Autumnal Equinox

Celebrate the autumn equinox, or Mabon, by harvesting your inner fruits of awareness and finding gratitude for the seeds that you have both reaped and sown. The good, the bad, and the ugly. All mistakes can become beautiful lessons that guide us toward the next step in our journey when we hold gratitude in our hearts.

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The Autumnal Equinox 2022 in the Northern Hemisphere was at 8:03 PM tonight. I’ve always thought that these annual astronomical events should be observed with some kind of ceremony that occurs at the time of the event.

Tonight we held a little ritual: lighting a candle, sharing the food, saying the words. It was nice to finally mark the equinox in a way that the event warranted. The ceremonial candle was a hurricane candle that we first lit during SnoVID. The panic-bought firelogs still in the box visible behind the fireplace glass are also a relic of that Texas tragedy.

We feasted on homemade spaghetti afterwards. It was a nice family affair. I offer my thanks to a local pagan that was willing to share a bit of their traditional ceremony with us.

The Wheel has once more turned, and the change of season begins.
What will be is. What was will be.
The Equinox is upon us, and the time to reflect, at hand.
All time comes together, here and now in this sacred space.
And I, but a moment in time, feel the change as I pass from one season to the next.

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Constitutional Reverence

Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead. I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects.

…But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

Thomas Jefferson, 3rd US President (1743-1826)

h/t to Eric Buck

The reverence for the founders is at once misplaced and well earned. Any number of people could produce a better document now than they could then; what is a shame is that most of those people are not to be found in government.

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Choosing Leaders

Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.
To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.
To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.
To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.

Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents (Earthseed, #2)

Vertigo Sailing. Vertigo Flying.

Since being diagnosed with Meniere’s twenty years ago I’ve been on a boat three times. Getting on or off a boat is always the scariest part for me, relative movement being nearly impossible to predict even for the ablest of abled people. Even when I was an abled person myself this was the task that could break legs or ankles or feet and so I took it quite seriously.

I used to own a sailboat. It was a dinky little thing, a fourteen foot sliver of fiberglass with a nineteen foot mast. We took it to Twin Buttes in San Angelo and to Lake Travis here in Austin and I’d have people hanging off the trapeze on the side of the boat while we tacked across the wind. The wind whipping your hair as the spray hit your face and you flew across the water like a bird. Those were some of the most invigorating moments, the kinds of moments that you know you are alive because your heart is pounding in your chest and the adrenaline is coursing through your veins and you know (know, because you’ve done it more than once) that one wrong move could capsize the boat and cause all manner of upset for your passengers.

I loved the water and was more at home in it and on it than I was on the land. I swam like a fish and did my best to sail like a veteran captain, but not anymore. The vertigo seems to be always on the verge of occurring the entire time I’ve been on the water or even in the water since I started having to constantly fight it. Just looking at a moving ship’s deck spikes the anxiety and makes me want to run the other direction. It takes an iron will to propel me onto the boat, and I don’t dare go below decks or fail to hang onto something that isn’t structural as I move around on deck, always keeping my eyes on the horizon so that I don’t tempt the nausea to rise.

I’m know I’m alive at these times too, but it’s not a good kind of alive feeling. I could kill the anxiety with Xanax, but then I’m not going to be at my best. I’ll just be enjoying the show and marveling at the pretty colors and people, never taking any of it seriously. So I don’t go on boats much anymore and I haven’t gone for a proper swim in almost a decade now.

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This is going to change. I’m taking a few weeks off. Maybe more than a few. I’m not sure why I need to tell anyone this, I post sporadically at the best of times. Still, it bears mentioning that I will be AWOL and probably not posting much during the first few weeks of September because I’m heading to Illinois to visit relatives and to attend Chicon 8.

This will be my first convention experience since being diagnosed in 2005, much less my first flight and convention since Coronapocalypse. I might even get on a boat and go out on Lake Michigan like I did the last time I was in Chicago. The last time I was on a boat.

Next year we are thinking of going cross-Atlantic on Cunard and catching the Northern Lights (fingers crossed there) cruise ships might be stable enough for me not to notice the movement. Seven days on the water will be long enough to kill any anxiety about triggering vertigo even if it does ultimately trigger vertigo. Who knows? I used to get car sick riding as a passenger in any vehicle but these days I can’t even tell if we are moving unless I look out the window or the Wife hits a bump (she drives, I don’t) I’m planning on taking a bottle of Xanax with me anyway just in case.

Take what you need to cope and get out of town if and when you can. That is my suggestion. Take the things you need to feel safe and/or confident in your ability to manage the planned excursion and get some form of document from your doctor explaining why you need it in case anyone asks. Then just be prepared to sleep on deck so you can see the horizon line when you open your eyes. That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.

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I’ll see ya’ll on the other side. Who knows, I might even post daily from the convention. A sailor’s wish is for fair winds and a following sea. When fighting ocean currents and weather can spell death even for the best of sailors, it’s a blessing worth having. The equivalent blessing for the modern technologist? Four full bars and direct access. Fingers crossed on there being wifi.

Postscript

Yep. I was on a boat.

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…and I didn’t need a Xanax while on the boat, either. I did need to cling to stabilizing surfaces though. My balance is very bad and there is no denying this fact.

Let The World Back Into Me

This song has been haunting my dreams for a few weeks now:

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At first I thought it was a brainworm, just another catchy tune that won’t go away. Now I’m beginning to suspect that this is my subconscious trying to tell me that I need to crawl back out of my shell and see if there is still a life to be had out in the wider world. A terrifying thought.

I don’t know that I can afford to let the world back into me, but I’m beginning to suspect that I really don’t have a choice in the matter.

This one too has been haunting my dreams.

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I’m less mystified by what it means than what the first one means. I’m more than a little pissed at the people who have kept me locked in my house for three years. People who won’t do the basic minimum required of a good citizen. The basic minimum? Get your fucking vaccinations.

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Newbs. Am I Right?

I was a little more annoyed with Reddit and r/atheism than I thought I was.

I don’t do TikTok. Or YouTube. Or Instagram, unless it’s pictures. I don’t do video and I don’t talk on camera. It’s a phobia that I’ve dealt with for decades.

I don’t find short videos interesting, I find them maddeningly abbreviated and too quickly replaced with another distracting thing that tries to make me laugh. So I was kind of surprised to be emotionally resonant with this TikTok persona:

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If you force a religion on people, then they get to own it too. If you shove it down their throats, they get to write a review about the taste. Because that is the other side of the coin. You don’t get to go out and make disciples of the nations and then cry foul when you’ve made critics too.

I’m not attacking anyone else’s culture, I’m criticizing my own. This is my lane.

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I’m punching up when I attack christianity as well. I don’t do it very often because the harm I’ve experienced was small, but the potential harm for other people in this day and age is massive and tending towards growth.

Christianists are moving out and attempting to force their ideals onto the rest of society and the rest of the world and I am no more inclined to allow them to do this than I was inclined to allow Islamists to overrun the countryside in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.

It was in this spirit that I wrote:

It was a reaction to Christianists insisting that “atheists deny god.” We deny god, so we are guilty of believing something about god. We don’t deny shit, we insist on proof; and there is no proof that the god of the Holy Bible exists. The rules that the universe obeys exclude that kind of power from existing.

I was kicked off of r/atheism for posting a link to that atheism article. I told them that I wouldn’t be impressed with the power of their authority unless I was permanently banned from the forum, and so they obliged me. Fuck authority. Fuck authority in the open market of ideas that is the internet.

In the moderator’s defense, there is a rule on r/atheism about posting links. I happen to disagree with Reddit’s sense of self importance on this issue, but the rule is there for me to read if I was inclined to kowtow to authority. Unfortunately for everyone involved, I don’t tend to kneel before power. Power of any kind.

Writers do not write for you, Reddit. Writers/creators should not write for any platform’s benefit, they should write/create for themselves. Had I been interested in observing Reddit’s war on bloggers I would have cut and pasted the 10k plus atheism article into as many 10k limited posts as it would have required to get the content in front of the members of r/atheism just to make the point. I wasn’t and so I didn’t.

I accept my punishment with pride, in the same way that I have accepted ridicule for telling believers that their God could not possibly exist because the universe doesn’t allow for wish granting sky-men. It is the principle of the thing that matters. My ideas live here not on Reddit, Facebook or Tiktok. If they want me and my ideas, they know where I am.

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The Wisdom of the Crowd Represented in Government

That would be the ideal. Unfortunately the ideal isn’t graspable in the real world. We’ll have to settle for snap elections and diligent public polling in the meantime. Imagine if that could work in the US today, right now?

Do we join Ukraine in fighting off Vladimir Putin’s aggression, yes or no? Vote now! Imagine the clarity we could get from a vote like that, if only we were allowed that freedom, the ability to decide important issues directly when the time required it?

What would the wisdom of the crowd be in this instance? No one can say because no one knows.

The Way of Peace

The way of peace is a seamless garment that must cover the whole of life and must be applied in all its relationships

A.J. Muste (found here)

A common observation about A.J. Muste I’ve seen many places now goes like this:

Once a reporter asked him, “Do you really think you are going to change the policies of this country by standing out here alone at night in front of the White House with a candle?” A.J. Muste replied softly: “Oh I don’t do this to change the country. I do this so the country won’t change me.”

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I haven’t found a reliable source for the quote or the observation yet. He died on this date back in 1967. There is a foundation that was established in his name located at this URL: ajmuste.org

I am not a pacifist. On the other hand, I’m beginning to think that I probably should have always been one.

Earthly Amusements Triumphant

The cable truck and the Kingdom Hall.

The Kingdom Hall was across the street from our house in Leoti, Kansas (112 N St, Leoti, KS 67861. It’s a home now. Interesting fact, there are technically two locations with the same address in Leoti, one block East and one block West from 4th Street on Avenue N. One of them was probably always a house. The other was not. -ed.) The Jehovah’s Witnesses came by our house after every service to tell us the wonders of their God Jehovah and how we were all going to miss out on resurrection if we didn’t come across the street and worship with them. Didn’t join them in denying all earthly pleasures so that we could ascend to heaven after death or whatever the particulars of their belief were at the time.

I had been forced to go to the Methodist church with my grandparents for as long I as could remember as a child. I hated church and wondered at why everyone else thought that god and church were so important. Why they all seemed so happy believing this stuff that seemed so transparently fake to me. Their insistence that the beliefs weren’t fake were as terrifying as an eternity of torture in Hell was to me.

I never wanted to believe the afterlife crap. I never wanted to believe it because I have an active imagination and the idea that you could live forever in bliss or in torture, either one, scared me more than anything else these church goers said. I didn’t and still don’t want to be confined to eternal existence. Yes, I said confined. Confined to an eternal, unchanging existence.

Infinity isn’t graspable by most human minds. If it was they would all be terrified by the notion that you could be mentally present for an eternity. Time itself collapses under the requirements of accommodating eternity, infinity. Eternity/infinity never ends. Do you understand never ends? Your favorite movie watched endlessly forever? Every movie ever made through the span of millennia strung together end-to-end in a loop is still not enough. Gone everywhere, seen everything, done everything once, then what? Do it all again? How many times? Eventually everything would become boring after you’d seen or done it a hundred or a thousand or a million times, and you would have to find a way to kill yourself anyway.

I considered it a blessing and a high irony when the Kingdom Hall building was purchased by the newly created Leoti or Wichita county or Great Plains cable company. Leoti had a cable company once, believe it or not. I may not remember what the outfit was called but I do know we couldn’t afford to have cable entertainment installed and that the Jehovah’s Witnesses stopped coming by regularly after they were no longer going to church next door to us.

If Jehovah’s Witnesses are capable of self-reflection and if they thought about their behavior dispassionately, they’d understand that forcing their believers to individually proselytize to people who told them not just once but a hundred times that they didn’t want them ringing their doorbell after church; that regular, predictable torment of the non-Witnesses next door tends to make these people want to take their years of frustration at finding their Watchtower garbage littering their front porches out on believers of the same stripe. If Jehovah’s Witnesses took this real human reaction to being forced to say FUCK OFF and GET OFF MY PORCH every week for years just because the Witnesses weren’t allowed to take no for an answer, maybe they’d understand why the group seems to be so persecuted. It kind of goes both ways. Persecute us with your delusions of true belief and we will persecute you in return.

It seemed like justice delivered to me watching that cable installer’s truck coming and going from the temple that had been founded on the principle of denying Earthly pleasure in favor of an everlasting afterlife. To see those parsimonious simpletons and their wrathful, imaginary god be replaced by a very real entity offering all the available Earthly amusements for a set dollar figure; even if that dollar figure was too high for us to afford. Such is the way with worldly things, the cost is higher than you want to pay in the end.

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