Category: Meaning of Life
Ladies of New York , you are free to walk bare-breasted through the city! New York City’s 34,000 police officers have been instructed that, should they encounter a woman in public who is shirtless but obeying the law, they should not arrest her. This is a good step towards gender parity in public spaces.
So, a woman’s bare breast should be treated no differently than a man’s breast under the law. Nonetheless, the fact that this NY law is so contentious (or at least newsworthy), means that a breast is not the same as an arm or a leg, especially a woman’s breast. I explore the existential connotations of breasts here.
Ask people who their heroes are, and many of them talk about those who engage in physical exploits, such as soldiers and athletes. Most of those who I consider to be courageous, however, do not engage in any physical acts of bravery. [More]
I’ve often posted on quotes, but a friend recently sent me a link to a big collection of African proverbs. Lots of wisdom in these words, and here are some of my favorites:
To get lost is to learn the way. ~ African proverb
He who learns, teaches. ~ Ethiopian proverb
You always learn a lot more when you lose than when you win. ~ African proverb
You learn how to cut down trees by cutting them down. ~ Bateke proverb
Instruction in youth is like engraving in stone. ~Moroccan Proverb
Traveling is learning. ~Kenyan Proverb
Peace is costly but it is worth the expense. ~Kenyan proverb
War has no eyes ~ Swahili saying
There can be no peace without understanding. ~Senegalese proverb
If you can’t resolve your problems in peace, you can’t solve war. ~ Somalian proverb
He who thinks he is leading and has no one following him is only taking a walk. ~ Malawian proverb
A large chair does not make a king. ~ Sudanese proverb
Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable. ~ Bondei proverb
It takes a village to raise a child. ~ African proverb
Cross the river in a crowd and the crocodile won’t eat you. ~ African proverb
Hold a true friend with both hands. ~ African proverb
Show me your friend and I will show you your character. ~ African proverb
Bad friends will prevent you from having good friends. ~ Gabon proverb
Make some money but don’t let money make you. ~ Tanzania
The rich are always complaining. ~ Zulu
Money can’t talk, yet it can make lies look true. ~ South Africa
What you give you get, ten times over. ~ Yoruba
The surface of the water is beautiful, but it is no good to sleep on. ~Ghanaian Proverb
You are beautiful, but learn to work, for you cannot eat your beauty. ~Congolese Proverb
Three things cause sorrow to flee; water, green trees, and a beautiful face. ~Moroccan Proverb
A beautiful thing is never perfect. ~Egyptian Proverb
Youth is beauty, even in cattle. ~Egyptian Proverb
I recently stumbled across an article about the fate of Kokura Japan near the end of World War II. In a sentence, cloudy weather saved the people of Kokura from being consumed in the world’s second nuclear bomb attack. Those same clouds doomed the people of Nagasaki.
A young man named Kermit Beahan peered through the rubber eyepiece of the bombsight, and he could see some of the buildings of Kokura and the river that ran by the arms factory, but the complex itself was blocked by a cloud.
So Bock’s Car gave up on Kokura and went on to its secondary target, Nagasaki. Clouds also partly obscured Nagasaki, but not quite enough of it.
The plutonium bomb killed somewhere around 100,000 people in Nagasaki, and it was the most powerful blast the world had ever seen, significantly more so than the one three days earlier when a uranium bomb destroyed Hiroshima. Nagasaki was destined for the history books, and Kokura was forgotten.
In 2011, Salon published a serene meaning-of-life article by Roger Ebert. Here is an excerpt:
Many readers have informed me that it is a tragic and dreary business to go into death without faith. I don’t feel that way. “Faith” is neutral. All depends on what is believed in. I have no desire to live forever. The concept frightens me. I am 69, have had cancer, will die sooner than most of those reading this. That is in the nature of things. In my plans for life after death, I say, again with Whitman:
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
And with Will, the brother in Saul Bellow’s “Herzog,” I say, “Look for me in the weather reports.”
Raised as a Roman Catholic, I internalized the social values of that faith and still hold most of them, even though its theology no longer persuades me. I have no quarrel with what anyone else subscribes to; everyone deals with these things in his own way, and I have no truths to impart. All I require of a religion is that it be tolerant of those who do not agree with it.
Glenn Greenwald writes the following as part of his article on an upcoming film titled “Dirty Wars.”
The most propagandistic aspect of the US War on Terror has been, and remains, that its victims are rendered invisible and voiceless. They are almost never named by newspapers. They and their surviving family members are virtually never heard from on television. The Bush and Obama DOJs have collaborated with federal judges to ensure that even those who everyone admits are completely innocent have no access to American courts and thus no means of having their stories heard or their rights vindicated. Radical secrecy theories and escalating attacks on whistleblowers push these victims further into the dark. It is the ultimate tactic of Othering: concealing their humanity, enabling their dehumanization, by simply relegating them to nonexistence.
The following excerpt is from the website of “Dirty Wars.”
As [Investigative Reporter] Scahill digs deeper into the activities of JSOC, he is pulled into a world of covert operations unknown to the public and carried out across the globe by men who do not exist on paper and will never appear before Congress. In military jargon, JSOC teams “find, fix, and finish” their targets, who are selected through a secret process. No target is off limits for the “kill list,” including U.S. citizens. Drawn into the stories and lives of the people he meets along the way, Scahill is forced to confront the painful consequences of a war spinning out of control, as well as his own role as a journalist.
This is the funniest Onion News Network report I’ve ever seen. It’s been around for awhile, but I just discovered it.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson recounts the most astounding fact about the universe in this short video. How can anyone who listens to these words with an open mind not feel a sense of awe?
And yes, this idea tracks the words of Carl Sagan, who pointed out that we are made of star-stuff:
I plucked the Tyson video link off of a light-hearted look at the life of Tyson.
Recently, I finished reading Lawrence Wright’s new book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollwood, & the Prison of Belief, about Scientology. It’s a lucid history and examination of the movement. [More . . . ]