Thursday, January 30, 2014

Words of wisdom

I've been digging into some of the less-visited recesses of my laptop as I go about freeing up disk space. Among the forgotten gems I've found was a Notepad file of assorted quotes and clips about journalism, how to go about it and why anyone would want to do it in the first place. This was one of my favorites -- a note from someone who is considered a Big Deal by people in the know but who took time to write me while I was struggling through a dark period of my time in Hawaii. This came in response to me discussing how I feel alienated no matter where I live, a feeling that persists to this day:
I've worked in Hawaii just a little, so am aware of the tension between the native islanders and the late arrivals. You see this on other islands too, even in the old New England East. Out on Block Island, for example, anyone who wasn't born there - no matter how many years they've lived there - is referred to as a "washashore." 
I mention this only as a reminder that over the course of a career, a writer finds himself mostly on the outside of everything looking in. It's our natural state of being. And it's important to remember that we can only do what we do by being at a slight remove from the things around us. It's our way of seeing.
I think of it as having one foot in the world of other people, and one foot out in the smaller, more dispassionate realm of the artist or journalist. It's a hard way to live some times, but it's the only way to do the work. I'm this way both by training and by nature, so find it a comfortable enough way to live. But it allows me to see, I think, a clearer kind of truth when I set out to do a story.
I guess I mention all this just to remind you that our work challenges us in many ways. One of those challenges is to tell the truth at moments when others seek only peace or silence or comfort.
You did right by the truth, and that's all we have to go by.
I hope this finds you well and thriving in that beautiful place.
[Redacted in the interest of privacy]

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sheer brilliance

Science at its... finest? Zach Weinersmith presents his infantapaulting hypothesis.

This idea, the genesis of which came from Weinersmith's excellent Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal webcomic, is a good example of the absurd lengths to which one can go with an uncritical acceptance of bad ad hoc hypotheses. Plus, it's just wicked funny.

(HT PZ Myers)

Monday, January 6, 2014

A timely reminder

Things aren't so bad here. The weather is really nice this time of year, just about any material goods one could want are available, and aside from drivers' liberal interpretations of traffic laws it's pretty safe. A person really could get to like it here.

Every so often, though, there's a reminder of where things really stand.
An Israeli international with Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem has been refused permission to attend a training camp in the United Arab Emirates, the club said on Monday.
The first team squad arrived in Abu Dhabi on Sunday but defender Dan Mori stayed behind to train with the reserves. 
Dutch politicians said the club's decision to go ahead with the visit was "cowardly", according to media reports. 
"We are playing against clubs who are banking on us coming and we want to prepare ourselves properly for the second half of the season," Vitesse spokesman Esther Bal told Dutch Radio One on Monday. 
"Organisers had (previously) assured us Mori would be allowed to enter the country," Bal added before saying that cancelling the trip was not an option. 
The Dutch FA (KNVB) said it would not be getting involved in the row. "It's a political question," a spokesman told reporters. 
Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer was also refused permission to compete in a tournament in the UAE in 2009.
No matter where you go, religion and politics are always lurking in the shadows, ready to ruin everyone's fun.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Welcome to 2014

Everyone have a good holiday season? I hope so. Things were very quiet around here, save for a nice Christmas dinner at my nearby Korean restaurant. Santa would totally nosh on bulgogi if given the chance.

Just wanted to share two last bits of holiday goodness. During a run to the grocery store across the street, I found these:

My knee-jerk response would be "as opposed to fake fresh eggs?", but these days it might not be such a good idea to ask what goes into your food. The verdict? Save for a slightly eggy aftertaste, they almost matched Vanilla Wafers for blandness.

It could've been worse, though. I leave it to Tom and Cecil of Cognitive Dissonance to give the most accurate summation of egg nog I have found thus far. (Note: the audio is ever-so-slightly NSFW.)