Black Hole by Charles Burns A

'Black Hole' by Charles Burns

About five minutes in, I felt like I was reading a masterpiece even though I know very little about the graphic novel/comic genre. This is some mesmerizing inking (Burns won a lot of “Best Inker” awards for this work). The panels almost look like woodcuts. It’s about teenagers and adolescence and how we see our bodies during those important formative years, as simultaneously beautiful and grotesque. The world of Black Hole is bleak, boring, and pretty horrifying. And we’re talking moody teenagers so you get to witness a lot of terrible decisions, angst, ennui, despair, friendship, love, sex, camaraderie, depression, grief, humor, violence, acceptance, and hope in a very short span of pages. Lots of yonic imagery. The author published this over a ten-year period starting in 1995 and it looks like these are almost exclusively what he worked on during that timespan. Amazing.

Sample panel from the book 1

Sample panel from the book 1

Gargi (2022) IMDb A-

Saw with LD. Very heavy subject matter loosely inspired by harrowing real-life cases and I skipped watching a few scenes. Sai Pallavi was intense and excellent, of course, but we were very impressed with the raw vulnerability and menace Saravanan brought to his character (also called “Saravanan”, lol). Kaali Venkat was great too.

S Sudha deserves a special mention both for her austere performance and who she is:

One of the places where the movie hits it out of the park is the casting of S Sudha, a transgender person, as a transgender judge in the movie. One of the fewest and rarest moments in Tamil cinema in which a transgender woman is shown to be in a position of power and authority. When she asserted her identity and agency in her reply to the misogyny of the Public Prosecutor (Kavithalaya Krishnan), the audience in the Chennai theatre erupted in applause, signaling a positive change in society.

Siddarth Muralidharan, “‘Gargi’ is special for two reasons: It is bankrolled by a woman and led by Sai Pallavi”, The Print

On Morals versus Ethics

What is the difference between ethics and morality? A morality functions according to principle, while an ethics functions according to experimentation. A morality presupposes a discontinuity between principle and action, while an ethics presupposes a continuity of action and character. A morality tells one what one ought to do, while an ethics asks what one might do.

Brent Adkins, Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus: A Critical Introduction and Guide

According to Britannica, most of us tend to use the terms interchangeably, and we tend to associate “ethical” behaviour with professions (like law, medicine, and engineering).

Ethicists today, however, use the terms interchangeably. If they do want to differentiate morality from ethics, the onus is on the ethicist to state the definitions of both terms. Ultimately, the distinction between the two is as substantial as a line drawn in the sand.

The way I understand it is: We mostly agree that gay marriage is ethical. However, it may be immoral to an adherent of a religion that proscribes it (but would they agree that it is ethical?)

On Living

What makes life worth living? No child asks itself that question. To children life is self-evident. Life goes without saying: whether it is good or bad makes no difference. This is because children don’t see the world, don’t observe the world, don’t contemplate the world, but are so deeply immersed in the world that they don’t distinguish between it and their own selves. Not until that happens, until a distance appears between what they are and what the world is, does the question arise: what makes life worth living?

Karl Ove Knausgard, Autumn

On Criminal Nature

The reason republicans get so incredibly huffy when any of the tools of law enforcement are ever turned upon them is they think “criminals” as an inherent class of people (who they of course could never be part of) rather than a descriptor for someone who commits illegal acts.

@opinonhaver

Not too far-fetched an observation. Consider the following:

Under the Banner of Heaven (2022) IMDb B+

Disturbing fictionalization of a real-life tragedy (cached). Based on a book by Jon Krakauer. Andrew Garfield is simply excellent as a devout Mormon, dogged detective, and patriarch (“priesthood holder”) of his family.

Features some quick lessons in the History of the LDS which was not very flattering to the Church. Characters say “I’ve had a revelation” a lot before proceeding to perform all manner of shitty deeds. It’s a meditation over common-sense and rationality, spiritual doubt and loss, and the unbridled power that most religions impress into the hands of men by upholding and sanctifying patriarchy.

It’s all bleak, awful stuff. Moreso when even the heroic Pyre engages in it, which is exactly the point. Under the Banner of Heaven illustrates how no one who grows up in this kind of environment can escape its influences — no matter how kind, progressive, or loving they think they are. That’s why it’s so jarring when Pyre transforms — from the man who says, “I love you,” during every phone call with his wife, Rebecca (Adelaide Clemens); tucks his daughters into bed each night; and gently invites his dementia-addled mother, Josie (Sandra Seacat), on daily walks — into a domineering “priesthood holder.” The decisions he makes as the family’s religious authority are ostensibly to protect his family from the doctrine he’s beginning to interrogate, but he still uses its male-exalting infrastructure to get what he wants.

Roxana Hadadi, “Under the Banner of Heaven Was No Mystery”, Vulture

Each episode would start with one of the beautiful title cards I’ve seen for a show:

Title Card for Under the Banner of Heaven with exquisite typography

They should give this young actor an Emmy for the few minutes she’s on screen 💯

Se7en by David Seidman and Ralph Tedesco A

'Se7en' by David Seidman and Ralph Tedesco

Came recommended by HU. I had to borrow them from PG1. A limited, 7-part comic book series based on one of my favorite movies. Told from the perspective of John Doe and provides his backstory which is about as sad and disturbing as you can imagine it would be. About as gory as the movie itself. Most parts have a different style. Plenty of out-of-context Bible quotes. Just really well-executed.

  1. These are hard to find and expensive: anywhere from $250 on eBay to $350 on Amazon. ↩︎

Shorting Things

You predict (or have insider information) that the price of lawnmowers will fall. The current market price of a lawnmower is $1,000. You go to Eddie’s Lawnmower Rental Company and rent a lawnmower from Eddie for $10 a day. He doesn’t care about you returning the same lawnmower; he just wants you to return a lawnmower (assume that all lawnmowers involved in this story are in great working condition).

You sell this lawnmower to your neighbour for $1,000.

Ten days later, and as you predicted, the price of lawnmowers falls to $500. Now you buy another lawnmower for $500 and return a lawnmower to Eddie. So now you have gained: $1,000 - ($10 x 10 days = $100) - ($500 on the lawnmower you bought) = $400.

Now say you made a bad prediction and the price of lawnmowers went up to $1,500. So now you have lost $1,000 - ($10 x 10 days = $100) - ($1,500 on the lawnmower you bought) = $600.

Theoretically, there is no bottom to your losses. So you have to be very careful when you short things. It’s not for everyone. Stick to Index Funds if you don’t understand what you’re doing.

Finally, here’s some discussion on where the expression ‘going short’ may have come from.

The Northman (2022) IMDb B+

Saw with LD. Revenge flick set in Scandinavia in 895 AD. LD thought that the ultraviolence was a bit gratuitous and didn’t serve the plot very well. I don’t know what one would expect from a story about a beefy Viking beserker hell-bent on revenge. Lush, beautiful, amazing visuals from Eggers and crew. I wish I saw this in the theater. This is Eggers’ third movie after The Lighthouse (which we thoroughly enjoyed) and The Witch (which I am too much of a chicken to watch). Alexander Skarsgård and Anya Taylor-Joy are simply excellent.

Bheemla Nayak (2022) IMDb B

Excellent cinematography and art direction. Bouncy background score by Thaman. Rana Daggubati stole the show, is magnetic in every scene he’s in, and we were all amazed by the ease with which he plays arrogant douchenozzles 💯 Could’ve been at least an hour shorter. Lovely poetry.

My Undecided Thirties

Indecision has been a pretty huge problem in my life and this comment by /u/tomwaste hit home.

I’m not sure if people have experienced the same but when I entered my 30s I became convinced I was rapidly running out of time. Rather than using that as motivation I let it paralyze me with indecision because I “couldn’t afford to make the wrong choice.” Consequently, I’m now 39 and, though I’ve had great things happen in my 30s, I regret spending so much time worrying and so little time committing to a course of action.

What’s the simplest way out of this mire of Analysis Paralysis?

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”

Their comment also reminded me of this Sylvia Plath poem illustrated by Gavin Aung Than of Zen Pencils.

The Fig Tree, a poem by Sylvia Plath illustrated by Gavin Aung Than of Zen Pencils

Zephyr Howls

This is Zephyr, a “captive-born gray wolf” at the Wolf Conservation Center in NY. Below, you can hear him and his friends orchestrate some of the most beautiful sounds you will hear today. I’ve watched this five times and it was somehow even better with my eyes closed.

Here’s the Wolf Conservation Center’s YouTube channel for more music. Fuck I love wolves ♥️🐺

Netsuke

Summary of Wikipedia article: Japanese kimono didn’t have pockets. They needed something to store their stuff in. So they made containers that they hung from their kimonos’ sashes1. The part that secured the container to the sash at the top was called a netsuke (“root attached”.)

Here’s a really cute one of a sleeping cat from the 19th century 😻

Japanese cat netsuke from the 19th century

Update

Here’s another. It’s a crouching tiger 😍

Japanese crouching tiger netsuke from the 19th century

  1. An obi, which is a favorite NYTimes crossword clue! ↩︎

The Valeriepieris Circle

This is from a while ago but I didn’t get the memo. It’s a little crazy:

A map of the The Valeriepieris Circle

It’s named after Reddit user /u/vaieriepieris, an ESL teacher from Texas, who made it for a map subreddit in 2013.

  • There are more Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Communists inside the circle than outside it.
  • It “pulls all of this off while being mostly water and including the most sparsely populated country on earth (Mongolia).” (Source).
  • It also contains the highest mountain and deepest trench.

On Doing Nothing At All

As far as Indian Gurus go, I find this guy more illumined and full of practical, actionable advice than, say, this guy, less full of shit than this one, and definitely less batshit crazy than this one.

Via LT 🙏

Update

The creator of the video is Masood Boomgaard. Here’s his YouTube channel. And here’s the Balm your Soul needs in its entirety 🙏 🌸

On One’s Work

Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.

Thomas Merton, in a letter to Jim Forest dated February 21, 1966, reproduced in The Hidden Ground of Love: Letters by Thomas Merton (W. Shannon ed. 1993).

Check Everything and Twice

A couple from snowy Minnesota decided to take a winter vacation back in the simple Florida resort where they had stayed for a honeymoon twenty-five years before. Because of his wife’s delayed work schedule, the husband went first, and then when he got there he received a message that she would meet him soon. So he sent her this e-mail in reply. But because he typed one letter wrong in the e-mail address, it went by mistake to an old woman in Oklahoma, whose minister husband had died the day before. Here is what she read:

“Dearest,

Well the journey is over and I have finally arrived. I was surprised to find they have e-mail here now. They tell me you’ll be coming soon. It will be good to be together again.

Love as always.

P.S. Be prepared. It’s quite hot down here.”

Source Unknown

Senator Grassley, People, and Party

More people like this, and on both sides, please.

Senator Grassley is 88 years old. He voted to oppose Judge Jackson’s nomination.

“Having carefully studied her record, unfortunately I think she and I have fundamentally different views on the role of judges and the role that they should play in our system of government because of those disagreements I can’t support her nomination,” Grassley said.

Jordain Carney, “Grassley to oppose Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination”, The Hill

Via JK.