Wednesday, November 30, 2016

On Bunnies Eating

There is nothing quite as pleasant to my ears as hearing the bunnies eat.

Bunnies are quiet eaters; all you hear is the quiet crunching of the hay or the clinking as they push their food dishes are around a bit trying to get another bite.  They are quite dainty eaters as well:  unlike dogs, they eat their food in a dignified way, not casting it all about them in the course of trying to get it their mouths all at once.

Part of this comes from being prey, I suppose:  with their eyes on the side, they can quietly eat - a helpful trait if you are prey in the wild - while keeping both eyes on whatever danger may be close by.  But protected from danger - by living inside - it becomes a delightful and peaceful trait.

It is truly one of the most restful sounds in the world.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Change of Goals?

An epiphany of sorts this weekend.

This week has been a little rougher than I anticipated for a short work week.  I am taking the completion of the my last book - and authorship in general - harder than I expected.  I am restless.  I am bored.

I look to my "goals" for next year and frankly, they do not excite me at all.  I realized that even if I accomplish every one of them,  my life will be in the same place this year as I was last year.  This was not really what I was hoping for.

Why?   The do not guarantee success, or even making progress.  They have become boxes to be checked upon completion.

Which, I realized, is why I liked things like Role Playing Games and school.  The goal is clear:  do this, do that, get reward.  Output equals input.  Life, however, seems to lack that kind of clarity and linearity.

My goals have fallen into two categories:  ones that I accomplish and lead to nothing other than accomplishing them and one that I do not accomplish because I do not control the circumstances to make them happen.

I cannot make myself a best selling author or church elder or vintner (yes, these were all thoughts once upon a time) or even financially stable.  I can run obstacle races or compete in Highland Games or make cheese - but those are one time events that do not seem to translate into my life getting better.

So how do I find goals that are mostly in my control and not just one time events?  This has become the question of the hour - or at least the question of December.

I need to find something or things that will move me forward (to something - but what?) and have milestones that I can see and shoot for, places where the inputs mean output.  The other option:  working where "promotions" happen randomly or finances matter except when they do not or writing into a void that swallows the words on the wind  things where all the effort in the world can very well lead to nowhere.

How and where do I find worthy and achievable goals, the sorts of goals that will actually move me forward?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Role Playing Nostalgia

Periodically I go through nostalgia periods.

I cannot really predict when they come on, nor can I really say what triggers them.  I think it is environmental factors:  maybe a long set of dull days or a series of tasks which are merely hum drum or even just seeing something that takes me back.

For me, most of my nostalgia revolves around role playing games.

The old style for me, right?  1979-1984, the high days of AD&D (first edition, thank you very much, when TSR still actually existed) and Gamma World and Traveller. Simple games, run with dice and pens and paper and miniatures and a whole lot of imagination.

There was kind of a group I played with from time to time but really it was usually just myself and my best friend.  Outside of running around in the woods, it was our next favorite activity.  We would play, and paint, and dream, and play more.  Our games were probably kind of silly to those that were "serious" players - we often bent the rules - but we had fun.  They were relatively innocent games - these editions, especially D&D, were largely before (I think) a great deal more focus on the bad side of things came into play.

Now, when I find myself bored or frustrated, I will start to think on those times, which leads to wandering through E-Bay and looking at everything on sale.  I start to remember, and then I start to build lists, thinking "Wow - would it be great to start collecting X or Y again".  It will take root for a few days, then I will pull myself back down to reality:  I need less, not more.  I do not have the time to invest.  And even if I did get them, I would most likely not play them but just read and enjoy like a novel.

And the nostalgia will get firmly tamped down, leaving the seemingly less exciting but much more real world on my doorstep, waiting with its duties and responsibilities and needs.

Notwithstanding, I still feel the call of adventure.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

Because we all need to remember;

George Washington's 1789

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What Would I Like To Do Next?

So I am trying to think (slightly) ahead into the future.  About what I would like to do next.

If I stay in my career field (depending on which version of the 3, 4, or 8 year plan you are looking at) the changes I will have to relocate are pretty high.  Add to this that such a run of dates would put me at approximately 22, 24, or 28 years in the industry.  That is a long time to be doing one thing (for fun, throw in maximum age of Social Security and we are pushing 40 years).

Honestly, the thought does not excite me.  And this also presumes that I will actually be able to continue to find a job in my field, which is not a given due to age/salary issues  (experience counts for much less than it used to).  There is a fair argument to make that what I do cannot be "roboticized", but I am also wise enough to know that the future is uncertain and someone, somewhere, is probably working on this very algorithm.

So what do I want to do next?  I need to have some kind of options instead of having the choice made for me.  And fortunately at the moment, I appear to  have some level of stability and (with the tying up of some old projects) the time and energy to start investing in that decision process.

I do not have a good answer right out of the gate and I do not know that I need to, right at this moment.  What I do need to do is start addressing the fact that this future is actually coming up - and I can either be bored, be downsized, be moved - or be in control.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Visit To Cabela's

This Saturday, as part of the "I Had to Go South Anyway Through Traffic" day, I decided to stop at my local Cabela's.

I enjoy going to Cabela's  It is fun to walk around and look at the various items that they have for sale and price things out and even occasionally dream.

However, things were a bit noticeably different this time out in the camping section.  The section seemed much less full of items and of those items, most of them which were previously manufactured by various companies are now largely the Cabela's house brand.  Almost entirely:  sleeping bags, cooking items (smokers, meat preparers and the like), tents, etc.  Bright yellow tops and sides of boxes with "Cabela's" prominently labeled.

I am not really sure what to make of this except it really stuck out to me as something very different than the last time I visited (I think around six months ago). I do know that they were bought out by Bass Pro Shops some months back, and it makes me wonder (a bit) if this was an indicator to those who knew.  I would think that (generally) you go to your own house brand in an attempt to save money and keep more of the dollars you earn in your own pocket.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Budgeting: 2 Months In

So we are two months into our budget cycle.

The change, as you may recall, was moving to a regular pay schedule:  24 pay periods (twice a month) rather than every two week pay periods (which wreaks havoc on the ability to create a manage a budget).  The Ravishing Mrs. TB put it on a computer and now we are tracking to it.

What have I learned?

Overall, my numbers seem to be close.  The two numbers that were the most off were fuel (which kind of surprises me) and groceries (which really was a shot in the dark). To be fair, the fuel was a guess as well and I just guessed incorrectly - I guess we drive a bit more than I had thought.  As to the groceries, I will be fair: I am not the one who is responsible for cooking (I am the dish washing element of the meal time team) so perhaps it is not surprising that my grasp of the monthly food budget is a bit "off"...

Some expenses we are handling through the bank account; some, through cash.  Honestly I like the cash method better:  twice a month I make the appropriate withdrawals for the those categories that we keep in cash, and put them in the envelopes.  Spending becomes a breeze:  I know exactly how much we have for those categories and can judge what we can spend by what we have in the account.  Simple.

Are we making progress?  Some.  Maybe not so much as we like.  But the single biggest victory seems to be that, two months in, we are actually maintaining a budget and basing our spending around it.

And that, my friends, is progress.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Hymn From Moby Dick

I currently find myself reading Moby Dick by Herman Melville.  Call me unrounded, but this is one book that I have never read before.   I suppose it is just something that I missed along the way  - although so far, I am enjoying it much more than The Great Gatsby, which supposedly is The Great American Novel.

At any rate, in the early part of the book the main character (Ishmael) enters a chapel and sits for the service, during which a hymn is sung.  I enjoyed the hymn so much I thought I would share:

" The ribs and terrors in the whale
Arched over me a dismal gloom,
While all God's sun-lit waves rolled by,
And lift me deepening down to doom.

I saw the opening maw of hell,
With endless pains and sorrows there;
Which none but they that feel can tell -
Oh, I was plunging to despair.

In black distress, I called my God,
When I could scarce believe him mine,
He bowed his ear to my complaints -
No more the whale did me confine.

With speed he flew to my relief,
As on a radiant dolphin borne;
Awful, yet bright, as lightning shone
The face of my Deliverer God.

My songs forever shall record
That terrible, that joyful hour;
I give the glory to my God,
His all the mercy and the power."

Thursday, November 17, 2016

An Evening In A Used Book Store

Yesterday evening it was book selling day.

I am not a man that typically sells his books: for the most part, I hold on to them.  There is scarcely a book I own that I have not read more than twice (I really get my money's worth).  But I suddenly realized that a whole stack of them were things that no longer had purpose in my life:  some books on writing and a number of "success" oriented books, which mostly were the cheesy sorts of advice things that one reads once and is done with (trust me, all the good ones stayed).

As I was waiting for the grand accounting, I wandered up and down the aisles, sort of casually perusing the shelves.  I have three four sections I always hit - Fantasy/Science Fiction, Agriculture, History, and Role Playing.  The Fantasy/Science Fiction is almost never for new authors, more for the old authors that I love.  Agriculture has really trimmed down to some very specific finds (I have a surprising number of books on the subject).  Role Playing is really just looking for old Gamma World or D&D items (which I never buy, but always have fond memories flipping through).   History is the grab bag:  I often find something unexpected worth purchasing.

I found nothing tonight: partially a conscious choice (selling and buying at the same time), partly due to the fact that I really saw nothing I could not live without (well, maybe - I might go back this weekend...).  But once again I was struck by the sheer number of books and authors represented there.  Literally thousands of books and (probably) a couple of thousand authors represented - all marked down in price, some used having been read before, others completely new and never read at all.  It make feel a little better about ending the writing project - looking at the sheer volume of authors, one wonders:  Where are they now?  Are they still writing?  Probably some are, but just as many are not, having the "one hit wonder" equivalent of the music world and now quietly living out their existence as anything but a writer.

I am fortunate in that I have never found the enjoyment in reading electronic books that I find in actual physical books, so I have something to look forward to for years in every used book store I find.  But it is a good and humbling thing to be in a used bookstore as well:  when walking through one, I see physical representations of people's time and energy.

And I wonder:  knowing what they know now, was it worth it?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

New Job Update

 So I do not know that I have done a job update in a while. I am approximately 3 months and change into it.

How is it going? Overall it continues to go well. Commute change has made a significant – and drastic – difference in my stress level, if not my overall time.

My job duties have continued to expand into areas that I had not anticipated. I have become not only the Quality person, but the Facilities and IT person. These were unanticipated developments and I am somewhat ambivalent about them. On the one hand it is keeping things interesting and developing a set of somewhat useful career skills. On the other hand, I am doing less Quality which is my primary business skill. Time will tell if this is a good thing – in the meantime I will continue to locate furniture, organize maintenance, manage IT facility systems, and do my “assigned” job.

We moved last week. It made me remember why I hate moving of any kind. All the pain of a home move and none of the control over what got moved (“Are we going to use this again? If not, why are we bringing it?”). The new location is much bigger and much nicer and will make a good location for many years for the company in its current incarnation.

So I am busy, stressed (but for different reasons) and have a shorter commute. And my boss is much better. Still coming on as a Win/Win.

Even if I have to reacquaint myself with the use of a crowbar...

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Winter Projects

So Winter seems like it is pretty much upon us.  My trips for the year are all done; nothing left to do but plan projects between here and February.

The garden is done for the year.  Garlic, onions, wheat, barley, spinach, leeks and lettuce are planted.  A little variation in how the planting was done and a lot less than I have done in years before (but more manageable, I think).  Citrus Trees to move in soon.

Cheese is on the agenda of course.  Now that throwing season is over I have my weekends back - not that you need a whole weekend to make cheese, but you need to be available at very specific times in making it.  So some experimentation there.

I suspect that (finally) cleaning the garage may become a thing this year.  Progress has already been made, and with the fancy new insulated garage door things are almost comfortable in there during the winter.  I would love to say the initial goal is to make space to at least fit in one of the cars, but let us just begin with "more organized and less stuff".

Lifting, of course. It is off season so plenty of that.  And Iai - but that is a daily practice.

And?  Not sure what fills in the blank here.  Writing should be largely done and budgeting...well, there is only so much you can do twice a month.  Reading, to be sure.  And I am seeing more going through things I own, more reviewing, more (dare I say it) downsizing?

Maybe not as much as I have done in years past - but things that need doing.  Baseline projects required to move the larger plan ahead.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Life Goes On

So now that we have reached the climax of the last 18 months, what to do?

The plans change a bit, I suppose - but the underlying principles remain the same:  Reduce debt.  Become more self-sufficient.  Become more disengaged from the culture-media ("Going Galt").  Strengthen my relationship with God.

I have a lot of reading to do in the near future - focused reading to be sure.  If I can have my way, lots of Loeb Classics of the Ancient World:  Quintillian.  Procopius.  Cicero.  And The Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire  by Gibbon.

I feel as if I need to refresh my understanding of the early years of the American Republic as well.  We are raising an increasingly historically illiterate generation who views history only through the lens of the modern world.  They need realize that facts underly events, not feelings.

Gardening of course.  And physical activity - no matter what ultimately happens in health care, the reality is that we are still the primary responsible party for our health.

If things happen that get more money in my pocket, great, We have a budget and places to allocate that money.  And certainly it will help move projects forward.

In other words, now that we are finished, it turns out nothing has really changed for me.  In other words, life goes on.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Do Not Feed The Flame

There is a certain part me that, in response to the election, feels like the adults are in charge again.

It is the same sort of feeling when one takes charge of one's own life - the sense of moving forward again, of purpose, of doing things that mean forward progress to get things done.

Obviously a large portion of the populace is not seeing it this way.  Their response - walkouts, protests, burning and violence - remind me of nothing more (and nothing less) than the tantrums thrown by a toddler who has not gotten their way.

The real question, of course, is how to respond to this.

I have change my philosophy on this. Originally (and possibly when Na Clann were growing up) I tried to reason with them, to explain, to justify.  But this (as you might imagine) was not always successful.  Why?  Because I was paying attention to the behavior.

Here is the reality, at least how I see it from my point of view:  this is occurring because it is believed that this will get attention, that others will stop and take notice and try and assuage the feelings and  perhaps even validate them.  The screaming, as with a child, is to get noticed.

So my advice to all of us is wherever possible,  deny it the attention it craves and get on with work that needs to get done.

Ignore it.  Do not engage.  Do not debate - I have come to understand that for a certain group of people, the word "debate" simply means a monologue in which they can overrun and devalue your thinking.  Win on the power of results, not the power of tantrums.

Where people try to argue, walk away.  If it means for a time pulling back from relationships or even moving on from them, so be it.  Simply put, to engage means to enable the behavior.  Do not enable this behavior any more than you would enable the behavior of a substance abuser or abusive spouse.

Here is the funny thing:  this sort of tantrum-like rage cannot sustain itself forever.  It has to have something to feed on (that fuel-flame-oxygen combination you all remember from basic safety).  The flame comes from within them, but the oxygen (attention) and the fuel (events) can be denied them.  And like flames, denied these it will eventually gutter and flame.

There is a lot of important things that need doing here. right now.  Frankly, the least we should all have time for is to feed the tantrumic explosions of child-like rage.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

And That, Friends, Was Facebook

I have not been on Facebook for approximately 36 hours.

Why the precise time?  Because I made a conscious effort not to follow anything and not to be informed of the result.  Thus, I missed what is an apparent firestorm occurring.  Hurtful, vicious things being said.  People stating that if someone voted the way they did not, to unfriend them (as a side note, have we now become so unmotivated that we cannot manage even our social relationships online?).

I missed it all, because I stayed away.  I had a relatively peaceful day of working through moving the office and enjoying dinner with friends.

I suspect I was not the only one that sat today out.  After all, who wants to log in to see how friends are doing and find vitriol facing you first thing in the morning?

Facebook, I fear though, is ultimately toast.

Many will quit.  Many will unfriend others - and then find themselves with nothing to follow up on.  Others will realize that the mere stream of photos and internet memes that are non-religious/non-political/non-anything is really just a sort of waste of time and that there are better things to do with one's life.

Farewell Facebook.  Thanks for introducing so many to the web.  And thanks for essentially becoming a photo album of the Internet.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Understanding Going Galt

If you have spent time in certain circles, you have heard the term "Going Galt"  so many times in some many circumstances you are heartily sick of hearing the term.  If you have never read Atlas Shrugged or never frequented those websites, you might find yourself in need of a definition.

For years I had one that I thought I understood.  The thought was the idea of Galt's Gulch, of totally separating one's self from society and creating a society of like minded people based on the principles of independence, mutual respect, and rewarded labor.  Many people have worked with this definition in hand, and I applaud them for it (you will find some of them who have done so in the blog roll to the right).

It is a fine definition, but I always found that it lacked one thing:  an application for me.  I am not in a position to become independent and doubt I will be for some time (the story is long and involves responsibilities I took on and failed decisions that I consciously made).  It became a sort of pipe dream, the sort of thing that one alludes to as "someday" but in the heart one knows that it will never really come true.

I will be honest - I think this is many people's definition as well.

But as I have thought through this week and the tail end of an election and the myriad of potential futures - none of them great - I have come to understand a second meaning, one that anyone can begin to apply at any time.  The definition of not engaging in or supporting the system.

Not in the way most people think, by not paying one's taxes or blatantly ignoring laws.  Those are ultimately engaging in the system because the system has been created to address those sorts of things (and, for the Christian anyway, those are not really options).  No, it seems to be instead the separation of one mentally from the system.

I support the system and the society when I accept its entertainment, when I embrace its version of reality (news), when I buy into its morals and its thought patterns.  When I spend as others spend and make myself dependent on the social acceptance of others, I support the society.

The trick is simply to mentally - and physically where required - walk away.

Think about it:  even if I argue against something, a position that I disagree with or a thing that I find offensive, I am consciously giving that thing a legitimacy in keeping it alive and discussing it.  If I do not engage, I do not even give it the ability to be something of import - first to me, hopefully then to others.

My mental picture, if it works, is that of a wave hitting a beach:  if it hits a sand wall it directs its full force on it to tear it down but if it merely hits flat shores, it eventually extends itself to the point that  disappears into the sand underneath with only perhaps a wave mark or line of debris.  The sand remains; the ocean has disappeared from it.

In a bit of an ironic twist (for Rand the atheist, anyway), I think her thinking in this matter reflects the New Testament as well.  We are told to be in the world but not of the world, to set the cares of the world aside and focus solely on God and His approval.  The world and its things are to be something we use, not necessarily something we engage in.

This expands the definition so much.  Suddenly this is something that I - or anyone else - can do. Go about your life but do the minimum you need to engage in the society.  Save the effort, save the energy, for your own projects.  But deny that effort and energy to the world at large.

What would a nation look like if millions of people became the gray, faceless mask that lives quiet private lives of intensity and effort and mastery but lives public lives of doing only that which is needed and not supporting the society at large one iota more than is necessary?  I can only guess, but I suspect you find an underground economy and society humming with life and productivity while placidly quiet and minimalist on the surface.

Perhaps Going Galt is in the cards for many more of us than we first thought.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

A Sort of Dropping Out

I have begun to think very seriously about completely dropping out of society.

No matter what the outcome of the election, I find myself increasingly removed from a society that has moved past me in terms of philosophy, morals, political understanding, economy, and the simple view of me as a person.  The outcome tomorrow ends up having very little to offer me.

But the modern world has very little to offer me either.

Conveniences?  Certainly.  And I like running indoor water and refrigerated food as much as the next person.  But the more important things of life - all of these, on the whole, modern society offers nothing more than a tangle of loud, bright, neon sounds that flash and trumpet but offer little substance.

I cannot change the laws.  I cannot change the outcome.  What I can do is change myself.

What is this looking like? I cannot total say, for the thought just occurred

I have a few ways.  Media, for sure - not just the cable I no longer have, but Netflix as well.  The media I have listened to for years driving to and from (somehow, I doubt there will be little enough I want to listen to in the news).  Sports - although again, not really an issue for me at all.

Internet?  Oddly enough, I will probably buck the trend:  more reading of blogs, less of news.  It will either be things I care not to hear about or impending cries of doom (that have gone on for a very long time indeed).

Books?  Oh, mostly old ones, thank you very much.  Other than histories and a few agricultural and artisan books, again I find that most modern books have little in them that I enjoy - and frankly, the past interests me more at this point.

I know what you are thinking:  what a quiet, solitary sort of life.

Quite possibly yes.  But my life is trending this way.  Outside of Iai and throwing and the gym and church, I spend little enough time out among the world unless I have to.  Home - an isolated home, pulled out of the mainstream of living - is a place I quite like to be.

I cannot fall back totally from the age I live in.  But I can divorce itself from as much as I can and still find - perhaps surprisingly to those who live in it - that a perfectly sane and peaceful and useful life exists.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Super Stone

Eighty two pound stone
hurled well over my height:
still surprise myself.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

A Project Termination

So somewhat unexpectedly I terminated one of my writing projects.

It was something that I had been holding on to, mindlessly sort of cranking out in a way.  It did not consume a great deal of time.  And it did not really cost me a lot of energy to do.

But I did find that it had reached the end of its useful life.

How do I know this? I track such things in my head (if nowhere else) and found that, much like all my other projects of late, it was simply not having the impact it either once had or I was hoping that it would have.  It had simply become a chore, something I had to do every week.  And for dwindling returns.

Again, a project begun in great hope and expectations, ending with a certain form of silence.

The biggest thing that suggests to me that this was the right thing to do?  Having done it, I find no grieving process going on.  Just a quiet sort of relief.

I will catalog, of course - no created work should be thrown away.  And I will finish my one outstanding project.  And with those two simple acts, that part of my life will simply fall away into the Internet stream.

Friday, November 04, 2016

November Rains

The November rains
sing out to  garlic and wheat,
who grow in return.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Depression of the Unbeliever

The life of the unbeliever must be truly depressing.

Oh, I know.  They will never confess to it.  They will say that is we Christians who are fooling ourselves, who have turned away from reality.

But in fact, life without God is pretty depressing.

Oh, not the day to day existence.  That you can get by with well enough.  Heavens, there are whole days where even I forget that life can be hard.  But then something bad happens.  A terrible something, a tragedy.

The believer has ultimate hope in both the sovereignty of God over their lives and the assurance that, ultimately, everything will turn out alright.  But what does the non-believer have?  Nothing.  The stark, howling nothing of a universe that has nothing in it but natural laws.

The unbeliever cannot - really - take refuge in anything have a purpose either.  In the naturalist world, there is no purpose.  There is no karma, no fate.  There is merely the actual hopelessness of accepting that ultimately all this has no purpose - in 100 years after your death, you will not be remembered and for most, their efforts and contributions will have been in vain.

Not surprisingly, the believer attempts to whistle past the graveyard. Confronted with actually tragedy, most seem to try to slide around the enormity of the hollowness (which has always struck me as a little odd for those that present themselves as hard nosed realists).

Somewhat surprisingly, most Christians try to assist them in avoiding the issue.

Life without God should be depressing.  We need to be confronted with the hollowness of such a thing.  But the point is not to wallow in it; the point is to then point people to the One who can give it meaning.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

On A Media Watershed

If nothing else comes out of this election cycle, I think it will turn out to be a watershed in how the media is viewed and acknowledged, at least in the United States.

By and large, the U.S. media has been revealed for the relatively tame, inefficient organ that they have allowed themselves to become. They have been completely – and utterly – outclassed by Wikileaks, who has relentlessly presented data which contradicts the story that has been presented to U.S. citizens, about how (by and large) things are pretty much okay and that the real point of the media is to act more and more as a sort of propaganda arm of the Government.

It is remarkable to think that we have fallen in only forty years from the heights of investigative journalism in Watergate to today, where this sort of journalism pretty much only occurs for “approved” sorts of things.

It has created a second conundrum of course: the Wikileaks documentation was all obtained by means which are considered illegal for you or I to practice as citizens. An even deeper conundrum occurs: the Wikileaks information has not (to date) been shown to be modified or made up. Tacitly, its validity has been verified, as no-one has offered facts to disprove it and in fact individuals have lost their jobs over it. And therein lies the most interesting of pictures: the institution called The Press, which is the Bill of Rights is guaranteed as a freedom, has turned out to bind its own freedom voluntarily and lost its relevance whereas Wikileaks, which has performed an effective crime, is freely distributing information.

Here, I think, is the relevant question: What would the Founders Say?

Would they decry an institution that has stolen information to make it freely available, information that (to date) shows the inner workings of an organization? Or would they decry the institution that has the freedom to operate but has abdicated its responsibility to become an arm of the government?

I am not the Founders and cannot respond for them. All I can legitimately say is that they had little patience with any group or organization that accepted the dictates of an authority that acted absolutely. If they saw it otherwise, they would have not enshrined such a right as a fundamental freedom.

Make no mistake: theft is wrong. But what has been revealed is little better – and in some cases rather worse – than the original taking of the information.

What does that mean for the American media? I think the ultimate outcome here is the almost default feeling that American media has simply lost all credibility, that they may be adequate as relating certain events but useless in terms of objectively assessing the events or even investigating events. From henceforth every time the question comes up, every time the media attempts to say “Behold our Brave Reporting”, someone will simply say “Where were you during the 2016 election?”

And most of the media will grimace, and sigh, and turn away.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Blank Walls

So in trying to not have to explain, I am finding that suddenly large blank walls are thrown up in my mind.

It is as if there are places my mind has now decided it cannot go, thoughts it cannot think, feelings it cannot enable.  It is odd, a sort of silent quietness of the soul. 

I do not feel any different. I feel no "better" about myself than last week at this time, not different in terms of the Beatitudes or anything else I should be actually doing and displaying in my life.  

There is a certain emptiness that I cannot translate into words, a sort of formless energy that is just sitting there - not particularly anxious or wanting to get out, just sort of there.  

And, for what it is worth, I do not feel like I am "pleasing" God any more than I was before.  Perhaps it is just the simple feeling that I am not messing up quite as badly as I might otherwise have.