Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Daily Practice: Frustration

When we become frustrated, we are practicing frustration, and our frustration becomes quicker and stronger next time.

When we calm our frustration, we are practicing calm, and calming ourselves becomes quicker and stronger next time.

I wrote a long post today, then took a break. When I came back, all but the first two sentances were lost. I felt an initial stab of frustration. This immediate reaction is beyond my control. I reacted to this reaction by immediately taking a long deep breath.

What, neuro-chemically, is a long, deep breath doing for the body? I have no idea. It clears the lungs, causing the CO2 concentration sense to clear, providing a measure of discomfort relief for a tiny discomfort we usually forget even exists. It oxygenates the bloodstream, which obviously affects the brain pretty quickly since it usually only takes five or six really deep breaths to get the first sense of hyperventilation. It stretches the chest cavity, and stretching also clears a discomfort. There is also almost certainly a level of placebo acting as well from the cultural belief in the calming power of a deep breath, but I suspect that this is acting on top of actual breath calming mechanisms.

Are these the only reasons deep breathing is calming? I don't know. I don't even know if these are primary reasons. But I have consistently experienced the calming power of deep breathing, and have incorporated it into a de-stressing pattern. Having practiced a deep breath when I feel a sudden stress, it has become almost second nature to reach for this first step in the de-stressing toolkit as soon as I feel the first hit of, in this case, frustration. I know chainsmokers who will reach into their pocket for a cigarette with the same habitual readiness.

Next, I relax my muscles. This is the shorter version of something I used to do when I would start meditating. I would start at my toes and clench the muscles as hard as I can for a second, then completely relax the muscle. Then I would move up to the feet, then up the legs, and so on, clenching and releasing one section of muscles at a time. When just starting out, it is valuable to try and find muscles you normally don't think about, try and flex every single one separately. Having finished, try to clench every single muscle in your body. Hold it while you mentally inventory all your muscles, finding and clenching any you have forgotten about. When you feel like you have them all, release it all at once. Having released, do a mental inventory to see if any muscles are still tight and release them as well.

This is a worthwhile exercise on its own, especially as part of a stretching or meditative hour. So much stress accumulates just from tiny discomforts like a tight muscle or the CO2 sense in your lungs, and releasing that tension brings a level of calm and reduces stress. But once you have taken that inventory of your muscles a few times, you can reliably relax all your muscles at once without the buildup. I don't mean you should go from standing to collapsing on the floor, that would be silly, but when you develop an awareness of just how tense your muscles are, then you can relax everything not needed for maintaining posture, and you can feel just how much effort it takes without you even knowing just to stay standing on two feet.

Returning to the thread here, I experienced a sudden external shock that raised my stress and arousal levels. With a deep breath and muscle relaxing, I have returned to equillibrium. This is all that is needed for a minor, non-physical shock.

Having re-centered myself, I can now move forward. What, specifically, is the problem? How clearly and precisely can I articulate it? Here, the problem is easy to articulate, the writing I have done appears to be lost. Did identifying the problem cause me any stress? In this case, no, but sometimes simply trying to identify the problem or stating the problem directly causes additional stress. This is not productive. If I allow myself to get upset during this phase, then I am less likely to solve the problem and more likely to spiral into negative emotional states. In this case, identifying the problem is fairly simple, my text has vanished.

Now a common next step after identifying the problem is to determine what has caused the problem. However, I tend to find that this can be counterproductive at times. It can lead to blame or recrimination. It is easy to answer the question "What caused this?" with "That stupid fucking whoever/whatever!" Identifying a cause in this way gets us no closer to solving the problem and creates new stress.

For this reason, I find it more productive to not ask how a thing occurred and instead ask how I can fix it. Sometimes in the process of fixing a thing it will become necessary to figure out how it broke, but delaying the question until then means it won't get asked as often, and when it does I will be focused on how is a narrow, mechanistic sense instead of a broader who can I blame sense.

Then I begin the process of fixing it. If it can be fixed, the problem is solved and any negative emotions were simply wasted. If I can't fix it, then I say "Such is life" and move on with life, having completely abandoned the unobtainable thing. Of course, giving up on unobtainable things is a challenge in its own right, but it will be a challenge for another post.

For now I will be mindful of my reactions and maintain calm as best I can.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Politics Addiction

Hello, I am entirely alive, and I am a politics addict. I got clean after a debilitating addiction thanks to shipping and simply being away from the world for extended periods, but slowly, slowly the shadow has been creeping back into my life. But as Brady and Gray over at Hello Internet say, what's important is not to always try to be perfect and then get upset when you fail to achieve that perfection, but to get back on the wagon every time you fall off. This is me climbing back on the wagon.

The first step in a twelve step program is to admit you have a problem. The next step is to admit I am powerless over the problem and that only an omnipotent and benevolent God can save me from addiction. Needless to say, no matter how inclusive and ecumenical you want to formulate that, it isn't a viable option for someone with Nihilist in the tagline of their blog.

If I can't call upon a magic sky fairy to do the heavy lifting for me, then I need to develop in myself the motivation to stop. I think I can do this in the same way that I motivate myself to abstain from alcohol, by convincing myself that it is a pernicious thing wholly without merit. With alcohol this is easy, at least for me, since it tastes bad, makes me feel sick, has been seen in others to lead to decisions that are later regretted, and costs a lot of money. With politics and mainstream news in general, this doesn't quite work. After all, news is essentially free on the internet and provides something that feels good, not necessarily pleasure, but a mix of stimuli that flatter the reader and encourage him that staying up to date is part of being a loyal tribesman.

Problem: News consumes too much time. I remember the good old days, when I blogged regularly and held a desk job and spent easily 2-4 hours a day doing nothing but reading news. I would look at my life from time to time and wonder why I could never get anything done. If nothing else, recovering this time for higher value activities is tremendously valuable. When I was only occasionally newsing it wasn't so bad, but yesterday I spent the entire time after work plugged to the phone. I failed to do my daily studying and did not really enjoy myself as much as I would have doing something else, I think.

Problem: Politics is fleeting. This urgency is part of the seduction of it all, if you miss a post, you probably won't ever see that piece of writing again. I have missed entire cabinet members during the twisty drama of the Trump administration. Why were they appointed? Why were they fired? And then, when you come back to it, it takes a few days to catch up to the thread of everything, and still you have a missed a whole season in an environment without re-runs. It can feel embarassing to not know what is going on, and it feels incredibly empowering to be the first on top of a story while everyone else is just catching up.

As an interlude, I just went to go get dinner, and upon returning promptly closed this tab and opened an internet news site, then proceeded to get halfway through an article on Climate Girl before realizing what I was doing. It really is an addiction, I really need to stop.

Problem: None of it matters. Nearly all of the news is gossip about people and events that don't affect me. A select few things going on right now could potentially affect me, like the Saudi attack, brexit, or immigration reform. Even brexit is a bit of a strech here, since it would mostly affect my ability to purchase warhammer products, if it even does that. But regardless, what matters is not the day to day drama that fills the 24 hour news cycle, the point scoring, the accusations, the duelling narratives, the poll numbers, the think pieces, the twitter gotchas, the whatabouts, the analogies to past villains, the prevaricating, the screeching, the tribal cheerleading, the partisan fact-checking, the memes, or even the satire which already can appear in my news feed faster than I can read about the underlying event. No, of all the current events, the only questions I have are: Will I be called out to crew a ship during my off time? Will I be able to purchase warhammer models without shortages or price increases? And will the K-1 visa process be changing. These are simple questions with simple answers that don't require obsessing over the minutia of how our benevolent overlords arrived at said answers.

And there is another sense in which none of it matters. There is nothing productive I can do with this extra knowledge. No, that is an overstatement, and a violation of epistemic humility. Rather I should say that the main avenues of "doing something" are largely closed to your average news reader, including myself. Notionally, the ultimate value of the news is to allow you to make an informed decision in an election or to otherwise move the needle on civic policies. Except that the ability of someone not devoting their life to the political industry to make any difference nationally is essentially zero. I believe I wrote a post about why your vote doesn't count way back in the deep archives of this blog, and I reprise that as a rant semi-regularly to random people at work. Since then (2012, shit that was a long time ago), we have seen the social media revolution come into full swing, and it can feel like things are different. If a high school boy in a red hat can get on CNN for smirking at an Indian, If a rich Swedish girl can yacht to the UN, if literally anyone can climb on twitter and claim a #metoo, then surely we are in an age when anyone can make a difference. But what did any of those people actually do that affects my life directly? Nothing. They just add to the gossip. They feed the churn. The swirling news vortex claims more and more attention and so requires more and more nonsense to obsess over until we get to the point that holy shit there is just too much news. The gossip has drowned out the results. The noise has overtaken the signal.

My vote doesn't matter. My voice, even if it somehow reaches an audience, will only ever get passed around by people who already agree. And violence is not desireable, though I need to discuss exactly why in a dedicated post some later date.

It has become like watching sports, but with a crucial difference. Imagine two radio stations, one in Chicago and one in Green Bay, each announcing the Bears v Packers game. Except now imagine that both announcers are simply making the entire game up. A game is happening, to be sure, but the accounts in each city are only very loosely based on what is actually happening, to the point that each side believes they came out of the game victorious. I then come down from Wisconsin to visit a friend in Chicago and I say "Hey, that was pretty amazing when Aaron Rogers threw a 95 yard touchdown pass" and my friend says "No, the packers didn't score once, they were completely shut out." In my confusion I can go visit the websites of both hometown newspapers, and both subreddits, only to find that each has a completely different account of the game. And if, like super bowl 1 or most political issues, there is only a small amount of actual video evidence, then there may simply be no way for me after the fact to establish what actually happened and what is actually true.

If you don't think it be like that, look at this Trump/Biden/Ukraine mess from multiple sources. The conservative internet and liberal internet have two versions of the story so fundamentally different it is like they are reporting two seperate football games. The few brave redditors that cross into enemy lines are shouted down for distracting from the real issues or for shilling. As someone not privy to the intimate financial details of the Trump and Biden household finances nor the records of the Ukrainian Prime Minister, I can either trust "my side" to be correct, trust "the other side" to be correct, or piss on the whole mess and wait until someone tells me if Trump gets impeached.

Because that is the other side of a news blackout. The things I actually need to know, that would actually affect my life, will be communicated to me in other channels. The union already texted me that 28 ships have been activated for the Persian Gulf. I can ask around at the Warhammer shop if anyone expects brexit disruptions. Major regulatory reforms will be reflected in changes to any paperwork I have to fill out. And if I encouter something new, I can just ask about it and probably get a decent summary from whoever I am interacting with.

In short, I am done with news. It is all coming off my phone. Even the highly clever Babylon Bee, since that is just a gateway drug. I will keep reddit, though unsubscribed from any current events, which may also be a mistake. I will also keep up with Warhammer news, because while many of the same criticisms apply to that, how else am I going to know when to get hyped about new plastic army men in space?

If I fall off the wagon, I will just have to get back on again. I am 2 hours sober from my news addiction.

Monday, September 23, 2019

In which I fail to live up to ideals

This afternoon I finished the project I was working on and had nothing else on my to-do list. So I went down to the shop and saw the 1st engineer and asked him if he had anything for me to do. He snapped that I could go do something productive. And so I walked back out of the shop and proceeded to get butthurt like a big whiny bitch and accomplished very little the rest of the day.

Much could be said about the 1st's management style and grumpyness. Indeed, much was said to the 3rd who was cleaning generator heads and idly pretending to care.

But none of that is relevant. I am not in control of the 1st engineer's mood. I am in control of my own mood, and today I surrendered that control to external circumstances, and failed to retake that control when I noticed myself becoming negative.

This is a failure, and a failure with consequenses, because every time I grow upset at the world around me I am practicing being upset at the world around me, and in the future being upset will come quicker and more strongly for having been exercised.

What should I have done? I should have monitored my mental state more closely, by maintaining mindfulness at all times. This is something I have fallen out of the habit of doing.

Upon noticing the deviance of my mental state, I should have practiced re-centering myself. Most likely I would in this circumstance have de-legitimized the offending statement, by telling myself that it in no way affects me, it doesn't say anything about me, and it is wholly unrelated to myself. It should be like when I walk by strangers on the street holding a conversation, my mind doesn't even process what is being said because it isn't related to me at all. Similarly, the 1st being grouchy speaks to the internal state of the 1st engineer, something I have little interest in and no responsibility or control over. It says nothing at all about me, and thus should be discarded from my thoughts.

Having discarded the pollutant, I should re-center myself. I could remind myself of how fortunate my life is and tune my mindfulness to the beauty and joy of the world.

These are the typical steps of maintaining positivity. First, be aware of a declining mood. Second, identify and resolve the source of the declining mood. Third, take active steps to re-center. The activities needed can vary according to situation, but this is something I have done in the past, but failed to do today.

Hopefully, by writing this I will be kept mindful of the need to do better.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Why Positivity?

Goodness, yesterday's post was an incoherent ramble with a surplus of words and a shortage of worth. Today's, I think, will be similar. I should stop writing while distracted and sleepy, but I reckon I wouldn't manage to write at all if I did that.

Anyway, once we have decided that morality is false and life is meaningless, we are left with four options. First is suicide, which is always an option, but always by default the last option. Obviously, you would never pick suicide first, since death will come in its own time whether you select it or not, but hastening your death is always an option, if usually a poor one.

Second is to simply ignore the meaninglessness and proceed through life wholly without philosophy. As discussed yesterday, there seem to be a reasonable number of people fully capable of doing this. Still, it is avoiding the problem, not solving it, so we won't be pursuing it as a viable option.

Third is to become very upset and unhappy at this situation. If life is meaningless, why do anything? Why get out of bed, why take care of our bodies? Why prolong this life at all when it would make no difference cosmically if we just jump back to option 1? And lest it seem like I am being too dismissive, it really can be upsetting to feel like Wile E. Coyote three steps past the cliff and just looking down for the first time. We can regret that our philosophy consists of rejecting established modes of thought who have adherants that live peaceful, happy lives while our own lives are a struggle made even harder by the lack of support a comforting illusion can provide. Many people are used to believing that it is necessary to have a reason to be happy, and without that the natural state of life is sadness. Even if it doesn't drive us to rage or tears, melancholy, emptiness, and alienation can develop as we come to grips with meaninglessness.

If we don't kill ourselves and we don't become sad, our only other option is to be happy. Maybe we can be happy in spite of our philosophy, but that sounds a lot like the option 2 of running away. We can, at least in theory, find happiness within a nihilistic framework. And I would posit that this is the only correct option to choose. After all, options 1 and 2 are simply escapes, not valid options at all, and option 3 is clearly inferior in every way to option 4. Why would you ever be unhappy when you could instead be happy? I am unaware of any system of value in which that would be prefered, ceterus paribus.

This is where some people become angry with me. Yes, they will concede, they would prefer happiness over unhappiness, but it isn't simply a choice to be made. One's emotional state, in their estimation, is dependant on outside factors and not wholly within our control. The outside factor of seeing the cold reality of existance being the relevant one here that is causing the spiral into depression.

To this I would counter that surely at least some of your happiness is within your control. This assertion becomes more complex when you are skeptical that free will exists, but if you will simply allow me the assertion that it is possible to control some portion of your emotional state in some circumstances, then surely we would all agree that it is better to choose happiness.

Now, there can be two objections here. First is if you refuse to grant that emotional states can ever be chosen. I do plan to write on the topics of free will and internal control in the future, so maybe I can convince you there, but also maybe not. I would hope you could stay tuned for that discussion and push back where you think I am mistaken on that point.

Second is if you fundamentally disagree that happiness should ever be chosen over unhappiness. I include this for the sake of completeness, but I am not sure anyone actually thinks like this or why they would. If you do, please definitely leave a comment below to state your opinion so that I can take it into account.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Why Nihilism?

I have adopted a certain degree of nihilism as my philosophical framework. What's more, I suspect a large number of modern people have come to many of the same conclusions I have, even if most lack a framework for their scattered impressions and ideas.

The purpose of this project is to articulate and elaborate on the theme of my brand of positive nihilism, and so I need to start at the very beginning.

A nihilist, generally speaking, is someone who rejects religious and moral principles and asserts that life is fundamentally meaningless. You can get more or less aggressive with that, but the basic principals I am working with are:

- Religion is false.

- Morality is invented.

- Life has no inherent meaning.

Obviously, each of these could and has been the subject of libraries of contention, while all I offer are a set of uninformed blog posts, and only until I get bored or too busy to continue.

But I really think nihilism is the natural endpoint of most current modes of thinking, which is of course how I have arrived here.

The age of religious truth is mostly ended. The number of Christians in the west is declining steadily, and the number of people who take their faith seriously is dropping even faster. I think even the devout would agree with me here, though they would frame this as a bad thing where I find it to be positive. In my own personal journey, I find the core values of every major faith I have studied to be unacceptable, even setting aside my materialist skepticism of their truth claims. I will add here that I have not studied Hinduism in any depth, so I can't reject that with the same vehemence I have for buddhism and the Abrahamic faiths, but that is an investigation for another time.

To touch on another topic related to religion is the contention that the Christian faith has been largely supplanted in the west by Liberalism As Faith. This is one of the claims that made Mencius Moldbug so interesting back when he was writing, tracing the intellectual roots of progressivism back to John Calvin. It is worth exploring the degree to which progressivism truly is a faith alongside the question of whether it should be rejected as a philosophical tradition, but for now I will say that I have problems with this movement as well and consider it inadequate.

Having rejected religion as a source of fundamental truths, the inquiring mind naturally asks if there is some other source for truths. Progressives usually deny that they are religious, at least the properly left-wing ones do, and claim that their principles are wholly derived from some other source, like reason, marxist dialectic, feelings, etc. Maybe they are right about that. But for those of us who reject faith and reject progressivism as fundamental values, in what else can we ground ourselves philosophically? We need either to find that ground in some more exotic philosophy, construct our own ground, or become comfortable being philosophically ungrounded.

My approach, to the extent that I have thought this through a little bit before resolving to start writing on a regular basis, is mostly the second option, drawing heavily from the first.

I want to put in some notes here before going on. I don't mean to disparage or reject out of hand the idea of being philosophically ungrounded. I have met some number of people in my life who, while generally intelligent, are philosophically incurious. A few of them call themselves Christians, but for the most part they have no real reason for any of the things they believe. They have a working sense of right and wrong, a practical sense of reality, and a deep ambivalence towards questions that require too much digging. And they live successful lives, as we would normally consider it, content to accept the mainstream as generally correct. There is nothing wrong with this as a way to live, or at least my first intuition tells me. Socrates would certainly disapprove, but philosophy is to a certain extent a luxury.

There are also people who adopt radical subjectivism, radical skepticism, dadaism, or other similar philosophies, making a lack of grounding a virtue. This again is another thing to consider in my growing list of topics to pick at from the Positive Nihilist lens.

And a third note, just because I am initially rejecting these other systems (because, of course, they must all be rejected if we are going to arrive at nihilism), that does not mean that all my conclusions will be radically opposed to those found in these other philosophies. I fully expect to find myself in agreement with some other doctrines, since really, 90% of possible philosophical questions have answers that are nearly universally agreed on. Murder is generally bad. The universe probably exists. Mathematics is reliable. Men with beards are more attractive, intelligent, and virtuous than men without. Those sorts of things.

The final thing I am positing, which like all the many, many assertions I have made tonight I plan on examining later, is that life is fundamentally meaningless. This is a conclusion very commonly derived from both the absense of any god or god-like entity to be bestowing meaning upon life and from modern scientific understanding of the true scale of the universe. And once this conclusion is reached, it is usually ignored when not passing blunts around the circle.

I intend to follow the well trod path of establishing the bankruptcy of existing traditions and the meaninglessness of life, and then working aggressively withing that context to determing why we should live productive lives instead of committing suicide, though that second part is for another post.

This was a bit of a ramble, and it is past bedtimn, so I will conclude that religion is false, all claims to objective morality are false, and asserting that life is meaningless.

Tomorrow I will discuss why we should be happy about this.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Partisan Gloating

Here is a failure of epistemic humility. I am going to gloat over the failure of people who don't agree with me politically. I am going to point out their failure to update their own beliefs because it is easier to spot the mote in Al Gore's eye rather than the log in my own.

The point being, here are a bunch of failed climate predictions. I have always been skeptical of disaster claims, but honestly I don't think I have ever had good reasons to be skeptical. I have briefly skimmed a few arguments about flaws in the datasets, and I have held a poorly thought out belief in the general resilliance of the environment, and I have held what I think is a bit more robust idea in the power of human ingenuity to solve climate problems as they arise, though in this case many of the problems didn't even arrive to be addressed, despite blowing past all the red line limits that they warned about when I was younger.

So while I am enjoying the little thrill from a win for the tribe I affiliate with, it seems to me that I may have just gotten lucky here, epistemologically speaking. Also lucky that climate change hasn't rendered the world an inhospitable ball of fire and/or ice. But I am more worried about living well than about the destruction of the planet right now.

Positive Nihilism Step 1: Epistemic Humility

Where do I start with a project like this, one as vague and poorly defined as its erstwhile subject? Well, it seems to me that a contributing factor in many, many problems in thought, politics, and daily life, is excess certainty.

We see this most clearly in politics. The twats at twitter are completely certain that espousing conservative beliefs is tantamount to violence. And an increasing number of commentators allied with the president seem dead certain that the opposition party is completly psychotic and incapable of rational thought or compromise. I have my own opinions, though we will see that I am at least nominally trying to stop doing that. But all these are mere symptoms of an underlying problem of hubristic certainty.

In my personal life I am sometimes, though surely very, very rarely, incorrect about some matter or another. A fact I have noticed in these very rare instances is that I am often completely certain that I am correct, up and until the point that it is demostrated to me that my certainty was misplaced.

I have never, to my knowledge, been wrong about something and at the same time known I was wrong about that thing. Usually the former preceeds the latter, but never do the two overlap directly. And more generally, I don't think anyone knowingly generates a wrong answer to a problem. Sometimes we are unable to generate any answer and are forced to guess or play probablilities, but if we ever find ourselves holding on to an answer, I think it is nearly always one that we believe to be correct. External reality and the judgement of our peers may or may not agree, but that is hardly relevant to the point.

The point is that, absent external cues, we have no idea if the ideas we hold are or are not correct. Even with external cues, the ideas we generate can get their claws into us and prove at times to be more tenacious that objective reality and well reasoned debate.

This is a problem.

I would like as a general rule to believe things which are true and disbelieve things which are false. I think it would be best to adopt elements of positive nihilism into my life to the extent that they are true and good (look at me slipping an extranious term in there) and reject them when they are false and bad. I have not demostrated that this is a worthwhile rule yet, but allow me to simply assume for now that truth is somehow superior to falsehood, and maybe I will examine this assumption later.

How then, do I undertake a project to examine a philosophy that is new to me, when I am unable to tell a priori what is true?

There do exist in the world heuristics for sifting truth from falsehood. Vigorous debate was preferred by Socrates. Obedience to scripture was preferred by the Christian church fathers. The scientific method has been fashionable of late. Other methods exist as well. But debate is challenging on a blog whose audience consists of maybe seven or eight spambots, scripture is rejected as part of the foundation of nihilism, and the scientific method is too narrow in scope for most philosophical topics, hence the fact that philosophy remains a low paying field for sexually inadequate plebs while sexy STEM fields are reserved for the superiors of the genetic and moral elite.

To end the rhetorical flourishes, I think it is key in this endeavor as in life in general to practice epistemic humility. This is a fancy way of saying that I need to actively start holding in my mind the idea that I may be wrong.

This is harder than it sounds, and to me it already sounds pretty hard. Step one is to cultivate a voice in my ear saying "remember, you are fallable", like the Roman memento mori slave. Step two is to consistently listen to and actively consider that voice instead of just waving it away. Whenever I consider an idea, I should go out of my way to find and consider other ideas. When I am confronted with a problem, I should be reasonably sure about my own foundations before moving on. I already have a tendancy to hedge and qualify statements, but I should do it more and mean it more.

All in all, I need more humility. I need to be less certain about what I think I know. This is epistemic humility. I am going to try and cultivate this in my writing and in general.

But the thing about humility is that it doesn't come with any prizes. You can't brag about your humility, and you can't ever be sure that you are being humble enough. But at the same time, there is no point to searching for answers if you lack the hubris needed to stop at some answer. So I will come to conclusions, and I will shake those conclusions and keep in mind that they could be wrong.

Or at least I will try.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Exceeding Expectations

Oh look! A distraction! So much for turning into a blog about philosophy and self betterment. 
Anyway, I made this a few days ago, but reddit didn't appreciate it, so I am going to post this here, too.

I should write again

I haven't thought about this blog in a while. Ten dollars a year to keep it running seems like a fair deal for a bit of nostalgia. I skimmed through the archives a bit, and I have come a long way in life. From legislative analysis (which I am not sure is even in these archives) to random fiction to political complaining to travelogue, I am starting to think my life has had its fair share of twists and turns despite me recently relating to someone that I haven't really done much in life and don't get out often.

In any case, my on again off again passion for writing has been flaring up despite my lengthy to do list for when I get home next week. I am still sailing, having reached the vaunted rank of Qualified Man of the Engine Department and being only two trips away from qualifying for an officer's license. I am finally building the house I have been planning for years. Most of my passions were funneled into a warhammer hobby that reached full bloom right as a new passion stole my heart away. Juggling the house and love and warhammer and the daily business of life is difficult enough without me adding a responsibility for writing on a regular basis, but the truth is that I was already writing. I have two half-finished and utterly trashy Warhammer fan-fictions, and the recent call for submissions from the Black Library has made it even clearer in my mind that this is not a form of writing that is ever going to pay dividends.

And so I have decided to re-brand and re-open the blog. I give myself 50-50 odds of managing to post anything else after this. After all, 創業は易く守成は難し. The Buddha says, a careless pilgrim only scatters more widely the dust of his passing, or something like that. Actually, The Careless Pilgrim would be an excellent blog name, had I not already committed to Entirely Alive.

In any case, the new subtitle is going to be "The Positive Nihilist" and I will be writing to meditate on self improvement within my own peculiar philosophical system, as well as clarifying for myself precisely what that philosophical system is.

I hope the three spambots that follow me enjoy the ride.