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Belle Waring

Southern Gothic

by Belle Waring on April 19, 2014

“Midnight in the Garden of Good an Evil” is not a great movie but an OK one; certainly if you want to see a lot of purty pictures of Savannah it’s a good one. Kevin Spacey portrays, according to my grandmother Henrietta, the main character extremely convincingly—even going so far as to both have his mannerisms and resemble him somewhat, which she thought incredible for a picture of a dead man. There must have been video of him, obviously. There are a number of very unconvincing things about the book, mainly the idea that this white journalist from New York (IIRC) could insinuate himself into both white high society (second tier—but still) and black society in so short a time as to be both privy to all kind of secrets and taken by an…I don’t know voodoo I guess…practitioner on a midnight rowboat ride up in a marsh somewhere. (First-tier Savannah society is so insular you could only gain that kind of access by marrying someone, even though it’s true everyone loves to gossip. But getting invited to parties?) I say “voodoo I guess” because despite the fact that people totally do this thing, or practice this religion, or whatever, we don’t even really call it anything, so much do we not talk about it. No, that’s an exaggeration, we call it voodoo; there’s an island near my dad’s place in Bluffton called either Voodoo Island or Devil’s Elbow Island (or more cheerfully Potato Island, but I think the Crams pushed that and it never happened.) You can read a short story about it here, if you like. I had been thinking for a while people might like to read it, it’s from 2004, so quite a while ago. Yeah, voodoo, but not like in Florida where people have actual Santeria churches and storefronts and stuff; more like everyone is a devout Christian—but everyone—but still there are women who will do voodoo for you. As I say in the story, white people hire black people to put curses on other white people. And I’m not entirely sure how they find them, except that everyone knows who to ask? Everyone knows everything about everyone, is the answer to that. Well, no, there are information asymmetries: the black community as a whole knows more because maids know everything about their employers but not vice versa, and so on for a lot of other things.

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YOLO

by Belle Waring on April 18, 2014

Congratulations to Harry on his new US citizenship! Perhaps English people rock the whole YOLO thing a little more like this:

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You Poor Bastards

by Belle Waring on April 16, 2014

OK, my mom texted me earlier that it was snowing in D.C. That is wrecked-up sideways, people. LAND’S SAKES IT IS THE MIDDLE OF APRIL?! In a way I should really post the Weezer song “My Name is Jonas,” because, do you know what else? Guess what I received in a text today—words of deep concern from my little brother. Building’s not going as he planned. The vortex means digging is banned. The dozer will not clear a path; the driver swears he learned his math! The workers are going home—I reckon, because the dirt’s frozen! How’s the man meant to get a cellar dug for his cool 1950s-plan cabin on the lower meadow of his proppity up in West Virginia if it starts snowing and the workers are going home? Now I imagine it’s all going to melt in a trice but this really has been retarding his plans, for real, and not just in a Weezer song (which is an excellent song, but not as good as “Say it Ain’t So,” The Best Weezer Song. Um. OK, no, I’m changing my plea to guilty claim to “The World Has Turned And Left Me Here“). Yep, they have had the stones and the timber and all that, sufficient to build a cabin, and all taken from the woods itself, but they haven’t been able to break ground till last week because they couldn’t break into the damn ground!

And now it’s snowing on all they poor heads, even that of Fatso, the chihuahua-pomeranian mix, who isn’t fat, and was chosen for his mighty endurance and ability to withstand the harsh winters by sitting in a dog bed made of a damn knitting basket or something right up next to the wood stove. I am told that despite being a pom-chi-chi (no, psych, it’s cause he’s 1/4 pom and the rest chi), Fatso has the soul of a black lab, and that I will love him and not think he is a wretched yappy creature whom humans brought into the world only in order to illuminate the First Noble Truth. We’ll see. E’erbody says so, though. Hmmm. OK Fatso, win my heart. He’ll get a chance this summer when I meet him for the first time.

Anyway, for the rest of y’all, here’s DJ Earworm’s Summermash 2013, with the “hey where’s all my ‘Get Lucky’ and ‘Blurred Lines’” you were wondering about I was complaining about with regard to the 2013 mashup (which has grown on me). Watch, listen, and imagine. Summer is coming, sure as anything. If she is delayed in some way I feel certain that small felt and metal figures whose manipulable fingers become dark with smuts over the course of the film will be animated in stop-motion and narrated over by an avuncular zombie Burl Ives in such wise as to overcome any difficulties as may be posed by the Snow Miser or Jim DeMint or whoever.

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Not Actually Sunday Anymore Sunday Photoblogging

by Belle Waring on April 14, 2014

It’s cool that Chris and Ingrid were meeting up recently; Maria came here to have roti prata with me and John in Singapore just the other day. Maybe someday in the future perfect subjunctive all the CT authors could have met one another. Maybe someday we could all meet up at once and have a killer party! I would like it to be…on Ortygia in Syracuse, I think (the one in Sicily). It would be OK if it were in a different city too. HK would be cool. Mataram isn’t exactly a city, but it still might be nice to meet on Lombok somewhere. I took this photo on Lombok week before last, looking East off the Southwest coast. If it were clear and you looked to the left you could see Bali across the Lombok strait, three mountains one behind the other, about as big as the knuckle line of your fist held out at arm’s length. This is also the Wallace line, which divides Eurasian flora and fauna from Austronesian. Storms marching towards us across the marsh and then the river, and up the bluff, and then whiting out the screened porch with rain and then hammering the tin roof with a thousand pebbles taught me as a child that clouds get really full and black and then water up and falls out the bottom. It’s just science.
CTdestruction

Good Cheer

by Belle Waring on April 10, 2014

Soultrain.com sort of alleges itself to have the HD video, but I can’t find it there. In any case, this is a great song, killer outfits (I want all those! All I own is the pants of the dude with the hat. Hm. OK, her pants, but I don’t like them on me.) and Don Cornelius is rocking…just…is that tie 6 full inches wide? It is, right? Right on.

Wishing you peace, love, and soul, gentle readers.

Best Video Ever

by Belle Waring on April 8, 2014

This is really for Straightwood, because I know the deeply meaningful and fully explained nature of this video of 50 Cent dubbed over a Jehovah’s Witness exhorting deaf students to abstain from masturbation will appeal to your keenly honed and not in any way homosexual aesthetic.

Ha, just kidding! Sorry, sensei! It’s actually me, your friendly yet irreverent and over-enthusiastic Belle Waring. I read so much manga, dudes. So much. In Singapore, we use the metric system and everything, (which is way more rational, except for acres which are totes intuitive and based on a meaningful connenction to the land) so I know for certain I read a metric f$^Kton of manga. There are just piles around, and John is like “we’re reading Black Butler now?” Me: “Mmmmmaybe. Zoë said she was going to stop reading it at volume VIII. [For free, online at mangareader.net (since we only own I-V) which, OMG it’s gonna kill the print business! But no, because it bitens the ween.] There were about to be zombies (she’s scared of zombies). 1hr 15 minutes later she said the zombies weren’t as bad as she thought. Sebastian’s hot, so.”

The truth is that we never acquire great amounts of anything until a) John has already bought the full (iff sub 20, for he is an frugal Oregonian) run. Then, slowly, like a hopeful NYC resident of his new summer house in Bridgehampton feeding corn to deer, he coaxes us out by telling us that these are, in fact, excellent manga such as normal people read, and we all ignore him and say things like “you bought the hardback edition of Lois Lane: Superman’s Girlfriend, which is like a moving, 12-minute-long youtube-tribute-to-Paul Walker supercut of the Fast and Furious movies, except of superdickery—we don’t believe a word you say, man. Saying you wanted to read the entire thing to us aloud over a series of like 20 f&c*#ng nights ironically is not a valid objection.” And you shouldn’t feed the deer because they are adorable vermin and they eat every single thing you have every planted that is not actively poisonous to deer (don’t think this isn’t a bigass section at at the nursery). That’s why we haven’t read 20th Century Boys, despite owning the books. Or b) the other way we get stuff is I start to like it (this is the win scenario for my children). When I started reading Naruto, we had volumes 1-23. We now have volumes 1-66, roughly 8 weeks later. Why am I reading thousands of pages of comics about ninjas? Oh, golly, I thought you’d never ask!
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Fine, So Fine

by Belle Waring on March 18, 2014

Today something wonderful happened to me. I was thinking yesterday, “Bruno Mars has got an incredible voice. There are so many pop stars that can’t sing for shit, and their voice isn’t just using Auto-Tune as a crutch, nnn hnnn no it is not, their voice isn’t even the sort of thing that has legs at all, most likely, and their manager probably just set it in an Auto-Tune wheelchair and got panicked and pushed throw pillows up all around. And then? Then it sings “Roar,” and may the Good Lord keep us [do not click on that link. I was morally obligated to provide it in the interests of completeness]. Bruno Mars can legit sing. And he’s a talented guitarist. And he’s pretty as hell—where are all the so, so many Bruno Mars songs that I love?” Now, “Locked Out of Heaven” is a really good song. It references the early 80s turn towards well-Policed reggae in a way I really like. Many pop bands did a reggae thing during that period that [here Belle draws shape of ‘square’ in air with forefinger of each hand] was often too rightthere on all ‘eff oh you are’ beats, ironically lacked any freedom to move, and was one of many musical equations asymptotically approaching the x-axis of the Sisters of Mercy. The drum machine in the Sisters of Mercy was named Doktor Avalanche, and he was an actually important person in the band.
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Sad Clown

by Belle Waring on March 4, 2014

Sometimes people need to be cheered up. And sometimes nothing cheers you up like a 6’8” sad clown/performance artist named Puddles nailing “Royals” so hard you can’t hear the real song in your brain anymore. It’s like he did a weird magic trick to me.

AAAAAAH THEY WON’T LET ME EMBED THIS SONG!

Imagine you see an impossibly tall clown in old-fashioned black and white clown makeup, bald head all covered up with white paint, and black lips and eye drops and just a little red paint on his nose, overly expressive, is what it makes him, with white clothes, and three enormous black bobbles in place of buttons on his shirt-front, and black rick-rack at his ruffled white satin sleeves and double neck-ruff, and white gloves on his huge hands, which he uses to mime the driving of imaginary Cadillacs to excellent effect, and a duo of backup singers so composed they look as if they are waiting for the Kronos Quartet to come on, at which point they will contribute 12 bars only and stay at the side for the rest of the time, and a pianist who…is never seen and may well be Satan, don’t ask me but I’ve just got a bad feeling about this guy—and then anyway upright bass, and drums with brushes because it’s MTV-Unplugged time, apparently…right, but Puddles is wearing a crown made of tin painted gold with a P on it and is…is… Man, y’all should watch this video.

I personally, am not afraid of clowns. There’s something humorously American about thinking, “oh, we’re the only one’s afraid of clowns, it’s Stephen King’s fault, etc.” No, fools! Everywhere in the world people wear masks, or face paint, and when they do that, they freak you right out. A tiny Japanese school-girl wearing a fox spirit mask? Scary. Even askew so you can see her real face? SCARY. These guys from Trivandrum in India, when they play the demons [I have been corrected by reader Peter Erwin,who notes that divine heroes also use the blood-red eyes. Having checked, it seems as if this man, with his red lips only, is probably a hero, while if he had similar green makeup with red slashes in it he would be a demon—but an awesome demon], they put a flower petal inside each eye at the bottom, under the lower lid next to the eyeball, to make their eyes blood-red. (I watched them do their make-up one time when I went to see the performance, you could go early.)
Kathakali performer - Laxman
Verdict: SCARY. I have a mask from Lombok that’s of the evil Balinese king from a play (all the Balinese kings in all the plays are evil; it’s like having a Grand Vizier; you signed up for evil) and I used to have to go to ridiculous lengths so my kids wouldn’t have to walk past it at night.
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DJ Earworm: Just What It Says On The Tin

by Belle Waring on February 21, 2014

Every year since 2007, DJ Earworm has brought us the United States of Pop for the given year, made of the top 25 hits on the US charts. (2009 was the breakout year that he took it to the next level, though.) DJ Earworm is by no means my favorite mashup artist, that being Girl Talk. (Or bootleg artist. Remember when they were called bootlegs? Remember get your bootleg on, guys? OK, successors exist wev. Le sigh.) But what Girl Talk does is take good songs—well, and some cheesy songs that you suddenly love—and make amazing, full-length immersive album-length experiences. If he has a defect it’s that he’s a cock-tease. He will have you losing your mind for 53 seconds after which the dropped stitch of under-track two is picked up to be the instrumental for a hilariously incomprehensible Weezy rap about how it ain’t his birthday but he got his name on the cake. Which, admittedly, is funny, but sometimes you just want to shake Girl Talk by the shoulders and say, “enough with the art, bitch; make me a song!” Like here, this whole track should just be Radiohead vs Jay-Z. It is superlative. Yet!—the last minute is a riot and could hold its own as a separate track. It would rank #108 vs the first minute’s #1, but still.


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Why, Exactly?

by Belle Waring on February 12, 2014

As I am certain every one of you knows, the extraordinarily talented actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died recently of a heroin overdose in New York City. In what is a very heart-wrenching aspect of the story, he had been clean and sober for over 20 years before relapsing onto prescription painkillers and booze a few months back (people say.) He had been going to 12-Step meetings even close to the time of his death, and he’s leaving three young children behind. A total bummer.

What’s weird is that the police decided to go on a manhunt for the specific people who sold the drugs he OD’ed on, and then arrest those people in particular. Why? People must die of heroin overdoses in NYC all the time, right? More than one a day, surely. Does it matter especially much if a famous person OD’s on your drugs? As opposed to, say, a struggling single mother, or a homeless person? They first tested his body to see if the heroin had been laced with fentanyl, a pharmaceutical heroin analog, which has caused deaths in nearby Pennsylvania. It hadn’t. He had just gotten good old regular drugs, from his dealer, who did him a solid there. The internet briefly hyperventilated about how there were 50 bags of heroin found in his apartment. This also seemed stupid. He’s rich and famous—he’s supposed to walk out in the freezing cold to Avenue C every single day? The man can’t stock up? Isn’t there a polar vortex or something?
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Staff of Life

by Belle Waring on February 3, 2014

In comments below, godoggo suggested that no self-respecting Jew would give a damn about what was in plain white bread ever. This may be the wrongest thing ever said on the internet. (Probably not, though.) roy belmont also wishes us to note that there are two senses of trolling, that in which you…oh, read the postscript.

godoggo: HONEY CHILE! YOU HAS BEEN DEPRIVED OF YOUR BIRTHRIGHT! DEE-LICIOUS WHITE BREAD, WHAT ALL HUMANS DESERVE! WE MUST RECKTIFY THIS AT ONCE’T!
Step 1: get Belle’s dad to make it for you, in lovely Bluffton, S.C. Fallback Plan:
Belle’s Dad’s White Bread
1. boil 1 peeled baking potato, cut into 1-inch cubes, in enough water to cover, until potato is soft
2. sprinkle 2 1/2 t instant yeast (from a jar) over 1 c cooled, scalded milk mixed with 2 T white sugar (welp, they allus say “scald” and that but it just means warm the milk up but not too hot or it’ll kill the yeasties. You can use a bowl in the microwave. If you could give it to a baby, it’s an OK temp—so, use the same test: put some on the crook of your inner arm. It should feel blood-warm but not too hot.)
3. cover yeast/milk mixture with cloth and sing to yeast [TOTES CRUCE]. You should improvise here. “Oh, so happy yeasties all the time, making bread, we love you, full of life…etc.” Peek under cloth after 5-15 minutes depending on where you live, and if it’s bubbly then it’s ready. (Hot, moist places it goes faster, obvs.) Everyone in my family genuinely sings the “oh, so happy little yeasties all the time, we love you little joys, beloved creatures…etc” song every time we make yeast bread.
4. Pour water off potato into measuring cup. Discard all but 3/4 c. Return to potato and mash along with 2 T unsalted butter (please spend extra and buy President. We likes it.) Just with a fork, it can have small lumps. If you care put it through a potato ricer or food mill.
5. Mix milk/yeast mixture with potato. ADD 1 t SALT OMG I FORGOT THIS AT FIRST I HOPE NOBODY MADE THIS ALREADY! Add 2 c flour and mix well with a wire whisk.
6. Continue to add flour 1 c at a time, switching to a wooden spoon, but no more than 6 total. If it’s wet, knead it with the dough hook on a stand mixer (but for the love of God don’t tell my dad I told you this.)
7. IRL you guessed right about how much potato and water, and it’s not wet, and you knead it by hand for 10-15 minutes (this sounds like a pain but it’s literally child’s play: make them do it.) If there are no children, you have a round thing, right? And you fold the bottom over and press it with the heel of your hand, away from you. And then you turn it a quarter turn. And then you do it again. Wait, you should read that even if there are childrem, though letting them stand on the counter and throw the dough at the counter, hard, a billion times, is a totally legit way to knead dough. But have a clean floor. And no dogs.
8. Grease your largest bowl with butter, put the dough in it, cover with clean dishcloth, let rise in a warm, draft-free place for about an hour, or until doubled in size (draft free for real. Put it in the closet with the hot water heater if it’s winter, or a room with all the doors and windows closed if not.)
9. Punch the dough down and let everyone smell the special smell. Mmmm. Alcohol.
10. Knead it some more. Eh 6 minutes. Divide with dough scraper, flatten with your hands into rectangles, roll them up, pinching to seal, and put one in each of two buttered loaf pans.
11. Again with the dishcloths and the draft-free, but only 45 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
12. Just before you put the bread in, slash the tops three times diagonally with a razor.
13. Bake 10 minutes, then reduce to 375, then bake…eh? Like 45 mins more, till bread is nicely browned.
14. Take the pans out and put them on cooling racks briefly; then turn the loaves out. A properly cooked loaf will sound hollow when tapped with a knuckle on the bottom, sort of like a ripe watermelon should.

You must let them cool off a bit before slicing them. This will be difficult as everyone will be standing in front of the loaves (which traditionally rested atop the closed washing machine in my youth) and hopping from foot to foot going “now? Can we eat it now? Now?” Under ideal circumstances my dad will have made you whole figs preserved in syrup with paper-thin slices of lemon, or Concord grape jelly, but whatever.

P.S. roy, roy, roy, roy. Naturally there is a difference between attempting to catch something with scales for lunch and waiting under the bridge for the trippy tapp tap of the billy goats’ hooves. But unless you intend to travel back in time and prevent Skynet usenet from being invented then there is no reason to belabor the point now. And one can imagine humorous pastiches: perhaps sensei, oni-like in appearance to the uninitiate but resembling Tripitaka otherwise, is sitting below the bridge, fishing in the stream? He both demands payment and keeps an eye on the float down there, bobbling in a stiller pool? Fercryinoutloud.

P.P.S. Mebbe he has even side-baited it with a big ole hunk of stale bread? (But it ain’t my dad’s I will tell you what. I don’t think in the last 30 years anybody’s done that. Made breadcrumbs or croutons, maybe, but fish bait? No sir they have not.)

P.P.P.S. When I was little and my parents were sort of um…anarcho-syndicalist punk hippies running a communal-ish farm? I wanted hair that looked like the Sunbeam Bread Girl. My mom was just like, nope, no, no missy. She did let me dye my hair with henna, though, that was cool.
sunbeam

The Suspense Breaks

by Belle Waring on January 29, 2014

What Todd Rundgren song is my favorite power pop song you ask? Which? Which Todd Rundgren song?! Clamor has been building up on the blog for some time now. I really thought that would have been obvious, but tastes differ an all. It’s: Couldn’t I Just Tell You. What happens that’s very special? At 2:40 things quiet down; 2:50 all the instruments cut out except the guitar, pretty much, and then they come back, in the form of the drummer coming in and knocking the entire kit over in the business at 2:59. (This latter, by the way, is the perfect length for a song according to The Clash’s Hitsville UK, which notes that “the band went in/and knocked ‘em dead/in two minutes fifty-nine.” I loved this song inordinately when I was young, even though in retrospect it sort of has an excess of singers and maybe xylophones or something. No, wait, definitely an excess of xylophones.) The outro has a perfect bend you weren’t expecting.

There’s a playground near John’s parents’ house and I remember going there with his mom and letting her play with then-toddler Zoë while I swung on the swings, pumping my legs back and forth under the overcast, metronome back and forth and just hitting << when the song ended, for more than half an hour. This soft/loud thing at 2:40 sq is a classic power pop move, and in general: having a killer bridge, being relatively short, and not overusing your “rock trick” are the keys to power pop awesome IME. (This track has 16 sec of Todd & co forgetting to start playing after the guitar intro and exhaling bong/nitrous hits at the start, making it in truth a deceptively slim 3:19. It was put out in 1973, a time when people thought things like “sure, keep the tape rolling while you guys do whippets” and “let’s give Todd Rundgren the money to make a double-album!” seemed like good ideas.)

What if I just randomly played other power pop songs from the 90s, 2000-2010 (noting is springing to mind for the last three years) that pulled these moves off well even though it digressed from my 70s-80s power pop thing and put off my epic discussion of the metaphysics of Cheap Trick? What then? Could I get you to argue about that? Or about Todd Rundgren sucking? I feel as if this were a challenge to my blogging powers. If I can possibly induce anyone to argue about Todd Rundgren, well. Oh, shit I could get you to argue about The Strokes thought right? That would be tedious and idiotic of you. DONT BOTHER.
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What’s The Math Made of, Ding-Dong?

by Belle Waring on January 26, 2014

ETA 24h later: I told my girls that I was wrong and that everyone on the whole internet explained that they could perfectly well go on and win the Fields Medal if they were inclined to be mathematicians, and that being super-fast at mental arithmetic as a child isn’t the same as going on to make interesting discoveries in math as an adult, and that I was a jerk, and also wrong. Additionally, wrong. So if Zoë (12) wants to take time out from her current project of teaching herself Japanese, or Violet (9) wishes to take a break from her 150-page novel about the adventures of apprentice witch Skyla Cartwheel, then, in the hypothetical words of the Funky Four Plus One: “They could be the joint.” [Listen to this song because it’s the joint.]

“Y’all’s fakes!”

If you’re impatient you can skip ahead to 3:20 or so. Tl;dw: the overly scientific Princess Bubblegum, having snuck into Wizard City dressed in wizard gear along with Finn and Jake, is buying a spell from a head shop place that sells potions and spells and all that schwazaa. But she wants to know what the spell’s made of. “Magic?” Then she asks…read the post title. Then they get busted.

“So, kiddos,” I asked my kids in the elevator on the way down to the pools today, “are numbers real, or are they just something people made up?” Violet: “Real.” Zoë: “Real.” “That’s correct! Numbers are real! Like what if there were a sakura with its five petals, and it were pink, but no humans existed. Would it still be pink? Would it still have five petals?” [At approximately floor 14 I decided to bracket color problems.] “Yep.” “And things that are true about the number five, would they still be true too, like would five times five equal twenty-five and stuff?” “Totally.” “Could two plus two ever equal five, if there were no people around to check?” Zoë: “No, obviously not. Even now, people have lots of different languages, but if they have a word for five, then that word is about something that’s not two plus two, and it’s twenty-five if you multiply it by itself, and stuff like that. And people discovered zero two times.” “Correct! Math is real!” Zoë: “Also people discover important things about astrophysics with math, and then the same numbers keep turning up, and why would it be like that if there wasn’t really math?” “OK, so, we can keep discovering new things about math, right?” Girls: “Sure. Mathematicians can.” Me: “Maybe you! No, not you. I’m sorry.” Zoë: “I know.” Violet: “What?!” Me: “No, you’re both very intelligent children, you can learn calculus just as well as anyone, but if you were going to be an incredible math genius or something we’d kind of already know. Sorry.” [John was doing laps at this point. I’m not sure he approves of my negative pedagogical methods.] Zoë: “What’s set theory?” Me: “It’s just what it sounds like. There are sets of numbers, right, like all the prime numbers, all the way to infinity? Theories about that.” Violet: “I’m going swimming with daddy.” Me: “OK, there’s just more math out there, waiting to be discovered—but sometimes mathematicians come up with stuff that’s crazy. Like string theory. Which maybe isn’t a theory?” Zoë: “Why not?” Me: “I think they might not have any tests at all proposed by which to prove their hypotheses.” Zoë was very indignant: “That’s not a theory at all! What is that? Me: “Math that’s really fun and weird and entertaining if you understand it? John, can string theorists not propose any test whatsoever that would prove their hypotheses or is it rather the case that we lack the capacity to perform the tests that would figure it out?” John: “It’s an important distinction and I think it’s the latter. Like, was there an even or an odd number of hairs on Zoë’s head on March 23, 2006? There’s some true fact of the matter, but it’s indeterminable.” Me: “Well they can’t be demanding time travel, Jesus.” Violet: “We should have counted!” BEST. SUGGESTION. ERVER!1

OK, so, I’m a Platonist about math. Like lots of mathematicians I knew in grad school, actually, but not by any means all. In fact, some were a little embarrassed about their Platonism. My algebraic topologist friend was of the ‘numbers are the product of human intelligence’ school (N.B. while I understood vaguely what my HS friend who was also at Berkeley did set theory was writing is his diss on, in a kind of babified ‘along these lines’ way, I genuinely could not understand at all what my algebraic topology friend was doing. What, even?) This reminds me of an idiotic discussion I had in a Classics seminar with me vs. an entire group of people (including my dissertation adviser). They all maintained that there were no structures absent human recognition/simultaneous creation of the structures. As in, absent the evolution of humans on the earth, there would be no regular geometric structures. I was just like:?! Crystals that are even now locked in the earth inside geodes, where they will never be seen? Beehives? Wait, are these all imperfect and gently irregular, and thus unsatisfactory? They shouldn’t be because many of the crystals are perfectly regular. Anyway OH HAI ITS BENZENE? I…was neither presented with any compelling counter-arguments nor was I winning the argument. It was very irritating. Then I brought up my own objection—this is steel-manning, I guess: benzene was created/isolated by humans? Like Faraday even? Fine, NOBLE GASES! NOBLE GAS MATRIXES! I can draw argon on the board! Look at how this shell is so full of electrons mmmmm this probably doesn’t want to react with anything cuz it’s so lazy amirite guys (but we can make it (but also in the Crab Nebula it’s happening naturally!) but that’s irrelevant))! I still…did not win the argument. We were forcibly moved on to another topic.

I know people wanted to discuss the external reality/human-created nature of numbers and math in the earlier thread, but we got trolled by someone who was ‘just askin’ questions’ and said I ‘had to check with each and every commenter about exactly what he/she intended’ before taking offense ever at something, say, sexist that someone said. (HhHHmmmyoursuggestionfascina—NO.) Now’s your chance!
N.B. Long-time CT commenter Z alone is permitted to use humorous quotes from recalled Barbie and Malibu Stacey dolls in his discussion with me. If anyone else does I will smite you. With smiting.

Images From Ukraine

by Belle Waring on January 24, 2014

EDITED TO MAKE CLEARER: I don’t know what’s going on in Ukraine! My general inclination is to support the groups opposed to closer relations with Putin’s repressive Russia, but it’s clear even from the linked photos that there are fascists on the line vs. the riot cops as well. I strongly encourage you to read the comments from readers who are better informed than I.

I am not going to pretend to much knowledge about what has sparked the current outbreak of violent protests in Ukraine. Well, generally, it seems the citizens feel that the government of Ukraine wants to (insists on? Is being mumble*sort of arm twisted* convinced to?) maintain their country’s historically close relationship with Russia (soclose of a relationship) instead of making moves towards eventual EU membership. In November President Yanukovich turned down a trade pact with the EU, and Russia is continually complaining about the EU “meddling” in Ukraine’s affairs (it being in the near abroad and all one imagines). In any case, at the moment rioting has been going on for some days and has turned violent as some protestors have been shot by the police and killed. The Washington Post reports that opposition leaders and the government are in talks, and that two protestors have been killed, but many other sources online say it is as high as five. Basically I just wanted to share these photos with you. Most are originally from Gawker.

punkrock

You, unknown sir or madam, are officially, totally badass. Really. There may be a statue later.

testudo

Testudo! When something works, it keeps working.
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