Magnificent

Seeing a piece like this come out of The Economist is magnificent, or at least entirely enjoyable. Had to post it. Enjoy!

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21594257-our-wildest-fantasy-if-only-french-ran-america-la-maison-blanche

It does eventually beg a lot of good questions, such as, what does it mean for “America to be a better place”? And others, but I have to run.

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I Have an Addiction

I have an addiction and it’s to rhythm. The rhythm of words. I love to read a well-written sentence, series of sentences, essay, post. You can feel your way through it. It’s like a dance. Up. Down. Over. Through. Surprise! And back. Flow. It’s a story in and of itself, but it’s one you feel. Exist in. A milieu. The milieu of your ideas.

I haven’t thought about it enough yet, to say anything more substantive. My thoughts are in early stage form. But when they are! I shall post again.

Sherlock Returns

The greatly anticipated return of Sherlock has come and gone. It was entertaining. It was brilliant!  But it was also, honestly, disappointing. Here’s why.

1) From intense to silly. This episode is lighthearted, even silly. Sherlock waltzes in as a French waiter with a ridiculous fake mustache (and fabulous accent to boot) and presents himself to his best friend, expecting love and joy in return. Instead, John tries to kill him. It’s cute, and this cuteness pervades the entire episode. But this is Sherlock! We don’t watch it for cuteness. More than that, this episode directly follows the most intense and serious episode yet: you know, the one where Sherlock commits suicide, his reputation is completely destroyed, John is devastated, and so are fans across the globe. Season 3 surprisingly and randomly swaps out intensity for silliness. It’s a bit hard to swallow.

2) From laser-locked sociopath to more socially aware jokester. Then there’s the inconsistency in Sherlock himself. He’s suddenly got better social skills (he kindly tells Molly thank you and gives her a little kiss) and he’s also become a jokester. While sociopaths can learn and become more socially acceptable, we’ve never seen Sherlock particularly playful before. Playfulness wouldn’t be part of his worldview because the only things that matter to him are what helps solve cases. And yet, he pranks John by not telling him that he’s actually deactivated the bomb that’s about to kill them both. He cruelly deceives his best friend. When he was a sociopath before, he was consistently a sociopath (mean to everyone and unable to care about anything except solving cases). Now, he’s inconsistently a sociopath (mean sometimes and finds pranks worth pulling).

3) No case? And can you really have a Sherlock episode without a case to solve, and his “massive intellect” to display? The episode technically has a case, but it’s such a secondary part of the story that it feels a bit lame.

4) No resolution of the big question. Most importantly, we don’t actually learn how Sherlock faked his death. Everything else in previous episodes has been explained. It’s why we keep coming back for more: he can see things we can’t, and when it gets explained, you mutter “oh, of course.” But not in this episode, the one time it matters most. Unfortunately for my mini rant against this episode, there’s a good argument against this. There are actually many things that aren’t explained. But they are usually small things. So, is it fair for the writers of this episode to play with us? It’s certainly consistent with the lightheartedness of this episode. In fact, it’s perfect. We get fanciful, entirely entertaining, and comedic explanations for his “death”. And just when we think we’re getting the real explanation, the rug gets pulled out from under our feet as Anderson notes the obvious: why would Sherlock ever tell him the truth?

Ultimately does it work? Yes. It is fantastic and fantastical! It’s just not what I wanted. I wanted intensity and not silliness. Instead the writers gave us a highly entertaining and yet intelligent ride where, thank God, the most important thing is established: Sherlock and Watson are back.

Ethical, Moral

I started an “Ethics and Education” class the other day. It is pretty philosophical. My problem so far is what is “ethics” and what is “moral” or “morality”? I spent a decent part of the class just looking up these terms in my Merriam Webster app. It appears that these two terms are, at a high level, interchangeable and mean nothing more than a preferred standard of behavior. This immediately begs a few questions. Who is doing the preferring? Presumably this is the largest part of society which may mean nothing more than the noisiest part of society. And then we have to ask what is the source of their standard of behavior? I believe it’s in answering the second question that the can of worms opens. One obvious difficulty could be that your source is your religion and it is simply not a religion that your neighbor shares with you so your morality is different. Then there’s C.S. Lewis’ idea that, at base, all morality’s are the same. That’s a really nice, neat, and tidy idea. I like it, and I do actually agree with it. Of course, there is more than “the base” and it’s when you progress further in your thought, or attempt to apply your theory that things get messy.

More to come. I hope to explore ethics/morality more.

Good Microbes vs. Bad Microbes

In my effort to fix my physical issues – a slipped disc and undiagnosed chronic pain in various parts of my body – I’ve become much more educated. It appears I have a gluten sensitivity and possibly a second food sensitivity that is undiagnosed. The gut, digestive system, and immune system are heavily related to these two things. Here is a fun video, from NPR, that throws light on good microbes and bad microbes.

A Burden of Beauty

A burden of beauty. This phrase came to me while being overwhelmed at a friend’s dedication to Jesus Christ, and more largely at God’s supreme dedication to man. I sometimes hate reading/knowing these things because they are so costly emotionally. I feel the deepest part of myself being invaded, but is it not also beautiful? I’ll be more specific. When I see my sweet friend speak freely, lovingly, truthfully, and out of true and natural conviction about the best thing in life (God’s love for man), I am forced to look at this blinding beauty. Why does God love me? Why does God love anyone? Why God? A universe without Him is a bit easier, but also unbearably meaningless. So, when someone who commands my respect speaks of the paragon of what it means to be human – to know the source of life, God Himself – my heart is invariably pointed in that direction, my face is pointed towards the sun. And God is not easy. He is demanding. He is perfect. He is partially unknown and thus invariably scary. I prefer to think about cleaning out a vase I just emptied, doing the dishes, warming up the pot roast for dinner, cleaning out my email inbox, reading some Sherlock Holmes, and going to bed. Anything other than God Himself. I guess He wears me out sometimes. A silly thing given that Jesus wanted the “little children to come unto him” and drives His point home by saying that we can only know Him if we can be a child. Well, I can do that! I excel at needing guidance, at requiring another nap (or break), at having 10,000 questions and not always knowing the full ramifications of my own questions or even retaining the ability/energy to wait for the answer. My mother tells me we are all children. Whether or not we know it. I suppose in the Christian ideal, you simply know, and this creates humility.

The Weight of Glory. This is the title of one of C.S. Lewis’ books, and it’s another way of saying what I was saying: a burden of beauty, something which is both “exactly what we would want” but also costly. Why do the best things in life have to be costly?