The Real Thing

It just occurred to me: at the root of all human behavior is the desire to discover and to hold The Real Thing.

It can be a god. It can be a can of soda. It can be an author. It can be a house. It can be an article in a magazine. 

The Real Thing gives us a feeling that we have made a rare discovery, that we have been celestially designated as having, for once, clear and penetrating understanding of something. At first, there’s hesitation, self-doubt; but after this passes, a feeling of triumph ensues. We have The Real Thing.

I’m not sure what the implications of this are; after all, I have this web site just so I can scribble what I want when I want.

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Science triumphant: Yes, it’s Pluto!

The extraordinary becomes everday...

The extraordinary becomes everday…

Who ever thought, even a few years ago, that we’d ever have anything as cool as a detailed photograph of Pluto’s surface?  Hell, even the Hubble was only able to give a picture that wasn’t more than a whitish smudge!

Truly, we live in extraordinary times.  This is, quite possibly, the best time in human history to be alive.


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Vita brevior.

Yes indeed, life is too damn quick.

I guess we survived his finger wagging.

I guess we survived his finger wagging.

I like this whole “waking up and living” thing.  After 56 years, I have gotten very used to it.  The prospect of having only 20 or 30 years left doesn’t thrill me, and I realize that many people turn to religion’s easy comfort so they can more easily spend those quiet moments when all we have is our own counsel.

But I reject the easy comfort of religion.  Instead, I turn to books, radio, poetry (books, again!) and human interaction as ways of making life all the more enjoyable.  For some biological and phenomenological reason, I am not dead yet, don’t have any horrible disease like my unfortunate and always beloved brother Mark had.  In fact, I have this dark feeling ever since the day of his death, February 21 of 2015, that I am on borrowed time, stolen time, and that I am in a distinctly darker region of life than I had ever known existed.

I pour my heart out in this blog, read by just about three people a year, including me. Which is fine, really, because the whole purpose of this is so that I don’t make a complete idiot of myself on Facebook.  (Believe it or not, that was the proximal reason I started this blog.)  It’s probably not the greatest therapy on Earth, since I rarely give myself very helpful feedback.  I like it, though, and for $34 a year I’ll keep doing it.  It provides a way to paint those dark thoughts on a wall, to get them off my chest, to get them out in the open so that if, who knows, the opportunity arises where someone says, “What’s your take on being 56?” then I can quickly type in “” while cursing the reasoning behind my having chosen precisely that as a name for my site, and show this post to that person.

Lemme see.  I’m beginning my 19th year of teaching at Moriah.  Holy shit.  I have six more years to go before I can retire, and baby, I’m retiring the second I have my time in, which will be in 2022.  That sounds sooooooo far off in the future.  Will I still be alive?  Will I be able to walk, to talk, to type, to read, to hold things?  Mark wasn’t able to do those things.  God, I’ll never forget — it was October 4th, 2014, he had not been definitively diagnosed yet (that was a month off.)  He was outside, watching me take bags of pellets off his pickup and bring them down into the basement of his house.  He looked at me, and said, “Emmett, if this is something terminal, then to hell with it, Lori and I are gonna live it up.  Travel all over the world, —” whereupon I stopped him, saying, “Jesus, Mark, don’t even go there!  Terminal?  That’s bullshit.  Whatever it is, you’ll get over it.”  Within six weeks, he was unable to get out of a chair by himself. Within two months, he couldn’t use a computer mouse.  Four months from that time, he was dead.  The travelling all over the world never even got to the discussion phase.

I want to live a long time.  Not living is just a dead end.  Yep, that sounds trite, but put yourself in my shoes (size 12  EE.)  There are a lot of things I’m coming to realize.  Like we humans are all doing a good job pretending we’re not animals.  Like rainy days are good.  Sunny days are good.  We need to love peace.  We need to stop being patriots and to start being citizens.  (The former is an opinon, the latter a fact.)  We need to start putting our arguments in blogs that nobody reads: it’s sort of like putting gun powder into a musket during a heated argument.  You lose your passion while stuffing the gun.    And maybe, just maybe, we will live longer because we’re not angry, we’re getting stuff off our chests, and whether it’s sunny or rainy, we’re alive.

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Greece: Back to the Drachma

When I was taking a college course back in the late 80s, the professor asked us to write opinion pieces for publication in “a European newspaper” arguing either for or against the introduction of a common currency before the introduction of a common government. I argued that the expert on monetary, customs, and postal unions was Otto von Bismarck, and that Bismarck would have counselled strongly against the establishment of the Euro. It is not possible to get people to agree on taxation and fiscal policy unless they feel they are part of the whole; and, assuredly, Greeks feel they are Greek, Poles are Poles, Spaniards are Spanish. They are who they always were, and as an afterthought, they are European. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had a common currency, but it never functioned as a democracy; as soon as people were given a choice, they ran away and created linguistic unions.

Greece, the country that gave us the very idea of democracy, is showing us how language and culture trump idealistic notions of a common currency, even when pursued in the noble cause of a European Union.

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Uh oh.  I’m evolving.

What, me vote for a Republican?

Maybe, maybe Rand Paul.  There are a lot of ‘ifs’ —

  • if  he repudiates the anti-environmentalism of the GOP
  • if  he makes it clear that there is no role for religion in politics
  • if  he supports federal investment in railroads —

Well, I guess I won’t be voting for a Republican after all.

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A list of records — yes, records — all white men own (and if you claim not to own these, you are lying.)

The definitive list.

1. After You’ve Gone (Benny Goodman)
2. If I Love Again (Artie Shaw)
3. Somewhere a Voice is Calling (John McCormick)
4. One O’Clock Jump (Harry James)
5. Thick As a Brick (Jethro Tull)
6. Marlene Dietrich Sings Songs of the O.S.S. (Marlene Dietrich)
7. Moanin’ Low (Leo Reisman)
8. On The Beach (Neil Young)
9. Der Führer’s Face (Spike Jones)
10. I’m in Love with You (High Hatters)

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Good book

Year Zero: A History of 1945Year Zero: A History of 1945 by Ian Buruma
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a tremendously enlightening book. Most of us know that 1945 was a pivotal year in world history; that it marked the end of the biggest human catastrophe the world had ever witnessed; and that it marked the start of a new world configuration. The genius of this book is to bring out the details of that fateful year so that the reader feels both the promise and the failure that marked that time in history. Much of the book is not easy reading, in that some horrors are beyond the capacity of the modern mind to comprehend; this is not to say that it is difficult reading due to the writing or the complexity of content, for it is actually quite accessible and quite well written.

View all my reviews

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