Okay, I know I claim to be a conspiracy theorist when it comes to aliens and 9-11… I am… totally loony and tinfoil-hat-wearing… can’t let those men in black read my mind, right? But those crazy ideas are based on facts that I have uncovered and investigations into the obvious and admitted manipulations of those facts that have come out over time… from credible whistle-blowers and witnesses. What is going on in Texas right now is not that, and not my fault. I don’t adhere to any Alex-Jones-2nd-Amendment-FEMA-death-camps sort of conspiracy theories. President Obama is NOT planning an attack on Texas with these routine military exercises involving Green Berets and Navy Seals. The crap thinking that motivated Governor Greg Abbott to activate the Texas National Guard to oversee the military exercises is stupid-headed paranoid Republican propaganda. I am trying to make humor here out of scary Texas political poop, but this is too wacko to even joke about.
To totally change the topic and talk about something else, I may have inadvertently changed one of my collections that feed my hoarding disorder mental illness… I was very poetically snapping pictures of the sunrise when I walked the dog every morning and calling that “collecting sunrises”. But I started taking other dog-walking photos, like cloud shots and moon shots and sunset shots. Uh-oh! More time lost to collecting things pointlessly… or is that how art happens? the artist finding certain observations to be spiritually and creatively fulfilling… and tries to share that fulfillment? Or when you consider the Avengers Coke cans… is it clinically a concern?
Okay, let’s switch again… Friday night my daughter, the Princess, was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society. This happened at her middle school, Dan F. Long, home of the Falcons.
They had this wonderful candle-lighting ceremony filled with wonderful things. I experienced several of what Ralph Waldo Emerson calls “spots of time” in which there is a transcendent moment that carries you far beyond the daily dose of mundane. The first one was when the Falcon orchestra, complete with cellos and violins, was playing a waltz. The principal was in the hallway with his young daughter to greet the parents and friends attending the ceremony. The two of them, the extremely competent and hard-nosed black principal and his pretty little black daughter began to waltz together, not even thinking that some of us seated in the cafetorium might see them do it. I couldn’t help but think, “while Baltimore burns… if only we had more of this!” And more wonderful things followed. The NJHS faculty sponsor was a teacher I subbed for a decade ago. She is a determined and bubbly little woman who impressed me once upon a time with her detailed planning and sharp methods. This little woman could throw big bad trouble-making boys around the room (metaphorically of course) to get her point across and make lessons happen. I saw her in action. She was tough and ambitious in spite of being small and always smiling. And the Princess was inducted with a candle ceremony (a potential disaster waiting to happen in a middle school setting) in which she was in the middle of three rows on the stairs… and no one set anyone else’s hair on fire. And we’re talking seventh-grade nerd-boys standing with a lighted candle behind seventh-grade girls with long hair!
And finally I wanted to share with you the progress I have made on cardboard castles. I have made all of this so far with my own two arthritic claws using Ritz Cracker boxes, Honey Nut Cheerios boxes, tape, scissors, and glue. I have only glued fingers together once and managed not to accidentally cut off any necessary part of my body (fingernails don’t actually count, do they?). Why am I doing nutty stuff like this? Well, I’m retired. What am I supposed to do? Sensible real-world stuff? Get real.
There are certain people that I spend a lot of time listening to on YouTube. These are people who are nothing alike. They are very brainy people and good at making cogent arguments that really make sense. They have a gift as explainers. Some of their ideas I agree with, and some I do not, but I am always willing to listen.
The first one I have pictured here is Russell Brand. He describes himself as a comedian. But I find much of what he has to say is the kind of comedy that Mark Twain and Will Rogers once did, and John Stewart and Bill Maher now do. He explains things about how our basic rights as Americans, and human beings, are being compromised and even taken away from us. He often hits themes of economic inequality, racism, and love for your fellow man. I was fascinated by his interview of members of the Westboro Baptist Church. He absorbed their hate-filled insults and deflected them back with grace and wit. He routinely examines the fear-mongering tactics of Rupert Murdoch and Fox News. He ridicules them and undoes their propaganda with such reasoned defusing of hate-bombs. He talks fast and uses big words, and even though I know many people who absolutely hate him, I listen to him constantly.
This second man is Russell’s opposite. Stefan Molyneux is a Libertarian philosopher that my more liberal friends are absolutely horrified by. He goes into the problematic behavior of liberal heroes like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Junior, debunking, defaming, and generally de-mythologizing them. He believes things about not helping the poor and taking apart the government that I soundly disagree with, an for basically Republican Libertarian reasons which seem very self-centered and self-serving to me. But he is able to put forward cogent arguments that are so clear and inter-connected that you have to admire his Occam’s Razor thinking and over-all consistent philosophy. He even seems to have a decent Christian concept of love that is ironic in the face of his seeming atheism.
My first encounter with John Green came about by buying a copy of Mental Floss in book form from Half-Price Books. His wonderful wit and sharp intellect is demonstrated in detail in all the ironic twists and shocking tidbits of information that fill his books and video series like Mental Floss, Crash Course, and his best-selling novel (now a movie) The Fault in Our Stars. Like the other two, he talks fast, uses words you often need to look up, slips fast one-liners by you, and connects ideas so smoothly that very complex things become simple and elegant. I find that, of the three of these men, I would most like to meet and talk with this wise and gentle man. I definitely intend to acquire and read his book as soon as I can… I mean his novel. I have already seized and devour as many of the Mental Floss books as I could find. I guess I really think that he is more like me than either of the other two, although, I know that that is somewhat conceited to say out loud… or even in writing.
So what is the point of this post? These are three wise men who I listen to and allow to shape the edges of my intellect and basic beliefs. I really believe you should investigate them for yourself. But what do I know? I am still on the Quest to be a Wizard.