Just sayin’ again…

June 2, 2010

In THX 1138 the movie he made before the Starwars bonanza, Lucas peoples the world with emotionless characters who constantly run electric razors over their hairless domes as a sort of nervous tic.  (I couldn’t find an image with the razors.)  Sitting on the train, looking at the scores of people plugged in and fiddling with their iPods, Blackberrys, Samsung super phones and other paraphernalia, scrolling with jaded eyes through their emails, web apps, or whatever…I couldn’t help thinking of THX.

The oil spill in the Gulf is bad, but it’s not the apocalypse.  The stuff is nasty, but it’s less heavy and black than what came out of the Valdez.  It’s less concentrated in area.  Of course, it’s still going strong.  Not to mention why it happened.  Personally, I’m more concerned about the anoxic dead zone in the Gulf that is a chronic condition caused by agricultural runoff.

Maybe something good will come of the leak.  Perhaps BP will fold, other companies will think twice about offshore drilling.  They’ll demand higher prices to cover their liabilities in case of disaster.  Higher fuel prices, less driving, more incentive for alternative energy sources.  Right now, oil gets a free ride on the externalities, but of course, we like it that way.  Although, I haven’t heard much from the Drill Baby, Drill! crowd lately.

from Book I, Chapter 30 of Augustine’s City of God:

 Some of you do  not know the facts; some of you pretend not to know, and you raise an outcry…Well, here are the facts.  The public games, those disgusting spectacles of frivolous immorality, were instituted at Rome not by the viciousness of men, but by the orders of those gods of yours [his pagan opponents].   … Listen to me, if your minds will allow you to think sensibly, after they have been drunk so long on the liquor of nonsense!…I wonder if posterity will be able to believe this when they hear of it!

Saint Augustine had the instincts of a flamer in the blogsphere!

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Head trips

January 22, 2010

Stumbling away from my cubicle at lunch time, blurred with boredom and fatigue, I find myself in an elevator going down 31 floors.  On the way, my fellow passengers are all deeply involved with their phones – texting, scrolling, listening…  I look at people doing this a lot in NYC, on the sidewalk, the train, in the lobby, and I think, “What are they doing?  Calling their kids?  Checking Twitters?  Texting a girlfriend?  Looking at the stock quotes?  Reading a Shakespeare sonnet..?”

Personally, I am happy with my primitive cell phone that I rarely use.  I have no desire to be connected, not when I am away from my work/desk, anyway.  This is not a criticism – I just don’t fathom the attraction this activity has for all these people so much of the time.

I made my way down Broadway to my favored cold-weather lunch time nap location, Trinity Church.  Inside, a service is going on, and I find my way to a padded bench in the back corner and settle in.  My attention is caught by the wonderful voice of the minister giving his homily on theodicy, the existence of evil and strife in God’s world.  Why is there tragedy like the earthquake in Haiti?  Does God cause it, let it happen?  Very few people are at the service, but the minister speaks very well – I can accept everything he says by simply jettisoning the God-stuff.

Religion does offer something!  A quiet place, a haven from the idiotic swirling frenzy of talk, arrangements, markets, advertisements, gossip, bad news, celebrity…the stuff of workaday life.  Drills down to the essential, witnessing love, a larger mission to give meaning to life, compassion, the inevitable arc of living from birth to death, all that universal stuff.

He finishes, some organ music, and I dimly sense people going forward…to take communion?, shake his hand – no, the hand shaking happened a few minutes ago… I drift in and out of sleep for fifteen minutes and awake, somewhat refreshed.