Drowning in Depression

What makes a person go online begging for help from total strangers, and then when someone tries to understand the problem, tries to understand why this stranger is publicly threatening to kill themselves, they turn on the would be helper and try to submerge them in their ire?

As I deleted all my comments from the thread that started this thought train moving and reported the post as a violation of the subreddit’s rules (what I should have done in the first place and will do the next time I see one of these kinds of posts there) I was reminded of this passage from Dune:

“Once on Caladan, I saw the body of a drowned fisherman recovered. He–“

“Drowned?” It was the stillsuit manufacturer’s daughter.

Paul hesitated, then: “Yes. Immersed in water until dead. Drowned.”

“What an interesting way to die,” she murmured.

Paul’s smile became brittle. He returned his attention to the banker. “The interesting thing about this man was the wounds on his shoulders –made by another fisherman’s claw-boots. This fisherman was one of several in a boat — a craft for traveling on water — that foundered . . . sank beneath the water. Another fisherman helping recover the body said he’d seen marks like this man’s wounds several times. They meant another drowning fisherman had tried to stand on this poor fellow’s shoulders in the attempt to reach up to the surface to reach air.”

“Why is this interesting?” the banker asked.

“Because of an observation made by my father at the time. He said the drowning man who climbs on your shoulders to save himself is understandable — except when you see it happen in the drawing room.” Paul hesitated just long enough for the banker to see the point coming, then “And, I should add, except when you see it at the dinner table.”

Dune by Frank Herbert (1965) pg. 139

(a Reddit thread discussing what the scene means)

When you are drowning in depression, it will do you no good to stand on the shoulders of the swimmer next to you. You will both surely drown if you do that. This is why rescuers in actual water emergencies frequently have to wait for a drowning person to stop fighting the water before they can attempt to pull the victim to safety. A drowning person will drown you and themselves in their frantic attempts to stay up in the air. They don’t know what they are doing. A depressed person needs therapy, and solid, stable people around them. Not more depressives that will pull them down deeper into despair.

Had I not found aid in the form of disability payments back in 2005, I would have been dead in 2006. I had it all planned out. I just had to start the plan in motion and it would have worked flawlessly. Probably. I was drowning in depression, convinced that I had to keep working to have any value to the people around me. It took almost another decade for me to figure out that I had value that wasn’t calculated in dollar figures, something that a working person who is convinced that they must keep working to have a meaningful life can’t understand. Not really.

I know this because I was one of those people and I can see the train of thought that lead me from my deepest pit of despair to where I am now. But I’m still burdened with the same chronic illness that forced me out of work twenty years ago. I know this because any time I forget who and what I am and try to start back into my old ways the vertigo sets back in and I have to take a week off in order to recuperate. Just like I had to do every other week back in the bad old days when I thought force of will alone would see me through.

I cannot rescue another chronic illness sufferer if that person can’t understand how I’m still treading water all these years later and flings insults at the methods I employ in order to cope. Hopefully they will also survive long enough to see the error of their ways. I won’t know because I can’t save them and save myself at the same time. They’ll have to find someone with a firmer grasp on reality than I have. I have people who want to see me keep on living. I hope that they do too.

Short Wave – How To Reach Out When Someone You Know May Be At Risk Of Suicide – April 5, 2021

Postscript

She was going to have to give up nursing in order to treat her Meniere’s if she had Meniere’s. She didn’t have vertigo, so I tried to explain to her that she probably was misdiagnosed and should seek a second opinion from a professional. She then scathingly informed me that she was a professional who damn well knew what was wrong with her. She had endolymphatic hydrops that she developed from exposure to a chemical (she never said what) and hydrops was Meniere’s. She said I needed to educate myself. She then attacked me for being on disability for 15 years, leeching off the government as she put it.

It isn’t Meniere’s if you know the cause. It isn’t Meniere’s if you don’t display the full spectrum of symptoms. It isn’t Meniere’s if you can cure it. I wish I didn’t have Meniere’s. What she has isn’t Meniere’s. What she did have was evidence that:

It has been said that he who is his own lawyer, is sure to have a fool for his client; and that he who is his own physician is equally sure to have a fool for his patient.

quoteinvestigator.com

I’ve Reddit. I Don’t Like It.

I get banned from forums pretty frequently.  A username of mine has a lifespan that is generally numbered in weeks, not years, on any given forum on the internet. And since I historically have only used my real name on forums (belief in anonymity on the internet is a common delusion) that means that my time on a forum is strictly limited to how long I can manage to stay in the moderator’s good graces.

The one forum in history that I managed to not get kicked off of was Dan Carlin’s forum for his podcasts. There are other forums I participated in that expired before I managed to offend a moderator, but that offense would have occurred given enough time and interest in the forum. Dan had his own problems when it came to hosting a forum full of hate speech and bullying and confusing that thundering noise with a dedication to free speech, but the fact was that you couldn’t get kicked off of his forums.  Consequently I was a member on that forum when it too expired, even though I had long since fallen out of Dan Carlin’s good graces. Weirdly, I miss that dysfunctional place. I reminds me of my dysfunctional family.

Not only do I routinely get kicked off of forums that I join, I have even been asked to leave forums that someone has been silly enough to ask me to moderate. Perhaps one of my few saving graces is an unwillingness to linger where I’m not wanted, to the point of setting out on foot facing a walk of many miles just to get out of an uncomfortable situation that will only become comfortable if I leave. The latest place to reach that uncomfortable stage is the purported Front Page of the Internet, Reddit.

The biggest problem with Reddit is that it isn’t really one place. It is one system with a near-infinite number of sub-forums (subreddits) a confusing hodge-podge of purportedly different forums with completely different rules and readerships, each managed by it’s own little group of absolute rulers who enforce rules (or not) completely at their own whim.

Back when news aggregators first started showing up on the internet, there were several sites like Reddit that sprang up that allowed subscribers to recommend articles to other visitors to the website. Most of them have since closed their doors or been bought out and turned into spamming e-mailers, but Reddit remains pretty much as it was in the beginning, very nearly the sole survivor of an earlier internet age.

If you go back through my blog archive, as I have been doing since I started writing this blog (this is how you teach yourself to write. You try to figure out why your previous attempts to communicate failed to communicate even with later versions of yourself. A free writing tip for the newbs) you’ll notice links that say digg story (at least, you will until I manage to edit them all out. -ed.)  Digg was one of Reddits early competitors; one that allowed, even encouraged, self-promotion.  While Digg still exists, it was bought ages ago by another corporation that uses it to spam former contributors like your’s truly with articles upvoted somewhere as being popular for whatever reason.  I liked digg back in the day.  I liked the fact that it catered to various media types and allowed for a free-form interrelation of text and video and audio all mashed together in one location. But the fickle finger of fate choose it to fail and so it failed.

These days the dominant stream of information on the internet is Facebook, not Reddit. Facebook is not a news source no matter how many people treat it like it is. Reddit can be a news source, but the subreddits allow the kind of balkanization of information that you get on Facebook, potentially leading to as much disinformation as you will find on Facebook.

If you have the right sources on your twitter feed, Twitter can serve as a reasonable approximation of a news feed, and it does this by its very brevity, it’s cramped confines of 140 and the now expanded 280 characters. But the nature of Twitter, the fact that it is a glorified headline writing contest, also limits the time you spend on the platform. Time spent on the platform or engagement is how internet businesses are rated these days, and the way to increase engagement is to force the users of the platform to create their work on that platform directly.

Which brings me back to Reddit and my ongoing fights with the petty little dictators that run the various flavors of subreddits which you are required to post to in order to get content onto Reddit. I write political pieces reasonably frequently. One would think that /r/politics/ would be the place to post links to original political opinion pieces. One would be wrong to think that.

[–]from TheRedditPope[M] via /r/politics/ sent  You really aren’t supposed to submit your own content. If you have content that is on topic for this subreddit someone will come along and submit it themselves.

[–]from hoosakiwi[M] via /r/politics/ sent  Blogspot is a filtered domain in /r/politics. We do not allow personal blogs, so your submissions from your blog will not be approved here. If you want to promote your blog, take out an ad with reddit.

Well, that was news. Looking at the rules over at Reddit.com it doesn’t say anything about not being able to post your own material. In fact, it encourages you to post your own material as well as material from other people. How, precisely, is anyone supposed to find content if links to it are routinely autodeleted or treated as spam? When I posed this question to the moderators of the subreddits that I posted to, I was told to take out an advertisement on Reddit if I wanted to promote my blog.

…no seriously. A lot of bloggers have commented on the death of blogging and I think I’ve found one of the culprits. It is Reddit and Facebook and the advertising funding model that has been rejiggered to fund the internet, as if the internet was just one more entertainment source like TV or radio is. Were turned into, by advertising. If I had the readership that afforded me the ability to advertise on Reddit, I wouldn’t need to advertise on Reddit.

I think you can see the problem here, denying attention to bloggers which in turn squelches the blogosphere and promotes mass media and other commercial ventures which can afford to purchase advertising. I begin to realize why I’ve never taken the time to build a rep on Reddit. I’m simply not consumerist enough to buy into the capitalist charade going on there and on places like Facebook.

I’ve been banned from several of the subreddits now because I refuse to write my content on Reddit directly and instead link to it here on the blog. I won’t create content for Reddit to use to make money directly. I really don’t give two shits if they make money, anymore than they care if I can get readers for the blog or not. But they care if they make money, and they make money by keeping me on their platform creating there, clicking on ads there, getting people to read my work written there. It’s the same way that Facebook makes money, and that is also the reason I don’t invest my time creating work on Facebook, either.

All authority based systems will fail when tested in this fashion.  This is the reason why I consistently agitate for democratic approaches to policing and policies. Authority for authorities sake will always succumb to mob mentality. Always.


I noticed, after being kicked off yet another subreddit again today, that Reddit now allows me to self-publish links and full articles from the blog directly to my user profile, bypassing the requirement that I submit to the vagaries of the petty little modos that run most forums, including the majority of subreddits on Reddit.com. So I guess I’ll try posting links and shortened blurbs for some of my better articles straight to my user profile and see if I get any traffic from Reddit. Worth a try, guess. Can’t get any worse than the headaches I get trying to deal with moderators of any stripe.

I would like to thank the moderators and residents of /r/atheism for reminding me exactly why I don’t identify as atheist anymore even though I am one. Their harassment and then banning of me for daring to post on the sub and subsequently defend myself from attack has once again confirmed for me my firmly held belief that moderators and forum dwellers really don’t like conversation. Moderators especially hate posts and conversations because posts and conversations make them have to do the thankless job of moderating. A dead forum means that there is a happy moderator enjoying his porn videos on another tab, somewhere else on the internet.

When told “you have to write your material here, not link it” the only logical response after the way I was treated there is to say “why would I write for you assholes? I don’t even know why I thought a conversation with you would be interesting in the first place. Have a nice life.”

The Paradox of Tolerance

Someone on Reddit took the time to read the article I wrote titled GIGO is a Thing, or Why Freedom of Speech Isn’t Free (weird, isn’t it? That someone would actually read links provided as feedback?) and offered some commentary feedback of their own,

you’re probably already aware of paradox of intolerance, which applies perfectly to your article.

What I learned from that feedback is that I need to read more Karl Popper. Once I went looking for the paradox and found it as well as Popper’s name, I was happy to be reintroduced to some of his thinking. For those who haven’t run across this concept before, the paradox is stated as follows,

…if a society is tolerant without limit, its ability to be tolerant is eventually seized or destroyed by the intolerant.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Having refreshed the idea in my head, I remembered running across the paradox of intolerance before, or heard someone expressing it before, back in the seventies. Sometime in the immediate aftermath of white supremacy first being separated from federal power. The idea that we had somehow encouraged this evil in our midst.

None of us thought of it in the terms of unlimited tolerance, back then. We just knew, causally, that neo-Nazis started to appear among us. The subsequent discussions were about how to respond to them. The ACLU, rightly or wrongly, defended the rights of the neo-Nazis and Klansmen to speak. Many other Americans condemned them for this action, but I don’t think we’ve ever successfully dealt with the problem. It simply keeps re-emerging every generation to be dealt with again. Perhaps that is the human curse, to always be weeding out the bad ideas.

It’s only in hindsight, with a view towards history, with increasing experience, that you can see the unlimited tolerance as the weakness that needs to be offset, because it is a weakness as Popper rightly observed. It is a weakness and also a strength. How to filter the garbage without filtering the learning that comes from being exposed to the garbage? That is the crux of the paradox. You can’t see authoritarianism as an ill to be avoided from inside the authoritarian bubble. You only see it from the outside once you emerge. From inside it seems like a just use of power, like an anti-abortionist might see stopping what they deem murder or anti-vaxxers stopping harm to children. Until you stop believing a thing and look at it from outside that thing, you can’t test its falsity. While you believe, state power looks like the answer to stopping the sickness that you see.

This is why critical thinking is an absolute good that needs to be taught to everyone. Without critical thinking you simply do not have the tools to determine whether your beliefs are false or not. As I said in the GIGO article,

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty

To be eternally vigilant is to practice due diligence as often as required when it comes to the things you believe as well as the things you are told. What is due diligence? Caveat Emptor. The two states of mind are interchangeable. Healthy caution and skepticism. If you want to be at liberty, if you want to maintain liberty, then you must be skeptical of all things that are not immediately apparent. Due diligence is another way to describe critical thinking.

This is the difference between a belief and a philosophy. Between knowledge and belief. You can believe any damn fool thing you want, even demonstrably false things (doublethink) a philosophy (specifically scientific philosophy) requires that you test new beliefs against old beliefs to determine which is the sounder thing to believe in. Whether or not this new idea conforms to the other things you think you know already. When an old idea fails it should be rejected in favor of the new thing which at least appears to be more true.

Do You Believe in a Secular America?

Stupidity is Not Funny or, Laughter is a Suicide Pact?

I’m listening to Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World on Audible right now (a hat/tip is due for the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe here) I remembered reading this commentary on the celebration of stupidity somewhere online before deciding I needed to at least read the book once. The Facebook memories for today included a paragraph or two on the subject. Ah, memory hole plugged. I knew I’d read that somewhere before.

I started that status entry with:

It is a point of pride to me that I couldn’t sit through Dumb and Dumber. I never bothered to watch Beavis and Butthead; as in, ever watch. I know one joke from that series. I remember it only because I am unable to forget it.

I am unable to forget that one joke from Beavis and Butthead because a family member loved the show back in the day, and he and a friend enjoyed pretending they were Beavis and Butthead and would do that skit repeatedly until I gave up and laughed at them. Gave up and laughed, against my better judgement.

Stupidity is not funny. Stupidity is dangerous. Ignorance gets people killed. All. The. Time. Not knowing that your pool is the most dangerous place in your yard is what kills children every year. I stood outside on the deck in my backyard waiting for my now-crawling son to fall in the pool, and after he did fall in the pool I jumped in fully clothed to pull him back out. This was the third person I had saved from drowning in my life, the only time I knew that what was about to happen would happen. I knew that the baby would explore his world. I knew he would not know what to think of this thing called water and edge and pool. I knew he would probably fall in, and I watched to see if he did. When he did I was prepared to pull him out immediately, and the scare kept him from ever going near the pool again unless we were present and teaching him to swim. He swam like a fish at two or three, I don’t remember when exactly he took to water, but he was probably swimming better than he could walk for most of his childhood.

Knowing he would fall in allowed me to save his life and turn the unknown danger into a teaching moment that he carries with him to this day. Knowledge is power.

I don’t find stupid people amusing, I find stupid people threatening, and for very good reasons. Stupid drivers get other people killed. I see it pretty much every time I drive. Stupid people on their way to painful, deadly futures in their cars, and they’ll probably take someone else with them when they do that one stupid thing that gets them killed. Stupid voters elect poor leaders. It is not for nothing that MAGA=Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans, this assertion is demonstrable, repeatedly. Stupid voters elected Donald Trump. Trump himself acknowledges this with his damning with faint praise comment “I love the poorly educated.” Stupid leaders destroy entire nations. Trump and his willful ignorance, his flock of the willfully ignorant in tow, are burning this country to the ground as I type this out right now. The idiots will not know they’ve destroyed the country until it is too late to save it from them, but they might as well be covering everything in gasoline and lighting the match themselves. Destruction is just about that certain.

I will not laugh at Donald Trump or his followers, unless I can’t help but do it. They aren’t funny. They are threatening my life and the lives of my children, and I won’t allow those threats to go unanswered. There will be consequences for the damage that Trump’s rule creates, one way or another. The stupid who voted for him need to feel this pain themselves, like discovering you are immersed in a liquid that you didn’t know was there, and no one told you how to swim before you fell in. They need to recognize danger and avoid it in the future. How will this lesson be taught? That is a very good question.

Robert Reich, How to Prevent Future Trumps, July 1, 2018 also on Facebook
Editor’s note

Here is a link to the Facebook status that I have now radically expanded. Laughter is a Suicide Pact is a paraphrasing of Niven’s puppeteer Nessus from Ringworld. I would never have found the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe if it hadn’t been for one of the other members of the long-dead Dan Carlin forums. A fellow skeptic who, seeing how I struggled to defend myself on the Atheism is not a Belief System thread, suggested that I give that podcast a chance to inform me. I have listened to every episode of the podcast now. I love the show. (another version of the Asimov meme quote)

Burn It?

The War of the Thorns is in its second week, and the gamer portion of the internet is having a drama meltdown because of it. If you’ve played World of Warcraft (and if you haven’t, you’re probably already dead, so stop reading this) then you know that every two or three years Blizzard, the creators of the Warcraft gaming franchise, release a world-changing patch called an expansion that the company hopes will reinvigorate its flagship game, World of Warcraft.  Long time readers of this blog will know my back story for this game because, for several years, I couldn’t stop talking about it.

For those dead people (undead?) still reading, I will mention, briefly, a little lore and history. Warcraft is a series of Real Time Strategy (RTS) games. All versions of Warcraft prior to World of Warcraft were RTS games, a completely different animal from a Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game like World of Warcraft. Maps in an RTS are built for complex battles fought on the ground using large armies. Maps in an MMO are used in world-building, an essential ingredient for any kind of real-world feel in online gaming. In Warcraft there were essentially two teams, Orcs and Humans. As the game evolved over Warcrafts One, Two and Three (and their associated expansions) the Orc and Human teams were fleshed out with races that could assist the Orcs or the Humans (or both at the same time) This introduced Dwarves and Elves for the humans and Trolls and Ogres for the Orcs. Gnomes and Goblins were addons that either appeared as part of Dwarvish construction for Gnomes, or Goblin mercenaries who could be hired from specialized structures in the later Warcraft III maps. With Warcraft III the two teams were expanded to four teams. Night Elves appeared for the first time in the woods of Kalimdor, a new continent that was reached by using ships to cross oceans that were created for Warcraft II. The Undead faction was also introduced in Warcraft III with the corruption of the Human prince Arthas, inheritor of the throne of Lordaeron, Lordaeron being the Human faction dominating the game Warcraft II.

The important thing to take from the above is that, Night Elves lived in the woods of Kalimdor, the second continent of Azeroth, created for the RTS game Warcraft II. Humans lived on the first continent, the Eastern Kingdoms, and there were several cities for Humans and Dwarves mentioned there or located there throughout the first two games. The Elves that were part of the Human faction prior to Warcraft III also had cities in the Eastern Kingdoms, unlike the Night Elves. Orcs were from another world that was briefly explored in expansions for both Warcraft One and Two, as were Ogres. Trolls had no origin prior to World of Warcraft, they were simply part of the map obstacles for teams, and part of the support group for the Orcs, a smattering of races which came to be known as the Horde.

This is the first bit of World of Warcraft lore that I have mentioned and I am three paragraphs into a simple description of the lore of the game. Bear with me. The faction I mentioned was the Horde, a faction which also incorporated what was a second faction or army in Warcraft III, the Undead. The human team had the name of the Alliance in Warcraft, an alliance between humans, dwarves and elves. The Alliance also absorbed the forth Warcraft III faction or army, the Night Elves. This brings us to the creation of World of Warcraft as a game and a map.

When Blizzard took on the task of creating a real world map for Azeroth, the world that most of World of Warcraft takes place on, they had to create origin points for all the races to start from, so that low-level players could have time to learn the mechanics of gameplay before being dumped out in the hostile world of Player vs. Player (PVP) competition. This is where most of the places that are near and dear to any hardcore players heart were created. Stormwind, destroyed in Warcraft I, lived again as the home for Humans. Ironforge, the mythical home of the Dwarves was finally given form, as was Gnomeregan for the Gnomes and Thunder Bluff for the Tauren, another supporting race for the Horde that was also introduced in Warcraft III. Finally, Teldrassil was introduced as a home for the Night Elves. The Night Elves, who called no place home other than the woods that they loved and died for, and the real reason I took everyone down this long, winding path in the first place.

To further embroider the story I’m telling here, a bit of an aside about Gnomes and Gnomeregan. Gnomeregan is a sore point for anyone who plays Gnomes. Gnomeregan is a five-man dungeon, not a home. At least Gnomes have a home to be excluded from, a fact important enough to warrant a dungeon instance. Trolls had no home at first, simply being pointed North to Orgrimmar, the same directive that low-level Orcs experienced in game. They were pointed North to a city in which they occupied a slum adjacent to the Orcs, but were not really as well respected as Orcs. Trolls later claimed their home back from Zalazane, but that isn’t the point of this winding trip down memory lane.

The point here is that Teldrassil, the home for the Night Elves, was never part of Warcraft until World of Warcraft, and even then it was a seriously flawed creation of Fandral Staghelm and the druids that he lead at the beginning of World of Warcraft. Fandral Staghelm, who harnessed dark magic to make the tree what it is today, before he became a raid boss in the Firelands raid of Cataclysm. A servant of the Firelord Ragnaros. Teldrassil stood as a testament to his control over the druids in particular, and the Night Elves in general, until this week.

The Daughter has been telling me for months now they burn Teldrassil. I didn’t believe it until I saw it, but the animated short released yesterday duplicates the final sequence in Tuesday, June 31st’s expansion patch for the War of the Thorns currently underway as an introduction to the new expansion due out August 14th, Battle for Azeroth.

Warbringers: Sylvanas, Jaina, Azshara, World of Warcraft (my personal playlist)

So, yeah. They burn Teldrassil. I’m not exactly appalled or outraged by this sequence of events. As others who are even more lore-wise than me have pointed out, this is not even the first time that a major city has been destroyed in World of Warcraft or that this strategy of roping in the player base by shaking up the maps and relationships we’ve come to accept as a given was used. These tactics are not groundbreaking and they may or may not be effective at driving more players to play the game the way Blizzard envisions.

The book that corresponds with the release of this expansion, Before the Storm, was penned by one of the better authors for Warcraft lore, Christie Golden. I would prefer to have read the book before the expansion comes out, but like all things financial for me these days, some things have to wait for the bills to be paid so that the lights will stay on here. Hopefully I’ll get a copy for my birthday in two weeks. So I haven’t read the book. Most players have not read it and probably should read it before being too outspoken about transpiring events. As a druid player (not to mention Paladin and every other class for both factions) the ability to opt out of participation in the slaughter at Teldrassil would have been nice. Druids would not agree to attack their Shan’do. There were, however, Druids working for Sylvanas in Darkshore. Just slightly South of Lor’danel where the final battle takes place, there are druids of the claw attacking in a circular formation. So Druids were present in the battle, despite rumors to the contrary.

I wonder what game these players shocked by Sylvanas’ actions have been playing? They certainly haven’t leveled toons through the early game areas for the Undead in the current version of World of Warcraft, a storyline that has been in place since after Cataclysm reworked the area following the  Wrath of the Lich King expansion and the killing of Varimathras. Anyone who thinks that Sylvanas doesn’t want to be the next Lich King doesn’t understand the undead, hasn’t played undead characters, hasn’t been paying attention to the characterizations in game. Her disavowal of knowledge of Varimathras’ plague plans at the Wrathgate was just her engaging in covering her own ass. She set about making more plague and using it in South Shore in the very next expansion. She has been experimenting with the Val’kyr, using them to resurrect fresh undead.  It’s right there in the Undead storyline right now, go play it.

However, frontal assault is totally out of character for Sylvanas and her Rogues. She is a master strategizer, well-versed in the underhanded ways of the Rogue class (Rogues that should be using bows the way she does but currently cannot) This one size fits all storytelling is at the heart of my dissatisfaction with Broken Isles, the last expansion of World of Warcraft. The Broken Isles had Rogues leading armies as heroes, not to mention Mages willing to follow Warlocks into battle as if Warlocks hadn’t been demonstrated to suck the souls out of their friends when the expediency of the moment calls for it. Most of the stories since Wrath and Cataclysm have been underthought and not fleshed out very well (what the hell happened to Wrathion?) I was hoping that Christie Golden being brought on to help with plotting and storytelling would make for better stories being told in relation to the MMO as we move forward in time. Maybe she just hasn’t had time to make the kinds of deep changes that really are warranted in the game experience. I guess we will find out eventually.

In any case, good riddance to Fandral’s creation, Teldrassil. None of my druids had any abiding love for the place and Tarashal only regrets not being able to save more than a hundred out of the nearly 1000 people supposedly taking refuge there. It reminded him quite poignantly of sorting through the bodies at Auberdine after Cataclysm started. Not surprisingly, I’m sure. He looks forward to making his new home on top of the mountain next to Nordrassil. Tharthurm asked the Paladin standing next to him when the cutscene ended What does a Paladin have to do with this? What does a Druid? before flying off and getting drunk at a tavern (yes I am an incorrigible roleplayer) Hope does spring eternal, Sylvanas. You cannot kill hope unless you destroy all life. Keep walking the path of the Lich King. I know you as only one of your own (Eugennah, Creavishop) can.

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Cinematic Trailer Nov 3, 2017

All of the Battle for Azeroth videos and stills can be found at this link. After the first two Warbringers shorts (I’ve shown the one for Jaina to so many people that the Daughter storms off in anger when I show it again) Blizzard released this short.

Youtube – World of WarcraftCinematic: “Old Soldier” – Aug 2, 2018

Varok Saurfang is the tragic figurehead for the honor of the Horde across all of Warcraft, even if we didn’t know his name until World of Warcraft. Just watching that cinematic can bring tears to my eyes. It would seem like a hollow gesture following the burning of Teldrassil, but he was prepared to throw himself on Alliance spears in order to avoid fighting for a Horde that had no honor, and Sylvanas Windrunner has no honor. She has not had room in herself for honor since losing her mortal shell to Arthas’ necromancy. After the foretold defeat of Horde forces at Lordaeron Keep, Saurfang is taken prisoner and hauled back to Stormwind to await King Anduin’s pleasure.

Youtube – World of WarcraftCinematic: “Lost Honor” – Nov 2, 2018

This sets up the next portion of the story of Battle for Azeroth, at least from the Horde side. Now my Tauren druid can take part in the game again. Of course, my undead toons are livid at Saurfang’s and Baine’s betrayal, but the undead were never really part of the Horde in the first place.

Youtube – World of WarcraftCinematic: “Safe Haven” – May 15, 2019

Patch 8.2 is now in beta.


I’m glad someone took the time to piece together all the cutscenes for Vol’jin’s interactions with the players in Battle for Azeroth. It saves me the trouble of doing it, and Vol’jin appears to be the missing link in determining what Sylvanas is really up to and who wanted her to be warchief of the Horde. Spoilers! are in the video. Just FYI.

Vol’jin Meets Lich King & Bwonsamdi – ALL Cutscenes [8.1 WoW BFA: Tides of Vengeance]

Well, the first chapter of Battle for Azeroth has come to an end. It came to an end rather spectacularly, with this cinematic.

World of Warcraft – Cinematic: “Reckoning” (Spoiler) – Sep 25, 2019

Blizzard put together what can only be called a short film, 30 minutes of cinematics edited together as a tribute to Varok Saurfang. Since I had already linked all the other cinematics previously, I didn’t see the point in embedding that video here. Still, it is worth noting as a worthy effort on blizzard’s part. This will probably be the last update to this post since this is the end of the first chapter of this expansion. The battle goes on, but with different actors on the stage, and we have yet to see the ultimate plans of Sylvanas Windrunner. You get a hint of what they are if you play a Horde toon, ally yourself with Sylvanas, and finish the war campaign.

I’m not going to tell you what that is here. You’ll have to look elsewhere for those spoilers. I’m still playing so that means that this version of the game isn’t as boring to play as Warlords of Draenor was for me. Still, WoW Classic is looking mighty tempting as the wait for the next raid to drop looms in front of me. I’ve leveled all the toons I plan on leveling at this point. It’s just a matter of fleshing out their gear now; which is a tedious, never-ending process in any MMO that has ever existed. So I may duck that job and go play something else in the meantime.

The WSJ Becomes the National Enquirer

These kinds of reliability issues are why Rupert Murdoch should be divested of all interest in any media corporation. He is a propagandist and not interested in the truth.

This article at Snopes documents that the covers are both real. The Wall Street Journal claims that they represent two different editions from the same day. It is a convenient argument on their part which really doesn’t explain the completely different headline in the later edition.

I don’t need the substance of the image text to be true to prove that Murdoch is a propagandist. The headlines by themselves, both of which are real, is enough. Journalism should be a profession like doctors and lawyers. Journalism standards should be measured objectively. Those in the profession including the owners of these media platforms, should be held to those standards and barred from publishing if they violate those standards.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) was all set to roll out a pivot for Trump early in the day. The early Wall Street Journal headline reflects the conservative/Republican plan agreed to with the Trump campaign. When Trump failed to pivot and the RNC bailed on their pivot plans, the second Wall Street Journal headline emerges. This explanation, which covers all the facts in evidence, makes Rupert Murdoch and the Wall Street Journal propagandists for the RNC. Nothing more, nothing less. They are now at the same level of credibility as the National Enquirer. Congratulations Rupert Murdoch on destroying one of the longest running papers in the United States.

Facebook status and revised comments backdated to the blog. Sadly, the destruction of the independent media in the US has continued unabated. 

Meniere’s Awareness

It seems silly to me that people still don’t know what Meniere’s is. I guess that is because it has become so central to my life these days.  For the last couple of weeks I’ve toyed with writing several articles on various subjects, including some work on short fiction that I’d like to finish someday.

But for the entirety of these last few weeks my hearing has been burdened by painful tinnitus. So loud that I can’t even soothe the sound away with rainymood or any other white noise treatment. I have a hard time forcing coherent thoughts through a barrier of noise that impenetrable, much less the capacity for multiple readings necessary to weed out all the random keystrokes that slip in when you aren’t paying attention.

I wandered over to a fellow sufferer’s blog earlier today (thanks to my reddit habit) and noticed he had put a new entry up on it. For those of you who don’t know what Meniere’s is, I’ll post a short quote;

Symptomatically, most people experience “attacks” of violent rotational vertigo (feeling like the room is spinning), a feeling of fullness and pressure in the affected ear, loud ringing known as tinnitus, and progressive hearing loss. Many sufferers also report nausea, cognitive impairment (brain fog), fatigue, anxiety, and depression.

Meniere’s disease affects .2% of the population, roughly the same rate of incidence as Multiple Sclerosis. Yet virtually no one has ever heard of Meniere’s disease.

Here’s the bit that caught my attention. A study I’d never run across conducted in 2000. The sample size is on the small side, but it still represents a statistically valid group.  The attention grabbing quote was this one;

“Meniere’s disease patients are among the most severely impaired non-hospitalized patients studied thus far … Patients describe impairment in travel, ambulation, work and other major social roles as well as trouble learning, remembering and thinking clearly.”

While this is clearly hyperbole from an unknown author (I can’t seem to track down the original article quoted) the dense jargon in the study backs up the statement. Quality of life is reduced below the levels of deathly ill cancer patients.  Very few of my vertigo attacks didn’t include my begging everyone in earshot to please kill me.  The sensations are intolerable, and yet you have to tolerate them. You cannot escape them. Had someone offered me an easy way to end it all while in a vertiginous state, I would have readily taken them up on it.

That is what Meniere’s is like on the bad days.  On the good days I just kick myself for being unable to accomplish the simplest tasks because I’m lucky to remember my name from one minute to the next, like the last two weeks have been.  There are days I forget. Mercifully, there are whole months that go by and I’m not forced to remember why I’m not working in architecture anymore. Looking forward to having a few of those days sometime in the hopefully not too distant future.

Back to the point.  The point of writing this. Meniere’s awareness. At the bottom of the Mind Over Meniere’s post (I hate that blog name. Sorry. I’m sure mine is annoying to many as well) is a link to yet another Change.org petition. One amongst thousands. This one seems silly, but maybe it will have a genuine effect if Bono can be convinced to help raise Meniere’s awareness.  Who knows? Couldn’t hurt to have someone say the word Meniere’s in front of a crowded audience.  Surely someone will notice.

The song they’re asking him to announce in front of is Vertigo. It goes to show you how far out of music that I am; I don’t think I’ve even heard the song before. There was a day when I knew every artist on the charts. Knew who they were and what they sang.  The last thing I remember U2 doing was Joshua Tree.  Are they still a thing?

Anyway. Sign the petition if you are so inclined. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. All I know is that I want this damn ear to stop ringing so I can organize a few thoughts.

Postscript

2019. We have another famous musician who has contracted Meniere’s disease. Huey Lewis announced in 2018 that he was ending his current tour because of the effects of Meniere’s on his hearing. Here he is talking to the Today Show,

On Monday, Lewis spoke of when the disorder – which causes vertigo, ringing and hearing loss – first surfaced. “As I walked to the stage [in Dallas], it sounded like there was a jet engine going on,” he said. “I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t find pitch. Distorted. Nightmare. It’s cacophony.”

RollingStone

Someone should get ahold of him and see if he is willing to be the poster child for Meniere’s. That is what we sufferers need. Someone to carry the torch of research for us.

January, 2020. Huey Lewis has decided to go back out on the road (archive.org link) I wish him luck, and he’s not the only popular act out there with a diagnosis (there is a female singer who has it too. I can’t remember her name. She’s the one who suggested elevating the head of the bed) that is still performing. When you have people paid to follow you around and assist you, it is amazing how well you can pretend to still be high-functioning.

He’s two years into his diagnosis. Let’s see how he talks about it after he realizes there is no return to normal. Not knows it. We all knew it, and if we think hard, we can remember what it was like to think “I can get past this.” When he realizes the cold hard truth of it. When he just can’t get out and do the thing that used to be easy for him.

That was me 12 years ago and more. I can bring those days to mind with some early posts on the blog. I was sure I could keep going, but I kept failing to fulfill the promises I made. Those dreams die hard.

First entry – Life with Meniere’s

It was the muffling of sound that I noticed first, like I had a blown speaker in my head instead of in my car. This started in 1983-4 while I was living in Abilene, Texas. I didn’t know what was happening to me. I was in my 20’s and deeply into music. If it wasn’t the constant ringing, then it was the echo chamber effect, a distortion of sound that occasionally made conversation difficult. Allergies, I thought. Allergies that are making my ears give me problems. I tried everything to get rid of the pressure that I felt in my ears, especially the left one.

That first Spring, after a disastrous series of relationships ended and I lost my first architecture job, the reason I moved to Abilene in the first place, I was out driving around in my car listening to music, and I noticed that there was a buzzing in my left ear. I didn’t hear much of anything when the music was turned off, but when the music was on, the sound was wrong. High volume or low volume, the music just didn’t sound right. This went on for a few days and it was about to drive me nuts. Just enough pressure behind the eardrum to be noticeable, and just enough distortion in the music to be annoying.

I couldn’t clear the pressure by working the temporomandibular joint as I had done in the past when atmospheric pressure changes created a similar feeling behind the ears, so I got undressed and sat in the tub with the shower pouring the hottest water I could stand straight down on my upraised left ear. I figured I’d use the heat like a heating pad to drive the infection or fluid down out of that side of my head. I let the shower drum on that side of my head for about an hour or so or at least until the hot water ran out. I did this two or three days in a row. I know it was more than once because I recall my roommate getting pissed at me for using up all the hot water.

The last time I tried this technique, I finally got the pressure in the ear to release. When that pressure came off it was like a hammer hit me on the side of my head. I was horizontal in the tub with the water hitting me in the face when I came to. I guess I passed out for minute. The tub was spinning around me. I had to feel my way up to the shower handles to turn the water off, and then I slithered out of the tub on my belly and then managed to get up on my hands and knees. Walking was simply not possible.

I crawled to my bed and leveraged myself into it, hoping the vertigo would pass. I slept for at least a day after that event, and the roommate wanted me gone not too long after that. There was clearly something wrong with me, in his mind, and he wanted no part of it. He told me as much at the time. The garishness of the apartment still flashes in my mind as I think back to that place in Abilene. Freaky 70’s design colors.

When the Wife and I moved into the Willow Run Apartments in 1986-7 after they completed construction (from plans that I drew for P.V. McMinn) in San Angelo, the apartment complex’s gym had a sauna and a hot tub as well as an indoor-outdoor swimming pool. The sauna worked best at relieving the pressure in my left ear. I would sit in that little wooden box until I couldn’t stand it anymore, but the ringing and distortion would be temporarily eased by it.

I thought that maybe I was having a recurrence of ear infections related to allergies that had plagued me as a child. This was what I told the doctors that I would go see on a seasonal basis, and they obliged me by prescribing me allergy medicine or antibiotics if I happened to be extra convincing that day. I popped antihistamines trying to relieve allergic reactions (sort of the right track, I guess) I’ve tried nearly every one on the market, none of which really had or still have any effect. I finally settled on Pseudoephedrine and Guaifenesin, which I took nearly every day for several weeks at a stretch, They seemed to be the only things that worked predictably every spring and fall when my ears would start acting up.

In retrospect, it seems odd that I just stumbled across what is a common treatment for the disease I now have been diagnosed with, Meniere’s. I probably would not know what it was now if I had not been diagnosed with high blood pressure a few years ago. One of the things that they tell you when you go on the blood pressure medication is “do not take Decongestants, especially Pseudophed”. So I quit, even though I knew the fall and spring season would be hell.

They were. In fact, it was a hell I had never even come close to experiencing before. I couldn’t make the world hold still, sometimes for several days. The disorientation was bad enough, but the vertigo was disabling; and it just got worse. The attacks would hit me from out of nowhere. I would just have had a good meal, or I might just be holding my head the wrong way and the world would just take off spinning. I discovered Meclizine about that time and I carried it everywhere with me for at least a year. I went to see my first ENT (ear, nose & throat doctor) about that time as well, a totally useless individual who ran rather expensive tests on me, and then told me there was nothing wrong with me. Great, just the answer I wanted.


I love the internet. If you want to know something, and can find your way to a search engine, you can find what you are looking for. The internet is quiet if you want it to be, too. Nothing that you need listen to other than the ringing in the ears. So I searched. One condition kept popping up that matched my symptoms. That couldn’t be it though, surely. The Wife thought it was the blood pressure medication, but through experimentation we determined that there was no real correlation between the two.

Fall rolled around again, and with it the serious vertigo attacks (This was in 2002) attacks that had gotten so bad that I occasionally would end up passing out next to the toilet on the bathroom floor, like some teenage kid who didn’t know what his alcohol limits ought to be. I decided to go to a different ENT, one that a friend had recommended. I had determined that I was just going to discuss symptoms this time, and let him confirm what my suspicions were. After running through virtually the same tests that I had been through before, he asked me,

have you ever heard of Meniere’s disease?

OK, so I was right then.


I went through some sinus surgery over Christmas that year. Corrected a deviated septum, and they cleaned out the sinus passages to see if that reduced my allergic reactions. It seems to have worked somewhat, although the disorientation still bothers me on occasion, the serious vertigo attacks are becoming fewer now. The ringing and the pressure remain, however. I could go see a neurologist, I have a card for one currently in my wallet. It’s something I’m thinking about. I think I’ll go to an allergist first, I’m certain that if I can just get the allergies in check, the other symptoms will fade without the need for further surgery. Maybe it’s just a dream, however.

Anyway, I’m turning 40 this year. I still don’t know where the time went. Music is harder to listen to now, but I still plug in the odd disk and give it a listen over the tinnitus. I have to turn my right ear to conversations now, the left ear is nearly useless. I occasionally wish it would just stop working altogether, I would probably hear better then. I wonder if Van Gogh was a fellow sufferer sometimes. I could imagine doing something nearly as nutty as he did, just to get the ringing to stop.

I’ve been meaning to write this for some time now. I hate having to rely on somebody else when I should be able to get by on my own. Needing to write this down and post it felt similar to me, needing somebody to know what I was going through, so I didn’t do it. But I sat down tonight and wanted to write this article. So I wrote it.

I hope somebody out there gets something positive from this. You aren’t alone any more than I am. I have friends and family that are looking out for me (the Wife seems to be too protective sometimes) so I try not to worry. But I wish it had been just an ear infection. I wouldn’t wish this disease on anybody.

Today, October 26th, 2005

I created this blog today. It’s a pretty good day. I don’t know why I think that. The Wife lost her job last night. We did oversleep this morning. I slept with my good ear against the pillow and was consequently unable to hear the alarm this morning. The children got off to school okay, the Wife is back in bed asleep, and I’m up here (as usual) in front of the square-headed girlfriend, typing my little fingers off. At least the world isn’t spinning today.

I couldn’t say that yesterday. Yesterday I couldn’t stand up without nearly fainting each time from a near vertigo attack (the world snaps and starts to spin, but I focus on a single point until it goes away, or at least recedes) at least a full attack didn’t surface. Can’t say that for most of the rest of this year. It started out well enough. I had a job, I had an employer whom (I thought) understood my limitations, I had taken the time to explain Meniere’s to him and what I thought set it off, and the fact that I might miss work, sometimes a couple of days, and that I would do my best to make it up. I’d been there about 9 months in February when he called me into his office to inform me that he was letting me go because “I was sick too much” (his exact words) This was the second employer to use this reason in letting me go in just about as many years. I decided that I would not seek another full time employment position, and would instead take on the odd contract job that I might be able to land. Unfortunately there hasn’t been enough of that work.

Not that I’ve felt well enough to pursue much work this year. I have had more attacks this year than any year since I started keeping track. I was down with constant dizziness and occasional vertigo for 8 weeks this summer, which is something that has never happened. The few times that I have worked have been restricted by an attack at some point during the term of the contract. That’s not good. When someone contracts time sensitive work to you, they don’t want to hear about medical problems.

So here I am. Holidays approaching, no work in sight, wife not working at the moment, retirement money almost gone. But, I got up today and wasn’t dizzy. I’m going to go walk the dogs and enjoy the sunshine. If I come back and I’m still not dizzy, life is good. We’ll see.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”

Henry S. Haskins
Postscript

This was an entry on Menieres.org Journals, a set of pages that have been down for several years. I thought I would take the thoughts from there and combine them with other musings and make an article for the blog that I keep meaning to create. As you can see I have finally created it with this entry. This was my Meniere’s story up to the time of the creation of the blog. I reworked the first couple of paragraphs, altering it from the text that existed on my journal page, so as to incorporate the story of the first vertigo spell. I have finally fleshed it out sufficiently to do the story justice. I wanted to separate that experience from the later experiences with the sauna and the doctors, which required the re-editing. They are my memories, I will do my best to record them accurately.

Documenting my symptoms, writing about Meniere’s and the other trivia of a disabled person’s life, has taught me how to write over the years since I started writing this blog. You spend a lot of time alone when you have a chronic illness. People always ask “how are you” as a greeting, and when you are chronically ill (and if you are honest) the resultant monologue can sound like an endless litany of complaint. So you don’t go out much. You spend a lot of time alone with your thoughts. Which is why I decided to start writing them down, now that technology has shown me how to bypass my first disability:

Loneliness is the worst part of suffering from Meniere’s. I generally don’t need much attention, and even I find myself craving conversation. I might go a whole month with just the family to talk to and then suddenly the urge to run out and talk to people becomes almost overwhelming. This is understandable.  As much as we like to pretend to ourselves that we are inviolate individuals, we are actually amalgams. We are a sampling of all the influences we are exposed to each and every day. Being alone too much is destructive to the human animal. Go out and find people you can trust, if your family isn’t supportive or attentive to your needs, and spend time in those people’s presence. Please don’t wither and die alone.

I went bilateral (Meniere’s in both ears) the day my mom died. That was the roughest year for Meniere’s and me since I lost my last job in 2005. That is, until the year we all lost to COVID-19. I don’t need to tell any of you about that. It is all over the later parts of this blog if it isn’t all over the news still.

I do have a treatment regimen that I follow:

 If you want to do your own research and decide what is right for you, I used to recommend the Meniere’s Disease Information Center. Unfortunately the site is only available as an archive on the WaybackMachine now. You can browse the content on the archive, but it will get more and more dated as the years go by. There are precious few other places that I would send anyone to without a word of caution.

A friend and fellow blogger has put together a decent list of resources here.  Drop by and say hi. I’ll let him stand by his own suggestions rather than offer any of my own aside from the treatment article that I revise pretty regularly and a list of the forums that I have contributed to in the past or continue to participate in:

  • I mentioned Menieres.org already. That site and it’s participants come and go, year to year. It isn’t the only resource out there, so don’t despair if there are no quick answers for you in the forums there, if they are still up.
  • Reddit.com/Meniere’s – On a whim I decided to see if Reddit had a Meniere’s group and they did. Not a lot of posts there, but if you post a message you’ll generally get an answer within a day.
  • Facebook.com/Meniere’s Resources which is associated with menieresresources.org – I’ve been aware of this group for awhile and only recently found them on Facebook.  I got sideways with a moderator in that group and so we’re no longer on speaking terms. It’s probably just as well. I’ve had enough chirpy, syrupy optimism to last me for awhile now.  However if that is your thing, drop by and say hi. Nothing but love, as the saying goes. The other early Facebook group I frequented was called Spin Cycle, but I have left that one as well. Another difference of opinion.
  • In June of 2018 I found Meniere’s Worldwide which runs on more of the freewheeling style that I can appreciate. Just scroll on by, as the moderators are fond of saying. Scroll on by if you don’t like what you see there.

I describe how I got disability here:

If you suffer from frequent vertigo and are unable to work full time on a regular basis as I was, then disability is just about your only option in the US. This article:

Stands as record of how I came to suffer so many symptoms while pursuing my dreams of an architectural career. A dream which has sadly come to an end.  I keep hoping I’ll find another pursuit, or find a way to get back into architecture, but productivity and concentration remain limited and elusive.