electricpaladin: (Default)
Today, while I was working, one of my coworkers asked me to find "Augustia Pope," who I assumed was either an author to find or a customer record to look up.

As it turned out, the customer standing behind my cowerker was actually looking for "The Audacity of Hope" by Barak Obama. That settled the question quite nicely; but still, I find myself wondering, who is Augustia Pope?

Help me out here. She's got to be someone. And someone with an interesting name, at that. Who is this woman?

...

In further news, I am now the leader of my men's team. I don't know how this happened. Well, I do. My teamates have been telling me for a while that claiming some responsibility would help me with my issues around commitment and achievement, and I think they are right. They also say that NoM is a great place to claim responsibility, becuase there are all these great guys around, eager to support me in whatever I do. Also, correct. Somehow, I was describing why I was afraid of being team leader, and I realized that I had talked myself into it.

What I said was something like: "you need to always push yourself just a little further than you think you are ready for, because... shit [this is where I realized I was producing a perfect reason for me to be the leader, after all]... well, because that is the only way to keep moving."

So, I'm the team leader of Free Lunch. That means I have absolute dictatorial power over what the team does, including the focus of our meetings, the procedure, even the day of the week and the time (though of course, with that one I had better be accomodating or I may find myself holding a meeting for myself). At the same time, of course, there is a lot of responsibility. I have the power to make all those things work, but I also have the responsibility to make them work.

Go me.
electricpaladin: (Default)
The first verifiable opponent of the Great Old Ones is Howard Phillips Lovecraft, born in 1890 on Rhode Island. Before that, it is all conjecture. Some say King Solomon or his father, King David, or any number of the Hebrew prophets did righteous battle for the sake of mankind. Others attribute such heroism to figures as varied as Gilgamesh and Enkidu, Temüjin (better known as Genghis Kahn), Dogen (founder of Japanese Zen Buddhism), Tsui-Hung (Chinese Emperor 1082 to 1135), George Washington and numerous others. The only champion of humanity to leave a definitive record behind him, however, was Lovecraft.

Howard Phillips Lovecraft's interest in the Old Ones began with his father's death by tertiary syphallis - or so the doctors claimed - and ended with his death in 1937. It is believed that Lovecraft died of stomach cancer, though there are those who claim that, like his father, his demise was brought about by the beings he fought for all our sakes. Certainly, he died in agony enough for their tastes.

Lovecraft did not fight the way his apocryphal predecessors did. Unlike George Washington, if the late President's fans are to be believed, he did nothing so overt as prevent British arcanists from unleashing the unspeakable beasts that sleep beneath the United States's eastern seaboard, or influence the planning of a city so that it focuses the psychic strength of a nation on keeping those beasts asleep for all eternity. Nor did he, like Dogen, single-handedly keep the Japanese Archipellago from being overrun by Deep Ones with the power of his ascetic meditation. Instead, Lovecraft created a weapon that will weild itself against the Great Old Ones throughout history, long after even his memory has passed into dust and out of this world.

Lovecraft created us.

Encoded in H.P. Lovecraft's stories is the knowledge we need to survive, to continue fighting the good fight against the Great Old Ones, their minions, their realms and their weaknesses. How many times have I stood in the Dreamlands and succeeded in finding my way to safety and success only because of some detail remembered from the Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath? How many times have I almost dared to open an ancient tome before remembering the doom that Lovecraft foresaw for any who read its cursed words? How many times would I have died, or worse, were it not for H.P. Lovecraft? How many times would you? More times than I can count, certainly. At great cost to himself - Lovecraft was never happy, his marriage failed, and he died in poverty - Lovecraft mapped the darkness.

Lovecraft's immediate followers were, perhaps, more ambitious. Robert E. Howard certainly achieved more in the way of feats of physical heroism. Clark Ashton Smith's tomes on magic are practically required reading for those of us who use the arcane arts to fight the Great Old Ones, and I myself know several spells he created and many more that he merely translated or adapted. August Derleth, in one of humanity's rare acts offensives against our foes, greatly weakened the Great Old Ones by forcing upon them definition according to classical greek elements and Hippocrates's four humours. They are all heroes - all of us are heroes - but none of them surpass H.P. Lovecraft.

In my mind, Howard Phillips Lovecraft will always remain the greatest of them all and our leader in spirit. He led the way down the path we all walk. While we fight, he remains among us; we will fight forever, and so, he will never die.

As is often written by the righteous upon his tomb: "That is not dead which can eternal die, and with strange eons even death may die."

...

If you read all this, thanks for sticking with me. This particular example of rampant dreaming is, in fact, very carefully researched, and except for the obvious, there is nothing here that isn't true. I hope you enjoyed my (very) belated Rabbit Hole Day post.

Hm...

Apr. 16th, 2007 08:31 pm
electricpaladin: (Default)
Angsty Self-Reflective Meanderings - Cut For Your Protection )

In further me-related news (for those of you who didn't read the cut text above) I think I aced the CBEST on Saturday. It wasn't much - yet another stupid multiple-choice-and-two-essays standardized waste of time. All I have now is the CSET and an endless parade of mailings, interviews, phone calls, and all sorts of other anxiety-producing activities to go before I can - hopefully - call myself a teacher credential program student.

That's assuming I get in - which is a fair assumption actually. More importantly, it's assuming I get my act together enought to even really apply, and that I manage to pay for it.

Hey, look, I'm updating now!

Profundity

Apr. 3rd, 2007 08:18 pm
electricpaladin: (Default)
Abby and I were having a discussion that ended on an interesting note.

I began by mentioning what it is about knowing that a character in a book I am reading is going to be raped that makes it harder for me to empathize with her. It is, I realized, because the idea of someone I am close to being raped scares me badly. Rape seems like this awful, somehow mysteriously powerful thing that can happen to someone I love while I'm not there to stop it, something that can change her, change our relationship, change everything, and there would be nothing I could do to stop it, and precious little I could do after the fact to help. It is the spectre of sudden, baneful, unstoppable transformation.

What's interesting is that Abby's response was that she feels the same way about war. That war is something awful and mysterious that could take a man in her life away for a long time, and then return him changed and damaged in a way that she could not prevent and could barely help repair.

It's an odd connection, but I wonder if has made it before.
electricpaladin: (Default)
On Sunday, I was frustrated to find that I was scheduled to work during the Richard Dawkins presentation. Frustrated, because as I was to discover, I don't like what Richard Dawkins has to say, and I don't like how he says it. I found him to be a nasty, snotty man saying nasty, snotty things in a very cultured british accent.

I am a naturally argumentative person. My exploits are well known, and include a verbal battle with Oberlin's own resident evangelist. Honestly, listening to Dr. Dawkins, I felt like I was back in Tappan Square all over again, facing an asshole who was only a little more polite, a little more intellectual, and ultimately just as wrong, only in the opposite direction.

What is it that Richard Dawkins hopes to prove in his newest book, The God Delusion? He is trying to establish that God is, well, a dangerous delusion, religion a pernicious lie (in one of his previous books, comprable to a computer virus of the mind), and this whole faith thing really aught to be done away with. In fact, 'indoctrinating' children in religion is, in Dr. Dawkins's estimation, akin to child abuse.

Lovely, really.

I suppose I have Dr. Dawkins to thank for something, though. Listening to him helped me work out - in a Maimonidean, negative-theology sort of way - something that I believe very strongly. I am against all triumphalist and teleological modes of thinking.

By triumphalist, I mean so convinced of its own rightness that its ultimate acceptance by everyone is either inevitable or at least extremely desireable. By teleological, I mean positing an end point to the universe, a reason for everything, and then reasoning backwards from that, rather than forwards from evidence.

What's entertaining is that both Dawkins and Strobel (author of The Case for Faith and The Case of Christ and so on) fall prey to both these ways of thinking. Both believe that their ideas (radical atheism, evangelical christianity) should/will overcome all other relevant ideas, and both believe that the universe has a point (scientific exploration, Christ).

In reaction, I realize that I don't think anything has a point, or an end. The universe is not beautiful or elegant; it's arbitrary and cold. Our bodies are not smooth, beautiful engines for our enlightened wills; they are ugly, brutal, ill-functioning meat-things. Religion isn't about simple ethical lessons and easily swallowed mythologies; religion is messy and weird and full of incomprehensible crap. The universe doesn't have a point, and if you're looking for the point, you're missing the point. We can't give order to the universe - it doesn't have any - we can just try to improve the human condition and hope for the best.

But I think I'm at peace with all this.

I see numerous holes in my newly-verbalized ideas. How can I avoid triumphalism in my own thought, but at the same time, how do I avoid sinking into meaningless self-indulgent meditation ("that's how things are, such is life, don't try to change it - you can't order the disordered universe!").

Also, I'm still sorting out the consequences. If there is no point, then Judaism isn't my answer anymore, because I'm not looking for answers. There are no answers, because nothing has an ultimate point. Judaism can my question, though. I like that. Not Jew, but Jew? Great, but what does that really mean?

One of my coworkers says my new philosophy resembles taoism. Can anyone confirm or deny this, and if it's true, reccommend any works of taoism for me to read?
electricpaladin: (Holy Knight)
I have come to an important - albeit completely non-serious - realization.

America is the evil empire, and the world is in deep shit.

Consider it thusly: we have a charismatic moron for a leader, but he is manipulated by shadowy manipulator types, as personified by his mysterious and grumpy second-in-command; we are expansionist, attempting to spread our hegemony, if not our direct rule, all over the globe; our own society is deeply unjust, with a definite elite and a definite underclass, and increasingly little upwards mobility; and we're religious! We're an evil empire dominated by a triumphalist religion!

Does anyone see where I'm going?

And to top it all off, our machines run on death. That's what gasoline is, liquid death. Dinosaurs and their ecosystem died, and the biomatter got squashed and heated and turned into gasoline.

All we need now is for gasoline burning engines to start moaning in pain or for Bush to reveal that the military has a new recipe for supersoldiers that involves dunking men in tanks of gas for several months to give them magic powers, and that's it. It's all over, folks. You're living in the United States of Mordor now.

[Anyone who takes this post seriously deserves what they get.]
electricpaladin: (Default)
A Sleepytalk Update from a few nights ago:

Me: (sitting up suddenly) You can go now.
Abby: (laughs) What?
Me: (reproachfully) I just finished negotiations with the- (passes out again)

Abby said my voice had a quality to it that implied that I was in character. I had just finished running game for her, so maybe, in my head, I was still running, despite the fact that I had ended the session and gone to sleep on the floor.

That night, I also dreamed a fantasy story. There was lots of confusion and lots of things that aren't cool enough to report, though they might make their way into the finishd version of the story if it ever gets written, but there were clockwork magical power-armors, past life memories and evil undead kings, and a hot chick. I think the upshot was that I was the reincarnation of some dead prince, and she was the reincarnation of the courtesan who the bad guy had employed to distract him from his cause, only she fell in love with him and joined him. The coolest thing was that apparantly the reason the bad guy could come back from the dead was that the prince hadn't married the courtesan, instead passing her over for someone more appropriate, who would help him rule his new kingdom. It was all on good terms, the courtesan understood what was going on and why, and they stayed good friends, but the fact that the hero and the heroine, who loved each other, hadn't ended up togethe meant that the story wasn't finished, and with the story left incomplete, the villain was incompletely bound, and could return.

I have also discovered baking. Two nights ago, I made my first loaf of bread. It was brilliant, and I can't wait to do more. My cooking repetoire now consists of:

Bread
Chicken Lemongrass Curry Soup
Chicken Teryaki Marinade
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Curry
Deviled Eggs
Fudge
Hamburgers
Omlettes
Salmon Teryaki Marinade
Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

And all the easy stuff: salad tossing, frozen-food cooking, and so on.
electricpaladin: (Default)
This posting while eating cheerieos thing is becoming a habit. But I can't stop myself. It's too much fun.

Anyway, while I'm ranting about books, what the hell is so sexy about highlanders? The romance section is filled with highlanders. Also vampires, and time travelers. And vampire highlanders. And time traveling highlanders. And time traveling vampire highlanders (I am not shitting you).

What the hell? I mean, what is so sexy about a guy in a plaid skirt? I'm open-minded enough to see that the skirt shouldn't make them less sexy, but especially more? I'm lost.
electricpaladin: (Priests on Fire)
What, exactly, is the appeal of the Da Vinci Code? Is it because I'm Jewish? It's a vast and ancient conspiracy to protect the secret of... some people. Some perfectly ordinary people, who happen to be descended from Jesus. They don't need to be placed in positions of authority across the globe to avoid the apocalypse, they don't have magic jesus powers; they're just people.

I mean, any credible student of the bible will tell you that, given Jewish culture at the time and the way Jesus is described, the man was definately married, with about fifteen kids, and given the way stories tend to change over time, it was almost definately Mary Magdalen.

So what's the big deal? Now at Borders it's descendants of Jesus this and descendants of Jesus that. It's absurd.
electricpaladin: (Hobbes)
Cheerieos are smaller than I remember them to be.

Tastier, too.

Odd, that.

Blák!

Apr. 8th, 2006 09:03 pm
electricpaladin: (Default)
I have tried Coaca Cola Blaq. Blak. Blake. Whatever.

I actually kind of liked it.

I have been voted off the human race.

-Mark
electricpaladin: (Default)
I know it's silly, and largely an excuse for nudity, but I kind of feel a story coming on:



Suggestions?
electricpaladin: (Default)
What is it about me that draws the attention and inspires the loyalty of the strangest people?

I'm not complaining, but it's definately, definately true.
electricpaladin: (Default)
More Emotional


You have:
55% SCIENTIFIC INTUITION and
70% EMOTIONAL INTUITION
The graph on the right represents your place in Intuition 2-Space. As you can see, you scored above average on emotional intuition and about average on scientific intuition.Keep
in mind that very few people score high on both! In effect, you can
compare your two intuition scores with each other to learn what kind of
intuition you're best at. Your emotional intuition is stronger than
your scientific intuition.



Your Emotional Intuition
score is a measure of how well you understand people, especially their
unspoken needs and sympathies. A high score score usually indicates
social grace and persuasiveness. A low score usually means you're good
at Quake.

Your Scientific Intuition
score tells you how in tune you are with the world around you; how well
you understand your physical and intellectual environment. People with
high scores here are apt to succeed in business and, of course, the
sciences.



My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Scientific
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Interpersonal
Link: The 2-Variable Intuition Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid


So the question is, if I scored in the 99th percentile in both catagories, why did I come through as an empath? Maybe I just did really, really well in that part, enough to counterballance how well I did on the other? I dunno.

Moving Out

Aug. 15th, 2005 05:57 pm
electricpaladin: (Holy Robot)
For those of you who haven't heard the good news, I'm moving out. Not permanently, not really. It'll take many years for me to fully extricate myself and my belongings from my parents's house. Still, I am moving out of my home to a place owned (or at least rented) by me, paid for by my own money. I am moving out, which means sorting throug my belongings, which means coming to a very notable conclusion.

I own an absurd number of books.

It's kind of ridiculous. Going through just the books in the boxes in my closet and the contents of my main shelf has produced a largeish pile on the floor outside my door of books I am getting rid of, a slightly larger, much more orderly pile of books slated for transit to California (including my not-inconsiderable gaming collection), and pretty much the entire surface area of my bed, to a depth of about a foot and a half. That isn't counting about two thirds of the content of the smaller, over-door bookshelf, which I decided contained mostly books I'm not going to get rid of and was too much of a pain in the ass to get to, anyway. They range from the aforementioned roleplaying books - about ten Mage: the Ascension books, a similar number of Exalted books, a single, lonely and never used book for roleplaying in the Star Trek universe, Little Fears, and the GURPS supplement Illuminati University - to an uncountable number of softcover and hardcover science fiction and fantasy novels and anthologies, to about a score of more traditionally respectable fiction, with a considerable amount of non-fiction, mostly old college textbooks of various sorts, thrown in.

Getting rid of books has always been hard for me. It doesn't make any sense. For some of the books, I understand. There are books I remember enjoying a great deal that I might want to read again one day. There are books I enjoyed and won't read again, but don't want to throw away out of some sense of comraderie. There are children's books I would honestly like my own children to read one day. There are books here I have had since I was a kid that I know I will not and do not want to read again, books that will be obsolete by the time I am in the business of making and raising children of my own. There are books of no discernable value, but when I move towards the pile of books slated for sale, donation, and elimination, I find myself hesitating. This is a book, a part of my says, and worthy of keeping.

I can't keep them all, but I want to. It even bothers me to get rid of two of my three copies of Abraham Joseph Heschel's The Sabbath. Two of three! It's crazy.

Actually, crazy would be not getting rid of them. I can't afford to keep this many books. I need to be somewhat mobile for the next few years of my life to work. First to California, then to Jerusalem, then to God and the HUC admissions committee know where. Everything important has to be taken with me, and everything I might need has to be easily accessible.

I don't mean this to be a metaphor for leaving home and growing up. Honestly, I'm more anxious about being able to do my jobs than I am about the prospect of living elsewhere. Compared to teaching sixth graders, leading teen agers, and performing five hours of office work a day, ballancing a checkbook feels like a piece of cake, despite the fact that I don't really know the first, second, or third thing about checkbooks. What I mean this to be is a brief moment of relaxation between taking everything out of my bookshelf and putting it back in, a stream-of-consciousness rest break, a quiet time to reflect on something I now know to be indisputably true.

I own a lot of books.
electricpaladin: (Holy Knight)
This is the Best Song Ever. It's by a guy named Dan Bern, and it's called Jerusalem. Here are the lyrics:

lj-cut for your protection )

You have to understand, this guy sounds just like Bob Dylan, only with better enunciation and more Jewish. His singing isn't too great, but he puts passion into the words. He acts it as much as it sings, its almost more like a monologue to music than it is a song. The instrumental music is this rhythmic, complex (Bob-Dylanesque) guitar strumming.

And... I don't really know how to describe it. To me, this song is beautiful. It's close to the song my heart sings when I'm happy. It's outrageous and rediculous, and hopeful and unstoppable. It's like gold fire. It's like singing am yisrael chai against the setting sun, and the sky is brilliant red and orange and pink, and the day is dying but you know - you know - that you are going to live forever.

To continue musing, I decided along time ago what the end of the world sounds like. This song is the opposite of that sound. This song is like what I want my descendants to sing against the end of the world, in voices like the rising sun and the morning star. This song, and am yisrael chai, and possibly eli eli. That'll show the end of the world that you don't screw around with the descendants of Mark Simmons.

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