The Somebody Show

While walking my dog I thought of a series I’d like to watch. It would be about a recent empty-nester who walks her dog and talks to it every morning. She has a weird husband and ends up having to take a dead-end office job when he retires. The episodes are short and each one revolves around her trying to accomplish one thing (like weeding, shopping, dinner – quotidian stuff, may or may not include episodes where the same sort of thing happens at her office) while being thwarted by a combination of random events and her own listlessness.

Of course this isn’t me…

Faith and Individual Sacrifice

A thoughtful and well-reasoned essay, worth reading more than once.

Scientific Politics

We live in a culture which tells us that, if we work hard enough, we can have what we want. Despite the mantra of “life isn’t fair” dogging the steps of every crying eight-year-old, we live by a fundamental belief that if we try hard, act rationally, and plan well, we will achieve what we want to achieve. The American Dream exemplifies this belief applied to individuals, but the underlying principle forms the basis of our entire society. We as a species have an incomprehensible number of achievements to our name, and most of us have some nebulous idea of “technology” as the summary of these achievements. The faith that this continuously-evolving technology can and will solve all of our problems is a religion more deeply ingrained into our collective subconscious than any theism.

This is an optimistic faith. It is a dangerous faith. It is unsustainable, and it is…

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Trigger Warnings

Maybe it would be safest to have blanket trigger warnings for all English, history, and psych courses. Come to think of it, how about a trigger warning in the catalogue to cover all liberal arts courses? For those too sensitive to bear the curriculum, there’s always engineering. However keep in mind that in engineering you have to get the right answers, not just show that you thought and felt deeply about the problems.

Here’s a little scenario:

Imagine the following discussion of the syllabus for a course on William Faulkner between a weary professor and an eager young student. Student: ” I’ve gone over the readings, and one of the novels has so many trigger warnings that I think it might be better if you went ahead and removed it from the reading list.” Professor: “Really? And which novel is that?” Student: “Sanctuary. Why just in the first few chapters my pencil would have broken from all the triggers I had to underline, except of course I did it all virtually on my e-reader. But still…” Professor: “”Hmm. So you want to take Sanctuary off the reading list? But what could I replace it with?” Student: “Well, I’m glad you asked. How about The Hunger Games?”

 

Transitions

Sex change operations are cross-dressing taken to extremes. Altering your body surgically to resemble the sex you believe you are is cut from the same cloth as dressing that way. Since our society is prosperous enough to offer the option of sex change surgery, unhappy people who would otherwise have much more limited options, will of course take it. But that doesn’t mean it should be done. If we had a truly gender neutral society then cross dressing wouldn’t be necessary or possible. And neither would sex change; it wouldn’t make any difference. Odd that the most flagrant male to female transitions seem to cleave to the cleavage — to a concept of femininity that is of the bombshell variety. Such is sexism.

Ice Cream Memories

We were fortunate enough to visit Germany a few years ago, staying at a friend’s house in Berlin. One day I was longing for ice cream. We were doing various things all day and I didn’t get a chance to buy myself any. In the evening we wound up in a lively enclave near a train station. We were just walking around, and I saw an ice cream store. I rushed over but it had just that moment closed. Crestfallen I walked away. When we came back to the area a few minutes later the store had miraculously reopened. I told everyone to wait for me, dashed in, and came out with a lovely cone. I took two licks and was just starting to savor it when my ice cream fell to the ground. Husband and older child just laughed, younger child was a bit sorry for me. But how sorry can you be for an aging woman on a nice vacation who dropped her ice cream? Still, l get tears in my eyes when I remember.

Terminator

Good movies as movies go, not too stupid. But while watching the searing image of the burning playground I thought how simple minded and exploitative. For just one reason: the bad guys are the machines, not us. Playgrounds burned in Hiroshima and it wasn’t the machines that did it. Do the movies but have the decency to spare us the nuclear playground