Jason Collins

April 30th, 2013 → 5:42 am

“No legacy is so rich as honesty.” – All’s Well That Ends Well

Congratulations, Jason Collins, for coming out yesterday as “an NBA center…black, and…gay.”  Apparently he’s the first openly gay athlete in a major American team sport.  I hadn’t known there weren’t any before.  Shows how little I follow sports.  But it also shows how behind the game they are on this…why’d it take so long?

Filed under: Blog & Other

Rainy Saturday

April 28th, 2013 → 6:33 am

“When that I was and a little tiny boy,
   With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
  For the rain it raineth every day.”  – Twelfth Night

It was a cold, rainy day here in St. Louis yesterday and Vincent, Mommy, and Daddy stayed holed up in the house eating oreos and playing with any foolish thing Vincent decided to make a toy.  At one point he tore all his clothes off, put mommy’s hat, gloves, and socks on, and ran around the house with a London Big Ben keychain in is hand.  We don’t know why either, but it was pretty darn hilarious.

Filed under: Blog & Self/My Life

Free Speech

April 25th, 2013 → 5:29 am

“I would be loath to cast away my speech:  
for besides that it is excellently well penned,
I have taken great pains to con it.”  – Twelfth Night

Two countries that I have great respect and affection for, Turkey and Egypt, have both had disturbing crack-downs on free speech lately.  Turkey has not only become the world’s top jailer of journalists, but the recent arrest of Fazil Say on blasphemy charges is both ridiculous and disheartening.  And then there’s Bassem Youssef, the “Jon Stewart of Egypt,” who was recently interrogated by the government for his comedy show.  Doesn’t Mohammed Morsi know that the way to deal with criticism is to address it, not try to illegitimately get rid of it?  And what really bugs me about both these governments is that they crack down on anti-Muslim speech they don’t like, but vitriol against anyone else (i.e. Jews or Christians), well, that’s just fine.

Filed under: Blog & Politics/Politicians & Stupid/Evil People

Happy Birthday Shakespeare!

April 23rd, 2013 → 6:09 am

It’s Shakespeare’s birthday today, or at least, we think it’s his birthday today.  The earliest record we have of a William Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon is of a baptism on April 26, and assuming he was born just a few days before the ceremony (as was custom), the logical deduction is that today is most likely his birthday.  Anyhow, in honor of William Shakespeare’s (likely) birthday, I thought I’d quote Sonnet 105 in full, where the bard talks about idolatry, and how a lover should not idolize his love, although by the end of the Sonnet, that is exactly what he is doing!

“Let not my love be called idolatry,
Nor my beloved as an idol show,
Since all alike my songs and praises be
To one, of one, still such, and ever so.
Kind is my love today, tomorrow kind,
Still constant in a wondrous excellence;
Therefore my verse, to constancy confined,
One thing expressing, leaves out difference.
‘Fair, kind, and true’ is all my argument,
‘Fair, kind, and true,’ varying to other words;
And in this change is my invention spent,
Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords.
   ‘Fair,’ ‘kind,’ and ‘true’ have often live alone,
   Which three till now never kept seat in one.”  – Sonnet 105

Filed under: Blog & Literature/Theatre/Art

Do What You Love

April 21st, 2013 → 6:20 am

“No profit grows where is no pleasure taken.
In brief, sir, study what you most affect.”  – The Taming of the Shrew

Another semester is nearing an end.  I can’t believe there’s only one month left of classes!  Now’s the time I get the stray student or two coming to office hours to discuss their courses, their majors, their future…  And one piece of advice that I really do think is true, is that you should study what you most affect (i.e. “enjoy”).  Life’s not worth it otherwise.

Filed under: Blog & Other

Those Slings and Arrows

April 19th, 2013 → 6:07 am

“O ye gods, ye gods!  Must I endure all this?” – Julius Caesar

I have always hated – and I mean hated – the saying that “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  And now, apparently, I’ve been vindicated by recent research.  A new study, tracking a group of people over a decade, finds that heartache and stress just wears a person down; it doesn’t bolster them up.  What Neitzsche was thinking I have no idea.  Hadn’t he ever been deeply burned or cut?  It leaves a thin delicate scar, vulnerable and pink.  Heartache is heartache pure and simple, there is nothing good about it.

Filed under: Blog & Other

Boston Marathon

April 17th, 2013 → 5:50 am

“O piteous spectacle!  O bloody times!” – Henry VI, Part III

I just can’t wrap my head around what makes someone plant lethal bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  What are they thinking?  I can relate to wanting to get back at someone who has hurt you, but wanting to hurt completely innocent people?  Children even?  I just don’t get it.  It’s so heartbreaking.  Why?  Why?

Filed under: Blog & Other & Stupid/Evil People

Happiness Research

April 15th, 2013 → 6:24 am

“O, how bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man’s eyes!” – As You Like It

Continuing with the theme of linguistic differences and changes in meaning of things over time, I came across an interesting piece of research the other day, where a bunch of anthropologists tracked emotion words in literature over time (i.e. literally tracked the frequency usage of “happy” words in google books from 1900-2000).  And one of their conclusions was that people were happier 100 years ago than they are today, because they used more “happy” words in their published writings.  Personally, I find this bogus.  Not just because economics research does not seem to be finding significant happy distinctions like this over time, but also because I am an author.  Have you read any books from 1900?  I have.  The writing style was very different back then.  Effusive, saccharine, adverb-laden in a way modern writing most definitely is not.  It doesn’t mean our happiness levels have changed, it means our writing styles have.  Subtlety and “show-not-tell” are the mantras of fine literature today; they weren’t back then.

Filed under: Blog & Literature/Theatre/Art & Other

Mea Culpa

April 13th, 2013 → 5:39 am

“[I] am enjoin’d
By holy Laurence to fall prostrate here,
And beg your pardon:  pardon, I beseech you!”  – Romeo and Juliet

Every now and again we all do stupid things.  The other day I acted quite insensitively to a good friend of mine.  I’m so embarrassed thinking about it now.  Please forgive me, Arkadasim, I beseech you!

As a side note, I notice that it is extremely difficult (impossible?) to find the words “sorry,” or “apology” in Shakespeare.  There are “pardons” and acts of “forgiveness” and “repentance,” but no apologies as we would recognize them today.  According to scholars on this, in Shakespeare’s day apologies were more about seeking forgiveness from God for your sins, not other people.  It was a religious thing, not an individualistic thing.  I find this temporal distinction in what it means to say you’re sorry fascinating…

Filed under: Blog & Other & Self/My Life

Margaret Thatcher – R.I.P.

April 10th, 2013 → 5:48 am

“Death, in thy possession lies
A lass unparalleled.”  – Antony and Cleopatra

Whatever you think of Lady Thatcher, you have to admit that she was unparalleled.  The first woman prime minister of the U.K., the longest serving British prime minister of the 20th century, driven, headstrong, path breaking…  The above quote, as originally intended by Shakespeare, was used to describe Cleopatra – another unparalleled, path breaking, female leader.

Baroness Thatcher, rest in peace.

Filed under: Blog & Politics/Politicians