Charlie's Blog: June 2018

6.16.2018

SOC 34


Only the guy who isn't rowing has time to rock the boat.
JEAN-PAUL SARTRE

It is Sunday morning. When 4 a.m. comes, I find it difficult to sleep. I am a six hour man. Eight hours is too much though I could go back for two more hours after writing this. Four hours is too little for me. I hear people like Sean Hannity claim to only sleep four hours a night, but I don't buy it. I've done the four hour thing, and I get loopy after two days. I like eight hours, but I wake up at 6 hours unable to sleep. So, I get up and write for a bit which helps me go back for the last two hours. But this is on the weekends. During the work week, I just lay there until the clock goes off. Sometimes, I get another 20 minutes.

I have a love/hate relationship with sleep. If I sleep too much, I feel awful. This would be 12 hours of sleep. I wake up, and my body hurts all over. I feel that way after eight. I am sleeping on a brand new mattress, but it doesn't change anything. I feel this way even after sleeping on those plush beds in the hotels. It isn't the surface I sleep on. It is the longevity of the sleep. Being inert makes you hurt. This becomes more apparent the older you get.

I like sleeping on the floor. That may seem weird, but I get great sleep in sub-optimal conditions. When I wake up after sleeping on the floor, I have a horrible pain between my shoulder blades. This fades after thirty minutes of being awake. The rest of me feels great. It sounds nutty, but I am not the only one to discover this. Basically, sleeping on the floor makes you roll over and change positions. When you sleep too long in one position, your body gets stiff. Too much comfort brings pain. By embracing pain, you experience comfort.


This weird counterintuitive experience is what I call the "syzygy phenomenon." Pain and pleasure are always linked. If you seek comfort, you end up with pain. If you embrace pain, you find comfort. Most people follow the conventional wisdom of aiming for comfort and can't understand why they end up in so much pain.

I like to make jokes about making a friend out of pain, but I am not a masochist. I have learned by accident the simple lesson that the body thrives under hardship and breaks down under comfort. Your body was born to suffer. If you embrace this, you will suffer less. If you fight this, you will suffer more. If you doubt this, compare a fit athlete with a sedentary person who is obese. Who suffers more?


Comfort is your enemy. It pretends to be your friend but betrays you later. Pain is your real friend. Pain puts you in the place of suffering but makes the relief sweeter when it comes. It is the relationship between the different ends of a two headed beast. They can never be separated. They are joined forever.

You should not pamper or indulge the body. You should punish it. Saints, philosophers, warriors, and athletes know this. As such, you should endeavor to create hardship for yourself. The alternative is to let God do it for you.



It's not Sunday anymore. It is Saturday now. I am frustrated with my Casio watch. This is the F-91W that I developed a fetish for some time ago. It is a simple and cheap watch but better than expected. In ordinary circumstances, I would be happy with the watch. The problem is that I was a Timex guy before I was a Casio guy. In short, I am going through Indiglo withdrawal. I miss that feature in the fiercest way. It is the only thing I don't like about my cheap watch. It is difficult to see the time in the dark. Being a deep thinker type, this has lead to existential crisis. Yes, I really am this pathetic.

There should be a word for that feeling you get when you switch products you normally use, but you miss something from the old brand. For instance, I ditched my Mr. Coffee for a Chemex some years ago. The coffee tastes much better, but it now requires more time to make. The Chemex is not an automatic coffeemaker. You actually have to do some work. I got used to it in a short time.

I went through the same thing again when I tossed my Gerber pocket knife in the drawer and switched to the Opinel. The upside is that I got a wicked sharp knife. The downside is that it doesn't have a pocket clip or thumb post or serrated edge for sawing through stuff. Those features on the Gerber were nice but couldn't make up for the fact that I have owned butter knives with sharper edges. That Gerber knife is pathetic.


I keep quoting Thomas Sowell all the time. "There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs." That line cuts to the core of my problems and frustrations. I loved my Timex Ironman watch. It told the time. It had Indiglo. But it was pricey for a plastic watch and was a gunk and crud magnet. When one of the buttons become stuck such that I had to whittle it away with a knife to make it work, I became dissatisfied with the thing, and my eye began to wander in search of horological adultery. I settled on the F-91W because it was good value relative to its price. I have no complaints about the watch until it gets dark. Then, I hate the thing.

Indiglo will ruin you. Even the Rolex doesn't have Indiglo. Casio has Illuminator watches, but the ones at Walmart are only slightly less pathetic than the F-91W. If you want the real thing, you have to go down the G-Shock path which means a $40 watch on the cheap end up to $90 on the higher end. And you better like fat, chunky watches. I don't.


The Timex Ironman is the midpoint for me. It isn't the cheapest, and it isn't the best. But it keeps good time, is fairly durable, and you can always tell the time in the dark. There is a reason I have stuck with that watch for three decades. Why did I stray? I didn't think Indiglo was that big of a deal. Now, when it gets dark, I just want to go to Walmart and get a watch with Indiglo.

I never get upset with my Chemex or with my Opinel. I don't think about their inconveniences. Likewise, I love my cheap Casio watch in the daylight. It's like my flip phone. Sure, a smartphone does way more stuff except survive a drop on the floor. But if I can call someone or text someone, I am a happy guy. I am a flip phone guy. But that may be the key to an answer to my dilemma.

Before I was a flip phone user, I used the candy bar phones like everyone else. The phones worked great except for one nagging issue--the BUTT DIAL. Whenever I put these things in my pocket, it would dial a number. I tried a holster, and it was the same thing. It was a great phone, and I would prefer a candybar phone to a smartphone. But the thing that hooked me forever was when they put a hinge on the thing. From that moment on, I was a flipper and have remained that way. That ability to flip is a primary reason I resist the smartphone.

My cheap Casio is the candybar phone of watches. It is great for a lot of reasons, but it is also annoying. And that cuts to the crux of my existential issues. I can live without features and luxuries. But I can't live with the annoyances. And that epiphany settles a lot of issues for me.

I bought a used exercise bike, but I end up hauling it off to Goodwill because it felt like I was riding a torture instrument jammed in my crotch. I switched saddles. I adjusted my position. But in the end, I felt like I was ripping something in my reproductive area. It felt liberating to haul that junk off.

My wife had a nice bath mat, but it stank of mildew and rot because it was thick and wouldn't dry. We washed it with everything until we trashed it. It just stunk. Now, we use a hand towel for a bath mat. It's not plush, but it dries quickly. We sacrificed a feature to dispose of a pain.

This same dynamic is what drove me to switch to a Chemex. Mr. Coffee makes coffee easy, but it tastes like crap. The Chemex makes it tastes good. Likewise, my Gerber had features, but it couldn't cut anything. I switched to the Opinel because I was fed up with having to hack at things instead of cutting them. I experience no dissatisfaction with either solution despite their lack of features.

The most important thing is not to pursue satisfaction but to escape dissatisfaction. I became dissatisfied with my Timex Ironman only because it stopped doing what it normally does. Basically, I needed a new Ironman watch. My expectation is to keep a watch until the battery dies. But the batteries outlast the watches now. I had the thing for five years. Why did I complain?

Pain is the deciding factor in consumer purchases. For instance, I bought a pair of Wolverine work boots, but it tore up the back of my heel. Those boots were pricey, but I tossed them after I tried to surgically alter them to remedy the problem. I should have kept the receipt and returned them. Either way, I was done with those boots. I stick with Georgia Giants. They don't hurt my feet.

This really settles a frustration of mine that has bothered me for awhile now. I tend to like things that are plain with fewer features. It just has to be free of aggravation and displeasure like butt dialing phones. I even have a motto for what I like--PLAIN WITHOUT PAIN. It has a nice rhyme to it.

This plain without pain thing also explains why I nuked my Internet Apostolate blog. I was trying to make a very plain blog, but I had to stop with it because of the pain of it not loading properly. I have tinkered with it numerous times since then, but it just doesn't work the way I like. I keep coming back to the fact that my old Twitter account was simply the best way for me to share links of interest and help boost the signal for people and causes. The problem is that I don't have a Twitter account anymore. And this is another frustration of mine.

I like blogging. But it is like having a store full of things, but you don't have a sign out front. You might as well be closed. Virtually every blogger and website I follow has a social media presence. Even Matt Drudge who blasts social media has a Twitter account. It is a speck of hypocrisy on his part.

I love Twitter except for the censorship and time suck. I have no similar affinity for Facebook or Instagram. As for Gab, it is Twitter without the censorship. But I have been social media free for two months now. I don't have withdrawal pains anymore. I just have the frustration of feeling cut off from the wider world. Basically, I'm not a store but a warehouse. I am filling a blog with things that someone might read one day. But they won't be reading it today.


"There's a war on for your mind!" That is the tagline at the Infowars website. Alex Jones is a bit nutty, but he gets one thing right. It is an information war. Basically, I champion three basic things--Catholicism, conservatism, and capitalism. To a lesser extent, I encourage people to become vegan, live a simple lifestyle, and all that. But those life improvement things are not part of the information war. Nobody's going to the mattresses over tofu. But they are definitely going all out over Trump or abortion. Being off social media feels like being AWOL in this information war. On the other hand, being on social media feels like being AWOL from your life.

I think if you are wasting time posting cat pictures and Tide Pod videos on social media then you should get off of social media. But if you are posting pro-life messages then it changes things a bit. That is important stuff. Plus, it is way more convenient than camping out in front of an abortion clinic with a sign.

My internal conflict is between being an information warrior or being a digital pacifist. When I was a libertarian, I was basically a pacifist in my outlook. I believed that people would leave you alone if you left them alone. As a conservative, I am too in touch with reality to embrace a silly notion as that. Weakness is provocation, and pacifism is a form of weakness.

6.09.2018

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 65


I don’t have an agenda, but I do have a point of view, and it might change from minute to minute.
ANTHONY BOURDAIN

1. BOURDAIN

I am saddened by the news of the apparent suicide of Anthony Bourdain. I really enjoyed that man's television work. His shows are an absolute joy to watch. I never had the pleasure of meeting the man in person, but I felt that he was the type of guy you couldn't fail to like. It was that personality that made him seem to fit in with virtually any group of people he encountered in his globetrotting travels.

Bourdain's suicide reminds me of the suicide of Robin Williams. Both were celebrities. They were rich and beloved. They had it all. Yet, they chose to end their own lives. Whatever temporary problems they had, they couldn't be worse than dying. But I understand why they did it. They did not have God.

Bourdain did not strike me as a religious person. He was raised without religion, and I suspect that he was an atheist. He is listed here as a celebrity atheist. I will not presume on Bourdain's eternal fate. That is between him and the Almighty. But I can say from experience that life without God is not worth living. It doesn't matter if you have all of the other good things in life. If you don't have God, you have nothing.

Bourdain was a restless spirit in search of something. That something was God except Bourdain never got it. As someone who gets it after a similar search, I have something to say to anyone contemplating an exit like Bourdain's. God loves you. Love Him back.

2. ROSEANNE

Roseanne's Twitter account has ended her ABC show that seemed to be doing well. Now, a lot of people are going to be out of work. Thanks, Roseanne. Remember, folks, that Twitter is a Weapon of Career Destruction. I just wish it would destroy Bill Maher's career. But Maher shows that you can say and do virtually anything as long as you bash Donald Trump. Roseanne was a Trumper, so they wanted to pull the trigger on her. They just needed Roseanne to load the gun first. And she did!

I don't defend Roseanne's tweet referencing Planet of the Apes. I think it was in poor taste not so much for racial insensitivity but because it is a pet peeve of mine when people mock the looks or bodies of other people. I am not down with body shaming. You can mock a person's fashion or hairstyle. You can even cringe at their plastic surgery disasters, bad tattoos and sex change operations. These are things they chose. But everything else comes from God.

Here's an idea. Let's stop making fun of how people look. That is classy and cool. Roseanne deserves what happened to her. I just feel bad for all the people who were working on her show who didn't deserve what is happening to them.

3. DURIANRIDER

You can't watch vegan videos on YouTube without encountering clickbait vids from Harley Johnstone aka Durianrider. His advice on veganism, diet, and fitness is sound. His advice on life, women, and virtually everything else is garbage. Plus, his channel could pass for softcore pornography. Throw in the endless trolling and fighting with other YouTubers, and you are left with more soap opera than sagacity. As such, his channel has become unwatchable because of the non-vegan crap. I recommend watching Happy Healthy Vegan as the sane alternative. It has much of the same good advice but with none of the drama and pornography.

4. Q & A

Q: Why did Ireland vote to legalize abortion?

A: I am reading many articles trying to explain the defeat for the pro-life cause in Catholic Ireland, and the vast majority of them just don't get it. These are from Catholic and conservative sources. They just can't grasp it. But I can.

Ireland isn't Catholic. It used to be Catholic, but it isn't anymore. Ireland is atheist. That may be a hard pill to swallow, but there it is. Most Irish would dispute the atheism, but they are lying to themselves and to the world. The bottom line is that they no longer believe in God. If they did believe in God, they would have never damned themselves by voting to legalize baby killing.

What caused this turn to atheism? You may as well ask why the Israelites worshiped that golden calf after their miraculous escape from Egypt. People are wicked. This is their default setting, and we know it as original sin.

5. ODDS AND ENDS

--Charles Krauthammer is dying. This would be news except we are all dying. Krauthammer just has a better idea when he will meet mortality. Unfortunately, Krauthammer expresses having no regrets about life while saying nothing concerning the afterlife. That, Gentle Reader, is a stupid way to die.

--Mueller wants Manafort to be a perjurer for him to bring down Trump. This is sick on so many levels. Used to be, they investigated crimes and found people. Now, they just investigate people and try to find crimes. This is not liberty or justice.

--Google used to believe in "Don't be evil." The problem is that they don't know the difference between good and evil. But they must be getting a clue because they dropped that slogan. Google is evil. And, yes, they are the owners of this blog's platform. When they are done destroying YouTube, I expect the C-Blog to face a similar fate.

--I watch Alex Jones more for entertainment purposes than for news. Sometimes, I forget this until I was reminded of this recently as Jones tried to spin conspiracy theories about Anthony Bourdain's death. Was he murdered? I don't think so. Jones should put his tinfoil hat back on because the CIA death rays are taking their toll on his gray matter.

6. LINKS OF INTEREST

The Rules for a Long and Happy Life

IRELAND AND THE END OF CULTURAL CATHOLICISM

Why a $10 Casio Keeps Better Time Than a $10,000 Rolex

Nobody Needs a Watch Any Fancier Than a Casio Digital

Ireland Chooses Death

6.02.2018

Permanent Darkness


The truth, even when horrifically ugly, is always authentically attractive.
ANN BARNHARDT

When I was growing up in the eighties, it was a relatively prosperous time in United States history. Yet, I would encounter old people who grew up during the Great Depression which was an experience that left a perpetual scar on the psyche of these people. My grandmother was a sort of food hoarder keeping a chest freezer filled with fruits and vegetables she had grown, picked, or bought. There was enough food in there to carry her for a year or more. An elderly couple who were literally millionaires were so frugal that you would never guess that they were rich because they lived so modestly. He drove the same old pickup truck for decades until it broke down, and he bought a brand new one. People were amazed that he did that, but he would drive that new truck for another two decades. Despite being rich, the couple never lived lavishly, worked incredibly hard, and never retired. This was a consequence of those years spent enduring the Great Depression.

All of these depression survivors shared a common trait. They did not indulge in the comforts of youth and prosperity that we know as optimism. For them, the wolf was always at the door. The good times can and will end at any time. Misery and hardship are the default settings of life. Suffering and death are the only things guaranteed in this world. These Depression babies knew this, and their scars became their strength.

People upbraid me constantly for being so dark and pessimistic about life. But this darkness has been earned as a consequence of bad times in my life. I am scarred, and I cannot erase these scars. This mindset I possess I call "permanent darkness." My greatest fear in life are not the bad times that will come but that I will forget that the bad times always come. I cling to bitter truths because they console me in a world of pleasant lies.

SCHOPENHAUER: A total party pooper.
There is comfort in harsh truths. I discovered this while reading Schopenhauer as an atheist. Schop as I called him was a man who always lived in permanent darkness. His pessimistic writings are like acid dissolving away all delusions about existence. Schop was an atheist who definitely did not believe in the power of positive thinking. Reading this man is no pleasant day in the park, but you will find yourself drawn back to him again and again. Why is this? The answer is simple. The truth is always a consolation even if it is dark and unpleasant.

Schopenhauer didn't get it all right. The man was an atheist after all. But he was unflinchingly honest. I would see this same quality in the saints like St. John the Baptist and in our Lord Jesus Christ as I read the gospels with my new Catholic eyes. When Jesus tells us that the poor in spirit are truly blessed, I interpret Him to mean people who have lost hope in the false comforts and sham consolations of this empty world. Lies can never suffice. The cross is a brutal truth. Taking up that cross is a choice to embrace harsh truths that lead to life than to be satisfied with comforting lies that lead to death.

What are these harsh truths? Here is a list.



1. Everything dies including you.

Most people live under the delusion that death happens to other people. That is an amazing trick of denial, yet we have all done it at some time or another. We see people with terminal illnesses, and we feel sorry for them as if we will somehow not ever experience the same thing. But we will. At some point in your existence, your body will suffer catastrophic failure, and your immortal soul will separate itself from your mortal corpse. You should remind yourself of this reality daily in the practice known as the memento mori. Keep a skull on your desk. Contemplate your own mortality each time you pass a tomb or cemetery. Embrace with certainty that your time here will end.



2. The human race is corrupted by concupiscence and original sin.

All human beings after the Fall except two have been conceived in original sin. This means that all human beings are born inclined to evil. As children grow and mature, this evil manifests itself as the lovable child you adore becomes despicably wicked. Children and adults can be delivered from original sin through the sacrament of baptism, but the weakness of original sin remains in the form of concupiscence. The bottom line is that people are going to let you down, and you are always going to have to lock your doors at night.



3. There is no happiness in this life.

Life is misery, and all human beings are miserable. Even those who are wealthy and fortunate or those who indulge in pleasure find it all emptiness and meaningless such that even the lucky rich will choose suicide in the mistaken belief that it will end their misery. Schopenhauer nailed it when he wrote,
What disturbs and depresses young people is the hunt for happiness on the firm assumption that it must be met with in life. From this arises constantly deluded hope and so also dissatisfaction. Deceptive images of a vague happiness hover before us in our dreams, and we search in vain for their original. Much would have been gained if, through timely advice and instruction, young people could have had eradicated from their minds the erroneous notion that the world has a great deal to offer them.
What Schopenhauer failed to acknowledge was that this erroneous notion is eradicated from the minds of the young when they are catechized in church. Life is emptiness and vanity. The rich man in his splendor is little better than the poor man in his suffering. Or, as I like to put it, excrement smells no better by being placed in a golden bowl. If we are to know happiness, it must come from a place beyond this world. Don't ever think you missed out on the good things in this life because there are no good things.



4. Most people go to Hell.

This is the most bitter truth I know. If you doubt this truth, I recommend reading St. Leonard on the matter. If people actually knew what Hell was, they would do anything and everything to not go there. Yet, most people are going to end up there for eternity, and it will be by their own volition. As such, it should not ever surprise us or disturb us when people spurn the opportunity and means to avoid this terrible fate. People are damned because they refuse to love God. God loves them, but they do not love Him back. Because of this, this world resembles Hell already because of the wickedness of these people.



5. There is a Heaven, but you will go through hell to get there.

Heaven exists, and Jesus has provided the way for us to get there. But this is no easy path as we see from the lives of saints and martyrs who endured a great deal of suffering to arrive in the abode of eternal happiness. The alternative is to endure Purgatory which is no picnic either. In fact, Purgatory is worse than being fed to the lions or crucified in this life. Either way you slice it, the price of Heaven is suffering.

JAMES DEAN: He died young, but it was not a good looking corpse. It never is.

6. The good times never last.

In this world, there are times that are better than others. It may be a period of prosperity, peace, health, cultural and spiritual renewal, and on and on. They always end. When you are at the party, remember to keep some cash in reserve for the cab ride home because the party will end inevitably. Feasts are followed by famines. Drunkenness is followed by hangovers. Prosperity gives way to poverty. Birth leads to death. People want to forget that good times end because there is momentary bliss in ignorance. Conversely, wisdom makes suffering more acute such that all good times empty themselves for the wise. They build an immunity to the good times and remain sour faced at the party.

The best view of life is the bleak one. This is because it is the honest view of life. With the sobriety that comes from pessimism, we can see more clearly that happiness and joy can only be found in God. Schopenhauer refused to acknowledge this one pleasant truth. As a former atheist, I can attest that there is a rebellion in failing to acknowledge the ugliest truth. This is the truth that things didn't have to be this way. Permanent darkness is to be committed to never being beguiled by the vanities of this life. But permanent darkness is not perpetual darkness. This would be life apart from God. As bleak as life can be, it is not hopeless. As such, we must be pessimists in the short term of this life, but we can be optimists in the long run of eternity. The darkness only becomes perpetual when we close our eyes to the light forever.