|log (2003/05/30 to 2003/06/05)|
Thursday, June 5, 2003
So on the drive home this evening, near the end, I stopped on the twisty part of the highway, where the State has recently restored an old falling-apart tollhouse into a neat little building with a gift shop inside and an excretorium out back, to stretch my legs and peer in at the windows. As I was getting back into the car to finish the drive, a young man drove up in an SUV, and asked me if he was on the right road to Peekskill.
And I realized I actually had no idea where I was.
I had been driving home so thoroughly on autopilot (and was, on top of that, so brain-tired from the day) that I wasn't sure which side of the river I was on, whether I'd crossed the bridge yet, whether the bridge was to the north or the south, or just where Peekskill was. But fortunately I had a map in the car, and the young man knew which side of the river and the bridge we were on, so we got him going in the right direction.
A spammer writes:
Suppose we tell you that you could really lose up to 82136777174f your unwanted body fat and keep it off in just a few months, would you be interested? We certainly hope so!
I'm holding out for 82136777175f, at least.
Another, keen to meet me, writes:
OK I AGREE TO GO OUT WITH YOU
A model of what, we wonder? I can't make it to Syndey just now, but if any of my readers would like to have dinner with Cher, feel free to give her a call on my behalf.
oh. Oh. OH! Great truths, indeed! Bravo.
Thanks! We'll have to try it again sometime.
On our woolgathering yesterday, one reader writes:
"It may be (and it may not be; this is just a thought, not a theory I'm ready to endorse) that as our religions become less powerful and more tolerant of diversity and less prone to making unjustified truth-claims, endorsement of religion by individual government actors is less of a problem."
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good [folks] do nothing.
And on the same general subject a reader writes most imaginatively:
Perhaps, as our culture matures, it will become less important what Mayor Fred thinks or says, or what legislation Senator Jane promotes. Perhaps, as our society matures, we will say "How quaint", and go about out business when the President issues a new national directive, or seeks to garner more power. "Funny guy," we'll say, and change the channel. That would be nice.
Wouldn't it, indeed! I do wonder, though, how that might come to pass, given that
[A] There are people who would like to gain power and wealth for themselves, by violating the rights of others.
The only techniques that occur to me for attaining such a degree of insouciance about the activities of government (given that, unlike imaginary friends, both governments and would-be rights-violators are sadly non-imaginary) are:
Still, it's a nice thought.
A reader (pipe) comments very perceptively:
or a fife, or nine, or suse (linux), or the Tate art gallery...
And another notes:
It's not a very successful meme. [link]
I don't really get the part about peons, versions, formats, and limes.
The bad news:
The good news:
As Moses said when he came down from the mountain with the tablets: "these aren't actually my slides."
Speaking of imaginary friends in high places, I was listening to a story about this on NPR on the way home, and the defending lawyer was talking about how if Judge whatsisname had to remove the giant Ten Commandments Shrine from the courthouse lobby, then eventually we'd be removing "In God We Trust" from the money, and "Under God" from the Pledge, and all sortsa stuff like that, and I was thinking "well of course", and then I had a sort of funny thought. As we mature as a culture, we'll naturally tend to incorporate our imaginary friends into government less and less (because we realize that we have many different imaginary friends, that some of us have several or none at all, that we're better off being self-reliant, and so on), but doing it less and less may also become less important.
That is to say, in a more mature culture, it may not matter as much when some organ of the government does slip up and endorse someone's particular imaginary friend.
Consider, for instance, if the mayor of some town in Oregon had an imaginary friend named Bucky the Penguin, and decided to put Bucky on the Town Seal, and the town board went along just for fun, and there was this penguin on the Town Seal. That would be okay, would be funny, would be heartwarming, and even people who lived in the town and didn't believe in Bucky wouldn't have any real cause to object.
It may be (and it may not be; this is just a thought, not a theory I'm ready to endorse) that as our religions become less powerful and more tolerant of diversity and less prone to making unjustified truth-claims, endorsement of religion by individual government actors is less of a problem. If some judge is a fundamentalist Christian or Islamist or something, and lets that fact find expression in his work, then it's a problem because those judged by him will have a reasonable fear that they'll be judged according to some narrow religious criteria rather than the actual law, and that this may be part of a larger pattern of government repression of those not following a certain religion.
But if some judge is a Unitarian or a Zen Buddhist or a Discordian or something, and lets that find expression in his work, what would the accused have to fear? A religion that doesn't make serious judgements or truth-claims, and that isn't suscribed to by enough people to constitute an oppressive consensus, isn't nearly as much of a threat.
Hm, that's a rather unconvincing thought as stated; it may just be an expression of my own preference for one kind of religion over another. I think it might have the seed of a real thought it in, though. File it under "possible".
As I recall, I thought of it when the radio mentioned some recent ruling that some state could continue to have the Ten Commandments on some official seal or something, and my gut reaction was that, well, given how generically and blandly both the Commandments and official seals are regarded these days, maybe that wasn't too serious a problem.
File that under "possible" too.
You're either a dude, a babe, a mime, or a pope.
Or you could be rare.
(That's a meme.)
Terrifying to realize that last time I touched my "render the Tao Te Ching as 'Haiku'" project (a project that I still think of as Active, as One Of Those Things That I Do), was nearly three years ago.
Different but related project today. I was reading Lao Tzu while waiting for a Ceremony To Celebrate Our Children Who Are Too Smart For Their Own Good to start (a ceremony, I will just mention casually in passing, in which the little daughter was one of the featured children), and for some reason I thought of the aphorism attributed (in various forms) to Bohr, about how while the opposite of a simple truth is a simple falsehood, the opposite of a great truth is another great truth.
Here are I and IV from Lao Tzu (in the good old John Wu translation):
Okay, now (deep breath) we will attempt to create opposites of these, in such a way that the opposites are also Great Truths. Hold on!
Ooh, not bad! The only lines I don't really like are the "as ever hidden" / "as always manifest" ones, because they're too slavishly copied from the original, and too obviously make no sense. But overall I'm very pleased with myself.
(For a change, har har har har har.)
So go, my children, and spread these New Truths. Or are these just the same old truths, and is Taoism therefore invariant under the transform?