Saturday, November 25, 2017

Innocence of Bygone Years

Today is Saturnine Saturday at my blog.

My husband turned to the Me-TV (Memory TV) channel tonight, and we watched an episode of the Dick Van Dyke show. It was lovely, the innocence (the twin beds), the atmosphere of love created by the wife (Mary Tyler Moore) the care she took in preparing meals and keeping house and looking after her husband and their little boy Richie. And getting made up and dressed to face the day, even if she wasn't going to be leaving home. And when she was ready for bed: kitten-heels on her house slippers. Loveliness and innocence: the Van Dyke Petrie home glowed with it.

What's making me saturnine is the contrast between the Dick Van Dyke Show idyll and  the sleazy vulgarity that we've all gotten used to, even on network TV. The rumors and accusations of sexual harassment and even sexual coercion are pulling the curtain back on the entertainment industry, and we see the behind-the-scenes filthiness that drove the visible scum on the screen. Somewhere along the way -- in the sixties maybe, with the "sexual revolution" -- the sacredness of the sexual union and the institution of marriage was trodden underfoot. The protective feeling men felt for women and their honor was replaced by a predatory  drive to score, with more and more of them, and at the same time, women came to view a life devoted to hearth and home as beneath them as well. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Srinivasa Ramanujan & Hammarskjöld & Atheists

Today is Mystical and/or Mathematical Monday at my blog.

Mystical: In the foreword to Markings, excerpts of diary entries compiled for the public by
Dag Hammarskjöld shortly before his untimely death, one learns that there are absolutely no references to public life. Good: I didn't pick the book up so I could read about Socialism. I wanted to know how he handled the pressure. He was, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, as close as a mere mortal has become-- in terms of burdensome responsibility-- to "King of the World."  A quote:

"How can you expect to keep your powers of hearing when you never want to listen? That God should have time for you, you seem to take as much for granted as that you cannot have time for Him."

Mathematical: Ramanujan discovered this  infinite series for pi. (*1) You needn't know much about mathematics to be able to appreciate the poetry of this formula. God wrote and sang the song, but Ramanujan was able to hear it and translate it into mathematical symbols so the rest of us could hear it, too.

                                \frac{1}{\pi} = \frac{2\sqrt{2}}{9801} \sum^\infty_{k=0} \frac{(4k)!(1103+26390k)}{(k!)^4 396^{4k}}.

Mathematical and Mystical: Why bring God into mathematics? We will ask Svrinisana Ramanujan, himself, a Hindu who claimed many of his mathematical insights were given to him by his family's goddess who appeared to him in dreams. His answer:

"Sir, an equation has no meaning for me unless it expresses a thought of GOD."(*2)

Mystical: One wintry night some years ago,  I was turning into the parking lot of an Evangelical Christian church, late for the pot-luck dinner for which I'd in-advisedly committed to bringing a covered dish. Said dish, sliding malodorously and perilously close to the edge of the  passenger seat, hadn't exactly turned out as planned. I was alone.(*3)

"Oh forget it! I'm too ashamed to be associated with this swill, and my name's on the pan, and I really don't feel like hanging out with these people anyway. I'm going home." To be honest with you, I'd been feeling fed up with life in general for a while.

As I headed home, I flipped on the radio. Christian radio. Dang!!! And what's the first thing I heard?

"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is [WE'RE TALKIN' TO YOU IRENEATHENA]; but exhorting one another..." Heb. 10:24-25 KJV.

Dangity-dang-dee-Dang-it! I did a u-ey, parked, slunk into the church with my pitiful hot-dish...and left a few hours later, feeling restored and happy, the way human beings were designed (and/or evolved) to feel after they've spent time hanging out with members of their own species.

Trust me (*4) on these 3 things, A, B, and C, that I know for sure.

(A) Everyone should spend part of every day with the mouth shut, listening, just in case God happens to be singing in the vicinity: Even --or perhaps, especially-- if you don't believe in God.

(B) If you're a follower of Jesus, you have to find flesh-and-bones Christians, not disembodied internet entities, to hang out with. 

(C) If you can't find a bunch of Christians who make you feel energized rather than drained, better you should hang out with a few atheists (as long as they're life-affirming atheists) than sit at home and brood. Or life-affirming Anything-at-All-ists.

If you've found a group of people you can be yourself with, then you're home.

(*1) "Srinivasa Ramamujan", article retrieved from on 11/07/2017

(*2) Quoted in Ramanujan, the Man and the Mathematician (1967) by Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan, p. 88

(*3) My husband was at a gig, or a rehearsal, or a lesson.

(*4) as someone who gets messages from God, THROUGH THE RADIO!

Safe Place to Land: Hallway to Out-Of-State Child's Room - IreneAthena

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Negotiating with himself and God

Today is Thank God It's Sunday at my blog.

Here's a little something to listen to while you read. It's the Ladysmith Black Mambazo & Soweto Gospel Choir. I spent some time this weekend reading comments in an Alt Right blog, and while I can say that most of the participants aren't white Supremacists, the contact with those who are drained me spiritually. This music uplifts me. Some white supremacists may be walking toward a fork in the road that will eventually lead them to a place where they are enjoying this music, too. Singing along....

Dag  Hammarskjöld was the second Secretary-General of the United Nations, and he was also awarded a Nobel Peace prize. He died in an airplane crash while he was on his way to peace negotiations in Africa. Some suspect foul play.

Last week at the thrift store, I noticed a book by Dag Hammarskjöld. The United Nations connection of the author might propel some conservatives to a stealthy visit to the  thrift store's garbage bin.  They're suspicious about an organization that appears to have as its aim the dissolution of national sovereignty. Well, well..

...People end up in odd places to do the work they are convinced God has for them to do. (I knew someone whose father was in the Nazi party, but he used his position to redirect to safety trains headed for concentration camps.)

Markings  is a collection of excerpts from Hammarskjöld's diary. He says he offered it to the public as "a sort of 'white book' concerning my negotiations with myself -- and with God."

I'm in. I'm curious.
Halloween's tomorrow. Then the fun is over and the scary costumes are laid aside for another year.  I wish it were that easy to put aside the inner disguises that keep us from knowing who we  really are, on the inside. 
Durer. St. Michael Fights the Dragon.   Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

I wonder if this adventure will be as exciting as my experience with the copy of Man's Search for Meaning  I rescued from the middle of a busy intersection a while back...

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Compassionate and Wise Refugee Policy

It is Saturnine Saturday at my blog.

This summer, I wrote a review of a review of a book that examined the immigration issue compassionately and wisely, taking into account the struggles of a mass exodus of people fleeing from war-torn regions, and also those of the host nations struggling to accommodate them.

I'll tell you something that makes me saturnine, and that's the teeny tiny font-size-- a teeny tiny font-size that persists despite multiple efforts at re-editing the thing...(*1)

So let's try again this way. Press the control key and the "+" key simultaneously a few times once you get there, and it should be legible.

(*1)During this Halloween-tide, I find myself wondering what manner of entity is responsible for the obstacle?

 Just kidding. Well, maybe only half kidding....

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Varieties of Crowing

Today is still "Tuesday what's in the News Day" at my blog.

"You aren't supposed to blow your own horn."

"Don't let your left hand see what your right hand is doing."

"If you do good works to be seen by men and receive praise from them, don't expect God to reward you, for you have already received your reward."(*4)

Yeah, okay. But you know, I can tell the difference between people who, looking for hero-worship, are constantly talking about the good that they do, versus those who describe the charitable projects they're involved with so that others will be inspired to volunteer or support these works financially.

What I am about to do feels very uncomfortable for me. It seems immodest. Here goes.

Here are the things I do to help.  REDACTED.

There. I said it.(*1)

Why did I publish this? (*2) I can tell you that giving part of yourself to the world makes you feel more connected to it, improves your mental and physical health. Yes, by all means, find a few of the many volunteering opportunities that exist, and start reaping those benefits for yourself.

(*1) Aw. No I didn't.
(*2) Ditto.
(*3) What does this have to do with Tuesday What's in the News Day?  Do you know that every time you  share the Kroger page on Facebook, this grocery chain will give $5 to relief efforts in Houston, Texas which is experiencing catastrophic flooding post Hurricane Harvey.(*4) 

(*4) How many stars in my heavenly crown will this footnote get me, I wonder....DOH!

Refuge: Rethinking Refugee Policy in a Changing World

Today is Tuesday What's In the News Day at my blog.(*1)
I recently read a book review (*2)  of Refuge: Rethinking Refugee Policy in a Changing World. The book has really good ideas, and I'm grateful for Noah Berlatsky for bringing it to my attention, even though his book review errs in a couple of places. (*3)

The review claims that at the  root of today's global crisis are Western beliefs about refugees.   The root cause is actually the Empire-building foreign policies that create refugees in the first place by destabilizing entire regions. The book review also sweeps aside as “unfounded” the concerns of Europeans and Americans about taking in large numbers of difficult-to-assimilate groups. Yet, whether or not the book itself directly alludes to things like the Rotherham child abuse scandal or terrorist acts committed by a radicalized first generation,  the recommendations of Paul Collier and Alexander Betts adequately  address  those fears as well as the refugees’ desperate conditions.

Here are some quotes from the authors,  Paul Collier and Alexander Betts.  My remarks are in brackets. 

.....“People need the chance to provide for themselves and their children, and to live meaningful lives…[Jordan and Uganda have been ] experimenting with new approaches to economic opportunity for refugees…. Initial prospects for the program look good…European governments and the US need to set up trade concessions and business incentives to encourage investment and help make the venture profitable…Countries next to poor, conflict-ridden countries are often poor and conflict-ridden themselves, which means that the burden of dealing with humanitarian catastrophe falls on those least able to shoulder it. Richer countries have an ethical duty to help. [I'll say!!! especially since the West was largely responsible for the destabilization of refugees' original homes!].…If refugees have more opportunities, more autonomy, and better lives in neighboring countries, they are unlikely to feel the need to travel further abroad. When refugees stay closer to home, they are also more likely to return when conflict is over, which can help war-torn nations recover more quickly, reducing instability and terrorism worldwide.“
I hope the projects described in  Refuge get the outside support they need to continue being successful.  

(*1) There has also been disastrous flooding in Houston, Texas after  Hurricane Harvey made landfall over the weekend.  The scope of the damage has not yet been fully assessed, and as of this writing, flooding continues.

(*2) Retrieved from Quartz magazine, August 29, 2017.

(*3) I'm also grateful to my cousin who linked to Berlatsky's review from Facebook.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Day Off, Face Off, FACE ON

Today is Day Off Thursday at my blog.  I've had a months-worth of consecutive days off at my blog, it would appear. Yep. Last entry July 11.

I have some burdens, probably not any heavier than most of your burdens. It wouldn't do me or the world any good for me to talk a about them here and now. Sometimes it's helpful for someone to read about a burden he has in common with a blogger.  When I get some perspective on the current situations, it may be time to write. (*1)

But I'm OK. I'm trying to eat right (mostly), and to get exercise and sleep, and to spend time with God and also the people I'm closest to, and with those who count on me.  There just isn't enough overflow of energy to spend online. 

(*1)That was fast!!! Changed my mind about not writing.  I'm burdened because ....nevermind why... I'm writing, though these calamities be not yet overpast...


(1)There is a God in Heaven who sits serenely over it all.  DEEP BREATH!

(2)He's juggling the fractals and the Deep Physics and weaving his omniscience and omnipotence in and out of everyone else's free will. HE'S SO WISE! TRANSCENDENT!

(3) MY HEART IS FIXED: The status of the world changes second to second, so it's important to stay in touch with the Almighty God frequently to get one's marching orders, which are sometimes, due to rapidly changing circumstances, no more specific than:

(4) "Put Your Game Face On."  Not a game face  that scares away the enemies, but a calm game face that shows  you aren't afraid of them and that you may actually be fixin' to help calm them the heck down, too.  Not calm as in "assuming room temperature" calm, but the calm that allows people to work on problems together, instead of working at cross purposes. MY HEART IS FIXED. I WILL SING AND GIVE PRAISE. MY HEART IS FIXED! And my face will surely show it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Life Imitates Art

Today is Tuesday What's In the News Day at my blog.

Good news: Wonderful long weekend with my cousins, first-cousins-once-and-twice-removed and sole surviving uncle and his wife in Louisville, Kentucky.

Bad news: The flight home was cancelled.

Good news: The Delta employee at the ticket desk worked out an alternative route home.

Bad news: We had to fly from Louisville to Atlanta to Salt Lake City to Boise.

Good news: That's a heck of a lot of Delta sky miles.


Good news: New kind of puzzle for me (Kenken) in the Delta Sky magazine provided pleasant distraction from turbulence nausea.

Bad news: Got very frustrated with the more difficult of the two Kenken puzzles and erased it twice, while nauseated from turbulence.

Good news: Choice of free in-flight movie offered.  I chose "Hidden Figures," the true story of three women who overcame racial and gender hurdles in the early sixties to make their marks in the NASA program that put John Glenn in orbit.


Good news: The example of female math whizzes Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson persevering against all odds INSPIRES me to finish difficult Kenken puzzle before the movie is over.