A religious experience

Really. I had one.

Alan Watts wrote something like this: If Christians believed what they profess to believe, they wouldn’t be able to live “normal” lives. They would be consumed with converting and “saving” others, not in a convincing people way, but in a desperate attempt at making them see what they saw. It would drive them mad.

I don’t know that the thought process I had was even relevant. But something clicked in me this afternoon and I was overcome with a wave of empathy for every human being. I was nauseated. I really thought I might get sick from it, from this sense that I can’t really put into words. But. It was something like this. It was not a knowledge, but an incredibly visceral sense of the pain and isolation in this world and of how trying to escape the pain causes people to do all these things that just make it worse, for themselves and for others. There wasn’t any tiny bit of me being separate from that, no sense or egotistical belief that I’d figured anything out or was any different. I could just see it. That was all. When I didn’t feel like I was going to be sick, I thought I might fall to the ground sobbing. But neither thing happened. It was very discombobulating. Then it was over.

It wasn’t a wholly new kind of experience. I’ve had bits of things like it before. It was like any experience of its kind that I’ve had before turned up to 11, different in degree than in kind. But, wow, what a difference in degree. To feel like that all the time would prevent you from living a normal life. It would drive you mad.

Climate Hope?

I read multiple things every day related to climate change. When I say “related to climate change”, they are often not about climate change directly, but are about technology that could help alleviate it. After five years of feeling absolute doom and gloom, I’ve actually started lately to have some hope. I’ve been worried about expressing it, worried that I don’t know enough and my bright-sider tendencies might be giving me false hope (denial). It’s nice to see this put into writing by someone else.

NextCloud Instead of Their Cloud

Over the last five years or so, I’ve really grown irked at a lot of the services provided to consumers by cloud vendors, particularly the two big ones in mobile: Google and Apple. I can’t say why, exactly, but something about that reached a head and I decided to do something about it in early this year. I started playing around with NextCloud in February. I liked what I saw, but decided that maintaining it 24/7 on janky, decade old hardware wasn’t a good idea. I wanted something much more reliable.

That’s when I discovered HomeDrive. For $299 they’ll sell you an Intel NUC box that’s preinstalled with their software. The specific box that they sell was retailing for between $250 and $325 in the online stores I checked. That’s just the hardware. It has a 1 TB SSD and 4GB of RAM. Everything is running in Docker. It is NextCloud hosted on your own hardware. They do light management of the NextCloud software (updates, additional features). They provide you a web endpoint, but I also mapped a subdomain on another domain I own to it. You can turn anything that has to do with them off and I may do that eventually.

I’m no longer putting any of my new files, photos, music, etc into either Google or Apple’s clouds. In the last month, I’ve migrated all of my photos out of Apple’s cloud except for a few that I chose to keep there. I copied all of the photos from my Google Pixel 2 & 3 days and early return to IOS into the NextCloud server via Google Takeout. I haven’t deleted it from Google yet (not that you can truly ever choose to delete anything). I will. But I need to do some additional work looking into indexing/searching the photos in NextCloud. I’ve done some of that research, but I’m not ready to execute changes yet.

I have my entire MP3 collection loaded, and am pretty much adding some new app and the data to power that app every week. I’ve got a bit over 250gb on that SSD.

Climate and Air Travel

I’ve seen a lot of attempts to rationalize air travel as not being as destructive as it really is. Possibly, at an “average human” level some of those rationalizations are true. Perhaps, as with so many other things, the problem is a few wealthy individuals and some corporations. The folks at Possible have a study on this. You can download it at the link below. Some highlights include:

In the USA just 12% of people take a massive 66% of flights.

In France 50% of flights are taken by a tiny 2% of the population.

And here in the UK, a mere 15% of the population take 70% of all flights.

How the Democrats win in 2024

Joe Biden is bad for ratings. That will be a problem for him in subtle ways in 2024. I am not suggesting some stupid conspiracy wherein the media companies decide to help him get re-elected (not counting FoxNews, obviously). But they will chase Trump and hang on his every word because that gets eyeballs.

There are four things the Democrats should do if they want to hold onto the presidency. They must do a minimum of two of them. They need to do all four if they hope to mobilize voters in 2024 the way they did in 2020. If Trump runs again, they’ll need voters mobilized at that level. Those things are:

1. Pass a really substantial covid relief bill. That looks like it’s on track, though they should have done better than this.

2. Substantial student loan debt relief.

3. Pass the John Lewis Voter Rights Act

4. Raise the minimum wage to $15.

If they don’t do at least two of these things, they won’t beat Trump if he runs again. They need to do all four to be sure.

Marcus Flowers Debuts His Campaign With A Hot Commercial

This commercial is pretty hot. I think it’s well targeted to the district. I hope we get a respectful primary campaign that doesn’t leave the eventual nominee handicapped against the Q Lady.

I probably would have built at least the shell of a campaign website before launching. Right now, his twitter account links to an ActBlue donation site.

What Emoluments Clause?

This motherfucker needs to end up in jail. I think that’s about all there is to say about this at this point. He took 399 trips to his own properties in 4 years. How much revenue did the cost of rooms for the secret service, his staff, etc bring in? We know the Pentagon was forcing air force crews to stop and stay at one of his resorts in Scotland. Would we even know it if that was happening elsewhere?

Emily’s Suicide

I put this on Facebook a week or so ago.

Though I think great strides have been made in the 21st century, we are still a culture that is very hostile to letting people express or even acknowledge and truly feel the full range of human emotion. One of the things that has come with there being more room to express our emotions is the need to find a supposed bright side. You experienced X awful thing, but it’s okay because you grew as a person or Y good thing ultimately happened, etc, etc. The most horrible things have to become “inspiring” or “have been for the best”, etc.

Sure, when faced with terrible things, there are a variety of ways we can respond. It’s certainly good when we don’t respond in ways that are harmful to ourselves or others. It’s better still if we can find some resilience or learn some lesson from tragedy, take something from it that makes us better equipped to take the next inevitable bad thing that life throws at us. We rush to get to that final act of the story, to experience our own redemptive arc through the pain. I’ve been as guilty of that brightsiderism as anyone else.

Some things, though, are just awful. There is no bright side. It’s okay for that to just be what it is. You don’t have to turn your pain, loss, or suffering into a feel good story. I am sitting, carefully and quietly, with the pain of Emily’s death every day. I don’t, like I would have for most of my life, pretend that I’m fine. I also don’t wallow in it. I don’t force myself to think about it when it isn’t natural to do so. I just live this reality as it is. I don’t anesthetize myself from it whether that be chemically or through other diversions and distractions. Maybe in some way, just genuinely living through what I’m feeling here will help me to grow, to experience the fullness of what this human life is. But, damn, that is not a feel good story. There will never be a miniscule thing good about her death. Not if I become the freaking Buddha re-incarnate and liberate all of humanity, her death will never be the catalyst for something good. It’s an awful thing that happened and then other things, good and bad, happen after it.

Maybe others that knew her and loved her will find their peace or their meaning in some growth or change that happened because of their grief here. That’s okay, too. For me, though, there will never be even a hint of “but it’s okay, because…”. It’s awful. It will always be awful. It’s okay for you to feel that, too, about any terrible loss you suffer. Grief works a certain way and it does get easier to live with it over time. You go forward and you live your life and the moments of gut punching loss sneak up on you. They aren’t your day to day life, but that never has to make the loss okay just because there’s so much pressure on us to say so.