Sunday, April 30, 2006

May Day

I think it's useful to distinguish between the leaders and the followers involved in the immigration protests.

Most of the followers are just people who came here to work. They would like to stay here because it's better here. They don't even particularly care about being citizens, but they would love to be legalized so they could travel freely, have a real i.d., etc.

I believe we've finally succeeded in scaring a lot of these people with all our talk of a big crackdown, of building a wall, and of mass deportations. I would be scared too, if I were them, even though I don't think these things will actually come to pass.

They aren't advanced students of economics, but they know they work hard and contribute to the material well-being of the country. They think maybe we would appreciate them more if we realized how much they contribute.

As for the leaders, they're a mixed bunch, including opportunistic socialists and professional organizers who just want to lead something. Their ideology is all over the place. Some of it is offensive to American sensibilities, as well it should be.

Tomorrow I should get a good view of the Chicago protesters. They're going to be marching right outside my window at work.

I'll watch the action
At State and Jackson.

United 93

The movie feels
Strangely real.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Bad Pets

Hail to the spotted hyena.
There aren't many beasts that are meana.
Even their pups
Will chew you right up
And spit you out in the arena.

The Truth Revealed

Remember the pregnant skydiver whose chute didn't open? Her instructor said it was her own fault, that she messed up the operation of both her main chute and her reserve chute. I guess that explains why she hit the ground at only 50 mph, and survived.

In this link provided by a commenter, it is also revealed that this lady was once photographed skydiving topless. She claims she did it for a breast-cancer charity stunt. Others say she did it for fun. What is this world coming to?

Tumbling topless through the skies!
Surely birds were scandalized.


A woman went skydiving. Her parachute failed to open. She hit the pavement at 50 mph. She lived. She was already pregnant when she fell - but didn't know it. So now she's marrying the dad.

She should have been dead,
Now she's scheduled to wed.
'Nuff said.

(Special thanks to [info]gregoryrpratt.)

Friday, April 28, 2006

Woman Paddled, Jury Addled

A woman won 1.7 million dollars today for being spanked during a company team-building exercise.

A lot of people would sign up to be spanked for that kind of money.

You might say she was spanked
All the way to the bank.


An adjective is not an argument.
A verb does not a syllogism make.
Colorful prose may lend a rosy tint
To heaping words that mask a deep mistake.

I recognize that rhetoric is great.
It wakes up readers, makes them pay attention.
Whether you need to charm or motivate,
A metaphor or two is worth a mention.

But at the core of what you have to say,
I recommend you have some actual facts.
So when a careful jury tries to weigh
Your case they don't declare it "way too lax."

Persuasive powers alone have sometimes won,
But better to provide the smoking gun.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

No Green Light Yet

Atlas Shrugged The Movie is on the move again. No, it's not in production. That would be real news. But it's making noises in Variety again at the pre-production level, and there is talk of Brad Pitt as the male lead and Angelina Jolie as the female lead.

Perhaps it's my own fault
But I really must admit
That I can't quite picture Galt
Played by Mr. Pitt.

On the other hand, I'm willing to be pleasantly surprised.

Geographical Oddity

I'm always surprised when I'm in California and someone there refers to Chicago as being "back East."

Here in the Windy City, we refer to ourselves as being "Midwest."

Only the Atlantic Seaboard is "East" to us.

To us, at least,
Just a sliver's East.
All the rest
Is West.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Home Again

We walked the dogs tonight. We saw lots of rabbits. But they hardly compare in size to the big long-eared hares we saw in California.

The bunnies of Redwood Shores
Have ears that look like oars.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Choices in Education

Saturday evening Marsha gave a talk about education in general, and her project to start a new college in particular. A lively discussion ensued. It was sponsored by the Silicon Valley Objectivists, and hosted by Robert C. Arne.

Robert recently lost his wife, Suzanne, who was also his business partner. If anyone might be interested in partnering on the School of Choice, please let him know.

I'm all for giving choice
A voice.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


We visited the lovely Quent Cordair gallery today and had the good fortune to run into scottsch there.

Marsha liked a 3-D piece by Bill Mack called Elusive.

If you visit the Cordair website, you may find they've got a temporary software problem where you can't zoom in properly to see a given work in detail. Naturally, this is annoying the staff, since their website is a big part of their marketing.

It's hard to make an online pitch
When your website has a glitch.

Waking to the Sound of a Child Laughing

I hear a
Girl named Mira.
I think she's getting neara.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Judging by it's Cover

The latest cover of the New Individualist is a riot.

It's interesting how popular Rand has always been with (some) Hollywood people. Of course, she worked there for years.

In her Q&A book, she mentions that the real model for Roark's devotion to architecture was her own devotion to writing.

I have often wondered about the smarmy business world of conventional architecture in The Fountainhead. What was the real model for that? Was it the smarmy business world of Hollywood? Is Roark's struggle with the architectural world partly based on Rand's struggle with the Hollywood world?

Do other people in Hollywood also feel at times like they are Howard Roark, struggling to maintain their own artistic integrity in the face of the forces of convention and compromise?

Of course they do.
Wouldn't you?

Rand in Chicago

There's a little book called Russian Writings On Hollywood, by Ayn Rand. Part of the book is a diary Rand kept of movies she attended, including all the movies she saw in Chicago.

There's an error in the book. It's the editor's. He has misread Rand's handwriting. He has her going to the "State Lane" theater. If you look at her handwritten entries, which are provided in the book, you can see where that's a reasonable interpretation. But if you're from Chicago, you know it's really the "State Lake" theater, which was a major downtown theater at the intersection of State St. and Lake St. And if you look at her handwriting again, you will see that the letter is really a "k."

Let me state that Lane was a mistake.
It's Lake!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


There's a little game
Called "parachute." It came
On my nano. Free!
It will be the death of me.

Actually, I've died many times in the game already. The idea is you're operating a rotating gun that shoots down attacking paratroopers and helicopters. You move the gun by circling your thumb or finger in that little wheel-like touchpad. But it's hard to control with precision.

It isn't really
That I'm a bad aim.
Surely the wheelie
Deserves all the blame!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Big Love

We watched an episode of Big Love tonight. That's HBO's series about polygamous renegade Mormons. A couple of times they hit plot points that reminded Marsha of my novel about the same sort of group. I told her "that's how they are." I went on to assert that I had been completely naturalistic.

That last was a lie
That did not fly.

I suppose I was motivated to tell this fib after reading [info]shannon_f_r's fascinating post about people in her writing class.

They want to write novels with nothing new.
Their characters act - just as they do.

Of course, the reason Big Love had a few similarities to my story was that they did the same sort of research I did. The feel was quite different. More like Desperate Plural Housewives.


There have been 10 governors of Illinois in my lifetime.

As of this afternoon, 3 of them have been convicted on federal charges of one kind or another.

Go ahead. Point and laugh.
I'm just glad it's under half.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Guilty Pleasures Meme

I've been tagged for a meme by 1144. I won't tag anyone else. It's against my religion. But I'll answer.

The meme is guilty pleasures in given categories, with explanations:

Culinary: Cereal with Milk.

Breakfast I only eat at night.
Does that sound bright?

Literary: Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

Disgust and despair
With a polished air.

Audiovisual: 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Cool events
That don't make sense.

Musical: Two of Hearts, by Stacey Q.

Sounds sort of sappy,
But makes me happy.

Celebrity: Catherine Zeta Jones

Age creeps up on the Rolling Stones,
But never on Catherine Zeta Jones.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter

Dominique gets her first look at a Roark building:

She looked at the steel cages of future projections, at the insolent angles, at the incredible complexity of this shape coming to life as a simple, logical whole, a naked skeleton with planes of air to form the walls, a naked skeleton on a cold winter day, with a sense of birth and promise, like a bare tree with a first touch of green. "Oh, Roger!"

He looked at her and saw the kind of face one should expect to see in church at Easter.

Open your eyes
And rise.

Breathe the air
And dare.

Do something great -
Don't wait.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Race Daze

I hurried out the door this morning, headed for a 5k race in Munster, Indiana.

I got there with time to spare. Lots of it.

The race, known as "The Race For Tomorrow", is actually next week.

Perhaps I should have gone ahead and run.
Since no one else was there, I would have won!

UPDATE: I see what happened. The April issue of Windy City Sports does list the event as being today. That's where I saw notice of the event. I circled it, and signed up for it online. Now, once you get online, the April 22 date appears. But I didn't notice the discrepancy.

Okay, I wasn't just obtuse.
I sort of have an excuse.

April is Poetry Month

The Onion had a spoof which held that the idea of Poetry Month is to raise awareness of Poetry so you can avoid it:

'"We must stop this scourge before more lives are exposed to poetry," said Dr. John Nieman of the American Poetry Prevention Society at a Monday fundraising luncheon. "It doesn't just affect women. Young people, particularly morose high-school and college students, are very susceptible to this terrible affliction. It is imperative that we eradicate poetry now, before more rainy afternoons are lost to it."'

Diane Cameron wrote about Poetry Month and included advice on how not to teach poetry:

'The teacher read a poem that described a rose opening on a summer day, and we thought, "Oh, the poem must be about summer, or beauty or nature, right?" But the teacher would sigh heavily and say, "No, this poem is speaking about war and man's inhumanity to man."'

Does anything rhyme with month?
Apparently not, though I desperately hunt.
I have an idea, but it's just a dumb stunt:
If I lisp it, the the plural of son is sonth.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Danse Macabre

The skeletons are in a dancing mood.
One grabs a violin and starts a tune
Just as the clock strives twelve. A brilliant moon
Illuminates this lively bony brood
Who leap and twirl, their spirits all renewed.
With passion that might make the living swoon,
Knowing their little jig is up too soon,
They triple-step, by icy time pursued.

A prima-ballerina lead the way,
And even as the others tire and fall,
She seems to just fly higher into space.
At last, a cock crows. Dawn. The whole mad fray
Stops dead. But then, she stands, alone of all,
And curtsies gravely, with exquisite grace.

(Inspired by this.)

EDIT: I suppose I should comment further, that Saint-Saens is one of my favorite composers, and his Danse Macabre has been a particular favorite since my college years. I have often thought of writing a poem about it. I have even tried a few times. But I have gotten nowhere, until today, when this came to me in the form of the first line, which popped into my head. Yes, once I had the first line I had to work at it, but I find having a first line is key for me.

The musical piece is itself based on a French poem, but my poem does not follow it except in the basic idea that the dead start dancing at midnight and stop at dawn.

As for the form of the poem, in case anyone wonders, it's a sonnet in the Petrarchan style, fourteen lines of iambic pentameter with an abbaabba cdecde rhyme scheme.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Temps Climb

Warm winds blow,
Winter coats go,
And skin
At last, to show.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dan Ryan

The Dan Ryan Expressway is, or was, the busiest stretch of road in Chicagoland. They've decided it needs to be torn up, resurfaced, and given extra lanes along a lot of its length. So they've got it half-closed. It went from 6 lanes in either direction to 3 lanes in either direction. They're predicting 2 years before it's all fixed up.

Eerie empty lanes.
A long arterial line
Clamped for surgery.

Given the mighty mess it makes
I hope 2 years is all it takes.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Reminiscent of Rearden's Relatives?

Here's a snippet between the heroine and the hero, as he gets off the phone with his sister.

"What did she want?" Vicki asked when Caleb hung up the phone and came to stand beside her.

He sighed, staring blindly into space. "She wanted what she always wants. Money. Since I sold out to the capitalist regime, the least I can do is help her out now and then." His tone was flat, as if the call had drained all emotion from him.

Later in the same book, Vicki follows up:

"What I don't understand is why your family is so hard on you. I mean, I know you chose a different path, but no matter their philosophical problems with the capitalist way--" she rolled her eyes "--I'd have thought they'd be proud of you. Even my grandmother is impressed by your achievements and she's the harshest judge I know."

Name that genre! Business novel? Philosophical novel? Nuh uh.

Caleb and Vicki almost divorce
But get a second chance.
The genre, of course,
Must be romance.

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Flea In Her Ear

We went with some friends to see "A Flea In Her Ear", the classic French farce by Georges Feydeau. I love the man's plays, but I wasn't sure how our friends would like it.

They loved it.

One of them, a professor of atmospheric science, said he usually had trouble following plots, but he had followed this one with ease, even though it was dazzlingly over-complicated. He wondered how the playwright succeeded in doing that. Quite a skill, I thought.

How to plot a farce:
Assemble a million parts
Into a coherent whole
And spin them out of control,
But pull it together and rally
For the big finale.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


I did my first organized race of the year, a local 5k. Two of my younger siblings, Ruth and Ed, participated as well. I beat them both.

The local 5k has an unusual feature: the men and the women run separately. Ladies go first, at 9. Men follow at 9:50. Each woman or girl gets a single rose upon finishing the race.

Each man gets... the satisfaction of finishing. But no flower.

Is that unfair?
I admit, I don't care.

Statistically, I suppose
The stereotype is true:
Women like getting a rose
More than men do.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Flora Enabled the Speciation of Formicidae

Helped Ants
To Evolve.

So read the headline. But I'm resolved
To find out more precisely how these six-legged critters
Got so much fitter.

Did the plants give out good tips, like: "diversify your mandibles"?
Did one of them tell the honey ants: "make your bellies expandable"?

Friday, April 07, 2006

No Plagiarism Here

Whew! The judge has ruled against those guys who were suing Dan Brown for copyright infringement.

The case was clearly won
By The Da Vinci Code.
I'm glad - I'm nearly done
With The Michaelangelo Ode.

I plan to make money in torrents.
It opens with a dead body at the foot of The David in Florence.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Banning The Bunny

The city council of St. Paul, Minnesota has banned the Easter Bunny from its halls.

Why? Because "the city's human rights director said non-Christians might be offended by it."

But the bunny won't be banned.
He hops though-out the land
Delivering his eggs
On giant bunny legs.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Over on Noodlefood, Greg Perkins describes an article by Ed Hudgins as:

"largely argued from mushy appeals to a toothless foundation in Enlightenment-era sensibilities back when rights were barely a tolerant gleam in philosophers' eyes."

I think he has his history wrong. Weren't rights a lot more than eye-gleams during the Enlightenment?

I don't quote Leonard Peikoff a lot, but what the heck, when he's right, he's right:

"Although the Enlightenment spread across Europe, introducing a liberalizing influence wherever its ideas were taken seriously (notably in England and France), there was no European country in which these ideas penetrated to the root. In Europe, the Enlightenment was in the nature of an intellectual fashion superimposed on antithetic and deeply entrenched sociopolitical structures. But the United States was a new country, a new country in a new world, and there was no such established structure to contend with. For the first and only time, the ideas of the Enlightenment became the root, the actual foundation of a nation's political institutions."

Pie-in-the-sky dreams?
They laid this nation's

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I Feel Safer Already

A deputy press secretary at Homeland Security just got busted for talking dirty to a cop masquerading as a 14-year-old girl.

"Doyle had a sexually explicit conversation with what he believed was a 14-year-old girl whose profile he saw on the Internet on March 14, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said in a statements."

I guess he should claim that he knew the "girl" was phony all along.

He should say that his favorite lovers
Are sheriffs undercover.

Going Through A Phase

An incandescent crescent
Is present in the sky.

Or is it just a rocky sphere
That turned its face away from here
To look the sun in the eye?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Spring Forward

Even with the "spring forward, fall back" mnemonic at hand, I always feel confused when it's time to do the Daylight Savings Shuffle. And other people seem to get mixed up too.

Thankfully, I have a source I trust:
My computer automatically adjusts.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Momentous Day

I've finally decided that since rhyme is much derided (as a tool that's too delirious for expression that is serious) that in fact I really ought to confine my written thought to the form that everyone knows is perfect for that: prose. Or, if I'm feeling terse, I might deign to write a verse, but I'll keep it free of rhyme by avoiding words that chime, in a certain charming form with a strict and ancient norm. Tell me, please, how like you the syllables of haiku?

Daffodils trumpet
March's roaring departure.
No April fools they.