Critical Thinking at Odd Hours

During recent internet meanderings, an old YouTube video surfaced, recalling something I found insightful a few years ago. The subject of the video is is bitchy resting face. That is, a woman’s normal facial appearance, at rest, that looks sour or angry. The latter part of the video turns to men who exhibit the same expression; for them, the term is asshole resting face. I don’t know whether the video preceded or followed widespread use of another term for the phenomenon: resting bitch-face. The male counterpart is resting dick-face. I have compassion for people, including me, whose normal expressions represent either resting bitch-face or resting dick-face. We don’t choose to look sour and angry all the time. It’s just the way our faces are. That perpetual scowl doesn’t represent anger or a bad mood or an invitation to trade insults or engage in a physical confrontation. And, by the way, it’s not a perpetual scowl if it’s the natural appearance of the face at rest. It’s either resting bitch-face or resting dick-face. On more than one occasion, I’ve been asked, seemingly out of nowhere, “What’s wrong?” The questioner’s assumption, of course, is that my facial appearance suggests I am unhappy or angry or otherwise not in my happy place. Rather than go into a long explanation about how my normal expression can be misconstrued by others as evidence of some form of distress, I think henceforth I’ll say, “Nothing. It’s just my resting dick-face.”


Only twice since I began writing this blog in 2012 have my posts included the word licorice, once in 2016 and once in 2017. I know this because I searched for the word, using the search feature (on the right side in desktop applications or at the top on devices such as smart-phones). I vaguely recall a software product that scans documents, even full-length books, and counts the number of occurrences of every word or, at the user’s discretion, all words except articles, prepositions, etc. I don’t recall what the product was called and I am not sufficiently curious this morning to search for it. I suspect several software applications can perform the task now. I think it would be interesting to see the results of a scan of this blog; a list of words I’ve used, ordered by frequency, for the past seven years. What might I do with such a list? I don’t know. Probably nothing of any consequence. It would simply satisfy my curiosity. I doubt I would find anything stunning in the list. But I would be intrigued to see whether my use of licorice is greater or less than my use of any other not-so-common word.  I’m easily amused, I guess.


When I saw reports on Facebook that indicated a survey showed that 51% of Americans opt to go swimming in a pool in lieu of taking a bath or shower, I immediately assumed it was pure B.S., just a joke. It just sounded absurd to me. Subsequently, though, I learned that it was reported as “fact” by some major news media outlets. A little checking uncovered that the survey leading to the startling conclusion was done by a PR firm that worked a questionable organization (the Water Quality & Health Council) sponsored by the Chlorine Chemistry Division of the American Chemistry Council. Yep. The entire thing was intended to prop up chlorine sellers. In this new age in which the president of the United States is modeling untruthfulness as if it were a virtue, low-life PR types hungry for money happily pay homage to such behavior.


As I am wont to do, I skimmed the BBC website this morning and came across an intriguing piece on dreams. Francesca Siclari, a sleep research doctor at the Lausanne University Hospital, is quoted in the article as saying: “Normally we dream most vividly in REM sleep, which is when the levels of noradrenaline are low in the brain.” That quote prompted me to ponder the plot line of a story in which a pair of rogue sleep researchers manipulate study subjects in ways that allow the researchers to create dreams. Through a complex set of other interventions, the sleep researchers capture information about the subjects’ personal lives. By manipulating both chemical levels of noradrenaline in the brain and interrupting periods of REM sleep, the researchers cause subjects to begin to confuse waking memories with dreams and vice versa. I haven’t gotten far enough along to know just where the plot might go, but I think it has some potential.


I am in favor of a national service requirement for young people. My support for the concept is relatively new; probably ten or fifteen years in the making. In my slow-to-develop thus still-nascent thinking on the matter, I envision a requirement that would enable young people to opt out, but if they did they would also opt out of social safety nets like Social Security, Medicare, health insurance (which, in my ways of thinking, is a national one-payer system), and various other programs and privileges and benefits. The idea is to make service the much more attractive option. Young people could choose any number of commitments, ranging from senior-care to support of environmental research to…you name it. I envision a fairly rigid environment, modeled after military basic training, to introduce the young people to self-discipline and social responsibility.

While I’m talking about a requirement for national service, I have no objections to a similar requirement for seniors. Not as demanding, perhaps, but something. Like 3 hours per week doing something in support of the community. This could be a requirement in order to receive full Social Security benefits. Again, the seniors could opt out, but their benefits might be curtailed if so.

Just thinking “aloud” here. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” I think all of us should be required, as members of society, to support the society that supports us. If you think socialism is a bad thing, think again. Socialism isn’t the problem; politically-diseased implementation of almost any political/economic/social system is the problem. Says me.


It’s only about a quarter after six. I’ve been up for well over two hours. Once I got up to go pee about 2:30, it was impossible to get back to sleep. It was the noise. I finally gave up just before four. I’m in the mood for food, but I’m not in the mood to cook it. Bah!

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Critical Thinking at Odd Hours

  1. As one who also has one of those faces, I’ve tried to get used to it. It rarely presents a problem, but on occasion, I have to insist that I’m really, truly, actually perfectly happy. 😉 Your dad was a smart man!

  2. Hope says:

    I’m married to someone with one of those faces. He’s one of the kindest and loving people in my world. I feel bad for how people can be misconstrued because of how their face presents.

    My dad always queried who funded the study.

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