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Banbury Cross

a pillow for lost thoughts...

Archives for: March 2007

Truth likes to straddle

Being mired in the midst of a discussion about Creation versus Evolution feels like reliving a busy day at the battle of Verdun. Two sides with their argumentative horns firmly locked, all you are able to register is cantankerous soldiers dug deeply in their trenches, nervously clutching their verbal howitzers and guarding every inch of the precious intellectual territory with serrated bayonets. The only good news is that you have a choice whether you want to flounder in the mud from which Adam was created or in the mud through which some rebellious fish once clambered onto the land (which it subsequently populated with our grand grand ancestors).

But truth is that truth is rarely belligerent. It waltzes gracefully between valleys of extremes like Ginger Rogers on her high heels, lightly tapping the ice covered mountain ridges. It takes a conscientious effort to follow her tracks without slipping - the everyday struggle to interpret the marks on the slick slope properly, to pay attention to the terrain, to quickly react to any loses of balance and stability. Sadly, for many people this is too much of a bother and they rather give up and tumble down into the comfortable valleys of extremes, where they wallow in seeming happiness and are exempt from all thinking duties ever after.

But back to the topic.

Today I boiled some eggs for breakfast. Although in general I am cooking impaired, eggs I can do. I placed them gingerly in bubbling hot water and after the appropriate time period I fished them out. When I cracked them open, however, I couldn't help wondering how they came to be this way. They certainly didn't evolve by themselves - for it was me who put them in the boiling water. On the other hand I didn't create them out of nothing. Neither did I use any supernatural powers. I prepared them using time-honored principles of thermodynamics.

So you see I have a problem now - should I credit my breakfast to evolution or creation?

St Patrick's Day in Chicago

Chicago pampers its Irish enclave.

Scores of St Patrick's proteges parading down Columbus Avenue would know a thing or two about it. And they return the fondness with a ravishing array of wall-to-wall irishness: bandwagons bedecked with shamrock, cows on wheels and a monster shopping cart, fire trucks from times when stamps were a dime, cuddly little leprechauns scampering along, king on a white horse and his men flying their royal capes like cheeky banners, chipper ex patriots tossing their hats and beads and garlands around, marching bands puffing with bagpipes, girls with curls tapping their jig shoes on the pavement littered with green frills, tipsy lads in fake miters stomping onward, weightless floats on the go... The parade seems endless.

As luck would have it, on the day of this parade I ended up in Chicago with a colleague of mine. The morning sky looked a bit sullen, almost as if God had just done some serious dish washing, but by noon the Cloud Master and his band of chimney sweepers did their gig and the rest of the day was served on a blue platter. The parade was so captivating that we decided to exploit a poorly guarded intersection and joined in. For a few minutes we turned Irish and it felt as if we stepped into another dimension. Needless to say - one with much greener pastures. All of a sudden we were part of the river flowing down Columbus Avenue.

And speaking of rivers: it turns out that the proliferation of green in Chicago is not restricted to the Land. The city dyes its river too! On our way to the parade, we were dazzled by its Technicolor richness - a giant waterlilly pad painted by a jolly Dali. I don't know what Celtic magic they cast over its waters, but it looked supernaturally green.


The Times They Are A-Changin'

Today at 2am, our homes were quietly invaded by millions of invisible thieves; by imaginary burglars who sneaked long plastic tubes into the gas tanks of our watches, clocks, cell phones and other time-displaying devices and siphoned off 60 minutes from our well deserved weekends.

I think the daylight saving time is overrated. Probably outdated. Possibly inhuman. Hey, this is the 21st Century! If farmers in Kansas need to spend more quality time with their yellowing corn, they can easily get up an hour earlier. And if outdoor fiends crave more daylight for their escapades, they can follow the suit. But why torment us, the unsuspecting public, with the bi-annual spells of inclement time, during which we turn into listless zombies and spend the day in the state of suspended consternation. Not to mention that all the appointments and dates that are missed exactly by an hour. And that's just us, humankind.

How about badgers, burrowing in the vicinity of the highway system, who are brutally awoken from their sleep an hour earlier by the precocious morning rush hour? People are at least prepared for this shock by media or neighbors or both. But badgers are completely taken by surprise. Nobody ever tells them. As you probably know - colloquial badgerese may be well suited for everyday repartees like "grrrrghh, get off my territory" or "wrhaouuugh, I am really really hungry", but their growls and gnarls don't really carry the meaning of "my dear fellow badgers, please, be aware that the silly two-legged creatures are on that daylight saving thingy again".

So enough with this foolishness.

And while on the subject of time tampering, something else irks me too: the institution of time zones. It seems that whenever I cross some 15 degrees of longitude I have to engage in a wrestling match with my wristwatch. And anytime I see a time stamp on an e-mail, I have to perform some completely unnecessary arithmetics to figure out when it was actually sent. And I am not even going to go into how it feels when you jog around the North Pole in small circles. Then all these fancy time zones get outright confusing.

And what for? Just so we can all have our 9-5 jobs no matter where we live? Well, so some of us would have 3am-11am jobs and some of us would have 1pm-9pm jobs. Big deal. Locally, you would get used to it quicker than you could say "tick-tock".

Can't we just all agree on the Greenwich Mean Time and enjoy the pleasures of the whole humanity being on the same page? Say there is a World Cup Soccer final in Berlin at 6pm. I want to be sure that if I turn my TV on at 6pm, I will see some serious kicking. And if 6pm happens to be in the wee hours of my morning, so be it. I can live with that.

Time is smooth and elegant. So why put unnecessary crimps in its fabric?

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