The Journal of Applied Impossibility
I remember some years ago Microsoft finally ceasing support for Windows XP. Someone from the company had to make a statement, and I remember laughing aloud when I read it. He referred to the OS as "beloved" and spoke of its users as being "fond of it" and "attached."
The blogger formerly known as Scott Alexander talks about superweapons. I’m on about something like this. It’s not clear that anything else needs to be said about the matter, but I feel like saying something, so here we go:
My friend likens certain fallacies to an evil version of Woody Guthrie’s guitar: “This Machine Kills Discourse.” I want to analyze some of these machines.
Reading Mill’s On Liberty, the passage stuck out to me:
“It is a bitter thought, how different a thing the Christianity of the world might have been, if the Christian faith had been adopted as the religion of the empire under the auspices of Marcus Aurelius instead of those of Constantine.”
This is one of those statements about which I find myself shouting, “yes! I love it!” immediately upon hearing it. I agree with it. I love Aurelius, and find in him one whom I would be honored to regard as a kindred spirit if he would have me.
The Fatima Prayer is something over which I have begun to feel a kind of spiritual chastening. The issue arises from the following fragment:
...lead all souls to heaven, especially those who have most need of thy mercy.
When I say this, do I mean it?
Theodosius Repulsed from the Church by Saint Ambrose (1700/10)
Alessandro Magnasco (1667-1749)
Last time, we saw the following words in a scrawling hand:
"Such was the state of affairs when last I left Goralbrax. It has been six years since I have seen or heard news of them, but so much has changed that I suspect that the time dilation effects of relativistic travel means that more time has passed on Goralbrax. Two weeks ago, I made a return visit, and have the following observations to report..."
The group known as HAT has achieved massive, nearly universal support from virtually all corners of Goralbrax. Nevertheless, despite their best efforts, interest in tarandalation is stronger among magenta Goralbraxians. For a time, HAT encouraged young Goralbraxian students to wear what their parents called 'the wrong hats' -- which is to say, the Magentas were taught that they should wear hats which had been traditionally reserved for the fuchsias and vice versa. A common belief was that hue was only a surface feature, and was really something that was learned and acted out rather than something innate. HAT wanted to show this. So they encouraged everyone to stop wearing the headwear typically reserved for their hue, and to instead wear what they called, "whatever feels the most comfortable to you."
Strangely, after a few years of this, a spate of young Goralbraxians decided that they really were a different hue.
Then came the fryers. The fryers wanted the telemagentas to be indistinguishable from ordinary magentas, and telefuchsias to be indistinguishable from ordinary fuchsias. They were called fryers because they achieved the hue change by scorching every bit of the skin of the Goralbraxians, and after the scars healed, their hue seemed indeed to have changed. Eventually, the fryers got to be so clever at what they were doing that most Goralbraxians couldn't distinguish a telemagenta from a Goralbraxian who was born magenta, or a telefuchsia from someone born a fuchsia.
They began to wonder: What work was being done by the prefix "tele-" in "telemagenta" or "telefuchsia" anyway? Was it not simply contributing to more intolerance among the hues? And thus, really, wasn't this was part of the problem?
A small but vocal group calling themselves "Another Hue Equity Association Development (AHEAD) built a commune on a small island. In this commune, AHEAD has put many policies into practice, and is continuing to implement new practices in the interest of advancing hue equity. They decided that the prefix "tele-" was as much a part of the problem as anything. So in their commune, no one was to acknowledge the existence of any hue whatsoever.
At the same time, and quite all of a sudden, a number of Fuchsias were claiming to be Magentas, and vice versa.
But consider the problem: In order to be Fuchsia, there must be something-that-it-is-like-to-be-fuchsia. There must actually be Fuchsianess. And there must actually be Magentaness.
Remember Gorolbrax? Remember fuchsia Gorolbraxians and magenta Gorolbraxians? Did you find yourself wanting to read more? Craving speculative fiction set in the same universe? Well, here you are. A word of caution: like all works of fiction, this is completely unrelated to anything in reality. Please remember: never attempt to learn things from fiction!
If you're anything like me or the French army in 1859, the color fuchsia and the color magenta are hard to tell apart. But that just shows that you aren't a Gorolbraxian. It could be that they sense things in the infrared spectrum, or that magenta and fuchsia are incorrect translations from the Goralbraxian language, which is beyond the capacities of normal human speech.
At any rate, whatever their comparative merits when it comes to
I came across an article alleging that California students were being taught to take an oath to Aztec Gods and accused Christianity of "theocide." There is an article in Newsweek about the controversy, but the only people weighing in on what was actually being taught seem to be conservative Christian news sites and someone named Christopher Rufo. The upshot is that I don't know if the accusation of accusations-of-theocide are real, but they certainly are believable. That is, I don't know whether or not they were actually leveled by anyone against anyone, but it sure sounds like the sort of thing I can imagine happening. And if I can imagine a perspective, I can imagine responding to it.
Describing the Christianization of cultures as 'Theocide' is simultaneously too little and too much. Let's take those both in turn. It is too little because
Today (April 7th -- again hesitating to hit 'publish'!) I had a shower-thought regarding the operation of the university:
I used to think of 'not-for-profit' as a statement about the university of the same kind as 'founded in 1892' or 'Located in Miami.' It was something intrinsic to the school. The thought that popped into my mind was this: being-not-for-profit is not a statement about the nature of the institution, but about how it is currently navigating the tax policies of the country currently hosting it.
That is, being not-for-profit is often portrayed as part of an institution's identity the way its mission is a part of its identity. But in fact, if it were more in the interests of certain people in certain offices to be profitable, they would pursue it with the utmost fervor. The non-profit university only exists because it is profitable to not be profitable. That is, it is profitable in some ways to eschew other means of profit.
There is nothing I can do to unbreak this world.
The utmost Sisyphean work -- to slam oneself against the crushing, towering, unrelenting, nigh-omnipresent, spectral mass of spacetime -- cannot suffice.
The warp and woof of our universe is aught but the coiled spring against which my efforts cannot prove so much as an escapement. How could I hope to slow, or even to regulate strictly everything in its inevitable creep toward the heat death?
The watch I keep upstairs runs down.
The candle I kindle indoors burns out.
And nothing: nothing, nothing can stanch the wound spring uncoiling.
I write about all sorts of things. This is one of the places where I do it.