"[I]n late 2015, I came across a set of pictures with no identifying text. They appeared to show a gigantic apartment in what looked, from the windows, very much like New York. But I know Manhattan and its sophisticated style pretty well, and at first glance, you would think the place didn't belong to an American but to a Russian oligarch, or possibly a Saudi prince with a second home in the United States. There were overscaled rooms, and obviously incorrect-looking historical detailing and proportions. The home had lots of gilded French furniture and the strange impersonal look of a hotel lobby, with chairs and sofas placed uncomfortably far from one another. There were masses of gold; there were the usual huge chandeliers, branded relics of famous sportsmen like Muhammad Ali, and mushroom-colored marble floors. There was relatively little in the way of paintings, but otherwise, the place reeked of dictator chic. As it turned out, this familiar yet unfamiliar apartment -- a familiar style to me by then, but in an unlikely location -- belonged to Donald Trump, who by then was running for president. This was the penthouse of the potential leader of the free world." -- Peter York, "Trump's Dictator Chic," Politico [thanks to b>realinterrobang for quoting this earlier]
"'Third World' is an obsolete term, (since the Second World no longer exists) but if you're going to use it in the sense of referring to the Global South, it's not horribly inaccurate to say the US is a First World nation geographically coextant with a Third World one, where the citizenship is determined by class (economic and social.)" -- kadath, 2008-03-04
"For it's not enough to walk the moon, send robots off to Mars
Nor send a lucky handful out to catch a glimpse of stars
We're gonna live and work and space. We're gonna go to stay
And the ones who'll make it happen,
the ones who make it happen,
yes the ones who'll make it happen
are the ones who make it pay"
-- Jordin Kare (b. 1956-10-24, d. 2017-07-19), "Bloody Bastards"
From "Oh this has not gone well" (part 14) by Redditor "ThisHasNotGoneWell":
"Well," I started, how do I explain statistics, and not sound like the boringest boring person in the world, "In the world I come from people have enough free time on their hands, and they take games seriously enough, that people will study a game like a Mage might study magic. I had plenty of time when I was waiting for the pass south to clear, so I spent some time pulling the rules apart, figuring out the probability of any given hand. The other players might have a gut feeling as to how probable a given hand is, but I know the figures exactly. I'll also try to keep track of what cards I've seen played already. Between that, and having worked out the probabilities of each, I usually have at least an idea of how good my hand is compared to the others."
"Wait," she said, trying to wrap her head around what I'd just said, "So, you know what cards they have in their hand?"
"Not quite, I know what cards they probably have. And even if I don't know specifics, I'll at least have an idea of whether their hand is better or worse than mine, and that's really all I need."
"Don't humans have anything better to do?"
I thought of the many hundreds of hours spent playing videogames and watching Netflix.
I just saw the Changeling Child and it was, bar none, my favorite show this Fringe. A sequel to Midsummer Night's Dream, a generation along, and really sweet. One last performance tomorrow (Saturday) at 145p at Atlas. I'll be seeing something nearby so might even be able to meet up first to loan a button. Srsly, try to see it :). Fringe goes thru Sunday plus a few shows extended but sadly not this one.There was a bit of screaming and gnashing of teeth involved: I dictated something like it into safari facebook on my phone a few minutes after wandering off from chatting with Tommx and Erica, and then it offered tagging someone and I hit 'back' and it took me back to my notifications. Then I went through typing it in again, since at the fringe bar it was too loud for dictation, and just before I was to hit post, the phone turned itself off, out of power. I finally posted from exsmof's phone.
Anyway, it was delightful. I wasn't laughing as much as I did in One in Four, but it's also a whole play, and sweet, and extremely well done.
Less than 10 hours before I'm ticketed to Exit pursued by bear. 2pm, Atlas.
I somehow doubt I'll get to Trey Parker's Cannibal The Musical at 11:15.
Might try to get to something more tomorrow or Sunday. Been thinking to get to Heroes' Tale.
Debating Exit Carolyn. If I go to the 7p I can't go to an acro thing in Rockville, though it does put me pretty close to a party...
Oh! Yeah, Clara Bow: Becoming It was worthwhile, and is at 3:45.
and ugh. I really have to go to sleep. Oh hell, I think I may have said I'd meet badmagic ahead of Exit for lunch. eep.
Because really pathetically I don't trust myself to get anything done alone.
*everybody else seemed to enjoy it a lot more than I did. There were some strong performances, but I really hated the acting of one of the characters, and I was annoyed by the character with the most lines, and I was distracted by finding fault with the initial premise. Also? Neither K nor the guy on the other side of me had any memory of the character,"Mom."
when i got home last night there were a bunch of boxes of books by the recycling. They were in good condition and looked like anything from interesting to rare (there were some large Russian English dictionaries on top of one, and some Shostakovitch records on another) so I moved them to my parking space where nothing is supposed to live but I can probably get away with it a couple days, and pinged someone who is already handling getting other stuff to a charity he favors, and grabbed out Katherine Graham's autobiography for immediate reading.That last paragraph may be a bit open for my usual friendsfriends security level over there on FB.
My building has a building library; I'm not sure whether I should've given it first crack, but that would have required getting the boxes up a flight of stairs and through a couple doors at 3am, rather than just 50 feet to my space.
I'm not sure what sorting I should do before they go to support Fairfax Auxilliary. Probably start with grabbing out anything in Russian... .
I'm sad, because I'm pretty sure this is the collection of someone who died. And it also has me thinking of all the books Mom has, some of which are Old and Important, and many of which are outdated and random. And many of which Dad once wanted back.
It seriously was sad, seeing things like that. I rescue stuff. It's so important to me that it has a home and not a landfill. And yet I do know that getting stuff to goodwill is yet another measure of cope, and even there one needs to be realistic about what they will and will not put out to sell. That's part of why I have so much grandma stuff that needs to be dumped on a "we sell it all on ebay and you get a cut." Because that Eastern Airlines tiny carryon that needs a zipper repair will be thrown out by goodwill, and treasured by the right person. When Allyson was over helping me through a large amount of momclothes she was overjoyed to take the Woodies and Garfinkles boxes from the closet. Cardboard boxes, but she wraps stuff in boxes from defunct stores and she especially loves local defunct stores.
A sweet little old man who lived a few doors down died a few years ago. As part of cleaning out the place, the family had put a box of mugs and glasses in the trash room. I'd looked through it, and seen a small mug, smaller than I usually use, emblazoned with [specific dc high school 50th reunion]. Kept it around to honor the guy, vaguely intending to contact said high school. A year or so later, Shira was over, and I showed it to her, and she took it with her! I don't think it was the high school she'd attended; I'd have to ask. But to her it was a sufficiently meaningful bit of DC history she wanted it.
This is all part of why it's so hard to sort. What is a life? This is part of why it's so hard to get rid of even things I don't really want. I guess I imbue things with a soul. Not just "does it give me joy" but "can I get it to someoen for whom it will?"
I have to stop typing; I decided to keep plans for today and need to leave soon.
But I woke up this morning with I helped bury someone yesterday in my head.
I've known Sonya Schultz since her son Ben and I dated back in high school. Sophomore and Jr years. It was at their house I first was part of Havdalah. It was with them I first went to Simchas Torah - Ben and I went in all our Sadie Hawkins finery before going on to the dance. In the years that followed, she included me in her huge seders when I wasn't in Cleveland. In recent years other friends have offered invites first, or I've been in Cleveland. It's been a while since I've been to the house. My last sure memory of talking in person was shortly after Ben's now three year old was born. It was some years before that, in that apartment, when she said to me, "Marry one of my sons; I don't care which!" At the house last night, I was reminded by more than one of the family that she would have adopted me in, regardless.
I spent much of the day yesterday with Cathie and later Lauren. They would each occasionally run into Sonya and sometimes also David at Strathmore, or at Costco. I am envious.
It's kinda weird. In a certain way she and I were more regularly in touch the last couple years because she would respond in my facebook here and there. But I had no idea she was ill, because it had been so long since she and I had spoken in person. And tbh, I might not have known anyway -- people commented last night they'd just seen her at shul a week ago.
The funeral was long and full. Cathie and I were some of the few who ended up parking on the street because the parking lot was full. There were some beautiful stories and some heartbreak, and as is always the case for me, I learned more and was sad not to know it earlier. Bits about just how fiercely there she was for her kids, bits about her involvement with the shul, or defying being told "no woman can pass this econ test," or that they'd been on their most recent cruise only in May. Or that they'd planned to remodel the kitchen. I could so visualize that kitchen, the house. It wasn't the house they had when Ben and I dated; I don't remember that one, now.
At the gravesite, there was a traditional handwash station. One washes on leaving a graveyard. She and Ben had been at my grandmother's funeral at Arlington. Memories came flooding back of her coming up to me to give me wet wipes in the absence of the two handled cup. "al natitlat yadayim."
I've only been to a couple gravesites that weren't Jewish funerals*. Even so, there were things that were new to me. More traditional. That we all process together with the coffin but stop 7 times in reluctance. That one should add at least three shovelfulls of earth because 3 makes it not an accident or coincidence. That the first shovelful should be the back of the shovel, because we don't really want to be efficient in saying goodbye. That we shouldn't hand the shovel along to the next but instead put it back into the pile.
I've never before been to a funeral with real shovels adding the earth that had just been dug out, rather than symbolic trowelsful. After a while there was one person who went back and was shoveling more, for real, and Ben's younger brother for a while, and if there had been more than two shovels and I had been more clear whether it was okay or I was too far from the family I wanted to as well, despite the dress and shoes. It was hot, very hot. We said kaddish and we all went to the cars. Last night I learned that J had finished shoveling all the dirt for his grandparents, and would really have preferred to have done so here. And that the small bucket I'd wondered about that his girlfriend troweled from may have been Jerusalem dirt, but the part that was important to her was it also contained a vegan truffle she'd made for Sonya, but which Sonya had suggested bringing on Saturday but then not felt up to eating. This sounds so odd, written, but brought tears to my eyes in person.
I'd planned on going to a couple fringe plays last night, and I'm glad I hadn't preticketed. I spent the afternoon with Lauren, and then was in the right part of town to go over to shiva last night rather than trying to force getting there on Thursday. And the reason why shiva is traditionally in the deceased's house was so very apparent. So many memories in these rooms. A memory of a shiva, even. Sonya's mother.
I need to get moving. There's more to write and there isn't. There's contrasts with my mom's death, and after. Maybe later.
*One was Steve Devoney's dad, a couple months ago, after which everybody retired to the house and there were stories and video. One was a close friend, 8 years ago. The funeral itself had been a mass in latin at which there happened to be a coffin; the gravesite was in English and I think maybe mentioned her name. After everybody left her aunt started wedging flowers in any part of the coffin handles and hinges she could, and a couple of us joined in this until the coffin was covered in flowers, and then after the people came and lowered the coffin we dropped more flowers on top. And they put the concrete or whatever cover on and uncovered the dirt and I commented that in Jewish funerals we add the dirt. To make it final, real. And the four of us still there we each did add a handful. And that's when the aunt cried.
"But there's a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother's story, because hers is where yours begin." -- Mitch Albom, For One More Day [via Goodreads]
"The audience usually has to be with you, I'm afraid. I always regarded myself as not even preaching to the converted, I was titillating the converted.
"The audiences like to think that satire is doing something. But, in fact, it is mostly to leave themselves satisfied. Satisfied rather than angry, which is what they should be."
-- Tom Lehrer, in a 2003 interview in the Sydney Morning Herald (interviewer: Tony Davis)
[And then there are those satirists who manage to leave room for both reactions simultaneously...]
"Rabbi Hillel also asks, 'If I am only for myself, what am I?' If you don't identify as being negatively affected by misogyny, this is where you come in. We are all part of the interdependent web of existence. What affects one affects us all. Sometimes connecting the dots from one form of harm to another is too abstract to notice immediately. Sometimes we benefit in obvious ways from oppression, even as our bodies and souls are destroyed in other ways. Cisgender men benefit in some ways from patriarchy. They get higher salaries on average, reduced risk of violence, and a greater likelihood that they will be heard when they speak, among other things.
"Patriarchy also gives men an increased risk of being bullied if they veer too closely to feminine patterns of behavior. It leads society to punish men for maintaining a connection with their emotional and inner life. It gets in the way of true and trusting relationships. Misogyny negatively affects men. Being for ourselves and being for others can mean the same thing when it comes to dismantling oppression."
-- Rev. Lyn Cox, 2017-03-05
Yeah, I hear that.
That said: I find it really helps me, when I'm disoriented in the way you describe, to remember that the Enlightenment is fairly recent, historically speaking.
The idea that we can arrive at accurate beliefs about the world by observing it, studying it, experimenting with it, taking careful records, making predictions and checking to see whether our predictions are accurate... that idea is just a few centuries old.
The idea that we can converge on beliefs about the world through that process...
That the same experiment can be expected to get the same result whether performed by Christians or Jews or Pagans or atheists, by conservatives or liberals, by materialists or spiritualists...
That the observable world itself can be the source of a set of shared self-reinforcing beliefs...
That reliance on that process can form the cornerstone of a community just as reliance on a set of stories about God that we inherited from our ancestors does...
...these are really new ideas, historically speaking. Our culture has not fully assimilated them, not even close. Most of us weren't raised in the community of believers in the process of observing our surroundings and reasoning about them rigorously and communicating about them reliably. We don't really have social practices that reinforce that process.
So, sure, we often reject it. We often stray from that path and return to the older practice of performing culturally endorsed beliefs about reality in order to reinforce group boundaries and affirm group loyalty without reference to a shared observational practice.
That's unsurprising. Humans have been doing that before we have records; probably since before we were recognizably human.
And the alternative is genuinely hard! And honestly, as community-centering practices go, it lacks a lot: it de-centers individuals, it doesn't directly address moral issues, it doesn't distinguish between emotionally satisfying and emotionally alienating claims, it doesn't speak to our fears about nonexistence and loneliness, etc.
The one thing it has going for it is a promise to converge on shared truths if followed assiduously.
And for a lot of us that just isn't enough, or isn't always enough. We may embrace the tangible benefits of the practice, the tools and medicines and crop yields and cherry-picked theories that reinforce our culturally endorsed beliefs, but we tend to reject the practice itself. Heck, even the thing we call "science" is riddled with those practices, like any other human institution. Those habits run deep.
So, sure, of course we continue to practice the old ways, choosing the practice of performing cultural beliefs despite contradictory observations over the practice of centering and converging on observable patterns in reality.
We will continue to do that for a long, long time. It's a natural consequence of being the sort of systems we are.
So anyway, as I say, remembering that helps me approach Enlightenment apostasy with compassion during periods where I start to fear it as the end of the world. And I find that helps.
"Everyone knows that debugging is twice as hard as writing a program in the first place. So if you're as clever as you can be when you write it, how will you ever debug it?" -- Brian W. Kernighan
[Also quoted as: "Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it."]
"I'd better quit my talking, 'cause I told you all I know,
But please remember, pardner, wherever you may go,
The people are building a peaceful world, and when the job is done
That'll be the biggest thing that man has ever done."
-- Woody Guthrie (b. 1912-07-14, d. 1967-10-03), "Biggest Thing That Man Has Ever Done (aka. The Great Historical Bum)", 1941