Saturday, April 4, 2020

I can't call her "sugar", sugar never was so sweet.

 I'm just posting a quick round of links. I have some actual paying work I'm going to try to get done tonight and don't want to tap myself out. Long story short, all three WordPress links are about the United States' continuing struggle with the COVID-19 virus, how bad the federal government is handling things and how the states are having to pick up the slack, with varying results.

 Monday.

 Wednesday.

 Friday.

 I was fairly active over at the Tumblr site, as the Jukebox In My Mind did a lot of work. Here's something about Dallas band The Old 97's and here's something about John Prine. He's currently battling the COVID-19 and we wish him a lot of luck. I'm a fan. I haven't yet wrote about Bill Withers yet, but I'm a huge fan of his and want to remember his passing.

 A couple of times I got clever about the vocation and, if you will, art of journalism. It's super easy to hate on the "mainstream media" but most folks do it in a way that manages to blind them to not only the good and necessary journalism brings to the party but obscures the actual real flaws that mustard up the whole affair. So here's a riff on a Twitter thought and a pair of quotes, one from Kolchak: The Night Stalker by Jeff Rice and the other by Hunter Thompson's second book of letters Fear & Loathing In American: The Brutal Journey of an Outlaw Journalist. For the record, both books are recommended.

 Maybe more tomorrow, we'll see. Wish me luck.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Don't you never cuss that fiddle, boy, unless you want that fiddle out of tune.

 Though we're just now getting into the change, I'm really trying to keep the news and politics stuff over at WordPress for the News while keeping the Gibberish over here. Sure, there's going to be some bleed but I do want to keep it to a minimum. If for no other reason that separation of strokes being good practice.

 That being said, it's tougher than I thought it'd be. Granted, one reason is my life is pretty dull and won't change much since I like it that way. I don't remember who asked, but the only thing holing up due to CORVID-19 is keeping from doing what I enjoy is traveling. I love to ramble from here to there without a set schedule, getting there anyway whims take me. Otherwise, I haven't left the house in two years except to go to the gym and see whichever doctor I have to check in with.

 Nice thing is, though, I haven't been in the mood to do much rambling since last year's Big Trip and even if it weren't for the pandemic spreading like wildfire, I'd probably still be staying put for the time being. So it works out just fine. Beyond that, though, politics and the media have been so much a part of my life for the past 20 years I can't just shake free. It is baked in.

 As an aside, so many people who spent the past two decades telling me to stop worrying so much about politics are the ones who're full-throated roaring with indignation with the latest pig-eyed bullshit the President and his GOP lackeys are pulling. I'm glad for it, as it takes some of the load off me, and I try my best to not remind them that if they had been listening to me for the past 20 years, we might not be in this mess. I still get a bit of a kick out of it in any event. Anyway.

 I must admit, though, this is all starting to get to me. Not the "social distancing" part or even the changes in society that's popped up. It's the mendacity and pettiness of the president, Republicans in Congress and Republican governors, especially ones in the South. Worst of all is the Base, the people who hoot like seals for Trump and will slit the throat of anyone who crosses him. I am completely convinced they will drown in their own juices rather than go against their Idiot King. The rotten bastard has even owned up that if we do everything from here on out and we're extremely lucky, we're looking at least 100,000 dead.

 They're still calling it a hoax. They're still demanding the president "reopen the country." They're still saying that the doctors and experts calling for more caution and the media reporting on them - which is doing a fine job, apart from a few instances - are just trying to bring down the president. They're still saying it's Democrats alone who're clamping down on civil liberties and wrecking the economy just because they hate Trump.

 They are, in essence, pretending nothing is happening. Mississippi's unemployment claims jumped over 1,500% from last week with 31 million people applying. Percentage-wise, Mississippi leads the nation in hospitalization for coronavirus. We're having over a thousand people nationwide dying from it, with their families separated from them and dying alone. We've topped a million cases worldwide in less than three months. And they still say it's all a big con to make Trump look bad when the dopey shit gibbers through a daily rally that does it well enough.

  Six million people have filed for unemployment across the country. When asked if he'd open Obamacare to help the uninsured, Trump's claiming that the one-time $1,200 check coming maybe in three weeks will take care of that. I guess, though, if nothing else this rips the mask of a number of social shibboleths we've long taken as axiomatic.

 People who stock shelves and cook deserve a wage that's enough to live on and more because they're one of the most important segments of the economy. We can do most of our work via teleconferencing and don't have to keep coming to an office to kiss a boss' ass. We can pull up two trillion dollars in less than a week to bail out the airliners, so the idea that we don't have enough money for, say, single payer or Medicare for all is horseshit. Making the rent each and every month isn't as big a hanging matter as we thought.

 I wonder if it'll stick. I know the average MAGAt is a lost cause, as is most hardcore conservatives and the average libertarian. I'm seeing my own mother, who is very conservative, starting to question things that were considered gospel two weeks ago. I'm not seeing this on Twitter, which is the first bastion of the truly wacky, but I'm seeing it here in Mississippi, which is not liberal at all. We are at a "boiling frog" moment, like with FDR and LBJ, and the strain is starting to get to us.

 Well, it's getting to me, that's for damn sure. I will say I am extremely glad I don't have kids or anything really invested in the future, nor do I have any real reason to interact with the world outside this hill apart from getting groceries and seeing doctors, barring unforeseen circumstances. Anyway.

 I really haven't done much the past couple of days except for the News. Still not sleeping for shit, still reading on the same book - science books take a little more time to dig through - and taking the daily constitutionals with Otis. The wound on Bounce's back is getting better. I woke up with an Old 97's song in my head this morning, so I wrote about it for the Tumblr site. It's pretty good, I think.

 Beyond that, I just don't know, man.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Don't you know her when you see her? She grew up in your backyard.

 I am sick to the teeth of writing on COVID-19. I am exhausted about writing how the president is a callous moron. I am tired, tired, tired of writing about how he might actually be the president this country deserves because this country's full of complete bastards who get off on watching people get ground under the hell of corporate boots. So, hopefully, that's got that out of my system.

 Granted, I've been staring at the rest of this screen for the past half hour and nothing else comes to mind but the blind, seething rage at the world's stupidity and awfulness and mean dumbness, followed by resignation to our fate of never traveling the stars because we need science to focus on making pills that get flaccid cocks hard. And while that may make for interesting prose, it's tough to keep going for too long. Besides, half the point of this whole affair is working on making my overall mood as something other than Plath-esque gloom and righteous indignation.

 Well, this isn't going well. On top of the first paragraph up there, I'm pretty tired as in "exhausted and weary". I'm still not getting enough rest, CPAP machine or no. I don't understand why I'm so sleepy all the time, but there you go. This is all very interesting, isn't it? Okay, moving along.

 I finally dug into Nexus: The Jupiter Incident which I'd picked up on sale at Good Old Games yonks ago. It's pretty neat, a real-time strategy space conflict-type game. Something like Homeworld if that's at all familiar. If not, you play a captain of a big ol' space freighter-type thing, more like a Star Destroyer than an X-Wing fighter. Instead of concentrating on blowing up the opponent, your problem is managing power, issuing orders, transfering repairs to different parts of the ship, that sort of thing.

 The backstory is fairly interesting, too. Rather than being part of a military like in most of these types of games, the various factions are powerful corporations. I'm not sure if it's my leanings towards anarchism or just basic cynicism, if we ever make it to space travel, I see us getting by less on centralized governments or even federations, and geared more towards corporations and business interests. Ever seen the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode that took on the '60s Hammer space film Moon Zero Two, which actually wasn't that bad? Something like that. I'm not saying it's a primo outcome, that's just how I see things.

 Anyhow, while not rock hard, the science is a little better than the usual fantastic stuff. Humanity's only colonized the solar system to, far as I can tell, Jupiter. A trip from Phobos to Europa takes eight months, that sort of thing. I do like hard science fiction, but far too often creators, especially authors, think that means "really boring". This is more along the lines of Cowboy Bebop than Star Trek, though I do think some sort of faster-than-light drive comes into play. No aliens, either, but I've already recovered some fantastically advanced technology, so I reckon it's only a matter of time.

 I don't know if I've made a full shift from sword-&-sorcery fantasy to science fiction, though it's looking that way. I do that when it comes to video games, my interest shifts not between types of games so much as types of background stories. Science fiction, fantasy, and true crime, with the odd Western thrown in. There are very few good Western games. I'm told the Red Dead Redemption games are killer bee, but the only one available for PC is $60 and 140-plus gigs. I'm in no hurry. Maybe when I get a little more money coming in, I'll buy a console.

 Okay, what else, since I have nothing interesting going on in my brain. Days like this really makes me wish I had a bit of the good smoke, if for no other reason than I find it stimulates creative thinking. Still working on From Eternity To Here by Sean Carroll and still enjoying it. It's still in the "let's go over this very complicated if mundane physics knowledge that makes up the background for the really wild shit later in the book" stage of things, but it's doing that very well. Maybe it's because I haven't read any of this type of book in ages but I am thoroughly enjoying it.

 I guess that's plenty for now. Maybe more later, maybe not.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Summer of Roses.

 Before we get started, here's this week's News:

Monday

Wednesday

Friday

 Check it out. Most of it's concerning the COVID-19 business that's turning out to be a much bigger deal than people figured, how badly the federal government and my state's government is handling it, and the utter rat-bastardry of the billionaire class and Corporate America. None of that comes as a surprise, granted, but I've been taken aback at what kind of craven boob Tate Reeves is turning out to be. Admittedly, I was giving him a low bar from the get-go but this is ridiculous.

 The internet's been blinking on and off since Thursday night, and it's driving me up the wall. It's never that long, mind. Just long enough to disrupt any downloading or uploading I might be doing. Plus, every time her country classics internet drops, Momma hollers to ask me if it's down again. First world problems, I know.

 The issue is, one, no radio reaches out here. Two, we're too far out to get cable and digital television is spotty. Me, I can read or play video games or, do like I did today, nap all day. Momma reads a good deal, too, but she goes through periods. Furthermore, she gets all her books from the library and hasn't been since this whole COVID-19 business started. She's big into the self-distancing and my sister-in-law (who works in the health industry) is freaking out a bit over it, which makes Momma freak out even more. Me, I just want quiet since I can't get any weed.

 It's 81 degrees at 7 p.m. near the end of March. That's too damn hot. We had a very mild winter and I imagine we're going to have one mother of a summer. We're supposed to get some rain tonight and possible bad weather, so it's muggy as well, too Apparently they had a pretty nasty tornado up in Jonesboro, Arkansas, because the weather trying to wipe us all out is all we need.

 Dammit, there it goes again. I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't being throttled down due to heavy use or because the telephone company that provides it is a bunch of bastards. Whoops, now it's back. Momma ran into an old buddy of mine from way back who works for the area power company says we'll be getting broadband by the end of the year, and we might get it before the end of the summer. This was, of course, before the Plague settled in, so who the hell knows.

 For the record, I'm digging the new format and think it's working well. More than once, because of the frame of mind I'm in, I've been able to knock out the Daily Peace before my nap and spend the evening just adding little touches. I think tomorrow I'll do a short post over at the WordPress site bringing it all back home tomorrow, linking everything there, here and the Tumblr site in one place, if I wrote anything at the Tumblr site, I don't remember if I did and I'm not in the mood to go looking anything up.

 Speaking of writing, I got some good news. I'm not going to go into detail until I get it nailed down. Not because I'm worried about jinxing it so much as things usually just don't work out for me. If there's two bowls of chili left, I'm the third guy in line, that sort of thing. It's nothing major but if it does come across, it'll not only be a good step in my mental health but will also bring a bit loose change in, and that ain't bad a'tall.

 Otherwise, that's about it, I guess. Watching the federal government and 150 years of competent central government, at least (and at best), fall completely to pieces because of the truculent, petty dickhead in the White House is something else. He's basically gone in front of the entire country and said if the states want federal help, their governors need to be nicer to him. That's just goddamn crazy, and what's crazier is he's talking about actively punishing governors who're mean to him or have been a thorn in his private side.

 There is a discussion to be had about how powerful the federal government should be and how much power it should have. That's pretty much been at the heart of the American Question, one way or another. I vacillate, admittedly, and my problem is that the federal government can be a force for good and help people get by with gettin' by, but ours is more concerned with a twisted version of Jefferson's Agrarian society, where the rich are rich and the poor can get bent. I can actually understand the libertarian argument against a strong centralized government, I just don't trust corporations to be any better and, indeed, have shown themselves to be worse by miles with what regulation they have now.

 Still, I don't think anyone can argue that this is the way to approach it and if they're fine with it, they're much too garbage a person to deserve anymore of your attention. People are getting hurt and are increasingly finding themselves up against the wall as Big Business doesn't even pretend to care about anything beyond increasing their profits and just being dicks. I am seeing a lot libertarians crawling out from under their rocks to cheer for this collapse because they think they'll come out on top rather than as mulch for someone's garden.

 Anyhow.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

"I think they ought to nuke you two until you glow."

 Tate Reeve is sacrificing the state of Mississippi like a Judas goat on the altar of Trumpism and the worst part is the people he's trying to impress could give less of a shit about him or anyone in this state. He's like the weird, unpopular kid who wants to be in with the cool kids so he does awful, degrading shit to make them laugh and they still don't invite him to parties. Nobody outside the state of Mississippi gives a tinker's damn about the state of Mississippi, and honestly, sometimes I can't blame them.

 I've been waking up pissed off a lot lately, and I don't think it's entirely due to the dreams I keep having of, well, being that weird, unpopular kid. Some of it's that and a lot of it's frustration that using this CPAP machine isn't doing a goddamn thing to help with how exhausted I feel all the time. I think maybe it's making it worse. I can sleep five-six hours a night, be sharp for maybe three hours, and then need a nap by noon. I mean, barely keeping my head up tired. And if I'm not careful, I can then be in a dead-to-the-world sleep for another five-six hours. By the time I get my Daily Peace written, I'm usually wiped out again. I'm sure a lot of it's middle age and a sedentary lifestyle, but still. It's exhausting on a whole 'nother level.

 However, most of it is due to the awful situation the world finds itself in with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic and, specifically, how goddamn foul the political and business "leaders" are being about all of it. They're basically telling us "We don't care how sick you get or how bad it screws up your life. This is affecting our bottom line, even if ever so slightly, and we can't have that." Seriously, I have no fucking sympathy for a billionaire with a "B" who's "worried about the economy" when he could, just for an instance, fix the water problems in Flint, MI, with his pocket change.

 And, of course, the litany of uber-wealthy and their media toadies telling everyone that not only should they be willing, nay eager to go back to jobs where they work themselves to death for barely enough to live on, if they get the least bit of help during a worldwide crisis, the lazy plebes will forget their place as worker drones. Worse than that, more and more people who don't have an actually useful job keep telling us it's okay if some people die due to COVID-19 so long as they get back to work and get back to making the rich more money.

 So, yeah, I'm a little tense, I guess. Christamighty, I'd give my left nut for a bag of good right now. I wrote most of the above this morning before my nap, but I'm going to go ahead and tie it off here. It's very warm here in Enon Holler and I'm sure Otis is up for a stroll. Really not all that much else to look into. I gave Gothic another shot last night. It's got an interesting premise - a prisoner charged with a task in a prison high-fantasy colony - but the control scheme is so weird.

 That's one of the things I'm learning about the development of computer games: up until after 2010 at least, games chose any old way for their input. More recently, it's become more streamlined and industry standard. Like using WASD to move, C to crouch, the direction keeps to make necessary alterations, etc. Nothing earthshaking to anyone who's been around, I imagine, but it's interesting from my perspective of someone who stepped away for two decades.

 I wouldn't subject myself to the president's daily open-mic night, but a perusal of Twitter says he is being a bit more incomprehensible and embarrassing than usual. dogging governors that down kowtow and name-dropping Tom Brady. Tate Reeves is getting some pushback on his ridiculous order to countermand local social distancing regulations, and that's a good thing. He's got to learn that being that big a rat fink for someone who wouldn't piss on him if he was on fire does him no good politically.

 Okay, that's good. I may do some more later. But for now, good talk.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Well, good evening. Don't that sun look good going down?

 I really don't understand why Sunday's Gibberish got more hits than Monday's News. I thought the News piece was good and the Gibberish was just okay. Granted, no one's telling me that either are good or bad and I'm just going off clicks, but still. I wonder what it is that's pulling in the eyes. At least with the WordPress site, it tells me where some come from and that's always interesting.

 Ah well. Today's the second day of the Project and, if nothing else, I appreciate not having to scour the news websites looking for something to spark my imagination. I can just ramble on and talk about video games, which is what I'm going to do. I think the practice of sticking mostly to News benefited the piece, but we'll see how it all works out when I do tomorrow's News.

 I guess before I get too deep into things, I should link up yesterday's gobbledygook. This was the latest update on COVID-19, since that's dominating the news and public's attention. Beyond everything else, we've moved into the "we must be willing to sacrifice for capitalism" stage of things, as a swath of talking heads, bloggers and people with podcasts said, hypothetically, it was okay if people got unnecessarily sick, perhaps even died because they went to work. The "strongest economy in history" is apparently so fragile that it can't just chill for a couple weeks until we figure out what's going on and what to do about it.

 Skeptical then about the urgency of this claim, I did a little Googling and found out some interesting things concerning just how much wealth the very wealthy have. I know it won't matter to the Renfields of the world, but I truly do not really begrudge someone with millions or billions of dollars they'll never, ever spend. I don't have anything but contempt for them, but hey, don't hate the player, they say. It is what it is.

 That all being said, their wealth - a little over 160 trillion dollars all told, and this is actual on-hand wealth - comes from other people doing most of the work. "But they take the risks," I hear you bleat. Yeah, and every time someone drives to work, they take the risk of being t-boned by a drunk driver where the very rich have bailouts and bankruptcy protections. Furthermore, most of these uber-wealthy make more in a day than most of the rest of us see in a lifetime. Some do it in an hour. Kylie Jenner makes the American median salary in two-and-a-half hours. That's a staggering stroke to wrap one's head around.

 Anyway, read the Tumblr post and decide for yourself. I don't know if they get a blast fax or subliminal messages from Fox News, but the wingnut Twitter population is down to the ground with the idea of restaurant workers, retail workers and others they feel don't deserve a living wage for a 40-hour work week need to get back to it before some hedge fund loses less than 2% of its worth. I, for one, am not surprised and neither should anyone else. Americans - this may be worldwide, but us especially - have a certain reverence for the wealthy. We like the idea that just because a guy's got a shit-ton of money it not only makes him a super-genius in every other field beyond what he made bank in, but also makes him just a more worthy person. Some even think it means they deserve to be president when the only thing that really made them rich was being born to the right parents.

 But I digress. I also got a wild hair and wrote a bit about the excellent and much under-appreciated '80s rock & roll group The Bus Boys. Inspired by the deep delve into the baffling wealth gap in our society, I was inspired to post some music that celebrated the working man. Mainly the Bus Boys and Merle Haggard, but I think that's good enough for anybody.

 Okay, video games. I played more of Dungeon Siege as well as its two sequels. Honestly, I may like the second game better than the first. This story's a bit more interesting and there's a graphical upgrade. However it's apparently tougher, as I keep getting wiped out every time the challenge steps up and I have to keep throwing my party at the challenge like battering my head against a wall until it breaks. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, I don't know.

 The third game, however, left me sort of cold. It looks nice and there seems to be a story worth telling, but I just didn't care. I usually get a taste of a game by either playing through the tutorial or getting past the game's first little bit, like after the Grey Wardens initially get wiped out in Dragon Age: Origins because that obviously evil looking guy did 'em dirty. If it gets me, I come back. This one, however, I was considering just dropping it before I got to that stopping place and deleted it off my hard drive once I did.

 Another issue I had with it is a player is given four pre-made characters to go through the story. They all have their own backgrounds and there's no customization or even ambivalence to what they're trying to accomplish. I like a little grey area. In the first game, you're a farmer. In the second, you're a possible repentant mercenary. However, both are open ended enough that a player can add a little nuance to the character. The one in Two Worlds II is defined by his search for his sister and the guy in Divinity II is a raw recruit dealing with everything going to shit even before he's fully inducted.

 I need to get back to Two Worlds II to finish it off, just like I need to do with Pathfinder: Kingmaker and Pillars of Eternity 2. However, I'll probably put a little more work into Divinity II or maybe give the first games of the Risen and Gothic series another shot. I still have a passel of XCOM-influenced turn-based strategy games to mess around with, too. I don't know how in the hell people with actual lives find the time to play as much as they seem to do.

 What else is there. Snopes posted some job openings this morning. I applied to a couple but I doubt anything will come of it. I spent too much time out of the game and haven't done enough work since getting back into it for anyone seriously looking for labor to give a look. Or so in my mind, anyway, but I'm known for having laughably low self-esteem. I posted links to this and The News, since that's all I've got that's less than 15 years old. I think there are plenty of gems among the dross, but I do worry my flippant tone and potty mouth might turn some off. I can behave if I'm getting paid, is all I'm going to say about it.

 Otherwise, I'm listening to Waylon Jennings' 1974 album The Ramblin' Man. I've got two tracks to go and once they're done, I'm done. For what it's worth, I don't think we've seen anything close to the end of the whole COVID-19 business and, what's more, it's going to develop into a much bigger hassle whether we "go back to work" or not. Doesn't really affect me either way, but it's interesting to watch how all this plays out from an outsider's perspective. Like I said above, it sort of stuns me that we are that beholden to the idea that unless we work ourselves to death for someone else's benefit and not enough to live on, the entire superstructure will eat itself within a week. If that's the case, maybe we should let it. Maybe make something new and better from the ashes.

 Of course, that's an unhelpful thought, mainly because so many people whose backs are already against the wall would suffer the most for it while the very rich might have to give up one of their yachts. So, I don't have any answers or any good suggestions, even. Just questions, that's what I'm here for.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

What goes on in the dark will soon come to light.

 I'm not seeing anything in the News that's exactly sitting my soul on fire, so we'll just fiddle around here until we run out our word count. I think we might give the Project a shot this week just for the hell of it. That's the fun thing about writing when no one's paying for it (or reading it, let's be honest), you can do pretty much what you damn well please.

 I really don't understand why, but since moving straight to WordPress... the Blogger site still gets more hits. Who knows. Yeah, there's nothing pouring out today. It's raining out, so me and Otis can't take our constitutional. Bounce has a pretty nasty mark on his back where the hair's stripped off and there are some cuts. It's inflamed and hurts him, as well. I'm pretty sure it's from the tomcat that keeps coming up through the woods. They've fought before and Bounce is kind of a wimp. He's not a happy kitty right now but there's nothing I can do out here until tomorrow, and that's only if the veterinarian is open for business.

 All right. The rain stopped so me, Otis and Coy took us a nice little constitutional and cleared my head up a bit. I think starting tomorrow we will implement the Project. Do a weekend round-up on Monday, another news piece on Wednesday, and cap it off with a Friday grab-bag. Plus, keep the Gibberish here. It won't be as easy as one thinks, because sometimes that logjam takes hours to unplug. Still, no one's paying me for this, so there you go.

 We're now a week into this coronavirus "self distancing" business and it's interesting to see how it's all washing out. Just my two cents, so grain of salt, but I think life is coming to an equilibrium if we can figure out a way to make sure everyone who can't work doesn't starve to death and isn't thrown out on the street by their asshole landlord. Beyond that, yeah, it's smooth sailing right along, Matt.

 Anyhow, I've been watching people deal with their new reality with great interest, given my own heavy thirst for Splendid Isolation. We're not quite a week into it and people are bouncing off the walls already. It's going to be hell on them if this goes on for months. For me, it's just an excellent excuse to cancel the very few social obligations I have, so I can't really relate. I'm trying to remember back when I was a bit more sociable and put my mind of those kids who're doing Spring Break and Saint Patrick's Day whatnots.

 I guess I can understand it. I did plenty of dumb shit in my 20s that could've killed me and none of it involved a global pandemic I'm not saying it's a good or smart thing those kids are doing; I'm saying I understand. I wonder if these kids are at all plugged in politically. Most of the Gen Z kids that used to cross my radar (working in a kitchen, you get to know a lot of young folks) were generally hip and kept an eye on things even if it wasn't their sole focus. Of course, most of them were musicians or artists, or they were members of some group the Status Quo wants kept in a closet. LGBT folks, that sort of thing.

 Okay, what else. Finally getting around to listening to Flogging Molly. On their Swagger album as we speak. It's... okay, I guess, sort of a natural progression of Celtic folk-punk from a band influenced by the Pogues. Not really my cup of meat anymore, but not unlistenable and I can see the appeal. Also got around to actually playing Dungeon Siege unvarnished last night. I bought it yonks ago so I could run the Ultima V: Lazarus. I've fooled around with that a bit - it's not any easier and it's full of bugs, but fun - but never really messed with the base game. Not bad, but I'm inclined to those High Fantasy sword-and-sorcery joints. I also have the two sequels and I'll try those tonight. They're all massively on sale for the rest of the month at Steam, like three bucks for the lot. You can't beat that with a stick.

 I'm also finally getting deep into Sean Carroll's From Eternity To Here. I bought it not long after it came out, but that was about the time I quit reading. It was just too dense for me then. Now, I'm sort of surprised at how swiftly it's moving along. I like Dr. Carroll's take on science and think he does a good job explaining things, and I'm about ready to get into his latest book Something Deeply Hidden. That's his take on my latest fascination, Many-Worlds Theory. It's not only nice to be reading again, it's nice to be fascinated by various things again.

 So enough of all that.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Some got to win, some got to lose.

 Going to do something a little different today. It's about 9:40 in the morning as I open this page to write, and I'm just going to fool around as the day goes on with the Gibberish. I'll post it sometime this afternoon and unless something interesting happens with the News, I'm not going to worry about it. Long story short on that, CORVID-19 shows no signs of the slowing down and the U.S. government shows no signs of improving their response.

  'Course the problem with that is, I'm almost convinced, we really don't want it to. Yesterday, Trump threw one of his temper tantrums over a relatively softball question from NBC's Peter Alexander. Everyone who was already tired of him was, of course, outraged and discouraged. And, of course, his Base came in their drawers over him sticking it to the MSM, man, but the average dipstick who started paying attention to politics in the past five or six years got pretty hard about this, as well.

 People - especially liberals and leftists - really need to stop waiting for a Savior or a Great Man. People either kvetch that Joe Biden isn't doing enough or claim Bernie Sanders will save us all. That partly explains Trump's popularity. He isn't a Great Man but he checks all the various boxes that Americans consider a "Great Man" should. He's a rich celebrity and has had sex with a lot of what Middle America considers "hot" women. He's not a physical threat apart from his size and tendency to screw with peoples' personal spaces, but we're pretty easily fooled about that. We think, culturally, actually think actors - actors who've never been anything but actors - like John Wayne or Clint Eastwood are inarugably bad-ass dudes. So what do we know.

 "Why isn't Joe Biden (or Obama) saving us?" "Bernie (or Ron Paul) is the only one who can save us."

 That's actually what people are saying. It's one thing for the liberal side of Middle America to trumpet this. That makes sense, as this whole country's history is a string of Great Men. It boggles my mind to see soi-disant "leftists" do the exact same thing, though, especially for the types of guys they're doing it for. I mean, sure, admire or rally around a charismatic figure who actually gets shit done (good or bad, we're not dwelling on that). That totally makes sense even if it's not something that sits well with me. I just don't understand this idea that seems to have permeated the Left - from self-declared socialists to equally claimed anarchists - whinging that a Savior isn't riding in on a white horse or that the stupid normies aren't throwing in with whoever they decide is this week's Savior.

 As a side note, I'm watching a lot of YouTube videos on "cursed books" and every single one of them acts like The Necronomicon didn't stem fully from H.P. Lovecraft's imagination. Even things like the Simon Necronomicon wouldn't exist without Lovecraft. Cut that out, man. There's plenty of weird books out there in the world.

 Okay. I wonder if anyone is going to put forth the idea that the reason Bernie Sanders is getting trashed in the primaries is because he ran a rotten campaign. Or is that just me? Now, I'm not saying Biden ran a great one, but he didn't have to. Sanders has a lot of passionate ground-level support, especially online, but to get the nomination he needed to attract not only people who weren't on board (and might've been leery of the whole "socialist" thing) but also hardcore Democrats and the party in general. That just makes sense to me; if you're running for the Democratic Party nomination, you have to get the Democratic Party leadership on your side.

 But he really hasn't done that. Indeed he - and particularly his surrogates and followers - has been telling the Democratic mainstream and centrist liberals in general to suck his dick for the past five years. And from what I'm seeing on Twitter, the reaction from at least the surrogates to the drubbing Sanders is getting in the primaries is anger at people who aren't voting for him with the concept that people are voting for Biden just to screw with them. They're not voting for Bernie, goes the argument, just because "boomers" want everyone to die.

 This isn't scientific, of course, just observation. I voted for Sanders but I've never been lit on fire about him. Great ideas, sure, but if great ideas were all that were needed in America politics, we wouldn't be in this shape. Asked this time last year the worst primary combo, I would've told you Biden and Sanders. Partly because Sanders probably wouldn't try to bring in a coalition and partly because Biden's the walking, talking, breathing example of The Swamp, for lack of a better phrase. He wasn't going to light anyone's pubes on fire, and probably the only reason he has any pull at all is most people who vote Democrat aren't really inclined to cut up too much until Trump gets booted out.

 I've said it elsewhere, but nothing Sanders champions is all that radical, even for American politics. More progressive taxation, cheaper education, minimum wage that's actually enough to live on, even the idea of Medicare For All, none of that is new. Some of it already existed and some were things that past presidents tried but couldn't pull off. Hell, Nixon pushed a better medical insurance scheme over 40 years ago and he was Nixon.

 Okay. Enough of that. I'm in a bad mood today. I had another dream last night, and most of my dreams these days are things I've done - from working in kitchens to riding with football teams to cover the games - but no one wants me around. Indeed, people are actively hostile to my presence and contemptuous of my contributions.

 I've always prided myself on being useful and likable. I'm not the best cook or reporter than stomped the Terra nor have I ever been Good Time Charlie, but people have always found me easy to like and before to long have been glad I'm around. I'm stable and dependable and don't cause anyone too much strife, mainly because I don't like it. I do my job and get along.

 In these dreams, I do not. I don't understand where all this comes from, and these dreams didn't start happening until I came to accept that I'm pretty much never leaving this hill for any extended time. On the surface, I'm fine with that, or at least I think I am. Momma, the Ex and my Therapist have all asked me, acknowledging that while I prefer my solitude, if this "social distancing" isn't getting up my nose. It's not, not really. Not on the surface, at least.

 I've told them all, look, apart from my Trips and Visits, the only reason I've left the house in the past two years have been doctor visits, hitting the gym, or family gatherings. Furthermore, every last one of them - again, apart from the Trips and Visits - I've tired to get through and done with as quickly as humanly possible. I like my solitude. I like being alone and fairly sedentary. I like reading and writing and playing games and going for walks with Otis, and frankly, that's about all I like to do.

 I loved my Big Trip out to see the brother and sister-in-law in Oregon. Not so much seeing them - they come to visit here twice a year, and that's plenty - but because of all I saw on the drive out there and back. I'll say it again, more of us should wander across the country and see it for ourselves. Maybe we wouldn't be so contemptuous of each other. I loved bouncing back to Athens to see the people who I haven't seen in a decade but still love me. I loved going back to New Orleans to remind myself why I loved the town. Same thing when I spent a couple days up in Memphis. Once I get in the mood and people settle down, I'll do some more Traveling and Visiting.

 On the surface, however, I am fine with my world being this Hill, Momma, my varmints and my time killers. But what if I'm not. What if these dreams are telling me that I'm discontent and unsettled with my life, despite what I tell myself. I'm not sure what to do if that's the case. I spent the last 20 years trying to be "normal" and failing miserably. Short trips into what everyone else does on purpose 24/7 are enough for me and can get too much pretty quickly. But still I have these dreams and wake up miserable.

 I'm not going to lie. As much as I miss getting high, maybe the main reason I wish I was in a position to smoke copious amounts of weed again is if one stays stoned constantly, one doesn't remember one's dreams. Whatever I'm being told, frankly, I don't think I'm interested in hearing. It's certainly not going to help the cause a'tall.

 Okay. I've been writing for two hours. I'm going to go ahead and post this on Blogger, and link it elsewhere staggered throughout the day. Maybe I'll write more, maybe I won't. Maybe I'll play some games or maybe I'll sleep until this afternoon, then take Otis for a walk. We'll see.

ADDENDUM: I had a dream during my nap, but it was actually a good one. I dreamed Otis was being sociable to my cats instead of trying to kill 'em like he usually does. Plus, I was in a situation where everyone was leaving me alone. I swear, this is better than therapy.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Mr. Ledbetter, can you tell me again, what's a Mississippi Flush and how's it beat this hand?

 I really couldn't tell you why, but since I've moved back home I have gotten more... into? interested? engaged? enraged? Whatever it is, I'm more of it concerning the political situation in Mississippi. Maybe it's because I know, deep down, that I'll probably never leave for good again. Or maybe things have gotten just this bad in the past 20 years since I left.

 I've been actively engaged in politics basically since my college days in Florida. All through my time in Georgia and New Orleans, I've kept my head in even when it was considered a character flaw by many in my social circle. That being said, I'm not going to lie, it was mostly national politics. I dealt with local stuff when it affected me, particularly in Athens, but my eye was always turned to at least the U.S. Congress or, failing that, socio-political concerns that were greater than one state. The Confederate flag on state flags or at state capitols, for example, has driven me up the wall for years.

 I've always kept an eye on Mississippi. It's my home, much as I may not like that (or as much as my brother hates it). The bulk of the state or, for that matter, Itawamba County, I really didn't give a good goddamn. Now, my home is here in Peaceful Valley, this hill I live on. Then, though, it was just where I grew up. I stayed away and intended to stay away until I was put in the ground, and only then because I already have a grave site. Mississippi's where I'm from, I'd tell people, it's not where I am.

 Well, now it's where I am and unless something drastic happens, it's where I'll stay. I don't like that, but that's how it is. Anyone with half a lick of history knows Mississippi has a dark, nasty history, one that we're still trying to come to grips with. Like William Faulkner wrote in Requiem For A Nun, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." Our history of slavery, Jim Crow, Medgar Evans, near-total political domination by the Klan for decades, and even the overall anti-labor history of treating poor white trash as nothing more than a bulwark for the rich and powerful.

 But now, it seems it's gotten that much more real. The ICE raids on the chicken plants that were used to rid the company of workers who'd made hay about sketchy practices by management. The medical marijuana initiative that's on the 2020 ballot. The ongoing horror of prisoners living and dying while in state penitentiaries and their deadly conditions. And now, the Nissan plant down in Canton is doubling the workers' load in the midst of CORVID-19 while giving the executives leave to "self quarantine". Why? Because we have a labor history that is actively hostile to any concept of a union.

 For the first time in a long time, state and local politics feel real and urgent in a way they haven't. Along with that, my general disgust with both parties and even soi-disant "leftists" and "socialists" as well as my long-dormant interest and sympathy for anarchistic political theory. I've said it elsewhere, one of the most attractive aspects of anarchism, to me, is the suggestion that you can use the tools of the system to change the system and you can do it in smaller, personal ways. Right here, right now, in Mississippi 2020, that just sings, man.

 I'll be 45 next month. I'm single with no kids and no real strong ties. I find myself at times cut adrift from my own head. I don't understand it nor do I want it, but I won't deny part of me envies my brother and his wife or my cousin and his family. I wouldn't trade my freedom for the world, but a man does need something to latch himself to, something to make the universe worth the effort.

 I'd might as well try to make this state a little better than I left it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

I'm just a country boy without angels, I'm just a country boy without gold.

 So, if you're here from the WordPress site, you know what's going down. If not, I'll explain and then we'll get to business.

 Back around the end of last year, I had planned on making a big change with my bunch of blogs. Instead of posting the same thing at Blogger and WordPress, I would keep the News at the latter and use the former for Gibberish. For various reasons - mainly because I didn't feel like it - this didn't happen.

 Sharp-eyed readers will note, however, that there has recently been a change in the format. Specifically, I quit posting the day's Offerings at both sites. It seemed superfluous and, frankly, the writing tools at WordPress are a little better. For the most part, I've just been posting links with the odd wandering when the mood struck me.

 Today's change, however, comes mainly because I am sick to the teeth of writing about, reading about and, indeed, thinking about CORVID-19 and it's impact on society. There's news there to dig into, sure, but it's grinding my gears and making it harder to write something different. The comparison just came to me, but it was like writing about baseball. I enjoy baseball, but it's dull as dirt to write about day after day. It's true, deal with it.

 I went into a little bit of detail at the WordPress site on the particulars and depending on how everything goes, we'll do the News properly tomorrow. For now, let's have a little fun... or try to, anyway.

 It didn't really occur to me until this afternoon's constitutional with Otis that I was suffering from writer's block. Basically, most of last week's Offerings came thanks to squeezing blood from a stone, and the quality mostly reflects that. Saturday was good, but I'm skeptical about the rest. Friday and yesterday especially were difficult births and almost bad enough for me to take a break.

 However, the last time I took a break from writing it lasted four years, so we don't need to do that. There's still a mess of frustration that I can't find a tone or a topic, something to specialize in and concentrate on to make my Offerings unique. I'm still having fun, for the most part, but the ongoing stripping of the gears makes it a chore. It shouldn't be a chore, especially since I'm not getting paid for it.

 So, let's have some fun. I finished Cowboys and Zombies and enjoyed it, mostly. It started off very strong but, unfortunately, it drug some in the middle and the ending seemed a bit muddled. Maybe I missed something, but either some characters disappeared or the author was just sloppy, confusing one character for another. Taken as a whole, the plot could've been tightened up a bit, as well. One character who proved to be pivotal to the ending didn't show up until the last third. Also, I don't think people in the Old West knew what "zombies" of any kind were nor did they say "zillions".

 Overall, though, an enjoyable read if maybe needing a little tightening or a better editor. I haven't read anything else by author W.R. Benton. He seems to concentrate of straight Westerns in the Zane Grey-Louis L'Amour vein rather than Weird Westerns. I might dive into it later, but for the time being, it's time to move on. I'm going to finish off this reading of Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters To A Young Poet before I do anything else. I really recommend this to other writers - and maybe poets, too, I don't know - and there's a lot of inspiration in his words.

 I wish I could tell you he was my favorite poet - I was introduced to him by singer-songwriter legend Ray Wylie Hubbard, for the record - but I still don't "get" poetry. The only poems I really get into is T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock" or Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven," and that's for different reasons. The former's tale of loneliness, alienation and despair just rings so true. The former is no light-and-sunny affair, either, but even that morbid tale of death and loss doesn't equal the starkness of a solitary man slowly wasting away surrounded by a world that just can't be bothered.

  I haven't played any games lately. Still sort of stuck on the ending of Two Worlds 2. Good Old Games is having a sale and, on a whim, I finished off my Ultima collection with 8 and 9. I also picked up Deep Space Battle Simulator from Steam, an indie game on Early Access. I haven't played it yet, but it has an interesting premise. Basically, you control a larger space battleship from the inside with occasional jumps into Wing Commander-style dogfights. Or so it seems. Anyway, it looked interesting enough - and was cheap enough - for me to give it a chance and do the whole support-the-indie-developer thing.

 It's 8:30, so I'm going to go ahead and post this up. I'll leave it open and maybe add more to it as the evening goes on. Otherwise, have a good evening.