Category Archives: Thoughts at Large

Thoughts @ Large: 55

° A friend recently shared an article about the number of times that six U.S. Presidents (current and former) have been alive.   This was the case in 1861-1862, 1993-1994 and 2001-2004.   I have heard some people say it has also been the case since January 2017, but I have yet to see the evidence.

° Another friend recently wrote an excellent blog post about our (human) future in space.  It led me to conclude that, yes, all those crazy granite planets out there in the solar system should be exploited for human use, to the extent possible.  Why not?  For whom, exactly, are we preserving Titan and Europa?  For never-to-be-encountered galactic overlords who will be faux-grateful to us for our conservancy?  I say, let’s fly our capitalist asses out there and start mining the dickensite out of those rocks.

However!  As long as we’re here, why not exploit Earth?  Much easier pickings!  Fact is, we do exploit Earth.  And we have to, unless we want to go back to the Wood Age.  The key to successful exploitation is to do what the rest of the animal kingdom learned long ago, via natural selection, which is to not shit in our own nests.  Let us not “unselect” ourselves.

° Along those lines, let’s fast-forward to the day when humans actually set up a colony on Mars or some other habitable place.  I ask, under what circumstances would we Earthlings ever decide to abandon ship?  Will it be because forward-thinking fellow humans paved the way for the rest of us to follow?  Nah, says the cynic in me.  My first prediction is that nations will get serious about inhabiting other worlds only when life on Earth becomes intolerable and untenable, and by then it will be too late for almost everyone.  Which leads to my second prediction: only the very well-to-do will have the means to ship out to Mars when the time comes.  They will be Elon Musk’s and Richard Branson’s and Jeff Bezos’s and Charles Koch’s great-whatever-grandchildren.  They will name their planetary outpost Teslavirgazon-Fil-A — and Mars-Prime members will have guaranteed two-year delivery.

° Back to Earth.  I offer The Collins Delivery Law: No matter how wide your driveway is, delivery trucks will find a way to run over your plants.

° Before we get all excited how our madman out-madmanned the North Korean madman, keep this in mind: any nut riding a merry-go-round pointing an automatic weapon into the crowd is likely to shoot some stray bad guy before the ride ends.

° One day when I was a pre-teen doing dishes with my mom, listening to the aqua AM/FM radio on the kitchen counter, I heard some man ranting about things I didn’t understand, but I did remember the ranting.  Mom told me his name was Joe Pyne and he was just a crackpot.  I immediately understood what a crackpot was: an expert self-important fool.  It’s a shame that this clear, self-evident term has fallen into disuse.  It certainly deserves a revival, as so many crackpots still inhabit our streets and airwaves and government offices.

° I recently retired from participation in the Facebook ecosystem.  I still have an account, so our family can share photos and videos and so I can play Scrabble with friends.  But I must say, the feeling is (as of now) liberating.  No more “news” feeds manipulated by algorithms designed by the minions of Mark Zuckerberg for the ultimate benefit of Mr. Z.  No more reluctant acceptance of Facebook as my unresponsive publicity agent.  I trust that there are other means to keep in touch with folks — and this is one of them.  More to come on this topic in a future post.

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• Who makes up the names of groups of animals? Is there some organization that decides what a group of this or that is called? I say that a group of penguins should be called a penitentiary, a group of bats should be called a battery and a group of sharks should be called a charcuterie.

• I think it is only fitting here to share a recipe. The recipe is not my own but one that I stumbled across at caudata.org. Let’s start with the ingredients:

85 large crickets (place in freezer 1 hr before blending)
25 wax worms
10 butter worms
2 dozen night crawlers
2 dozen red wigglers
1 package frozen blood worms (defrosted)
1 package frozen tubifex worms (defrosted)
2 cups frozen “salad shrimp” (defrosted, rinsed and soaked in dechlorinated water for about 2 hours)
1 tbsp calcium powder
2 unflavoured gelatin packets (dissolved in 2 cups of dechlorinated water, and heated to a boil)

Next, said the recipe, one should “blend all ingredients in electric blender until mixture has the consistency of thick gravy.” This was where I pulled the cord and got off the bus.

• When a player or team wins an important game and credits the victory to God, wouldn’t it be good journalism for reporters to turn to the losing team and question them about the inadequacy of their prayers? I would like to hear how the losers would respond but, sadly, it seems that we cannot count on the news media to do their jobs.

• “No man is without honor save in his own country,” so supposedly said Jesus. I offer the obverse observation: “Everyone’s dog is sweet before it bites the neighbor.”

• My wife was making a grocery run, so I asked her to pick up a box of cereal. What kind? Well, since I no longer eat Cheerios (or any oat cereal), I suggested Crispix (corn and rice) or the generic version if available. So she returned with a box of Laura Lynn Hexa Crisp. Hexa Crisp sounds like the kind of foodstuff one would stock in your family fallout shelter. But I am eating it anyway and hoping that I don’t have to build one before Trump is gone.

• Whenever I see a little child being scolded (or worse) by an out-of-control parent, I want to go over and hug the child and give her a kiss and tell her it is not her fault — mommy is just having a bad life.

• And what I really want to do is go over and lecture the parent about being mean. But I know that this would be unproductive and possibly counterproductive. Fred Rogers must have witnessed such scenes many times — I wonder how he reacted and acted.

Ayn Rand -- Libertarians Giving Freedom a Bad NameWhat is it that Libertarians want? What kind of country would this be if Libertarians were granted their wishes and had the freedom to revoke our laws and reshape our society? Give me the liberty to speculate: life would be near-idyllic for a man absorbed by principle, whose happiness is “the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” (Or so said Ayn Rand.) Libertarians figure the world would be a better place — and humans a better race — if everyone had to fend for themselves. Actually, Libertarians are lucky to live in a nation where this isn’t true. It isn’t Fred Rogers’ world that is the Neighborhood of Make-Believe — it’s Rand’s.

• If physical items such as telephones, microphones, typewriters, magnifying glasses, maps and paintbrushes had never existed, what images would software applications use as icons to represent the corresponding functions? In this way, iPhones are still 1890’s tech.

• Old liberals begin to realize that they have lost their edge when they gather ’round to sing protest songs, and they find they have forgotten the tune to “This Land is Your Land” and so they just hum the theme from “Antiques Road Show” instead.

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Thoughts @ Large: 53

• From the Irony Board:  The mechanics of creating a Thoughts @ Large post seems to erase from memory whatever thought-at-large it was that seemed so clever and important to share just a moment ago.

• I will not make reservations — or dine — at restaurants that do not post entrée prices on their online menus.  One can be sure that this is precisely the intended effect.

• It takes five minutes on my grill to produce the perfect rare-to-medium-rare hamburger.  It takes another thirty seconds on that same grill to produce something deemed inedible by certain members of this household whose name will be withheld to protect me.

• Given all the analogies that have been offered, I’m surprised that no one has yet to name this administration “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.”

• Ha ha, you might say.  But I am now a gang-of-one who can’t cut straight.  I tried doing so yesterday, but the distortion in my left eye won’t allow it — my scissors appear to bend and my cut-line is confused.  As one who once relied so much on alignment and precision when making art, it is discouraging.  It seems I must now be content to paint curvy things, shapes that mask my incompetence.

• This state of affairs illustrates how my art has as much or more to do with my limitations than my talents.  As perhaps it always has been — and perhaps how it is for most artists.  (But those artists will have to speak for themselves.)

• One last item from the Irony Board about getting old and its related bothers: this month not only marks my entry into Medicare but also my enlarging the icons on my laptop and attaching a goose-neck magnifying glass onto my desk.  From here onward, I can look back fondly when Paul McCartney sings, When I’m Sixty-Four.

• There has to be some six-syllable German word for a person who you think is your friend but who in reality does not interact with you and may not have thought about you in years. Likewise, there must be an equally-long German word that describes you, the person who believes he has such a friend.

• Is customer service, mirabile dictu, getting better?  Looking back, I would say that the 1980s were the nadir in how businesses large and small felt free to take customers for granted, were deaf to satisfying them and put them through hell should any complain. Over the last decade (thanks to Amazon and/or social media) there has been a sea change in customer relations.  Whether it is sincere or scripted is not my concern as long as they are engaged in resolving my problem and, better yet, keeping problems from happening.  Amazon and its free shipping and no-questions-asked returns have changed everything in the retail landscape.  I am old enough to recall five-and-tens and those were not the days.  As Paul McCartney sang, it is getting better all the time.

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