Sunday, March 8, 2020

Greetings from Arizona


And yesterday at Camelback Ranch (home of the Dodgers & White Sox), Dodgers vs. Rockies. David Price started for LA, Max Muncy & Nolan Arenado homered, the sun was bright & warm, the beer was cold & good...

Friday, March 6, 2020

Saturn rising

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

James and Royce at the APA

Royce wj soc from Osopher

Greetings from chilly Chicago

where there must surely be something better to do tonight than attend a philosophy conference...

My badge boldly declares "my pronoun"...

I'll go downstairs in a bit to deliver my latest reflections on what we can learn from the friendly, good-spirited, lifelong philosophical antagonism between two great philosophers - a pragmatist and an idealist - who didn't let their divergent ideas diminish their humane mutual respect. That's kinda what we were talking about in class Thursday with Ben, isn't it?

Do I get extra credit for walking right past the Yazoo booth at Gate 25 without stopping, when I boarded the plane for Chicago?

Monday, February 17, 2020

The Resisters

My Baseball Conference subject for 2021? (It's The Brothers K this year.)

45835970. sx318 An audacious marvel of a novel about baseball and a future America, from the always inventive and exciting author of The Love Wife and Who's Irish

The time: a not-so-distant future. The place: AutoAmerica. The land: half under water. The Internet—the new face of government—is "Aunt Nettie": a mix of artificial intelligence, surveillance technology, and pesky maxims. The people have been divided, and no one is happy. The angel-fair "Netted" still have jobs and literally occupy the high ground, while the mostly coppertoned "Surplus" live on swampland if they're lucky, on the water if they're not.
     The story: To a Surplus couple—he was a professor, she's still a lawyer—is born a Blasian girl with a golden arm. At two, Gwen is hurling her stuffed animals from the crib; by ten she can hit whatever target she likes with a baseball; her teens find her playing happily in an underground Surplus league. When AutoAmerica re-enters the Olympics—with a special eye on beating ChinRussia—Gwen attracts interest. Soon she's at Net U, falling in love with her coach and considering "crossing over," even as her mother is challenging the AutoAmerican Way with lawsuits that will prove very dangerous.
     An astonishing story of an America that seems only too possible, and of a family struggling to maintain its humanity in circumstances that threaten their every value—even their very existence.

The Resisters is palpably loving, smart, funny and desperately unsettling. The novel should be required reading for the country, both as a cautionary tale and because it is a stone-cold masterpiece. This is Gish Jen’s moment. She has pitched a perfect game.” —Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House

“An absolute joy . . . I finished The Resisters with a tear in my eye and a smile on my face. Who could ask for a better combo? Gish Jen has written a one-of-a-kind book with great characters—especially Eleanor, who is the heart of the story—and a warm heart. Remind Ms. Jen that the great Ernie Banks said, ‘Hey, guys, let’s play two!’ Which is my way of saying I wouldn’t mind a sequel. Probably won’t happen, but a guy can hope. P.S. This lady knows her baseball.” —Stephen King, author of The Institute

“A dystopia so chillingly plausible that an entire review could be spent simply describing its components. To do that, however, would scant the provocative ideas that underpin her gripping tale of a family confronting the digitally empowered authoritarian state . . . Over the course of three decades, Jen’s social and psychological observations have only sharpened, while her marvelous humor has darkened . . . Alert as always to the demands of storytelling and character development, she crafts a suspenseful, deftly plotted narrative”  —Wendy Smith, The Boston Globe

“Intricately imagined . . . The Resisters is a book that grows directly out of the soil of our current political moment, and much of the book’s unsettling pleasure lies in Jen’s ingenious extrapolation (or, in some cases, redescription) of contemporary problems. [She] has a gifted ear for the manipulative languages of tech, marketing and government.” —Karen Thompson Walker, The New York Times Book Review


Thursday, February 6, 2020

The Little House

Just occurred to me, thinking of Michael Pollan's cool writing hut, that I don't have an image of my rustic retreat here. 'Til now. It hasn't looked like this since 2017.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Boldly go


For my fellow Trek geeks, here's novelist and Picard show-runner (and former philosophy major) Michael Chabon on Star Trek's hard-won optimism for our long-term future:
Was there a conscious effort to include the sense of old-school optimism that’s so integral to Star Trek?The effort was to make sure that what we did felt like Star Trek. Part of something being Star Trek is not simply that it reflects the time in which it’s being made. EveryTV show reflects the time in which it’s being made. But Star Trek is unique in that it deliberately reflected what was happening when it was being made—it wasn’t just unconscious or automatic. And so, we tried to consciously reflect a coherent vision of our time.
I think that optimism is an easily misunderstood term. There’s this misconception that Star Trek was always sunshine and roses. But its optimism was hard-won. It was always fairly clear-eyed about the darkness in the human soul. The potential for violence, for greed, for criminality, for hatred. All of that felt very much present from the very first episode of Star Trek in ‘66. It’s just that people are working their asses off to overcome it, and it’s a constant effort. It’s always there, even in the episode titles: “The Enemy Within.” “The Turnabout Intruder.” That dark side of human nature is always waiting to emerge again.
So, is that optimism? It is optimism, but it’s a very sober optimism that understands darkness. It’s a deliberate, conscious optimism that goes hand-in-hand with the kind of clear-eyed vision that allows you to reflect the times that you’re living in... (Rest of the interview here)
Chabon recently wrote a New Yorker essay on his late father and Spock:

...In “Star Trek” ’s imagined future, amid the rocks and under the red alien skies of Spock’s home world, Vulcans called that unflagging effort a “philosophy,” enshrined its founder, Surak, and looked with cool condescension on those who did not submit to its regime. But, as I would discover as an undergrad in the halls of the Philosophy Department at the University of Pittsburgh, a redoubt far stauncher than the planet Vulcan of a logic far fiercer than Surak’s, the Vulcan way had little to do with philosophy and even less to do with logic, and there was certainly nothing alien about it. It was just good old repression, of the sort practiced by human fathers, among others, for many long and illogical centuries.
I love Mr. Spock because he reminds me of you, I said...
The Vulcans did have a philosophy, though: Stoicism plus IDIC...

Several years ago Chabon wrote a wonderful essay for the Long Now Foundation about Star Trek, parenting, and the future called The Omega Glory:
Image result for starship enterpriseWhen I told my son about the Clock of the Long Now, he listened very carefully, and we looked at the pictures on the Long Now Foundation’s website. “Will there really be people then, Dad?” he said. “Yes,” I told him without hesitation, “there will.” I don’t know if that’s true, any more than do Danny Hillis and his colleagues, with the beating clocks of their hopefulness and the orreries of their imaginations. But in having children—in engendering them, in loving them, in teaching them to love and care about the world—parents are betting, whether they know it or not, on the Clock of the Long Now. They are betting on their children, and their children after them, and theirs beyond them, all the way down the line from now to 12,006. If you don’t believe in the Future, unreservedly and dreamingly, if you aren’t willing to bet that somebody will be there to cry when the Clock finally, ten thousand years from now, runs down, then I don’t see how you can have children. If you have children, I don’t see how you can fail to do everything in your power to ensure that you win your bet, and that they, and their grandchildren, and their grandchildren’s grandchildren, will inherit a world whose perfection can never be accomplished by creatures whose imagination for perfecting it is limitless and free. And I don’t see how anybody can force me to pay up on my bet if I turn out, in the end, to be wrong.
"Betting on the future" for our kids and theirs (et al) has a particular environmental resonance in these Greta/Green New Deal days - as I'm sure to mention when I give my little Climate Changetalk on Monday.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Terry Jones

Obit (nyt)... BBC

Graham Chapman eulogy

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

1947, the Bronx

A decade before my time began...


‘We Lived in Brooklyn, but We Were New York Yankees Fans’

Teenage friends at the ’47 World Series, a windy Manhattan day and more reader tales of New York City in this week’s Metropolitan Diary.

Jan. 12, 2020

Dear Diary:

It was 1947. Larry Goldberg and I were 13 years old. We lived in Brooklyn, but we were New York Yankees fans.

The World Series that year was a memorable one. The Yankees played the Dodgers, with notables on the field like Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra and, of course, Brooklyn’s Jackie Robinson, in his rookie year and first World Series.

The day of Game 1, Larry and I boarded the F train on Church Avenue at 3 a.m. and headed to Yankee Stadium. I doubt very much if my parents would let me go at that age today. (The subway by the way, was 5 cents cash then, no tokens.)

When we got to the stadium, we stopped at Nedick’s for a breakfast special: their famous orange drink, a doughnut and a cup of coffee, all for 15 cents.

We waited on line until 10 a.m., when the gates opened. We bought bleacher tickets for $1 and watched the Yankees do their thing, beating the Dodgers 5-3.

We repeated the adventure for the Game 7, and we saw the Yankees win the game and the series. I still have the ticket stubs.

I am curious where Larry Goldberg is today.

— Bruce Funk

nyt Accelerating Intelligence News