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Showing posts from April, 2020

Schadenfreude over the Tourism Industry

Yes, I am ashamed of myself. But I'm not the only scoundrel who is wallowing in schadenfreude over the demise of the tourism industry. Really folks, it was getting ridiculous before the virus came along and saved us. All those people living in their vans.  All those clowns showing up in campgrounds at 11:30 p.m., and then slamming car doors for the next hour or two. Every other vehicle in America having four wheel drive, and the ability to pollute the backcountry with their presence. Gigantic house-sized fifth-wheel trailers with open frame generators from China. Reservations, rules, fees. Loud music playing half the night. Pickup trucks that require step-ladders to enter.  Side-by-side UTVs everywhere, blasting by at high speed. Lines outside restaurants with boutique food at high prices.  McMansions popping up on every square foot of private land that can be said to have a "view." In other words, every place was getting as crowded as Colorado.  And now

Hope in Downtown's Graveyard

My dog and I were feeling like heroes. We were the only customers in an outdoor seating area outside a bakery downtown, on a gorgeous spring day. Up and down the sidewalks, there probably weren't more than four people walking around. What a graveyard. But considering the demographics, I'll bet most people were happy to see themselves and their neighbors commit economic suicide, if there was a chance that it might hurt Trump.  Something surprising went my: it was a ten-year-old boy, whizzing by on a bicycle. He didn't have a helmet on, and he had a careless attitude toward stop signs. In other words, he was acting like a ten-year-old boy. I hope they never change. This image made me think of the ending of the movie, "Mission." I hope the reader has seen that movie, for several reasons, not least of which is the musical score by Ennio Morricone.  You might remember how it ended, after the climactic bloodbath of the natives: a couple small children had surviv

Can You Win a War Without Casualties?

America has had presidents who could offer the inspiration that the country needs right now, but I don't think a reality-TV-star will measure up. Perhaps the entertainment value of a president is not the most important thing in the world. The country faces a serious struggle -- not exactly a "war" -- that represents what William James might have called the "moral equivalent of war." But our current struggle is more than just a metaphor of war, because it requires us to accept casualties, as a real war does. How has the notion gotten into people's heads that you can win a struggle without casualties? It probably comes from the 20 year era of Forever War which the country got suckered into after 911. Although America has destroyed the lives of more than a million people in the Mideast, only a few thousand Americans have been killed. No sacrifices by the average American in fighting wars on borrowed money -- that is what war has come to mean. But in re

Getting Better at Giving/Receiving

You still see them -- panhandlers at places like Walmart parking lots. Oddly enough, the numbers haven't changed as much as I expected. How are they getting by? They usually have masks on, presumably so they don't scare people off.  Are people more likely to donate to them at times like this? It is easy to come up with arguments pro and con on this question. from I have thought about making a donation, but rather than help strangers, it seemed like a better idea to donate to a friend or relative who has been hit hard by the times we live in. Does that make sense? In thinking about these things, it suddenly occurred to me that Giving and Receiving are important issues in the human condition, and yet, I haven't really thought enough about them. If nothing else, it motivated me to read a classic book that didn't interest me before, "On Benefits," by Lucius Annaeus Seneca. There are times when reading this book that you will imagine you are

Podcasts as a Timely Antidote... poisonous media. I was long overdue at finding a new way to put a filter between my own mind and the repetitious poison of the media. For some reason I have always underestimated or overlooked podcasts. I bumbled onto a website that I really love:   . It aims at explaining how the spoken language has changed. How refreshing! (Previously I have made the mistake of stepping into dry, technical, linguistic explanations on the written language. Dreadful stuff.) It is pleasant to listen to these podcasts at night, when my eyes are too tired to read, but my brain isn't quite ready to sleep. I could listen to more music, but I don't want to overdo that, and become insensitive to music. Somebody please stop me from flaring up with excessive expectations! Otherwise I will tear into the world of audio books and podcasts, and download as many goodies as possible!

A Movie for Today

In case I wasn't clear enough in the last post, you might really get something from Bergman's movie, "The Seventh Seal." It is entertaining, not just a typically depressing "art" film. The movie may have a strong impact if you are seduced by analogies, as I am. Several aspects of the Black Death in the 1300's remind a person of what the world is going through today. Of course the casualties were drastically higher back then, but populations were tougher, too. At any rate, think of how rare it is to watch a film that makes you think about Life, instead of merely titillating you with the usual fluff. This is indeed a rare opportunity to blend Art and Life. I own the disc, and can't really help on the least expensive way to stream the movie. By Source, Fair use,

A Timely Significance to Easter

I got into the "Settings" of my phone yesterday to turn off the alerts. If "they" want the alerts to be noticed, then they certainly succeeded. But my reaction wasn't what they wanted. I find this continual alarmism obnoxious and cowardly. The Alert was offensive, too. It came a day before Easter, and warned people not to go to church. Why is that? Couldn't people take precautions in church, as they do at Walmart or the grocery store? I think something else is going on. Although I am not a Christian, one part of me would like to see Christians defy the Alert, and show the world that their Faith is still alive -- and that their Faith isn't just "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism" as some critics claim. There was a time in history when Christians were courageous. The persecution and ridicule they suffered the first couple centuries (before Constantine) must have been a great help in making their Faith survive.  But by 1750 or so, European Civi

"Casting" a Perfect Day

Look carefully at the center of the photo, where you see the latching mechanism of a gate on a forest trail. What's so great about that?, you say.    It is the best gate design I have ever seen, and I've seen a lot of them. Most times they are hard to close, stuck, depend on a broken wire or tangled chain, etc. And if you touch your expensive lycra/spandex shorts to barbed wire, they are destroyed. This latch only depends on gravity. Nothing can go wrong. It is so elegant! Why didn't they start designing gates like this, years ago? Ahh, now I see the problem. The latch mechanism has a digitally sexual design to it. So it is politically incorrect. And government agencies like the Forest Service and the BLM must be absolutely PC. There are several gates like this, locally. Every time I go through one, I have to smirk a little. _____________________________________  If you make the mistake of getting up in the morning, only to turn on television or internet

Annual Celebration of Soil

Frankly, the lower Colorado River desert is a disgrace to planet Earth. But d on't get me wrong: I like visiting the desert along the lower Colorado River in December and January. The temperature is moderate, and usually there are just a few days of soft rain. With all the rubble and desert "pavement," muddy roads are not the problem they are in other parts of the country. Still, by February, I am eager to leave that ghastly rubble and head towards southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. Coffee Girl loves to run on dirt as much as I love to mountain bike on it. Besides the comfort, something seems wholesome about land that has vegetation and soil. The ancients had their goddess, Ceres, for grain. But was there a god for rubble, spines, and stickers?  It might sound slightly comical, but the term "anthropologically-correct" seems fitting to describe grasslands. What good are deserts and mountains, except as postcard fodder?

A Non-Essential Town

The downtown/old town is the "draw" around here. I took a walk through downtown, just out of curiosity. It was so dead, it felt like one of those post-apocalypse science fiction movies. But I shouldn't have been surprised. There is hardly one "essential" store in the entire downtown. What it does have is yoga/pilates instruction, art galleries (trinket shops), over-priced food fad boutiques, antique shops, tattoo parlors, restaurants (offering small portions and high prices), and metaphysical centers. There were hardly any cars, and not many pedestrians either. Normally you would see a diverse sample of the menagerie of the Democratic party. A culture has to create some sort of economy, and perhaps looking at the economy tells us a lot about culture. But in thinking about this example, Cause and Effect get confused in my mind. It was thought-provoking to see an already weak economy completely crumble. Perhaps groceries, hardware, and tire stores really

Where Is the Hand Sanitizer for the Mind?

It is nice to see some pestilential germ-holes shut down. But it staggers the mind to think of millions and millions of people trapped in their houses, and consuming media all day. How can it be mentally healthy to shovel that mind-rot, fear, and panic into people's heads, hours and hours per day?! People aren't used to seeing media consumption as a bacillus or virus -- but they should. In fact, media consumption is the ultimate form of contamination. But it is one thing to condemn mass media; it is quite another thing to propose healthy alternatives. The easy answer is 'books.' But I don't have a high enough opinion of authors and the publishing industry to be a cheerleader for this option. Listening to music is certainly a healthy pass-time.  But if you listen to too music, you become numb to it. It might help to accept background music as "real" music, and to renounce the expectation that you are supposed to be swept off your feet by gorgeous melo

A New Definition of "Hero"

In our society, words like hero, honor, and support get bandied about, usually for work that is unnecessary and destructive. Lately, going into Walmart stores, I admired and appreciated the work done by the employees. Without them, the economy would almost be shut down. You could say the same thing of grocery store employees and many others. Wouldn't it be great if the virus panic caused us to start honoring people like these who are doing something necessary and constructive?! I hope it becomes a permanent change.