Friday, October 30, 2020

Places to Vent

It is hard not to be angry.  I really try for weary resignation, as that seems the most appropriate, but I keep getting angry.

I am trying to understand the world and that does nothing but set me up for failure.  Because when you spend time trying to understand the world, it seems to be putting all of its efforts in the task of being beyond my comprehension.  This is unfortunate to say the least, ashere I sit on the down-slope to being a septuagenarian, with all the attendant physical and mental challenges therein, and the world just seems intent on fucking with me.

This one here is going to be be one for the record books.  Democratic party has been built around the simple idea that screwing the bottom eighty-percent of the country is "good for the economy".  What they don't add to their core value statement is the necessary statement "of the 20% of the population that matter".  You might hate Trump, but these folks came out of the abortion that was the Clinton Administration.  Biden was the Clinton's water carrier in the 90's.  Folks, look at the core pieces of legislation that got us exactly where we are now.  I ain't gonna spend time enumerating, but his record is there and he is one of those whose decisions in the past landed us exactly where we are now.

Not only do we have a President who is, shall we be charitable, of questionable competence, his platform and his base simple idea that the Now, I can't for a minute say that fuckwad's policies are good for more than the top 40%, but in relative terms, I think that he is a smidge better to the "non-elite".  He hasn't started any wars and the body count being racked up by his erstwhile "administration" is the lowest in decades.  It is kinda like Falstaff became president.  Bluster and reality are a strange mix and he sure doesn't inspire any kind of confidence.  I don't think that he has broken anything that wasn't broken anyway, the poor dumbass just wants to be in charge and will preside over the fall.  Not an enviable position, but from where it looks from here, the situation isn't salvageable anyway.

Shit.  I am not part of this.  I'm taking some days off and not going to bother thinking about this.  Maybe I'll see you Wednesday

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Laundry and lazy

Not going to write today.  Started something...gave up.

Gonna do laundry and clean the place instead.  Maybe do some reading.

Putting a cider in the fridge for later.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Re: Candide's Garden #16

Maybe I woke up cranky this AM.  It is within the realm of possibilities.

Been reading the string of late and I tend to think that it is going to a strange place.  The place where opinions are formed regarding how other people should act.  I really can't think of a more frequently visited moral locale or a more dangerous one. 

Folks like us, out here on the fringes, tend to intellectualize the the actions of a society.  If it goes the way we agree with, that is a "good" society.  If it goes the way we don't like, it is a "bad" society.  We sit in our bubble of our own making and try to pretend that folks should follow the "norms" that we hold in our brains as to the proper social rituals and mores appropriate to the enlightened.  But those little trends aren't really that important.  They might be important to us and make us feel that we live within a proto-paradise of good and virtue.  But the world is a nasty place, full of plebians who don't agree with our cultured enlightenment.

In a sense, intellectuals such as ourselves don't live in the dirty world of the left side of the IQ bell curve or dead-end jobs.  In the US, these seem to occupy more than their fair share of the population.  I am fairly certain that our counterparts outside of London or Wellington hold differing values.  What city slickers like us think as "courtesy" and "correct behavior" a great deal of time simply boils down to proper deference to our ideological majesty.  But I can't for the life of me remember who appointed the elites, or the Christians, or the scientists, or even us as the arbiters of correct behavior.

Behaviors and beliefs are internal to the individual.  Judgement upon the correctness of those beliefs is a function of the overall society.  You might be among those who feel that no one should be able to judge you, but that little idea is so obviously false as to be laughable.  You are judged every moment of the day. 

Tradition says that Moses did not set the Tabernacle up straight away, but delayed for three months, despite the fact that the people wanted to dedicate it at once. In this is repeated a lesson of patience concerning matters of the spirit. For instead of accepting their Teacher's word, which conveyed the will of God, the Israelites sought to impose their own will over what they had made ... This phenomenon is not unknown among those who cannot wait, which is a vital part of esoteric training. Unfortunately, it has to be demonstrated over and over again that the timing of a spiritual event is contingent upon a cosmic schedule, and not the will of the individual.
Z.B.S. Halevi -- Kabbalah and Exodus

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Got up, Got outta Bed

A week away.

I am as happy to see an election over as I have on any on the twelve that I have participated in to date.  Hell, Nixon and Dukakis are starting to look pretty damn good right about now. 

No win in sight anywhere.  We lose.  I can't even say that we are looking at the lesser of two evils (my normal voting approach).  Even the third party candidates are asshats.

Now, if you even consider for a moment commenting and informing me that I am wrong and that there is either a.) a lesser evil or b.)a better choice, I will publish your comment without additional comment, after all you have a right to an opinion.  But Sweet Jesus, I want access to whatever it is you have been smoking.

This weekend is going to be a get out of town weekend.  I was planning on being somewhere else for the night of the election, but that didn't quite pan out and I can maintain information hygiene at my apartment as long as I don't turn on the computer. 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Re: Candide's Garden #16

(Confucius) tried his best, but the issue he left to Ming. Ming is often translated as Fate, Destiny or Decree. To Confucius, it meant the Decree of Heaven or Will of Heaven ... Thus to know Ming means to acknowledge the inevitability of the world as it exists, and so to disregard one's external success or failure. If we can act in this way, we can, in a sense, never fail. For if we do our duty that duty through our very act is morally done, regardless of the external success or failure of our action.
Fung Yu-Lan -- A Short History of Chinese Philosophy

I suppose that I can think of worse things than quoting TED Talk Andrew Yang.  But one has to be super careful here.  Andrew is a near-classic example of the subtle corruption of the soul that comprises Western thought at the current moment.  Andrew is a fucking billionaire.  Worse yet, he became a billionaire working in the dot-com boom, healthcare, and educational whoring.  In other words, corruption.

One of the hardest things to realize is that in our striving for the status of "high-intelligence" and the status signalling accoutrements of success, the actual achievement of these external signs really has no connection with anything useful.  Mike and I have been banging about the idea of consciousness and perception in an long-standing email string and while not having achieved a consensus, have at least kept the neurons firing in our brains.  Maybe that is the whole point rather that placing an arbitrary score on that seemingly random firing of neurons, calling it intelligence, and then pasting the results onto Monsieur Decartes' new system of annotation.

At the risk of sounding like a goddamn hippie, we as a culture have completely missed the boat in what constitutes status.  As a culture, we have degenerated into warring camps of status and virtue signalling.  People like Yang make their billions selling snake oil to the believers of these false myths.  Joe six-pack and the guy that takes his lunch to work every day are where it is at.  I can't imagine that most of them aren't content.

What I was trying to say is that mediocrity (in the true sense of the word, not the pejorative common usage) is a elitist sneering.   What in the world is wrong with being ordinary?  Posturing about your intelligence/money/virtue is a sure trap.  A way to convince yourself that what you have/do/believe gives you a privilege denied others of lesser values on the curve.

One of the things about intelligence is that it is a transient thing.  Anybody my age who claims that they are "just as sharp" as they were in their twenties or a current denizen of their twenties is either 1.) delusional or 2.) wasn't all that sharp in their twenties.

I suppose I probably reside smack-dab in the middle of the mediocre.  Looks to me to be a pretty nice place.  I hope to be here for a while.

Per Wiktionary


mediocre (comparative more mediocre, superlative most mediocre)

  1. Having no peculiar or outstanding features; not extraordinary, special, exceptional, or great; of medium quality, almost always with a negative connotation[1]. quotations ▼
    I'm pretty good at tennis but only mediocre at racquetball.
    Synonyms: common, commonplace, ordinary

On 10/24/20 8:03 AM, Keith Huddleston wrote:
Portland John recently wrote about mediocrity: 

The center of the normal curve is anathema to most folks . . .It is like a slap in the face to be told one is mediocre.  But that is where most of us lie.  We are all told now that we are special.  Few of H. Sapiens are.

I am getting the impression more and more that the big change coming at us is the unpleasant realization by most that their skills aren't that valuable and their opinions not that valid.

Andrew Yang talks about the war on normal people.  And in that war, well, my money isn't on us.  

I don't want to speak for the rest of you guys, but I feel that it's been a less than ideal fate to be a "high normal." In my adult life, intelligence has been almost no help at all.  I've been in the bitter spot -- as opposed to a sweet spot -- where I don't fit in, but I'm not able to cash anything I know out.  Speaking both from life experience and statistics, I'd have been much better off being 7 inches taller.  

And while, yes, I keep a lot more of what I earn than people in my income bracket, it's hard for me to untangle how much of that is values and how much is me using understanding -- but I lean heavily towards it being values.  1) I've run into a lot of intelligent people who are terrible with money 2) nothing about "doing without" is rocket science. 

Hmm. . . . I essay-ing myself into not being sure, though.  On the one hand, in this culture learning how to spend less first requires an openness to new experience, which correlates heavily with intelligence.  Also, keeping the eye on the prize, so to speak, means toggling between abstractions and concrete operations in a way that I have noticed most people wear out much more quickly on -- and really a lot of people cannot in point of fact do hardly at all. 

So, in an evil culture like ours -- one that uses mass produced symbols as dark magic to trick people who cannot wade through the ways abstractions map to realities -- THEN some level of intelligence is a necessary condition. . . but not a sufficient one to frugality.  I happen to have the necessary intelligence and have paired it with values, and those values give me the stubbornness to hold on (to holding out).  

I am at a local optimum, and to break out would require far more effort and risk than it is worth.  The risk is the more important part. Someone with a mental engine like mine would have to move to a prestige city and treat his life and career as a lottery ticket.  Instead, the new world order is being built by people much, much smarter than me, and even if I was able to contribute it would only be to train my replacement -- and, again, whether or not I get to cash out part would be a matter of pure luck.  

And so I do as well as I can at my local optimum. By being at the head of a class I have somewhere that I fit in five days a week in a normal week, and then frequent breaks.  As an added bonus I am paid far more than I spend. I have my hobbies for deep engrossment and fulfillment-- this very writing, and what I call my "junk punk" work in the garage. All in all, I'd have to have a net worth of say two million to even consider changing my lifestyle.  I am very comfortably mediocre.  But, alas, I know that the centre probably cannot hold.  Things fall apart, anarchy loosened, etc, etc.  

But I don't see a reason to not enjoy this phase of life while it lasts.

Friday, October 23, 2020


Managed to get through the week.  One of those probably too frequent times where everyone around me at the workplace is so involved with their personal self-pity that they seem to have somehow forgotten that the whole purpose was to help the patients.  I think that they will come out of it and get back on track and stop bitching, but it is going to take a while.

Looking forward to pottering about the house.  Place is the non-target of some impressive benign neglect this week. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020


Getting up at at 'em seems easier when I take transit to work.  When I slug too much and don't get my steps in, I get stiff and cranky and feel old.  Waling every day, even the 7,000 steps that I set myself as a minimum, makes me feel better.  I refuse to become an exercise nazi where things revolve around exercise and the rituals thereof, but I do have to get out and walk every day a decent amount.

I have been pretty good at not paying attention to the election.  I feel that my mind is better for this lack.  

I am still curious about the Amy Coney Barrett nomination.  I am certain that she is a nice lady.  I am certain that she is as smart as a whip. She is probably going to be a reasonably good Supreme Court Justice.  OK.

But she does appear to be an advocate for corporate and she is an Originalist.  I have a problem with the corporate thing and a giggle at the Originalist thing.

As for the corporate thing, only time will tell.  Supreme Court Judges tend to do what they damn well please when they finally get full tenure and it appears that a lot of them try to go a little out of the way to prove that they aren't in the pocket of the President/Party that got them there.  Only time will tell.

The originalist thing has always been fascinating to me.  I am not a fan of the folks who constantly rail about a "living document" when referring to law.  To me that translates roughly as expedience coupled with "the law is what I say it is" mentality.  Not a fan, thank you.

Originalist seem to take a Ouija board approach to the problem.  I can see them in a dark room, lighting candles, and approaching the mental temple of the ancestors to define what was meant by the law when it was written.

I would not want to be a Supreme Court Justice.  Looks to me as though they have to split Solomon's baby way too often for my taste.  Mediating between perceived privilege and perceived oppression would be a thankless job.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

View from a Bar

I am reconsidering masks.    I am not certain of their efficacy in stopping a epidemiological outbreak.  But truth be told, they can't hurt so I play along.  No harm. No Foul.  Now I can live with the arguments presented by the anti-mask crowd.  I even tend to agree for the most part.  But one must fully examine the pros and cons of any benefit in a valid cost/benefit analysis.

But at work yesterday, I started realizing that they have some social advantages that most folks might want to at least consider. 
  1. The Harrison Bergeron Effect:  Now anyone who has ever worked in a large organization have seen the pretty boy/girls use their looks and their flirting to get access to goods and services within the organization that is not actually due them.  Pretty boys/girls are ruthless that way.  Masks cut back on that ability.  By pulling physical attraction and desire to please the pretty people out of the loop, even in a limited degree, allows a more fair workplace.
  2. Decrease in subordinate faux-pas:  With the advent of (and potentially overreaction to) the Rona, organizations have become quite desperate in their always-present proclivities to "throw shit at the wall and see what sticks".  This has caused quite a few awkward situations where smirks and stifled laughter (not to mention stunned disbelief) are easily discernible on the aforementioned subordinate's face.  This usually doesn't end well for the subordinate.  Masks allow a limited amelioration of this effect.  Perhaps enough for the subordinate to exit the room gracefully before breaking into giggling and/or tears.
  3. Hiding boredom/Slacking:  Now, Rona has actually increased for many people the amount of time not being productive.  Especially in Government positions like that of your humble correspondent.  I would argue that people in my pay grade and environs are actually doing <50% of their old workload (I sometimes wish that I was in that demographic, Sigh).  Masks do disguise the inevitable facial cues accompanying boredom.
  4. Anti Close-talker: OK admit it, every group has one.  Truth the told, they usually end up being folks that you like, and you don't want to hurt their feelings, but close talkers are out there in every large organization.  Social distancing is somewhat alien to them.  They were good for a while, but I have noticed that they are now reverting to form.  Masks do minimize the side effect of flecks of spittle and halitosis.
  5. Negotiation Aid:   Work in a large organization has always been an ongoing negotiation.  I have a fairly accomplished poker face and can usually hold my own when added work is being dumped on me while the whiners get less because they whine.  Now, when the boss dumps work, she doesn't have to put up with the whipped puppy looks that she seems to fall for every time.

I am certain that there are other effects that I haven't cataloged here.  But that is a start.  Maybe I am rationalizing because I can't see a sudden turn-about until spring, but I am not looking at masks as a total nuisance anymore

Tuesday, October 20, 2020


Survived the first day of the new regime.  Fun and games abound.  Surly nurses, clueless administrators, confused managers, the full meal deal of government ineptitude on display.  Almost worth paying to watch.  Getting paid to watch and put out a little bit of work just seems like kind of a sweet deal.  But the truth of the matter is that it is like getting paid to go to a bad dinner theater. 

I will use the analogy of a now (thankfully) defunct dinner theater here in Portlandia.  Sylvia's Dinner Time Theater was where I went to please my ex-father in law.  He truly loved the place.  So I went there because he sprung for the check every time and I still was paying the "sleeping with your daughter" tax.  I can't say that Sylvia's was ever bad.  Nope.  It was never bad.  But it never quite rose to good.  Food was marginal, talent was barely adequate, acoustics were sort of OK.  Actually the concept of dinner theater is mediocre in itself.  One of my most treasured and awkward and painful memories was watching "A Salute to Sondheim" while consuming what appeared to be Costco Lasagne with bagged salad and overcooked broccoli.  Dessert was Cheesecake.  I am fairly certain the wine came out of a box.  The singers were perfectly balanced with the meal.

One of the hardest things to admit here in this mortal coil is that most things are mediocre.  The center of the normal curve is anathema to most folks.  In the old days of grading on the curve, being at the mean meant passing.  Now that the grading structure has been changed and the curve taken out of the equation so the students have a better chance of a positive self image, they now have a chance of not really being good at something they have purportedly learned and worse yet, not realizing it.

It is like a slap in the face to be told one is mediocre.  But that is where most of us lie.  We are all told now that we are special.  Few of H. Sapiens are. 

I am getting the impression more and more that the big change coming at us is the unpleasant realization by most that their skills aren't that valuable and their opinions not that valid.

I wish to take the time to thank those who do stop by.  It ain't Steinbeck, but it is who I am.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Blood Oath

Contemporary Realism / Jamie Wyeth/ The Mainland

One of the travails of an old man is waking up too damn soon every morning.  A day of sleeping-in is a quarterly celebration at best.  More and more, my "go to sleep" sleep habits are attuned to the setting of the sun. 

The rising habits remain kind of constant.  Waking up at before five every morning and not getting back to sleep isn't that big of a burden and it is the quietest time of the day to just be.

Almost watched a full football game for the first time this year yesterday.  Can't really say that I was impressed.  Watching the Packers implode and fall apart was kind of interesting.  There really wasn't that big a difference in the quality of the players, but  watching the Buc's suddenly smell blood in the water and then proceed to dismember the Pack was kind of af fascinating.  I didn't stay around to witness the kill.  When I left to drive home late in the fourth quarter, the die was cast and the only thing pending was the final gun.

One of the things that it interesting about American football is that it is the closest thing that this pampered culture allows to a hunting pack or a war band.  It allows us a glimpse of a long-gone past and the future simultaneously.  That is why it is soooooo unpopular with the "elite" boogies and the wimmen.  It does tend to display a more primal nature and lets one glimpse the bonding needed to do difficult and dangerous tasks.  That is why yesterday's game was so pleasant.  Watching a team come together for the kill and watching a team fall apart with a little adversity was an object lesson as to why participation trophies are so meaningless.

I am kind of wondering if this sudden turnaround and the nature of the sport isn't why the sport itself is strugging a little this year? It is one thing to when one is fat, dumb and happy and all the bills are paid and nature is safely behind triple-pane windows and the paychecks are regular to indulge in a bit of fantasy through the miracle of marketing and play acting.  It is quite another when reality intrudes in the form of a virus, a serious economic downturn, and a dysfunctional and corrupt political system.  Watching play-acting simulacra of a violent and unpredictable past just doesn't appear to be what the masses want to see.

Sunday, October 18, 2020


Surrealism / Joan Ponc/ Suite Reacció

Sunday Morning: 

Just polished off a bacon-maple bar from Voodoo Donuts and slugged down my once-per-year pumpkin spice latte.  I feel that life suits me just fine right now. 

Got my ballot yesterday.  I feel pretty positive about having finished it.  I believe that my choices are the least-corrupt and least damaging candidates.  They still suck huge bags, but my votes went to the folks who would do the least damage.  An afternoon well spent.  Today I will wander down to city hall, dump it in the ballot box and reward my virtuous behavior with a beer at the Milwaukie Beer Store.

Baking cookies today:  Seems to be that time of year. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020


Just going to hang out a little this weekend.  Not going to do anything particularly useful. 

Trying to shake off the Autumn blahs, as usual, it is difficult. I think that I will spend more time pottering about the house than loafing and reading.  I have been a slug of late once I get home from the drama-house that I call work. 

I figure that I am going to be here in the studio for a minimum of two more years.  So I am pondering how to make some cosmetic and functional changes to my "home" environment that will allow me a better enjoyment of the place.  I really do think that the space that I currently inhabit (±525 sq/ft or 50 sg/M) is absolutely right-sized for a single like your humble correspondent.  I am thinking that some furniture needs will be addressed (probably not resolved as this requires $$).   Got to call the landlady and figure out carpet cleaning details.

As anticipated, the election is turning ugly, with both sides pointing out that the other side is corrupt and venal as hell.  Both sides are accurate in their assessment.  As I stated yesterday, I can't say as I care or that my vote matters.  Living here in true-blue Oregon takes a lot of strain out of the process.  I am thinking about just skipping my vote for President altogether.  That way I can have a shred of moral dignity and abstain from the lose-lose decision facing the country.

Other than that, nothing in particular to report.  Just another day in the decline.

Friday, October 16, 2020


My political mantra (at least since 2016) has always been: "I am not worried about Trump, I am worried about what comes next".  I have witnesses.

I still stand by that.

Fuckwad really has never been the disease, fuckwad has always been the symptom.  The rot in our society is deep, fuckwad just lets it shine forth for the world to see.

2nd Witch:
By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes. [Knocking]
Open locks,
Whoever knocks!
[Enter Macbeth]

How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags!
What is't you do?

Macbeth Act 4, scene 1, 44–49

It really doesn't matter which card-carrying member of the gerontology wins in three weeks, the die is cast.  Rubicon isn't just a model of Jeep.