What went wrong…

The waiting room of my physiotherapist has a stack of books on the table. None of which I would ever read, and I suspect neither would he, which is why they have been relegated to this purgatory zone of pre- and post pain. My foot, although mostly healed up and unfractured is still very stiff and range deficient. Which is why I am here…

I quite like my physio, although I see him less these days because I’m not fighting anymore. He’s a nominal Czech. I suppose in the same way that I am a nominal German, but deeply Africanized (like the honey bee). He trades stocks in his spare time and has all these investment properties in Prague. I LOVE Prague. So we have lots to talk about..

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In any event one of the books on the table is Hillary Clinton’s ‘What went wrong’. I pick it up (for a laugh), the spine cracks audibly as I open it, I think its the first time anyone has peered within. I thumb through it without enthusiasm though before putting it down again. Ergh!

I have my own Hillary Clinton story. Well… kinda.

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I’m not entirely sure when this was. She was Secretary of State… so… whats that, like six or seven years ago maybe.

I was on my way to work. (in Johannesburg) While early, the sun was up so it must have been summer. I was waiting at the traffic lights at this major intersection near my house so that I could get onto the highway.

Suddenly this police van comes screeching up into the intersection and comes to halt. A couple of policemen get out, body armored and assault rifled. The lights change, but no one makes a move. The policemen are herding the hawkers (that sell knickknacks like cell-chargers, and knock off Ray-bans etc to passing motorists) off to one side and telling them to get lost. This seems quite heavy handed for by-law enforcement I muse, but okay. One hawker is getting cheeky, he’s mouthing off at one of the policemen near me and is jovially walking backwards away from him, laughing and joking. The policeman is not happy about this and eventually unfurls his assault rifle from about his personage and clicks out the folding stock. I suddenly get the very real sense that this hawker is very much misreading the situation here…

The policeman stops and makes as if to turn and walk back to his fellows. He turns back suddenly and cracks the hawker with the stock of his rifle.

Hawker goes down. Between this cop and another cop they drag him and deposit him not particularly kindly into the back of their police van. The policemen get the traffic going again and I merge with the freeway traffic.

I’m still a little shell shocked from what I’ve just seen. It takes me a while to notice that there aren’t any cars coming in the opposite direction on the freeway. Odd. Then I see the convoy. The madcap motorcade. (maybe twenty vehicles, plus bikes)

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Its only later that I find out its Hillary Clinton. She would have taken that off ramp to get to where she was going. They had obviously decided that informal traders and their kind were some sort of security threat.

I mean she had nothing to do with it. That was all local dynamics.

Still, I thought it was interesting.

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My physio walks into the waiting room. ‘Hey Jo’. I hold up the book, eyebrow arched. ‘My brother in law, thinks he’s funny’, he says, ‘come through’.

Paper or plastic

This would likely be me…

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…if I actually had any cash. I can’t even remember the last time I used an ATM. In fact, in modernity, I feel irrevocably inconvenienced if I can’t just ‘tap’ for payments. Do you know how dirty money is?

Also I look forward to my shopping experience soon to be entirely devoid of human interaction. Admittedly when they are gone I will likely post about the ‘good old days’ when a ‘person’ bagged your groceries and someone engaged with you at the point of sale and (albeit just a pointless social dynamic) asked you ‘how you were doing’…

… and if you’re the crazy cashier at my local butcher ask if she can use your online betting profile to put money down on the horses. Apparently she’s been banned… I made the mistake of engaging her after my curiosity was piqued. I worry that she feels we have become familiar. Or perhaps even worse that our brief interactions have given her the impression that I would even have an online betting profile. She smiles at me in a manner that suggests she could make it worth my while and then adjusts some of her purple fringe back behind her ear.

I let her down gently…. by telling her I’m a Mormon. My go-to example for channelling morality. Well… this is more my L’esprit de l’escalier moment later (in the car)… dammit I should have said I was a Mormon. Being Mormon must be a great ‘get out of jail free card’ when your co-workers want to engage in some or other disreputable behaviour after work. If people know you’re an atheist they often just assume you’re basically ‘good-to-go’ for anything and everything. (while also imagining you twist the heads off bunnies in your spare time)

Notice how I didn’t go with Catholicism (theoretically my area of expertise) as my moral high ground… ha ha. Rectitude isn’t really their strong suit anymore. Although you could likely make the argument that things have been on a downward trajectory since the first crusade.

In any event, the time is coming when my raging misanthropy, introversion and bacteriophobia will all be sufficiently dulled by technological advancement. I might even start to enjoy this consumerism malarkey.

Yay new experiences yay.

Vegetables. And stuff.

As we’ve seen, this isn’t always the case. Often people who commit terrible acts are empathetic and caring in other parts of their lives. One manifestation of this, often pointed out by those who want to mock vegetarians, was the concern that many Nazi’s had for non-human animals. Hitler famously loved dogs and hated hunting, but this was nothing compared to Hermann Goring, who imposed rules restricting hunting, the shoeing of horses and the boiling of lobsters and crabs – and mandated that those who violated these rules be sent to concentration camps! (This was the punishment that he imposed on a fisherman for cutting up a live frog for bait). Or take Joseph Goebbels who said, ‘The only real friend one has in the end is the dog… the more I get to know the human species, the more I care for my Benno’. 

– Against Empathy, the case for rational compassion by Paul Bloom.

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There’s a… I want to to say Vegetarian… but now that I think about it… it might not be 100% that way inclined, having, as of yet, not perused the entire menu… lets go with; there’s a mostly vegetarian restaurant that’s opened up near my daughters school. Their neighbor is a Zero waste grocer.  (I think they’re owned by the same person)

I’ve always taken a quite a dim view of vegetarians (mostly because of their fanaticism… that is until I met a Vegan in real life, ha ha). Even though my wife was a vegetarian when we met. (I turned her to the dark side of omnivorous-ness… kinda… she eats chicken now… a pariah to her former caste).

In any event, I think the liminal moment for me was when I was forced to go to a Vegan restaurant for a birthday once. It was a buffet lunch which, initially I thought must be a survivable experience. But everything I picked was grim and bland and just generally awful. And trust me on this when I say I am not a fussy eater, having eaten raw-horse meat and chicken testicles and water beetles all manner of eyeballs in China.

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I sat there picking listlessly at the vegan spread before me… it all so joyless. (I really like eating… its like my favorite thing… admittedly I have never tried heroin… or been given a blowjob while someone is gently massaging my prostate while whispering in my ear how amazingly ripped I am… I realize their are gaps in my life experience checklist)

I don’t really have a problem with killing and eating other creatures. I appreciate that I come from a long line of killers and my lineage is one of death and destruction. And while I appreciate that now, in modernity, I have the capacity (both cognitively and practically) to eat cruelty free and (to some degree) with less death there is a conscious decision being made not to. Because well… <insert good reason here when I think of one later>.

Also, I guess, there may be some ethical considerations now to eating with more… whats the word I’m looking for, fastidiousness, lest you are, as the epigram goes, part of the problem instead of the solution. (in a planetary demise and ecology sense)

Its been pointed out that I wouldn’t kill and eat my dog. Which is fair, because the basset hound is old now… and you’d likely have to slow roast him for hours to make him even remotely palatable. And the German Shepherd… well I kinda like her. I’d feel weird about about eating her. But… while I have never hunted before I could likely see myself hunting a whitetail or an elk… and eating it, for example. (I despise trophy hunters… but I’m okay with the concept of hunting for sustenance and resource management).

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While this is not a redemption story… or some sort of moral epiphany… god… I can’t even spell epiphany… (I eventually had to right click on it).

I think I just want to say that I’ve eaten at this place three times now. And each time the food was *#@$en amazing!

And cheap! How are all vegetarians not millionaires?

 

(vaguely I wonder if I should add somewhere that is post is combative satire, and that I love both vegetarians and vegans. You guys are amazing)

 

If you meet the Buddha…

I’ve probably mentioned this before somewhere, I am loathed to recommend ‘If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!’ by Sheldon B. Kopp to anyone because its… well it was a tough read, for me anyway. (admittedly I am stupid, so there’s that). It also, paging through it last night, feels a little dated now. But mostly I imagine its one of those very subjective books that requires the reader to be in a particular head-space to derive in any real value from it. Otherwise its likely to be a largely wtf experience…

Still, this is one of my favorite passages in my dog-eared heavily underlined copy that I transcribe now for posterity

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Whether pilgrim or wayfarer, while seeking to be taught the Truth, the disciple learns only that there is nothing that anyone else can teach him. He learns, once he is willing to give up being taught, that he already knows how to live, that it is implied in his own tale. The secret is that there is no secret. 

Everything is just what it seems to be. This is it! There are no hidden meanings. Before he is enlightened, a man gets up each morning to spend the day tending his fields, returns home to eat his supper, goes to bed, makes love to his woman and falls asleep. But once he has attained enlightenment, then a man gets up each morning to spend the day tending his fields, returns home to eat his supper, goes to bed, makes love to his woman and falls asleep. 

The Zen way to see the truth is through your everyday eyes. It is only the heartless questioning of life-as-it-is that ties a man in knots. A man does not need an answer in order to find peace. He needs only to surrender to his existence, to cease the needless, empty questioning. The secret of enlightenment is when you are hungry, eat; and when you are tired, sleep.

The Zen master warns: ‘If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!’ This admonition points up that no meaning that comes from outside of ourselves is real. The Buddhahood of each of us has already been obtained. We need only recognize it. Philosophy, religion, patriotism, all are empty idols. The only meaning in our lives is what we each bring to them. Killing the Buddha on the road means destroying the hope that anything outside of ourselves can be our master. No one is any bigger than anyone else. There are no mothers or fathers for grown-ups, only sisters and brothers.

Cato-nomics

I read about… ten or so books at a time. Because well… I get bored quite easily and my ability to retain information and remain focused is… (lets be kind) probably below average. So I remedy this by reading a chapter here, there. Then taking a break for a while. Reading something else. Skipping ahead. Eating a sandwich. Any bibliophile (or anyone with an IQ over 100) would likely find my process quite nauseating.

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In my defense some books I read over and over again (Not the Catcher in the Rye*) until their spines falls apart.

* 1. I am not that cerebral 2. complete lack of pictures 3. apparently reading this particular book repeatedly is a serious precursor to other things… and I don’t think I’m quite there yet.

I also commit other literary faux-pas’s by judging books by their covers… and (often) by either the dedication or the quotation.

I recently picked up a book about the Boer war Commandos. Inside the cover was a quote.

Victrix causa – Diis placuit – Seo victa catoni

If the victor has the gods on his side, then the vanquished had Cato (morality) on theres. – Pharsalia, Book 1:128 by Lucan

I really liked this (and so ended up buying the book).

I am a sucker for Cato (who seems to be continuously quoted by libertarian (and stoic) types… for example Cato: A Tragedy was performed to the American Continental army encamped in Valley Forge, and

Do Thou Great Liberty Inspire our Souls, — And make our Lives in Thy Possession happy, — Or, our Deaths glorious in Thy Just Defence 

Also from Cato appeared on the masthead of Isaiah Thomas’s Massachusetts Spy. This particular quote gets me moist every single time. Moist in my eyes I mean. Moist in other places would be weird.

I’m not very far into it yet. So far the Boers are winning.

JoJo

My namesake. Double barreled. Its was always going to get a click out of me.

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Is seventy four years long enough to start making fun of something? Will we one day make a humorous musical about 9/11?

What are they on about I wondered…

I laughed. Then I watched it again. I still laughed. Damn.

How did this get pitched to studio executives I mused?

Then I showed it to my parents, who are both hardcore Germans. My old man especially ticks every one of the stereotype check boxes. They both grew up in the aftermath of that whole human debacle. My mother as a refugee and my dad living out his youth in the firebombed remains of Hamburg and subsisting off baked beans.

They found it less amusing. (to put it mildly)

Turns out Taika Waititi, directed Thor Ragnarok. Which is, and there are about a gazillion to choose from now, my favorite of the MCU movies. I really enjoyed it.

I am not always a fan of dark and irreverent humor though. I was recently excited to watch the Dave Chappelle Sticks and stones Netflix special. It had been so utterly slammed by the mainstream media that I imagined THIS must be right up my alley. After grinding it out for thirty minutes I couldn’t take it anymore, I was soooo bored, with barely an elicited chuckle. Which put me in the awkward position of having to agree with the Woke and progressive left. Albeit it for different reasons. Which begs the question, why am I amused by JoJo Rabbit and not Dave Chappelle?

Maybe I’m just difficult to please. Or flaky. Probably more the latter. I am interested in watching JoJo Rabbit though. Even if that means pushing some of the concerns I have to the back of my mind. Compartmentalization. That’s how I roll.

Green juice equivalency

I’m back. Eh… from outer space. Sorta. Having just achieved the digital equivalent of a green-juice enema. Or whatever the current Goop detox methodology is in vogue at the moment. I must say, my bowels are feeling loose and well lubricated… and ready for the sphincter puckering experience that is the internet. Once more into the breach.  (that may… or may not be a pun.. lets leave it open ended)

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Sometimes the internet just feels like the root of all woe. Probably because it likely is. And woe needs to be treated like the gangrenous appendage it is!! He says, poking at his screen with his newly hewn stump. (but masterfully tapered so as to easily accept a prosthetic… like maybe a Bear Claw… eh.. not the Danish. he added, after considerable thought…)

God I love pastry.

And bread.

Having now been thoroughly sidetracked with ambrosia-otic imaginings… I can’t remember exactly where I was going with all of this. But… if we just take the modus operandi of essentially every post I’ve ever written its likely safe to assume it wasn’t going anywhere profound anyway. In fact it probably teetered down an alley before passing out… not even having the courtesy to crawl into a cardboard box first. God, why could you have not given me wisdom and understanding and the ability to express that knowledge in written narrative *sigh*…  instead of this huge penis?

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Do you ever get the feeling the internet is making you miserable? I’ve become dimly aware that there may be some sort of psychological attrition thing going on every time I open my browser… so I brutally disconnected myself for a couple of days. And… in all honesty, I did feel better for a while.

Eventually FOMO got the better of me and I mainlined r/libertarian for an hour. Which is basically the self-harming equivalent of burning yourself. With an oxyacetylene torch. On your scrotum.

In any event, I’m fully ‘cogged’ back into the machine. There is no redress for someone like me anymore. There is only through. Hopefully you missed me. (I don’t even mind so much if you lie to me). I missed you. And that’s all that really matters.