Tuesday, December 31, 2019
It's the last day of the calendar year and I'm required by federal law to blog about that. The calendar thing is interesting. According to recorded history, people have been coming up with calendars for many thousands of years. I'm guessing the same thing happened in pre-history, but no one chiseled it down, so we don't know anything about those particular calendars. None of our calendars have ever worked well, because they try to impose lizard-ape order on a universe that doesn't really care or even notice. Day length (planetary rotation) and year length (planetary orbit) are always going to be controlled by forces we only pretend to understand, and they're always going to vary from day to day and year to year.
To top off the folly with even more jolly, out in the real world of nature the old year expires and the new year begins at the moment of winter solstice, which happened 10 days (whatever those are) ago at roughly 9:40 p.m. (whatever that means) tonight. So we're late.
Not that the universe cares or even notices.
Which is actually pretty cool.
It's cold and the wind is blowing this morning. I am not well pleased because the NWS promised warming and much less wind. Also, you may assume I've got a very long list of other things which don't entirely meet my expectations or demands for the day. Boy howdy.
You know me, in addition to pounding heavily on the theme of principles, I'm also big on reality.
As for principles, I find that most of the people I interact with don't spend much time thinking about them. Most of these folks tend to behave in a relatively civilized fashion, but I believe that they do so out of habit and self interest more than anything else. This is probably fine in the short term, but those who don't know what their principles actually are are liable to behave in a very uncivilized fashion indeed when faced with unanticipated stressors. We in the first world have a neat little ongoing experiment which I believe illustrates the pitfalls of operating with a lack of foundational principle. That experiment is social media. Social media is simply a communications technology. It's just hardware and software, and it only does what the users tell it to do. That the social media landscape is utterly uncivilized has nothing to do with the hardware and software, and everything to do with unprincipled lizard-apes acting out.
But none of this is about that.
Another theme I like to beat into a bloody pile of glue and horse hair is reality. Reality is the stuff that's actually happening in the real physical world. Most first world lizard-apes spend nearly all of their time in an artificial environment where most of their needs are met more or less automatically. There's nothing wrong with this, and it is indeed one of the crowning achievements of civilization. We have a system in place where houses and apartments are built with an infrastructure of utilities to input energy and take away waste. Stores are filled with consumables and disposables and durables. Motor vehicles are available with an infrastructure of roads, fueling stations, repair shops, and buy-trade-sell venues. Something approaching 98 percent of American adults have places to go each day where they exchange some form of work for money, which is a form of liquid or transferable work. We use our money to keep our domiciles functioning and our cars motoring and our bellies filled and our entertainment flowing. In this way, we all work together to have a nice place to live, a place to be useful, food to eat, places to go, stuff to do, books to read, babies to raise, etc.
It's a remarkably robust system we lizard-apes have built. It's also remarkably fragile. The weaknesses and strengths of the system are mirror images, for the system is built upon a real physical place which exists in a dynamic universe, and it's built and maintained by loosely cooperating lizard-apes who are individual actors continually exercising free will who are also real entities inhabiting a dynamic universe. What could possibly go wrong?
If you've stayed tuned in to this point you've waded through a lot of philosophical drivel, so you are to be congratulated. Or perhaps chastised. I'm not sure which. We've each of us got only a limited time as mobile and functioning lizard-apes, and wasting precious and finite heartbeats is perhaps less than optimal. The question you are no doubt asking is, will this sophist blabbermouth ever get to a point?
The point is simply this. A lot of lizard-apes (including me) waste a lot of precious heartbeats longing for a static universe and trying to impose their will on a place which is anything but static and so enormously big and unknowable that the very thought of bossing it around should automatically dislocate their brains. Which would be a good thing in many ways, because while brains are neat and fun and often handy to have around, they are usually badly misused and this leads to more heartache and angst than there needs to (or should) be.
So my advice to myself is simply this (it has to be simple, for I'm not equipped to handle much complexity): Know your principles and for firetruck's sake, act accordingly. And in a dynamic universe, when stasis just won't stay put regardless of how much superglue you slather about, suck it up and drive on. And like it!
Anyone have a better idea?
I visited the post office to mail a check to the bank in Banner County. Why did I make a video of this momentous occasion? Basically to demonstrate easy parking and no lines, and also to remark about the fact that in a previous life the post office was a department store called Gambles. There's actually an interesting history behind Gambles, according to whackopaedia. It was part of a business concern that was born in the 1890's, lived to be 90-something, and then died. A few Gambles offspring businesses still exist, but, well, time has marched on. And, sorry, but I really blathered on in this video. As in all of the other ones.
Driving a few blocks around Kimball on a bright but cold last morning of 2019. Complete with blathering.
And wonder of wonders, I figured out a way to overpay for a couple of flashlights thanks to slick marketing and shiny pictures. And of course my phone decided it had to record the video sideways, so I'm not gonna post it up. The video sucked anyway. The punchline is that I paid $100 for a pair of $10 flashlights. Maybe I'll do a video about them some other time.
However, all is not lost. I discovered this gem when the ewwtoobe algore-ithm threw it at me. I don't habla the SwissGerman but I found the thing quite entertaining.
I'm going to try very hard to spend some hours writing on this last day of the calendar year. Specifically, I'm in the middle of a Corpsman Chronicles post. It's a tale that covers a few interesting events that are connected by a particular thread but play out over the better part of a year. I'm hoping I can make it readable. I'll probably botch the thing.
Finally, despite the many reasons why the new year is lizard-ape self delusion shading toward psychosis, and despite the fact that the universe doesn't care, the fact remains that we lizard-apes do care, and we do make calendars, and we do mark the dates of momentous and not-so-momentous occasions.
Therefore I do sincerely wish each and every one of you all the best in the coming year. And btw, Happy Birthday to The Nuke. That there is a momentous occasion.
Be well and enjoy the blessings of liberty.