BAD GOVERNMENTS TEND TO GET WORSE

“It is a lot harder to get rid of a bad government than to elect one,” said my Tasmanian friend.

It sure is. We  elected Trump — though I take issue with including me as I did not vote for Trump or anyone in his party. Ever. We opened the door and let them in. Getting them out again is going to be one huge mess. I wonder how we will do it, what with all the gerrymandering in the various electoral districts and a broken Electoral College.

First, you get elected.

My father used to remind me — regularly, as if I were otherwise going to forget — that the German people voted for Hitler. He didn’t thug his way into power. He ran for office and they voted for him.

We — as a nation — voted for Trump. Some voted for him out of some bizarre but well-intentioned belief that he might do some good. Others were just pissed off and they wanted to make a loud noise — and they most assuredly have done exactly that. Many voted for him by not voting at all, or voting for non-electable candidates, effectively skewing the election.

It wasn’t a national sweep where we all got together and thought he was “the right guy” for the job, but  the weird statistics managed to get it done.

Trump is the man pushing through laws we thought we’d beaten off. All the positive things we thought we’d accomplished turning to rubble. It’s going to be long road back.

Then, you pass some really evil legislation.

Like the Germans, we did it freely. No army pushing us. No thugs at our backs beating us down. There was a hint of potential thuggery, of course, but few of us directly experienced it. Now, welcome to a new world. Our world. We bought it, moved into it, and are living it. Hell isn’t theoretical anymore. We are in it.

Look what we’ve got. Laws which will in short order make the poor more poor, the middle class a lot closer to poor and a several hundred filthy rich people ridiculously even filthier and richer.

Laws which will make most of us less healthy, will kill many who remain. Children will die of easily controllable diseases, as will their parents and grandparents. Old people will starve and live in poverty without a safe place to live.

The roads and railways will crumble. Our last remaining places of beauty will become sump holes of oil hunters and fracking companies. Pollution will increase, the air will get less breathable. Jobs won’t trickle down.

Because poor people don’t spend money and without a demand for goods, no one will hire new workers or raise the wages of existing ones.

Many of us will do our best to keep our spirits up and stay on a better course. We will never stop hoping that something will happen to get us back on the right track. Maybe Fat Orange Head will keep eating those fried burgers until his heart stops pumping. He’s old enough, fat enough, and sluggish enough. We can hope. Maybe in the middle of a Tweet, his brain will finally melt down.

We dream of a better future.

Where are the new Democrats? Why do I always see the same old faces? Assuming we have the will to drive the current assholes out of office — who are we going to elect? When do we see the new faces to will lead us forward?

Most of us still believe this country is a democracy. Is it?

THE GORGE ON THE BLACKSTONE

THE BLACKSTONE GORGE – BLACKSTONE RIVER, MASSACHUSETTS


We went to visit the Blackstone Gorge, also know as Roaring Dam. It’s an old dam on Blackstone River. As for all the dams, there was a dying and fabric making factory there, so behind the dam, there’s a lot of horribly polluted earth that the dam protects.

And yet, it’s beautiful. A gorge, the water. The day we were there, the kayakers were out enjoying the fine weather.

So this is an official gorge, the real deal, as it were. And these are the pictures we took while we  there. Well, some of the pictures. Marilyn has a few dozen more still waiting for processing. Winter is coming. She’ll get to it.

ESOTERIC OBSESSIONS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I’ve had some random and esoteric obsessions over the years. Only two have stayed with me for decades and are still going strong.

One is the Titanic and anything Titanic related. I saw the movie “A Night To Remember” when I was in elementary school. I then read the book the movie was based on and I was hooked. I continued to read other books that came out over time about the Titanic and her last hours.

Painting of the Titanic going down

I was fascinated by the series of ill-fated coincidences that sealed the ship’s fate. If any one of six or seven things hadn’t happened exactly as they did, the ship might have been saved or avoided the iceberg altogether. I also loved the stories of the people on the ship – from the super rich and famous down to the crew and the steerage passengers.

I passed my Titanic fever onto my daughter, Sarah. We watched the movie “Titanic” together over and over. We frequently flipped through our large Titanic coffee table book with lots of wonderful photos. Sarah has followed all the dives on the Titanic wreck even more than I have. Many of the unanswered technical questions about the sinking have now been answered and Sarah and I share each new revelation with relish.

Photo of the wreck of the Titanic on the ocean floor

My other long-term obsession is the British royal family. I always loved English history, particularly stories about the Kings and Queens and their families through the centuries. I started following Queen Elizabeth II and her young family when I was a pre teen. Charles is close to my age so I was particularly interested in him and his slightly younger sister, Anne.

When Prince Charles was looking for a wife, my soap opera antennae went into high gear. When he met Lady Diana Spencer, my interest became a real obsession. I read everything I could find about them, but mostly her.

Charles and Diana early in their relationship

The day of Charles and Diana’s 1981 wedding, I woke up at 5 AM so I could watch the entire ceremony live. I had a one year old so I was up anyway. On this day, however, I stayed up. I also called my close friend in London and we watched the wedding together on the phone. I almost ended our friendship when I criticized the new Princess’s wedding dress. I thought it was overdone, too pouffy and unflattering. Most Americans shared my opinion. But most Brits, including my friend, absolutely loved the dress and took offense at any negative comments about it.

The infamous wedding dress

I followed Diana’s marriage closely. I applauded her more modern approach to being a royal, particularly after she became a mom. She wanted to be a hands on parent, which was a huge break with British royal tradition. I cheered her on, along with the rest of the world. I loved the new vibe she brought to the royal family. I also related to her increasingly dysfunctional marriage with a cheating husband. I mourned her tragic, early death.

I continued to read about Diana’s boys after her death, but not as avidly as I had when she was alive. When Kate Middleton came on the scene as Prince William’s love interest, I got my passion back.

William, Kate and their two children

Kate has continued the modernization and humanization of the young royals that Diana started. I am particularly taken with her easy, close and natural relationship with William. I applaud her involved parenting style and appreciate her and William’s accessibility. I follow news of her and enjoy photos of her clothes, as I did with Diana. I admire her style and taste and love most of her wardrobe, possibly even more than Diana’s.

Now I have a new royal couple to read about religiously. Prince Harry has announced his engagement to Meghan Markle, a poised, mature and charming biracial American actress. She seems caring and down to earth. She is already involved in international humanitarian causes on her own. She also has rescue dogs, one of whom has come to live with her and Harry in London.

Harry and Meghan announce their engagement

Meghan will be another breath of fresh air in the still stuffy royal family. She’s had a successful career and lived out on her own in the real world. Americans can relate to her and she can relate to the common man, just like her fellow commoner, Kate Middleton.

I don’t obsess over movie stars or pop stars, like many Americans do. I only know about a few of the ‘celebrities’ who appear in “People Magazine”. But I should have many years ahead of me of happy royal voyeurism following the two English Princes and their growing families.

THE ENCHANTING HAZY SUPER MOON

We have had a series of hazy nights. While everyone else was getting glorious sharp pictures of the super  moon, I got an enchanted, hazy moon that peeked at me from between the branches of an oak tree.

It was bright, but it was not clear. And yet … I rather like it. It was a very sensual moon in a soft, dark sky.

THE MEANING OF EVERYTHING AND NOTHING

I’m always glad to have a reason to pull this out of my archives and dust it off. It represents years of thought, night-long discussions in college, several obscure philosophy courses and at least one 40-page research paper. How bizarre that now, at long last, I live in a world where everything means nothing. This used to be humor, of a sort. These days, it’s not quite as funny as it used to be … but to be fair, nothing is as funny as it used to be. The world is both a lot more bizarre while being not at all funny. As a result, we laugh as much as we can. Who know when they will take that away, too?

Personally, I think we spend far much time trying to figure out what life means while spending too little time doing things we enjoy. I suppose it’s normal to wonder if the reason you’re sick, broke, or miserable is because of something you did or should have done. I suppose it’s normal for we sort-or normal people, but completely out-of-the-box for a lot of people who are (apparently) running the world. They are the way they because (a) they know they are going to hell, but a deal is a deal, or (b) they’ve never wasted a brain cell on actual thought.

Regardless, brooding about eternity is a huge waste of time and energy. More so, because I’m going to explain it all — right here. You will never have to wonder again.

Meaning of life


RANDOMNESS


Learning to accept the randomness of stuff that happens is tough. We want life to make sense. We want order. We want our messes and disasters to be important, meaningful. We need to learn from them because someone told us that God gives us bad stuff so we will grow and learn from it.

I’ve put a good bit of thought into why my life has regularly fallen apart. I know I’m imperfect, but whatever I’ve done wrong, it’s small potatoes in the greater scheme of things. Even in my darkest moments I doubt I’m bad enough that The Big Guy has it in for me. Then I had my epiphany.

You can believe what you want, but you can’t know any more than I do. You take the same leap of faith by believing in God or if you declare yourself an atheist. Both positions require you take as absolute something for which you have no direct proof and for which you will never have proof.

If believing in a loving God makes you feel good, believe it. It could be true. If it turns out you’re right, you’ll have backed a winner. If believing there is no God, and science is the only path (and is antithetical to God — a position with which I disagree) to Truth, go with that. Regardless, you’re making a faith-based choice because there’s no proof God exists or doesn’t exist.

Personally, I don’t know. But not knowing might make me smarter than most people because I know I don’t know.


I KNOW NOTHING. NEITHER DO YOU.


Accepting you know nothing is a big step, so take a deep breath. Your next challenge will be how you can cash in on this new knowledge. What’s the point unless you can awe people with your brilliance — and make a few bucks?


IT’S ALL ABOUT THE WORDING.


You need the right lingo to dazzle your audience. Big words (4 or more syllables) used in the right context can showcase your education and intelligence. People will make little cooing sounds to show their admiration.

meaning-of-life3

Big words enhance your likelihood of getting a management position. You can write important books. Have a blog like me and I know you want to be just like me. Big words can take you a long way, if you are skilled at deploying them.

Note: Make sure you know how to pronounce them. Mispronouncing big words will cause unexpected laughter … not good unless you are aiming for a stand-up comedy career.


EPISTEMOLOGY – IT’S All ABOUT KNOWING


Let’s start with epistemology. This is an excellent catch-all word you can drop into any conversation. Most people will have no idea what you are talking about, but will be too embarrassed to admit it. On the off-chance you encounter someone who actually recognizes the word, you can use this handy-dandy definition from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the philosopher’s convenient source for everything:

Defined narrowly, epistemology is the study of knowledge and justified belief. As the study of knowledge, epistemology is concerned with the following questions: What are the necessary and sufficient conditions of knowledge? What are its sources? What is its structure, and what are its limits? 

I bet you still have no idea what it means. The awesome truth is that epistemology doesn’t mean anything because it means everything.

Anything that means everything means nothing. Equally, when something claims to do everything, it has no actual use. This applies to people, software, concepts, and kitchen appliances. In practical terms, everything and nothing are identical.


PHENOMENOLOGY IS THE NEW FAITH


On to phenomenology. When I was studying religion in college, phenomenology was a way to prove the existence of God. Phenomenologically speaking, all human experience is proof of God. The same reasoning also proves there is no God. Ah, the joy of it.

Phenomenology can help you prove all things are one thing, all things are God. You are God. I am God. I am a warm cup of tea and you are a daffodil. If this doesn’t clarify it for you, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy offers further elucidation.


Phenomenology is the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view. The central structure of an experience is its intentionality, its being directed toward something, as it is an experience of or about some object.


In other words, you can use any and all human experience, your experience and anyone else’s, to prove whatever you want. Phenomenology is fundamental to all belief systems: religion, politics, and Fox News. Lots of people believe in religion, politics and Fox News, so maybe they will believe in you too.

As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure that almost everything our current administration has said fits neatly into phenomenology. Since the only thing that matters in phenomenology is someones’ experience, you don’t need facts. Figures. Statistics. You don’t need anything but “I believe it, so it must be true.” Or, conversely, “I don’t believe it, so it can’t be true.”

Fortunately, I don’t believe. In or out of it.


FOUNT OF WISDOM


You can now explain anything. Everything. You can prove things based on something a couple of friends said years ago while under the influence of powerful hallucinogenic drugs. Although others may fault your logic, in the world of academics, everyone disbelieves everyone else unless they are citing them as a source, so you might as well stick your oar in the water.

meanin-of-life-snoopy

There are people who will attack you using faith. Faith is based on itself which makes it hard to dispute. The only person who is ever convinced by faith is the he/she who holds it. Nor does it really matter how many people believe or disbelieve it.


Having more believers or followers doesn’t transform faith into fact.
If it did, we could achieve some really nifty things.
Like, say we all believe in magic and therefore, it exists.


HOWEVER – This doesn’t mean that there aren’t an awful lot of people roaming the earth who believe the damnedest things. Flat Earthers. Republicans. People who believe Fox News is the only real news. They know something. Ask them, they will tell you.

Me? I know and nothing seems like a great thing in which to believe. It is the mental sweet spot in this best of all possible worlds.