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

May 07, 2018 - 3:49 p.m.

Life Forms Detected

I'm going to have to accept that I'll be blogging in the afternoon when my body tells me to. I don't know why but I'm getting sleepy an hour or two after I wake up. It isn't worth fighting that to write. I need a nap and coffee to do my best. Now I've had both. The naps are weird. I fall asleep with things in my hand. Last night I was clutching my glasses and this morning my phone. Both times I think I was about to stand up when I fell asleep. I'll talk about it with my psychiatrist next time I see her. I don't think it's significant but she's in a better position to judge that. There's a reason doctors go to medical school. I'm a good patient and part of that is knowing that even though I'm far more knowledgeable than the average layman but compared to a doctor I'm Jon Snow, I know nothing. I'm also just as good looking and Daenerys has a thing for me. You're giving me that look again; just humor me.

I managed to rip some of my huge backlog of CDs last night. My anxiety blocks are so weird. Why does ripping CDs trigger it? The only answer is, I don't know. Once I start I can keep doing it as long as I have a supply of CDs handy.

I didn't go out yesterday, but I still saw live music, Meg Braun was on concert window. It's been years, but I'm still not used to Meg not living in the City. She's someone I feel I should be seeing either musically or socially all the time. I'm slow to adjust to some things. She's coming off the DL, she hurt her hand. It didn't affect her songwriting, she did new songs and her guitar playing was fine. Nashville better stop stealing my friends.

I should move to East Nashville and open a business catering to New York emigrants. It will provide for the things I hear my friends complain they miss; bagels, pizza, Chinese food, a bodega, complete with cat, and food delivery. Who wants to be an investor? What else am I missing? What do you miss about New York? Other than me of course, that's a given.

There's a science fiction trope, primarily in TV and movies, not books, that has always bugged me; life form detectors. I probably first saw it on Star Trek. They even were able to calibrate it to detect silicon life, which before they discovered the Horta, they didn't know existed, in Devil in the Dark. It's used in almost every show including Agents of Shield that takes place in the present. In the Terminator somehow only living things could travel in time so the terminator had to be coated in flesh. Somehow his hair could be transmitted but not wool or cotton. Anyone else think that was an excuse to show Arnold naked? Why does it bother me? Because it involves a physical device that just detects life, as if living matter was somehow different than inanimate matter. That's magical thinking. The atoms and molecules in something living is no different than the atoms and molecules in anything else. Being alive is a property, a not well-defined property of the organism as a whole, not the constituents. When something dies nothing magical happens, the parts just stop working together. It harkens back to the mystical idea of the life force. It has no place in modern thought. What bothers me the most is that it is such a common trope that I suspect that most people believe in the underlying magic. They wouldn't accept a device that somehow only works on red cars or Hondas. But something that only works on living things? Sure.

The same thinking is behind the belief that "natural" things are better than "artificial." When I told someone of my love of MSG in cooking his response was, "That's natural, right?" As if a chemical is somehow different if it produced in a cell or a reaction vessel. People don't leave some sort of aura on things they manufacture. A chemical is defined by its components and structure, not its history. Many people, even those that know it intellectually, haven't internalized it.

It's very easy to fall into the magic trap. In high school I was convinced that people could sense when you looked at them from behind. I'd try it, I'd stare at the back of someone's head and they'd turn around and see me doing it. That's much more interesting than people sometimes look around and if they spot someone staring at them with their peripheral vision that they'll notice. I'm embarrassed to admit that I did that as a teen. I shouldn't be. It's a common enough error.

It's not something that doesn't let me enjoy the shows that use the trope. Devil in the Dark is one of the best episodes of Star Trek. It can make scripting easier. That part bothers me, it's lazy writing. How many shows have you seen where "they guy at the screens" tells the guy in the field where the enemy is? I loved that Spiderman Homecoming acknowledged that trope. I'm not a total spoil sport. I just wish that once someone asks, "Don't you guys have a device to detect life forms?" And the answer is, "How the hell would that work? We can do motion detectors bot we won't know if it's a Roomba or a turtle."

I should go shopping now. I'm not doing anything interesting, so I'll have to find something else to write about tomorrow.

I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.

Memories: Not that Horrid Song - May 29, 2018
Wise Madness is Now In Session - May 28, 2018
The NFL and the First Amendment - May 27, 2018
On The Road Again - May 26, 2018
Oliver the Three-Eyed Crow - May 25, 2018

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Horvendile May 07, 2018
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