Back on a desktop

I’ve now got a desktop PC, actually a Supermicro server box, as my own personal computer. This time around, it’s running Linux Mint. I’m setting this blog to my browser home page, in an effort to start writing more. And gaming, plenty of gaming…

Hang in there!

Better hold music

After spending about a half-hour on hold for an Anthem agent yesterday, I came to the conclusion that I could record better hold music than what I was listening to. They had a somewhat dramatic piano sonata, interrupted periodically by the typical recording of a woman’s voice, “Your call will be answered by the next available agent; please continue holding.” This was irritating to say the least.

The accompaniment should instead be something like Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports, and the vocal message should be part of the ambience, sung or spoken to go with it, rather than interrupt it. This would be more calming for callers who may be likely to be frustrated to begin with. Continuous mellow, integrated hold music would also be far better than silence, in which you have to check your phone to make sure you’re still connected, or silence interrupted every so often by someone’s voice. Express Scripts had a woman’s voice saying, “Please hold…”, every 5 seconds.

We can do better.


XKCD comic #2076, "Horror Movies 2"
XKCD “Horror Movies 2”

I tend to agree with the person without a hat. I’d much rather watch something uplifting.

I think many of us are hypocrites, calling ISIS barbarians for their videos of beheadings, and then watching slasher flicks. It’s all spectacle. Beheadings of royalty in the French Revolution were public entertainment, as were lynchings in the United States. I think it desensitizes us.

I recall Col. Kurtz in Apocolypse Now: “The horror … the horror,” and learning how PTSD can truly mess you up. I wonder what kind of effects our indulgences into horror have on our society, a culture that worships violence?


For me, it’s “Welcome back!” was my blog home while I was in seminary from 2003 to 2009. Fortunately, the Internet Archive Wayback Machine has dozens of historic captures of my old site. (When I let the domain registration lapse someone else grabbed it and demanded a lot more money to get it back…)

Now, it’s mine again!

Returning to blogging

So, I’m not alone in getting back to blogging. I may still resurrect my EdTech at OWU blog, and there’s definitely one in the works at But this, and my new Twitter handle, @ParadoxMidwife, are where you’ll find my solid day’s thoughts.

I look forward to the conversations!

Hello world!

Welcome to my new blog. This is my first post, slightly edited from the default sample post that comes with a new installation. Stay tuned for more blogging to come!


Beautiful Bliss


Aside from the puzzles of nature that tease the human mind, there are at least two other types of mystery that one may experience in the scientific mode. First is the congruence of aesthetics with truth. Nature is orderly, for sure, and understandably so: or else, it is difficult to have a stable universe for a long stretch of time. But why should so much beauty be associated with order? Precise and inexorable laws are enough to keep the cosmic clockwork ticking away for eons. But why on earth (some pun intended) should they be so beautiful? Anybody who has reveled in the equations of Maxwell, Dirac, or Einstein, and contemplated the diagrams of Feynman must be touched by their aesthetic dimension no less than their explanatory prowess. As we behold the rich patterns and coloration in the landscapes and life forms that have evolved, whether birds or butterflies, mountains or lakes, we sense endless visual delights. On purely rational grounds, these are quite uncalled for. This could strike one as mystery.

Finally there is mystery in a mind that reflects, creates, sees the world in a grain of sand and scribbles eternity on a scrap of paper. Many scientists, in some of their reflective moments, have considered intelligibility of the phenomena as a great mystery. It is as if the whole universe becomes aware of itself through sparks in the human brain.

Thus, whereas religious vision sees a Mystery existent beyond perceived reality, it would seem that science is a mystery in itself: for it is a palpitation of the entire universe in a cerebral network under the human skull! This, to me, this is the most mysterious mystery all.

Once again, V.V. Raman has instigated deep reflection and creative gurgling. Why is the peacock always seen with Krishna? Surely all that colorful splendor isn’t a biological requirement. That’s Darwinian evolution full of itself. There is abundant beauty in the world, much beyond the point of survival of the fittest or biological imperatives. And it stretches well beyond visual beauty. Do foods really need to taste as delicious as they do? Who can deny the aesthetic attraction of a forest glad with babbling brook and twittering birds? It’s almost as if—and I’m sure others have tossed this idea around before—the whole universe was designed or came to being centered around more than just the pleasure principle, but bliss.

In the second mystery he mentions the human ability to recognize and experience this. The Hindus taught that bliss is one path to the Godhead. Joseph Campbell picked it up as “Follow your bliss.” And Pierre Teilhard de Chardin stated simply, “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” An ancient proverb is that evil cannot exist in a place of laughter. Laughter is the best medicine. Ecstasy is often associated with divine trance. It is here that religion and science can meet and dance hand in hand as we celebrate the wondrous pleasantness of life and our capacity to enjoy it.

*I couldn’t find that article when I last checked on, 3/7/2021.