I regrettably posted a diatribe of sorts at the end of last week wherein I tried to explain the complicated relationship I have with my parents and the main source of the complications; regrettably, because this blog is not meant to be so much about my personal life.  It is intended to offer views about various and sundry issues and events, hopefully providing a way of thinking that profitably strips away perceptional biases in order that things might be seen as they are.  While I stand by my analysis of the relationship–I have spent enough time turning it over in my head to believe that I have evaluated things as objectively as is possible–it was not really something that I should have shared, and not because my family members read it and objected.  I purposely have never revealed the existence of the blog to my family members, so they were none the wiser; but just because it was a bit self-indulgent.  Everyone has a family and the issues attendant with them.   It was presumptive of me to think that mine might be more interesting or resonant than any others.   As Tolstoy observed in the opening line to Anna Karenina, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”   The unique manner with which my family is unhappy might be grist for a novelist’s mill one day, but this isn’t the day. 

Besides, there is very little about my relationship with my parents that has much bearing on my daily life today.  I was only a child, eight or ten years old, when I realized that I would have to make my own way in the world by and large without their help, and that is mostly what I have done.   I only get angry at them anymore when I get dragged back into the fold to be treated again as the red-headed step-child that I once was.  Otherwise I’m mostly indifferent, like I was as a child, about the dramas playing out with my mother and father and three sisters and their families; you can imagine, with three sisters and an emotional mother and imperialistic father, the dramas come quickly and ferociously.

This is roughly the one year anniversary of the blog.  When I started out writing, the impetus was to vent some of my frustrations at the ongoing insanity of the financial and economic system bailouts.  My first post (found here) dealt with Goldman’s $550 million fine from the SEC for not having revealed its counterparty position on a complicated mortgage-backed security deal.  I said then that the fine changed nothing, and it appears I was correct.

It didn’t take long for my eclectic mind to wander, and dish on everything from physics and biology to religion and philosophy, with a fair measure of economics, politics, medicine, sports, and even the law, thrown in.  

Perhaps my favorite physics post (found here) dealt with the contorted logic of today’s theoretical physics and the physicists engaged in its dark arts.  It arose as a response to a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece proclaiming that the universe arose from nothing, which the scientist believed implied that God was not necessary, a logically-fallacious argument if ever there were one.

I mainly used the vehicle of book reviews to explicate my views on biology and evolution science.  The best of the several books I read and reviewed has to be Richard Dawkins’ Greatest Show on Earth; the review of which is found here.

But the most popular of all my book reviews was of a thin self-help book apparently favored among Christian men, The True Measure of A Man by Richard E Simmons III, that was remarkable only for how utterly silly and ridiculous it was.  I ripped the book apart, chapter by chapter, just because it was so annoying.  Considering the comments the review generated, I suspect that most people reading it were more or less horrified at my impiety.  I was honestly quite surprised as many people read my review as did.  As I warned readers, the review is long and tedious and concerns theology and philosophy, so is possibly very boring.  But they read it anyway.  If you want the cliff-notes version, here it is:  The true measure of a man is himself.  The man in the mirror is the only yardstick by which any man can be measured, which is why so many men lead lives of desperation.  They know they haven’t met their own expectations of how they should live, so they look for solace elsewhere, through materialism, or honor, or any number of things that have nothing to do with serving the God that beats within their breast.

My most popular post on current events was provocatively titled If Charlie Sheen’s penis had a spine, would that explain his behavior?  Never underestimate the value of putting search engine optimized words together, like Charlie Sheen and penis, in a title.  The post had almost nothing to do with Charlie Sheen.  It was about a study in biological science that purported to prove that humans are likely monogamous because, unlike our ape ancestors and cousins (chimpanzees), human penises don’t have a spine. Spineless penises take more time for copulation so the pair-bonding is stronger, or so did the study conclude.  The study was utter nonsense, but fun to write about.

Economics for me is easy, and therefore always trends to tedious, so I don’t write about economics as much as I might, given my background in it.  Trying to figure out what might happen one month to the next on the unemployment rate or the growth rate or any other economic variable is, to me, utterly banal.  I prefer to view the big picture and try to ascertain trends and long-term relationships among variables.  It is why I rarely issue predictions (but see some of my predictions from almost a year ago here), and why I use so many graphs from the St. Louis Fed’s database (for example, see this post on the relationship of several economic variables, using FRED graphs to make the analysis) that often goes back a half-century or more (which is still a quite limited view, but better than ignoring anything more than a decade or so old like so many economic pundits do today).

The posts on my son’s relapsed leukemia (here, here and here) have been cathartic for me and hopefully useful for others that might be facing the same or similar challenges.  Perhaps the all-time most-popular post of any category (here) has been one that I did on cancer rates and sun exposure that concluded a lack of sun might in fact be causing, rather than preventing cancer. 

While I started out writing the blog to vent my frustrations at a society I believed had gone mad, I have come to realize that the act of writing is an act of self-preservation for me, providing peace and succor for my soul.  The frustrations haven’t completely vanished, but have become so much better understood until it sometimes feels that way. 

Writing requires thinking deeply enough about a subject until the mind is sufficiently organized that it can intelligibly communicate ideas.  How one feels is not enough.  Feelings, if they are not to be ignored or abandoned, must be supported by reasoned analysis when put forth in writing. 

It has been a very profitable year.  Writing the blog has given me the impetus to restart a writing project begun before my son’s relapsed leukemia that I feel confident I now will finish.  While I don’t write for any specific audience except myself (I specifically refrain from checking the blog stats more than once a week), it has been nice to have the readers along for this journey of intellectual discovery and understanding.  I hope you also have realized some profit in visiting The Curmudgeon’s Attic.

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