In May of 1989, the month I graduated from 8th grade, 17 year old Michael Chang defeated Ivan Lendl in the fourth round of the French Open, a tournament he would go on to win. It was the single most amazing athletic performance I’ve ever seen. Chang, doubled over with dehydration and cramps, serving underhand and screaming with pain after every swing, somehow found a way to defeat the world’s number 1 player. Lendl, a 6’5” force with the power and emotional range of a machine, could simply not find a way to solve the drop shots and loopy serves of the diminutive Chang.
That same month, student protesters in Beijing swarmed Tiananmen Square to show their support of democracy and equality, and to protest government oppression and corruption. For awhile they were allowed to protest peacefully, but eventually the government sent in the military and ended the protest with tanks, guns and ammunition. From that rebellion, the world is left with the unforgettable image of a single man standing in the street, blocking the way of four huge tanks. He simply would not let them by.
As I was getting ready for high school, I was watching a world where an individual could break the laws of physics or sacrifice all sense of personal safety to accomplish what he or she felt was important. While I’ve never believed that anybody could be perfect enough for me to call them my hero, or any leader infallible enough for me to simply follow them, the courageous, singular acts of these men gave me a buzz. The adult world, seemingly full of nothing but rules, prohibitions, power-mongers and oppressors of imagination and expression, could be turned on its head by a single person. The rules could change. Systems could be defeated.
That sounded like a job for me.
The problem was I wasn’t that great of a tennis player, and my quiet Indianapolis suburb, while certainly oppressive, lacked both Communist dictators and tanks. Clearly, I needed to find my own way to change the world.
I became extremely pretentious. The forces of frivolity, lightheartedness, and general fun were my enemies. Literature, cinema and serious-minded alternative music were the only forms of entertainment that I allowed into my world, which was now dedicated to the pursuit of only the most serious of culture.
I stood in front of the rolling tank of high school life, and I didn’t blink. My blistering serve aced the world of friends and parties.
But there was a problem. I really wasn’t a serious person. I loved to read and watch movies, but too many of the books that I admired also bored me silly. Try talking about Lord Jim and the political ramifications of the phrase “One of Us” on a first date at the Olive Garden. All the soup, salads and breadsticks can’t make that pain go away.
Somewhere in my quest to stand-up to the marching hordes of conformity and ignorance, I defeated myself, burying my personality under a mountain of words and thoughts, none of which were connected to any real feeling. Slowly, it dawned on me that even though I was amazingly conversant in literature and cinema that I just wasn’t myself, and I hadn’t been since I graduated from eighth grade.
The real breakthrough moment, what I soon learned is an epiphany, came during summer vacation in college, on the same couch where six or seven years before I watched the world change at Roland Garros and Tiananmen Square.
PBS was showing a tribute to Jim Henson, who had died when I was 15, almost a year after I graduated 8th grade. I barely noticed his death, even though he invented a world that allowed me to tell time at the age of 2 ½, to read the newspaper at 3 and to be able to understand love, happiness, sadness and death as all a part of the process of growing up and being alive, before I hit kindergarten.
On the PBS tribute, the Muppets were very concerned because Kermit was nowhere to be found, and they weren’t sure if he was ever going to come back. Despite all of the years I spent trying to shed my childhood; I simply could not accept a world in which Kermit the Frog was dead. I knew how Michael Chang felt against Lendl, the Chinese protester against the tank. Kermit the Frog cannot be dead. I literally felt the oxygen leave my body.
Then, he appeared. The Muppets cheered, and I let out a shout. The world made sense again. The creaky, ponderous adult person I had become had been defeated by the power of Kermit the Frog.
Jim Henson, from all accounts a mild-mannered, laid-back guy, spent his life standing in front of the Ivan Lendl’s and the fascist tanks that want to squash the spirit of children, the oppressive legions who believe that silence and compliance equal goodness and that happiness is sign of a trouble. For Henson, being an educated, intelligent and successful person meant more than following the rules and getting good grades. It means being truly, fully alive. He taught me, and millions of others, that life is not meant to be studied and perfected. It’s meant to be lived.
When all of this is over and you’ve graduated from your last graduation, no one will remember you as a report card, a batting average, a standardized test score, a GPA, a thesis, a salary, a resume, a bank account, a credit report, a stock portfolio, a piece of real-estate, a country-club membership or anything else that can be obtained. You are none of these things. You are not even the sum of these things. You are the holder, the controller and possessor of a life. The world will send tanks and blistering forehands to stop you from living it they way you need to live it. Stand up to them, beat them with drop shots, and always remember that it may not be easy being green, but if green is what you are, be the most amazing green you can be.
“As a defense against the Witch-doctory of Hegel, who claimed universal omniscience, the scientist was offered the combined neo-mystic Witch-doctory and Attila-ism of the Logical Positivists. They assured him that such concepts as metaphysics or existence or reality or thing or matter or mind are meaningless—let the mystics care whether they exist or not, a scientist does not have to know it; the task of theoretical science is the manipulation of symbols, and scientists are the special elite whose symbols have the magic power of making reality conform to their will (“matter is that which fits mathematical equations”). Knowledge, they said, consists, not of facts, but of words, words unrelated to objects, words of an arbitrary social convention, as an irreducible primary; thus knowledge is merely a matter of manipulating language. The job of scientists, they said, is not the study of reality, but the creation of arbitrary constructs by means of arbitrary sounds, and any construct is as valid as another, since the criterion of validity is only “convenience” and the definition of science is “that which the scientists do.” But this omnipotent power, surpassing the dreams of ancient numerologists or of medieval alchemists, was granted to the scientist by philosophical Attila-ism on two conditions: a. that he never claim certainty for his knowledge, since certainty is unknown to man, and that he claim, instead, “percentages of probability,” not troubling himself with such questions as how one calculates percentages of the unknowable; b. that he claim as absolute knowledge the proposition that all values lie outside the sphere of science, that reason is impotent to deal with morality, that moral values are a matter of subjective choice, dictated by one’s feelings, not one’s mind.”—
this is a complete butchering of logical positivism, a misunderstanding of Godels Incompleteness Theorem and a straw man but okay. Logical Positivism eventually was proven invalid by Quine, but not for the reasons Rand lists.
vruz: this is the sort of thing Sarah Palin would write if she decided to portray herself as a philosopher. I shudder at the thought a new generation of idiots in 50 or 100 years from now will pick Palin’s books and do the same other idiots did for Ayn Rand.
vruz: dear former sheep friend, here’s some utter extremism from a plain vanilla microsoft-operated website. maybe now a mainstream operation tells it like it is your authoritarian senses will be more inclined to trust what they say.
We are ruled, in effect, by small dictators and big bots. And this unelected, inefficient, and sometimes-petty tyranny is throttling the growth of a vibrant, healthy Internet and fuels many problems ranging from inane “real name” policies on sites like Google+—where people can be asked for official proof of identity if their account is flagged as a nickname—to major disruptions in connectivity. This is terrible because the Internet is not just any widget—it’s increasingly the heart of our networked commons. Dominance of a bad business model on the Internet doesn’t just result in bad products; it results in unhealthy social dynamics.
Take the Yahoo hiccup: What likely happened was that the offending URL, https://occupywallst.org, was added to a spam filter master file. (Maybe this was a politically motivated act. More likely, was just random error. In either case, it demonstrates the problem.) Most platforms rely on centralized huge databases of spam originators that are heavily automated and run by very small numbers of actual people. A long time can pass before an error is caught and a human is tasked to intervene and recalibrate the system.
Scientists at the Penn State College of Medicine said this week they have discovered a virus that is capable of killing all types of breast cancer “within seven days” of first introduction in a laboratory setting.
The virus, known as adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2), is naturally occurring and carried by up to 80 percent of humans, but it does not cause any disease.
Researchers learned of its cancer-killing properties in 2005, after Penn State scientists observed it killing cervical cancer cells. They also found that women who carried the AAV2 virus and human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer, had a lower propensity to develop cervical cancer.
When combined in a lab recently, AAV2 eradicated all the breast cancer cells “within seven days,” according to researchers. Better still, it proved capable of wiping out cancer cells at multiple stages, negating the need for differing treatments used today.
“If we can determine which viral genes are being used, we may be able to introduce those genes into a [therapy],” explained Penn State research associate Samina Alam. “If we can determine which pathways the virus is triggering, we can then screen new drugs that target those pathways. Or we may simply be able to use the virus itself.”
This girl was telling me how frightened she was because she saw ‘Muslim’ graffiti and she was wondering if she should call the FBI or Homeland Security. She showed it to me. It was the word ‘peace’ in Arabic. This happened about 4pm and I’ve been laughing to myself ever since, even though it’s actually quite appalling.
“Rosalynn and I are deeply saddened by the execution of Troy Anthony Davis by the State of Georgia. If one of our fellow citizens can be executed with so much doubt surrounding his guilt, then the death penalty system in our country is unjust and outdated. We hope this tragedy will spur us as a nation toward the total rejection of capital punishment.”—
At the Reagan Library debate in California, attendees memorably broke into a spontaneous round of applause in support of Rick Perry’s record on the death penalty. At last week’s debate in Tampa, a handful of audience members cheered the prospect of a man without health insurance being left to die. And on Thursday in Orlando, a chorus of boos erupted when a gay Army veteran asked former Sen. Rick Santorum if he should still be allowed to serve the country in Iraq.
vruz: huh… they’re fucking fascists? that’s what’s been happening for the last 10 years or so. right wing extremism among a vocal crowd, politicians trying to look more or less moderate and presidential to capture a few more conservative votes, whilst nodding in code to the bloodthirsty crowd who are looking for a complicit wink to satisfy their barbaric lust. unfortunately for the candidates, I think few in their sane minds can interpret these displays of unbridled fascism is anything but a total reversal and inversion of american values. it remains to be seen how many sane minds remain in the electorate.
Several activists are reporting that internet signals and access are being blocked at the “Occupy Wall Street” protest in New York. This same tactic has recently been employed at Bay Area Rapid Transit protests on the opposite side of the continent in San Francisco to shut down cell phone service. See a trend?
“Perry is the best thing for Jihadism in a very long time. In the end, the fundamentalists of all stripes feed each other’s paranoia and worldview. Until the religious war they truly seek can play out.”—
vruz: the crazies of the west need the lunatics of the east to keep the charade going, they need each other to keep the global scale theatrics spectacular, with all of us hostages/financiers of their derangement.
Perry, it becomes clearer and clearer, is Bush without the sophistication or conscience. You’ll notice that at no point does the factor of the Arab Spring come into view. Indeed, Perry seems to view all Arab and Muslim states as a threat which must not be “appeased”. What are the odds, do you think, that he has weighed what Fayyad has done these past few years and made a calculation of how to support forces of democracy and reform in Palestine rather than empower Hamas some more? About as high as the odds of him actually doing due diligence on a death warrant. In that sense, Perry is the best thing for Jihadism in a very long time. In the end, the fundamentalists of all stripes feed each other’s paranoia and worldview. Until the religious war they truly seek can play out.
- Andrew Sullivan (this would be in the correct fucking place if Tumblr’s iPhone app worked correctly. I mean, seriously guys. Is it that fucking hard? It’s your JOB.)
“It has sickened me - the lack of morality, the lack of accountability, the constant recourse to mass amnesia. And in a man like Perry, you see all the characteristics of this belligerent, diplomatically autistic, aggressively stupid, and fundamentalist psyche. The dragon we thought we had slain is stalking the land again”—
vruz: fascism never stops. centrists will relativise. actual conservatives will freak out, but the ones who know the actual enemy always stay vigilant, and will always be there to give a good fight. slained it will be again.
"The DEA ruled in June that marijuana should remain classified as a dangerous drug like heroin because studies have not confirmed it’s medicinal value, but the agency may itself be to blame for the lack of evidence."
Like heroin? It is worth mentioning that no such blocking exists for heroin or cocaine. Morphine and Novocaine are derivatives of those two drugs (and there are others). There are no bans on poppyseed muffins because of the dangers of heroin, but growing cannabis plants is illegal. This makes the choice to single out Marijuana stand out even more.
vruz: must. keep. monopoly. very very very profitable.
“There are these people cheering for executions, cheering for letting people without health insurance die. In today’s Republican Party there’s a term for people who hate charity and love killing: Christians.”—
“It does not seem to have occurred to Mr. Perry that when you are running for president you have to be big, you have to act as if you’re a broad fellow who understands that when the American president is in a tight spot in the U.N., America is in a tight spot in the U.N. You don’t exploit it for political gain…I’d add only that in his first foreign-policy foray, the GOP front-runner looked like a cheap, base-playing buffoon.”—
Peggy Noonan, conservative Wall Street Journal columnist, lambasting Texas Gov. Rick Perry for his speech at the United Nations where he ripped President Obama over his handling of the Palestinian push for a vote on statehood.
Look for questions about Israel and Palestinian statehood to come up tonight at the Google Debate, and for that to be a moment for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum to take a bite out of Perry. Santorum previously said:
“I’ve forgotten more about Israel than Rick Perry knows about Israel,” he told Politico. Mr. Perry “has never taken a position on any of this stuff before, and [the media is] taking this guy seriously.”
“I will never think of America the same way after the Bush-Cheney administration. They ripped the scales off my eyes; they proved that America isn’t, in the end, different; that its core moral principles, such as the prohibition of torture, are nostrums to be tossed aside at the whim of a few very scared and incompetent men; that the rule of law ends when it comes to presidential power, when he can simply order dipshit lawyers to say black is white; when no regret is ever truly expressed about the tens of thousands of Iraqis who died under US occupation; when the architects of these strategic and moral disasters are given legal immunity and peddle books on talkshows defending and bragging of their own awful legacy.”—Andrew Sullivan (via azspot)