“Filmulation”

It’s World Photography Day! What better day for an old fool who doesn’t know anything about anything (me) to palaver on about some of which he does not know?

Or something.

Anyway, today’s pictures are a result of using a digital camera as though it were a film camera. It’s easy with the right equipment. Now for some people the “right equipment” is a Fujifilm X camera which has some pre-set film simulations as well as a host of programming capacity to vary all sorts of settings. Lots of fun, for lots of money.

For me the fun comes from getting film-like results without spending a lot of money or experimenting endlessly with settings. Part of the charm of film is the slightly unpredictable results, and I have achieved that using some sub-par equipment and a little know-how. Or maybe no-how.

The camera is the always dirty Pentax K100D Super. It has the advantage of a CCD sensor which produces better colour tonal range than the CMOS sensors (in my opinion as well as that of several others). Plus the limited 6MP size is something of a bonus here as it is not crazy-sharp. The lens is the very sharp Pentax Super Takumar 35mm f2, whose glass is stained yellow due to the thorium content. This is an all-manual set-up too; no auto exposure or focus.

Settings are the same as with Mini Manual Manual, save the added adjustment of fixing the white balance at daylight. I think leaving off that step is one reason why so many film simulations don’t have that random variation that film gives us. Remember film has fixed sensitivity and colour temperature. On a digital camera these are two more variables. So we set it like film and shoot it like film: ISO 200 (lowest possible on this camera) and Daylight colour balance. Here’s what we get:

Marley on the beach. This looks exactly like a typical colour print from the 1960s.
The yellowing of the lens does show up in the images and needs to be compensated for in the final processing. But here we see the side effect of it enhancing cloud contrast just like a K2 filter would.
The cabin. Rich, saturated colour.
In the woods. My eyesight got me in trouble here on exposure, but not so much that I wasn’t able to ‘save’ it.
This could be the beach at Wakiki.
“You can’t control natural light.” Unless you learn how.

I was going to do some more shots in the same manner only using the T100 as the camera, but I haven’t got to it yet. It’s been a busy and tiring week, and that as of Tuesday.

Meanwhile my redesigned Master Plan continues to take shape and unfold. Slowly.

It’s that time of year again

For longer than probably most of you have been alive I have been advocating against the perpetuation of that chronological absurdity known as Daylight Saving(s) Time. Over half a century I’ve repeatedly tried to explain to anyone who will listen why it doesn’t work and isn’t a good idea. It’s an affront to Sandford Fleming, for one thing. It only has any positive effect in a limited longitudinal range, and then for a short time. It does harm to people’s health, upsets farming schedules, wastes daylight, causes accidents, and negatively effects the economy.

Look: it’s just wrong in every way and that’s all there is to it. No, there are no supporting arguments that make any sense. “I want to play golf in the evening” is not a supporting argument; it’s just selfish and stupid.

So those of us with functioning brains who realize the Earth is round in both directions finally managed to make some headway last year, about a century late. At last a few of the dimwits in charge got the message that the clock shift was a wrong thing to do. Unfortunately they didn’t completely understand. Of course politicians are those who know (almost) nothing about anything, which is why they’re put in charge of everything. (And you thought Wonderland was topsy-turvy.)

What they came up with is perhaps even a worse abomination: the notion of permanent Daylight Saving(s) Time. That’s right; they want to shift the clocks to indicate the wrong hour all year ’round. Honest-to-Khan. Despite the fact that people who actually study human health and welfare as well as economics and … well damn near everything else, have said this is a really bad idea.

It’s like trying to explain nuclear physics to an ant, except the subject matter is no where near as complicated. But evidently the ‘students’ make up for this by having even lower intelligence than the average bug. Yeah, that’s why they’re in charge. Their argument ‘for’ PDST seems to be that we can’t do business with other areas on the same longitude if they are on a different time standard. Never mind that we manage to do business with areas on different longitudes and time zones, up to and including a full day off.

Honestly, I’m thinking of launching a multi-billion dollar class-action lawsuit – based on the economic value lost to the stupid process – because money is the only thing politicians pay attention to.

Art at the end of February

When life hands you rubbish, make art. Some slob tossed this in the driveway. (Pentax K100DS)

Well this has been a week. A week of weak. I’ve had several days in a row where just being alive has been a major effort. No answers to that problem either, as the last ‘diagnosis’ (guess) turned out wrong like all the others. If it’s a new disease, will they name it after me? What a way to achieve immortality!

A “long log” truck; single span of about 40 feet. These are destined for log home construction. (Nikon P610)

Sometime in the future I should be getting an appointment with another specialist, regarding my hearing. I doubt there will be a resolution to that either, other than my sinking into a world of endless noise and no sound. It’s weird because I can hear all sorts of sound, even very soft ones, and sometimes ordinary sound is way too loud. The dogs barking can be downright painful. It’s just that over top of it all there is the constant noise(s) of tinnitus. It is not fun.

Another shot of Bleak Tree. (Pentax K100DS)

Quite a lot has been going on in the world around me that is just dumbfounding, to say the least. I’m not going to rant on about it because others have already managed that quite well. Suffice to say what I take away from the whole situation is an ever-stronger desire to not be a part of it.

You know why. (Nikon P610)

Of all the things I’d like to gain right now, mostly I’d like to have my ‘vacation’ room. Isn’t that silly? It’s supposed to be “tropical themed” so I can go in there and pretend I’m on a desert island somewhere. With sounds from the south pacific, including waves and ukuleles. I lack the logistical ability to do anything about it at the moment, from the finances to the actual physical strength to bring it about. But with all this crap going on everywhere I find what I really, really want is a room I can retreat to and shut the door on the rest of the world. I’m old; I’m not supposed to be a soldier anymore.

If you know photography or astronomy you know what’s wrong with this picture. (Pentax K100DS)

Today’s images are a mixture of artistic shots out of various cameras. I still enjoy doing that, when I’m able to get out and take pictures. Believe me, using the cameras you have is more rewarding than adding to the collection. But there are still one or two others I would like to have …

I’m outta here! Black-capped chickadee taking off. (Canon T100)

Finally, a couple of notes about WordPress itself: one, it seems to have slowed down immensely including handling image uploading/viewing – along with my no longer being able to access notices from my “front page” as it were; I have to go into “Reader” or “My Site” to see what they are about.

And two, I get a lot of likes for my simple efforts and I do appreciate that. What’s more, I almost always go to the person’s site to have a look at what they do. It doesn’t always work out, though, because my eyesight isn’t that compatible with some of the formats chosen by others to present their work. That’s a long-winded way of saying I can’t see gray print on a black background, for example. I’m sure it looks nice, I just can’t see it. Hence the very simple layout of my own blog.

Now if the weather will co-operate perhaps I can do some more photos.

Why do we accept fraud?

This post is the result of a convergence of four things. The first being the two hours I spent during Friday and Saturday reporting fraudulent Ebay listings. The second being a post by fellow blogger Chuck Miller mentioning how a satirical piece by someone else about a politician ended up getting that person’s post pulled (which sounds a lot like a free speech violation to me). Third was fellow blogger Jim Grey’s mentioning a similar on-line ‘debate’ over the issue of what is free speech or not in respect to a now infamous social media platform. And fourth would be my own recent suspension by Farcebook over their AI’s inability to comprehend context and thus thinking my statement of fact that the punishment for sedition is death is the same as threatening to kill someone. Good ol’ AI: lots of Artificial, not much Intelligence. Considering that people are infinitely smarter than computers and yet still not up to managing these tasks it’s more than a little stupid to put the machines in control, eh? Oh we can toss in fellow blogger Dan James’s accidental foray into the area of vision, perception, and psychology for added spice (although he didn’t mean to do this I’m sure).

Let’s start with the Ebay fraud. It was rather annoying, because the criminal involved dumped dozens of new listings of a certain camera I am interested in onto the site all at once. Having to wade through a sea of schlock to try and find any legitimate offers was not fun. How do I know they were fraudulent? Because no one suddenly has dozens of high-end cameras available which they are willing to offer at very low starting prices on short-term auctions. This is entirely outside the realm of probability. Plus I recognized some of the photos from earlier fraud listings. Oh and the idiot reused images, including between the three fake ‘seller’ names he was using. We’re talking Canon 5D, 6D, and 1D as well as full-frame Nikons and yes the Pentax 645 cameras were back again. So obvious it’s painful. I can’t imagine anyone falling for it, yet they must else why continue to perpetrate the scam? Like being threatened with arrest via pre-recorded telephone message (you must have gotten that call, haven’t you?)

Now how does this fraud work? I’m not sure. One way would be to drag the legitimate bidders up in price using sock-puppet accounts (all-too-common on Ebay) and then once the maximum has been determined and gone beyond simply offer the item “second chance” for the last legitimate bid price to all who participated and see who bites. I was recently subjected to this version and ignored it. But this presupposes the merchandise is real, and I doubt anyone has a hundred top-end digital cameras sitting around waiting to be sold cheaply.

More likely the bid is brought up and up and a sale is made. The seller collects the money, and buggers off. Fake accounts and all just disappear until they decide to risk discovery again and repeat the scam. This is one of the undoings of many scammers; they don’t know when to take the money and run, converting their ill-gotten gains into legitimate investments and living the easy life like any other politician would.

Really to police this Ebay would need three moderators per user to stay on top of the scams. That’s sort of how it is on the Internet, no? And not just with sales sites either. Facebook and Twitter are loaded with fake accounts and the scams aren’t always about business. Let’s face it, we’ve just come off four years of having a two-bit con artist masquerading as president of the United States (if you believe Donald Trump you seriously need psychiatric help, I’m not joking). And when the lies are proven they deny it even harder. Well he’s gone now and it’s time to get rid of the rest of them.

“Don’t lie” we tell our children. Then we give them stories about fictional beings and make up elaborate ruses to pretend they are real. Maybe if we explained what Santa Claus truly represents instead of insisting he’s an actual entity our kids would not be grounded in the idea that lies are not only acceptable, but preferable to the truth. Why else do we have so many people insisting on “alternative facts”? As a scientist it absolutely boggles my mind that reality has become optional and fantasy is an acceptable alternative. That’s the definition of insanity, people; refusing to accept demonstrable facts, holding on to delusions, and becoming violent when challenged. It’s bad enough seeing this in the drug addicts on the street (at least they have a chemically-induced excuse for their madness), it’s quite another kind of horror to see it in the people who are running your country. What’s their excuse? Perhaps we should remove the “win at any cost” attitude from our sports programs as well.

Finally about that bit that got me in trouble with Farcebook. How dare I suggest traitors should be executed in accordance with the law, eh? Isn’t that what they’d want, though? As they pretend to be about law and order; give them what they demand. In reality you’d be doing society a big favour. You can not educate crazy people, and these people are crazy. It’s a type of zealousness found in many cults and it leads to social destruction. We’ve just seen it try.

We know there are people out there who will grab a hold of any cause, no matter how noble, and corrupt it for their own purposes. Often this is no more than the thrill of the power they feel when they destroy something knowing they’ll get away with it because the blame will fall on everyone. They are anarchists, which is the worst (arguably the only) threat to society. The disbelievers of reality set themselves apart and proudly wear their anti-societal banner, proclaiming themselves to be the problem and being proud of it. What the hell kind of way is that to behave? Your mother taught you that, did she?

It’s amusing the number of them who think being asked to wear a mask to protect against spreading germs to others is some kind of infringement on their rights. They think this is a totalitarian society? Brother, if it were they would have just disappeared in the dark night never to be heard from again. Rather a lot different than a mere fine for being an idiot.

Not just the ones who violate the law in the extreme, but the ones who aver no law applies to them if they don’t happen to like it. They go on about “god-given” rights or “fundamental” freedoms. There’s no such thing. The only rights and freedoms anyone has are those granted by the society they live in, and they are always subject to change. If you don’t like the way the society is structured, there are legal means to change it. Attacking the legislature by force is not one of them. Nor is making up lies and insisting you won “by a landslide” an election you lost – sixty times over.

There are too many people in this world, there is no need to accommodate those who don’t want to be a part of it. There is no place in this world for popular-opinion based reality, nor the people who advocate such nonsense. So this old protester hippy leftover from a generation soon to be gone will take up his own mantle of anarchy profess that these are the very people that need to be permanently removed from among us. We need to execute them (Farcebook be damned).

And we need to teach our children better.

A cold and cruel world.

Plus ça change …

Continuing …

“… plus c’est la même chose.” – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

I begin this post with that quote because at the start of a “new” year it seems most appropriate. Our artificial designation of the calendar change (New Year used to be in March, never mind the change between Julian and Gregorian, adjustments thereto, or the other types of calendars still in use) and our societies’ assumptions of imposing further changes, or at least the hopes and illusions of them, on us … well it’s all really quite ridiculous.

For example; I have now lived in eight different decades.

Yeah, I’ve been around a while.

If I were to write an autobiography it might be called “From Warsaw to 100 Mile House” or something. I wouldn’t because I can’t remember not only fine details of but indeed great huge segments of my life. When I try to make sense of it, it just doesn’t. It’s been weird and at the same time not very interesting, even to me.

The point is, if we may get back on track here (it’s not called Wandering Words for nothing), that things don’t magically change on a particular date because of that date. You are not born on your birthday; rather you are born and that day becomes your birthday. But people are born, they live, and they die. We are acutely aware of the fact and have a psychological need to define the rest of reality in the same terms. That matter and energy can neither be created or destroyed we know, but we can’t come to terms with this because it is contrary to our own personal existence. So we fool ourselves into thinking time is a thing with a beginning and an end that can be quantified and measured and perhaps even traveled through in a direction other than always forward.

We may as well play the game. The consensus of opinion is that 2020 was pretty bad. Some argue from personal experience that it wasn’t, and the media has gone so far as to dredge up some experts to explain that there have been worse years. This is true: there have been worse years, and I’ve lived through several of them so I ought to know. I don’t expect anyone to listen to me (they generally don’t), but gee kids; I am a walking history book. There’s got to be some advantage to being this old, hasn’t there?

Perhaps not.

On a personal level 2020 wasn’t so bad for me. I am perhaps unique in my adaptability to endure a pandemic lock-down situation. I am by nature non-social (as opposed to anti-social, which is quite different) and the one good part of living off retirement income is you don’t get fired from it. In fact I got a lot of work done on the cabin. The worst bits were endless arguments (usually on-line) about the disease and how it was being handled with the hopelessly stupid people who made the situation worse and the empathetic feeling for all those who really did suffer. Very much like the wildfire disaster of 2017. In truth, for me 2019, 2018, and 2017 were all personally much worse than 2020. But if I look at it objectively and holistically with professional detachment as it were, 2020 was indeed a terrible year in general. A true nadir of existence.

It was made worse by a world-wide assortment of inept leaders whose utter lack of useful knowledge of any sort only served to amplify the raving ignorance and wanton stupidity of a population full of morons. Some demonstrations:

Metaphorical; Australian sees wastebasket on fire, grabs extinguisher, puts it out. Canadian waits until house is burning then starts checking the ads to see if there are any extinguishers on sale. American goes out and buys some gasoline to drown the fire with ’cause it’s wet so it ought to work like water, right?

Timing is everything; Virus first rears its ugly head in December 2019. Prime Minister flies planeloads of “trapped”, and potentially infected, citizens home as soon as possible. One year later he thinks about stopping people from getting on planes unless they test negative for the virus which has already become an uncontrolled pandemic.

When you don’t know, lie; Great Orange Leader says it will all be over by Easter, because admitting there is a problem would make him “look bad”. Eight months later his country has the highest infection rate in the world by a factor of 6 as well as 20% of the deaths from the disease despite having only 5% of the world population. His supporters claim he “warned everyone about how dangerous it is” when in fact he did exactly the opposite. The same supporters deny it exists at all, or say that it is no worse than flu. Until they contract it, that is.

Be prepared; Hey, we bought twice as many vaccine doses as needed for the entire population of the country! Uh, they won’t send them to us though. Seems they don’t really exist. Um, anybody got any vaccine for sale?

Financial forecasting; The Economy will be destroyed if we shut things down! Oh never mind: the rich people managed to get even richer after all, and no one else counts.

Progress in millimeters; Canada is pleased to announce they’ve almost vaccinated less than 0.02% of the population. Somewhat shy of the 12 million inoculations needed to break the transmission spread. Maybe some more lock-downs will help?

I did in fact predict quite a lot of this, as well as suggesting plans to re-order society to make things better and prevent future such occurrences. I won’t reiterate or even link to the relevant posts because no one listens anyway.

I guess the one good thing about being old is knowing you won’t be around long enough to see the final collapse of civilization.

In the short form

How bad can it get?

Let’s just say I finished off the week by slipping on the ice Friday.

That bad.

I didn’t break any bones, despite carrying an armload of wood at the time, but I’ve got the bruises and sore muscles from trying to defy gravity. Yes I’m too old for this. Every time something like this occurs it’s a reminder that lifestyle changes are inevitable. And possibly may be forced upon us at any time.

No photos this week. There hasn’t been a day worth considering a single frame in.

In other photo news I see the Ebay scammers are at it again. Same camera listings, same pricing trickery. In fact some repeats appeared yesterday (with ‘different’ sellers) and were gone today – taken down by the web site, I assume, as they were obvious cons.

COVID rages through our country still, with the numbers climbing. This is largely due to stupid people who fail to accept reality. Some of them are in charge. At least we’re not the USA, which has managed to exceed the world’s infection rate by a factor of 5 now.

Anyway I’m working on another dull, picture-less entry that’s a lot of words and probably not of much interest. I think it only fair to warn readers in advance of something like that. It goes somewhere eventually, but requires patience to see through to the end.

I see Chuck the Writer linked to my last dull entry, bless him. There weren’t even any good images in it. What the hell; he’s a good lad for more reasons than that.

This endless calendar of “just get through today” days has become tedious. I doubt 2021 will be better despite much promise, but at least it won’t be 2020. Ah, be careful what you wish for; you might get it.

Once again they said it would be sunny today. Once again it is not.

C’est la vie. C’est la guerre.

Another Medical Monday

Warning: this post is not about photography per se and touches on some unpleasant topics, specifically anxiety and depression. Probably best not to read it.

How do you fail a medical exam? You don’t, usually. You get results which tell you what’s wrong. I get results which tell me what’s not wrong. I’ve got a long list of what isn’t ailing me, with no diagnosis of what is. That’s failing the exam. Or the exam failing you. Whichever.

It’s a good thing I’m not going out much these days because the morning cough would scare passers-by into thinking I’m contaminated with COVID. It’s really just that the lung muscles need some encouragement to get going because they are muscles and whatever it is that afflicts me affects all the muscles, including the heart. Recently I nearly choked to death in the night because certain muscles decided to misbehave. Or there’s the joyous ‘rebound effect’ of taking the muscle relaxant so that I won’t have that problem, which is the equivalent of a severe hangover for which there is no cure. The day after that I got to wake up with arms and legs in contraction which makes them tired and sore before I get out of bed. I have to lie there and rest before getting up. I then went through a morning of being weak in the limbs and torso with my face hurting. Try telling your doctor that your face hurts and see what reaction you get.

Only you can’t see a doctor right now because of the pandemic. It is really complicated here and they are relying heavily on phone-in and on-line service to assist patients. A lot of people are suffering more as a result, and there’s no way to determine if the COVID situation would be worse if they weren’t. Our daily new cases here have gone up 100X in the past few weeks: everyone is in trouble. The USA with its moronic leadership has the highest infection and death rate in the world, so at least we’re not them. I digress.

Okay, let’s try the non-interactive medical service and see what it comes up with.

According to results I’m suffering from Anxiety and Depression.

Well, duh.

I’ve got plenty to be anxious and depressed about. But they’ve put the cart before the horse: assuming my physical symptoms are a manifestation of the psychological state instead of the other way around. Let me tell you, when you’re old and infirm with no chance of getting better and the world keeps dumping merde at your doorstep it is unlikely you will be calm and cheerful. It triggers a vicious cycle, then, where the induced mental state aggravates the physical symptoms. How then to break the cycle?

A paradox! A paradox! A most ingenious paradox!

The medical profession likes to prescribe pills. Well there is no such thing as a “happy pill” no matter what they say. Altering your mental state chemically so that your mind is unaware of or unconcerned with the problems at hand is not a solution. It is a sure-fire avenue to addiction, though. (Note this is not the same as replacing a known deficiency in neuro-transmitter chemicals.)

Let me take a moment to explain that anxiety and depression are not illnesses in and of themselves. They are normal feelings under certain conditions. Anticipating a visit to the dentist is bound to cause anxiety in anyone (if it doesn’t, that is another problem). When your pet dies you should feel depressed (again, if you don’t that’s a problem). The actual illnesses are anxiety disorder and clinical depression. Either can be defined as an abnormal level of reaction to circumstances (as in causing an inability to cope with anything, not just the situation at hand) or reaction to imagined circumstances that are unlikely to occur (like worrying about the world being hit by a meteor).

So when your normal day amounts to “consciousness = pain” and routine actions require major expenditure of energy and effort it is normal to feel anxious about having to do anything and depressed about the situation in general. That’s the paradox: the physical problems can be caused by the mental state, or vice-versa. In this era of pop-psychiatry where reality is a matter of opinion and scientific facts don’t count, there is a tendency to ignore the physical in favour of the mental. (Another paradox is the popular trend of normalizing mental illness while at the same time ignoring certain behaviours that are such illness; only certain kinds of mental illness are okay to have. Similar to the hypocrisy of social behaviour patterns. Boy could I start some major arguments with this. I feel smug in knowing that those arguments would prove my point and the arguers against would never notice this fact.)

Okay, I’m wandering again. Where was I?

Oh yes: suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous (mis)fortune.

So here I am with the unknown disease flaring up at a time when so many other things are going wrong, from the weather (4″ of snow this Saturday morning and -12°C) to unexpected expenses (CRD being incompetent) to whatever little pleasures I might still be able to indulge in being taken away. Removal of any one of these factors would do more towards relieving the negative mental state than any chemical compound ever could. Better weather, a financial windfall, some opportunity to photograph, any disruption to this steady stream of unpleasant eroding of my state of mind would help. This is unlikely to happen, thus I am stuck in a pattern of reciting the mantra of “get through the day” every day. I don’t even want to think long-term, as the projections for that can only be worse.

All these things have been wearing me down. The physical and the mental. Things like having to get the wood in and the cabin closed up, neither of which has been completed. Things like the sudden awful turn in the weather, which interfered with the first two items as well as photography. Things like the government suddenly coming after me demanding money and creating hassles I do not need. Even minor things like the changes to certain on-line sites which make them more of a pain to use rather than a pleasant distraction from other things. Never mind things like not being able to advance on wishful plans such as acquiring new equipment – or even purchasing a favourite chocolate bar. I do not create problems for myself (unlike some people I know). I don’t have to; there are plenty of people willing to create problems for me either through direct and deliberate action or simple disregard for the existence of others. Hell even our recent local election went against my wishes, although I doubt it will make any actual difference to me specifically. Lots of little, annoying, and completely unnecessary events which grate away the calm and collected demeanor. All that is left at this point is a facade of that, and I’m not sure how long it will withstand the onslaught.

Some people might not take this seriously, because there are dashes of humour in this otherwise bleak diatribe. It is an absolute truth that even in our darkest moments we still see light, although it is likely the headlamp of an oncoming train, which tends to detract (or distract) from the seriousness of the situation. Often the person most likely to commit suicide is not the habitually morose one but the seemingly stable one whose problems are kept locked inside until they overwhelm. (Oddly enough statistics show that the suicide rate has gone down during this pandemic, which is a situation probably worthy of greater study.)

Therein another paradox. The world is full of them.

It’s full of something, anyway.

Addendum: cleared the driveway of 6″ snow. Snowblower wouldn’t start because I didn’t get to service it yet this year (we usually do not have so much snow so early). When I did get it done my hands were burning numb with the effects of cold and gripping the handles. See what I mean? Every day tasks are becoming insurmountable. It doesn’t help having animals, which must be looked after every day even when you don’t feel up to getting out of bed.

My wife is not immune to the effects either. She canceled her hair appointment because, once again, she was worried about going out. The pandemic has inflicted on her a case of agoraphobia which she tries to deny, but caves in to almost every time. We are too old to have so many problems dumped on us like this. Can not cope with it all.

For comic relief: Amazon’s idea of a big sale. Yes, 99 cents off something that costs $600!

Boomer, okay.

I woke up in a bad mood today and I’m not going to apologize for it. I’m not even going to explain it. Everyone else can be angry about things, so I can as well. There’s lots to be angry about, from the trivial to the significant. Sometimes you can’t tell where one leaves off and the other begins. That’s because of what Douglas Adams called “the fundamental interconnectedness of it  all”.

One thing I’m angry about is the continuing insulting of the Baby Boomer Generation as though it is responsible for everything wrong in the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. We’re the bunch that moved society on by great leaps and bounds. When I was young segregation was a thing in so many places and situations it was horrible. But our generation turned George Wallace from “segregation forever” to “segregation never” and black people got elected mayors and governors in the South.

We knew pollution was a problem and went on to not just create Earth Day as a trendy symbol, but to clean up the land, air, and water. We really did. Remember the Environmental Protection Agency? It used to be a thing.

Never mind the advancements we made it the sciences. We are not responsible for the situational irony that smartphones are now used to ‘warn’ people of the ‘dangers’ of vaccines and fifth generation communication technology. We passed our science exams.

But just because one country put a leader in place (I can’t say ‘elected’ as that is debatable) who has proven to be the worst leader of any country in the history of the entire world and that person coincidentally belongs to our generation as well, we are all demoted to the same level of “moron troublemakers”. Well we didn’t vote him in; there aren’t enough of us left to do so. That means he had to have support from younger age groups, if not some foreign entity bypassing the entire electoral system somehow. He’s what is known as a “statistical outlier”, not a “representative sample” of the Baby Boomer Generation.

Thus we have the ignorant among us using the catch phrase “okay, boomer” as some sort of slight towards this now older generation because they have little understanding of history. They are so self-centered I’m not surprised they support an egomaniac moron, or in the case of Canada an ignorant narcissistic git who thinks budgets balance themselves. There’s no true leadership among the leaders these days, which explains the lack of empathy among the populace. Or perhaps vice-versa.

As a result we have ineffective social movements. People who think they can improve the future by denying the past. Crowds who like to complain, but offer no constructive criticism. Identifying what is wrong is the first step, but it is a meaningless one if you don’t also offer a solution (not just demand one). It should be pretty obvious that answers are not going to be forthcoming from people who are operating the currently flawed system. After all, if they could see the way to improvement they’d do it. (If they can see the way and don’t do it that is part of the problem.)

Taking down statues of past racists won’t solve anything. Taking down current racists will. The former is an exercise is denying history, and thus condemning the future to relive it. The latter is the way of change. Yes some of those statues should never have been put up in the first place. For example celebrating the Confederate traitors who were not only on the losing side of the war but also on the wrong side. But if you were to take down every commemoration of past slave owners you’d also be missing out on Thomas Jefferson. It’s a matter of context, you see. As it is with so many other things, like language where a particular word is not offensive but how it is used is.

It is good that NASCAR has banned the rebel flag from their grounds, even if it’s a decision coming 155 years late. But Mississippi still has it as part of their state flag. How can anyone justify that? The “part of our heritage” excuse is not viable: not everything in one’s heritage is something to be proud of. Almost every culture on Earth has had slavery at one time or another, and most were smart enough not only to end it but to not allow any romanticized depictions of it which might lead to people who were too far removed from the actual situation to think it wasn’t as bad as it was.

There are complaints that are justified and those that are not. An episode of Fawlty Towers gets removed from view because it contains blatant racist epithets. The fact that they are used in a manner that demonstrates how stupid and backward it is to be a bigot is ignored, and so the lesson that would be taught is lost. Gone With The Wind continues to stir controversy over its depiction of slavery in the southern US, even though that depiction is historically accurate.

There is a scene in Eugene O’Neil’s “Ah, Wilderness!” wherein a black servant is chastised for not being a racial stereotype for his master and is forced to hide his college education and carry on as the racists expect a black man to be. This is a telling bit, because a lot of them did just that: behaved as expected to avoid controversy and conflict.

But now we must erase words and people from history because they are offensive to modern sensibilities. Not “see how horrible it was? Haven’t we made lots of improvements?” but “oh we just don’t talk about that”. How will anyone learn from such denial? Do we not admonished neo-Nazis for their assertion the Holocaust didn’t happen?

As for the word “niggardly”, it isn’t even etymologically related. Learn, people.

People have become too simplistic. Things are either good or bad, and they can’t grasp the complex subtleties such as “the dose makes the poison”. So “the ‘N’ word” is eliminated from the language in all contexts, and the disgusting aspect of it is removed. It’s the opposite of the effect of over-using expletives which causes their impact to be lessened.

So to you younger, non-boomer generations I say stop pretending. Reality is an ugly thing at times, and you have to face up to it. Not every job in life is arranging flowers. Sometimes you have to shovel the shit.

I have a lot more to say about … well everything. But this was cathartic and will end now, even though I’m still in a very bad mood.

Random Cats and Neglected Social Issues*

Attempting to get ‘normal’ pictures of our cats only reinforces the notion they are not normal. Not surprising since the world itself is far from normal.

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Her name is Boots

I could go on at length about the world situation right now, but to what end? In over half a century no one has listened to my opinions despite my being proven right repeatedly. So, random thoughts. (The words aren’t important: it’s about the cats. It’s always about the cats.)

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His name is Hannibal

And just like that, suddenly Colin Kaepernick was right.

Until it’s no longer fashionable to be anti-racist, that is. Then it will be business as usual again.

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Her name is Squeak

If you want to end racism you have to execute people of a certain kind.
The problem will not respond to any other methodology. Sensitivity training isn’t going to do it, and as long as their type are around (never mind in power) nothing changes. I’ve seen vast improvements in social conditions in my lifetime, and then saw them all but vanish in a few years. Why? Because the people who benefit from the hate were still there, lurking in the shadows and awaiting the opportunity to take advantage of fear. All they needed was a champion. No, not a champion but a figurehead; a symbol of authority to put the official stamp of approval on reprehensible behaviour. Even if that approval was only implied and not blatant.
If you’re not willing to end the lives of the people whose very existence causes everyone else trouble, you’re not serious about tackling the issues. We’ve fought wars over this.
Remember: they are perfectly willing (and indeed eager) to kill you to advance their cause.

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Boots, as normal as she gets

The prevalent economic system in the world today isn’t capitalism, it’s anti-socialism. All forms of government are some type of socialism. All forms of socialism involve equitable distribution of resources for the common good. Anti-socialism involves inequitable distribution for the benefit of a few at the expense of the many. That’s why feudal systems and dictatorships inevitably fail. You can see the signs of anti-socialism in CEO’s having their compensation cut to a mere $5.8 million during the pandemic when the people who actually did the work of the company are having to survive on a $2,000 per month government handout (that the government can’t afford to pay).

Remember that “socialism” and “society” have the same root word. If you don’t have one you don’t have the other; you have chaos and anarchy.

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Hannibal, sleeping as normal

57 police officers resigned in support of their comrades who beat up a 70+-year-old-man. That’s 57 job openings welcome. It also shows that every law enforcement agency (and indeed legislative body) needs to be vetted for these bullies, whether racist or just power-crazed, so that they can be permanently removed and given restricted social standing. Yes, let them feel what it’s like to be a minimum-wage slave for a change. Bar them from voting too, so they can’t build a political power base of abuse. Again.

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Squeak, who normally sleeps under the covers

Lessons from the pandemic include:

All false medical practices need to be stopped and outlawed.

People who actually do work are more valuable than unskilled and interchangeable executives who earn lots of money for contributing nothing to the company.

Symbolic gestures are just as useless and damaging as riots.

Gasoline that cost $1.38/L before the lockdown still generated a profit at $0.89/L. Because the law of supply and demand is based on greed, not some magic ability for more money to make a product appear out of thin air in an instant. Same goes for PPE.

Reality is not a matter of public opinion to be voted on.

Politicians are least able to deal with crises because they are the least qualified in any given field, yet are put in charge of everything.

No country should allow itself to become dependent on another country for essential goods of any kind.

The ecology actually is important. A lot of businesses are not.

If you are wounded, look for a man with scars.

Don’t do business with anyone who doesn’t share your ethical nature.

The current crises will all blow over and everyone will go back to doing things the same as before. Oh wait: that’s not a lesson from the pandemic, it’s a lesson from a long life.

I’m too old to deal with this stuff, to fight the battles, to try and educate the young. So I’m just reverting to my “selfish” lifestyle and I don’t care what anyone thinks of me, my life, or my opinions.

*The title is an adaptation of Edward Gorey’s “Dancing Cats and Neglected Murderesses”

Lessons we should have learned

There has been much revealed by the pandemic. All of it having to do with human behaviour and what’s wrong with that. Here, in no particular order, are some of the things we should take note of.

1). Never let your country become dependent on another for vital goods like food, clothing, housing, energy, or medical supplies.

2). Viruses happen. This was not the first outbreak nor will it be the last. It is possible to have plans of action at the ready to prevent the level of severity we’ve seen with this one, and a few basic precautions would reduce the effects of all sorts of diseases we normally put up with as a matter of course.

4). Even though only about 25% of people are staying home (over and above the number who normally do), pollution levels have dropped drastically around the world. HINT, HINT.

5). When it comes right down to it, essential workers don’t include CEOs.

6). A lot of what we think is necessary in our lives (and indeed in our society) really isn’t. Most of what we’re doing without is superfluous to our existence anyway.

7). The economy exists to serve people, not the other way around.

8). Hoarding is just another sign of selfishness, ignorance, and stupidity. It doesn’t matter if it’s toilet paper or money that is hoarded.

9). There are no rights other than those granted by the society in which we live. Society has the obligation to make rules it deems necessary for the continuance of the society, and it’s not totalitarianism to require people to refrain from behaviour that is damaging to themselves or others. In fact all law is based on that principal.

10). Putting morons and/or egomaniacs in charge of your country is a really, really bad idea. To further democracy, some form of intelligence test should be required for office holders and voters.

11). People who take advantage of others during times of crisis are the lowest form of humanity and should be permanently eliminated from society upon discovery.

12). The average citizen is really bad at managing an inventory of their own household. No wonder countries have difficulty keeping emergency supplies on hand.

13). If you think there’s things more important than being alive, you should take your own … advice.

14). There are entire industries we do not need at all; they serve only as detriments to society despite their appearance as having a positive effect.

15). Cities are a bad idea. The worst hit places during this pandemic are those with the highest population density. This is a microcosm of the world problem in general.

16). People are slobs. Things like single-use plastics are not a problem in and of themselves; only the improper disposal of them after use is. If it’s just tossed on the ground it doesn’t matter what kind of trash it is, it will do damage.

17). The concept of “economic growth” is a myth which has contributed greatly to the current over-all crisis, including facilitating the spread of the disease. Earth’s resources are finite, and only a few can be recovered once used. That recovery requires input of more energy, most of which comes in the form of fossil fuels which are also ultimately finite.

18). An economy based on the sale of new consumer items is idiotic and doomed to failure. Nothing is more damaging to the world than “throw-away” consumerism.

19). Everything has two ecological costs: the ‘capital’ and the ‘operating’. It is wrong to assume they are interchangeable or easily equitable. Encouraging people to buy new cars, for example, by offering bonuses to trade in “clunkers” falsely assumes the operating ecological cost improvement offsets the capital one.

20). Manufacturing of products that are out of sync with social goals is majorly detrimental to the world: e.g. “supercars”, which have no practical real-world application and therefor should not be in production.

We have a unique opportunity right now to recognize our failings and massively re-align society into something more sustainable. Inevitably we won’t do it as it will be far easier to fall back into the same sad habits that caused the crisis in the first place.

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This is why we can’t have a nice world

Addendum:

About a week and a half after Easter our new cases numbers here suddenly spiked. We went from having less than 30 new cases every day for four days to 71 in one day. This coincides with the predictions of results based on the number of people who decided to ignore the distancing rules and go play on the holiday. We are expecting continued high numbers from now on. Thank you, idiots, for not following the rules. The next holiday in May is likely to produce a similar upsurge, and will no doubt bring it into our area here. At that point it will be extremely difficult for me to avoid it, and I’ve only got a couple of N95 fire masks left.

It’s been fun. Ciao.