Just a quick note to let everyone know that we in Thailand are fine-- waaaay too far from the "action" to see any direct repercussions. We're watching the news just like everyone else.

All of our friends and acquaintances in Japan are safe, too, thankfully, but our hearts go out to everyone.

Happy 2011!

Jan. 3rd, 2011 11:50 am
“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make art - write or draw or build or sing or live only as you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

Neil Gaiman
If there is one person or more on your friends list who makes your world a better place just because they exist and who you would not have met (in real life or not) without the internet, then post this same sentence in your journal.
flyingrat: (earth from apollo)
I've recently become a member of the Long Now Foundation.  If you're not familiar with it, I suggest you check it out, because...well.  It's important. 

I particularly recommend this essay by Michael Chabon, which does a marvelous job of summing up what this is all about.  To quote:

If you ask my eight-year-old about the Future, he pretty much thinks the world is going to end, and that’s it. Most likely global warming, he says-- floods, storms, desertification-- but the possibility of viral pandemic, meteor impact, or some kind of nuclear exchange is not alien to his view of the days to come. Maybe not tomorrow, or a year from now. The kid is more than capable of generating a full head of optimistic steam about next week, next vacation, his tenth birthday. It’s only the world a hundred years on that leaves his hopes a blank. My son seems to take the end of everything, of all human endeavor and creation, for granted. He sees himself as living on the last page, if not in the last paragraph, of a long, strange and bewildering book. If you had told me, when I was eight, that a little kid of the future would feel that way—- and that what’s more, he would see a certain justice in our eventual extinction, would think the world was better off without human beings in it—- that
would have been even worse than hearing that in 2006 there are no hydroponic megafarms, no human colonies on Mars, no personal jetpacks for everyone. That would truly have broken my heart.

If you have children, I don't see how you can fail to do everything in your power to ensure that they, and their grandchildren, and their grandchildren's grandchildren, will inherit a world whose perfection can never be accomplished by creatures whose imagination for perfecting it is limitless and free.
[When you see this, post a poem in your journal, if you haven't already.]

From An Atlas of the Difficult World, Adrienne Rich


One night in Monterey Bay the death-freeze of the century:
a precise, detached calliper-grip holds the stars and the quarter-moon
in arrest: the hardiest plants crouch shrunken, a "killing frost"
on bougainvillea, Pride of Madeira, roseate black-purple succulents bowed
juices sucked awry in one orgy of freezing
slumped on their stems like old faces evicted from cheap hotels
--into the streets of the universe, now!

Earthquake and drought followed by freezing followed by war.
Flags are blossoming now where little else is blossoming
and I am bent on fathoming what it means to love my country.
The history of this earth and the bones within it?
Soils and cities, promises made and mocked, plowed contours of shame and of hope?
Loyalties, symbols, murmurs extinguished and echoing?
Grids of states stretching westward, underground waters?
Minerals, traces, rumors I am made from, morsel, miniscule fibre, one woman
like and unlike so many, fooled as to her destiny, the scope of her task?
One citizen like and unlike so many, touched and untouched in passing
--each of us now a driven grain, a nucleus, a city in crisis
some busy constructing enclosures, bunkers, to escape the common fate
some trying to revive dead statues to lead us, breathing their breath against marble lips
some who try to teach the moment, some who preach the moment
some who aggrandize, some who diminish themselves in the face of half-grasped events
--power and powerlessness run amuck, a tape reeling backward in jeering, screeching syllables--
some for whom war is new, others for whom it merely continues the paroxysms of time
some marching for peace who for twenty years did not march for justice
some for whom peace is a white man's word and a white man's privilege
some who have learned to handle and contemplate the shapes of powerlessness and power
as the nurse learns hip and thigh and weight of the body he has to lift and sponge, day upon day
as she blows with her every skill on the spirit's embers still burning by their own laws in the bed of death.
A patriot is not a weapon. A patriot is one who wrestles for the soul of her country
as she wrestles for her own being, for the soul of his country
(gazing through the great circle at Window Rock into the sheen of the Viet Nam Wall)
as he wrestles for his own being. A patriot is a citizen trying to wake
from the burnt-out dream of innocence, the nightmare
of the white general and the Black general posed in their camouflage,
to remember her true country, remember his suffering land: remember
that blessing and cursing are born as twins and separated at birth to meet again in mourning
that the internal emigrant is the most homesick of all women and of all men
that every flag that flies today is a cry of pain.
Where are we moored?
What are the bindings?
What behooves us?

XIII (Dedications)

I know you are reading this poem
late, before leaving your office
of the one intense yellow lamp-spot and the darkening window
in the lassitude of a building faded to quiet
long after rush-hour. I know you are reading this poem
standing up in a bookstore far from the ocean
on a grey day of early spring, faint flakes driven
across the plains' enormous spaces around you.
I know you are reading this poem
in a room where too much has happened for you to bear
where the bedclothes lie in stagnant coils on the bed
and the open valise speaks of flight
but you cannot leave yet. I know you are reading this poem
as the underground train loses momentum and before running up the stairs
toward a new kind of love
your life has never allowed.
I know you are reading this poem by the light
of the television screen where soundless images jerk and slide
while you wait for the newscast from the intifada.
I know you are reading this poem in a waiting-room
of eyes met and unmeeting, of identity with strangers.
I know you are reading this poem by fluorescent light
in the boredom and fatigue of the young who are counted out,
count themselves out, at too early an age. I know
you are reading this poem through your failing sight, the thick
lens enlarging these letters beyond all meaning yet you read on
because even the alphabet is precious.
I know you are reading this poem as you pace beside the stove
warming milk, a crying child on your shoulder, a book in your hand
because life is short and you too are thirsty.
I know you are reading this poem which is not in your language
guessing at some words while others keep you reading
and I want to know which words they are.
I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn between bitterness and hope
turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse.
I know you are reading this poem because there is nothing else left to read
there where you have landed, stripped as you are.
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] eugenetapdance.

Go to Wikipedia and type in your birthday (month and day). Then you write down 3 events, 3 births, 3 deaths, 3 holidays, and tag 3 friends, or as many or as few people as you please.

1215 – King John of England puts his seal to the Magna Carta.
1389 – Battle of Kosovo: The Ottoman Empire defeats Serbs and Bosnians.
1752 – Benjamin Franklin proves that lightning is electricity.

1519 – Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Richmond and Somerset, illegitimate son of King Henry VIII of England (d. 1536)
1954 – Paul Rusesabagina, Rwandan hotel manager
1973 – Neil Patrick Harris, American actor (*flails uncontrollably*)

1467 – Philip III, Duke of Burgundy (b. 1396)
1849 – James Knox Polk, 11th President of the United States (b. 1795)
1996 – Ella Fitzgerald, American singer (b. 1917)

Roman Empire – ninth and final day of the Vestalia in honor of Vesta
Azerbaijan: National Salvation Day
Saint Vitus (observed with Sts. Modestus and Crescentia), patron of actors and epileptics (wow, what a combination!)

Tag: Everybody, go for it!
flyingrat: (earth from apollo)
...Michael Faraday gave a series of six lectures to schoolchildren at London's Royal Institution, over the Christmas holiday.  His topic?  "The Chemical History of a Candle".  They read just as well today as they must have once upon a time-- talk about a marvelous popular science speaker and writer.  (As someone said, he brings to mind Bill Nye meets Charles Dickens.)

There is no better, there is no more open door by which you can enter into the study of natural philosophy than by considering the physical phenomena of a candle.

(Veidt agrees.)


There is an awesome pizza restaurant in Harrisonburg, VA which has an original copy of this poster hanging up in the men's restroom.  I'm thrilled to see it documented digitally as well.

Today has been declared Lurker Amnesty Day! Have you read me but never commented? Do you surf by occasionally? Here for the fic? Say hello! You are under no obligation to ever comment or delurk again, but here's a chance to do so in a post just for that.
Now that the winter holiday season has mostly passed, it's time to dust off this piece, which I find always slots perfectly into this time of year-- the celebrations over, but the promise of spring yet to come. 

Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree. )

In other news, I've jumped on yet another bandwagon.  Go crazy, people.

"I salute you!

I am your friend and my love for you goes deep. There is nothing I can give you which you have not got, but there is much, very much that, while I cannot give it, you can take.

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today. Take heaven!
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!

The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in the darkness could we but see - and to see we have only to look. I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by the covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love, by wisdom, with power.

Welcome it, grasp it, touch the angel's hand that brings it to you. Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel's hand is there, the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Our joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty - beneath its covering - that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.

Courage, then, to claim it, that is all. But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are all pilgrims together, wending through unknown country, home.

And so, at this time, I greet you. Not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you now and forever, the day breaks, and the shadows flee away."

- Fra Giovanni Giocondo (c. 1435-1515), to Countess Allagia Aldobrandeschi on Christmas Eve, 1513

Aw, crap.

Dec. 25th, 2009 02:42 pm
Dear Santa...

Dear Santa,

This year I've been busy!

In August I gave [livejournal.com profile] eugenetapdance a Dutch Oven (-10 points). Last Friday I had a shoot-out with rival gang lords on the 5 near LA (-76 points). In April I committed genocide... Sorry about that, [livejournal.com profile] 22by7 (-5000 points). Last week I broke [livejournal.com profile] anactoria's X-Box (-12 points). In June I put money in [livejournal.com profile] muzivitch's expired parking meter (14 points).

Overall, I've been naughty (-5084 points). For Christmas I deserve a spanking!


Write your letter to Santa! Enter your LJ username:

...um. Sorry, Eugene?
This is what my shelf looks like:

I am not sorry.

(Prompted by a wonderful paper presented at U2: The Hype and the Feedback.)

"There remains an experience of incomparable value.  We have for once learned to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcast, the suspects, the maltreated, the powerless, the oppressed, the reviled - in short, from the perspective of those who suffer. The important thing is that neither bitterness nor envy should have gnawed at the heart during this time, that we should have come to look with new eyes at matters great and small, sorrow and joy, strength and weakness, that our perception of generosity, humanity, justice and mercy should have become clearer, freer, less corruptible.  We have to learn that personal suffering is a more effective key, a more rewarding principle for exploring the world in thought and action than personal good fortune.  This perspective from below must not become the partisan possession of those who are eternally dissatisfied; rather, we must do justice to life in all its dimensions from a higher satisfaction, whose foundation is beyond any talk of 'from below' or 'from above'.  This is the way in which we may affirm it."

- Letters and Papers from Prison, 1942

I am staying in a hotel in Richmond, Virginia, this weekend for a wedding. Hanging in the ladies room off of the lobby was this...special piece of art.

It appears to be Adrian Veidt, putting the moves on two ladies, one of whom has rather terrifying breasts.

[livejournal.com profile] glasspyramids has suggested that the proper title should be "Ozymandias Undercover". Adrian says he doesn't get paid enough, even when the fate of the world is at stake.

ETA: Upon a second look, I suspect the the shadowy figure on the left may be Jon, looking particularly...ethereal.
"Admit the mystery of the people we are not.

If we are convinced we know them, we don't. If we choose to act upon the emotions aroused by blind knowledge, we make a public reality of internal presumption. Whether we throw brickbats or bouquets, whether the emotion is a fierce infatuation or an abdominal disgust, then-- to the extent of our social power-- we imprison humans of genuine mystery in the cells of our simplicities."

- Walter Wangerin
It's still warm in Virginia, but unlike Bangkok there's a softness to it, and it's clear that autumn itself is not far off.

This came to mind.

Lord, it is time. The summer was immense. )
Just a quick note that on Thursday (Sept. 3rd) I'll be relocating halfway around the world, at least temporarily. I'm returning to the US East Coast for a friend's wedding, and staying for about 5 weeks...during which time I'll be taking in two U2 concerts and attending "The Hype and the Feedback", the world's first U2-centered academic conference.

Expect to see me online as usual, just at slightly less weird hours!
Something I'm intending to do more of is posting poems along with musical settings of them.  Here's the first.
How hard the year dies; no frost yet. )
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