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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Fifty

I've been thinking of myself as almost-50 for years now. So I thought I'd make the transition to actually-50 with little trouble. I'm finding it a bit troubling, nonetheless. I'm counting down the days in which I can still say I'm in my 40's, with a somewhat sinking feeling. It is some comfort that my husband, in whom boyish qualities are very much alive, is several years into his 50's -- except that I still have trouble believing that, and it's a bit depressing in its turn. Apparently a good mutual friend of ours, a friend of my husband for several decades, is close to 60. That's positively scary. (I assume I will look back at these complaints some day in a spirit akin to some Supreme Court Justice -- I'm embarrassed to have forgotten which -- who, in his 90's, looked at a girl walk past and sighed, "Oh, to be 70 again....")

Learned the Hard Way

I was driving around today, erranding, and listening to the soundtrack of Somewhere in Time, which I consider rather beautiful and very romantic. Which made me think how much my brother, who was one of the most romantic souls ever, would have loved it. I doubt he ever heard it, and I never thought to play it for him. He died on June 1st of this year.

I didn't have very much contact with my brother in the last 15 years or so of his life, after I moved to Indiana (he lived in Southern and then Northern California). He had chronic fatigue syndrome most of that time, and didn't answer the phone much, let alone make trips across country -- though he did manage to come once, early on. I visited my parents in L.A. once or twice a year, but it never seemed like the time to go visit him instead, or in addition.

I'm sure that one reason I didn't try harder to stay in touch was that I have tended to suppress some sides of myself that were much like him -- sentimental, easily moved, easily agitated, embarrassingly open. When we spoke, we usually had a warm and loving exchange. But I was always on guard against our contact somehow becoming invasive, threatening my boundaries or my way of coping with the world. I was not entirely content with this delicate balance -- but I didn't know there was any urgency about changing it. His chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms masked the earlier stages of small cell lung cancer. He lived less than three months after he was diagnosed.

So I drive around town, trying not to cry too much for safety (there's a phrase with two meanings...), wishing I'd been able to share this music with him -- and inviting him, if he somehow can, to listen to it with me now.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Religion in Schools - another possible outcome

I'd like to suggest that those who want more religious observance -- prayers, etc. -- in the public schools consider how that idea can turn out. In Bloomington (Indiana), we have quite a lot of religious diversity (including a Buddhist community), and some fairly fervent devotion to protecting that diversity. The surrounding county is more religiously and politically conservative. I'm sure there are plenty of people in the county who would like every school day to start with a Christian prayer. However, if the voters or officials in Bloomington proper ended up with much say, I can easily imagine a rather different outcome, if the prohibition against school-sponsored prayer were somehow removed. How would all our evangelical Christians feel about a mandate that every month, all month long, a prayer from a different religion would start the school day? Buddhist one month, Moslem the next, then Jewish, Bahai after that -- and we actually have quite a few pagans living hereabouts....

Friday, July 22, 2005

Justice Roberts and containing Kelo

I haven't studied Judge Roberts' opinions -- I've only picked up, secondhand at best, the idea that he may believe in paying some attention to what the Commerce Clause was meant to mean. Which doesn't bear directly on the Kelo decision and eminent domain -- but to me it suggests that if he is confirmed, and some case comes up which offers the opportunity to confine Kelo to relative irrelevancy, he may come through. Here's hoping.

A Reply to Anti-American American Liberals

I sometimes imagine conversations, and tonight I was imagining a reply, verging on a rant, to certain liberal acquaintances of mine who confess to feeling rather anti-American at present. It went something like this:

We are facing some extremely difficult dilemmas, having to do with how to fight a vicious and fanatical enemy while maintaining our grasp on generally decent, and specifically American, values. If the problem were an easy one, we would not have bone-deep civil libertarians like Alan Dershowitz tossing around ideas like torture warrants. It is not just evil right-wing evangelical corrupt corporate puppets who consider countenancing some dubious tactics.

Why do you leave out of the equation the fact that this country sometimes promotes, and even supports, democratic ideals and democratic reform movements? I have little confidence in my historical knowledge on this point, and I welcome corrections (if supported with specific and reliable citations) -- but haven't we pushed democracy more, maybe a lot more, than any of the other major democracies out there? The sins we've committed against that ideal -- the backroom deals, the blind eyes, the hypocrisies, the betrayals -- we share with our European counterparts, but how often have they put cynicism and pessimism aside to urge democracy on? At least we've talked the talk -- and lately, we've been doing a little better at walking the walk.

So give us some g-----n credit!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Fireworks Fans Against Eastern Daylight Time

Through a series of contentious and to me annoying political events, we are likely to be stuck with Eastern Daylight Time next April. Until these events took place, most of Indiana has ignored the whole Daylight Savings Time exercise. I am highly skeptical that said exercise serves any very useful purpose. Since serious accidents apparently increase annually during the time people are adjusting to Daylight Time (not sure about re-adjusting to Standard), you'd think all the Safety Uber Alles folks would be clamoring to dump it. Most of Indiana belongs, geographically speaking, in the Central Time Zone -- so we will be seriously out of whack during the DST part of the year.

Particularly galling is what it will do to Independence Day fireworks. It's been bad enough when the fireworks started at 9 p.m. Now they'll START at 10 p.m. and end near 11 p.m. I doubt all the other holiday events will start an hour later -- the day will be interminable and even more exhausting than previously.

We still have a couple of surviving drive-in theaters hereabouts, which will probably crater when shows all have to start late. (I'm not sure of the logistics of drive-ins showing Adult movies, which could be an option, though not one that appeals to me....)

The legislature could still abort this scheme next March, but I'm not very hopeful. What gets me stirred up seldom stirs large enough crowds to reverse political inertia.

My husband, Hoosier Gadfly, recommends that we all go to Greenwich Mean Time, aka Universal Time, and schedule events at whatever hour is workable. He walks the walk -- his watch and computer are both on GMT.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Omniscience and Quantum Uncertainty

(Yes, I do tend to use titles with "and". Doesn't seem worth refraining, if it comes naturally.)

My husband, Hoosier Gadfly, has said on occasion that Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle (and possibly other credible theories of quantum physics) precludes divine omniscience. I'm not convinced.

As I understand it -- though perhaps I don't -- Heisenberg's Etc. is essentially about measurement. Measurement may yield the most accurate knowledge, but if one is predicting the result of a very thoroughly controlled future event, one could be said to "know" that result. If, for example, one rolls a ball of a certain mass, whose surface has a known degree of friction, down a surface with a known incline, on a path from which no deviation is possible, for a fixed number of seconds -- and yet, for any reason, one is unable to perceive and measure the result -- one could calculate in advance where the ball would end up. That information would be essentially known, though not perceived at the time of the event.

If one postulates a Creator capable of thoroughly calculating in advance (or in some timeless manner) all the interacting events that would make up a universe and its history, that Creator would essentially know what would happen in that universe, even if unable to observe those events unfolding.

I should not attempt this sort of discussion when underslept and racing the clock to minimize tomorrow's undersleptness....