Archive for May, 2008

Who Wants To See Me Hit a Golf Ball?

2+2=5, For Extremely Large Values of 2

Faced with this profound and bewildering foundational question of the value of 2 + 2, mathematicians followed the reasonable course of action: they just ignored the whole thing.

Most people don’t realize that math is not as precise as The Academics would have us believe. In 1990 the mathematician, Houston Euler, exposed the simple fact — known to mathematicians for centuries — that sometimes 2 + 2 = 5.

The essay was printed in a mathematics trade journal and never got any push in the mainstream. I don’t know what became of Houston Euler; I don’t know how his peers treated him after publishing his essay.

To the layman, the essay is akin to learning the slight-of-hand behind magic tricks, or someone telling you how David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear. The magic is gone.

For me, The History of 2 + 2 = 5, is the same. The magic of mathematics is gone.

I so enjoyed the essay that I’ve reprinted it (without permission) here:

Read more…

Photoblog

To All and Sundry,

I have created a photoblog. I hope to post something new at least one time per week. It’ll probably be more often than that until I have a halfway decent archive.

You can thank Sean from Neutral Hills Stills for the photoblog. He was very insistent that I have a photoblog and called me awful names until I finally relented.

Fucker.

If you’re interested in such things, you can see the results at my old stomping grounds. JimFormation now hosts my photographs.

Jim

The Gay Man, Marriage, and Me

The Supreme Court of California has opened the legal doors for men to marry men and women to marry women. Homosexuals have no idea what they are in for – having a spouse is much different from having a lover.

:::

This weekend I was the guest in the home of a gay man. I don’t think he knows that I know that he’s gay. I hardly think he cares. And, other than the amusing fact that he still has occasional sex with his ex-wife, I don’t care either.

He left his wife and took on a male partner. His wife and his partner don’t like each other. In light of the amusing fact above, I’m not surprised.

I used to work with a gay gentleman. His name was Carl. From time-to-time we’d have lunch together. One afternoon, at a pizzeria, Carl recognized the guy making the pizzas. He knew him from one of the gay bars he frequented.

Carl started flirting with this guy like a girl looking for a prom date. I was surprised that I got a little uncomfortable and excused myself to the parking lot.

When Carl returned I said, “Don’t do that. That made me feel weird.”

“Don’t do what?”

“Start batting your eyes at guys like that and acting like a school girl. That was just a little too gay,” I said.

“Why, are you jealous?”

“Jealous? Of what? Do you think I want to get in your pants?”

“Well, from the way you’re acting, yes.”

Carl really thought I was gay. When I told him that I was married, that my wife was expecting our first child, he was shocked.

“I thought for sure you were gay. I mean, you’re a nurse. And you’re slight. And you hang out with a gay guy.”

Several months after that, he did come on to me. I reiterated that I was married. “Jim, I’ve had more married men than gay men.”

I believe him.

:::

Human beings are social animals. We have evolved societies beyond the family unit and small regional bands. We have political and religious societies; work and hobby societies; game and support societies. And on and on.

We have a need, a yearning, an instinct to be in a group.

Similarly, the human animal has a strong desire to pair-bond with his/her sexual partner. This strong desire, this biological instinct, evolved because the man-woman pair can more successfully raise children, and pass on the coupled genes, than one person (woman) alone.

Eventually some of our societies formalized this pair-bond, this mating-couple, this marriage. Our religious societies sanctified the marriage. Our governmental societies legalized and heaped benefits on the marriage. The two became one.

What started as instinctual pair-bonding for the process of successfully bringing genes through to the next generation has become a religious and governmental institution that is not bound to raising children.

People of who have a sexual attraction to the same gender still have this strong desire to pair-bond with his/her sexual partner. A governmental society that gives benefits and rights to pair-bonded sexual couples and states in its founding document that laws need to treat all citizens equally, ought to be blind to the gender of that couple.

It just makes sense to me that all pair-bonded couples have the same benefits and rights. The pair-bonded homosexual couples ought to legally be married.

Religious organizations, especially Christian ones where Jesus has already given us an example of staying out of governmental affairs, ought not have a say in the government’s role in gay marriage. It has nothing to do with them. Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.

James Baker, George Bush, and Me

I watched HBO’s “Recount” last night. James Baker led the Republican team that oversaw the 2000 Florida presidential election recount.

In 1970, Baker’s wife died of breast cancer. A scene in the movie describes how a friend helped him get his mind away from the sorrow. The friend asked him to manage a campaign to become a United States Senator. The friend was a Republican; Baker was a lifelong Democrat.

Baker switched political parties.

The friend was George H. W. Bush. I thought of a personal irony, “Funny. George H. W. Bush influenced James Baker to switch political affiliations and his son may be doing the same to me.”

I think that George H. W. Bush’s son is a goof-ball. He has lead the Republican Party into increasing goof-ballishness. No one is more for goof-ballishness than me, but I don’t like it in my air traffic controllers, doctors about to perform vasectomies, and people trying to rule the world.

:::

A little about my politics:

I have voted in every Presidential election that I can remember. I have never voted for a Democrat Presidential Candidate and voted for a Libertarian once; otherwise I’ve voted Republican.

I am not a registered Republican. Nor have I registered Democrat. I abhor the political term Independent. I was once a card-carrying “Big L” Libertarian, until I finally figured out that they’re just masturbating to the pornography of American politics.

When asked about my political bent, I generally say that I’m a “Radical Constitutionalist.” I follow with the joke that “the Constitution isn’t perfect, but it’s better than anything we are using now.” I joke, but I’m serious.

:::

I have not ruled out voting for (using my best Ted Kennedy Massachusetts’s accent) errr-ah Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential election. Most of my decision-making thoughts will be around who I think will be the person to lead the United States back into international respectability.

I like that Obama is willing to talk to the Iranians.

Yes, I realize that Chamberlain was willing to talk to the Germans.

Remembering …

My Pop volunteered for World War II when he was in his 30s. He served in the Pacific.

Uncle Ray went to Viet Nam. He was one of the gentlest men I’d ever known. I could talk to him for hours about anything, except I never asked about his time “overseas.” He didn’t talk about it; I never brought it up. Uncle Ray was about my age when he died; his heart gave out.

My mother’s cousin died in Viet Nam. I was very young, so was he. I remember his funeral. The stifling sadness.

A good friend of mine just joined the Army. He’s almost 40-years-old.

Charlie, my next door neighbor, is “active military.” He has done two tours in Iraq.

My sister’s husband goes to Iraq next month.

I’ve stayed home.

Thank you.

:::

Yesterday in the small town of Barnegat Light, there was the smallest parade. The procession was some police cars followed by a couple of fire trucks, a rescue squad, and two rescue jet skis (towed, of course). The Ocean County Emerald Society’s Pipes & Drums corp marched behind, playing all the while.

As the parade progressed some five or six blocks, the town’s people joined behind. My family and I followed. We marched into Barnegat Lighthouse State Park where we prayed, said the Pledge of Allegiance, and sang the Star Spangled Banner.

The small crowd acted in beautiful, quiet reverence. I didn’t notice until it was over, but there was no buzz, no chattiness, no one talking on cell phones. Just the attention of quiet thoughtfulness.

We threw red carnations into the bay; they were pulled out to sea. We thought of those who served and lost their lives. Someone played Amazing Grace on the bagpipes. The sun slowly set.

Busy, Tired, Ass Pennies, Stop It

I’ve been busy the past few days. After being busy, I got tired. Busy. Tired. Busy.Tired.

That leaves neither time nor energy sit down and write. Which is fine; you get what you pay for here. But I want you to come back. So, in the next day or two, I’ll post a well thought post on our married homosexual friends in California.

In the meantime, I’d like you to enjoy a couple of my favorite comedy sketches:

See you later.

Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, & Limbo

Ever since I saw The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism (1969) pamphlet, I’ve been thinking about where we go when we die. While I’m not a Catholic, they seem to have the system down pretty well and have decided to use their concepts of Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, and Limbo as a guide to the afterlife.

Realizing that this a pretty deep subject, I’m going to oversimplify things just so that I can wrap my head around what happens when we shuffle off this mortal coil. You may have different ideas and, of course, your thoughts are welcome.

HEAVEN
Heaven is where good people go after they die. There they get to spend the rest of eternity with God and all the really good musicians.

Think of Heaven as the original Woodstock Festival with Jesus Christ in the Wavy Gravy position and the Archangels as the Hog Farm Collective.

HELL
Hell is a place where bad people and unbaptized people born after Christ died go after they die. The descent into hell is best described as an escalator down to the molten core of earth.

At the bottom is a bespectacled demon sitting at a small desk checking people in. Like in the Far Side comic, he asks the newcomers, “Will that be inferno or non-inferno? I’m just kidding, it’s all inferno down here.”

Once in Hell your flesh eternally burns off your bones while crows poke at your eyes. All this while The Carpenters music is pushed through a top-notch PA system. Why do birds suddenly appear …

PURGATORY
As mentioned yesterday, Purgatory is the Plaza I MiniMall. The people in Purgatory have died but need the prayers of the faithful in order to get into Heaven.

I imagine these prayers are similar to frequent flier miles in that they expire (Don’t believe me? Read the fine print near the altar candles). The good thing about these prayers is that you can sometimes turn them in for special Hedonism II vacations in the Bahamas.

LIMBO
Limbo is just a short bus ride from Purgatory. It is the place that God setup so that unbaptized babies and fetuses didn’t have to go to Hell when they die. There they are cared for by the good people who died before Jesus had a chance to ascend into Heaven.

The people in Limbo live happy, peaceful lives but never have the chance to meet God himself.

Apparently there has lately been some shenanigans going on in Limbo and, early in 2007, the Pope had it closed down (I read that in The New York Times). He also called for “further study on Limbo.”

Here’s what I think: Someone realized that God never shows up in Limbo; the citizens of Limbo weren’t being watched. I’m guessing one of the ancient Greek philosophers got a hold of some opium and a couple dozen barrels of good wine and they’re all up there partying.

Consequently, the poor babies and fetuses were left on their own; I think the Pope is trying to have them released into Heaven. It’s all hush-hush. Most of it will eventually come out in the SmokingGun.com.

Discovery

I opened the bedroom door and time froze. So much went through my mind before anything was said. It couldn’t have been more than ten seconds between discovery and first words.

There she was in bed with not just another man, there was a woman too. I was so shocked that I didn’t even see the lamb tied to the bedpost (and I didn’t hear about the chicken until much later).

I stood in the doorway for an eternity. These thoughts raced through my numb brain –

There’s a guy. With MY wife. A guy that is not me. Am I inadequate? Wasn’t I good enough? Wasn’t I man enough?

The woman. I can understand a woman, I mean, if she had those inclinations, those urges. I couldn’t help her there. I can’t fill those needs, those desires.

Maybe the guy came with the woman. Maybe that was the only she would come. Maybe that’s the only way she could close the deal.

But if she wanted to bring a woman in our bed, she could’ve tried it with me. Right? That’s every man’s fantasy. Right?

Maybe I shouldn’t have been so vocal about being against it. Telling her there was no intimacy and no rules, no protocols.

How does one go about the business of sex in a group without, at some point, offending one of the players? Leaving someone out? Or being left out? Still, she should have talked to me.

Or, if she wanted to go it alone, that’s kind of sexy. Isn’t it?

Thought after thought. Racing and racing. Chasing each other like a dog after its tail. Like a cat on fire.

But I didn’t move. I just stood there, blank-faced, in the doorway.

Expectant faces stared back at me from the bed. Waiting for me. A voice in my head shouted, “Say something! Anything!”

“WHAT THE FUCK IS A SHEEP
DOING IN MY BEDROOM!”

Finally she stood up, eyes pleading and yearning. She tried to choke the words out. A tear formed on the edge of her eye. She took a small step forward …

… that’s when the eels fell out.

:::

The above was a fictional response based on Question #3 at Whistle&Fish’s meme for the self-indulgent. The question read:

You catch your significant other in bed with a(nother) man, a(nother) woman, a sheep, a chicken, and three eels. Which arouses the most jealousy in you and why? Which is most titillating? Why? (Extra points for narrating the dialogue and series of events occurring in the first fifteen minutes after your initial discovery.)

I will be answering Question #4 presently.

Purgatory


From The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism (via px;)

Purgatory, according to the Catholics, is a place where unpurified dead people go as they wait to get into Heaven.

Over 20,000 people live in the retirement community near where I work (and live). The average age of someone living there is 75-years-old. The community has it’s own doctors and banks and travel agents and stores and mall — the Plaza I MiniMall.

The Plaza I MiniMall parking lot is always packed. Head-down and battered gray folks shuffle in and out of the joint all day long. You know by looking at these people that they have died, some of them many years ago. They’ve died and heaven won’t take them.

The Plaza I MiniMall in Holiday City, New Jersey is Purgatory.

:::

Good News for those who have concerns, Purgatory has its own bar. First round’s on me.