Thursday, February 19, 2015

Oh, really? No, I didn't think so.

Back to the Future.  So 2015 is the year in Back to the Future II (1987) to which Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) travel forward in time from 1985.  It's interesting to ponder on 1980s-vintage screenwriters' speculations about what life would be like in 2015.  Of course, the film got most of the big things wrong (flying cars, "Mr. Fusion" units, hoverboards, pinpoint weather forecasts, rejuvenation surgery), failed to anticipate others (the Internet, smartphones, e-mail, advanced-graphics gaming), and didn't foresee the obsolescence of still other things (fax machines, gimmicky cable-TV channels [the "Scenery Channel"], most first-class mail, print media).  The film also took a tongue-in-cheek view of crime and punishment ("The justice system works swiftly in the future, now that they've abolished all lawyers").  But there were a few things on which the film came close to the mark: (1) eyewear for 360-degree vision while driving; (2) home entry using the owner's fingerprint; and (3) voice-commanded communications equipment.  It's hard for me to imagine any great technological advances happening in the next thirty years, especially as civilizational torpor continues to expand throughout the world.  In fact, I find it scary to think about what could happen between now and the year 2045 -- Planet of the Apes (1968) or The Road Warrior (1981) might be a much more accurate cinematic vision of the future.

Obsession with gym clothes.  I think I'm finally turning the corner on my obsession with shorts, shoes, and warm-up pants for use at the gym.  I now have twenty-five pairs of shorts in rotation (mostly Adidas with a couple of Nike pairs, a few "Aliexpress" Adidas knock-offs, and one off-brand brown pair), six pairs of running shoes (including two in my new favorite color, mint green), and five pairs of Adidas warm-up pants.  I still wear inexpensive sweatshirts and sleeveless t-shirts when I go to the gym, but I'm pretty brand-snobby about my shorts, shoes, and warmup pants.  My compulsion to buy athletic shorts in a wide variety of colors has made me question my manhood on multiple occasions, but I've gotten as "flamboyant" in that regard as I'm going to be. I still try to go to the gym four times a week; having a large workout wardrobe helps to motivate me, although more/better sleep would help even more.

Low T.  The last blood work I had done showed low levels of testosterone in my system, which doesn't surprise me in the least.  I'm sure that using supplemental testosterone would do much to revitalize me, but I'd have mixed feelings about it.  Low hormones have put me on fairly equal footing with my wife in terms of libido, which may be more a good thing than bad.  Long gone are the days when I almost literally subsisted on sex.  However, despite there being a real benefit now in rarely feeling like I have to beg to "dance," life doesn't seem as worthwhile as it once did 

Gloria with Heidi and Kristy, Dec 2014
Gloria Finnemore.  I, of course, am not Dorine's first husband, and for the entire 30-year history of our marriage, her former in-laws, George and Gloria Finnemore, have been part of our lives.  It was an uneasy co-existence for some years, as I was acutely sensitive to being reminded that there had been someone before me, and the Finnemores were understandably interested in keeping their son Rick's memory alive, particularly in the minds of Kristy and Heidi, Rick's biological daughters.  Over time, however, the resentment wore off on both sides, and I came to have high regard for George and Gloria, who did much to treat Dorine's and my other children in the same manner they did Kristy and Heidi.  George died of cancer a number of years ago; no funeral was held, but there was a memorial luncheon at some friends' house.  I was deeply touched when Gloria, despite her grief, went out of her way to make me feel like family when most of the people there might still have regarded me as the interloper who married Rick's widow.  (For my part, I recently went with Dorine, and with Kristy and Heidi, to a sort of dedication of a tree planted in Rick's memory at Bullhead Park, where he had his fatal heart attack in 1983.)  Gloria herself, sadly, had a bad stroke soon after Christmas (see photo, taken at our house on Christmas Day).  It was thought she'd die shortly; however, to date she has hung on out of sheer grit.   It isn't clear to what degree she'll ever recover, but I wish her the best.

[Update 2/22/15: Gloria passed away yesterday, February 21, 2015. I hope she, George, and Rick are having a joyous reunion on the other side.]

Never going back - Chile.  People who know I served a church mission in Santiago, Chile often ask me if I've ever gone back to Chile or would like to.  I think I might have enjoyed it if I could have gone within a few years of my return, but, after 34 years, I'm sure I'd hardly recognize any of the places I knew, and very few of the people I knew would still be living where they once did, assuming they're still alive.  Once in a while, I'll open up Google Earth and zoom in on my old sectores to see what I can still recognize from a bird's-eye view; however, if I ever went back to Santiago, it would almost certainly be purely as a tourist, not as someone trying to re-live old mission memories.  In any case, it isn't a priority of mine.

The moving goal line.  I still have a few issues with the practical implications of Jesus Christ's Atonement as the LDS Church views it.  We pay a lot of lip service to the Atonement -- hardly a week of church meetings goes by without some in-depth reference to it -- but I still invariably arrive at the conclusion that we don't really believe in it the way we say we do.  One, many members seem to believe in "the Atonement for me, but not for thee," never acknowledging that someone they dislike could ever derive redemption from it.  And, two, the fact that the "goal line" is constantly moving -- meaning that whatever one does, it's never enough -- almost forces the conclusion that the only way to keep it stationary is, simply, never to approach it.  I'm pretty much past the point where I can be shamed into doing things, at least by anyone but my wife, and especially now that I don't ever feel well.

Bruce Jenner.  I remember watching a lot of the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics on television, and Bruce Jenner, the decathlon champion, was one of the big American heroes coming out of those Games.  In that era, an athlete's appearing on "Wheaties" cereal boxes was a sure sign he/she had arrived as a celebrity, and the photogenic Jenner was the archetypal "Wheaties" poster boy.  (I think the producers of the 1978 Superman movie had Jenner in mind when they cast Christopher Reeve in the title role.)  He also proved over time to be very good at hawking products in TV infomercials.  I knew vaguely that Jenner had some connection with the reality show Keeping Up with the Kardashians, although the show is so lurid and voyeuristic that I've never watched more than about ten seconds of it while channel-surfing.  However, the publicity surrounding Jenner's desire, at age 65, to self-identify as a woman (not to mention his recent inattentiveness in allegedly causing a fatal car crash) reminded me of a show I saw one time about people with indeterminate gender -- that is, people whose bodies display features that are not clearly male or female.  It was a revelation to me, because here were people who were undeniably "transgendered," and it made me re-think the idea that a person with all the physical and genetic traits of one gender couldn't still have non-visible traits of the other.  I don't know what to think about Jenner, however -- he's such a publicity hound that I'm not sure there's anything he wouldn't do to be in the news.  Sixty-five is awfully late in the game for a man to decide he wants to live as a woman.

Abortion and African Americans.  I've read conflicting statistics regarding the prevalence of abortions among the general population of African American women, and how the ratio of abortions to live births sharply exceeds that of white women and hispanic women.  Some have made the observation that there is, for a number of mostly socioeconomic reasons, a higher rate of unwanted pregnancies among black women, and that therefore one should expect to see a greater percentage of abortions.  However, whatever the true numbers are, and whatever the reasons, there doesn't seem to be much doubt that there is a glaring disparity.  The observation I would make is this: in virtually every other aspect of American life, any practice or institution that has a disproportionately negative consequence or effect on African Americans is considered prima facie evidence of racism.  But, on-demand abortion is so sacrosanct among the intelligentsia (including most civil-rights leaders) that its hugely disparate impact on African Americans goes virtually without comment on the Left; it seems that no matter how powerful a force racial politics is in this country, it is trumped absolutely by abortion politics.  Nonetheless, surely there would be a tipping point somewhere along the continuum.  If what I've read is true, at present there is one African American abortion in this country for about every three African American live births.  What ratio would that have to be for the Leftist elite to acknowledge there's a problem?  One-to-two?  One-to-one?  (Ten-to-one?)