Sunday, June 30, 2013

Judge Kozinski

I heard Alex Kozinski talk a couple of times in the last 2 days. He's a fairly prominent federal appeals judge. Today he gave a speech he has given before about Electronic Privacy and why we have so little of it. He's worried that there's just too much sharing of personal details online.

One of his theses is that contemporary people's failure to protect privacy,
leads judges to think we don't expect privacy.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Atlas 3

I heard official rumors today about the next and sort-of-final installment of the Atlas Shrugged movie series. The most intriguing one, to me, was the idea of doing a loooong miniseries AFTER the trilogy is complete.

Well, it's a very long book, with lots of subplots, so there is plenty of material for a long miniseries.

But I was trying to think of similar sorts of cases. Did they do something like that with Pride & Prejudice?

People love to get lost in Jane Austen. 

Friday, June 28, 2013


I committed 2 accidental rhymes today that sounded too normal.

Senator Ron Johnson
represents Wisconsin.

I'm really weak
on Ancient Greek.

They were isolated incidents, but may form part of a disturbing patter, er, pattern.

My brain may now be wired
so it rhymes when I am tired.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fixer Upper

We're here in our nation's capital. The visual shock of the trip, for me, was seeing that they've put scaffolding around the Washington Monument. Here's a photo I found that gives you an idea:


I suppose this is well-announced public knowledge, but somehow it had escaped my attention.

The immediate impetus was earthquake damage.

The obelisk
was at risk,
and all declared
it needed to be repaired.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Invasion of the Crazy Ants


Crazy, and unfortunately far from lazy, ants from Argentina have invaded the southern U.S.

They'll hide
your phone
and munch
it for lunch
like a scone.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Innumerate Face Innumerable Difficulties

Thanks, MRB, for alerting me to this.

Americans who have trouble dividing 300 by 2 are much more likely to end up in foreclosure than consumers with average math skills, a new study has found. The research is among the first to directly link mortgage trouble and financial literacy, according to its authors.

I'm kind of amused by the way the article only ascribes this result to "Americans". Do we need to test this separately for other nations?

For some it's a bummer,
they kind of get dumber,
when sums and numbers
make their brains number.

Monday, June 24, 2013



See that bright light? That's a transformer lighting up the sky after a branch fell on it. It made noises like gunshots, pulsed and sparkled like fireworks, then all the lights went out. A friend had the presence of mind to snap the photo!

Lights are back on, and the Blackhawks took the Cup, so now we're hearing actual fireworks from all over the neighborhood.

The neighbors were afraid their garage would catch on fire, but it didn't, so then he drove to a bar so he could watch the Hawks, since our TVs were all out.

You cannot watch the game
when your power's lost to flame.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Poetry Reading at Wedding

One of the readings at my daughter's wedding was a poem of mine. I didn't originally recommend it, but then my wife said I should make sure my daughter knew about it, and my daughter and her now-husband apparently liked it a lot... so I got to read my own poem at the wedding. A lot of people afterward came up to me to say they liked it, so I guess I did okay! Anyway, here it is, I guess it falls in the oldie-but-goody category, because I wrote it around 1996. It's just called "I Do". It was actually used at someone else's wedding in Australia, years ago. I have a cassette tape of the reading, which is quite lovely.

What can it mean to say "I do" forever?
We don't live for forever — we live now
And for some time to be, but we can never
Know with certainty the twists and turns
That lie ahead — the when and why and how
Of life's surprises — and the flame that burns
Within us for each other, hot and bright,
Might flicker and go out, or be consumed
In some new love for someone else's light.
Why would I enter into such a vow
When fortune telling is a game that's doomed?

Oh — just because of all these great unknowns
I dare to take a stand and take your hand.
We are not rolling down a hill like stones,
We do not merely bounce without a clue,
But, more like ships, we steer through storms toward land,
Then take to sea again — the open blue
Attracts us with its sparkling invitation
To sights unseen — to music never heard —
And not just rehash of some old sensation
But startling new experience unplanned.
Amidst all this, I offer you my word.

To keep my vessel cruising next to yours,
Whatever winds may blow, whatever gales
Wash over us — as long as mind endures —
To keep your flags in sight. For while the wind
Is what gives all the power to our sails,
Its pushing does not point our way. Unpinned
I tack against the gusting face of chance
By dint of rudders, ropes, and careful craft.
I keep eyes fixed across that wide expanse
On my direction — until eyesight fails,
Though tempest tossed, though lost, though dazed and daft.

For like a compass pointing to the north,
The arrow in my heart points tried and true,
And by its pain I know when, back or forth,
My way has strayed from where I want to be.
All this is what I mean by my "I do."
Oh, darling, will you say the same for me?
I cannot ask for more than that you try
To keep me in your sights while yet you can.
I know that even true loves sometimes die,
But while it lives I offer mine to you:
Be my woman, and I'll be your man.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Wedding Day

My daughter Felicia is getting married today. In several hours I will walk her down the aisle. It's a joyful occasion. She is taking vows with a fine young man who makes her happy.

People, well, actually... women in particular keep asking me if I'm going to cry at the ceremony.

Will I cry?
And if so, why?

I don't know, maybe,
because she's our baby,
and it's great to see her grown
with a husband of her own,
but I do sort of miss, and fondly recall
the days when she was just small.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Droning On

The head of the FBI said today that domestic drone use is minimal.

I feel oddly un-reassured.

I think we should use drones more actually. I would feel a lot safer if I had a few assigned to me at all times.

I want them to hover, 
like a jealous lover, 
trailing me around, 
like a sniffing hound.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Many a ship has been wrecked
from cumulative effect.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mine This

It's funny how data-mining 
means my data isn't mine. 

There must be a silver lining, 
but it's somewhere down the line.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bird Mystery Solved


I was bicycling today, in a former golf course, which is being remodeled as a park, when I came across this bird, who was making a ruckus at me, fanning out his tail feathers, peeping a loud song, and, eventually, running away from me along the ground, which I caught on film:

I thought that it had a hurt wing and was unable to fly. I rode away feeling kind of bad for the poor little thing.

I had no idea what kind of bird it was, but one friend said it was a Killdeer, and another a friend who is a very accomplished birdwatcher said:

Definitely a Killdeer and one doing a 'broken wing' display that they are probably best known for. This bird likely had a nest or fledglings around and it was pretending to have a broken wing in order to distract you (a predator) away from them.

So I was feeling sorry for it... but it was fine!

Yes, that's what occurred:
I was suckered by a bird.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Not A Lawyer But

You frequently read, nowadays, even in government publications, here and there, that it is illegal to ask a certain question in a certain situation.

As: it is illegal to ask what disability a person has, when they want to bring a service dog into a restaurant.

Or: it is illegal to ask someone, on a job interview, if they have ever been arrested.

Now, there may be legal reasons why it is best to avoid asking these questions. But I don't think it's correct that you are breaking the law merely by asking the questions. You may be opening the business up for some kind of discrimination lawsuit or penalty, but that's only if your reason for asking the question was for a forbidden discriminatory purpose.

I've noticed it's not usually lawyers who declare that a question is illegal. It's usually a worker with some basic training in how to keep their employer out of trouble.

Speech remains free, but can be evidence of intent,
and you may find yourself explaining what you meant.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Compressed Air to the Rescue

My iPhone malfunctioned yesterday. It seemed like the little socket, where you stick the charging cord, wasn't working.

I tried another cable. I tried another power supply.

I blew in the little socket.

But I apparently I didn't blow hard enough. Because at the Apple Store today they blasted some canned air into the hole, and it all started working again.

If you carry your phone in your pocket,
beware of lint in your socket!


It's hard to keep a handle 
on any given scandal 
when it seems like every day 
brings another one my way

Blue Genes

Supremes rule that we can't patent pre-existing genetic material.

Allowing a company to tie up the building blocks of nature "would be at odds with the very point of patents, which exist to promote creation," Justice Thomas wrote.

I patented my genes, in the happy hope,
that I could charge my kids, but the court said nope!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Comedy Writing, Revisited

I should reread that play
and try to puzzle out
why it's built that way
and what it was about.

There was no planning staff,
no schedule to decrypt.
But if it made me laugh,
I kept it in the script.

That only half explains,
since what makes something funny
frequently remains
the bee sting in the honey.

And in our human fashion,
some deeply buried thorn
of agonizing passion...
as humor is reborn.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


It's hard to keep a handle 
on any given scandal 
when it seems like every day 
brings another one my way.

Comedy Writing

I should reread that play
and try to puzzle out
why it's built that way
and what it's all about.

There was no planning staff.
No schedule to decrypt.
Whatever made me laugh,

I kept it in the script.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

He Used His Head

German bank employee naps on keyboard, transfers millions
It was supposed to be 62.40 Euros, but he dozed off and his face rested on the keyboard and the 2-key went crazy and he transferred 222,222,222.22 Euros instead.

At least, that's his story and he's sticking to it - like his nose stuck to the 2-key.

Nodding off is funny
when it transfers tons of money.

I want him working on my account
and moving in a like amount.

Monday, June 10, 2013

History Keeps Changing

History, as we know it, keeps changing, because we keep digging new stuff up. Case in point:
The government has recovered 400 pages from the long-lost diary of Alfred Rosenberg, a confidant of Adolf Hitler who played a central role in the extermination of millions of Jews and others during World War Two.
Where was it recovered? Buffalo!

Historians simply love to find
further insights into Hitler's
frightening insane mind.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

On Stage In Madison


The actresses pictured, left to right, are Zechariah Ruffin, Celia Lohr, and Lauren Rusch. We drove up to Madison, WI, yesterday to see them doing my short play, "Playing With Matches" as part of the Queer Shorts 8 festival. I was delighted to have my play accepted for the festival, and I was extremely pleased with the performance, which was directed by Karl Reinhardt.

The play is supposed to be funny in quite a few places, and it did get laughs in those places, which provided instant gratification to me.

We combined the trip to Madison with a visit to some old friends from Chicago who retired to the Madison area. They accompanied us to the evening's entertainment and enjoyed it very much. They haven't attended much theater in Madison, and so they were worried the acting might be of low quality, but they needn't have worried. The acting was generally strong.

I enjoyed the other plays, too. Since this is the rhyme-of-the-day blog, I have to make a special mention of Arlecchino's Last Prank, by Andrew Black, since it was written completely in rhyme.

My play did not rhyme. But did include some "talking like a pirate".

I know, it's true, I'm kind of straight,
but being in Queer Shorts was great.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Who, Us?

Carefully worded denials from tech companies, as if -
they have a good idea just how the government did sniff.

Friday, June 07, 2013

On Second Thought

I take back every online joke 
I made about the NSA. 
Trust me, really, I misspoke. 
I'm right behind you all the way!

Drama On Two Levels

I mean my title literally. Dream Theatre is running a double feature of 2 one-hour plays. The first runs in the basement theatre space, the second runs in the main theatre space. I went to see them tonight.


The Ballad Of Little Duck is a one-man show about a broken man. The basement space has been convincingly transformed into an outdoor spot in a railroad yard, complete with steadily dripping water. It's a tale of a man driven mad, told in an apparently rambling stream-of-consciousness style, but with a clear story that is revealed bit by bit until the chilling conclusion is reached. It's got a bit of that Southern Gothic quality of a gritty based-in-reality horror tale. Jeremy Menekseoglu always compels attention, riding a roller coaster of emotion, funny and then pitiable, stupid and then cunning. He has created a character that stays with you. Rachel Martindale directed, evidently with a sure touch, because I felt no false notes.


The Samaritan Syndrome is more of a surrealistic exploration of a twisted version of the psychology of wanting to save yourself by first saving someone else. The setting of the play is a mental hospital that turns into a brothel at night. To this place of despair comes a man who is looking to help a particular woman, a woman he has been searching for, to save her. Directed by Anna Menekseoglu, this play is full of haunting emotional exchanges, but moves briskly along. Adam M. Overberg is engaging and sympathetic as our protagonist, the man in a suit. Anna Menekseoglu is awesome as the girl he has been looking for. The other actors, Megan Merrill, Hasket Morris, Kristi Parker-Barnhart, Ophelia Thorne, and Hisako Sugeta all turned in what I thought were very strong performances.

Remember: If someone wants to save you from the grave, they may need you exactly there. So beware.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Mirren's Tempest

That's Helen Mirren in The Tempest, a movie adaptation of Shakespeare's play.

Her character, a sorceress, was male in Shakespeare's version.

They also turned Ariel from a female magical spirit into a male... who sometimes sprouts feminine breasts via anatomical special effects.

It came out to mixed reviews, but I liked it. I'm not in love with the original play, it always seemed slow-moving to me, somewhat lacking in true dramatic tension, but they kept the pace flowing pretty well, and kept the key poetic passages.

It has a happy ending,
albeit bitter sweet,
and lots of lovely verbiage,
to charm you off your feet.

Issues of Our Times

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina:
"Who is a journalist is a question we need to ask ourselves," he said. "Is any blogger out there saying anything—do they deserve First Amendment protection? These are the issues of our times."
You know, "any blogger saying anything"... would still be "saying" something, wouldn't they?

So maybe some other part of that amendment - like the "free speech" clause - would be applicable and afford some "First Amendment Protection".

Just a thought.

And I hope that that thought is still protected
by one of the clauses the founders selected.

Monday, June 03, 2013

The IRS scandal is unreeling unevenly, as crimes and scandals do. The "few" IRS agents involved are reportedly pointing their fingers upward, saying they were only following orders, but the Treasury department inspector general is having trouble getting them to finger someone in particular:
“We did pose that question, and no one would acknowledge who, if anyone, provided that direction.”

Enquiring minds want to know! Well, I expect it will come out.

Nowadays, the unkillable email trail
causes the average cover-up to fail.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Early Anti-Nazi Film

I found this fascinating:
Rediscovered: The First American Anti-Nazi Film, Banned by U.S. Censors and Forgotten for 80 Years

The name of the film was Hitler's Reign of Terror. The year was 1933. The journalist behind the film was Cornelius Vanderbilt IV, a direct descendant of the railroad tycoon.

I loved this quote from Vanderbilt about Hitler:
Unquestionably he is a man of real ability, of force. But the way I sized him up after interviewing him is that he is a strange combination of Huey Long, Billy Sunday, and Al Capone.
In retrospect, it is regrettable that he was a man of such ability and force.

If he had been less skilled,
there would have been fewer killed.

Saturday, June 01, 2013


I was talking to a tradesman who does drains today. He said he only does dirty water. Clean water is for plumbers, who get to sell the stylish faucets. But as long as plumbers are selling faucets, he'll have work too.

Water comes in, but can't remain. That is why you need a drain.