Sunday, January 22, 2017

Awesomeness Is Everything: Past is a Foreign Country

I, may I rest in peace — I, who am still living, say,
May I have peace in the rest of my life.
I want peace right now while I’m still alive.
I don’t want to wait like that pious man who wished for one leg
of the golden chair of Paradise, I want a four-legged chair
right here, a plain wooden chair. I want the rest of my peace now.
I have lived out my life in wars of every kind: battles without
and within, close combat, face-to-face, the faces always
my own, my lover-face, my enemy-face.
Wars with the old weapons — sticks and stones, blunt axe, words,
dull ripping knife, love and hate,
and wars with newfangled weapons — machine gun, missile,
words, land mines exploding, love and hate,
I don’t want to fulfill my parents’ prophecy that life is war.
I want peace with all my body and all my soul.
Rest me in peace.

From “In My Life, on My Life” in “Open Closed Open,” translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld (Harcourt, 2000). 

It’s about our one life, our one and only life.

Pretty Big Dance Company Gets More Than A Pretty Big Audience

As in 7 million YouTube views. “When people look at a full-figured girl, automatically they just think, they can’t do. But there are lot of plus-sized people that can really dance and move. I mean, you have to know your body as a dancer. You have to know how to transfer your weight. Of course, you know, being a woman of my aesthetic, I know my body. I know what I’m capable of doing. So you just have to be comfortable in your own skin.”

What If The Future Is As Real As The Past?

Physicists have been suggesting as much since Einstein. It’s all just the space-time continuum. “So in the future, the sister of the past,” thinks young Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses, “I may see myself as I sit here now but by reflection from that which then I shall be.” Twisty!

To be alive is to marvel — at least occasionally, at least with glimmers of some deep intuitive wonderment — at the Rube Goldberg machine of chance and choice that makes us who we are as we half-stride, half-stumble down the improbable paths that lead us back to ourselves. My own life was shaped by one largely impulsive choice at age thirteen, and most of us can identify points at which we could’ve pivoted into a wholly different direction — to move across the continent or build a home here, to leave the tempestuous lover or to stay, to wait for another promotion or quit the corporate day job and make art. Even the seemingly trivial choices can butterfly enormous ripples of which we may remain wholly unwitting — we’ll never know the exact misfortunes we’ve avoided by going down this street and not that, nor the exact magnitude of our unbidden graces.
In her final letter, written as Freedman was en route to a deathbed visit but only delivered two weeks after Carson’s death, she writes:

My darling,
You are starting on your way to me in the morning, but I have such a strange feeling that I may not be here when you come — so this is just an extra little note of farewell, should that happen. There have been many pains (heart) in the past few days, and I’m weary in every bone. And tonight there is something strange about my vision, which may mean nothing. But of course I thought, what if I can’t write — can’t see to write — tomorrow? So, a word before I turn out the light.
Darling — if the heart does take me off suddenly, just know how much easier it would be for me that way. But I do grieve to leave my dear ones. As for me, however, it is quite all right. Not long ago I sat late in my study and played Beethoven, and achieved a feeling of real peace and even happiness.
Never forget, dear one, how deeply I have loved you all these years.

Always, Rachel is an achingly transcendent read in its entirety. Complement this particularly poignant portion with Oliver Sacks on the measure of living and the dignity of dying, then revisit Carson on why it is more important to feel than to know.

Time-Travel Therapy

Can a faux 1950s downtown sharpen the minds of dementia patients?

Awesomeness Is Everything

Malchkeon explains why encountering vastness makes us more spiritual, generous, and content

The National Security Agency is an enormous organization by nearly any corporate standard, with more than 35,000 employees. Former Deputy Director Chris Inglis once joked that the spy agency is “the biggest employer of introverts.” More frequently though, the NSA refers to itself as the largest employer of mathematicians. In recent years, while the U.S. has continuously confronted new threats in cyberspace, the agency has increasingly become a training ground for young, talented, highly educated computer security professionals. Underlining the NSA’s race to hire the best and brightest is a list of 213 universities that the spy agency has designated as “National Centers of Academic Excellence.” These schools offer a myriad of computer security training programs, each providing a stepping stone into the secretive agency. In this context, Carnegie Mellon University is to the NSA what the University of Alabama is to the NFL. And Professor David Brumley is CMU’s Nick Saban.

Tribal Warfare in Economics Is a Thing of the Past

Scientists turn mild-mannered mice into killers Financial Times Do I not like where this goes. The obvious application will be the military.


Dwight Eisenhower was the first U.S. President to use a teleprompter during the 1952 presidential campaign (c) Life Magazine by Alfred Eisenstaedt

No matter our age or stage in life, we can all relate to relationship woes. Long lost loves. Loves of lives past. Every relationship we have informs who we are today. So I can certainly relate to the age-old dilemma – what to do when you unexpectedly run into of an ex?! Regardless of your current relationship status, I agree with our semi-regular relationship contributor Megan – it is an act of human decency for an ex to acknowledge the kindness and loving that once existed between you. Sadly, it doesn’t always go down that way. Sound familiar? Read below to see if this story applies to you too.

Open records requests are a key to governmental transparency. Being personally subjected to one is unnerving.
How do you avoid such a request if you work at a public law school? You stay silent. Non-involvement with anything in the least bit controversial helps protect you from the possibility that anyone will ever ask to see the content of your emails.
I have often asked myself the theoretical question: if I had lived in Nazi Germany, or in the McCarthy era, would I have remained silent or would I have taken the risk and spoken up. That question is no longer theoretical.
Andrea A. Curcio, law professor at Georgia State College of Law, was one of 1,400 law professors who signed an open letter opposing the nomination of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Her email, along with the email of colleagues working at public institutions, is being subjected to an Open Records Act request from a conservative political publication that seeks ‘a copy of each email (inbound, outbound, deleted, or double deleted) for the university email accounts of Andrea A. Curcio and [a colleague who also signed the letter] from the dates of December 15, 2016, to and including January 3, 2017, which includes any of the keywords ‘Sessions,’ or ‘Jeff Sessions’ or ‘Attorney General.’
[Gavel bang: TaxProf Blog]