Sunday, September 29, 2019
Saturday, September 28, 2019
Wikipedia says, not surprisingly, that Canada has a number of tall tales, and Australia, and it mentions others from Europe (e.g. Finn MacCool creating the Giant's Causeway), but doesn't mention anything outside the Euro-Anglophone west.
It seems unlikely that other cultures wouldn't have them too. But...
I remember reading a book on Chinese humor (though I don't remember a lot from it), and finding some examples quite opaque. If I can't always recognize humor, I'm probably not enough in tune with the nuances of the literature to spot when something is exaggerated for humor. Or possibly some cultures don't use "tall tales," finding something else funnier instead. Or maybe I should broaden my definition to include "just-so" type stories like the Anansi stories.
Friday, September 27, 2019
If your religion is more one of orthodoxy rather than orthopraxy, then:
The worst believer is better than the best nonbeliever.
Because your relationship with God is infinitely more important that your relationship with anyone or anything else, it follows that even a wicked believer is better before God than the most virtuous person who rejects God.
(A Christian might object that you can't hate your visible brother and still love the invisible God--which brings in a bit of orthopraxy.)
The principle applies in many religions--including only-formally-secular state worshipping religions like Communism. And do you recall how many women jumped to Clinton's defence--even excusing him? Clinton was orthodox in his support of abortion, and that mattered more than taking advantage of interns. He was a believer.
You can classify these as instances of AVI's tribes, and fruitfully examine them that way, but I think looking at things from a religious standpoint makes it easier to see how some of the extreme positions can get their self-righteous power.
Thursday, September 26, 2019
Has anybody done any research on what sorts of stage mixes elicit the best singing response from the congregation?
I know you have to hear your own voice, and some lead singer, and your neighbors. But do drums really help? Is it better for the lead singer to be a soprano or a baritone--or is it good to have a mix so every voice range has something to listen to? Lots of instruments? Only a piano?
You also want the Least Astonishment--the worshipper should be able to predict fairly well where the melodic line is going. People will sing the familiar more confidently. But that's a different issue.
I admit that I was dubious about this from the get-go. I've been listening to "impeach"/"25th amendment"/etc for several years now, with varying claims but the same goal. The accusers have called wolf so often that I can no longer assume good intentions and different values--they have lied too much.
I'm old enough to remember the Clinton's impeachment. "Lying under oath and obstruction of justice." Yes, he was plainly guilty of both. The former doesn't quite seem to fit the "high crimes" and the latter was done through means that seem quite common in DC--means that are legal and unethical and bipartisan. Yes, I read the Starr report, and drew my own conclusions.
(Clinton was, in his prime, a superb politician--and I mean that in the worst possible way. His wife, not so much, as was obvious years ago when she bungled the medical care reform effort. She doesn't seem to have learned much since.)
The shoe's on the other foot, and once again, the impeachment is driven by politics and not by any finding of serious crimes. That was true for Andrew Johnson's, too. It seems to be a habit of ours--and like smoking in bed, it may catch up to us someday.
The Trump years have been full of panic and outrage. I suppose that's a handy weapon to have, and maybe it's use is a policy decision not related to its target: "Scream till their ears bleed!"(*) Sometimes I think I detect a more personal motive, though. Trump has made fun of them, and gotten away with it, and they cannot endure to be mocked. AVI noticed that some traditional forms of humor are being squelched too, with very similar fervor.
(*) We changed the way we judge a person's character some while back, and now consider the person greater if their passions are greater--not their control of passions. Obviously if they can't control their passions, it is because their passions are too great. So if I exhibit fantastic outrage, it is because my sensitivity and character are much greater than those of you dull and lazy sorts.
Saturday, September 21, 2019
True, the Babylon Bee succeeded in a limited parody of the fiasco, but the ritual was such a reductio ad absurdum that you have to wonder if anybody participating was serious. I hope not. Psalm 115:8, anyone?
A liturgy is for public worship. It involves more than one party--maybe there's only one worshipper, but there's also the god. If you have a framework of acceptable practices, it isn't implausible that you can vary this--provided your fellow worshippers agree. And that your god agrees.
But how do you create a liturgy from nothing, with no knowlege of what your god wants from you?
- Do you claim to be a prophet, who brings messages from god? About that--show credentials, please...
- Or do you simply think it doesn't matter, because whatever is good with you, will be good with your god? Who gets to be the god here?
Maybe I have "experimentalist's bias," but if your theory leads you to do stupid or wicked things, maybe your theory is incomplete.
Dale Matson, commenting on this article wrote: "'A sin confessed merely to a plant is a sin which cannot be forgiven...' Now I know what the unforgivable sin is."
Friday, September 20, 2019
The signs held by the Youth Climate Action Team called for a climate strike--which seemed a little strange at 3:50 on a Friday afternoon when everybody was going home anyway.
The WSJ says they called on Gov Evers to declare "a climate emergency." I'm not quite sure what that means. Perhaps the teenagers think it would give the governor dictatorial powers, and that he would necessarily do the right things thereafter. They also want MG&E to "reach 100% renewable energy by 2030 instead of the utility's goal of hitting net-zero carbon electricity by 2050 that was set in May." 2050 is a pretty aggressive goal, given current technology. 2030 is a joke.
When we look for policy goals we always look to our teenagers, right?
Richard Armour. (from The Medical Muse)
Who knows each illness, knows each cure? Who never doubts, is always sure? Who gives advice to learned scholars And shrugs aside their thanks and dollars? Who is this awesome fellow, friends? Who is the chap who condescends To chat with men like Mayo? Who? It is the intern, young and new, Who knows more than all other men. He'll never know so much again.
Monday, September 16, 2019
I did come up with a not-altogether-unserious proposal for mitigating internal misuse of arial drones by mobilizing our distributed civilian expertise and firepower: Hunt drones. In peacetime nobody would buy in, but maybe the virtues of the idea are a little more obvious now.
Sell hunting licenses for them. A downed drone becomes the property of the hunter. Within city limits, allow birdshot or launched nets only; a few other minor restrictions seem reasonable. Damage or injury caused by the crash is the responsibility of the most recent controller of the drone. Sorry, Amazon; yours are targets too.
Yes, I know nighttime hunting wouldn't be popular, and the machines are useful in finding out what's going on in disasters.
Saturday, September 14, 2019
BTW, Grim recommended a New Criterion essay about Solzhenitsyn; I second the suggestion.
But with some hunting and gathering skills, and enough of a surplus, why couldn't somebody travel, e.g. for trade?
Science News says a grave site shows signs of not just trade but people's customs reaching from Superior to Georgia--and possibly the people themselves. The article says that this kind of interconnection was supposed to have only begun about 2000 years ago, but the Georgia site is 2000 years before that.
Trade and travel might have come and gone over millenia, with the fall and rise of unfriendly cultures along the routes. Or bad harvests that cut down on surplus food for travel reserve.
I'm not at all well versed in the various American Indian stories. I wonder which cultures have stories of traders. They'd be fairly recent stories, not 4000 years old, but they might shed a little light on how long distance trade might have been done.
Let me try again. This won't be the last such strike. I wonder how vulnerable our refineries are. I'd hope there's some inconspicuous AA equipment operating, but I've heard of other vulnerabilities in other energy producing/distributing that make me wonder. Generals famously try to fight the last war, and politicians tend not to notice unsexy stuff. Salamander frequently complains about infrastructure shortcomings in the Navy--simple stuff but not sexy.
Friday, September 13, 2019
Attorneys are quitting at least partly because they’re swamped by the amount of video footage they have to review from police body-worn cameras.
“It is completely overwhelming,” said Robert Moody, a public defender in the Newport News office. “There’s no way physically possible I can watch the (video) data dumps they give me.”
“It’s a razor thin wire, because you’re looking to be sure your client’s due process rights are preserved,” he said. “On the other hand, I have 120 other clients. I have to preserve their due process rights too.”
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Only one choice seems to be respected, and it has nothing to do with your state of mind.
Remind me not to get sick in the Netherlands.
Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Apparently quite a lot of people leave their cars running--in the summer and fall! In winter--that I understand, though I'd never do it. Cars sometimes need to warm up a bit.
In one recent incident there were 4 stolen cars in a single parking lot--stolen from a variety of jurisdictions. I get the impression this isn't just joyriding (or joy-crashing), and it doesn't seem to be chop-shop or resale that much either. Probably dealers and armed robbers and "We need to give them a warning" shooters want "burner cars." We're seeing a rise in those last 3 crimes too.
I wonder how much the thieves get per car.
Sunday, September 08, 2019
Kipling's The Explorer may not sit well with everybody. But I like it. "Anybody might have found it -- but His Whisper came to Me!"
Oh well. That would have been a very interesting exploration of what sainthood means--and I think a useful one.
You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.
Thursday, September 05, 2019
Wednesday, September 04, 2019
The number of video games I played as a youth was, of course, 0. And as a young adult--you could number them on your thumbs. It was an expensive hobby, and would clearly suck far too many quarters away from my second-hand book fund.
That particular non-predilection seems not to have been hereditary, though perhaps the gene was merely latent.
I get the appeal in playing the games, and if I spent the time to get involved, I would probably get involved.
And I suppose kibitzing is a grand old tradition, made more attractive by the greater emphasis on storyline in video games.
And who has 30 hours to devote to solving a new game? Or $60 that doesn't have a better home?