In the last quarter of the 19th century — USA-centrically, call it 139 years ago — we began to experience having the sound of strangers’ voices in our lives, even in our homes. Not just voices, but music from concert halls and clubs. And other sounds, too: the clip-clop of horse feet, the slam of a door, a gun-shot. Less than 100 years go, those sounds went electric, and we never looked back.
At the beginning of the 20th century, we started another love affair — this one with moving images on rectangular screens, a dance of light and shadow, windows to imaginary worlds. Or windows to recorded memories or news of distant places. When sound went electric, those moving images took voice and spoke and sang. No one alive in our society today remembers a time when moving images weren’t woven into our lives.
Here, now, into the 21st century, in an age of streaming video and music, from cloud to your pocket device (with its high-resolution display and built-in video camera), I can’t help but be impressed by how far we’ve come.
A long way, indeed.
I’ll Make Mars Great Again!
In a surprise move today, GOP front-runner The Donald Trump announced his resignation from the presidential race claiming it was all “just a tremendous joke — amazing! I never thought anyone would believe it for a second,… but I pulled it off perfectly, of course.”
Mr. Trump said he would devote his time now to building a Great Wall of Mars, which he said would be “way better than China’s so-called Great Wall; it’ll be tremendous, and it will look amazing!” He claims the Martians will pay for the wall, and that it will make space “great again.”
Two former Republican candidates for the highest office, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, told reporters they wished Mr. Trump every success and offered their assistance in hastening his departure for the red planet. Both Floridians said they’d be glad to personally strap him to any of NASA’s larger boosters.
Bernie Sanders receives an endorsement from Finches!
So… The week began with a bomb in Brussels and a baseball game in Cuba. On one side of the Earth, images of terror and oppression; on the other, images of joy and freedom. It forms a literal global Yin-Yang reflecting the best and worst of human goals and actions.
From such high stakes and matters of import, the week quickly descended into the sewer, as the National Embarrassment led the Republican Party to new lows this election cycle.
The First Family planting seeds of democracy.
To those who would disparage President Obama’s comportment (or even just presence) at the historic baseball game in Cuba yesterday, might I suggest there is, perhaps, no greater expression of American freedom, liberty, and values, than the simple joy of a baseball game?
What better way to flip the bird to those who would destroy our way of life than to take a moment to say: Nope, not afraid of you, not gonna let you own this — or any — day!
At first I thought maybe there was a point to be made regarding his comportment. Was the wave necessary? How dare he enjoy himself so much!
But what better response to horror and tragedy is there but joy and love?
And, oh, by the way: Not so much just a “baseball game” as planting the seeds of freedom and democracy with our neighbors. What you might call the opposite of terrorism, so nah-nah-nah-nah-nah.
After all, baseball is one of those things you can be “as American as!”
Coo coo ca choo!
So. It’s been a day. A bombing in Brussels, Belgium, and an historic baseball game in Habana, Cuba. President Obama was at the latter, and so was Mrs. Robinson (the one the song isn’t about). Set against the background of “Super Tuesday #4: The Continuing Horror” it all weaves an interesting tapestry of stark contrasts and lurid splashes of color.
Baseball and bombs. Diplomacy and terrorism. Policy and politics. It’s terrible and fascinating how the world offers so much hope and so much despair — all in a day. The best there is in people set against the worst there is in people.
So, it’s been a day.
In Greek mythology, the hero Theseus, who slew the Minotaur and escaped its maze, returned from Crete to Athens where the Athenians preserved his ship in seaworthy state for more than a thousand years. It was an emblem of courage and a reminder of a national hero that many Greeks considered more legendary than mythological.
The Ship of Theseus was carefully maintained. Parts that rotted away were replaced with exact replicas. And in a ship made almost entirely of wood, crude iron, rope, and sail, everything rots, so eventually everything gets replaced.
Which makes the identity of the ship an interesting question.
I can’t believe, with so much Trump-water over the damn dam, that people still support this guy. Not since Creationism has there been such a clear and present example of how disconnected from reality is the thinking of many people. Never in my lifetime have I seen such a frightening example of all I disdain in the human race.
This is thoughtlessness and irrationality, bigotry and brutality, nationalism and populism. It’s childish, selfish, ignorant, and stupid! It boggles my mind.
It’s gotten to the point of basically stunning me into insensibility.
Well, it’s Pi Day once again (although this date becomes more and more inaccurate as the century proceeds). So, once again, I’ll opine that Tau Day is cooler. (see: Happy Tau Day!)
Last year, for extra-special Pi Day, I wrote a post that pretty much says all I have to say about Pi. (see: Here Today; Pi Tomorrow) That post was actually published the day before. I used the actual day to kick off last Spring’s series on Special Relativity.
So what remains to be said? Not much, really, but I’ve never let that stop me before, so why start now?
Blessed be the Force!
As long as I’ve been picking my own reading material, a huge fraction of it has science fiction. I’ve been doing that picking since about 1963-ish, so let’s just call it 50+ years. Up until around the mid 1990s, it would have been hard to name a science fiction book or movie I didn’t know (and in many cases, own).
But somewhere near the end of the last century science fiction became a full-fledged mass-produced commodity that through sheer over-exposure became dull and uninteresting. In a way, I blame George Lucas and Star Wars, so I split SF into two eras:
Before Lucas (B.L.) and Anno Stella Bella (ASB).
I think I’ve come full circle on Donald Trump. It’s an opposite circle from the one I traveled with William Shatner (and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama). This time I started out appalled, began to rethink my position, but moved back to appalled after all. So while I’m back to liking Shatner, Clinton, and Obama, I’m also back to hating Donald Trump.
His disgraceful apparent behavior, regardless of who he really is behind the circus ringmaster, is enough to disqualify him from politics (let alone from the Presidency of the USA).
His slogan claims he’ll make America great again. The “again” deserves some unpacking, but I got to thinking about the “great” part…