Sunday, January 25, 2015

Poetry Sunday - Ashes, Ashes

Ashes, Ashes

The maid was in the garden
Hanging out the clothes.
Why the clothes were hanging out,
The drier only knows.

Miss Muffet ate her curds and whey,
While some liked porridge pease.
Alas, I slurped my hot pea soup
And lo-fat cottage cheese.

I'm hiding in the inkwell.
Whatever will they think,
When all that's found of me is bound
To be but digital ink.

Now Mother Goose becomes abstruse
In time, since first created.
For just like grandma's nursery,
Her rhymes get antiquated.

The lesson here, my dear, as sung
I fear, if truth be told,
Is what's so simple when we're young
Is more complex when old. 

This is something I wrote a few years ago. The title, of course, refers decompositionally to the old song we used to sing, "Ashes, Ashes, we all fall down", which was just the "Ring around the Rosy" nursery rhyme when young. Then, as we got older, it was explained as reference to the Black Death, and then, of course, that was debunked.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Checking in from Granada

Hola, thought I'd pop over here and give a little update about my study abroad experience in Spain so far. First impressions: the timing is way different, English isn't actually spoken everywhere in the world yet, and after meeting fellow Americans I have come to the conclusion that I would experience more culture shock somewhere in the South of the U.S. then I have in the South of Spain. First up the timing.. Lunch everyday at 3 and the lunches my host family makes are massive and delicious. Dinner not until 9-9:30 every night, and then people don't start going out until midnight or later. One example, the other weekend a group of us went to a club, arrived around 1:45am and the place was completely empty, the bartenders hadn't even arrived yet. The place started to fill at 3 and by the time we left at 5am there was still a line outside the door to get in... So yes, timing is different. Second, as English speakers we seem to think that our language has pervaded every corner of the earth. Not so in Granada, where I have only met a few locals with any English skill. Its refreshing that we actually have to struggle and learn the language instead of every place catering to our language. Thirdly, the culture shock. Things are obviously different, being in a different country and all however one story put things in perspective. This one girl goes to Washington and Lee University in Virginia. Every year that area celebrates "Lee-Jackson Day" (commemorating both Southern Civil War generals), a week before MLK day. This year was the first year her college was not allowed to fly the Confederate flag from university buildings. She showed us an email sent to the student body (pop. 2000) outlining all the support services the school provided for those who were having trouble coming to terms with the fact the school would not be "officially" celebrating Lee-Jackson Day. Subsequently the student body just dressed in Confederate gear and flew the flags from their own homes anyway. So yes, things here are different but there are places in the U.S. even more wacky. Attaching some pictures as those can convey what I am experiencing much better than anything I can write

Thursday, January 22, 2015

American Sniper

Yep, I saw it. Patrick and I went to see this in a packed theater on Monday (that's MLK Jr. day, for those scoring at home - somewhat ironic, or at least interesting that a movie about a trained killer cleaned up the box office on a day we celebrate peace, human rights, civil disobedience, etc etc., but that's probably for a different discussion).

Pat and I left the movie in general agreement that it basically sucked. Pat put it nicely when he said he was already beginning to stand up to leave when the credits began to role. A Rolling Stone review sums up the movie nicely, and I have to agree with most of what Mr. Taibbi wrote - it was just a really dumb movie. It was cheesy and silly, and about as simplistic as you can get. I thought it was like a 2015 version of The Green Berets. Anyway, that's my two cents on the movie - I do not recommend it.

On a side note, that is 0-2 on recent theater movies for me (the other was the final installment of The Hobbit. It isn't even worth ridiculing that movie). I think I need to start reviewing my criteria for picking which movies I am willing to shell out $12 for.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Another Reason to Write for the Blog: It's Good for You

Research has shown that writing and re-writing your personal story, which in slightly disguised ways is what we do with this blog, makes you a better person and increases your happiness.  See "Writing Your Way to Happiness."

Monday, January 12, 2015

Response to prior post…because…starting the new year right…etc.

I found it! It's the opening of "The Reluctant Fundamentalist". The song is called "Kangana" and performed by Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad.

From a commenter on the music:
Its not purely a Sufi composition, it has a huge classical/Hindustani music touch in it, as the lyrics itself denote being partly in Brij (language spoken around mathura and Agra) partly in Persian. The brij lyrics are originally an incident based on the amorous dialogue between Krishna and Radha, when Krishna snatches away her Kangana (bangles or a sort of bracelet) and Radha is pleading to Krishna to return her the Kangana.
I like this version even better. It is stunning!

Or play them simultaneously (start bottom, then top) for a real religious experience.


We often tout education as a primary ingredient for solving problems in the world, from the economic (higher paying jobs) to the political (more knowledgeable voters) to the social (understanding the environment). However, education may not be the powerful solution we think it is.

In issues such as vaccinations, justification of the Iraq war (weapons of mass destruction or El Qaeda), how the rest of the world viewed the Iraq war, whether the troop surge reduced violence, and climate change, education actually increases people's dissonance with reality.

Reality (as best as we can figure it out) is that vaccinations are beneficial, WMD and El Qaeda were not justifications of the Iraq War, the rest of the world was against the war, the troop surge did reduced violence within Iraq, and man's carbon emissions do contribute to global warming. However studies have shown that agreement with these issues decreases as education increases. I'm sure we can come up with many reasons for this, such as educated people use more sophisticated ways to justify their views.

In my mind the greatest benefit of education is the appreciation of how little we know ("Recognize your limits" as Pete [the near doctor] has said) along with the passion to learn more. The result of this educational benefit is something that you needn't be highly educated to attain—humbleness. And that, hopefully, will trump ideology, the bane of education.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Response to Comment in Prior Post (Because They Won't Let us Imbed in a Comment)

I'm guessing that you are referring to the song played at the opening and closing credits of Inside Man -- a Spike Lee project starring Clive Owen and Denzel Washington:

But the song is originally from a Bollywood Movie, Dil Se. The movie itself is actually pretty dopey, but the scene involving the song is crazy good.  It has nothing to do with the movie plot but is a dream sequence.  By the way, Spike Lee added horns at key places which were not in the original.