Friday, April 30, 2010

Let your hair down: 745

You never get what you want in this life, so why not
shake your hair loose on a boat at play in dawn light?
--From The Selected Poems of Li Po--

Children should be taught the importance of decorum; but adults, who've seen the way the world works; how can they take it so seriously? Some people obsess over it, in a way that is, dare I say, childish.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Democracy: 2010

The governor of my state, Charlie Crist, announced he would make a political announcement today, so I decided to go. There was a lot of security around:



Also, there were a lot of reporters:







There were probably as many reporters, campaign staff, and security people as regular citizens who showed up. Here is a view early on:


After Crist supporters, the biggest group by far, were people with very generic signs, trying to save local health departments. I'm guessing they were given the day off to go and "protest" here.



There was one person against oil drilling:



One person for pot:



And some people for clean energy:



An independent thinker:



And a conservative for Crist:



Most of them seemed nice and cheerful, but some of the USF students were shouting things like "Muslim President!" and "Socialism!", being in support of those things.

There were some signs for teachers for Crist and women for Crist. I thought there were a lot, but at one point I was up on the stage:



And they told everyone to get off who wasn't a teacher (and invited), and it turned out there were only about ten of them.

I assume they filled out the stage with campaign workers. This guy was is a suit handing out signs and he ended up holding a sign on stage:



When Crist came, he shook his hand.

I'm guessing there were 300 people there, including reporters and security. Here's a video where I spun around:


Eventually Crist shows up, and I got to see his ear:



He gives a speech and announces he's running for Senate as an Independent. It was a strange announcement, because he didn't pause to allow people to clap, or really "announce" anything. It was more like he mentioned his running as an Independent in passing.

At one point he talked about how we need "a new tone", how people should be able to disagree while still being civil. As he goes on people start chanting "Crist! Crist! Crist!" and I chant "Rubio!" (his Republican opponent) and boo. I'm not a Republican, I just don't like Crist. And I'm not going to apologize for booing, because this was an event open to the public, for a politician who loves to say how he's always listening to the people. Well, I had something to say, and I booed. It's how I express myself, *swear word* *swear word*.

I was called a "moron", someone pushed me (accidentally?), one of the teachers on stage turned around and told me to shut up; someone even made a crack about how there were lots of idiots like me where he came from, Alaska. So much for "a new tone".

I think I was the only person up there booing. There were a few people with Rubio signs off in the distance.



I asked one, why they weren't up there booing and they said they weren't a rabble-rouser. I guess that means I am one.

Here's a shot I took right after Crist left; I think it captures pretty well how many people were there:



Anyway, I had fun exercising my right to free expression. Yay Democracy!

Talking to extraterrestrials: circa 740

Staying the night at Summit-Top Temple,
you can reach out and touch the stars.

I venture no more than a low whisper,
afraid I'll wake the people of heaven.
--From The Selected Poems of Li Po--

Perhaps the universe is filled with intelligent creatures, but clearly we cannot be numbered among them. To imagine a sky filled with sentient beings, all of them angels and none of them demons, how much hubris and stupidity does that take?

Instead of trying to contact them, it is better by far to let them sleep.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Friendship: 1350

"Well," Fei said to him, "do you still think me impetuous?" "I harped on your failings so you'd learn some tricks," Xuande said, and Zhang Fei roared with delight.
--From the Romance of the Three Kingdoms--

You don't need self-help books when you have good friends.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pop music: 1858


The arrangements having been carried out as pre-ordained, the marriage took place in the Chapel Royal of St. James's Palace. A little before eleven the great Officers of State and others who were to take part in the ceremonial began to arrive at Buckingham Palace, while the band of the Grenadier Guards played Mendelssohn's famous "Wedding March" in the quadrangle. Soon afterwards, the principal actors began to quit the Palace for St. James's.... ...Lastly appeared the Queen, and her daughter the bride, in a state carriage with cream coloured horses.
--From The Gentleman's Magazine--

Don't you hate it when people use pop music in their wedding ceremony instead of something traditional?

Monday, April 26, 2010

How to please your man: 1858

In the first place, young ladies do not, as a rule, neglect any means of improving their looks; but no Japanese young ladies, even after they are "out," think of taking this method of increasing their powers of fascination; they color their cheeks and lips, and deck their hair, but it is not until they have made a conquest of some lucky swain, that, to prove their devotion to him, they begin to blacken their teeth and pull out their eyebrows. He, privileged being, is called upon to exhibit no such test of his affection; on the contrary, his lawful wife having so far disfigured herself as to render it impossible that she should be attractive to any one else, seems to lose her charms for her husband as well; so he places her at the head of his establishment, and adds to it an indefinite number of handmaidens, who neither pull out their eyebrows nor blacken their teeth; hence it seems not difficult to account for the phenomenon which is universally admitted, that while Japanese wives are celebrated for their virtue, their husbands are no less notorious for their licentiousness.
--From Narrative of the Earl of Elgin's mission to China and Japan--

Don't you hate how some people let themselves go once they're in a relationship?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Nature's mistake


A: "People think Nature is somehow perfect, but she makes mistakes all the time; she's just really good at getting rid of them."

B: "Perhaps the human race, and every other living thing, are mistakes of Nature; ones she's having a hard time getting rid of."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ectasy: 1595


It's dark, you're at a club, and some shirtless guy with a smooth chest and muscles, wearing fake angel-wings, picks you up.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gender bending: 1595

It wasn't considered moral (or legal) for women to perform on stage, so all shows were drag shows.

Now, imagine Romeo and Juliet like this:



...because it was the norm.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Against tradition: circa 400 BC

The Confucians say: "The superior man must use ancient speech and wear ancient dress before he can be considered benevolent." But we answer: The so-called ancient speech and dress were all modern once, and if at that time the men of antiquity used such speech and wore such dress, then they must not have been superior men.
--From The Mozi--

Being against "tradition for tradition's sake" is a tradition going back almost 2500 years.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gender bending: 1708

We are here nine times madder after operas than ever; and have got a new castrato from Italy, called Nicolini, who exceeds Valentini, I know not how many bars length.
--From The Works of Jonathan Swift--

Here's what someone who was castrated would sound like:



Suddenly, all the male singers with the high voices and long hair, or punk rock girls, or even Lady Gaga, just don't seem that extreme.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Isolation: 1858

As the only foreigners of whom the untraveled inhabitants of Yedo have ever heard are the Chinese, we had the very high compliment paid us of being supposed to belong to that favored nation; so that, as in China you are called, as you ride along the streets, a barbarian or a " foreign devil," in Japan the gamins run after you and say, " Look at the Chinamen!" " There go the Chinamen!" while their commercial instinct is betrayed by the shout, "Chinamen, Chinamen! have you any thing to sell?"

This trifling circumstance enables us forcibly to realize the extent of that entire exclusion of strangers which has been for so long so jealously and successfully maintained.
--From Narrative of the Earl of Elgin's mission to China and Japan--

It is hard to imagine this situation occurring today, but on the other hand, I wonder if someone from East Asia walking through the streets of America today could be assured of having their nationality correctly identified by passersby.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pascal's Wager: circa 400 BC

Now when we prepare pure wine and millet and offer them with reverence and circumspection, if ghosts and spirits really exist, then we are thereby providing food and drink for our fathers [ghosts of], mothers [ghosts of]...

Of course if ghosts and spirits do not really exist, then it would seem that we are wasting the materials we use, the wine and millet. But though we expend them, it is not as though we were simply pouring the wine in a sewage ditch and throwing the millet away. For the members of the family and the people of the community can all gather to drink and eat them...
--From The Mozi--

It always bothers me when someone brings up Pascal's Wager to prove the existence of God ("it's easy to prove the existence of God!"). I now know to ask the people who use this reasoning if they are sacrificing wine and millet to their ancestors, because according to the quote above, they should be.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Information technology: circa 400 BC

I did not live at the same time as they did, nor have I in person heard their voices or seen their faces. Yet I know it because of what is written on the bamboo and silk that has been handed down to posterity, what is engraved on metal and stone, and what is inscribed on bowls and basins.
--From The Mozi--

People pick and choose among iPads and Kindles, iPods and Zunes to store and view their media, but they rarely think about permanence when making these decisions. Will their grandchildren go through their old files, like they might old books or magazines? Chances are, the devices will be useless blocks by then; the information stored on them lost because of mechanical failure, or unable to be transferred due to DRM restrictions.

I know the thoughts someone who lived over 2,000 years ago, but this thought I'm expressing in this sentence, will probably be unavailable to anyone in twenty years. It certainly doesn't deserve preservation, but I have to wonder about the things that do. Will they vanish in the same way?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A religious observation:: 1591

Promiscuous women may become nuns to feign reform, while obsessive men may enter religion due to some stimulus or excitement. This is why the "schools of clear purity" are always hotbeds of promiscuous and perverted people.
--From the Caigentan--

I think the Catholic Church could cut down on many of its problems (lack of priests, sex scandals) if it allowed all of its priests to be married. I say "all" because it already allows some married men to be ordained as priests.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Addiction: 1908

I watched a young mother the other day sowing seeds of trouble, mortification, exasperation, worn nerves, for herself; pain, rebelliousness, possibly permanent disfigurement, for her child. It filled my soul with wrath. What was she doing? Encouraging a habit; "cute," she called it, but one which she will some day know for what it is—pernicious to the last degree. This is the thumb-sucking habit.
--From Good Housekeeping--

If you ever see an old movie about the dangers of marijuana, don't think that craziness was directed only at drugs. Hysteria has long been a socially acceptable way to deal with "problems" and continues to be so to this day.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The worst movie ever: 1902



It's nothing but a bunch of special effects, is nothing like the source material, has a stupid plot, wants you to believe things you know obviously aren't true, and tries covering up its faults with cheap laughs and sexy women.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Special effects: 1902



Special effects are just magic tricks. So is make-up, plastic surgery, 3D, and television.

We're all inhabitants of the Emerald City, with green lenses clamped over our eyes so we can never see the world as it is.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Monsters


They really exist, just not (usually) under your bed or in your closet.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hipsters: 1902


Advice by cable from the foreign centers of style guide the artists and highly trained workers who are creating Wooltex styles. That's why they lead. That's why a Wooltex garment can be worn in any city in America or Europe with the certainty that it is au fait.
--From The Delineator--

Information is a commodity so valuable that people can be impressed if they merely think you have it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Breast augmentation: 1902



--From The Delineator--

Perhaps instead of worrying about the sexualization of our culture we should worry when it becomes desexualized.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

THE Fashion Accessory: 1902


--From The Delineator--

We do crazy things with purses and shoes, but they don't match the shear exuberance of a lady's hat.