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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

More on rage

Yesterday Dan raised a persistent question about why there would seem to be more rage in a society that is objectively better off than it was during times of less rage? At first I kept responding in terms of whether rage was triggered by these changes or was more personal......but either way, Dan's question remained valid: "Why more now?"

After a bit of thinking, I tried to think of the people I knew in the past and now who were the victims of injustice and who, while understandably angry, managed to cope without full-on rage. In every case, the answer was similar if not exactly the same: these people ALL believed that some external force.....either their god or karma......would eventually ensure justice for those who inflicted intentional cruelties and then managed to escape any consequences.

My own mother was one of these people and was a staunch believer in a combination of the two. For her, there was NO DOUBT that a person's actions were going to catch up with them............ here or in the afterlife. I remember her telling this to me, my brother, Rosa, and anyone who seemed angry over an injustice they were powerless to correct. She believed it with every fiber of her being. And she was no shy, wallflower. If she could exact her own retribution, she would.....but when it was fruitless? Well, karma would get them. And if karma didn't? Well, that was what God would take care of in the end:

God's vacation spot for those who escaped justice on earth.

Historically, this notion of Divine Retribution, preached from the pulpit to the poor, powerless, and oppressed, guaranteed justice. It is one of the many criticisms of Christianity that such teaching helps keep the throngs of oppressed people from revolting against the privileged classes. 

"If you won't fight for yourselves.....follow my breasts!"

So I ran the 'retribution tape' through my own head and pretended I believed it to be true..........and I realized if I was able to convince myself of such a thing, I felt better. Why waste my time and ruin my day with frustrated rage when the justice I sought would happen in time? All I had to do was continue with my own life and trust that everything would be made right eventually. Wow. What a strategy!

"Relax, children........I got this!"

The problem is......I DON'T believe this will happen. And it seems that an ever-increasing number of Americans have the same problem. (click for article on decline of religion in US)  So, I can't help but wonder if THAT'S the answer to Dan's question. The statistic I read in another article pointed out an interesting fact that in the context of this 'rage theory' is either more evidence, or a bizarre coincidence: it seems like the increase of rage in society is not gradual. It feels like it went up a tiny bit in decades past and now is increasingly more frequent. Oddly the decline in religious follows that same pattern: a very gradual decline from the 60's through the 70's and 80's, picking up speed a bit in the 90's, and rampant among "Millennials" now. (link)

I find that very interesting. It certainly is consistent with the correlation between rage and the feeling of being powerless. With a solid belief system in place, you may be powerless, but you have this all-powerful force that you can rely on. But.....stop believing in that force? And all you have is your rage.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Age of Rage

The poster child for rage.

Rage is anger on steroids.  You don't just frown and grumble. You don't just shout a profanity. No, you fume as the heat builds in your face and pressure mounts in your chest until you think your head will explode and your heart burst. You don't just want to slam your fist or stomp your want to take up a club and smash EVERYTHING!

While verbally explosive at times, I am a very non-violent person physically. However, lately I have been almost perpetually angry with frequent flashes of suppressed rage. It has gotten so bad that I started talking to others about it. First Rosa, and then this weekend, before we sat down to dinner, I talked with my daughter and Son-in-Law (a professional psycho-therapist) about it. I really was beginning to worry that I was losing it. What was my surprise to learn that this feeling was widespread!? At first I was relieved to learn that I wasn't alone....but then worried that ......I wasn't alone. How good is it that such feelings are rampant?

The Red Hulk, Thaddeus Ross, who becomes not only stronger....but literally hotter with increased anger.

I was not surprised to learn that rage often stems from feeling powerless to correct an injustice. (That's my issue for certain.) And it occurred to me that perhaps THIS is where things like school shootings come from? Put in that context the tearfully rhetorical question of "who would DO such a thing?" becomes much easier to answer: someone full of rage.

If the Hulk is the King of Rage, Carrie must be the Queen.

Today's political climate has only exacerbated the root causes of rage. There used to be plenty of injustices and runs of bad luck in normal daily life to induce rage.....hell, just think of "road rage" alone! But now? Now, it seems like a lot of people would happily tear out the throat of just about anyone else from the 'other tribe'. And every day brings some new "I've never seen anything like this in my entire life"-level outrage.

Sorry ladies, but if your idea of Wolverine is the handsome Hugh Jackman, you should know that the character he portrays looks and acts more like this.

I have always been a kind of multi-point kind of person.....meaning, I'm not the type to let any ONE thing get to me. But if you start stacking things up? Then I don't handle it so well. And the worse thing is that once I feel the stacking begin, the size of the "blocks" doesn't matter nearly as much as how many are being piled up. So, if we start with one substantial bad thing, I can usually keep it in perspective, but start compounding that with a bunch of lesser things and by the time we get to the Nth 'block', I can lose it over something as minor as a package not arriving on time. Now normally such a trivial thing would never prompt that.....but under this 'pile up' it can.

I also find certain environmental factors can contribute to the problem. The fact that it's mid-March and still cold means that every 'outdoor person' I know has had enough of Winter. 'Cabin Fever' is a definite contributor. I think even my 'playful' O-lessness played a part. (Rosa gave me an O yesterday and I found I already felt better afterwards.....and yet I was as complicit and willing in that denial period as she was). So there are a LOT of things that can factor into all this.

For me it can be a lack of sunlight......but for this guy, it's too much moonlight!

So, I did learn that my strategy of 'distraction' is in fact a viable solution. I find that keeping busy with my multiple projects keeps my mind off of things that would otherwise fuel a rage. "Projects" are like my 'addiction'. I thought that perhaps such avoidance was bad, but I learned it's not at all. So I guess I will just continue to keep myself busy, get out in the sunshine as often as the weather permits, avoid watching too much news, and if all else fails, maybe just have a drink......or ask Rosa for an O!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Our table

from yesterday's St.Patrick's get-together:

You can see we re-used our new charger plates from Thanksgiving, and you can also see the domed Depression glass butter dish next to the pitcher

That's the bottle of Redbreast over on the left. The whole theme was green and white and pewter. 

The food came out great. We had an opening appetizer of an Irish pub treat of beets and egg on sourdough toasts with a freshly-made, sweet & spicy mustard sauce. Then we had the Potato & Leek soup with fresh baked brown bread my daughter made and brought. The main course was corned beef and cabbage with colcannon on the side. Later on my stepson made everyone Irish Coffee with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.

Eventually the 'party' continued from the table to our living room with many rounds of 8-Ball being played until we moved a TV into the room (we do not usually have a TV in our living room) to watch "Miller's Crossing" and then the mandatory annual viewing of "Boondock Saints". The party went on past 1:00AM! (very late for Rosa  and me)

Overall a very good day!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day. As you know I will be doing a nice Irish meal for my family and friends today......but I already got a jump on things yesterday, so this shouldn't be as much work as last week.

So may you all be touched by a bit of the luck of the Irish.....

...............which if you look at the history of the Irish, is a kind of weird thing to wish on someone. So just focus on the good stuff.

Friday, March 16, 2018

What's in a name?

There seem to be a lot of takeaways from the Special Election in Pennsylvania, but there's one I haven't seen in the media: how the people of that notoriously Republican district were willing to vote for a...........................libertarian?

Conor Lamb 

Rick Saccone 

Drew Miller 

OK, so not one who 'calls' himself a Libertarian. No, Drew Miller got less than 1% of the vote. But look at this Lamb-guy. 49.8%!! Wow, when is the last time you saw a Libertarian get nearly 50% of a vote? Even at their own elections?

Now, if you listen to Lamb, he's a moderate Democrat, but if you listen to Trump? Well, first you'll go crazy from having to discount every other word as a lie......

An old Kliban cartoon presaging the courtship of Trump and Stormy Daniels.

....but then you have to see there is some truth to it. (You know like the way a genie, leprechaun, or demon tells the truth.) He accused Lamb of running as a Republican. But Lamb is as much of a Republican as any Libertarian......and as much of a Democrat. So Lamb says he's a Democrat. Trump says he's a Republican. And I say he's a "small 'L'" Libertarian. So who are you going to believe? ;-)

That's kind of what Libertarians are, the moderate best of what both parties have to offer without all the hypocrisy and pandering attached. And people seem to like long as it's called something else. Call it what it is......and you can expect to get 1% of the vote.

Now I'm not saying there weren't other reasons at play here. Despite Lamb's assertion that this wasn't about Trump, I think at least some of it was. And some could be that Saccone wasn't the best Republican candidate. But it does seem odd that everyone is talking about this election and Conor Lamb and Doug Jones and what it means for the Democratic 'model' going into the midterms, and yet no one seems to want to point out that this "new Democratic model" is eerily close to the platform Gary Johnson ran on.

As for me? I just find it amusing. I feel like the guy at the party who's among only a few that know that the chocolate mousse everyone is 'enjoying' is really a bowl of whipped shit.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Signs of hope

After what feels like an excruciatingly long winter, my yard is now dotted with scattered nubs of green! It's now the 'Ides of March'. Daylight Savings Time has taken effect. Easter is just around the corner. Can a full-fledged Spring be far behind?

Rosa was complaining about wanting Spring to get here. She said that she just wants to be able to get out of the house and walk around our garden for hours on end. I have to agree.

I have some big plans for several moves in the garden this year. And I need the right weather to get an early start to transplant before things get too far along. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Scattered thoughts

There are simply too many things going on to focus on a single topic today, but neither do I want to write a rambling, multi-point essay. So instead I am just going to send out a few thoughts and updates:

Farewell to one of the greatest minds of our generation. I recall reading 'A Brief History of Time' and feeling like my head was going to explode. But it was a good challenge. 

It's kind of cool that Stephen would leave us on Pi Day.

Where would we be without pi?

Some personal distractions....again mostly financial..... have kind of dampened the more sexual mood here. Rosa and I are fine, and getting along.......just not feeling too sexy right now.

Another 'oldie' from the 90's. Remember answering machines?

Not feeling sexy has led me to find more time to work on my latest project....

The lower half of a bathroom window for what will become our "Peruvian Bathroom".

Politics continues to challenge my capacity to remain calm.....not something I'm good at in the best of circumstances. I did want to make an amused observation though, based on a couple of comments I've received from some new visitors in recent weeks. I love the way people entrenched either on the left or right can read what I say and, if it runs contrary to their views, assume I must naturally be a full-fledged member of the opposite extreme. LOL. I think the notion that a person can be a moderate with viewpoints based on thought rather than tribalism is truly alien to a lot of people. 

Because I have been criticizing Trump a lot, some folks seem to assume I must be a Democrat. LOL. Keep assuming. It's very entertaining.