Funky, Funky

July 28, 2013

NORTHPOLELAKE165356--415x415As I get older, the writing process appears to be short-winded, and based on mood — creative juices just don’t percolate onto the page, or as in this modern era, onto the laptop screen as easily, and, nowhere the quantity as years gone bye-bye.
Emotion seems to rule the brain, creating a hopefully short-lived writer’s block. Words written can’t keep up with the senses fired on those motor neurons to deliver responses, but all kept hidden in the mind — thinking is always faster than actual action.
The major basis for this personal crisis — modern life, via the news.

I’m just caught in a badly-rendered, ugly-tale-ballad of a funk.

(Illustration found here).

The Urban Dictionary for, ‘funk‘ — in a kind of weird order: A foul odor; a style of R&B music whose artists include James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic (aka P-Funk) and Red Hot Chili Peppers; depressed mood.
Two shitty things on both sides of a good thing.

Or maybe the first two come from the same source – original ‘funk’ in music meant ‘a strong odor‘ (which somehow meant musical integrity), and evolution of the musical genre led to the popular explosion of sexy, dancing sounds in the 1960s and 70s.
The depression part has other roots.
According to Merriam-Webster‘s online dictionary, ‘funk’ has four definitions, including the smell, and the music. And two involving being chickenshit: to become frightened and shrink back; to be afraid of: dread; to shrink from undertaking or facing…
And: a state of paralyzing fear; a depressed state of mind; one that funks: coward; slump (as in economic funk).
Does fear grow into depression over time? Or the other way around? Too funky to know.

In the real world, I manage a liquor store. Beyond inventorying products, writing checks for vendors, doing payroll, etc., etc., I also work the counter and interchange with the public — at least in this small section of the world (Humboldt County, California). And the public is scared and depressed. And way-way sad.
The unemployment rate up here is the same as California’s state average of  8.5 percent (as of last month), but we don’t have a lot of jobs. And our customer base right now depends on some kind of check in the mail — so we have good, peak business days around the first and 15th of each month. In the six years I’ve been here (half that time as manager), business has gone from booming to a few rungs above bust. Although on a bit of a year or so delay, the so-called Great Recession of 2008 has kicked our fiscal ass way-hard.
Add that to the physical side of life, and our customers are spewing nothing but sadness and fright — just a few chosen steps away is panic. Stir in cancer stories, swollen feet tales, asshole-husband/wife scenarios, short-a-quarter bullshit, and all other forms and concoctions reflecting human misery — embroiled into a continuing buffet of melancholy — and presto, you got’s your funk.
Or at least in part.

As a news and information addict, I require a large dose of continual, updated reports on events, places or things several times a day in order to make happy. One backlash of the Internet age is that it creates a hunger for all the news — and the way-deep background on the news. And with a background in print journalism, I can’t just help myself, and in reality, require a news fix every few hours at the least. Sometimes, the rate drops to minutes.
And it’s all there via the InterWebs.
However, there seems to me a certain ‘funk point‘ where the news nowadays formulates a breakdown of morale.
This latest round of my own personal ‘funk-ka-news-delic‘ started last week with the whole Tony Weiner horror-disclosures — and how sad, depressed and totally-unattractive in appearance was Tony’s pretty and exotic wife, Huma Abedin, who had tried to weave-up a smile for her fruitcase/asshole husband. A scene one-hundred-percent pure dispiriting.
Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone said it again, this time with a bad case of funk: And it’s not just that he’s some poor guy who got caught jacking off on the Internet. He’s also increasingly tone-deaf and belligerently nuts in an inappropriate-Thanksgiving-guest sort of way.
Or as Peter Jeffrey at Bloomberg put it:

How easy it is to cast the first stone.
Who among us has never sent digital images of his manhood to strange young women again after being caught in the act once and lying about it and then forswearing it utterly and begging forgiveness and solemnly embarking on a period of reflection and reconnection with family to make amends for a thing so ridiculous to be caught doing once that the only thing that could be more ridiculous would be to be caught doing it twice?

This morning, we learn Tony’s campaign manager is taking a hike. Huma should, too.

And from New York City’s depressing scene, we moved to a train wreck in Spain, to another financial institution as asshole story in Ohio, to a couple of real-asshole pervs who were growing pot in California, to another above-average mass shooting in Florida, to the hell-scape of being Detroit, to that awful wedding-party boat crash on the Hudson River, to that Las Vegas rescue officer who was killed in an equipment failure while trying to help a stranded hiker, and on, and on, and…
Toss in an additional assortment of lesser-shitty news and it’s depression city with a way-funky smell.
Couple personal horrors to a collective one:

Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.
Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.

So, the news both on ground level and via the ether are not creating guffaws.
These are bleak times, with all indications things will get much more bleak as time seems to be rolling toward some kind of major blow out. Too much of the news nowadays can be unhealthy.

And in that regard, this bit from the UK’s Guardian last April:

News is toxic to your body.
It constantly triggers the limbic system.
Panicky stories spur the release of cascades of glucocorticoid (cortisol).
This deregulates your immune system and inhibits the release of growth hormones.
In other words, your body finds itself in a state of chronic stress.
High glucocorticoid levels cause impaired digestion, lack of growth (cell, hair, bone), nervousness and susceptibility to infections.
The other potential side-effects include fear, aggression, tunnel-vision and desensitisation.

That last word can also mean ‘numb,’ or maybe just in a funk.
And the biggest contributor to the funk-ness of life is kind of reflected in that image above — a photograph taken by a camera at the North Pole Environmental Observatory, supposedly showing the North Pole surrounded by a pond.
Although it looks unnerving — Santa Claus will drown! — climate change people have said it’s not unusual. The problem is in the foretelling.
Via Climate Central:

First, the cameras in question, which are attached to instruments that scientists have deposited on the sea ice at the start of each spring since 2002, may have “North Pole” in their name, but they are no longer located at the North Pole.
In fact, as this map below shows, they have drifted well south of the North Pole, since they sit atop sea ice floes that move along with ocean currents.
Currently, the waterlogged camera is near the prime meridian, at 85 degrees north latitude.

The second thing to keep in mind is that melting sea ice at or near the North Pole is actually not a rare event.
Observations from the webcams dating back to 2002, and from satellite imagery and nuclear-powered submarines that have explored the ice cover since the Cold War era dating back several decades, show that sea ice around the North Pole has formed melt ponds, and even areas of open water, several times in the past.

James Overland, a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Climate Central in an email that the melt pond does seem unusually large compared to what is typically observed in a melt season, though.
“We have extensive melt ponds every year, but I do not remember such an extensive lake in previous years.
The lake is more a product of how the ice was configured earlier in the year,” he said.
Walt Meier, a research scientist at the NSIDC, said the lake’s apparently large size may be the result of snowfall totals this winter and other factors.
“The pool seems rather larger than normal, but that could likely be simply due to factors other than the temperature: how much snow fell on the area over the winter (more winter snow = more melted snow), the topography of the ice (little hills and valleys in the ice causing the water to pool in certain regions), etc.,” Meier said in an email.

The problem of the way-near future:

The oceans absorbed about 90 percent of the heat added to the climate system during the last 50 years, according to a study published in May in Geophysical Research Letters.
And for some reason, the deep ocean became “much more strongly involved in the heat uptake after 1998,” the report said.
That’s bad news.
Warmer oceans alter weather patterns, stir up more powerful storms and threaten all sorts of sea life.
And as much attention as melting ice caps get for their role in rising sea levels, the other major cause is warmer water, which simply takes up more space.

And getting into more detail right now is just too, too funky. Those particulars are what the vast wad of humanity tries to not think about — until it’s too late.

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