On a more serious note, Van Gogh.

Today is July the 29th.

My father who passed last year in August was born on this day in 1941. This is his first missed birthday, and it has me pensive.

Vincent van Gogh died on this date in 1890. He had shot himself in the chest in a wheat field two days before, and he managed to make it home to his own bed. When he was found, he allegedly said, “I shot myself … I only hope I haven’t botched it.”

Clearly he had.

All he would tell police was, “What I have done is nobody else’s business. I am free to do what I like with my own body.” I couldn’t agree more, despite the ill advised choice. The doctor atypically decided not to remove the bullet, and his brother Theo was sent for. Theo rushed from Paris to his brother’s bedside and reported Vincent’s last words were “The sadness will go on forever.”

I grok you Vincent.

Van Gogh’s friend and fellow painter Emile Bernard wrote about the funeral:

“The sun was terribly hot outside. We climbed the hill outside Auvers talking about him, about the daring impulse he had given to art, of the great projects he was always thinking about, and about the good he had done to all of us. We reached the cemetery, a small new cemetery strewn with new tombstones. It is on the little hill above the fields that were ripe for harvest under the wide blue sky that he would still have loved … perhaps.

Then he was lowered into the grave. … Anyone would have started crying at that moment … the day was too much made for him for one not to imagine that he was still alive and enjoying it …”

“Experts” have argued over the exact nature of Vincent’s mental illness for nearly a century, variously blaming schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, paint poisoning, and syphilis.

His condition, whatever it was, was probably made worse by insomnia, overwork, malnutrition, and drink. I know mine is. He was virtually unknown at the time of his death, and is now one of the most recognized artists of any period. That’s why that damned Doctor Who episode HURTS SO MUCH!!! Even today.

This may be why Vincent’s art is so bound up with the public perception of him as a struggling, tormented, even tragic artist that it’s nearly impossible for most people to separate his work from his myth. I feel the work exists to spite the life. Screw you life! In death I am loved forever.

Or at least through the 21st century, which can always find the roots of what is considered truly important to be buried deep into the fertile soil of the 19th.

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Geeks and nerds have the best questions.

The phrase of the day is:

“The chicken and the egg are trapped in the box with Schrodinger’s cat.”

Although a close second is this truncated headline:

“Doctor Who saved man’s life wearing a bikini goes viral!”

Which is actually:

“A doctor, who saved a man’s life while wearing a bikini, goes viral.”

Punctuation, and words, are important.

Although I was briefly excited by the idea of Doctor Who saving the life of all mankind while wearing a bikini. Though I was unsure as to which incarnation of the Doctor it might be.

William Hurt (The War Doctor) in a bikini, for instance, seems unlikely.

But anything is possible.

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Bringing back the funk

As I descend, once again, into the quagmire of depressive funk that I call my summer home. I am reminded that we, as Americans, were once theoretically promised Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

But, as Starship Troopers reminds us (the book, not the movie) no one can promise life as a right.

Liberty isn’t a right either, it must be fought for and won.

You can however pursue happiness all you want, and no one can take that right away from you. It truly is inalienable.

…but, there was never any guarantee that you will catch it.

Which is why I try to remember what Roberson Davies once said:

“Happiness is always a by-product. It is probably a matter of temperament, and for anything I know it may be glandular. But it is not something that can be demanded from life, and if you are not happy you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness.”

Also this

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Personal History

On this day, July 27th in 2016,

This stupid conversation happened at the Robot Farm (where we farm for robots and not where robots farm).

Morning stupids

“Booyah”…..someone says, but terribly unenthusiasticly.

Booyah? I say.

Which gets no response so I expand upon it and say…

Booyah Guam?


Like Chewing Guam, but you can blow booyahs with it.


You know…..Hoobah Booyah, Booyah Yoom, Booyahliscious, Beg Leg Booyah, Bahyooka Joe, or just plain Booyah Guam Balls from a Booyah Guam Ball Mishugana.

“There is something wrong with you man…”

Oh…..don’t I know it.

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You are not entitled to forgiveness.

I was reading this, and something at the end struck me.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy defended Mr. Yoho, who is 65-years-old and retiring in January, saying “when someone apologizes they should be forgiven”.

“I just think in a new world, in a new age, we now determine whether we accept when someone says ‘I’m sorry’ if it’s a good enough apology,” he continued.

I think he is absolutely wrong.

An apology can be someone seeking forgiveness, but often times not. Also it is not an apologists right to be forgiven. The choice to forgive is squarely and only in the hands of the offended, just as it always has been. History is as full of people demanding forgiveness as it is with people pressured under duress to forgive.

No one is entitled to forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a gift to be bestowed.

“I SAID I’M SORRY!” the person yells, demanding forgiveness.

Your penance is superficial, and you have no right.


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Speaking of voting

You have to start somewhere.

So on July the 19th, in 1848, the first Convention for Women’s Rights opened in Seneca Falls, New York. It wasn’t the real beginning, of course, but it was the first real pin in the roadmap. As I often say, everything we think is essential in the 21st century can find its root in the 19th, and this is no different.

But, as most first time things are, it didn’t go picture perfect or smoothly. Life is only that neat and tidy in fiction (and disneyfied history). When Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the rest of the convention’s organizers arrived at the Wesleyan Church on the morning of July 19, they found a small crowd of men and women already waiting outside. The turnout was encouraging, but it called attention to a problem: The church was locked, and no one had a key. The sun was blazing, and the women were getting uncomfortable; even their summer attire, with its framework of corsets, bustles, and hoop skirts, weighed upward of 25 pounds. The men were feeling the effects too, in their starched collars and coats. Someone boosted Stanton’s 12-year-old nephew through a window, and he unbarred the church door from the inside so people could find relief in the shade. Once that was resolved, the organizers turned their attention to another sticky wicket: the men. They had been invited to the second day of the conference, but not the first. Finally, it was decided that they should be allowed to stay since they were already there, but they were asked not to participate in the discussion. An hour later, at 11 a.m., the first women’s rights convention in American history got underway.

As I said, this wasn’t the real beginning. The seed had been planted eight years earlier, in the fertile ground of the abolitionist movement. Lucretia Mott and her husband were traveling to London to attend the World Anti-Slavery Convention. Aboard the ship, they met a pair of newlyweds — Henry and Elizabeth Cady Stanton — who were also on their way to the conference for their honeymoon. Once in London, the six female delegates, including Mott and Stanton, found that they would not be seated and could only attend the conference behind a drapery partition because women were “constitutionally unfit for public and business meetings.” Understandably, Mott and Stanton were outraged, and together they agreed that they really should organize their own convention. From small slights and a butterfly’s wings, a storm is born.

However, storms, like tea, take time to brew. So nothing tangible happened for eight years. Stanton got down to the business of running a household and raising the children — the first three of which were boys — in her home in Boston. Mott went back to her home in Philadelphia and her work as a Quaker minister and public speaker for the abolitionist movement. When the Stantons moved from Boston to the small town of Seneca Falls in the Finger Lakes region in western New York, Elizabeth missed the intellectual stimulation of the city. She began to think again about the rights of women. Elizabeth met Mott again on July 9, 1848, at a tea party in nearby Waterloo, and there she poured out her frustrations. She and the other women — all Quakers, except for Stanton — resolved that the convention for women’s rights needed to happen, and soon, while Mott was still in the area. The convention would be held at the Wesleyan Church in Seneca Falls. Built by abolitionists in 1843, it wasn’t a fancy building; it was plain red brick, unadorned by architectural embellishments, and didn’t even look like a church. But it met the two main requirements of the organizers: it was big enough, and its doors were open to the cause of women’s rights.

On July 11, they ran an unsigned announcement of the convention in the Seneca County Courier, a weekly newspaper that went to the farms of Seneca County. It read: “A Convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of women will be held in the Wesleyan Chapel, at Seneca Falls, N.Y., on Wednesday and Thursday, the 19th and 20th of July current; commencing at 10 A.M. During the first day the meeting will be exclusively for women, who are earnestly invited to attend. The public generally are invited to be present on the second day, when Lucretia Mott, of Philadelphia, and other ladies and gentlemen, will address the Convention.” Three days later, the former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass also ran a notice in his paper, The North Star, in Rochester.

On July 16, just three days before the convention, the five organizers sat down at a mahogany tea table in Mary Ann M’Clintock’s parlor to draft their resolution. M’Clintock suggested using the Declaration of Independence as a model, so they changed a few words to suit it to their needs. “All men are created equal” became, of course, “all men and women are created equal,” and so on. Plagiarism is always a good start, but the first draft is always shit, so Stanton took the document home with her, and over the next couple of days, she drafted what she called a Declaration of Sentiments. She included a list of 18 “injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman,” and a list of 11 resolutions calling for religious, economical, and political equality. The ninth resolution you may have heard of for it called for women to be given the vote. Unfortunately, Mott was not in favor of it. She was afraid that it went too far and would undermine the rest of the demands. “Why, Lizzie, thee will make us ridiculous.” Stanton held firm, and the resolution stayed in.

Though the convention had only been publicized over a small area, and with only a few days’ notice, 300 people — 40 of them men — turned out in the 90-degree heat. The first day was primarily spent in reading and discussing the Declaration of Sentiments, although it was broken up by the reading of a humorous article written by Mott’s sister Martha. Stanton took the podium for the evening session, and she compellingly placed the struggle for women’s rights in the tradition of the other reforms like the temperance and anti-slavery movements. The second day saw voting on the grievances and resolutions; the grievances passed unanimously. As for the resolutions, they passed unanimously too — except for the ninth, the demand for the right to vote. Go figure. Stanton defended its inclusion, believing that “the power to make the laws was the right through which all other rights could be secured.” Frederick Douglass, the convention’s sole African American attendee, also spoke, saying, “In this denial of the right to participate in government, not merely the degradation of woman and the perpetuation of a great injustice happens, but the maiming and repudiation of one-half of the moral and intellectual power of the government of the world.” Eventually, the resolution passed, and one hundred people — 68 women and 32 men — signed the Declaration of Sentiments, after two days, six sessions, and 18 hours of discussion, talks, and readings.

Unsurprisingly, the reaction in the male-dominated press and the male-dominated pulpit was mostly negative. The New York Herald published the entirety of the Declaration of Sentiments, intending to mock it. Stanton took the pragmatic view that any publicity was good publicity, and remarked: “Just what I wanted! Imagine the publicity given to our ideas by thus appearing in a widely circulated sheet like the Herald. It will start women thinking, and men too. When men and women think about a new question, the first step in progress is taken.”

The Oneida Whig wrote: “This bolt is the most shocking and unnatural incident ever recorded in the history of womanity. If our ladies will insist on voting and legislating, where, gentlemen, will be our dinners and our elbows? Where our domestic firesides and the holes in our stockings?”

Philadelphia’s Public Ledger and Daily Transcript declared: “A woman is nobody. A wife is everything. The ladies of Philadelphia … are resolved to maintain their rights as Wives, Belles, Virgins, and Mothers.”

The Albany Mechanic’s Advocate claimed that equal rights would “demoralize and degrade [women] from their high sphere and noble destiny, … and prove a monstrous injury to all mankind.”

In response, Douglass wrote in The North Star: “A discussion of the rights of animals would be regarded with far more complacency by many of what are called the wise and the good of our land, than would be a discussion of the rights of woman.”

Later in her life, Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote in her diary, “We are sowing winter wheat which the coming spring will see sprout and which other hands than ours will reap and enjoy.” It would be 72 years before women would be granted the right to vote––although effectively, it was only white women who were granted that privilege. Only one of the signers of the original Declaration of Sentiments was still living in 1920. Charlotte Woodward, who had been 19 and working in a glove factory in 1848, was too ill to cast her ballot.

But you have to start somewhere…

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What the….

Sometimes when you are driving you just have to take a picture. I call this composition “Dr. Bonner’s abduction van”. There were words written on EVERY window of the van in day glow yellow paint except the windshield (probably) and that one behind the driver, which used red paint instead. Since I can’t read and drive and covertly take pictures, I’m not sure what the overall message was supposed to be. But I am guessing the words “calmly introspective” and “sane” may not be in the description.

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You can’t yell “Fire” in a crowded theater.

Here at the Robot Farm (where we farm for robots and not where robots farm) our building is SO BIG!


It is so big that today it started raining on one end, and it took a full minute for the traveling wall of rain to progress to the other end.

(Which is also how long it takes to jog from one end to the other.)

It sounded so weird.

Speaking of sounds.

Someone dropped a can of (somethingorother) and it made a large BANG sound.

So I yelled out “OUCH!” and the more quietly “active shooter! Active shooter!”

I was asked not to do that.

Apparently the phrase “active shooter” might be triggering to some.

I am proud to have not snickered at all when they said that.

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Know your Classic Propaganda Techniques

I did not write this either.

Know your Classic Propaganda Techniques, including…

False Flag: Create a violent or offensive event or message in an opponent’s name.

Most people still do not know the proper definition of propaganda, which means “broadcast communication intended to affect the attitudes, beliefs and actions of its audience.” The Roman Church created the first formally organized ministry of propaganda, to “propagate” beliefs and doctrines throughout regions under Church control.

Many people have published lists of Classic Propaganda Techniques in support of “media literacy” training for both offensive (public relations, advertising, psyops) and defensive (social/political analysis and activism) purposes.

My list presently includes 35 items. Some present as partially redundant, but when the student can identify those and describe how they are related to one another, he or she “will have learned.” For instance, many propaganda techniques employ the Transfer principle. Interested? Grab a copy and get busy spotting real life examples.

No one escapes the influence of propaganda, but those who do not actively study propaganda will be controlled by it. https://archive.org/details/35-classic-propaganda-techniques

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On the note off the real Confederacy.

I still say that everything we find important in the 21st century can find its roots in the 19th.

On July 7th of 1865, Mary Surratt became the first woman to be executed by the United States government.

Don’t feel too bad about that though. Surratt, a widow and Confederate sympathizer from Maryland, ran a boarding house in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, she had run a Maryland tavern that doubled as a safe house for Confederate spies. Her son John was friends with John Wilkes Booth (whom you may have heard of), and he often invited Booth to his mother’s boarding house. Authorities at the time believed that Booth had plotted the assassination of Abraham Lincoln there, with the widow Surratt’s knowledge and consent, if not active participation. Her son John had admitted to being Booth’s co-conspirator in a plot to abduct Lincoln and trade him for Confederate prisoners being held in Richmond, Virginia. So it should come as no surprise that when Booth assassinated the president instead of abducting him, John Surratt fled to Canada and later to Europe. His mother, perhaps unaware that the originally planned shenanigans had gone awry, was arrested along with four other conspirators.

Or perhaps she was proudly defiant?

Whatever the reason, Surratt went to the gallows with three other convicted traitors, all men. Even though she had been condemned in the court of public opinion as well by a military commission, people still became squeamish when they saw the news photos of a woman in a long black dress hanging from the gallows. Everyone, including the executioner himself, expected President Andrew Johnson to commute her sentence to life in prison. But no, he didn’t want to look weak. Five members of the commission that convicted her even asked him to commute. And Surratt’s 22-year-old daughter, Anna, pled tearfully to be allowed to talk to the president. She hoped he would pardon her mother because of her gender and her advanced age — which was 42 at the time. He refused all of these requests, saying, “She kept the nest that hatched the egg.”

Not the best of metaphors, but he was new to the job and he had a hard act to follow.

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