Jamboree

1.  Here are some questions I would like answers to:  obviously there is a bone in your nose, because it is able to break.  But skulls never have a nose bone, just a hole where the nose was.  What’s going on with that?  What is an electric acoustic guitar?  I mean I get the basic concept, but still.  When you cast a shadow, it is because your body is blocking light rays, but your shadow isn’t pitch dark; some light is still landing there; what mechanism is at play there?  Why can’t beggars be choosers?  Why do I love Furbys so much?  What the heck is fire?

2.  Ever since I became a vegetarian, I’ve noticed (at least on social media) a fair amount of mildly confusing hostility toward us.  Now I know that, like any subculture of people, there is a vocal minority that will actually make unprompted attempts to make meat-eaters feel bad, recruit people to the cause, etc (which honestly I say more power to them, it’s an important issue), but most of us just quietly eat our vegetables and say very little about it; what we do say is because this is an important part of our lives that we are passionate about; how odd to think we should be passionate about how we eat but remain silent about it.

So why do some people get so upset at vegetarians when most of us are largely leaving you alone?  And when most of us bite our tongues at the myriad, countless, terribly unimaginative pro-bacon posts that float around?  It is inconceivable that someone would be made to feel bad for voicing a pro-meat agenda, but those of us who are passionate about the lives of animals are made to feel like voicing our opinion would be indelicate?  The answer seems obvious.

Most people know, at their core, that eating meat is wrong.  Even if their conscious mind firmly believes there is nothing wrong with eating the carcasses of butchered creatures, deep down, at core, they know.  In our modern world, with all the options available to us, the wholesale slaughter and consumption of literally countless beings is radically unnecessary and a moral evil, and this fact resides in most of you.  So while I initially recoil every time one of my friends posts a completely unprompted anti-vegetarian meme, I recover quickly, secure in the knowledge they’ve done so because they wish, deep within themselves, they had the courage to act on what they know to be true.

3.  Let’s talk about sports for a minute; but more to the point, let’s talk about language and sports.  Even more specifically, let’s talk about “clinch”.

Now, in English at large there are quite a few ways to define exactly when one has “clinched” something.  It can mean to settle or finalize, but also to assure oneself of future reward.  In American sports, for many many years, it has meant strictly the latter; that an individual or a team had passed a mathematical hurdle in order to be assured of a reward–typically a playoff berth, but more rarely something like a batting title or a similar individual achievement.

In decades past, the word would be used something like this by a sports announcer:

“And with one more strike, the Padres will win their third game of the best-of-five series, thereby clinching their appearance in next week’s League Championship Series!”.  As in, with this win, they now are assured of moving forward.  They have WON this series, and have CLINCHED an appearance in the next round of the playoffs.

Then, a few years ago, I was watching one of the championships of the major American sports–I don’t remember which–when moments after the winning team won and had just begun their celebration, the announcer said something like this: “And with that, the winning team has clinched the championship!”

I knew it sounded wrong but it took me a few seconds to suss out why.  Really, they clinched it?  To my understanding, they won it.  Clinching implies it has secured further games.  There is nothing after the championship.  The season is over.  There is no longer anything to clinch.  They won the championship.  Nobody ever clinches a championship.  When did they clinch it, in the half a second from when the buzzer started to sound until it was done sounding?  Let’s end this madness, please!

4.

I know, intellectually, that humankind did not have anywhere close to the technology to put a person on the moon until right up until the moment we did so.  In fact, it was almost a miracle we were able to pull it off when we did it.  But it has always struck me as odd–and this is a really challenging thought to put into words so bear with me–that over the long and storied history of humanity, that somebody didn’t get there almost by accident at some point.

OK, let me pull it back a little bit.  Thinking about early Mount Everest climbing, the accepted knowledge is that Sir Edmund Hilary and his Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, were the first human beings to summit the mountain.  And for all we know, they were.  It’s certainly not easy to get up there, and there’s no discernible survivalist reason to do so.  But human history is long, and there have been billions and billions of people walking over the surface of this planet well before we started keeping track of what we all were doing.  It seems to me the likelihood that some human being, at some point in deep history, for reasons completely unknowable to us, once trod upon that summit before Sir Edmund Hilary’s DNA was a glint in an amoeba’s eye.

Now it is harder to make a case for people having gone to the moon in ancient history.  I’m not some conspiracy theorist or quack, I’m just playing the numbers game (but without actual numbers).  While I will go out on a limb and say it is LIKELY a human summited Everest somewhere in the deep past, I will only say that it seems totally feasible that someone got to the moon at some point.

How?  I have no idea.  Some rudimentary capsule on top of a vast amount of explosives?  I really don’t have a working theory.  It does seem to me that if some human in history worked out a way to get to the moon, they probably didn’t arrive alive or live very long once they got there.

Just imagine, though.  Imagine we go back to the moon someday with more time and means to explore it.  Imagine an astronaut is walking down an embankment in a crater.  She sees a small cave tucked into an alcove.  As she approaches to explore, she sees footprints!  Closer still, sitting in dirt on the windless surface, a tattered copy of Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense”.  She hesitates before entering the cave.  What a story this would make!

And for you smarty-pants out there, I know lunar soil is called regolith, but that would have really ruined the pacing there.

3 Responses to “Jamboree”

  1. Kyle Sundgren Says:

    1. I never thought about the nose thing until now. My guess is since it’s cartilage which is softer than bone when we find skulls buried somewhere that the nose biodegraded with the skin. Can skin biodegrade? I dunno. I don’t wanna look up the definition. I really don’t know what you’re asking with the guitar and can offer nothing for the others.

    2. To me it’s obvious why us meat-eaters hate to be informed of your vegetarian stuff; conscience. Never mind the animal aspect of it (which is terrible and I fully admit I sweep it under the rug), but also the health aspect. Of course you can eat meat AND vegetables, but I would wager over 90% of people know they don’t eat enough vegetables. So it’s a double inconvenient truth. Vegetarians do get an unfair stigma of the nose in the air superiority of food knowledge. That might explain why my knee jerk reaction to seeing you change your Facebook cover photo to something vegetarian was to roll my eyes. I just like to live comfortably with my pork that sets off pleasure neurons and be free of guilty thoughts about the death of a mammal and the clogging of my arteries.

    3. The more I think about this the more I think you’re actually wrong here. By your definition it is only appropriate to use the word, “clinch” when it would signify a team getting a spot in the playoffs. I know you gave me shit when I made a post about the Warriors being in a clinching game to move on the the next round in the playoffs. You may have been razing me on that one, but I can almost say for sure that was used correctly. I do think saying the Royals clinched the World Series last week would be accurate though. Think about what that signifies. Those players will for the rest of their lives be able to say that they were 2015 World Series Champions. They get put in the unofficial category/group of people that have won the series. There are phenomenal baseball players who have never won a World Series. That’s what they are clinching. That doesn’t go away when the 2016 season starts or when the 2016 champion is decided. It’s the accolades that they’re clinching.

    4. I think the odds of someone climbing Everest before Sir Hilary are very slim, but not impossible. I think the odds of a human from Earth landing on the moon before Apollo 11 are like 0.0000000001% short of impossible. And you can take that to the bank, because I got a film certificate from a community college!

  2. Your shadow is not pitch black because there is still reflected light from your surroundings, including some UV light from items that are not completely opaque.
    Fire is, as per the greatest intellect of all time (Cecil Adams): “Fire is the rapid combination of oxygen with fuel in the presence of heat, typically characterized by flame, a body of incandescent gas that contains and sustains the reaction and emits light and heat.”

    In order to break free of the Earth’s atmosphere and gravitational pull, Someone would have had to create a way to self-encapsulate an entire breathable atmosphere for the trip, with the ability to maintain a certain pressure, and figure out how to propel themselves a little over 220,000 miles to get to the Moon. Since there was no way a single person could do it without going bankrupt/insane, it’s highly unlikely. Even less likely is that there would be a copy of Common Sense that you could read, as radiation would have bleached the pages by now. Even the flag the USA planted in 1969 is bleached white by now. HOWEVER, that being said, you should try to find the Star Trek Voyager episode “Distant Origin” (S03E23), which explored the very concept of who went to space first.

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