Wednesday Poem-Rita Dove

Geometry

I prove a theorem and the house expands:
the windows jerk free to hover near the ceiling,
the ceiling floats away with a sigh.

As the walls clear themselves of everything
but transparency, the scent of carnations
leaves with them.  I 
am out in the open

and above the windows have hinged into butterflies,
sunlight glinting where they’ve intersected.
They are going to some point true and unproven.

Rita Dove

Two Sunday Abstract Photos-The Dancer Is The Dance

They filmed the original ‘Highlander’ movie inside this photo. While not remotely true, this comment might strike you as ‘quirky’ and interesting.

With not-so-great photos, I like to push the crop and zoom feature to its Earthly limits, until the photo ends up in the ‘abstract’ bin.

‘In Pink Study #3, the Photographer’s limited understanding and abilities are bypassed through daft use of a particular tool. Mediocrity is layered upon mediocrity, as your Eye passes briefly over the result.

-IPhone 8.

$6,000 USD

Wednesday Poem-Winter Oak

Winter Oak

It is a granite
moon which fills the fields
beyond the light
of a neighbor’s barn.

The first spring calf stood
today. on tufted grass
alive, bundled by the wind.
Its stillborn twin

we found nearby.
The barn steeple rises
up, as it must,
the stars like salt in my eyes.

-Chris Navin

I’m aiming to become a middling poet. Let me know if I’m getting there.

North Korea And The Indo-Pacific Theater-Two Links

Mick Hartley, on recent goings-on near the Korean border:

It’s like constantly presenting sweeties and prettily wrapped gifts to a pack of hyenas, in the hope that eventually they’ll come round and start to be nice and friendly. They won’t, because they’re hyenas, and what hyenas want is to eat you.

Consider the adolescent and murderous righteousness of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara; their militaristic and guerrilla mindset, but combined with a Stalinist-backed, family-led cult.

It’s always 1948. Constant struggle and ideological loyalty are essential. Murder is commonplace. Mythic and ideological revelation is knowledge enough to have the Kim dynasty ruling in perpetuity. There will be absolutely no individual autonomy.

When you listen to how awful life still is in North Korea (a regime fine with only 10% of the population surviving), it’s enough to make you cry:

The fact is many prominent intellectuals in the West spent a good chunk of the 20th century deciding how much to actually distance themselves from Communist ideology.

I don’t see us at an inflection point of placing Nazi and Communist ideology in the same horrible basket.

In fact, liberal idealism and secular humanism in the United States has embraced radical chic enough to normalize activist, anti-nation and anti-speech thinking. Perhaps out of the postmodern morass comes excessively individualistic, radical and existential doubt. Out of such doubt comes the collectivism, soft and hard authoritarianism beneath the ‘neo-liberal capitalists.’

Those Nazi-hunting anti-fascists are actually kind-of fascistic, you say? Well, we aren’t about to really confront such facts. Most of us, most of the time, will double down on anti-religious, anti-traditional and anti-authoritarian authoritarianism.

Are you convinced?

On that note, Walter Russell Mead suggests we won’t be leaving the Pacific Theater anytime soon:

Assessing the nature and depth of America’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific is a life and death question for countries wondering whether to accommodate or resist China’s determination to project greater influence over neighboring states.’

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

A Little Something On A Big Blog-Some Tornado Links

I like the term ‘citizen scientist,’ as it is flatters me. It keeps me pursuing goals. I’ll be that guy at the party who knows a little something. Let’s converse. Let’s look each other in the eyes for a moment.

I’m currently collecting rocks in local Seattle parks for an AI identification project.

We each have wells down which we can gaze. We know this. A smile is enough. The birds suddenly whirl-up and are gone. The conversation moves on. Tis better to have loved and lost, and all that.

Life is strange. Love is all?

You have a joy you keep close to your heart. Keep it there.

This one gets me: A man goes up to his attic to grab some things before a tornado arrives. He points the phone out, standing in place. Terrified? Mesmerized?

The monster approaches.

His life is engulfed, briefly, by Nature’s fury. His life must be engulfed, afterwards, in loss and despair.

With exponentially more computing power comes more input, and enough variables to recreate and predict actual tornadic conditions.

Step back from the terror; the place where death comes. Climb inside a supercell and see what might be going on. Supercells are rare. EF5 supercells are very, very rare.

Beautiful.

Storm-chasing attracts daredevils. I’ll bet there must be any number of douchebags on the circuit.

It takes courage. Some humility even. More video data and live, human experience can be collected into useful channels.

Better understanding can help save lives.

Sometimes, you take the wrong path, or make the wrong decision. You may not know it at the time, but you come to know it soon enough. An anti-cyclonic vortex bears down, roaring away at 200 mph.

This is it. Fuck. No. Please. Oh God.

No matter how much knowledge and experience you have, one wrong decision can cost you your life:

Keep looking up: Lightning can lead to the edges of our atmosphere, and into space.

What’s the weather like on Mars? Where’s all the water? Does it have conditions which still harbor life?

Another Link To Charles Murray’s New Book & And A Reminder About The Duties We All Share

Via Quillette-Interview with Charles Murray about his new book ‘Human Diversity:  The Biology of Gender, Race and Class.

Tyler Cowen took a look here:

Cowen:

‘Overall this is a serious and well-written book that presents a great deal of scientific evidence very effectively. Anyone reading it will learn a lot. But it didn’t change my mind on much, least of all the most controversial questions in this area. If anything, in the Bayesian sense it probably nudged me away from geneticist-based arguments, simply because it did not push me any further towards them.’

Via GoodReads:  Some commentary about how Murray sees the state of the social science of which he is a part.

‘The thesis of Human Diversity is that advances in genetics and neuroscience are overthrowing an intellectual orthodoxy that has ruled the social sciences for decades. The core of the orthodoxy consists of three dogmas:

– Gender is a social construct.

– Race is a social construct.

– Class is a function of privilege.’

My two cents: A few ideologues, some true-believers, and many, many people self-selecting for already-held beliefs and principles work in the social sciences.  Like all individuals, we/they are all subtly affected by the people and ideas with whom we/they are surrounded.  Like all groups, there are unifying ideas, norms and boundaries.  Because there is a scientific element to this field of knowledge (data, statistical analysis, empirical input and interpretative output) I obviously support the free pursuit of knowledge.

That said, observing how people in the same universities doing similar research have allowed radicals, extremists and ideologues to fester, and become violent, I expect the stewards of these universities to have some moral courage and backbone.

I’m not holding my breath.  Good curation and stewardship has been relinquished by many within our universities.

From Middlebury College a few [years ago now] (where Charles Murray was invited to speak but was shouted-down and chased-away):

An example of how not to exchange ideas: Individuals are encouraged to simply show up and participate as part of a mob, likely getting a sense of identity, purpose, and accomplishment by righteously shouting down an invited speaker.

Free inquiry is chilled, the passions incited and engaged, and the hatreds organized. This approach clouds the truth and the civilities and methods by which we more reasonably can arrive at truth.

The truth, for the most part, has already been decided in many minds (enough to act in such an ignorant way). The administrator who had injury done to her in trying to exit the event was just getting in the way of the truth, dear reader.

Such thinking has been institutionalized in many settings: Here’s how the Washington Post portrayed the affair, labeling Charles Murray not by the quality of his ideas, nor his reasoning, but by a rather laughably inaccurate representation of events, sympathetic to the mob:

This is how WaPo reports on an out-of-control mob that physically assaults a speaker and a professor? https://t.co/hrGA5MfeHo

— Charles Murray (@charlesmurray) March 3, 2017

As previously posted: Below is an example how similar stewardship of our institutions by those who share in such ideology themselves, or who offer tacit approval of such ideology (tolerating the intolerance through capitulation, or in a kind of enemy-seeking ‘brownstone activism’), has gone on for a generations now.

From TheFire.Org-‘The Condescending Paternalism Of Williams President Adam Falk:’

As FIRE co-founder Alan Charles Kors has said: “You cannot say to people, you’re too weak to live with freedom. Only that group is strong enough to live with freedom.”

But that’s exactly what Adam Falk, the patronizing president of Williams College, has said to the college’s student body. Yesterday, Falk unilaterally canceled a speech by John Derbyshire, who was invited as part of the student-run “Uncomfortable Learning” speaker series.

From Adam Falk’s letter to Williams students about the matter:

‘Today I am taking the extraordinary step of canceling a speech by John Derbyshire, who was to have presented his views here on Monday night. The college didn’t invite Derbyshire, but I have made it clear to the students who did that the college will not provide a platform for him.

Free speech is a value I hold in extremely high regard. The college has a very long history of encouraging the expression of a range of viewpoints and giving voice to widely differing opinions. We have said we wouldn’t cancel speakers or prevent the expression of views except in the most extreme circumstances. In other words: There’s a line somewhere, but in our history of hosting events and speeches of all kinds, we hadn’t yet found it.

We’ve found the line. Derbyshire, in my opinion, is on the other side of it. Many of his expressions clearly constitute hate speech, and we will not promote such speech on this campus or in our community.

We respect—and expect—our students’ exploration of ideas, including ones that are very challenging, and we encourage individual choice and decision-making by students. But at times it’s our role as educators and administrators to step in and make decisions that are in the best interest of students and our community. This is one of those times.’

John Derbyshire raised quite a stir after publishing ‘The Talk: Nonblack Version,’

‘There is a talk that nonblack Americans have with their kids, too. My own kids, now 19 and 16, have had it in bits and pieces as subtopics have arisen. If I were to assemble it into a single talk, it would look something like the following.

Of course, what better place than a liberal arts college to talk these matters out?

Sigh.

Read up. Get your reasons and arguments together. Show up at the debate, alone or with friends. Listen to the other fellow. Think. Respond. Think some more. Debate.

Publishing and disseminating the thoughts and ideas of others is not necessarily an endorsement of those thoughts and ideas, but it is absolutely vital in maintaining a free and open society:

Out of principle alone, here’s Derbyshire discussing his general worldview:

Repost: The Intellectual Cowardice Of The Crowd-Charles Murray At Middlebury College

Charles Murray At The American: Are Too Many People Going To College?

Tuesday Poem-W.H. Auden

Musee des Beaux Arts

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

W.H. Auden

The Fall Of Icarus

Thanks to reader, Robin Saika:

‘Here is an interesting piece on it: https://www.winchestercollege.org/stories/About_Suffering_They_Were_Never_Wrong
The author reminds us that Auden also refers to Brueghel’s Census in Bethlehem, as well as to Icarus.