EVERYTHING. NOTHING. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? – Marilyn Armstrong

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 a lot more bizarre without being truly funny. As a result, we laugh as much as we can, but it’s not nearly enough.

Who knows 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, should have done, meant to do but forgot. I suppose it’s normal for we sort-of-normal people, but completely out-of-the-box for a lot of folks who are (apparently) running the world.

As far as I can figure it, they are the way they are 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 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 organization and 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 hard times so we will grow and learn from it.

Are we learning? Is the world teaching everybody something?

I’ve put a good bit of thought into why my life has fallen apart so many times over the years. 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 for The Big Guy to have it in for me.

Then I had an 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 laughter which isn’t usually the outcome you were looking for.


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 it. Any 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. For that matter, we could believe Star Trek is real and any day now, the ship will beam us up.

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. Unlike me, they know something. Ask them. They will be delighted to tell you.

Me? I know nothing and these days, it seems like the perfect thing in which to believe. It is my mental sweet spot in this best of all possible worlds.

BOLD, NEW OPTIONS TO PREVENT MASS SHOOTINGS – Garry Armstrong

School shootings with multiple victims have become an everyday news story in the United States. It’s a boiler-plate political issue with second amendment activists led by the NRA holding fast to their rights — that is, the right to make a lot of money selling guns to everyone and anyone, anywhere. Fighting passionately to keep the right to own guns, even as bullets from assault weapons are killing kids.

Gun activists are seemingly oblivious to the availability of assault weapons through illegal purchases.

Gun rights trump young lives in harm’s way. It’s a deadly serious issue but the solutions offered by some of our elected officials are anything but serious. Do you think Jimmy Stewart’s Senator Jefferson Smith would be okay with arming teachers to shoot it out with offenders in crowded classrooms?

Can you imagine the late Speaker of the House, “Tip” O’Neill,  the consummate politician, agreeing to arm the real-life “Mr. Peepers” with magnum 44s to blast invaders as students scatter to avoid gunfire?  O’Neil’s reply would minimally question the sanity of his colleagues in the House and Senate. Sadly, we have no Tip O’Neill to step up with rational solutions to our national nightmare.

Pilgrims, it’s time to deal with the miscreants who surely don’t value human life.  Time to appeal to their inner demons and enable them to spray bullets with deadly intent into classrooms to assuage their problems.

But, I have a few minor modifications I’d like to add because it is time to lock ‘n load — with some creative thinking.

SUGGESTION #1 EXPLODING LONG GUNS:  Picture the iconic Red Ryder rifles of our youthful dreams. Long, gleaming barrels with the burnished red stocks, topped by an autographed picture of our 45th President. The sentiment would be clear: “Bad hombres die hard!” If the school shootist fires this weapon,  it’ll blow up in his face.  Crisis averted.

If a teacher or defending student fires the weapon,  it’s a senseless tragedy — but we need to look at the bigger picture. A Presidential eulogy will ease the pain of more innocent lives lost.

The exploding long guns should be massively advertised to draw the attention of would-be assassins. Just the rifle’s Presidential sentiment should entice those who are on the edge of committing bloody massacres.

They will be nudged into action by the Commander-In-Chief’s passion for thoughtless, narcissistic behavior.  The shooter is sure to take selfies with his presidential embossed rifle and post it on Twitter and Facebook, with pride gleaming in his orange eyeballs.

Gary Busey could do television ads for the imploding long guns. Busey’s colorful style would make the guns an easy sell, especially for those who really want to make their mark in the world.

SUGGESTION #2 – EXPLOSIVE TRUMP BOBBLE-HEADS.  These terrific replicas of our President will have all the verve and sexually traumatic attraction of DJT.  They’ll be personally autographed in that familiar, illegible scrawl used to sign faux bills.

The bobbleheads have a floating toupee that easily separates from the rest of the bobblehead on impact. School security could locate the bobbleheads at strategic positions likely to be invaded by would-be shooters.

Psychologists believe the invaders will be disoriented by the bobbleheads. They would automatically pick up the miniature DJTs and blow themselves into a parallel universe occupied by orange-haired robot women, all named “Stormy.”

Roseanne Barr will do all the advertising for the Bobbleheads, emphasizing her belief in MacCheesehead’s legacy as emperor of the world.

These are just the top of our R&D campaign for alternatives to avert School Shootings. We’re working on DJT dart boards that will explode when a dart hits the spot. THE spot.

Let’s stand strong against idiotic suggestions to avert school shootings. You can voice your opinion in the next elections that, hopefully, will sweep out more of the remaining corrupt and mentally- challenged officials pigging out at the public trough.

JUST ONE DAM THING AFTER ANOTHER – Marilyn Armstrong

Someone asked me what was the busiest day I can remember over the last ten years. Last ten years? You’re kidding, right?

The asker was lacking enough decades. She didn’t realize this was an impossible question. When you are 20, your memories are crisp and sharp and you know you will never forget them.

Unless you die young, you will forget them. I can personally guarantee it.

HumbleBeaver

I can’t remember what I did yesterday, much less in the course of an entire 10-year period.

Hectic? What’s hectic? The decades have all been riddled with crises. Financial, medical, personal. I don’t remember the sequence of a particular day, not even yesterday. Or this morning. It’s nearly one in the afternoon. I’m still answering email and trying to get this silly little post written.

Maybe I should think about this in bigger pieces, like decades? Anyone who asks this question obviously hasn’t lived for many decades. I’m sure having fewer decades to remember might make the whole memory thing more … memorable. By the time you’ve survived seven or eight decades, you would never ask this question. You would know your friends feel lucky to get to the end of a sentence without having to pause to remember what word comes next.

I can tell you — I think — which period in my life was the most hectic. It started in 1963 and slowed down … when was that? Wait for it. I’m thinking. Okay, got it. It hasn’t slowed down. But it would be okay with me if it did.

Life, as the beaver said, is just one dam thing after another.

beaver mafia

 

MODERN CAPITALISM AND CORPORATE CORRUPTION IN ONE MEME – Marilyn Armstrong

I don’t usually publish stuff I find on Facebook, but there’s an exception to every rule. This made me laugh and I really need a laugh. It didn’t get to me until I got to Canadian Capitalism. Then, I lost it.

WARNING: This is a meme, not reality. Don’t go there. Just don’t.

capitolism-explained

CLOWNS ARE RUNNING THE WORLD – Garry Armstrong

“Send In The Clowns”, on its own merit, is a beautiful song from the show, “A Little Night Music.” Judy Collins’ cover has made it a popular favorite for decades. A Frank Sinatra version is especially poignant.

Jimmy Stewart (clown) and Charlton Heston in “The Greatest Show On Earth”

In the early 70’s, a seemingly more innocent period, I used “Send In The Clowns” as a musical wrap around a political TV piece. I was covering local Boston politics. A primary campaign. Those were the days of political and community icons like “Dapper,” “Fast Freddie,” Trixie, “Kevin From Heaven,” “Wacko,” and “Raybo.”

Those were influential folks, beloved by their constituents and bearers of much political clout. I was on “friendly” terms with most of these folks. There was less Sturm und Drang between the media and politicians in those days.

There was respect.

My piece was shot with silent black and white film.  We were still in the pre-videotape and digital days. I chose silent film over sound because I wanted the music to have more presence, less competition from people talking.

We used a montage of candidates faces, posters and campaign slogans. The lyrics of “Send In The Clowns” soared as the video zoomed in on campaign slogans and candidates kissing babies and pressing the flesh.

I anticipated a flurry of angry calls from campaign directors.  Nothing. Nada. One candidate, over happy hour drinks, praised the cleverness of my piece but said he would’ve preferred the Sinatra version of “Clowns”.

So much for being glib in those days.

Imagine using “Send In The Clowns” today.  For the coming mid-terms.  The  ’20 Presidential race. How would the “Clowns” lyrics fare over the screaming POTUS?  The ranting Rudy? The shouting Sean Hannity?

Should we intercut snippets of circus clowns with “breaking news” video and clips of all the President’s minions?  Don’t forget those shots of the President’s supporters, the “People,” with their “Jail Her” signs and the racist banners flying over political bonfires.

Send in the clowns?  Don’t bother.
They’re already here. 

REDACTED READING – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Hoopla

I did a preliminary read on most of the Mueller Report last night. Not every word, but I did a speed read of most of it. I will have to revisit parts of it and read those sections more thoroughly. But it’s easy enough to get the drift.

After yesterday’s hoopla about redactions, most news organization have calmed down and realized that the majority of the report is not redacted. Most of the significant parts of the report remain intact.

Donald Trump and William Barr
(Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

Despite Barr and Trump’s victory dance and braying about how there’s “NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION,” there was a lot of attempted collusion and obstruction. That almost everyone in the White House isn’t in jail is that Trump’s illegal orders weren’t carried out.

They come, they go … The temporary cabinet of Trumpinski

Trump’s gang didn’t follow his orders. He ordered them to do something illegal, after which they outright refused, passed it along to a subordinate who dragged his or her feet and it never got done … or said “Sure, Boss,” but never got around to it.

What you get out of the report is:


A) Trump is a terrible president and everyone knows it
B) The people who work with him don’t respect him
C) The White House is a chaotic mess
D) Everyone knows they are working for a man who is clueless and quite likely stupid.

It’s not a flattering portrait of our orange president. That none of the Republican senators and other bigwigs are standing up to him will sooner rather than later make the Republican Party a non-Party. The shameless spinelessness of high-ranking Republicans is more shocking than the asshole president.

One asshole? We can deal with ONE asshole, even if he is supposedly the president. But a whole SENATE full of assholes? That is way over the line.

Ironically — and this may go beyond irony into hilarity in a dark way — Putin and the Russian Gang are disappointed in Trump. They wanted chaos, but they never imagined a presidency so awful they can’t even get in touch with anyone. They won’t talk to Pompeo. They want people who know what they are doing.

Hah!

They can’t make deals, they aren’t getting a “better relationship” with the U.S. If anything, it’s worse. The sanctions are worse, we are sending tanks into the Crimea (which Obama refused to do) — and you can’t trust anything Trump says.

What an embarrassment! You corrupt a country and instead of getting advantages, you are humiliated and wind up getting less than before. In fact, everyone gets less than before.

I guess they picked the wrong president to corrupt. They should have chosen to corrupt someone with a sense of honor. Corrupting someone who can’t be trusted to keep your secrets? Oops.

I thought the MOST fascinating part of the document was the appendices where there were virtually no redactions. You get to see all the questions Mueller asked and you can read for yourself that he felt the prez had either “forgotten,” “failed to have a clear recollection,” and “had only a vague memory because’ so much was happening.'”

Mueller felt he’d gotten as much information as he could from others who work with Trump. Since the prez “couldn’t remember anything,” there was little to be gained from having a major constitutional battle to get his testimony when (1) he couldn’t be prosecuted anyway (under the current “unofficial” rules), and (2) Trump lies all the time.

The ultimate question is a big one: where are all the honorable Republicans standing up to say that this man is unfit for public office, much less President. Where are “the good guys” in the party? Where are those people who care about the nation more than their party leader?

And as for the Democrats, get your act together. Figure out where you stand. If you really don’t know what you are doing — and a number of supposed people running for office obviously don’t know nothin’ bout’ nothin’ — we already have a moron in office. Don’t try to give us another one. Been there, done that.

I strongly doubt this country could stand another round of presidential idiocy, regardless of party.

The guy on Colbert last night (sorry, forgot his name) commented that being too incompetent to be properly corrupted or successfully collude has historically never (previously) been used by a president before.

We are so special!