Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Promises of Fruit


The cherry blossoms arrive.
If there's no more snow, they might survive!

Monday, April 29, 2013

At Last

It's nice to see Spring become an actual thing, instead of an abstract date in a winter that ran too late.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


A journey of a thousand miles, begins they say with just one step, and hopefully a bunch of pep, since you'll be stepping for quite a while.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Mistakes Happen

This mistake happened in Brazil:
Bruno Coutinho was cleaning his harpoon gun at his home in Petropolis when he accidentally triggered the apparatus, sending the harpoon through his left eye and into his cranium.
Miraculously - except for losing his left eye - he seems to be fine. There's a scary copy of the X-ray at the link, showing that the harpoon went all the way to the back of his skull.

But... how did he do this? I guess it must have started with him staring right at the point of a loaded harpoon gun.

I mean, if you were trying to have a stupid deadly accident, that would be a good start.

His Darwin Award will never arrive.
He cleverly managed to survive!

According to Legend


King Canute, in his pride,
tried to regulate the tide.

For this feat,
he got wet feet,
and met defeat.


Tiny creatures with exoskeletal features have invaded our house. I mean ants. It's a spring thing around here, but this year, I fear, there are more than ever. The guy at the hardware store said everyone in the neighborhood is being driven crazy this season. Could record rainfall be the reason? I don't know. But I want them to go!

It occurred to me that we in the vertebrate subphylum actually retain some key exoskeletal features ourselves - namely our skulls, which protectively encase our brains - and our spines which protectively encases our spinal cords, the other part of our central nervous system.

I wouldn't want my brain
to wind and rain.

I like it very well
in this hard shell.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Noah Counting for Record April Showers

Drought washed away - that's the positive slant. But the farmers say it's too wet to plant.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Prisoner's Lemma

If your partner in crime is already dead, always insist that he was the head, while you, a mere hand, just obeyed his command.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

When You ACHOO

Do you ever have issues with regular facial tissues? Is it the case that your nose, when it blows, just goes right through two-ply on the fly? If so, then you have sympathy, from me.


FBI, I'm wondering why you didn't keep more of an eye on this guy.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Mother, by Brecht

I just got back from a musical celebrating Bolshevism and the Russian Revolution.

Yes, really, The Mother, by Bertolt Brecht, based on a novel by Maxim Gorky. But this production had all new music.

It was a real split brain experience for me. It was well done, with charismatic actors with great voices and nice tunes. The staging was wild. The theater was set up as rows of wooden table which the audience sat at - but then the actors walked and sang on the tables. Katherine Keberlein, as the mother herself, was excellent. That's her to the right in the photo.


Sarah Pretz, to the left was a finely intimidating czarist police official. (I assume the part was written for a man, but there are a lot more actresses than actors at auditions in Chicago, and you learn to expect to sometimes see women-playing-men in storefront theater here. It's sort of the reverse of what happened in Shakespeare's time, where one expected to see males-playing-females on stage.)

I thought Stephanie Polt, as Masha, had an extra bit of star quality for some reason.

Alas, I know how Bolshevism ended.
And don't really feel that it can be defended.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


What a way to go - run over by your bro! Sort of a poetic way to die, and it couldn't happen to a more appropriate guy.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Hopes Dashed

They thought they were such smarties,
blaming terrorist tea parties,
thinking it would be majestic
if the bad guys were domestic,
but alas, the news we're fetchin' ya
is this: they're both from Chechnya.

Global Warming Delayed


I walked out of rehearsal, and into a mid-April snowstorm.

Well, I play the cold-hearted villain in Jane Eyre, so this may be my fault.

On the bright side, this will melt shortly, in tomorrow's warmer weather,
as hearts must melt when Jane and her man finally get together.


I have friends who are upset about the heavy handed display of SWAT team stuff.

But I am not upset.

This was exactly what the SWAT stuff is supposed to be for. These were bombers who were demonstrably eager to kill and maim just about anyone they could. They'd proven pretty effective at it too.

It's worth noting that it was a citizen, checking on his boat, that actually found the guy. These police dragnets aren't quite what they're cracked up to be. But the cops did a nice job of answering the citizen's 911 call.

You can argue tactics after the fact all day.
But in the end he didn't get away.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Argument from Moderation

I'm not sure I'd heard it called that before, but I've sure encountered it a lot. Wikipedia describes the argument from moderation as:

an informal fallacy which asserts that the truth can be found as a compromise between two opposite positions.
Consider: Did O.J. kill his wife? Let's not argue the point, but let's agree the answer is not: kind of.

It seems the truth
does not always fall
between extremes.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Gun Control Undone

I actually expected the gun control measure to pass in the Senate, rather than to go down in flames.

I mean, there's a Democratic majority. And a few Republicans, including my own Republican senator, were willing to give it an "Aye".

But, no, a bunch of Democrats defected and gave it a "No."

A visibly angry President Barack Obama blasted the Senate’s rejection of a bipartisan proposal to expand background checks on gun sales, a vote that essentially ends any hope for major gun control legislation for the time being.

Anyway, I figured it would pass the Senate at least, partly because I kept reading that polls indicated the law had popular support.

Afterwards, trying to make sense of it, I reminded myself of 2 things:

1) Every state, no matter how thinly populated and rural, gets 2 senators. That means there's a bias toward places where people are comfortable with gun ownership.

2) The popular support for the new law was probably thin - including lots of gun-undecideds who had been nudged into supporting it by weeks of media campaigning, but who aren't really that enthused about it. I mean, everybody would like to do something to prevent another school massacre, but this bill didn't seem like it would have stopped the last one. On the other side of the ledger book, there were a lot of pro-gun voters who were going to be really upset about the new law - seeing it as an infringement of their rights. In other words, it was a low-reward, high-risk sort of vote for a politician.

Thus the law went on to meet
bipartisan defeat.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


A friend of mine has told me more than once, over the years, about a deadly bombing he witnessed - and nearly walked into - in Dublin, back in the Seventies. He recalled it as taking place by the Gresham Hotel.

The Boston bombing yesterday brought that memory to his mind once more, and he tried to Google about it, using combinations like Gresham Hotel Bomb. It proved strangely hard to find, and he began to wonder if he had mis-remembered the precise location.

But by steadfastly Googling different combinations, I found a clear reference in an old Russell Kirk column, which ran in the Prescott Courier on June 20, 1974:
Atrocities, most of them attributed to the IRA, have commenced south of the border - the most recent big one being the death-dealing explosion before the Gresham Hotel, in Dublin.

So, why is this hard to find? I rather suspect that this represents Search Engine De-Optimization. In other words, I suspect the hotel operators have worked to remove online references to their hotel having been the location of such a disaster. The hotel remains in business.

Who wants to have a hotel
recalled as a site of hell?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Marathon Terrorism


That's the logo of the Boston Athletic Association, which puts on the Boston Marathon each year, for over a hundred years now. A peaceful event. Until now.

My son and my daughter-in-law-to-be, who live in the Boston area, are fine. I hope, if you are reading this, that no one you know has been killed or maimed or even traumatized.

But this is a terrible day. Whoever did this deserves what they get. And, whatever does happen to them, they will never get to a point where they have "paid their debt to society" as the old phrase had it.

Ideological fanatics, or lone loon,
I hope they catch them soon.

Grave Matters, Continued

Yesterday I mentioned a local cemetery in disrepair, but today we have a wild story of an individual grave vandal, in England:
The 79-year-old perpetrator of desecration was jealous about some relationship issue!

Her practice of dumping gravel
on the grave began to unravel
when the widower planted a cam.

Now she's in a jam.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cemetery Cycling

I was out riding my bike today and I rode through 4 local cemeteries - 2 to visit relatives' graves - and 2 just to look around. (Yes, all 4 seem to allow bicycles.)

Mt. Hope Cemetery, where I have no relatives, seems to be in a distressed condition. It looks like it was once a fine place. But now the very southwest corner of it is actually semi-submerged in water. At least it was today, and a few years ago I saw the same thing. We did have a lot of rain this week, but I found it quite disturbing.

You can see pictures of some of it's failings here. Here's just one, as a sample:


I don't understand what the water problem is. How did it develop? When they originally buried folks in those spots, it obviously wasn't a pond at that time. What has gone wrong in the mean time? There is a sewer drainage system evidently in place - there are drainage grills, etc. But something's not working, I guess.

Lately this cemetery is in the local news because of allegation, made by neighbors, that it has become the popular burial ground for local street gangs.

Bury me not
in a wetland spot.

Gosnell and the Journalists

Megan McArdle says she wasn't covering the Gosnell case because:
To start, it makes me ill.
Well, I can certainly understand that. But that can't be the universal explanation of why the national media has been avoiding the case. They cover a lot of stuff that makes everybody ill. Ann Althouse, reading McArdle, suspects there is more than disgust going on, in general. She suspects there's another feeling motivating the non-reporting:
There's a deep fear — true shame — about this other matter that I'm talking about.
What she's talking about is late term abortions themselves, which, the later they get, the more they look like the killing of a full term human infant.
Let's talk about the morality of the seen and the unseen. This is a shallow morality that infects our lives. If the human entity is inside the womb, and it is cut into pieces that is one thing, but if it's "partially born" so that a nurse sees it clenching and unclenching its fists as it meets its demise, it's another. And if it slips entirely out, and everyone sees a living child and then the doctor severs its spine, then everyone is supposed to know it's murder.
When late-term abortions became politically controversial, the reporting on them was always annoyingly scanty, and I was puzzled about all sorts of things - including why the mothers were engaging in the practice. I mean, what was the point of carrying the kid for more than 6 months and then aborting it? Were these cases of discovering that a child was badly deformed, or doomed to some horrid life? I could understand that, but I was not hearing that this was consistently the case. Were they cases of the mother's life being threatened by continuing to carry the child? Again, understandable, but I was not hearing that this was always true.

At some point you might think adoption
would be the better option.


Because I feel tired, this post
will be shorter than most.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Thanks, But

Oh, right, a pretty 21 year old woman, with a busty photo, who is unknown to me, who is friends with just 16 people, all of them men, all of them recently acquired... wants to befriend me on Facebook.

Being of sound mind,
I declined.
It's some kind of scam.
I just don't know what kind.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013


Now I hear that Senate Republicans will not filibuster Harry Reid's gun control bill... in order to make Democratic Senators go on record as for or against... in the hopes that their records will hurt a bunch of them in the 2014 elections.

I gather that the bill can't pass the Republican-held House, anyway, so this is all a sort of show-and-tell exercise.

I fear our political class
taken as a mass
does too much show-and-tell,
and not especially well.

Monday, April 08, 2013

The Human Person

Something about the book's title caught my eye: The Human Person in a Philosophy of Education.

It was that phrase, "Human Person". Was there some other kind of person that the author was concerned with?

Well, perhaps, yes. The author is a Thomist, and so, one presumes, a believer in divine and angelic persons.

Looking into the book, I found much to interest me, so I made a donation and took it from the library's discard pile.

It proceeds by comparing progressive education with traditional education. John Dewey's philosophy is seen as underpinning progressive education. Thomas Aquinas's philosophy is seen as providing the best defense of traditional education.

Writing in 1965, the author sees progressive education as a failure, based on a fallacious philosophy.

In sum, he thinks Thomas
makes good on his promise,
but as for Dewey,

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Promotional Photos

I routinely get emails from race organizers that say: you ran our race last year, wouldn't you like to run it again? Usually a couple of photos from last year's race are included.

This year, by what I presume is just a funny coincidence, I picked myself out in 2 of the photos:

From the 20 Miler, you probably can't recognize me, but I'm in the back row with my face half-blocked. You can see my sunglasses and hat, anyway. This was taken at the start, which is why everyone looks so happy:


From the Chinatown 5k, this is from near the end, which is why I don't look so happy:


Between the starts and finishes,
happiness diminishes.

But, gee, it's fun
being done.

Back to Nature

There's a longstanding hope that we can we discern humankind's true nature, by observing the way people lived before "civilization" complicated everything. 

How far back does this hope go?
I'd say at least to Rousseau.

There's also a hope that we can do something similar by observing babies before they have been acculturated. 

Again, I think you'll find
Rousseau's project comes to mind.

I think the results of such studies, when conducted scientifically, are useful for dealing with theorists who propose that human nature is more malleable than it really is. 

To repeat, human nature
defies erasure.

From observing historical civilizations, it's clear that we are beings of an adaptable nature, but it's also clear that some forms of civilization are better suited to our thriving than others.

When a society is truly advanced,
human life is wildly enhanced.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

After Running

Running, at the right pace, can actually be pleasant, with practice, at least for some, at least for me. But I suppose that getting to that point is rarely all fun and games.

There's an old thought-experiment about exercise. Suppose someone tells you that every hour of exercise-X will add an hour to your life. But you hate exercise-X. Is it worth it?

From one perspective, probably not. More of your life will be spent in misery, and the number of enjoyable hours in your life will not increase.

However, if you want to survive to see some particular event in the future, the hateful exercise might be worth it. Say that you want to survive to see the birth of a grandchild, or the first human colony established on the moon, or... whatever.

There's an old joke about exercise: if it were a pill, everyone would take it.

now my legs are sore,
so I won't be running any more

Friday, April 05, 2013


I'm surprised
that he apologized.

I'm surprised the Prez had to do so. I admit that I thought his original comment was sort of cringe-inducing socially. But I thought he was in a position to make it acceptable. He's a powerful man, a man regarded as good looking and sexy. A man who delivers lines like that, usually, with a sly little smile that, to me, seems to say, "Yes, I know I'm stepping over a line here, but watch how gracefully I do it."

But, I guess it didn't come off right somehow.

I'm a little amused by people trying to develop theoretical rules for things like this. This incident, to me, falls deeply into the "current manners" category. I won't be at all surprised if the unwritten rules are drastically different in 20 years - in either a more severe or more lax direction.

For instance, from The Atlantic:
...I've long felt we lack a solid theoretical underpinning for easily discussing these issues, and why precisely it is that admiring and complimenting women for the beauty they work so hard to maintain--and let's be clear, nobody looks like Harris at her age (48) without effort...
She then proposes a theoretical underpinning that seems underpinned.

And that thing about "she's so old she must be working hard to look good"... that's probably true, but somehow sounds like a subtle form of needling to me.

Of course "we" can't all "easily discuss" these issues. There is a lot of pain wrapped up, for a lot of people, in judgments of who is prettier than whom, in judging who is still pretty even though she is 48.

I'm reminded of that old Janis Ian son, At Seventeen.

For some, discussing these issues
requires a box of tissues.

At Risk

Over at the Powerline blog, they're asking Why Can't We Sue Politicians For Malpractice?

What are the odds they would vote
themselves into that boat?

Wednesday, April 03, 2013


I'm having great fun playing a bad guy in Jane Eyre. The original is high gothic romanticism, and this production is very stylized, not naturalistic, so I am playing it bad and bold.

The script seems to invite
a portrait of tortured night.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013


“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

When you visit, try to notice all the things they won't declare,
but will acknowledge in some other way,
less obvious (at least to you) than in the present day.

Due For Shut-Eye

From a list of things you shouldn't do before going to bed: Watch TV/Surf the Web

And yet, I am here, posting about it, just before bed. Somehow reading the list has not changed my behavior!

I'd also add: think twice
before taking web advice.