Before plunging into still more new times and new topics, I thought I'd briefly revisit a few old ones.
(Don't worry, though - I don't really plan on revisiting a million of them. I just said that to scare away the riff-raff.)
----- Since posting Pitching My Tent back on Oct 20, I've had no second thoughts about leaving Open Diary. From that first entry until this one I've experienced no problems here and continue to feel right at home. Although this site has its limitations - no private notes, no search function, no diary download - its ease of use and reliability remain huge pluses. (Live Journal, in sharp contrast, has annoyed me every time I've tried to use it.) Although I have no intention of deleting my old OD diary, it's a relief to no longer be putting all my eggs in a basket that has a disturbing tendency to disappear without warning or much explanation.
----- Since posting The Chipmunk Gene on Oct 22, I've continued to run around collecting delicious tidbits of information. I shared a small part of my stash in my last entry. Here now is one of the newest additions to my info-pile: The average Italian male is 5'6" tall.
----- Since posting My Secret Fear on Oct 23 (my secret fear being that Chinese microwaves are turning the brains of Americans into mush), I've learned that about 15,000 Americans died in traffic accidents in the first half of this year. This was reported as *good* news because it's better than the 16,500 Americans who died in the first half of 2009, but... it still is the equivalent of five 9/11 terrorist attacks when it comes to the number of lives lost. Would anyone call five terrorist attacks as deadly as 9/11 in a 6-month period good news in any way, shape, or form? Of course not. But most Americans have accepted an endless series of deadly car accidents as a normal part of life and/or a natural cost of doing business. The terrible day after day after day carnage unfolding on our roads rarely, if ever, impinges on their consciousness the way a single missing child story might. Or even the way the latest sports scores regularly do. I don't get it. I doubt that I ever will.
----- Since posting my Update On Jon David Clark on Oct 24 (Jon being the guy who was convicted of killing his wife during an exorcism), I've read several stories about Catholics in Poland and the US who think the Catholic Church needs more exorcists. I'm still waiting for a theist to explain to me why it's ok to reflexively dismiss people like Jon as obvious evil psychos while at the same time seeing the quite similar dogmas and rituals of an established church as sane and moral and/or unworthy of notice or comment.
----- Since posting This Messy World on Oct 26, I've attended two more Diabetes Management classes with my Significant Other. I've learned that too much sugar in the blood can damage your blood vessels and make them more susceptible to a build-up of plaque, loss of elasticity, and other bad things. The smallest blood vessels tend to be damaged first. These smaller vessels are in places like the feet and eyes. That's why diabetics can end up losing feeling in their feet, why foot sores are slow to heal, and why - in extreme cases - the feet and legs can die and have to be amputated. There are small blood vessels in the retina, too. When those get damaged, scar tissue can form. Such tissue hurts your ability to see and can lead to blindness unless removed by laser surgery. Yes, indeed, the human body sure is a marvel of perfect design....
----- Since posting A Messy World Gets Messier on Oct 29, I've been back to my doctor and learned the results of my electronystagmography. It turns out that my left inner ear is indeed fucked up. Or - to put it in slightly more technical terms - it's still showing signs of viral labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis. Until I'm willing to submit to an autopsy, there's really no way to be sure. In any event, a build-up of fluid or an inflamed nerve is apparently what's leaving me susceptible to so-called drop attacks - which are also known as an "otolithic crisis of Tumarkin." (That term makes me feel so much more special than "knocked down on me arse"; I plan on using it with the store manager if I ever end up taking out a shelf of pickles at my local Kroger's.) I'm now taking prednisone in an attempt to reduce the inflammation and make it easier for my body to fight off the virus that's allegedly the root cause. It might be years before I know if it's worked. If it doesn't work, I might find out without any warning at almost any time. Yes, indeed, the body is a marvel of perfect design....
----- Since posting India: Land Of 300 Million Gods - And No Toilets on Nov 3, my mind has been haunted by India. That's partly due to an Oct 18 story about how 10 more Hindus were killed at yet another religious festival over there. It's the sort of story I've encountered (and commented on) many times before, yet things never seem to get better - people refuse to learn from the past or change their ways, and so another stampede is made inevitable. And then another - and another. You can bet on it if you're sick enough. This time the stampede occurred when people were on their way to sacrifice their goats at a temple. People started pushing because fasting seems to have left them short-tempered. A perfect example of religious madness wrapped within religious madness leading to completely unnecessary tragedy....
Last night I watched "International House Hunters" on HGTV. A young New York woman was moving to Bangalore to be with her boyfriend, who had a job in the tech industry over there. One of the places they looked at was a fabulous $300,000 house that had sacred cows wandering around outside it in an unkempt area that looked like it hadn't been touched since the bombs were going off in the 1940s. If it's true that the average Indian makes $2 a day, it would take the average Indian 150,000 days to get the money for a house like that. (NOTE: If you live to be 100, you'll have lived less than 37,000 days.) I don't understand how anyone other than a governor or general of the old British Empire could stand to live in such opulence in the midst of such poverty. Neither can I understand how a young, apparently sane guy can work in a 21st century industry in an area that's still overwhelmingly shaped by 4000-year-old religious superstitions - or how a young, apparently sane NY woman can happily navigate chaotic streets that were shown leaving a random motorcyclist crumbled in the dirt. It's as if other people's misery and stupidity is seen by them as just so much charming backdrop to Our Grand Adventure. (As it happens, the couple decided on a marginally cheaper apartment instead, but... despite paying over $200,000, they found that the native Indian contractors had installed the toilet paper dispenser in the shower instead of by the toilet.)
----- Since posting Can Atheism Be Proven Wrong? on Nov 4, I've remembered many of the other reasons why I'm severely allergic to theism and theists. The concept of gOd is just too stupid to be taken seriously - yet millions do. There is, after all, absolutely no reason to believe that consciousness can exist in some free-floating form apart from a physical brain, but theists blithely shrug this off. There is no known way for some force larger than the universe to intervene in the distant operations of that universe at a speed faster than that of light, yet theists blithely shrug this off, too. What, exactly, might allow or motivate a supernatural force to intervene in our piddly affairs? What might motivate an allegedly perfect (and thus necessarily self-sufficient) being to ever want to create anything, let alone this mess of a planet? How can anyone look at the vastness of empty space and the huge numbers of lifeless black holes and enormous stars and conclude that this being's prime concern and love is little old us - creatures smaller than fly specks in the far corner of a remote part of an infinite desert? Theists reject all sorts of much less absurd ideas than gOd every waking moment - yet take extreme umbrage when we atheists dare question the "logic" and "evidence" behind their version of theism (which - whatever version that may be - most other theists also reject). The question isn't "Can Atheism Be Proved Wrong?"; the question is, "Why Isn't Theism Generally Recognized As A Serious Mental Disorder?" (See the two-part entry I posted on Feb 6, 2004 for more along these lines within the context of my rejection of agnosticism.)
----- Since posting In Praise Of Inauthenticity on Nov 6, I've successfully finished transferring all seven of my old Baja Marimba Band LPs to my computer and then disks. I've also transferred seven of my old Herb Alpert LPs, three of my Burt Bacharach LPs, two George Winston LPs from the 1980s, and two Windham Hill compilations. It's been fun. Why? Well, as I once told an elderly aunt when she asked me to explain the appeal of video games, "After years and years of just looking passively at a screen, I'm finally able to control and manipulate what I see." Only in this case, it's what I hear. Sure, that manipulation has been pretty minor thus far. I could play with the tone and speed and a whole of of other stuff, thanks to a program like Audacity, but... just moving decades-old notes from fragile black vinyl to small, shiny disks is magic enough for me right now. The prospect of actually compiling personal playlists makes me feel more powerful than David Copperfield!
Truth be told, the whole thing blows my mind whenever I stop and think of everything that had to happen in order for this day to come. Setting aside the need for humans to invent music and musical notations and instruments and all the rest, there was the need for these particular people to have musical ideas, which then somehow got made into a score, which others than somehow read and mastered. Then some long ago day - a day when I myself was actually on this earth breathing and doing something myself, I'll never know what - these people and others got up out of bed and got together in a faraway studio and actually made a record. The result was eventually shipped out (on tape?) after much fussing and manipulation to nondescript factories that stamped little ridges in vinyl (of all things!), which was then put in a paper sleeve (made from unknown trees) and a cardboard sleeve decorated with photos and artwork and commentary created by still other people I'll never know but who, in essence, were working for ME. Eventually the result ended up in a store in Toledo (most often, the JC Penny at the Franklin Park Mall), and I just happened to be there at a time when a purchase was possible (thanks to the generosity of my sister). Now, some 40 years later, after many moves and an incredible unbroken string of days of personal, national, and international trauma that somehow failed to damage any of these records, I'm able to digitalize these long-ago vibrations on a system that was the stuff of science fiction just a few short years ago.
It's amazing to me that people can continue wasting their time trumpeting the mythical miracles of Jesus when there are so many real miracles like this out there unfolding every day that ought to be noticed and celebrated.