Crawling with rats

On the night of February 9-10, I dreamed that I moved some furniture and found that the back of it was hollow and full of rats — about eight or nine of them — plus a lot of mealworms and one small yellowish-brown sugar glider. My reaction was, “Well, I guess most furniture probably has rats and things living in it,” and I replaced the furniture without feeling the need to do anything about the infestation.


The next evening (Friday, February 10), on my way home from work, I passed a chain-link fence with a white plastic bag of garbage hanging from it. Something about the plastic bag caught my attention — at first I thought it was a person’s face and hands — and I (quite uncharacteristically) pulled over and went over to look at it. It was full of large brown rats — about eight or nine of them — which had climbed the fence and crawled inside the bag to get the garbage. I stood and watched them for a few minutes, not disgusted at all — they were quite handsome specimens, with sleek fur and intelligent faces — until, one by one, they caught on to my presence, climbed down the fence, and scurried away.


(A precognitive dream? The details are quite different, but I’d still say yes by the Dunne standard: If I had had the waking experience first and the dream second, would I have assumed a causal relationship between the two? Of course.)


Not all Muslims/Presbyterians are like that

In the early afternoon of Monday, February 6, I checked Scott Adams’s blog and read his new post, Sam Harris Induces Cognitive Dissonance in Ben Affleck. Adams linked to a video of a debate with Sam Harris, Ben Affleck, Bill Maher, and a few other less famous guys. Adams’s comment:

Watch for the moment Ben has to hallucinate Sam’s opinion from the reasonable position that many Muslims worldwide have non-liberal views to an hallucination about “All Muslims are bad.” Sam and Bill both clarify their viewpoints, with data, but Ben is struck deaf to it. All he can hear is the absurd absolute “all.” He is literally hallucinating.

Not wanting to bother with the video, I googled it and found a transcript. Here’s the bit where Ben Affleck (“Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt” to his friends) “hallucinates.”

[Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt:]
How about the more than a billion people…

[Sam Harris:]
Those – those Muslims…

[Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt:]
How about more than a billion people who aren’t fanatical, who don’t punish women, who just want to go to school, have some sandwiches…

[Sam Harris:]
Wait a second.

[Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt:]
And don’t do any of the things that you’re saying all Muslims

[Sam Harris:]
Okay wait second, no, no, no wait, wait, wait. Stereotyping. I’m not saying all Muslims are like that

[Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt:]
You are taking a few bad things and you are painting that the whole religion with that same stuff.


Later the same evening, around 5:00 or 6:00, I read a few pages of George MacDonald’s novel St. George and St. Michael, which is set during the English Civil War. Dorothy is a Royalist, but her love interest Richard is a Roundhead. The passage below is from page 390.

The trial and execution of Laud, who died in the beginning of the following year, obeying the king rather than his rebellious lords, was a terrible sign to the house of Raglan of what the presbyterian party was capable of. But to Dorothy it would have given a yet keener pain had she not begun to learn that neither must the excesses of individuals be attributed to their party, nor those of the party taken as embodying the mind of everyone who belongs to it. At the same time the old insuperable difficulty returned : how could Richard belong to such a party ?

As in the Affleck-Harris debate, the party being discussed is called by a religious name (“the presbyterian party”) but is also a political group that engages in politically motivated violence.

Singing “Golden Slumbers”

On Sunday afternoon (February 5), I listened to just a few tracks of the final medley from Abbey Road — “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and “The End” — singing along as I listened. Below are some of the lyrics.

Golden slumbers fill your eyes
Smiles await you when you rise
Sleep pretty darling, do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby

[. . .]

Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time

[. . .]

And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make

At around noon the next day (Monday, February 6), I read a few pages from George MacDonald’s St. George and St. Michael — Chapter XL (“Love and Treason”) and the first part of XLI (“Glamorgan”).

In “Love and Treason,” Rowland attempts to win the heart of Dorothy. In this passage from pages 376-77, reference is made to “the love you make.”

At length he began to be aware that this was no light preference, no passing fancy, but something more serious than he had hitherto known — that in fact he was really though uncomfortably and unsatisfactorily in love with her. He felt she was not like any other girl he had made his shabby love to, and would have tried to make better to her, but she kept him at a distance, and that he began to find tormenting.

Later, on page 380, Dorothy tells Rowland that she cannot love him because he has not loved anyone — i.e., the love you take is equal to the love you make, both in this case being zero.

“[. . .] If thou canst not love me, wilt thou not then pity me a little ?”

“That I may pity thee, answer me what good thing is there in thee wherefore I should love thee.”

“Wouldst thou have a man trumpet his own praises ?”

“I fear not that of thee who hast but the trumpet. — I will tell thee this much : I have never seen in thee that thou didst love save for the pastime thereof.  I doubt if thou lovest thy master for more than thy place.”

Finally, when Rowland promises to reform and asks Dorothy if there is any chance in the future he may win her love, she replies (on page 384) that he lacks weight.

“[. . .] it is not like thou wilt ever have [my love], for verily thou art of nature so light that any wind may blow thee into the Dead Sea.”

But these are vague thematic parallels. What really made me notice the synchronicity was this passage from the next chapter, on page 387.

“Art thou poor, yet hast thou golden slumbers ?
O sweet content !”

sang the earl in a mellow tenor voice.

Whorehouses would be cheaper

On Wednesday night (February 1), I was searching the Internet for a particular Spanish-language comic strip I had read years ago. I didn’t find it, but I did wade through lots of other comic strips, many of them rather lowbrow, in the attempt. One of them went more or less like this: Two guys are robbing a bank when one of them notices that one of the tellers is his old girlfriend from high school. He takes a break from the robbery to, uh, renew his acquaintance with her, which delays the whole operation long enough for the police to arrive and arrest them both. In the final panel, the judge is admonishing him, “Next time, just go to a brothel. It would save a lot of time and money” (because his little tête-à-tête had caused them to “lose” the millions they would otherwise have successfully stolen).


An hour or so after reading that, I checked the Junior Ganymede blog and found a new post with the title “Whorehouses and mental wards would be much cheaper.” The post is simply a link, without comment, to the National Review article “Is Higher Education Still Possible?” by Anthony Esolen. Here is the closing paragraph of the Esolen article.

The colleges have not abandoned moral considerations utterly. Relativism is an unstable equilibrium — imagine a pyramid upside down, placed delicately upon its apex. It might make you break out into a cold sweat to stand in its shade. The question is not whether some moral vision will prevail, but which moral vision. The colleges are thus committed to a moral inversion. High and noble virtues, especially those that require moral courage, are mocked: gallantry in wartime, sexual purity, scrupulous honesty and plain dealing, piety, and the willingness to subject your thoughts, experiences, and most treasured beliefs to the searching scrutiny of reason. What is valued then? Debauchery, perversion, contempt for your supposedly benighted ancestors, lazy agnosticism, easy and costless pacifism, political maneuvering, and an enforcement of a new orthodoxy that in denying rational analysis seeks to render itself immune to criticism. You sink yourself in debt to discover that your sons and daughters have been severed from their faith, their morals, and their reason. Whorehouses and mental wards would be much cheaper. They might well be healthier, too.

Incidentally, the article as it appears on the National Review website has a typo in the subtitle — presumably unintentional, but appropriate, in an “Is our children learning?” sort of way, given the subject matter. Here’s a screenshot, since I’m sure they’ll eventually find and correct it.


Trash can and see-saw

Another old sync rediscovered while sorting through old magazines. This is from the October 2016 issue of Studio Classroom Advanced — the same issue that had the Kobe Bryant article mentioned here.

This is from page 32, from an article called “Global Trash Problem Reaches Crisis Level.”


And this is from page 39, from an article called “Be a Kid Again.”


Both pages feature a trash can with a lid, and below it a perfectly balanced see-saw with a triangular fulcrum. The trash can in the second picture is also located just above the left side of the see-saw, where a second trash can appears in the first picture.

I’m not sure if this can really be considered a synchronicity, though, since most likely both pages were designed by the same person, who may just have a thing for trash cans and see-saws.

Women as an aggressive peace-party

On Tuesday night (January 31), I finally finished Ann Shearer’s Athene, which ends with a discussion of women’s role in opposing war. The following is from pages 261 and 263.

Women’s understanding of ‘the feminine’ as the party of peace is long and honourable. [. . .] the yearning for that distant imaginal age of peaceful governance has been expressed at a time when the excoriation by women of men has reached an unparalleled crescendo of violence. The champions of ‘the feminine’ as the party of peace have waged war on the ‘masculine’ enemy as never before . . .

Shearer then goes on to summarize and discuss Aristophanes’s comedy Lysistrata, in which the women  of Athens end a war with Sparta by going on a sex-strike.

The next day, on the night of Wednesday, February 1, I picked up George MacDonald’s novel St. George and St. Michael and read the following on page 245.

But Waller and Essex were almost without any army between them, and were at bitter strife with each other, while the peace-party seemed likely to carry everything before them, women themselves presenting a petition for peace, and some of them using threats to support it.

Zootopia / Zoolander

This sync is from a while back; I rediscovered it while sorting through old magazines. This page is from the March 2016 issue of Live Interactive English Magazine.


The two movies they chose to feature were Zootopia (released March 4, 2016) and Zoolander 2 (released February 12, 2016). It’s not just that both movie names begin with Zoo-; the second element of each name matches, too. Zootopia is obviously from the word utopia, which in turn derives from Greek οὐ ‎(“not, no”) + τόπος ‎(“place, region”) — so -top-, like -land-, means “place.” Both movie names consist of Zoo- + an element meaning “place” + a noun suffix, and they were released only three weeks apart.