December 2nd, 2017

Saturday afternoon reflections

I’ve just posted a piece with a length of close to 2400 words.

It occurs to me that that’s the equivalent of the term papers I used to write in school. And it also occurs to me—not for the first time—that for some strange reason I’ve voluntarily taken on the task of disgorging that sort of thing with some regularity.

It took me about three hours to squeeze that particular one out. Well, I can console myself that it used to take me a lot longer to write those term papers—sometimes, anyway; I also had a bad habit of writing them last-minute and under pressure.

But on occasion I wonder why I’m doing this. I’m not saying that to solicit comments like “Oh, we appreciate it so much!” from my readers (although I value such comments, of course, as I value my readers). But I mean something deeper: what drives me to digest and then spit out my own commentary on events so many others are talking about, too? In my—let’s just call them mature years—why do I feel the need to pipe up and add my voice to the larger chorus?

After all, it’s Saturday. I’ve got a lot of other things I could be doing. I’ve got a lot of other things I should be doing. So, why did I just write a term paper?

Well, I’m interested. I’m reading about the story anyway, and as I read I get more and more curious. The more I read, the more thoughts I generate. The more thoughts I generate, the more connections I see.

Sometimes those connections don’t seem to have been made by other people writing on the topic, and so I want to make them.

I want to make them for myself, to clarify my own thoughts on the matter. I find that when I can do that, I can often take future stories that relate to the same event and put them into a framework of knowledge so they make more sense. I guess I’m just a curious person who likes to make as much sense of the world as I can, although I realize I’m never going to achieve the kind of understanding I’d like.

But I’m not just doing it for myself. I’m putting it out there in the world, too. And if I reach people, that’s even better. I don’t reach millions or hundreds of thousands, but I reach more people this way than if I was just mulling it all over in my metaphoric garret (I used to have an actual garret, but now I work in my kitchen, which doubles as an office).

There’s also a slight element of OCD. We’ll leave it at that.

So folks, happy Saturday! Hope your weather is better than mine. Not a whole lot of sun here, although the snows haven’t come yet. And we’re nearing the earliest sunset of the year, which occurs on one of the next few days depending on where you’re located. Then it all starts to turn around again, and I look forward to that day.

21 Responses to “Saturday afternoon reflections”

  1. parker Says:

    East Iowa weather report: It was a beautiful day with mild temperatures, deep blue sky with wispy clouds, and dead leaves making music in the wind. The photo at top is serene.

  2. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    I do the same thing and for the same reasons. I’m sure lots of other people do too.

    Here on the Central East coast of Florida, I’m wishing for fall. Today’s high was 79… too warm for December.

  3. J.J. Says:

    Back in the 1990s, just after I retired, I had much I wanted to say. Stories that I wanted to tell. Insights I believed I had achieved. I bought a computer for the word processing capability. And began writing. Joined a writer’s group, wrote a trio of books (One I self published, the other two are on a computer disc – 🙁 ), and then, shortly after 9/11/2001, I learned about blogs. I began commenting on blogs and found it a great way to write and learn. If I could assemble all the blog comments I have made over the past 16 years the number of words would probably astound me. For several years I commented frequently on many different blogs.

    Two years ago I began having health problems. I had two serious surgeries and developed wet macular degeneration. The treatments for the macular degeneration are helping me to be able to continue to read and write, but with difficulty. The surgeries have taken a lot out of me. My energy levels and enthusiasm are much lower than before. Writing this comment is taking me a long time and a lot of energy. So, I don’t comment anywhere except here now because it is the blog where I feel most comfortable and where I’ve developed an affection for the tone of decency and good sense that prevails.

    Sadly, I can see the day ahead when I will no longer be able to comment and then no longer able to even read. That will be a sad day for me, but it is the path we are all on. We are mortal. I can’t complain, though. I’ve had a good run and intend to try to make the most of my declining years.

    So, Neo, write and share your ideas and insights. The world needs a blog like yours. Maybe now more than ever.

  4. neo-neocon Says:

    J.J.:

    Sorry to hear about your wet macular degeneration. But I’m glad you’re still commenting here, even if it does take extra effort.

    By the way, my mother had wet macular degeneration, particularly in one eye. She started taking some sort of vitamins or something that was supposed to help. Anyway, for whatever reason, her wet macular degeneration halted in its tracks, although it had been progressing prior to that.

    I don’t know whether that has any relevance to you. There are many formulas; I think hers was this one.

  5. steve walsh Says:

    We are social creatures, we need to interact, to interpret, to engage, to share, to listen. It need not be any more complicated than that. Your perspective is unique, as is mine and all the others that comment here, and valuable. Otherwise I wouldn’t continue visiting and reading.

  6. Griffin Says:

    They seem to have done wonders with the treatment of macular degeneration in recent years. My mom pretty much lost one eye to it about 15 years ago and then about 6-7 years ago she got the wet in her other eye but thanks to shots of Avastin (I think that’s what it’s called) every couple months she still has her vision in that eye.

    I try to remind myself sometimes how fortunate we are to be living now with all the medical advancements that were beyond our reach a few short years ago.

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    Griffin:

    Wow, that’s great to hear. My mother got it around 15 years ago and they tried something but it made it worse. It’s not a method they use anymore. Glad to hear they’ve come out with better things.

  8. J.J. Says:

    Neo, my eye doctor has me on Bausch and Lomb PreserVision AREDS 2 Eye Vitamin & Mineral Supplement with Lutein and Zeaxanthin. Additionally, every two months I have an injection in my eye of Eylea, a med that encourages new blood vessel growth in the macula. So far the injections have somewhat reversed the progress of the disease. Yeah! This medicine is fairly new and the doctor is following my progress very carefully to chart the efficacy and side effects.

  9. neo-neocon Says:

    J.J.:

    Glad to hear that.

  10. AesopFan Says:

    First of all, that was a beautiful picture., and very restful

    As for the substance of the post, this resonated with me:
    “Well, I’m interested. I’m reading about the story anyway, and as I read I get more and more curious. The more I read, the more thoughts I generate. The more thoughts I generate, the more connections I see.

    Sometimes those connections don’t seem to have been made by other people writing on the topic, and so I want to make them.

    I want to make them for myself, to clarify my own thoughts on the matter. ”

    I sometimes put off reading too many stories on a subject until I have formulated some theories, made some connections, possibly some predictions — and then see if any of it is validated elsewhere.

    This blog is very valuable for all of that. Thanks for letting us be part of the process.

    PS as a former PoliSci labbie (I do have my MA in the field) and computer programming instructor, your term papers are definitely A++ and I wish I had seen ones that good in the past — and turned them out myself.

    “In my—let’s just call them mature years—why do I feel the need to pipe up and add my voice to the larger chorus?”

    Education is wasted on the young — and I am firmly of the opinion, and have been since grad school, that no one under the age of 40 should be allowed to major in philosophy; they just don’t know enough about life and people to make any sense.

  11. bdh Says:

    Cold, dreary and wet in the upper part of NW Washington. Just as we like it this time of year.
    I always value your posts Neo. We have such vastly different backgrounds, yet somehow had the same right-ward conversion.
    Although I have only once been to a New York musical play, and never to a ballet, and probably never will, I enjoy your heartfelt enthusiasm and reminiscence of your child-hood joy. It is a uniquely good sharing of what means to you.
    I often ponder what we did as a country to deserve these Obama/Trump years. Ying/Yang, old testament tribulation, random dice roll that gets snake eyes twice, I have no idea really. But thanks for posting on the current and the retro, whatever your interest.

  12. The Other Chuck Says:

    The snow level is dropping to 3,000′ in the northern Sierra tonight as a weak cold front moves through. It’s been a cold rain this evening at the 2,500′ level where I live. The dog is laying down in front of the wood stove, and I’m here at 1:00 AM catching up on the latest from Neo who is that rare person without a closed mind, and enjoying the comments of the intelligent people who follow her.

  13. Yackums Says:

    AesopFan,

    Reading your last paragraph, I finished the sentence in my head before I read it, “that no one under the age of 40 should be allowed to attend a university” and was nodding to myself in agreement.

    And stop all financial aid. You want to go to university? Pay for it yourself out of the income you’ve earned over the last 20 years doing actual productive work.

  14. Tom G Says:

    Dearest Neo Neo Neo — I love reading your posts, your thoughts, I look at many of your videos.
    I came to be a LiberConservative from the Libertarians, but it was a conversion.

    Here’s an offer I wish somebody else would make that you would accept:

    Collect all your posts for 2016-2017, and put them into a book that you self-publish. Maybe 2 books? Too long for a book / no video? Produce an actual book on paper with some articles’ first 2 paragraphs only, only link and title for video. But in the eVersion of the book, the full articles and hyperlinks.

    Chapter 0 as prologue – predictions from prior year. Chapter 13 as conclusion, best & worst, maybe a list of favorite somethings; plus thoughts for next year.

    I really wish I could do this for you, but I’m too busy at work and with 4 kids and a wife I love so much, but if you ask, I’d guess some others would volunteer.

    I decided to mostly stop blogging, despite being interested and having insights that I didn’t see others making; but the writing to help clarify what I really think was good. I also fear that my honest views are too PC hostile for my already limited working career (sad), so they wait for few more years until retirement freedom.

    I’m pretty sure Jordan B Peterson will become more talked about and more influential, as some are beginning to attack him but I see him as telling a data-based reality truth that is pretty powerful.

    I’d guess if you start publishing books, you’d become more influential, more would read you, more would comment, it would be less comfy here… 1000 comments on Scott Adams’ blog is not really a community.

    I don’t know how many “bloggified” books have been tried. I believe most won’t be successful. I believe yours over the last two years, about the Trump campaign & first year, would be moderately successful and get you more invites to write / talk elsewhere. Which you could refuse, or take, if you wanted.

  15. Frog Says:

    JJ-
    I am afraid you have it wrong. Wet macular degeneration is caused by a proliferation of small blood vessels beneath the macula. The macula itself is part of the retina, the innermost layer of cells in the globe of the eye. Exudates from the abnormal blood vessel overgrowth (think of these vessels as leaky, which is the origin of the exudates) impedes normal macular photoreception.

    I am not an eye doc. But I believe inhibition of new blood vessel growth is the essence of treatment.

    I regret to observe that vitamins and the like treat the patient, not the WMD.

  16. Ruth H Says:

    I opened comments to say I too have a compulsion to write comments and a blog. I no longer do essay type but just post the same links and comments I sent to around 70 people.
    I no longer do it on a daily basis. Time has caught up with me and my body so I have slowed down considerably. My mind has not and I watch with dismay while my country seems on a collision course to go marxist and I cannot stop it.

    But I am encouraged with the comments. I too, have macular degeneration. I take lutein and Zeaxanthin, and I have for quite a few years, one eye is doing well, the other one is not so well, but I am in no way blind. I do read on Kindle and computer because books just aren’t easy on my eyes. Much good information posted here making for some good questions I can ask my ophthalmologist. Thank you for your blog and for that.

  17. AesopFan Says:

    Yackums Says:
    December 3rd, 2017 at 7:13 am

    And stop all financial aid. You want to go to university? Pay for it yourself out of the income you’ve earned over the last 20 years doing actual productive work.
    * * *
    I’ll vote for that.
    The only exception might be the super-genius math and science types, who typically do their best work in their late teens/early twenties through thirties, and go downhill after that — downhill being only relative to geniuses, as their valleys are still higher than most people’s peaks.

    They are identifiable, however, and at the moment are more in danger of being shut out of university by the unready and unwilling and unable.

    I would also support a Constitutional amendment limiting elected positions to people who have had an honest (non-political, non-governmental) job for 20 years prior to running for office.

  18. Pastafarian Says:

    Neoneo, I know you’re not trying to generate comments like this, but:

    Thank goodness that writers like you do continue to write long-form essays in blogs like this. And thank you for your work.

    Why do you do it? Maybe putting your thoughts out in written form like this helps you to organize your thoughts and work things out more deeply than you can without stating them. I know writing things out sometimes helps me to do this.

  19. LindaF Says:

    Well.

    Several things come to mind after reading this post (and comments – wonderful comments).

    I also use blog posts (my own) to work out what I think about a topic/issue. It’s not unusual for me to start a post, then abandon it when I realize that I have little or nothing to add to the noise.

    The writing – I didn’t take myself seriously for a long time; I’d dip a toe into a novel, then drop it. Only as I neared retirement did I plunge into writing books with a zest. I finished the first (still being revised), and plan to publish in the spring. I’m working out my second – slow going, as it is a more complicated story, and I’m still working out the structure.

    I’d no idea that MD was so common. I feel blessed that I’ve got as good vision as I do.

  20. J.J. Says:

    Frog: “I am not an eye doc. But I believe inhibition of new blood vessel growth is the essence of treatment.”

    You are no doubt correct. Here’s what I read on WebMD:
    “The goal of treatment is to shrink these abnormal blood vessels growing underneath the retina, Dr. Rubaltelli says. This is done with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapy, the most effective treatment for wet AMD. VEGF is a substance that helps the body to grow new blood vessels. Attacking VEGF when you have wet AMD helps stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels.”

    It stops the growth of abnormal blood vessels and helps the body grow new blood vessels. Seems contradictory, but my understanding of the process is only what I read. My doctor is not big on explaining what he’s doing. Nice fellow but very closed-mouthed.

  21. Ben David Says:

    The Talmud goes from 24 volumes to just 4 volumes when the arguments are removed, and the law is summarized. My years in Jewish seminaries was spent wrangling over texts with a study partner in the morning, before the lesson with our teacher – which usually was equally contentious (or at least multilateral…)

    So the idea of speaking one’s mind – and of a rough-and-tumble exchange of ideas – is natural to me as a Jew and as an American.

    And now that I’m an Israeli – whoo boy, those guys and gals in the Knesset are certainly upholding our tradition of combative debate…

    Encroaching, heavy-handed political correctness has made this even more clear to me – and the freedom to speak more dear. There is an obvious connection between the rise of blogging – and other end-runs around top-down mass media – and the Left’s increasingly frenzied attempts to impose their orthodoxy, to shore up their status as cultural gatekeepers.

    So please do keep blogging!

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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