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Why buy a Gucci belt when you could attend a personal growth seminar? That’s the only two options, it’s that binary

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Binary Options Webinars, Seminars and Coaching

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Binary Options Webinars, Seminars and Coaching

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DEMOLITION DAYS, Part 47

continuing
As I was picking myself up off the shooter’s shack floor, I glanced over to the TV.
The ballplayers were all wandering around the field, looking skyward. Evidently, there was this hellacious explosion…even the television sports commentators were speculating as to what happened.
Whoops.
I looked out into the quarry. The wall that I had charged had receded some 75 feet.
There was rather a large amount of shattered, blasted dolomitic limestone now in the quarry. Enough, I found out later, for a full month’s worth of orders.
We never did find the blasting mats. I think they sort of evaporated.
Luckily, the quarry is essentially an open amphitheater in plan view; basically a big hole in the ground with vertical limestone walls. The shockwave of the blast that didn’t spend itself shattering the limestone into which it was housed, blew out laterally, hit the opposite quarry wall, rebounded, and then dispersed, rather energetically, vertically upward.
I set off car alarms for a 20 block radius.
There were no broken home windows, as the lion’s share of the shock wave was redirected upward.
Good thing there were no low flying zeppelins or dirigibles in the area...
I waited the requisite time to allow for any loafers. There were none, so I jumped into the nearest wheel loader and began clearing the quarry floor. Hell, I had to so I could open the front gate.
As I was clearing the floor, making pile number eight of the loose rock I had liberated, I heard the characteristic whoop-whoop of emergency vehicles.
I parked the wheel loader, opened the front gate, and raised the green flag. That was enough blasting for one day.
A few minutes later, three police cars zoom into the site. Two were local city cops, and one was a state trooper.
“Hi, guys!” I waved, “Nice day, innit?”
“Doctor Rock! We should have known.” One of the local boys groaned.
“Hey, I did call you beforehand, as per procedure,” I said.
Polack the cop walks up, just knowing I was responsible. “Yeah, but we didn’t figure on you terrorizing the entire city.”
“Polack! How goes it?” I asked.
The other local cop and the state trooper look to Polack, “You know this maniac?”
“Oh, hell yeah. For years. Don’t worry, the good doctor is mostly harmless.” He chuckles.
“Damn. OK. I guess everything’s OK. Just no more shooting today, please, Doctor. It’s going to take hours to calm everyone down.” He laments.
“Yes, sir. I’m done for the day.” I reply, snickering slightly.
The one local and state trooper depart, shaking their heads in amazement. This left Polack to follow me over to the shooter’s shack to mooch a cigar and whatever else he can find.
“Jesus Hula-Dancing Christ, Rock. What the hell was that? I was all the way out in Whitewatosa and heard you.” He asks as he sneakily snakes a smoke out of my case.
“Just some common chemicals in the proper proportions.” I snicker.
“Which were?” he asks.
I go in the back of the shed and toss him an empty container of one of the parts of the binaries I used. He catches it, reads the label, and drops it like a live grenade.
“Binaries? Fuck! Like what you used at the tower?” he asks.
“Yep. I used just a little more.” I reply.
“Little more? Damn, as I said, we’ve been briefed on the stuff. This shit’s nasty.” He shakes his head.
“Yeah. Fun, too.” I reply.
Polack grabs a Sprechler’s Cream Soda out of the fridge as I opt for a cold Cream Ale and shot of potato juice. Hell, I was done for the day, so…
We sit around and have a chat, just shooting the shit, as it were. Manly topics, so the conversation eventually steered over to guns.
“Hey!” Polack remembers, “That’s right! You fucking owe me. Let me borrow that fucking cannon you carry. I want to show the chief a thing or two.”
“Yeah, that’s right”, I agree, “When do you need it?”
“This Friday, after shift. It’s the monthly qualifiers for us.” He notes.
“Are pyromaniacs allowed in?” I ask.
“To observe? Sure. To shoot? Nope. Insurance regulations.” He says.
“What time?” I continue.
“1800 hours.” He tells me.
“I’ll be there. I’ll bring my gun and an assortment of loads. Hey, this could be fun!” I evilly smile.
“Doctor. You’re doing that thing again. You’re grinnin’ like a shithouse rat. You know how much that scares me. Stop it.” He pleads.
“No worries. Friday at 1800 hours.” I reply, grinning.
Polack slurps down his Sprechlers, snitches another stogie, and squeals out of the quarry in a cloud of dense dolomitic dust.
I arrive back at our flat, after stopping for two frozen custard Turtle Sundaes, to go. I give one to an appreciative wife and I ask her about her day.
“Oh, went shopping with Oma. Got the cutest shoes, and a new purse, and…oh well, never mind. You’ll see.”
Between bites of Turtle Sundae, she asks how my day went.
“Oh, my dear. I had a real blast.” I replied, not lying in the least.
Monday, after my first classes, I’m back in the faculty lounge, savoring a Greenland Coffee.
There was the usual instructor chatter when Dean Vermiculari walks in.
“Good morning, Dean!” I say. “Care for a sit-down and a coffee?”
“Good morning, Doctor Rock. Yes, please to both.” He replies.
I fix us both a fresh Greenland Coffee and return to our table. I hand him one and sit down to savor my soupçon.
“How was your weekend?” I ask the Dean of the College.
“Oh, very nice. Had a fine time catching some perch and crappie out on Lake Genever. I see you had a victorious weekend as well. Twice.” He smiles.
“Twice?” I asked.
“Well, your handling of the tower demolition made all the papers. Very, very well done, Doctor. I congratulate you.” He smiles.
“Thank you, Dean. That means a lot. Just doing what I can with what I’ve got. But twice?” I replied.
“It wasn’t front-page news, but I saw there was some, well, let us just say, ‘energetic activity’ out at the Silurian reef limestone quarry yesterday.” He grinned.
“Oh, yes. I had a job to do and well, as I always say: ‘Nothing succeeds like excess.” I smile back.
“Quite. This beverage you’ve created is really rather extraordinary, Doctor. Again, I thank you.” He tips his mug my direction in the age-old Midwestern salute.
“It’s a little recipe I picked up on my last expedition to the northlands. I grew rather fond of the concoction.” I replied.
“Ah, I see. Marvelous.” He smiles.
“Thank you, Dean. High praise indeed.” I reply.
“Which leads me to…ah, Doctor Rock. I have another favor to impose upon you.” He says, all serious.
“Yes, Dean? How can I be of service?” I ask.
“We, as you no doubt know, have many, many fine extractive mineral company connections. We actually receive quite a large amount of funding and endowments from them. They recruit here extensively for our young geoscientists. Now, since Dr. Pataariki has left for industry himself, I would like to appoint you as the College of Natural Sciences corporate liaison.” He explains.
“Indeed?” I replied, too stunned for words for once.
“Yes, indeed.” He continues, “It will require travel, mostly domestic, and delivering symposia at various companies on differing extractive geological subjects. You will also serve as host and university coordinator when they are present on recruiting tours. There will, of course, be additional remuneration to accompany the added responsibilities.”
I slurped my coffee, thinking furiously.
“Could I please first discuss it with my wife before I answer?” I ask.
“Oh, Doctor. Of course, of course. Take your time. I will not require a reply until… tomorrow.” He smiles, finishes his coffee, thanks me again, and toddles out.
“Yow, Es!” I exclaim, “This is one hell of an opportunity. It’s never before been offered to a junior professor. This will cement my tenure-track. It’s going to be a bitch with time, though. What do you think I should do?”
“Well, Rock, honey, I think you should do…” Es begins.
“No! None of that ‘do what you think is best’ stuff. I want your own thoughts, just like when I decided to go after my doctorate.” I explained.
“OK, then.” Esme looks all serious like she’s going to deliver a bipartisan political speech.
“Yes.” She says, firmly
“That’s it?” I ask.
“Yep. You asked I answered. We’ll make it work. We always do. You can’t let the Dean down. You will accept tomorrow without fear or qualms of your wife’s hesitations, of which I harbor none.” Esme proclaims.
“Did I ever tell you of the myriad reasons I love you so?” I ask.
The next morning I meet with Dean Vermiculari. He’s pleased that I accept and hands over to me the charter. Then the lists of company representatives, their contact information, and some other secret stuff that I can’t divulge right yet.
A raft of oil companies will be coming in the late spring semester, so I need to contact each and every one to solidify dates, times and positions for which they’re recruiting. But that’s for then, I have something more proximal for now.
I have a Friday appointment with Polack the cop at the town police shooting range.
I arrive spot on time with my Casull .454 Magnum pistol, in its carry bag, along with a small duffel crammed with Pyrodex, Tannerite, and selection of specialty loads I had Herman the German, the inveterate gunsmith, create.
Herman the German, his actual sobriquet, was this incredible gunsmith, craftsman, and all-around artillery specialist. Have any sort of problem with a rifle, shotgun, or pistol? See Herman. Gun holding too high? See Herman. Barrel warped? See Herman. Need solid gold projectiles for a certain one-off job? See Herman.
Herman the German can sort it out.
Just never ask him: “How?”
“Ach! I’ve lived so long to learn, and you want it free? I’ll fix it, you pay, but I am only one knowing how!”
Herman was a cranky old Kraut, and has lived here for as long as anyone can remember. Even my Grandfather had deferred to Herman when he had some particularly delicate machining operation that need special attention and was unique.
As far as anyone knew, Herman had no family, but was never at a loss for friends. He was one of the most popular, and well known, but still oddly really unknown, kind of mysterious, old bastards in the entire community.
Herman the German liked me because I could obtain for him certain high-energy things he couldn’t. All were entirely legal, but some were sort of out there in the gray zone.
He also liked that I was educated, as he held education in the highest esteem. He also liked that I was of German extraction myself.
I often made it a point to drop by with odd and unusual high-octane potables while never expecting anything in return other than a story or a shared cigar.
Herman created some special loads for my .454 Magnum, which he prized.
“I like your gun, Doctor Rock, it is so big! I can still see well enough to build things for it.” He told me one day over cheroots and Schnapps.
Herman was a character to be certain. It must have been the pixie in him to dream up some of the specialty rounds he created for me to share with the local constabulary.
He lived out in the county by himself in an old farmhouse. He had a full machine shop in his basement, complete with forge, metal handling equipment, and a firing test range.
He handed back my .454, rather solemnly.
“Doctor, I am afraid to say I couldn’t test all the special rounds I’ve created for you. I need to patch the hole in the cinder blocks in the downstairs range. Your gun punched right through the back…” he apologized.
Now, Herman does all sorts of work on the local’s deer rifles, the police’s ordinance and has even worked some with the Baja Canada National Guard. Some of the little novelties he’s dreamed up for me are the first to escape his homemade basement test range.
I felt oddly honored.
After proving who I was to the nice range officer, I looked around trying to find Polack.
“It’s 1550. Where the hell is Polack? I wondered.
“Rock! Over here.” Polack calls to me.
He motions me outside to the police department’s tactical outdoor range. I had thought all along he was referring to the indoors police target range. This might pose some problems.
The tactical range was a series of clapboard shacks, all setup and designed to represent some downtrodden urban inter-city landscape. There were a couple of junked cars, broken sidewalks, storefronts, houses, bus stops…in short, all things necessary to replicate the seediest sections of a settlement where malefactors live and breed.
The cops all run around this range, shooting at bad guy pop-up cut-outs and avoid the not-bad-guy pop-up cut-outs. They’ve got music blaring, firecrackers going off, all trying to re-create a shady deeply urban environment. Points are awarded by the accuracy of fire on the run, time to maneuver the course, and the ability of not gunning down innocent bystanders.
It is not the best place to test a .454 Cusall. This hand cannon recoils like a fundamentalist Christian being solicited for donations to Anton LaVey, shoots flames and incandescent gasses like Smaug after a hard night of drinking and a stop at the Taco Bell buffet, is louder than a dime-store Karen demanding to see a Manager, and more powerful than a Ghost Pepper suppository.
To quote Joe Piscopo: “It shoots through schools.” Especially faux-schools made of plywood.
A .32 or .38 cop special is the correct weapon here; even a 9mm is a little heavy. Enough power to make a serious dent, easy on control, light on the recoil…a good tactical weapon.
But, nothing succeeds like excess.
Polack’s Chief is running around, capping off his ‘big ol’ .44 Magnum, and making the valley echo. He punches considerable holes in the pop-up cut-outs, but has such a hard time handling the recoil, his score is barely passable.
Polack runs his test with his standard 9mm sidearm and qualifies easily. However, he’s nowhere near done with his Chief yet.
I suggest to Polack we have a shoot-off. And since a .44 Magnum bullet ‘is so close to a .454 Magnum’, which it isn’t…the .454 Casull generates nearly 85% more recoil energy than the .44 Magnum; that we’d need something other than holes punched in plywood to judge the efficacy of each.
We are literally just down the road from Max Yazzer’s farm and market. They’re the place you go for your Halloween jack-o-lantern. However, now, he has a surplus of melons.
I think you can see where this is headed…
I borrow Polack’s personal conveyance and run down to Max’s farm. I return with a trunk-load of elderly, overripe, cheap as chips, melons. Watermelons, Honeydews, Musks, and Casabas.
We place them in strategic areas on the course, five for the Chief to find, and five for Polack.
A .44 vs. a .454 melon-wise results in pretty much the same sort of mess: high-velocity fruit spatter. Although, the Chief was very impressed by the report of the .454. So, after running the tactical-melon course, clear demarcation of a winner was elusive.
OK, OK, clever dicks. How about this? A standing shoot-off? We’ll set up 3 melons each at 30, 20, and 10 yards. Beginning at 30 yards, your time will be until you take out all three melons. But, they’re not going to be in a straight line, we’re going to make them somewhat camouflaged. You will stand in one small demarcated area, hunt those miscreant melons, and bring them to justice. Fastest time and greatest display wins, as determined by the Police Peanut Gallery.
Polack and the Chief agree.
The Chief goes first and dispatches the melons, with a fair amount of spatter, in 15.3 seconds.
Not bad.
Polack is next. He wipes out all the melons and creates some thoroughly impressive displays with Herman’s ‘special’ rounds. Normal ballistics for the .454 are, for a 250 grain (16 g) bullet, a muzzle velocity of over 2,400 feet per second, developing up to 2,800 ft-lb of energy.
Herman’s hot loads are double that.
Polack wins the day on impressive high-velocity melon distribution, but misses, so close, with a time of 17.0 seconds.
Recoil’s a bitch.
Then there are Herman’s ‘specialties’.
The Chief is duly impressed and even comments that his ears are ringing even with the ear protectors. He asks to inspect the weapon. He is even more than duly impressed.
Polack knows what’s up and asks the Chief if he’d like to give a whirl.
Of course, the Chief can’t back down.
Polack loads the .454 with 5 of Herman’s specialties: hollow-point rounds loaded hot, compressed, and tipped with alkaline earth metals, like metallic sodium and metallic potassium…
We set up the nastiest, glorpiest, just barely-holding-together, overripe, laced with Tannerite (an impact-actuated low-explosive) watermelon at the ‘Concealed Carry’ distance of 5 meters.
We slowly fade back into the distance to avoid the inevitable ‘Gallagher reaction’.
The Chief fires one, and just nicks the top of the melon. Don’t laugh, with the type of recoil and heft of the sidearm, and tensing up in anticipation, it’s easy to be off the mark initially.
The second round impacts dead-center. Now, alkaline earth metals and water don’t get along really well. In fact, their relationship is explosive. Especially explosive when delivered at 2,900 feet per second.
The Chief catches a huge smattering of vitamin-packed watermelony back blast goo.
He’s not entirely happy. He looks positively grisly with all that blown-up melon schmoo on his nice, neat uniform.
He returns my gun and bans me from ever showing up at the police range again.
Polack is on traffic duty for the next month.
He figures it was well worth it.
Back at the flat, Esme is shaking her head and wondering if I’ll ever grow up.
“I may grow old, but I’ll never grow up.” I reply.
I see I have several missed phone calls. Ah, me; no rest for the weary. Back to company-university liaison duties.
After I had contacted these companies, I receive no less than 12 requests for symposia, talks, and seminars to be given to various level of industrial scientific employees in their respective companies.
I am now slated to give academic conferences on stratigraphy, sedimentology, and seismic structural geology to different companies in Houston, Oklahoma City, Denver, Casper, Corpus Christi, New Orleans, and Tulsa. In the next 12 weeks, I’ll be giving no less than 8 talks in seven cities.
I speak with Dean Vermiculari on how best to handle the situation. He understands and appoints two graduate student teaching assistants to handle my classes while I’m on the road. That relieves me of being physically there, but I still have to grade papers, compose lesson plans, and keep things running smoothly until finals.
Besides giving the talks, there’s travel to oil fields, production facilitates, manufacturing plants, hotels, restaurants while I’m in town…the pace is excruciating. I’m gone more than I am at university. Plus in my time back home, I’m still the ad hoc master blaster for the limestone quarry.
Then, there’s the companies arriving on campus, and the roles are reversed. Now I’m the welcome wagon and have to sort out the logistics of receiving the company representatives. I need to set up the colloquia to introduce the companies to the prospective students, arrange lodging, arrange passes for the university, transportation, “Meet-and-Greet’s, ad infinitum.
I knew this was having a bit of effect on me when I came back to the flat after one particularly grueling ordeal of canceled flights, full hotels, missed connections and lukewarm reception by the company workers.
“Hello”, I said, as I walked in the flat, “I believe you have a reservation for…”
Esme just stood there, wondering if I was having a laugh.
No, I wasn’t. I was completely hallucinating from road weariness, lack of sleep, jet lag, and total disorientation. This continued on for the next approximately 18 months.
Esme was beginning to have second thoughts about all this.
My teaching load was diminished by one whole introductory course. However, I was still flying hither and yon, delivering symposia, meeting with young geoscientists and getting to know the ins-and-outs of the Oil Industry.
I found it particularly fascinating.
Time marched on and it was once again it was the recruiting season. We had no less than eight oil companies visiting the university in their quest to swell the roster of their junior scientists.
I’m still busier than a one-armed paperhanger in a windstorm, but have settled into a groove of sorts. I know the company recruiters and they now know me. I’ve actually struck up friendships with several. Particularly since I take them to the best local restaurants and bars after their recruiting duties are finished.
I’ve met with recruiting representatives of Shrill Petrol, Mexxon, Nobil, Nocono Oil, Flug, Geddy, Brutish Petroleum, and Qexaco.
The recruiting season is winding down and I find myself with Red (not Adair), of Nocono Oil.
“Well, Doctor Rock”, Red states, “Another fine recruiting run. We’ve snagged two of your young geologists and one geophysicist. I’d say it was almost a perfect score.”
We’re sitting in the Norton’s Steakhouse. After a couple of prime pink porterhouses, we’re working on the post-dinner double vodka and bitter lemon for me, and Lagavulin for Red.
“Almost perfect?” I ask.
“Yeah. There’s been this one small nagging concern from our company higher-ups.” Red continues.
“What’s that?” I ask.
“We need some more senior people. For one thing, we’ve recently opened a new petroleum laboratory down in our Houston office. Going to need some serious talent to run that show.” Red says.
“I see”, I reply, “And…?”
“We need mentors. Those with varied and far-flung knowledge. They must be well educated, global in experience and stature, with an [ahem] diverse set of skills.” Red notes.
“Whew”, I agree, “That’s a tall order. You want my help with names of possible candidates? Is that it?”
“Not as such, Doctor.” Red drains his drink, motions for me to do the same, and orders another round.
Our drinks arrive and Red downs half his in one gulp.
“Well, then”, I continue, “How can I help?”
Red chuckles, “For someone so educated, you can really be thick as two short planks at times.”
I sit back, and sip my Old Thought Provoker.
The mercury-vapors light off.
“No!” I say, incredulously.
“Oh, yes.” Red smiles.
“No?” I ask, slowly taking in the possible effects of what he’s hinting at…
“OK, Doctor Rocknocker”, Red gets all serious and corporate, “We’d like to offer you a position at Nocono Oil as Senior Laboratory Manager and Head of Corporate Continuing Education.”
You could have knocked me over with a grenade. I was stunned. I fumbled with my drink.
“Red, you old con artist” I reply, “Is this a set-up?”
Red, serious as a heart attack, looks directly at me and replies, “Doctor Rock, absolutely not, it’s a genuine offer.”
He slides over a folder with some papers inside. “Here are the particulars.”
Reeling, I accept the folder. I open it and right after the corporate logos and legal bullshit, I see a tall figure with a whole raft of zeros trailing behind it.
I read furiously. The job would be both interesting and challenging. It would be in Houston, with travel and teaching at all other company outposts on a regular basis. I reexamine that figure from before and verify that I’m not now hallucinating.
The job comes with furnished, corporate-paid housing, incredible benefits, loads of opportunity for advancement, more opportunity to travel, really generous vacation time…
“Right. On the level?” I ask again.
“Yep.” Red bluntly says.
“Well”, I gulp, “you know I have to discuss this with Esme”, whom he’s met several times previous.
“Of course, and you probably want to finish out the semester, correct?” red asks.
“Oh, yes.” I reply. There would be a monsoon of paperwork and other grunt work I’d need to conclude or hand over if I were to accept this offer.
“OK, then”, Red finishes his drink, motions for me to do the same, a real rarity; but I was in another dimension at this point. He orders another round and sits back, waiting on a refill.
“You have two weeks to reply” Red states.
“I know that’s not a terribly long time, but we need to fill this position ASAP. Can I ask for that? Your answer, yea, or nay, within a fortnight?” Red demands.
“Yes”, I reply. “I at least owe you that.”
And that was the end of the discussion for the night about me joining the private sector. We stayed a few more hours, chatting, smoking my cigars, and discussing everything but the lumbering elephant in the room.
We part outside as I need to head back to our flat. Red wants to go downtown to one of those “Gentleman’s Clubs” he’s heard were so famous at the time.
I was flummoxed the whole cab ride home.
It was late when I returned, but I simply had to wake Es with the news.
“Rock, for pity’s sake, its 2 o’clock in the morning!” Es protests. “Can’t this wait until later?”
“Sorry, my dear” I reply, probably as serious as I ever had with Esme. “This is a potential game-changer.”
“What is it? Are you OK?” Esme trembles.
“Oh, I’m fine. Better than fine.” I reply.
She’s relieved.
“Then what’s so important?” she asks.
“Um…how would you like to move to Houston?” I ask.
“You going to teach at Cougar High (University of Houston)?” she inquires.
“Nope. Brace yourself. I’ve been offered a job with Nocono Oil.” I finally spill the beans.
Esme is slightly stunned and sits down.
I go to the wet bar, fix me a bracing potato juice and citrus and Esme a stiff white Zinfandel.
I hand her the wine and she is still semi-dazed and digesting the information.
I slurp a good portion of my drink, retrieve her Sobranjes and me a cigar from my Turkmenistan humidor.
I sit on the couch next to her and hug her soundly.
“Esme? Es? Earth to Es? You in there?” I joke.
“Oh, Yeah. Rock. Really? Hang on”, she leaves, returning with her housecoat as this might take a little time.
“So?” I ask, “Your thoughts. Now! Immediately! Initial reaction!” I try to jar her back into reality.
“Well, what do you want?” she asks.
“C’mon, my dearest. You know I hate that. No, what do you think? What do you honestly think?” I reply.
We both fire up our smokes, and I refresh our drinks. We return to the dinner table where Red’s folder lies.
“Es, here. Look at this.” I say, sliding the portfolio over to her.
She reads like a hungry man at a Vegas casino buffet. I can tell where she was stopped by something extraordinary.
“This is for real?” she asks, “Red’s not pulling a fast one?”
“Nope. It’s the genuine article”, I tell her, “He needs my reply within two weeks.”
“Rock, Rock…I just don’t know. It’s a lot to process at 0230 in the morning. Let’s go to bed and have a think in the morning. You have the luxury of at least that amount of time.” She notes.
“Right again, as usual”, I say, “Stuff it. It can wait.” We toddle off to bed.
The next morning, over Cuban omelets and Greenland Coffees, we sort through the particulars.
“Rock, it’s an extraordinary offer. But, do you want to leave teaching? I remember how you got all animated by Dean Vermiculari giving you the corporate liaison job and how that would improve your shot at tenure.” She notes.
“I just don’t know. I’m still shell-shocked.” I tell her. “Let me go to school and we’ll pick this up tonight. We both have work to do no matter what. Oh, bloody hell. I hadn’t considered your job. Another wrinkle in the mess.”
“Don’t you worry about that”, Esme smiles. “One catastrophe at a time.”
“I do so love you.” I hug her soundly. “Think I should mention this offer to anyone at school?”
“No. Definitely not.” Esme shakes her head. “Let’s figure this out on our own.”
“I agree”, I say, kiss her and depart for school once again.
The next week was a blur. Recruiting duties were dragging and I was being preoccupied.
Even my students noted the lack of in-room explosions lately.
I spend the next Saturday at the quarry, doing some small amount of blasting. I quiz the quarry owners about their progress in acquiring a new master for the quarry’s operation.
“Oh, Doctor Rock” they gush, “You’re doing such a fine job, we haven’t really looked. Why do you ask?”
“No particular reason at this time, I reply, “But perhaps you might want to begin looking”
The chinks in my armor were finally starting to show.
Sunday was spent out on Sliver Lake, with Esme and me chasing the elusive crappie, perch, and bucketmouth bass. It also gave us a chance to clear our heads from work, school and other such intrusions. We both needed a bit of downtime.
Later that night, after a meal of beer-battered fillet of crappie and perch on the barbie, we sit down at the dinner table.
The portfolio sits there, taunting us.
I get up, makes us both our drinks, sit down and declare that this is it.
“Es, darling” I say, “its nut-cuttin’ time. We need to make our decision.”
“You’re right.” Es agrees, “Time for risk-reward analysis. Get some paper and some pencils.”
We spend the next few hours listing the pros and cons of accepting the Houston position or staying here and pursuing my tenured professorship.
After several hours, I stretch, stand, and go to the fridge. I retrieve the bottle of Bollinger Les Vieilles Vignes Francaises I had purchased the other day.
I return to the table with the wine and the glasses, pop the cork and pour us both a glass of high-brow bubble water.
I hug and kiss Esme like I had just returned from a long, solo expedition.
“Esme, my darling. I’d like to propose a toast. First to us. Hа здоровый!”
“Cheers!” Esme replies.
“Secondly to Red, Dean Vermiculari, the quarry guys, Polack the Cop, and all the others that makes our life weird around here.”
“Seconded”, Es echoes.
“Finally: to Houston, Texas. Our new home!” I finally add.
The next morning, Dean Vermiculari peers over the top of his pince-nez glasses. He’s not looking overly happy with me right now.
“Why is it, Doctor, that everyone that receives the job of corporate liaison ends up going with corporate?” he asks.
“Perhaps it’s just the exposure to another world that exists beyond academia.” I reply, truthfully.
“Doctor Rocknocker,” the Dean gravely states, “I am not at all happy about your decision. We had great hopes for you here and you were riding right up the tenure track. Another five years and it would have been assured.”
“Five years is a long time, Dean”, I state the obvious.
“Yes, indeed.” The Dean replies frostily. “However, you are young. Perhaps you need to get this private sector nonsense out of your system, then you can return to academia where you belong.”
“Perhaps, perhaps”, I reply.
“Please, do consider this option down the road. You and your antics will be missed here, by students and faculty alike.” He says.
“I will, Dean, I promise.” I reply “However, for now, it’s time for my boot heels to be wanderin’.”
“Doctor, I will miss your strange and unique way of looking at life. I reluctantly accept your resignation at the end of the current semester and wish you all the best in your newest endeavors. Please remember us when corporate support for academia is mentioned in your new company.” he says.
“I promise you, Dean, I will not forget what I’ve learned here and what you’ve taught. It’s the least I can do,” I reply. “I will never forget my roots.”
“All I can ask”, he concludes. He stands to shake my hand. We shake and my audience is over.
I resign from the quarry a week later. They haven’t found a new blaster but wish me well on my new journey. I tell them I’m here until the end of the semester, so I won’t leave them high and dry.
I tell Polack the Cop about all the goings-on.
“Who the hell can I roust for beer and cigars now?” He whines. “Let me know when you get to Texas if they need any cops. I wouldn’t mind trying’ that. Hell, maybe a Texas Ranger!”
“A Cheesehead Ranger…?” I assure him I will and pass a box of cigars to him as a parting gift. He gives me a mayoral-signed get-out-of-jail-free card.
“Now you can drive that old Harley just as crazy as you want.” He chuckles.
“Thanks, Polack.” I say, shaking his hand. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I sold my bike a week earlier.
Red was very chuffed with the news.
“Snagged me a big one this time!’ He laughed, over the phone.
There was enough paperwork, considerations and decisions to be made to last the remaining time Esme and I had in-state until our move. Already, a moving company had arrived, done inventory, and was preparing for our move to Houston.
Esme resigned her position and decided she wanted to take some time off. She wanted to be a housewife, a colleague, and not have to work for once at an outside job. My new position allowed for that in spades. Besides with her credentials, anytime when she wants to re-join the workforce, there are myriad opportunities in the Bayou City.
We made the choice of housing out west of town, in Katy, Texas. We could have chosen Sugarland, Addicks, Greenspoint, Greenway, or the Memorial area. However, these west Houston company properties were closest to the job and largest in square footage.
My students got wind of my resignation and relocation. They threw me an unexpected farewell party at the Gast Haus. It was nickel-beer night and since they were footing the bill, it all worked out just fine.
I would miss the old place. The camaraderie, the seasons, the university; hell my home these last many years. I’ve been on many, many expeditions, but I always returned home.
Now, home was moving and was awaiting our arrival.
Esme and I said our farewells to our families as well. We were the first through college, the first ones to travel international, the first Doctor in the family, and the first to leave the state.
That’s a lot of familial firsts.
I had to keep reminding everyone it wouldn’t be the last. Hell, we’re just moving to Texas, it’s not like we’re off to Greenland or Mongolia…
[Gasp]
We saddled up Es’s old Chevy Nova, took one last, lingering look in the rearview mirror, and said fare thee well to our previous lives.
“We’ll be back. Someday. I promise” I told the city of our youth and young married adulthood.
We decided to drive to Houston because we had the luxury of a bit of time. We needed the stretch to chew over some interpersonal and private things on the way to the next chapter in our lives. Besides, the weather was good, the roads ahead open and clear, and Texas had no ‘Open Container’ law, yet.
We pointed the old Nova south and hit the gas.
A week later, we’re wandering around our new house in Katy, Texas. Our belongings, scant though they may be, arrived the day after we did. Esme and I spent the next couple of day rearranging the house, buying necessary domestic bits and pieces, and getting to know our new neighborhood.
First thing, though, Esme wanted to replace the old Nova. I concurred, but insisted we keep it as a second car and went out to purchase our first new car as a couple.
I wanted a Land Rover. We ended up with a glossy black Toyota 4-Runner. Close enough.
I was scheduled to show up at my new job the next Monday.
I had my own parking spot, complete with “Reserved for Dr. Rock” painted on the bumper block. I was shown my new lab and was introduced to my seven laboratory assistants. I was shown the catalogs I could use to order what I needed and went over the requisition procedures.
I was trotted around to meet the company CEO, CFO, CIO, VPs and many, many more company executives and managers. I’ve met with presidents and heads of state, I was impressed but not overly. They seemed like a more or less nice bunch of chaps.
Almost exactly five weeks to the day from our arrival in Houston, I come home, yelling “Darling, I’m home!”
Esme comes to greet me with a rib-rearranging hug. She tells me to sit at the dinner table, where my long hard day at the office drink, cigar, ashtray, and lighter are already set.
“How was work, dear?” she asks, sitting down with her Perrier water.
“Oh, it’s going great. The knotheads let me have an open-ended budget until I get the labs sorted just the way I want it. These guys pay their bills on time and I have carte blanche at Wards Scientific, and other supply houses. My crew is great, no interpersonal crapola, and hard workers. I can smoke in my office and no one dares give me shit about my cigars. I’m getting to know the exploration department quite well. They’re really interested in our expeditions and are more interested in my opinions of their new exploration directives.”
Esme just smiles and sips her water.
“Odd”, I thought.
“That’s great, dear.” She says. “I am so glad to hear it.”
“Me too”, I say, “How are you holding up after all these weeks alone?”
“Oh, I’m getting used to it.” She smiles.
And smiles. Beatifically. Glowing.
“What?” I ask.
“Remember what we talked about in the car on the way down here?” She asks.
“We talked about a lot of things…” I say, suddenly my eyes grew very, very wide indeed.
“Yes. You’re going to be a father. I’m pregnant, Rock.” Esme smiles.
submitted by Rocknocker to Rocknocker [link] [comments]

How a Danish university dependent on corporate America fosters corporate loyalty in students

Students of Roskilde University ("RUC") have no choice but to accept, become dependent on, and support these corporations:
At RUC there is no escape from Microsoft. Mathworks is only avoided by students who avoid taking statistics.

E-mail service that establishes trust in Microsoft (and how it evolves into loyalty)

RUC has outsourced e-mail service to Microsoft. Students are obligated to access their Microsoft-served e-mail in order to receive official correspondence from school staff. There is no opt-out mechanism.
Regular exposure to MS corporate branding in the student's UI establishes brand awareness using freemium. Students become accustomed to the look and feel of the Outlook UI, making them more likely to develop trust and cling to that interface more in the future. It's through repeated forced bonding with Microsoft's UI that leads ultimately to fostered loyalty.
The loyalty is deepened further when the student grapples with idiosyncrasies like booking a room because the struggle leads to the user acquiring vendor-specific knowledge. The user is rewarded when their skill with the tool advances as they become more efficient with overcoming flaws and anti-features; as if they filled up a Starbucks loyalty card and got a payout. Unlike a loyalty card these advancements continue rewarding the user as long as they keep using the tool. When the user faces the decision to use an alternate tool they are less inclined to give up the vendor-specific knowledge that has accumulated.
So overcoming non-intuitive aspects of a UI actually leads to more loyalty. The university sharpens this effect by trapping the student on the tool. Whereas being outside an organization includes freedom to switch tools anytime a use-case becomes non-intuitive.
RUC has disabled IMAP access, thereby crippling students who would prefer a vendor-neutral standards-complying mail user agent ("MUA") or an MUA of a different vendor. Forcing Microsoft's non-standard protocols and favoring Microsoft UIs creates biases that raise the barrier to exit. Diligent motivated users who install Evolution or hack together a davmail proxy can escape -- but these users are a small minority and ultimately still forced to share their email contents with Microsoft and to feed Microsoft's bottom line.
And what about independence? If the university can't handle being independent from corporations itself aren't students therefore conditioned to lack confidence in overcoming corporate dependency?
When a self-sufficient student or outsider who runs their own residential mail server tries to send an email to an outlook.com/ruc.dk recipient, they are blocked. Microsoft has configured their mail servers to force individuals to be dependent on a corporation for email delivery. RUC has aligned with a corporation who pushes corporate loyalty even beyond the school, dragging outsiders into the Microsoft loyalty program and causing collateral damage to those who don't comply with Microsoft-dictated policy on how email must be transmitted in order for MS to accept it.

Document preparation: Office 365 or Google Docs (LaTeX discouraged)

Students are free to choose their document preparation tool, but professors and supervisors discourage the use of LaTeX. Scientific papers are produced within group projects with supervisors serving as mentors. Some supervisors are reluctant to learn LaTeX or review LaTeX code. Consequently professors urge students to avoid LaTeX to accommodate limitations of supervisors.
RUC equips students with MS Onedrive accounts and one writing tool: MS Word, which is supplied with gratis copies of Office 365. This implies that using MS Word with its co-authoring feature and Onedrive is the only approach on which students can expect official school support. Note that Office 365 is unavailable to Linux users who are therefore limited to the feature-poor in-browser Word app should a Linux user end up in a Microsoft-aligned group.
Some groups opt for LaTeX (vendor-neutral) and use Overleaf (a service of Writelatex Limited) for collaboration, but this choice comes with risk. If just one student in the group opposes the steep learning curve that LaTeX entails, that student likely already has vendor loyalties that they developed in post-secondary school and they will fight hard to avoid the effort of learning something new. RUC basically has the back of students who resist LaTeX, which bends groups in the direction of a corporate solution that builds vendor loyalty.
Google Docs is seemingly the most popular choice. The school discourages use of the most suitable vendor-neutral technology so students gravitate toward Google Docs.
All realtime collaboration options (msword, gdocs, latex) have stumbling blocks and idiosyncrasies. The LaTeX variety of issues lead students to learn something useful about the language or text editor, which furthers their knowledge of technology in a generic way that can be useful in the future. The MS Word and Google Docs varieties of issues lead students to learn about workarounds for specific flaws and limitations of those particular tools. This vendor-specific knowledge is not generally portable to other tools. It's without foundation and does not generally form a basis for building more knowledge. It's knowledge that bonds the user to the tool. The increased efficiency of knowing workarounds for vendor-specific tools serve to heighten vendor loyalty. The user becomes less inclined to migrate to a competing tool later because it entails wasting the knowledge that has no other applicability while inviting new issues to tackle.

Proprietary software labeled as "Free Software" helps propagate brand loyalty

RUC distributes gratis copies of licensed proprietary software under the heading "Free Software". "Free" has two meanings in English: freedom and gratis. The software industry specifically assigns "free software" special meaning: software that gives the user freedom. The software offered by RUC under this heading is quite the opposite of the industry-accepted term. Microsoft Office 365 and Matlab are commercial proprietary binary blobs that deny students the academic freedom of looking at the source code. The distinction between gratis and freedom when discussing software is paramount. RUC's use of the term misinforms the students they are tasked with educating.
Use of the word "free" has a bigger problem: it's one of the most powerful forces in neuromarketing used to manipulate consumers according to Dan Ariely's study published in Predictably Irrational. RUC has refused to correct the heading on their English website from "free software" to "gratis proprietary software". RUC is exploiting the persuasion of the word "free" to maximize the number of students who will install software that will induce brand loyalty.

Research material jailed in corporate walled-gardens of Google and CloudFlare

Library research is sacred and central to academic coursework. One of the primary sources of information available to RUC students is Google Scholar ("GS"). GS is a walled-garden that blocks access to full text if the student is not signed on through the school. RUC recently started blocking Tor. So RUC students who opt to use GS have been forced to give up the only mechanism that protects them from website visitor tracking ("WVT") in this instance. Although a RUC user id has always been potentially disclosed to Google Scholar through the callback authentication mechanism, students could previously use to Tor to avoid exposing their IP address and browser print to Google, which Google can use to cross-reference logged-out searches. Now avoiding that privacy abuse requires abandoning Google Scholar.
With conventional web searches we can easily give up Google because there are good decentralized alternatives like Searx. But Google Scholar has weak competition at RUC and librarians encourage its use. Simply getting the list of database alternatives first requires executing javascript from microsoft.com. Once Microsoft is trusted (not that it should be), a database list is populated and "REX" is available.
REX is rich in search results and makes it viable to avoid Google Scholar. However, REX does not contain the full text of articles and REX does not serve as a proxy either. REX supplies students a link directly to the external resource that has the full text. These external sources are often dominated by privacy abusers, most notably CloudFlare Inc (an adversary of the Tor community). A substantial number of REX-indexed articles are served by Proquest, who currently subjects users to CloudFlare's IP logging in violation of the GDPR.
Privacy is not the focus of this article, but it's related to the loyalty problem. Because CloudFlare is a privacy abuser, ethical informed students may opt to boycott CloudFlare. Students should not be forced to patronize a privacy abuser who surreptitiously collects their IP addresses and who has taken centralized control of over 10% of the web while undermining network neutrality. When Copenhagen Library leads students to a CloudFlare-controlled private walled-garden, it creates a conflict of interest between academic research and the ethical need to boycott bad players.
CloudFlare goes unnoticed to most people and students would not be developing any kind of brand awareness or loyalty to them. However, students need not just to be free from loyalty but also need the freedom to be proactively disloyal. Putting CloudFlare in reckless control of our academic resources is a bad idea. When we encounter CloudFlare in the marketplace as consumers, we can simply vote with our feet and take our business elsewhere. But this academic intrusion is not solved by students voting with their feet because while research potential is lost public money is still going toward the detriment of freedom.
Europe's Plan S initiative will require government-funded research to be made available to the public on the date of publication by the year 2020. However, Copenhagen Library is dependent on publishers who will continue to jail scientific journals in the private corporate walled-garden of CloudFlare Inc.

Copenhagen housing crisis and Facebook's role in it

There is an acute housing shortage in the whole Copenhagen region resulting in apartments with waiting lists as long as five years. There is also a shortage of on-campus university-administered student housing that's so severe that Roskilde University has restricted the units exclusively to exchange students. Permanent full-time students are ineligible for these rooms.
The school provides no service to help the 8000+ permanent students secure a place to stay amid the shortage. Students are given no information about how to directly get in contact with owners of apartments in close proximity to the university. RUC publishes a list of commercial profit-driven brokers who charge students a fee for helping with the hunt for housing or roommates. In some cases the fee is not based on placement so a student could pay fees to simply communicate with a prospective roommate or landlord without actually acquiring housing - which is a very likely scenario.
Students are made dependent on a dozen or so private corporations before school even begins. RUC pays a premium to one of them ("Housinganywhere") to give RUC students VIP treatment (which in this case entails answering e-mail from students), and Housinganywhere falls short of responding to e-mail.
These brokers have no obligation to get a student a booking. Students often arrive homeless or become homeless mid-term. This illustrates the inherent problem of outsourcing to private corporations something as essential as student housing particularly when resources are severely limited.
The brokers' objective is to maximize profit not maximize student placements. One of the brokers charges nothing to the students but designed their website to deny service to students who don't have a CPR number (a number that can only be acquired after establishing a residence), so students entering Denmark for the first time are blocked from using the one broker who charges them nothing.
Another corporate artifact is age discrimination. Some buildings try to cater for students and to keep the rentals marketable to students they impose an age limit. Every "dorm" in close proximity to RUC imposes age restrictions so older RUC students are pushed out of the city to suit corporate policy.
RUC and the housing specialists and brokers RUC endorses have come up short. Enter Facebook. Facebook is the hack by which students find housing. Facebook secures student loyalty in this case not by clever marketing but simply by actually serving as a hack to an otherwise ill-served need.

Facebook invasion into official school communications

Of all the corporations RUC fosters loyalty for, Facebook is the most insidious. Facebook is a cocaine addiction compared to others. Copious articles try to help people break away from Facebook. The stranglehold of Facebook loyalty has driven Cornell University to study it.
Facebook is used to make announcements to RUC students and the internal website is littered with Facebook references. In particular, there are social events that are officially school-sanctioned which appear exclusively on Facebook.
Some might say "fair enough" because social events are non-essential and purely for entertainment. However, RUC has organized all the coursework around group projects. A culture of social bonding is considered important enough to justify having school-sanctioned parties on campus. The organizers have gone as far as to strategically separate student parties and to discourage intermingling across the parties so that students form more bonds with the peers they work with academically. Social bonding is a component of the study program.
Announcing these social events exclusively on Facebook creates an irresistible temptation for non-Facebook users to join. It also destroys any hope of existing FB users who want to break away from Facebook from doing so. Students without Facebook accounts are naturally in the dark. Facebook non-patrons may be able to catch ad-hoc hallway chatter about school events but this is a reckless approach.
When the official class schedule is incorrectly published students who discover the error in advance announce it on Facebook. Facebook then stands as the only source of information for schedule corrections, causing Facebook non-patrons to either miss class or show up for a class that doesn't exist.
Unofficial student-led seminars and workshops are sometimes announced exclusively on Facebook. These workshops are optional but academic nonetheless.
Sometimes information exists on the school website and is duplicated on Facebook. The information becomes very well buried on the poorly organized school website because the maintainers are paying more attention to the Facebook publication that they assume everyone is reading. Specifically the study abroad program has two versions of the document that lists all the foreign schools for which there is an exchange program. One version is obsolete showing schools that no longer participate. Both versions appear in different parts of the website. The schedule of study abroad workshops is so buried that a student relying on the school website is unlikely to know that the workshops even exist. Removing the Facebook distraction would perhaps mitigate the website neglect.
RUC does not instruct students to establish Facebook accounts. There is simply a silent expectation that students have them. Some of the above mentioned problems can come as a surprise because Facebook excludes non-members from even viewing the content, so non-patrons don't even have a way to see what kind of information they are missing. There is an immense undercurrent of pressure for RUC students to become addicted patrons of Facebook's corporate walled-garden.

VPN depends on GSM

RUC's VPN service requires two-factor authentication ("2fa), and the possession factor is met exclusively by SMS messages. There is no opportunity to opt-out of 2fa and no possibility to use an alternate mechanism. Phones and service are also not provided. This forces students into the marketplace to buy phone equipment when most phone vendors have a long history of unethical conduct. Many GSM service providers have the same problem.
If a student can manage to find non-controversial hardware and service they are still subject to needless tracking that's inherent in GSM technology while being pushed into establishing loyalty for the corporation, baited by the lower pricing of phones and plans that are marketed with contracts. A student should be able to reject all GSM hardware and service vendors without being denied access to the RUC's VPN service.

Telegram Messanger

The FabLab uses Telegram Messanger. Offering to collaborate through a service like this is an advancement away from corporate dependency in principle because it enables voice communication without GSM service. However, Telegram is centralized and requires users to disclose their mobile phone numbers (which they may not have) just to register for an account even if it's only going to be used on a desktop. Some Telegram competitors have figured out how to offer gratis account registration without imposing GSM service on the user.

Matlab

The statistics class is structured around MATLABtm, which cannot be installed without registering at Mathworks website (under Dynatrace tracking mechanisms), signing click-through agreements, and disclosing an email address. The email address is later used to promote Mathworks' products and to ask students to help Mathworks with product promotion to others.
Students would normally be charged for a MATLAB license but RUC pays a high premium to ensure students pay nothing. This creates a brand awareness using freemium scenario. Mathworks marketing tries to draw students to more Mathworks products. Students have little choice but to become entrenched in acquiring vendor-specific knowledge on MATLAB to get through the class. This creates a bond and potential to manifest into brand loyalty.

Microblogging centralized on Twitter - loyalty required (new section)

RUC uses Twitter exclusively for microblogging. Without a Twitter account students are only permitted to read RUC's timeline and cannot participate in any discussion.
Students must become loyal to Twitter Inc. if they want to participate in RUC's microblog. Twitter registration requires Tor users to have a phone number and to disclose it. This forces students to either expose their IP address to Twitter for their records or to trust Twitter with their phone number. Both situations compromise anonymity and as a consequence chills speech. Students are also forced to agree to Twitter's one-sided non-negotiable terms before they can communicate with RUC.
Twitter is a private corporation with ultimate authority over which students may talk to their school and what they can say. Twitter has a right to refuse service to anyone for any reason, and they use it. My account was locked because (apparently) using an API over Tor is (falsely) treated as robotic use. So here I am among the public with the need to communicate with my public school, and this private corporation has blocked it.
RUC gives Twitter this power.

Freedom-respecting solutions

If RUC wants to foster independence from sketchy corporations and enable students to boycott unethical players:
RUC needs to replace.. with..
outlook.com mail server in-house mail server, IMAP service (perhaps consult UCLA for guidance)
MS Office 365 shell accounts on vendor-neutral OS, version control, emacs+Rudel, Gobby or the like, LaTeX, LyX, Libreoffice
Google Docs Cryptopad
Telegram Messenger Openfire or Jami
Matlab GNU Octave
Facebook, Twitter Diaspora, Friendica, GNU Social and/or Mastodon (ideally in-house nodes)
Google Scholar PeerJ (cough..and Sci-Hub..cough)
REX references to CloudFlared sites non-CloudFlared sources if they exist, otherwise show an apologetic warning of GDPR breach next to the CF link & state where to complain
microsoft.com javascript that renders db list HTML
SMS 2fa code card
"Free Software" website heading "Gratis Proprietary Software"
(†) actually Copenhagen Library needs to do this, not RUC. (‡) RUC does not push students to use Google Docs; inertia brings students there. RUC should guide students away from that particular privacy-hostile walled-garden.

Call to action (update)

Contact the DPA for Denmark:
Datatilsynet Borgergade 28, 5 Tel. +45 33 1932 00 Fax +45 33 19 32 18 email: [email protected] Website: http://www.datatilsynet.dk/ Member: Ms Cristina Angela GULISANO, Director 
submitted by rucrefugee to opensource [link] [comments]

TALLAHASSEE EVENTS 4/9 – 4/17

Spring festival season is upon us, folks. Time to get down with all the worm gruntin’, blues playing, and mule scratching you can stand. I’ll try to put together a list of everything big in the next month or two, but in the meantime I’ll at least put stuff on here.
There’s another list of all the regular stuff that happens every week, so don’t forget to check for all your karaokes, trivias, and so on. There are also links to all of Tally’s theater options, both stage and independent cinema (from fancy to cult).
And great news! Cap City Video Lounge is back! They're all set up in Railroad Square and open for business! They rent movies, show films on their big screen, and host parties and events in their awesome space. Check them out!
HAPPENING THIS WEEK: Word of South Festival. Here is the main website for schedules and times and performers. “Word of South a festival of literature and music which held its inaugural event April 11-12, 2015, is a unique blend of writers and musicians and an exploration of the relationship between the two disciplines. The festival features authors who write about music, musicians who also are authors, authors and musicians appearing together, and everything in between.” 12th-14th
HAPPENING THIS WEEK: 4th Annual All Venue Trivia Brainblast. “People ask, “Hank,” they say, “Which of your venues is truly home to the most kickass and trivial competitors?” Well, I love all (most) of my players, so I just can’t answer that. Instead, I’ll let y’all do it yourselves. Once again, it’s time to play hard and win big at the 4TH ANNUAL ALL VENUE TRIVIA BRAINBLAST! On April 13th, witness the best trivia teams from Midtown Pies, Proof Brewing, and Warhorse go head to head in a no-holds-barred, no-phones-allowed showdown! Join in on the fun with Hoarder's Delight giveaways, karaoke, and plenty of trivia! (Not to mention that amazing Crum Box grub!)” 4/13, 3:30pm, @ Crum Box Gastgarden
TUESDAY, 4/9
WEDNESDAY, 4/10
THURSDAY, 4/11
FRIDAY, 4/12
SATURDAY, 4/13
SUNDAY, 4/14
MONDAY, 4/15
TUESDAY, 4/16
WEDNESDAY, 4/17
submitted by clearliquidclearjar to Tallahassee [link] [comments]

Structural analysis of Stranger Things

Hi everyone!
Admittedly, I'm not sure if posts of this length are fine. Nevertheless, I decided to share my work on the interpretation of the show. I'm an anthropologist and as I was watching the series, it occurred to me that it offers an amazing way of demonstrating how one of the most famous theories in anthropology works. My students loved it so I decided to share it with ST aficionados here on reddit too. This is very much work in progress so I'll be more than happy for any feedback, that is if you actually manage to read the entire thing. :) Here goes:
When Netflix aired its new promising show “Stranger Things” in the summer of 2016, I too soon became captivated by its narrative and emotion. At the time I was also reading David Graeber’s book ‘Utopia of Rules’ where he sketches out a critique of bureaucracy and in the first part of the book he demonstrates the way structural analysis, pioneered by Claude Levi-Strauss, works. Structural analysis derives from Structuralism – the last grand theory put forward by an anthropologist that aimed to reduce all the elements of our complex social life to a couple of basic premises. Ever since anthropological structuralism enjoyed its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s the practice of social theory became rather different – rejecting the apparently arrogant presumption that the world can be explained through a single over-arching theory and instead preferring to see it as built through fragmented, overlapping, conflicting, power-fuelled discourses that structured one’s reality which accordingly was never simple and easy to grasp. Graeber laments this development. In his view, there is merit in seeing structural analysis for what it was – a technique of simplifying the observable field in order to say something new about it, something one wouldn’t normally be able to conclude if the observable phenomena were taken in at their full complexity. I think he takes this notion from Edmund Leach though he doesn’t reference him . This is in fact what any good theory should do: delimit the field of analysis, introduce basic assumptions and based on those assumptions analyse the observed data to produce conclusions about the data. Of course, it’s not going to be entirely correct but this is not the point. The idea of being ‘correct’ or saying something ‘true’ is itself loaded with numberless assumptions about the nature of reality and how it can be known and one would always have to come clean on those before proceeding to offer their analysis. For Graeber, structural analysis is an elegant way of doing social theory and I find it difficult to disagree with him.
It had already occurred to me a year earlier when I was getting more familiar with Levi-Strauss’ scholarship that the elements of his theory can be applied to modern contexts, but naturally I wasn’t yet able to develop my thought. I only voiced it at the end of a seminar in Oxford when another friend mentioned Graeber’s analyses of Batman and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Let me briefly sketch out what Levi-Strauss suggested we, as anthropologists, do. LS was interested in the universal structures (hence structuralism) of the mind. He surmised that all human beings share the same architecture of the mind and therefore the same mechanisms that govern human perception and everything thereafter. He argued that these structures may be observed in the way language works drawing heavily on R. Jakobson’s work. These structures are primarily relational in that the meaning of anything is made possible only through a comparison and differentiation. A dog is not a dog because he is a dog – a dog is a dog because everything else is not a dog, if you will. For Levi-Strauss, language was the primary means of distinguishing between a human being and an animal. The way a child learns a language is by distinguishing between hard and soft sounds, high and low sounds. This is a way of perceiving and classifying information through binary oppositions which are the basic structural elements of the human mind. LS further surmised that if this is how verbal information gets perceived, then surely this is how all other – non-verbal – information should work too. For LS language was symbolic thought and drawing on the linguist Saussure’s distinction between the signifier (the verbal element) and the signified (the mental image) that together make up a sign, he believed that this is a particularly human capacity. First, to be able to differentiate between the two – the signifier and the signified, the verbal and the mental – and yet at the same time recognise their fundamental interdependency or equivalence.
As you can see then, human beings have an innate capacity to take in information and this capacity has a structure to it: it operates on the basis of diametrically opposed poles. Yet the structure of this innate capacity plays a double role – it also determines the way human beings use the external environment to order information. Levi-Strauss wrote that ‘animals are good to think with’. I must confess that for many years I simply assumed that by this phrase he meant that animal companionship is a nice thing and they do not disturb your contemplative process unlike humans might. But this is not at all what he meant. The variety of animals, their differences and similarities serve as useful categories for humans in themselves. Animals on land and birds in the air, for example, provide a way of classifying differing species. Animals that one preys on and animals that prey on you serve as a basic structure for differentiating between a human friend and a human enemy. The living world, devoid of human beings, brims and overflows with variety that needs to be structured and the structure of the innate linguistic capacity determines this process. The ability to transpose the basis of one classification on to others is also always a symbolic process. It is not only an instinctive way of perceiving the world – it may also be a conscious attempt to order the world and the ordering process inevitably has to follow the same structuralist principles because for Levi-Strauss it simply can’t be otherwise. For him, myths therefore have to contain binary oppositions because myths always grapple with the issue of ordering reality in some way or another.
I realise this all may be a little confusing and too abstract for the beginner, but these binary oppositional elements are then at the core of structural analysis. For Levi-Strauss human society essentially began with the distinction (from a male’s perspective) between a wife and a sister. The incest taboo creates this distinction. As you can see this is exactly the kind of opposition I’m discussing: wife and sister. One is permissible and the other is not. Yet this opposition is made possible only because both positions are in a certain sense equivalent. Both are women. Equivalence and opposition are then core elements of structural analysis and one always starts by establishing an equivalence between the phenomena to be analysed and then elaborating on how exactly they are opposed to each other. Take for instance left and right hand. They are opposite each other not only physically, but also symbolically – one stands for the good, the other for the evil. And yet both are hands and therefore equivalent, connected to the same body and therefore interdependent. I hope the reader appreciates that this is an enormous simplification of quite a complex argument but one does not need to know the complexity of it to appreciate the argument’s brilliance. It will become clearer as we go on and introduce additional elements to the theory.
So it was that when I was first getting more familiar with Levi-Strauss at Oxford, I was watching Netflix’s Daredevil and looking at the main characters this is exactly what I saw. One was good, the other one was bad. One was handsome, the other far from it. One’s story begins when his beloved father is murdered. The other’s story begins when he kills the father he hates. And yet both are outsider figures that share infinite love for the city of New York. At this point I thought Levi-Strauss was a genius and this thought has become ever more intense since then. By the time I got to watching Stranger Things, I was much better equipped to apply these analytical tools and the show availed itself and as it seemed to me simply begged for such an analysis. In fact, I believed that people love the show for all the wrong reasons. Or perhaps not the ‘wrong’ reasons, but certainly not for the reasons it deserves to be loved. Of course, it’s a well-crafted story, and the 80s themes are played out to perfection with casting, the mood, the horror element, etc. But as I was researching what people wrote about the show, it became increasingly clear to me that these reflections remained on a fairly superficial level. No one bothered to ask what exactly it is that makes the show so captivating beyond the clearly observable phenomena. What is the deeper, invisible thread that holds the story together? In my eyes, the show was ripe for some Levi-Straussian structural analysis and I delved right into it. For further purposes, I will simply assume that the reader has watched the show and I do not need to explain the basic narratives and characters otherwise this will take forever to write and read. I will first zero in on four main pairs of opposites to draw out the structural element, the basic underlying schemata of the story so to speak. After this, I will turn to the question of meaning – a more controversial than and by no means as unequivocal as the preceding structural analysis, but all the more interesting for that very reason.
Let’s start off with the main set of characters – the boy Will and the girl Eleven. The equivalence between them plays out on many levels. The entire story begins because of them and it’s not clear who actually starts it: is it Eleven who accidentally opens up the gate to the Upside Down or Will who is first attacked by Demagorgon in Dungeons&Dragons and then actually in real life? There’s no answer, but they are both kids to whom something bad happens and as a result they both go into hiding. The story starts to unfold when Will disappears and Eleven appears – the first crucial opposition. Will is a fairly feminine boy, gentle and soft-spoken. Eleven is a fairly masculine type, at least at the beginning as perhaps evidenced by her lack of hair. Will has a rich inner and creative life – he excels at drawing, has built a fort in the woods and imaginatively continues to escape Demagorgon in the Upside Down. Eleven on the other hand is quite animalistic – she has almost no language skills, so she fails to qualify as a human being on Levi-Strauss’ account. Will is loved and nurtured by his mother and brother, whereas Eleven only knows the reward-punish principle exercised by her Papa, the father figure (more so the punish side of the principle). Herein also lies the next significant opposition because as many anthropologists would tell you - ultimately it is all about kinship. Their family situations are directly at odds: Will has a mother and a brother, but no father who left. Eleven has a father, but no other family. This is important to keep in mind as it will help us later on in the clarification of meaning. Further oppositions abound, but perhaps most intriguingly Eleven’s special powers are telekinetic – in other words, she communicates metaphysically. When Will disappears, he communicates with his mother through electricity– his communication is physical and material. And to blow your mind off, note that the name ‘Will’ can be taken as a sign of humanity, human will-power, the ability to consciously think something and then act on that thought. Eleven, however, has her name written thus: ‘011’, which obviously signifies digital encoding of information and so the very opposite of the capacity to think autonomously. Did the authors name them thus on purpose? We can’t be certain, but Levi-Strauss would say it doesn’t matter. The universal structures of the mind are unconscious, the symbolism of the characters emanates from the deep mind and so their creation is almost natural. It is a little fascinating to think why not Twelve or Thirteen though. And why add the zero before the ones? Perhaps a mystery better left unsolved.
This would then make up the first step of a structural analysis and probably the easiest one. The next step would be to venture into the domain of meaning and try to figure out what these characters, their development and adventure means, but at this point we’re still quite limited in our knowledge to attempt that. It is useful here though to introduce another aspect of the structural analysis, namely, the intermediary figure. The mind does not operate just with the extreme oppositions available – for every hot and cold, there is warm. In fact, you could say that most of our social reality tends to consist of ‘warm’ elements and the ‘hot/cold’ moments are the exception. Levi-Strauss argued that myths not only deal with contradictions, but they also attempt to mediate these polar positions. So it seems that in most such oppositions, there will be an intermediary figure that sits in the background, but still tends to play a significant role in the narrative. In the specific case it is obviously Mike – Will’s best friend and later Eleven’s best friend too. Mike is just a normal kid as opposed to Will and Eleven. He has both parents and an older sister and a classic small town house to live in and plays a pivotal part in the lives of both of our protagonists. It is convenient here to introduce a further dimension to Levi-Strauss’ methodology. Namely, for him symbolic thought takes on two different (but naturally interrelated!) modalities – metaphor and metonymy. A metaphor expresses a likeness between two different wholes. For example, bee society could be depicted as metaphorical to human society: the bees are like humans in a particular sense intended. Two wholes – the bee and the human society – are brought into a relationship of likeness. Metonymy on the other hand expresses a part-whole relationship. Picture the Queen of England and the Crown she is wearing. Now, remove the Queen from your picture. The Crown still speaks for the Queen as a sign of sovereignty. We don’t need the Queen to know that the Crown carries a particular meaning even though it’s only a part of the whole picture. The part expresses the whole. Netflix knows this: their series on the Queen of England are simply titled ‘The Crown’ – we all know what it is going to be about. And so this metaphometonymy distinction is similarly at play in a structural analysis. Will and Eleven have a metaphorical relation between them – they are two distinct variations of a general theme (just what this theme is we do not know yet so don’t worry). Yet Mike expresses a metonymical relationship with Will and Eleven: they are both continuations of this ‘perfect’ or ideal-typical character. The character of Mike shades into the other two. So the crucial question is: what are they symbols of? Will and Eleven clearly represent two different options, but options of what? This leads us back to the question of meaning to which we’re still not quite ready yet.
For that we need to introduce the next pair of opposites: Will’s mother Joyce and the town’s sheriff Jim Hopper. They were both in the same high school, likely in the same class, and share some friendly memories. Significantly, they are both divorced now which is their point of equivalence. Their lives are broadly characterized by a certain sense of lack, of incompleteness and I often think that the series is actually about these two – what their ‘social defectiveness’ leads them to think and do. Anyway, in every other respect they are of – lo and behold - opposites. Jim had a daughter whom he lost to cancer. His loss is permanent. Joyce on the other hand loses Will for the duration of the series: her loss is temporary. Joyce is a hard-working woman at a retail store. Jim doesn’t have to worry about crime in the town of Hawkins and enjoys a pretty carefree existence at work. Note another implicit opposition – Joyce works in a market-institution; Jim works for the government . He is depicted as a pretty sexually promiscuous individual whereas we do not know much of Joyce’s love life post-Lonnie, Will’s father. When they look for Will, both employ radically different methods: Jim is conventional in his detective work, collecting evidence, interviewing people and so on. Joyce communicates with Will through Christmas lights. He is rational, she is delusional.
Now what could this all mean? If one has seen the series, then it’s worth recalling certain moments and sentences that tended to repeat themselves. Throughout the first season, Eleven was confronted with the fact of friendship: alone and afraid, she was taught that there are good people in the world and these good people call themselves friends . For her, the world consists of bad people, represented by her Papa, and the good people represented first by Mike and later by Jim. Note here that this representation is metaphorical in its character. For her, there is a clear opposition between Parents and Friends. And so it is likewise with Will. Friends and parents make up the entire universe of a child’s world. Yet, despite their equivalence they can never be equal. Different attitudes and behaviours are tagged to each. What happens when friends start behaving like parents and the other way around? Levi-Strauss instructs us that at the core of a myth there is always a contradiction which the myth exposes, deals with, plays out and demonstrates. Sometimes he calls them the unconscious paradoxes of humanity; the stubborn reality which comes slamming at the door of ideals that are supposed to be the rule of the day. There is certainly something ideological in myths and stories in a sort of Marxist way. They justify the shortcomings of a reality by demonstrating that ideals may be untenable but they are ideals nonetheless.
Anyway, this I believe is the first contradiction of Stranger Things: the impossibility of friends ever becoming like parents, and parents ever like friends. Eleven gains friends as she loses her parent-figure , but it is impossible for friends to meaningfully replace the social relation as a whole no matter how benign they are in comparison to Papa. Conversely, friends’ board game leads to Will’s disappearance and a search for a connection with his mother. Yet even more for Mike, his perfect nuclear family means nothing without friends – hence his desperation to find Will and his deep affection for Eleven. On the flipside, Joyce and Jim are both divorced, this social side of their selves has been lost and they try to recuperate that with a connection to their children: Joyce by looking for Will and Jim by re-living the final moments of his fatherhood in daydream (or rather nightmare). For them the contradiction at the heart of their action is the hope that children may replace their lost affinal relations. But obviously this can never be so. Nevertheless, this makes their action possible. Interestingly, a recurrent theme in the series for Joyce was that nobody seemed to believe her that Will is missing and not dead. She is at once dismissive of others (‘I don’t’ care if anyone believes me’) while her quest for belief provided by Jim (‘I need you to believe me, please.’) drives the first part of the series. She needs others to believe her that she is still a complete human being even though in a different sense. Belief is of course an entirely internal phenomenon and can ultimately never be checked. Perhaps Joyce actually needs to believe it herself. On the other hand, Will and Eleven are primarily manifesting their presence through communication – physical and metaphysical. This relation is external and thus we can conclude this part with yet another opposition.
Beside the storyline that unravels along these symbolic figures, there is another set of characters whose lives are altered by the presence of Demagorgon. Mike’s pretty sister Nancy who is a classic high-school sweetheart and her best friend Barbara who is ultimately killed by the demonic figure. In a way they couldn’t be more different. Nancy is beautiful whilst Barb is rather average-looking. Nancy has all the qualities needed for being the most popular girl at school while Barb doesn’t stand a chance. The history of their friendship is a mystery to the viewer, but they appear very close and what is most important – they are both very diligent and hard-working, taking their studies very seriously. This seems to be their unifying moment – the certainty that one is a good human being if one studies hard and takes their duties at school as most important for any kind of future success in life. In this they are both rather childish and clearly at pre-puberty stage of life. Yet this is about to change as signalled by Dustin and Luke in the first moments of the series discussing Nancy’s developing body. Nancy’s affection for Steve who is a classic high-school pretty-boy sets off a trail of events that culminate in Barb’s disappearance. Steve invites Nancy over for a party because his parents are away and Nancy takes Barb with her even though the latter doesn’t think it’s a good idea. Barb tries to integrate herself among the ‘bad kids’ by opening a can of beer but cuts herself. Later Nancy is led on by Steve to his room but before she leaves she sees Barbara for one last time who advises her not to do it. Nancy brushes Barb off. Most curiously, at the very point when the viewer knows Nancy is losing her virginity to Steve, we see Barbara at the poolside and the blood from her finger drips into the pool and she vanishes – Demagorgon has taken her. What is this all about?
Even as I was watching the series for the first time, it was clear to me that Barbara symbolises Nancy. She doesn’t actually really exist in the first place. She is a representation of Nancy’s past – her dedication to school, her nerdiness and innocent outlook of life. Even visually they are extremely similar if one removes Barb’s glasses and puts her in a nice dress. She disappears at the very moment Nancy becomes an adult – loses her virginity. This is manifestly symbolised by Barb’s bleeding finger evoking an image of the blood lost by Nancy in her first act of love. Nancy’s subsequent search for her is a search for her own lost self. She is no longer a child – school is no longer her sole reality and concern. There is evidently another paradox or contradiction at play here. One cannot remain a child for ever even though it is for most people a time of bliss and happy ignorance. One cannot retain innocence whilst becoming an adult . In this opposition we see most forcefully the theme of guilt which is also an element in most other relationships between characters. Nancy is overwhelmed with guilt as she desperately teams up with Will’s brother Jonathan to look for Barb. This guilt is compounded when Steve’s friends mock her loss of virginity making her feel embarrassed and ashamed. This is a strong Christian theme associating sex with guilt. She is no longer pure causing social and individual resentment and ostracism as indicated by her novel association with Jonathan – the outsider par excellence. Guilt is equally a factor in Jim and Joyce’s life. Jim feels guilt for being powerless in the face of a deadly disease which emasculates him wreaking havoc on his sense of virility carefully constructed through his military service. Joyce feels guilt as a mother not being able to provide fully for her children. Perhaps this guilt ultimately stems from her social status as a divorcee. Perhaps Stranger Things is an extremely conservative take on what happens to people that don’t live according to the true way of God, creating perfect families and persisting through unhappy times? This could be so unless there was an imperfectly disguised mockery of Mike’s nuclear family and his own sense of incompleteness that results from it.
The final pair of opposites has already been foreshadowed – Steve and Jonathan. As noted before, Steve is a popular figure at school while Jonathan is a self-excluded outsider. Steve is good-looking and well-spoken whereas Jonathan is average-looking and by most accounts would be considered a weirdo. Steve doesn’t have a care in the world, likes to drink and party while Jonathan is like a father-figure to Will and so is bound to be a responsible teen (mostly a contradiction in terms) in most areas of life. He is in fact also driven by guilt as he wasn’t at home when Will disappeared which leads him to a union with Nancy. There is an entire contradiction designed in Jonathan’s character – his obligation to be father-like whilst still being a teen obviously ultimately being impossible and leading to Will’s disappearance which ravages Jonathan’s sense of self. Jonathan is also a creative figure who loves music and taking photographs whereas Steve doesn’t really have any hobbies outside of Nancy. But Steve is fun-loving and easy to like while Jonathan is rather sombre most of the time. They are nevertheless equivalent as they both share love for Nancy. But what do both symbolise and represent? It may be useful here to pay attention to the way their relationship with each other – Steve’s and Jonathan’s – develops. Clearly, they are no friends and are at competition with each other for Nancy’s attention. Steve is clearly winning in the first part of the series while Jonathan fares much better in the second part. However, there are two key moments which are worth recalling. The first one begins to unravel when Steve finds out Jonathan had (inadvertently) taken photos of Nancy as she was getting ready to sleep with Steve. When Nancy finds out Jonathan may have caught sight of Barb (her previous self) she latches on to him to seek Barb and Will together. Steve obviously doesn’t like this and in a moment of anger smashes Jonathan’s camera. What does this all symbolise so far?
Note that Steve and Jonathan are essentially opposed to each other in the same way that Appearance and Substance (or form and content) would be. Steve is portrayed as a fairly superficial guy who doesn’t really have any interest in the world except for girls and party. He is also just somewhat stupid as he can’t quite grasp Nancy’s emotional rollercoaster. Jonathan on the other hand is full of substance – he has consciously rejected models of behaviour available to him and embraces independent appreciation of music and outlook of life (‘you shouldn’t like things because people tell you you’re supposed to’). His rather sloppy physical outlook is a further sign of it. Thus we see Appearance and Substance going at each other in the pursuit of Beauty (Nancy). This is mediated through Jonathan’s camera. What is a camera after all? It is a substance that produces appearances. In the first culmination of their struggle Steve smashes the camera and so repudiates all claims on substance. But his subsequent character development is all about regaining Nancy’s trust and he does so by trying to gain some substance, by demonstrating that he cares and he is ready to be a mature adult when needed. After Will has been found again, Nancy gravitates back to Steve who then marks the end of this loop by passing a gift to Jonathan through Nancy. And what is the gift? Of course – it is a camera. Appearance has triumphed again.
This play between Appearance and Substance manifests itself in the other contradictions as well: friends appearing as parents and parents appearing as friends but never substantively so. As you can see, themes are abundant. So are contradictions. I haven’t exhausted all of them (most obvious being the town of Hawkins versus the Upside Down mediated by Camp Hero) but these are sufficient to offer some final remarks about the meaning of the entire series. As I’ve been trying to intimate, any such exercise is always flawed as there is no one meaning that we should seek out. But the preceding analysis should give us some insights as to what exactly Demagorgon is and what it symbolises.
Demagorgon is a creature of fear. It is seemingly all-powerful – it jumps through space and time as if those basic categories that ultimately constrain all human thought and action do not have any objective existence. It is human-like in its form but simultaneously an unclassifiable animal: a devil, Satan, ruler of Hell. This omnipotence is clearly deliberate as Demagorgon is no one thing – each character has its own Demagorgon, they all have their ideas of hell and Demagorgon is sufficiently non-defined so as to be able to fill in anyone’s imagination. Almost every character is presented to us as either lacking something or experiencing a moment of incomplete or transitory personhood. Any such moment is bound to arouse fear. The entire series is built on the way the characters meet their demons through excessive courage. The viewer may undergo a classic catharsis as well – the viewer feels the fear, but is inspired and entertained by the courage the characters espouse. All seems to be well at the end.
Yet it is worth zooming in on the sites that seemingly launch Demagorgon into existence and link it with the themes we have been discussing beforehand. I want to argue that Stranger Things can be read as a critique of science. Not an outright moral demolition of the entire scientific enterprise, but certainly a wrenching critique of a part of it. Demagorgon is only the symbolic evil character that catalyses action but is by no means the originator of it. The actual evil character is a scientist: Dr Brenner, Eleven’s father-figure. Dr Brenner is a corrupt, heartless villain that uses little children for scientific experiments with no regard for the health of children – to him they are not really human beings, but quasi-monsters themselves. Curiously, Dr Brenner is paralleled by Mr Clark, the science teacher of the four boys at the core of the series. Their passion and interest in science is not a coincidence: we can see here a juxtaposition between different ways of doing science. Dr Brenner represents what happens when the ideas that inspire scientific investigations are assumed by an all-powerful entity such as the government. Its bureaucratic maze that is always backed up by violence (soldiers guarding Camp Hero) ensures that resources, funds, and energies may be directed to purposes civilians know nothing about. Here we find another fascinating opposition – science, the creator of knowledge, safeguarded by ignorance and secrecy. The kind of science made possible by bureaucracy is ultimately evil in the eyes of the creators of the show as it leads to the emergence of Demagorgon – a monster bureaucracy of science cannot contain. It is noteworthy that the show begins with the evil unleashed by the governmental bureaucracy and then the cut jumps right to the boys playing Dungeons&Dragons – a game that David Graeber, in the very same book I have already referenced, describes as ‘on one level the most free-form game imaginable … However, in another sense D&D represents the ultimate bureaucratization of antibureaucratic fantasy’ (2014: 188) as it contains lists and catalogues for everything. One can see a parallel here with the critique of science told by Stranger Things. When kids practice science at school guided by a benevolent science teacher it is a wonderful thing: it fosters imagination, endows the kids with the spirit of creativity, engages them in a form of play with the natural observable world and is in this sense ‘the most free-form game imaginable’. It could not be further removed from anything resembling a bureaucratic structure. Yet the moment it crosses a certain threshold, when science is usurped by interests that use bureaucratic institutions to achieve their aims it all goes haywire. Creatures of hell start roaming the earth. Camp Hero becomes the norm of the day and Dr Brenner is god-like in his instruments of knowledge. Alternatively, and more pessimistically, this development of science from an amateurish investigation of the natural, physical laws of the world to a professionalized field of intervention is seen as the very cause that gives rise to all-powerful institutions that unwittingly run the course of the world.
Herein, hidden, lies another deeper sense in which the story unfolds. I’ve already remarked on the religious themes present in the story, and there isn’t a far cry between religion and science. Science after all may be seen as the symbolic representation of knowledge which plays a pivotal part in the Christian telling of the world: Adam and Eve consume an apple from the Tree of Knowledge, the knowledge of good and evil gaining a sense of morality as well as a desire for evil. Ever since then all humans are sinners. Knowledge and guilt then are creatures of the same kind. Perhaps the creators of the show are telling us a religiously moralistic tale of an overly-scientific and excessively technological world devoid of all spirituality and a sense of humility toward the bigger forces engulfing us, and punishing us for our imagination that we may take the place of God by telling us that this arrogant assumption will only lead to a loss of morality, broken families, and missing children? The tragic triumph of science over religion is then expressed through three generations so as to appeal to as broad a public as possible. Will and Eleven along with the other kids are presented as the primary victims of this unfortunate development. The four teenagers are sexual morality tales issuing a warning to contain our wild impulses. Nancy may be seen as a young Joyce having to decide between Lonnie (Steve) and Jim (Jonathan). Joyce picks the more sexually loose Lonnie and gets punished for that. There is always a feeling that Joyce and Jim share a secret romantic history. In Season 2 Nancy gravitates toward Jonathan rectifying Joyce’s mistake. Morality is re-established. Yet the interpretation may stretch in the other direction too. Perhaps the show is not so much in favour of religion, but more so against the government, the Big Deep State. It then becomes a morality tale of what happens when the government takes charge of people’s lives beyond the available screens and government morality becomes a purely technical matter. Here, children are left without parents who have to work day and night to ensure food on the table and young teenagers are left with no support networks as they slowly mature into adults. Everyone is left fighting for themselves and the show tells us that it is somehow possible to win this fight even if the rules are not entirely clear or worked out. The time of action is significant: the beginnings of Reagan years in the White House, the ensuing neoliberal reforms, the dawn of the information technologies that went to radically transform the most intimate details of most people in the Euro-Atlantic countries. Stranger Things is then a warning coming from the past, at once enticing us to recall with fondness what life was like before the new age digito-economic revolution and demonstrating that it is in the very seeds of the structures of the modern world that we should seek culprits for our fears and our sense of incompleteness.
TL:DR Stranger Things centres on multiple contradictions that are mediated during the show and sometimes resolve themselves into further contradictions. Claude Levi-Strauss' analytical method enables us to identify the oppositions (e.g. Will and Eleven; Joyce and Jim; Nancy and Barb), and through the process of identification we may arrive at new insights regarding the meaning of the show that we might not otherwise gain. Thus multiple themes emerge: kinship, substance vs appearance, religion, science, big government, etc. This exercise is meant to be fun more than anything else, but may place the show in an entirely different light if done properly.
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McTaggert's Two Conceptions of Time, Multiverses, and Music.

So I'm reading the IEP article on Time (written by Brad Dowden), which goes into the differences between McTaggert's A and B conceptions of time (I'm especially interested in sections 7 and 8). I should say first of all that I'm a music theorist who is reading the article in conjunction with a seminar on theories of rhythm and meter. It strikes me that some of what theorists do in their analyses is somewhat incompatible with McTaggert's two conceptions, indicating perhaps that a third conception exists. So, I want to explain what I take away from Dr. Dowden's summary, then ask about a potential different route that might circumvent some of the issues involved in each camp's conception. I don't pretend to know any bit of philosophical understanding beyond what is presented in this article, so if I go way off course, I of course would love to see where it is I went awry.
So, my understanding of the difference between McTaggert's A and B viewpoints of time are as follows. Suppose that event X is situated to the left of event Y on your standard, familiar time-line. Viewpoint A says this is because event X is more in the past than event Y (ie, it says that the present a point of reference from which to measure events). Viewpoint B on the other hand says that the time at which X occurs is less than the time at which Y occurs, and thus renders a wholly relational judgement that does not rely at all on where the the two points occur in relationship to the "present."
These two basic viewpoints lead to vastly different conceptions of many temporal issues. I general, viewpoint A tends to emphasize that times flow is something essential to the concept of time itself (ie. That the concept of "now" is essential), whereas viewpoint B is more eternalistic, viewing time as a static block that our subjective experiences organize in slices we call the present (which is therefore inessential to the nature of time itself).
Similar differences arise over the number of dimensions fundamental to substances. Viewpoint A tends to view objects as fundamentally 3-dimensional, identities are contingent on the state they are in at a given time. Whereas Viewpoint B tends to advocate a 4-dimensional stance in which the object's very identity contains both its past and it's future. A future that is deterministic, not all possible futures. By viewpoint A, then, the only "real" things are those that exist in the present (or, by some thinkers, those that exist today or have existed in the past), and the more present it I'd, the more real it is. Viewpoint B says that all that has been and will be in the universe is equally real, the only things that are not real are those things that do not take place in the universe.
Finally, these different viewpoints lead to different conclusions concerning when a prediction receives truth content. That is, is a prediction about an event true or false at the time it is uttered, or is it undetermined until such a time when the event comes to be? Viewpoint A says truth is undetermined (maybe undeterminable, even) until the present reaches the event in question, whereas viewpoint B sees the truth value as present at the time of any given utterance, we just do not verify that truth content subjectively until our experience of the event comes to be.
To quote Dr. Dowden, "Suppose someone says, 'Tomorrow the admiral will start a sea battle.' And suppose that tomorrow the admiral orders a sneak attack on the enemy ships which starts a sea battle. Advocates of the block-universe theory [viewpoint B] argue that, if so, then the above quoted sentence was true at the time it was uttered. Truth is eternal or fixed, they say, and 'is true' i's a tenseless predicate, not one that merely says 'is true now'" (8d).
My question involves how these sorts of thoughts change if one adopts a 5-dimensional, "block multiverse" conception of time, let's call it viewpoint C. If viewpoint A says that predictions of event X are indeterminate (it is neither true nor false) until such a point that event X occurs, and viewpoint B says that predictions about X hold a single truth value at the time of utterance (ie, either true or false), viewpoint C would hold that predictions for event X hold every possible truth value at the time of utterance (ie, it is both true and false), and we just experience one version of event X. This is because while the only things that are real in conception B are the things that actually happen in the static spacetime block that is the whole universe, in conception C all possibilities are equally real, whether or not they come to be actualized.
Am I understanding the issues correctly? I really need to make sure I have these concepts nailed down (and this is my first encounter of them), and I'd love to know what literature there is on multiverse conceptions of time.
I should probably say why I find the multiverse conception of time so interesting. When discussing musical form, a very popular approach is borrowed from literary theory and is called "dialogic form." The most prominent advocates are James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy (henceforth, HepoDar). I'll quote Hepokoski,
I suggest that grasping the full range of an implicit musical form is most essentially a task of reconstructing a processual dialogue between any individual work (or section thereof) and the charged networks of generic norms, guidelines, possibilities, expectations, and limits provided by the implied genre at hand. This is "dialogic form:" form in dialogue with historically conditioned compositional options. (Hepokoski, in Musical Form, Forms, & Formenlehre: Three Methodological Reflections.)
Essentially, a sonata is laid out as a set of events whose order and manner of articulation were expected in certain generic ways. The most common options for an event's articulation (which HepoDar call "defaults") were received passively as just basic outgrowths of a style. But the more non-normative something is, the more it creates a friction with the norms, which in turn prompts audiences to be ever more active in trying to reconcile the sounds they get with the events they expect. Until we get what they call "generic deformations," which are so far removed from normative expectations that they almost break the style's basic syntax.
Crucial to the idea of deformation is that when we understand a deformation to have occurred, we feel the absence of the normative event that should have occurred at that location. In other words, the absence of an event (it's non actualization) that is expected is as much a part of the listening experience as is the sounding music that we get in its place. Thus the generic norm is, in some ways, still very present and a very "real" part of the musical experience, it is simply not actualized on the surface of the music.
This strikes me as very 5 dimensional. That is, as we listen, we project our expectations into the compositions future. We enumerate the possible sound worlds that will come into our understanding, and when an event is distorted or deformed, we understand the more normative event as still being a real thing that exists somewhere in the world we are listening to, but that it is being deliberately pushed to the side and we are presented with a different branch in the musical multiverse. In other words, we understand that multiple realities are in effect at any given time, and we happen to witness only one of them.
For example. We hear Beethoven's "Waldstein" sonata, which in the exposition of the first movement modulates (changes key) from the home key of C major up a third to E major. This is a startling turn of events, since essentially every single major mode sonata form or binary form movement for a century and a half before this example goes up a 5th instead (ie, it should have gone to G major). But it isn't just that we recognize that the "real" Waldstein goes to E major and that this is weird. But rather we understand there to be a real version of the same piece that did go to G major, and what we get actualized in the performance before us is this strange, almost malformed ghost image of that piece. In fact, most of such deformations are often met, when they are first performed with shock by audiences, who think the performer is at fault, and that they have taken the composer's real written piece (which surely contained the normative event) and made mistakes such that they ended up in the wrong key. We have evidence that audiences thought this way (that the performance was masking a "true" version without such distortions) in many reception documents of the time.
I think part of the reason we can think of music as being a "multiverse" in this way is because there are multiple "gods" that do the creating. If you're an audience hearing a string quartet sight reading a brand new Mozart score that is hot off the score, and you hear this. It's hard to understand what's really happening. Is the violinist out of tune? Is he playing the wrong notes? Did the publisher make an engraving mistake and accidentally write the violin parts in the wrong key? Or did Mozart really write that? Mozart, Mozart's publishers, Violinists in Vienna, all of these have a part in creating what you hear. So it's often the case that we understand multiple creations occurring simultaneously, but we only get a single slice of the experience. In the Mozart, the violin eventually appears to link totally back up with the ensemble. Maybe the publisher only made mistakes in the early part, and now things are back in track. Or maybe the violinist made the mistakes, not the publisher. Or maybe the publisher's mistakes are ongoing, and the cautious violinist is correcting on the fly. In all of these cases we are recognizing in our experience the presence of at least three creations, the "pure" musical creation of Mozart, the edits by the publisher, and the realization by a performer, three musical worlds, all present in the slice of experience we get in a performance.
Intentionally writing music that sounds like it is a mistake when it is performed is a highly intricate tradition in this music. But it strikes me that the very idea of mistakes presupposes a form of the work, equally real, where those mistakes didn't happen. But since they are written in, it becomes this sort of meta commentary on the multiple musical universes that intersect in any given Performance, often for humorous effect.
This is why I've come to think about these things. But again, I am a lowly music theorist trying to make sense of some basic aspects of temporal understanding and the way they impact our perception of musical space and time. So any real scholars in philosophy will hopefully be able to help me understand if and where I've gotten off track.
Thanks for the time (heh)!
submitted by nmitchell076 to philosophy [link] [comments]

Toroption Scam - Do Not Invest!

My name is Omar and I have made an “investment” With TorOption.com in the hope to better my life and I have been scammed, here is my story:
I came across TorOption through social media (Facebook to be exact) and was interested in making some extra cash on the side, I did not know much about Binary Options nor Trading for that matter, but I was interested in finding out more.
Shortly after creating an account with TorOption Scott from Toroption contacted me and began telling me stories about the benefits of working with them and how it has helped so many people better their lives from a financial perspective. He pushed me to deposit money into my account in order for me to be able to “trade”. The minimum investment was 250.00 USD which I went ahead and put through to see what could possibly happen.
In order to protect themselves, they asked me for copies of the card I used to deposit the money with, they took a copy of my ID and proof of address in order for them to cover themselves and make it seem “Justified”, they even made me sign a declaration form of deposit, everything that they can use against me moving forward.
My account was created one the Toroption website which you can search for and find, This is when the scam began and must I say, what professional scammers they are…
We began trading with the small amount of 250.00 USD and they showed me a few winning trades which made me feel as if this actually might be the real deal, please note that this was all through their website and this information might be portrayed and adjusted as they see fit as it is a proxy. Website.
When I asked to withdraw my winnings, they would always ask me why? And “Are you in this for a couple hundred dollars? Or are you here to make real money?” Which pushed me to invest another 1,350.00 USD. They started making me feel as if I was special using the “Bonus” Scheme which basically provides me with extra money provided by TorOption to trade further and open further positions.
As time went by and we began trading they continued to push me to invest further and further. The broker that goes by the name of Dina, l continued to push me to invest further by claiming that she operates on a commission basis and that should I wish to continue to get her advice on what positions to place, I need to invest further, I recall her saying “Why would I trade with a thousand dollars or 2 thousand dollars, the commission won’t even buy my lunch!”. Given the fact I had no experience with trading and what positions to put, I felt pressured into investing more to keep her advising me on what positions to place. So I went on to invest an additional 6,200.00 USD.
After putting through some positions and making a few trades, we had lost some of those trades and I became frustrated with her “advice”, I started to request for my money back which she never approved for me.
This is when the second part of the scam began and this went even further, she told me that I should speak to her “Boss” and that he has an offer for me. This is when I met Reda, Reda was telling me “why you want to pull out your money when you haven’t made any real profit yet?”, he continued to play on my emotional vulnerability of asking about my family and what I desire in life.
When he found out that I lost my father last year and that I was struggling to make ends meet, on top of this I have a younger brother who just graduated high school and I am still trying to figure out how I will pay for his university education or the rent and the constant bills, he capitalized on this matter and pushed me to invest even further! I simply told him I do not have the money.
He went on by saying get it from your mother or your friends… I told him that simply is not an option, This is when he played me by offering me what they call an “Insurance Contract” He said I am willing to provide you with 3 insurance contracts, each one worth 10,000.00 USD, He claimed that this is the best way to trade with us and that should you fail with the positions, at least your initial investment is safe, on top of this he said that if you invest another 15,000.00 USD I will become an “Executive” Member and that I will have Dina assistance on a weekly basis for market hints and advise on what positions to place.
Hearing this, like a fool I actually went to my mother and got from her 15,000.00 USD and invested with them the full amount in hope to make more money. We began trading on Long Term Binary Trades and actually lost all the major big positions, which meant I had to use my “Insurance Contracts” So they went ahead and “Reimbursed” me the money, or at least as it would show on the account. To leverage our losses from those positions we went on to trade on Gold – Long Term, and we had a strong position put forth with 10,000.00 USD, Dina called and said that this is a 100% in the money and that if I invest another 10,000.00 USD dollars right now, I can leverage all the money we lost previously by “Doubling up” on that position. Again, like a fool, I went ahead and invested another 4,907.00 USD (because it was all the money I had) and she gave me a “bonus” of 5,500.00 USD to double up on the position… which was shortly lost.
Overall, I ended up investing with them a total of 26,707.00 USD and I have gotten back from them a total of 2,918.00 USD… They really scammed me big time.
After all this, I screamed and shouted at Dina and told her I want out, I want my money back, she disappeared for a few days to come back to me and say “I am leaving for a seminar on wall street and Reda (my boss) will take your account from here” The guy I supposedly trusted… and was the major reason why I invested the 15,000.00 USD.
When I spoke to Reda, he told me that I am unable to withdraw any of my money due to the fact that I did not reach the “Minimum turnover required” In order for me to qualify for a withdrawal. He kept saying “I am on your side, I want to help you.” Rather than actually giving me my money, he told me that due to the fact that I took the insurance money, I needed to make enough trades to reach my turnover, which has reached to 1,200,000.00 USD! Which is literally impossible to reach when you have only 15k in your account to trade with.
Now he is asking me to invest even more!! He is claiming that if I invest another 24,000.00 USD I will become a “VIP Member” And will have access to VIP Trades which I currently do not have access to and that my turnover will decrease by 40% which will allow me to make a withdrawal sooner.
After all this happened I started researching online and realized that I am not the only one who got fooled by this scam, many others in my positions have made a similar mistake and these scammers make ridiculous amounts of money off of peoples hard earned money. Toroption is not even licensed no Certified! Finding this out shocked me to my very core.
Reda was asking me to take a loan, borrow from family, friends, he was willing to throw me deeper in debt as long as he keeps getting more money across.
Toroption is a legit scam, they have taken from me a lot of money and the sad part is, it isn’t even about the money, it really cuts you deep, they make you feel like a fool even though I would like to consider myself sharper than others. Your pride takes a hit, you feel embarrassed, and talking about it or even writing about it pains me.
We need to bring them to justice, I am not the only one, many others have made the same mistake I have and I would appreciate your help in getting my money back and stopping them before they scam innocent hard working people moving forward. This company you are supporting is a SCAM! And if you have any business ethics, you will help me fight this off. I have all emails, documents, contracts, etc… everything is available, and I just want this to stop.
I am deep in debt now because of this, my mother does not know of my mistake and she still expects to get her money back which I will get back to her on my own, from my hard earned money, she cannot know that I have been scammed it will break her heart.
At 24 I lost my father and had to become a responsible man I don’t think I was ready for and take care of everything and it is a struggle. For someone to come and take advantage of my situation to make money off of it is sick and disheartening.
This is my story.
Thank you for reading it all the way through.
Are you willing to help me and many others stop this scam from going even further?
Best,
Omar
submitted by Sharif1212 to Scams [link] [comments]

Gold Strike Trading Review Software Scam or Legit How It Works ..?

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Before systems like Gold Strike Trading you needed to learn everything from scratch, now. Either by attending seminars like the ones Gold Strike Trading hosts or try to do it all by yourself. Which takes time and can’t be overwhelming if you don’t know anything about how trading works. Insider John.
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submitted by limpalo to goldstriketradingre [link] [comments]

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