Space is Big

Day 65: Friday

Good morning Zak,

So the other day I went to a percussion ensemble concert.  In between each piece they had what you call a “science slam.”  Have you ever heard of this?  Don’t worry, it’s not what it sounds like.

A “science slam” is actually just a spicer name for something you may already be familiar with: a science lecture.  They turned out the lights, and a guy got up and talked about how big space is.  At the end he even threw in a bit of New Age-y philosophy.  I think that’s the part where we were supposed to be slammed.  You know, so that it would make sense.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the universe.  I mean it’s a pretty cool place and everything.  It’s just, once you’ve seen enough of these things, they start to get to you.  It seems like they always tell you basically the same facts.  We zoom through space at however many million light-years per second, and then we look at impressive giant balls of gas.  Now, on Earth, I’m used to people being embarrassed about their giant balls of gas—somehow in space it’s considered majestic.

But you never see anything new at one of these presentation.  Space pretty much looks all exactly the same.  There are stars, clouds of dust, debris… Why isn’t there anything unique or interesting in space?  Like why isn’t there a bouncy castle?  Or a secret space library?  Or literally anything that looks at all different from anything else?  I mean for all their grandiose claims, these presentations actually make the universe feel pretty monotonous… and small.

I made my own space presentation several years ago.  Enjoy…

No, I don’t apologize.

Until tomorrow,

Tim

Multitasking

Day 59: Thursday

Good morning Zak,

Cell phones are dangerous.  The other day, I was checking my email on my phone while heading back to my apartment, and I walked right into a parallel universe.  That’s the problem.  You feel like you can do it.  You can multitask.  I mean, this morning I was able to sing a song while taking a shower at the same time.  Why should this be any different?

Until tomorrow,

Tim

An arm and a leg

Day 52: Tuesday

Morning, Tim!

I have a midterm today, so won’t have a lot to touch on. I thoroughly enjoyed your post yesterday, despite you stealing one of my favorite jokes. I’m not sure why, but I feel some claim to one of my favorite comedian’s jokes. To ensure that you don’t “steal” any more (and to ensure I don’t try to pass any off as my own), I’m going to curate a few of my favorites below.

One joke with a fairly similar feel that I like to use around the same time as your statues joke:

I like video games, but they’re really violent. I’d like to play a video game where you help the people who were shot in all the other games. It’d be called ‘Really Busy Hospital’

-Demetri Martin

Sometimes you have to be unapologetic about stealing a joke…just make people laugh. But if you aren’t,  you have to be careful with apologizing…

Saying, ‘I’m sorry’ is the same as saying, ‘ I apologize.’ Except at a funeral.

– Demetri Martin

Thankfully, all of these jokes are online, so no one can get away with joke theft….I’m not gonna make any money off of these.

Why is it a penny for your thoughts but you have to put your two cents in? Somebody’s making a penny.

– Stephen Wright

One last clip, with to bookend the amputee theme…

Until tomorrow,

Zak

Wisdom

Day 43: Wednesday

Good morning Zak,

So you might know that in ancient Greece an idiotês was what they called a person who withdrew from society and kept private.  We might say, someone who kept their head in the sand.  In the context of Athenian democracy, this type of individual was viewed very negatively, since individuals who kept to themselves rather than engaging with society were seen as a threat to the political system—a system based on public discourse.

By the way, the word īdiotês is based on the same Greek root as the English word “idiot.”

But you’d have to be an idiot to think that knowing the Greek somehow gives you a more proper understanding of the modern English.  If you subscribe to this line of thinking then you are falling for what’s known as “the etymological fallacy.”  That’s a fancy term we non-elitists use to stigmatize certain elitist philologists—people who clam to have a superior understanding of proper uses and usages as a result of their knowledge of where words come from.

“Proper,” by the way, comes from the Latin adverb proprius, which is close in meaning to the Greek word idios.

These days, the general consensus is that language is best understood in terms of both diachronic and synchronic analysis; this means that we need to look at not only where modern words come from, but also how they relate to other words within the same modern language.  A proper idiot is clearly not the same thing as an idiotic idiot.  Right?

The one type of analysis I haven’t seen anyone yet consider is metachronic analysis.  Perhaps, an idiot is not merely distinct from an ancient idiotês nor merely from other people who exist synchronically—at the same time and in the same society.  An idiot, in the truest, fullest sense of the word, is an individual.  Someone who must be analyzed outside of time all together.

Maybe human identity isn’t only about other people who come before or at the same time or even after.  Maybe it’s also about the human as an individual.  A man who chooses to wear a yellow bow tie exists not only in relation to past and present fashion trends.  He also exists outside of time all together, in relation to all possible men with and without every possible kind of neck piece imaginable.

A good philologist is someone who also considers unusual uses and usages…

Until tomorrow,

Tim

Bow ties

Day 42: Tuesday

Morning, Tim!

I wanted to leave you a Surprising Saturday Something. Unfortunately that didn’t happen.

You see, Tim, you have a thing for neck-ties, particularly bow ties. I’m sure this part is actually no surprise to you – evidence points directly towards it. Whether it be a noodle or something worn around the neck, you like them. And the evidence on this blog is really only slight compared to the evidence I’ve amassed about your true passion.

And I like bad puns and humor generally.

So how do these combine?

IMG_1014.JPG

This gem.

I hope to find more soon.

Until tomorrow,

Zak

Relative humor

Day 40: Friday

Morning, Tim!

Isn’t it funny how life is constant change? Not simply in the you were once a 12 year old boy kind of way, though that applies too. Rather, so often life feels in flux. When we are young, it is changing school grades, always climbing to be  the “alpha” grade, head-honchos in the school until we move on to another school where we are bottom rung. Then we leave school – a big change – and start working. We often meet others and start relationships, perhaps move, reconsider our religious beliefs, buy houses, have children, have grandchildren, change jobs, reacquaint with friends, mourn losses…

Each of these are substantive changes in their own right. When compared to smaller changes like a delayed train or a favorite restaurant closed, they are large and highly impactful on our lives. Relatively, all meaningful. We view them as such when they happen, especially when many fall so close together. But taken as a whole, life is full of these macro changes, too. Just depends on the lens, I suppose.


Free will is a funny thing. Whether one believes we have it or not, we act as though we do. Yet even if we do, it’s evident that free will is difficult to act on. We’re coming up on the new year – 2017. Time for many a new years resolution to be made, far, far fewer to be kept. Why is that? We have good intentions – we see what might make us live a “better” life. A healthier diet and more exercise, going back to school, quitting smoking, writing letters to friends, perhaps even blogging. Yet year after year we let ourselves down.

Discipline and consistency are difficult.

I wonder how to keep a new years resolution. Perhaps that’ll be mine this year: keeping a new years resolution.

Until Monday,

Zak

Airport Romance

Day 37: Tuesday

Good morning Zak,

Sorry this letter comes to you later than usual.  I’m still jet-lagged from my flight over.

Zak, I’m sure I’m not the first person to notice this, but my recent flight has reinforced for me how much airports are different in different countries.  As a case in point, when I was going through security in Italy, there was a girl in her twenties playing with her hair, leaning casually against the conveyor belt:

“dove vai di bella questo pomeriggio?”

“USA”

“he he he, ‘USA’. che bello!  USA, cio è USA dove?”

“Chicago.  Ha ha… I guess that is pretty funny.”

It’s very strange.  The security officials in the US are completely different.  Despite using fancy technology to look at you in the nude, they don’t seem as interested.  Maybe that’s not as paradoxical as I think:

“Sir, you are required by national United States law to accurately disclose your destination to me.”

“Dis year, to keep me from tears…

Am I allowed to find this amusing?  I mean, Italians find my accent amusing all the time…

In Italy, one of the things employees often look for in a job candidate is presenza.  They will declare this in the advertisement:

Wanted: airline security person. Experience with international law enforcement, competence with standard policing weaponry, and presenza.  Please be sure to wear a nice outfit to the interview.  You know, try to show a little skin.  Giggly coquetry preferred.

Sorry everyone.  I’m just telling you the way things are.

I know in recent months many of us in the US are bemoaning a massive step backward for gender equality

Until tomorrow,

Tim