Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Sunday, November 28, 2021
I've been a bit out of the weather for a week or so. None of the bad things that are going around. Just the kind of gastro-intestinal things that are very annoying but you live through them. I missed two whole nights sleep, and over a five day period I had nothing but three pieces of toast and about six ounces of water. It's made me slightly cranky.
See you soon with some real content, but I'll warn you right now. My temper has been very short; I have been letting people have it left and right. Things might get ugly. But it's fun to blow off a little steam now and then. It's good for you!
Sunday, November 21, 2021
Last week I read about the great number of people who were stricken with depression due to the lock-downs, and isolation, and social distancing that were associated with the COVID pandemic. Oh! Poor babies! Were you so lonely, with recourse only to social media, video calls, and Zoom meetings? They found the isolation depressing, even though the odds are that they were not actually alone for much of that time.
Applying my maximum degree of sympathy to those people, forced into a corner, as it were, I will admit that they may have experienced some degree of depression-like symptoms. Got to drinking more than usual, perhaps? Sleep pattern slightly disturbed, was it? Well, boo-fucking-who.
Speaking as one who is actually depressed, along with several other maladies, with an ACE score of five, I can tell you that I loved the lock-down portion of the pandemic. I hate and fear going outside, or anywhere, or seeing anyone but the very few people whose company I actually enjoy. All I want to do is sit and read, and write, and in the evenings watch some Netflix. And talk to my wife; I enjoy her company. I like being indoors, at home.
There is an important point to be made here. There is a huge qualitative difference between situational depression and major depression (sometimes called clinical depression).
Situational depression is like being sad for six months when your dog dies. Or maybe a year if it was the death of a beloved parent. Friend, dogs die, that's life, and if you had even one beloved parent, quit your complaining. You were way ahead of the game. You've been getting over it since the first moment that you knew that you had it.
Clinical depression is a life sentence. Every morning over coffee; every day at work or with your family; every evening as you try to calm down enough to get some sleep; every day in every decade of your life. It's the filter through which your entire life experience passes. It's HORRIBLE.
So if this COVID thing has you a little down, look for the good. You're going to get over it. Unless it's immediately followed by, or joined by, monkey-pox, or COVID-22, or some new MERS variant, or the Black Plague. All of that lock-down time has left many major cities overrun with rats. New York, and my own city, among them. That never bodes well. It's never going to end. Then the Gulf Stream will change direction or something else climate related. Crops are already failing; droughts and floods are already becoming unmanageable. It's early in the game to get depressed by the new normal of the Twenty-First Century. Give it another few years to get some wind in its sails. You're depressed now? The real fun hasn't even started yet.
Saturday, November 13, 2021
Whats Going On, By Marvin Gaye
As the great man said, “what's going on?” That would be Marvin Gaye. Marvin had a tough life, which ended when his own father murdered him in anger. Marvin Gay, Sr. (original spelling; the “e” was added by Marvin Jr. as a stage name), was a troubled man. Senior was a preacher, and a cross-dresser, which led to rumors that Marvin Jr. was also “gay,” rumors that Marvin Sr. seemed to endorse as far as his son was concerned. Who else would go into show business? Reality can be so ironic. Marvin, not a bit homosexual by all accounts, is tarred with the brush of his father's behavior, and dad ends up shooting him to death.
The world is now soaked to overflow with irony, unintended comedic irony, and post-irony. Who could stand it? I know that I can't.
I read the news, but I try to avoid entire categories of news. If I gave up the news altogether, I wouldn't have discovered this morning that Patricia Highsmith's diaries have been published! She's a big favorite of mine. I'm a middle-brow semi-intellectual, something like that. I'm not the Jane Austin/ Dostoevsky type, but I'm not exactly the Elmore Leonard type either. (For crime fiction, I prefer the classics, like Raymond Chandler, and the more modern, but also dead, George V. Higgins and Charles Willeford.) But I am definitely the Patricia Highsmith type. The Ripley books are among my all time favorites (there are five Ripley novels). I already knew that she was a fascinating woman, and the diaries appear to be a real treat. Wild, honest, complex, and quotable. The diaries are on my short list.
I tend to look for news in the corners of the paper, avoiding the headline items as an act of self-preservation. Too much time reading about the people who are currently supposed to be in power fiddling while the entire playhouse is burning down is just depressing. I've been depressed since before Kindergarten, and I require no assistance in feeding those fires, thank you.
The corners of the papers contain a lot of great stuff, stuff you really shouldn't miss. Oh, look! They've found new skeletal remains of homo denisova in a cave in northern China! The Denisovans are underrated. Wow! New information about the moons of one of our gas giants! You could keep yourself hypnotized forever just reading about quantum mechanics! You don't have to understand it. Just try to imagine the nature of the physical spaces above our heads, and below our feet. Things are all getting much bigger and much smaller as the scientists make progress in their fields. That shit is amazing.
The Bear Traps
If you go walking in the woods, you must, at all costs, avoid stepping in bear traps. There are bear traps in newspapers too. Subjects too horrible to consider; subjects that will make you overly angry, afraid, or confused. Don't go there. Don't even let your eyes see the click-bait.
Like modern evangelical Christianity.
I think that the odds are good that there was a Jewish boat-builder named Yeshua who kept his own counsel for most of his life and had some kind of epiphany at about thirty years of age. That he could live so quietly to that point tells us that he was just an average Joe. Someone, certainly, then spent a few years making himself unpopular with all of the authority figures of the era. At the end, he was executed by the Romans for his efforts. Several nascent religions arose using this Yeshua as their focus, and many documents of second-hand information were created. The branch that took root was, unsurprisingly, led by Greeks who were Roman citizens, like Paul. If Yeshua's own words, quoted in the four main gospels of the New Testament, are taken at their face value, he was firmly in the tradition of Jewish social justice prophets, and a man to be admired. The Pauline religion that followed moved away from social justice, adding divinity and references to older scriptures and mythologies. The Romans Latinized “Yeshua” to “Jesus,” and the Greeks added “Christ.” With the Jewish origins thus erased, the religion began to appeal to Rome, which adopted, or co-opted, the entire enterprise in the early fourth century. The Council of Nicea eliminated all non-conforming texts and created what has been Christian canon ever since. The Romanized religion, centered on “Jesus Christ,” became the only acceptable version of Christianity, and all heretical cults were murdered.
Not only Roman Catholicism, but also all protestant and evangelical Christian sects, are all based on this Romanized version. They differ only in small details like statuary, the age when people should be baptized, or whether the Sabbath comes on Saturday or Sunday. As if such things could matter to God! It's all so silly.
Modern American Christians left Jesus far behind as long ago as the Reagan presidency. Since then they have even given up the less tolerant and more political teachings of Paul of Tarsus. By now, American Christianity is mostly of the mega-church variety, which abandons theology all together, focusing instead on money, nationalism, and hatred.
They are in the process of taking over the entire governance of the United States, lock, stock, and barrel. Retired Lieutenant General (three stars) Michael Flynn spoke to some radical group or other yesterday and said that we need to make America, “one nation under God, one religion under God.” I noticed prayer-group-leader and worthless attempted big shot Mike Pompeo showing up in a video from the last few days, and he seems to have lost well over one hundred pounds. This, my friends, is what they call “preparing to run for president.” I wish that I had the energy to actively oppose such shenanigans, but, coward that I am, I will just shine my little light on it momentarily and then retreat to my dream world. Get ready for Betsy DeVos as Secretary of State, and her brother Eric as Secretary of Defense. These people are coming on hard and fast, and they are so close that they can taste it.
So whatever you do, don't read about that! No, stick to reading articles about those extremely interesting miniature humans, homo floresiensis. Or join me in reading the diaries of Patricia Highsmith, and consider, as I do, how dull our culture would be without the great contributions of homosexuals. Contributions that will be ending when these religious assholes take over.