10/24/13 What Would I Do Without This?

This forum is my mental wastebasket. Just think of it. You’re reading my mental garbage. I really didn’t intend for it to be that way, and not that I think you might think my mental garbage interesting, but this blog does serve as my clearing house. Well . . . either this blog or my personal journal. I write things I think are honest on this blog, though I write brutally honest things in my journal I would not dare put on this blog. I write what I really think on this blog. But I write what I double super secretly really, really think in my journal. There is a difference. One you get to see. The other…not very likely. But the seeds of many things I write about here are contained in my journal, or at least the outlines of them, provided you think I ever use any sort of outline rather than just ramble. I am prone to stream of consciousness writing, and my attention span is too short to allow me to write anything beyond four or five pages. I’ve been encouraged to write a novel, but I lack the discipline. I have been encouraged to write a book about anything, but I lack the discipline. What you have, instead, is a long, long book length of ramblings and musings. Some writers made a successful career off of just such writings, but I suspect their basic and extended qualities were far superior to mine. Voltaire comes to mind, and I lack the chutzpah (though I have a considerable amount) of daring to place myself in the same category, but I admire him, immensely, as did the entire of France, except a Bourbon King or two, and the entire world, still; I cannot approach his greatness. That does not deter me, though. I will write, anyway.

Truthfully, I am too lazy to write much more than an extended essay, because I can write an essay based on musings of a one-line quotation from someone else. It hardly requires much research to come up with a one-line quotation. And any sort of non-fiction work needs to have references and cross references, and I’m not writing an academic treatise, but something short and sweet that I hope you’ll enjoy reading, even if it is about nothing at all.

Thinking about this blog, mulling over it and all the time I’ve spent on it over the past nearly five years, I wonder what I did without it. Where did all the words come from, and where do they go once I hit the publish button on my ancient Microsoft Front Page software. Of course, I know where they go into the blogosphere/cloud/cyberspace, but I wonder what the connection is between them going there and leaving me, because they leave a vacuum, and not a bad vacuum, but a pleasant one.

Of course, vacuums don’t last long. They will be filled with something. Many times the something that fills that vacuum isn’t worth writing about, or perhaps it is, but I can’t express my real opinion about some subjects, or of some people, in a public space, not wanting to embarrass them or myself, of which the latter is more likely.

I really write when I get the blues, and I had a case of them so bad earlier in the week that I was forced to write about it in my journal. You won’t get to read about what got my goat. Having written, though, the goat has been un-gotten . . . returned, as it were, and is now satisfied to chew its cud in a quite place.

Today, I take my fourth dose of Methotrexate. It is beginning to do what it is supposed to do, but getting used to it and its side effects are not coming along so well. I suppose this contributes to the blues, somewhat. Here’s a link to Methotrexate and its side effects. You can decide for yourself which ones I may be experiencing.

http://www.drugs.com/sfx/methotrexate-side-effects.html

I don’t want to enumerate them for you since it will sound like whining, but the list is impresssive, isn’t it?

I find it remarkable that I could not take, nor ever take, Enbrel, Stelara, or Humira, because they could cause lymphoma or reignite my leukemia. Yet Methotrexate has the  undesirable side effect of possibly causing leukemia. Hmmmm! That is the cause for some dark thoughts, which are occasionally inescapable. I am able to escape the darkness right now and and able to merely make mention of it without brooding. Sometimes the brooding is inescapable. Earlier in the week I brooded. Right now, the brooding is just a wicked, though fleeting, memory. Maybe it will be less so once I take my next dose in about two hours.

Next week, I will take my 5th does and then go to Hemosapien’s clinic for bloodwork to see just what sort of damage the Methotrexate might be doing internally. Hopefully none; but the bloodwork will reveal what the bloodwork will reveal. Science is like that. It simply reveals what it reveals when it works right. Sometimes politicians and corporate sponsors get involved and illusions are revealed, or veracity is concealed, after all, some scientists must make sure, above all else, that funding for their research continues. There are precious few heads of scientific research departments who report to their sponsors that their work is a dead end, and funding should be immediately withdrawn, the program closed, and all available resources sent to some other research facility that is on the right track. I suppose in the history of the world it has happened, but it seems very unlikely. It is easy to go on-line and search out clinical trials for new drugs and see that there are many that have been discontinued because of safety reasons, or because they were ineffective, or effective but no more so than drugs already available. In part, this is because they have to report their research to the FDA, and in spite of my feelings about government intrusion, the very fact that there is a governing body to which research must be submitted stops a lot of big-pharma shenanigans.

Yes, this capitalist is admitting that big-pharma can have some conflicts of interests, but mostly those conflicts of interest can be dramatically reduced by the proper application of lobbyists, which is one of the best medicines big-pharma has been able to come up with for itself. I wish I had a lobbyist or two, so I could get me some of that corporate welfare, much like the contractor who has been developing the Obamacare website. It seems they have performed poorly on other government projects, but their lobbyists helped them to get the Obamacare job, anyway. After further review, I suspect that the thing that CGI Federal excels at is the ability to provide the proper invoicing, the proper paperwork for change orders, and the proper documentation that bureaucrats need to fill their files….never mind the actual work. You think I’m being facetious! No….many times the contractor selected is the one who is familiar enough with the system so as to make the paperwork easier for the bureaucrats, particularly those papers that must be submitted so that money can change hands. I’ve seen it at the state and local level, and I’ve seen it at the national level. Give the bureaucrats what they need and want, and you can get what you need and want. They need paperwork done correctly, and you need more money. Do the former and the latter is easy.

While there are many that deride welfare recipients, and I have done so, too, let us all deride corporate welfare recipients, particularly those who charge the government a lot of money but don’t really deliver any useful work. How does one get one of those contracts that are filled with cost overruns, anyway? I’ve never had the luxury of one of those. For some reason, people always expect me to do what I told them I’d do for the amount of money I told them I’d do it for. Are they being unreasonable, or is it just because I have no lobbyist? I need to get one in the worst way. Can you recommend a really good one that works on the cheap? Or, perhaps, one that works on a percentage of the take like a trial lawyer hot on the pursuit of a tort? I didn’t think so. I’m not that lucky.

Maybe I need to put an ad on Craig’s List.

Lobbying firm wanted. Up and coming potential government contractor looking for the highest caliber lobbying firm. Only those firms with a proven track record need apply. Must be willing to work on a negotiable percentage of the successful award of government contracts. Lobbying fees will be paid only when contracts have been awarded and funds advanced by the government to this potential client. If you want to nitpick about any lack of marketable skills this potential client may have, then perhaps you are the wrong lobbying firm and we will not waste our time with an interview. Potential candidate firms must be willing to fly us to Washington, wine us and dine us at their own expense, and lobby for us to select them as our representative firm. Only lobbying firms that can guarantee success, with remuneration to us for time and effort spent in travel, negotiations, and completing government contracting forms will be considered. If you think your firm has what it takes to become part of our successful team, then we welcome your resume, which must include four first-class airline tickets (or transportation via private jet), prepaid hotel confirmations for two suites at one of Washington’s four-star hotels, will-call limousine service, and at least four tickets to a Redskins game (and not end-zone or nose-bleed seats, either). No phone calls, please. All candidate firms whose resumes do not include the required accompanying qualifications will be rejected. No Redskins tickets will be returned in any case. The deadline for submissions October 31, 2013. We are an equal-opportunity lobbying firm employer.

That should do the trick.

On another note, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions and Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn love to point out waste in government spending. Senator Sessions recently pointed out a  $23,000 grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for a project to study “The Meaning of Life.” I hope the NEH grant produces some successful results. Men have been asking themselves this question ever since one picked up a piece of charcoal and used art to inscribe his story on the walls of caves in central Europe.

I wonder what they expect to find and how $23,000 of taxpayer money will help them find it? There’s lots of wealthy people who would give a whole lot more if they could get the answer to that question, even if the answer offered was bent to fit their particular notion of life’s meaning. King Solomon wrote a book called Ecclesiastes which deals with this subject. He enumerates an entire litany of projects he embarked on to give his life some meaning. Ultimately, he decided that the meaning of life was to serve God, but this is an old-fashioned idea, not having much merit these days since men have become too smart to believe in such superstitions as their being such an entity as God out there in the cosmos.

What else will $23,000 buy? Hmmmm! It will buy a fairly nice used double-wide mobile home, but not the land to put it on, nor the expense of moving it and setting it up. It is the price of one Lithotripsy, which will give one immense relief from the plague of a kidney stone, which could be much closer to the providing a true meaning of life than a used mobile home, ’cause a bad enough kidney stone will make one swap a mobile home for a lithotripsy without so much as a second thought. It will also get you one fairly well-appointed German-engineered automobile…a Volkswagen Jetta…but Volkswagens are not what usually come to mind when we think of German-engineered automobiles

I wonder how the grant recipients are spending the money? I wish I had a copy of the grant application. Are they merely polling living people who are trying to discern the meaning of life as they get along with the living of it, I wonder? Now, If you could poll some dead people, they may be able to give a more convincing response, but $23,000 is hardly enough to develop the complex systems capable of polling the deceased. We just don’t have the technology, and $23,000 won’t get us there. Maybe they spent the money on Ouija Boards, or those Magic black balls that you asked a question to and then turned it over and the answer floated up to the viewing window. I don’t remember what those were called. Do you? Maybe they are spending it on one of the thousands of Sister So-an-So’s, who are able to tell them the meaning of life through various mediums. Maybe they are calling the psychic hotlines. Maybe they are searching frantically and futilely through old newspaper clips looking for the headline, “Psychic Wins Lottery.” I may be on to something there.

Maybe they spent $23,000 on fortune cookies and are polling them. You can buy a couple of truckloads of fortune cookies for $23,000. That’s enough money, though, that a rapscallion, predisposed researcher could get the fortunes of his choice inserted into the cookies. Why, you could have them all printed up that said, “Stop Global Warming”, and then write your paper that that was the overwhelming revelation of your study. I think someone may already be doing this, but it is costing far more than $23,000 in that case.

Maybe the researcher bought a copy of Monty Python’s movie “The Meaning of Life” and is paying a dollar to 22,995 people to watch it and comment, since you can buy the DVD for about five bucks. Maybe, just maybe, the grant is being used to study the movie, itself, as art. Maybe we’ll get a review of this excellent movie, or at least, I thought it was excellent. That’s probably closer to the truth. The name of the study is just a bit misleading….that’s got to be it. I’m back wishing I had a copy of the grant application.

Maybe the grant is being used to supplement the income of the researcher who is spending a year long sabbatical wandering the earth in search of the meaning of life. If that is the case, I can’t help but wonder: is he wandering the earth in a semi-well appointed Volkswagen Jetta?

It makes as much sense as anything I else I can think of.

Rather than grants from the NEH, it should be pretty simple to get a Kick-Starter program going. It should not be hard to raise $23,000, if indeed $23,000 is what one needs, to answer the question that has plagued the minds of men ever since men became aware that they had such a thing as a mind. I might even contribute myself. I’d much rather do it in that fashion than do it through tax-money, though I daresay, I expect the outcome of the research will be the same either way, except, without doubt, it is much more impressive to be doing this kind of research with the authority of a government grant. It lends far more legitimacy to it than Kick-Starter, though, I suspect, it will not yield any better results.

The meaning of life….yours for $23,000; what a bargain this is for all of mankind. Pardon my cynicism. An NEH study of this is as relevant and beneficial to mankind as a study of the meaning of a Monty Python movie; perhaps, far less so.

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