Monday, July 31, 2006

Medicalizing Mel

"I apologise for any behaviour unbecoming of me in my inebriated state and have already taken necessary steps to ensure my return to health."

Meanwhile, some in Hollywood are talking boycott.

So what do you think - medical problem, moral problem, or something else completely?

Should we hope that Mel gets well -
Or just tell him to go to hell?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Under the Influence

Mel Gibson has apologized for driving drunk, and for saying despicable - reportedly antisemitic - things that he didn't actually believe when he was arrested.

Oh, sure. That was just the alcohol talking.

I never knew that booze
Had it in for Jews.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Language Police

The president of Iran has banned the use of foreign words.

My first thought was: what about the Koran? It's written in Arabic, NOT Persian. But sure enough, they've made an exception for that.

Nativist rules must be modified
When a foreign language is Godified.

According to the article, one foreign word that has crept into usage is "pizza."

Now that tasty stuff on the stove
Will only be known as "elastic loaves".

Totalitarian reach
Loves to stifle speech.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Babytalk Scandal

Babytalk magazine ran a picture of a baby breastfeeding on a recent cover.

Unlike the Janet Jackson case, no nipple appeared.

But lots of folks were still unhappy.

One mom said: "I don't want my son or husband to accidentally see a breast they didn't want to see."

Breastfeeding does not scare me.
Feel no need to spare me.

Southern Quagmireland

What is the deal with Bush and Blair wanting the U.N. to stop the fighting in Lebanon?

The U.N. has had peacekeepers in the area for some time. And they have failed.

Why ask the U.N.

By the way, have you looked at the Hezbollah flag? You can really see the 1970's Marxist look to the design. A lot of these radical Islamic groups are influenced by Western totalitarian ideologies like fascism and communism.

In regard to waste and war,
Marx has much to answer for.

The Tempest

We went to see an outdoor version of the Tempest at First Folio. I always enjoy their Shakespeare productions. They don't do the bard in modern dress, they don't try to impose weird interpretatons, and they work hard at getting the meat of the play across to a contemporary audience.

I am weary
Of going to see a Shakespeare play
But instead just seeing the director's theory
Of what drama should say.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Big Box Stumbling Block

Our aldermen, in defiance of the mayor's wishes, have passed a "big box living wage" ordinance that was backed by organized labor.

Which means that WalMart and Target have to pay higher wages than smaller retailers do.

I'm hoping for a legal solution,
Like some court saying it violates the constitution.

Meanwhile, I bet this stops
WalMart and Target from building new shops
Inside the city proper.

Our suburbs will welcome the shoppers.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Killer Caught

They caught the Indiana highway sniper. It's a 17 year old kid. Somebody snitched him out.

We drove across Indiana on Sunday. The electronic highway signs were all saying to watch for suspicious activity on overpasses. I guess there wasn't enough text-space on the sign to say:


Senseless crimes like this bring out my desire for poetic justice. In this case, I want to clear the Indiana interstate, and put him on the road, so the people of Indiana can take their best shot.

Cruel? Perhaps. Unusual? Sure.
But I plan to pitch it as a "Farewell Tour."

Monday, July 24, 2006

It's All Arabic To Me

I'm leading a discussion, in our book club, of the Koran. I recommended Dawood's translation, which is very popular, but one member of the group thought the English was old-fashioned. In a way, it is. He uses "shall" where we would now put "will". And he uses the subjunctive mood:

"Would that you knew the fire awaiting you in hell!"

That's not actually from his translation, but he has sentences like that.

So my friend picked the Haleem translation to read. I actually find Haleem harder to read, even though his language is a little more modern.

Haleem seems to have the kinder, gentler Koran. Where Dawood has: "Men have authority over women," Haleem has "Husbands should take good care of their wives." (4:34)

As for wives who may be disobedient, Dawood has: "admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them." (also 4:34)

Haleem's translation is similar: "remind them [of the teachings of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them," but he adds a footnote, says the wording makes it clear that only "a single blow" is meant.

Haleem also translates in such a way as to eliminate 2 miraculous occurrences that the majority of Muslims apparently read into the text - a case in which God turned some people into apes, and a case in which God brought some birds back to life.

This sort of thing happens with the Bible too. Remember "Joseph's coat of many colors", which became a Broadway hit: "Joseph And the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat"? Well, I've also seen that translated as "Joseph's coat with the long sleeves."

How could "long sleeves" be right?
Those colors shone in Broadway lights.

Sacre Bleu

The Tour de France was won by an American again. Not Lance this time. Landis. Floyd Landis. A guy with an arthritic hip. They say he has trouble walking.

I guess it's true, the old joke, that a bicycle is an inline wheelchair.

Now that he's won the race
He's getting his hip replaced.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

From Wright To Stealth

Want to see war planes? Today we saw some.
The Air Force Museum is awesome.

Champaign to Dayton

I don't mind driving in the rain,
but how I hate to hydroplane!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Censored in India

India has started banning a bunch of blog sites, raising the ire of its MANY bloggers and blog-readers.

"First amendment" free speech
Seems just out of India's reach.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Thermo Regulation

From rattlers to the cobras, coolly hooded,
It's the common fate of snakes to be cold-blooded.

But here's one that's so smart, the rest should thank it:
He swallowed a complete electric blanket.

Assuming nothing frayed that might have shocked it,
All he needed was a working socket.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Armstrong Spins Muhammad

I'm reading Karen Armstrong's Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet.

I think she puts too much modern spin on the ball.

At one point, Muhammad, who has fled Mecca, is planning a raid - a ghazu - on some Meccan caravans that are traveling through the desert.

Armstrong writes on page 169: "The ghazu had been a rough and ready way of securing a fair circulation of the available wealth during the nomadic period."

Caravan raids - about fairness?
It boggles my awareness.

Muhammad's notable enough
Without this sugar-coated stuff.

Big Dig

The Big Dig seemed like a good idea, and it had a rhyming name, so I was always a firm supporter.

Bear in mind, although a "firm supporter", I was not volunteering to support the falling ceiling.

I'd rather not meet
Slabs of concrete
Collapsing on my head.

Exactly which dolt
Selected the bolt
That left a lady dead?

You know, it's a pity -
It was surely a committee.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Objectivist Randaphobia

Some think her philosophy grand
But carry a grudge against Rand.
She got some folks mad,
And made others sad,
But, bless her, she never was bland.


Adam Smith's ghost
has written a post
about the globe's
many Randaphobes.

It turns out the term "Randaphobia" goes back at least to 2000, since it shows up with a slightly different spelling in this article.

I must admit I like the term,
But it also makes me squirm.

Mostly because accusing one's opponents of a psychiatric disease, even humorously, borders on ad hominem.

Nonetheless, something about the lady does inspire ferocious antagonism from many - there's no question about that.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


I plan to die in glowing health,
With large amounts of excess wealth,
And then just disappear by stealth.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Echoes in Arabic

A lot of the Koran... rhymes.

You wouldn't know it from the translations I've looked at.

Apparently it's not metrical in the way Arabic poetry is typically metrical. But it's loaded with rhymes.

But to translate something into rhyme almost always requires changing the meaning a bit. And changing the meaning of holy scripture is generally a big no-no for believers.

Commit a big no-no?
To hell shall you go-go!

The Case of the Missing Letters

Michael Cook's
The Koran: A Very Short Introduction
Is a scholarly book
Not religious instruction.

He goes into some of the textual difficulties, including the fact that the purely Koranic text is low on vowels.

"Arabic at the time of the rise of Islam had no way of marking short vowels, and only ambiguous ways of marking long ones."

Credit goes to the Phoenicians
For inventing the alphabet.
But vowels came from the Grecians
nd thy'r th bst thng yt!

Head Spinning

Can anyone tell me who is to blame
In the puzzling matter of Valerie Plame?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Fowl Play

Australian scientists have reported finding the remains of an extinct bird they call "the demon duck of doom."

The demon duck of doom
Comes quacking through the gloom.

But the glossy goose of gladness
Will chase away your sadness.


I heard lots of good stories tonight, but the best one went like this:

"I knew your mother from when I was 7. I knew her for 72 years. I remember one time, we were little, I saw her planting seeds in the alley. I asked her what she was doing. She said, 'I'm planting seeds so flowers will grow.' And I was surprised because I didn't know that - I didn't know that flowers grew from seeds."

Set some seeds in the ground
And blossoms will abound.

Monday, July 10, 2006

With Apologies to Anonymous, Author of Beowulf

Beowulf begins with "Hwaet." I was talking with [info]emilya, and she confirmed it was basically the Old English spelling of "what", but meant something more like "Listen" in context.

If we do a hip-hop translation of Beowulf, we could begin with "Yo!"

Yo! Spear-tossing Danes are downright special.
Famous for sure are the kings of those folks.
Their royalty really knows how to rumble.

Scyld was a killer, skilled in collecting
Bodies of soldiers from off their beer benches...

Gender Gap Rap

At least 2 of the TOC talks touched upon the perilous topic of innate gender differences in human beings.

Walter Donway, while talking about neuroscience and the nature of man, mentioned that there is an awful lot of evidence accumulating for innate gender differences. (He has been an editor of Cerebrum for years.)

Molly Johnson, while talking about the art of homemaking, maintained that women were generally better at it, but held out at least 2 possible explanations: innate differences OR 20,000 years of habitual roles. Whatever the cause, she didn't expect men to overcome their difficulties in this department any time soon. I know Molly's talk came in for some online mockery, but I have to admit I was fascinated by it.

One man present protested that her attitude - of female superiority - was condescending.

I, personally, did not feel condescended to.

A modicum of order
I've finally attained.
Mostly because
I've been trained.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Court Rules For Good Parts

It turns out there are people - quite a few in Utah - who have been doing extra editing on Hollywood movies. They remove sex and nudity and bad language. Then they rent or sell the newly sanitized product.

Now a Federal judge told them to stop it. Something about violating copyright laws.

Ironically, when these same movies are shown on broadcast TV, the same sort of surgery takes place, partly to avoid fines from the Federal Communications Commission.

Under one law,
Nude bodies must show.
Under the other,
They have to go.

Marilyn Enright, née Wright, 1927-2006

My mother has passed away.

She was an artist, wife, mother of many, and grandmother of more.

You can see a picture of her in the first photo here, when there were only 6 of us.

I'll carry this sorrow
for many tomorrows.

ADDED THOUGHT: She lived a good, long life. That's something to be happy about. I'm just going to miss her, as are others in my family, most especially my father.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Passion of TOC's Critics

Lindsay Perigo and James Valliant dropped into Orange County to talk about Valliant's book and stage a protest against The Objectivist Center's Summer Seminar. The event was held at a Borders bookstore. A few of my friends attended, substantially increasing the attendance at the event, which was scanty.

Two of my friends intended to buy copies of Mr. Valliant's book, but they were dissuaded from doing so by Perigo's shouting that TOC was a "coven of cowards."

A bully who's fully gas-powered
Has called us a coven of cowards.
He endlessly vents,
But for my two cents,
It's more like a haven for Howards.

Being Lectured To

I know that I zone out during lectures very readily. I have always been that way. So I amuse myself by half-listening and half-writing poetry.

It lends a pleasant rhyming haze
Over successive lecture days.

People continue to ask questions that aren't questions at all. They consist of rambling opinions punctuated by a perfunctory "how would you respond to that?"

As for responding, my suggestion
Is asking "What exactly was the question?"

That does no good, but it might be satisfying. Perhaps it would be better to respond "Very Interesting!" and leave it at that.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Carlsbad, CA

Saw dolphins at the beach -
So close I felt that I could almost reach
My hand out to embrace
Their swift and fluid grace.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Empirically Inclined

I thought Shawn Klein did a great job in his 3-lecture series at the TOC summerfest. He described Locke and Hume's empiricism, and how Rand improved on some of their weak assumptions, particularly those points that lead to Hume's skeptical streak.

I don't like to knock

But he did make room
For Hume.

But skeptics
Make me dyspeptic.

I take my stand
With Rand.

Seeing is knowing;
Then you keep going,

Using reason to extend
Knowledge without end.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Chilling Effect

This is being worked on, we are told:

Why is it that in a dorm
Problems are the norm?
Do you think showers should be hot?
Well, they're not.
Not even warm.

A/C Busted Blues

Fortunately this problem is solved...

It's so hot in California
Man, you know you're gonna sweat.
It's so hot - let me warn ya
I swear it's the hottest yet.
You wake up in the morning,
Already soaking wet.

About the architecture
I got a complaint.
Need some windows I conjecture
But you know there ain't.
Hard to listen to a lecture
When you're feeling faint.

Poetry Reading

I did a poetry reading today. I thought it went well. I even met someone who now wants to translate some of my poems into Spanish - for newspaper publication. How cool would that be?

As handouts, I passed out pre-publication copies of my new poetry collection, More Fire. Most of these poems are available online in one place or another, but some people love "dead tree media." I suppose I'm one of them.

The great thing about reading my own poems is that I don't have to work up an interpretation and "motivation" for the speaker of the poem.

For other people's poems I have to ask
Why each word's exactly where it is.

For my poems, I get to skip that task.
At sensing my own nuance, I'm a whiz.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Laguna Beach

It might occur to you to think that something named Pacific
Was sort of peaceful, but the waves are violent and prolific.
They pound the shore with stunning force, they knock me off my feet.
I'm going to declare my swim officially complete!

In the Air

The flight attendant's way too young.
I half-believe that she belongs
In school - that when some bell is rung
She'll fly away. Of course, I'm wrong.