Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Appearance Alteration

As the Daily Mail asks:

What HAS Renee Zellweger done to her face? Bridget actress looks utterly unrecognisable as she steps out with her boyfriend in LA

Rather striking pictures at the link. You can see it's her, more from the side than from the front.

Maybe she's going into Witness Protection,
but it must be strange to stare at your own reflection,
and see a face beyond your recollection.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Quatrain on Haiku

Haiku - they're from the Japanese
whose poets used to strive
to write in lines of snappy threes
composed of 5-7-5.

Illness Paradox

I have a cold. It's better now. I had it really bad over the weekend, yet my Sunday was very productive, writing-wise. I finished the first act of my new play and gave it a new title: All Mixed Up.

I've noticed, over the years, that certain types of "feeling miserable" are highly compatible with getting work done, particularly creative-thinking type work, whether it's writing a story or writing a computer program. What seems paradoxical is that I feel very low energy, feel very unmotivated, feel like my concentration is limited... but then I get a lot done in an intense state of focus.

I wonder if part of it is that I'm so much less distractable, so I stay focused and the problem becomes more tractable.

This would include less distraction by the meta-level, the perfectionistic sort of questioning that distracts by constant asking: but is that right?

Instead I plod along
not worrying if I'm wrong.

I guess the difficult trick
is being the right degree of sick.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Left to Right

Back when I was in high school a friend told me that the ancient Greeks, at one point, had written both left to right AND right to left, alternately. You can see where this would be efficient for speed reading. Scholars call it "boustrophedon", which means "ox-turning", as when you plow a field with an ox, and you turn and go back the other way, still plowing.

The individual characters are mirrored, like Leonardo Da Vinci's famous "code". I actually taught myself to do this, also in high school. Maybe I had too much time on my hands in high school!

Recently I read that it was boustrophedon that accounts for the transition from Right-to-Left to Left-to-Right writing! The Semitic languages (such as Hebrew, Arabic, Phoenician) are all Right-to-Left. The Greeks took their alphabet from the Phoenicians.

'Greek was originally written predominantly from right to left, just like Phoenician, but scribes could freely alternate between directions. For a time, a writing style with alternating right-to-left and left-to-right lines (called boustrophedon, literally "ox-turning", after the manner of an ox ploughing a field) was common, until in the classical period the left-to-right writing direction became the norm.'

But... while that explains the ability to shift readily,
it doesn't explain why they chose Left-to-Right steadily.

I think
it was commanded
because Left-to-Right is better when working with ink,
at least for the right-handed.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Lone Star State of Anxiety

Guess where my wife is this weekend:

"Jenkins said this is a critical weekend for Dallas. Statistically speaking, this weekend is the weekend people would start showing symptoms if they had contracted the virus, he said."

The story mentions that a Dallas bus and train station was briefly closed today on a false alarm. The story says county officials are getting "several calls an hour". May they all prove unfounded.

Come back, my dear,
from the land of fear,
and enjoy
Illinois -
no cases here!

Friday, October 17, 2014


There is nothing like a czar
to bring me peace of mind.
Whatever my worries are,
they all get left behind,

knowing that concentration
of power has taken place,
knowing that this great nation
can look to a single face.

His noble words will inspire us,
no matter how sick we may be.
Who better to fight a virus
than a man with a law degree?

Don't Cry About Us, Venezuela

It's a sad situation in the people's paradise:

"Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday blamed Washington for the slump in global oil prices."

As far as I can tell, Washington had precious little to do with us "flooding the market". The action was in the states and in private enterprise.

Your oil profits are lacking?
Frightfully sorry for fracking!

Thursday, October 16, 2014


At this point you're more likely to get hit by a thunderbolt
than to catch that disease that's so frightening.

But there's zero chance of incompetence causing
a national outbreak of lightning.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

In Praise of Intransigience

I was looking at a new book, In Praise of Intransigience: the perils of flexibility, by Richard H. Weisberg.

First off, let me say, ethical and legal intransigience, which is what he is talking about, is certainly deserving of some praise. Flexibility cannot be an infinite virtue, since at some point it falls prey to some mind-bending recursive questions, such as:

Aren't you being rather inflexible in your idealization of flexibility? Wouldn't true flexibility allow for intransigience, too?

It's an oddly structured book. Much time is spent on the epistles of Paul, the gospel of John, and the Nazi-appeasing governments of Vichy France and the occupied Channel Islands.

He traces flexibility-idealization back to early Christianity and the rhetorical strategies adopted in its divorce from Judaism. This strikes me as novel and misguided, but I haven't taken the time to study his thesis.

Of course, he has a pressing interest in the question: how did the Europeans go along, so flexibly, with the horror of murderous Nazi antisemitism? So you can see where he might be tempted to take this issue back to the early split between the 2 religions.

What house will stand
when built upon sand?