Saturday, August 31, 2013

Lessons in humility

One thing this papacy is doing for me, is making me realise that there is a big gap between our perceptions and reality, mostly created by the media. They have made a kind of virtual reality world, populated by famous people whose actions and motives are weirdly stilted and artificial. It is making it clear that we have allowed a strange and false interpretation of reality to be overlaid on everything we see and think.

It is also making me want to ask, "What does real humility look like?"

I think this weird, artificial wonderworld is having a big influence in making people become much crazier than they have ever been. It creates a kind of self-enclosed bubble-verse in which we can find ourselves trapped within ourselves. I think the media-created mirrorverse is what creates things like this. Outcomes that would have been inconceivable in any previous time, by anyone, no matter how mad. It's not that crazy people, narcissists didn't exist in former times, it's that the new media-created world allows them to take it to extremes that would simply not have been tolerated.

But we can no longer tell the difference between a preening narcissist, playing out her life before the cameras, and "spirituality" or "humility". We simply no longer have any categories.

~ * ~

I'm having a bad morning, especially since it's after two pm, and I just woke up an hour ago. I'm experiencing that horrible, desperate, helpless and frantic condition one gets when one has completely buggered up one's sleep cycle by flying around the world and back, powerless to fix it.

I started swimming to the surface this morning about ten am, after sleeping about four and a half or five hours. Every time I squinted blearily at the clock, I thought, "Get up now!". Next thing I knew, I'd be doing it again, and in about five minutes an hour would have passed. When I thought it was 11:45, I got up in a haze of misery, self-loathing and desperation, only to find that it was nearly one.

It's been eleven days since touchdown, and I've been struggling every day. No matter what I do, I'm still up til four and in bed til well into the day. And I'm exhausted. Even with nine hours sleep, if it's the wrong ones, I can't wake up. The first day back, I slept around the clock and woke exactly as miserable as when I fell asleep, fully clothed, 13 hours before.

It's the feeling of being trapped by it, weirdly constrained, that is the worst. I'm shocked and horrified to find I'm physically incapable of breaking out of the trap. I HATE not having control over such a basic thing.

This ... hangover, effect is the real reason I don't EVER want to fly across the Atlantic. The misery it causes for weeks afterwards. I'm nauseated, exhausted, I can't eat and my energy is at about the level of a snail. I can drag myself from the bed to the computer, and the only reason I get up every day at all, is because I've left it on the dining room table, instead of bringing it to bed with me.

~ * ~


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

No true feminist

"They" are so clever. They've made a name for everything.

I keep having the same fruitless conversation with "conservative" Catholics, who love to tell me I'm being harsh and "judgmental" and "painting with too broad a brush" when I attack feminism.

"MY feminism is just lovely," I'm told. "Sweet and charming and totally compatible with Christianity... That other kind of feminism, that wants to destroy Western Civilisation... that's not the REAL feminism."

Well, I've just remembered that there is a name for this: the "No true Scotsman" fallacy.

It goes like this: I want to retain a selection of the feminist principles because I find them personally convenient and salubrious, and I'm afraid of being seen as some kind of wacko. Therefore I will invent my very own mental construct that fits my needs and preferences, call it 'real feminism,' and condemn anyone who dares to call me on it. Problem solved.

To that I reply, "No true Scotsman":
Imagine Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sitting down with his Glasgow Morning Herald and seeing an article about how the "Brighton Sex Maniac Strikes Again". Hamish is shocked and declares that "No Scotsman would do such a thing". The next day he sits down to read his Glasgow Morning Herald again; and, this time, finds an article about an Aberdeen man whose brutal actions make the Brighton sex maniac seem almost gentlemanly. This fact shows that Hamish was wrong in his opinion but is he going to admit this? Not likely. This time he says, "No true Scotsman would do such a thing"


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The unfunny sex-world

One of the things the Sexual Revolution has done is make it impossible to make bawdy jokes. The porn-culture has made us all, willingly or not, into pervs. There's no more innuendo, no more hinty, nudge-nudge-wink-winkyness left in the culture. The depraved culture has taken nearly all the fun out of sexiness.

I don't know if anyone has actually codified it as a rule, so maybe I'll do so now: the depravity of the culture can be measured by how many classic Monty Python jokes have been de-parodied.


Monday, August 26, 2013

All-time fave

I just discovered the thing that tells you what your all-time most popular post was.

Guess! Go ahead!

Well, it sure wasn't one of those long, boring philosophical things.

With 7344 individual page views,

this was the most popular post I've done since starting this version of the blog in September 2005:

Remember him?

How 'bout him?

Me too.

Nature: it's cool, gross, terrifying and awesome all at the same time.



OK, there's a little secret coming. Something cool. I'm working with someone to start another blog. This one will be much bigger, and more public than our little tea party salon here, so it's taking some time to get developed. But you're going to like it.

Of course, I'll never abandon the Picnic and things will carry on here as usual.

I thought I'd share some of the editorial policies we're working from, see if any of it sounds familiar to our regulars:

I think the basic rules I've learned in blogging for ten years (holy crap!) are the following:

Post short, post often; long posts bore the crap out of everyone, so the rule is no more than one in five long/serious to short/funny

Be entertaining before all else; Charm, not facts will win the masses over to your side

Cultivate a conspiratorial ambiance; readers love to feel like they belong to an exclusive "in-crowd"

Abuse your readers; readers are like women, they get more loyal if you slap 'em around a bit

Police your commboxes; ruthlessly purge, punish and eliminate anyone who doesn't get the joke

When you need money, ask for it; just putting a paypal button on the sidebar will net you no dough whatsoever, you have to directly ask people for it - do it regularly and shamelessly

A black sense of humour is going to be your best friend; attack mercilessly but make em laugh (preferably at your enemies), and don't be afraid to be the bad kid

Remember that you are working to conquer the world; try not to forget that you have to turn it over to Christ when you're done, but your job is conquest first - be a ruthless tyrant for the sake of the Kingdom


There is something wrong with my brain

Or, I could be a girl, I don't know which.

But whenever I watch this video, I usually cry when the elephant busts out of jail, goes home and finds his friends again.

I was first introduced to Coldplay by best-friend Vicky, my go-to girl for all things pop-culture, in the following conversation several years ago:

"That was nice, what band was it?"


"Ah, well, they're really good."

"Yes, they are. Quite good."

"Are they a local group?"

"No, I think they're British."

"Doing well? Are they popular?"

"They're the new U2."

"Oh, good for them."

Vicky taught me everything I know about being cool.

~ * ~

Apparently a few other people also like it. It's been viewed a simply amazing 222,411,796 times! Holy Cats! I guess they are doing well.

~ * ~

First day in nearly three weeks I can walk normally. The day after I arrived in Tranna, my back totally seized up and I spent the entire time walking like a penguin and yelping in agony if anyone touched me.

This is one problem I can't put down to old age. I did my back in the first time in the fifth grade playing floor hockey. (Yes, yes, go ahead with your Canadian jokes, I'll wait.) I was covering goal, and I thought the ball was going one way and it went the other. The top half of me went the first way and the bottom half followed the ball, and the rest of me landed face down on the floor screaming.

Months of physio made it better, but it's been touchy ever since. And unpredictable. I once got six weeks of agony for reaching down to the kitchen floor to pick up a plastic bag.

I got accupuncture in Tranna before facing the 9 hour overnight plane ride home, and it helped (that, and the codeine). But it's still been another few days to become fully functional.

The accupuncture guy said it was the abrupt transition from roasting hot Roman weather, to the ice-box air conditioning of the plane, then all the AC in Tranna: one minute in the cold and the next out in the heat again. He said that Chinese people come over to Canada from nice warm China and get all sorts of AC related injuries. Back and neck mostly. He said it'd start getting better as soon as I got back into the warm.

I've looked up exercises to do to strengthen my back, and the Francesco the Friendly Pilates Guy said to do them every day, but...well, it's me, so...

Anyway, If anyone has any suggestions I'm interested. (Anything but yoga. Don't hold with that New Age guff.)

Even when I'm not crippled, my lower back is always slightly sore, always stiff. It's always difficult to get moving. Loosens up once I'm on the go, but it's always a problem. Nothing worth wasting money at the doctor's for, but maybe there's something someone knows.


Let's Play a Game!

This one will be fun.

I call it the "Personally opposed but..." game.

I don't need to explain it, do I?

I also call it the "Moral Equivalency" game.

Come up with something the stupid liberal soixant-retards think is morally equivalent to murdering 50 million babies a year. Like smoking in a pub.

Or thinking limits on illegal immigration might be a good idea.

I'll go first:

"I'm personally opposed to shooting illegal Mexican immigrants who sneak over the US border, but I don't believe it's right to impose my personal beliefs on the Texans who want to shoot them."

"I'm personally opposed to men getting twice the pay as a woman for the same job, but hey, who am I to impose ..."

OK, now you.


A 'play-world' which licks your 'real world' hollow...

I don't know yet for sure, and I'll have to ask God when I see Him if I'm right, but I can't help thinking that my feeling of being in perpetual exile, of always being on the outside observing (and taking notes), and never having a real home, has been one of those backhanded graces we sometimes hear the saints writing about.

I've spent my whole life looking for the door to Narnia, trying to get home. Because, brother, this just can't be it.

A few days ago, I was talking to one of the LifeSite staffers, and he said that he had never paid much attention to Narnia. He read one or two of them as a kid, but never gave them much thought. They're just kid's books right?

I was shocked. How could a Christian not know?

I said that nearly all my Christian formation came from those books as a child, and that they still form the framework for how I understand the Faith. I know the Chronicles of Narnia the way some Protestants know the Bible. (Yes, I know that's bad, but it's the truth.)

And I know I'm not crazy or dumb, because this man also takes them really seriously. And he's really smart and knows lots of stuff.

As a friend, and fellow Narnian, Gregory di Pippo pointed out to me the other day, the average lifespan of ordinary children's books is, from hard-cover first edition to paperbacks in the remainders bin, maybe, at most, 3-5 years. The Chronicles of Narnia have never gone out of print since their publication in the early 1950s. They have sold +100 million copies and been translated into 47 languages.

I said to my colleague that Puddleglum's famous Profession of Faith was probably the most important expression of the answer to Modernia's obsession with secularism that I'd ever seen. I told him I'd post it.

~ * ~
The Green Witch, the Lady of the Green Kirtle, the Queen of Underland, has captured Eustace, Jill, Puddleglum the Marsh Wiggle, and Prince Rillian, whom she has held for ten years, and all of whom she wishes to use as tools in her plans of conquest.

She has spun an enchantment, a sweet web of lies about not just Aslan, but about the very nature of reality. The world, she says, is only what she says it is; there is no real world but her world...It would be so easy to give in, and is such a struggle to fight...

But Puddleglum, the wet blanket, the one who has never let himself be distracted from the quest, has broken her spell, and stamped on her sweet, cloying, enchanted fire with his cold foot.

"The sweet heavy smell grew very much less. For though the whole fire had not been put out, a good bit of it had, and what remained smelled very largely of burnt Marsh-wiggle, which is not at all an enchanting smell. This instantly made everyone's brain far clearer. The Prince and the children held up their heads again and opened their eyes.

Secondly, the Witch, in a loud, terrible voice, utterly different from all the sweet tones she had been using up till now, called out, "What are you doing? Dare to touch my fire again, mud-filth, and I'll turn the blood to fire inside your veins."

Thirdly, the pain itself made Puddleglum's head for a moment perfectly clear and he knew exactly what he really thought. There is nothing like a good shock of pain for dissolving certain kinds of magic.

"One word, Ma'am," he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. "One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things - trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have.

Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one.

And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a playworld which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia."

That has been my private manifesto since the first time I read it when I was nine years old.

I've spent my whole life feeling like an exile, longing, yearning to go home, and looking for the door that will take me there.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

How it's done

Ever wonder how the Church was brought to its knees, and now almost universally kowtows to the leftist orthodoxy?

It wasn't by accident.

As any conqueror, from Hannibal to Hitler knows, you don't attack the whole force at once. You identify key strategic positions and you go after them.

And if you're a Gramciist Communist, you do it real sneaky-like.

Our old bloggie buddie Ttony of the Muniment Room explains how it was done in Eng/Wales
...most of the Bishops had been formed in the old days, and both believed in and valued their independence. Although the Bishops’ conference existed as an entity, it was fairly toothless. But if Hume and Worlock could force the Bishops to cede “sovereignty” to the Conference and could then replace them (through a complaisant Nuncio) as they reached 75 with a new breed of new-thinking Bishops, they could transform the Church in England and Wales.

The NPC [National Pastoral Congress - basically the October Revolution for the English Catholic Church] was designed to effect this change: to use the numbers of engaged lay people and compliant priests to design and build new structures for the Church. To anybody who remembers “entryism” in the Labour Party – the way in which Party structures were taken over by the “new Left” – the methodology is familiar.

And, I have observed, this is how politics works everywhere:

The Bishops were few in number, but the Council was not binding on them. They were being manoeuvred by Hume and Worlock (and their agents) into a position where the cost to them of rejecting the most extreme propositions the Congress would propose would be the acceptance of limitations to their autonomy by the creation of stronger structures within the Episcopal Conference and a greater role for lay activists within these structures.

You see this method used all the time if you watch politics closely enough. For example, most obviously in Italian secular politics. Activists in... ah... a particular lobby/special interest group, will want to get a major legal concession, for example, the existence of a huge, systemic problem of "discrimination" against, say... left-handed mini-golf players.

The activists propose a 50 page bill that is jammed with the most outrageous curtailments of public freedoms; say for example, anyone who tries to sell a right-handed golf club to a LHMGP will face twenty years in prison for "discrimination". And there is no "objective test" as lawyers say, the existence of an offence is left up to the feelings of the LHMGP who perceives the discrimination.

This monster of a bill is presented in the House of Deputies, and the usual suspects, for all the right reasons, start screaming about civil rights, freedom of speech and belief and whatnot, and the activists respond with "reluctant" concessions. Until the bill has been shaved of 90% of its outrageous idiocy, and everyone is now talking about this discrimination as though it were a real thing, and a grave danger to millions of citizens, yay, even unto civilisation itself.

Shaved-down bill passes, after much shrieking and howling in the Lower House, and after the LHMGP lobby has denounced it as "toothless".

And Voy-lah! We have invented an entire new thing in law that can be watered and cultivated carefully over the years and made to grow, and grow and grow...



One minute, summer vacation and all the promise and hopes and dreams attached to it is a staple of your childhood psyche. The next minute, it's gone. Losing summer is like losing an arm in a battle you don't remember having. Until the day you die, you're going to have phantom twinges of hope for a three-month holiday that is never ever coming.

My solution: move to a beautiful beachside resort town in Italy, where the actual three months of summer are the time when you most want to go somewhere cool and fresh and not crowded with sweaty tourists, and the rest of the year is, basically, like the summer you remember in childhood.

What am I doing today? Fooling about on the internet, when, yes, I really should be doing nearly anything else.

~ * ~

In other news...

Been giving the second two Narnia films another shot, and been thinking that they're not as bad as I had at first thought. Dawntreader especially can be forgiven for at least some of the crimes. The book is really a series of little vignettes, which would not lend themselves to a complete narrative on film. There really had to be some kind of unifying plotline.

Also, there is one way in which I thought the movie outdid the book: Eustace, while a dragon, sacrifices himself to save the ship from the sea monster and complete the quest by taking the last sword back to Ramandu's Island, an act that very decisively indicates a massive change of his character, much more decisively than Lewis had done.

The green mist was, I'll admit, exceptionally stupid, but Hollywood has done worse things to books. and there is some good character development, and they did to Eustace pretty well.

But I will say, the moment Lord Rhoop, on the Dark Island, tells the Narnians, "Don't let it know what your fears are or it will become them." and Edmund says, "I'm sorry," I really, REALLY expected the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man to appear.

~ * ~

And about being an introvert...

"I'm not talking about people who are introverts against their will. I'm talking about the millions of us out there who are introverts because we simply prefer our nice, [safe] quiet houses over the jaw-clinching idiocy of public functions."

I've just come home from a lovely trip to Ontario where I spent a great deal more time in the company of other human beings than I normally am used to, and it was fine. It was great, actually. But I can't describe how glad I am to be back in my cave... my lovely, lovely caaaave.

(Especially after nine hours in that sardine tin airplane.)

Other people are OK, I guess, and I'm working hard on dealing with my crippling social anxieties. And you know that I'm totally on board with the whole "don't kill 'em" thing, but as a day-to-day thing, really I'm always glad to be home.



Saturday, August 24, 2013

Being "poor," having "enough," and being grateful: the gross personal happiness index

A personal hero of mine, the 5th and current reigning Dragon King, Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, of the Kingdom of Bhutan, the happiest place on earth.

Kathy writes today on a theme of hers:

People are ‘poor’ because they are dumb, lazy or both — and many of them LIKE being ‘poor’

Yep. Pretty much.

In fact, I am (kind of) poor because I've chosen to be. I don't have a credit card, and never will, because consumer debt is a bad, bad, BAD thing. I don't own a car because I have always lived in places with good public transit and where it is perfectly feasible to walk to everything I need to go to.

Suburbs are stupid and bad for people and no one should live in them. Live in the city where you can walk to the things you need, or live in a village where people cluster, so you can interact in a human way with people outside your immediate family, so you can live in a real community. Or live out in the country where your work is right outside your kitchen door. Pick one.

Suburbs, where you need a car to get a carton of milk and a newspaper at the "corner store," but aren't allowed to grow your own food or raise livestock, where you don't know the names of more than two neighbours and do everything you can to avoid seeing them, are an evil invention of Modernia.

I do wish I could own a house, but with house prices what they are everywhere, and with my profound aversion to debt of any kind, that is so far out of the question as to be the equivalent of saying I wish I could live in a magic airship and never set foot on earth again. Wishing is just fantasizing, and all the world knows how I feel about that. All my working-class English and Irish relatives and ancestors, until this last generation, paid rent all their lives.

I also recognise that just being white and having English as my first language, and having been born Canadian/British, makes me automatically richer not only than nearly every other person on earth, but than nearly every other person who has ever lived on earth. I'm insanely rich, if for no other reason than I can turn on a tap and have hot water come out of it, or flick a switch and have light after dark. I'm literate, and own hundreds of books. I have more than two pairs of shoes. Get the historical perspective, and you'll begin to see how rich you really are.

I know full well that if I wanted to be more wealthy, financially, I could just work a little harder, take on more jobs, do the effort it would take to go all the way as an entrepreneurial free lancer; I could make a lot more money. Maybe not enough to ever be "rich" or even "well off" by modern standards, but certainly waaay better off than my immediate ancestors ever could have hoped to be, (post-war Manchester was a place where "rich" and "poor" were more or less meaningless).

I have chosen, quite freely, to be in a profession and position in life where money and things are not the highest priorities. And I LOVE what I do. It makes me happy (or at least, as happy as a chronic depressive, choleric/melancolic can reasonably expect to be in this life). And I'm aware that I can make this choice because I come from two of the richest nations the world has ever seen. I live in the modern, developed world, and just this fact alone makes me wealthy and gives me choices very, very few people have ever had.

For this "suck-it-up-and-own-it" attitude, I can really thank my hippie mother. She taught me something that I still think is true, that being happy is the real goal of the material aspect of what you do in life, and that while it is certainly possible to make loads of money, the two things aren't (necessarily) the same. And in my case, my personality, tastes and objectives have simply placed financial wealth pretty low on the priorities list. I think too much to be in a creatively dead-end, well-paid, crap-job. I wouldn't last five minutes.

My hippie mother also taught me how to be poor efficiently. She taught me the financial priorities of sensible, working-class northern English people: keeping a roof over your head is the first priority, so if you have to starve and bundle up in the winter because you can't afford to pay the electric, absolutely always pay the rent, in full, and on time. Maintaining a home as a safe and as-comfortable-as-possible haven is the most important thing you can do with your money. After that, her most important lesson was the deep fear of debt, that I'm sure also comes out of her early upbringing in working-class Manchester.

She also taught me how to eat poor effectively: get the biggest nutritional bang for you buck. I was told by the doctors during the Cancer Thing that the reason they were willing to go with the extended treatment was that my general health was amazingly good, especially for someone my age. And that came from a lifetime of eating nothing but fresh fruit, veg, chicken, fish and liver. Never, ever packaged, processed foods, (no matter how much I begged for them as a kid).

It's totally possible to be both poor, dignified and healthy, but this is mostly by choosing to own it, to realise that it's a choice and be a fricken' grownup about the decisions you've made in life.

So, maybe a good thing to do would be to talk and think about the concept of "enough". We hear all the time about the "divide between rich and poor". But maybe there is, or could be, a third category: just fine. Because I think there are very few people in the developed world who can genuinely qualify, in absolute terms, as "poor". "Poor people" in the developed world in the 21st century, whatever their source of income, often own flat screen TVs, drive cars, talk on their cell phones and have fridges full of food. In fact, in Britain and the US, the number one health problem for poor people is obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Maybe we should talk more about "enough". I have enough. I'm content, materially. I have most of the things I've always wanted; quite a bit more than I expected to have when I was younger, in fact. If I were to die tomorrow, in terms of "he who dies with the most toys wins" I'd say I would have come in at a pretty respectable position.

Moreover, I have what I need in the non-material realm too to get on with the really important task of saving my soul. I've got work I can do, that's well-suited to my temperament and abilities. Work that gives me a lot of scope for growth and development and has a good future. Work, indeed, that I'm probably going to be able to do, and want to do, up to the day before I die.

I also have strong relationships, good friends, who don't let me sink too far when I let myself sink a bit, and who keep me responsible to the community at large.

The Kingdom of Bhutan has an interesting take on success. The previous King of Bhutan decided not to go along with the standards of national success that the rest of the world adheres to. In 1972, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, invented a thing called the "Gross National Happiness Index" for his country, and based all his plans for reform and "modernisation" on it.

The assessment of gross national happiness (GNH; Wylie: gyal-yong ga'a-kyid pal-'dzoms) was designed in an attempt to define an indicator and concept that measures quality of life or social progress in more holistic and psychological terms than only the economic indicator of gross domestic product (GDP).

"He used this phrase to signal his commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan's unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values."

And it's working out pretty well.

Why don't we try something like that?

~ * ~

Homework assignment:

Think about the concept of "enough", then write down in the commboxes five things you're grateful for and five things you could do comfortably without, with maybe a few personal adjustments.


Random Saturday ramblings

Well, when you put it *that* way...
"Does 'intrepid archaeologist keeps Nazis from using the Ark of the Covenant as a laser beam' sound like a beloved box office blockbuster?"

One way in which I know that Kathy and I aren't secretly the same person is her weird taste in films, (and she doesn't like sci fi... ???) but I always appreciate her hilarious movie reviews.

~ * ~

And people say we criticise the bishops! Yikes!

It's hard to argue against his points, though, no matter what you might think of the terms he puts it in. (I actually have no problem with Michael's "tone" and think that people who do are a bunch of prissy little old ladies... In fact, wait... I know lots of prissy little old ladies who have tougher sensibilities. That's an insult to prissy little old ladies. Get a freakin' spine, people. Shee!)

~ * ~

Full cup of hot espresso...white linen sun dress...

Yep. Aaaaaall over me. And the sofa. Miraculously missed the Mac's trackpad, though.

~ * ~

Still enjoying the amazing modernian experience of jet lag. I took the melatonin at midnight, two of them!... and was still awake til four am.

Winnie the World-Famous Pest has discovered a new hobby: yowling. Her efforts to get me up at eight-fifteen this morning; walking over my legs, patting my arms, meowing right. in. my. face, sitting on the next pillow and staring at me - all failed, so she went outside the room, sat down in the hallway and, facing the door like a concert master, started this exciting new yowling thing. She's getting pretty good at it, and indeed, it got me up. Yes, I got up, picked her up and dumped her in the spare room, shut the door and went back to bed.

I really tried to get up before noon. I really did! But it took a phone call from a friend, very cheerily asking me all about my trip and talking some very interesting work-shop to get me back to the real world.

Got to go buy groceries today though, so maybe a little exercise will help. Maybe a swim in the green, green sea. Chase some fish. Have a little weekend fun so's I don't get all bleurgy and, as my Auntie Gill says, "lose the benefit" of having the weekends off.

~ * ~

Friday, August 23, 2013

Most awesome bugs!

I was on my way to the airport, sitting in the station bar having a bottle of water waiting for the train, and just happened to glance over at the railing and saw it in silhouette. A big one! I was very surprised to see it there, quite far from the nearest foliage (at least 20 yards) and just hanging upside-down right where people were going to stamp their train tickets. It didn't move, even a flicker the entire time I looked at it, trying to get a good clear pic.

I refrained from poking it, having had...ahh ... experiences with mantises in the past.

Those little spiny things on its front legs can deliver a wicked slash. But just look at it! So elegant and so deadly.

This beauty was just working the flowers on a buddleia tree, in Scarborough, Ontario.

Mourning Cloak butterfly,

also called a Camberwell Beauty in Britain, Nymphalis antiopa.

Found this one just roosting on the shady side of the building at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy, in Barry's Bay.

Don't think I've ever handled such a large moth before.

Ceratomia undulosa, or a Waved Sphinx moth.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Home, home, homity-home!

So, I'm very confused about what day and time it is. I got on the plane in Toronto on Tuesday evening, and arrived about noon in Rome after an eight and a half hour flight. My brain thought it was still late Tuesday night. Then I went home and promptly fell asleep on the sofa. When I woke up it was dark, and I didn't know what time it was because I had forgotten to change my computer and phone clock back to Rome time and my brain was too fuzzed-out to do the math.

All I knew was that it was dark o'clock and that someone had slipped a mickey fin into my tea, except that I hadn't had any tea yet. Went to bed, slept until it was still dark and got up. Went back to bed when it was just starting to get light out.

Woke up to the pussy cat patting my arm and meowing in my face, "GET UP, monkey! What are you doing still in bed?" She had loads of food and water in her dishes so she wasn't trying to get me to feed her. She just thought that I'd slept enough.

I just took a look at the clock and it says it's Thursday!

Something has just occurred to me: how come Indiana Jones didn't have to spend a week in bed when he got off the plane in Nepal, or wherever it was he met Marion? And again when they flew from Nepal to Cairo? How come they weren't staggering around Cairo mindlessly buying random things in a fog of insensibility and complaining of their sleep-deprivation-induced gastro-intestinal distress?

Crikey! I really do HATE that trans-atlantic thing.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gen-X grumps

If I hadn't met Kathy Shaidle in real life, I would be starting to wonder if we weren't actually the same person, living in parallel universes, communicating through some kind of weird timey-wimey, quantum space/time wormhole thing through the internet.

I grew up with the hippie grownups around me always talking about the Cold War. I didn't know what it was, until one day they explained that the 'Mericans were going to get mad at the Russians and blow everybody up. And it would kill everybody and everything, including all the lions and sunflowers and trees and all the good stuff, and leave the earth a dried up cinder.

And it could happen at any moment without warning.

Thanks for that.

"I sometimes wish I didn’t see the world like this, through a Gen-X filter of self-defensive snark. I didn’t always.


"As the only child of two only children (both divorced multiple times), I was doomed to turn out twisted: timid, taciturn, touchy, and morbidly imaginative. Growing up in the 1970s didn’t help. The Patty Hearst and Chowchilla kidnappings scared me. Hell, Watergate scared me and I didn’t even know what it was. (Something about “bugs.”)


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Off to Ontario tomorrow morning

bright n' early.

Will be gone for two weeks, so posting here will be light to non-existent until the end of the month.

Wish me luck.


Saturday, August 03, 2013

Friday, August 02, 2013

Go go Godzilla

I'm confused about atheism. I think not a lot of the people who think they're atheists really are. I think quite a few of them just don't really know anything about it and are incurious. But ask them about it and they often start talking about, basically, pantheism. And none of them have a solution to the causality problem. But now, apparently, they want atheist "chaplains". What for? And what would an atheist chaplain do if an atheist were in some kind of crisis? Affirm his nihilism? Hand him a loaded pistol and a bottle of whisky?

But I have a theory about atheism. I think that atheists (so-called) aren't really people who don't believe in God. I think they're people who don't really believe in the existence of anything, up to and including themselves. My hypothesis is that this is because of a lifetime of television/internet entertainment consumption. By making fictional programmes, movies and whatnot, have the same weight and reality as television news, and by sticking their heads in the tv/computer nearly every waking hour of their lives, I think a great many people have become, effectively, solipsists who don't know what "real" is. Naturally, psychologically, the result is that the only thing they think is real are their wants, their preferences. Of course, the television has told them this all their lives. I think the basic psychological makeup of modern people precludes the notion that anything exists outside their egos. It's not, therefore, that they are atheists. It's that they are their own gods, each living in a tiny bubble universe of their own creation.

I maintain that the assertion of the non-existence of God is a religious assertion, and that atheism, therefore, can only be a kind of religious belief. Moreover, because it is impossible to prove, or even logically demonstrate, it is an essentially irrational one. I've never seen any of the fashionable atheists ever offer any kind of evidence for their claims, either empirical or philosophical. And as I said, none of them has ever offered any explanation for the problem of causality.

Why are there things? Why did anything ever happen? I've always laughed at that meme about their theory: "In the beginning there was nothing, and nothing happened to the nothing and then the nothing magically exploded, for no reason, creating everything, and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason into self-replicating bits, which turned into dinosaurs. The end." They won't talk about it, because they're militant materialists. They are incapable of conceptualising anything outside the strictly material, so when we ask "Where did the material come from?" they simply don't understand the parameters of the question.

They won't even really go and talk about the historical or anthropological implications. At the very least, the claims made about the Christian God, and about Christ, are unique in the history of the world's religions. Christianity stands out for that, merely sociologically, if nothing else. And the impact on human societies of Christianity's claims about the nature of God and man is unprecedented in history. Nothing else, except maybe the influence of Babylonian/Egyptian mathematics and astronomy, has ever come close. Even the later Greek philosophers would have been forgotten if it hadn't been for Christianity absorbing and rescuing them from the fall of Rome.

I think the challenge one always has to make is, refute Aquinas. Explain causality if there is no Unmoved Mover. If you can't do that, then you can't call yourself a thinking, considered atheist. Thomas is the big one, the theological and philosophical Godzilla to take down. The rest are mere Ghidra or Mothra in comparison.

I always think the same thing whenever I hear Dawkins or any of his ilk talking about it. From the way they blather, it's clear that not one of them has the faintest notion what they are up against. They're so totally ignorant of the extent of their ignorance, that I often like to imagine a sixth-grader fifty years ago, armed only with the Baltimore Catechism, would leave them face down in the mud.

Unfortunately, in our times, the Christians are as big a pack of idiots. I was deeply embarrassed once to listen to Rowan Williams blithering mindlessly about "feeeeeeeeelings" to some New Atheist on a TV debate. It's no wonder they think all Christians are morons.

Here's a video of Gojira, kicking Tokyo's butt.

Watch it and picture what Aquinas would have done to Dawkins or Stephen Fry.


Thursday, August 01, 2013

Running off at the keyboard

Stop me if you['ve heard this one...

I'm sitting in my pjs consuming pop culture. And coffee. And everything I'm supposed to do, everything in the whole world, feels intimidating and overwhelming and impossible. Everything.

So, I'm in full avoidance mode. On my fifth episode of my first re-watch of TBBT, season one, and it's 31 degrees out and I'm pretty much hiding. Inside the flat, it's pretty good, temperature-wise. For some reason this flat doesn't really get too hot, even in the really worstest part of the summer.

(Also, I made an important neurological discovery the other night: if you have temporal lobe epilepsy and run a fan at full blast next to your head 24 hours a day for a couple of days, the constant white noise will trigger a seizure. Good to know. Don't let this alarm you. I was diagnosed when I was 12 and get them so rarely now that I sometimes forget I have it. TL seizures, moreover, aren't that big a deal. They can be scary when you're a kid and don't know what's going on, but as an adult it's just a kind of glitch and over pretty quickly. Sometimes it leaves a headache. But the new rule is to turn the fan off once in a while, no matter how hot it gets because it's hard to concentrate on work when someone switches off the universe and you can't tell the difference between here and there, near and far, up and down...)

Anyway, since getting back from Gardone, I've mostly been sitting about in my beloved cave apartment every day, mostly in my pjs, (or on really hot nights my linen beach dresses that double nicely as summer night gowns). I don't feel particularly depressed. I don't feel especially lonely (yay Facebook!). I just feel faintly disgusted with myself.

I did pretty well at Garda with not eating carbs or drinking too much hoochies, or eating any ice cream (yes, the whole two weeks and not a drop of gelato. Really!). I think I skipped the pasta dishes at dinners every time except once, and I only had about two cocktails the whole time at cocktail hour. For a Garda trip, it was positively abstemious.

And I played tennis a bunch and really loved it. Like, LOVED it. Man, tennis! Who knew? Really amazingly fun, even when you suck at it. Like fencing only with fewer bruises.

So, overall, I had a pretty great time at Garda, and didn't come back thinking I'd blown the diet and exercise thing. And when I got back, I was pretty eager to get back to the gym, which I did, when I first landed. It took a couple of days to get untired after the trip, but then I went straight back to the gym lady. For two days. Then last Monday, I told the gym lady I was coming back on Wednesday, (that's a week yesterday) and I didn't.

It's just too fricken hot to go outside the house in the day time. It's been 30-35 degrees every day, and it's getting to the stage where it doesn't cool off at night, so sleeping, not so much. Anyway, that's my stupid excuse.

And it's a bad one, because honestly it was every bit as hot at Garda, and every day after lunch, I would grab the tennis racket and go running down the hill to the other hotel and bug the guys until they would come and play with me. Seriously. Like I was eight years old. It was just so fun to play tennis with Chris and Mike. And they were nice about me being really bad at it, and didn't yell at me or anything... not like in school.

So, I feel kind of crappy for quitting everything. And playing tennis in the roaring Italian heat reminded me that when I was a child, I didn't care about the heat, at all. I would just go running around the world and the weather was just the background, no matter what it was. But then I guess I lived on the Island, where it never got to be more than 28 degrees, even in mid-summer... But still, as a kid I never let the weather stop me running around and having fun.

Maybe that's it. When I was a kid, it was running around and having fun. There wasn't any baggage or obligation or goal. The having fun was the goal. Now all I can think about is the fact that I'm (probably) creeping up to 90 kilos and don't fit into my clothes any more. Then I start thinking about the h-word and cancer and All That, and I start freaking out. All of which makes going to the gym not "fun" but something I'm reluctantly obliged to do. So I don't do it.

You can tell I've been drinking coffee and not having too much social interaction, since my brain is running off a the keyboard.

Also, I keep looking across the room at the painting I did in Jordan Sokol's class and wondering why I suddenly quit arting immediately after it was finished. I abruptly cancelled all the classes I was signed up for for the rest of the summer. Not really sure why, exactly (except that I ran out of money to pay for them, which is a pretty solid reason, but wasn't really the reason, you know?). Just cocooning up. Haven't so much as picked up a pencil in six weeks. Am I intimidated? I think maybe. It really is difficult being neurotic.

Aaaaaanyway. I feel like a big blob now that I've gone over a week without going to the gym, and really without going outside much at all. The more I sit, the worse I feel.

And the neuropathy is back in my fingertips. It's ok after getting up in the morning, but by evening it gets really bad. Fingertips on fire, feet burning. Awful. Probably because of not enough exercise.

But in a week or so, I'll have to move. I have to go to Ontario, did I mention? I'm coming back to Canada next week. Like I promised myself I never would. Also awful. Leaving the house. Getting on trains and planes. Heaving luggage around. Not having my stuff around me. Being in crowds. Dealing with officials. Interacting with strangers. Waking up every day not at home. Being away from the cat. Having to act normal all the time.

Lawdy, but how I hate traveling!

But also been thinking lately how much I miss BC and want to go back to the Island again. Haven't been there since 1996 or so. And my Dad is out there somewhere. I want to see him.

What? Nothing. Just sharing too much. Sorry.