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Some perspective

seems to be in order

Yesterday, I wrote a post in which I vented my spleen in a way I seldom do. As a sort of self-therapy, I thought it might be helpful to focus on some things far too easily ignored or forgotten (at least by me).

Today, in the US, most of us will never face any truly existential (a currently popular word) threats, with two exceptions. First, of course, is old age. For the vast and overwhelming majority of us that will be unavoidable. Think about that for a moment. Most of us will get sick and die simply because we’re old. Second, some people will also face one or more things that some have termed “blip events.” A blip event might be an unexpected and dangerous disease, a car wreck, house fire or something else. But that’s it.

Instincts and behaviors that were developed and honed on the savannahs of Africa will seldom be called into play in a way that is needed. The instincts, though, remain, including the whole pattern recognition thing. This one is so strong that if there are no patterns to be found, or nothing that deviates sufficiently, we will find something. We’re driven to do that and unless we set out deliberately to control that instinct, we will obey that drive, that instinct. Thus, if there is no movement in the tall grass to alert us to the approach of a predator, we will find something else about which to be alarmed. What this means, I submit, is that most of the time the “exercise” of that instinct is effectively a luxury. I can worry about the way my boss treats me because I don’t have to worry about becoming food for the nearest critter with big, razor-sharp teeth and claws. You can complain about your HOA because you don’t have to light a fire in the cave mouth to keep animals away. And concern about modern politics? Now that’s a luxury. Mind you, I have concerns about politics, but I recognize those for the non-existential luxuries they are.

You see, because of our pattern recognition instincts, we are always looking for the threat. And, if we look long enough and hard enough, we’ll find either a threat or a “reasonable facsimile thereof.” If we aren’t careful, we’ll overlook something important. For most of us, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion or what-have-you, this is the best time in the history of the world to be alive in terms of freedom, peace, crime, health, wealth and equality. It’s easy to forget that, though, because of the instincts. As if that weren’t enough of a challenge, we are faced with people of various ideologies who will take advantage of our instincts. If we can’t find a pattern which indicates a threat, they will happily provide one for us. In so doing, they seek to manipulate us into becoming their puppets, increasing their power and leaving us less able to enjoy being alive in such a time. If you can stomach it, listen into almost any adversarial political discussion and pay attention to how much the partisans differ in the threats they see coming. Now, one or more of those may be relative threats, but they are almost certainly not the existential threats which necessitated our instincts.

“What should we do then, smart guy?” I’m glad you asked.

Unplug for a bit. A day or so is nice. A week is better, if you can do it. Get to know people and interact with them. Family and friends are a good place to start. Talk to them. Even better, listen when they talk. Talk about things that really matter. Talk about lighthearted stuff. Read a book. Paint. Write. Go for a walk or drive. Sit on your patio at the end of the day and smoke a bowl of good pipe tobacco while sipping some smoky, amber-colored liquid. Hell, don’t read that RM guy’s blog for a bit (but do come back!). But start with people.

Now, I think I’ll take my own advice and unplug for a bit.

In which I rant

I’m not a fan of FecesBook, though I still use it. I do, however, look forward to the regular live sessions with Old NFO and Lawdog. Today, I missed it. See, I have a friend named Angel who did a Bad Thing on social media. It was an act so vile, so heinous, so unspeakably disgusting as to earn Angel the less-than-gentle attentions of a member-in-good-standing of the Church of the Perpetually Woke. And what was this horrific act perpetrated by my friend? I shall tell you. Before I do, I urge you to take a moment to settle your nerves and your stomach. Ensure children are unable to see what follows. It’s just too stomach-churning for the young.

You see, Angel, in part because of some ugliness in the past, dared to opine that she would prefer Donald Trump be re-elected than Joe Biden become POTUS. She put it something like this: “I’d rather lose my rights than have a child touched by an adult.” As it turns out, intersectionality only provides so much protection. Even being part of the LGBT community* was not enough to shield her from one of the Church Inquisitors. Nope. My friend had committed the Original Sin. She dared to even hint at disagreement with Delivered Truth (“we are good and all others are bad”). The charming little bint who attacked her was a royal… *RM pauses, remembering his parents’ response to his use of profanity* not nice female person. She tried to disguise her personal attack on my friend as some sort of reasoned response.

Enter me.

I have been told I am not a very smart man. I am certainly not the world’s greatest debater. What I am is a person whose military career in the sea services included time in deck force. If necessity calls for being an enormous ass**** to counter someone else, I can do that. Conversation successfully nuked.

The point of the above is that

  1. No one is required to agree with anything you post. This includes things posted by people like my friend
  2. It’s okay to disagree
  3. Playing fair is important
  4. If you can’t play fair and disagree like an adult, you know, politely and still strongly, don’t whine when someone is able to be a bigger ass**** than you
  5. Don’t suddenly claim special status (“grown man picking on college student” for instance) when you’re being clubbed into bloody submission
  6. The Church of the Perpetually Woke are dicassnot nice…aw, fuck it. They are fucking assholes who need their asses verbally kicked up around their ears.

This rant is hereby concluded.

*And yes, my friend’s sexuality is pertinent. It made her commission of the new Original Sin even more intolerable to her Inquisitor, I submit. Don’t pick on my friends. Fucking assholes.

Voting

Civic responsibility? Of course. Opportunity to make your wishes known? Yes, though “known” must be differentiated from “followed.”

Yesterday Mrs. RM and I took advantage of early voting to achieve both of the above. Since I am no longer both (or either) active duty and stationed in Great Lakes, I was not encouraged to “vote early, vote often,” even as a joke. I simply voted. Regardless of your political beliefs, I encourage you to vote. Participate in the process. Please. Just vote.

Yum

Sitting at the computer, writing and eating cold, homemade kimchi for breakfast. Not too shabby, but needs more garlic and maybe a little less daikon, next time. Tea…I need a cup of tea…

Daryl Dixon, I am not

When I first started deer hunting with a crossbow, a few years back, a number of experienced bow hunters told me it wasn’t at all unusual for a person new to bows, including crossbows, to go several years before actually killing a deer, even if he or she was an otherwise experienced hunter. “Nonsense,” I thought. “After all, I’m a relatively experienced hunter. Plus, I’ll be using a crossbow rather than a vertical bow. A crossbow with a scope no less. It’ll be just like hunting deer with a rifle, but at closer ranges.”

Yeah. Right.

Arrows, as it turns out, can do strange and wonderful things. Yes, they are strongly affected by wind. My favorite thing they can do, though, is that they can unexpectedly lift…or drop…while in flight. And there is no “follow-up” shot with a crossbow. As I have been reminded more than once, the deer is a professional and I am, at my very best, a gifted amateur. With a bow, I am not even that. Deer 3 RM 0.

I’d be toast if I had to defend against zombies with a crossbow.

It’s a good thing rifle season starts in a few weeks. Venison is getting low in the freezer.

He doesn’t qualify

as a dictator, but he was, from my perspective, a bad man. So, it seemed appropriate to include something.

Poor choices

RM’s post-debate observation, the first

Having to choose between a geriatric asshole and a geriatric dementia patient for president seems like having to choose between chlamydia and gonorrhea. No reasonable person wants either one and the realization that one or the other is going to be inflicted on you should piss you off.

RM’s post-debate observation, the second

Apropos to the above, I frankly despise both Republicans and Democrats as species. Currently, I just happen to despise Democrats more.

RM’s post-debate observation, the third

Loudly proclaiming that your guy “clearly won” suggests you and I did not watch the same debate…or that you are a moron…or both.

RM’s post-debate observation, the fourth

Asserting that your guy “wants what’s best for me/you/the people/all of us” ignores the fact that your guy, whoever that might be, doesn’t know anything about you, including the fact that you, as an individual, even exist.

RM’s post-debate observation, summation

Be annoying

I have long been a fan of Colion Noir. His approach to an unapologetic defense of the right to keep and bear arms has always been refreshing. That remains true in this video:

I agree with him. We cannot shrink back from our defense of a fundamental right, for surely those who are opposed to that right (often under the name of “common sense restrictions”) will neither shrink back nor cease their assault. We must continue to be annoying, if we love liberty.

Of course, not shrinking back should be our approach to all our rights*. There will always be those for whom individual liberty is an easy-to-compromise thing. They will insist time and again that individual rights are “important” while also insisting they carry water for social utility, and they will never stop. We, then, dare not cease in our defense of liberty. Again, those who love liberty must continue to be annoying. Like Malcolm Reynolds, we must “aim to misbehave,” and do so both legally and aggressively lest we one day be forced to do otherwise.

*Understand that when I refer here to rights, I am speaking of inviolable negative rights, those rights with which government is prohibited to interfere and which inhere in the human condition.

Nautical rivalry

There is a longstanding rivalry in the two military sea services (USCG and USN) that transcends even their long inter-service rivalry. That is the rivalry between deck force and engineering. It exists in both and has been present for about as long as each of the two services has existed. Perhaps this will resonate with some of you.

Long ago the First Engineer spake unto his engineerlings thusly: “Screw not with Deck Force. For though we maketh the ship to go, that we be not stuck at the dock and be mocked by others as we whine ‘are we there, yet’, Deck Force maketh the ship to not leak like a sieve, taking on water and sinking into the briny deep and joining Davy of the Jones clan and all his tiny fishies, and they navigate the ship that we runneth not aground upon some rock in the New World but declare ourselves to have reached the East Indies. And both fierce and fearsome is Deck Force in its wrath. And if you forget my words, be warned that in the day you screw with Deck Force, their overwhelming anger shall bloom forth and you will find the battle too wearying and you will tremble as with ague. Then you shall remember my words, but it will be too late to save you from their fierce vengeance.” And the engineerlings said “far be it from us, as far as the stars are from the earth, that we should forget such a thing.”

Now the sea services runneth on two principles, Pride and Tradition, which harken back to the First Ship and its crew. And the rivalry between those who maketh the ship to not leak like a sieve and navigate that the ship runneth not aground, and those who maketh the ship to go is part of both (and there be other forces on the ship as well, but they be not true sailors for they merely twiddle with little circuits, and besides they have but lady parts in their nether regions). And when the days of the First Engineer were passed, behold there arose another generation of Engineers who remembered not the words of the First Engineer and the bitter lesson he had learned at the hands of Deck Force. And when Deck Force painted the decks that lead to one side of the engineering spaces, and informed Engineering of the necessity of taking the long way around, the Engineers did spare themselves the extra 30 seconds it would have taken to use the other passageway and instead walked upon the freshly painted deck while it was yet tacky. And Deck Force began to grumble. And lo, though Deck Force did warn them before it again painted the deck, the Engineers did again walk upon the freshly painted surface. And the grumbling that had been quiet and reserved became louder. A third time Deck Force took the deck down to bare metal and primed it and warned the Engineers this third time saying “be not fools but wise and walk not upon the freshly painted deck while it is tacky, and if you walk upon it before it is dry it will not end well for you.” But the Engineers heeded not the warning of Deck Force, nor did they remember the words of the First Engineer who said “Screw not with Deck Force.” And the grumbling of Deck Force reached the ears of the Chief Boatswain’s Mate, also known as the BMC, and he smiled cruelly, for he had A Plan. And he had Deck Force knock off early that day, with only those on watch working or training past 1600 and he bade them to hit the rack immediately after the evening meal that they might get their sleep. And Deck Force heeded his words, for he was he not the Chief and was his word not Law? The BMC shared his plan in the Chief’s Mess with the other Chiefs. Even the Chief of Engineering chuckled when he heard it saying, “my flock has forgotten the words of the First Engineer, so do unto them as you will, only leave them not unable to do their job of making the ship to go albeit with great effort and pain.” And the BMC agreed and the entire Chief’s Mess agreed that it was a Good Plan.

That night, upon the Third Watch, the Boatswain’s Mate of the Watch, known also as the BMOW, did awaken Deck Force as he made his rounds. And he giggled as he awakened them, for the Chief had shared his Plan with him that he might understand the necessity of awakening Deck Force. And lo, there was a bulkhead that needed to be taken down to bare metal. It was in sad repair and had areas of penetrating rust, and on the other side of it was the berthing area of Engineering. And Deck Force did bring to bear their chipping hammers and sanders and that mightiest of weapons for the making of noise, the Needle Gun. The racket was loud and echoed throughout Engineering berthing, but when the Engineers burst forth and demanded to know why they were awakened from their childlike slumbers and their dreams of pink unicorns they discovered they faced not a mere seaman nor a BM3, nor even a BM2 or a BM1, but the BMC who mocked them saying “this needed to be done now for my men of Deck Force had to waste their time painting the deck that led the short way to your berthing spaces not once, not twice, but thrice because you heeded not their warning. Now, this bulkhead must be taken down to bare metal, though it be accomplished with loud noise for the remainder of the night.”

The engineers did threaten the BMC, saying “we will go to the Chief or even the EO and complain,” but the BMC spake thusly, saying “I have spoken your Chief and he laughed mightily at my plan, but feel free to go to whomever you wish for they will then realize you are but as those who twiddle with little electric circuits and have but lady parts in your nether regions.” So the engineers went back to their berthing area and covered their heads and ears with pillows, pursuing a sleep that was not to be theirs, for the volume of the sanders and the chipping hammers and the Needle Guns was overwhelming. And later that day, as they went through their work and watches, wearied with fatigue, they began to shake and tremble as with ague. Then did they remember the words of the First Engineer when he spoke his words of warning, “Screw not with Deck Force.”

Exposure

I’m not a very accomplished writer. I’m even less of a visual artist. That said, there is at least one thing I know: Artists, regardless of type or medium, have to have exposure if they want to, you know, get paid for their time and effort. A local art gallery is working to bring locally and regionally successful artists to the attention of a wider audience. Some of them have worked for years (often decades), perfecting their craft and gaining about as large a regional following as they probably can. Please, take a moment out of your busy day. Click on this link. You can enjoy what’s there as it changes over time and you can help ensure Google magic works in the favor of artists who really deserve greater exposure. Please, support the arts.