Thursday, July 17, 2014

Michio Kaku's Future

A hundred and twenty years ago people couldn't fly. Twenty years after that people flew using machines made of sticks and fabric. 60 years later people were on the moon. Now a person with a device which is about the size of a deck of cards can communicate by video with anyone else on Planet Earth... from space. Technology has changed more in the last hundred years than it ever has before, and the pace of that change is accelerating. This is without a doubt the most interesting time to be a human.

So what does the future hold? Michio Kaku thinks he knows:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Stanley Lombardo's Odyssey

Professor Stanley Lombardo's performance of Homer's Odyssey is mesmerizing. He uses only his voice and his drum, and with the two he makes magic.

You will find prep school types disparaging Lombardo in the comments section of his videos, in journals and on television, and that's fine. He doesn't seem to be particularly bothered by it. He actually seems to have expected it. He has a deep, deep understanding of Homer and his translation is exactly as he intended it to be; his translation isn't meant to satisfy academic insiders. It is meant to reach into our hearts and show us what was there all along.

What strikes me about the sneering preppies who disparage Lombardo's work is that they seem so out of place. This man is passing on the soul of his tribe; listening to him is a religious experience. How can they sneer at that? Witness J. Bottum, who complains that Lombardo's translation lacks the "nobility of Homer." This silliness occurs at minute 15.

What the hell? It's like I'm sitting around a fire with my friends, listening to our sage recite the epic of our tribe, completely captivated by it, and in strolls J. Bottum in his blue blazer and red tie to pass judgement on something that he may understand on an intellectual level but that has completely missed his soul. Lombardo makes us hear the creak of the rigging and smell the salt of the air, and feel the deep despair of the doomed, while Bottum makes fey and irrelevant observations about some supposed lack of nobility... who cares? Shut up, J. Bottum! Men are enjoying themselves!

That's not to say that he doesn't add to the discussion later; he certainly does, and we can listen to and profit from his observations. He has forgotten more about Homer than I'll ever know, that's very clear, but how can he miss the point of Lombardo's translation so completely? Lack of nobility? Is the man deaf?

When Lombardo performs Homer he isn't dusting off a classic; there's no sense of musty private school halls in it. Lombardo's Odyssey is primal and immediate. His Odyssey gets the blood pumping.

Bloodless. That's a good word for his detractors.

I admire Lombardo's Stoic disposition through it all. He's a Zen master, so that probably helps.

Finally, if you watch to the end you will hear Hitchens say "bravo." He's the only one on the panel who compliments Lombardo's performance. I think he's the only one capable of fully appreciating Lombardo's performance.

If you were going to the pub for drinks, which two people on this panel would you take with you, if you had to take two? The answer is obvious.

Friday, July 11, 2014

We Are The Last Neanderthals

I think I've posted on this before. People of European descent are up to 3% Neanderthal. This is rather like imagining that your great, great, great grandfather was a Neanderthal. If 3% of modern humans were completely Neanderthal that would be 200,000,000 people.

Interesting to consider things this way. Here's the gentleman who caused me to consider it:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

AOM's Alpha Male Myth

The Art of Manliness ran a very interesting article which discredits the idea that a sociopathic "alpha male" is most attractive to women. That type CAN be extremely attractive to the 12% of women who grew up in extremely unstable environments, but according to research here is the ideal:

"Taken together, the research suggests that the ideal man (for a date or romantic partner) is one who is assertive, confident, easygoing, and sensitive, without being aggressive, demanding, dominant, quiet, shy, or submissive. In other words, a prestigious man, not a dominant man."

I like that. That's something to shoot for.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Soul Is Dyed By The Thoughts

"Such as are your habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of your mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts."

Marcus Aurelius

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Image, by Pierre-Selim Huard , is public domain

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My Spectacle Adventure

An Affordable Wardrobe recently ran a very positive review of Zenni Optical, which provides prescription glasses out of Hong Kong for $50 shipped. I need a backup so I'm going to order a pair.

My current pair were about $350 from Lenscrafters, and they were considered to be moderately priced. Guess where they were made? China. Same place as the Zenni's. There's an eye wear company based out of Italy that runs a monopoly on specs in the US. It depends on peoples' insurance plans to function, because if our insurance companies didn't provide glasses and we had to shop them ourselves you can bet the prices would be cheaper.

So I'm striking a blow for the free market. I'm like the Che of eyeglasses, if Che wore glasses. And he wasn't a communist. And he blogged. And he was still alive.

Let's see what you got, Zenni Optical.

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I'm guessing that my modified picture of Mr. Guevara is public domain, since ownership is theft. Workers of the world unite...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Everywhere Means Nowhere

Do you ever get the impression that you read a lot of books but retain little of them? I do. Here is what Seneca advises us to do:

"The primary indication, to my thinking, of a well-ordered maid is a man's ability to remain in one place and linger in his own company.  Be careful, however, lest this reading of many authors and books of every sort may tend to make you discursive and unsteady.  You must linger among a limited number of masterthinkers, and digest their works, if you would derive ideas which shall win firm hold in your mind.  Everywhere means nowhere.  When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends. And the same thing must hold true of men who seek intimate acquaintance with no single author, but visit them all in a hasty and hurried manner."