Leany on Life -- September 2011

On This Day in History

Meanwhile, over in an Alternate Universe

Keep it real, bro
I had a European once explain to me how enlightened they are because . . . I am not making this up . . . in Europe the breast is not sexualized. Yup, we here in America are so backwards that we get excited at the sight of a breast. In Europe they see them so much they've achieved a state where they do nothing for you.

You call that enlightened?

So, maybe the Muslims have the right idea. I imagine in Muslimlandia you'd get all randy if you ever saw a woman's forearm.

In actual practice it doesn't work that way there, because in that world women are objects and rape is just another activity that men are allowed to engage in. I don't think that's an effect of no exposure to female skin, those savages are just scumbags, but that doesn't change my point. A little mystery is a good thing. You've got to keep a little magic.

Standard Leany on Life caveat applies here: I have no idea what I'm trying to say. Let's just pour all these Cheerios in a bowl of milk and see if any patterns emerge.

I've always been curious at what the kids say as a . . . what's the English word for despedida . . . Farewell? They'll say "Keep it real, Bro." What does that mean? Keep it real?

But maybe they've got something there (although I'm certain they wouldn't realize it if they did).

Years ago I was at an Indy car race and was walking around the pits. A car rolled up (driven by a guy named Don Johnson, just incidentally) and I started looking it over. Here's where I can't explain what I mean. The car looked so . . . real. You see them on TV, you hear them buzzing past the camera . . . in real life they are made of steel and Fiberglas and aluminum and rubber—materials that you deal with every day. Not sure what I expected . . .

My damaged brain just made another connection when I said "Not sure what I expected." It's like the "college girls" I saw in Vegas. They would hang around the elevators and walk through the casinos—just young college-age girls in very skimpy clothing.

Until a whole bunch of them came walking out of a casino and a guy with me said "That looks like a hooker convention." What? Hookers?

I don't know what I expected. They looked like regular human beings, only with more skin than I remember girls showing when I went to college. Did I expect them to wear a name tag? In the movies you can always tell.

This may be a product of my reading way too much in my childhood. Literature is about everyday things, but in the books they're always cleaned up just a bit from real life. You tend to fill in the template of the things you don't know. I talk about this a little further on with Sodom and Gomorrah, but literature, movies, and history tend to clean up reality a bit. Movie stars on film don't have bad breath.

It's easy to believe in a Divine Christ now that we read about him in the New Testament, but to the people in his time he had dirty feet in his sandals and dust in his hair just like everyone else. Abraham, now that was a guy they could believe in. History had removed his warts.

You want a Corvette. You love Corvettes. But, of course, you'll never have a Corvette.

Then one day you get one.

It's a Chevrolet. The steering wheel is a Chevrolet, the engine is Chevrolet, even the gauges are Chevrolet. The trim under the door even says 'Body by Fischer,' just like any other Chevrolet. It goes together with bolts and nuts just like the race car I saw when I had the micro-epiphany.

But I'm not saying you shouldn't get a Corvette. Just like you shouldn't not fall in love with a beautiful woman.

I may have almost come up with what I'm trying to say—don't let reality ruin the beauty. Your Corvette is like The Little Prince's rose. It's yours. There may be a lot like yours, but this one is yours. In addition, it is a Corvette. It is more beautiful than a Caprice and faster than an Impala and has better technology than a Corsica.

Uh . . . are any of these Cheerios lining up?

Drama queens
So . . . I'm not sure what I'm saying or how it's making your life any better by reading it, but that's real. You all know people for whom reality isn't dramatic enough. You'll hear them tell stories and you'll think how amazing and fascinating the events are they are describing. Then you'll hear the guy tell a story that you actually know about and you'll think "Wait a minute, that's not the way it went down."

You hear about the depression, and it was awful, but the people woke up in the morning and the sun was shining and they went on about their days.

I've told you that during Sodom and Gomorrah I'll guarantee you that a lot of people had no idea anything was going on. It's literary compression. The city was there and then God destroyed it and when people wrote about it 400 years later it was there one day and gone the next.

I told you how you can tell if a book is a true story—it's boring. Boring isn't exactly the right word, but in real life people don't get an image in their head of their little daughter and summon the will to deliver the death blow to the bad guy. In movies the rescue team figures out a way to get the hostages out just when the situation seems hopeless. In real life Ross Perot's team doesn't get them out, Carter just leaves office and the hostages are released and Ken Follet writes a book about it.

You turn on the news and hear about people getting shot it Iraq and think how horrible it would be to live there. How do you walk around from day to day without getting killed over there? Then the local news comes on and someone else got shot in West Valley City today and you load the dishwasher and put the cat out and go to bed.

I honestly have no idea what I'm trying to say here, but this started out as a continuation of the Allegory of the Pasture Fence. I think this may have started over a year ago when I learned something I really didn't want to know about someone I knew. You see druggies and pimps and crooks on TV shows and they are in there and you are out here . . . then you find out that out here you can't tell.

It's pretty obvious who the bad guys are on TV, but out here Hookers don't wear name tags and people who do drugs look a lot like the neighbor's smiling daughter.

There you go. A thousand words and I didn't say a thing.

Great minds . . . or not . . .
I was listening to an audiobook last night while doing other things, and the author was talking about how Einstein's mind worked. Einstein talked about how he came up with the concepts visually then struggled to lay out the words to describe what he understood. Combinatory play, he called it.

I'm no Einstein, but I know exactly what he means. I get things all sorted out in my head, but when I go to explain them . . . Of course, that never keeps me from writing down a whole lot of words about things I can't describe to you.

By the way (ADD moment) I don't buy that creativity is visual and completely divorced from language as Einstein says. The words or the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. I think the structure of language greatly informs the way we think. If you're interested I can send you an excellent article that supports that idea.

I have an image in my mind of the time I went to see Kim Peek, the savant who was part of the inspiration for the movie Rainman. Whenever he answered a question he'd take three different approaches at it before he completed a sentence. "What you need to remember . . . the people that went . . . back in 1966 . . . " His brain was so full and active that he had lots of angles competing for how to say something.

That's me. Not that I'm any kind of savant, but my corpus callosum isn't doing a very good job of keeping things from firing randomly across the hemispheres. I'm just walking around this to see if we can find a place to climb inside and explore it.

Hey, how come I have to do all the work? I can't figure this out, but that shouldn't keep you from solving the mystery from the bazillion disjointed analogies I throw out.

Oh, there is just one more thing . . .
This is just a continuation of the same thing as above, but I needed a break, so I'm sure you did, too.

What started out sounding like an appeal to "Keep it real," is actually just the opposite. It's an appeal to keep the magic. When you find out about Santa Claus you're wiser, but are you happier?

Here's what I think I mean . . .

Don't open your Christmas presents early. Preserve the magic. Don't take things that are special and make them vulgar, vulgar in the true meaning of the word, which is "common."

I'm not saying keep believing in Santa Claus, but I am saying keep believing in Christmas.

For those of you who don't get my fishing metaphors (Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs . . . never mind): Don't render the beautiful common and don't let reality distract from the beauty.

Okay, that's the end of that point, but I'm too lazy to insert another break. Besides, I said one more thing.

Remember when you watched Burt Reynolds in Hooper and he was so charming because he'd get drunk and make a mess all over the house? In real life people aren't charming when they're drunk and being a slob doesn't really make you likable. But it's fun and entertaining to watch, as long as you don't try the stuff in real life. (You'll recall we talked about this before years ago, only I used the slob from Revenge of the Nerds.)

So here's where this ties in to the pasture metaphor and the whole continuum of morality deal. You watch Burt Reynolds get in a bar fight and you are entertained because you know it's not real. Same thing with watching Simpsons. You laugh at Bart's rudeness even though in real life you'd break the kid's jaw before you even had a split second to think about it.

The tie to the pasture allegory is when people see you laugh and assume you approve. You don't. You wouldn't tolerate the behavior in real life, but that doesn't keep you from finding it funny.

In real life the behavior is sickening and disgusting, but you know it's not real life. That's part of what makes it entertaining—the fact that it's confined to movies. If someone asks me "How are you?" and I say "Devastatingly handsome," that's funny, 'cause I'm hideous. If George Clooney said it, it would be awkward.

So joking about threesomes or drunk driving or voting for a democrat is only funny when you talk about it, not when you do it in real life.

Fable of the porcupine
They say that no matter how beautiful and alluring a woman is, somewhere there is a man who is tired of putting up with her crap. While I was throwing this spaghetti at the wall I got an e-mail with this parable:
It was the coldest winter ever. Many animals died because of the cold. The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together to keep warm. This way they covered and protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions.

After a while, they decided to distance themselves one from the other and they began to die, alone and frozen. So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the Earth.

Wisely, they decided to go back to being together. They learned to live with the little wounds caused by the close relationship with their companions in order to receive the warmth that came from the others. This way they were able to survive.

Moral of the story: The best relationship is not the one that brings together perfect people, but when each individual learns to live with the imperfections of others and can admire the other person's good qualities.

The real moral of the story: Learn to live with the pricks in your life.

The viewpoints expressed in the previous fable do not necessarily reflect the views of the owners and operators of this blog.

People are flawed and it's a lonely person that can't live with human frailties in his friends. However, I think it's fair to judge a person by his associations. In fact, that's one of the better ways I can think of to assess someone.

Here's your reward
For sitting through that entire excruciating monologue you get a couple of cartoons (sorry, can't give you a star for your forehead over the internet).

Continued below
(Best viewed with a mind not clouded by the Kool-Aid)

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What to do until the Blog arrives

The Litter-ature novel is here. I update it regularly--every time Maite Schwartz tackles me and sticks her tongue in my ear.

Amazing Grace Choral Arrangement New!

Jordan's Eagle Project.

LoL Cartoons

Logic Primer

Duke Boys Car Chase

Pipe Intersections

Gymkhana Practice

Programmable Calendar

Compass Course Spreadsheet

Complete Orienteering Course Files Updated!

Things you may not know about Sarah Palin

Handy Units Conversion Utility

Amazing Grace on the Sax

Obama's Magic 8 Ball


The John Galt Society

It can be discouraging to look around at who's running the show these days and wonder "Where have all the grown-ups gone?"

Take heart. There are still some people who are not drinking the Kool-aid. Here's where to find them. I would suggest going gown this list every day and printing off the most recent articles you haven't read to read over lunch.

Michelle Malkin
Michelle Malkin is a feisty conservative bastion. You loved her book "Unhinged" and you can read her columns here.
Ann Coulter

Ann posts her new column every Thursday, or you can browse her past columns.
George Will
What can you say? It's George Will. Read it.
Charles Krauthammer posts every Friday. Just a good, smart conservative columnist.
If you want someone who gets it just as right, but is easier to read, try Thomas Sowell, who just posts at random times.
Jonah Goldbert seldom disappoints.
David Limbaugh carries on the family tradition.

Jewish World Review has all these guys plus lots more good stuff.

Or you can go to radio show sites like
 Laura Ingraham's or Glenn Beck's or Rush Limbaugh's..

If you'd like you can study The Constitution while you wait.

Then there's always TownHall.com, NewsMax.com, The Drudge Report, FreeRepublic.com, World Net Daily, (which Medved calls World Nut Daily), News Busters, or National Review Online.

For the Lighter Appetite

If you have to read the news, I recommend The Nose on Your Face, news so fake you'd swear it came from the Mainstream Media. HT to Sid for the link.
Or there's always The Onion. (For the benefit of you Obama Supporters, it's a spoof.)

Dave Barry's Column
Daryl Cagle's Index of Political Cartoons
About half of these cartoonists are liberal (Latin for wrong) but the art is usually good. (Fantastic, if you're used to the quality of art on this site.)

Or just follow the links above and to the right of this section (you can't have read all my archived articles already). If you have read all my articles (you need to get out more) go to my I'm Not Falling For It section.

Above all, try to stay calm. Eventually I may post something again.

Today's Second Amendment Message

Earlier Blogs

Pilot Error

Years ago I had a roommate who wanted to be a pilot. I had my private SEL license and a subscription to Flying magazine. My roommate would read the issues as they came out. In every issue they have a feature called "Aftermath" where they analyze an NTSB report on a recent crash or incident to see what they can learn. One day my roommate said in disgust "It's always 'pilot error.' What are they saying, that pilots are stupid?"

I had a contrasting viewpoint. Anytime I heard of an incident I searched for what the pilot had done wrong. The last thing I wanted was to climb onboard a plane with the idea that "This plane is going to kill me and there's not one thing I can do about it." In my ideal world every single thing that went wrong would have a "pilot error" cause. Pilot error I can control.

Remember how we chatted about choices vs. what you're born with? This is a continuation of that. The mechanical aspects of the airplane are what you're born with. All the rest is under control of a pilot.

We talked about how everything is a syndrome, that way you don't have to take responsibility for your behavior. So if Clinton is banging an intern, it's not his fault—he has a syndrome.

But think about it—the best way to insult someone is to excuse someone for something because they can't control it. "Don't worry that you can't bench 250—not everyone has good genetics." That backhanded compliment is the worst insult you can level at a thinking person. Nothing rankles someone like me more than being given a pass because it's something I can't affect.

What's that? Why, yes, I am a control freak, why do you ask?

Best cartoon yet on the Obama job "plan"

Is that horse still dead?
I bring this up because, as you recall, we were just chatting about Bill Clinton and how he couldn't be held responsible for his behavior. Last week I was at my whacko right-winger grass-roots Constitution study class and the topic of Bill Clinton came up. If I thought for a minute I could remember the context, 'cause it's probably somewhat relevant, but one good lady said "Well, I didn't like Bill Clinton because he was immoral."

I almost said something—I should have said something. It rankled me. There are a lot of reasons to hate Bill Clinton, and what he does with his boy parts is way way down the list.

Just in case you're new to Leany on Life, I'll clue you in. Monica Lewinsky was the best thing that ever happened to Bill Clinton because the event masked what a horrible choice he was to lead America. Monica Lewinsky was to Bill Clinton what the assassination was to JFK—it gives everyone the opening to say "Other than that, he could have been a great president."

There is no "Other than that." Had it not been for his failings as a human, Bill Clinton's failings as a leader would have been undeniably obvious.

Fences and pastures
You are on one side of a fence and can't see the fence on the other side of the next pasture—you don't know how far that next field extends. Maybe you're in a fog so you can't see, but for whatever reason you don't know how far the next pasture goes. That means you don't know how far anything on the other side of the fence might roam. There may be a fence just over the rise and your horses would be safe in there, even though it's not the pasture you're in.

Or that next field may continue into the woods and your horses could stray into mountain lions and rocks or cliffs or deep water. You just can't see. You do not know where the limits of the next field are.

Are you picturing that? Okay.

You don't drink. A person who does drink isn't necessarily a drunk, but that person and a drunk have something in common with each other that they don't have with you.

You aren't going to believe this, so it's safe to tell you. This blog is part of a secret government test to determine how long and circuitous an explanation has to be before you get lost. So help me screw up the government statistics and stick with me here . . .

You have the pasture metaphor. You have in your mind an image of a fence and then the next fence is unknown. Hold that in your head.

Now we're going to the gym. We're going to the gym where I'm working out, then I'm stopping to go to my gym bag to get out my headphones. I put in my earbuds and go back to working out. I don't have them plugged into my iPod, I just have them plugging my ears, because the crap they are playing on the overhead speakers is driving me crazy.

At the time I thought "Why would anyone actually choose to listen to that hideous noise? Why would someone intentionally subject themselves to that?"

I should have grabbed my iPod. I should have grabbed it just to record a scrap of the crap being played so you'd know what I'm talking about. It wasn't music. It had some things in common with music (the way a drinker has things in common with a drunk), but it wasn't music. It was noise. Not quite rap, but just random, meaningless words in rhythm. It was crap.

It seemed so clear to me. I could never have any respect for a person who chose to listen to that trash. Why in the world would anyone intentionally subject himself to that noise?

Then, I thought I heard an echo in my head from that statement. I repeated it again, and listened more closely for the echo.

It was the echo of a statement my close personal friend's wife made.

My close personal friend used to enjoy watching The Simpsons. But his wife hated it. She said that it stained her soul. She wondered how anyone could choose to pollute their soul by watching that kind of trash.

My CPF didn't see that—he didn't feel like it was polluting his soul or damaging his spirituality. But, as a gift to his wife, my close personal friend swore off watching The Simpsons for his New Year's resolution in 2000. Yeah, he's a sweetheart.

Anyway . . . how are we doing with that secret government test? You lost and confused yet? The point is that my close personal friend didn't see anything wrong with it. His wife was standing in a different pasture, and to her the idea of laughing at someone engaged in bad behavior was in the same pasture as engaging in bad behavior. To my close personal friend the idea was ridiculous. He didn't feel like he was an immoral person.

To his wife looking in it had implications beyond the visible.

I have no idea what I'm trying to say here. It seems too easy to just visualize it as a continuum, where people are at different places. To one side of me is my close personal friend's wife, who thinks watching Simpsons (and Family Guy and about a hundred other shows (many of which I agree with her on)) is immoral. To the other side of me are people who . . . well, there's quite a crowd to that side of me.

The continuum doesn't seem exactly comprehensive to me, but the idea that "It ain't wrong, it's just differ'nt" doesn't cover it for me either.

This may tie into the concept of how one generation feels about the music of another . . . just warning you.

Either way, I'm making no progress on the concept, so we're going to leave it here.

Don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet
I can't guarantee that I won't re-visit that topic sometime in the future. I really like to sort things out in such a way that I can diagram them and be done with them. That means that I spend my entire life in a state of divine discontent. I don't know that I've ever really figured anything out.

I should wait until I get things sorted out before I post them, but then I'd never post . . . oh, wait a minute . .

Dead horse warning
Back to my choices vs. what you're born with deal—yeah, I never really got straightened out on what I was trying to say on that one either . . .

Sometimes people do really bad things because they are mentally ill. I understand that. But it drives me completely batty to hear the words "Not guilty by reason of insanity."

Bull freaking crap. He's guilty. He's every bit as guilty, and he is insane. Makes no freaking difference on his guilt or innocence.

Oh, crap . . . I'm seeing a connecting strand developing to another topic here . . .

In my Thermodynamics textbook there was a statement about valid scientific laws yielding many equations from a few simple rules. There are three laws of thermodynamics. There are four semesters worth of very thick books that develop those three laws.

That may be why I'm always trying to sort things out . . . categorize and characterize and . . . . what? Why yes, as a matter of fact I probably am technically functionally insane, why do you ask?

To anyone else just knowing a billion rules like "Never trust a banker who drives an economy car" is good enough, but to me it seems like you should be able to categorize them and organize them and come up with a half dozen valid laws that all of those billion little nuggets fall under at some level . . .

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .


Moving on
Okay, let's get on to general people bashing, which I'm not too bad at.

I'm driving into the airport and a guy in a yellow vest kinda' steps out from the curb and moves his hands in a downward motion . . . "Oh, crap, yes, I am going a little fast." He holds up both hands, fingers extended, indicating that the speed limit is 10 mph. I give him a thumbs up signal while I'm slowing down, a little embarrassed that I had to be reminded.

I pull over and legally park at the curb with the other cars and watch the terminal doors for my wife who just called saying she was by the baggage claim.

A white Dodge truck pulls up, right in the traffic lanes, stops and shuts off its motor. Right in the middle of the traffic lanes.

It kind of occurred to me that behavior is typically controlled by social pressures, which is to say there's really not a lot you can do about ***holes who choose to behave badly unless you're willing to just bust some skulls or call the cops. Typically the social compact requires that you understand your responsibility (as I did when I was speeding) and feel some kind of responsibility toward others.

I had a class from George Pace once and he said that he had come to the conclusion that what we are ultimately judged on has a lot to do with how we feel about things. I understood it when he said it, but I've always struggled to explain it to others.

How we feel about things is who we are. It's often manifested in our behavior, but it's who we are. We can act in a way we don't feel, but how we feel is who we are. I gave the guy who corrected me at the airport a thumbs up—I felt embarrassed that he had to tell me I was inconveniencing and endangering other people. Someone else might have given him a different hand gesture. That's what I mean by how we feel about things.

That's why I'm not ready to abandon the continuum model of the pasture metaphor.

You know society is in trouble when there's a shift in how people feel; when people give the finger instead of the thumb to someone who's reminding them of their responsibility as a member of society.

We have problems when a person feels "Woo-hoo, I got away with not paying rent" instead of "Omigosh, I'm so embarrassed that I got behind on the rent."

So a lot of bad behavior there's not really much we can do about. This ties in to pasture metaphor—how far is the enforcement willing to go, how far is the violator willing to go? But if you had any interest in the idea you've already headed down that road.

Speaking of renters
My close personal friend was ripped off this summer by a pile of excrement in the vague shape of a renter. She considered it a personal triumph to achieve wrecking a house and getting away with staying there rent free for four months. I guess if you're going to have aspirations they might as well be some you can achieve.

My CPF is thrilled to have her gone. The money isn't going to make a difference one way or another to him, but he still got a judgment against her for the money she owes. He was wondering why he did that. Just looking across his pasture at that house without that pile of crap in it is worth ten times what she stole from him, but he still felt compelled to pursue the debt. And he wondered why.

It occurred to him that he cannot take an "oh well" attitude toward evil. If he wants any credibility with telling his kids not to tolerate evil, he can't very well take the attitude that "Oh, well, there will always be evil people, and not much I can do about it."

"Oh, hell no!" is more his attitude.

And you know what? I happen to feel exactly the way my close personal friend feels on that topic.

One more
. . . then I promise I'll quit.

You know the deal, whenever a politician gets caught doing something wrong he has a choice. Do I plead evil or stupid? It happened with Weiner, it happened with Hillary, it happens all the time. Typically they choose "stupid." Omigosh I had no idea (I was supposed to pay taxes on that income). Ronald Reagan is the standout in that. He took the blame for the Iran-Contra affair partially to cover up the fact that he really didn't know what was going on in his organization. But that's a story for another boring session.

I wish I'd taken better notes when I thought of this, but knowledge opens you to judgment—to responsibility. It's the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Stupid insulates you from the higher judgment.

When you know, then you're responsible. See the strand that ties into the insanity defense? When you know you have to pay taxes, then you have moved to a higher realm.

Trust me, this made a lot more sense when I was trimming the overhanging branches on the east side of my house and the concept popped into my head. If only I had some small electronic device that I always carry that I could have used to immediately record my thoughts . . .

How stupid of me . . .

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