Mice do not fear gravity

Thought of the day – I was in a fruitless debate with a theist on youtube and was trying to explain demonstrable repeatable evidence and used the example of terminal velocity. I should not bother with this endeavor, no minds are changed and usually it ends with the theist damning me to hell. But having been fortunate to watch and listen to a number of persuasive and theatrical preachers in my youthful religious phase I am partial to a good sermon well preached. I like the craft of it, the showmanship, even if I believe none of it. Billy Graham was a pretty good preacher, not fire and brimstone, not hard preaching, but thoughtful and eloquent, he made you think. There was a pure showman I liked as well, Billy Sunday, he would call out the devil and reproach him from the pulpit, great theater.

So I listen to a sermon now and again on youtube and comment sometimes. Usually I point out significant deviations from the christian bible, glaring discrepancies I recall from my youth. Just about any position taken by a modern american christian can be shown to be contrary to some bible verse. I comment not because I am under the illusion that I can change minds but that someone on the fence about religion can understand the thought process of someone who does not believe, to show perspective. Religion as a function of a society I am in favor of, a church can be a great social unifier, a place of comfort, and a skilled pastor can be a source of help navigating life, can comfort those in need, that job is more than just preaching. These youtube yahoos though, I would not see a fence sitter get caught up in a fringe group and give away a significant portion of their life to a charlatan or cult-like group. Life is too short give up time that you can’t get back. I try to be a rational voice in the craziness.

Lots of times though, when someone responds to one of my comments they try to make their point by making grandiose claims for which there is no demonstrable repeatable evidence. I always ask them for evidence and they often have no idea what I am saying. Paul in the New Testament writes about this in Hebrews 11 with the famous verse, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Paul would not have to have said that except someone asked for evidence. It seems even then people were demanding evidence for the claims of christianity.

But these youtube theists are not usually schooled in scientific evidence so I often use terminal velocity as an example of the sort of demonstrable repeatable evidence I am looking for. I tell them,

“if you drop an object in the air, gravity will pull it downward towards earth, accelerating until the air resistance against the shape and density of the object stops the acceleration, and the object will reach it’s greatest speed. That is called Terminal Velocity. Every time you drop an object it will accelerate until it reaches terminal velocity or until it hits the earth.”

I get replies that vary but are generally of two types, the earth or universe is evidence of a creator, and I know the truth and am a god denier and am headed for hell. I tell them the universe is evidence of itself and nothing else, and there is nothing to demonstrate a heaven or a hell exists. Generally though, when I consistently point out and deny unsupported claims I get told I am evil and going to hell. I get it, I felt a similar thing towards unbelievers at a point in my life. Truth is relative and maybe not even a real thing.

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Again, I don’t change minds, but hopefully I can help an undecided come to a more rational conclusion. Anyway, I used the terminal velocity description today and decided to check my work and read the wiki article about it. I came across this little nugget of information that has no use to me at all, in my life now, or in any point in my past, or in my foreseeable future.

“To the mouse and any smaller animal [gravity] presents practically no dangers. You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft; and, on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away. A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes. For the resistance presented to movement by the air is proportional to the surface of the moving object. Divide an animal’s length, breadth, and height each by ten; its weight is reduced to a thousandth, but its surface only to a hundredth. So the resistance to falling in the case of the small animal is relatively ten times greater than the driving force.”

There you have it, mice do not fear gravity.

Groff Again

“For it is a deep and human truth that most souls upon the earth are not at ease unless they find themselves safe in the hands of a force greater than themselves.”

So I succumbed to the hype and reserved a copy of Groff’s latest, Matrix, at both the city and county libraries. I even put myself on the Large-Print list because I was like the 27th hold on 8 copies or something. Tommy was reading it and I almost bought it because we had enjoyed talking about Fates and Furies so much. Way before I thought it would be ready the library sent an email that a copy was waiting for me and it wasn’t the large print either. Maybe should have bought it to support Lauren. I dunno, I would have ended up giving it away, I don’t store books for years and years anymore and my shelf is near full.

It is about time for a harrowing. I have a number of books I had the greatest intention of reading and just have not found the interest. I started Wolf Hall a couple of times, that should be a good fit for me, I don’t know why it is not. Love in the Time of Cholera feels so familiar, I have started it several times, each time thinking I have read it before. Beloved I will re-read, when I can handle the depth. Morrison is such a treasure. The Kite Runner comes highly recommended from somewhere or another, I should at least give it a try. There is an early Eugenides and Ishiguro and a copy of In Cold Blood. Ohio and The Hail Mary Project I have read, I just need to find a good home for them. There is quite a bit of reading on that little shelf, and some good stuff as well.

But Groff is the star in ascension for me right now. Matrix is quite different than Fates and Furies. I have only read the first section but like it. I was introduced to Mary from France a couple of years ago in college. I was entirely struck by the quote,


“Anyone who has received from God the gift of knowledge and true eloquence has a duty not to remain silent: rather should one be happy to reveal such talents.”

So I am quite excited to see what else Groff is going to do with the character in the book. I sent a comment to Groff on one of her Twitters and she “liked” it. I told Tommy about it and he thought it cool. He said “You read what she wrote and she read what you wrote.” I laughed and mentioned Vonnegut had written something about an author having a readership of one and being content and Tommy said Epicurus said something like that too. We have different backgrounds he and I, but it is striking to me that we draw the same sort of ideas from wildly disparate sources. Humans seem a finite entity.

Little Fires Everywhere

“Some years later, she would drive five and a half hours, daughter in tow, to the great March on Washington, and Mrs Richardson would forever remember that day, the sun forcing her eyes into a squint, the scrum of people pressed thigh to thigh, the hot fug of sweat rising from the crowd, the Washington Monument rising far off in the distance, like a spike stretching the pierce the clouds.”

This is from Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I thought it one of the best sentences I have read in a while. Fug is a bit of english slang for a strong smell in an enclosed space. It naturally follows the use of scrum, a rugby term, a british sport, a word that completely describes bodies thrown together. Such a rich little moment in a book with lots of things happening.

The book won the Goodreads Choice Award for fiction in 2017. I wonder at times their selections, Goodreads seems to have too universal a membership to be able to consistently choose books that I find worthwhile. I mean, I read Where the Crawdads Sing at their recommendation and still don’t feel like forgiving them. I know Horace said, “To inform and to entertain” and that to be snobbish towards romance stories and mystery and crime drama is a weak position to take, but I think literature ought have a purpose. It seems as if it should, to me anyway. 

This time though, with Little Fires, I think Goodreads got it right. I don’t recall why, but what I could glean from the reviews kind of put me off of reading the book. I found a copy at the Goodwill and hung on to it for a few weeks before I started reading. Celeste Ng, pronounced “ing,” certainly wrote a strong professional book. I think it speaks to many emotional subjects in a family setting and with some pretty big life questions as well. I don’t do spoilers, read the book.

I will say that it dredged up some strange emotions. Somehow I remembered the week my Mother was dying. Our relationship was fairly strained and never really made right. But my brother and sister and I spent the last week of her life with our Mom, over thanksgiving the year she died. It was a very strange thing and another source of turmoil and confusion in the relationship, something I still have not figured out, all these years later.
 
I was away from St Louis for a week and when I returned soon spent an evening at the Taproom downtown. This was before microbreweries were prevalent, before you could find more than AB products at the 7-11, so I had been a week without a good dark beer. I was a regular at the Taproom and an oatmeal stout drinker then, so attuned to the beer that I could tell when they changed from one keg to the next. That first sip after I had returned to St Louis brought me to tears at the bar, not for my mother so much, but for having a life that was important to me, completely apart from my mother. Somehow, this book brought that memory out of me, though I can see no connection at all to the story. Ng got to that idea though, and loss, and choices. I am glad of the reading of this, despite my initial reservations. 

Writing Prompt

Mike jerked the leash against Biscuit’s pull and she was thrown back and around, away from the busy street and back towards the sidewalk. Her long frame awkward a moment before she righted herself.

“Heel, damnit” Mike cursed. 

Biscuit opened her jaws for the leash again, and Mike was angered, if she could get the leash to the back of her jaw she would cut it as easy as scissors to paper. He whipped the loose end of toward Biscuit, never coming close to hitting her, the action enough to make her shy away. Mike felt it a betrayal to use the previous abuse against her, but it did stop her from cutting the leash and prevented her from being loose on the street in the busy traffic.

“Hey you, asshole, I saw what you did, you stop hitting that dog,” a round young face screamed from a passing car, slowed to where Mike and Biscuit walked. The car screamed past them and then slowed and spun around and came back towards them, Through the passenger window the face screamed again.

“Hit her again and I will kick your ass you asshole,” the face screamed and Mike squared up to the car, and raised his palms questioningly, ready for whatever might come. Through the passenger window now, the face evaluated Mike and Biscuit and suddenly lost resolve and drove off quickly.

Mike and Biscuit continued along the busy street.

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I participated in a writing group this morning. I thought it very useful. There were about a half dozen of us in a zoom meeting. The moderator put a prompt out that was confusing to me, something about a character being watched and gave us 20 minutes to write, after which we read out loud, one by one. I had a hard time with the prompt and finally settled on what I have here. I wanted a complete scene so I sacrificed detail and description. Looking back I could have written it from the viewpoint of the character in the car and had an easier time of it. Still, from an ambiguous prompt (to me anyway, no one else seemed troubled) I felt I did ok. If I were to edit it wouldn’t be hard to take the “tell” out and just “show.” In 20 minutes though, I couldn’t find time to include a whole bunch of stuff. Like I said, I sacrificed for completeness.

I was very interested in seeing what the others wrote and it felt a minute like being back in Seely’s non-fiction class, tons of exposition and no imagery. There was some surprisingly decent dialogue. There was one young woman though, I am guessing age by her voice as her camera was off, who was clearly a writer. Published or not she had the real stuff, she just needed to practice to get cleaner. Maybe a bit heavy in the detail, a bit feminine, but skilled, a good voice. She had put her scene in a forest with a rainstorm and sounds and tactile elements. The only sense she didn’t include was olfactory, taste or smell. I have to make a point of noting olfactory in writing, it seems the last sense that writers use. I think it may be more important than many realize. I notice it mostly when it is missing.

I thought this a good exercise and I am signed up for a few more of these. I think working a prompt a good idea, I have been doing it on my own a little. One way to think of a novel might simply be as a series of prompts. I am going to outline “Of Mice and Men.” I bet there aren’t 12 characters in that short little book and not much more than 10 scenes and three or four settings. I might be surprised at what is included, but I think Steinbeck did so much with very little. I envision my story being about as sparse in scenes and settings. I think outlining that little book will be useful. It feels as if I am starting down a good path lately.