Print Story Today I cooked 24 pounds of sausage for breakfast
Diary
By lm (Sat Mar 25, 2006 at 02:39:59 PM EST) (all tags)
And I didn't eat any. Bits on Turks, coffee, Muslim brides and more follow.


Twelve your olds are interesting in many ways. When you watch movies with them they don't notice many of the same details and the things that are important to them don't necessarily have anything to do with the plot. For example, we watched Ron Howard's depression era boxing film Cinderella Man last night. I thought the story line was amazing. In the midst of the struggles of people starving in the street, families breaking apart, unemployment at twenty-five percent, a poor joe that wants to keep his family together returns to the boxing ring to buy milk and pay the electric bill ends up with the US heavyweight championship. In one scene, all the working class grunts from his neighborhood show up at the local Catholic parish to pray for him and listen to the heavyweight title match. In their minds, his fight is their fight, a common joe that's battling The Man and doing good despite the misery, Hoovervilles, job losses and broken families. So I asked my daughter if she understood why so many people turned out to the Church to pray for him. She thinks about it for a moment and replies, ``because they bet on him.''

The film really struck home with me. Many of the reenactments of the tragedies of the Great Depression caught me eye: the laborers lining up at the fence on the docks hoping beyond hope that they would get picked to work for the day, of families getting torn apart because they didn't have enough food to feed everyone, of ripping down wooden fences to burn to keep warm in the New Jersey winter because the electric and gas are both turned off due to nonpayment, not taking sick kids to the doctor because the last visit still isn't paid for, homeless guys living in shacks made of scrap wood in Central Park. In many countries throughout the world, people still face situations like these everyday and here I am on HuSi whining about the alienation I feel while getting paid to just slide by and do the least amount of work possible. I think its time for me to get my butt in gear and find some motivation.

The other thing that struck me is the difference in attitudes between the people in the bread lines as depicted in the movie compared to the people in bread lines today. If the movie was accurate (and books I've read and documentaries I've watched support the movies depiction) charity and public assistance was something that people were once ashamed to accept. A good number of people are still like that. If you watch the people in line there will be some that won't look you in the eye and fidget as if they are uncomfortable. Usually these people will be older, born two or three generations ago. Most of the people my age and younger don't seem disturbed that they're relying on charity. Not all, mind you, just most.

A good counter example is a friend of mine that has fallen on hard times. He's been looking for regular work for almost three years. Hiring managers tend to think that he's overqualified for most manual labor and service positions and don't give him the time of day. But the field his master's degree is in is highly competitive and he can't get his foot into the door. Another guy I know offered to help him out and was turned down. My friends has his pride and doesn't want charity. But that position seems to be a minority position whereas once it was the norm in the good old US of A.

Other things are changing in the US as well. A young lady from our parish converted to Islam back in December. Today my family went to observe her wedding ceremony. The aura of east meets west permeated the atmosphere in a rather disjointed fashion. The hall the ceremony was in was incredibly crafted with chandeliers, twenty foot mirrors lining the walls, oak trim and a bottom layer of concrete with a thin coat of paint and peeling wall paper with a stucco pattern. The ceremony was brief and had more the flavor of a legal proceeding than a religious ceremony despite being opened with chanting from Quran and a sermon. The reception was mostly segregated. Most of the Muslim men sat with other Muslim men and most of the Muslim women sat with other Muslim women. With a handful of exceptions, all of the tables with a mix of men and women were from the bride's Quaker family.

I found the chanting of the Quran to be the most beautiful part of the ceremony. Islamic chanting is heavily influenced by the octohedros of the Byzantine Churches.  These Byzantine tones and melodies, in turn, predate the Byzantine Churches by thousands of years. By the time of Plato and Aristotle, they were already ancient and divided into groups for which tone elicited which virtue so that educators could sing appropriated during the correct exercises to have the music reinforce the appropriate moral lesson. But let me clear, it isn't the Quran itself that I found beautiful, but the melody. Not comprehending Arabic, I wouldn't know if the cantor was chanting about how he wanted to cute me up into little pieces with a chain saw. It's the melody itself that has the power; these tones can change men's souls.

The other interesting part of the ceremony was the emphasis of the Islamic cleric on the ``God consciousness'' during the ceremony. I'm not certain of the Arabic term being translated such, but the English sounded quite a bit like Buddhism. But I am pretty certain that this impression is deceiving. I think it has more to do with the Platonic ideas of Islamic authors like Ibn Rush'd who postulated that the human intellect operates by participating in the Agent Intellect which is some sort of Overmind that emanates from the Godhead. On the other hand, succeeding generations of Muslims have declared such teaching to be heretical, so it's quite possible that the cleric didn't have Ibn Rush'd's teaching in mind either. But I'd be willing to wager that Ibn Rush'd is closer to what he had in mind than the Buddha nature.

The worst part of the whole shebang was the lack of coffee. Who would have ever thought that a Turk would have a wedding without having Turkish coffee served. Unfucking believable. Also, no water was served. Drinks were limited to cans of soda. The canned soda was quite a contrast to the chicken and lamb kabobs that were served for the main course. Baklava was also served. But no coffee.

This lack of coffee at wedding receptions, however, no longer extends to the evenings I'm on campus at the local community college learning to be a web monkey. After seven hard weeks of searching high and low through every building during class breaks, I finally found the single coffee vending machine on campus this past Wednesday. Few joys this past year have topped the feeling of a fifty-cent, shot of crappy espresso scalding my throat on the way down the hatch. Pure mother-fuckin' bliss.

Speaking of my night classes, there are only two weeks left in the quarter. The tech school I'm at divides the year into five quarters. (I don't think I'll be taking a math class from them.) Last night I registered for the new quarter which starts soon. The classes on the slate are a class offered by the art department (Design) and a class on mastering everybody's favorite monstrosity, Adobe Photoshop.

And that, my friends, is all.

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Today I cooked 24 pounds of sausage for breakfast | 13 comments (13 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Canned soda, by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #1 Sat Mar 25, 2006 at 02:46:42 PM EST
seems to be the drink of choice at Islamic weddings. Or two litre bottles liberally strewn around. I've no idea why.

By best guess is that it is a misguided attempt... by lm (2.00 / 0) #2 Sat Mar 25, 2006 at 02:51:25 PM EST
... to get around the fact that the Quran forbids consumption of alcohol.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
five quarters by martingale (4.00 / 4) #3 Sat Mar 25, 2006 at 03:33:26 PM EST
Here's something you might enjoy. Take some flexible paper, and with a compass draw two (very) large nonoverlapping circles. In one circle, draw a single radius, in the other, mark a quarter (two radii). Now with scissors, cut out both circles, and cut along the radius for the first circle, and cut out the quarter from the second circle. Now use tape to attach the extra quarter to the first circle, to get a wobbly plate.

This is a model for a noneuclidean space with negative curvature. Take a pencil and a ruler, and draw some lines on it, making sure you never fold the paper and always keep the ruler tangent to it. See if nonparallel lines always intersect. Draw triangles in various places, and measure the sum of the angles. Finally, put it on your head and call it a party hat.
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$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

Turkish/Egyptian coffee by cam (2.00 / 0) #4 Sat Mar 25, 2006 at 03:48:45 PM EST
I work with a woman who is Egyptian, she has brought in Egyptian and Turkish coffee in the past. The kind you drink in special little cups. It pretty much blew my head off.

cam
Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

Aye, it does blow ones head off by lm (4.00 / 2) #6 Sat Mar 25, 2006 at 06:09:55 PM EST
Which is the point. Well, half the point. The other half is the flavor.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs by clover kicker (4.00 / 1) #5 Sat Mar 25, 2006 at 06:00:39 PM EST
In many countries throughout the world, people still face situations like these everyday and here I am on HuSi whining about the alienation I feel while getting paid to just slide by and do the least amount of work possible.

http://www.itiadventure.com/Maslow.jpg

People only worry about alienation when they're already warm and have full tummies.

You're extraordinarily well read, I'm sure you know all about this, etc.

We live in a very soft era, so we're soft people. If push comes to shove, I think most people could adapt and display tremendous fortitude/courage/grit. I'm lucky, I've rarely had to dig down to see how tough I am.

I read a article a few years ago, the author was remembering conversations with his dad about his cod-jigging days (fishing for cod with a hand-line in small boats). It was a hard life, the only detail I remember was when their fingers were completely numbed by the cold, they'd piss on their hands to get some feeling back.

His dad always said "You couldn't do it, b'y." And he's right, you need years of hard times to get to the point of working a job where pissing on your own hands improves the working conditions.

Don't feel bad/guilty that you worry about alienation, feel good that's all you have to worry about.

Yeah, I'm familiar with Maslow by lm (4.00 / 2) #7 Sat Mar 25, 2006 at 06:19:40 PM EST
Just so you know, I wasn't bringing up the fate of the downtrodden as an exercise in self-flagellation, but as an attempt to motivate myself to take action that is likely to keep my situation on the comfortable side of the have/have-not line.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Curious by joh3n (2.00 / 0) #8 Sun Mar 26, 2006 at 06:34:09 AM EST
One can convert to Islam without repercussion, but convert from Islam, and you're supposed to be killed.

Isn't organized religion grand?

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Kinda Like Scientology by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 1) #10 Sun Mar 26, 2006 at 07:21:41 AM EST
Well, you have to admit ... by lm (2.00 / 0) #11 Sun Mar 26, 2006 at 03:59:32 PM EST
Islam wouldn't grow quite as fast if they killed off all of the converts to Islam.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
True by joh3n (2.00 / 0) #12 Sun Mar 26, 2006 at 04:02:11 PM EST
But they'd find a way to kill that person any way.

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[ Parent ]
Chanting Soothes the Savage Beast by CheeseburgerBrown (2.00 / 0) #9 Sun Mar 26, 2006 at 07:19:37 AM EST
...Or baby, as the case may be (and is, for me -- I've been reading this entry in two sentence snippets as I walk around the room, stopping at my laptop once per lap, jiggling Baby Yam in time to Gregorian chanting being played on the stereo).

I initially had more to say, but let me boil it down to this: it's really hard to type with one hand.

(Baby now sleeping.)


I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da. We are a simple, grease-loving people who enjoy le weekend de ski.
I know that position all too well by lm (2.00 / 0) #13 Sun Mar 26, 2006 at 04:17:44 PM EST
Except when my tikes were that age, I was trying to post to a BBS forum rather than teh Intarweb.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Today I cooked 24 pounds of sausage for breakfast | 13 comments (13 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback