What a god-awful, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year! For, oh, so many, many reasons:
My Minnesota Twins had the worst season in their franchise history (and now they will probably trade my favorite player, Brian Dozier); a whole bunch of people I cared about, or had some sort of ties to, died in 2016 (and many more I never knew and didn’t have ties to); there was that whole 2016 Presidential election thing (which was deeply awful on many counts, and who knows what will happen now); and let us not forget Syria or Flint, Michigan.
In fact, I’m not sure I can name one good thing about 2016. Except that, maybe, it’s finally over.
A different, more personal, anniversary… Looking back at the five years of this blog (or, for that matter, the many more years of this blogger), I can’t help but reflect on how man- and mice-plans go astray.
Case in point: Sidebands. Originally, as the name implies, meant as out-of-the-norm posts. True of the first few, but by #41 they’d become too inclusive, not much different from regular posts. The idea needed retooling; it was over a year before I posted #42. (And I added Brain Bubbles for minor-topic or very short posts.)
Since then, I’ve tried to restrict Sidebands to extremely technical topics. (For example, #59. I should have made that tesseract post #60, and today doubly wish I had.)
It’s one of those days you remember better than any birthday or wedding. Those were planned; these hit you suddenly, stunning your mind, breaking your heart. “The shuttle blew up!” “The Towers fell!”
The impact was even greater if you saw it happen in real-time. If you watched the shuttle launches. If you caught the breaking news before the second tower was hit. Saw the second plane, realized at that moment, “This is no accident!”
Even if you saw it after, you saw it; saw it as an attack.
When the world hits your eye like a nasty pig sty,… that’s not amore, that’s Weltschmerz (best English translation: “world pain”). It’s a term I’ve been meaning to post about for years, since it — or rather what it defines — lies at the heart of most of my Rant posts. (Yeah, this is another Drafts post I’m finally setting free.)
Fundamentally, it speaks to a disconnect or gulf between what one feels ought to be true in the world compared to what actually is true. Implicit in the term is a moral bias regarding the ought; it doesn’t, for example, apply to the gap between wishing you were rich while being poor.
It seems to me very much a word for our times.
The other day I saw in a New York Times article that Alvin Toffler had died last month. The article wasn’t really an obituary so much as about Future Shock, the book Toffler wrote back in 1970. If you’re around my age, you may remember him and the book; both were a bit of a big deal.
I hadn’t thought about that book since back then, but as the Times writer points out, “it seems clear that his diagnosis has largely panned out, with local and global crises arising daily from our collective inability to deal with ever-faster change.” Truer words! Even in 1970, the technological pace was starting to affect people in bad ways, and it certainly hasn’t gotten any better since.
The article really struck a chord! I’ve been thinking quite a lot lately — and have written a few posts — about the growing disconnect between people and their grasp of the technological modern world.
A while back I realized I had an Engineer’s Mind. I’ve always had a sense of that. What I realized was the significance of the Engineer’s Mind category. And of other categories of Mind — for example an Artist’s Mind (which I didn’t discover I also had until high school; see My Life 2.0).
Having a given Mind doesn’t mean one is necessarily good at something (skill takes practice), but it does suggest a predisposition or talent for it. Our minds seem to come pre-wired in two ways: core wiring that makes us human; and “flavor” wiring that gives us (some of our) basic traits. For instance, some people have — or strongly do not to have — a Math Mind.
I’ve found Mind a useful metaphor as well as a game to play.
I’m not a fan of commercial holidays. In particular, I’m not a fan of the idea of one day a year to mark some emotion or thought I’m supposed to have on schedule. I don’t need a calendar reminder to honor my mother, father, or sweetheart (or to be thankful or charitable).
And I’ve been to the well of romance many times in my time, but (alas) every bucket drawn has evaporated, spilled, or been kicked over. Drought may have dried that well, but I still believe in love.
So for lovers everywhere, a lovely love song…