Archive for August, 2009

Good and Evil

2009/08/31

Given the choice between an evil deed which benefits us and a good deed which injures us, the rational man will always choose the evil deed.

That is the rock upon which all ethical systems crash and burn.

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Another Dead Kennedy Media Side Show

2009/08/28

Yawn.

I suppose I should say something about the death of Edward Kennedy, after all, everyone else is.

I was no fan of his. In fact I have often said that it was a tragedy that he did not go down with the car. I would go so far as to say that the only decent thing he ever did as a Senator, aside from appearing on the floor of the Senate in his underwear holding a whiskey bottle (hey, I saw it on Howard Stern!), was keeping Mad Dog Bork off the Supreme Court. So this is not going to be about him. It is going to be about the media coverage around his death.

Let us be honest, who, outside of the Media, and his overly large family, really cares that he is dead? Ok, his staffers and the family retainers and the thousand people they hired to look at his body and then get back in line and do it again ten times? The answer is, very few. But our friends in the Media keep insisting for some reason that we should.

No, we don’t. In fact in a couple months no one will even notice that he is gone.

But the Media won’t get it and they will continue to cover the occasional helicopter crash over New York as though it is something that actually matters, when nothing that happens on either coast does, except, of course, for the comic relief it may provide for the rest of us.

But as always, the stories will raise the same question, “Oh God! Who cares?”

2009/08/27

It took a long time to die, but Authority has bit the dust.  It’s gone, buried, dead dead dead.   The time has passed when anyone could command behavior or change attitudes merely because they said so.  Now such efforts have to be backed by force and force is a poor substitute.  It is all too easily defeated.

Oh, it took so long to die.  It got sick in the 1500s when the Reformation triumphed with the guns of the English navy and the hopes of the Pope and the King of Spain died in the North Sea along with the crews of the Armada.   Learned Doctors were called in but no amount of Scholastic logical bombast nor stamping of inquisitorial feetsies could heal it.  As Jacob Bronowski put it so eloquently, “In the year that Galileo died, Sir Isaac Newton was born.  And by the time he was through, it no longer mattered what the Pope thought about anything.”

But it was only sick.  But it got sicker and sicker and finally, those of us now in middle age remember the triumphant cry, “God is dead!” as it emerged from the lips of theologians in the mid 1960s.  But even then no one cared any more what theologians thought.   Academics tried to replace them, but they lacked the will to pursue the matter and were quickly reduced to court jesters, serving whatever funding mill they could latch onto.

The State tried to take over the role, but the State proved to be even more impotent than the Church had been, its laws broken, its rules ignored its vulnerabilities laid bare.  And even now, in mysterious laboratories around the world, devices are being built to strip it of its last vestiges of power.

Authority is dead, buried in the ground, and those who try to lay claim to it can only hope to hold onto a rotting, useless corpse.  Oh, there is still the Pope, a pitiful creature speaking words that no one who matters listens to, denominational conventions issuing proclamations and statements that are fodder for ridicule, politicians making speeches that no one believes and so-called experts making pronouncements on just about everything, all of which are ignored.

But it does not matter.  No one cares.
Welcome to the world where the only rule is there are no rules.
Welcome to a world where there is no truth, no right and no wrong.
Welcome to the world where the only desire that is wrong is the desire that is not fulfilled.
Welcome to the New Millennium.
Welcome to the Age of Chaos

Transatlantic Tunnel

2009/08/26

You really need to look at this film.  It is considered a classic of 1930s sci-fi and it is rarely seen.

http://www.archive.org/details/TheTransatlanticTunnel1935

After you see it you will discover why it is so rarely seen.

60!!

2009/08/25

I’m old today!  Hooray hooray!

Hey, it’s better than the alternative.

So what have I learned in my 60 years?  To not worry about what I’ve learned.  Really, people spend so much time worrying about that sort of thing that they forget to enjoy living.  So a few words of wisdom from one of greying hair:

Never miss an opportunity to laugh, especially at the foibles of others.

Never miss an opportunity to laugh at yourself.

Never worry about being consistent.  Consistency is for sauces.

Rules are for breaking along with the heads of those who make them.

There is no argument that cannot be settled by hitting the other person in the face with a pie.

And never, ever forget that Eurasia has always been at war with Oceania.

Countdown

2009/08/24

Tomorrow I will be old, not middle-aged, old.  It is a strange feeling, to know that there is more of life behind me than there is likely to be ahead of me.  On the other hand, it makes being crotchety and cranky a lot easier.

So I am going to have to practice being grumpy, learn the proper way to shake a cane at people and say, “damned young’ns!”  Being old is an art form and knowing the right way to do it takes a lot of practice.

The Culture War is over the Social Conservatives have lost

2009/08/20

I don’t think the Social Conservatives really had much of a chance in the first place and that their war was lost after World War I. If one reads popular fiction from around 1870-1880 it is like looking into the lives of Martians. And when that world collapsed at the end of the First World War, it was as if a house of cards fell down.

Now, it took a long time for it to completely fall. It did not collapse in one massive kaboom, like the people living in the time thought it did, but rather it fell in sections, one after the other and by the 1970s there was really nothing left but the frame and that went. The 1960s were really nothing but a strong wind blowing away the debris. The present day Social Conservatives largely came out of that but if you look for any successes on their part, well, I can’t find any. And gay marriage, the last fight left it seems, is going against them as well because it only takes a few more states to ratify it and the federal courts will have to make it legal nationwide if only for the purposes of commerce.

If you look at the others, No fault divorce is not going away. There aren’t enough votes to elect a dog catcher on that. Non-marital sex and contraception are surrounded by a fortress and it is really almost pitiful to read those who think that they can be stopped; as well to demand that the Sun stand still in the heavens. Abortion is probably safe for another generation and the arguments against stem cell research have gone the way of the Flat Earth and the encyclicals of Leo XIII. There really is no serious battle that the Social Conservatives have engaged that one can see where they have not only won, but even made any headway at all. The defeats have not only been ingnominious, they have have been crushing.

In 1992 Irving Kristol wrote that the Culture War was over and the other side had won. He was right. It had won the war a long time before and all that has been left are the mopping up operations.

Car trouble

2009/08/20

Well, it is that time again, time to get a new clunker.  I have acquired a taste for older cars for some reason but the problem is that they break down and it is simply not worth the money to fix them.

Survival Day!

2009/08/18

Seven years ago my body decided that I had lived too long, so my gall bladder threw a stone, my pancreas tried to digest the stone, failed to digest the stone and proceeded to digest itself.  I found myself in the hospital, dying.

And the battle began.  My primary doctor marshalled every specialist in the place to my aid and I celebrated my 53rd birthday by getting out of intensive care, so weak that I could not even stand.  But it was not enough.  I languished for another two weeks and my doctors, realizing that they could do nothing for me, asked me if I was willing to be transferred to Froedert Hospital in Milwaukee to be put under the care of Dr. Stuart Wilson, one of the best pancreowhatsit specialists in the country, if not in the world.

I agreed, so they bundled me onto an ambulance and shipped me off.

And the fight was on again!  This time mostly between me and Dr. Wilson because I was a terrible patient.  We disagreed about almost everything and in the process of trying to recover, and the remains of my pancreas refusing to do anything that pancreas remains normally do in these cases, I managed to get pneumonia and MRSA, causing me to have every antibiotic known to be pumped into my body leaving me allergic to some and immune to most others, and get used to being profoundly diabetic.  And also becoming living proof that you can live without a pancreas.

I was supposed to die.  But I did not die.

I basically sat in my room, resenting the nurses, despising the pestilential care assistants (for the most part, some were ok) and being grumpy as hell.

And all the while planning what I was going to do when I got well.  Because in spite of my condition I never, honestly never, had one moment of regret for anything I had ever done in my life, no hand-wringing repentance for this supervillain.  I just sat and daydreamed about being home, going to parties and generally tearing up the countryside like I had before.

And I walked away from it.  On Dec. 27, 2002, I walked out of the hospital and got into the van to be driven home by my wife, who, in all the time I was in the hospital never once missed a day visiting me.

So on this day we celebrate survival, survival in the face of all odds, when even nature itself is ranged against us.

The Joy of Apathy

2009/08/17

Someone once asked me what the three most powerful words are in the English language.  I’m sure that the question was rhetorical in that I cannot imagine anyone even asking such a thing without having an idea of the answer that they were expecting but I do know this.  The person was most definitely not expecting the answer I gave.

“I don’t care.”

As the person looked at me absolutely shocked, I said, “No, I really don’t care.  I could not care less what the three, or four, or five most powerful words in the English language are.”

Well, that was one time I really do wish I had a picture of the person’s face.  But the fact is that not caring is something people should practice on a regular basis as it is a very liberating thing to do.  Caring implies an obligation, it is the key that people will use to get you to do things you do not want to do and part with money you would rather spend on more interesting things.  By not caring, and saying that you do not care, you free yourself from that obligation.  You can go your merry way and not be bothered.

And not being bothered is a good thing, as well as watching the other folks as they sputter which is always fun.  That is the great blessing of apathy.  It frees your mind as well as your soul.   It strips others of their power over your soul.

Apathy is the weapon against which there is no defense.  It is the wall that is unbreachable.  Apathy is the firewall of the soul.

Remember, the more you know, the less you care.