Monday, June 19, 2017

Note to my daughter-in-law: Everything is a miracle.

My daughter-in-law called me up on Father's Day and asked me what I do to keep life exciting. Do I open myself up to new experiences? How do I keep life from getting stale? I responded it's not what I do, but the perspective that's available to me while I do it. To my mind, everything is a miracle. For instance, we were talking on cell phones. 
She was hundreds of miles away yet whispering in my ear. And by moving her tongue in the right way, while pushing air out of her lungs the resulting disturbances in the space around her created a sound we agreed would represent an object or emotion. Let's say of a  "dog". Objectively the sound "dog" is nonsense, until it's agreed on by the English speaking world it's a metaphor for the critter (just as we agree that the squiggles on this screen also represent a "dog". These squiggles right
Then the phone converts the disturbance in the air to electricity sending it to a cell tower that relays it to another cell tower sending it through space again so it can be picked up by my phone and that phone can disturb the air one more time before relaying it to a receiver, namely, my ear. And that's the way she communicated to me what was in her mind, a mind firing countless neurons effortlessly. That's a magical dog.
And what is this miraculous phone replicated by Apple and Samsung billions of times?  A conglomeration of trillions of atoms forming elements, forming molecules coming together to work in concert with each other. What is a trillion? If you counted up to a trillion at ten numbers a second it would take 25,000 years to reach your goal. And there are a trillion stars in our galaxy and there are a trillion galaxies in the universe. In other words, there's plenty to get excited about in life.  
Bring a person from 200 years ago, here, now, and give them a phone and they would be blown out. It would be the most amazing thing she had ever seen. Send her back, and she would spend her life talking about it with everyone she met (and probably end up in the loony bin or burned as a witch) But for us it's too often ho-hum.
Everything I perceive with my five senses is miraculous. The odds I'm  alive is the greatest miracle of all. The universe is 15 billion years old and will survive another 15 billion (at least in the relative world, there is a good argument that time doesn't exist except in our mind...another thing to contemplate in awe)  And here I am...right...NOW! Alive for this brief, brief time. We've all won the Mega Millions lottery. Who in history wouldn't give everything they had to be where we are now. Luckier than Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Shakespeare. How come we're not spending every moment with our mouths open in awe, thinking "we're alive!" for this blink of an eye. 
The size of the universe. The allusion we exist, the number of sentient beings on the planet. Relativity. Quantum Physics (true magic, not the silly activity I practice). The periodic table (chemistry is mind blowing), the electron microscope.The advances humans have made since the industrial revolution. How many tools we've created are taken for granted, we, having no idea how they are made. Like a car? Not how it runs, but how can they make the tires in those shapes, the doors, the steering wheel, all the computer stuff in the engine and put it all together in such a way that we can drive out of the lot with it and drive for 200,000 miles without a hitch. It's a friggin' miracle, that's what it is.
Examples are ubiquitous (it's a miracle I know what ubiquitous means). I could write a full length book listing them. How can a pill cure us of a headache or a cold? Someone knows. People who've dedicated their lives understanding cells, DNA! but what a miracle someone chooses to learn that and knows where to go to learn it. And the miracle of birth! That alone is worth the price of admission. Did you ever read how a fetus is conceived and develops in the womb? Damn, that's mind blowing.

So when my daughter-in-law asked me what I do to keep life interesting, that was my answer. It's not going on another vacation, taking a new drug, hearing a new song, meeting a new friend, (though those work too, why not?) It's being in awe. Of everything.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

An epiphany why sex is rated X and violence only rated R

Steve and Harry's "Conversations With My Dummy" podcast

I had an epiphany a while ago that I wanted to share with my readers. Like any good liberal I was always incensed with the hypocrisy that sex was rated X in the movies and violence was rated R. As Jack Nicholson supposedly said (but was probably apocryphal) If you kiss a tit, it's rated X, if you cut it off, it's rated R.
My epiphany hit me one day while watching the Daily Show. They were showing these horrible scenes from Law and Order SVU. And they are pretty gruesome but guess what? EVERY SCENE WAS SIMULATED! All those dead bodies were posed with make-up. There was no real violence being perpetrated and we all know it. When the bodies pile up in an action feature the viewer can be assured they're paid actors and the blood is ketchup.

But sex! That can't be simulated. If Janet Jackson shows her breast at half time at the Super Bowl, it's really a breast we're looking at. If you see nudity in a movie or on TV, that's real nudity. No way around it. You can hide nudity with blankets and camera angles, but once it's there, it's there. A kiss is a kiss. But a stab is not a stab.

We know this on the deepest level. Look at kids. They know the difference better than adults.
If an actor is killed on TV, the kid has little reaction (unless they're really young of course) but if someone is killed in their living room, they will be traumatized for life (this applies to adults too of course).

In fact, if a real tit was cut off or if someone was really killed on screen, you would see how fast it would be headline news. The network or movie company would be in serious trouble. People would talk about it for weeks if not years.
To argue with Jack Nicholson, if you kiss a tit on TV, that's really a tit being kissed, cut it off, and it's faked.

Here's another example. At the end of movies it often says "No animal has been harmed in the making of this film." Why don't they say "No humans have been harmed in the making of this film"?
Because it's self-evident.

Once I realized that, I was a lot more comfortable with the rating system. I mean, shouldn't children be protected from seeing boobs, tushies and penises in action?
You decide for yourself if that last sentence was sarcastic. Comments welcome.