04 August 2014

On Tim

Reading through The Wind Through the Keyhole tonight - the story (within a story) of the brave boy, Tim, on a grand quest.  In terms of volume numbers, it means I'm more than half way through The Dark Tower series for another pass.  In terms of page numbers, I'm not so sure I'm there yet.

Before I'd tuned back in, I'd flipped on About Time, which I think is my new favorite terrible great movie from the folks at Working Title Pictures.  Man, they no terribly good movies (or goodly terribly movies).  In this latest mastersluice, a mild-mannered ginger named Tim, is told at a coming of age New Year's Day that he and the men-folk in his family are capable of autobiographic time travel.  Tim, being a Tim, uses this power to optimize his life and the life of those around him.

Tim is a noble name, with literary and historic pedigree.  I think timothy is some kind of grass.  Something understated and cool. 

I think there was probably a Timothy in the bible, and I'm quite sure there was a Saint Timothy, though I can't say what he helps folks out with. 

There's Tiny Tim - who may be no Little Nell - but certainly is one of the more obnoxious fictional characters in history... But he has such a good heart...

I can't think of a single villain named Tim (though when I asked google the same question, they introduced me to @timTheVillain twitter feed).  At the same time, I know of no super-heroes named Tim (maybe a alter ego) , no 'Great Men' who wear the name come immediately to mind. 

Instead, when Tim is a hero, he is an unexpected hero.  He's someone who rises from the everyday to perform the extraordinary.  Tim defies odds.  No one ever expects it to be Tim.

That I have a brother named Tim, of course, makes this a topic near to mind.  I'm not sure how well my theory holds for the non-fictional world.  Tim Curry, Tim Duncan, Tim Johnson, Tiny Tim (ukulele, not crutches)...  not sure what kind of conclusions to draw, but to paraphrase the Byrd:

A Tim to weep, and a Tim to laugh; a Tim to mourn, and a Tim to dance;
A Tim to cast away stones, and a Tim to gather stones together (useful when there's another Tim around casting them away); a Tim to embrace, and a Tim to refrain from embracing

Now all we need is a Tim to comment...

26 June 2014

Environmental Theory

Of late there has been a ghastly pall of fog drifting over the spires of downtown Milwaukee (also, I've been reading some H.P. Lovecraft).

I hadn't given it much thought until
Brooke asked about it this morning, musing (sorry - HP) that the cause had something to do with the lake temperature, and theorizing that this perma-mist would last through the summer until the overall lake temp rose sufficiently to no longer need to release it's loamy essence. 

I said the theory sounds sound. But it certainly looks cool to me. And befitting my current reading. 

27 April 2014

Star Trek - the Chronology

An attempt (again, wildly incomplete until it's not) to watch the Star Trek Universe chronologically.  A straightforward version exists on Wikipedia.  Others have put together lists as well, which do good work.  I'm curious about how such a viewing alters the experience - not recommended for the uninitiated.

I would love some help with this, if anyone is a Trekkie novel buff, for example.  There is real value in seeing things in new ways.  Seeing  the Star Trek world in its imagined unfolding, from our past to our present and future, helps envision what Roddenberry's world might have to offer us, if we were to work toward inhabiting this future.

I'll make note of when to watch in particular episodes in [bold face in brackets].  Real world dates will be outlined in 'far left' italics.  I'll track watching //within slashes//, both in the timeline and viewing notes

3.5 Billion Years BCE

"All Good Things" - ST:TNG (Season 7:24-25)
  • Q and JL bond at the erstwhile beginning of life.  [Briefly near the end of episode 24 (22 min. from end on Netflix)]

2731 BCE Era (approximate)

"All Our Yesterdays" - ST (Season 3: 23)
  • Spock and Bones bounce back to some Ice Age era, when humans may or may not exist in the world (and it may not be earth).
Spock's ability to overcome his primal instincts, which are taking over throughout the episode, is the earliest (chronologically, at least) example of the common Star Trek theme that people are a product of their environments much more than they are innately good or evil (or greedy, etc.).  This is an important Utopian theme that runs throughout the series.  The implication is that if we can successfully build a good and just world, people will become good and just naturally.  It's an argument for creating the change that we want to see in the world, and trusting that we inhabitants of that world will deserve it, eventually. //4.29.14//

 16__ (very approximate)

"All Our Yesterdays" - ST (Season 3: 23)
  • Kirk lands in a sort of late-17th Century version of the English Restoration-style religious fanaticism.

"Time's Arrow" - ST: TNG 
  • "Maybe it's worth giving up cigars for, after all"- Mark Twain ca. 2369 (in response to Counselor Troi's explanation of how the 24th Century has eliminated poverty, despair, hopelessness, and power run amok generally).
One of the 19th Century's greatest humanists remarks on the achievement of the humanist project (at least seemingly) in the Star Trek universe. //5.5.14//


"The City on the Edge of Tomorrow" - ST (Season 1: 28)
  • The re-write of this episode famously has Kirk making the ultimate decision to allow his new love, Edith Keeler, to die, rather than his being held back from saving her (to the detriment of the entire future) by Spock.


"Storm Front" - ST: E (Season 4:1-2)
  • An alternate history in which Germany occupies the Eastern United States during the Second World War.
At times it's obnoxiously utopian, reading the racist/sexist American 1940s as magically cured by a common enemy.


2269 - StartDate 5943.7
"All Our Yesterdays" - ST (Season 3: 23)
  • Spock recognizes (and accepts) he can't go back to the ice age he's been longing for...

"All Good Things" - ST:TNG (Season 7:24)
  • "Encounter at Farpoint" - JL's arrival on the Enterprise [Throughout Pt. 1]
Picard comes across a bit crazy in these moments, which is cool.  Interesting will be to view this episode alongside "Farpoint" when the chronology gets there. //4.26.14//
- StartDate 479.88 
"All Good Things" - ST:TNG (Season 7:24)
  • Worf and Deanna days - JL in a low-cut gray shirt [Throughout Pt. 1]


"All Good Things" - ST:TNG (Season 7:24)
  • Jean Luc's present - in the Vineyard, and beyond - (25 years after JL and Geordi served together) [Throughout Pt. 1]. Troi is dead, unmarried to both Riker and Worf.

09 March 2014


We watched Smoke Signals this afternoon - must have been the first time in more than 10 years - and I was reminded what a truly great, and enjoyable movie it is.  I love the fuzziness of truth and lies in the film - Thomas tells stories and the response is almost invariably, "is that true?".

I've had a slow-boiling theory of the transience of truth (well before Colbert's 'truthiness' campaign, thank you very much), which a film like this (or my favorite on this theme, Stranger that Fiction).  I've always read poetry as a form of this borderland between fiction and reality.  I'm never as concerned with what is or isn't absolutely true as I am with what 'rings true', which, to my mind, is poetry's primary function.

Sherman Alexie has a great poem about Walt Whitman, which is a great response to Whitman's earlier "Song of Myself", which has another response verse by Allen Ginsberg, "A Supermarket in California", which is a great echo of the original.

Others have written this connection up more completely and thoughtfully, so I'll just point here and remember a great film and storyteller in brief.


31 December 2013

Happy New Year - 1844

Sitting, enjoying some quiet holiday pause, I am reading my way Kierkegaard's Stages on Life's Way, and he unexpectedly had something to say about the New Year, which I thought worth sharing today.

"In case a man in all seriousness surrenders himself to love, he can say that he has lots of assurance, if only he can get any assurance company to take the risk, for a material so inflammable as woman must always make the insurer suspicious.  What has he done?  He has identified himself with her: if on New Year's Eve she goes off like a rocket, he goes with her, or if that does not occur, he has nevertheless come into pretty close affinity with danger..."
-Constantin Constantius 

Source: thedanishpioneer.com
... And now, a bit of context!  Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher with really excellent hair.  His book, Stages, is a collection of 'found writing' purportedly by a variety of different authors, put together into one volume by an intrepid (and equally fictional) book dealer.  The three works, "In Vino Veritas: The Banquet", "Observations about Marriage" and "Guilty/Not Guilty", presents perspectives from the several speakers on love and life.

I find "In Vino Veritas: The Banquet" something of a tough nut to crack.  The premise is fairly simple: several men go off into the woods and get rip-roaring drunk while opining about women.  The present speaker (good ole Constantin) seems to be of the mindset that any sort of congress with ladies is an inherent risk, offering up the novel concept of 'love insurance'.

The book seems an odd collection of conversation and opinions, some or all (or none) of which may be Kirkegaard's (though the notes imply that he was hung up on some woman named Regine, and his thoughts on love and life were heavily influenced by that failed relationship).  In what would become a tradition of existential writers, the text contains what seems to be a simple narrative, with piles of introspection (and in this case elocution), the content of which seems over simple - the meaning of which is to consider simple existence.

Regardless, on this New Year's Eve day a century and a half later, I wish you a Merry New Year (it seems to me that merriment goes much better with celebrating a new year, whereas happiness should be more to do with Christmas (or whatever gift-giving, family oriented holiday you may celebrate).  Make it a good one, and a safe one, though, of course, there can be no assurances...

02 December 2013

and so it begins...

December 2013 marks the start of the as-of-yet-unnamed endeavor, which has been referred to as The Commune -


The first few bylaws follow, but I wanted to reminisce a bit on the history of The Commune and imagine, a bit, the thinking and the dreams:

I was a guest on Ron Felten's podcast, Strangers in My Life, over the weekend, and we talked a little (only a very little, the rest is interesting, I promise) about The Commune (which I unfortunately initially was re-branding the Clan at the start of the show). 

If you've known me for any length of time (and in particular if you've ever shared a few drinks with me), you have probably heard some version of my theory of commune. It was interesting (though only arguably useful) to try to explain it to the ethereal audience of a podcast. The hope in doing so, I suppose, is to fully articulate a concept, which I haven't fully worked out in my head (even after 15 years of jabbering).

I think the renaissance of my communal thinking may have come while Stephen Colbert was formulating his Super-Duper PAC plans – "I don't know" – the over-arching plan for donating to his mass of untraceable money-speech, but the twinkle has been a constant since at least around 2001.

The concept is essentially this: that we (we being anyone who ascribes to this idea and who those of us already inside {so far that is just me} decide they want to bring in) form an elective community, dedicated to the proposition that we all should dedicate ourselves to enjoying all of our lives, including, but not limited to: work, leisure, travel, consumption (the act, not the disease), ownership, business, and politics.

To achieve this seemingly simple goal, I propose that the collaboration of thought, effort and resources is fundamental. Together we can think better and do better, both work-wise and play-wise.

To that end, I propose the following three bylaws as a place to start:

I. Whereas, in the modern era, an organization needs money in order to function and act in the world;
Whereas members of a specific community should be invested and have a stake in that community;
Therefore each member of the to be named organization (which has previously been known as The Commune) shall contribute a minimum of $10.00 per month to a common account.
II. Whereas the organization is in its nature a democratic and communal group;
Therefore all decisions, whether they be monetary, organizational, procedural or enacting change in the world will be voted on by all vested members, requiring a simple majority to make any decision (ties will result in a measure being voted down).
III. Whereas it is good for a community to have members who are fully invested in the organization;
Therefore a member only becomes fully vested with voting privileges after they have contributed a minimum of $100.00 to the community.  Before a member is fully vested, but they are members (a maximum of 10 months), any contributions they have made to the community may not be used in any way, regardless of any voting decisions, except in increasing the amount of money (e.g. interest being paid to accounts, etc.)

So there it is.  It's on.  Let me know if you want in and we'll take a vote to approve your membership (thus far I am the only vested member, but we can only grow from here... unless I quit - note: I'm not going to quit).

11 September 2013

On this Border in History

Rather than choose what day this write-up belongs in, given its border-ity, I choose a historical Roman Numeral J entry dualism, with a 9/10 and a 9/11 entry and want to gain insight from the separations from the two different years.  What might we understand by looking at Joel 2006 & Joel 2008?

Here are some dates in history to try to dig...

2008 - Grad-school

2006 - Just done (and pre-) Grad School

It's useful to understand the way that your thinking has changed over time... My curiosity is whether mine really has.  Certainly I now, as a stooge for the right-est economy, would see my earlier take as a youthful-fool, an un-refined see-er.  That said, I am what I have been.  Radicalism is a situation of convenience.

I am decidedly inconvenient, but am happy to listen...