Department Of The Day After
No – that *that* day.
Moiself hopes you found a less-than-traditional way to celebrate yesterday.
* * *
Department Of How Come I Never Thought Of This Before?
This is fascinating… At least to moiself.
A recent issue of the podcast Freakonomics (“What’s Wrong with Shortcuts?”) featured podcast host Stephen Dubner interviewing mathematician Marcus du Sautoy about du Satoy’s book, Thinking Better: The Art of the Shortcut in Math and Life. The author argues that, despite what we’ve been taught, the secret to success is not in hard work, it’s in figuring out and applying shortcuts to solve one problem quickly so we can then move on to another. Mathematics; music, psychotherapy, politics – du Sautoy claims that shortcuts can be found/applied to practically everything. But, not everything:
“When you’re going on holiday, I don’t want to shortcut the holiday, because it’s about spending time. The point is, I don’t want you to use shortcuts for everything and spoil something you enjoy doing.”
C.B.T. (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) has been hailed by many psychologists as being a true breakthrough in mental health therapeutic modes, due to C.B.T.’s pragmatic and short-term approach to handling problems. Podcast host Dubner noted that Du Satoy’s book dealt briefly with the idea of using shortcuts in psychotherapy, but seemed skeptical of its efficacy, as per the fact that the human psyche is complex and dynamic enough to reject the type of shortcutting that might work in other realms. Du Sautoy’s response indicated he was at least somewhat in agreement (my emphases):
“… I think that (applying shortcuts) depends on the problem you’re facing…. I talked to Susie Orbach, who’s a psychologist, and she had this nice way of describing some of the problems that people are facing: it’s hard to learn a language. It’s even harder to unlearn a language. “
Imagine trying to unlearn English (or whatever your first language is).
Some people come to therapy with ingrained ways of thinking from experiences they’ve had in childhood – the family “language” they learned does not serve them well, and they need to “unlearn” that language and learn another one. Such resetting of thought patterns and behaviors will not likely respond to drastic shortcuts. However, the C.B.T. modality (of learning how to be aware of what your thought processes are) is, in itself, “…enough to short-circuit the algorithm which was always sending you into depression. You’re sort of stuck inside the system of the way you’re thinking. What C.B.T. often helps you to do is to take a step up and look at the way that thought process is happening and understand the trigger which always sends you down….”
Moiself is a longtime fan of C.B.T.  But what keeps coming back to me from the podcast is the concept of trying to *unlearn* your first or native language. I realize the concept is used metaphorically in du Sautoy’s argument; nevertheless, I’ve encountered something like it throughout my life, in the correlated cases of watching people deal with the cognitive dissonance of trying to embrace reality while trying to stay within certain religious traditions and/or worldviews.
A personal example: I was raised within the “language” – both via the wider culture and in my own family of origin – of the Christian religion. During one of the few conversations with my father I had (when I was an adult) wherein he asked about why I was not/was no longer a Christian, I briefly laid out the fundamentals of the faith, along with why and how I know that those religious tenets are not true and/or are not valid explanations of reality. I then asked him a question he could not answer:
“How can I pretend to *not* know what I know?” 
* * *
Department Of The Grinch Does Thanksgiving
The headline had remained on the online Oregonian newspaper feed for several days. I would scroll past it on my phone news app…and finally decided to check it out.
Big mistake; what kind of story was moiself expecting, given the headline?
I’ll start again.
Perhaps moiself should title this segment, Department Of the Make A Wish Foundation Achievement I’m Not Celebrating.
Even though I was reminded of that M-A-W organization (the kind of charity which helps dying/cancer-stricken/handicapped kids achieve their “dreams”) when I read about this “achievement,” the hunter in this story is a grown-ass young man, not a child. My lip is still curling after reading about how this significantly handicapped man – who was apparently raised to think that it is a high achievement to hunt (read: stalk and slaughter) a magnificent creature, not as a way of putting food on his starving family’s table, but for “sport”  – was able to kill an elk thanks to a group of abettors, referred to in the article as his “guardian angels.”
The article is accompanied by a photograph of three masochistic killers “sportsmen” : the CP-stricken hunter in his ATV wheelchair, and two of his “angels,” one of which holds up the lifeless head of the elk by lifting its antlers. Some choice excerpts from the article:
“On…the next-to-last day of his northeast Oregon elk season and despite severe impairment by cerebral palsy, DM (hunter’s name) pulled the trigger on the massive six-point Rocky Mountain bull he yearned for.
But not without the help of a flock of good Samaritans. 
Guardian angel 1: DM’s father and one of his primary caregivers, who takes Drew fishing and hunting, has developed a system for Drew to shoot a well-aimed rifle….
Angel 2: The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which issued DM his disabled fishing and hunting permit after completion of a hunter safety course…..
Angel 3: Youth Outdoors Unlimited of Moses Lake, Washington, which hosted DM years ago on a bear hunt and loaned him the same track and mechanical rifle system he used then…..
Angel 4: Facebook. Yup, social media. Monsey has a large following on the platform….”
The article goes on to list at least three more “angels,” including the veterinarian/cattle rancher who owns the ranchland where the elk was shot.
The picture I mentioned is repulsive (to me…I realize I’m living in a very different world and mindset from those who enjoy hunting). Here is the only picture of a giant bull elk moiself finds acceptable. What in the world possesses people to think that the life of such a magnificent animal – which is what attracts a hunter to it in the first place, the fact that it is alive – is best served by becoming a trophy, or a testament to some short-sighted asshole’s twisted sense of accomplishment?
* * *
Department Of Message To The PR Department Of KenKen Publishing
…and any other KenKen puzzle books (which moiself purchases on a regular basis).
Re your description on the cover of the books, “100 challenging logic puzzles that make you smarter.” Not that you care what I think, but you have no objective evidence for that claim.
Q. In pop culture, it’s a popular notion that you can do puzzles to ‘train your brain.’ But, as an adult, can you actually do that? To improve memory and cognition?
A. “So, the answer to that is generally, ‘Yes,’ but doing puzzles improves your brain only in doing puzzles…. the way you think about that is like doing sports: If you do tennis, you’re not necessarily going to be good at doing football; you’ll just be good at doing tennis. But overall, doing tennis is helping your general physical abilities and making you sprier.”
(Ausim Azizi, chair of neurology at Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine, interviewed in “Do Puzzles Really Train Your Brain,” The Philly Voice. )
Also, to make moiself “smarter” is not why I buy KenKen books. I just like doing the puzzles. But I suppose, from a marketing POV, “100 challenging logic puzzles that you just like to do” doesn’t quite cut it.
* * *
Department Of Phrases Which Spark Memories
It was a phrase or sentiment I had neither thought about nor heard in some time, until it was used by a long-time friend recently. This made me think back to…
Dateline: over twenty years ago, when my in-laws were out from Florida, visiting moiself, MH, and our offspring. I was driving my late father-in-law somewhere. And by late I do not mean to cast aspersions re his timeliness – he wasn’t a tardy man – but late as in, he is now deceased. But he was (obviously to y’all, as per this story…I hope) alive when I was driving him somewhere; I mean, I’m not the kind of person to schlep a dead in-law around in my vehicle….
Once again, I’ll start again.
So: moiself and MH’s father are out. I was driving; he was in the passenger seat of my car; we came to a stoplight; the car in front of us had a quite noticeable bumper sticker.
My ordinarily even-tempered FIL told me that whenever he saw a car with a sticker like that he felt like getting a big shovel of shit, dumping it on the car’s windshield, and exclaiming to the driver, “Look, it’s happening!”
He used a somewhat humorous tone when he made that declaration, but I could tell that it (the bumper sticker) actually upset him. I asked him why he found the phrase/sentiment so irksome. He said he thought it to be indicative of a negative, passive attitude about life.
I chewed on that that for a while, then told him that I had a very different reaction. To moiself, shit happens is merely an…uh, earthier…form of the expressions and adages found worldwide, in many languages and cultures; e.g., “C’est la vie;” “Que sera, sera.”
Translation: shit happens simply (if scatologically) expresses the understanding that there will be things, good and bad and neutral, which will happen to us and which will be out of our control. This doesn’t mean that you therefore go through life as flotsam, simply drifting with the currents and tides of fate – of course not. You do what you can, but it is realistic – and mentally healthy – to recognize that, ultimately, you are *not* in control of everything. Shit happens/que sera, sera: things can and will happen to you – things which may seem as an insult from the universe but which, in fact, are random and have nothing to do with you personally.
I think I was able to successfully communicate my POV. Or perhaps the genial comments of understanding my FIL made were to thwart me from breaking into the theme song of my patron saint, Doris Day. 
* * *
Punz For The Day
Q: What smells the best at a Thanksgiving dinner?
A: Your nose.
Q: What do you get if you divide the circumference of a
classic Thanksgiving dessert by its diameter?
A: Pumpkin pi.
* * *
May you understand that shit happens;
May you do strive to ensure that you are not the shit happening to someone else;
May you do your best to ignore Black Friday;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 To the point that I think, by comparison, most other forms of therapy are basically a waste of time.
 Even though * he* was the one who brought it up, my sweet father responded with his go-to, five-word phrase of circumvention, which he employed whenever we were getting into conversational territory which made him uncomfortable: “Well, that’s enough about that.”
 And unless or until the Bull Elk in question, or any other animal so stalked, is armed with the high-powered weaponry of the human hunters (who must also, as their prey is, be naked) and agrees to participate with the human, in the hunting, it is the ultimate in poor sportsmanship to call hunting a “sport.”
 Certainly, not a Good Samaritan from the elk’s POV. And in the original Good Samaritan story, the Samaritan did not help one creature by killing another one.
 Yes, atheists can have a patron saint, and for a while, Doris was mine.