Department Of I’ve Told You Before, I Can’t Make This Up This Shit
“Michael Flynn, the former national security advisor under Donald Trump, claimed during an appearance on a conservative radio program that COVID vaccines were being added to salad dressing….
‘Somebody sent me a thing this morning where they’re talking about putting the vaccine in salad dressing…..’ said Flynn.
‘These people are seriously thinking about how to impose their will on us in our society and it has to stop,’ he added. “
( “Michael Flynn claims salad dressing is being infused with COVID vaccine,”
The National Post, 9-23-21 )
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Department Of A Blast From The Past
Fortunately, I don’t need a really big time machine to go back only two years…
…to December 2019, when I first blogged about the yogic tradition of performing 108 sun salutations to mark the change of the season (solstices and equinoxes):
Department Of If My Hamstring Muscles Are Still Sore After 36 Hours,
Have I Reached Enlightenment?
“Why 108 Sun Salutations?”
“It’s an auspicious number in yoga; I know 108 sounds like a lot…”
“That’s because it is.”
Last Sunday (12/22/19), to celebrate the winter solstice, my yoga studio held an “Om-a-thon,” which is what Someone In Charge Of Marketing ® called an hour and a half class consisting of 108 Sun Salutations. A sun salutation, for you non-yogis, is a yoga exercise incorporating a sequence of nine or more linked asanas, or yoga poses/postures. The asanas are linked by the breath – inhaling and exhaling with each movement – and Sun Salutations involve moving from a standing position into Downward and Upward Dog poses and then back to the standing position, with many variations and modifications.
Why 108? It’s apparently an auspicious number (in the parts of the world where yoga originated), for many reasons. Non-woo reasons include the fact that the distance between the Sun and Earth is roughly 108 times the Sun’s diameter and ditto for the ratio of the moon’s diameter and the distance between the moon and earth – scientific realities not likely surmised when the originators of yoga decided 108 was a magic special number.
There are plenty of woo reasons for venerating the number 108, and the teacher leading the class mentioned a few of them: there are 108 Upanishads (a series of Hindu treatises ca. 800–200 BCE); there are 108 beads in a mala (a meditation tool, an idea early Christian/Catholic missionaries stole “adapted” from the Hinduism & Buddhism, and morphed into the Catholic rosary beads  ); there are nine planets and twelve astrological signs, and 9 x 12 = 108 ….
Oh, and most significantly of all, a Uno deck contains 108 cards. That’s gotta be a sign.
҉ ҉ ҉
That was then; this is now. On Wednesday I celebrated the Autumnal Equinox by doing 108 Sun Salutations at home. How does one keep count, inquiring minds want to know? Moiself has a glass bowl, containing 108 small, smooth glass beads, which I keep on the dining room table. Four times a year, when I’m doing the 108 Sun Salutations (Winter Solstice; Vernal Equinox; Summer Solstice/ Autumnal Equinox) I dump out the bowl in front of my yoga mat. At the end of each sun salutation I move one bead into the bowl.
This year I decided to do 109 sun salutations, adding my avatar (visible in the above picture) to the bead count. It just felt like the right thing to do, and if we’re going for auspicious numbers and all, 109 is a prime. 
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Department Of Is This Either/Or…On Or Off?
Dateline: Saturday 7 am-ish, walking along a totally deserted beach – deserted in terms of fellow bipeds. There is a light rain falling, a welcome change after a previous night’s wind/raid downpour/power outage. Leaving the house, moiself noticed the wind had skejewed my yard sign, which I straightened up before heading down to the beach.
I mention the yard sign because the podcast I was listening to reminded me of the sign, in a way the podcast host and producers likely didn’t intend (nor would care about, I’d imagine). Moiself, however, found it a fun coincidence.
The podcast, No Stupid Questions (co-hosted by research psychologist Angela Duckworth [author of Grit] and Stephen Dubner [co-author of the Freakonomics books and host of the Freakonomics podcast] ), is one I’ve mentioned several times in this space. This episode of NSQ, “How Can You Escape Binary Thinking?”, made me smile from the moment I heard the title.
“One of my life goals is to help people *not* binarize so much…. It turns out that for almost everything that psychologists study, including things that seem categorical, they really are continuous…and you do have to, at the end of the day, either allocate a therapist for this person or not, based on a diagnosis, but if we all *knew* that the underlying phenomena were continuous for *most* things, in psychology and maybe most things in life, that would be an advance.”
“Plainly, there is value in binary thinking. Literally, the fundamental building block of computing, as far as I understand it, is the bit, which is short for binary digit, which is either a zero or a one, and the reason that’s useful is that it makes it easier to do huge computation, which means you require less circuitry, less cooling, things can be smaller, things can be cheaper…
“It’s a massive data compression.”
“Yeah! So, it is a heuristic for computers, but I’d like to think maybe this is one way we could be better than computers, is not having to compress. On the other hand, I am a fan of what I believe is called, generally, categorical thinking. I just want more categories than two….“
(excerpts from NSQ episode cited above)
Although I concede its utility in certain areas, I’m not a fan of binary thinking.  The yard sign I’d previously mentioned was a product of my distaste for that kind of thought.
An employee of the sign shop where I had my yard sign designed and printed asked me if I was critiquing “those other yard signs.” I told him that my sign was 95% just for the fun of it…and, yeah, maybe, 5% satirizing “those others:”
I agree with most of the sentiments expressed by the variants of Those Other Signs ® …but not all of them. There are so many complexities and nuances to the positions alluded to in various versions of Those Other Signs ® I’ve seen. In an ideal world, I’d hope that if my neighbors wanted to know my thoughts on certain issues, instead of having to read my lawn signage and extrapolate from there, they’d ask me, and we’d have a thoughtful and civil discussion about it.
For example, as per illegal/undocumented immigration. A line like, “No Human Is illegal” is a form of data compression. No human is illegal – what does a particular person mean, when they say or write that? Certainly, it is a pejorative to refer to a person as illegal – is that what they are objecting to – the un-charitableness of referring to a person as “an illegal?” Also, and just as certainly, some people do things that are illegal, including violating the immigration laws of a country. So, what is it that the no human is illegal line is conveying or signaling to others – your position on immigration, or your concern with word choice when referring to a person who is in a country unlawfully?
Binary thinking; data compression. I didn’t have the words for it when I was younger, but the first time moiself ran across these terms I thought, *That’s* why I never felt at home a political party – the world is so much more complex than left and right.
Alas, binary thinking/data compression seems to be the norm for politics. “You either agree with all of these things (insert your political checklist and/or party platform) or you’re not with us,” or, expressed in another way, “You must *disagree* with *everything* promoted by The Other Side ®, or you’re not with us.”
Zero or one; on or off. Data compression is great for computing, but can be disastrous for human relations. Very few people are completely ‘”on or off,” “this or that,” as per anything. To think otherwise is to opt for the safety of categorization versus risking seeing (and dealing with) complexity.
Lest y’all think I am perfectly consistent on avoiding the pitfalls of binary thinking…
…I recognize that moiself has my own litmus tests when it comes to certain issues. I’ve had some interesting discussions with a few people who’ve called themselves feminists but who are also anti-reproductive choice – as in, not only do they say that they personally would not have an abortion under any circumstances, they would go further and deny the choice for others.  I have not decreed to them that an anti-choice feminist isn’t actually a feminist, as I am not the boss of that word.  I have presented my take on the matter: people make decisions all the time, about matters trivial and momentous – decisions that I sometimes don’t like or vehemently oppose. This is part of living in a pluralistic society. But when it comes to this particular issue, I’ll go all binary on your ass: you either support a person’s bodily autonomy, or you don’t.
* * *
Department Of What I’m Listening To…
(Sub-department Of Not That You Care….)
This would be Lindsey Buckingham’s new, self-titled album.
I mistakenly watched a rerun of a recent Stephen Colbert show where Buckingham was the musical guest – the “mistakenly“ part was watching the show right before bedtime. The energy of the song Buckingham played was so infectious and the melody/lyrics so catchy, I could not get to sleep after that.
The song (“On the Wrong Side“) seems to be a meditation on looking both backward and forward, with references to life in a touring band (Fleetwood Mac’s halcyon days, I assume) and living in the present, acknowledging the passage of time. Not the lightest of subjects, yet the rumination is encased in an incredibly catchy pop rhythm and melody, with soaring and layered harmonies. ‘Tis a song that could easily be mistaken for a new Fleetwood Mac single.
♫ Waitin’ for the night to come
Waitin’ for the moon to rise
Wondering just what have I done
That I never realized
Time is rolling down the road
Love goes riding in a hearse
We were young and now we’re old
Who can tell me which is worse ♫
Buckingham’s solo work reveals just how much he brought to Fleetwood Mac, and how so much of the band’s sound  was due to his influence and contributions.
I dare you to listen to On the Wrong Side and then *not* walk around having the chorus stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
♫ I’m outta pity/I’m outta time
Another city/ another crime
on the wrong side… ♫
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Q & A Punz For The Day
Popular Music Edition
Name a rock group where none of the members sings or plays music.
What kind of music do bunnies like?
Why did the hearing-impaired jazz musician bring a sweet potato to rehearsal?
He thought he’d been invited to a yam session.
How many guitarists does it take to play Stairway to Heaven?
Apparently, all of them.
* * *
May you eschew most forms of binary thinking; 
May you enjoy listening to at least one song from Lindsey Buckingham;
May you embrace your humanity by holding fast to at least one binary opinion; 
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Although the Catholics halved the number to 59 beads, in perhaps an effort to claim originality or refute charges of plagiarism.
 Except of course/again the originators of such superstitions did not know there were nine planets…and now we all know (though some of us refuse to accept the fact) that there are not nine planets, but eight. And longtime readers of this blog can likely surmise what I think of astrology.
 A prime number is a whole number which is divisible only by itself and 1.
 Binary thinking (urban dictionary): “Denotes a system of thought that predominantly considers things in an “either, or”, “right, wrong”, “black, white” way, ignoring any subtleties or consideration of third or more alternatives.”
 As in, they support making abortion illegal, or at least highly restricting its availability.
 In that particular configuration during 1975 – 1987, when he and Stevie Nicks joined. There have been many, many personnel configurations in the band’s fifty-plus year history.
 Except when it comes to black licorice: you either hate it (correct!) or love it (so very, very, wrong).
 Like, the one about black licorice.