~ Friday, August 29, 2003 ~
~ Sunday, August 24, 2003 ~
I have a new address! Finally. It is:
4 W. 103rd St., Apt. 1D
New York, NY
My housemate is an actress/dancer/model (in that order) with a dayjob. Her name is Cheyanne, and she comes from Virginia. She's pretty rad. And I know, that word is decidedly not a part of my normal vocabulary, but somehow it fits her particularly well. She breakdances.
Unrelatedly, here's an interesting take on the Resurrection.
~ prattled by Miriam at 1:14 p.m. [+]
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~ Tuesday, August 19, 2003 ~
Confessions: Guilty pleasures
1. Drinking hot chocolate made with too much chocolate powder
2. Playing Spider Solitaire (Why do I find mindless games like that so engaging?)
3. Reading the stuff at Timothy McSweeney's Internet Tendency instead of working
4. Reading the stuff at alt.music.tmbg instead of working
5. Composing overly long e-mails
6. Thinking about how badly I need to clean my room and not doing it
7. Figuring out how to play TMBG songs on piano or on my dad's accordion instead of working.
8. Warming myself when I'm too cold not by exerting energy or by donning a sweater, but by wrapping myself up in a blanket, turning up the thermostat, and huddling over a heating vent, letting the air poof the blanket out, thus creating a little personal teepee of warmth. The more lightweight the clothes, the more delicious the sensation.
9. Going to thrift stores, finding and trying on clothes I don't really need, and then not buying them
10. Having conversations with people without them knowing it. You wouldn't believe how charming and witty I am when you're not around.
~ prattled by Miriam at 9:15 p.m. [+]
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~ Saturday, August 16, 2003 ~
This is an article someone sent to me about the existence of God. I was so disturbed by it that I'm writing an informal critique.
Prove to Me that G-d Exists!
Many times we have come across people who state that they refuse to believe in G-d unless some one will prove that He exists. The person being challenged to provide such a proof will generally respond with one of many various statements that this agnostic has already heard and rejected.
But perhaps to answer his question, perhaps we should take a step or two back and ask him directly, "What would you accept as a proof?"
Let's start with the very basics. If we were trying to prove a thing that was verifiable to the doubter, such as "Is uncle Tom in the next room?" The resultant proof would be clear and irrefutable to both the doubter and the claimant. "Let us go into the next room and see!"
But if the results are not visible or apparent to the doubter and claimant, such as "Did the suspect murder uncle Tom?" Irregardless if the doubter is convinced or not, he could not apprehend the truth himself, but must rely upon second party evidence to support the claimant. Such is the case of murder trials. The judge and jury hear evidence and make up their decisions - but these decisions are always subject to review and revision, because the evidence presented is only second hand. The judge must believe that the witness is telling the truth.
The same thing must be understood when trying to explain the existence of G-d in the universe. It must be realized that we have no possibility of revealing the physical existence of G-d. We only have the ability of explaining His workings in the universe, or his manifestations.
There is no one amongst us who can be accepted as having a G-dly experience, that we could or even would accept his word that G-d does exist. So we are limited in that we can not draw on any living person to present positive that would be admissible.
It is like trying to prove that Napoleon lost the battle of Waterloo, or even fought that battle. How do you know for certain that Napoleon really existed and is not merely a myth? No one living has ever see him!
This is similar to the holocaust deniers. They contend that the holocaust did not exist. We, who have met people who were there accept the reality of the holocaust. We have seen the pictures. But in several generations, there will come a point when evidence will be brought against the holocaust and these coming generations will have to deal with this slowly growing problem.
People who had gone through the holocaust will have told their offspring's what they had suffered. In turn the first generation of holocaust survivor's offspring will have told the next generation of the holocaust. Perhaps the holocaust deniers in the distant future will include distinguished professors, statesmen and authors. It could be that the evidence will be over whelming against the holocaust ever having taken place.
It will then be a matter of belief in the tradition that the great grandchildren of the holocaust survivors possess which will keep them believing in the great and terrible holocaust. But for others, unaffected by the trauma of history, they could very well shake their head and deny that it happened. Or perhaps, like agnostics, they can not make a decision because there are various opinions and they can not reach a logical conclusion, therefore, perhaps the holocaust did not exist.
The only people who have claimed to see G-d were those who stood at Mount Sinai. Here an entire nation were witnesses to the revelation of G-d in Egypt. In other religions, only one or two people claim to have had revelation, subsequent followers have had to believe in their testimony.
The Jewish nation celebrates that revelation of G-dliness that happened over three thousand years ago. It is this very celebration, both Passover and Shavout, that has been part of the national character of the Jewish people that gives testimony to the existence of G-d. This is our tradition and our tradition is the very testimony that indeed G-d exists.
The ability to prove something that can not be seen is dependent upon the doubters ability of accept evidence which is indicative of the phenomena which is doubted. Although electricity can not be seen, the majority of the world has accepted this concept as true, based only on seeing light bulbs and refrigerators. Yet few, if any, have seen electricity.
G-d, like electricity, can not be seen with physical eyes. Unlike electricity, He can not be even comprehended. To make matters more difficult, G-d is a historical occurrence that can be debated.
No proof can be positive in the first party type of proof, such as: "I can see Him now." Proofs can only be of the second party historical proof, yet few are willing to accept, this history as proof, unless of course, like the holocaust, they are children of those who endured it.
Next time some one challenges you "prove to me the existence of G-d". Ask him first, what type of proof are you willing to accept? You might save yourself a few hours of wasted argument.
The first disappointment is that "The Existence of God" doesn't offer proof for God's existence. Instead, it attempts to show why, when looking for such proof, we ought to lower our standards and be more easily swayed by ideas that would otherwise be disregarded. The second disappointment is that in arguing for this position, rather than present a well-developed logical sequence of ideas, the author's primary argument attempts to persuade by appealing to our emotions surrounding the holocaust and our indignation toward those who deny it. I consider this to be cheating. The third disappointment is that the author seems to have a rather tenuous grasp upon English grammar, which I found distracting. It's unclear to me why this article found its way into a professional publication; really, it seems like an amateurish conglomeration of familiar facile arguments for God's existence heavily marinated in sentiment. I hope that this wasn't the author's best effort.
...phooey. I had several pages of intelligent commentary which I no longer have, and while I don't think it was Blogger's fault, I'm really not sure how it happened. Reconstruction of said commentary will occur when I stop being quite so disappointed. In the meantime, you know, feel free to record your own reaction to the article.
~ prattled by Miriam at 12:14 p.m. [+]
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~ Thursday, August 14, 2003 ~
I am going to see Gigantic again tonight. Yay! Should be a good crowd, too...I imagine the three factors--TMBG, Berkeley, and Saturday night--will join forces to attract enthusiastic people who are as craz--er, excited--about this as I am.
~ prattled by Miriam at 5:56 p.m. [+]
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Check out which religion is advertising itself on my ad banner. :)
I'm L Ronald Hubbard
And I have discovered
A cure for the poor and the troubled.
My book, Dianetics,
is full of synthetics,
But look at my income--it's doubled!
~ prattled by Miriam at 6:12 p.m. [+]
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You know, "previous" and "precious" are only one letter apart. Likewise, "next" and "newt". I really like the idea of having enough entries on my blog to be able to put "precious newt" at the bottom instead of "previous" and "next". Of course I'd have to change the formatting stuff for that...which is really quite simple, or would be, if I had taken any CS classes at all. (Hi, Graham. How are you?) Maybe I should rename my blog. Welcome to the land of the Precious Newt. And C and V are even right next to each other on the keyboard. Likewise W and X, in the alphabet. I think I hear a Twisted Title calling me. (Yes, it's a Cal Berkeley thing. I know, boooo, hissss. Whatever. That magazine has been delivered monthly to my parents' address since before I can remember, and I credit that page with my love for wordplay. Not that it was necessary, but it's certainly sufficient. "1000 Words" in the Stanford counterpart has nothing on Twisted Titles.)
MSN's sidebar is advertising 15% off all memory. I kid you not.
[Dammit, Gladys, why can't I ever remember the ends of these stories? Oh, yeah, now I remember, it was because of that...that...er...what was I saying?]
~ prattled by Miriam at 5:02 p.m. [+]
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~ Wednesday, August 13, 2003 ~
Bleah. With renter after renter I come up against the same difficulty: "Well, Miriam, you seem like a really nice person, but I just can't rent to someone I've never met face to face." I suppose I really do have to move out a bit earlier and perhaps crash at a friend's place (I love you, Elita!!!) while going around hunting for apartments in person. I really didn't want to have to do this, but I don't know how else to handle it, short of living in a hotel for a while...and this seems tacky, but I'd rather not have to pay for a hotel...sure, it would certainly motivate me to find a place quickly, but that kind of desperation I can do without. So crashing it is. *sigh*
Hurrah for Expedia--the flight is booked. For less than $300, even. I leave on Wednesday, the 27th of August, at *gag* 6 am, and I'll return on Thursday, the 18th of December, at 9:30ish pm. All those of you who want to schedule a big surprise party to see me off or welcome me home, now you know when to do it. :)
This seems like as good a place to mention it as any: I think planes are really neat. Not just planes, even. Airports too. The whole experience of flying. Trains, too. I really like riding in trains. Maybe it's just my infatuation with the whole experience of mass transportation. (I suppose I ought to put boats in here too, but I haven't had much experience with boats. I've often not been on boats.) There's something a little frightening and wonderful about boarding a plane, or a train, and travelling at breathtaking speeds through unknown territory, and knowing that, at least in a very immediate sense, everyone who's on the vehicle with you has come from the same place and is going to the same place. It's the same little tickle of excitement I would get while heading to the subway station each morning in July, and realizing that everyone I saw hurrying around was almost certainly hurrying off to a subway station, probably to the same one as I was, and more than half of them were probably going downtown, just like me. I know, I hear you groaning. Whatever, you say. Big deal. But there's something romantic about travelling. There's even something romantic about the subways, with all their noise and heat and stagnant water and rats. Maybe it's just that they're so old--they have all the romance of a dilapidated mansion, only they're still entirely full of speed and vitality and large banner ads for Budweiser and Princeton Review. Old on the outside, new and slick on the inside.
[Warning! Digression coming up in 5...4...3...2...1...]
One of my favorite things about the stations is that they're all different. Each one has its own individually designed nameplate, or whatever the signs that display the station names are called. My favorite one (that I've seen) is at 66th St. on the 1/2/3/9 line--it has a tile mosaic depicting a sorceress-type woman, dressed in a gold robe, only there are like 8 incarnations of the same woman, and in each subsequent depiction she's in a slightly different pose and accompanied by slightly different contortionist/angel-type figures, so that as you look at her from your window on the train, you get this zoetrope-like effect in which you can almost see the illusion of her raising and lowering her arms as would a sorceress casting a spell. I'm sure this is old hat to all the New Yorkers who ride to or from or past 66th St. every day, but when I realized how all these pictures were meant to be experienced as one smooth motion by passengers as the train sped by, I felt as if the 66th St. station and I shared a private joke. I fancied I was the only one to ever notice it. And to be quite honest, I still do...speaking of fancy, my other favorite subway station is the 50th St. station, also on the 1/2/3/9 line, because all the walls there are decorated with silhouetted scenes from Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking-Glass. It's quite charming. I also liked what they did with the 81st St. station on the ACE line: it's exactly underneath the Museum of Natural History, so it's adorned with all sorts of interesting animals in tile on the walls. I loved how whimsically the designers let their animals live in their surroundings--there was, for example, a parrot depicted in perch position on the wall near the exit, and its talons (claws?) were wrapped around the handrail of the stairway. That's a much too sudden way to end a paragraph, so I'm ending it with this instead.
When I arrived in JFK Airport at the end of June, the first thing I did after getting off the airport shuttle was board the subway train that goes from Queens through Brooklyn into Manhattan. This happened to be the A line. That's right--the first thing I did after arriving in New York was to take the A train. New York is like the canon of books you have to read in high school--all the Shakespeare, Plato, and King James--not because it's the best literature there is, although it quite possibly is, but because if you're going to understand any subsequent literary works, you have to know the classics. All the modern authors had read the same canon, and were constantly referring back to them. It's the same with New York City. New York is where Tiffany's Cafe (as in Breakfast at), 42nd Street, the A train, Park Avenue, Delancey St., and all the other places that have been immortalized in idiomatic phrases or songs are suddenly demysticized--there they are, solid and real, and you, walking around, seeing them, and interacting with them, don't know whether these giant concepts you have in your head have miraculously come down to materialize on your own completely mundane plane of reality, or whether you've merged somehow with this immortalized canon and have switched onto a higher plane of existence in which you yourself become the stuff of myth. That was sort of what it was like to walk around New York for me. [End of Digression]
Buses, however, hold no interest for me whatsoever. I find them completely unappealing.
~ prattled by Miriam at 2:34 a.m. [+]
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It's time to start writing again.
In the extremely unlikely chance that there is someone reading this who doesn't already speak with me regularly (in the extremely unlikely chance that there is even anyone reading this at all), here is a brief update. I went to Manhattan for a summer program at Drisha Institute for the month of July, where I studied Tanach, Talmud, Biblical Hebrew, Chasidic Philosophy, and some other stuff. I love it, it's excellent, it's exactly where I want to be. The best part is that it's exactly Not an indoctrination station. The texts we study are profound and thought-provoking and problematic, and I could tell that some of the girls who had been brought up to Believe were encountering some serious cognitive dissonance. I, however, kept being delighted to encounter ideas that might make Belief possible. (Perhaps later I'll write about some of what the book of Jonah has to say about the nature of God and the nature of people, and why it struck me so hard.)
While there, I was notified of my acceptance to Drisha's year-long Beit Midrash program, about which I am superlatively excited. It'll be the perfect way to prepare for rabbinical school. Some of the [part-time] students at Drisha are already rabbinical students in their twenties or thirties who feel like they're not getting enough solid text-based training in school, and they need more, but most of the students are Orthodox girls just out of high school who are learning at Drisha (that's one of the peculiarities about the language of the Yeshiva world, with which Drisha identifies--you don't study; you learn. Goal-oriented, much?) instead of going to a normal university. The idea of attending a secular institution of higher education seems to strike most of the girls as some combination of irrelevant and scary.
[I realize this "brief update" is quickly becoming less-than-brief. Shouldn't really be surprising, considering this is me doing the writing...that, and I confess that I take a twisted sort of delight in snatching from the Brief its very brevity, therefore giving the Brief a de-Briefing. Cower before me, O Brief, while I increase your length, thus ending your existence! ...brief. What an odd word. I've now been staring at it for a sufficiently long time that I'm beginning to think I've spelled it wrong.]
Anyway, I, with my Reform background, am kind of in the minority there. Compared to them, I've led the life of a wild hell-raiser. Do you find this ridiculous? We have almost completely disparate sets of cultural references. My first day there, I got into the elevator (Drisha's classes are held on the 9th and 10th floors of a building known as The Jewish Center, which boasts one ancient and pitifully overworked elevator) and noticed that there were eleven floors in the building. Suddenly, I was struck by a brilliantly witty idea, and as I am wont to do, I decided I ought to share it. I gestured toward the button panel and, in a vaguely Cockneyish accent, I said to the girl standing next to me, "This one goes up to eleven."
"Yes," she said helpfully, "but Drisha's on nine."
But it's not only the lack of exposure to Spinal Tap. It's...they just haven't done ANYTHING. Most of the under-twenty set harbor a fear of boys, which manifests itself as resolute avoidance. They don't touch them; they don't talk to them; they don't even talk about them...except to discuss which 23-year old-cousin is FINALLY getting married. (I mean, my God, how long was she planning on waiting, anyway? It's not as if she's getting any younger.) They speak with disdain about that shul, where after services on Friday night, everybody socializes with each other over Kiddush. Horrors. Granted, if you're single and Jewish and you live in the Upper West Side, chances are you've experienced The Scene, and have quickly become disgusted with how fast and desperate everybody seems, but chatting with people over drinks and cookies? Even I, in all my prudity, have my limits.
(Actually, those would be metalimits--limits that I place upon my tendency to limit--but I think I do enough of making my reader(s) stop and go back in order to figure out what it is I mean that I didn't want to add to the confusion there.)
Where was I? Oh. So I'm going to be spending a year learning at Drisha, beginning September 1st, which means I'll be leaving from the Bay Area quite soon, most likely on the last Thursday in August. I still have to find a place to stay. Man. Finding an apartment is a full-time job. This is getting really painful...I've now had three places that would have been perfect for me, practically within my grasp, only to be notified that the renter has decided to give the room to someone else because they feel more comfortable renting to someone they've met in person. Cursed distance between here and Manhattan. (Oh, wait, that's part of the attraction.)
Um. I made a list of things I wanted to post, but the rest of the items will have to wait till later--I can hear craigslist.org calling my name. :P
cats are OK - purrr
dogs are OK - wooof
it IS okay to contact this poster with comments or other expressions of interest.
this is in or around Miriam's Sphere of Awareness
~ prattled by Miriam at 5:59 p.m. [+]
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