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.

Here we go again, still.

It’s Monday morning, and I’m on the train as I write this, though I had meant to miss the train that I rode on Friday and start writing while sitting at the train station, because that somehow feels better to me.  I’m not sure why it feels better.  Maybe it’s because, for a long time, when I got to the train station early, it was where I started writing my fiction on a given day.  I don’t know.

Anyway, I dilly-dallied at the house for a bit, doing some minor chores that I don’t normally do in the morning, before leaving a little later than usual.  But it turns out that the train was, as the automated announcement said, “fifteen, twenty minutes late”.

I don’t know why it’s not programmed to say, “fifteen to twenty minutes late”.  The way the announcement comes across, one might be excused for thinking that the train was going to be one thousand five hundred twenty minutes late.  That’s 25 hours and 20 minutes.  One might as well take an extra day off today and come back tomorrow!

So, I got on the train I had tried to miss by a bit, after waiting…well, about fifteen or twenty minutes.  And now I’m writing this blog post, for which I have no particular topic, on the train.

I don’t understand why even a relatively well-run system like the Tri-rail in south Florida is so often behind schedule or has trains cancelled and so on.  This is not the norm in many other parts of the world*.  In some parts of the world, they don’t even have to punish people who screw up and make a train system late, thus inconveniencing thousands to sometimes tens of thousands of people and more.  The people running it would be ashamed and humiliated to allow the trains to run late on their watch, and if something unavoidable were to happen, such people would scramble and struggle to correct it as fast as humanly possible, and not rest until it was fixed.

I’m not, in general, a fan of the emotion of shame, but a little bit of shame in the right place can be a good thing.  It exists because it can serve a purpose in social animals, and humans are social animals.  A person should be embarrassed and even ashamed if, through laziness or carelessness or inattention they cause problems that affect the lives of a large number of people.  If that seems like too minor a thing about which to worry, remember, statistically speaking, if one causes delays for enough people, often enough, there will be consequent serious suffering and even premature deaths—deaths that would not have happened if one had done one’s job**.

Speaking of deaths:  honestly, I didn’t really expect to be alive, myself, at this point.  Or, at least, I didn’t mean to be continuing to muddle through on my usual daily so-called life.  But I’m still here just standing on the ledge or the balcony, or the bridge-side, or whatever, looking down, trying to decide what to do.  It’s scary to jump—for good, sound, biological reasons over which I have very little control—and so I hesitate.

But I don’t have a strong desire to turn around and walk away from the edge, either.  I guess, at some level, some part of me is wondering if someone can give me a good, motivating, convincing reason to step away from the edge.  Not a request, not a cajolement, not an emotional appeal, not a pep talk—none of these things are means by which I want to be easily influenced.  I’ve looked at most of them already, and in any case, they don’t really solve the problem, they just push it back a little.  I don’t want to believe, I want to be convinced by evidence and reasoning, or by something that doesn’t rely on the exhortation just to keep buggering on because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

I’ve been buggering on against dysthymia and depression for almost forty years, certainly since my early teens, and against chronic pain for about twenty.  I don’t seem to have gained much ground, if any.

If I were still in medical practice and were treating a patient like me who came in, I might well recommend hospitalization.  I’m certainly a danger to myself—I hate myself, I consider myself my enemy.  But I cannot afford some kind of voluntary psychiatric hospitalization, certainly not in any kind of very good facility, and I don’t have any insurance.  And, of course, I’m not in medical practice anymore.

I don’t know what to do.  But my train stop is coming up next, and since I have to pause my writing at least for a while when I get there, I might as well stop this post now.  I hope you had a good weekend and that you have a good week.

no belief

*Though, admittedly, there are also parts of the world in which this is much better than the norm.  But the US is the world’s largest economy; we like to think of ourselves as advanced and innovative and productive and “great”, but—to reference a cliché that wasn’t even true about the person about whom it was often said—we can’t even seem to keep the trains running on time.  It’s embarrassing.  Or at least, it ought to be embarrassing.  If we are not embarrassed by it, that fact should be embarrassing, too.

**It’s possible, of course, that there are deaths that will happen when the trains run on time that would not have happened if they had been late, but people don’t tend to see as morally culpable on the people keeping things running on time when there are benevolent reasons for doing so.  Running things on time was the intent of the system, it was part of the stated goal from the start, and it was thus because it was potentially useful for many people.  It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.  But when it fails in its promised service, and because of that failure someone dies (or suffers) unnecessarily, it seems reasonable to consider it a morally culpable situation.

Was Sisyphus afraid of moss?

I’m sitting at the bus stop this morning, waiting for the morning bus.  There are a few reasons for that.  Actually, I suppose if one were to drill down, one could probably find many reasons—or at least, many causes­—but the main ones are:  1) I’ve walked over 24 miles in the last two days, and though my left knee support thingy is helping, there is still some twinging in the knee, and B) I am trying out a new pair of shoes.

By that, I mean, I am trying a new model of shoe, so to speak, though they are from the same company as usual.  I didn’t want to give them the full 12 miles on their first day, in case there is any chafing or rubbing in new areas that’s going to be likely to cause new blisters.  I really don’t want that, since my other shoes—the ones I haven’t discarded—are not causing blistering, even with the new ankle supports, even with a full 12 mile days.

I should let you all know, I have bitten the bullet and ordered a new bike post and seat.  They don’t come together as one “item”, which strikes me as odd, but maybe it’s not; maybe that’s the usual way things go in the world of bicycles.  There may be good reasons for it.

Anyway, I don’t know if reading Matthieu Ricard’s book is helping me, or if it was a comment/suggestion of encouragement from my cousin—most likely some combination of both things and just a general stubbornness on my part—but I decided to try it, to get a new seat.  It’s nice to be able to get back to the house before eight o’clock sometimes rather than at about nine (or even later).  I just have to remember to run my locking cable through the seat base when I park the bike.

I don’t know that this will change any of my long-term plans (if that’s even the right term).  Certainly if I get this new seat and post and something else goes wrong, I’m going to be quite perturbed.  That interference with my expected plans is a large part of what made me so upset—maybe that’s part of my possible undiagnosed Asperger’s or something, I don’t know.  On the other hand, a large part of it is certainly down to my dysthymia/depression, with which I’ve had to deal since at least my mid-teens.  As it turns out, that can be secondary to/a complication of Asperger’s, so it could all be intertwined.

I’ve recently come to the realization, which I’ve commented on before, that apparently I have a rather blank expression on my face a lot of the time, even when I feel like I’m conveying severe misery.  The closest I came to being expressive, recently, was last week, when I was having an exceptionally bad, three-sigma at least, outlier day with respect to pain, and I was just miserable and in agony, despite far too much medicine and stretching and back massage machines and whatnot.

Someone in the office asked if I was tired, because apparently that’s what my face was expressing.

I’ve never really thought of myself as expressionless, but I do remember, for a long time, practicing smiling in the mirror, partly just so I could think of myself as someone who was happy (or at least looked happy) and partly because I wanted to have a good smile.  That’s long gone, of course; I don’t tend to smile at myself in the mirror anymore.

If anything, I feel rather surprised sometimes when I look in the mirror, as if thinking, “Oh, yeah, that guy.  I forgot that’s what he looked like.”  You would think I would be used to my face by now.  But it very much doesn’t feel like me when I see it, though as my sister has pointed out (quite correctly), that is not so surprising since I don’t normally have access to it; I’m on the inside, or words to that effect.  Maybe this is everyone’s experience, I don’t know.

It’s been a very long week so far, already, and it’s only now Wednesday morning*, which means today I have to do the payroll.  I haven’t even gotten started on the payroll this week so far, because I’ve just been too discouraged and despondent and tired.  Hopefully, taking the bus this morning will conserve at least a little of my energy and make things somewhat easier today.

Either way, I’ll do it, and I’ll probably do it quickly and accurately and well, and it will look easy to those on the outside, because I’ve been doing it for a while, and I know how to do it.  When I’m supposed to do something, however miserable I feel, I just tend to do it, to keep going, and only occasionally grumble a bit but not really make any kind of stink—and apparently it doesn’t even really show on my face that I’m in despair.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I think it bears repeating, or re-exploring, that the horror of Sisyphus’s punishment in the myth is not merely that he was forced to keep rolling his boulder up the mountain, or hill, or whatever, only to have it roll down again each time.  The true horror was that he felt compelled to do it, somehow.

It’s not as though an ordinary person would keep doing it, surely.  They’d be all, “Blow this for a lark” and let the boulder fall.  I’m sure that some other punishment would be enacted, but even Prometheus could recognize that, though he suffered horribly every day, it wasn’t his own doing.  His own mind had not been made into the vessel and source of his torment.

Sisyphus was a bit like all those people who walked calmly to the stake or to the gallows or to the guillotine or to the electric chair or whatever.  Why did they do that?  Why do people not at least force their executioners to drag them to the place of execution?  Why do they not fight?  Would I be the same in such circumstances?

It’s bizarre.  I mean, good luck trying to get a cat or a wolverine, or even a squirrel, to go along with you toward a situation that it even suspects is a danger to its life.  You will not come away without wounds.  Yet even unjustly sentenced humans go quietly most of the time.

It’s pretty stupid, if you ask me.  Which may in turn sound stupid coming from someone who often feels suicidal.  But if it’s my choice and I’m the one doing it—to whatever extent that even makes sense—then that’s at least a choice of some kind.  But you can’t tell me that, if Prometheus got a hand free, he wouldn’t have done his best to throttle Zeus’s eagle.

That, again, is the horror of Sisyphus, even though his punishment is less gory.  He has become his own hell.  Maybe that’s true of us all.  It’s certainly often true of me.


*A fact that I cannot state without triggering the beginning of the Beatles song She’s Leaving Home in my head.  As my ex-wife might have said, this is one of my buttons, and when you push them—even when I push them myself—there will be a programmed response.

Never mind

I’m not sure at all what I’m going to write about this morning, but it’s a work morning, and I’ve just arrived at the train station, so writing my daily blog post is what I’m going to be doing, at least for the time being.

My hands and fingers are a bit sticky and sweaty as I start this.  Obviously that’s not going to be evident in my writing—other than the fact that I’m telling you about it.  I walked just under 12 miles yesterday, total, since my bike is no longer an option, and I’ve already walked about 5 miles today, which explains the sweatiness.

17 miles isn’t all that much when you’re riding a bike.  Even I could probably do it in an hour.  But my bike is inoperable right now, and when walking, 17 miles is the work of over five hours, which is a fair chunk of one’s time, even over a day and a bit.  Not that I have anything better to do with my time.  My time is pointless.

I more or less deliberately arranged things to get here just after the time for the train I caught yesterday, because I wanted to have a moment in the station where I could start writing this post.  I like starting my posts at the station better than starting them on the train; I’m not sure why.  There is an occasional nice breeze blowing at my back and cooling me down, but it wasn’t blowing when I made my decision, and it hadn’t occurred to me that it would happen, so I don’t think it was part of the calculus.

I’m working on adapting to new, slightly larger (and thus less tight) ankle braces, and the knee brace I got seems to be helping my left knee, though I woke up in the night last night with marked left knee pain, and had to put Icy Hot with lidocaine on it.  I think that was mainly because I had been sleeping with my ankles crossed, as I often do.  I guess I should probably break that habit.

It doesn’t really matter much, of course.  No habits really matter much right now.  I don’t expect to have any long-lasting habits.  What I’d like to do is be able to summon the gumption just to walk until it kills me (or to walk until I get back to where I grew up, or something along those lines).  That would at least be an interesting way to go.  The main obstacles to starting have been blisters and so on, and soreness in my knees and ankles.  But I think I’m at least getting past the blisters, mostly, and trying to find ways around the soreness.  If I pace myself, the soreness shouldn’t get in the way.  I hope.

I had almost, after getting myself into better condition by working my way up toward this idea, decided to take “another route”, what with the bike and all, and see if I could make it through to continuing with life.  I have even started reading one of the books by Matthieu Ricard, the French-born Buddhist monk and so-called happiest man in the world.

It’s an interesting book, but he isn’t saying anything I haven’t heard before.  I’ve done meditation, quite a bit; when I was younger, I used to meditate and/or do self-hypnosis every day, usually more than once a day.  Weirdly enough, meditation seems to tend to make my depression worse, though it does calm my anxiety somewhat.

Anyway, I doubt I’ll find any worthwhile answers.  I don’t expect to find any, though I’m not ruling it out.  But there needs to be some better reason to carry on than just the vague notion that “people care about you” or “people would miss you”.  While there are people who will be saddened if I am gone, it’s not going to be a deep or very direct sadness, because there’s no one with whom I spend any significant time.

No one else’s day to day experience will be changed significantly whether I live or die or whatever.  The vague notion that there are people who care about me is a nice thing and a good thing, as far as it goes, but it has no local consequences, and it’s not a strong enough reason to stay alive.  It’s like the old saying, “That plus a buck fifty will get a cup of coffee.”  Of course, nowadays it would be more like at least “that plus five bucks”, but the idea is the same.  It’s not really consequential, because it’s really just an idea, some kind of abstraction.

The vague fact that there are people hundreds and even thousands of miles away who care about you and would be sad if they learned that you were dead is not enough of a reason to be alive.  After all, they would only be sad if they learned that you were dead.

And they would only learn it indirectly, because they are not actually present here in my life.  No one I really care about is actually here, nearby, and frankly, I don’t blame them.  I don’t want to inflict myself on other people.  I hate myself severely.  One of the last (or least) things I would want to do would be to inflict myself upon those whose happiness is important to me.  I don’t bring people happiness.  People who are around me tend to become more unhappy.  I’m no fucking good, and I never have been.

Anyway, I don’t know what I’m getting at.  None of this makes very much sense, and it’s certainly not worth the effort to try very hard to make sense of it.

I hope you have a good week, and if you’re celebrating any of the upcoming holidays, I hope you enjoy them.  Take heart in knowing that that they’ll be a little bit better than they might otherwise be because I won’t be present at your celebrations.

How would you pronounce an infinite sentence?

Well, it’s Saturday, April 1st, 2023, AD or CE, and I am writing a blog post today because I am working today.  You can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Well, you can say it, but it wouldn’t be true.  You can say almost anything, really.  There is a functionally limitless number of sentences that you can utter, and not all of them will be true.  It’s a vaguely interesting question whether the number of truthful sentences that can be uttered is as limitless as the number of sentences one can utter.  At first glance, it seems, one being a subset of the other, that it should not be the case, but when dealing with infinities, one has to be cautious—initial intuitions can be misleading.

If one restricts oneself to existing words or compound words, and one restricts oneself to sentences that follow standard grammatical rules, one can build a functionally limitless number of sentences simply by including compound sentences or nested phrases, like, “He knew that she knew that he knew that she knew that he was a pedantic idiot.”  That feels a bit like a cheat to me, but logically speaking, it can be done.

Of course, even if, in principle, the number of such possible sentences is infinite, there is a practical limit to the number of them one could possibly construct before the heat death of the universe—or, if the universe “ends” in some other way, before that happens.  This is part of why I wonder whether the number of truthful statements potentially constructible is actually as large—in practice, even if not in principle—as the total number of possible statements.

One could, in principle, construct sentences describing, to the degree possible, the quantum state of every describable aspect of all of accessible reality.  Of course, one could also just make up descriptions of quantum states that have nothing to do with our reality, but if Everett was right, or if the String landscape is right, or what have you, they might all be true somewhere, depending on how you define “some” and “where”.

But, of course, it’s trivially easier to describe quantum states in ways that are physically nonsensical, e.g. “The quantum state of that electron is blue with purple polka dots and smells like ripe bleu cheese”.  Or one can make impossible statements using more formal terminology, such as, “The precise location and momentum of this particular ‘particle’ are, at this precise moment: x and y, with no rounding of digits anywhere.”  As far as we know, that’s physically impossible.

It’s not as exciting as the physically impossible tale, “Bob accelerated his ordinary human body instantly from a standstill to the speed of light, at which speed he stayed long enough to go to the sun and back.  It was an incredible sixteen minutes, and everyone who watched him do it was amazed and thrilled.”

We know that can’t be true because, for one thing, nothing with “rest mass” can reach the speed of light at all—that would require an infinite amount of energy.  Also, if you’re going the speed of light, you can’t experience it, because for you, time ceases to pass.  Also, it’s questionable whether anyone could “see” you moving at that speed, and not just because you would become a black hole before you could ever achieve light speed.

Or would you?  I’ve tried to ask people who should know what would happen if a spaceship (for instance) was accelerated to close enough to the speed of light that, given length contraction and “relativistic mass” it compressed to a front-back length that was shorter than its Schwarzschild radius*, but I haven’t seen or received a reply about it.

This is one of the reasons I bought no fewer than two big textbooks on General Relativity; if I couldn’t get someone to give me the answer, I wanted to try to work it out.  I suspect that the fact that the length contraction is along one axis might make it a complicated situation for any large-scale object; maybe no one has done the mathematics on such questions, but that feels unlikely.

It also feels unlikely that I’ll find the time and discipline to work my way through the appropriate textbooks before I die.  There is background mathematics involved that I would need to master if I were to be able to apply the theory properly.

I don’t doubt that I’m capable of it; it’s not like playing professional basketball, where there are fundamental, physical limits to what someone my height (and age and athletic ability) could accomplish.  But there are so many things that interfere, and my time (and my will) is burned up daily upon matters of even more trivial character than all the pointless things I’ve already done in my life.

At least I’m gaining back some time thanks to my new bicycle.  I am now troubled, though (as I always am when I have some structure outside of myself upon which I have chosen to rely) with worries about maintenance, such as:  What will happen if the tires go flat while I’m en route to the train station?  It’s not that such a thing would be an unsolvable problem; I’ve dealt with such occurrences before.  But I don’t want to deal with them.  Even having to think about them constitutes one more straw piled on the camel’s back, and I’ve been carrying too much straw for too long.  I’m tired.  I want to lie down and just stay that way.

At least I’m getting good exercise.  And now that the seat is fixed, the bicycle seems to be operating well.  I may need to edit (slightly) my scathing review of it on Amazon.  We’ll see.  I’m going to watch and wait a bit longer for any other problems that may arise before I do that.

In closing, I’ll grudgingly acknowledge the fact that it’s “April Fool’s Day” just to remind you that you are all fools…but that I am a fool as well.  So were Einstein and Newton and Socrates and Marcus Aurelius and the Buddha and Lao Tzu and Confucius and, well, everybody else.  As Einstein is credited with saying**, “There are two things that are infinite:  the universe and human stupidity.  And I’m not sure about the universe.”

Depending on what you mean by stupidity, that can be trivially true in the mathematical sense, i.e., the number of unknown things in the universe is infinite.  There are other uses of the word stupidity about which the statement might not be true.  For instance, there are those who define stupidity as doing something in ways that are less efficient than randomness, such as trying to get to the airport by repeatedly driving around the block from your house until your car wears out.  Moving randomly could at least eventually get you to the airport, whereas going in “circles” will never get you there, even with a car that lasts forever.

Enough!  I wrote “in closing” and I haven’t closed yet, so I’ll do that now.  Have a nice remainder of your weekend***.  I’ll be back writing on Monday, barring the unexpected.


*According to outside observers, that is.  For those on the spaceship, it would be the outside world that would constrict into an ever-narrower “tunnel” in the direction of travel.

**I think this attribution is a correct one, which is not reliably so with many quotes attributed to Einstein online.

***What’s the modulus of a weekend?

Bad ingestions and good intentions at the start of Spring (in the north)

I apologize, right at the start, to anyone who was disappointed that I didn’t write a blog post yesterday.  I was home sick, having gotten a bad GI reaction from some Chinese food that I ordered and ate Sunday night.  The food was the gastric equivalent of Rocky Balboa; it simply did not want to stay down.

I’m back now, though, and have just arrived at the train station after a morning walk, and am waiting for the train I would have boarded anyway had I taken the bus.  I’ve occasionally toyed with the idea of getting a bike—not a fancy, lean-over-the-handlebars type—to go to and from the train station.  But to do that entails thinking of something long-term, as a long-term solution to the problem of time in my daily life, and I have no desire to think long-term.  I honestly don’t really want a long term.  I barely want a short term.  I barely want a single day more, to be honest, especially when I’ve been feeling sick and my back is hurting especially badly.  Oh, well, that’s nothing new.

I suppose I should welcome you all to Spring, which officially started yesterday, when the equinox happened—or autumn, in the southern hemisphere, apologies for the apparent dissing.  I’m a little sad that I didn’t get to write about it yesterday.  In many ways, the equinoxes are more global than the solstices, because (although one is heading toward summer and the other heading toward winter) the two hemispheres all go through the same equinox at the same time, and it means, roughly, the same thing.

I was listening to an audiobook while walking this morning, as I often do, but this was a non-fiction book.  The author, a highly intelligent investigator, often refers to “authorities” regarding certain subjects*, sometimes seeming a bit tongue-in-cheek as he does so.  This raised for me a notion that I think is not reinforced often enough in the world:  when it comes to matters of science, there are no authorities.  There are experts, but there are no actual authorities.  No one has authorship of nature—no human or other mortal, anyway—and so no one has authority.

Stephen King can rightly claim authority over the works of Stephen King, as no one else can.  But nature, reality itself, is not subject to human authority.  And that includes other humans.  Governments also don’t really have authority, since none of them actually made society, nor do they “run” their nations.  At best, they are managers.

I’ve said this before, but no human civilization was ever created, nor is any such thing ever run, by individual humans.  They are spontaneously self-assembled and self-organizing systems.  Each individual member of the system is responding to local incentives, and this generates the overall pattern emergently.

This brings me to another issue that occurred to me while listening to the book, and that is the notion of intentions.  We all know the cliché that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and these good intentions are mentioned frequently regarding the people who have made scientific errors or presumptions as described in the book to which I was listening.  And it occurred to me that not only are good intentions not any adequate guarantee of good outcomes; they can be actively corrupting, in many ways more so than greed or lust for power.

While a person who is greedy and self-serving can certainly do great harm, part of their very impetus is to continue getting away with what they are doing, to continue to prosper, and so they tend to want to fly under the radar—at least until they begin to feel insecure in other ways, perhaps.  But ideologues, people who truly believe that what they are doing is right and is best for the greatest number of people, can justify performing horrible acts that might put off any but the worst of psychopathic sadists.

The perpetrators of various witch-hunts and inquisitions and reigns of terror and pogroms and purges and great leaps forward and killing fields and the like—and even the less-destructive Twitter mobs—are often people who are truly and thoroughly convinced that they are acting in the best interests of everyone in the world, and possibly even in the best interests of those they torture and murder in some cases.

But the desire to do good and the question of actually doing good appear to be almost orthogonal in reality.  Certainly their alignment is not reliably one-to-one.  Thus, any person who actually wants to do good—not just to be able to tell themselves that they are doing good—must always be amendable, at least in principle, to learning that they are wrong, in their methods or even in their ideals.

Dogmatism tends to be catastrophic.  Certainty kills, in the words of a person whom I cannot recall.  Or to paraphrase another source of which I’m not certain, good intentions can be and have been used to fumigate the worst of possible deeds, even the slaughter of a continent.

As Richard Feynman** said, reality has to take precedence over politics, for Nature cannot be fooled.

Anyway, that’s enough of that.  All these things apply in the long run—relatively speaking, anyway—and while I’m interested, in principle, in long walks, I can’t actually envision a future for myself, other than the inevitable one.  I have no goals or plans or aspirations, I desire no “beliefs”, and I don’t foresee any beneficial change in myself, whether beneficial to me or to anyone else.  If I could find the will to override the irritating biological drives that lead me to keep eating and drinking and all that crap, I would do so, and would consider it sensible.  But that’s not readily accomplished, so I am forced along other, sometimes potentially very long, paths.

Ah, well.  I’m stubborn at least, even if I’m not dogmatic.  Or so I believe.

It's spring!

*I’m not going into the subject matter because I don’t want to distract from my point.

**Of course I tend to remember when I’m quoting him.

I don’t know what my point is (in many ways)

I’m sorry in advance.  I suspect this is going to be yet another boring-ass blog post like the two earlier this week.  Something about walking from the house to the train station seems to set me up not to write very well, or at least not to write in a very interesting fashion.

Maybe it’s just that I’m not writing anything new, but am just rehashing the same old garbage that’s always moving through my mind.  I don’t know what I’m supposed to do about that, though.  I can’t move anything through my mind but my own thoughts, and I can’t simply choose those.  If I could, I would probably choose not to be depressed, as I think anyone with depression would choose.

Of course, it may be the case that I would have a hard time choosing not to be depressed because—presumably as a consequence of my depression—I often feel that I deserve to feel depressed, that I deserve to hate myself, that I am right to hate myself.  But, of course, if I could choose to change my thoughts, then surely I could choose not to think that I deserve to feel depressed, and not to hate myself.  Here we see the beginning of a potential infinite regress, one that’s related to the fundamental ontological* problems with any concept of “contra-causal” free will.

We also run up against issues of fundamental identity, relating to the concept of “terminal goals” as discussed in AI research and the like.  There are instrumental goals—piecemeal goals, objectives, chosen as steps along the way to achieving terminal goals—and then there are the terminal goals, the fundamental goals, the things that are the root drivers of a system.

Could any intelligence with true terminal goals ever opt to change those goals?  How could it choose, as an instrumental goal, the changing of a terminal goal, when such a change would almost certainly lead it to fail in its terminal goal?  I think it was Robert Miles, in one of his Computerphile videos, who proposed a fictional example as a comparable choice to a human:  consider whether (if you are a loving parent) you would be willing, for any reward, to have your personality altered such that you wouldn’t care whether your child or children lived or died, and indeed, that you would be willing to kill them.

If you’re not a parent—not a loving parent, anyway—it might be difficult to see the bone-deep trouble with this, but I suspect that most reasonably normal parents would rather die than be altered so as not to care whether their children live or die, and for good, sound, biological reasons.  I certainly meet that description.

But the point at which I’m getting is to imagine if, somehow, I could once and for all cure my dysthymia/depression, but it would have the effect of changing my character, my nature, my personality—my terminal goals, if your will—would I do it?

It’s somewhat difficult for me to imagine, because I can remember times in my life when I was not depressed, and not all of them were that long ago.  I very much think that I was the same person at those times, fundamentally, as I am now.  There’s a continuity of thought, at least from the point of view of my present memory, which is the only point of view I have.  I don’t feel in any serious way that I was a different person either twenty years ago, or thirty years ago, or forty years ago, or whatever, back to as far as I can remember, to when I started grade school and a bit before.

Of course, I apparently have always had some form of ASD**—Asperger’s or whatever—though I don’t have a formal diagnosis.  Does anyone really have a definitive diagnosis for that, though?  The criteria are semi-arbitrary and are not based on a measurable, physical structure or quantity but a constellation of attributes.  Still, whatever the case, it is something inherent to the given person’s nervous system.  And it does seem to predispose one to depression (and presumably to dysthymia, and certainly to alexithymia), so maybe that tendency has always been there in me.

There are certainly many, relatively early times when I found myself feeling burned out or washed out, or just blank and empty and exhausted, but I didn’t connect it to anything or know why it happened.  By the time I started high school I was already having periods when I would be depressed and have suicidal thoughts.

But I didn’t hate myself back then—not most of the time, anyway.  I even put on something of a show of pretending really to think very highly of myself, to be egotistical and narcissistic in a playful way.  And I did have moments of somewhat megalomaniacal tendencies, but then again, I was good at a lot of things, and I got attention for it.

I definitely always felt different and weird compared to the people around me.  I tried to turn that to my advantage, to make it a defense mechanism—to make myself seem vaguely scary and dangerous because of being sort of crazy, I guess, to make sure no one messed with me.  But it is a fact that I did feel weird; I felt like I was strange, or crazy, and I also felt vaguely hostile and even borderline hateful toward many other people at least some of the time, because what stranger in a strange land of alien beings would not feel that way?

I don’t know where I’m going with this, or what point I’m trying to make.  Again, I’m sorry.  It’s not a very good blog post.  But if it helped you pass a few moments in which you would otherwise have been staring at a wall or—cat forbid—a TikTok video or something, then I guess it’s been worthwhile.

would i lie to you

*I think that’s the term for which I’m looking.

**Apart from the congenital heart defect, I mean.  That was definitely something I had at least until I was eighteen.

It’s inspiring stuff for an otherwise mundane journey.

I’m starting this blog post a bit later than I usually do—roughly an hour later—because, as I planned yesterday, I have walked from the house to the train station, which is about 4.8 miles, it turns out.  It took me almost exactly an hour and a half, which I guess is a decent pace, though I used to walk more quickly.

I suppose with enough training I shall improve.

Now I’m at the train station (not the one to which I take the bus, but the one from which I always used to set off), waiting for the very train I would have caught had I taken the bus to the train this morning.  So I won’t be arriving at the office any later than usual, but I may be tardy in my posting of this blog entry.

While I walked, I listened to The Fellowship of the Ring on Audible.  It’s a brilliant book to which to listen while walking any distance, because the characters are walking, themselves.  When I started, they were in the Prancing Pony, first meeting Strider (my namesake)*, and by the time I’d gotten to the train station, Frodo had just been stabbed on Weathertop and they were getting ready to repack the pony and head off the following morning.

It’s inspiring stuff for an otherwise mundane journey.

I’m not wearing my Timberland boots today.  I fear that part of the issue with them is that they don’t fit my feet quite snugly enough, and so I slide around a bit in them, and of course, that can lead to blistering.  I’m not sure why the fit is overlarge, though.  I’ve looked at the various reviews and whatnot of those boots, and people generally say that they are true to size, or else a bit small.

Whereas, for instance, the Under Armor shoes I had are actually a bit snug at my usual size, and a pair a half size up seem a more comfortable a fit around my toes.  New Balance walking shoes, such as the ones I’m wearing today, and more or less just right.

I’m leery of trying a pair of Timberlands a half size smaller, not least because they are not cheap.  Though, of course, Amazon does have a try-it-on thing you can do, but if you don’t want to keep a pair you have to send it back, and that’s annoying.  I can’t deal with crap like that anymore; it involves interacting with humans I don’t know and changing my schedule and my routines and all that other stuff, and it’s just not worth the effort.

Maybe I’ll figure something out.  Possibly just the walking itself will strengthen my feet, or alternatively will make them swell enough that they fit the boots snugly.  I will admit, after wearing the boots yesterday, they already feel much more comfortable than they did before, but I did not walk more than about three and a half miles yesterday, total.

I’d like to find something out that is more or less ideal, but there may be no such thing in the real world.  Reality is extremely complex, with all sorts of high order equations interacting with other high order equations all over the place.  It may well be that the possibility of finding something ideally suited in all aspects for any given purpose is functionally impossible.

This is one reason I dislike it when people use the word “perfect”, because in most cases it’s a notion that isn’t even well defined, let alone achievable.  Unless one sets clear and specific and precise criteria, judging anything or anyone to be perfect is just rhetoric, it’s not reason.  Powerful rhetoric can be enjoyable, like watching a boxing match or a martial arts movie, but it absolutely should not be allowed to sway one in important matters that bear on facts of reality or choices of morality.

Should we really let our politics, let alone our judgments of the facts of reality, be shaped by the words of someone who is—effectively—the best name-caller on the playground?  The difference between juvenile remarks—“Neener-neener,” “Your mama,” and “I’m rubber, you’re glue” for instance—and the words in most political discourse and debate is one of degree, not of type.

Imagine if Wiles’s proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem*** had consisted of him saying, “It’s true ‘cause I said it’s true, now what are you gonna do about it?  My grandma knows number theory better than you do.”  Or perhaps he could have invoked the seemingly more mature arguments:  “Of course, my political opponent would be skeptical of my proof, even though it’s obvious to anyone of intelligence that it’s correct.  The members of that party don’t want you to have the freedom brought by knowing that no three positive integers a, b, and c satisfy the equation an + bn = cn for any integer value of n greater than 2.  That’s because it threatens their power structure, and their special interest groups and wealthy lobbyists.  My proof may, like Fermat’s, be too big to fit in the margins of a letter, but believe me, my opponent’s brains, together with his genitals, are more than small enough to fit in such a space.”

Would that be a convincing mathematical argument?  Would it have anything at all to do with the truth of any proposition whatsoever?

Why do people both use and fall for such manipulations?  I know, I know, they’re just a bunch of tailless, nearly-hairless monkeys; why would you expect them to be more reasonable than baboons?  But it’s so frustrating mainly because nearly all of them appear to have the capacity to be rational, contrary to popular belief.

The very use of language itself requires syntax, grammar, logic, all applied at quite a sophisticated and often abstract level.  Almost all humans are capable of language starting at a young age.  They have the wherewithal to be truly reasonable and sharp-minded, almost all of them, with but a bit of effort.  This makes it all the more irritating when they don’t do so.

One doesn’t get angry at a starfish for having no curiosity about astronomy (despite what we call it), or a worm for not grasping quantum mechanics****.  And what does a sea squirt need with philosophy, especially once it’s achieved tenure?  But humans nearly all have the capacity for exceptional achievements.

Though I suppose “exceptional” wouldn’t be the right word if everyone did it.

How did I get on this subject?  I don’t remember.  Anyway, that’s more than enough of a post for today, and as I write this last sentence, having arrived finally at the office (and having now walked just shy of six miles already), I still need to do my editing.  So I’ll call it good.  I don’t think I’m going to be working tomorrow.  It would be good, after my first day of longer walking, to have a day of relative rest.  Then, next week, I shall do my walking, about 12 miles, every day.  That’s not too bad for a start, but not as much as my eventual hope.

We’ll see what happens.

*That’s Aragorn, of course, but for those of you who have only seen the movies, you may not know that his name as king of Gondor, in the fullness of time, was Elessar Telcontar.  Elessar means “elfstone” and refers to the green gem given to Aragorn by Galadriel, whereas Telcontar means, more or less, “strider”**.

**If ever I were to assume a supervillain name of some kind, I might replace my current last name with “Melkor”, because it would lead to possibly the most egotistical concatenation of name meanings ever.  My first name, Robert, apparently means “bright fame” or “bright glory”.  My middle name, Eugene, of course means “true born” or “well born”, as in “eugenics”.  And my counterfactual last name, Melkor, would mean “He who arises in might”.  That’s a heckuva collection of names.  And, of course, I’m a doctor by training and by degree, so that just makes it all even mightier.  “I’m Robert Eugene Melkor, MD.  You can call me Dr. Melkor.  Bwa ha ha ha haaaa!”

***Which, to be fair, should be called Wiles’s Theorem.

****Though they are good at tunneling.  Ha ha.

No live creature can continue to exist at all if there is no reality

Well, it’s Friday morning, and for those of you with a typical* American work week, I’ll say a “TGIF” on your behalf, though as I said yesterday, I work tomorrow.

That’s an interesting combination of tenses, isn’t it?  I’ll say, I said, I work, tomorrow…most of the whole latter half of that sentence is a mishmash of inconsistent, time-related words, and yet, as far as I can tell, it makes sense.  Please let me know if I’m wrong about that.

I’m still very tired from the fiascos with the trains Wednesday, and from sleeping on the floor in the office Wednesday night.  Nevertheless, on the way back to the house yesterday, I got an early enough train that I decided to walk back from the train station, despite being tired.  So, between Wednesday morning and Thursday evening I walked a total of about nine miles, and the athletic tape I put on the blister on my right foot seems to have done a good job at protecting it.

I did then pick at the blister a bit as I was lying down last night, and I might have irritated it some, since it’s slightly sore now.  That might just be from the longish walk back from the train last night.  Or, of course, it could be both.  There could even be unrecognized influences causing soreness.  Occam’s Razor pushes against that last bit—I’m unaware of any possible other causes so far, and I have potential known causes that can explain what I find and feel—but it doesn’t give any direction to the choice between the other two things or their combination.


I work tomorrow, as I said before, so I should write a blog post then.  I don’t know what I’m going to write about, but then again, I have no idea what I’m going to write about today, and yet I’ve already written some 360 words.

I think I’ve noted previously how this writing about nothing that nevertheless goes on and on seems almost related to the more ordinary thing called “small talk”, when people get together and discuss things that are of no consequence, really, and which are not planned in advance.  I gather that small talk serves some manner of social cohesion building, an interaction for the sake of interacting, done verbally in humans, since largely hairless house apes no longer need to pick Arthropoda from each other’s fur.

Small talk seems at some level essentially to consist of people saying to each other, “I’m a person you know and are socially bonded with, and you are a person I know and am socially bonded with.  We are part of the same community or tribe, at least at some level.”  I guess that’s useful, and even powerful, in an ultra-social species like humans.

Heck, even scientists and mathematicians get together at conferences**, or hang out together at lunch time.  Apart from this being a social bonding thing, it probably really helps to trigger and stimulate new ideas, as separate minds throw their thoughts into interactions with other minds, coming from varying points of view, triggering new thoughts and new insights that a single brain could not as easily produce.

Of course, reading (and listening to podcasts and audiobooks, and watching videos) can also bring on such new thoughts and ideas, sometimes in slightly deeper ways.  But there is no mutual, “real time” give and take, which can in the right circumstances lead to a seemingly near-miraculous bootstrapping of ideas.  Just imagine what the conversations were like when Gödel and Einstein hung out and went for walks together in Princeton!

Meanwhile, Robert Elessar, not sane, stood by himself against his blogs, holding darkness within.

Ha ha, that’s just me having a bit of fun with a slight paraphrase of part of the first paragraph (also part of the last paragraph) of The Haunting of Hill House.  (That’s also what’s happening in the blog title and in one of the footnotes.)

That has to be one of the best openings to a book this side of “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”***  And, of course, ““No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own…” from The War of the Worlds.  Or a more recent favorite: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit,” from a book the title of which escapes me****.  Oh, well…call me Ishmael, if you must.

I don’t think I really have much more to write today, though something else may occur to me.  This has very much been a blog about nothing, but then again, that’s probably a decent metaphor for the very universe itself.  A lot seems to go on, at various levels, but there doesn’t seem to be any central theme or topic or subject, unless you count the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Even if you don’t count that, though, it still applies.  That’s the way of “reality”—it doesn’t depend on your awareness, or on anyone’s awareness.  Indeed, all such awareness is but a tiny little portion of reality itself.  Reality is that which exists whether you believe in it or not.  If you have doubts about that, just consider what happens to people who die sudden, unexpected deaths, as from a surprise bomb attack or similar.  Not knowing that bombs exist or that an attack was coming would not protect against them.

Ask the dinosaurs.  Oh, wait, you can’t.  They’re all gone*******.

See what I mean?  Have a nice day.

asteroid hit

*Is it really typical anymore?  I wonder what percentage of American workers overall actually work Monday through Friday nowadays.

**And even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.  See below (in the main body, not in the footnotes) for the source of that line.

***Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.  Surely the very title of that book, as well as its first sentence, would put it on the chopping block in the minds of the puritanical thought police of modern offense mongering.

****It doesn’t really escape me, of course.  It’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, obviously*****.

*****Seriously, I know it’s not.  I doubt there’s any book I’ve read more often than The Hobbit, if only because there have been quite a few times when I’ve started The Lord of the Rings and ended up stopping not long after the battle of Helm’s Deep, which is one of my favorite parts.  The early Frodo/Sam/Gollum stuff  in the latter part of The Two Towers is sometimes a lot to slog through.

*******Except for birds, of course, which really are descended from therapod dinosaurs and are, in a very real sense, extant dinosaurs.  I’m picking nits with my own words—figuratively, at least, since I do not engage in mutual grooming with any other primates if I can help it—but that’s fine with me.