Tuning out what most people say can be a full-time job, but most days it’s easy if only because they don’t actually say anything anyway.  I’ve talked with you about “I know, right?” and “It is what it is.”  I’ve been noticing for about a year now that many people, mostly millennials, apparently find it impossible to make any kind of statement without beginning it with, “I feel like….”  Which is unfortunate for them if they are talking to me simply because I don’t give a rat’s about how anyone feels about anything…I want to know what they think.
But even if I’m fortunate enough to find people who aren’t guilty of the linguistic atrocities cited supra, they still seem to reflexively spout platitudes at any opportunity, often so enthusiastically that it seems as if they have just been waiting for the opportunity to repeat some meaningless saying, because, I suppose, they think it makes them sound wiser than they actually are.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that most of these platitudes are patently ridiculous.  One example that I hear two or three times a day is “Everything happens for a reason.”  Horseshit.  Utter nonsense.  Try feeding that pablum to a mother who has suffered a second-trimester miscarriage, or a father whose baby is born severely deformed, or with extreme brain defects.  Thinking ANYTHING happens for some divinely ordained reason is complete twaddle espoused by average humans who cannot deal with the brutal truths of chaos and random chance, which is the real reason most things happen.
There are, however, some platitudes that have managed to hold up well, largely because they actually are true.  Here is my personal favorite:
It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission:  I’m admittedly quite Machiavellian, so my personality and philosophy would of course embrace this idea.  But it is true: asking someone permission automatically involves them in whatever it is that’s being discussed.  If someone gives you permission to do something, they are tacitly endorsing it.  And they are thus partially (and usually significantly) culpable it the idea doesn’t work out and the shit hits the jet engine.  Asking forgiveness automatically declares that the person being asked not only had no involvement with whatever happened, but they would have likely responded negatively had their permission been solicited.  Finding oneself completely immune to prosecution, consciously or otherwise, makes people in good moods, and makes them much more likely to accept an apology and forgive transgression.
A sort of corollary to the above is:  It’s better to regret something you have done than something you haven’t done.  It’s similar to that forgiveness/permission business, but significantly different mostly in that this one is self-directed, the other has to do with dealing with others.  But it is just as true: we all know, fundamentally, as mortals, that not only do we have one shot at this life, but that the opportunities that arise during this life will not arise again.  Because of that, we understand that while there are many opportunities that not only must we pass up but would be wise to completely avoid, most of the situations we’re going to stumble upon during our furloughs on this particular plane will be rather murky on the old good/bad scale.  And we’re only human, and here we are facing situations almost daily where we are given maybe a matter of seconds to decide to do something or not, and if we choose to not, accept that we will likely never have that particular opportunity again.  So if you took a chance on an uncertain situation and it didn’t pay off, you’ll likely find people fairly forgiving when it comes to being judged.  Because we all know that it will really suck to find ourselves at the end of our days, horizontal with a tube in our nose (or worse), and thinking about something (or a bunch of somethings) that we really, really regret not doing.  Because that’s what people think about in that moment: what they didn’t do.  I’ve never heard of anyone spending much of their dying time fretting over all of the awful things they did, but rather, all of the things they didn’t do, of all of the time wasted…oh yes.  Don’t let too many opportunities pass you by.  Just saying.
N.P.: “Lawyers, Guns, and Money” – Warren Zevon

A Repost, Because I’m Sick of Restating the Obvious.

After the revolution, on my first day in office as President, or Sexy and Benevolent Leader, or Illustrious Potentate, or whatever of the United States, I will permanently outlaw the observance of Daylight Saving Time.
A recent poll of random adults at the bar waiting for a table at Red Lobster in northern California revealed that 90% of all Americans think daylight saving time is an outdated and pointless exercise in arbitrary adherence to tradition.  The other 10% are idiotic twats.
I have never understood how so many allegedly intelligent, free-thinking people could be so-easily convinced to do something so fundamentally silly.  For four decades now, I’ve been listening to people embarrass themselves trying to explain their adherence to this absurdity, patiently enduring their assaults on logic and reason as they slowly reveal that they themselves don’t really understand this nonsense either.
There seem to be three basic arguments these pedants of chronology employ.  to wit:
  1. Benjamin Goddamit Franklin, may God rest his sweet, patriotic soul, invented daylight saving time just like he invented electricity and he was obviously a genius and how dare you or any other non-genius fuck with Uncle Ben’s ideas.   They didn’t put your ugly ass on the hundred dollar bill now, did they?  Alright, look…you need to remember a couple of things.  Absolutely, Ben Franklin was a genius.  A great many of his inventions propelled America and mankind into the future that we enjoy today.  However, Ben Franklin lived in a world without electric light and climate control.  His nights were lit solely by candles and oil lamps, and even though his idea of shifting the clock around was pretty clearly meant as a joke, and he had likely been into his cups when he wrote this letter, it did make some bit of sense then to suggest that opening business an hour earlier during certain months of the year would reduce candle usage. American businesses haven’t relied on candlelight or oil lamps in more than a century.  Even candle shops now use electric light and computers.  The position of the sun no longer has anything to do with when we can and cannot work, play, cook, read, et cetera.   If B.F. were alive today, I suspect he would want to pimp-slap all those who have mindlessly remained allegiant to daylight saving time.  He invented his stove to more efficiently heat houses: he would certainly acknowledge that central heating and air is a vastly more safe and effective method of climate control, and would likely insist on having it in his house.
  2. It will save energy and money.  Poppycock.  Patently untrue.  In fact, the exact opposite holds true: hundreds of millions of dollars are lost every year due to employees arriving late for work, conference calls and meeting missed, and overall productivity lost.  Doctors tell us that dicking around with the clock and one’s sleep schedule increases the chances of heart attack significantly, leading to hundreds of millions of more dollars lost in medical expenses.  Sleep loss, the disruption of the Circadian rhythm, greater susceptibility to illness…all of things lead to lost productivity, lost money, and ultimately increased energy resources. And having citizens in the work force arrive home at the hottest part of the day ends up using significantly more energy than would be used otherwise.  Just ask Arizona.  They ignore DST (as does Hawaii) and they do just fine.  In fact, neither of those states have nearly the same number of rolling blackouts during the summer as California does.  We have them regularly throughout the summer, during DSL.  There has never been a rolling blackout during Standard Time.
  3. The farmers need daylight saving time to order to harvest their crops and get all their work done during the summer.  I can’t even begin to understand this one.  And I think that’s because this one falls in to the very strange category of many of the other lines of rationale I’ve heard to justify the menace of DST: people seem to actually think that DST adds an hour of time to the day.  Like we ACTUALLY get an extra hour of daylight or the days are ACTUALLY an hour longer than they would be during Standard Time.  To these poor souls I can say only that I will include you in my nightly prayers and hope that you aren’t a registered voter.  Farmers go to work when the sun comes up, and they don’t spend the day watching the clock, waiting for 5 o’clock so they can knock off.  Hell no.  They quit work when it’s so dark they can’t see what they’re doing.  They don’t give the slightest of damns if you insist it’s 5:00pm or midnight: just stay out of their way.
The practice of hourly timekeeping only began in the United States once train travel began: people needed to know when the hell they needed to be at the station to catch their train.  Fair enough.  And today’s world is governed by the clock.  Fine.  But let’s just settle on what time it is and then leave it that way.
Uncle Ben's Wild Ride

Thou Shalt Not.

I began taking issue with the Ten Commandments when I was 5 years old.  Well, not all 10 of them, of course.  Most of them seemed like pretty good rules, generally speaking: don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t murder, don’t fingerblast people to whom you are not married.  I knew that all religions had similar divine edicts, and I knew that anybody who lived their lives following these rules would probably be a pretty decent person. But one of the Commandments that I was being taught clearly stood out (to me, at least) in both its unreasonableness and divine overreach.  I was okay with “Thou Shalt Not Stick It In Thy Neighbor’s Wife.”  Got it.  No problem.  I am in complete control of myself and my actions.  Great.  But the one that comes after that: “Thou Shalt Not Even Think About Sticking It In Thy Neighbor’s Wife.”  Even to my five-year-old self, this seemed absurd.  How the hell is anybody expected to do that?  Apparently Whomever had put these edicts together had never seen my neighbor’s wife.  I sure had.  Mother of God.  Every weekend, out in the driveway in jean shorts and a bikini top, washing old boy’s Jeep.  Of course, as a toddler, I had no idea exactly why I liked looking at her or what it was I wanted to do with her, but I knew that someday I would.
From that point on, it was only a matter of time until I jettisoned any “Commandments” from on high and adopted my own code of ethics based on my actual life experience.  Still, it can be helpful to have a constant set of rules to default to in times of crisis.  And most people don’t seem to have the psychological wherewithal to come up with their own code…they are too unsure of themselves, I suppose.  But they know deep down in parts of their psyches they don’t even know exist that trying to live one’s life in our modern world based on a set of rules or books written by people who never experienced electric light just doesn’t make sense.  So if one must have rules, I’ve got a set one should check out.  These are not original ideas and I did not write them (though I have taken significant liberties and edited and improved things a bit), but I do believe they would serve the modern world better than the Classic Ten.  The truth is that I’d abided by these rules for decades before reading them below.  To those with a more Disneyesque view of things, these may seem rather…I don’t know if blunt is the right word…extreme, maybe even?  I guess I would describe them as realistic.  Regardless, imagine if people only followed the first rule listed below.  A beautiful quiet like we’ve never known would fall across the earth.  Those insipid “reality” shows would instantly disappear.  Actually, most of what passes for culture today would be gone.  People would generally just shut the fuck up and we could probably stand to be around each other for more than a couple of hours at a time without being medicated, professionally or otherwise.  Anyway, check them out.  Give them a test drive.  They’ve served me pretty well, especially recently.
  1. Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked.
  2. Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure they want to hear them.
  3. When in another’s home, show him respect or else do not go there.
  4. If a guest in your home annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy.
  5. Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal.
  6. Do not take that which does not belong to you unless it is a burden to the other person and he cries out to be relieved.
  7. Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself.
  8. Do not harm little children.
  9. Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food.
  10. When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.

N.P.: “The Future” – Leonard Cohen

Maybe they won't notice

What a weird week this has been.  Nothing dramatic, just weird.  I can’t say that I was a big fan of it.  Rather glad it’s over.
In equally inconsequential news, my favorite word right now is “dongle.”  It’s fun to use in serious conversation whilst trying to keep the conversation serious.

“Shamrocks and Shenanigans” – House of Pain

Nobody knows

“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”  ~ Edgar Allan Poe

I’ve been pretty deeply immersed in the works of Poe lately, with a healthy dose of Lovecraft to go along with it.  Interesting guys.  I find it fascinating to look at American literature as it has struggled to come up with its own identity and language, and see how these people who are fumbling in the dark (as we all are) contribute to our ever-evolving canon, whether intentionally so or not.
In other “shit I’ve been into lately” news, I’ve had AWOLNATION’s catalog on heavy rotation recently.  I’ve always been partial to DIY musicians who can handle all the playing, vocals, and production on their own, and Aaron Bruno seems very capable.   His new album has “Handyman” on it, which sounds like Cat Stevens on his best day (and which I sound amazing singing…just saying), and another song (“Run”) that fits so perfectly with my current project that it’s spooky.  Anyway, check it out.  And read more Poe.  It’s good for you.


show us your kitties

One of my earliest memories is of my dad taking me to a mall to buy shoes, and when we were leaving, there was this big Marine Recruiters RV in the mall parking lot.  So my dad took me in and we sat through this whole presentation (which included a free movie, which I thought was great), and at the end, my dad filled out an interest card for my mom.  Pretty soon, the Marines were sending all manner of patriotically-themed flyers and letters to the house, and calling, wanting to talk to my mom.  And this was during the Vietnam war, when they were drafting people.  They never did let up until the war was over.

N.P.: “Money Changes Everything” – The Smiths