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.

Interior decoration in a derelict ruin

Okay…Wednesday, morning, smartphone, my room, starting before leaving for the bus, all that tedious nonsense.

There, that’s out of the way.

I’m really not doing too well, even for me.  Yesterday was quite stressful, for internal and external reasons, though some of the external reasons mean it was a good day for the office.  Meanwhile, I banged my own head (deliberately) so hard and so often that I got a headache, on top of a worse-than-usual day for back pain and sleep the night before.

Near the end of the day, I took to whacking the back of my hand with a heavyish metal tool.  My boss, who knows that sometimes I will thump my legs and sides and things when they are in pain and spasm, asked me, “Is that where it hurts?”

I replied, after a moment, “It is, now.”. He laughed, but I’m not sure he quite got my point or why I was doing what I was doing.  It was an attempt to distract myself not just from other physical pain, but from stress and anger and the overwhelming sensory chaos of the room by inducing pain.  It works for a moment at a time, and this method doesn’t tend to leave marks, other than some bruises at times.  There are other ways that last longer, but they leave marks, some of which can last a long time…some of which, even, are more or less permanent.

I’m trying.  I’m still taking Saint John’s Wort, and I know at a personal and professional level that it’s too soon to expect any major results, but I fear it’s making me feel worse.  I suppose if it at least triggers something, even something catastrophic, that’s better than my present status as some sort of specter* or ringwraith or phantom‒an undead, but without a purpose.

I’m not a zombie; they tend to be mindless, and in a sense, are far less tortured figures than an undead that is aware of itself, that retains a mind and a personality, but is unable to grow or obtain new life.

I’m trying to treat my allergies and respiratory issues, and studying and working on some breathing techniques that seem to be good, but it feels like rearranging the furniture in a house where the roof has already fallen in, the windows are all broken, there’s no light or water or heat, and winter is coming.  I wish I could just lie on the (figurative) sofa and let the cold take me.

I don’t actually have a sofa, though.  Shame.

If I were my patient‒as I’ve said before, I think‒I would consider referring myself for inpatient psychiatric treatment**, but since this particular patient doesn’t have insurance and lives in a state, in a nation, with shitty, shitty mental healthcare, especially for those who are not wealthy, the options are not great.

Better just to let go.

Hang on, I need to go to the bus stop.


Okay, I’m at the bus stop now.

My back is really feeling tight and sore today.  It’s very irritating.  I’m trying to do the things that will help it, such as particular stretches and exercises and whatnot.  I’m not riding the bike, I’m using my shoe inserts and knee and ankle braces, all that.  I have roll-ons and creams and the like that are supposed to help, and I take a rather large (and probably toxic) quantity of OTC analgesics/anti-inflammatories.  I even have a semi-portable massage chair at the office, which I bought, and a foot massager I was given as a gift to go along with it.

Nothing is working very well.

The trouble is, there’s no reason to assume that there actually is an answer or remedy for certain kinds of pain.  We have not been honed by nature with a figurative eye toward having a long, healthy, satisfying life, free of severe physical and psychological pain.  We’ve been honed by nature to be able to survive long enough to reproduce successfully and keep our offspring alive until they can fend for themselves.

The thing about chronic pain, both physical and psychological, is that they are invisible to evolution (more or less) because they tend to develop after the age and time of reproduction has passed.  Pain is useful in the short term, especially when we’re young, because it makes us avoid and fix (when we can) damage that might take us out of the gene pool.  Ditto for fear‒assuming that all these things are present in appropriate or relatively moderate levels, of course.

But the functions that work to improve reproductive success when younger, or at least don’t harm it, can persist and worsen and become pathological as time passes, but that won’t reduce the presence of any genes for these functions.  And, of course, the prevalence and levels of most attributes follow a roughly bell-curve distribution in a population.  Most people cluster near the local mean of any given trait, but there are always outliers, and with enough people, there will be individuals who are outliers in more than one, even independently varying trait.

And then, of course, there can be traits that are good for one thing but bad in another way, and which persist or are selected for because the short-term, reproductive good outweighs the downside from the “viewpoint” of natural selection.  The sickle cell trait confers relative resistance to malaria, but having two copies of it can consign one to a truly hellish existence.

Similarly, it may be that attributes that tend to associate with high intelligence‒systematizing ability, certain kinds of imagination, inventiveness, ability to solve certain kinds of problems, certain kinds of intense focus, and so on that can be extremely useful for any group and for individuals, and lead to reproductive success and more general success, especially in modern society‒may lead, when aggregated together in the right way in some individuals, to autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, and/or a tendency toward depression, anxiety, and self-harm.

Who knows?

The bus is coming soon.  I’ve gotta go.  In more ways than one, I really feel like I really need just to go.

*I’m often torn about the spelling of this word.  I prefer the “old-world” spelling with the “tre” rather than the “ter”, but I worry that it comes across as pretentious.

**Because prescribing a large dose of fentanyl and phenobarbital and digoxin and Valium would be frowned upon by medical and legal “authorities”.  And I don’t have access to such things now.

“…and we sang dirges in the dark…”

I’m writing this on my phone again, today, because it’s still a relief not to have to carry the laptop.  I wouldn’t have thought it would make such a big difference, since the computer really is quite light, but the subjective experience is a notably easier feeling‒physically, at least.

I had to run a bit across some major roads to try to catch a connecting bus last night, because the first one was 35 minutes late, and it was good not to have the minor bit of weight in my back when doing that.  Of course, now, today, my back and hips and legs are aching more than usual, probably as a consequence* of that running.  It’s not the muscles that are the problem, though they do spasm up in response to the pain.  It’s the joints and the nerves.

Speaking of that, I’m not sure why typing on the phone isn’t giving me more trouble than it is.  Maybe my thumb joints have adapted after the initial use back a few months ago, or maybe I’ve adapted my typing style.  Or perhaps the problem is still coming, and I just haven’t been doing this often enough for long enough yet to trigger the inevitable flare-up.  I guess I’ll soon find out if it’s the latter, though even if I don’t get an exacerbation, it’ll be hard to differentiate between those first two hypotheses.

It’s not really important, I guess.

I haven’t been riding my bike, as I’ve said before, and I don’t think I’m probably going to be riding it.  It’s been too clear from the timing and the specificity of outcomes that it was triggering both pain exacerbations and postural adjustments that interfered with my sleep.  I can’t lose more sleep than I already do, and I already have enough pain** every day.

I literally feel fear at the thought of riding the bike because of the clarity and certainty of those outcomes.  It’s a shame and a waste…but then again, so am I, so I guess that’s fair enough.  I’ll just walk and take the bus until something kills me.

Speaking of that, it seems one of the people who used to work at our office, and who had recently had a heart attack at a rather young age, died yesterday, in the hospital.  One of the people at the office rents a room from him and he was devastated by the news.

I won’t give names, but the former worker was an electro-pop musician in slightly earlier days, and though his stuff isn’t really my kind of music, it was really quite good.  He wrote and performed it, and had albums and everything.  One of his songs was used in a movie.  So, he was the real deal, if not truly a big star or anything.

He said he really liked my song Breaking Me Down, and that if a slightly shorter version of it had been released in the 70s, it might have been a hit.  He also said he was impressed with my guitar playing on my “baddish” cover of Street Spirit (Fade Out), but that the vocals didn’t sound great***.

It’s very sad that he died so young, particularly for the guy who rented from him, because they were friends in addition to being “landlord/tenant”.

We’ve had a surprising number of people die who worked in or used to work in the office since I’ve been there.  It’s not my fault (I think) nor the fault of the business.  Of course, when I was in medical practice I saw a lot more people die, but that’s the nature of adult medical care.  Still, it’s also kind of sad.

Well, it’s very sad.  These are people who‒as far as I know‒did not actually want to die, and yet they did.  And here I am, ironically relatively healthy apart from my chronic pain and my mood disorder(s) and whatnot.

I would say that it’s hard to make sense of it, but that’s not really true.  It’s just that the universe isn’t set up such that the laws of mortality apply relative to one’s desire to live.  Biology leads us to tend to want to stay alive and have offspring, and after that, whatever happens is really just stochastic and erratic, and an adult human body is like an empty seed pod that lingers on a branch past all use once the age of reproduction has gone.

And I think to myself, “What a wonderful world.”****

I really don’t think I’m going to be able to go on much longer.  By which I don’t mean this blog, though of course that is subsumed in the larger subject matter; I mean I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to continue living.  There’s really nothing to which I look forward, short or long term.  I don’t look forward to getting up and going to work, I don’t look forward to coming back to the house and going to bed.  I don’t look forward to meals or drinks.  There are no shows or movies I’m awaiting‒I’ve become more or less indifferent to the Doctor Who specials and new series that are coming later this year, and the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie also doesn’t particularly spark my interest.  All the new Star Wars related crap seems just to be blah at best.

I wish there were some book series I was reading that was enticing, whether new or old, but I still can’t seem to read fiction anymore, which is a truly hellish turn of events for me.  Reading fiction was always my refuge, my joy, my escape.  Not anymore.

There is some interesting nonfiction, which I usually tend to seek out after hearing someone on a podcast with Sam Harris or Sean Carroll, but the podcasts are getting boring, and I haven’t finished the last 3 books I’ve gotten under those circumstances.

It’s like the line in the Beatles song I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party: “There’s nothing for me here, so I will disappear.”  She’s not going to turn up while I’m gone‒whoever the metaphorical “she” is‒so there’s no need to worry about letting me know.

I’m so tired and in pain and depressed and I really, really hate myself.  I wish I would have a heart attack, or develop cancer, or catch pneumonia, or something like that.  In my case, it would have no serious, life-altering repercussions for anyone, though I’m sure there are those who might find it sad.

There are sweet, kindly, compassionate people out there, after all, and my family members and some of the people who know me are among their number.  They would be sad over the deaths of anyone they know, and particularly family members‒as I am sad over the death of my former coworker‒and it’s good that people feel that way, I guess.  But death is the guaranteed payoff of life, after all, for everyone. It really feels like it would be better just to skip to the end.

*If you can have a consequence, why is there no sinquesence or perhaps sansquesence?

**One might even be inclined to say that I have too much pain every day, but let’s not be reckless.

***He wasn’t wrong, though I’m not sure if he meant my voice itself didn’t sound great, which it didn’t‒I had recently had Covid, and was not fully recovered‒or just that the recording of it was not great, which is fair enough, since I don’t have a studio or high quality recording equipment or mixing equipment or anything.  Possibly he meant both.


There are many different sos to speak, as it were

Well, it’s Saturday, and I’m at the train station instead of the bus stop, because I was able to ride my bike this morning.  I’m not going to have time to finish this post’s first draft before the train gets here, because I took a little too long getting ready at the house, dilly-dallying and puttering around because the first train on Saturday comes thirty-five minutes later than the one I would catch—if riding my bike—during the week.

Still, I had time to park and lock up my bike with two cables, one of them through the seat, and my U-lock thing, or whatever the proper term is.  I don’t see how someone could easily or readily steal the bike or any of its parts, including the front tire.  If such a thing nevertheless happens, I think I’m probably going to give up on the bike.  Then again, I’ve thought that way before.


I’m on the train now, and it’s not too crowded, which is one of the nice things about riding on a Saturday.  The horrible rain and consequent flooding seem largely to have tapered off, though I don’t imagine they are entirely gone.  Still, I was able to walk back to the house from the train station last night, and though I encountered about three minutes of very modest rainfall—prompting me to get my umbrella out, which I then carried, uselessly, the rest of the way to the house—I had much more irritation from gnats, which appear to have been given a boost by the rain.

I was quite nervous about termites swarming, honestly.  They tend to do that after the first big, heavy rain, when it’s followed by more pleasant, warmish weather.  Well, there were definitely termites in the air in the neighborhood near the house, and even a few of them around the outside lights, but it wasn’t a too-irritating and annoying batch, and none of them seemed to be swarming inside the house.

That happened a year or two ago, and at least once before that, though it was when I lived in a different room.  It was horrible, mainly because you certainly couldn’t ignore it, and they got into everything, and we literally had to suck them up with a Shop-Vac and find their holes and seal them up.  It is rather disgusting.  It’s not as big a problem for the house structure as it might be up north, because, like many slightly older houses in south Florida, the one in which I live is basically cinderblock with aluminum framing.

There are wood parts of some of the structures, I think, but nothing load-bearing in any sense.  This is a house that barely notices anything short of a category five hurricane.  If civilization ended, and assuming the sea level doesn’t rise too much, I could imagine much of the basic outline of the structure enduring for thousands of years, perhaps to be discovered by some future archeologist.  Cinderblock is tough stuff.

Of course, everything will fall apart eventually; but perhaps everything will then happen again.  The laws of nature (even discounting cyclical cosmologies like “the big bounce” or Conformal Cyclic Cosmology) seem to allow  for random fluctuations to lead, perhaps, to the spontaneous ne occurrence of concentrated inflaton field* and thus to a new period of inflation and a new universe in our future.

And if that universe has the same constants of nature that we have now, and infinite space—as we seem to have—then we will all happen again, and do so in infinite profusion, because in any given region of space, there are only a finite number of possible quantum states, and with any finite number of configurations happening in an infinite range of available slots, they will eventually repeat—and repeat infinitely.

I’m sure I’ve talked about this before.  I’ve probably even talked about my notion that the inflationary burst could go in both “directions” in time, and that our own inflationary burst could also have happened in the other (so to speak) direction even “when” it happened with us (so to speak), and that the future history of our universe could be peppered with “big bangs” coming and going, analogous to the way the present universe is mostly empty space, but there are pockets of places where matter has condensed into local regions where gravity makes the concept of an “up” direction and a “down” direction locally relevant, unlike everywhere in between.

And just as our kind of life can only really apparently happen on the surface of particularly hospitable local globs of heavy matter that we call planets, using the very up/down, purely local dichotomy as one of the facts that makes it possible, so life may also only be able to come into existence near the “surface” of these regions in time in which there is a gradient in entropy that makes “past” and “future” meaningful, though globally (so to speak) time may be nondirectional.

This last bit is all, by the way, my own speculation.  Inflationary cosmology is mainstream physics, but my own thoughts on the omnidirectionality of time are just that—my own thoughts.  I’ve encountered at least one real physicist who discusses something somewhat similar, but I get the impression that the idea is not generally paid much attention.

Still, it’s interesting to speculate.  And now, I have to draw to a close, because my stop is approaching, or we are approaching my stop—either description can be valid.  I hope you have a good remainder of your weekend, and I hope that Monday morning I’ll again be able to ride my bike.

cyclic cosmos

*This is, of course, if inflationary cosmology is the correct description of the universe.  That is by no means certain, but the theoretical structure of inflationary cosmologies answers many questions about the large scale structure of the universe, the horizon problem, cosmic uniformity as evidenced by the nearly completely smooth CMB, where the “bang” part came from, the power spectrum in the tiny variations in the CMB, and so on.  But it’s not the only dog in the race, and there is much that isn’t well known about the nature of, for instance, the inflaton field, whatever it may be.

But that state of not knowing is part of what makes science enjoyable and gratifying.  I may have mentioned this before, but the most exciting non-personal thing I’ve encountered in my life was when Perlmutter et al’s work showed that the universe’s expansion was accelerating.  No one had really even considered such a thing seriously, and so it radically changed the cosmological picture, at least regarding the future.  It was amazing and thrilling—the discovery of our time—and I felt privileged simply to be able to witness it.

Above the lake, after the flood

It’s Friday again, but that fact in and of itself is no particular cause for celebration for me, because I work tomorrow.  Still, I’m up and at the bus stop today, unlike yesterday, which should imply that at least my back and legs are not as painful as they were yesterday.

I spent pretty much my entire yesterday lying down, just trying to rest and relax the muscles and joints in my back, my hips, my ankles, and my knees, all of which were hurting.  Of course, I availed myself of OTC analgesics, but I always use those, so it’s hard to make much difference using them without permanently disabling my kidneys and/or liver, which I am probably already doing based on the amount that I use every day.

It’s a bit frustrating finally to have sorted out most of the issues with my new bicycle and gotten it into a situation in which I can ride it comfortably and usefully only to have a week-long stretch of nearly constant rain.  I can’t even imagine how I would have gotten back to the house Wednesday night if I’d tried to ride the bike.

Just to give you some idea:  there is a small park area right near the train station in Hollywood (Florida), and a main feature of that is a river/lake that I suspect is artificial.  It runs under the main road as well as under some foot bridges.  Normally, the nearest foot bridge is the sort of thing you could imagine people rowing or canoeing or kayaking under easily, without needing to duck their heads.  Well, on Wednesday evening, the water in that lake was up to the bottom of the bridge, several feet above its baseline.  The water in the main road and the bus stop and the nearby fields was flowing—clearly, obviously, and powerfully—toward that lake, such that it looked as if soon the lake would swell its banks and the water level would engulf the sidewalks and the bus stop and the main road.

Of course, much of the road was underwater, anyway.  Particularly at the intersections and cross-walks, and along the edges where the bike lanes are, there were vast pools of water.  Even during the walk from my final bus stop to the house, which is just a bit under a mile, there were places I could not pass without stepping more than ankle deep in water.  And, of course, when trying to minimize the degree to which I had to do that, I skirted around edges of sidewalks and berms and roads, and met some very unsteady ground.  I’m sure it was more unsteady than usual.  So my back and knees and hips and ankles were subject to unusual stresses and strains that probably contributed to yesterday’s problem.

My Timberland boots would have been entirely useless for avoiding the soakers I had in both feet before I got even close to the house.  If I had worn my “motorcycle” boots, those would have kept my feet dry in anything much less than knee-high water—they’re pretty great for that.  However, they are not great for walking if you want to avoid blisters or ankle problems, because they don’t exactly grip the feet firmly, and they have elevated heels.  They look good, and they would be good for wading, up to a point, but they wouldn’t be good for any significant walking, and you certainly wouldn’t want to run in them.

Once again, here I go, writing about the weather, of all things.  It’s a reflection of the sorry state of my life that this really is the only interesting* stuff that’s going on with me.  Weather, commuting, depression, pain—these are the things I have about which to communicate.  At least, they are the things that come to my mind.  I’m not really learning anything new—not by my standards, anyway.  I still haven’t really written anything at length about sugar or whatnot, and I haven’t done any audio posts or “podcasts” or whatever you want to call that stuff.  I just don’t have the will to do it, any more than I have the will to write any new fiction.

It is an interesting fact that, most days, more people look at my blog than have bought, let alone read, all of my books put together.  I’m not counting the stupid purchases I made of my own books, which I then signed and gave to the people at the office.  As far as I know, only two of those people have actually read any of my books, and one of them subsequently died of a drug overdose; he was the closest thing to a real friend that I’d made in well over ten years.

That’s frustrating, to say the least.

I’m not sure what to do.  I don’t expect any epiphany or any other kind of spiritual or psychological breakthrough; I’ve been trying to explore the nature of reality and, to some extent, my own mind for most of my life, as far as I can remember.  I’ve read lots of science books, of course, but I’ve also read many self-help books and spiritual books and so on.  I’ve meditated and did self-hypnosis throughout my teenage years.  I’ve read religious works of various stripes; some of them were interesting and engaging and even profound in places.  But none of them were very impressive overall.  Shakespeare was better.  As was Milton.

I don’t know what I’m getting at.  When do I ever, right?  I know where I’m going in the long run, at least, which is the same place we’re all going in the long run.  If there’s something else waiting, I’ve never encountered anything close to good evidence or argument for it.  I have looked, but I’ve tried to do so without self-deception.

Maybe that’s my problem.  Maybe the only escape from dreariness and depression entails or requires some form of delusion or another.  Maybe Shirley Jackson was right, and no live organism really can continue to exist “sanely” under conditions of absolute reality.

But, of course, we never really exist under conditions of “absolute reality” in any serious sense.  We don’t have access to all levels of reality using just our ordinary, unaided senses, not even close to it.  But that (in principle, surmountable) limitation is one thing, while inventing stories about the “meaning” of life and reality out of wisps of desperation, fear, loneliness, loss, and pain is another thing entirely.  I have no intention or desire to do that.  It’s like trying to weave a sweater out of yarn spun from cotton candy.  It would be an interesting novelty, but at any real test—including just sweating while wearing it—it would melt and dissolve and draw swarms of flies and ants and just be disgusting.

That’s a weird metaphor, I know.  Sorry.  I’m not being particularly coherent here.  Which I guess is reason enough to call this post to a close.  I hope you all have a good weekend, and spend it relaxing with people you love and who love you.  What else is there?  A lot, I guess, but none of it is quite as pleasant, and it’s not more important.  Not that anything is important; or rather, on a cosmic scale, either everything is important or nothing is important.

On the scale of an individual life, though, things can be quite different, and in an entirely reasonable sense.  So, if you can, enjoy your weekend.

*I use that term hesitantly.  Perhaps I should have written that it is the closest thing to being something interesting that’s happened to me.

Half sunk a shattered visage lies

Well, it’s Wednesday morning, and I’m sitting at the bus stop again, because it’s still raining in south Florida.

One thing that I like about summer in Florida—though it seems more of a central than a south Florida phenomenon—is that there is an almost-daily thunderstorm, but it happens in mid-afternoon, lasts for a brief period, and then goes away.  If you’re biking or walking or otherwise vulnerable to the elements, and you don’t feel like enduring the process, you can just wait it out.  Again, this does not seem quite to be the case as much here in south Florida, at least not on the east coast, but it’s relatively predictable.

Anyway, that’s not such a big deal, but it does mean that both walking and biking have been a pain these past few days.  I have also had very bad issues with literal back and leg pain, though the knee brace on my left knee seems to be helping that joint at least a little.  But much of last night, when I wish I were sleeping, my time was taken up with trying to loosen the spasms in my back and my hip and my calf and the arch of my foot and so on.  I met with only modest success.  So, as is often the case, I am now very tired, even more so than average, though certainly not many standard deviations away from the mean.

I try not to be mean, but on average, I think I am meaner than the mode in which I would prefer to be.  Ha.  Ha.

So, physically, I feel pretty ground down, and even the walk to the bus stop was less minor than it ought to have been, though I will admit that, compared to when I started back up walking not so very long ago, it feels like much a lighter endeavor.  Compared to walking five miles to the train station, it’s laughable, but then again, it’s unfortunately not much exercise.

I’ve noticed that riding the bike, while quite invigorating when the weather is decent, definitely puts new and different stresses and tensions on my skeleton and connective tissue and musculature, and it instigates flare-ups (flares-up?) of pain in slightly unusual places that catch me rather off-guard.  One doesn’t really, fully “get used to” chronic pain, but at least it has familiar patterns a lot of the time.  Then, when new things happen, they are especially disheartening, because they don’t tend to reduce the prior pain, just add to and overlay it.


I’m sorry to keep talking (or writing, if you want to be pedantic, though I think “talking” is a perfectly reasonable word to use*) about this kind of irritating and negative stuff, but it’s what’s dominating my mind, unfortunately.  Believe it or not, I don’t even share some of my darker thoughts, even in posts like yesterday’s in which I dwelt on—and considered methods of—suicide.

I would love to make this more a blog of ideas and explorations, but when I’m feeling so depressed and in pain and alone, my ideas tend to go along nihilistic, entropic, pessimistic, pro-mortalist lines.  I look even at notions like the Lovecraftian concept of an alien and uncaring, unkind, malevolent cosmos populated and dominated by truly alien entities, and find myself disdainful—because I think it’s still anthropomorphizing the universe to imagine it inhabited by godlike or demonic beings, however alien and uncaring or malevolent they might be, and however much they may disdain humanity.  I also find it rather ho-hum, because, yeah, so, the universe is vast and dangerous and uncaring.  What else is new?

The fact is, as far as we can tell, there aren’t even any Lovecraftian god-aliens out there, certainly not on any kind of relevant scale, and such beings as there are certainly aren’t showing any interest in humans.  There is no reason for them to be interested.  Humans are only really important to other humans…and indirectly to the various other life-forms on Earth on which their activities impinge.

In some ways, humans are the closest things in the human world to actual Lovecraftian monsters:  innumerable and powerful but uncaring and destructive to less powerful beings.  To cephalopods, for instance and ironically, it would be humans that would be the “great old ones”, though humans are not so old, and they are great only in their power and ability to wreak havoc—though they have the potential for truer greatness.

But overall, the universe is far vaster than people can even begin to contemplate seriously, at least not without concerted effort.  The average, typical location in the universe is intergalactic space, in which there is perhaps one hydrogen atom per cubic meter, where light from even the nearest galaxy would be far too faint for the unaided human eye to detect.  In other words, it is an empty blackness, with a steadily shrinking temperature of only 2.7 Kelvin.  It’s cold, and dark, and empty, and it’s getting more so of all of those things with every passing Planck time.

Left to its own devices, the universe, as far as we can tell, is going to become that way everywhere, only even colder and even emptier.  If life is ever to become truly consequential on a cosmic scale—which is not, in principle, impossible—it will require seriousness and commitment and work, by the majority of people.

The current political and social and artistic cycles of the world, to say nothing of the military and ideological aspects of human interaction, don’t exactly thrill me with their possibilities.  Humans are like preschoolers fighting over toys and snacks and who gets to be “it” while clustering in a ramshackle hut with a hurricane approaching from one direction and an active volcano in the other, and the floor of which straddles a major, active geological fault-line.

When the end comes, it will probably be terrifying and painful, but it will likely be quick, at least—on a cosmic scale, anyway—because the toddlers have no idea how to protect themselves and each other and to survive.  And then, in the end, darkness and decay and the Red Death will hold absolute dominion and sway over all, and the lone and level sands of the desert will blow unnoticing about the forgotten monument-legs the toddlers leave behind, until—in quite short order—even the ruins and then the sand itself will go the way of all else.

There are billions of “livable” years in the universe, and even perhaps trillions if one stays close to red dwarf stars.  Given the potential of knowledge growth of which, if they decide to do it, humans are capable, that could easily be more than enough time to find the science and technology to get around even the heat death of the universe.  It’s not, in principle, impossible.

I’m not holding my breath.  I’ve known toddlers who were intelligent, inquisitive, cooperative, creative, kind, and showed promise of great things.  The human race as a whole does not meet that description.  It’s a shame about the good ones; but there aren’t enough of them, I suspect, to prevail against the troglodyte toddlers**.  So, I don’t think I’m going to try to wait around and see what amazing things they’ll get up to, because I think I’ll just be tragically disappointed.

And if I’m wrong, well—I will have deserved to be wrong, and that’s not a horrible outcome.  I’ll be dead, anyway, so I don’t think it will make any difference to me either way, even if it would be nice to know.

That’s it for today, I think.  There, I did actually get some ideas into this blog post.  I hope you’re pleased.


*For pedants among us—I tend to be one—it’s worth reminding ourselves that all words are made up.  No set of letters or sounds have any inherent meaning, even within the human and related species.  Nevertheless, I am certainly against the casual bastardization and flagrant misuse of words, relative to their generally accepted meaning, and I truly dislike awkward, manipulative, new terms such as “allyship”, which sounds like a vessel in the navy of a nation that’s politically aligned with one’s own.

**Trogglers, if you will.

It’s an okay Friday, at least, I guess

Well, as the titles says, it’s Friday, and I’m on the early train heading to the office.  I actually don’t feel terribly well this morning, and probably should just have stayed home, especially since I have tomorrow off and would thus have had a three day weekend in which to rest from whatever is ailing me.

However, I got my new bike seat post and portable tire pump with pressure gauge yesterday, and I wanted to be able to try out and ride my bike today.  So, last night I put the thing together and put it in place—more or less—and this morning I rode it to the station, getting on the second train of the day.

I say “more or less” because the seat still needs a bit of fine, and not so fine, adjustment.  For instance, the clamp that holds the seat post in place* seems to have been thrown out of whack a bit when whatever little mutant troll goblin stole my prior bike seat.  I tried to put the new seat a little higher than I’d had the one before, because they say that having your legs more extended makes for more efficient biking, but as soon as I sat on it the seat slid down into the frame pretty much as far as it would go.

Still, I really don’t like the feeling of not being able to put my feet securely on the ground, so that isn’t such a terrible thing.  Maybe, if I get more used to biking and feel thoroughly at home doing it, I’ll feel better about adjusting it higher.  In any case, I ended up having to bring the seat and post with me on the train, and to the office, because I found that my cable was too thick to fit between the spaces in the frame of this bike seat, and I didn’t want to leave the seat unsecured on this, my first day using it, especially since it’s a holiday and foot traffic in and around the station might be light, and so make the seat more prone to be stolen.

I hate the fact that I have to worry about such things.  It’s one thing to need to worry about mechanical failures and the like; things fall apart, as the poem says.  But people who do things like steal someone else’s bike seat need just a quick death and an anonymous burial.

At least, that’s how I feel about it.  Fortunately (for me and for others) I don’t consider feelings to be reliable guides to action.

It’s amazing how out of condition my legs and everything else has gotten after only a week without using the bike (and despite having walked about forty miles so far this week).  It was really a bit of a struggle to keep going at times, and I rode in low gear at least half way to the station.  I really feel fatigued to an inordinate degree.  I suppose that will go away relatively quickly, unless there is something truly wrong with me physically**.

Oh, right!  The conductor made her announcement and thereby reminded me that it’s “Good Friday” today, and will be Easter on Sunday—the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox, as my sister taught me decades ago, and which I still remember in precisely those words.  I guess there’s nothing remarkable about the fact that the specific words are how I recall it.  After all, they are concise, precise, and clear.  Why change them?

Anyway, for those of you who celebrate these holidays, please enjoy them.

I hopefully will make use of my new bike a bit this weekend.  At least having the seat with me today will allow me to adjust the pitch of it slightly, because this morning it was leaning back somewhat, and I didn’t want to get out my socket wrench—which I have brought with me, oh yes—and adjust it early in the dark of the morning.  That’s one of my difficulties when it comes to getting such things done:  I am only at the house before dawn or after dusk, so it’s a pain to do anything that requires light, even though there is, of course, a good outdoor porch light in my entry area behind the house.

I still feel a little fatigued and out of breath, even as I write this, and it’s been more than half an hour since I got to the train station.  We’re almost to my stop.  I hope this doesn’t persist, because it’s annoying.  If there’s something wrong with my lungs or heart, I wish it would just go full catastrophic and kill or at least thoroughly disable me, rather than lead to some gradual, annoying deterioration.

But nature doesn’t respond to requests, unfortunately.  I was going to write that it doesn’t take them, but it takes them fine—you can request things all you want.  It just doesn’t respond.  It doesn’t know you’re making a request.  It doesn’t know you exist, frankly, as far as we can tell.

As the saying goes, “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.”  Of course, you cannot do anything other than obey nature.  That’s the nature of nature.  That’s why we refer to “laws of nature” rather than “suggestions of nature” or “requests of nature”.  Wishes don’t do anything—but learning about nature, learning its rules, and applying them to your best advantage can be useful.

This is what lies at the heart of the saying.  It’s not implying that you could choose not to follow the laws of nature, merely that, if you want to get things done, you should know how nature works as well as you can and apply that knowledge with creativity, with determination, with discipline.  Then you’ll be able to achieve remarkable things.

You won’t be able to revoke or waive the law of gravity, for instance, but you may be able to use fluid dynamics and chemistry and thermodynamics and the like to make a structure that will use the air to create a force powerful enough to overcome the pull of gravity, and which will let you fly through the air at speeds never achieved by any organism in its “natural” state.

Wishing won’t get you from Detroit to Florida in two hours, but science and technology can.  Science and technology can even get people to the moon and back.

Anyway, that’s enough for this week.  Have a nice weekend, whether you celebrate it as a holiday or not.  I’ll do what I can at least to get some rest and, hopefully, to get a bit more adjusted to my bicycle again.

happy easter basic

*I don’t really know any of the “proper” terminology, so if there are bicycle aficionados reading and they can give me better, more useful terms, I would welcome the input.

**One can always hope.

In nature’s infinite blog of secrecy a little I can read.

Hello and good morning.

It’s Thursday morning once again, and so it’s time for me to attempt to create a simulacrum of what used to be my typical, once-weekly blog post, back when I used to do my fiction writing every non-Thursday morning of the week.  It won’t really live up to expectations, I wouldn’t think, since the situation is now so different.

For one thing, I can’t talk about my fiction writing, since I haven’t done any fiction writing since before I last posted The Dark Fairy and the Desperado, and previously, Outlaw’s Mind, both of which are uncompleted stories and are likely to remain that way until the end of the universe—barring, of course, the possibility that the universe goes on forever and every possible quantum state thereof is eventually realized somewhere, somewhen.

Indeed, if the universe is infinite in spatial extent, as seems to be the case, and if our understanding of quantum mechanics and the maximal entropy state of enclosed regions of spacetime are correct, or even reasonably close to being correct, then somewhere out there in space “at this time” there are an infinite number of versions of me who have completed both stories, and many others besides, and who are world-famous authors.

I used scare quotes around “at this time” because, obviously, given the finite speed of light/causality, and the flexible nature of time depending on relative motion, the concept of simultaneity is fuzzy at best.  Nothing outside one’s local light cones can be considered to be in one’s past or one’s future, but they are also not exactly “now”, either.

Still, we can give an overall statement about the age of the universe for things that have little to no “peculiar motion” relative to the cosmic microwave background and say that such things have gone through about 13.8 billion years since the hot big bang, on average, and it’s not nonsensical to do that.  So, if by “at this time”, I refer to other regions of a spatially infinite universe that have passed through roughly the same amount of local time since the big bang, I’m not incorrect in saying that there are an infinite number of “me” who have completed their stories—and there are an infinite number who have not, and there are an infinite number of every possible variation.

None of that does me (or you) any good, because—being outside my past and future light cones (and yours, which are almost identical to mine)—those distant regions are completely causally disconnected from us, past and future, especially given the accelerated expansion of the universe.  I suppose an Einstein-Rosen Bridge/wormhole could conceivably connect such distant regions, in principle, assuming such wormholes can even happen, which is far from certain.

There are those who hypothesize that quantum entanglement happens through wormholes (small ones), and there are those who have even tried to connect distant multiverses with the many worlds of a branching Everettian quantum mechanics, but I don’t think either of those things is close to having been rigorously described, let alone tested, nor are they generally accepted by the physics community.

Anyway, it still doesn’t help any of us, because clearly, if there are alternate versions of ourselves living better lives than we are*, they have no back-and-forth connection with the lives we currently are living—the wave function has split, the states have decohered, they are not the same beings, even if movies about multiverses win many Oscars and/or make a great deal of money.

What was I talking about again?

I don’t know.  I’m very tired.  I ended up sleeping in the office last night.  I did this deliberately; it had nothing to do with train problems or anything.  I just didn’t feel like going back to the house.  I was tired (still am) and there’s nothing at the house for me that is any more enticing than there is at the office, other than a shower.  And I don’t really care about a shower right now.  For whom would be grooming myself?  Whom am I trying to impress?  All is vanity, as it says in Ecclesiastes.

It’s a funny line for a religious text that some people say contains the infallible word of an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful and omnipresent deity that made everything, deliberately and specifically.  If that were all the case, why would it say all is vanity?  Of course, the argument could be made that these were the words of some ancient human (Solomon or David, one of those kings, is supposed to have been the author of Ecclesiastes, I think), not the direct words of the creator of the universe, but if that’s the case, then clearly the bible is not literally true in all its parts**.  But that’s hardly the only case of seemingly contradictory portions of religious texts, is it?

Anyway, it’s chilly here for south Florida—about sixty degrees, which feels cold when you’re used to 70’s to 80’s, but would no doubt feel beautifully balmy to people back in Michigan or Ohio.  It’s certainly far warmer than intergalactic space, which is only about 2.7 Kelvin (so it’s about 286 Kelvin hotter here).  Then again, it’s much cooler than the heart of the sun, and cooler yet than the heart of blue supergiant stars.  And those are all vastly cooler than just later than one Planck time after whatever initiated the big bang.

Of course, there is, in principle, a maximum heat that any local region can achieve, because if the local energy is high enough, it will form a local black hole, and also the uncertainty principle will kick in to separate things.  Although…if everything is uniformly very hot, such that there is no net curvature of spacetime in one local region relative to another…maybe that’s where inflation comes from?  If there is inflation***.

Anyway, that’s enough nonsense.  I’m just jabbering and chattering, because I don’t really communicate with anyone day-to-day in any way other than this about things that interest me.  I’m very alone and very tired, but I’m also very bad at doing the whole social interaction thing, so I’m kind of stuck.

I’m inclined to say that I deserve it—that’s how I feel—but of course, as Will (played by Clint) points out below, such concepts are really vacuous.  There are a functionally limitless number of possible variations of lives that could be lived by a being that matches my rough description and/or has an identical past that diverged at some point.  I’m just living one of those possibilities, because, well, I had to be living one of them unless I were dead, which I’m not, unfortunately.

I hope most of you are having a better morning than I am.  Heck, I’d be delighted if everyone who reads my stuff always has better days than I do.  That would at least be some good news.  And, of course, somewhere out there in infinite spacetime—if there is such a thing—that situation is instantiated.

Don’t be jealous, though.  There are also places where everyone reading my blog always has worse days than I have.

Poor bastards.



*And if there are, there are also infinite numbers of versions of us living every possible worse life as well.

**If in any of them whatsoever, which is a separate but related question.

***Well, by certain definitions, we could say with great confidence that there is inflation, since the universe is inflating now—that’s the “dark energy” you might have heard about—but it’s doing it quite slowly, doubling in size over the course of every about ten billion years, I think, at the current rate, assuming it’s a constant.  But if you change the time scale, it looks much the same as earlier, more rapid inflation…I think that’s the basis of Roger Penrose’s Conformal Cyclic Cosmology, but I haven’t read his full book on the subject yet, so I may be misunderstanding.

“What the hell am I doin’ here? I don’t belong here.”

I apologize for my rather boring blog posts over the past few (or several) working days.  I was trying to be as upbeat as I could, and to stop dwelling quite so much on my mood disorder and my otherwise disordered mental state, such as it is, because I feared that I would end up just turning readers off.  So, instead, I’ve focused on walking and blisters and silly things like that which, upon occasion, and in passing, would give a glancing blow at some interesting (in my opinion) subject matter like yesterday.

The fact is, I’m having severe, ongoing, worsening problems with my depression, and I feel like nothing I’ve done here or said here has been of any benefit to it or to me.  Or, well, what I’ve said and done might benefit the depression in and of itself, i.e., it might have made it stronger.  But that’s not necessarily good for the larger organism (me).

This is referring to the depression as if it were a being or entity in and of itself, with a separate nature and goals and criteria for thriving and so on.  It’s not, of course.  It’s a state of my own brain/body, a sort of self-sustaining but destructive pattern of internal and external interactions in a brain that’s already not exactly functioning in quite what might be considered a normal, or at least normative, way.

I’ve previously likened depression, as a state or an “attack”, to a hurricane—a self-sustaining pattern that forms and grows when conditions are right and is very difficult to break once it gets going.  I think that’s actually a decent analogy.  It’s certainly vastly better than the popular “chemical imbalance” notion upon which I’ve spat my vitriol more than once in the past.

As with hurricanes, I think it’s not entirely unreasonable to think of depression as if it were an entity of its own that tends to act to sustain and strengthen itself, as if it had intentions and a will, as long as one maintains the implicit awareness that this is a metaphor.  It’s easy to get into the habit of using metaphors so often that they stop behaving like metaphors in one’s head and start being, effectively, literal interpretations of things that are fundamentally otherwise, and it’s important to try to avoid doing that.  That way madness lies, as they say.

And madness does lie—almost always.  That’s one of the big problems with it.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make and to which I’m struggling to stick, is that depression acts as if it has a life of its own, rather as a tumor more or less literally acts as an entity in and of itself within the body, with its own “agenda” of self-sustenance and growth.

I’ve said to others, and to myself, that my mind is not my friend.  This is one of the reasons, for instance, that though I’m intrigued by them, I don’t think I would ever seek out an experience with any form of psychedelic.  My mental state often already has the feel of a bad trip of sorts, as I’ve heard them described.  I don’t want to pour gasoline onto that fire.

But I’ve fought with this entity in my head for almost as long as I can remember.  My brain, my mind, has always been weird—to me, relative to the people around me, and to many of them as well—though others also often seem inscrutable and inexplicable to me, at least in the sense of feeling things “in my bones”, though I’ve read and learned many things that give me at least an academic, intellectual understanding of things people do.  But I can’t say I grok them.

I’ve often said that basic primatology—particularly that which applies to primates that live in large groups—provides a sufficient framework on which to hang the vast majority of human behavior.  I suppose this should not be too surprising, since humans are primates, after all.  But it’s disheartening how rarely humans fully depart from the simple, chest-thumping, fang-baring, hierarchy-climbing, mate-seeking, dominance-submission behavior patterns that could with only a little simplification be transplanted onto the average baboon flange.

I cannot claim any superiority, of course.  My own, apparently “neurodivergent”, brain* is erratic and irrational even by its own—my own—standards, and I certainly cannot claim to be a well-adjusted machine running in optimal condition.  There are aspects to my machine that really are well put-together, and I’m glad for those, of course.  But they don’t seem to be enough to keep the whole thing operational.

I decided to give up even trying to look for help or improvement or to expect myself ever to get any better, and I tried not even talking—or writing—about it.  But that didn’t make for very good blog posts, apparently.  So maybe this one will at least be more interesting.  It’s truer to my inner state, if nothing else.

So, welcome to Hell, population one—I would like to say welcome to Purgatory, but there is no process of cleansing or improvement—of purgation—going on here.  There is only malicious, sadistic, hateful torment meted out by the demonic overlord of a realm repurposed for the eternal excoriation of a lost soul that is also the demon itself.

Okay, well, that paragraph was gratuitously melodramatic and misleading.  Sorry.  It makes the whole thing sound more exciting and impressive than it actually is.  Oh, well.  At least it’s not boring.  Except when it is, which is actually quite a lot of the time, come to think of it.  That’s one of the many forms of torture it entails.  Actually, that’s one of the big issues about it; even things that ought to be interesting are utterly mind-numbing, or seem so because the mind itself is numb (not comfortably) in the first place.

This is all a bit of mess here.  Again, sorry.  Returning to an earlier point, I’ll say that though the hurricane analogy is good as far as it goes, hurricanes have a tendency to peter out, eventually, as they move through the atmosphere, certainly once they go over land and lose the source of their water and heat, and then they kind of just fade away.  Certainly, no hurricane is going to destroy the Earth itself.

Depression, on the other hand, can absolutely do the equivalent of such planetary destruction.  In this, it’s much more like a tumor than a hurricane.  It’s a slow-growing tumor, perhaps like an indolent prostate cancer—the sort of thing you can have, and not treat, and yet you still might die of something else before the cancer ever would kill you (though kill you it may).  But even if it doesn’t kill you, it certainly doesn’t make you stronger.  It affects everything else in the system.  It steals energy from all the “good” things, when there even are any, and it further whittles away at those few good things by making a person intolerable to the people and things that are good in that person’s life, until nearly all of them are gone.

I don’t have any answers to this problem.  I know of ways to end the problem, but not to cure it.  Unfortunately, I don’t see any evidence that anyone else out there has any good answers.  Believe me, I’ve looked, and I’m “qualified” to evaluate such matters, in more than one sense.

The world was not made for us; it was not made for anyone; as far as we can tell, it just happened.  Ditto with human beings and other forms of life—even weirdo, alien, replicant, robot, changeling, mutants like me.  Ditto with culture and civilization.  There’s no reason to expect them to work flawlessly or efficiently.  They just have to work “well” enough to be self-sustaining.  That’s natural selection, and it’s not pretty.

Well, it can be quite beautiful, depending on your point of view, but even Darwin noted how slow, cruel, wasteful, and harsh it all is.  Nevertheless, it’s the only game there is, as far as I can see.

I so just want to fold and walk away from the table.  Right now the blister on my foot is inhibiting that somewhat, but it’ll heal**.  Then maybe I can finally take a long walk off a short planet.  I don’t see any better options.

*Every time I take new or repeated tests to check on whether it’s accurate to describe it that way, I keep getting results pretty resoundingly supportive of that hypothesis.  I recognize that I am not performing scientifically rigorous evaluations, since the one administering and the one to whom the tests are being administered is the same, and it’s only too easy to introduce bias.  But I don’t have ready access, nor the mental wherewithal to take advantage of it, to resources to get a more objective assessment.  And when I go online and watch videos and when I read books and articles, when I go to social media and look at available resources and groups there, and so on, I find that, while these people all make somewhat more sense to me than most other people do, I still feel severely weird even in comparison to them, and I could not feel comfortable among them or interacting with them.  I feel no sense that I could connect to the related communities—to any communities, really.  I feel like a creep and a weirdo relative to every potential group or person with whom I could consider engaging.

**I almost accidentally wrote “it’ll heel”, which would be funny, but the blister is on the ball of my foot, not the heel, so as a joke, even an unintentional one, it just wouldn’t work.

Some blistering insights into soles like hobbits’ (and holes like ants’)

It’s Monday again.  Yippee ki yawn.  Aren’t you all just so excited?

I don’t have much interesting to report or discuss today, because I haven’t really done anything interesting to report or discuss, nor thought anything interesting to report or discuss since my last blog post.

I have continued trying to sort out different shoes and related footwear.  I walked home from the train station on Friday, but it turned out that the new blister on my right foot had not resolved itself very well during the two weeks since it had happened, which is quite annoying.  The blister on the left foot was fine; I had very carefully, and under effectively sterile conditions, poked a pin-hole in it the day after my very long trek, to drain the fluid, and it basically has now become just a thickened area of foot sole, and it gave me no trouble over the course of my five mile walk on Friday evening.

On the right foot, for reasons I don’t recall clearly, I had elected not to drain the blister—I think it just didn’t seem to have as much fluid in it—and a little more than halfway through my trek on Friday, it started to give me more trouble, as if I had something sharp stuck in my shoe.  I didn’t have any such thing; I checked.

Anyway, I rested on Saturday, during which my right foot was sore still, and I decided to drain that blister as I had the other.  I then walked about six miles (total) yesterday, and though the blister is still irritating, it’s better than it was.

Here’s my off-the-cuff hypothesis for why the course of the left and right blisters was different:

By draining the fluid from the left blister, I allowed the two layers of affected skin to re-adhere to each other, and through that process to become firmer and tougher—at least tougher than they were when the fluid of the blister was present.  On the right foot, however, even as it was recovering, there was still fluid in the blister—it never got completely reabsorbed, and the skin layers thus never re-adhered.  So, once I walked a long enough distance, those two layers of skin were effectively separate and lubricated, and began to rub back and forth against one another.  Just as pertinently, at the edges of the former blister, shearing forces pulled the aforementioned layers of skin further apart, causing new damage.  So, it was actually therapeutic to drain the fluid—as long as I protected rigorously against the risk of infection—than to allow the other to retain its fluid in this case.

As I thought about this, I wondered why such a thing might be the case.  Why would our evolutionary heritage saddle us with a process, on the base of our feet of all things, that would be counterproductive to healing?  Then it hit me*.  Our ancestors throughout almost all of evolutionary time did not wear shoes or boots or any such thing, and they certainly didn’t walk for long distances on paved roads.  They would have formed calluses on the soles of their feet, starting at an early age—presumably as soon as they were able to walk—and repetitive shearing forces, such as are produced by the rubbing of the sole of a shoe, would not apply.  They would have had the soles of hobbits, if you will, and those are pure, tough soles indeed.

So, in some senses, our footwear is detrimental.  Of course, in other ways, it’s extremely useful, and does protect us from sharp and hard objects on the ground against which even thicker skin wouldn’t have defended adequately.  Broken glass is certainly something one wouldn’t want to encounter with bare feet.

Then again, I recall that once, quite a while back, a Kenyan athlete won the Olympic marathon in bare feet, so there aren’t severe disadvantages.  It’s got to be pretty hard to do on pavement, though, and the next time that athlete ran, and won—if memory serves—he did wear shoes.

And you wouldn’t want to go walking through a snowy landscape without something on your feet, at least for warmth.

Still, it makes one wonder how many of the things we wear on our feet are relatively unnecessary and even counter-productive.  If I had gone barefoot a lot over the years, would I not even require footwear much anymore, living as I do in south Florida, where there is almost never anything close to snowy weather?  It’s certainly likely that the risk of fungus would be lower!  It’s interesting to wonder whether even the problems I have with my right ankle, due to an old severe sprain, would be fewer if I had not worn various types of footwear.

It’s also interesting to think about how much of the footwear industry is just a self-sustaining fiction, like so many other industries.  Just to be clear, though, I would not claim that this is any kind of conspiracy or evil plot by malevolent capitalists at Nike and Adidas and Reebok and New Balance.  That’s just a stupid thought, and if you seriously entertain it, you should probably slap yourself.

I’m sure there are worse and better people (by whatever criteria one might specify) at nearly all levels in such companies, as there are in the ranks of social services, as there are working in governments, as there are in charitable organizations, as there are in hospitals.  No, the footwear industry, at all its various levels, is just a big, spontaneously self-organizing system, like everything else about civilization.  There is no master plan, and there is no master**, any more than there is a planner, architect, CEO or Personnel office in an ant hill or a termite mound or a bee hive or a school of fish or a flock of birds.  Things happen, and the things that tend to be self-sustaining tend to sustain themselves***, while the things that don’t tend to do so simply fade away with relatively little fuss.

This is part of, or at least related to, why I hate people calling elected officials our “leaders”.  They’re not leaders, nor should they be, and they certainly don’t “run” the country or state or city or whatever.  They’re employees, managers, servants.  And believe me, they are just as fundamentally clueless as everybody else about what’s happening in the world and what to do about it.  They just sometimes pretend otherwise, even to themselves.  But just because they fool themselves, doesn’t mean you have to let them fool you.

That’s about it for today.  It’s been a weird progression of thoughts, but that seems appropriate, given the eventual topic of discussion.

caveman walk

*It’s just like what happened when I was standing in a park and wondering why a frisbee appears to get larger and larger as it gets closer and closer.

**Except the Time Lord called The Master.