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Archive for the ‘Nietzsche’ Category

Covid and the Winter of Our Discontent – AlleyWatch

Posted: December 21, 2020 at 2:56 am

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Now, as Shakespeare said, is the winter of our discontent.

Covid keeps on coming, creating a third wave of infections that put the earlier upswells to shame. We are hunkered down, tired out, fed up, and strung out. People fret and businesses suffer.

What is an entrepreneur (last time I looked, entrepreneurs are people, too, subject to all the slings and arrows of human experience) to do during a dark moment like this? How can an emerging business move forward when everything is locked down?

Every entrepreneur is unique and every business different, but here are a few thoughts on how to traverse terrible times.

Focus on your core.

In challenging times, startups should cut away all the clutter, pare back big dreams, and pay attention single-mindedly to their core. This means core activities, like lab research and software development. Or core customers: keep every buyer you have today satisfied, occupied, and ready to expand in the future. It means paying attention to your key team members and to your most critical investors. Make a list of essentials. Tighten that list down to only the most central requirements. Pay attention to those. And leave everything else for later.

If you cant act, prepare.

In some cases, with all the restrictions now in place, action is impossible. You cant go to the office. The lab is shut. The customers are closed. The factory is inaccessible. The supply chain is sundered. In this case, be the farmer in winter: Paint the barn. Clean the root cellar. Muck out the stalls. Do all you can to prepare and improve your foundations so that when action becomes possible again, you can take the greatest advantage of it.

Remember the Shawshank Redemption.

In this classic story, an inmate chips away at a wall with spoons day after day for years. The task of escape seems impossible, ridiculous. But they persist. Imperceptibly, they make progress. Until one day, unimaginable when he began, the prisoner is free. Be that guy. Do what you can no matter how small. Keep the faith. Believe in yourself, your plan, and your tomorrow. Even if progress is minuscule, that is still progress and worthy of your effort.

Recognize that winter ends.

Vaccines are here. In Britain, inoculations began yesterday. In the US it may be weeks before they begin. But that is weeks, not years. The Covid crisis should ease over the spring and some degree of normal socialization should return by summer. It has been a long, dark nine months, but the end is in sight. Take a deep breath, adjust the heavy pack on your back, and just keep doing. Even if you cant see it yet, the brilliant sunshine of the summit is only a few switchbacks ahead. Truly, this nightmare is almost over.

Dont forget yourself.

Focus on your team, your customers, your prep, your tech. But dont forget to focus on yourself. You are human, too. All of this is taking a toll on you, as it is on all of us. Stay as close as you can to those you love. Reach out and do the things that bring you joy and comfort. Workout. Eat and drink so your body and mind are ready for the marathon ahead. Cut yourself some slack; in one way or another, all of us are a bit off our game during this conferment.

Nietzsche said, that which does not kill us makes us stronger. In our current malaise, this is literally true.

Be strong.

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December 21st, 2020 at 2:56 am

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The songs of David Bowie album Hunky Dory ranked in order of greatness – Far Out Magazine

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As we celebrate the release of David Bowies seminal recordHunky Dory, which arrived 39 years ago today, we thought wed rank the iconic album from our least favourite to our most cherished track. It may well have been the moment that David Bowie finally fulfilled his potential, but that doesnt mean the record is perfect from start to finish.

That said, in an album filled with some of Bowies best pop work, it may be more difficult than you think to rank the songs from worst to best. The album remains the breakthrough record for Bowie and saw the then-24-year-old finally make his name. While the success of Space Oddity in 1969 had afforded the Starman some fame and acclaim, it wasHunky Dorythat really set him on his path to becoming a bonafide legend.

In the record, Bowie set out his blueprint for success. He would take the kaleidoscopic influences he fell upon and which fell upon him during the previous decade, tie them up together in a neat bow and deliver them with a charismatic smile. If theres one thing thatHunky Doryis, its an introduction to an icon. It should be the first place you send any Bowie virgin not least of all because of the vast range of songs and styles.

Here, we rank them all for you so that you can be as efficient as possible with your David Bowie adoration. Yes, we know. These kinds of articles are essentially just one persons opinion in an ocean of opinions. However, we like to think of ourselves as Bowie experts here, so maybe well surprise you, or maybe, just maybe, youll disagree with our rankings.

A few rules to note, for any ranking article we avoid bonus tracks or any remixes. We also try to listen to the albums on shuffle so that we avoid falling into the traps of clever producers.

Without doubt one of David Bowies more opaque songs, in fact, it never warranted itself a title, the song remains as a leading example of Bowies expressive lyricism. It was not an aspect of his songwriting which had been fully explored, but these are some of the first steps to Bowies legendary pen.

While the exact interpretation is hard to define, youd be forgiven for thinking this may surround the urbanisation of modern life and Bowies struggle to come to terms with it.

In an album chock-full of hits, this one falls by the wayside a little.

One of the funkier moments on the album, adding some delicate jazz touches wherever possible, the overarching sentiment that Bowie lets resonate is the last repetitious line free your mind, which punctuates the track with aplomb.

His first cover since I Pity The Fool, the special rendition of Biff Roses track had been featuring in the singers earlier live sets for some time. Never afraid to show his admiration for another, Bowies cover is up to scratch.

Largely seen by many as one of the most challenging songs of Bowies to navigate, it was one of the last tracks to be written for the 1971 record. Its dense texture, and rock hard exterior has it sinking to the bottom of the rankings for us, but that wont be a popular opinion.

The Bewlay Brothers has taken on a life of its own in recent years as a new generation discovers the singer. These are the artistically driven moments in Bowies career that have always seen him on the sharper side of the cutting edge.

The B-side to Rock N Roll Suicide, this 1971 song remains a bastion of Bowies inspiration at the time. While the arrangement was amply provided by Mick Ronson, it is in the lyrics that we see the beginnings of Bowies career unfolding.

The lyrics are influenced by Buddhism, occultism, and Friedrich Nietzsches concept of the Superman everything that makes Bowie brilliant.

In it, he refers to the magical society Golden Dawn and name-checks one of its most famous members, Aleister Crowley, as well as Heinrich Himmler, Winston Churchill and Juan Pujol. A kaleidoscope of influential figures to match the ranging styles of the music.

Not our favourite song on the record as it feels a little too dad-rock but Bowie himself once highlighted the songs significance to his own career in a 1976 piece inMelody Maker.

He once recalled: Theres even a song Song for Bob Dylan that laid out what I wanted to do in rock. It was at that period that I said, okay (Dylan) if you dont want to do it, I will. I saw that leadership void.

He added: Even though the song isnt one of the most important on the album, it represented for me what the album was all about. If there wasnt someone who was going to use rock n roll, then Id do it. This was the moment David Bowie made it clear that he was not just a showman; he was an artist capable of changing society.

Starting of course with David Bowies uncanny impression of Warhol, and a comedic expression that shows off Bowies acting skills, the song soon descends into a folk-pop track about the mercurial pop artist that is certainly tinged with apprehension and darkness.

The lyrics highlight a distrust of the artist: Andy Warhol looks a scream, hang him on my wall / Andy Warhol silver screen, cant tell them apart at all. Allegedly, when the two icons met and Bowie played the song for the pop artist, Warhol was not particularly impressed, leaving Bowie more red-faced than his usual make-up routine afforded.

Sadly, the possibility of two of the 20th centurys most creative and purposeful minds ended with the drop of a record needle as Bowie and Warhol quickly ascertained they were never going to be great friends. But Bowie certainly made off the better of the two from their meeting. Bowie could count two lifelong partners in Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, who he met on the trip and the seedlings ofhis upcoming creation Ziggy Stardustwho he lifted from the underbelly of NYC.

Allegedly written in tribute to Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, the former of which Bowie would introduce too much of the British audience in 1972 with his work on Reeds Transformer, Bowies Queen Bitch is an insight into the artists future.

First port of call is Ronsons decidedly thrashier guitar work which pulls this song apart from the rest of the album and turns a folk ditty into pure rock n roll. The songs arrangement, featuring a wonderfully melodic bass line, a tight and disco drum pattern, choppy fuzzy guitar chords, and an understated vocal performance by Bowie, all add up to glam rock gold.

As well as being a bloody brilliant song (in whatever decade) the track also provided the template for the invention of glam rock as we know it. It would be a template too for The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, the 1972 introduction to Ziggy Stardust.

An anthemic adolescent bounces down Carnaby Street, Bowie transforms this jaunty little tune, somewhat reminiscent of The Beatles in their pop pomp, to something far more textured and intriguing.

Despite being originally released by Peter Noone of Hermans Hermits, upon inspection, it is really hard to imagine anybody but Bowie writing this track.

Lyrically and thematically, Oh! You Pretty Things has been seen as reflecting the influence of the aforementioned occultist Aleister Crowley, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and Edward Bulwer-Lyttons 1871 novel Vril, the Power of the Coming Race, most notably as heralding the impending obsolescence of the human race in favour of an alliance between arriving aliens and the youth of the present society.

An anthem for the outsiders of this world, Kooks may not be the most famous of the albums incredible tracklist, but for many fans, it resonates most strongly. The song, written for his son Zowie, is the track which recognises not only Bowies own kookiness but the effect that will have on him as a parent and Zowie as a child.

I bought you a pair of shoes, a trumpet you can blow and a book of rules on what to say to people when they pick on you, sings Bowie. Cause if you stay with us youre gonna be pretty kooky too.

Its a song which has transcended its intended target and instead hangs around the shoulders of all those who hear it as a comforting cradle of emboldening creativity. Its a forgiveness for the errant character traits and odd affectations. Its Bowie signing off on your weirdness and recognising it for the unique beauty it is.

Was there ever really any doubt that this song would be near the top of the pile?

One of the songs, that for many people, is one of the best that Bowie ever wrote. Its equally a song that Bowie admits it started out as a parody of a nightclub song, a kind of throwaway we think its fair to say that were all glad he didnt.

What transpires instead is a song drenched in optimism and guarded enthusiasm for life and art. As well as being an indictment of the previous generations lack of control, Bowie stating in 1968We feel our parents generation has lost control, given up, theyre scared of the future. I feel its basically their fault that things are so bad. The song is also an anthem for evolution and tolerance.

Its a mark of Bowies character and his artistic destination. Its a manifesto for his career as a rock and roll chameleon, for his life as a patron of the arts and creativity, and his legacy as one of the most iconic men in music.

Without doubt one of the most powerful and poignant songs, Bowie has ever written. Likely to be as powerful in a rock opera as on a pop record, with Life On Mars Bowie really changed the game and made artistically-driven music hit the heights of pop stardom despite never being released as a single.

Compositionally the song is near-perfect. Piano work provided by Rick Wakeman, Bowie reflected that it was actually an effortless creation: [The] Workspace was a big empty room with a chaise longue; a bargain-price art nouveau screen (William Morris, so I told anyone who asked); a huge overflowing freestanding ashtray and a grand piano. Little else. I started working it out on the piano and had the whole lyric and melody finished by late afternoon.

While lyrically, it ranks among the most surreal and deliberately difficult to ascertain any real concrete truth from, it is in the series of tableaux that Bowie provides which shows off his creative genius. Not comfortable with providing a searing narrative that the music warrants, instead Bowie provides a disjointed and designed medley of vignettes from the museum to the modernasking the listeners to create their own tale.

For us, if you can write a song filled with lyrics as non-sensical as Life On Mars while still having the audience sing those mysterious lyrics back to you with passion and drivethen youve truly succeeded as an artist.

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December 21st, 2020 at 2:56 am

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Totally Not Fake News: The Latest Texans Fan – Battle Red Blog

Posted: December 3, 2020 at 4:59 am

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LTZEN/RCKEN, GERMANY- It would seem an interesting locale for a Texans fan, this small village located in the eastern expanses of modern day Germany. When we say small, we do mean small, as it barely exceeded 600 people (in what population statistics are available). However, aside from maybe winning a Euro or two in a German geography bet at the bar, this town does have one other claim to fame. Its most famous resident is also the newest celebrity fan of the Houston Texans.

Of course I am a fan of the Texans opined Friedrich Nietzsche Why wouldnt I be? The famed German philosopher, whose writings in the second half of the 19th century did much to drive modern thought on life, God and the constant struggle of man to find his place in the world. Love what I see going on there with that team, or at least, if I was capable of such a thing as love, which I am not.

Setting aside the fact that Nietzsche has been dead for 120 years What, weve already killed off God, why wouldnt we have killed off Death? If Death is dead, then we do not die, and we can transverse between life and death. Since there is no Death, and since we killed off God, there is no one to regulate the realm between life and death, thus, we can have this conversation, despite what is said about my life and death.

As we attempted to decipher that last statement or three, Nietzsche proceed to describe how he came to view the Texans as worthy of his attention. Always had a thing for those sort of out there folks, especially if they take the view of life that ultimately, it is not filled with any real hope or purpose. My boys Wagner and Dostoyevsky, they fit my style perfectly. Long-winded, bombastic at times, and the endings, all filled with no expectation of hope or victory...perfect.

When asked how exactly that fit into the Texans, Nietzsche did not answer right away. Ahhhmy first hit in a while. What? Oh, just had to pop a couple of opioid pills. Damn, where the hell was this back in the day? Had to go with the old, need

Herr Nietzsche?! The Texans!

What about the Texans? What is this Texans thing you speak of?

The point of this interview.

What is the point of this interview? What is the point of any interview? What is the point of is?


What is theoh, hell, my buzz just endedok, where were we? Actually, where are we? Where will we be, or can we be? Alright, the Texans, yes, anyway, my reasons why

Go on.

Well, as you know, I tend to see life as a whats the point? sort of game. Yes, this American football is a game of sorts and well, even if there is a situation where there is a winner or loser, there is presumption of hope. Yet, I then see the Texans and I notice, Where is the hope and where is the purpose?

Yes, Watson is a great player and I am damned glad he is on my fantasy team, but what is the point of what he is doing? He will put up all of those stats and he will throw it all over the place, but to what purpose? There is no championship in his future for this year. Also, there is the built-in torment of false hope with the whole worst team getting best draft picks, but since the Texans dont have to worry about that. It is as if they are the perfect team for me, playing with no short or long term hope.

When asked if couldnt have just been a Cleveland or Detroit fan, Nietzsche just blanched Why the hell would anyone waste their life cheering for those losers?

We did ask if he perhaps had followed Green Bay at one point Alright, Im going to stop you right there. Ever since the 1960s, I always hear that damned joke, especially from that douche Heidegger Hey, how was it playing for Lombardi? or I remember that great game against Detroit when you limped the pick-six into the end zone. Thats usually when I tell him that he was a dumbass in the Hawthorne short storysuch is the afterlife for us philosophers. Of course, since Death is now dead, and there is still no God in the way since we killed him, there is really not such a thing as afterlife or life or life-after-death. Of course, if we killed God, but then killed Death, how could God still be dead? If that is the case, then God is alive, and then there is once against Death, but then, we just kill them all again, for them to kill us again

So, anyway, in the existence that we occupy at a given point and space, the lame-arse Nitschke jokes are so pass. Besides, Heidegger knows that during that time, I was all about the Butkus. Big bruising linebacker, treating other players like we treated the French in the Franco-Prussian Waror at least until the one night at the French brothelstill drives me nuts, literally. He [Butkus] was more my style, toiling away on a team that did noting and went nowhere. Kinda like [J.J.] Watt now.

When asked if any other folks he knew were Texans fans, he demurred Well, they are certainly gaining some converts in the nihilist school right now. Their lack of purpose or hope, stuck just living and playing, it does match our beat. Heard Wagner thought of updating the Gotterdammerung to have the BOB coda, but that could just be the long-standing ringing in my ears that hasnt stopped since 1889. Anyway, Ill keep tabs on the team. They seem like they will be the poster children for my school of thought for seasons to come.

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December 3rd, 2020 at 4:59 am

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The Prom review is Ryan Murphy’s musical the first film of the Biden era? – The Guardian

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Like High School Musical on some sort of absinthe/Xanax cocktail, The Prom is an outrageous work of steroidal show tune madness, directed by the dark master himself, Ryan Glee Murphy, who is to jazz-hands musical theatre what Nancy Meyers is to upscale romcom or Friedrich Nietzsche to classical philology.

Meryl Streep and James Corden play Dee Dee Allen and Barry Glickman, two fading Broadway stars in trouble after their latest show closes ignominiously; it is called Eleanor!, a misjudged musical version of the life of Eleanor Roosevelt with Dee Dee in the title role and Barry as Franklin D Roosevelt. Barry also has financial difficulties (I had to declare bankruptcy after my self-produced Notes on a Scandal). After unhelpful press notices turn their opening night party at Sardis into a wake, Dee Dee and Barry find themselves drowning their sorrows with chorus-line trooper Angie (Nicole Kidman) and unemployed-actor-turned-bartender Trent (played by The Book of Mormons Andrew Rannells). How on earth are they going to turn their careers around?

Then Angie sees a news story trending on Twitter: a gay teenager in Indiana has been prevented by her high school from bringing a girl as a date to the prom. The teen in question is Emma (a nice performance from Jo Ellen Pellman, like a young Elisabeth Moss), her secret girlfriend is Alyssa (Ariana DeBose) and it is Alyssas fiercely conservative mom (Kerry Washington) who is behind the ban. Our heroic foursome declare that they will sweep into hicksville with all their enlightened values and glamorous celebrity, and campaign against this homophobia, boosting their prestige in the biz. They gatecrash a tense school meeting, declaring dramatically: We are liberals from Broadway!

The Prom is based on the Broadway stage musical by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin which incredibly is based on a real-life case from 2010. This movie starts in Manhattan but doesnt fully come to life until it moves to the school, with all its deeply serious drama, and then the raddled showbiz grownups arrive as desperate, insecure, lonely and status-obsessed as any teenager thus proving the ancient maxim that adult life is just high school with money.

The Prom is as corny as you like, and there is hardly a plot turn, transition or song-cue that cant be guessed well in advance; but its so goofy that you just have to enjoy it, and there are some very funny lines. One narcissistic girl sings to herself in the mirror: You have to hand it to me / Even I would do me. When the local hotel doesnt have a suite for Dee Dee, she slams both her Tony awards on the reception counter to prove how important she is, and then poor Barry does the same with his mystifying New York Drama Desk award statuette and no one knows what it is. The night of the revived prom brings a location-cheat editing trick that I havent seen since The Silence of the Lambs.

Could this be the first film of the Joe Biden era, as the liberals from the big city have to get over their snobbish disdain for the basket of deplorables and all come together? Well, maybe. It is amusing when the schools principal Mr Hawkins (Keegan-Michael Key) happens to be a massive fan of Dee Dee and there is a spark but Dee Dee cannot grasp the idea that a man could like Broadway musicals and be heterosexual. But of course there is no question of the music-theatre megastars seriously conceding anything to conservative-minded locals, other than the time-honoured virtue of putting aside your self-love for a bit. But self-love is the whole point.

The Prom is released on 4 December in cinemas, and on 11 December on Netflix.

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The Prom review is Ryan Murphy's musical the first film of the Biden era? - The Guardian

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December 3rd, 2020 at 4:59 am

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Friedrich Nietzsche Birth Anniversary: Top 10 relatable love quotes by the philosopher –

Posted: October 16, 2020 at 11:54 am

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German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was born on October 15, 1844. The noted philosopher is known for his writings on good and evil, the end of religion in modern society, and the concept of a super-man.

Nietzsche began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy. He became the youngest ever to hold the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel in 1869 at the age of 24. Nietzsche resigned in 1879 due to health problems that plagued him most of his life; he completed much of his core writing in the following decade.

In 1889, at age 44, he suffered a collapse and afterward a complete loss of his mental faculties. He lived his remaining years in the care of his mother until she died in 1897 and then with his sister Elisabeth Frster-Nietzsche. Nietzsche died in 1900. Nietzsches writing spans philosophical polemics, poetry, cultural criticism, and fiction while displaying a fondness for aphorism and irony.

Throughout his productive life, Nietzsche struggled to have his work published, confident that his books would have culturally transformative effects. While he did not live long enough to witness his fame, he did learn that his work was the subject of a series of lectures by Georg Morris Cohen Brandes, delivered at the University of Copenhagen in 1888.

Nietzsche died on August 25, 1900, from pneumonia and a stroke. The Nietzsche manuscripts were eventually moved to the Goethe and Schiller Archive in Weimar.

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October 16th, 2020 at 11:54 am

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Gazing into the abyss | Opinion | – El Defensor Chieftain

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Last Monday I was wondering if we would be getting the day off on Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day/Old Farmers Day, and at that moment a song popped up on the CD in the car stereo. It was Texas songwriter James McMurtry singing, Im not from here, I just live here. Grew up somewhere far away

I relate. My grandparents emigrated from Sweden and Poland. My other grandparents emigrated from Alabama. Well actually they go back to Colonial Maryland, or so my third cousin who worked on our genealogy says. I guess you could say us Larsons are like millions of other families a tiny droplet out of this big melting pot we call home.

Here in New Mexico, some of the families really are "from here" and have a family history going back 400 years or so, and in the process spiced up the melting pot with green chile .

To be honest though, those ancestors originally came from Spain. Youve got to go back to the early 1500s when the Spanish conquistadors came, with many marrying their indigenous girlfriends and settling down and getting married and having children.

But if I read my history book, the ancestors of the indigenous population had settled around here after their fore-bearers came to North America across a land bridge from Siberia.

This is the point where my brain gets wonky and the neurons start jumping synapses, kind of like it did when I was trying not to flunk algebra, and if I take this much further I may have to resort to a flow chart in a powerpoint presentation. Heaven forbid.

So with all this in mind, I can see why some people wonder if Columbus Day should still be a thing. Here in New Mexico it was officially changed to Indigenous Peoples Day last year, and kin like fashion, other states have made the switch.

It may not be any big loss because if you think about it, Christopher Columbus' name is already enshrined by places like Columbus, Ohio; Columbus, Georgia; Columbia, South Carolina; District of Columbia; Columbia University; Columbia, South America; Canadas British Columbia and on and on.

While we're jacking around with legal holidays let's go ahead and add one that has a tad more significance when it comes to the U.S.A.'s history. This coming Monday, for example, is a day that ought to be right up there with VE Day and VJ Day. I'm talking about - wait for it - VB day!

Yes, Victory over the British, for it was Oct. 19, 1781, that Englands royal army under General Cornwallis was surrounded and consequently surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia. George Washington well deserved having a ticker-tape parade to mark the victory. Of course, there was no such thing as ticker-tape back then and as a matter of fact, theres no such thing as ticker-tape today.

This is where the Z generation will ask, "Grandpa, what is a ticker-tape parade?" And I say it's kind of like dumping your paper-shredder contents out the window of a skyscraper into the street. Ticker-tape, as such, has gone the way of telegrams, "Fill 'er up?" gas station attendants and Kodak Instamatics.

Not to say that my old 127 Brownie couldnt take good pictures, its just nowadays you cant find anyone to process the film. What the latest thing now, though, is to pull all those old faded snapshots out of the photo album and scan them into your computer. And thats okay because with the right software you can make them look (almost) new. But time marches on, and now people rely on their cell phones for capturing those precious moments, and upload them onto the world-wide-web for people from Timbuktu to Kalamazoo to scroll past.

But look at me, being all high and mighty when I just posted a Flashback Friday photo.

Today is the birthdate of Friederich Nietzsche, who was born in Germany on October 15, 1844, and I only mention this because even to this day, you will catch people quoting him, whether they know it or not. It was Nietzsche, as I recall from my philosophy class at the University of Illinois, who gave birth to a million Facebook memes by proclaiming, That which does not kill us makes us stronger."

But that's not all. Nietzsche also said, Without music, life would be a mistake.

And, I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.

He also left us with the sobering, "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."

Wait. Sounds like social media to me.

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October 16th, 2020 at 11:54 am

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Schadenfreude over Trumps COVID-19 diagnosis was more about cosmic justice than joy in anothers pain – Jacksonville Journal-Courier

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(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)

Lee M. Pierce, State University of New York, College at Geneseo

(THE CONVERSATION) After President Donald Trump announced his COVID-19 diagnosis, Merriam-Webster Dictionary reported a 30,000% increase in searches for the word schadenfreude.

The German word, which is often translated as harm joy, or joy in someone elses pain, instantly became a subject of debate.

GQ and Newsweek, along with Stephen Colbert of The Late Show, wondered whether schadenfreude was a morally defensible response to the presidents diagnosis.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said absolutely not. Harvard professor Laurence Tribe went further, writing that this was no time for cruelty, schadenfreude, or any other form of small-mindedness.

I agree that cruelty is small-minded and indefensible. But as a scholar of rhetoric, I have a difficult time looping schadenfreude in with small-minded cruelty.

One of the issues is that the common English translation of schadenfreude harm joy fails to adequately capture the nuances of the term, and misses whats most poignant about it.

The realization of divine symmetry

Perhaps the confusion comes from the social sciences. Recent studies of schadenfreude have oversimplified it as the darker side of human emotion.

But at its best, schadenfreude is actually a recognition of ironic justice.

Irony is frequently misused in American political discourse as simply not meaning what you said. However, irony is a very specific rhetorical device by which something returns as its opposite. A returns as not A is the classic formulation.

In the case of Trump, he downplayed the seriousness of COVID-19 and ended up being diagnosed with a serious case of the virus himself. A returned as not A.

That is classic irony. Then theres the justice element.

Trump didnt simply downplay it in a vacuum. He was in charge of the federal governments response to a pandemic that has devastated thousands of families across the country. To them, COVID-19 has been deadly serious. So in this case, the irony doubles as a form of justice.

By justice, I dont mean rule of law or a system of punishment. I mean justice in its older sense of divine symmetry. The roots of the word justice have several potential origins, including the Latin stitia, loosely translated as equity, and the pre-Latin word jowos, loosely translated as sacred formula.

Schadenfreude is about appreciating that sacred formula at work in a secular world. Maybe you observe with satisfaction as the person who mocked your weight in high school asks for diet advice on Facebook. Or maybe you look on contentedly as your grandchild gives your child the same grief over broccoli that your child gave you.

Is that small-minded cruelty? Or are you appreciating the cosmic irony by which a perceived wrong has been righted?

An emotional middle ground

Appreciation is not simply another word for happiness or glee. Those are emotions that feel good, the way cuddles with loved ones and delicious desserts feel good.

A sense of appreciation or satisfaction after witnessing poetic justice at work is different, and schadenfreude is a milder experience that involves satisfaction.

To Sigmund Freud, satisfaction was best explained by the word befriedigung, which means ceasing displeasure.

Ceasing displeasure is not the same thing as experiencing pleasure. Its about bringing things back into balance. Befriedigung occupies an emotional middle ground that can be difficult to grasp in a culture that prefers extreme, binary emotions.

The presidents tendency toward hyperbolic and grandiose language is symptomatic of the countrys cultural preference for the huge emotions, such as anger, guilt, happiness and pleasure. Schadenfreude is an emotional chisel in an internet and media landscape that prefers blunt rhetorical instruments.

When schadenfreude veers into hopelessness

That said, schadenfreude can certainly go too far.

Just a few decades before Freud, another influential German thinker, Friedrich Nietzsche, argued that schadenfreude, pushed to its limits, becomes another word: ressentiment. In On the Genealogy of Morality, Nietzsche defined ressentiment as slave morality, a feeling of superiority derived from ones own suffering.

Think of it like a sliding scale. On the far end is simple justice: Someone in power does the right thing, like your boss approving your vacation request after youve worked six months with no time off. But lets suppose your boss says no to the request. And then no again two months later. And then no again two months after that. At that point, you might appreciate learning that your boss was denied a vacation request by headquarters. Thats schadenfreude. You might even point out this cosmic irony to your boss, hoping it will make a difference.

But when it doesnt and your boss continues treating you poorly you might start reveling in your own victimhood. You take every chance you can to tell your co-workers that your boss is out to get you. Thats ressentiment.

Ressentiment takes hold once the possibility for justice is no longer on the horizon. Under those conditions, even the most poignant appreciations of irony cannot speak truth to power. In turn, an oppressed people would understandably take refuge in an extreme form of schadenfreude.

But in between justice and ressentiment is a rich, gray area where schadenfreude can serve a valuable political purpose. If those in power wont take responsibility for the injustices they have perpetuated either knowingly or not then its certainly OK for people to appreciate those moments when the chickens come home to roost.

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Schadenfreude over Trumps COVID-19 diagnosis was more about cosmic justice than joy in anothers pain - Jacksonville Journal-Courier

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5-at-10 on fall break, Day 4: Fab 4 picks, Never picking against Saban, Braves are fine – Chattanooga Times Free Press

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Contributed photo by Kathleen Greeson

CAPE SAN BLAS, Fla. Hope your days have been swell.

Above is a picture from the Mrs. 5-at-10, which was feeding and ate only slightly more seafood than the 5-at-10 did Wednesday night at the Indian Pass Raw Bar. Egad those oysters were good.

Oysters, friend or foe?

We will try to move more quickly today. But, again, you know how that goes.

So with the breeze whistling and the waves crashing, from the satellite offices off of 30E in Florida, let's do this.

Fab 4 picks

We're at a loss. Seriously.

Not sure what the midway point of the college football season is, but it feels like we're carrying bags of cement up a hill when it comes to our college picks.

For every good pick there is at least one flubbed pick. And for every loss when we're on the right side, we have left a clear winner on the cutting room floor.

So it goes, and this year is anything but normal. And for comparison sake, at the midway point of October the last three years in college picks, we've been at 58 percent, 62 percent and 61 percent against the number.

Right now? We're two games below the Mush line.

Side question: What betting movies/movie characters are the best? I ask because Mush from A Bronx Tale is a great one. An all-timer for my group, especially in college. Mush, for those uninitiated, was a character in the mob circle of the rather mediocre aforementioned movie "A Bronx Tale." In fact, Mush, and the story about the $20 are the only true lasting parts about it.

Well, "He can't win, Mush bet Kryptonite."

There's an old saying I learned at card tables across the South. If you can't recognize the sucker, you're the sucker.

Is it possible? Am I Mush? At 11-13, it's Mush-able.

But, we're here. We're clear. We've got more than a little fear. Maybe we need to get used to it.

And pickers gotta pick. (In honor of our beach themes, here's what some folks callthe best ukulele playerin the world. Enjoy.)

(Editor's note. Picks coming in a few. The Mrs. had a flat tire on the way back from the world-famous donut shop on Cape San Blas this morning, and hey, duty calls.)


Not sure how you bet that one, to be honest, but I know that I will never bet against Saban against non-FCS competition.

Sure, I might not bet on Alabama every week, but it feels like a 10-day old tomato to do otherwise. (That means it feels really Mush-y, Spy. C'mon, I expected a littlemore from a varsity letterman.)

We wondered Wednesday if Saturday's showdown between the unmistakable top two teams in the SEC even matters in the race for the college football playoffs.

It's more like qualifying and positioning at this point all things considered, and as Chas noted on Wednesday, that could very well be about the strangeness of this season.

Speaking of which, that COVID has arrived at Saban's door stinks. Here's hoping the GOAT whips this thing like he does former assistants.

A lot of folks are banging the drum that this is Kirby's time and this defense is that good.

Maybe so.

But I'm not picking against Saban. Not on Saturday. Not against the Corona. Not ever.

And if this is Kirby's time, well, then Saturday's going to be a barn-burner and someone on Georgia's roster is going to be made into a mythical figure.

Because the only times through the years that anyone has toppled Saban in the last decade, it has been in a pretty magically memorable fashion.

And if it's going to happen, it's not necessarily going to be the defense that does it. Yes, Ole Miss put up a billion yards and a million points and this Bama defense is not what we're used to.

But if there is one common thread through the last 10 years of Alabama losses, it's a dude at wide receiver having a game for the ages or a quarterback who will be the subject of songs. Be it Alshon Jeffery or Rueben Randle or LaQuan Tredwell, or the likes of Cam, Johnny Football, DeShaun Watson or Joe Burrow.

Sure there are Auburn holes there that were inexplicable rivalry games that came with fancy nicknames and highlight videos, but other than that, it will take an extremely superhuman effort from a skilled offensive guy? Does Georgia have that guy on Saturday? We'll see. (But I'm still never picking against Saban.)

Braves stumble

So what? So bleepin' what?

There's not an aggregate tie-breaker in the NLCS, so losing 2-1 or 8-7 is the same as the 15-1 loss the Braves took Wednesday.

In fact, as Braves manager Brian Snitker told reporters, including Dave O'Brien of The Athletic the game, "Quite honestly, we're in better shape than if we had grinded out a 7-5 loss. We wanted to win the game and all. Those last 4 hours were not a lot of fun. But now that it's over and you look back, if we had to lose the game that's probably the best possible way."

And he's right. Completely.

Because after not getting out of the first, Kyle Wright is available sooner rather than later.

Sure it puts a ton of heat on Bryse Wilson tonight, but so it goes. Braves fans almost assuredly needed Kyle, Bryse or one of the other guys with Greg and Doug and Chip from the Omega House to get one win.

And the knowledge of Fried and Anderson still looming as needed is way more comforting than the frustration of what was a historically bad first inning Wednesday.

Deep breaths Braves fans.As aforementioned Chip Dillertold us, "All is Well."

This and that

You know the rules.Here's Paschall on Sabangetting the COVID despite wearing a mask "all the time."Here's his picks column. And here's a look atUGA's hopes Saturday night, and maybe how that could even happen Sunday morning.

Did some wheelin' and dealin' to shake up our fantasy football team, which had lost three straight games. We dealt Chris Carson and Antonio Gibson for Christian McCaffrey. And we dealt Tyler Lockett, DeVonta Freeman and the Packers tight end for Davanta Adams. We were flush with depth, but a high scoring bench does you little good. Of course, in our Mush run right now, we'll get two injuries and be stuck. We got a pretty righteous collection of RBs and WRs now with Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jonathan Taylor and McCaffrey as well as Adams and DeAndre Hopkins. We're either going to make a charge to win this thing or finish DFL. Mush.

Loved this storyfrom USA Today about Joe Mogila. What an interesting dude, who is now the head executive director of the football program at Coastal Carolina seriously, that's his title and CC is 4-0 after last night. And, he's doing it for $1 a year. (Of course, when you are the former CEO of TD Ameritrade and had various years making more than $20 million per, you can afford to do what you love for any price.)

Today's questions

Hey, remember the mailbag gang.

Nietzsche was born on this day in 1844. Is there a more famous often repeated philosophical theory than "That which does not kill us makes us stronger" by the aforementioned Nietzsche?

As for a Rushmore, Penny Marshall would have been 77 today. Rushmore of female directors. Go, and remember the mailbag.

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October 16th, 2020 at 11:54 am

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On Face Masks, God, Baseball, Kidneys and Cancer InsideSources – InsideSources

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Today, I wouldnt consider walking into a store without a cloth mask. Im not happy if you walk in without one.

However, I dont know whether masks are or arent effective in preventing COVID-19. Neither do you, Fauci, Birx, Atlas, Trump, Biden, Fox, MSNBC or myriad Twitterati.

A disconcerting feature of the pandemic is frequent abuse and misunderstanding of science itself. If the topic were theology rather than virology, 2020s dominant voices would be cultists and atheists. Those who view scientific evidence as unquestioned truths or superstitious nonsense. Jim Jones versus Friedrich Nietzsche.

I revere science and have taught its tools to medical researchers and others. I view masks and other COVID-19 precautions through the lens of Pascals Wager.

In the 1600s, Blaise Pascal argued for a cautious approach to the existence of God. If theres no God, he argued, living a godly life will reap no benefits post-mortem but will entail only modest sacrifices in the present world.

If God exists, he argued, an ungodly life in this world will bring only modest pleasures, followed by infinite suffering in Hell. Hence, a godly life is a good bet. Pascals reasoning (along with that of Thomas Bayes and other theologians) played a powerful role in the development of scientific methods.

A recent missive from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: if that is what the scientific and medical advice tells us we must do. Arecent articleat a medical website says: [T]he science is clear: Face coverings tamp down the spread of COVID-19.

Properly used, science never tells us what to do. Science is a witness, and not the judge. Its testimony may be loud and convincing, but never clear. At some point, science rests and humans decide what to make of it.

In teaching economics and statistics to thousands of students, I stressed the importance of maintaining a healthy skepticism toward scientific evidence.

As the world stumbles its way through COVID-19, science provides only a faint and flickering light to guide us through the darkness. Just as a spelunkers flashlight cannot tell him which way to proceed through a cave, so it is with scientific evidence. To assume otherwise is to confuse science and faith.

In conveying this message to my students (many of whom were already well-established scientists and medical practitioners), I had them consider baseball and kidneys.

In 1995, 1996 and 1997, David Justice batted .253, .321 and .329, respectively, while Derek Jeter batted .250, .314 and .291.

Justices average was higher each year. A baseball scientist (sabermetrician) might conclude, The science is clear. Evidence commands, Bat like Justice, not like Jeter. Q.E.D. Selah.

But heres the problem. If we combine each players stats for these three years, it turns out that Jeters batting average over the three-year period 1995-97 was actually higher than Justices. If this anomaly (known as a Simpsons Paradox) bothers you, great. Google it and work through the math. Youll be a better person.

The same paradox showed up in a 1986 study of kidney stones byC. R. Charig, et al.The group compared success rates for two different kidney-stone treatments.

Treatment X had an 83 percent success rate, while Treatment Y achieved only 78 percent. One might have concluded that: The science is clear: Insurance should pay for X and not Y.

However, when the researchers divided sufferers into those with large stones and those with small stones, it turned out that Treatment Y had higher success rates for both groups. So now, one might conclude that science says pay for Y and not X.

Health journalistJulia Belluzpresented a wonderful graphic titled Everything we eat both causes and prevents cancer (borrowed from study bySchoenfeld and Ioannides). The diagram summarized studies indicating that wine, tomatoes, tea, milk, eggs, corn, coffee, butter, and beef prevent cancer and studies showing that each causes cancer.

Ultimately, though, human beings must sift through ever-conflicting, ever-shifting data and do their best.

And so, I wear my mask, because its not too onerous, because it might save me, and because the data are relatively convincing.

As with Pascals Wager, it all comes down to costs, benefits, probabilities and weight of evidence.

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On Face Masks, God, Baseball, Kidneys and Cancer InsideSources - InsideSources

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October 16th, 2020 at 11:54 am

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Artica makes its ‘Eternal Return’ October 10 and 11: ‘Annual celebration of creativity, innovation, and exploration’ on North Riverfront – St. Louis…

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A scene from Artica 2019

Artica is an outdoor event that is far-out by just about any standards, with no confines other than the limits of your imagination, so it is better suited to survive in COVID-19 time than just about any festival one could think of.

Artica returns under the triumphant title of Artica 2020: Eternal Return from noon to 10 p.m.Saturday and Sunday, October 10 and 11. The location is on the grounds of the old Cotton Belt Building at thecornerofLewisandDicksonstreets on the North Riverfront north of Lacledes Landing. But there are no actual barriers: Artica disappears off into the city, into the night, into the unknown.

This is a free open-air event for all ages featuring two days of music, sculpture,interactive art installations, roaming performers and the Burn, organizers promise.The Burn is a public burning of Our Lady of Artica, a wooden effigy, that closes the festival on Sunday night. If that sounds too far out, then just wander off when the burning is about to begin.

Artica ends Sunday night with the Burn though socially distant in 2020

Each year, Artica establishes an art city uninhibited by commerce, organizers promise, and that checks out Artica is the unbranded anti-festival, an annual celebration of creativity, innovation, and exploration, organizers rightly claim.

It is not, however, underground or outlaw. The festival has been approved by the city Health Department. Masks and social distancing will be required while on the festival grounds. Guests are encouraged to wash their hands often at the provided handwashing stations and to use hand sanitizer with at least 70% alcohol in between hand washings.

If you are not feeling well, organizers request, please stay at home, which is never a bad idea anyway.

Of this years theme in particular, organizers say: Artica 2020: Eternal Returnis a creative celebration and exploration of the apparent paradox of existence, that every step forward, somehow takes us closer to what we imagined we'd left behind.

Artica is a free open-air event for all ages featuring two days of music, sculpture,interactive art installations and roaming performers.

The title is borrowed from the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (18441900), a thinker suitably edgy and unsettling for the disrupted here and now. Nietzsche returned to the idea of the Eternal Return (appropriately enough) several times throughout his work; one classic statement of it comes in a demonic thought experiment.

What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequenceeven this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust! Nietzsche wrote.

In the nightmarish year of 2020, its daring indeed to conjure the notion of the Eternal Return. Who now wants to contemplate the possibility that this life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more?

Actually, embrace Artica (at a social distance) and you just might find yourself enlivened by every joy and every thought, and maybe you will want them to return after the Lady burns and youve wandered off into the long, dark night of 2020. for more information or email

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Artica makes its 'Eternal Return' October 10 and 11: 'Annual celebration of creativity, innovation, and exploration' on North Riverfront - St. Louis...

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