Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve Links

  • I let them rest from nine till five, For I am busy then, As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea, For they are hungry men. But different folk have different views; I know a person small— She keeps ten million serving-men, Who get no rest at all! [Kipling]
  • Climbing a 14er is the bucket-list item everyone targets when they move to Denver. But why stop at one? There are five beginner 14ers within a quick drive from Denver. Is climbing a 14er easy? No. Is it a mandatory activity for the reasonably fit Coloradoan? Yes. There are a few things to remember. Be in shape, start early, drink water. Afternoon storms are typical throughout hiking season at altitude, and they'll creep up on you fast. If you didn't leave the trailhead before 6am, a storm will likely put your hike at risk. [link]
  • The Sawtooth is a jagged arête joining Mount Bierstadt to (eventually) Mount Evans in the Front Range of central Colorado. The three points along this arête resemble the teeth of a saw, leading to its name. The southeast wall of the arête is the head of the cirque above Abyss Lake, while its northwest wall is the cirque at the head of a valley above Guanella Pass. The northeast end of the sawtooth joins directly to the shoulder of Mount Spalding, from which a second (and slightly less abrupt) arête leads southeast to Mount Evans. This second arête divides the glacial valley of Abyss Lake to the southwest from the cirque of Summit Lake, to the northeast. [Wiki]
  • Mount Mitchell (6,684 feet) is the highest mountain in the United States east of the Mississippi River, and the highest in all of eastern North America south of the Arctic Cordillera. The nearest higher peaks are in the Black Hills of South Dakota and the highland foothills of Colorado. The mountain's topographic isolation is calculated from the nearest discernible single higher point: Lone Butte, which is 1,189 miles (1,913 km) away in southwestern Colorado. [Wiki]
  • When discussing the evidence for a legal opinion, the Talmud will often address a series of arguments for the proposition, only to point out the flaws of each argument in turn, rejecting them one by one. Then, at the end, an argument is provided for which there is no refutation, so it is accepted as a valid justification for the opinion. This is not the sort of thing one does if one is just trying to figure out what the law is. In that case, the Talmud would only consider the strongest arguments. Nor is this the sort of thing one does to maximize the rhetorical force applied towards the favored conclusion. If the Talmud were trying to do that, it would have knocked down a series of arguments against the position. Instead, it only makes sense if you care about what constitutes an acceptable argument, not just which legal conclusion happens to be true in this case. If you wanted to be clear, not just on which things you think are true, but which premises they depend on and which premises they don't. In short, if you cared about the structure, not just the content. Because the structure affects every part of the law. [Ben Hoffman]
  • Without any hint of sarcasm or hyperbole, I can tell you that every single time I started any engine with a BMW badge on it, there was the same sense of concerned dread that the stereotypical bomb squad guys got in '80s action flicks. Starting and running a high-strung BMW engine that's destined for daily driver duty without incident is like finding a briefcase with a big red LCD display with five seconds left, with the choice of cutting the red wire or the blue wire, as a sweating Danny Glover somewhere in the background tells you that he's too old for this shit. It's a literal time bomb. [Jalopnik]
  • I fall asleep to podcasts at night, because if I don't have the Adam Carolla Show playing in my headphones while I fall asleep, I'll start thinking about money and worrying. [link]
  • I observed Dunia as she studied the Roman numerals on the dial, harking back to a distant, ancient time. As I watched her, my uncertainty about the future gave way to the certainty of the present, and I was overcome by the notion that she and I were moving through time together, like musicians playing from the same sheet music. A duet not yet completed, partially composed but largely improvised. [NY Times]
  • It would be easy for a glib armchair analyst to conclude that although these people think they want to be in lasting relationships, on some level they really don't or else they would be by now. They're all lovely, intelligent and ambitious. Even in New York City's dating pool, they are catches. But when it's you, trapped in the labyrinth of your own intractable patterns, it feels much more involuntary. Why do we keep being attracted to the obviously unavailable, the grotesquely inappropriate, the resolutely wacko? I feel like we're a brother- and sisterhood of misfits, one that becomes more desperate and closely bonded as our numbers dwindle, like an embattled platoon down to its last few soldiers. [NY Times]
  • Sometimes things get out of hand. In the N.B.A.'s slam-dunk contest one year, a contestant dunked over a mystery object draped in black that he revealed, afterward, to be a painting of himself dunking over a painting of himself dunking. Nero, infamous emperor of Rome, built a rotating dining room in which guests could eat peacock while flower petals fluttered down from special panels in the ivory ceiling. [NY Times]
  • In Italy's most marble-rich area, known as the Apuan Alps, the abundance is surreal. Sit on a beach in one of the nearby towns (Forte dei Marmi, Viareggio), and you appear to be looking up at snow-covered peaks. But it is snow that does not melt, that is not seasonal. Michelangelo sculpted most of his statues from this stone, and he was so obsessed with the region that he used to fantasize about carving an entire white mountain right where it stood. He later dismissed this, however, as temporary madness. "If I could have been sure of living four times longer than I have lived," he wrote, "I would have taken it on." Humans face limits that marble does not. [NY Times]
  • And then he says it, takes a deep breath right before, making me realize that what he's about to say might be the reason he invited me to lunch: "I have no doubt we would have been ridiculously happy together if we'd gotten married." I nod. I know it. "Then why didn't we?" I blurt out, instantly feeling like I'm cheating on my husband, my family, just by asking it. But I can’t stop: "Why didn't we end up together? Why did you end it?" I know the cost to asking these sorts of questions. I'm suddenly as angry as I was 13 years ago, feeling it all again. I'm betrayed by my emotions: If there is still this much anger, there must be a lot of love left, too. "I thought something better would come along," he says. His eyes fill with tears, and I don't have to ask him if something better came along. [The Cut]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas, Credit Bubble!

In his famous book The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity, James Russell wrote of a “double conversion” that occurred when the early Church began spreading beyond the Mediterranean and Near East and sought to bring “the Germans” (i.e., the northern European tribes) into the Christian fold. At the time, these Europeans practiced what is now referred to as Germanic Paganism, a constellation of myths, gods, and symbols that was, at once, centered on the tribe and family and also shared by White men across the continent. Europeans did, eventually, profess Christianity, but the real “conversion” was that of Christianity itself, which both accommodated Europeans folkways and began to be articulated by them.

This process occurred on various cultural levels, from the Europeanized image and conception of Christ to notions of Right and sovereignty. The mix of Germanic, Scandinavian, and Roman customs that define Christmas as we know it is a metaphor of this history. For Christmas remains the most radically Pagan of all holidays, if we have the eyes to see it.

This begins with the day itself. Nowhere in the Bible does December 25 appear as the birth date of Jesus Christ. (If the shepherds were attending their flocks by night (Luke 2:8), then Jesus would have been born in Spring.) December 25 was, however, well known as the birthday of Sol Invictus, the sun god who was patronized by later Roman emperors, including Constantine. The 25th was Dies Natalis Solis Invicti—“Birthday of the Unconquered Sun,” when, after the Winter Solstice, the arc of the Sun across the sky begins to rise again. The famous literary pun of “Son” and “Sun,” which works across Germanic languages, was a real experience of our ancestors. For after passing through the darkness of the Solstice, the Son also rises.

Thinking in the way, the meanings of things we take for granted unlock themselves before our eyes: the evergreen (the endless life cycle) . . . the Yule log (festival of fire) . . . kissing under the Mistletoe (the sacred plant of Frigg, goddess of love, fertility, and the household) . . . and, of course, Santa. “St. Nick” is only remotely related to Saint Nicholas, a Church father at the Council of Nicaea whose feast day falls on December sixth. The character of Santa is much more a conflation of various Germanic gods and personages. One of these, as evidenced by Santa’s descent into the fiery chimney, is the smithy god Hephaistos or Vulcan. (In other words, “The Church Lady,” and many puritans before her, was right to fear that Santa has an etymological connection to S-a-t-a-n.) Most important of all is the chief god, Odin or Wotan, who stares out at us from behind Santa’s many historical masks—from Father Frost (Ded Moroz), the Slavic god accepted by Russian Communists, to the jolly fat man promoted by Coca Cola. Odin is the Wanderer from the North, a god of war, but one who delivers gifts to children during Yuletide. Odin commands Sleipnir, the horse with eight legs, who, in his translation to contemporary myth, became the eight reindeer: Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!