Saturday, 30 July 2016

A Decade in Review

My reviews blog has just celebrated a decade of intense action. Feel free to check the summary of this past year and celebrate the decade that was here.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Stairway to Heaven

There is no easy way of saying it: the father of one of my best friends, my oldest friend, died the other week.
I cannot claim to have had much interaction with the deceased in recent years. But as childhood memories go, the parents of friends tend to be regarded as rather intimidating figures; they were big, for a start. Not this father; he was always welcoming, witty and entertaining. I'm sure he means the world to my friend, but even for me his departure meant this world is that much sadder.
Perhaps even sadder are the circumstances in which his departure took place. I will put it this way: as has been the case with my father this is yet another exhibit in that list of people that should have lived longer and better if the system that was to look after them in Israel did its job well. Yet again it seems clear that us, society, treats people as "out of sight, out of mind" once they are no longer contributing members to our consumerists' society.
Another point to make one sadder is the age factor. Between my friend's father, my own father, and other fellow fathers to pass away in recent years, there is a trend. Or rather, there is a very solid average life expectancy figure with very little standard deviation to put. Or, to state it another way, if I am not to be hit buy a truck, stricken by a stroke, or blessed with cancer, I can now tell with a fair degree of confidence the age by which I will hopelessly wither and the time when I will die.
On one hand, I'm always in for more knowledge; it's good to know when things like dying are expected if I am to make the most of the time I have to live in. On the other hand, that small standard deviation renders the verdict an almost fatalistic nature; it feels like no matter what I will do, my personal date is signed and sealed.
But I know better. Date or no date, you still won't catch me smoking.


A rather interesting thought hit me at the funeral.
The deceased died after a severe case of deteriorating dementia. Near the time of his death he was nowhere near the sharp, smart and witty person he once was.
Which made me wonder: which version of the deceased will get to go to heaven?
If you answer with "the guy at his prime" then I will challenge you with defining what "prime" means. Look at me, if you will: Sure, I had a better body in my twenties than I do now, but I also lacked much (if not most) of the wisdom I now have. And if you were to tell me that my heavenly version will have both the body and the wisdom then I will further challenge you with the obvious insight that a person with both the optimal body and optimal wisdom never existed; such an entity might be theoretically possible, but poor old I was never that person.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that heaven is clearly a demented idea.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

The Unknown Unknows

I am no big fan of Donald "let's invade Iraq for breakfast because I'm a white alpha male" Rumsfeld, but I do appreciate the wisdom of his Unknown Unknowns speech.
There are many things I'm scared of and numerous things I regret, but if we narrow these to that last of all deliberations - the things I'm going to be pissed off with at my death bed, assuming I have the time and capacity to do so - I am voting for these Unknown Unknowns taking centre stage.

I know it is certain there are tons of movies out there I would like - a lot - but will never get to watch because I am unaware of their existence. It is a statistical certainty that the book that would earn my vote for "best written words ever" is a book I am completely unfamiliar with. And I know for sure there are things I would love to know about this world but will never learn due to the fact they will be discovered after I'm already gone - stuff like how consciousness works, the discovery of extraterrestrial life, and much much more. FTL, perhaps?
Over long periods of time, science and human progress in general should have little boundaries; yet I will only catch a small glimpse of those.
I can try and comfort myself by telling me I'm trying, doing my best, to find that best book, to watch that great film, and to learn more about this interesting universe that we live in. But I know all too well that, at the end, I will look back at myself and conclude I just didn't try hard enough.