Wood The Fifth

FiveFive years. (And 602 posts.) Literally a handful of years. (And a heartful.) There is a theory that the Roman numeral V represents a human hand, and the numeral X symbolizes two V hands set point-to-point. It seems obvious that “prisoner’s hash marks” — counting the days in groups of five — owes much to our five-fingered hands.

Five is a human number. Small enough to seem fundamental; big enough to be interesting (two and three are so boring; four is kinda square). Five puts the prime in prime! It’s also part of an easy trick for making large right angles (for laying out fields and building pyramids), and it’s the first substantial anniversary gift (paper, cotton, leather, silk, wood).

Five years ago I started this blog…

That seems long enough that, if it were ever going to become a thing, it would have by now. Not that becoming a thing was ever a goal. I had hoped to find more of my own kind, but that small group seems swamped by an interweb vox populi whose values I just don’t fathom.

There is some comfort in realizing that I’m hardly alone. Bloggers who write about scientific or philosophical material (especially the latter) almost always have small followings. That sort of thing just isn’t as popular as it used to be.

Which gets me back to values I just don’t fathom. That, I think, is the crux of my problem with the world these days. All value judgements aside, my value system has always seemed at odds with that of the modern western world.[1]

That sense has gotten stronger — much stronger — in the last decade or so. (And it’s hard not to draw a very strong causal correlation between this and the rise of the interweb and mobile devices.) The result is I find myself disconnecting from more and more from social institutions that once attracted me.

TV; the great seducer!For example, movies and television.

It’s not that really good movies don’t exist anymore. It’s that they’re so vastly swamped by the shallow, mindless, intelligence-insulting shit people seem drawn to these days. The bar for entertainment is so low it boggles my mind.[2]

I’ve realized that I’m totally over superhero movies (and TV shows). This year I’ve stopped watching Agents of SHIELD, Supergirl, and Gotham. I realized they weren’t doing anything for me and that, in the case of SHIELD and Gotham, I actively disliked most of the characters — the new Jim Gordon is another ignorant asshole just like the new Jim Kirk, and I’ve grown to loath Daisy and Mack.

And that right there is one of the biggest sticks in my craw. I am sick of ignorant asshole lead characters. I am sick of “good” guys doing bad things that the script turns into good things. I’m sick of the by-the-gut brute force approach to life that seems to permeate so much of our media.

Columbine. Tucson. Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook. Orlando. We fill our lives, our movies, our television, our games, with lying, aggression, and violence by the “good guys”… and then wonder why these things happen and, gee, why can’t the politicians do something!

I’ve written about these things many times, both in posts here and in comments on other blogs. Ultimately it seems little more than a writing exercise.

And a chance to vent. Perhaps it’s come down to that. A chance to vent. If I can’t change anything (most of you don’t even seem to believe me), I can at least vent.

This has been an outlet for my urge to create and share things that interest me, but to be blunt, the effort designing & publishing takes has not been rewarding to me, so I think it’s time to change the equation.

frustrated writerI’ve written similar posts, usually on this blog’s anniversary[3] or sometimes as a New Year’s post. I’ve said before that I intend a change of direction, so you would be justified thinking, “I’ll believe that when I see it.”

I think this time I mean it, though. Something about blogging has become onerous. There is still a modicum of pleasure in writing a post, but the attached freight has become too heavy to haul. Regular readers (all one or two of you) will have noticed my one-a-month pace lately. Even that has been something of an unwelcome effort.

Simply put: I’m not enjoying this anymore.

But there are times when venting sure feels good. I think maybe it’s time to take off the gloves and indulge myself in some bare-knuckle brawling (it certainly couldn’t make this blog or blogger less popular).

And I’m good and tired of spending hours finding (or often making) the best possible images to accompany the posts. The effort clearly isn’t recognized, so no more pictures! (Unless I have a really good one I want to share.)

So consider this a warning about a significant sea change in these parts. No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more cute images in textual counter-point. Until further notice (don’t hold your breath), this blog will probably just be me spitting nails at whatever topic irks me.

Will it help anything?

Yep.

It will be fun for me!

You might want to avert your eyes.

To be continued… Very soon…


[1] For whatever it’s worth, my values come from the literature, art, and religions, of western (and some eastern) thought going back as far as written history does. Distilled, one finds consistent threads of value analysis and illustration that form a framework of tried and true human ethics and morals.

One looks for the things that persist across generations and societies, the things that — time and again — have been discovered lighthouses in the fog of human civilization.

[2] There’s a South Park episode, Raising the Bar, that touches on this. Love that show. My kind of people, for sure!

[3] See: Continuing Continuing (last year), 7-4… (2014), and Two Years (2013).

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

9 responses to “Wood The Fifth

  • Sirius Bizinus

    I hear you. There are times when I just want to rant, but then I get to a thousand words and delete them. It’s tough watching stuff happen that has no good reason to be happening (especially mass shootings).

    I’ve been spending a lot of time researching stuff to write a piece of proposed legislation. Currently I think Congress’s efforts aren’t enough. Not every mass shooter is on the terror watch list, and it’s atrocious that people can buy weapons modeled off of assault rifles. Expanding background checks also sounds nice, except we also don’t know how effective they are. The reason? Gun lobbyists have prevented the CDC and ATF from collecting data on firearm related deaths.

    Personally, I say don’t hold back any punches. The 2d Amendment isn’t a freaking suicide pact.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Yeah, Congress’s efforts aren’t enough because Congress’s efforts amount to nearly nothing. It made me sad that people actually believed Orlando and the Congressional sit-in would amount to something. And it’s tragic that the will of the people is pretty clear on this one.

      But, as I’ve said many times, the real problem is cultural and all the legislation in the world won’t do much until we address our whole way of life. It’s such a simple equation: Does a child’s environment shape the child? Duh. Obviously. What kind of child is shaped by an environment that contains so much casual violence labeled “entertainment”? That one seems kind of duh obvious, too.

      I think the analogy with cars is entirely apt. License and registration required. Insurance required in case you mess up and damage something or someone (not that money replaces lives). Training required to operate. Keep away from kids as you would any dangerous product.

      If AARP was as strong and unreasonable as the NRA, young people would all be required to wear distorting glasses, ear plugs, and weights to slow them down. Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron come to life!

  • Steve Morris

    Rants can be cathartic, but are generally kept to oneself. I delete half of the posts I write for my blog before they ever come close to being published. If the problem is that you’d like to connect more, then I don’t think ranting will help with that goal.

    By the way, did you hear the one about the Roman who walks into a bar? He holds up two fingers, and says, “Five beers, please.”

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Heh, heh, heh! I hadn’t heard that one. I know the one about Descartes sitting in a bar… bar tender asks him if he’d like another drink. Descartes answers, “No, I think not.” And, poof, he instantly vanishes.

      As to the ranting, why not? Lewis Black is famous and well-loved for it. So are many others. One of the attractions of both Sanders and The Embarrassment was their ranting.

      No, people love ranting. They love it when they agree with you, and they don’t much care if it has nothing to do with them. What they don’t like is ranting directed against them. Makes them uncomfortable.

      “What? I’m part of the problem?? Hey,… shut up!”

      No. I don’t think I will. XD

      I’ll stop calling people idiots when they stop being idiots.

  • rung2diotimasladder

    I think you should write when you want to, when it pleases you. I know a lot of people make goals to write a certain number of posts each week, but not everyone needs to. We all use this platform in different ways.

    On the pictures, I know what you mean. I’ve never been fancy in that area, but when I try to get fancy, it ends up being a waste of time and energy.

    I tend to find the categories and tags a bit frustrating. I’m not really sure why, but it’s always an annoyance.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Yeah, that’s the plan. If I feel like posting five things in one day, I’ll do that. If I feel like not posting for five months, I’ll do that, too. Mostly, I’m going back to blog origins… a “web log”… a personal journal (which I’m nice enough to share with y’all so you can get the full benefit of my wisdom and wit). I’m no longer writing for anyone but me. The performance is ended.

      The damn pictures… I’m fairly visual (but actually more textual) and they really do add something to a piece. But I’ve been accused of being too subtle (people never “heard” something I thought I was “shouting loudly” (so to speak)). No doubt a lot of stuff goes unnoticed. (And, of course, if you have to explain the joke,…) There are posts where the images were the bulk of effort and time spent. The words came freely.

      Cats and tags: Having been down the categorization road many, many times (it’s a thing programmers do a lot), I tried to have an organized approach from day one. But you almost need a cat and tags manager application once there are a lot of them.

      Tags, especially. I make up a lot of those, often as (rarely noticed) humor. My spammer rant posts have tags like {die die die spammers} and {die horribly spammers}. (How many will notice and grok the {lawn} tag in the Followers post?) And I often use names of people in my posts as tags. Or movie or TV or book names.

      So I have a lot of tags, is what I’m saying! 3,087! There used by search engines, so tags are keywords for searches others will make.

      Categories on WP seem more of an organizational thing (although no doubt search engines see them, too). I’ve tried to keep those as few in number as possible (26 currently). But a TODO item on my list is to rethink and redo them now that I have an oeuvre. It’s hard to imagine what categories you’ll use over time.

      I know a blogger who seems not to have fully grasped the cats and tags thing (or maybe it was a choice). She used category like a sub-title and created a new one for every post. She had a categories display widget on the blog, and that became sort of an odd index to her posts.

      I think the bottom line is: Go crazy with tags; anything you can think of someone might search for; they’re trivial. Go sparse with categories. Lots of those are just confusing.

      But that’s just my take. Blogging seems to have a tug-of-war between what you’re supposed to do (because rules), what’s been shown to be effective for success (inoffensive mono-topic blogs, advertising), and art (which has no rules and isn’t about success).

      I’ve spent a lifetime resisting what I’m supposed to do, and success was never a real goal. (Sometimes I think being a successful blogger sounds like a lot of work. You can spend your life answering reader’s comments! The really successful bloggers often end up having to largely ignore their own comment section.)

      No doubt I’ll still publish some “art” here, but mostly the show is over. What I do publish may be more for my own documentation. I’ve got some souvenirs and other objects I’ve saved for years. I’ve realized I could just take pictures of them and discard the physical objects (which just gather dust). And I could post them here and let WP deal with backups. 🙂

      And I may yet have a few performance pieces in me. (Although, if everyone gets used to averting their eyes, probably no one will notice. Like that will be any different.)

      So, bottom line, yeah, it’s whatever I feel like. No more rules, no more plans. I even bundled up and put away the large stack of notes and writing that amounted to years worth of future posts. Screw that. Not worth the effort.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Wow. That didn’t seem that long when I was writing it! 😮

      • rung2diotimasladder

        You sound so organized. My categories are almost exactly the same as my tags. I don’t know what I’m doing, obviously.

        With pictures, I usually try to have one, but that’s really just because I know I should have one. I don’t spend much time on that, as is probably evident. It took me forever to figure out how to make the text wrap around my photo…if you look at my older posts you’ll see the photos just stacked. Plus, I usually use my photos (of Geordie, of course.) It’s really my only photo platform since I don’t really do anything on Facebook.

        I can’t imagine not being able to read my own comments section. That wouldn’t be fun.

        My goals with blogging have changed as I’ve gotten into it. At first, I did it because I thought I had to. I wanted to get a lot of followers so it would look like I had an audience in case I ever did try to publish my novel. It felt like a royal pain in the butt.

        Now everything has been flipped around. I’m not sure I care about the number of followers (although I’d happily take yours since you’re cleaning up!) This whole thing has turned out to be a meaningful social outlet for me. I was pleasantly surprised to find anyone at all would read my blog, and even more impressed to find that people who are more intelligent than I am are reading. I’m amazed too that no one has been insulting.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “You sound so organized.”

        I do, in fact, have awesome organizational skills (programmers need them), but in this case it’s more painful experience. Made a whole bunch of previous messes with this sort of thing, so this time I tried to do it thoughtfully…

        And it’s still messier than I’d like! Shit just grows like a coral bed; you can’t hope to control it. (Good life metaphor, actually. A lot of things have “coral bed” growth patterns… they evolve willy nilly over time.)

        “I can’t imagine not being able to read my own comments section.”

        It’s possible they read them, or skim them, or glance at them. It’s engaging that becomes a trick. Full engagement takes too much time, so either you don’t engage at all, or you try to be selective (which can be problematic, so many opt for a hands-off approach).

        [shrug] We should be so “lucky” so as to have those problems. On some level, I’d just as soon stay obscure… less work and I can write things that turn more popular blog comment sections into war zones.

        “My goals with blogging have changed as I’ve gotten into it.”

        Yeah, likewise! 🙂

        On all counts except the novel publication angle. People keep telling me I should write novels, but it just doesn’t grab me somehow. I think it’s that I don’t really have anything to say on a fiction level, but plenty to say on a social or technical level.

        Fiction is art, and what Real Art I ever made (not saying it was Good Art), involved lighting, or cameras, or images, or music. Text was never my tool for art, just for communication.

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