Sunday, December 31, 2006
New Year's Day at noon, at North Avenue Beach, a group of us will be taking a ceremonial dip in the waters of Lake Michigan. It's free, so if you're in the neighborhood, feel free to join us. Of course, I may chicken out.
I guess the idea is to start off the year adventurously, thus preparing oneself to tackle the serious problems of the world.
Or maybe it's just a goofy stunt.
We'll dive in boldly
With exuberant howls.
We'll stumble out coldly
Desperate for towels.
UPDATE: The water wasn't too bad. Afterwards I snapped a shot, which you can see above, of a couple of latecomer participants.
Someone's crying my Lord, Cymbalta...
"You might feel sad or hopeless. You could have vague aches and pains, or even a backache. Many people wouldn't think of these as symptoms of depression."
Vague aches or pains? Almost everyone my age has those. Especially after exercise!
"There are many paths to take in the treatment of depression, including talk therapy, diet and exercise."
Exercise? But that seems to be the cause of my depressing aches and pains!
Unfortunately, "only your doctor can decide if Cymbalta or other treatments are right for you."
I fear my doc will say no.
I guess I'll just have to go
To some other doc
Who won't keep a lock
On this new antidote to woe.
Friday, December 29, 2006
But imagine an entire class of people who stupefy themselves regularly and constantly, who remain stupefied throughout the day, and who live not on society's fringes but in the mainstream. Suddenly the problem grows more serious - millions of regular people stifling their consciences to live happier lives, thinking, and therefore behaving, in ways they would not otherwise do. Through sheer numbers these people pose a greater threat to the social fabric than murderers, prostitutes, and thieves.
One of his key premises, you will note, is that Artificial Happiness stifles one's conscience. This strikes me as a remarkably strong claim when we are talking about the effects of anti-depressants, alternative medicine, and "obsessive exercise".
Do all these joyous throngs
Lack a sense of right and wrong?
I put those scare quotes around obsessive exercise because I'm not sure what counts as obsessive in his book. Of course, we all know that anything with "obsessive" in front of it must be bad. Our author recognizes that "moderate" exercise is good for you, and from his photo on the book jacket he's in reasonably good shape, himself. What really seems to irk him is a certain sense of accomplishment some people take from exercise. He paints a portrait of a depressed hospital janitor who finds no joy in his mopping, but who discovers a new source of solace:
Instead he finds happiness by working toward fitness goals, which enhance his sense of time. After a workout, Jim ponders his exercise program. He doesn't know how much weight he will lift in the future, but he knows it will be more, which excites him so much since is real life is fixed and predictable...All right. We can laugh at the janitor who thinks he is a "better man" than the doctors just because he's a better stair-climber. But is this guy's weight-lifting program a threat to the "social fabric"?
When he sees overweight doctors climbing up the stairs at the hospital, panting and with little beads of sweat glistening on their sideburns, he swells with pride and thinks he's the better man...
This is the passage that set me off the other day. I object to this Real life / Gym life dichotomy. Gyms exist in... real life. And I know lots of people who manage to incorporate work, family, and athletics into one... real life.
Real life is chopped into holidays, work goals, and family celebrations. Gym life is chopped into athletic accomplishments. In both cases, people look forward to events and remember them afterward, an experience that imparts weight and depth to the passing hour and helps people feel an expanded sense of being.
I should confess that I sometimes take pleasure in immoderate amounts of exercise. I even, dare I say it, have taken pride in such activities.
To be fair, the book has a lot of interesting information in it, mixed in with the stuff that makes my eyes roll. I think many of my difficulties with this book stem from my opposition to the author's philosophical outlook. In the last chapter, he writes:
The universal goal in life is lasting happiness, yet it is impossible to find lasting happiness. Such happiness might be obtainable if everyone cooperated, but everyone is too busy looking for their own happiness to do so.Let me just stop right there. I think the opposite. I don't think I would care for a world in which only my happiness mattered. As for happiness itself, is it really just lasting contentment? Or is it experienced even in the midst of the struggle?
No contentment lasts forever
But there's joy in the endeavor
Of pursuing what's worthwhile
In a dedicated style.
The gifts weren't really theirs. But they had a scheme that involved driving along behind a UPS (United Parcel Santa) truck.
D'Angelo said if the UPS driver left a package on the porch of a recipient who wasn't home, the defendants "would pull up into the driveway, take the package and then catch up to the truck again."Unfortunately for them, the UPS driver noticed that he was being tailed, and alerted the police.
The couple played The Grinch,
But the coppers made the pinch.
The advertising quack who wearies
With tales of countless cures,
His teeth, I've enacted,
Shall all be extracted
By terrified amateurs.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Apparently you don't have to listen to it live... you can just download and eavesdrop later.
"Worst Dating Stories Ever" is the opening topic.
That's a topic I know nothing about.
Wait. Well, on my FIRST DATE with my wife... I was still in college. I had the family station wagon. It was Chicago in February and it was snowing. I THOUGHT the windshield wiper fluid was out, so I wasn't spraying the windshield to clean it. The windshield got all salty and I couldn't see that well and I RAN INTO A 3 FOOT HIGH BUS STOP SIGN IN THE MIDDLE OF STATE STREET... and knocked it over. Then I determined that the windshield wiper fluid was working after all. That was a GREAT first impression.
Keep the windshield clean
On your driving machine.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
...and they'd started a bug collection.
"See?" Eddie, who was the same age as Sam, thrust a glass jar at Kinsey proudly displaying the four- and eight-legged critters climbing over a handful of straw stuffed inside.
"Oh my, that's quite a collection." Kinsey managed a smile and forced herself not to reel back.
I scratched my head when I read that. What kind of four-legged critters show up in a bug collection?
I wonder if our author has the same aversion to bugs that her heroine has. If they really give her the creeps, maybe she's never looked at insects long enough to see they have six legs?
From bees to flies to walking sticks,
Once they're grown, they all have six.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
It's written by a guy who thinks people are overdoing the following things: anti-depressants, alternative therapies, and exercise. These things are making them artificially happy, insulating them from authentic sadness. Sally Satel reviewed the book here and talked about the anti-depressant angle, about which I know little. I don't know much about alternative therapies, either.
But I did want to say something about the exercise angle. The author draws this weird distinction between success in real life and success in meeting one's exercise goals. He says, in effect, that the happiness of running your first 5k is somehow a non-real-world event, because it doesn't directly apply to one's work or one's family life.
Maybe his problem with such activity is that it's devoted to the self. Would it surprise you that this guy also wrote a book called The Rise of the Imperial Self: America's Culture Wars in Augustinian Perspective?
His complaint, I think, is the Puritan one -
People are having too much fun.
Monday, December 25, 2006
That's from the Pope's Holiday Message. It's a good question.
We need a knowledge of right and wrong, of course.
I try to behave
But I can't say I crave
He was born on December 25, 1642 - as dates were then reckoned in England.
Some years after his death, the calendar system was revised. By this new system he was retroactively born on January 4, 1643.
So I guess we can celebrate his birthday twice.
When calendars are re-reckoned
You get one birthday - and then a second.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Saturday, December 23, 2006
(No. I'm not sure how to spell Chanukkah, and apparently no one else is either. See this video or read this post on Shawn Klein's blog.)
The litany of holiday greetings has grown too long. Maybe it's time to put the X back in Xmas - x like in algebra, where it's a variable that could stand for anything.
(Yes, I know that X originally meant Christ, since the CH in CHRIST was originally the Greek letter chi which looks like an X. Evidently this information is unknown by many of the folks who want to "put Christ back in Christmas." So let's keep it our little secret and stick to my theory that X is a mathematical symbol.)
Has your solstice turned prosaic?
Deck your halls with algebraic
Friday, December 22, 2006
The "faux fur" trim is oddly flawed.
The fur's for real - and so it's fraud.
The fur is from some Asian critters called "raccoon dogs." These canines are not domesticated dogs. But there's the word "dog" which brings to mind "Man's Best Friend."
It's what the word "dog" connotes.
If renamed "Chinese coyotes"
They'd be more accepted on coats.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
I think Dante's Comedy, like Milton's Paradise Lost, could easily have made it into the Bible - if they hadn't started locking the Bible down around 300 A.D.
Dante and Milton, your poetry's great.
But - get in the Bible? Sorry. Too late!
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Monday, December 18, 2006
Her argument is that third world governments, while failing to provide a high degree of safety, nonetheless strangle business activity with regulations and corruption. So when a mild case of civil war chaos sets in, parts of the market actually benefit.
The actual security situation may not be that much worse, but all the parasitic government activity disappears. The situation turns into a net gain.
The state begins to unravel,
And goods more freely travel
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Is there a mouse
In the house?
My personal theory leans more toward centipedes. Occasionally I have seen them in that hall.
Tell me, Mr. Centipede,
Is it true you really need
A hundred feet
To feel complete?
Saturday, December 16, 2006
But he hasn't been blogging for what seemed like ages. Today Robert Bidinotto let me know that Steve has been seriously ill.
Steve has written a very moving account of his experience so far. It started with massive weight loss and a building rage he found hard to control. It turns out to be a very overactive thyroid causing those symptoms. The good news is - it's treatable, and it sounds like his doctors are working hard to get it under control.
I love so much of what he's penned.
So now I just hope,
He can manage to cope
And stay on the mend.
"The number of victims at the Auschwitz concentration camp could be about 2,007,'' Australian Frederick Toben said. ''The railroad to the camp did not have enough capacity to transfer large numbers of Jews."2,007. I love the faux-precision of that 7 added to the 2000. It makes you look more scientific and certain - if you're ignorant.
2,007. A New York subway car holds 182 passengers at "full capacity". So 2,007 is just about 11 subway cars.
Where do they get such shoddy "scholars"?
Well, we know where they got David Duke.
His face may cause you to heave,
But isn't it nice to see him leave
Duke, please stay away.
In fact, if you possibly can
Invite your whole damn klan
To live with you in Iran.
Friday, December 15, 2006
It may not work in people. Lots of mouse-cures aren't people-cures.
The real surprise suggestion from the experiment is that the nervous system is involved in triggering diabetes. There's speculation that this could be true in other autoimmune disorders.
Progress in the healing arts
Proceeds by fits and starts.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Your Comedy's too grim - it's got no yucks -
What's more, the scenes you paint just seem unreal.
I have suggestions - Virgil in a tux
Might lighten up the atmosphere a bit.
Give him some wisecracks. Sure, I know hell sucks,
But let him show less wisdom and more wit.
As for your own part, what's with all the swooning?
Sure, the inferno's a dizzying sulphurous pit,
But be a man. Also, consider pruning
All this religious stuff - there's way too much.
And triple rhyming? Jeez. That needs fine tuning.
So take a nice long hike. I'll be in touch.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
On the other hand, the book sold well, and I may not be the ideal reader, knowing a fair amount about the two, and being somewhat set in my views.
It did make me think
About the links
Between these two
And their quizzical views.
So maybe the book
Is worth a look.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
"...I said that I had long taught lessons from the Hebrew Scriptures and that a common historical pattern was that Israel was punished whenever the leaders turned away from devout worship of God. I asked if she was concerned about the secular nature of her Labor government."
That's Jimmy Carter talking.
One more reason why the secular vote shouldn't be automatic
In the direction of Democratic.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
So, based on further discussions and research...
Parmenides was the first to say
Something resembling A is A.
"Never shall this be proved - that things that are not, are."
In the middle ages,
"All a is a" was used by sages.
The monks were using letters as terms in the study of logic, and some of them thought this was a fine premise.
Leibniz still gets the tap
As the guy who put "A is A" on the map.
It was he who made a big deal of "A is A", putting it forth as a catchy statement of the law of identity.
About these conclusions, I'm not too smug.
I may learn some cave man said "Ug is Ug."
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
The broker doesn't want the U.S. to change to a single payer system.
Why? It's not rocket science.
He needs a place to send his clients.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Prohibition went away.
That's because the 21st amendment, which undid the 18th amendment, was fully ratified on 12/5/33.
No, I don't actually remember it. But Funky Brown Chick mentioned it.
Prohibition was a horrible idea. Banning such a popular substance led to nothing but trouble. For one thing, Prohibition created gigantic black market opportunities for deadly thugs. I'm glad we'll never do anything like that again.
The war on drink,
Which fed money to so many thugs
Was a lot like the war on drugs.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Sunday, December 03, 2006
I had some reasons to think it was Leibniz. But years ago Tom Stone sent me an interesting note in which he said that Leonard Peikoff, in his History of Philosophy lecture series, had credited Antonius Andreas from the 12th century.
Here is my new clue. It's auto-translated from French, by Google, so the English is imperfect:
“The identity principle: Wundt says that “the law of identity was expressed for the first time in a pure logical form by Leibniz (Logik, T. II, p. 562)”. In fact, this one in proposed a great number of formulas, among which: “Each thing is what it is”, “A is A, B is B” (New Essays on Human Understanding, IV, 2, ed. Gehrardt, p. 343, sq.)… However Suarez already allotted to Antonius Andreas the following formula: Omne ens est ens, that it rejects besides like useless (Metaph., Disp., sect. III, n° 4).
If this is correct, Leibniz gets credit for "A is A". Antonius Andreas gets credit for "Omne ens est ens." (Which I think in idiomatic English might be close to "Each thing is itself".) Aristotle, it is true, had already touched on the issue.
French here. Google-translation here. It's from a French Scholastic philosophy site.
So, thank you Tom Stone for sending me that note - which I came across today - since I found this reference by Googling for Antonius Andreas and "a est a".
So it looks like Leibnitz was the first to say
A is A.
UPDATE: The Wundt mentioned is Wilhelm Wundt, and the citation seems to be to his book "Logik". The Suarez mentioned is Francisco Suarez, and the citation is to his Metaphysical Disputations.
2nd update: "Omne ens est ens" may be something more like "all being is being," or "whatever is, is". Wish I remembered my high school Latin!
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Friday, December 01, 2006
Thursday, November 30, 2006
"Take two tablets twice daily."
This confuses people.
"'We were unbelievably startled by this,' said Northwestern University researcher Michael Wolf..."
I'm not surprised. Those instructions sound like something you tell a computer, not something you tell a person.
But not plain
To the brain.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
They have nothing resembling the War between the States. But neither do they have Peace.
Is Iraq like Vietnam?
Surely, in some respects, yes. In others, no.
In public discourse these sorts of questions are often treated as All Or Nothing issues in a grand game of Capture the Connotations.
The talking heads rarely reason with each other. They stage arguments for the jury - the viewing audience - to decide.
Whip the jury
Into a fury -
And they decide.
Monday, November 27, 2006
A) the "Woman on Trial" production from L.A.
B) the Broadway production, which Rand modified under the guidance of the producer
C) the amateur version, which someone else edited, and which was repudiated by Rand as not being one of her works
D) the version that came out in the 60's after Rand had edited it, which she said was close to the "Woman on Trial" script
E) the final version, after Rand had edited it for a New York production
I have examined "C", "D", and "E".
"A" must be very rare, since it was produced at only one theater.
"B" might be more findable, since it was widely performed, but I don't think it was ever sold as a book. Professional playscripts, I believe, used to be rented out by the author's theatrical agent to professional productions.
Today I was looking at a book that included a cast of character of version "B". The cast included John Hutchins, who also appears in "D" and "E".
But as you may recall, the amateur "C" version substitutes his wife, Mrs. Hutchins.
So Mrs. H. is probably unique to the amateur version! But why?
So what's the scoop?
Do amateur troops
On the whole
Need more female roles?
Sunday, November 26, 2006
So often when you teach, you learn more
Than you knew before.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
One is by Kathy Sierra, on putting the Muse on deadline. (Worth it for the opening visual alone.)
I admit my muse is unruly,
And sometimes treats me coolly.
The other is by my wife, on the qualities of a great teacher.
As usual, her story
Includes quotes from Montessori.
Vladimir Putin declared that the man did not die "a violent death."
Poison may not be violent,
But your victim ends up silent
Just the same,
Which was surely someone's aim.
Friday, November 24, 2006
So you can represent 2/3 in binary as 10/11. But what about the .666666? First of all, that point in front of the .666666 - that point is usually called a decimal point. But if we're working in binary, is it a binary point?
Strangely enough, I think 2/3 translated is: .1010101010101010 (ad infinitum) This is really the series: 1/2 + 1/8 + 1/32 + 1/128 + 1/512... which appears to have a limit of 2/3.
It's a weird kind of fun
To stick with zero and one.
"If ever there existed a Wise Fool, a learned Idiot, a profound Dupe then... it was David Hume."
I'm curious as to what evoked this mixture of praise and scorn.
I suspect it is Hume's skeptical streak,
That appeared to Adams as mentally weak.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
That darling Marsha bought for me.
It's an early Christmas present. She hadn't planned to give it to me today, but then she decided - what the heck - I'd get another month of use out of it. Also, her notebook has been in and out of the shop for hard drive (and now fan) issues, so she has been using my notebook, so at home I have been using the old Windows 98 desktop, which has issues of its own.
Marsha once said of me that the only physical possessions I really seemed to care about were books and computers. She was being funny, but, there's an element of truth there. She, characteristically, got a good deal on this one - it was a floor model.
The memory is so big -
As a computer old-timer, who worked with punch cards, I am now and then awestruck by how far we have come.
We live in a society that has made technological and scientific progress an expected thing. But it was never expected before these last 250 years or so. In this respect, we live in a very special time.
So today I thank the long philosophical evolution
That finally led to the scientific revolution.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
The idea that internal conflict generates indeterministic noise
which must be effortfully struggled through to taste the joys
of true freedom of the will - that strikes me
As highly unlikely.
Which I somehow managed not to get lost in.
Actually, I was in Cambridge, Mass., as well, bookstore browsing, and jogging along the Charles.
Somehow, it was warmer in Boston than Chicago.
Also, there was no rain.
About which I will not complain.
Marsha was attending a National Association of Scholars conference.
I was just there as a spouse
So I wasn't left pining alone in our house.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
I've known a lot of atheists, and this isn't how they think. Of course, like him, atheists can feel that life is not worth living. Perhaps that's the bottom-line issue, shorn of its theological fuzz.
It's a well-written but very bleak book, a carefully constructive narrative that gives you a you-are-there impression of the Nazi camps from the point of view of a 15 year old Jewish boy. This means you never really understand much about the Nazis - you understand they are committing unspeakable evil, but you don't know why.
What was it that released
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
But I find that in 2004 the Washington Post ran an article entitled "Got The Flu? Blame The Free Market" The author's thesis is that shortages are caused by our failure to completely socialize medicine. He doesn't actually say "socialize". He just says that Americans "don't want the government to get too deeply involved in health care."
Sorry. It's already happened. The government is already "too deeply involved in health care."
They're in up to their chin
And sinking further in.
The excess "...may lead to millions of doses being thrown out, discouraging manufacturers from making as much in the future."
So be nice
And get your flu shot twice.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
We saw a man surfing in Lake Michigan at the 57th Street Beach. He had a wetsuit and a surfboard, and the waves looked pretty good. He must have been out in that cold water a long time, because we saw him three times as we ran the loops of the run course.
At the end of our race, wearing our 50k finisher's medals, we talked about how crazy he was. But, really, I suspect he's no more, or no less, insane than we were.
No ifs, ands, or buts,
Both activities are nuts.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Today I visited 2 museums. Any guesses on where these are from?
Have you given up yet?
Okay, if you got either one, even if you guessed,
I'm suitably impressed.
The first is from The Dusable Museum, from their current "Chisel + Stone" exhibit. I like this guy.
The second is from The Oriental Institute. They have 2 of these big scary lions, bagged from Ancient Baghdad.
Someday all museums will be on the internet
In HD 3D. But not yet.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
FLINT. Why didn't your husband work that night?
MRS. HUTCHINS. Well, fo' the las' year or two now my husband don't seem to have no mo' gumption; and when he don't, I takes his place.
FLINT. Oh! So on the night of January 16th, your husband was low on gumption.
MRS. HUTCHINS. Yes, sah.
Is it just me, or is that meant as African-American dialect?
This alternate universe is the older, amateur version of the play, which Ayn Rand thoroughly disowned as a vandalized monstrosity.
Who knows, you might still have a chance to see the Mrs. Hutchins version performed. Here's a cast with her in it for a 1998 production.
The differences are sizable.
As for the movie - it's unrecognizable.
Monday, November 06, 2006
I was looking at some of his other replies. They're here, but you have to scroll down. I was most fascinated by the one in which he declares that he only reads the front page of the New York Times. If a story continues inside, he does not turn the page. That way, contemporary happenings do not become "too real" for him.
I fear that even one page
Has more than enough to enrage a sage.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Peikoff: "...the Republicans stand for religion, particularly evangelical Christianity, and are taking ambitious strides to give it political power." ... "The most urgent political task now is to topple the Republicans from power, if possible in the House and the Senate. This entails voting consistently Democratic, even if the opponent is a 'good' Republican."
They both see us as horribly endangered by proponents of a religion. But Tracinski is more worried about totalitarian Islamicism, and Peikoff is more worried about theocratic Christianity.
As for me... Our two-party system doesn't make for ideological purity within the parties. Nor do party-members in Congress consistently follow their party line. So I think it often makes sense to look at the particular individuals who are running, and try to weigh their pluses and minuses.
The party line
Is not mine.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
That's from Peter Saint-Andre's insightful essay on Rand's descriptive style, which I read some years ago.
You can see it fits that Anthem quote I had where furrowed fields are compared to a fan held by a giant hand.
I've been thinking about that "giant hand" metaphor. Last week, when I read it, I found it very moving, even though on the surface it was just a good visual description. To repeat, it goes like this:
"The fields are black and ploughed, and they lie like a great fan before us, with their furrows gathered in some hand beyond the sky, spreading forth from that hand, opening wide apart as they come toward us, like black pleats that sparkle with thin, green spangles."
I'm thinking that it was dramatically striking in the context of Anthem, because the setting of Anthem is relentlessly drab, a world in which exceptional human ability is a crime. The hero does not enjoy looking around the confines of the City, but he spends a lot of time looking at, and describing, the sky - as if that were his escape from his surroundings.
Now, in this context of oppressive smallness, our hero, just incidentally, imagines a mighty human hand of great power. I think this contrast is what gave the image its emotional oomph for me.
Later, of course, our hero masters the utilization of electricity, and refers to it as the power of the sky.
Our hero projects
His own special effects.
Person B: "What was that?"
Person A: "Nothing. I was just talking out loud."
I heard a version of this today. I've said it myself. But it's screwy. Of course person A was talking out loud - that's what talking is - it's out loud.
People used to say: "I was just thinking out loud." That made more sense.
Idioms run ahead of words,
Racing past the apparent absurd.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
There's nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, when you look at his political activities:
"Bono, the rock star and campaigner against Third World debt, is asking the Irish government to contribute more to Africa. At the same time, he's reducing tax payments that could help fund that aid."
He's all in favor of laws
To levy taxes for his cause.
But tell me, does Mr. Bono
Like paying taxes? Oh. No.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
"The fields are black and ploughed, and they lie like a great fan before us, with their furrows gathered in some hand beyond the sky, spreading forth from that hand, opening wide apart as they come toward us, like black pleats that sparkle with thin, green spangles."
So she starts with a camera-eye view of receding parallel rows, finds a metaphor ("fan held by a giant hand") for that appearance, and describes it as actively happening ("opening"). That's pretty characteristic. Heck, then she turns the dirt into black pleats and the plants into green spangles, just to give a completely metaphorical vivid description.
So, even though her style seems really different in Anthem, you can see that the underlying approach to visual description is still there. It's just adapted.
I've seen people try to parody her descriptive style, but I haven't seen anyone really get this approach right. Partly, I suppose, because it's hard, and it's not the way most of us look at things. Partly, I suspect, because Rand is so strong on ideas that you tend to get distracted from the means by which she conveys the sensory.
She throws off ideas at high speed,
Which makes it hard, while you read,
To really notice the little tricks
She uses to color her virtual pics.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
Sunday, October 29, 2006
In a later essay, she writes about Capuletti's painting of a wall with peeling paint and cracked plaster. She says the subject would be perfect for the life-is-decay kind of art, but that Capuletti has transformed the subject into an object of beauty. She says she would not have believed it was possible.
So, here is an important qualification of the position taken in the first essay. It is evident she has changed her mind about something. But only the first essay makes it into her book on aesthetics.
Some of her thoughts about art
Were left in scattered parts.
Friday, October 27, 2006
"The weirdest part of this phenomenon is that speech is processed in different parts of the brain depending on the context. So people with this problem can often sing but they can’t talk."
You see that sometimes in victims of strokes.
Adams says he recently discovered that he could still speak in rhyme, and began to repeat, over and over:
"Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.
Jack jumped over the candlestick.
"Somehow, he says, he managed to remap his brain by repeating this rhyme over and over again, and now he is on a path toward recovery - which he says is practically unheard of. The Wikipedia article on the condition sounds skeptical about his cure.
Even though Wikipedia's not so sure,
I'm glad Scott Adams found himself a cure.
So just remember, if there comes a time
When your voice fails... do try a nursery rhyme.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
You want a backup copy?
Just make another floppy!
But that's ancient history. Back to the present.
The trouble with laptops
Is their tendency to stop-
So you doubt that the harddrive
Is still alive.
I was up till 4am last night, working with M.'s laptop. I think I've gotten everything off it now. The harddrive is running way too slow, and declines to boot into any form of XP, even safe mode.
But I found I could boot it into Linux using a bootable CD. That let me read the harddrive and copy files out the USB port to solid-state backup.
XP said no way.
But Linux saved the day.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Yes, his background was a variety of Mormonism.
Was he sorry?
"I cannot say that I am sorry..."
"I did what God commanded me to do..."
I read a book about him and the murders. He was a bad, bad man.
His lawyers tried to stop his execution -
Worried that the chemical solution
Might hurt a little just before he died.
What a shame. Too bad he couldn't be fried.
It claims that men are helped by 2 drinks a day. You know what this means?
I'd say it means clearly
That I don't drink nearly
As much as I oughter!
Quick, scotch & water!
Sunday, October 22, 2006
"As opposed to the world of John Locke, so beloved of Thomas Jefferson and other members of America's founding generation, this is the world of Henri Rousseau; the American model proposes freedom from the state, and the French one proposes freedom through the state."
Give me "freedom from".
"Freedom through" sounds dumb.
At mile 24 of the marathon, I was feeling fine. That's because I didn't run the race. I just went to watch and cheer.
Mostly I cheered for people who met the following 2 conditions:
1) No headphones
2) Name on shirt
That way I could call their name ("Go Joe!) and they would actually hear me.
Maybe later in the year
Someplace far away from here
I'll run and someone else can cheer.
Friday, October 20, 2006
But, years ago, I worked at a couple of places with the old fashioned Muzak - which was mostly upbeat instrumental versions of pop standards. It was sold as a kind of emotional programming for a firm's office workers. What I disliked was that the performances sounded oddly lacking in personality. Oh - and I also disliked the fact that the tape looped at least once during an 8 hour shift.
Was designed to hack
Positive thoughts inside your soul.
That, at least, was the goal.
I felt it as an attack.
My mind had music already,
In the background, pulsing steady.
And their product drowned
That inner sound.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Apparently there's an episode of Grey's Anatomy tonight that addresses this problem.
I'm going to resist the obvious rhyming possibilities of "stuck."
Be careful of things that jingle
Attached to things that tingle.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Reading it was scary enough. Then she started having dreams about it.
She'd given her brain material
For nightmares all-too-serial.
Monday, October 16, 2006
He should be very wary of this kind of positive press, particularly since his accomplishments so far are few.
After they puff up your reputation, they have a habit of turning around and puncturing it with a vengeance.
First they build you up,
Then they tear you down
Shredding your rep
All over town.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
electricia has actually been to one of those Hell Houses that fuzzbean mentioned. She said it included portrayals of babies being aborted and people dying in car accidents. She said it was Southern Baptists who were especially fond of this form of holiday hellraising.
Well, no wonder we can't find a Hell House in Chicago. We lack a critical mass of Southern Baptists!
We've looked all over - back and forth.
But damn it, Chicago is in the North.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Friday, October 13, 2006
I'm all for the basic idea.
But as for the years, what's up with 99?
One thousand would be fine.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
But I got news today from fuzzbean. Some evangelicals are crashing the party, constructing scary "hell houses" which show how bad hell is. So kids can be frightened into a proper fear of the Lord.
It's sort of like Dante's Inferno... but for kids!
Hey kids - there's no waitin'
For your chance to visit Satan!
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Today I realized that I was constantly seeing critics use the word "smart" in their reviews as a term of praise.
And then it further dawned on me that I was no longer seeing them use "sly" in this way.
I missed the official start
And never said goodbye
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Is this about immigrants?
I'll tell you what bothers me about a lot of these immigrants - they work hard. What's up with that?
I probably shouldn't worry.
In a generation or two,
They'll quit with all the hurry,
And slack off like me and you!
Monday, October 09, 2006
The next morning I saw a strange being roaming the streets, accosting police officers, and generally trying to inspire enthusiasm. Here he is, badgering a policeman.
Yes, Wisconsin has got
A badger for a mascot.
Friday, October 06, 2006
"Symbols are important. They're like pieces of your heart you can see."
Branden's visibility theory of love, and Rand's theory of art, both turn on the idea behind this metaphor - the idea of being able to *see* your inner values outside of you.
It's important for Rand. It validates her Romantic streak within her Enlightenment intellectual context. Loved ones and compelling art works are categorized as things needed for survival, because seeing the pieces of your heart is both clarifying and motivating.
How often our minds
Feed on outward signs.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Saturday morning, we went shooting at a range. Our hosts are both shooting enthusiasts. Neither Marsha nor I had shot a gun in 10 years, but we did okay with coaching. Note to self - don't flinch just before the big noisy gun goes bang - it throws your aim off. In the evening we had the Objectivist club meeting.
Sunday noonish we went to the Arizona Biltmore resort, which Frank Lloyd Wright had a hand in designing. It's a big, gorgeous place. We walked the grounds after eating lunch there.
Sunday afternoon we drove to Sedona, AZ, which has big beautiful red rock formations all over the place. We drove around and got good looks at these pretty rocks.
Monday afternoon we drove up to the Grand Canyon's south rim. We ate dinner at a lodge on the rim, and looked at the canyon in the moonlight.
Tuesday morning we paid for a helicopter ride across the Canyon. We were lucky enough to get the front seats. Wow. Awesome, beautiful, forbidding. Our pilot learned flying in the military, and had flown helicopter gunships in Vietnam. He informed us that the canyon was partly formed by plate tectonic activity - earthquakes.
After the helicopter ride we drove into the park and stood by the rim in the daylight at various spots. There are a lot of spots without railing, and when I got near these my stomach would start fluttering with acrophobia. The first step is a doozy - and your last.
Then we headed for Vegas. Marsha thought it was 2 hours, but it was more like 5. We actually drove across the Hoover Dam on our route. This required being looked at by police officers before we were allowed to proceed. I see where they are building a bypass to get around the Dam bottleneck.
We arrived in Vegas as the sun went down. By a strange coincidence, our son was driving from Chicago to L.A., and was scheduled to make Vegas a few hours after us. So he stayed with us that night. It was here that my work started to seriously interfere with my vacation, cutting considerably into my time. So I saw exactly zero Vegas nightlife.
Wednesday we ate breakfast, said goodbye to our son, and drove down the strip before heading to the airport.
As you can see, this is not a case of "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." It's a case of nothing happening in Vegas.
I figure the staff must have pegged us
As people who hadn't the vaguest
Idea of enjoying Vegas.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Airport books should be organized by length.
I want a book whose length is right
For my particular flight.
I chose Steve Martin's novel, The Pleasure of My Company, a novel about a guy with OCD. I enjoyed it. Funny and touching.
I also read my first Louis Lamour novel, Kiowa Trail. Liked that too. Thrill-a-minute.
Also I finished off The Baby Inheritance, by Ann Roth. Quite heartwarming.
Maybe my enjoyment of the vacation
Is rubbing off on these evaluations.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
And there was the hole, a mighty gash in the earth, ghostly in the light of the moon. One mile deep.
That's how it looked at night.
I hear the colors are better in normal light.
Monday, October 02, 2006
He's the congressman who got in trouble for writing dubious emails to young male pages.
He's also the congressman who sponsored legislation cracking down on people who do things like that.
So he quit the Congress, and now says he has an alcohol problem.
I have the impression that for celebrities going into rehab is a good way to keep from going to jail. The public furor dies down because now the celebrity is a victim of addiction, rather than simply a bad actor. I'm not saying he's not a drinker. I bet he is.
Boozer or user,
Playing the victimized loser for a while,
Is better than standing trial.
I opened with a limerick written for the occasion.
Allergic folks once moved Phoenix
Hoping to need much less Kleenex.
They all planted grass
And, wow, it grew fast.
They're sneezing again... but it's scenic.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
If you're curious, it's here. I cross at 6:02:05 on the far left side, wearing bib 6062.
In the past, some races would charge you a pretty penny for a "customized video", with only a few snippets of you. I like this way better.
It's perfect for a consumer like me -
I'm glad to watch it for "free".
I know it's built into the overall price,
But I still think it's nice.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
In school he was doing problems like:
9 + _ = 15
Of course, you're supposed to fill in the blank spot with 6.
He came to me and asked if there was a solution to a problem like this:
_ + _ = 15
I was stunned. I told him, yes, there's a solution, and it's a line.
That was the beginning of teaching him analytic geometry, and some calculus, while he was still in elementary school. I couldn't actually get him interested in the solving algebraic manipulation problems. But he loved graphing the solutions to equations.
He went on to get a Ph.D. in aeronautical engineering, specializing in control theory. Oh, and he wrote a textbook on that abstruse but practical topic.
I tutored my own children in math, too. I never got them interested in calculus while they were in elementary school. But my son is taking a professional path eerily similar to my brother - he's an aeronautical engineer publishing research in control theory.
I don't *think* my brother had that big an impact on my son.
What can this mean?
Is there a control theory gene?
Or does it seem
More likely I'm a carrier of the meme?
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Regular readers of this blog, be forewarned, some poems are from this very location. Others are available online somewhere or other.
But I like the look
And feel of a book.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Was it just a bad run of luck?
How did he happen to get stuck
With not one, but two brides
Who were future suicides?
Sunday, September 24, 2006
The current issue of Chicago Magazine has a cover story entitled "The Best Elementary Schools," and Council Oak was listed among them.
The format of the afternoon was kind of a mix between a roast and a toast.
I gave a little talk about her, interspersed with rhyme, ending with this one:
Thank you, Marsha,
For working your butt off,
And helping this school
Make the cut-off.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
It's a Garmin Forerunner 201. I got it from Amazon for 109.99.
It took a little time at the start to establish the satellite link. Once I was running, it seemed to stay linked up - except when I was running under railroad viaducts. Of course, I was running mostly through Chicago neighborhoods - very flat, amid houses.
It had a few peculiarities. It doesn't really give you instantaneous speed. It gives you an average over a minute or so. So when you change speeds it takes a little while to really register.
It was fun to know
Just how fast, or rather... slow
My feet would go.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Then there's John Mark Karr. He's the creep who claimed he killed Jon Benet. But he was also in trouble for having child porn on his computer. The cops confiscated his computer - a few years back - but now they can't find it.
There's a need for remedial lessons, given by tutors,
To explain ways to lessen this strange loss of lots of computers.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
The voices in my head?
Don't tell them to be quiet.
They'll stop when I am dead.
Till then, they all run riot.
I don't always pay attention
To what they have to say.
I brush off their dissension
When I've settled on a way.
But frequently, I listen,
Because of what I've heard -
That precious bits of wisdom
Might show up in these words -
And I don't wanna miss 'em
When that finally occurs!
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Monday, September 18, 2006
You want to visit North Korea?
Most likely they don't wanna see ya!
I have a friend who saw their capital,
Watched by a soldier who took no crapatall.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
B. However, a tortured person may also give you information that can be investigated and verified independently.
C. If the person is innocent, you will have imposed horrible suffering unjustly.
D. Torture is, to say the least, cruel and unusual.
President Bush is harping on point B.
In philosophical circles, point B comes up in the "ticking bomb" dilemma, in which many innocent lives will be lost unless the terrorist is tortured into revealing the location of the ticking bomb. This sort of thing happens constantly to Jack Bauer on "24".
In "24" hours,
must always act with urgency.
Is it an error
To equate the war on terror
With an ethical emergency?
Saturday, September 16, 2006
People of a different faith
Riot over what he saith.
Anyway, he was speaking, in passing, about the "sword verse" vs. the "no compulsion verse" in the Koran, and quoted from a medieval philosophical dialogue:
He didn't actually say this was the truth. But he did quote it. And he didn't say he disagreed.Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.
The Pope himself came down on the side of "no compulsion" in religion. That's reassuring, since the Church he heads has historically made use of the sword at times.
He also talked about Aquinas, Kant, the scientific worldview, and the proper sphere of rational inquiry. So you can see he covered a lot of ground. (Full text here.)
Now a Turkish government official is comparing him to Mussolini and Hitler.
If this comparison occurred in an online discussion, it might end the argument, since it fulfills Godwin's Law:
There is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically "lost" whatever debate was in progress.But this was declared in Real Life, in Turkey, which the Pope plans to visit soon.
I fear that the Pope
May end his life
At the end of a rope
Or the point of a knife.
His safety would be a better bet
If he stuck to appearing on the net,
Thus avoiding any Turks
Who might have chosen to go berserk.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Very few Americans get to visit this last gasp Communist outpost which is now arming itself to the teeth.
Don Parrish has circled the globe many times. He has a background in engineering and international business negotiations. A careful student of geopolitcal history, Don can be counted on to provide deep and original insights.
Curious people cherish
Talks by Mr. Parrish.
A liberty lover
Who heads off to discover
What's really going on -
Thursday, September 14, 2006
It's progress of a sort:
Experts claims that for the first time ever, there are more overweight people than hungry people in the world.
But I distrust this statistic.
After all, what about people on diets? A lot of them are overweight AND hungry. How did they get counted?
Though you may be overweight,
Though you may be far from sickly,
An under-loaded plate
Produces hunger quickly.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
The guy doing the prank gets more than a hundred personal replies, including photos - of faces and other things - and lots of real names - and even some real work emails.
Then the guy posts all these replies on the internet, and asks for help in finding out more about the guys who replied.
When replying with work emails,
Be wary of fake females!
Monday, September 11, 2006
He had declared his opposition to the ordinance a while ago, but vetoed it today - the first time he has ever vetoed anything.
He saw the flaw
And blocked the Big Box law.
It's my belief
That discerning diners
Should only eat beef
From top designers.
As for "cheeseborgers,"
Please make mine
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Well, I guess the beaver is less bizarre than that glow-in-the-dark moth that lands on your head in the Lunesta ads. If that thing ever showed up on my pillow, my eyes would pop wide open - and stay that way all night.
That moth is just plain creepy
And would never make me sleepy.
As for the beaver, I am
Telling it "go build a dam!"
Wait. Lincoln was famous for splitting logs. Beavers are famous for chewing through them. Could this have something to do with the old slang expression for snoring, i.e. "sawing logs"?!
I may be overthinkin'
With this final burst of linkin'.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Worried about the free speech implications? Don't be! Once they're re-elected, you can buy air-time to criticize them again.
McCain and Feingold - thanks for protecting
All those incumbents who need re-electing!
I hope they feel safer - less troubled by doubt
That people might gang up and throw their butts out.
Thank goodness we've stopped all that partisan strife.
Once you get in - the seat's yours for life!
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
She waits 23 hours till they arrive in downtown Chicago. After all, he had already paid his fare, and she was short on cash. Why pay more to take him off the train, put him in a box, and ship him in baggage?
He was lying in the sleeper
When he finally met the reaper,
But his daughter let him stay
On the train another day.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
When they teach you metric poetry, the vanilla form of a poem is envisioned as one metric line, over and over till it's done. A sonnet is like that - 14 lines in the same meter and length.
But lots of formal poetry is not like that. Including limericks. So why is that? Why does a limerick satisfy the ear? Now it's a standard form we're all familiar with, but why did the limerick get popular in the first place?
To me, the short 2 lines sound like a disrupting change, and the last long line sounds like a restoration of order.
A limerick starts off well-versed
Its pattern precisely rehearsed.
Then things turn hoppy
With lines short and choppy,
But line five's as long as the first.
Monday, September 04, 2006
Sunday, September 03, 2006
It's a film with non-stop action
With the thorough satisfaction
Of seeing the bad guys
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Friday, September 01, 2006
Both links have photos, so you can see
That they're not me!
Both write with pleasing coherence,
And so I embrace them as brothers,
Along with any others
Who've yet to make an appearance.
"...although it might seem that work in the philosophy of mind should have the most direct link to psychological research, in fact work in the philosophy of logic, of science, and metaphysics has often had a more fruitful albeit unintended influence."
As examples, he gives Putnam & Kripke's distinction between artifacts and natural kinds, and Fred Sommers' category-tree theory. Both of these provided grist for research that established that children as young as 5 recognized the distinctions and rules they were putting forth.
The point seems to be that philosophers sometimes give very explicit descriptions of deep rules about how the world works. This affords psychologists the chance to test grown-ups and children - to see whether they implicitly observe these rules.
Learning logic is like that too:
Implicitly old, explicitly new.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
The U.S. has a Secret Senator game. Senators tuck little "earmark" gifts into spending bills, and it seems like it's pretty hard to find out who sponsored what. It almost looks like senators are doing favors for people and keeping it all hush-hush.
There's a bill in the Senate that would render this process more transparent. But it can't be voted on yet. Why? Because it's been put on hold at the request of a senator. Which one? No one knows! It's an official secret!
Monday, August 28, 2006
When swimming in open water, I have a tendency to veer to the right. Having veered one way, I had to veer back the other. Repeatedly.
By the time I'm done, I get the extra benefit of exercising even more than required!
Is poorly designed.
Its bottom contains
No clear black lines.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Three hours later, I get to jump in the lake and start my swim.
So the question is, what to I do with those three hours? A nap would be logical. But I fear pre-race jitters will make this difficult.
Perhaps I need a really boring book -
One that will knock me out with just one look.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Thursday, August 24, 2006
From the outside
This library looks scary.
Stare down from their aerie.
When you step inside
You feel confused.
You wonder whether
The architect snoozed.
But once you find
Those lovely books
You grab a few
And settle in a nook.
Your thoughts can fly
On their airy ways.
Be careful, or you'll
Stay all day!
Thanks to Ergo and Stolie for inspiring this post!
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
But some people always figured he was lying, exaggerating, and generally trying to justify the conquistadors' obliteration of Aztec culture.
Hard evidence was lacking, but has now turned up. The hard evidence consists of human bones with knife marks and teeth marks.
"It was a continuous sacrifice over six months. While the prisoners were listening to their companions being sacrificed, the next ones were being selected," Martinez said, standing in his lab amid boxes of bones, some of young children.It helps explain why the Spanish
Wanted this culture to vanish.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Here it should be noted that the Kantian division of phenomena from noumena has had the effect of leading many poets to a concern with expressing the inexpressible. Extreme examples of this concern may be seen in the "sound poetry" of the Dadaists... Composition of this type does not refer to the phenomenal world, but is devoted wholly to noumenal essence.Poems about
Even when shouted
at high decibels
Tend to come out
Monday, August 21, 2006
a) all these little Pluto-like things are planets, including Pluto, naturally, but also including Pluto's moon, Charon. The number of planets jumps dramatically from 9 to lots more, with more to be discovered shortly.
b) they aren't exactly planets, they're dwarf planets, or "plutons" or something. The number of true planets drops from 9 to 8.
Either way, expect some major textbook revision!
Where shall they draw the line?
When it comes time to define
And everyone has voted
Will Pluto be demoted?
By the way, depending on how they decide, this guy is going to be either very busy, or very embarassed.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Saturday, August 19, 2006
The bike path is on the old towpath - where mules once walked alongside the canal, pulling the barges by long ropes.
The little strip has a "land that time forgot" feeling, and you can almost imagine the mules digging their hooves into the ground to heave that barge forward.
A fan of industrial history,
I find it oddly cool
To pedal along a path
Designed for mules.