Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Notice of Absence

Elisheba has been very generous and gracious in letting me post my own thoughts on this blog since its beginning.

I've reached a time when I don't feel like writing.  The caturday posts will continue regularly as I believe the internet can never have too many cute cat pictures, but otherwise I anticipate writing very irregularly or not at all.  I've tried to share things I found interesting or important, and I hope you, gentle reader, found something of interest as well.

In the meantime Elisheba is still writing, Project Gutenberg is a treasure, and the wider internet is vast and varied.    Peace be to you.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Reading the Bhagavad Gita, Chapters 17-18 and Conclusion

Chapter 17:

“Arjuna asked: My Lord! Those who do acts of sacrifice, not according to the scriptures but
nevertheless with implicit faith, what is their condition? Is it one of Purity, of Passion or of
Ignorance?
Lord Shri Krishna replied: Man has an inherent faith in one or another of the Qualities –
Purity, Passion and Ignorance. Now listen.
The faith of every man conforms to his nature. By nature he is full of faith. He is in fact
what his faith makes him.
The Pure worship the true God; the Passionate, the powers of wealth and magic; the
Ignorant, the spirits of the dead and of the lower orders of nature."(p.45)

As an oxygen breather and plant eater, yes, I'm a devotee of cyanobacteria.

Second, we appear to have a rather large translation problem in the English.  Either that, or Krishna is reinterpreting the "implicit faith" of Arjuna's question.  Because it seems to me that Arjuna's "nevertheless" implies that the intentions are right, even if they haven't gotten the details of what kind of flowers to offer right.  But Krishna's interpretation seems to be that such a thing is impossible: if a person is pure, they will observe the letter as well as the spirit of the religion, otherwise not:

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Fabulosity: Swords for Ladies Formal Wear

There have been some confused people on the internet who think a problem with Wonder Woman is that it is impossible for a lady to carry a sword in the back of her dress.



In solidarity with the well dressed ladies of the internet, and Wonder Woman herself, here is me with a sword down the back of my dress.





Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Reading the Bhagavad Gita, Chapters 15-16

Chapter 15: We start with a similitude:

“Lord Shri Krishna continued: This phenomenal creation, which is both ephemeral and
eternal, is like a tree, but having its seed above in the Highest and its ramifications on this
earth below. The scriptures are its leaves, and he who understands this, knows.
Its branches shoot upwards and downwards, deriving their nourishment from the
Qualities; its buds are the objects of sense; and its roots, which follow the Law causing
man’s regeneration and degeneration, pierce downwards into the soil.
In this world its true form is not known, neither its origin nor its end, and its strength is
not understood., until the tree with its roots striking deep into the earth is hewn down by
the sharp axe of non-attachment.
Beyond lies the Path, from which, when found, there is no return. This is the Primal God
from whence this ancient creation has sprung.
The wise attain Eternity when, freed from pride and delusion, they have conquered their
love for the things of sense; when, renouncing desire and fixing their gaze on the Self, they
have ceased to be tossed to and fro by the opposing sensations, like pleasure and pain.
Neither sun, moon, nor fire shines there. Those who go thither never come back. For,
O Arjuna, that is my Celestial Home! "(p.41)

In terms of writing, I think this is a really good passage.  Take a familiar yet complex object, assign mystical meanings to the parts, and strike a good balance of language between rich description and stark action.  In terms of meaning anything to the real world, I'm still waiting on Krishna to offer any concrete evidence.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Reading the Bhagavad Gita, Chapters 13-14

Chapter 13:
“Arjuna asked: My Lord! Who is God and what is Nature; what is Matter and what is the
Self; what is that they call Wisdom, and what is it that is worth knowing? I wish to have
this explained."(p.36)

Me, too.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Reading the Bhagavad Gita, Chapters 11-12

Chapter 11: The Cosmic Vision
“Arjuna said: My Lord! Thy words concerning the Supreme Secret of Self, given for my
blessing, have dispelled the illusions which surrounded me.
O Lord, whose eyes are like the lotus petal! Thou hast described in detail the origin and
the dissolution of being, and Thine own Eternal Majesty.
I believe all as Thou hast declared it. I long now to have a vision of thy Divine Form,
O Thou Most High!
If Thou thinkest that it can be made possible for me to see it, show me, O Lord of Lords,
Thine own Eternal Self."(p.30)

Krishna is willing, and reveals himself to Arjuna:

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wonder Woman: the feminist Superhero I Wanted

I went in to Wonder Woman with low expectations.  All I wanted was for it to pass the Bechdel test, but I was pleasantly surprised that not only did it pass the Bechdel test in the first 5 minutes or so, it is one of the better superhero movies made recently.  I realize that is a low bar but one that Hollywood writers should be able to at least stumble over.  Nonetheless, I really liked it.  There weren't any cringeworthy moments in which Wonder Woman has to learn she needs men, she is Wonder Woman.  She's got this.  

I still had some issues with the film.  The science is ridiculous, as in the mad German scientist is developing some sort of new hydrogen based gas, because apparently the uber hydrogen gasses are now heavier than air somehow magically and also can destroy gas masks.  We also seem to be pretending that gas attacks in general were very effective and only used by the Germans. Whatever.  At least since the word hydrogen is involved we know that firing a gun in the general direction of any gas canisters causes massive explosions.

That aside, this was the feminist superhero movie I always wanted to see. The women warriors have muscle.  They are not your typical slender Hollywood leading ladies; they have backs and thighs and upper arms.  I initially thought that the token male love interest I could have done without, but he was set up to invert tropes.  Wonder Woman had to rescue him, he got in her way, tried condescending to her, and never succeeded.  I particularly enjoyed him attempting to seduce the mad German scientist but getting distracted and failing.

The movie even made an attempt to make the point that no one in war is blameless and the situation is more complicated than good guys vs bad guys.  In fact our incompetent male love interest has a personal plot arc in which he starts by describing himself as one of the good guys and ends by accepting blame for the war, as everyone is to blame (except Wonder Woman). This acknowledgment of the horrors of war still gets overshadowed by the movie centering around the use of gas in the first World War with absolutely no mention of anyone except the Germans using it, and our mad German scientist has some facial damage for which she wears a mask.  As we all know, in Hollywood (and Victorian novels) evil people are ugly.  At least when Wonder Woman is told to destroy the mad German scientist because she (the scientist) is disgusting, Wonder Woman throws a tank at her interlocutor, which is the most satisfying of all possible responses to that.  Her interlocutor is of course, Ares, god of war who seduced men away from the perfect state in which Zeus made them. The Greek mythology seems oddly Christianized here.   Nonetheless, her conclusion that no, humans don't deserve her and it doesn't matter, she's going to help them anyway is beautiful because she is actually doing useful things like stopping bullets.  Additionally, the fact that she is around being herself and believing in people helps a man with PTSD to start singing again.  It doesn't do anything to help the native American dispossessed by the USA but this is an American made film.  That it even acknowledges the treatment of native Americans is a major step.    Diversity, as always, is a bit of a stumbling block for American movies, but there are Amazon women of color who have dialogue.  Other than that, it's a very white film. 

The science is ridiculous, the mythology sanitized, the military history a mite propagandist, and I don't care.  I teared up during this movie.  The little girl in me who was told that she could grow up to be a preacher's wife needed a Wonder Woman to stride across No Man's Land and shove aside the men who told her condescendingly that they could not "let" her do things.   She is a superhero without fatal flaws, the perfect god-killer created to help a world despite everything, because she believes in love, can stop bullets, and wants to help us all. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Reading the Bhagavad Gita, Chapters 9-10

At the opening of chapter 9,

“Lord Shri Krishna said: I will now reveal to thee, since thou doubtest not, that profound
mysticism, which when followed by experience, shall liberate thee from sin." (p.24)

We then spend all but a few lines of chapter 9 re-stating things Krishna has already said previously:
  • Krishna is the progenitor and sustainer and mystical permeating aether of everything in the universe, with more ringing metaphorical "I am" statements
  • Those who do not attain fully to Krishna's profound mysticism will get proportionate rewards, although they will still be part of the cycle of death and rebirth
  • Krishna accepts all worship and sacrifice, and even if people think they are worshiping other powers they will get they proportionate rewards.
  • Concentrate fully on Krishna and you can escape the cycle of death and rebirth. 
As far as I can tell, these lines are the extent of the profound mysticism:

"Whatever thou doest, whatever thou dost eat, whatever thou dost sacrifice and give,
whatever austerities thou practisest, do all as an offering to Me.
So shall thy action be attended by no result, either good or bad; but through the spirit of
renunciation thou shalt come to Me and be free." (p.25)

 and

"Fix thy mind on Me, devote thyself to Me, sacrifice for Me, surrender to Me, make Me the
object of thy aspirations, and thou shalt assuredly become one with Me, Who am thine
own Self.”(p.26)  

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Caturday Life Hacks: Storing Your Cats

What to do when the weather is cold and nasty and the kitties are unhappy?  Consider storing them away until the world improves!  Just 3 easy steps: 1) Provide interesting receptacle.  2) Line with lots of fluffy towels or crinkly paper.  3) Keep lid open so kitties can jump in and out. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Friday Fabulosity: Katsiaryna Halkina Hoop Final Sofia 2017

I just discovered Halkina, and I love her style.  She is very precise and always exceedingly poised.  She puts together her routines in non-typical and delightfully surprising ways.