Friday, March 31, 2006


I see the rise and fall
Of your chest,
The swell
Of your breast,
And all
Is well.

Balls In The Air

Here's a video of Chris Bliss juggling balls with background music from the B side of the Beatles' Abbey Road album. With the music on, it's eerily like dance. Thanks to Craig for the link.

I struggle
To juggle
At all.

Who knew there was a way
For balls to do ballet?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ballet Night

Had phenomenal seats for ABT's Le Corsaire. Angel Corella was awesome as the male slave.

The women went "Woohoo!"
When Angel flew in view.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Horowitz vs. Kirstein

We drove over to St. Xav's to hear David Horowitz and Professor Peter N. Kirstein debate "The Iraq War: In The Classroom And Beyond".

Horowitz is quite a character. He was once an anti-Vietnam-war leftist, but is now a pro-Iraq-war rightist.

Kirstein is a leftist historian with an emphatic speaking style and lots of facts at his fingertips.

There was a big security contingent of guys who looked like off-duty cops. Horowitz got heckled to some extent, especially as the event was winding down. But it never truly got out of hand. Unfortunately, some of the hecklers were sitting right behind us, which made it kind of hard to hear Horowitz talk sometimes.

The funniest moment, to me, was when Horowitz started complaining that Islam had not gone through a Reformation. Then he caught himself, and reflected out loud that maybe he shouldn't make positive mention of the Reformation at a Catholic University. Then he said something like, "Well, even the Catholic Church has come a long way. They're not like they were during the Inquisition."

His best moment, I thought, was when he digressed to talk about all the millions of deaths under communism, in peace-time, in engineered famines. For a man who wrote books as a Marxist, this can't be an easy thing to talk about.

It's a good thing he wasn't a diplomat.
I think his career would have fallen flat.
His star has shone far brighter
As a trouble-making writer.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Under Islamic family law, a man can divorce his wife just by telling her "I divorce you" three times.

Even though India is a predominantly Hindu country, Muslims are expected, by law, to live by Islamic rules. It's a legally encoded form of multiculturalism.

This brings us to the plight of a Muslim husband in India, who accidentally divorced his wife while talking in his sleep!

Clearly this is a case of clerics gone wild. But now he can't just marry her again. He has to wait a while, or let someone else marry and divorce her first.

I hope in the future he keeps
His mouth shut when he sleeps.

Monday, March 27, 2006

10G for Me & Thee

Charles Murray has "A Plan To Reduce The Welfare State." For some reason, this plan involves giving every American exactly ten thousand dollars a year. No more, no less. Of course, we will tax ourselves to give ourselves this money.

I am put in mind of a quote attributed to Isabel Paterson: "If you hear some bad collectivistic notions, chances are that they came from liberals. But if you hear or read something outrageously, god-awfully collectivistic, you may be sure that the author is a conservative."

As a rule, our current welfare state is conceived as a patchwork of safety nets and forced-insurance plans. It is not currently conceived as society owing you a living. In my view, this is its saving grace.

Putting aside the collectivist grounds,
Don't you think 10,000 sounds
Suspiciously round?

This number came from where?
Out of thin air?

I have a plan to make it rounder yet.
Zero is all that anyone will get.


The New Individualist came in the mail. The one whose cover features that Danish cartoon with the Prophet wearing a bomb for a turban.

The issue broke another taboo, too. It contained a favorable discussion of romance novels in an Objectivist publication. The title of the article is "Individual Meets Pulp Fiction."

The author, Lou Villadsen, makes the very true point that successful businessmen are often the heroes of romance novels. She's obviously a fan herself and writes about the genre with enthusiasm. She doesn't try to make a strong aesthetic argument for romance novels, but makes a case for the values embodied in these books.

A lot of times the plot line goes like this:

When she meets a guy who embodies success
And she feels all tingly under her dress,
You know where the story's headed.
They're going to end up wedded
And thoroughly embedded.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Great Debate

I spent the morning at the campus of my alma mater. This weekend it's the site of a big debate tournament for the Chicago public high schools. I was there to support [info]gregorysparr in his debating efforts. I only got to watch him for one session, but I thought he won it, hands down.

At one point, while he was preparing for the next step in the debate, I looked over at him and saw him moving his fingers in a rhythmic way, as if counting time for music. It puzzled me, but it's something I sometimes do when I'm writing a poem. Sure enough, his closing speech was a rhymed poem! This delighted the judge. Gregory said most judges like it when you close with a poem, but that a few judges don't care for it.

Perhaps if you could ask
The judges first:
Please don't take me to task
For being well-versed.

Friday, March 24, 2006


These people plan to kill a man
For converting to Christianity.
I thought we invaded Afghanistan
To get RID of religious insanity.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Oldest Tortoise Dies

This critter was a British officer's pet in the 18th Century. You know, like around the 1750s.

Farewell, Mr. Tortoise!
Human lives are not the shortest,
But avoiding rigor mortis
For 250 years,
Is a trick for deserving cheers.

Women's History Month

Stephen Hicks is going to talk about Ayn Rand as part of Rockford College's Women's History Month lecture series. On April 3rd.

She rarely gets in "Women's" stuff,
So I'm glad that she's included.
Something about her point of view
Usually gets her booted.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Prying Eyes of Texas

Texas is using undercover agents to ferret out intoxicated people.

In bars.

No surprise, they found some. And arrested them.

I know you shouldn't be drunk
When you're driving a car.

But who'd have thunk
You couldn't get drunk in a bar?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Streaks of pink and purple in the sky
Make me think of blue- and raspberry pie.
Although it wasn't on my list of wishes,
It's great to taste a sunset turned delicious.
Soon the sun will sink to something duller,
So seize the instant - gobble up the color!

Monday, March 20, 2006


Spring sneaked in.
Just peeked around the corner,
And slid by without warning.

The increase in daylight
Was easy to sight,
But when will the cold wind
Cease against my skin?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

An English Major's Lament

Why are there so many spammers
Lacking the basics of grammar?
Did they skip their studies
To play with their buddies?
Is that why they now work as scammers?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Philosopher's Stone and The Klein Bottle

Tom Stone, owner of the valuable EpistemeLinks site has started up a new blog, called Philosopher Stone, which is a cute pun on his name and one of his big interests.

The original Philosopher's Stone was a much sought-after dream-stuff of Alchemy. It was a mysterious substance that would let you turn tin, and other cheap metals, into gold.

But if you kept making gold and didn't stop
Its market price would drop.

I also just learned that Shawn Klein has a blog up, which he just calls Philosophy Blog.

I began thinking about funny punny names Shawn could use for a blog. Maybe something to do with Klein Bottles? But do people even know what they are?

There's an anonymous limerick that explains:

A mathematician named Klein
Thought the Möbius band was divine.
Said he: "If you glue
The edges of two,
You'll get a weird bottle like mine."

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Most Distressful Country

Kirinqueen and Madbard both alluded to this traditional song:

I met with Napper Tandy and he took me by the hand,
And he said, "How's poor old Ireland, an' how does she stand?"
She's the most distressful country that ever yet was seen,
For they're hanging' men and women for the wearin' o' the green.

Today, Ireland is booming economically, and even the troubles in the north seemed to have abated a bit.

It's the most amazing miracle that ever yet was seen.
That most distressful country now is rolling in the green!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Alley Patrol

My dogs just treed a possum.
They thought that was awesome.

Wrong Number

Did you ever make an accidental cell phone call?
Did it set you up for a fall?
Was it to 9-1-1?
Was it when you were planning a robbery with your son?
Well, now that's been done!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Educational Reading

"The literary world had revolted against the yoke of coming capitalism - its money-lenders, its bank directors, and its railway magnates... The middle class had the power, and held its coal and iron well in hand, but the satirists and idealists seized the press..."

That's from The Education Of Henry Adams, which we did for book club this month. It was long stretches of yawn interrupted by bursts of insight.

Adams had been a professor of medieval history at Harvard, and in some ways his heart was still in the medieval world. On the other hand, he had a lively inquiring mind, and he saw that technology was transforming the world in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

In an often-anthologized chapter of the book, "The Virgin And The Dynamo," he argues that devotion to Mary was the power behind medieval civilization, but that the big electrical generator is the power behind modern civilization.

The Virgin's power controlled
Europe in days of old.
But now the Dynamo
Makes the whole world go.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Chop Shop

That New Jersey body parts scandal just keeps going.

There's a big demand for body parts from dead people. But not so much supply. Partly because there's not much immediate incentive to donate. It's not like your family gets cash for saying "Sure, take what you need."

So a plot hatched that was a crossover between the Sopranos and Six Feet Under. At a funeral home, corpses were stripped of some parts that wouldn't be missed. These parts were sold as medical supplies. Only... they weren't checked for diseases the way that real doctors are supposed to do.

People need spare parts!
Won't you share your heart?

Monday, March 13, 2006

On State Street, That Great Street

From the office today we could hear fire engines blasting, and when we looked out the window we could see a lot of them gathering about 2 blocks away.

Was it a fire?

Was it a pigeon with bird flu?

No. It was a case of refrigerator repair gone wrong. At the Hilton Palmer House. Fortunately, everyone is okay now.

They let the freon gas out
And people started to pass out.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Vermeer's Girl With A Pearl Earring

Good set of pictures here.

A turban-wearing girl
With an earring made of pearl
Looks out with shining eyes
With a glance of sweet surprise
As if she's glad you're there
And you wonder if her hair
When finally unbound
Could match the beauty found
In the sparkle of her gaze
In the glory of the rays
Of sun that bathe the girl
With an earring made of pearl.

For Better Or Curse

I'm told that one of the actors in my play reading last week remarked how unusual it was to do a contemporary play with no swearing.

On the other hand, one of my audience evaluation sheets asked me to clean up the language, specifically noting a "Jesus" exclamation in the first few lines and a smattering of "hell"s as well.

I could have cursed worse,
It's true.

Still, I could go through
And replace all hells with hecks,
And remove all mentions of sex.

I probably won't change it.
I'm just too lazy to rearrange it.

Saint-Andre Translates Kaufmann

Peter Saint-Andre has translated one of Walter Kaufmann's German poems, and a touching little poem it is. Thank you Peter!

Kaufmann is better known for all sorts of other things, but I like him a lot as a poet. At least, I Iike his English poetry. I don't know German, so I haven't been able to make sense of his German poetry.

Peter is better known for all sorts of other things too, but I also like him a lot as a poet.

So having Peter translate Kaufmann is a dream combination for me.

What could be sweeter
Than having Peter
Translate Walter
Without falter?

Thousands Demonstrate

There was a huge demonstration at Chicago's Federal Plaza today.

Your intrepid blog reporter was there.

They were protesting some House Bill that aims to crack down on illegal immigration. The Chicago Tribune's website said it was Irish, Polish and Mexican immigrants. Well, there may have been some Irish or Polish in there somewhere, but it was hugely Mexican.

They were peaceful. Kind of quiet.
I saw nothing resembling a riot.
But they did seem sort of worried
As if they might be hurried
Out of the country any minute.

I hope they're allowed to stay in it.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Madeleine Pelner Cosman passed away last week. She was quite a pistol as a grown-up: lawyer, amateur pilot and gun-toter. And somewhere in there she had a family. She was widowed, but is survived by children and grandchildren. Update: Robert Bidinotto has a tribute up.

Lately she had been campaigning against illegal immigration and the strain it puts on our health system. I somewhat disagreed with her on that issue, since it seemed to me the problem was more with the way our health system was set up.

It was less than a year ago that I spoke with her about her childhood. Her parents were European Jews who made a point of teaching her perfect German - along with some other children - so they could infiltrate Nazi Europe as spies if necessary when they grew up. And you know what, if the Allies had failed to take out Hitler, I believe Madeleine would have succeeded in killing him herself.

Around the same time I asked her about her beautiful speaking voice. Well, it turned out she had been an opera singer as well. It was part of the way she paid her way through Barnard College. She told me stories of having to take the subway from the Morningside Heights campus to the opera house. Sometimes in a long gown. And that's the image I want to end on. With her riding downtown on the IRT, in her evening gown, ready to sing.

Amazing talent, astounding drive,
She lived her life alive.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

I Suppose I Have To Admit It

I thought "Wimbledon" was really cute.

Thanks for sitting through
This minimal movie review.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Ten Feet On The Ground

My running companions are hard to exhaust.
They're ready to go in the snow and the frost.

They sometimes delay me by sniffing at trees.
This takes even longer if one of them pees.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Product "Failure"

"A new study indicates an astounding half of all products returned to stores as 'malfunctioning' are really given back by buyers who can't figure out how to use them."

"She even brought in the designers and let them watch the test subjects struggling, a process that reportedly amazed the inventors."

Article here.

I'm not really surprised.  Between indecipherable instructions and counter-intuitive designs, I've had my share of trouble.

When reading product reviews
I look for things that are easy to use.

Multicultural Clips

Here are links to:

1) A funny little video about a "Call Center" in India.

2) A stunning TV appearance on Al-Jazeera defending secularism and Jews, by  Wafa Sultan, an Arab-American woman who is an L.A. psychologist.

Does the world shrink
As fast I think?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Thank You, Cast

I want to blog-thank the cast for the "Ready or Not" script reading yesterday.

Joe Collins organized the group of actors, casting them for the parts, and casting himself as Edward, the male lead. A couple of audience members asked whether he was purposely imitating ME in his role. No, we hadn't met before that day. But it's a funny commentary on how closely I must have written myself into that part, and on how well he read the role.

Kathy Holahan played Susan, the female lead. I believe this is the hardest part in the play, and I thought she pulled it off with depth of feeling.

Brian Rigg played Kyle brilliantly and got a high percentage of the laughs, much of it at his character's expense.

Kristel Flynn played Norma, the young lady from Mexico who has a tendency to steal the scenes she's in. Kristel stole those scenes.

David Soria played Thompson, the boss-man, with wonderful authority. His character was large and in charge.

Thanks to all five,
The play came alive.

I Do, But...

If you don't like dogs
And don't like snow
You shouldn't go
To Eight Below.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Reading Report

The reading, with an intermission, took a little under 2 hours. The old rule, "each page of playscript equals 1 minute" seemed to hold true.

The actors stood at the front of the room at podiums and read, without physically acting out the big actions. So if 2 characters kissed, that action was not actually executed, but was described by someone reading my stage directions.

The actors did an excellent job. They had rehearsed a bit, but somewhat disconnectedly. All 5 of them had not been together until today, about 20 minutes before show time.

We packed 60 people into the Studio Theater of the Beverly Art Center, pretty much all friends and relatives, some of whom had some theater background.

It went well. The audience was very quiet, except for periodic laughter. The good news is they were laughing at parts I had meant to be funny. They clapped loudly at the end. I got up in front of the audience and asked for feedback, particularly about what they thought might need fixing. I got a few ideas for things to fix, and we had some intelligent discussion about the play. The response was generally enthusiastic. I had people fill out evaluation forms, and I have still to go through those.

What's next? I don't know.
But... on with the show!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Bush Gets Hit In Pakistan

Well, he got hit by a cricket ball, while playing that strange baseball-resembling game with some Pakistanis.  Scroll toward end of link to see a sequence of still shots showing Bush getting clipped by the ball.

Now he'll never stop playing cricket -
It's a quagmire and a thicket.
The game is slow -
It's been known to go
For days on end.

I guess it's okay to send
The president abroad,
But playing foreign games must be outlawed!

EDIT: It seems he was hit by a tennis ball which was being used in place of a cricket ball.

Windy City Boots

Here in the Windy City you can get your car booted for a variety of offenses.  Today's Sun-Times has a story about some supervisors who were in charge of booting people... who finally got booted themselves.

I just have to say:
Turn-a-boot is fair play.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Taking a Limerick Break

There once was a writer named Rand
Who never feared taking a stand.
She staked out positions
And stocked up munitions!
The fireworks always were grand.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Kyle Sing To Speak

Our next NIF meeting is a couple of weeks away, but Ergosum asked me for a heads up.

Kyle Sing will lead a discussion
About marketing the philosophy of a certain Russian.

Click here for full details...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Caller Not-So-I.D.

Caller-I.D.s are no longer proof
Of identity. Beware of the spoof.

Honorary Street Names

We have something unusual in Chicago - honorary street names. The street is still known by its original name - as shown on a green sign, but it's also decorated with an honorary name - as shown on a brown sign.

As a native, I always ignore the brown sign, since it conveys no helpful information. But the poor out-of-towners often have trouble figuring out where they are.

Today, one of our alderman called for stopping the spread of the brown signs. I hope people listen to him.

Conflicting signs is one of the surest
Ways to confuse the average tourist.