October 31, 2007

GHOSTS

Wow. I had no idea I was in such a minority:

A Gallup poll found that only 7 percent of Americans do not believe in telepathy, déjà vu, ghosts, past lives or other supernatural phenomena, which may have more than a little to do with the soaring popularity of Halloween.

A few years ago, my husband and I were visiting his parents and sleeping in the guest room. I woke up in the middle of the night to a bone-chilling noise, a wailing, moaning, ghostly noise. The hair on the back of my neck stood up straight and my heart began to race. I still have no explanation whatsoever for what the noise was: the wind? the dog? my father-in-law groaning in his sleep?

I realized the next day that, if I believed in ghosts, I would forever tell that story as an encounter with one. I would swear that I had heard a ghost at my in-laws' house. But I don't believe in them. Instead I see that story as proof of how people say they've encountered ghosts.

But the truly interesting part was how I could not stop my body and mind from being frightened. Even though I absolutely don't think there was anything out there, my body went into panic mode.

Interesting stuff. But only 7%? Wow.

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October 25, 2007

CULTURAL REFERENCES

My husband told me about this Harry Potter article linked on Instapundit and Althouse, and I found it hysterical:

Here is what I imagine the seven Harry Potter novels are about: I imagine that Harry is an orphan who had a bad relationship with his father (kind of like Tom Cruise in Top Gun or Days of Thunder or A Few Good Men or any of his movies that didn't involve Ireland). He escapes some sort of abstract slavery and decides to become a wizard, so he attends Wizard College and meets a bunch of anachronistic magic-using weirdos and perhaps a love interest that he never has sex with. There is probably a good teacher and a bad teacher at this school and (I'm sure) they eventually fight each other, and then some previously theoretical villain tries to destroy the world, and all the wizard kids have to unite and protect the universe by boiling black cats in a cauldron and throwing lightning bolts at pterodactyls. Harry learns about life and loss and leadership, and then he doesn't die. The end.

Now, I realize I don't have to guess at these details. I'm sure I could read the entire four-thousand-page plot summarized in four hundred words on Wikipedia, or I could simply walk into any high school and ask a few questions of the first kid I find who isn't smoking crystal meth.

No, you can't read the Wikipedia entry. Because if you don't know anything about the books, like I don't, then all you'll read is sentences like "Harry and Frimbleframp travel to the smigglefloop in a wimbdywhop to battle the canterstamp with a shimmelflap." It's utter nonsense if you don't already know what you're reading.

Anyway, the article is an interesting take on how pop culture brings us shared knowledge. And why you can't understand Kevin Smith if you've never seen Star Wars.

Incidentally, I saw the "Trapper Keeper" episode of South Park before Neil made me watch the Terminator movies. And I didn't get the cultural references. Once I saw the movies, I thought the episode was a lot funnier, plus I finally got the line in Family Guy where Adam West asks Meg if she's Sarah Connor.

But I still don't have any plans to read Harry Potter yet.

Posted by: Sarah at 03:21 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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October 16, 2007

DESPITE OUR VALUES

My Swedish friend was so excited that my husband had organized a birthday surprise. So when I talked to her again last night, I asked what she thought of the surprise trip to the firing range.

She was horrified.

I expected her to think it was weird, or not romantic, but I didn't expect her to react so vehemently. She thought the whole thing was plain awful, and incomprehensible, and that all the commenters were horrifying as well. She even called her sister's American husband to ask him if he knows what the 2nd Amendment is (too cute) and whether he owns a firearm. She was really rattled by this and even started talking about Virginia Tech.

Then she reminded me of something that I hadn't thought of in a long time. When I lived in France, I was walking home late at night one night when a man on a moped drove up onto the sidewalk, pinned me between a van and a wall, and tried to grope me. Needless to say, it was a frightening experience, and for weeks after that, I walked around the city with my Swiss Army knife in my hand. I have no idea what I actually would've done with it if someone else had tried to attack me, but it made me feel a sliver of control over the situation and it helped me get over my fear. What I had forgotten was how crazy my Swedish friend thought I was for walking with a knife. Or at least, I didn't realize just how crazy she thought I was until she brought it up again last night, that thinking about me with a gun brought back memories of me walking the streets with a one and a half inch blade. Apparently something that barely registered in my brain today was seared, seared in hers.

I told my husband about this last night, and he said, "Wait, let me get this straight, she thought you were dangerous and crazy because you wanted to protect yourself from being raped?"

I explained to my friend that while we disagree on lots of issues -- death penalty, health care, etc -- the Gun Issue is so cultural that we typical Americans and Europeans will never begin to understand each other. We can't even talk about the issue because we're coming at it with completely different cultural baggage. She says that guns create violence; I say they deter it. No common ground.

After we got off the phone, I thought for a long time about our conversation. She can't read my blog; it makes her sick to her stomach. She's against everything I stand for, and vice versa. I'm not mad about that: if she had a blog, I wouldn't want to read it either! But I started to think about the fact that we are friends with each other despite our value systems. That we set aside everything we think about the world and everything we believe to be right in order to remain friends.

She thinks blogging is weird, that it's odd I would bare my soul to strangers on the internet. I kinda think it's weird that I've been friends for nine years with someone I have no common ground with.


UPDATE:

Oda Mae is right: This is a friend who would drop everything to take me to a hospital. She even said that she would fly to the US to meet my future baby. She is a good friend. Maybe that's equally important to the equation as our values.

Posted by: Sarah at 03:22 AM | Comments (13) | Add Comment
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October 09, 2007

PATRIOTISM AS PATRIMONY

There's too much going on in this Winds of Change post to even excerpt. Suffice it to say that I've kept it open on my desktop all day and followed all of his links. It's chock full of stuff to grok.

Patriotism Rears Its Head Yet Again

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October 08, 2007

DISSENT

A very good explanation of why "dissent is the highest form of patriotism" doesn't really work.

Oh yeah, and Thomas Jefferson never said that. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Posted by: Sarah at 11:11 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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