April 16, 2014

The pseudo-jaded

In the early 1980s, I remember hearing a radio DJ who complained that Joni Mitchell fans never bothered to experience their own lives because they didn't have to -- Joni did it for them. They just appropriated her experiences and felt that they had lived.

I think of that observation when I see today's (allegedly) jaded young people. They think they've seen it all and consciously assume a jaded air. "Been there, done that."

But see, you haven't. You've just seen video of other people living their lives. Kids, I know this will come as a shock but that wasn't you in that video. I know you sincerely think it was, but you're wrong.

Go live your own life. You'd be surprised by how refreshing this experience can be.

Jaded, my ass.

April 15, 2014

Lose weight while you sleep!

That's the ultimate grifter headline, isn't it? But I tell you it's true -- in my limited case, anyway.

When I went to the doctor yesterday, I learned that I lost 45 pounds in the last six months. And how did I do it? Why, in my sleep, of course.

Here's the snag. I really don't like food, so overeating isn't an enjoyable pastime for me. But I can get fat anyway because I take Trazodone to fall asleep. It works like a charm but it also tends to stupify me to the point where I wake up several times during the night and eat everything I encounter: a full jar of peanut butter, two bags of cookies, etc. This will make you fat. I've proven this fact to my satisfaction.

Luckily, this was only happening because I didn't care. Then, one bright sunny day, I decided to get skinny. How? It's simple. I told myself not to eat anything during the night. I haven't eaten one thing at night since I made that decision. (What can I say? I can give myself orders and follow them. This has always been easy for me.)

So now I'm a skinny guy -- and I lost the weight while I slept, just as the headline claims. Today, I weigh 220 pounds at 6' 5". (That's not much for that height, BTW.)

Sorry if this plan won't work for you.

April 10, 2014

He's a "man's man"

Mike Metheny: a man's man.
How I detest the phrase, "a man's man." Ugh. I gag when I hear people use it. What on Earth does it mean?

The other day, I heard a guy on TV say that the players on the Cardinals baseball team respect Mike Metheny, the Cardinals' manager, because he's a "man's man". Ugh. There goes my involuntary gag reflex again.

Last winter, I thought I had witnessed the death of this phrase while watching a tattoo "reality" show. The artist said he had to do a really good cover-up job on a guy's rather feminine tattoo because the customer was a "dude's dude". Right there, I thought the phrase was over and done with. I mean, how could it survive that? Alas, it's still around.

What do you think straight men mean when they call a guy a "man's man"? I've thought long and hard about this and I think it means "wow, that guy is really sexy!" Isn't that it? I mean, I'm gay and I think Mike Metheny is the sexiest guy in baseball. Srsly. So, is that what straight guys mean, too? I think it is.

But maybe I'm wrong. You tell me. What do they really mean?

Edna Christ, wife of Jesus, confirmed as real

Despite Vatican protestations, it is confirmed. A bit of papyrus that says Jesus not only had a wife but considered her a proper disciple, is not a modern forgery.
A faded fragment of papyrus known as the “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife,” which caused an uproar when unveiled by a Harvard Divinity School historian in 2012, has been tested by scientists who conclude in a journal published on Thursday that the ink and papyrus are very likely ancient, and not a modern forgery.
Edna Christ is real. Of course, I knew this all along because She appeared unto me shortly after the papyrus was discovered. It was a lovely Visitation, wherein She told me that She is a god, fully equal to Jesus. She also informed me that I will live a long life and go to heaven -- and that my book, Xmas Carol, will be remembered as one of the greatest stories ever told. It's true; She said this unto me.

The Vatican didn't like this news when it first came out, and they are surely unhappy to receive today's shocking confirmation. Jesus had a wife and respected her! If this is true, as seems to be the case, then priestly celibacy is simply a jerkwad policy created by a deluded, modern church that long ago lost its way. Sounds right to me.

Pray unto Edna. Her juju is much more powerful than Jesus'. And she cares, unlike the Big Guy. Hail Edna!

April 8, 2014

Krugman dovetails with David Deutsch

You know who Paul Krugman is -- but who's this David Deutsch guy? Well, he's one of the most intelligent physicists working right now to create a quantum computer. Deutsch is way up there in the stratosphere, but he's such an intellectually engaging guy that he takes the time to tell us about his mental adventures. I could go on and on about how much I enjoy Deutsch's writing, but I'd like to make a point.

Today on his blog, Krugman talked about the difference between the liberal and conservative mindset. Why is their approach to reality so different? Here's an excerpt:
One possible answer would be that liberals and conservatives are very different kinds of people — that liberalism goes along with a skeptical, doubting — even self-doubting — frame of mind; “a liberal is someone who won’t take his own side in an argument.”
Since I'm reading "The Beginning of Infinity" by Deutsch, I couldn't help but notice the concordance between this notion and one of Deutsch's primary premises in the book. Deutsch believes that the launching point for infinity -- the point beyond which humanity soars in soon-to-be-discovered ways -- is the willingness to call out untruths wherever and whenever we see them.

A society without error-correction will always go nowhere. Look toward faith for a great example of a tradition that is hidebound and calcifying. If you can't question the tenets of your religion, and update them in light of new discoveries, then your faith is worth nothing. It is unconnected to the coming "infinity".

Even our computers operate with the understanding that there will be errors. Error correction is built into the software that we use every day. And in countries where the populace can vote down an insane idea, there is also a form of error correction. Contrast this with the ruling ethos of Saudi Arabia, for instance. There, you can't question anything. This is a society that will fail. Staying the same is no guarantee of future viability -- quite the contrary. The world is always changing.

So I was happy to see Krugman hone in on this crucial difference between Democrats and Republicans. We (Democrats) see errors and want to correct them. They (Republicans) don't. The future belongs to those who are willing to question everything.

(And hey, wasn't that a popular hippie phrase back in the day? Question everything. Question authority. Yup, I remember seeing those phrases and they are indeed a form of error correction. Hippies got a lot of things right.)

April 7, 2014

Pope Francis decides to kill Africans, for Jesus

New pope, same old story. Who cares if African people die? As long as they're not using a condom, they'll go straight to heaven. There's no problem here, no problem at all.
Pope Francis has praised church workers in Africa who promote chastity as a key way to prevent the spread of HIV. Francis was speaking Monday at the Vatican to bishops from Tanzania.
Many non-Catholic health care workers advocate condoms as an important weapon to fight the spread of the HIV virus that causes AIDS. The Vatican opposes condom use because church teaching forbids contraception.

Francis praised church health care workers in Africa who care for those with HIV/AIDS and "all who strive diligently to educate people in the area of sexual responsibility and chastity."
People won't act in a sexually "responsible" manner if being responsible is defined as practicing chastity. People have sex. It's what humans do. And now that the pope has said this, many Africans won't use a condom because they think that doing so would be a mortal sin, punishable by an eternity in hell (provided by the "loving god" of Christian fairytales. Thanks, jeebus!).

Because of this announcement, more Africans will have unprotected sex, get HIV and die. To Francis, this is preferable to having a lovely bout of sex while wearing a condom. Mustn't have fun. Fun is sinful.

Pope F, we had high hopes for you. But your church fetishizes death and you just jumped on board.

And all this to praise a nonexistent god. It's sickening.

April 1, 2014

Losing people, losing history

I saw this in the news today:
An activist group says the death toll in the three-year Syria's conflict has exceeded 150,000.
Think about that: one hundred and fifty thousand people. Gone. When I read those words this morning, it brought me back to the AIDS deaths of the 1980s. When you lose an enormous number of  people, it's not only the individuals that are lost. You also lose the flavor and history and reality of an era. And of course, and not least, you lose all the shared experiences. No more the joy of getting together with people who played pivotal roles in your life. All gone.

NYC wasn't the same after gay men began to die in large numbers. That was such an awful time. So many talented, productive young people lost their lives, for no reason, really. At the time, it felt like the landscape itself was being altered on a daily basis. "Did you hear who died?!" That was the constant call. It felt like an attack, especially in light of daily casualty counts. It bred fear in us, which was followed by anger. Fury, really.

A pervasive sense of loss spread throughout NY's gay community. And there was also the matter of those missing talents. Stunning young artists, actors, dancers, painters and writers dropped from the ranks of the living. As Robyn Hitchcock said in his song about the passing of Nick Drake: "And when you're gone, you take the whole world with you."

New York was never the same after these mass deaths. And Syria will not be the same country after the current atrocities end. You can't lose that many people and simply restart your country at a later date, as if it had been on hiatus. It's not just people but history, memory and sensibility that is being obliterated. 

It makes you wonder what kind of a world this is. And then you remember that it's all chance, all luck. It's about where you were and what you were doing on a particular day. There's no hiding from it. Death is the grim reaper, paring the world around us on a daily basis. Nothing is assured, nothing is promised -- not really. Life is what it is.

But AIDS was an unknown virus. There is no effective way to elude something you know nothing about. That's not the case in Syria (and in so many other places). People's greed and lust for power should not be allowed to decimate an entire population.

But they are, Blanche, they are. Again and again and again. 

March 31, 2014

Carnivorous humans causing climate change

I've been waiting a long time for someone to say this:
Carbon dioxide emissions from the energy and transportation sectors currently account for the largest share of climate pollution. However, a study from Chalmers now shows that eliminating these emissions would not guarantee staying below the UN limit. Emissions from agriculture threaten to keep increasing as global meat and dairy consumption increases. If agricultural emissions are not addressed, nitrous oxide from fields and methane from livestock may double by 2070. This alone would make meeting the climate target essentially impossible.
"We have shown that reducing meat and dairy consumption is key to bringing agricultural climate pollution down to safe levels," says Fredrik Hedenus, one of the study authors. "Broad dietary change can take a long time. We should already be thinking about how we can make our food more climate friendly."
And here's your takeaway:
By 2050, estimates indicate that beef and lamb will account for half of all agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, while only contributing 3 percent of human calorie intake.
Stop eating meat. It's not only vicious, in that it involves the torture and murder of trillions of innocent animals, it's also going to kill us. Just look at that takeaway: it will cause half of all agricultural greenhouse emissions by 2050 yet only provides 3% of our calorie intake. To continue this is insanity.

But no one wants to hear this critical message. On physorg, where I found this article, readers rated it at 2.6 out of 5. No one wants to hear it. But it's going to kill us anyway. The choice is yours.

March 29, 2014

Schadenfreude alert

Chris Culliver, the 49ers cornerback who felt a pressing need to make anti-gay comments last year, is once again in the news:
Niners cornerback is accused of hitting a bicyclist with his car and fleeing the scene, then threatening a witness with brass knuckles. 
Isn't it funny how the anti-gay people always turn out to be craven, hateful goons with no sense of right or wrong? I wonder if there's a moral there, or at least a connection. Hmmm.
Well, he'll have a lot of time to think things over during his prison stay. Maybe he'll have a change of heart. Yeah, right.
Just to refresh your memory, this was his anti-gay comment:
"We ain't got no gay people on the team," Culliver said. "They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff. Nah, can't be in the locker room."
Jeebus, let's hope they don't lock him up with any sweet stuff. He can't be with that.
(BTW, the bicyclist suffered "minor injuries". Phew.)

March 24, 2014

Engine on

I'm sorry that I'm neglecting the blog lately. I figure there must be two, or maybe even three, readers out there who miss it. But it's time to write the next novel.

I find that it's difficult to start a novel. The goal is to get to the point where I know what to write and how to do it, but the climb to get there can be a trial. However, once it gets going -- and it has -- it rushes along, powered by its own innards. The plot and characters drive the story, not me. "Engine on" is the phrase that came to mind when things got going this time. It's like the book developed a life of its own. Once that happens, writing becomes a simple task. All I have to do is record what the characters say and do. It's their show, not mine.

And so I find myself busy. Have no fear. I will always return to this blog after a hiatus. I won't be like those guys who blog for a year or two and then leave for parts unknown. Besides, you know where I am and you can always contact me by commenting on any post here, even the old ones. I'll see it and unless you're a completely crazy wingnut, I'll respond.

In the meantime, you can always read Xmas Carol to get your dose of Keith. I promise it will be one of the most entertaining reads of your life. So get busy. Speaking of which...