Saturday, April 26, 2008

its term-paper time, again

It's term paper time again. My paper is due on the 12th, so to my way of thinking, I am a little ahead. I have started on my "works cited", I have read a stack of journal articles and skimmed a pile of books. Just finished Sophocles "Trachaia" and Euripides "Children of Herakles"... the Euripides was awful, but the Sophocles was fairly good. I also re-read Hesiod's Theogony. But things haven't really gelled yet.

I am writing about Herakles, not because I have a particular affinity, but because that's the slip I drew out of the envelope. I already did my oral presentation, which went fairly well. What we do with the subject is up to us. I am focusing on apotheosis, since it's a fascinating aspect of the myth.

Heracles is born of mortal mother (Alcmene) and an immortal father (Zeus). He lives his life as a mortal, albeit an extraordinary one. At the end of his life, when it is clear he is dying (accidentally and painfully poisoned by his wife), he has his own pyre built. He climbs in while still alive, and is burned alive. Zeus zaps the pyre with a thunderbolt, and the "mortal" part of Heracles is burned away. His mortal soul goes down to Hades, and his immortal self is swept away to Olympia, where he joins the host of Immortals.

He was worshipped by the Greeks as a hero, and as a diety, with separate shrines for both and separate forms of ritual for each of his roles.

My paper focuses on this transformation from man to god, after a horrible and painful death (sound like anything familiar?) and what purposes it served for the Greeks/what it said about them. Or it will focus on this, once I actually manage to get it all down on paper. Probably on the 11th, if I follow the usual pattern...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

found a new acronym

I love this one -- HIPPO

an acronym for Highest Paid Person's Opinion... ie, I can't actually order this yet, I'm waiting for the HIPPO to decide


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

what do you think...

about what's going on in Texas at the FDLS compound? We have a duty as a society to protect children. And so part of me says, YAY for the authorities stepping in and doing something. But it also feels like religious persecution... these folks do not live like us. They believe things we don't. And it makes us uncomfortable.

But where do we draw the line? I'm an atheist, more or less. And many folks in this country feel that is not only wrong, but intolerable. Should I be arrested for depriving my child of the BIBLE? There are folks that would argue YES, that I am endangering his well-being, and his soul.

I don't happen to have a problem with polygamy. I don't think it really works well for most folks, and it certainly wouldn't work for me, but if all the parties are consenting adults, go for it.

I don't agree with the FDLS stance on husband's rights, either. But if the adult women, and the adult men agree that the husband is ruler; again, go for it. I don't have to live that way, so no skin off my nose.

The issue comes down to choices and freedom, and how much we allow. My gut says adults should have all the freedom they want, as long as it doesn't bump into anybody else's rights. And children have the right to be protected from wrong-headed adults, until they are old enough to make their own choices.

as a side note, and I mean way aside the freedom issues, does anybody but me wonder where the FDLS folks get the money to support all those kids, and do all that building???

Friday, April 18, 2008

never too old to rock, apparently

Apparently, you are never too old to rock. My family and I just attended a screening of Shine a Light, the Scorcese Rolling Stones concert documentary. WOW!! The guys in the band are all over 60 now. Mick is a dynamo on stage, un-freaking-believable in his energy and charisma. And for those who like Mick, yes, he is still HOT!!! Ron Wood was astounding on guitar. And Keith Richards, well, he has aged into a charming, charming, kick-ass rock-n-roller. Charlie Watts is solid and stolid on drums, just like always.

The show had a few guest performers -- Jack White, Christina Aguilerra and Buddy Guy. They were all terrific, and playing with the band seemed to energize them into better performances.

Scorcese did a great job of interspersing old interviews and media images of the band with the current concert footage. Age has not been physically kind to Mick or Keith, really; both look like they have had a hard hard road travel. But they have aged well. And they clearly still love what they do. You could tell how much they enjoy performing and being together on-stage. It's like they have found the fountain of youth -- and it's ROCK.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

seen on the streets

a new business near work:

The Jesus Christ Bail Bond Company

I guess he's got to diversify, what with the economy and all ;-)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

leave the olympics alone

OK. I think China has a terrible record for human rights. Of course, I don't think we've been stellar in recent years either. That said, the Olympics are a chance for the world to get together, not for politics, but for sport. The world needs more events like this, more opportunities to unite, to see what we have in common, not what separates us.

So let it alone. We can protest China's behavior another way. We can put political pressure to bear without touching the Olympics. Let the world athletes who have struggled and trained for this event have their chance to perform on a world stage.

Monday, April 07, 2008

now I know why we're called the middle class

How does it feel to be squeezed, stuck in the middle between a rock and a hard place? Gas is up. Oil is up. Healthcare is up. Groceries are up. Tuition is up. And our income, well it's up too, but not so much. I just got my annual review (outstanding in all categories!) and my raise. Which was the maximum allowed, at 2.5%. I have no complaints about my job. And no complaints about my general income. It's just that it seems I'm losing ground all the time.

I make more each year, but my expenses always increase at about 3 times the rate of my salary increases. And I'm one of the truly lucky ones. I get the max amount of raise every time. And because my base is so high, the percentage actually means I get a measurable increase.

What the hell would we do if we made the median income for Baltimore City for a family? Right now, that median income is somewhere around $39,000 a year. 2.5% of that is $975. At 24 pay periods a year, that comes to $40 a paycheck before taxes. That doesn't even cover a tank of gas every two weeks. How will people live? What the hell happens to the local economy if the largest employer in the state is handing out 2.5% raises, leaving the bulk of their employees poorer than the year before?

Most folks are not sitting on large saving accounts. If they are lucky they have a house, with a mortgage, and a car, with a loan. For the last few years, people counted on home equity to cover them in a pinch. Now it is possible that their house is worth less than they owe.

So, if good economic times "lift all boats" as the Republicans like to claim, what do bad times do? Are we all gonna sink together? I'm guessing that yachts have life rafts....

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

everything has a price

We have entered the Age of Whores. Everything has a price. The answer to almost any question that begins "for a million dollars, would you...?" is a resounding YES.

WTF??? How did we get to this?

Parents are letting their 6 year olds participate in Ultimate Fighting -- for money. Pimp out their 12 year old daughters to commercials and TV, for money. Let a camera follow them around, as they behave badly -- for money. Sell pictures they shouldn't have taken in the first place -- for money.

Where is the outrage? Why doesn't this piss us off? Why do we watch the shows (and yes, we do, in astounding numbers) and buy the products?

It's not a crisis in faith. That's crap. I have none, and I try to lead an ethical life. It's not a failure to spend time with our children. We spend more time with our kids now than any generation before us. And yet, we have become an unethical society. We have become a nation for sale.

How do we fix it?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

still a slacker....

Last night, we were talking about our term-papers. I mentioned that I didn't have a topic yet, but that it was fine, because it's not due for weeks... Bad move. Apparently, I am still a slacker. I am still of the mindset where I think it's hugely impressive that I actually show up for class. And do the reading.

Sigh. Really, I'm just not a "true" scholar. I am interested in stuff. Lots of different stuff. And I like to read a lot. But I hate being forced to focus, and research, and write an ordered, logical paper. I can do it, but I put it off as long as possible. I get distracted by more interesting articles than the one I am currently reading, on un-related topics that suddenly become fascinating to me. I have been known to switch paper topics two or three times before I'm done, often after doing quite a bit of the legwork. To work on one idea for weeks is a huge strain. I don't know how anyone ever writes a thesis or a dissertation. You have to focus for months, for years on the same thing.

I am going to go email my professor and see if any of the grab-bag of ideas I've got will make an acceptable topic.