One of the people who my parents will be visiting in Paris is a Sinhalese man who married an activist Tamil woman in the late '70s. He was jailed for three years for political reasons in the early '80s, his fingernails pulled out one by one. She was riding her bike home from teaching at the University of Sri Lanka one day when she was murdered by direct order from Prabhakaran himself. So. He took their two daughters and raised them by himself in France.
The '70s and '80s in Sri Lanka were, I believe, similar to the last couple Harry Potter books. Until recently, you couldn't say Prabhakaran's name without eliciting a shiver from the person you were speaking to.
Robert Krulwich: We've only just sat down, and you've already told me that we're doppelgangered up the wazoo, we therefore seem to have no real identity, free will is an open question, and we're probably a fake....Do you actually...assuming these things to be true, doesn't it get you down?
Brian Greene: No, I think it's incredibly exciting. I mean, to me, the most wondrous thing about science--and physics in particular--is the fact that through the power of thought and calculation and observation you can be led to conclusions vastly at odds with what you would think based upon experience. I don't think there's anything more wondrous than that moment: when you think the world is one way and your equations, your math, your ideas, your theories, begin to convince you that it is another way.
--Radiolab, The (Multi) Universe(s)
Every 15 minutes, Sri Lankan state television halts its normal programming to broadcast patriotic images of women in lush tea fields at sunrise, workers building power lines and troops standing guard, all accompanied by a soaring anthem in which a young beauty calls for the country's president to be crowned king.
On the streets of the capital, billboards proclaim, "King Mahinda Rajapaksa: He saved us," beneath a photograph of the president hugging his brother Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka's defense minister, and apparently glorying in the military victory that this week ended more than a quarter-century of war with the Tamil Tiger separatists.
"Everyone's heartbeat is just like my song and the billboards," said Saheli Rochana Gamage, 21, whose rendition of the anthem has made her a celebrity in this small Indian Ocean island nation. "He should be our president forever. We are happy with a king who can protect our country. Elections don't matter."
--Emily Wex, As Sri Lanka Savors Victory, Challenges Loom
Ohhhhh my country is so screwed.
Was I bored? No, I wasn't fuckin' bored. I'm never bored. That's the trouble with everybody - you're all so bored. You've had nature explained to you and you're bored with it, you've had the living body explained to you and you're bored with it, you've had the universe explained to you and you're bored with it, so now you want cheap thrills and, like, plenty of them, and it doesn't matter how tawdry or vacuous they are as long as it's new as long as it's new as long as it flashes and fuckin' bleeps in forty fuckin' different colors. So whatever else you can say about me, I'm not fuckin' bored.
Then Ruth Boglebizer humors me when I beg him to drop his studying to sprint and shout around the courtyard with me and suddenly the world seems like a much friendlier, easy-to-conquer place.
DOES IT BREAK MY HEART, OF COURSE, EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY, INTO MORE PIECES THAN MY HEART WAS MADE OF, I NEVER THOUGHT OF MYSELF AS QUIET, MUCH LESS SILENT, I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT THINGS AT ALL, EVERYTHING CHANGED, THE DISTANCE THAT WEDGED ITSELF BETWEEN ME AND MY HAPPINESS WASN'T THE WORLD, IT WASN'T THE BOMBS AND BURNING BUILDINGS, IT WAS ME, MY THINKING, THE CANCER OF NEVER LETTING GO, IS IGNORANCE BLISS, I DON'T KNOW, BUT IT'S SO PAINFUL TO THINK, AND TELL ME, WHAT DID THINKING EVER DO FOR ME, TO WHAT GREAT PLACE DID THINKING EVER BRING ME? I THINK AND THINK AND THINK, I'VE THOUGHT MYSELF OUT OF HAPPINESS ONE MILLION TIMES, BUT NEVER ONCE INTO IT.
--Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
1. A Beam of Light Bends Back Upon Itself
2. ...Producing Great Jets of Radiation
3. Everything Disappears in a Tunnel of Light
4. ...Where a Star Once Was
5. Like the Footprints of an Invisible Man
6. ...Walking in Snow
[via Bolacha Gratis]
She had died seventeen years ago, when Biju was five, slipping from a tree while gathering leaves to feed the goat. An accident, they said, and there was nobody to blame--it was just fate in the way fate has of providing the destitute with a greater quota of accidents for which nobody can be blamed.--Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss
The reason I like any novel written by a brown person, I've concluded, is because all scenes will remind me of Sri Lanka, all old women will remind me of my grandmother, all old men will remind me of my grandfather, all couples will remind me of my parents, and every sentence will be a critique of the class/caste system.
My grandmother died ten years, one month, and two days ago. Today my daddy said he dreams about her nightly.
When a questionnaire asked what ideas carried you through rough spots, you wrote, "It's important to care and to try, even tho the effects of one's caring and trying may be absurd, futile, or so woven into the future as to be indetectable."
"What's the difference between a guy who at his final conscious moments before death has a nostalgic grin on his face as if to say, 'Boy, I sure squeezed that lemon' and the other man who fights for every last breath in an effort to turn back time to some nagging unfinished business?"
--Joshua Wolf Shenk, What Makes Us Happy
Also, Alex fuggin gifted me fuggin SPORE OMG.
Also, tonight I go home!
The physical safety of women in a given country is a better predictor of its peacefulness than wealth, level of Islamic influence, or even strength of democracy. Violence against women...may account for more deaths than all the wars of the 20th century. This kind of cultural aggression likely sparks increased nationalism and, eventually, warfare.
--The Heart of the Matter: The Security of Women and the Security of States
I have lived through much, and now I think I have found what is needed for happiness. A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbor--such is my idea of happiness. And then, on the top of all that, you for a mate, and children, perhaps--what more can the heart of man desire?
--Leo Tolstoy, Family Happiness
And then in the kitchen--a potato was thrown at the batter, who wielded either one knife or two. The objective was to chop the potato in midair, and the players were surprisingly adept, slicing one potato into three perfect pieces with an ingenious dual-knife play.
And now I'm at home, ignoring phone calls from people who for some reason think I'm enjoyable to be around.
- What a snooze. A three hour documentary about kids goals of becoming professional basketball players.The subject matter might have worked for an hour long film, but at three hours this is strictly for die hard basketball fans ONLY!
Annie Hall (Woody Allen):
- Why is this movie a classic? The plot line was nonexistent, and the characters were completely unlikeable.The implication that Annie Hall was a lesbian didn't make any sense! Woody Allen's character was completely freeky and there was not a single purpose for him being there. Come to think of it, THERE WAS NO PURPOSE FOR THIS MOVIE!!!!!! So save yourself and never watch this film.
Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut):
- "Vonnegut is no better or worse than Daniele Steele!"
- "The novel is written in a childish absurdist style that becomes wearisome very quickly."
- "I read it, but I literally have no idea what this book is about. And I'm not reading it again to find out either."
- "A tangled mess of disjointed scenes and uninspiring ramblings."
Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick):
- Slim Pickens riding the bomb is a reference that is part of the American culture. Other than knowing the origin of this reference, this movie is a waste of time.
- THIS MOVIE IS PRETTY BAD. GOOD ACTING THOUGH
The Metamorphosis (Franz Kafka):
- If there were a 0 star rating that's exactly what I would have given this usless, worthless, example of wasted paper. I wouldn't read this work again if I were paid one million dollars. In my opinion, it sounded like it was written by someone on weed. I say he woke up trippin and saw himself as a bug and later decided to write about it.
The Idiot (Fyodor Dostoevsky):
- I hated this book. Whoever enjoyed needs a life. Read the Lord of the Rings. Tolkien is a fantasy God!!
The sickness in theocon bioethics goes beyond imposing a Catholic agenda on a secular democracy and using "dignity" to condemn anything that gives someone the creeps. Ever since the cloning of Dolly the sheep a decade ago, the panic sown by conservative bioethicists, amplified by a sensationalist press, has turned the public discussion of bioethics into a miasma of scientific illiteracy. Brave New World, a work of fiction, is treated as inerrant prophesy. Cloning is confused with resurrecting the dead or mass-producing babies. Longevity becomes "immortality," improvement becomes "perfection," the screening for disease genes becomes "designer babies" or even "reshaping the species." The reality is that biomedical research is a Sisyphean struggle to eke small increments in health from a staggeringly complex, entropy-beset human body. It is not, and probably never will be, a runaway train.
--Steven Pinker, The Stupidity of Dignity
This morning I woke up on my bed, on my phone. Let us recognize the distinction between waking up in your bed and waking up on your bed.