Thursday, October 13, 2005

All Over the Map

Thanks for the music suggestions! I feel so behind the times . . . I don’t have an iPod and Mr. Random really wants one. That might make it easier to sample music if I can just download it, but then at the thought of it I start feeling like a grumpy old man . . . “In my day, we used to just make cheap mixed tapes! And I used to listen to the college radio stations and hear all sorts of cool stuff! Now you have to pay big money to get what you used to get for cheap or free . . .” Cranky, cheap old me . . .

I get Rolling Stone Magazine every month . . . it lets me pretend to know what’s going on in the music world and with youth pop culture in general. That and MTV. However, those aren’t as good as good as they used to be in keeping up with the trends, since to see any interesting videos on MTV, you have to be up at 3:30 in the morning (and I’m trying not to do that any more . . .)

G, I’d love the directions on how to make up a banner, but there’s no rush. It will be quite a while before I can implement. If I’m lucky, I’ll have some downtime some random weekend afternoon and will get to play with it some. Many thanks for thinking of me!

Missed Martha’s Apprentice last night, so I’ll have to catch the rerun on CNBC this week. Trump is on tonight, and I hope to have my usual rant tomorrow. Gee, I missed Laguna Beach this week, too. This “being busy and having a life” stuff is seriously cutting into my TV watching . . .

Wonk-speak alert: On Crooked Timber today, there is a discussion about Game Theory and what the original poster thinks is wrong with it: ( ). Game theory has been “Topic A” for a few days, since the Nobel Prize in Economics was just awarded to two game theorists, Robert Aumann and Thomas Schelling.

My interpretation of game theory, as applied to economics, was that rather than relying on just the standbys of supply and demand to determine the rational behavior of consumers, game theory takes into account that not all consumer decisions that are made are entirely rational, and are dependent on the decisions of others. Game theory takes these irrational decisions into account in determining economic behavior, using lovely mathematical formulas which would take me ages to try to understand, (unless I took calculus again, which is always an option.)

So this CT poster seems to be complaining that game theory is a lousy predictor of behavior because it is not consistent. However, I was under the impression that the inconsistency of consumers was the entire point of game theory – we aren’t rational, so we do irrational things according to what we think others are going to do, and while game theory isn’t perfect in determining outcomes, it is as close as you can get for now.

For a more thorough definition of game theory than I could ever provide, and references to other (more scholarly) documents describing the theory and its implications, go to ( ). After reading this stuff, you may have a better handle on it than I do, so you can explain to me the flaws in my perception . . . I really do welcome it, because I may be misinterpreting this stuff due to my own biases. . . .

Last night was practice for my church choir. Our new Music Director has been there a year, and was telling us the results of a congregational survey of the music program – it seems that everyone loves the music and the choir and wants to hear more from us, but they don’t necessarily want to sing more with us. That’s cool, and everyone was happy that the church members really like what we are doing. We also figure that if people wanted to sing more, they would join the choir anyway. However, someone made the comment that “You know, if there isn’t choir, you don’t see [Random Kath} anywhere near here!” To which we all chuckled and I said that that was true, and then we went on about our business.

Now, why am I writing about this random incident? Well, . . . because I have been thinking a lot about faith and religion lately, and pretty much coming to the decision that I’m, at best, an agnostic. [Definition: ] However, I love music and I love to sing . . . experiencing music to its fullest is the most spiritual experience that I can think of . . . if there is a God, in that moment is when him/her is felt most keenly. There is some really crappy religious music out there, (and I’m hoping there’s a purgatory for those folks who created the cheesy religious pop that is advertised in TV in those lovely CDs and they are forced to listen to it for eternity), but when done well and with full engagement, someone like J.S. Bach can totally transport you to a higher plane.

I go to church because that is where I can sing the songs and hear the music and feel the feelings I need to feel to help get me through. I couldn’t give a rat’s behind about the readings, or the sermons, which nine times out of ten rather suck. The most moving sermon I ever heard was done by one of the women in our congregation who was filling in while our pastor was away, and she talked about her experiences in a way that was so real, and relevant and personal that it just blew everyone away. Otherwise, I am sitting there being highly disturbed by the fallacies of simple logic that are going on, and feeling bad because . . . well, in a church, most folks are told that you need to believe this and if you don’t believe this well then you are highly misguided and need to get with the program. And I go to a VERY liberal church.

But then I think about my friends who follow other religions . . . and those who don’t follow any religion . . . and how many religions have been born and died since the beginning of universe . . . And I wonder, is there really one right way? I think there is not. There are so many similarities between faiths . . . so much about human nature that carries across cultures and centuries . . . so much random bad that happens in the world . . . and so many moments of unrestrained joy and wonder . . .

Having faith is very comforting to people – this I cannot deny. But so is having optimism that tomorrow is another day, and each of us has many opportunities to make it better for ourselves and others . . .

. . . I will have to revisit this train of thought another time. I am basically trying to work all this out in my mind and I keep getting interrupted. (What? I actually have to do some WORK here? The nerve!)

I’m sorry if none of this makes sense . . . remember the sign does say “random thoughts” at the top of the screen . . .

I’ve thought of a title for my 2005 National Novel Writing Month story – Managing Expectations. I would say more, but I need to save it for my story. I’m not sure yet if I will put the work in progress up on this blog yet, but I know I will put some stuff up. If you are interested and haven’t signed up yet, there’s still time . . . you only have to write 50,000 words in the month of November! Come do it with me! (

Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” just came on the radio. Did anyone else beside me think when it came out that she purposefully made it a song that would be copied by high school marching bands around the country? I can see it being played at a lot of Homecoming games, along with the synchronized Color Guard flag movements. It’s bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S! That stupid song is going to be in my head all day now . . .

Today, I will end with an e.e. cummings poem:

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look will easily unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

1 comment:

Virginia Gal said...

(whispering) don't tell others but I firmly believe that it doesn't matter what religion or non-religion you practice, if you are a good person, God (cause I believe in Him) loves you and will give you entrance into the heavenly afterlife. Faith is very much about having hope and optimism...we humans need it I think otherwise there is no point in getting up each morning, no?
Hope you watched the Apprentice - so good!