Saturday, October 3, 2015

“Suicide Is Painless … ?”

“Suicide Is Painless … ?”

The theme song from the 1960’s (60’s – 70’s) sitcom “Mash” went something like.
“Suicide is painless,
It brings on many changes.”

Of course, this is a stupid statement, but then I believe it was meant to be a stupid statement.  To-ho-tally inspired by the irony of a stupid war, stupid human enforced violence and tragedy.  Stupid wars, as a tradition we have continued in this country since the Korean Conflict. 

But still, is suicide painless?  How the hell would anyone know?  You can’t ask anyone who has successfully accomplished suicide.  They’re dead!  How are they going to tell you?  You can ask somebody who failed at it.  “Woah, dude! Did that hurt?”  “Yeah, it fucking hurt!  I just shot myself in the fucking head!  Yeah it hurt!!!!  It still fucking hurts!!!” 

The greatest tragedy is that to say it’s painless is actually more of a narcissistic statement – outlook – than common thought would embrace.  For the dead guy, suicide is now painless.  That person can’t feel anything.  But, as is also obvious, everyone else who had any contact with that person is very painfully affected.  For the family, the formerly loved ones, it hurts like a bastard!  It hurts with a pain that never ever goes away.  And  “the changes” it “brings on” are a continuous state of pain, regret, despair, depression, anxiety, self-recrimination – the inventory of pain is endless.  And permanent!

But nobody talks about the blame.  Or, when they do, this takes on a vengeful note.  A condemnation of someone.  The person who killed themselves is a sinner who will burn in Hell!  The spouse, parents, friends – somebody must pay!!!  What I wonder is “Why?”  “Why do we have to have a scapegoat?”  Not, “there’s a problem here.  We need to … maybe … find a solution?”  And, “This should not happen?  Oh no, we must assign blame. 

Thing is, no one can know what it is like to walk on one leg, unless they loose a leg.  You can imagine it, sure, but what it is really like to try to walk on a prosthetic limb is something you can only know with the imperial evidence.  Who do you blame when you fall into that black lightless cave of depression and despair?  Really?  Have you been there?  I know when it happens to me, and it does happen to me not infrequently, I don’t blame anyone or anything, I just want to get out of that cave.  And, in the past, I was never in a right mindedness (rational enough) to think, or even care, how I got out of it.  I just wanted the fuck out! 

The judgementality  of other people only makes it worse.  Much, much, much worse.  The brain, in such pain, knows no rationality and it does resent all the insincere, phony sympathy.  Sometimes the brain in pain violently resents phony sympathy.  Brain is shrieking, “Just make it stop!  What to do?  How to help?  Simply?  “Shine a light into the cave.”  Don’t try to yank the afflicted out of the cave.  Most likely you will get bitten or clawed.  Simply shine a light into the darkness with – maybe – a smile or a kind nonjudgmental word or gesture and allow time and space for the afflicted to react and respond as they are able; can find the strength to extract themselves. 

And, make the greatest attempt to understand that what might seem rational or intelligent or appropriate are conditions that do not exist in these circumstances.  Do not expect those things.  They do not apply.  In the case of being the one afflicted, “Faith that nothing BUT nothing is forever for the living. “  The only thing that is forever, is death.  So … if you don’t take away your own life, things will eventually change.  And, hold on to that factual knowledge like it is a floating log in a class five rapids.  Whatever you do, don’t let go of that log and eventually you will float to calmer waters and can climb out of the fucking river.

In the cave, just sit down and wait for the light.  When you see it, crawl towards it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Magical Science and Mystical Math

Magical Science and Mystical Math

Now I won’t mention a particular American political party; but at the present there is one that seems to be leaning hard some sort of Science that borders, apparently, on more of a kind of Magic than any kind of real Science.  To me there is a fundamental logic that can be arrived at through mere observation.  An analogy; a piano is hanging by a single wimpy and frayed looking rope.  Logic of observation would tend to tell a person, “Don’t stand under that piano.” … Right?  I’m right, aren’t I?

I mean, really, would any observant and half intelligent (wouldn’t have to be completely intelligent – even) person have to be told, “Hey, don’t stand under that piano.  That rope don’t look too good.”  Right?  … Okay.

Are humans responsible for Climate Change on the scale that appears to be happening today?  Well, look around.  That most huge per centage of our breathable atmosphere comes from two basic sources.  The top coupla feet of the ocean where plankton and other life forms absorb CO2 and emit oxygen.  And the forests dotted around the globe.  We know this.  This is a provable fact.  You don’t need to be a scientist to know this.  It’s in every science book from the most fundamentalist Bible pounders to, God forbid, Atheists’ science books.

So for even the shortest amount of time that anyone accepts; like the Bible Pounders believe, the earth is 8000 years old, our grand global ecosystem hummed right along without any real affect from people.  Then following the Industrial Revolution, say 200 years ago at a big stretch, a lot of the fresh water around the entire globe has become unusable right where you find it – lakes and say, mountain streams, etc..  Even in the most remote places, you can no longer drink any of it without filtering or boiling.

The surface of the oceans have massively large islands of oily goo and even solid acreage, thousands and thousand of square miles, of litter.  Just plain old floating garbage.  Miles and miles across islands of plastic bottle, dirty diapers and all of the other crap that takes millenniums to decompose and floats.  The surface of ALL of the unfrozen water on the planet is being choked by human waste or human created pollution.  You can see it from satellites.  It does not require a scientist to simply observe this.  NONE of it existed – at all – 200 years ago.

How did it get there, choking off one of the planets major sources of oxygen?  It didn’t blow out of volcanoes.  It didn’t rise from the bottom of the oceans, etc..  It didn’t fall from the skies.  It had to be MADE by something.  God, didn’t make it.  Why would an omniscient all powerful being make a thing that destroys something else that that being made?  Not logical!  How did it get there? 

Humans made it!!!  There is simply no other way it got there, or here. 
It’s not a matter of science even. 

Now, we get to the forests, even general green vegetation.  It is also a proven fact that trees, especially, and other green plants take sunlight and water and nutrients from the soil, they also absorb CO2 and emit oxygen.  Not evolution vs. creation.  Not religious vs. atheists.  Not faith vs. anything else.  Remove any one of these three elements from the equation and the trees and other green growing things, die.  They no longer continue to live.  When they die, when they are dead, they don’t, they can’t do this anymore.  Do you need a scientist to tell you that!!!

Dead things don’t do anything, once they are dead, except rot.  Actually when organic matter, or organisms, die, they decompose and that, generally as I understand it, emits CO2.  So they actually contribute more to the problem when they die.

When you cut down massive swaths of forests, like in the Amazon (as in the globes largest Rain Forest) to raise beef cattle, build millions of crappy useless housing tracts nobody wants and other stupid human desires, what happens?  It all boils down to one conclusion and one conclusion only – human beings are fucking up the place. 

I’ll get to “Mystical Math” the next time.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Whoah! Really!

Whoah! Really!

I am riding my motorcycle on a long narrow bridge that passes over the Rappahannock river.  This bridge climbs steeply up towards the center at about the mile and a half marker.  Like a church steeple over a deep channel where tall boats go under.  Wide river, over three miles, heavy winds right down the center.  Old bridge, built back before tractor-trailer traffic, no skirt – at all – just a concrete wall right where the yellow line would be.

Just as I approach the tallest section; cannot see over this top, less than a hundred yards of forward visibility -  wham!  Whoosh!.  Some kind of zipper car Daddy bought his little ray of girlish sunshine.  Windows wide open, I can see her ponytail bobbing around, cell phone crunched up between her ear and shoulder.  Maybe, just old enough to be behind the wheel, just barely.

My life, her own life!  Not a consideration.  Hasn’t even processed through her super-girl mind.  How do you get as old as me?  You don’t die when you’re as young as she obviously is.  That’s how.  Truly, it’s as much a matter of luck, as anything.  And anybody who thinks it’s because God loves you and wants you live a long life, or you are, in some fashion, just better than somebody else – well, I think those people are fools.  At her apparent age, I was easily as reckless (yeas, stupid) when I was that young and behind the wheel.  No, no, I was more stupid.

Far more reckless.  It really comes down to not having a clue how quickly shit can happen; how true innocence of calamity can land on your head like a tree bat at a picnic on a warm summer evening.  You taking a bite of your hot dog, sip of beer, then you’re running in circles waving your arms around trying to drive off a flying rat.  Drop the hot dog on your new floral pattern shirt, beer all over your brand new Patagonia cargo shorts.  “boink  - Where did that tree come from –!  Gawddamnit!  “I chipped a tooth!!!”

Or, worse.  Being a High School teacher, I have gone to more funerals of young people who never saw 20 years old.  Prime of life, prime of health and no longer with us, just due to ordinary bad luck.  Tragic to the point that my heart just aches every time I think of it.  Too many times.  Too many times.  It’s not stupidity, it’s not because they weren’t wonderful young people.  Not because they ever did anything really wrong or hurt anybody.  I don’t believe it was even just lousy karma.  Just a matter of standing under the wrong branch under the wrong tree when the crow shits.

However, so much can be avoided by the one principle that has formulated in my own mind as the years have flown by.  And that would be, “Think it through.”  “When in doubt, calmly think it through.”  “Slow down and just think it through.”  “It’s better to be late, than dead.”  You might get yelled at if you’re late, you might feel a bit humiliated, but if you’re dead you won’t hear or feel anything.  You’ll get over being late, you won’t get over being dead.

On one side of that long treacherous bridge is a small southern Virginia town that has … nothing.  A pizza parlor, a place that sells fresh caught fish and a pre-paycheck loan office.  As I say –nothing.  On the other side of that bridge is …  a pizza parlor, a place that sells fresh caught fish and a pre-paycheck loan office.  Plus a gas station and my Doctor’s office.  Which is, for me, the only reason for ever having to cross that bridge.  And I really don’t want to get killed on my way to see my Doctor ,,, about a mole that has changed color (or something paranoid like that).

What’s the big rush about getting from … basically nowhere, to … basically nowhere?  It definetly ain’t worth killing somebody or dying to get there … nowhere.

Yo, happy to see you.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Love and the Confederate Flag

Love and the Confederate Flag

From my house I must take a two-mile access road to reach a country road of the standard two lanes.  It is very rural and very nicely scenic.  Horse pastures and even a golf course.  Not so much upscale as backcountry Virginia.  It’s not unusual around here to have a trailer park at the same intersection as a church and the access to a seriously wealthy country club.

There is a lot of identity confusion around here though.  Half of the local long time residents would tell you they were southerners classic Johnny Reb types –( a.k.a. red necks).  Even though the state is home to a major portion of the nation’s legislators.  Or, members of the Federal Government.  Paid and living pretty high on the hog owned by the general taxpayers.  Still  … big pride in Southern History.

Now my heritage is old west.  Rocky Mountain high-yi.  Cowboys and cattle and sheep and dusty western farming.  So the whole Civil War brain set is really beyond my understanding.  In my mind it’s like, “There was a war between a bunch of bigots who were profiting immensely by standing on the necks of a whole race of people. They believed that the Bible and their white God gave them that situation by divine right – even as a duty.  And they did not want that to change.  They were willing to dissolve the entire nation to keep it that way.  And, a bunch of folks who thought that condition – called slavery – was immoral, plus they wanted to keep the country together as a Unified country. “

So that was history.  It was a war that happened a very long time ago.  The southern bigots lost.  The war ended.  I’ll say it again, the bigots lost.  They fucking lost the war!  So pack up your gear, go home, live with it.  Move on already.  World War II (two) – we fought and died by the millions, on all sides, with Germany and Japan.  Now we’re all the bestest buds. (?)  Even Viet Nam, where tens of thousands of my generation fought and died – along with just as many Viet Namese – and we go there for fucking vacations now!  I have young Viet Namese students at the school where I teach.

What is the issue with the American Southeners?  Still full of bigotry and hate.  And the state motto is “Virginia is for lovers” !!! ???  The flag symbolizing all that bigotry and hate was taken down from a couple southern state buildings.  A good move, to my mind.  But why was it even there in the first place?  After those states lost , why was it even allowed to be flown?  WTF?  But all that aside, even after a huge tragedy that could be directly  tied to that 150 year old symbol of hate, bigotry and flat out failure was deemed to be in violation of basic human and racial respect was removed, a lot of these local yahoos started putting it up everywhere.

Sure museums are fine.  It is history- yes, a major big thing.  Like just about the biggest part of American History after the Revolutionary War – or, say WW II.
History is important.  Vital – in my mind.  I love to study history.  So, to me, the question is not whether local cultural pride in one’s heritage is at issue, but whether the issue of slavery and bigotry are really part – a major part – of what that flag truly represents historically.  Or, are you actually, truly, proud of what your local cultural heritage believed in – fought and died to preserve? 

To be so proud of it would, logically, mean, you would return to that belief, those beliefs, if you could.  (?)  Yes, of course, think Germany and the Nazis.  I have been there, many times.  You will never see a Nazi flag flying from any public building anywhere in the entire country.  Yes, you will see it in Museums.  You can see the Nazi flag in thousands of museums in the United States, as well as much of Europe.  But NOT in public as reminder of proud local cultural heritage.  Nor will you see Japan’s “Rising Sun” flag anywhere.

As you enter the state of Virginia, on any major highway – interstate highway – at the first public highway rest stop, you will see, spelled out in ten foot tall letters, the word “LOVE”.  Huge!L O V E”.  In the parking lot, right there in the same rest stop, parked right in front of this huge declaration of affection and tolerance, you can also (frequently) see numerous cars and pick up trucks with Confederate flag decals.  Some of the pick-up trucks even have huge, full sized – as in might fly from the dome of the state house – Confederate flags.  AND, the license plates are registered in VIRGINIA?  Where the state motto is stamped right on those same license plates, “Virginia is for lovers”.  (???)

Am I missing something?  I don’t get it.