culture

Fermilab / 2008-11-25

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We just watched The Atom Smashers on PBS, a documentary about the search for the Higgs boson at Fermilab. It reminded me of the time I spent in the computing division at Fermilab in high school, an experience that I remember very fondly and for which I'm still enormously grateful. It also reminded me once again how lucky I was to have been there when the top quark was found. That kind of excitement is a pretty rare thing.

Miscellaneous connections... As it happens, my friend Kate Simko scored the music for the film. And just as it ended, this post showed up in my RSS reader. Thank you IMSA indeed. And thanks, Jay, for bringing me to Fermilab in the first place.

Same-sex marriage and sex discrimination / 2008-05-25

I find this argument pretty interesting. I'm ashamed to admit that I never thought about this before:

I don’t understand the resistance to the idea that the homosexuality taboo is about sexism. Homosexuality and deviation from gender norms (which, of course, are relentlessly hierarchical) are so tightly connected with each other in popular culture that each is normally and easily taken as a marker for the other. A "faggot" or a "dyke" is a person who fails to conform to normal gender norms; the term is routinely applied to people without regard to their sexual behavior.

I don't find the argument completely convincing (and I don't find the hypothetical about "miscegenosexual couples" as preposterous as I'm apparently meant to), but it's clearly an important aspect of this form of discrimination that deserves to be more widely recognized and addressed.

Against torture / 2008-05-23

If you're a US resident, join up (more here). In case you aren't yet thoroughly enraged and disgusted, see here and then join up. What we really ought to demand is an accounting, but at a minimum we should have a commitment. SON OF A BITCH MUST PAY.

Misc / 2008-04-28

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Saw Stars of the Lid last night. Completely awesome, highly recommended.

Stanley Fish has been on a roll. This week's column is pretty awesome:

The difference is that I feel a little dirty just for having repeated a scurrilous rumor even as I rejected it. Apparently Obama’s two opponents have no such qualms and are happily retailing, and wallowing in, the dirt.

Depressing / 2008-04-09

This post from Jack Balkin about the (lack of) possibility of war crimes prosecution makes me really sad and frustrated. More accountability for current officials is precisely the thing I want most from the new administration. Congress hasn't delivered. The new President won't deliver. It's disgusting and shameful. What are we supposed to do?

"...how can we explain letting them get off? We can’t have acquittals, we’ve got to have convictions."

Into Great Silence / 2008-02-10

I just finished watching Into Great Silence. It was a Christmas gift, and I had no particular expectations. It's really, really excellent, maybe one of my favorite films now. It seems strange to say it, but I feel like in some ways this is the film that 2001: A Space Odyssey could have been, maybe should have been. And I mean that not just in style and tone, but also in theme, and in the way they're related. It's odd in a way that 2001 would be the thing that I think of after watching this, but having thought of it, it seems true somehow.

Log Lady as "Zen granny", etc. / 2008-01-08

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We got the new Twin Peaks set for Christmas, and so have been going through it at a totally inappropriate pace. The Buddhist themes in the series are both obvious and widely noted, but here's one that was new to me.

The new set includes the Log Lady intros to each episode, which are absolutely fantastic, and it occurs to me that not only is the Log Lady the source of some of the goofiest and best Zennisms in the series, but she actually exemplifies a very particular type.

Two things / 2007-12-14

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Well, related to my last post, there's always Dawkins. It's pretty nice, and this is very generous of him:

For better or worse, ours is historically a Christian culture, and children who grow up ignorant of biblical literature are diminished, unable to take literary allusions, actually impoverished. I am no lover of Christianity, and I loathe the annual orgy of waste and reckless reciprocal spending, but I must say I'd rather wish you "Happy Christmas" than "Happy Holiday Season".

On the other hand, I doubt I'll be wishing anyone a good Newtonmas this year...

The bird is the word / 2007-12-13

Thou my lazy heart hast stirred,
Thou, the Father's eternal Word,
Greater than aught
that ear has heard,
Thou tiny bird
Of love, thou Son of Mary.

Little man, and God indeed,
Little and poor, thou
art all we need;
We will follow where thou dost lead,
And we will heed
Our brother, born of Mary.