That’s two interesting phrases I’ve heard a lot lately.

Now, people use the term “a lot” to indicate anything from twice to fifty-seven and even beyond.

In my case, it means I watched a crapload (a little-used technical term) of these videos:

Beau of the Fifth Column — by topics

Beau of the Fifth Column — list of videos

Knowing people are too lazy to click on links, here’s one of the videos:

Just a few things and a few thoughts I want to share.

First, THIS link about happiness and mental-well-being. The site is the Happiness Lab and it currently features short episodes on coping with coronavirus Social Distancing and isolation. You can also listen to Season 1 and Season 2 begins on the 27th.

Even more interesting is THIS link . . . it takes you to Yale’s most popular course (over 2M people currently enrolled for the course) which begins today, April 18th.

You can join the course for free — as I did — or pay the $49 entry fee if you want to earn a certificate to add to your resume. I entered for free; just provided my name and email address, and I was registered. There are ten weeks and it looks like there’s about 2-3 hours worth of material per week (just a cursory look, I had, so don’t hold me responsible if that’s not true).

Here’s the bio on the professor (including the links above):

Laurie Santos is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Yale University. She hosts the popular podcast The Happiness Lab and she teaches the most popular course offered at Yale to date, titled The Science of Well-Being. Laurie is also the director of the Comparative Cognition Laboratory and the Canine Cognition Center at Yale. She received her A.B. in Psychology and Biology from Harvard University in 1997 and her Ph.D. in Psychology from Harvard in 2003.

That blurb is from the Sam Harris interview with the lady, featured on his Waking Up app (a meditation app).

Some of what I see (looking at the titles) covers ground I’m already familiar with through reading various articles about cognitive studies and listening to podcasts, and I’ve already incorporated some of what I learned into how I live my life and how I cope with life.

Still, I’m always interested in learning more about how my brain works and controlling it to my benefit.

The class begins today, as I said, and I don’t know if it’s also the last day to register. Keep that in mind if interested in it.

Right, let’s proceed . . .

So, as the pandemic continues, I cross paths with more things that annoy me . . . no, that’s too mild. It’s things that piss me off.

Look, I spend a fair amount of time gently — and sometimes not-so-gently — pointing out to people that being “for” one political party or the other is, frankly, dumb. As is one religious belief over another, or any single ideology over another.

I cannot think of any religious, political, social, ethnic, or racial group that is completely right or completely wrong about things they believe and act on. Typically, they all have some things they get right, some things they get wrong, and some things that make them sound like they are bat-shit crazy. The proportions might change, but there’s always a spectrum.

Hence, it’s difficult for me to respect anyone who completely and totally buys into everything “their” group says. And it’s not just losing respect. 

If you are one of them people who are steeped into the culture of either the Far Right or Far Left, in short order you will cease to exist for me. I mean, I used to give a nod and a wink and let some things slide, but as I get older — and especially now — I have far less patience than I had even last month.

Truthfully, they too will likely lose their patience with me . . . and I can live with that, but then, stay out of my orbit.

What does this have to do with COVID-19, you ask? Good question; let me answer it after this photo.

Yet another grass photo as it came out of the D7500.

It might be evident to some that I’ve consciously retreated from commenting on current affairs. Well, mostly. I’ll throw the odd jab here and there, but I don’t address specific topics, not even when those topics dominate the news and/or are of supreme importance to humanity in general.

But don’t be fooled. Inside, I have plenty of opinions and, increasingly, my concern for the future of this country (and the world) leads me to pessimistic estimates about the path we’re traveling.

For instance, I believe both Republicans and Democrats systematically — and for different end-goals — weaken the Constitution and the rule of law as they engage in an ideological power struggle where the public and the public interest are but pawns to be played and sacrificed.

A few years ago, it would have seemed impossible, but I believe we’re watching the dismantling of our system of government. I don’t know what will replace it, but I’m certain a large percentage of the population won’t like it . . . and it will be too late to do anything about it.  

At this point, someone might say I’m overreacting and that we’ve faced this and worse in the past. Yes, we’ve faced similar threats in the past and we — in each instance — recovered and came out of them arguably the better for it.

Depending on who you listen to, you have definite ideas as to what is wrong with health care in this country. Depending on who you listen to, you have definite ideas about who is to blame. Depending on who you listen to, you have definite ideas as to what should be done.

I’m tired of arguing with most people because most of these definite ideas — per everything I know — are myopic at best, could charitably be classified as misguided, and, if I’m brutally honest, I think are willfully dishonest and driven by partisanship.

Understand, I claim no special knowledge or insight. But I do claim we’re not having the right discussion.

In the words of one of our leaders, who knew health insurance was so complicated? Everybody. Everybody knows, but they still all want an easy answer, a silver bullet.

Before I tell you what I think, I’m going to give you some links. That’s right; you got a reading assignment.

There seems to be a lot of stuff about statues and whether they should be taken down or left up. So much so that it encroaches into my blog browsing, what with everyone having an opinion.

One of the blogs I read had a short editorial stating that Jefferson’s and Washington’s statues should be taken down along with the statues of everyone who was in some way associated with slavery. He was very forceful about it. 

I replied with a short comment:

“Obviously, there’s nothing to discuss here, so I look forward to watching the dynamiting of Mount Rushmore.”

Yes, I’m capable of short comments when I want to. It’s just that I often don’t want to. Anyway, he replied with more absolutism. I couldn’t very well let matters stand (I’m stupid that way). 

The following is the reply I left on the spur of the moment; I thought it might make for a decent Sunday post. So here goes (with minor corrections and a few extra words). 

This is only 1,200 words. Why, even some Australians should manage to stick around to the end of it. 

As I mentioned before, photos appearing on Sunday with my thoughts are gathered and presented in THIS SmugMug Gallery. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you can also click on the photos for a larger version or check out the gallery at the end of the post. This is another one of those where I post an original and then variations of the same, one or maybe more. Except for the above; that’s a straggler from another post.

It’s Sunday, so no exercising today. I’m still sweating, though, but with two fans on me, it’s somewhat under control. FYI, I find snacking is a good way to counter sweating.

Readers might have noticed that I’ve left my opinion posts slide a bit. Oh, sure, I’ve dropped comments here and there, but it’s been a while since I’ve had a dedicated post about “things.”

. . . to facilitate hate, marginalize, oppress, and in general, make other people’s lives difficult if not unbearable.

I don’t have to be a member of any one group to do most things. I mean, yes, unless I’m a female — or my name is Trump — I can’t waltz into a women’s dressing room whenever I feel like it.

But I don’t have to be a member of any particular group to steal, lie, cheat, mistreat others, and bully people. As an individual, I can be cruel, disrespectful, odious, dishonest, and a poor excuse for the arrangement of organic material we typically classify as “human.”

I need not profess allegiance and loyalty to certain groups as an excuse for doing any or all of those things; I just have to be an asshole.

But, imagine I am an asshole — not much of a stretch of the imagination, some would say — and need to cover up the fact. More than that; imagine I need to absolve me of my assholeness.