Have you ever had the experience of noticing a certain pattern in a wild variety of contexts, a pattern that occurs so consistently that you feel it simply has to mean something … but you have no idea what? I say “in a wild variety of contexts” to rule out cases of patterns that occur within the same context, even though, at the time, you may have no idea of the cause. I remember back in the early 1960s, when I was in junior-high school, I went on a “geology jag”. I spent several months reading books on geology, geophysics, and volcanology that noted with perplexity the mysterious – in the early '60s – pattern whereby volcanic activity tended to be concentrated around the circumference of, e.g., the Pacific Basin, what we today call the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” and similar places.
This “Skeptic’s” column tackles a subject that is both delicate and volatile: suicide. People who have known me for a fairly long time are well acquainted with a time in my life – during the time in Boston at Harvard and later at Seattle University during the equally ill-advised quest for the MDiv -- when I was undergoing episodes of very severe, quite arguably pre-suicidal, clinical depression. So – for the benefit of those people, for “my mariners, souls that have toiled and wrought and thought with me” – I want to emphasize that the following column does not describe me as I am now. Quite the contrary. I am not in crisis. I am not depressed. I am not afflicted with suicidal ideation – a term I came to know all too intimately during the “winter of [my] discontent”. So those of you
Not quite 18 months ago, I published a column on “weird”, X-Files-ish phenomena, the kinds of events and (alleged) experiences that are regularly recorded in Fate magazine. My original intent in writing and publishing that column was, quite frankly, to break my addiction to Donald Trump, Trump-ism, Russia-gate, and what was, and often still is, my unhealthy incipient addiction to the raw sewage that has flooded the White House and the Executive Branch, by getting my mind onto a different track. But writing that column also had the unintended and unforeseen side-benefit of prompting some persistent reminiscences of the kinds of comic books I used to read just before and just after I entered puberty. During that time, in addition to Fate, I read three comics published by the American C