December 17th, 2014

#4495: Let's try and get all this done quickly.

My wife was raised Catholic but never heard the story of Saint Nicholas. The real Saint Nick, I mean, the heretic-clobbering badass bishop of the 4th century.

So last night I told her about it, and she was amazed.

* * *

Those sanctions didn't work because they were imposed by old white men who were probably senile. Obama's sanctions against Russia and Venezuela will work because he's hip and cool and smart, but we might as well dismantle the half-century-old sanctions against Cuba.

I'm going to assume that's what the thinking is, because otherwise my brain asplode. My brain has never handled cognitive dissonance very well, not in others and certainly not in myself. It requires a special kind of stupid to eliminate sanctions against one country, claiming they don't work, while simultaneously emplacing them against another country.

What it all boils down to is that the American left has never liked the sanctions on Cuba, because they liked Fidel Castro--and Castro's murderous pit bull, the psychopath Ernesto Guevara, was their darling. Normalizing relations with Cuba is a lefty dream.

Since we're stuck with this idiocy, we might as well look at the bright side. Normalizing relations with Cuba will mean that more people get to see what a hereditary totalitarian communist shithole looks like. The media can't control the narrative, not in a world with the Internet, and the real news will get out.

How long can the Castro family retain control of Cuba, anyway? How old is Raul? Does he have a son?

* * *

Democrats always bend the rules for their friends. Big Obama donor--banned from the visa list for committing fraud--has the rules bent by the State Department so she can get a visa and come to the US.

Imagine the screams if this had been done by the Bush administration.

* * *

Who is that guy, second from the left? It doesn't say.

I am interested only because back in the Cretaceous Era, when I was a teenager, I made up a super-villain named THE WHITE FOREHEAD. He was a very bad guy. I never really explained (or even thought to explain) what made his forehead white, nor what that had to do with his super-villainy; I was 16 and this super-villain was identified by the fact that he had a white forehead.

I don't know. Genetic mutation? Vitiligo? Scalp transplant? I never worried about it. None of the super-villains I came up with in my high school notebooks ever had an origin story; they were there simply as foils for Kano, the invulnerable and immortal space traveler. Kano fought against a panoply of arch-villains from all over the universe: Dr. Human, Zbzil the White Hand (inspired by a LEGO figure of mine that had one white hand), Elric, Underwear Man, fat bald men with bad breath, and the White Forehead.

The inspiration for the White Forehead came one night when I was preparing for bed. I was washing my face--I used Noxema in those days to keep the acne at a minimum--and caught a glimpse of myself with my forehead covered in Noxema and thought it was kind of funny. "Fear the White Forehead!" I screeched theatrically, and laughed.

That memory is why I realize that the scene from Better Off Dead, where John Cusack puts Q-tips in his mouth and makes faces at the mirror, is hardly even an exaggeration.

Anyway, it seems that the White Forehead's big bugaboo is global warming. That makes sense.

* * *

The inventor of Write-Only memory (WOM) has finally stepped forward and the genius can now be showered with accolades.

* * *

I should write a post about my notebooks. Maybe I'll do that later, after I've finished running my errands.

#4496: When life gives you lemons... a bag of dicks.

Er no--wait.

Anyway, on the plus side, I'm able to get through this time of "empty waller" by cleaning out my change bucket. Payday is Friday, and since I have a payday right away in the new year everything ought to be okay, relatively speaking.

* * *

It is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle, goes the phrase, than it is for a rich man to get into heaven.

Regardless of what type of needle Jesus meant when he said that (a sewing implement or a restrictive doorway meant to make difficult the invasion of a walled city) it's not a task that's easily accomplished. I was thinking about that today, while running my errands.

There doesn't seem to be a good way for me to explain my conclusions on the matter. Access to wealth changes people, though, and usually not for the better; and it seems that the wealthier someone becomes the more greedy he gets, until money becomes the only thing he cares about.

"Love of money is the root of all evil," and I do not love money. It's a tool to me. The sad part is, like anyone else I have my limits. "Do this one disagreeable and immoral thing, and the rest of your life will be free from material want" is a powerful incentive. I don't know what my limit would be--how much money, how immoral--and frankly it's not a test that I ever wish to face. I would much rather earn my way, because who knows what I would have to sacrifice?

A price must always be paid. Some prices aren't worth what you get.

This line of thought segued into the issue of redemption, and I realized that God doesn't give up on you until you've exhaled your last breath. He is always ready to welcome you back with open arms, no matter who you are or what you've done. Think about how marvelous that is: Hitler, had he done things differently--asked for forgiveness, turned to Christ, not committed suicide--would have been welcomed into heaven, all else being equal. We don't know, maybe he did--maybe the official story of "suicide" isn't what actually happened.

The key is admitting error, realizing that you sin, and asking God to forgive you for it. I was thinking about how awful a person I am in fact--a woeful sinner am I, and have been all my life--and then remembered that redemption is not out of anyone's reach.

...except for the person who says, "I'm a good person! I don't sin, I don't do anything wrong! I'm a nice guy to everyone, all the time." If you are that arrogant to think that you're free of sin--or you think that the rules don't apply to you--there is no hope for you.

Ultimately--getting back to camels and needles--that's probably what Jesus meant. Wealth confers the ability to avoid the realities of the world. When you earn a million dollars a year, you can afford to lose five grand at the blackjack table; a loss like that is less affordable when you make minimum wage. Getting caught commiting a felony means hiring a good lawyer when you're rich, but it means jail time when you're not. For Steve Jobs pancreatic cancer doesn't preclude a liver transplant; for Joe Blow pancreatic cancer means palliative care and making the best of his remaining few months. And that kind of separation makes you think you don't really have to be sorry for the bad things you do--after all, you donate all kinds of money to charity, don't you?

* * *

Yes, I'm a real ray of sunshine. Well, the weather has been gloomy for a week, and my mood matches. It was supposed to be clear today, but it wasn't. Still, I managed to get my prescription refill ordered; then I went to the bank, got my hair cut, and picked up a few sundries from the grocery store.

I don't know what the purpose of all this is, but I know there is one.

The economic news I'm seeing does not make me feel better, either. Look: gasoline is $2.60 in the Fungal Vale, a price I have not seen in a year at least and probably longer than that. I'm seeing reports that oil demand in China is down, that the decrease in Chinese demand is what's driving prices so low as OPEC continues to run the pumps.

All the data I see is pointing to "things suck, and are going to suck worse".

Well, no one said it would be easy.

* * *

I'm going to try to finish on an upbeat note, though.

Way down in the boiling froth of virtual particles, popping into and out of existence, that I refer to as my "subconscious", there are ideas for SF stories constantly percolating away. Once in a long while something comes out that's useful.

Today I was thinking about the story I wrote about a monk who solves murder cases in the 27th century (I think it was the 27th; it might have been the 28th) and how crappy of a novel it was. It really isn't any good, and I've been thinking--on and off--about how I might rectify that.

At issue is the fact that the story is, to some extent, an exploration of sexual morality. "Mr. Boddy" is a terran human who is a pedophile, and he purposely moved to a world where there is no "age of consent" so he could exercise his proclivities without fear of prosecution. His predilection for young girls is a factor in his murder--not because of what he's done to a specific girl, but because he attempts to sway a local politician's vote on the enactment of an age of consent law, and resorts to blackmail.

The way I've written the story, some things just don't make sense, and the stuff that does make sense isn't very compelling. I'm making a few basic errors in the plotting and execution, errors which--until recently--I had trouble identifying. Now that I know what I'm doing wrong, though, I think I can rescue this one from the "stinkeroo" pile. (I probably had to write the thing as-is to get to this stage, though, so that's all right.)

Eventually I hope to get this thing written the right way. The current rewrite project (the semi-stalled one with the big flashback) occupies a lot of my brain space at the moment, but once that one's finished--whenever that may be--I can start thinking about this other story.

The murder mystery aspect of the thing isn't meant to be the primary thrust of the story, fortunately; it's a MacGuffin, something to get the protagonist involved in the main story. But it still has to have some suspense about it, and at the moment it does not.

Well, I'm working on it.