Tag: October

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On the whole, human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.-George Orwell So what if non-religious people stop breeding because having sex with robots is more fun, safer and cheaper and less complicated than having sex with members of the opposite sex. As I understand it, non-religious […]

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Cards: The Original Flash Drive

 

“I’m as something as something in something!” Do you recognize the tune? Do you recognize what’s missing?

The syntax is there, but the content is blank. Welcome to my memory. The memory of someone who’ll never grow out of flash cards, for as long as I need to remember, not just structure, but the things that go in it. Whether I’m using them to organize thoughts, or to drill my recalcitrant memory, flash cards are Midge’s little helper. The original flash drive, if you will. Not because a card works like flash memory, but because, like a flash drive, cards are a small, easily-portable way to carry around bits of vital information.

Oct 25 Fear: Unstory – the Greatest Horror Story of them All

 

A man briefly leaves his pregnant wife to fly to his dying mother, a mother who endured one last round of chemo not in any hope of remission, but merely to eke out a few more months in order to see her grandchild born. His mother dies two hours before he arrives. He stays for her funeral, missing his own child’s birth by a few hours, too. A youngster complaining of “arthritis” is dismissed because his range of motion is large, not small. His complaint thus “disproven”, he gets on with life, or tries to. Decades later, body gratuitously dilapidated and his stoicism rendered meaningless, he learns his flexibility was the one objective clue that, if heeded, could have prevented a world of hurt – even kept him off disability – but now it’s too late. Albert Camus dies in a car crash – with a train ticket in his pocket: he was supposed to take the train, but his publisher persuaded him at the last minute to go by car instead. His death, while fittingly comedic for an absurdist, existentialist Frenchman, is not “meaningful” otherwise – it’s only distinguished by its contingency, by how easily it might not have happened.

Suffering needn’t be particularly intense to seem intensely meaningless. Even suffering that’s just big enough to be unsafe to ignore, but still too “small” to explain, may qualify. There are many forms of suffering that hurt the body, but it is suffering without a story that hurts the soul. And that’s where the story of Job comes in, because Job’s story is the unstory – the story that happens when there is no story. Job’s story is that nothing – not even God – takes away life’s absurdity – life’s refusal to fit our narratives. Perhaps it’s even God’s greater story that makes absurdity possible.

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It hulks in that suburban wasteland between business and residential districts. Constructed of those long, very narrow bricks glazed with a dull iridescence resembling the film on stagnant sewage, the great blockish beast hunkers down on its haunches, beetling its craggy, square brows at you. A paragon of brutalism, it is a building brutally windowless. […]

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The tea kettle started singing and he turned the burner off. Boiling water soaked into the oatmeal mix in the bowl. He couldn’t remember what the package said this flavor was, but it looked like it had raspberry bits in there. He didn’t much like oatmeal, but it went down easy and he didn’t have […]

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In the opening pages of her book The Need for Roots, the French philosopher Simone Weil sets about the task of identifying the fundamental needs of man. In her analysis, Weil largely ignores the question of rights, but instead focuses on what human beings must have if we are to lead a life fit for […]

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The Power of Mediocre Children’s Fiction

 

”””””””””nancy-drew-books-cover”””””””””Reach back in your mind to the time when you emerged as an independent reader. You could choose your own material, and didn’t have to rely on others to read it for you. What stories did you prefer? For some of us, the books that drew us in weren’t sophisticated. In fact, there’s a good chance the books you’re recalling were formulaic series that publishers cranked out at high volume. Although it’s tempting for parents to steer their children toward richer literature, there is a case to be made that you actually derived benefit from your obsession with Superman comics or your seven weeks in a row of checking out Babysitters Club books.

Students who learn ably to read and write early on, and then build on that knowledge exponentially throughout their education, are ones who enter Kindergarten already primed with a large vocabulary. This vocabulary development comes from regular conversation with loved ones at home, life experiences such as outdoor walks and petting zoos, playtime with other children, and hearing books read aloud.

With such a stimulating and varied daily life, children build a network of long-term memories through which to interpret anything new they come across. The more they know — the greater number of connections they formed — the faster new information is meaningfully processed and assimilated. A child’s knowledge can be expressed and demonstrated in terms of vocabulary, words with their attendant associations and indication of familiarity with a domain. Any book that increases that word-hoard, filling out familiar concepts and introducing new ideas, strengthens the mental network and thus lays the groundwork for further learning. In sum, reading mediocre children’s fiction makes you smart.

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The preservation of preaching may not have been directly intended by the creators of YouTube, but I am thankful for it, because without it I may never have encountered Venerable Fulton Sheen’s various shows.  His small screen sermons have a timeless quality, and I dig his Chestertonian combination of orthodoxy and wit. Knowing that marriage […]

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Musings from a first time Ricochet Meetup planner – The idea of putting together a Ricochet MeetUp elicited many questions: Would anyone show up? Beyond avatars and pseudonyms, who are these people? Will we all get along? Would some tin foil nutter appear and create havoc? Why did the creator of Family Ties name his dog […]

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