Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Or Not

If a digital frog
Keeps a binary log,
The location has got
To be BogSpot.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Great Pumpkin

Jack-O'-Lantern, burning yellow -
You're a fine and scary fellow -
Smiling with jagged teeth!

Even though there's nothing beneath
Your head but a plate,
You're feeling great!

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Artemis, by Michael Newberry. I think she's lovely.

Not work safe,
If your workplace
Is one where nudes
Are viewed
As crude.

The Beef vs. The Wall

In one essay, Rand complains about Rembrandt's painting of a side of beef. She says it's a bad choice of subject, a waste of his skill, and esthetically unjustifiable.

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.


We saw a live performance of lesser-known Cole Porter songs tonight. I loved the songs, but was not in love with the style of the performance.

Porter's innuendoes are sly and subtle.
They shouldn't be blasted off like the shuttle.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Rhyme to the Rescue?

Choriamb pointed today to a blog entry by Scott Adams, the guy who invented Dilbert.It seems he was afflicted with Spasmodic Dysphonia, a condition in which you lose your voice - but only in certain contexts. Apparently it's a neurological condition.

"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.

But The Guy Came And Fixed It Already

Our power went out tonight
After a tree branch fell
On alley electrical wire.

I thought I might need to write
This little entry by cell,
And go back to heating by fire.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


The first pc
Was harddrive-free.
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

No Tears Here For His Passing

Ohio today executed Jeffrey Lundgren, a self-proclaimed prophet who murdered a family of four because he feared they lacked faith.

Yes, his background was a variety of Mormonism.

Was he sorry?

"I cannot say that I am sorry..."

Why not?

"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.

For Medicinal Purposes Only

Here's more research, claiming that alcohol offers protection from heart attacks, at least for men.

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

Locke v. Rousseau

David Kirby, in today's Chicago Tribune book section, reviewed this book, and made a point of philosophical comparison between the U.S. and France:

"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.

Marathon Madness

The winner of today's Chicago Marathon slipped and fell just as he reached the tape. He had to be driven off in a golfcart. I hope he's okay enough to enjoy his winnings. He just made $125,000.00 in 2 hours and 7 minutes and 35 seconds.

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.

Odd Occurrence

As I ran across a bridge today
Someone threw a bottle my way.
It broke six feet ahead of me
With a crash and a splash of glass debris.
I'm guessing "scare the runner" was the game.
But I just laughed. What a bad aim!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Muzak to my Ears

I know, from reading Wikipedia, that the Muzak Corporation has changed, and I don't wish to malign its present practices.

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

But This Is A Family Newspaper!

From the Chicago Sun-Times: "But now that both men and women have begun wearing jewelry in their genitals, it's theoretically possible that two lovers could get stuck."

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.

Kim Jong Il Plans More Testing

He's trying to set off pandemonium.
Instead, let's dare him to test and test
Until he uses up the rest
Of his plutonium.

(Idea stolen from Glenn Reynolds.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Not Good Bedtime Reading

I was talking today with a young woman who recently read a book about Ted Bundy - a sociopath who eventually confessed to killing over 30 women.

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

Time for President Obama?

Time magazine ran a cover story on potential presidential candidate, the junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.

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

Looking for Hell in All the Wrong Places

[info]electricia and [info]boffo are in Chicago and staying at our house for a few days.

[info]electricia has actually been to one of those Hell Houses that [info]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

The Joy of Networking

Just spent 3 hours or so getting my LinkSys router to talk to my D-Link range extender.

You might think
With so much "Link"
They'd connect in the blink of an eye.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Parking Under the Parks

Today our mayor "sold off" our 4 underground downtown garages. They're all underneath city park land. Technically, he didn't sell them, he just leased them out for 99 years.

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

Eternal Flame

Halloween is a pleasantly goofy pagan holiday, replete with witches and haunted houses.

But I got news today from [info]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

Critical Idiom

Why didn't I get the memo?

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
Of "smart".
And never said goodbye
To "sly".

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

300 Million People

Apparently the US population count is coming up on 300 million. Newsweek says people aren't in a mood to celebrate.

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

North Korea

Is it the boom of doom?
And if so, for whom?

Fun in Madison

Had a great NIF meeting in lovely Madison, WI, with a presentation by on some of the technical problems with mind-body dualism.

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


Along with all those plays
He created many cliches.

Forms of Grace

There was a quote I liked from tonight's Battlestar Gallactica episode. This isn't exact:

"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

What I Did On My Autumn Vacation

Someone, namely the perspicuous Ergo, pointed out how obliquely I had touched on my trip. So here are the highlights:

Friday evening we flew into Phoenix, were met by our hosts, had dinner at an old ferry-crossing building that is now a steakhouse.

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

Leaving Las Vegas

I had already finished 2 books on this mini-vacation, so in the Vegas airport I went looking for a 3rd. They had a lot of long books, and only a few short books hidden in among them.

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.

More Vacation Report

Stayed up late in Vegas last night...

I was working on my laptop, writing programs to make some files balance properly for a client.

While some were in their slumbers,
And some were having fun
I was crunching numbers
Matching pennies one by one.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Water Cuts Rock

After dinner we walked to our car and looked up at the stars. There were more of them than at home. Then we speculated about where the giant hole in the ground was. We agreed on a direction and walked that way. As we approached the railing, a nearby trashcan began to shake. Something was inside it. I started and Marsha laughed. Probably a racoon.

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

Not So Holy Foley

So Mark Foley has gone into rehab.

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.

Rhyming Place Name

Near Sedona,


Last night I gave a poetry reading at the Arizona Objectivists in Phoenix. Then, after dinner, Marsha talked about her new-college project. We had a great time, seeing old friends and making some new ones.

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.