Tuesday, January 3, 2017
As we inch our way into 2017, a year that many fear may be even more challenging than the annus horribilis we just booted out the back door, it might help to entertain some fresh perspective.
Sure, the 2016 election and all the ugly, brutal months that preceded it, may have been the beginning of the end of the United States as we knew it, but from a universal perspective 2016 was an infinitesimal blip within the infinite expanse of existence. The universe, the earth and even these divided States we still hope to call America will survive Trump. They will even survive the band of sycophants and opportunists known as the Republican congress.
Life will go on and in a hundred years - still an infinitesimal blip of "time" - things may very well be better for this horror show. People may have learned from this catastrophic mistake and the study of civics and history may even be valued again. Who knows? Maybe the principles that our liberal and enlightened founders hoped to enshrine in the founding documents of these United States will at last be restored as our guides.
That's the hopeful idea I leave with you tonight - and for your Tuesday Tonic, here is James Taylor crooning his thoughts on the secret of life.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Re-enter the wizarding world of Harry Potter? Yes, please, NOW!
Wait. What??!! I have to wait until November 2016??!!?? NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!
The New Year has not even begun yet and now there is a reason to kind of hope 2016 flies by! J.K. Rowling and company really ought to be ashamed of themselves - this is aiding and abetting very unhealthy thinking!
And wait, wait! It gets better! Eddie Redmayne in the lead as Newt Scamander!
Ok, so this trailer is laughably lame. Absurd, pathetic, unsatisfying and oh for the love of all that is magical, can't they release this film in the spring instead?!?
This newly released movie poster, on the other hand, rocks! How will wizarding world fans ever survive the wait?
|ACCIO, Fantastic Beasts!|
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
For your Tuesday Tonic, a rare treat! NiftyReaders may have noticed that I am an opera fan. Well, today you learn the secret behind my enduring affection for that musical genre: Bugs Bunny!
Yes, back in the olden days when Nifty was a sprog, the best show on television was the Bugs Bunny Roadrunner Hour on Saturday evenings right around suppertime. Dad would hold off flipping the hamburgers until the last notes of "This is it...!" had faded away to give me and my siblings a chance to watch it every week (no DVRs in those bad old days!)
Bugs was not just a clever bunny, he was cultured! We had no idea what a rich education we were soaking up while we laughed at his antics, but today I recognize the literary and musical references that were woven into nearly every cartoon.
Today's tonic, in honor of my dear brother-in-law who - to my everlasting admiration and delight - can sing the entire thing from memory: Bugs Bunny, The Rabbit of Seville
(inspired by Rossini's The Barber of Seville)
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Every time there is a shocking event involving people from a readily-identifiable ethnic, ideological or religious group, a predictable verbal ping pong match often ensues among bystanders. Someone will point out that the perpetrator of some terrible act "x" appears to be a member of some stereotyped group N. Others generalize that of course group N is responsible for so much "x" in the world. Still others - usually members of group N themselves - jump in to defend with one or both of these common assertions:
1. "Not all of group N are like the perpetrator and group N is not responsible for most of the "x" in the world!" (these assertions are usually presented along with anecdotes showing perpetrators from other groups committing act "x")
2. "The perpetrator is not a true N; a true N would never do a thing like "x"!
The second apologetic is known as the "no True Scotsman" fallacy.
For your Tuesday Tonic this week, here is a nice clear explanation of what the "No True Scotsman" fallacy is, how it is deployed and why it fails. Thanks to TheraminTrees for another excellent video!
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Ok, comedy fans - and science geeks, too! - this has got to be the best thing ever.
Last month, CBS announced that Bob Newhart would be returning to Big Bang Theory to reprise his guest role as Professor Proton, a TV personality and Sheldon Cooper's childhood hero. In September, Newhart won an Emmy for the guest role and it looks like CBS is smart enough to know a great thing when it sees it (unlike the luddites who have snubbed Bob Newhart over the past 5 decades when he was doing some of the greatest work in television comedy in one hilarious series after another, yet was always passed over at Emmy time).
On Thursday, November 7, Professor Proton returns!
But wait, it gets better! Not only will Bob Newhart reprise his Professor Proton for Thursday night's episode but, in their infinite wisdom, the BBT producers have also managed to bring in Bill Nye, the Science Guy (playing himself) as Proton's arch-nemesis! This is going to be epic!
Bob Newhart, Bill Nye and Big Bang Theory - it's a science geek/comedy trifecta!
Get your popcorn and settle in to watch (or cue up the DVR!) Thursday night's episode!
(to warm you up and/or hold you until Thursday night, check out the scene below):
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
I've posted this song before. It's a great song, and now here it is again with a wonderful and very original video.
I had to ask myself - should this be a Monday Music or a Tuesday Tonic? It is both music and a tonic, but since the song has already been featured on Monday Music, here it is today as your Tuesday Tonic.
Give yourself a gift - take 6 minutes out of your day, click on the video and watch it full screen with the sound turned right up. It is visual and auditory food for the spirit. It starts out pensive but finishes with an exuberantly life-affirming party!
It will come around
but everything is now
I know everything is right now
And the loneliness is a lot
the nothing weighs a ton
I mean the nothing weighs a fucking ton
That half of the bed
empty like a page
all the cursive claims you've yet to make
All the promising lines
bending like her spine
oh the whiteness that your pen could write
If you get these bandages off
you can stand, you can walk
leave these towels and gauze
you'll get up, you'll get out
into the sun
That's where we belong
we've been abed too long
all our weaknesses are growing strong
But the winter always ends
with water on your lips
the april rain comes swinging in
Get these bandages off
let me stand, let me walk
leave these towels and gauze
let me up, let me out
into the sun
Cause come she will
Oh come she will
She comes oh
she comes son
- Tim Baker
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
"I was not argued out of faith - I was inspired out of it." Brandon Fibbs
For your Tuesday Tonic today: a special treat from Plumbline Pictures. The elegant, inspirational and beautiful message of this video is only matched by its stunning visual beauty. Bonus: After the main video there is a seven-minute montage of iconic film images.
The video (linked below this post) is in HD. Do yourself a favor: close the office door, turn off your phone, bring the video up on full screen, turn up the volume and soak up the goodness. You'll feel relaxed and restored after this rejuvenating Tuesday Tonic!
Here is a transcript* of the video:
As a Christian, I believed, as most persons of faith do,
that this life was temporary,
a sort of proving ground, in which we made ourselves worthy, through our beliefs and our deeds,
for an eternity spent with god in paradise.
The most critical decision anyone could possibly make, was to accept god's redemption
for their broken, sinful nature,
and to love others into the Kingdom of God.
Because this mortal existence was destined to evaporate in the blink of an eye
it was critical to understand the bigger picture
and recognize that only eternity mattered.
Absolutely everything else was superfluous.
All pleasure, all happiness, all love,
even all the good you did in this life
was to be jettisoned
if it in any way distracted you from your heavenly goal.
Pain and hardship was to be endured cheerfully
because the worst of it was nothing compared to the glory that awaited.
This life was merely a foretaste of things to come,
a trial run, an existential impostor, a pale reflection of future glory.
As an atheist, however, I have a very different perspective.
When I gave up a belief in god, I also relinquished any sort of claim on an afterlife
While such a surrender is not, by definition, required by atheism,
I have found as much evidence for life beyond death as I have for the god
who supposedly awaits us in it.
As with the concept of god,
I see far more persuasive evidence that the afterlife is an human construction
meant to allow us to pretend we can cheat death
and hold our tenuous mortality at bay.
The afterlife exists only within the pages of our ancient books;
we have no true evidence for it.
We have no reason to believe human beings have eternal souls
or that anything outlives the cessation of our wondrous but constantly degrading biological machinery.
Life is not some sort of launching pad for something greater.
The human story is far simpler
and far more profound:
this is the only life you and I will ever have. Right here. Right now.
The belief in an afterlife cheapens and diminishes the value of this existence,
and dehumanizes the people in it.
It hobbles our ability to live life fully
because we imagine there's something much better waiting in the wings. It's the ultimate greener grass.
If life is eternal, then where is the sense of urgency?
We take our pleasure and our pain less seriously.
Such a belief allows us to downplay our own discomfort, biding our time for relief later.
We consent, we surrender, we settle.
Such a belief gives us the ability to overlook injustice
because an omniscient god sees all and metes out punishment even after death.
But if there is no afterlife,
much less an ultimate judge keeping tally of our sins and transgressions,
it means we are responsible for our own choices, actions and deeds.
You are not some sort of spiritual marionette,
with the forces of good and evil pulling your strings.
No one made you do anything, and no one will absolve you of it later.
You are not born monster,
you become a monster through your own choices.
We must not shirk our responsibility to see justice done in the here and now.
Knowing that this life is all there is pushes you to live well,
not because of some reward or punishment, but because this is all you have.
The truth is, our desire to love brightly,
hold death at bay
and mourn our dead
shows that, whenever we may claim to believe,
it's not how we actually live.
Look around you.
What you see is all there is or ever will be.
Don't neglect it. Don't trivialize what it offers or who you shares it with you.
The great American poet Walt Whitman said:
"O Me! O life!...of the questions of these recurring What good amid these, O me, O life?
Answer: That you are here, that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse."
George Bernard Shaw said:
"Life isn't about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself."
Some people are terrified at the prospect of creating their own meaning and purpose.
They prefer to have something larger and smarter than themselves in charge.
Others, like myself, find it liberating.
You are the captain of your ship.
Your fate is in your hands.
You carve your own shape from life's marble.
While religion forces you into prescribed molds,
forbidding and punishing those who leak out into other shapes,
a life without faith has no prescribed limits.
Stop allowing religion to permeate you with fear,
and trick you into believing that your life must be lived within the tiny boundaries of suffocating ideology.
Your freewill is not the false freedom religion prescribes.
Don't live as if everything is predestined.
Your steps are not ordered.
You do not have a destiny.
You are not a automaton.
Nothing is written.
This is not terrifying, it is emancipating.
It is one of the great privileges of being human.
Instead of working toward some ephemeral reward,
turn those energies to the here and now.
Seize this empowerment.
Decide for yourself.
Your world is moldable.
You can change it.
It responds to your touch.
Death could come for us at any second.
We are breathtakingly fragile.
Recognize that you are human, that you are mortal,
that your time here, in cosmic terms, is a blip of a blip.
But that is what makes us so precious.
An eternal being is not rare or special.
Instead, our lives are defined by our limitations.
We are exquisite exactly because we are rare,
because we are born, bloom and perish.
And when this life ends-
and it will end for us all, prince and pauper-
all we experienced, all we loved, all we learned, all we changed,
This is not a hopeless situation, as some assert.
It merely transfers importance from there to here.
It exchanges false hope for present actions.
When I die,
my body will disintegrate back into the atoms which make up its constituent parts
I will, once again, become stardust.
I will feed the cosmos,
and I find that breathtaking.
You are but an infinitesimal speck in a Cosmos that has not the agency to know or care of your existence.
And yet, you -finite, fallible you-
are able to take it in, to investigate it,
to examine it, to interrogate it, and even,
to some degree,
to comprehend it.
You possess the most special power of all:
a human brain capable of rational thought.
The ability to reason.
That is what makes you marvelous.
It is what sets you apart from all the other animals sharing this planet with us.
You can peel back mysteries and see the clockwork of the Cosmos.
That should make you feel...
You only get this one chance
this one chance to experience this exquisite planet.
The world is vast and full of wonder.
Replace judgment with curiosity and explore.
Be famished, every day, to learn something new.
Love incandescently and be loved the same in return.
Laugh as often as possible.
for yourself and for those around you.
Aid in transforming the suffering of others whose brief flicker in this universe may be one of pain and anguish.
Stop judging others and trying to control how they live and who they love.
Stop killing time, treading water and running in place.
Stop limiting yourself.
Risk standing out.
Dare to be unique and unfettered.
Dare to dream big and live even bigger.
This is it. This is all you get.
It's not for the timid,
but it rewards the bold.
How will you make your life...
- Brandon Fibbs, January 2, 2013
I can hardly believe that this video has only about 6,600 views - I hope NiftyReaders will share the link and do something about that! (This video is a feast for the eyes: the niftiest way to view it is to turn off the CC and just take it all in).
* transcript via transcriptsearch.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
For your Tuesday Tonic, some classic remarks about human existence from Bill Hicks (who died on this date in 1994 from pancreatic cancer) and George Carlin, delivered inside one of melodysheep's excellent autotunes.
Is this real?
Or is this just a ride?
The world is like a ride
You think it's real - it's just a ride
And we can change it any time we want
It's only a choice - between fear and love
The ride goes up and down and round and round
It has thrills and chills and it's very brightly colored
Up and down and round and round
And it's very loud
Don't worry, don't be afraid
It's just a ride
And we can change it any time we want
It's only a choice between fear and love
Why are we here?
I think we're part of a greater wisdom
That we won't ever understand
A higher order - call it what you want -
Know what I call it?
The Big Electron. Whoa whoa.
It doesn't punish.
It doesn't reward.
It doesn't judge at all.
It just is.
And so are we...
for a little while.