Hitch on AC360

I confess I cried watching it.  I have a somewhat irrational emotional attachment to Christopher Hitchens, he has such an eloquent and engaging approach to writing and speaking.  I don’t always agree with him politically, but I think everyone has to admire the honest way he’s approaching his own death.

AC: In a moment of doubt, isn’t there… I dunno, I just find it fascinating that even when you’re alone and you know no one else is watching that there might be a moment where you, you know, want to hedge your bets.

CH: If that comes it’ll be when I’m very ill. When I’m half-demented, either by drugs or by pain, or I won’t have control over what I say. I mention this in case you ever hear a rumor later on. Because these things happen and the faithful love to spread these rumors, you know on his death bed he finally well… I can’t say that the entity that by then wouldn’t be me wouldn’t do such a pathetic thing, but I can tell you that not while I’m lucid. No, I can be quite sure of that.

Gordon Smith

I had the unique opportunity to see a psychic called Gordon Smith.  I hadn’t heard of him until today, but I took the liberty of google searching him before seeing him and learned a bit about him.  He’s not just a psychic, he’s also a medium, which means that in addition to seeing the future or reading your mind he can talk to dead people.  He is quick to reassure that this isn’t scary, because spirits are nice.

He once amazingly predicted that the body of someone last seen trying to cross a dangerous river would be found somewhere downstream, but his normal schtick is telling people that their recently deceased relatives love them and are happy on the other side.  Whether you find that to be taking advantage of people who are desperate and grieving or as comforting them is up to you.

But when I see things like he read about a dead kid in the newspaper and then used that information to do a hot reading on the parents and put it on TV to get publicity and money, I confess I get a little queasy.

It turned out to be a group reading for a crowd that was probably half hostile, half believers.  He started with a directive to be open and communicative with him if he talked to us, not to be afraid, and that it was all to do with love.  We were directed to try to make mental contact with a person who had passed.

He started by talking with an older woman I know who is well known for her love of all things woo — she likes to do astrological charts and thinks aliens built the pyramids — and who dresses that way as well.  I believe I saw her talking to him beforehand, but if not it would have been easy for him to get info on her or just guess it based on her looks.  She was an ideal target because she obviously wanted to believe.  Also, as much of the crowd was young, she was more likely to know people who’d died.

I won’t bore you with the cold reading details, suffice to say they were pretty standard.  “An Older Man?  Your Father?  He loves you.  He had a nice smile.”  He went into histrionics and said that her father had had trouble breathing when he died.  How vague and necessarily true.  He said there were connections in Boston or NY, which really implies the whole northeast, which is how much of the population of the US?  She didn’t seem to know specifically what it was referring to nonetheless.

He said the name “Michael” was coming through, but this didn’t mean anything to her.  He insisted it would.  He started talking about wallets, photographs, and “the house”, all of which was incredibly vague.  He ended with “He’ll be with you in September.”  The entire thing was vague and banal, but she seemed happy with it.

Then he pointed to a group of three men standing together, and said he was sensing a man who’d had a heart attack and died and it was connected to “You, sir”, but he pointed so vaguely that it could have been any of the three.  Alas, it was not a hit with any of them.  He kept pressing and said someone had lost an older man, father perhaps.  A skeptical man in a mustache said, “Yes, about a year ago, but he didn’t die of a heart attack.”  Oh, snap.

Then Gordon proceeded to pretend that he’d heard about the one year thing from the ghostie, not from the guy, and the guy wasn’t buying any of it.  Gordon said that he had unfinished business, there was so much they never did.  There was a single rose, a symbol of love.  And the guy said, “I understand what you’re saying, but you’re way off the mark.”  Snickers.

GS: There are many unfinished things…
M: Like what?
GS: He’s telling me something about phone calls…
M: …
GS: He’s proud of you, he’s happy with your life.  Something about photos on a computer…
M: That doesn’t mean anything to me.
GS: There’s a dog with him?  He loved being with family.

I imagine had we been a less polite crowd, had we paid to see this, or had alcohol been involved, there would have been jeering and heckling at this point. Flop sweat is not a pretty thing, and as much as I wanted him to crash and burn, it was difficult to watch.

He obviously couldn’t end on that, so he pointed to a different trio of guys and said he was sensing an older woman. A guy I know pretty well took the bait.

GS: The last 18 months a lot as happened. Are we near some sort of anniversary?
M: … Yeah.
GS: She says you need to tidy your mess. Her hair is lovely, she got her hair done.
M: OK.
GS: Feeling something in my throat, she loved to sing?
M: Yeah
GS: She’s saying three’s company, two’s a crowd.
(What kind of embarrassingly trite bullshit is that, btw)
M: OK.
GS: She’s saying there are wires everywhere. You need to clean up the wires so there’s not a fire — that’s not a prediction, just a worry. There are too many phones.
M: OK, yeah.
GS: She’s saying the name “Anne” or “Annie”?
M: Yeah
GS: There’s a ring… she’s saying wear the ring so they’ll remember her
M: I don’t know of any ring.
GS: There’s a ring, look for it.
M: K.
GS: She had trouble with her legs, or her feet, difficulty walking in her old age
(Who doesn’t?)
M: She had a walker.
GS: She’s saying don’t worry about the money.
(Because like no one has money problems)
GS: She’s saying there’s a connection to Ireland?
M: … sure
GS: She’s saying get a passport to Europe, someone’s been talking about Europe
M: Italy
GS: That’s in Europe!
(killmenow)
GS: There’s something to do with the fourth of July, or near the fourth of July, not American Independence day, but something different
M: Yes.
GS: Complaining about a sore back?
(Everyone ever)
GS: There’s a spaniel, a little dog
M: … no
GS: You love animals
M: Yes
GS: There’s a watch?
M: Not that I know of.
GS: Maybe your grandfather’s. The name Tom, does that mean anything to you?
(Can’t they ever just use an interesting and uncommon name for shits and giggles?)
GS: Look for the watch. She’s saying that you’ve had two lives, that you’re very different now. The year 1981 does that mean anything?
M: No…
GS: She’s saying look to the early 80s. You’re a different person now than you were then.
(No shit, it’s been 30 fucking years)
GS: She says something about Rose? Not the flower, she’s with Rose?
M: Don’t know that…
GS: She says the best is yet to come.

At this point, he said no more spirits were coming to him but he’d take questions about what he did. There were a few questions and he told a lot of stories, including a particularly good one where he contacted someone named Jared and the lady said that was her husband, and he wasn’t dead, she’d just left him, and he said sometimes he made mistakes, but when she got home he was dead on the couch.

Then he said dead people were like angels, or light beings, and they were kind. Sometimes they’d apologize for abuse. All humans are spirits. Everyone has a sixth sense (I assume he means everyone has some sort of extra sense, because people have more than just five) but not everyone is a medium.  And then we were dismissed.

He was a perfectly pleasant man with a Scottish accent and a sense of humor, but I just don’t understand how people can do this and pretend it’s a gift not a technique anyone can learn from a book.

NY Mag says we won

No second source confirming yet: According to a source who has seen the 136-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge Walker has ruled Proposition 8, the California voter-approved ban on gay marriage, unconstitutional under both the due-process and equal-protection clauses.

Cautiously Optimistic on Prop 8

On really big decisions, especially ones that involve a lot of media coverage, the court will give the lead counsel the verdict ahead of time so that they can prepare for media and immediate appeals.

Vaughn Walker has a history of doing this and last night at 6PM the DIs (villains) filed a motion for Stay Pending Appeal, exactly what they would do if they knew they were going to lose.

This does a much better job of explaining it than I do.

Prop 8 Verdict

Tomorrow, between 1 and 3.  I will comment no doubt.

Between bronchitis and medicating bronchitis, I’m not terribly awake so… yeah.  Just thought I’d tell anyone who hadn’t heard.

Blame Jen McCreight

I’ve been reading fanfiction for the first time in several years and it’s all Jen McCreight’s fault.

The premise for this fic is that Harry Potter is hyper-rational and it is, essentially, pointing out how logically flawed the Harry Potter books are.  With love, obviously.  It’s surprisingly enjoyable, so if you’re a skeptic and an HP fan, I recommend it.  I’ve gotten to Chapter 19…

Now, for the first time, he was up against the prospect of a mystery that was threatening to be permanent. If Time didn’t work by acyclic causal networks then Harry didn’t understand what was meant by cause and effect; and if Harry didn’t understand causes and effects then he didn’t understand what sort of stuff reality might be made of instead; and it was entirely possible that his human mind never could understand, because his brain was made of old-fashioned linear-time neurons, and this had turned out to be an impoverished subset of reality.

Why Facebook is Awesome

I also applaud your sturdy good sense in not swilling INCEPTION’s pretty kool-aid. Superbly executed hustle, but pretty paper thin (as, come to think of it, was Leonardo’s performance). - Eddy Von Mueller

I just friended and got a message from a professor of mine from undergrad.  He was probably the snarkiest professor I had throughout my entire education, which was quite a prolonged experience.  I still tell people stories about him, so it’s sort of cool that someone who’d been flattened into some stories is now real again.

The first day of class, he walks in, he’s wearing a jaunty hat, has a cane and a goatee sort of thing.  “Call me Eddy, because Professor Von Mueller sounds like some madman who keeps blondes locked in his basement.”  Half evil/half nervous laugh.  It was brilliant.

My other favorite line of his “If I have to watch Keanu Reeves try to put an emotion on that plastic face of his one more time, I’m going to kill myself.”  It was a very early, gen ed fulfilling class on film he was teaching and he was absolutely brutal in his assessment of people’s taste.  Which I enjoyed because I enjoy people being mocked mercilessly and his taste and mine tended to overlap.  He also, as a Formon™ himself, made fun of Mormons a lot.

He also taught my favorite course that I took in all of undergrad “History of Television”, which is not a subject I even cared about, I literally took it because he was hilarious and teaching it.  I hated TV at the time, but it gave me a very different perspective and of course now I think TV at its best is probably better than film at its best.  (WHAT!)

Also, I googled him and found this hilarious “review” of him.

Even with this in mind, I still think the Social Network trailer was ham-fisted and melodramatic and made me giggle when I shouldn’t have.