Archive for September, 2022

What foods these morsels be

Tuesday, September 20th, 2022

Today would have been Jay Ward’s 102 birthday. He was the genius who used the animated tales of Frostbite Falls, Minnesota to delightfully warp the comic sensibility of an entire generation.

I imagine the Walt Disney company would like to be known as the great source of all that is wondrous in American animation. But nothing in the Disney canon can compare with the demented humor of Moose and Squirrel, their no-goodnik foes, Peabody and his pet boy, or a certain Canadian mountie.

Even after all these years, I can still hear all the lyrics of Super Chicken running through my head. I think that’s a good thing.

Jay, I know you have gone to that great Wassamatta U in the sky. But here on Earth, we need you more than ever.

Hate comments

Monday, September 19th, 2022

Sometimes I get comments on this blog that are filled with hate. I can’t know for sure what is the actual cause of that person’s rage, but in that moment they seem to think it’s me.

I suspect there is something about the internet that can trigger people to act like a bull seeing a red cape. They just charge at whatever is in front of them, horns out, without really thinking it through.

You never see those comments here, because I invariably filter them out. And their rage doesn’t really touch me either, because it’s clearly about something going on in their own head.

But I feel bad for them, and I feel bad about the possibility that the internet creates that sort of energy. Part of me wishes I could somehow help them, but a more cautious part of me knows better.

Blurring the lens

Sunday, September 18th, 2022

Having just seen the excellent musical Come From Away, I have very complex feelings. It is essentially an upbeat story about the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11.

But it doesn’t approach its subject directly. Rather than showing the event itself, it talks about an epi-event which involved many positive and life-affirming outcomes, and essentially demonstrated the indestructibility of the human spirit.

In this way, it reminded me a lot of Schindler’s List. That movie is essentially an upbeat story about the Holocaust.

But it doesn’t approach its subject directly. Rather than showing the event itself, it talks about an epi-event which involved many positive and life-affirming outcomes, and essentially demonstrated the indestructibility of the human spirit.

I wonder how many other works of art which build upon real life experiences of horror take the same approach. And I wonder whether the cost of blurring of the lens is worth the benefit that such a work will reach many more people than would a more direct and unflinching look into the abyss.

State of egg

Saturday, September 17th, 2022

Have you ever noticed that for almost every way that people prepare eggs, there is a state of mind? Somebody can feel raw emotion, someone else can be just plain hard boiled. Yet another person can have their thoughts scrambled, while another yet is completely fried.

But what about poached eggs. I wonder what that mental state would be. Maybe it would have to do with poaching.

In my own experience, there have been times when I felt that other people have poached my ideas without asking me first. I suppose, in those times, I felt poached.

Maybe I should just learn to be more hard-boiled.

Hindsight

Friday, September 16th, 2022

As I’ve been cleaning out old papers this week, I’ve come across all sorts of notes that I had scribbled to myself. Sometimes they were clearly work related, and most other times I could figure out the context.

But for some notes, it’s kind of hard to figure out where exactly I was coming from. One note in particular simply said: “Destiny is easy to predict in hindsight.”

I’m not sure why I wrote that, or what precipitated that exact thought. But I have to say, I heartily agree with it.

Keep going

Thursday, September 15th, 2022

Have you ever noticed that when you are doing a massive reorganization, things always seem to appear worse before they appear better?

I am, simultaneously, doing a massive clean-up / reorganization of software and a massive clean-up / reorganization of an apartment. The similarities are striking.

In both cases I try to remember Winston Churchill’s advice: “When you are going through hell, keep going.”

Random notes on paper

Wednesday, September 14th, 2022

One of the things that happens when you start to go through your old stuff is that you realize how much things have changed. How much you have changed, and how much the world has changed (as if there is a difference!).

I’ve been noticing that many years ago I used to make lots of little notes to myself on 8.5″x11″ pieces of paper. Usually on the back of paper where I had printed something or other.

These were notes about things to do, phone numbers, random addresses, little diagrams, or just some thought or other that had occurred to me. And usually many of these things were crowded together on the same place until there was no more room.

It occurs to me now how inefficient this was, from the perspective of today, because none of it was searchable. Unless I happened to come upon that particular piece of paper again, it would be gone — until now, many years later, when most of that information is utterly useless.

But back then I didn’t have any good way of searching through stuff on a computer, so there wasn’t some other way of doing things. Thinking back on it now, I suspect that the major use of these little scribbles was to focus my thoughts.

I could lose the physical paper, but that act of writing it down fixed it in my mind, at least for a while. It was an imperfect system, but back then it was pretty much the only game in town.

Breathless

Tuesday, September 13th, 2022

I was very sad to read of the passing of Jean-Luc Godard. Reading the unhappy news made me flash back on the first time I saw Breathless.

It was a moment that changed my life. I had never seen a film that was anything like this before.

I realized that I was seeing something different, something that wasn’t like what had come before. After that experience, I started to see films differently.

And I realize that I have had that experience in other media as well. The first time I ever heard Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone, I knew that the very idea of a song had been redefined for me.

It’s not so much that these radical acts in their respective media were right and more traditional approaches were wrong. It was more that they opened up new doors of possibility.

They got people asking questions about what a movie or a song could be, in ways that people had simply not been thinking about before. And isn’t that one of the best and purest functions of art?

Slashdot

Monday, September 12th, 2022

It was weird having something I posted here showing up on Slashdot yesterday. I only knew about it because a friend emailed me.

I never really think about who might be reading this blog. I mostly write it for myself and whatever friends happen to be reading. So it’s always a little jarring when something I wrote here shows up in a more public forum.

I read through the ensuing conversation on Slashdot, and it was very lively, with strong opinions expressed all around. Just as expected, and wonderful — free speech in all its messy glory.

At some point I will probably write a follow-up post, based on what I read there. But first I need time to digest it all and think about it.

Meanwhile, one unfortunate but not unpredictable side effect is that I am suddenly getting lots of “comments” from spambots. I guess the takeaway here is: Support free speech, but use good filters.

Trauma

Sunday, September 11th, 2022

How strange to think that it has been twenty one years to the day since our collective trauma. It still feels so vivid to me, as though it had just happened.

When I think about the odd twists and turns that my own life took in the several years that followed the attacks, I suspect that I was, in my own way, dealing with my own personal reaction to those events. I made decisions that puzzle me today, as though part of me was sleep walking through each day, as though part of me was afraid to be fully awake.

When a person experiences a severe trauma to the body or the mind, it can take many years to fully heal. And if the wound is not properly tended to, healing can be incomplete. The mind or body may not heal well.

When an entire nation of several hundred million people experiences a severe trauma to its body and its mind, very bad things can happen. Large numbers of people can lose track of reality, and can retreat into paranoia and conspiracy theories.

When people are in need of healing, they will turn to whatever eases their pain. And then they can be talked into pretty much anything by the right smooth talking con man.

We are still far from healed. And we may not end up healing well.