Thursday, December 08, 2016

Going Topless, Day 1

... laptopless, that is.

I ditched the morning laptop session in favor of an (almost) pre-computer lifestyle. That meant coffee, feeding the animals and no laptop-web-surfing. It was great.

I spent a few minutes with the smartphone and hit the important sites to see what was what. The phone is a pretty terrible consumption device, so the temptation to make one more click is orders of magnitude less than with the laptop. Instead, I did something a friend of mine has been suggesting for about 2 years. I started a Novena.

This one, as a matter of fact.
Without the laptop beckoning me to more surfing, I was able to pray and meditate in a calm, peaceful fashion. In addition to prayer, I was able to think more deeply about things I had read and experienced lately without the feeling that I was missing out on something awesome on the Interweb Tubes.

On my flight back home from Virginia yesterday, I was listening to the Arthurian Legends, Le Morte D'Arthur. I'm a total fan and have a huge collection of different editions of the legends, probably in excess of 100 books. I've never experienced them the same way as I am now, listening to the story. In my time of peace this morning, a few things bubbled up out of my subconscious, things I might blog at a later date. In any case, I would never have thought them with the laptop open and me clicking around like a madman.

Lesson: Computers make everything else frantic even when you're not using them. Hurry! As soon as you get that done, you can open me up again and we'll hit the websites!

Laptops are jealous lovers.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Poopy Head University

Scenario: Your child is 3 years old. He comes to you, crying, and says, "Johnny just called me a poopy head!" He then proceeds to throw a fit of Olympic proportions.

As a good parent, the proper response would be to give him a safe space with toys and cushions while thoroughly researching the phrase 'poopy head' and hiring an expensive diversity therapist to intervene with the whole family. Family policies would change so that 'poopy head' would no longer be spoken or written by anyone. Any books on your bookshelf with either the word 'poopy' or the word 'head' would be immediately thrown away. The local police would be called in and advised that you will be calling them to the scene if anyone heard or read the phrase 'poopy head' ever again.

Yeah, that's sane.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Spitting Out The Pacifier

For about ten years now and maybe more, I've had the same morning routine. Get up, make coffee, feed the critters, turn on the laptop, surf the web and blog.

And then keep surfing the web. And surfing. And surfing.

Long after I've found the last interesting tidbit, I'm clicking around, reading and watching. I know exactly what I'm doing, too. It's obvious when the web has nothing more to offer you in the areas you pursue. I'm just sitting there, wasting time, putting off getting up and doing something more productive.

My MGB is still unwired, by the way.

I've got a book in my Audible library whose name I can't recall right now which posits convincingly that the Internet and Twitter and the rest rewires your brain so that you begin to struggle on tasks that require more than a moment's thought. As I listened to the book, I found it frighteningly true in my own life. I've intended to try this experiment for a while, but there was always one more blog to read or one more YouTube video to watch.

So here's the deal. The laptop doesn't get turned on in the morning. For the rest of December, I'm getting up, making coffee, feeding the critters and then ... who knows? Being the unreformed blogger, I'll still take notes and probably sit down to write up the day's thoughts at some point, but it may result in a day or two missed*.

Prediction: Things will get done, skills will be learned and books will get read.

And the sun will shine and birds will sing!
At least that's the plan.

* - Yeah, right. I'm absolutely OCD about this daily blogging thing by now.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Keep Trying

I love Adoration. I really love it. I don't go very often any more for a variety of reasons, but when I do, I'm usually able to open my mind and heart and as I pray the Rosary a mantra-like fashion, I am able to receive what I need.

We all fight the same sins throughout our lives. Whether it's greed or anger or drink or whatever, I'd strongly argue that you're born with certain weaknesses and that's that. I know I always go to Confession for the same things.

The last time I went to Adoration, engrossed in the latest chapter of my Sisyphean battle with xxx, God said to me, "It's OK. Just keep fighting." And so I did, with more success some days and less on others.

Because I've continued to fight, I've been open to finding any advantage I can in my battle. I recently experienced a series of unrelated epiphanies that might just make my fight a little easier.

In public talks, I like to say that having goals changes your life. Having goals makes you see the world in a different way. You're always on the alert for opportunities to further your goals. Fighting sin seems to be like that. Beating Sparky, even temporarily, is a goal. Because I kept fighting, I was able to assemble my epiphanies into something more powerful than any of them alone.

There, was that vague enough? Yeah. Pretty much. Keep fighting. That's the only thing I wanted to say today.

Well, that and God bless.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Trump And Taiwan

You know, if you wanted to negotiate some trade deals with the goons that run China, having Taiwan as a bargaining chip isn't such a bad thing. It's a very Trumpian move. You reset the relationship by taking a position wildly in your favor and then you negotiate down from there.

My man @BDaddyLiberator has been trying to tell me this for a long time, but I was too locked into conventional wisdom to see it.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Old Testament Grind

... would be a good name for a coffee.

I'm back to struggling my way through the Old Testament. I'm up to Chronicles wherein we learn thing like this.
The sons of Judah were: Perez, Hezron, Carmi, Hur, and Shobal. Reaiah, the son of Shobal, became the father of Jahath, and Jahath became the father of Ahumai and Lahad. These were the clans of the Zorathites. These were the sons of Hareph, the father of Etam: Jezreel, Ishma, and Idbash; their sister was named Hazzelelponi. Penuel was the father of Gedor, and Ezer the father of Hushah. These were the sons of Hur, the firstborn of Ephrathah, the father of Bethlehem. Ashhur, the father of Tekoa, had two wives, Helah and Naarah. Naarah bore him Ahuzzam, Hepher, the Temenites, and the Ahashtarites. These were the sons of Naarah.
I'm sure they were awesome people who could tell jokes just right where the timing of the punchline was impeccable to the point where you'd laugh so hard that coffee would come out of your nose and you weren't even drinking coffee at the time.

Having said that, reading about them is a real drag. Still, it must be done*.

What's hitting me as I let this cataract of unpronounceable names wash over me is how the only people that mattered in the Old Testament were the royalty and the priests / prophets. If you're some schlub tending his sheep, your fate is tied to whether or not the king does right in the sight of the Lord. If he does, your chances of being killed in battle go down. If he doesn't, get ready to drop your sword and get cut down by the Gorgomites as you flee.

In contrast, Jesus tells the shepherd that not only is he not a schlub, he's an equal to the king in the eyes of God. Your life, even if you listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd, fly a Confederate flag and hold improper views on gay marriage, matters.

Meanwhile, in the Koran, it's probably time to whack a few infidels. If you're an atheist, it's time to act superior and come up with more reasons why atheism didn't open the floodgates to Mao's industrial slaughter of the Chinese. If you're of the Eastern religions, I have no idea what you do because I'm not there yet in my reading. You probably drink some chai and do yoga. Whatever.

In any case, it looks to me like faith and belief systems matter. If you're even half-listening to what you say you believe in, the faith you chose is going to have an impact on you.

If you belong to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, you get to tell your one joke over and over and over and over and over and over and over...
* - As a friend of mine said to me, "Why?" I think that encapsulates my motivations quite well.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Italy Is Not Saved

... no matter which way the vote goes on December 4.

On that day, Italians will decide if their government will raggle-fraggitz nomshapop or if it will fendergarb wilsenstache. Honestly, I have no clear idea what the referendum says and most Italians probably don't, either because the written version is huge. If you're unable to sleep, you can find a summary of it here.

If it passes, the current prime minister will stay in office. If it fails he will resign. Or maybe it's the other way around. It hardly matters as Italy changes its government once a year on average.

The problem isn't the prime minister, it's the people. For decades, they've voted for more government spending and more government regulations and now they've got an unsustainable debt, banks on the verge of collapse and a moribund economy. Until they come to grips with the realities of life - that someone has to pay for their handouts and all those regulations make business owners want to leave - nothing will change.

Over on ZeroHedge where every day is Black Friday (or Monday or Tuesday or whatever) and Total Economic Collapse is just a few hours away, they're predicting massive stock market crashes.

I guess. I'm not sure why our markets would have more than a brief downturn and then go back to normal. No one has been counting on anyone in Europe to be an engine of recovery so it hardly matters if the imported olive oil market falls to bits.

Here's my prediction. Whatever happens to the referendum, at some point in the future, the debts will seemingly kill off the banks and cause national crises in a variety of countries. Some might leave the EU and the EU might even fall apart. There will be a short spasm of panic and then the central banks will step in and print money, doling it out to the stricken financial institutions with the flimsiest of fig leaves in the form of demands for "change" which will take the form of yet more government regulations. Some places might even nationalize their banks.

The populace will see a reduced standard of living, but the overall governing philosophy of the culture - more government intervention is a good and necessary thing - won't change. The slow decay into socialism's entropic state of stagnation and failure will continue.

Paul Krugman and Robert Reich will write columns extolling Europe and talking about how we need to follow their example. The Mainstream Media will interview them extensively and Sage Academics with Impeccable Credentials will nod their heads in agreement.

Meanwhile, somewhere out in the wilds, the Gods of the Copybook Headings will be gearing up to return.

Yeah, a vote will fix that right up.