Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Thoughts of the day

This is my 3rd thoughts of the day this month. That's a record. I don't have bright-line black-letter criteria for what gets thrown in with a thoughts of the day ensemble and what gets featured in its own post or when a thought grows into its own post. Some of the thoughts are at least as developed and interesting as many of the posts, while some posts are no more than bookmarks. I just go by a sense of it; my blog is ruled by my whims.

If I move forward from tinkering within the body on Blogger's HTML editor and try building an HTML webpage from scratch, I'll need to familiarize with editing the head with CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, which is used on HTML pages for formatting the content.
  1. Endnote: For a beginner learning the language, this HTML5 and CSS3 upgrade business is a bit unsettling.

I prefer the distinctly evocative over the drily descriptive when choosing a name or symbol, although I recognize a descriptive name is sometimes more suitable for the mission at hand. The symbolism and history of the "LOVE CHERISH DEFEND IT" plaque spoke to me and served as my inspiration for the original MilVets logo design. When a later generation of MilVets leaders replaced my logo with a 'professional' emblem by the guy who designs stuff for GS, I was disappointed the new logo was merely a flat description. My logo evoked meaning that was personalized to Columbia military heritage and Columbia student-veterans. If I ever get to design another Columbia military symbol, I would use the plaque rendered in its original shining bronze, perhaps combined with a bronze Athena (Alma Mater) helm.

One of my favorite things about being MI was our evocative and pretty darn cool branch insignia. Check out the 3D renderings of the MI insignia from this site.

In her TED talk, Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert spoke on the familiar subject of the erratic, unpredictable, and channeled nature of artistic inspiration. She suggests that the notion that something as temperamental as artistic inspiration is a creative ability internal to artists is the cause of the endemic mental breakdowns of artists since the Renaissance. Artists understand they are actually craftsmen who can only do their best to capture inspiration and give it an adequate expression. Gilbert proposes instead a return to the Greek and Roman notion that artistic inspiration is externally sourced from an invisible genius (Roman) or daemon (Greek). I'm familiar with the burgeoning urge of artistic inspiration from my student activism. I imagined and conceived the beginning of the Columbia civil-military movement mostly in spurts of inspiration that mostly came to me during long walks down from Columbia through Central Park. Once inspired, I scrambled urgently to catch the thread of the inspiration and bring it to life before it escaped, just like how Gilbert described the creative process of the poet in her story.

A full posting of 1982 movie Paradise is on youtube. Paradise is similar to 1980 movie Blue Lagoon starring Brooke Shields. It features, exploits really, a young Phoebe Cates in her first starring role. The male lead is Willie Aames, the goofy sidekick in Charles in Charge. Did I say that Phoebe Cates is a babe? Yes, I did. These days, she owns a boutique in the Carnegie Hill neighborhood.

Any cartoon that features H. Jon Benjamin's voice is halfway to being a hit with that alone.

In a February 26 Grantland piece, Rockets GM Daryl Morey is quoted, "We probably got the hardest part done, but now we have to get a second star to go with James." Before the Harden trade, Jeremy Lin was the star. Then he was the 2nd star. His status seems to have been downgraded further by Rockets management since then. The Rockets are still a good situation for Lin to establish his bonafides as a starting NBA PG, which is an improvement from earlier in the season. While playing for Woodson and the Knicks would have helped Lin become a more well-rounded PG with more responsibility, the go-go offense that the Rockets have developed suits Lin's strengths similar to the way that the Mavs' go-go offense helped Steve Nash establish his bonafides as a starting NBA PG. However, Nash grew into an NBA star only when he became the Suns' featured player, and he was at least the featured ball handler on the Mavs. As long as Lin shares the backcourt with Harden, there appears to be a limit on the height that Lin's star can reach with the Rockets. That's a concern looking ahead to years 2 and 3 on his contract, though, not a problem this season.

Bannock idea: Leave out the salt. Ray Mears's basic recipe for bannock calls for flour, baking soda, salt, and water. The problem is the baking soda, used for leavening, causes a bitter salty flavor, which is why many people substitute baking powder for baking soda in their bannock. I still use baking soda in my bannock due to its dual-use as my hair soap. There isn't much I can do about the bitter flavor except adding an acid like vinegar to counteract the alkaline from the baking soda, but I don't want to bother calculating and measuring out a balanced ratio. I can help the salty issue simply by not adding salt. There's enough sodium in sodium bicarbonate that sodium chloride isn't needed for flavor.

Don't cook jelly on pizza bannock. Melted jelly turns into melted sugar. Add it after cooking.

For a willing scavenger like me, a benefit of apartment-living is the garbage. Apartments have limited storage space so most residents will discard their replaced housewares and furnishings rather than store them. Apartment size also tends to be as needed, so as apartment dwellers transition from a single's studio to a couple's 1 bedroom, then to a family 2+ bedroom or house, they move. When they move, they throw things out. It's not uncommon to find housewares, furnishings, and sometimes more interesting things, in serviceable condition in the common bulk-item garbage area. Of course, my apartment has limited storage space, too, so I take only what's useful. A bonus of scavenging is the peace of mind that someone thought enough of the item to purchase it for living conditions similar to mine. On the other hand, that same someone got rid of the item for a reason; most but not all of my garbage pickings have been winners. The willingness, one, to leave garbage that is serviceable but not useful and, two, return a recovered item to the garbage is the line between scavenging and hoarding.

I wonder whether the philosophy of scavenging is more constrictive than productive, though. The material waste that is a sin for scavengers is merely a cost of business, or living, for the upwardly mobile person. In the modern economy, fungible consumerism seems more efficient than picayune austerity and replacing things seems like a more fluid way of life than holding onto things.

Making the world a better place with one cause, one movement, one mission at a time is selfless service, and ultimately, activism may be my life's work like activism dominated my college life. Right now though, I'm wary of jumping through external hoops, even the hoops of my own choosing and making from the causes that seductively call to me. They're noble pursuits and I've proved I'm an effective activist, but they're not of me. What is of me, internally? I don't know and that's the problem. I only know that relying on outside sources for meaning and purpose provides a respite with a simulacrum of life only. My meaning and purpose need to be internally sourced, not borrowed. It's no good to be listless and blown about, even when the blowing is by my interests and passions, and then collapse formlessly, empty, when the wind changes. The structural integrity of that life is an illusion. For sure, it's no way to a hardened reliable manhood. I must calibrate my inner compass, dig down until I hit my bedrock and anchor there, and find the castled territory within myself to claim as mine and plant my flag.

I learned this, too: "If you’re running on ideals, you’ll burn out. I would say this, and I think this universal. Any one of us can and do adopt ideals that we become convinced are worth pouring our life into, it’s never enough. The work you do must resonate with who you are at the deepest level. Some people call it a “calling” and spend a lot of time, money and effort trying to find what their calling is. . . . Ideals are like Nobel Peace Prize winners, they represent something that encourages us in the right direction, but can never give us enough steam to go take us all the way."

In his Wild Food series, Ray Mears observed that the everyday lives of hunter-gatherers are predominated by the full-time tasks of feeding their families. Men's and women's and boys' and girls' roles and relationships are defined and ordered by tangible needs. The animist cultures of hunter-gatherers are largely based on the intimate relationship between their food and the natural environment that surrounds them. The focus of their lives is basic provision and protection for their families. It's an undoubtedly arduous and seemingly anxious life, but for the men at least, it seems like a fundamentally satisfying way of life. They know their utility, their place in their family, role and relationships within the social hierarchy, and the rites of passage with which they'll be promoted. The men and women know what they each need to do for their family to survive, and they do it. Everything fits together and makes sense. A theme in Mears's visits with native or primitive peoples is their entry into modern society breaks down these essential bonds. The smarter ones return to the 'bush' and restrict their interaction with modern society in order to save their social order and cohesion. However, given that the originating building block of the hunter-gatherer society is tangible need and modern society seduces with easily obtained, industrially produced provisions and protection, efforts to hold modern society at arm's length and preserve the hunter-gatherer ethos are an uphill fight.

Men traded their provision and protection for modern society's provision and protection at a steep price. The tangible gains have been offset by a profound spiritual loss. Hunting-gathering boys and men know who they are and who they will be. Modern boys and men do not.

Individually, modern men who have distanced themselves from modern society have observed the soul satisfaction of ordering their lives around providing for their basic needs with fewer modern conveniences. Socially, while the Army is not a hunter-gatherer society, military society shares important features with a hunter-gatherer society, such as functional roles defined by utility to the whole, common purpose, hierarchy, fraternal and paternal relationships, mutual dependence, and rites of passage. My soldiering experience made sense to me on a deeper level as a man than anything I've experienced as a civilian. Modern men who haven't been immersed in a genuine masculine culture don't appreciate what's missing in their lives, just the ambiguous dissatisfaction of somehow living as less than men.

The enduring lesson above all others for soldiers is not Duty, Honor, or Country, it's Team. Acerbic red-pill housewife blogger Judgybitch describes her marriage as a team that approximates the mutually dependent relationships of hunter-gatherers. Judgybitch is not ashamed of her financial dependence on her husband and is proud that he relies on her to take care of their home and kids. To her, depending on each other to fulfill different family needs according to traditional gender roles is akin to chemical atomic bonding. Her take: "I take a lot of my life for granted. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It certainly helps me to understand that I am taken for granted in return, and that isn’t a problem that needs to be solved! It’s the basis for security and happiness and contentment. I take for granted that the members of Team JB are all working together, and I trust them to take for granted that I am, and always will be, pulling right beside them." [Bold-faced emphasis added.]

Judgybitch's characterization of her husband as her teammate sounds like it validates my quixotic pursuit of androgynous love, but there's a difference. In my exposition on desire versus love, I said, "my cherished notion of laying the foundation for love with an equal partnership with my best friend has been a mistake." Judgybitch doesn't say her marriage is an equal partnership. Rather, their partnership is based on the needs of the Army family. Complementary gender roles may be in equilibrium, equitable, or even equivalent, but they're not equal. Nor does she say her husband is her best friend. Her husband is her husband, and she describes his most important qualities to her here. Mating or courtship is not, as I once thought, an evolution of friendship. Friendship may overlap and perhaps enhance the relationship, but it's not the essence and heart of the relationship. As much as analogies instruct through similarities, careful attention must be paid to the differences.

At Rational Male, two commenters, Jeremy and YaReally, fell into an interesting mini-debate about the Manosphere versus PUA. My view is in line with Jeremy's "Yes, but having the high standards for commitment is not an endemic feature of being a PUA, it’s a feature of being a f-ing red-pill man. The PUA community is only teaching men how to be the favorite horse on the carosel. The Manosphere is what is teaching men to be men again." Jeremy doesn't identify himself as an MGTOW, but his stance is MGTOW. I also agree with YaReally's emphasis on the preeminence of actively applying red-pill knowledge and the utility of PUA, except I return to Jeremy's view that there are more ways to apply the red pill than PUA.

Melissa King, the former Miss Delaware Teen deposed due to her featured role in a porn video (note: the link goes to Youporn.com's blog post on the controversy, not directly to King's video, but it's still NSFW), was in foster care from age 12. She had psychological treatment, and in the interview, she refers to - albeit in 2nd and 3rd person - confidence, depression, anxiety, and money problems. I assume King is 19 now. I haven't read details, but the implication is her childhood circumstances were abnormal. I've read the explanation of irrational self-harming choices and behavior by adults that the state of one's mid-childhood through adolescence (say, roughly ages 9-18) forms a person's default sense of normalcy. Thus, people have an ingrained emotional algorithm that compels them to harmonize with their formative childhood experience, which is good when that experience was normal and healthy. By the same token, however, a person will tend to harmonize with an apparently dysfunctional formative childhood experience even when that person is intelligent, talented, decent, and otherwise a high achiever. In fact, formerly high-achieving adults who've succumbed to the gravity of their childhood trauma is a repeating theme in A&E's addiction treatment program, Intervention. As far as my opinion of King's participation in pornography in and of itself, apart from the possible psychological implications of doing porn despite the predictable repercussions in her situation, I don't think less of her any more than I thought less of Matt when his past was exposed. I wonder whether porn has become openly normal for King's generation. PS: King has 2 bench warrants in Maryland for failure to appear in court on theft (sounds like a misdemeanor petit larceny) and underaged possession of alcohol charges from last year. The theft charge is from June, the same month she filmed her porn video. I wonder whether the incidents are related.

There has to be more to this story of a nurse at an elder independent living facility - a nurse - who refused to perform CPR on a resident because the facility's policy forbade her to do so, which has been confirmed by a facility spokesman. The resident died. It reminds me of the story where firefighters stood by as a house burned because the homeowners refused to pay the county fee for firefighting services. The deceased may have had a funky living arrangement with the facility that prevented the nurse from performing even basic good-samaritan-passerby CPR. As reported, the 911 transcript is incredible.


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