Sunday, July 25, 2004


The following is in response to a post by Xeno in response to a post of mine ('fraid you'll have to scroll down; it's "Kinship," but it's hardly worth searching for; it's barely a note).

Ever since I learned the phrase "I think therefore I am" I have liked Descartes.

Without knowing anything else about him, I am grateful for knowing that there's someone else out there who's wondered about the certainty of their senses--because I've gone down that pathway and was scared and bewildered when I couldn't think of a good answer to the problem. I've since found a solution that satisfies me and I may go into it some other time.

And, like Xeno said, Descartes' strongest argument is the one he is most famous for, and the one I like him for.

Yet I will admit that up until I posted the Descartes link, I hadn't actually read anything by him (except for some on that page), and up to the present I have read nothing more by him. I also have to agree that, when he goes into his spiel about the conception of the thing being the proof of its existence, I get a little lost. After all, just because I can conceive of a ten-legged purple polka-dotted lizard doesn't mean one exists. So if he means it in that sense, I can't agree.

It's possible there are other explanations that can hold up Descartes' claim, but I'm not real sure about them, and, frankly, I'd rather deal with the other issue of his that Xeno dealt with.

"To which I added that, since I knew some perfections which I did not possess, I was not the only being who existed, but that there must of necessity be some other being, more perfect, on whom I depended, and from whom I had acquired all that I possessed; for if I had existed alone and independent of all other, so that I had of myself all this little whereby I participated in the Perfect Being, I should have been able to have in myself all those other qualities which I knew myself to lack, and so to be infinite, eternal, immutable, omniscient, almighty--in fine, to possess all the perfections which I could observe in God."

As Xeno put it,

"In other words, God taught him everything he knows, and if he had NOT learned all this good stuff from God, then he himself must in fact be God, because he would somehow have attained perfection merely by being able to conceive of it without help. Since he's clearly not God, God exists."

I have a different take on this paragraph. I would restate Descartes this way: I must exist because I'm sitting here thinking; whether physical body or spirit or mere figment of someone's imagination, I've got a consciousness floating around and that exists. Since I exist, yet find myself questioning, ignorant, and looking for answers, I must not be omniscient. I can't do just anything so I'm not all-powerful, and my memory doesn't go on forever so it would seem I have a definite beginning, therefore, not eternal--finite rather than infinite. If this is all true, I'm not independent, self-sustaining, or whatever word you want to use. The only alternative to being independent is dependent. But on what? On something, somewhere, or someone who is, in fact, independent. That's God. Since something (me) can't come from nothing, God must exist.

I can't say for sure this is what Descartes is saying; I don't claim to understand everything I read (especially with the murderous way he writes--if you can make him out better, I commend you) but it sounds like it's approximately what he's saying to me. If it isn't what he's saying and it's not what he believes then I guess I think differently from him because the previous paragraph is not just what I think he's saying, but also my own personal belief. Also, when he says that God is "from whom I had acquired all that I possessed," I don't think he necessarily means every thought in his head was put there directly by God, but more along the lines that God put in him the ability to think. At least--again--it is what I would argue; whether or not it is what he actually means I can't be sure. But I think it fits.

Well, this is long, and I apologize for taking so long to get it up; there is no real excuse, except my difficulty with Descartes' writing style and my unfortunate tendency to procrastinate (something I am trying to improve upon).

I look forward to seeing what else you write, Xeno. I've tended to fancy myself of a philosophical mind, but after dealing with just a little of what some of these philosopher-types can come up with, I tend to want to rethink that assumption. :) But I still like the subject--at least a venture into the basics, because I think it can be important, or at least very useful.

Monday, July 12, 2004


El Bro has been sick, for the first time in a long while. He's like me; we never get sick. Which comes at a great time, what with the mad fixing around the house, cleaning, and rearranging we are doing, but it can't be helped.

I went into the living room, where he sleeps these days, and asked if he minded me in there and he said no, he liked the company. So then I felt bad for sitting there and ignoring him while I studied.

In an unexpected twist, after being sick all weekend and all day, he was suddenly bouncing off the walls this evening; quite hilarious.

I think that means he's getting better.

Sunday, July 11, 2004


There is something about reading others' thoughts, whether they live now or lived some time long ago, and finding ideas that make sense to you, similar struggles expressed...a kinship of reason.

Even better is when they propose ideas you hadn't thought of yet.

Honestly I've done very little of this kind of reading, but I think I need to. They might help me sort out some ideas that I don't understand.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Return of Spidey

Went to see Spider-Man 2 yesterday and would have written about it then but subject to my new resolution, no playing before doing important things. Or, at least, some important things. (Got to start somewhere, haven't I?) So, since I slept most of the evening (due to a late night the night before), did some obligatory cleaning (not my idea), and then went to bed again, I never got to the important stuff, so I never got to the Spidey post.

This isn't really a review, since I a) am not going to rehash the whole film, b) miss too many important things when I watch movies to be a discerning reviewer, and c) don't care.

I loved it. I was really afraid it would just stress me out and depress me with all the angst over Mary Jane and everything, so going in I was a little worried. See, I'm perfectly happy for the hero to get beat up or even go through painful inner turmoil. Preferably both. I have my limits but in my (possibly sadistic) way I enjoy these things. What I don't like is public humiliation. I didn't grow up watching especially brutal or graphic stuff but the things I have seen usually don't bother me exceedingly. You know the movie scene that really affected me? In "Power of One," when one of the older kids spit on the main character, PK. I've never been slapped in the face, but it was almost like getting personally slapped in the face. No, I think worse because what was so awful was how degrading and humiliating it was. The first Spider-Man, while I enjoyed it, was slightly painful, what with all the humiliations and embarrassments Peter had to go through. Maybe it says something about me as a person, but I loathe watching public humiliation.

I don't mean I can't stand anything uncomfortable or embarrassing. I don't like watching it happen in real life, but in a story I think I can handle a certain amount. But what drains me in a movie--stresses me out--is watching lots embarrassment or--worse--outright humiliation. If it's on TV, I might end up switching away--to something more wholesome and relaxing, like someone getting beat up.

So I was expecting the same sort of thing--maybe worse--for Spidey 2. I'm not sure if this movie was less humiliating for Peter (while still being painful in a way that made its ultimate resolution more satisfying) or if it's just that the ending made up for it for me. At any rate, it was also peppered with jokes that made you think about what it would really be like to be Spider-Man. I loved these for the realism they added to the film and Peter's life.

All that to say, I came out of the film in an old-fashioned good-movie-euphoria. When I was a kid, we didn't go to the movies lots. When we did, the dark theater, the lights dimming--it was a magical experience, to use a cliche entirely seriously. Nowadays we watch movies more often and I'm afraid it may be fun but I really don't get that sense of "magic" anymore. Probably 'cos I go often enough that the sense of mystery and rare adventure just isn't there. Occasionally a movie will leave me euphoric. I don't think that's happened in a couple of years, even with Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, X-men and all the other Scifi/Fantasy movies that have come out in that time. I liked all those movies, but I can't remember getting a high out of any of them. Maybe a little one with some of them. I think Azkaban came close.

I guess as much as I liked all those movies, this is the one that most got under my skin. It takes more than pure entertainment to make a movie stay with me; it takes that rare magic formula--good movie-making plus characters and situations that touch me and inspire me, or at least give me a little hope. Before you beat me, let me say that I think all of the above mentioned had that, to greater and lesser degrees. Or, at least, good enough to fool me. But either I'm undergoing amnesia or this is the one that most got under my skin; the one I could best relate to right now. As corny as it sounds, Spider-Man 2 gave me a little bit of hope. I'll defend that statement in another post, since this one is getting so long.

So, finally, my "list"--er, ok, two of the main reasons I liked Spider-Man 2. Here be Spoilers.

1) Spider-Man wasn't Superman--er, I mean he wasn't perfect. "Ordinary" people could help him. They had this in the first movie, when the people he was trying to save (in the subway car thingy?) threw rocks at the Green Goblin and told him to leave Spider-Man alone. They had it in 2 in what I think for me was the most moving scene of the movie, when Peter, unconscious and unmasked, was carried over the heads of the train passengers he'd just saved and gently laid down on the floor and they saw him face-to-face for the first time. ("He's just a kid. No older than my son.") Which makes me think to myself: there may be bad guys out there, but there are also good ones. Big--and small, like the two little kids who then came up to him after he'd woken up and offered him back his mask. ("We won't tell.")

2) MJ had a backbone. Now I was never a fan of Mary Jane. I didn't watch the cartoon regularly, but when I did, she got on my nerves. I didn't like her much better in the first movie. In this one, she didn't get on my nerves as much. She was just "okay." Until she started showing some good sense I couldn't ignore.
a) When Pete said he'd changed, she didn't go flying back into his arms. It took her some time to think about it.
b) She didn't go all "Charlie's Angels" and beat up the bad guy, but she did try to sneak up on him and hit him upside the head. More guts than I've probably got.
c) She saved Peter in her own way. Peter thought he had to either be Spider-Man and save everybody all the time or be Peter Parker and turn his back on other people. While I think a little balance in his life might've helped in this respect (you can't save everybody), MJ's gift to him was that, even if you do think you have to be there for everybody, you don't have to give up everything, or go it alone. Probably my favorite line of the movie was hers: "Isn't it about time somebody saved you?" It was also nice to remember that while we girls may not be much in the beating-up-villains department (I'm talking real-life here), we can "save" (or at least help) other people in our own way.

So here's to MJ and all the other unknown, part-time heroes of the world.

(Not to diss Pete...)

Monday, July 05, 2004

Sending shock waves...

...through the eating community?

*Snort.* So dramatic.

Update: Click on "Meet the Eaters" on the right below the picture and then the first one--Takeru Kobayashi--is where I meant the link to go (the website won't let it for some reason).

A Beauty Contest!

For goats?

I found the link just stumbling around, surfing through Blogger and I just had to post this, considering the key role goats play in the chain story. No one knows how significant goats really are.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Starting again

Everybody has their own ideas about what they should build at Ground Zero. I remember thinking a tall slim tower taller than the older ones but perhaps more a monument than an actual building that holds people. I don't know; maybe the idea was a cop-out. At any rate, what they're doing looks good, though I don't know all the details.

Update: I realize the link is wrong. I will fix it as soon as I get a chance.
Ok, I fixed it.

Cowboy Boots and Southern Twangs

I have to write about something very momentous, something that occurred in my life just this past Friday.

I got cowboy boots. And when I say cowboy, I mean cowboy boots. They're guys' shoes. They didn't have anything cool (or practically anything at all) for girls, though they did have some "fabulous" thigh-high Cruella De Ville boots. Yikes. Since I'm not preoccupied with looking like some kind of grand arch-villainess and spawn of children's nightmares, I thought I'd pass.

The ones I got are nothing fancy, they're just good solid work boots. I'm just relieved they fit me at all; I got one of the smallest sizes they offered (after trying on my brother's shoes) and they're just about right.

I'm not a cowgirl. I never have been. My only concession to my southernhood is the fact that I say "yall" and that--at least according to Cris--I sound southern in my emails, but I was once told if I didn't say "yall" I wouldn't sound Texan at all. I can't stand country music, I don't like western wear, I hate barbecue, and I've never owned a pair of cowboy boots in my life. Until now.

Of course I haven't escaped living in the South without a few marks of it rubbing off on me. I do actually like a few country songs; I just don't like the typical "My wife left me, my dog left me, my truck left me" songs. And I hate that twangy, whiny instrument--or whatever it is--they put in some country songs. And I don't mean the guitar. Well, if it's a guitar that's doing it, I don't blame all guitars. It's just a tragic perversion of an otherwise beautiful instrument. Aside from that, I sort of like barbecue sauce; I just don't like the typical way barbecue is prepared. I have had far, far too many family reunion experiences composed of the stuff, and I am sick of it.

My reasons for suddenly going against all that is sacred and tradition to me, and buying a pair of cowboy boots? Well, my motives are partly practical. I wanted something I could go hiking and wandering in and know that if a snake tries to bite my ankle it'll get nothing but a mouthful of leather. I've read that's the best protection against snakes is just a pair of boots since they are most likely to aim for your ankles (considering anything else is a bit above their altitude). I was looking at regular non-cowboy boots at first, and then I found combat boots and I thought that would be cool, but then I stumbled on some cowboy boots and got to thinking. Cowboy boots are kind of cool sometimes; it might be fun to have some. Of course the ones I really wanted were gorgeous--a beautiful red color and...ostrich skin? Whatever; they were $300, and that's a little out of my league.

So now I have cowboy boots. Is this the first step down a slippery slope toward cowboy--er, cowgirldom? We shall see.