Picking up threads from Robert M. Pirsig and reweaving them only slightly:
Prior to Plato, Virtue (arête, excellence, what-have-you) was the Queen Regnant of the Universe. Plato gave the throne to Truth and reduced Virtue to Queen Consort. Aristotle then pulled her off of THAT throne and gave her a quiet little duchy out in the boonies.
Being me, this leads me to mull over the quesiton of how to couch this in purely mythological terms. Obviously we see the triumph of Apollo, here, but who did he beat? The idea of Zeus as a champion of virtue is laughable. There was a minor goddess Arête, but she was only a personification, never a theistic entity. I am stumped. But while I am stumped, I can not help but notice that Apollo's triumph was acheived through LOTS of help from Hermes, because the idea that objective truth exists, being fraudulent, has Trickster all over it.
And while all of that is cooking my brain, I find that the nearest Roman parallel to Arête, Virtus, is properly "bravery and military excellence", which is really another kettle of fish altogether.
I was in the big blind, holding pocket jacks, with a somewhat above average stack. I decided I was going to see the flop no matter what happened. A couple of folds, someone goes all in with about two and a half times the big blind. I can cover it, no problem. Other players fold in turn; the small blind folds, and the raiser, apparently not aware I still have cards, exposes pocket aces. I growl my unhappiness, and then fold. I can see that the dealer has already laid out the subsequent cards, and ask him to expose them. He tells me I don't want to see them. I tell him I have already folded, it's done, I just want to know what might have been.
There was a third jack waiting for me on the turn; and I would have doubled up if I had played the hand, instead of losing a third of my stack. I shrugged.
When the universe decides to kick me in the stomach, I prefer to know just how hard the kick was...
Poker (music) follies:
There was an Amazon Echo unit set up within shouting range of the poker table, and the gang had realized that they could shout, "Alexa, play..." and change the music at whim. Most of the choices were OK, some very good, some kind of awful. After one piece of suicide-inducing recent emo junk, I growled and called, "Alexa, play "Christie Lee". It turned out that the gallery was unfamiliar with the song, and, for the most part, they didn't like it much. I died a little bit...
Small world file:
We went out to Elign this evening to a pub quiz sponsored by the Friends of the Viking Ship at the Blue Box Cafe (Dementia and I won). One of the questions, which we missed, was, "Name the Klingon Equivalent of Vahalla." This led me to ask the presenters if they were aware of the play, "A Klingon Christmas Carol", and one of them (Crystal) said that she was aware of it, and that a friend of hers had been in it a couple of times. For some reason that I have forgotten, she mentioned that the friend in question was really tall, and I said, "Mark Lancaster". She gaped a moment and said that yes, she was speaking of Mark. I nodded and said, "He's married to my niece."
It is indeed a small world.
Rant of the day:
I realize that this is pretty much a lost cause in a world where quotations, particularly song lyrics, are frequently thown around with no attributions whatsoever, but...
It is not really appropriate to attribute the words of a fictional character to the writer as if he or she actually meant whatever it was in their own person; such usage can be significantly misleading. Proper attribution for a character quote is something like the following:
"Always store beer in a dark place." --Robert A. Heinlein in the character of Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"
Writers are not their characters. Characters are not their writers. They should neither be severed from each other, nor merged.
Odd patterns of thought:
This morning, I realized, for the first time, that my original wedding ring had been stolen six years ago. The realization hurt.
I never wore the ring when I bicycled, so I wasn't wearing it in 1991 when I crashed and dislocated that finger; I was never able to wear it again. But I kept it with me; eventually it migrated to duty as a fob on my dice bag, on the assumption that I would always know where my dice were.
And I did, right up until my game bag was stolen out of our car in Omaha in 2012. I knew the dice bag was gone, but the knowledge was stored in my memory as, "dice bag", and until this morning, I had not remembered the wedding ring fob.
There was nothing to be done about it then, and there is nothing to be done about it now. It is just one more very small sadness in a world that is filled to overflowing with larger ones.
News of the weird:
What do you do if you find yourself in possession of six thousand cranial MRIs with matching personality profiles? Why, you use them to do the first (and likely only) properly scientific investigation of the validity of phrenology! Scientists at Oxford took the dataset and ran the MRI data through an alternative algorithm that saw only the bone instead of ignoring it, then cross referenced everything they could think of, looking for corelations. They found a complete lack of validity for phrenology, of course, but they also stumbled across a statisically significant and unexpected corelation between vocabulary size and number of sexual partners.
There is a riddle that I have been throwing around for years, that no one ever gets, and only about every other person even understands after I tell them the answer. On Saturday, I presented it to the moderators of the Viking Pub Quiz, and each of them in turn took one look and started to laugh, which of course is the reaction I have been looking for all of these years. But then, it was a VIKING pub quiz...
The riddle? "The year is 1975. Fill in the blanks: L_K_ SKYWALKER."
The answers are "O" and "I", respectively, because "Skywalker" always was a legitimate title of the God of Mischief...
Thank you, Samira and Crystal, for finally getting the joke.
If you had a choice between living with a constant, nagging fear, but otherwise being happy and well-rested, or feeling secure, but otherwise being miserable and exhausted, which would you choose?
What follows is an exercise in absurdity, but since I have only just realized that the ring is missing, and have therefore never made any effort to call it home, it certainly can't HURT. Who knows what currents may flow on the web?
LOST: Wedding ring, 10 kt gold, size 13. Inscribed, "C.Y.H. - Jewel." Last seen Omaha, NE, in July of 2012.
It has come to my attention that we have missed a significant anniversary, and I feel bad about it. "Frankenstein" was originally published on January 1, 1818.
On the other hand, since bicentennials tend to be year long affairs, being six weeks late is not THAT big a deal. So here's to the Monster, and to his creator, the great-grandmother of both Horror AND Science Fiction.
So today, after just short of three years, my Ingress hacking streak ended. I am not sure why, exactly, but my Sojourner counter reset from 1068 to ONE. Given that this came on top of a need to upgrade Pokemon (which I can't do directly, but have to use a PC) was just a LITTLE frustrating. So tomorrow, for the first time in almost three years, I am not going to bother with either game. Maybe forever. We shall see.
My friend Steve Lortz told a story once about an experience back in the very early days of RPGs that has stayed with me because it has some interesting things to say about the world at large.
Steve was in the Navy when D&D was published, and he quickly became the local game master. At one point, he designed a dungeon with a number of teleport rooms; the rooms were identical except for location, and if you spent a few seconds in one of the rooms, you found yourself in one of the others. To lure players into the rooms, he added a curtain across each room; to push the curtain aside, you had to enter the room and trigger the magic. But the magic was in the ROOM, not the curtain. Except... The very first player to enter one of these rooms decided to surprise whatever was on the other side of the curtain, and simply dashed into it, got tangled, and fell to the floor. He found nothing else in the room, and when he left, he was in a different part of the dungeon.
That player told others, and the word spread about the magic teleportational CURTAINS. If the players wanted to trigger the magic, they would enter one of the rooms, deliberately tangle themselves in the curtains, and then find themselves elsewhere. They never did figure it out. Steve had to supress a giggle every time it happened.
Just because you can make it work, doesn't mean you understand it...
I have shovelled snow three days in a row, now, in spite of having paid an itinerant shoveller on two of them. It gets recorded in my exercise log as, "fought white dragon."
This is a sort of character study that came out of conversation this morning. I thought it was worth sharing.
Spoken with a strong Southern accent:
"My great-great-grand-daddy died at a place called Culloden fighting against a government that would NOT leave him and his alone, and after he was dead, that same government bundled up his wife and kids and shipped them to America.
"My great-grand-daddy died twenty-three years later, fighting that same government, because it would NOT leave him and his alone.
"My family has never owned a slave, or even enough land to build a house on, but when it came down to war against a government that would not leave us alone, my brothers and I fought, and they died.
"So you ask me why I still wear the gray coat fifteen years after the war ended? I wear it because I am the angriest son-of-a-bitch that you will ever meet, and I hope like hell that this piece of gray cloth will make you pick a fight with me, because I haven't killed anyone yet today, and I am getting a bit twitchy.
"The name's Hex. It's your move."
Did something tonight I have not done for YEARS. I was turning left off of Grand into the alley along the west edge of the strip mall jungle on the northwest corner of Grand and Green Bay; there was a car (actually, a large SUV) with its flashers on partially blocking the way. It was a BAD spot to be stuck in; I pulled past him, grabbed the first available spot, and then hiked back and told the driver to put the thing in neutral, and I would push him to a parking spot. He seemed baffled by the idea, but complied, after a fashion; a heavy foot on the brake is NOT a good thing when moving under human power. I pushed him about a hundred yards to a safe spot, and went on my way. He still seemed baffled.
It was a BIG car, and I am not what I once was. Still, it felt good.
It's Emotional Blackmail Day!
The following bit from the archives seems appropriate to the day, on a whole bunch of levels:
Bane of My Existence
Oh, thou bane of my existence,
Torment of my waking hours,
Source of all of life's frustrations,
Who my sanity devours.
Drive me crazy (you will, anyway);
Drive me right over the edge;
And I will not cease to love you;
This is my undying pledge.
(Scansion courtesy of, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing", written in 1813 by John Wyeth.)
I am aware that I occasionally talk through my hat. Sometimes I get away with it, which is sad. Sometimes I get called on it, and have to actually learn what I am talking about, and that is always good, if sometimes both intellectually and emotionally difficult. And a lot of the time, I really do know what I am talking about in the first place. I also know that I am somewhat unusual in that I would really rather learn something than win.
This comes up because I am completely at a loss when someone enters an argument with a recital of credentials, and then is utterly wrong. I can't see any way to counter that without my response being considered a personal attack. I usually have to decide if the matter is worth the bloodshed, or if I should just walk away. Usually I walk away, but it always hurts.
"Do me a favor, will you? Tell the cook that I have had two perfect servings of hash browns in my life, and THAT was the second one. And this omelette is simply the best one I have ever had."
The thing is, I am kind of afraid to ever go back; they will never be able to live up to the expectations.