Sunday, April 30, 2017
In response to the Bizarro.com bagpipe/accordion cartoon (found about eight posts down), the Not-So-Simple Village Undertaker commented, "That would be an interesting instrument. I would compose a duet for it and the banjo." Oh, the humanity.
I can see by my watch, without taking my hand from the left grip of the cycle, that it is eight-thirty in the morning. The wind, even at sixty miles an hour, is warm and humid. When it's this hot and muggy at eight-thirty, I'm wondering what it's going to be like in the afternoon.
In the wind are pungent odors from the marshes by the road. We are in an area of the Central Plains filled with thousands of duck hunting sloughs, heading northwest from Minneapolis towards the Dakotas. This highway is an old concrete two-laner that hasn't had much traffic since a four-laner went in parallel to it several years ago. When we pass a marsh the air suddenly becomes cooler. Then, when we are past, it suddenly warms again.
I'm happy to be riding back into this country. It is a kind of nowhere, famous for nothing at all and has an appeal because of just that. Tensions disappear along old roads like this. We bump along the beat-up concrete between the cattails and stretches of meadow and then more cattails and marsh grass. Here and there is a stretch of open water and if you look closely you can see wild ducks at the edge of the cattails. And turtles. ... There's a red-winged blackbird.
I whack Chris's knee and point to it.
-Robert M Pirsig, Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
Pirsig died last week. I have owned my copy of this book since 1975. Not sure that I ever completely read the whole book. The attempt to correct that error in judgment is underway.
Chris and I are traveling to Montana with some friends, riding up ahead, and maybe farther than that. Plans are deliberately indefinite, more to travel than arrive anywhere. We are just vacationing. Secondary roads are preferred. ...
I've wondered why it took us so long to catch on. We saw it and yet we didn't see it. Or rather we were trained not to see it. Conned, perhaps, into thinking that the real action was metropolitan and all this was just boring hinterland. It was a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. ...
In this Chautauqua I would like not to cut any new channels of consciousness but simply did deeper into old ones that have become stilted in with the debris of thoughts grown stale and platitudes too often repeated. "What's new?" is an interesting and broadening eternal question, but one which, if pursued exclusively, results only in an endless parade of trivia and fashion, the silt of tomorrow. I would like, instead, to be concerned with the question "What is best?," a question which cuts deeply rather than broadly, a question whose answers tend to move the silt downstream. ...
But there are human forces stronger than logic. ...
I disagree with them about cycle maintenance, but not because I am out of sympathy with their feelings about technology. I just think their flight from and hatred of technology is self-defeating. The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain or in the petals of a flower. To think otherwise is to demean the Buddha - which is to demean oneself.
-Robert Pirsig, Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
.......................I never would have thought to ask:
Reading medieval literature, it’s hard not to be impressed with how much the characters get done—as when we read about King Harold doing battle in one of the Sagas of the Icelanders, written in about 1230. The first sentence bristles with purposeful action: “King Harold proclaimed a general levy, and gathered a fleet, summoning his forces far and wide through the land.” By the end of the third paragraph, the king has launched his fleet against a rebel army, fought numerous battles involving “much slaughter in either host,” bound up the wounds of his men, dispensed rewards to the loyal, and “was supreme over all Norway.” What the saga doesn’t tell us is how Harold felt about any of this, whether his drive to conquer was fueled by a tyrannical father’s barely concealed contempt, or whether his legacy ultimately surpassed or fell short of his deepest hopes. ... I’d often wondered, when reading older texts: Weren’t people back then in what characters thought and felt?
If such questions interest you, you may want to read this essay from Julie Sedivy
via Arts & Letters Daily
Saturday, April 29, 2017
He was perfectly astonished with the historical account I gave him of our affairs during the past century, protesting it was only heap of conspiracies, rebellions, murders, massacres, revolutions, banishments, the very worst effects that avarice, faction, hypocrisy, perfidiousness, cruelty, rage, madness, hatred, envy , lust, malice, or ambition could produce.
Jonathan Swift, channeling Gulliver, circa 1726
A confession: I’m much less afraid of Trump than I was a year ago. His rhetoric, his unfettered far-right agenda, his love of violence, and his loathing of constitutional limits during the campaign were indeed things to be terrified by. They still are. But those of us who were worried that the Constitution might not hold, and that liberal democracy was teetering on the edge of implosion, have so far, mercifully, been proven wrong.
-Andrew Sullivan, as he opens this essay
One of the rationales for voting for Trump was that his election would force Congress to do their job. It is possible for reasonable people to agree that, for the past 16 years or so of American history, Congress has showed an alarming trend of ceding its authority and power to the Executive branch. If I remember correctly, our system relies on the division of power - checks and balances if you will - between the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of government. During the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, it sure looked like the Executive was ever encroaching on the Legislative branch. Hillary's election would likely have continued that trend. Trump, the theory goes, because he never had the backing of a national political party, would cause Congress to finally awaken from their slumber and do their job. Governing is, and should be, difficult. We live in a fractious nation. Our representatives get pulled every which way. This is all as it should be. Government rarely solves problems without creating several new ones. Take your time people, do the hard work, try to get it right. Maybe if we get really lucky, a statesman (or stateswoman) or two will show up from both sides of the aisle. Regardless, the Founders created a messy system of government. Amazingly, almost two hundred and thirty years later, it still works pretty well.
Friday, April 28, 2017
Is the goal to go back and win the Super Bowl again?
"Well, that's too far away. The goal right now is to put a good competitive team together. Then the goal would be to have our team compete and work the way it needs to work. To have a good Spring, then to have a good training camp, then to be ready for the season. So, we can only control what we can control in the short term - this week, our next opportunity."
-Bill Belichick, as transcribed from this fascinating interview with a fairly successful football coach
The flow experience, like everything else, is not "good" in an absolute sense. It is good only in that it has the potential to make life more rich, intense, and meaningful; it is good because it increases the strength and complexity of the self. But whether the consequences of any particular instance of flow is good in a larger sense needs to be discussed and evaluated in terms of a more inclusive social criteria. The same is true, however, of all human activities, whether science, religion, or politics. A particular religious belief may benefit a person or a group, but repress many others. Christianity helped to integrate the decaying ethnic communities of the Roman Empire, but it was instrumental in dissolving many cultures with which it later came into contact. A given scientific advance may be good for science and a few scientists, but bad for humanity as a whole. It is an illusion to believe that any solution is beneficial for all people and all the times; no human achievement can be taken as the final word. Jefferson's uncomfortable dictum "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty" applies outside the fields of politics as well; it means that we must constantly reevaluate what we do, lest habits and past wisdom blind us to new possibilities.
-Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology Of Optimal Experience
|The Red Spider Planetary Nebula|
“The treasures hidden in the heavens are so rich that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment.”
enlargeable photo and more here
Spencer Davis Group........................................Gimme Some Lovin'
Purists out there undoubtedly are thinking: wait this was released in 1966. True that, but the song had enough staying power to land at #68 on Billboards Hot Singles for 1967
How a revolution erupts from a commonplace event - tidal wave from a ripple - is cause for endless astonishment. Neither Luther in 1517 nor the men who gathered at Versailles in 1789 intended at first what they produced at last. Even less did the Russian Liberals who made the revolution of 1917 foresee what followed. All were as ignorant as everybody else of how much was about to be destroyed. Nor could they guess what feverish feelings, what strange behavior ensue when revolution, great or short-lived, is in the air.
Jacques Barzun, as taken from From Dawn To Decadence: 1500 To The Present: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life
Thursday, April 27, 2017
...........................................Here are two wee excerpts from an essay on free speech found in The Chronicle of Higher Education:
Barring speakers or preventing hate speech does not safeguard the oppressed. It empowers the oppressors...
Free speech is the greatest single ally of social justice and, even at its most noxious and repulsive, is often a catalyst for reflection and remediation. It is easy to mistake it for a tool of repression when, in fact, it is the antidote.
Full essay here
In some profound way, the election made clear, the national media just doesn’t get the nation it purportedly covers.
-as culled from this interesting, but ultimately, for me, unsatisfying essay about the media bubble. Their final sentence may be correct, but I suspect in a way the authors did not intend.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Voted (early) today to increase our property taxes. Only things on my ballot were a renewal of the Licking Park District levy and a new levy to provide funding for the Countywide 9-1-1 system. I will cheerfully pay for both (assuming the majority of voters concur) next time our property tax bills arrive.