Though America had been a nation for nearly 80 years, it was incomplete. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution--those were political documents, pragmatic in their designs for democracy. What America lacked was what Emerson called for: an evocation of what being a democratic man or woman *felt* like at its best, day to day, moment to moment. We had a mind, the mind created by Thomas Jefferson and the other Founders, but we did not know our own best spirit.
[...]
"I was simmering, simmering, simmering," Whitman told a friend. "Emerson brought me to a boil." Whitman understood that he was a part of one of the greatest experiments since the beginning of time: the revival of democracy in the modern world. The wise believed that it probably could not be done. The people were too ignorant, too crude, too grasping and greedy to come together and from their many create one. Who were we, after all? A nation of castoffs, a collection of crooks and failures, flawed daughters and second sons of second sons, unquestionable losers and highly dubious winners. Up to now, our betters had kept us in line: The aristocracies of Massachusetts and Virginia had shown us the enlightened path and dragged us along behind them. Whitman knew (and Emerson did too) that this could not last forever. By sheer force of numbers, or force plain and simple, outcasts and ne'er-do-wells were eventually going to take over the nation.
So, lost 4 pounds in fever land. Honestly I think I'm going to miss that time where I was not feeling sick to my stomach or even bad but still wasn't hungry. Wish they could make a pill that did that.
The most insane acidentally bought a brick of heroin story you will read this week.
There's one anecdote I'll always keep with me... (in part because I noted it in my Palm journal) I was commuting on Memorial Drive one Tuesday morning in 1999, not far from that weird rotary at the end of the BU bridge, and was furious, letting myself get all road-ragey over the halted conditions. (In some ways I find it cathartic to let loose during that kind of situation, try to burn out all the irritations and frustrations of the day, but there's some real anger at the scene there as well.)

Anyway, I was ranting and raving over another driver who had pushed in to the lane by tailgating the car in front of him -- *CLEAR violation of the "alternate feeding" guidelines!*, the ones that I had faith were key to letting us all get through this mess.

The driver, who looked a bit like Detective Yemana on Barney Miller, regarded at me in his rear view mirror, took note of my fury, placed his hands on either side of his head, stuck out his tongue and waggled moose antlers. (A favored gesture of my dad, come to think of it)

I was completely disarmed. It was a perfect wordless Zen Koan, a reminder of just how seriously I should take the world and my current place in it.
Me in 2007, recapping an April 6, 1999 incident. (A friend was writing about a cop pulling up alongside her and advising her to take a deep breath after being an "expressive" driver)
Well, in a sense, Hairy One, fire is everywhere. Rather than being an object, say, like your sharp stick, it's really a process, so it can't really be said to exist anywhere. In a sense, fire exists in its own imaginary, virtual space, where we can only talk about what is not fire and what might become fire.
I'd also highly recommend his "Judge John Hodgman" (I just found out about it but it has been around for almost a decade) where he and "bailiff" Jesse Thorn do a kind of People's Court thing - both hosts are so funny, kind, insightful, and well-spoken, it's a real treat.
May 19, 2019
A few weeks ago I had a small epiphany at my therapist.

The back story: my parents are officers in The Salvation Army, which (in parallel with its emergency and charity operations) is a church; a denomination called "Salvationism", a near offshoot of the Methodists that took the idea of waging a war against sin to heart, and modeled itself after a military - churches are called corps, members are called soldiers, pastors are called officers and there are uniforms, with tunics and hats and everything.

As in the military, officers get assigned to live wherever the 'Army feels their skills will be put to the best use, and so "OKs" (Officer's Kids) have to be braced for moving every few years.

So, looking back, here's roughly how I viewed the structure of authority:

I'm perched on top, the most precarious place. I am taught how I should live - and then, told WHERE I will live - by my parents. (Here represented by a home) But my parents are supported by The Salvation Army. It has the authority to tell them where to go and what to do, and they comply. The Salvation Army, then, was anchored on and drawing its authority from God. From God! Can't get much bigger than that!

I'm sure the whole "parents are your minister and representative of God" thing is another topic for therapist fun, but right now I'm thinking more about the top 3 levels; when you combine it with the Good of the many outweighs the good of the few or the one attitude I think I inherited from my mom (where our personal needs should not be ignored, but weighted in the general balance for choosing best course of action), you get an especially acute sense of "the group will ask sacrifices of you, and you must make them."

As an "OK", less than average of your material life is actually owned by your family... the quarters- the assigned house (or apartment over the church in my case) - will be mostly stocked with its own furniture. Utilities and reliable transportation will be arranged for and life will otherwise be frugal, and your parents are potentially on call at all kinds of hours - especially during that Thanksgiving-Christmas "Red Kettles" season. I'm not trying to bellyache, there are plenty of worse environments to grow up in - but still, the sense of authority and chain-of-command was strong, and The Salvation Army was a calling, not just a job - for example I had a precocious and impeccable "business" phone mojo going when answering the shared line, evn as a pipsqueak elementary schooler - my folks would be commended on their extremely polite secretary.

(My family was graced with longer appointments - I was especially lucky by "OK" standards of the time to be in mostly the same place for most of middle and high school. But I was bummed about the move from Western NY to Upstate NY before third grade, and had so much adolescent resentment moving to Cleveland after sixth that I switched to going by my middle name Logan as a form of existential protest. (err, before I knew it was a "Wolverine/X-men" reference))

So, too much backstory, here is the point, and the small epiphany: So I had deeply ingrained sense of the importance of the group. Imprinted on me: Groups are manifestations of greater goods (even when they don't claim to be prayerfully reflecting God's will) and so can expect sacrifices of you. And not only of you, but of loved ones you're with! People who probably won't be directly involved with the group on a regular basis, and who may have only had been partially aware of the strength of your commitments

(and being reliable isn't just import to me in terms of my concern for my reputation in the group, but my integrity as a person - a group being angered with me for not being dependable would be awful mostly as a signpost towards me not being a dependable person. (I think. Causing someone or some group strong bad feelings because of my own "selfish" needs also does poorly on "greater good" scale, so there is a social aspect of it - not just the objective judgement of God of me, the individual potential sinner.))

So, I need to remember that groups - mostly brass bands for me these days (which actually are also kind of a gift from The Salvation Army for me, come to think of it) - aren't just asking sacrifices from me me, but of me and my presence and energy that might otherwise by my partner's. I need to be more cognizant of that.
Bonus content: it took me years to notice there was a pun/metaphor in calling the printed offering envelopes "cartridges" - these are roughly the ones I grew up with

I remember the "If you are absent, remember the Corps expenses go on just the same". The admonition was watered down a bit from this antique one of the 1800s that has further instructions in a militaristic vibe.
Ever wake up from a nap, and kind of disoriented? Your inner monologue is like "Ok... I think... I'm on a planet... called Earth? And it has... gravity? And sometimes frogs?"
Today at the Friendshipworks Walk to End Elder Isolation - a lesson in photographic perspective, and why you usually put the tuba player and the horn behind the arc not where it angles around... it kind of towers over everyone!
On my devblog, retracing some steps of archivists digging into the history of Spacewar! , the first programmed video game. I think I've finally answered a long-stand question I had about collision detection in that game.
The consolation of mortality: we can rest assured that finally - finally - upon death our personal knowledge of the big problems of the world will descend to meet our personal ability to fix the big problems of the world.
Courage is knowing it might hurt and doing it anyway.
Stupidity is the same.
And that's why life is hard.
Jeremy Goldberg.
Compare with:
There is a fine line between genius and insanity; I play hopscotch.
-Plato and an anon. friend of Moose aka John Minges

"The unborn" are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don't resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don't ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don't need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don't bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn...You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe.

Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.
Christian minister Dave Barnhart

And I'm as old as you! [...] Tuba - it's like the fountain of youth, but you blow into it, because that's how brass instruments work.
Me to an old friend just now. I mean, not-old, that's my point.
May 17, 2019
As I approached the elevator I heard voices. I stepped back, but as the door opened it was empty. When i got in I discovered that this was because a spambot had called the emergency elevator phone and was earnestly trying to sell it something.

"WhaaaAAAT the fuck," I said.

"I'M SORRY! I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THAT LAST PART!" yapped the bot.

"Ugh."

"ARE YOU INTERESTED IN LOWERING YOUR RATES? AND DOING THE BEST THING FOR YO-"

"Oh my god cancel cancel cancel cancel jesus christ cancel you robotic shitbezel"

"OKAY, THANKS! HAVE A GOOD REST OF YOUR DAY!"

I have seen the future. It's AIs trying to sell each other various horseshit across the blasted, fungus-ridden shitscape left behind by humanity.
Cordelia

Fever dreams provided me this "Shower thought":
You're indirectly touching every item you've known that's not currently airborne--
a chain that passes from you through your clothes to the furniture to the floor to the yard to... everything. The shoulder of your first love. Your elementary school. The grave of your great great grandparents. Whatever existed in whatever form it still exists.
May 16, 2019
[[1558010162]] Today I was reminded of George Beker's robot cartoons (as seen in Creative Computing's 1978 book 101 BASIC Computer Games.)



You can go to BekerBots.com and for $10 download "The Bot Folio", which is just the comics plus some director's commentary, and a few bonus drawings...



Cool stuff!


You can't make an omelette without hurling eggs at full force into a metal pail placed 8 feet awa-- wait, how do you make omelettes again?