I don’t have any coherent stories to tell tonight, folks. But for friends who want to know how I’m doing (hi, NSA!), here’s a snapshot of my mental state:

Thanks to JenBrady Aultman for the kind words on my Facebook feed a couple of days ago. I miss you and Chris, you two are the best.

I get a D- for healthy eating today after (among other things) washing down all that chocolate with a double shot of scotch. I have to remember not to get any chocolate rated less than 85% cocoa mass, because otherwise I just eat the whole damn thing in one (extended) sitting.

This week was the first week where I started seeing Facebook ads directly targeting my web browsing outside of Facebook. SkyNet is coming for us all.

Along similar lines, I have to assume at this point that the NSA is basically the angry God from Jonathan Edwards’s famous sermon. Even setting aside the information they’re actively mining, their ability to correctly infer what I had for breakfast by triangulating my CV with my phone’s reported GPS position chills my blood. How can we still maintain that the US is a democracy? Or any other Western industrialized nation?

I went through my old CDs today and tried to be more skeptical about which ones I really would ever listen to again. I targeted a surprising number for giving away to charity. I’m pleased to report that Sting’s The Soul Cages has weathered the years remarkably well.

Referee report on this year’s paper #2 came back pretty clean; minimal edits. Preparing paper #3 for submission, if all goes well, by end of this week. Plan to write paper #4 on the flight to Europe next month, if I go to Europe; will have to confer with Brian to see if it’s really worth it, or if my time would be better spent getting paper #5 out the door.

Pretty sure charged white dwarfs don’t exist in nature. And if they do, they aren’t super-Chandrasekhar-mass in virtue of being charged.

Emily’s parents came to dump cow shit (it said so on the package) all over our garden. They want to make sure I don’t starve. No danger of that I think!

Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine is an incredible work of literature. The language is so lush I’m sure I’m not getting more than half of it on first reading. Nowhere does Bradbury use conventional terms to describe something when an image appealing directly to one or more senses could serve, and nowhere do the characters play out familiar tropes without Zen wisdom being written in calligraphy on the lampshades he hangs on those tropes. He must have written it from his own childhood. I should be so ambitious someday.

I finally did my US federal taxes this evening — let’s hear it for the automatic 2-month extension for expats. They only took me about 4 hours, which naturally raises the question of why I didn’t do them months ago. I was worried I’d owe something this year (and have to pay it late), but turns out I owe nothing again — partly because I spent fewer days in the States on business, partly because the Australian dollar fell. Also, I’m exempt from having to buy American health insurance under the ACA as long as I’m a bona fide resident of Australia. Makes sense, but I’m glad the government has in this instance decided to make sense.

I read too many new articles on incredibly depressing things out there in the world, climate change not being the least of them. Anyone who’s going to be in NYC this September 20-21, do me a favor and carry a big picket sign through the streets for me. I’ll post my thoughts on philanthropy later; divestment from fossil fuels figures prominently in the near term.

It was bad enough when the new Australian budget removes $70 million from the Australian Research Council while allocating $250M for school chaplains. Then I read that the school chaplain program is a continuation of an older program, but a continuation that specifically excludes secular counselors and social workers (who are well-equipped to serve students from multiple faiths with flexibility and equanimity). That makes it personal. I reassured my outraged Aussie friend Kelly that her future atheist kids would be fully self-actualized, free from the shackles of centuries of superstition, and would therefore not need the emotional crutch a school chaplain would hypothetically provide.

What motivates people to have kids, anyway? I’m familiar with plenty of arguments for and against, but what tips the balance in most of our minds, in this era of birth control and self-absorption?

Still wishing Emily were around to hold. I was surprised to learn that despite being in general much less anxious than me, she can be harder on herself in some abstruse ways than I am. This is why we look after each other.

Time to try and catch some shut-eye. Gotta marshal my strength for another day at the office tomorrow.


About Richard

I'm an American scientist who is building a new life in Australia. This space will contain words about science and math, but also philosophy, policy, literature, my travels, occasional rants, all sorts of things I find strange and awesome. The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer at the time (currently University of Sydney), though personally, I think they should.
This entry was posted in Astronomy, Career, Environment, Food, Lifestyle, Mindfulness, Music, Politics, USA, Worldchanging and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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