most of the time when I actively participate in anything, I come to feel that I’ve embarrassed myself and made everyone else uncomfortable.

Probably no one really notices, to be fair and to try to be rational, but it’s difficult when you can’t really tell how people react to you, or what they think or feel, and it seems similarly that other people are utterly unable to catch messages that I’m trying desperately to send, where I feel like my emotions must be written all over my face and be painfully obvious, but apparently, they aren’t.  Admittedly, when I look at my face in the mirror (I can only rarely tolerate it), I do usually find just a sort of non-expression.

It’s odd, isn’t it?  I can read Shakespeare or a poem I like, or recite movie lines and things and apparently do a good job of expressing emotion when doing so, and sometimes it seems that the only times I can actually feel my own emotions are when I’m singing a song that expresses them, but otherwise I can’t seem to convey feelings I’d really like to get across, and can’t seem to land messages that I honestly, desperately wish that someone would get.

I sometimes feel like someone from one of those Star Trek episodes in which a character is “out of phase” with the rest of the universe, or some other, similar such nonsense**, and I can see and hear all the other beings around me, but I can’t seem to reach them, and they certainly don’t quite seem able to hear or see me.

It’s not like being an anthropologist on Mars so much as feeling like an anthropologist from Mars.  Only, really, no one comes from Mars, so I must have come from someplace else***, but I don’t have any idea where it might be, or even if there is such a thing, a place to which to return, or fellow beings like myself.  Quite possibly not.  The universe doesn’t guarantee anyone that they will find a place that they feel they belong.  The universe only really guarantees one thing, and it clearly is not taxes.

Would it be better to be a mutant, unlike any other beings in the universe, or to be an alien that has lost its home planet, if that planet even exists at all, anymore?  What are your thoughts?


*Of course, Superman doesn’t actually exist, but it can still be fun to imagine comic book level scientific explanations for things that happen in comic books, and to try to apply a certain degree of scientific rigor to those explanations.

**Nonsense physics-wise, I mean.  The episodes can be quite good if you can get past the fact that the science fiction ideas are logically contradictory and physically senseless.  Good writing, directing, and acting really can make up for a lot.

***And I’m not an anthropologist except out of necessity.  If anything, I’m a misanthropologist.