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   schadenfreude-based hunger
Wednesday, October 16 2013
Today finally came the vanquishing of the nihilists in the United States Congress who had hoped to threaten fiscal annihilation in exchange for various demands that originally amounted to Mitt Romney retroactively winning the 2012 election. All that had been required to do so was to simply ignore their demands. Barack Obama, who has been a repeated disappointment when it comes to matters of the spine, surprised everyone by letting the Republicans throw their temper tantrum until it ran up against reality itself. The government was shuttered for two weeks as the threat of a default loomed (from their additional failure to raise the debt ceiling). It was the threat of that default, along with horrific polling numbers, that was the eventual reality up against which the tantrum ran. By today, it was clear that a continuing resolution would be passed, along with a raising of the debt ceiling, and Republicans would get nothing in exchange. In the House, Speaker John Boehner would have to rely mostly on Democrats to achieve these things, since the majority of his majority remained willing to vote for default. Call them the "crazy caucus." Given the peculiarities of the American republic, they'll be with us for awhile, and in order for that republic to continue functioning, they'll just have to be bypassed.
As news of this played out, it gave me a delicious feeling of political schadenfreude. But unfortunately there wasn't enough depth to the story to satisfy my schadenfreude-based hunger. The whole thing was pretty simple, and most of the stories about it were just restatements of things I'd already read. Eventually, though, Rachæl Maddow gave me what I sought.

This evening Gretchen and I drove out to 9W to run a few errands. Mostly we just needed some groceries so Gretchen could bake a lasagna. For that, we needed a certain kind of tofu that is only available at Mother Earth's Storehouse (which we usually refer to as "Motherfucking Earth"). The original plan had been to have tempeh reubens at the Motherfucking Earth café, but when we got there, it was after 8:00pm and they were closing the café down. So we did our shopping and, given that it was so late, we didn't have a lot of choice on where to eat. So we ended up at the Olive Garden, a place we occasionally eat at semi-ironically. At this point it's usually me who is the biggest advocate of eating there; Gretchen is clearly embarrassed to admit the fact to friends after we've gone there. But a few years ago, back before I'd ever eaten at an Olive Garden, Gretchen used to talk about the awesomeness of their endless breadsticks, soup, and salad (even if it does violate the Conservation of Mass). As always, we ordered fancy drinks, though this time for some reason our waiter gave us complimentary tastings of wine. He was a great waiter and tuned right in to our vegan needs (even while the menu had gone from two vegan pastas down to one). He even volunteered that the breadsticks are covered in margarine, not butter, though he wasn't initially sure whether or not we could eat margarine. Gretchen and I always have a good time in the Olive Garden, though we also always eat too much.
After our meal, I drove us to the nearby Home Depot (driving only in parking lots and connector roadways), and there I bought a plastic piece for a gutter as well as a three-prong plug (the latter being for my White Pine contraption project).
Our final destination of the evening was the multiplex at the Hudson Valley Mall, where we saw Gravity in 3D. In the past, it was always impossible to depict astronauts doing anything particularly complicated in zero gravity, but in Gravity, we're fully immersed in the disorienting nature of existence in orbit. It's a place where things that start spinning never stop and things that start moving just keep on moving until they collide with something else. We'd come mostly for the carnival-ride aspect of the movie. What other chance, after all, would we ever get? So we sat close to the screen to allow the entire thing to fill our fields of view. But, unlike the iMax movie about space, Gravity is also a movie with a traditional plot. It was a simple story: a harrowing tale of survival in an inhospitable environment. Out protagonists (and there were really only two) were in orbit a couple hundred miles above the Earth when the only place they could survive, other than their spacesuits, was destroyed. What could they do? In this telling, there are always other space stations nearby, and if they'd learned to fly one escape pod then that knowledge applies pretty much to all other space pods (though of course their buttons might be labeled with non-Latin characters in unfamiliar languages). While mostly empty, space is depicted a messy place; it got that way partly because of the messiness of humans (the insides of the space stations look like hallways in houses on Hoarders) and partly because of the absence of an organizing force like gravity. Unlike most space movies, Gravity was not set in any sort of future. If anything, it was set in the near past, back when there were these things called Space Shuttles. Overall, watching it was wonderful (if anxiety-inducing) experience, although (it must be said) the dialog became nauseatingly cheesy in a few places. If one were to edit out those parts (which only amounted to maybe five minutes), it would have been a much better film. Gretchen also had a problem with a suddenness of the ending. I, on the other hand, appreciated how it recapitulated the emergence of tetrapods from the water.


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http://asecular.com/blog.php?131016

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