I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

June 26, 2017 - 11:20 a.m.

Tree Good! Fire Bad!

I could make breakfast and coffee now, that's what most people would do but I'm not most people. I feel better writing first; it's a more primal need. I might be weird but at least I know it. It always bugs me when people don't realize that their idiosyncrasies are not the norm. That's an idiosyncrasy of mine. I have never spelled idiosyncrasy correctly till this sentence.

I can't decide if I left the house once or twice yesterday. One of the times I went to the community center. It's in the same building but I have to go past the locked front gate and I do have to walk outside I'm going to count it. I went to be Tech Guy. There was a showing of a documentary about Standing Rock. It was being projected from a computer. The problem was that the film was being streamed and the community center has no Wi-Fi. Nobody thought to check that before they started. I was called in to see if I can work something out. I did a search of networks and there was nothing that didn't require a password. I went to Plan B, setting up a hot spot. I asked if anyone there could set up a free hot spot. I have to pay extra for it. The first phone didn't have a strong enough cell signal. The second one had a iPhone with 5 bars. I don't know from iPhones but I figured out how to get the hot spot up, it was easy, how to find the password, it was easy, and how to connect the computer to the Wi-Fi, that was easy. Like so many things, it required no specific knowledge, just enough to know how to get started and give enough confidence to try things.

The second trip was far more important, I went the two blocks to Lickity Split for ice cream. Does everyone know what I order most of the time now? It's bittersweet symphony sugar cone. Ice cream is a great psych med; it reduces anxiety and depression. I'm fortunate that I don't get the common side effect, weight gain.

It's a beautiful sunny day so a perfect one to check off one item from my diary ideas list. Clearwater is as much about activism as it is music. Pete Seeger left the Hudson River far cleaner than how he found it. It's a great achievement and the sloop Clearwater was a brilliant idea. When Pete started it others on the left thought environmentalism was a distraction from the important issues of the Vietnam War and civil rights. He recognized that the environment needs to be a priority too an environmentalism became integral to the progressive agenda.

I foolishly didn't use sunscreen on Saturday and got a sun burn. The sun was only out for a briefly but that was enough. On Sunday, I was in pain. As I was walking and thinking about this I saw an activist sign, The Sun is the Only Save Nuclear Reactor. The irony struck me immediately and I knew I had to write about it. People are not very rational on evaluating risks. The sun is not just essential for maintaining life on earth it gives a visceral pleasure when we aren't out in it too long an it's not too hot. We need the sun but it is very far from safe. It's by far the most dangerous nuclear reaction. It is responsible for the vast majority of skin cancers. In the US 3.3 million people get skin cancer every year. Forty to Fifty percent of Americans that reach age 65 will develop skin cancer. An estimated 87,110 new cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2017. An estimated 9,730 people will die of melanoma in 2017. All the fission reactors in history have caused fewer cancers than the sun does every year. The sun is not safe but its benefits outweigh even its substantial costs. But people don't think of it that way. For ages people only looked at economic benefits and ignored external costs. Pittsburgh equated black air with economic health. A river in Cleveland caught fire. DDT almost wiped out the Bald Eagle and many other birds. Thanks to people like Pete Seeger and Rachel Carson things got better; most Americans care about the environment. Our air and water is far cleaner than when I was growing up. We can learn.

The problem is we are better at learning facts than ways of thinking. People now care about the environment but they are still terrible at weighing costs and benefits. That requires understanding complex subjects. People want, "Tree Good! Fire Bad!" They don't want, "We need fire to cook and keep warm and we have to burn wood from trees to keep warm. But we don't want to destroy all the forests because trees are good so we have to figure out how to best manage the fires and the cutting down trees as to make it sustainable."

When fear is involved things get worse. People are far more worried about terrorism than they are of traffic accidents though far more people die in car crashes. People are far more afraid of a nuclear reactor than they are of getting too much sun. People care about the environment but they have little idea of what poses the greatest risks. Some things are like terrorism and evoke strong reactions and others are like auto accidents and accepted.

All those thoughts flowed from seeing that sign when I had a sun burn. I love the way our minds work. I say "our" but I only know how my mind works. I might be weird but figure other people's minds are similar. I don't think you'll star analyzing people's risk assessments but your mind will go off in unexpected directions.

Back to that sunburn for a minute. It morphed into dermatitis. That every happen to anyone else? It's finally improving but my legs are still red and still itch. I have been treating it with topical hydrocortisone cream. I've had this before and know what to do. I just never had it triggered by a sunburn.

One thing you should be asking me is where I got my stats on skin cancer from. I got them from here, Skin Cancer Facts and Stats. They list their sources. I didn't feel like using footnotes so I'll use theirs. Don't just accept statistics that aren't sourced.

Sunset on the Sunset Singing Circles - July 01, 2017
Did You See The Movie This Blog is Based On? - June 30, 2017
A Plethora of Peeves - June 29, 2017
This Is Not Fake News - June 28, 2017
The Joy of Cooking - June 27, 2017

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. Horvendile June 26, 2017
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