June 19, 2019
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver, "The Summer Day"
June 18, 2019
Been thinking a bit about Revelation. Saturday I was discussing my takeaway from Elaine Pagels' book about it, which is the irony that even though it is so revered by so many (Gentile, not particularly semitic) Christians today, it spends its first part taking a strong stance for a partisan "Christianity needs to be seen as an outgrowth of Judaism" view (vs "Gentiles are the bestest Christians") but that part is usually glossed over by most readers, who are generally looking for the future juicy, scary and vengeful stuff. (Actually, "readers" isn't the right term. As a preteen I got through one of those "read the whole Bible in a year!" plans, but I think that level of reading is uncommon in most churches these days - many churchgoers seem content with the little cherry picked excerpts you get in service. Which, if true (and I shouldn't speak too broadly, I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions) is kind of a return to the old "Mystery" days where the actual texts were reserved for the learned few...)

An early 1980s Sunday School class about the subject, including an illustration of a Christian in front of a firing squad along with other terrors to come, left me with an indelible association of Christianity with future horrors, especially if you don't act right (all the Jesus acceptance and born-again-ness) and even if you do. Which then fed into a disdain I still carry for "pre-tribs", folks who think the Christians get swept away to their eternal happiness before all the shit goes down, because God must love us too much to let that happen to US, right? (I have bitterness when pop-religion seems to sugarcoat the source material - the way a "Grampas looking down from us in Heaven right now, Timmy" view seems more grounded in consoling hopefulness than the actual scriptures - my church's 11th and final doctrine was "We believe in the immortality of the soul; in the resurrection of the body; in the general judgment at the end of the world; in the eternal happiness of the righteous; and in the endless punishment of the wicked." I realized that that view of a bodily resurrection and a judgement at the END of the things is more caught in "Man of Constant Sorrow"'s final verse ("as I lay sleeping in my grave") than most of the songs I had been singing in Sunday School... and so I'm both envious of and sometimes a little disdainful of folks who have a softer, gentler form of Christianity, even as I realize I can't be sure their view is less reliable than mine harsh one - it's certainly more pragmatic and psychologically sound, whether or not it feels like wishful thinking to me.)

A few years ago I ran into the idea of Preterism, the idea that the stuff in Revelation happened along with the destruction of the Temple in 70CE. (Heh - compare that to the tongue-in-cheek pop-culture idea that Mayans were right, time ended in 2012 and now we're just watching things fall apart.) Anyway, I wish I had a better feel for this view, I can't read the fantastical and completely apocalyptic imagery outside of the lens of a "guide to future events" that has stoked both way too much of my childhood fears and informed too much of our foreign policy in the Middle East...

Man, this ramble got longer than I expected when I found an old blog note on "Preterism". I'll leave you with a reference to APOCAMON - the first few pages are rough, implying sexual abuse of John of Patmos by Roman soldiers, but then gets into a fascinatingly literal illustration of the warring angelic and demonic forces of the final battle.

OK, finally finally, I remember this quote:
Pick up a reggae album at random. Any reggae album. Listen to it and you will find a far more accurate, reliable and theologically sound exegesis of the meaning of Babylon than you will ever get from Tim LaHaye or any other so-called 'prophecy expert.'

June 17, 2019
A recent Netflix "Black Mirror" has what many Gen X/Millennial types will find blasphemous: "Ashely O" (Miley Cyrus) doing a retooled, relyricked bubble-gum pop cover of "Head Like a Hole":

I was delighted they released the MP3 for this (as with other NIN covers that lighten things up, it reveals that Reznor is a crazy good tunesmith.) I also delighted in planning to subject Melissa to it in the car...

She was frustrated because she couldn't think of a good revenge song for me. And I admit it's a tough road! I like many things musically (anything that I don't find boring in terms of bass and rhythm floors) and I don't hold much sacred... even, say, a country western version of my most sacred song "Groove Is In The Heart" might be kind of fun!

"NIN" was definitely a teenage expression/rebellion piece for many folk. I guess the nearest thing I had to that was Beastie Boys "License to Ill". (I remember my mom asking if something was wrong when she saw I destroyed the tape during a bout of spiritual repentance.)

Anyway, did you have a "teen rebellion" song or album or genre? What was it?
I also loved that they released this shirt:

Anyone else seeing an extra amount of spam slipping through Gmail's filters today? (And being labeled 'important', is the goading thing for me)
June 16, 2019
On FB a friend, one I respect greatly despite, or because of, long term political and artistic differences, but usually handled collegially, posted
Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom
Alexis de Tocqueville
My response was this:
So, this is half true in the way Tocqueville probably means, but the other half is - man, that is just basic human psychology. People would rather be the slightly richer person in their poor peer group than the poorest of a somewhat more well-off cohort. I think it's because, when everyone is poor, it feels like that is just the way the world is, you know? Everyone is in more or less the same boat, but maybe you did better or worse than your shmuck neighbors - that's where the competition is, always local. If everyone were "equal in slavery", then freedom would be largely unknown and almost unimaginable.

Personally the american level-seeking characteristic I'm more concerned with these days is smarts; some Americans are so convinced of their own truthy gut intuition that they refuse to recognize that smarts and expertise actually exists; that some problems take a lot of study and though - sometimes pursuing their own specialized glossary or vocabulary so that to the outsider, it's almost impossible to tell if it's just some weird, out of touch intellectual circle jerk or more hard won esoteric knowledge. This point is why I was rather disdainful of that Intellectual Yet Idiot post you linked to here.
My favorite image from a remarkable The Public Domain Review page, X is for - what did alphabet books do before X-Rays and Xylophones were in the zeitgeist?

(The site has the full content of Charles H. Bennett's 1855 Beasts, birds and fishes : an alphabet for boys & girls - the n-word makes an unfortunate appearance as a music descriptor, only somewhat mitigated by isolating it in quote marks.)
From the cries of Sinn Fein to the whines of Jackie Mason, everybody's got an agenda and everyone thinks he or she is right. Trying to change someone's mind usually becomes an exercise in futility, so it is your job to pretend to care. Offer some tepid advice and move on. Cultivate the Switzerland of your soul and remain delightfully detached.
Janeane Garofalo, "Feel This Book" (co-authored with Ben Stiller in 1999). That final line has been buzzing around my head lately - the usual caveats of there being some privilege in it, and that some struggles ARE worth pursuing - but you gotta pick your battles, or maybe more importantly - pick your battlefields.

ThinkGeek kinda going away...
Oh, that's kind of a bummer! They had a nicely curated bunch of geeky stuff....
People who like Hawaiian Pizza - would you also enjoy, say, a banana slathered with mayo? 'Cause to us that's the same energy, right there, more or less.
Things are not what they seem; nor are they otherwise.
Shurangama Sutra

Play all the Steely Dan albums in release order.
Diane's Turing Test for voice-activated music playback software. It's not quite "consciousness", but when the automated assistant can do the right thing based on that query, we know we are doing with somewhat more clever things!
Sometimes I'm not sure if our grammar processors are as sophisticated as Infocom parsers on old text adventures. I could tell the turtle in "Enchanter" 'turtle, go se then get the scroll then go nw.' and the turtle would do that.
G is for gin! T is for tonic! Our six titties are supersonic! We don't mind men - We don't like fuss. We're the Glee team - Come and get us !
The Glee Team chant from "My Dad Wrote a Porno" (I'm clearing out some backlog 'todo' items here...)

Band Life Hack - having trouble keeping your group together and tight on the descending line in a cover of Herbie Hancock's Chameleon (like around 0:55 of that one?) Try the mnemonic "HERbie / Hancock / CuriOsity is good...."