Thursday, March 31, 2016

Jim Harrison: Dead at 78

Jim Harrison

Margalit Fox reports that "Jim Harrison, Poet, Novelist and Essayist, Is Dead at 78" (NYT, March 27, 2016):
Jim Harrison, whose lust for life -- and sometimes just plain lust -- roared into print in a vast, celebrated body of fiction, poetry and essays that with ardent abandon explored the natural world, the life of the mind and the pleasures of the flesh, died on Saturday at his home in Patagonia, Ariz. He was 78.
All that energy bound up in one man, yet I was largely untouched by his many books, though I was touched -- or, rather, brushed -- by Legends of the Fall, which I knew of solely through the film adaptation, and I didn't even understand that very well, possibly because I am pretty sure I saw it only in German.

Now that he's dead, maybe I should read him for his insight into life, his observations on his explorations, if only for his unique perspective, for he observed the world without benefit of binocular vision:
When Jim was 7, . . . a neighborhood girl ended a quarrel by thrusting a broken bottle into his face, permanently blinding his left eye. For years afterward, he sought solace alone in the woods.
Blinded in one eye, like Odin, but did he gain any wisdom in the loss? As implied above, I suppose I'd need to read him to find out . . .

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Peach in Milton, Marvell, and Eliot

"Eve's Dream: Eat a Peach"
Paradise Lost Series
Mattthew Skenandore

I got word yesterday that the article titled "The Peach in Milton's Paradise Lost, Marvell's 'Garden,' and Eliot's 'Prufrock': Etymology, Sin, and Transgression" -- co-authored by Salwa Khoddam (Oklahoma City University) and Horace Jeffery Hodges (Ewha Womans University) -- has finally been published, in the Medieval and Early Modern English Studies (Vol. 24, Nr. 1, 2016). Here's the "Abstract":
The article investigates the peach as symbol of the forbidden fruit in Milton’s Paradise Lost, Marvell’s “Garden,” and Eliot’s “Prufrock.” Milton focuses on the fruit’s appearance as “downy,” Marvell refers to the peach as “curious,” and Eliot worries that to “dare” to eat a peach could disturb the universe. Milton’s choice of “downy” fits the peach better than what we would now call an apple. Marvell’s choice of “curious” fits the Christian world’s long-held belief that curiosity was the vice that led Eve to try the forbidden fruit. Eliot’s choice of “dare” fits Eve’s having “dar’d” to eat the forbidden fruit in Paradise Lost, for daring to eat the fruit can disturb the universe, as, for example, Eve’s eating did. These three points are supported by context, analysis, explication, connections, etymology, and more. Noted in passing are a few brief references in art and literature to the peach as the forbidden fruit, and these are treated merely to show that such identification is not unheard of. More important are the connections drawn between the fruit in the three poems, for such connections are the focus of this paper.
Sound interesting? We had so much to bring in that we found ourselves constrained to enter some details in the footnotes, as in Footnote 10:
The relation of his question — “Do I dare to eat a peach?” — to Milton’s Forbidden Fruit finds echoes in more recent literature, e.g., in Benjamin Hale’s Miltonic novel, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, in which a chimpanzee named Bruno is tempted by the ambrosial odor of a peach to give an explicit yes to Eliot’s question, whereby Bruno falls into the human condition by a process the reader can only marvel at. (Benjamin Hale, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, 12-13)
The author, by the way, is the eldest son of one of my Ozark friends, Pete Hale, who works as physicist in his own start-up making laser-makers and delving into quantum mysteries. His son Ben took a different path.

PS The artist Mattthew Skenandore, who sometimes signed his given name with three Ts gave me permission to use the above illustration if I ever needed it for an article. I had lost contact with him in the meantime, but upon learning that this article had been published, I attempted to Google his name. In doing so, I discovered that he had died three years ago, at the age of 54.

Rest in peace, Mattthew.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Poetry Break: Sexist Weather Report


In thinking more about iambic pentameter, I recalled that one can vary the syllable length if the unstressed syllables allow an approximation of a single syllable . . . or is that a wishful 'memory'?

Anyway, does this twelve-syllabled monstrosity work?

Sexist Weather Report

It's colder than the tipple on a niche's wit.

Or is it too clever to be truly sexist?

After all, what do "tipple," "niche's," and "wit" have to do with reports about the sexiest weather report? Hold on, I meant sexist weather report . . . gotta watch that slip of the lip.

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Poetry Break: Another Disturbing One-Liner

Black Horse Wish
Viefiurka on DeviantArt
Google Images

Here it is:

Another Horse
If wishes were horses, we'd wish they weren't.

With the possible exception of Mr. Ed.

UPDATE: Is the following better?

Another Horse
If wishes were horses, we'd wish they were not.

This sounds better to my ear, but it has eleven syllables, not ten, and I'm aiming for iambic pentameter.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Charlie Jane Anders Reviews Mark Leyner's 'Contradundancy'

Charlie Jane Anders

Below this initial line of mine comes the introductory paragraph by Charlie Jane Anders in her review of Mark Leyner's Gone With the Mind (NYT, March 25, 2016):
An absurdist autobiography is either a contradiction in terms or a redundancy, depending on how you look at it. Either the purpose of an autobiography is to make sense of the writer's life, in which case absurdity would be a severe impediment -- or else life itself is absurd, and all autobiographies are too. In his new autobiographical novel, "Gone With the Mind," Mark Leyner seems to split the difference: He makes sense of his life by unpacking just how ridiculous it is to be alive.
"Ridiculous!" one might shout, and the subject-object of one's most intimate fear of nothingness doth vanish into nothingness, gone with the mind, that title-bound cap-W of Wend or Wined over-turned or over-wound -- so it's Sayonara, Cynara . . .

(For the overwhelmed among my readers, this blog entry is intended as a positive remark upon the positive review by Charlie Jane Anders of Mark Leyner's book.)


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Huang Yong Ping: Wu Zei

Wu Zei
Huang Yong Ping, Artist
Photo by André Morin
Kamel Mennour Exhibitions

The scale of this giant octopus sculpture titled Wu Zei reminds me of The Swansong, a gigantic squid-like sculpture in Philip Murray-Lawson's story "Good Deed Day," which appears in the anthology Emanations: 2 + 2 = 5, edited by Carter Kaplan.

The story's well done, too.

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Friday, March 25, 2016

Poetry Break: Two More One-Liner Poems

Promises, Promises
Google Images

Here they are, in all their 'dueled' glory:

Hearsay Heresy
No one's good kin to gossip, kin to none.

Word travels at the speed of unsound sound.

These are fun to write!

UPDATE: Query - Should "Rumor" be slightly altered?

Word travels at the speed of sound unsound.

Which sounds better, this or the original?


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Parrots: Wise Guy Cousins to Falcons?

African Grey Parrot
"Our falcon cousins? They got no sense of self-irony."
Google Images

Natalie Angier tells us that "Parrots Are a Lot More Than 'Pretty Bird'" (NYT, March 21, 2016):
Parrot partisans say the birds easily rival the great apes and dolphins in all-around braininess and resourcefulness . . . . "We call them feathered primates," said Irene Pepperberg, who studies animal cognition at Harvard and is renowned for her research with Alex and other African grey parrots. "They're very good colleagues," said Alice Auersperg of the University of Vienna, who studies the Goffin's cockatoo of Indonesia . . . . Studying the yellow-naped Amazon of Costa Rica, Dr. [Timothy F.] Wright and his colleagues have discovered that different populations of the parrot communicate with one another in distinct dialects that remain stable over decades, like human languages. Just as with people, young parrots can easily master multiple dialects while their elders can't or won't bother to do . . . . Seeking to understand why the yellow-naped Amazons in northern Costa Rica had a different call from those living 18 miles to the south, Dr. Wright's team tried moving several parrots from one site to the other . . . . The youngest parrot quickly mastered the dialect of its new home and began flocking with the locals. The older transplants, however, failed to become adept bilingualists and never quite fit in. Instead, they associated with each other. "They formed a little immigrant enclave," Dr. Wright said, adding, "Vocal similarity is very important for maintaining social relationships," in parrots as in humans.
What about their famed ability at mimicry?
Dr. Wright said that captive parrots' renowned talent for promiscuous vocal mimicry -- of human speech, a multipart car alarm, a cat's meow -- is probably a byproduct of an innate desire to parrot its own kind. "It's extremely rare to find mimicry of other species in wild parrots," he said.
That would make sense. Why draw attention to oneself by mimicking other species, for instance, a cat, even if it is the cat's meow. Interestingly, parrots go not for fruit itself -- which I'd always thought they gorged on -- but for the seeds of the fruit, so they have to find fruiting trees at the right time:
Fruiting trees are a patchy and unpredictable resource, and parrots often fly many miles a day in quest of food. Under such circumstances, searching in groups turns out to be more efficient than solitary hunting, especially when group members can trade tips on promising leads. "That can mean the development of a social system, as well as the neurological capacity to share information," Dr. [Leo] Joseph said. The vocal capacity, too: parrots call to one another continually, squawkishly, over long distances and short. "They are communicating to each other all the time," Dr. [Juan F.] Masello said.
There's a lot more in the article, so if you want to learn some other tidbits of knowledge -- such as the fact that parrots are closely related to falcons -- click on the link above . . . or here.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Geoffrey H. Hartman: Deconstructionist Critic Dead at 86

Or Egghead Constructvism?
Courtney Pozzi

Geoffrey H. Hartmann has passed away at 86 after a long life of deconstructionist work, some of which was self-deconstruction, as is obliquely alluded to in Margalit Fox's obituary, "Geoffrey H. Hartman, Scholar Who Saw Literary Criticism as Art, Dies at 86" (NYT, March 20, 2016):
Geoffrey H. Hartmann, as the family name was then spelled, was born in Frankfurt on Aug. 11, 1929. (In a curious augury for one whose life would center on signification, his middle initial stood for nothing.) His father left the family when Geoffrey was very young.

In 1939, Geoffrey was among the Jewish children evacuated from Nazi Germany as part of a Kindertransport. He spent the war years in England, living with other evacuated children at Waddesdon Manor, the Buckinghamshire country estate of James de Rothschild, a scion of the banking family.

There, to stave off isolation, he read voraciously and lost himself in the verdant countryside -- an experience that would seed his lifelong passion for Wordsworth.

His mother managed to flee Germany for New York but could not send for Geoffrey, her only child, until after the war. Joining her there, he parted company with the final "n" of "Hartmann," stripping the name of its most conspicuous Teutonic trace.
We see, from his birth, a middle initial, "H.," which stood for nothing -- but why not spell it out "Aitch," or even better "Haitch" (with the initial "h" silent)? -- and the ultimate, meaningless "n" of "Hartmann," which had been hanging on there in a totally otiose manner, finally got lopped off, leaving the penultimate as ultimate. Yet, the deconstruction continues, for what the theory says of the text can also be said of the deconstructionist's mind, if I might borrow, alter, and 'misuse' some words from Ms. Fox by replacing "text" with "deconstructionist's mind":
Deconstruction maintains that any given 'deconstructionist's mind' is, below its surface, a roiling system of conflicting semantic signs. As such, the 'deconstructionist's mind' has no one empirical reading; 'the deconstructionist's mind' is, rather, a network of competing meanings -- a quicksilver state of affairs that a critical analysis of that 'deconstructionist's mind' must take into account.
And that explains why nothing in deconstructionism ever gets finally settled. Death merely eighty-sixes the deconstructionist and brings that particular individual's mental processes to a stop. Deconstructionism, however, remains.

So, rest in peace, Professor Hartman. Your deconstruction goes on . . .


Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Our old Arkansawyer friend John Wells - of John The Beer Snob fame - was seeking out some new brews recently, using his intelligent personal assistant, Siri, for guidance, and we learn that Apple's voice-controlled, natural language interface isn't quite as sophisticated as Google's AlphaGo:
Next up was Bike Rack Brewing. I asked Siri for directions, as I knew it was within walking distance. She responded by giving me directions to 'buy crack'. I quickly canceled and clarified.
Sounds like John needs a new personal assistant, one less likely know precisely where to purchase a few crystals of crack!

But does Siri really know the way . . .


Monday, March 21, 2016

Poetry Break: Weak Power of Words

As we gain insight into language, we come to recognize its intrinsic ambiguity
Sounding Words
"Have a nice day" might be "Have an ice day."
Or vice-versa . . . but if we adopt a hermeneutic of suspicion, we'll know which way to read . . . until our hermeneutic of suspicion spirals inward upon itself, questioning turtles all the way down . . .

Is "multiguity" a word? "Megaguity"? I'm looking for a word that means more than "ambiguity."

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Poetry Break: Wild and Crazy One-Liner

Google Images

And here it is:
One swallow does not a summer thirst slake.
Not wild and crazy, you say? Well then, imagine a tornado . . .


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Poetry Break: One-Liner Foreseen

That Trusty Saw
Google Images

What did Tennessee? She saw what Arkansas:
That Trusty Old Saw
As the old saw says, "Old saws sever rust."
If you stare long enough at the saw, a forbidding word appears . . .


Friday, March 18, 2016

Official Copy Editor: Trans-Humanities

I received a nice request yesterday from Ewha's Trans-Humanities journal, along with some praise that reminded me of how long I've been teaching and editing here at Ewha. First, the praise:
You have helped us very well since 2008 - for so long you [have] made the English of our journal [better]. I want to say [out] loud, "Thank you."
Now comes the request:
[We] have a question, or I ask you for this: Could we print your name as Copy Editor in the journal Trans-Humanities? If you would accept our suggestion, we would be very thankful.
I said yes, of course. I'm flattered to learn that the journal wants my name as one of its editors. And yes, I know that the position isn't the grandest position on a journal board, but the copy editing job is what I do for this journal, and the position is a perfectly honorable one.

Moreover, I learn a lot about issues that I wouldn't ordinarily encounter in my current department, as is also the case with other journals for which I copy edit, such as the Journal of Peace and Unification, or the Feminist Studies in English Literature.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bad News Good, or Good News Bad?

ISIS Child Soldiers

According to an AFP report posted in the Daily Mail, "Desertions [are] prompting [the] IS to rely on child soldiers" (March 14, 2016):
The Islamic State group is relying more heavily on child soldiers as growing numbers of fighters desert the jihadist organization, the United States said Monday. That may indicate the group's leaders are "struggling with their ability to recruit and retain manpower," State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters during a daily briefing . . . . [Apparently], "more and more" defectors are leaving IS's ranks, prompting the group to rely more heavily on child soldiers, the spokesman added. "Originally, they would rely on children for intelligence streams, getting information . . . and then using them to conduct suicide attacks, which they still do," Kirby said. "Now we get more reports about them using children in actual engagements side by side with adult fighters," he added. "All those are good indications they are struggling with their ability to recruit and retain manpower."
The IS would probably argue that by Islamic standards, the 'so-called boys' are men, i.e., that the soldiers in question have already started growing pubic hair. Yes, that's the criterion: pubic hair. And we all know how mature boys are when their pubic hair starts growing. Why, they're mature enough to become soldiers!

We thus have the bad news of child soldiers fighting, which implies the good news of adult soldiers deserting, and we have the good news of adult soldiers deserting, which  entails the bad news of child soldiers fighting.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

One-Line Poems: Anthology

One-Line Poems

Looks like one-line poetry has been around a while, for it's mentioned in a fairly recent issue of The Florida Book Review. In Leslie Taylor's review of The War on Pants, by Kristine Snodgrass, Taylor notes the difficulty posed in writing one-line poems:
The largest concern I have is with the one-line poems. One-line poetry is a delicate art of subtlety and inference. The poem "Robot Social Networking" reads, simply, "You are a moron." The intended effect seems to be along the lines of criticizing the audience and society, but I saw it as a cheap shot. Societal critique can come off as late night comedy. The poem "Sexting" contains the line, "You are defining my sexuality, Anthony Weiner."
Agreed, intentions can go far awry because "[o]ne-line poetry is a delicate art of subtlety and inference." I like that characterization of this poetic genre. But I don't think the poem "Robot Social Networking" is intended as a critique of audience and society. I suggest that the poem is intended to show how socially awkward artificial intelligence can be, for how could a robot successfully network by calling its interlocutor a "moron"? But since it did say, "You are a moron," the robot has already shown itself to be the moron in the interaction, and this justifies the interlocutor in repeating the words right back to the robot, thereby establishing the dual meaning required of one-line poems.

And speaking of having "been around a while," there was an entire book of such poems published over forty years ago, titled But Is It Poetry? Anthology of One-Line Poems, edited by Duane Ackerson (Pocatello, Idaho: Dragonfly, 1972), with poems by Bill Zavatsky, Ray DiPalma, Charles Simic, Michael Benedikt, Albert Goldbarth, William Matthews, Ethel Fortner, D.S. Long, Greg Kuzma, Cathey Ackerson, Peter Cooley, Felix Pollak, Richard Lebovitz.

This book is shown in the image above. I came across this anthology while looking for an article on one-line poetry. I still haven't found any, but if some of my readers know of such an article, then please let me know.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Colin Dueck on Donald Trump's Ignorance of Foreign Policy

Colin Dueck
School of Policy, Government,
International Affairs
George Mason University

Colin Dueck, writing for the National Review in an article titled "A Nuclear-Armed Trump?" (March 7, 2016), argues that Donald Trump cannot be trusted with American foreign policy:
Trump can't defend or affirm an American-led order, because he doesn't even understand it, much less support it. Nor does he make any clear distinction between America's allies and our adversaries. Instead, he seems by instinct to nurse a kind of undifferentiated resentment toward all foreigners, with the possible exception of a few dictatorial strongmen, such as Putin, who earn his respect. Trump calls for protectionist trade policies that would impoverish the United States as well as our partners. He calls for Japan and other allies to contribute to their own defenses, without realizing that they already do. His insistence that Mexico will pay for a U.S. border wall is absurd; it will not. He calls for bombing ISIS but otherwise offers no serious strategy. His proposal for a ("temporary") ban on all Muslims into the United States would of course make counterterrorism much harder, because the U.S. can defeat jihadist terrorists only by cooperating with those Muslims who oppose [jihadist terrorists].
Dueck spells out what I've been mulling over for several weeks. Some of my friends advise me that in a face-off between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the latter must be opposed. I have to acknowledge that Hillary has dropped in 'likability' - from my perspective - since her time with Bill in Arkansas. At the time (latter seventies, early eighties), I respected the Clintons for their efforts to improve Arkansas's educational system. Since that time, they've tarnished and stained themselves.

I've made no decision yet . . . but I won't tell you whom I've voted for when I have voted.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Poetry Break: Nought but Some Doggerel Defining "Smart"

Mr. Mike Roman's Shoe
Blogger Profile

A few days ago, in response to AlphaGo's second victory over Mr. Lee Sedol (currently, three victories), I posted a blog entry titled "Singularity Approacheth: 'Go going gone!'" Under this heading, somewhat facetiously, I wrote:
Computers are getting smarter than humans. Moreover, they are learning to defeat us in our own games! They are competing with us and outperforming us.

Ah, the humanity . . . er, robotity . . . uh, androidity . . . um, cyborgity . . .
In response, Mr. Mike Roman, a man of few words, dropped by and typed:
Define "smart"
I therefore did by way of posting this bit of pregnant-with-meaning doggerel:
Smart Defined
At times, it means some pain;
Some say it should mean gain;
It can mean quite well dressed,
But I am not impressed.

It's fear within my head
That brings me to this dread
AI can really do
What people can do, too!

Except more fast than us,
And that's smart double plus!
Nothing beautiful - though I've smartened it up a bit since first posting it as a comment - but I believe I've defined "smart" to everyone's satisfaction, and even worked in an allusion to Orwell's famous dystopian novel, 1984.

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

One-Liner Poems Defined

Google Images

In my comment to Carter Kaplan's comment on one-line poems as bon mots, I attempted to define my concept of a one-liner poem:
I try for a single iambic pentameter line with self-referential properties that effectively double the line and a title that interacts with the line, all of these working together to produce a brief, but interesting reading.
I might word that slightly differently now:
I try for a single iambic pentameter line with self-referential properties, which effectively double the line, and a title that interacts with the 'doubled' line, all of these working together to produce a brief, but interesting reading.
I thought at first that I might have engendered a new genre, but a quick check via Google for "one-line poems" and "one-line poetry" gives over 8,000 for the former and over 14,000 for the latter.

I'm thus not the first to go where no man has gone before, but I'm perhaps one of the first to attempt a definition.

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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Poetry Break: Even More One-Line Poems

The Elastic Periphrastic
Google Images

More periphrastical, nonsensical, one-line poems to read:

Crass Consciousness
Negation of negation - diamat!

Slightly Better
To slight a candle, lightly curse the dark.

Wordiness: many more with much more less.

Everything you grasp, you take away.

Getting tired of excellence? Also of mediocrity? Stop reading my blog.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Singularity Approacheth: "Go going gone!"

Lee Se-dol, Professional Go Player
After Defeat at the 'Hands' of a Computer

As everyone knows by now, "AlphaGo defeat[ed] . . . Go champion [Lee Se-dol] in [their] first match" (Korea Herald, March 9, 2016), as reported by Kim Young-won, who quotes Lee:
I was really surprised. I didn't think I could lose . . . . I didn't think AlphaGo would play in such a perfect manner. I [would] like to express my respect to the Google team for making such an amazing program.
That's losing with grace, but the evident strain on Lee will likely grow in the next four matches, for the more AlphaGo plays, the more it learns. One expert commentator observed:
AlphaGo's skill has drastically improved even after its first victory against a human player months ago.
As I noted, the Singularity approacheth. I told my wife that translation programs will soon be competing with us. She thinks that's a long way off, but I think such programs are much closer than most translators think. For some languages, Google Translate is already pretty good . . .

Incidentally,  I've learned in the last hour that Lee lost the second match. That settles the issue. Computers are getting smarter than humans. Moreover, they are learning to defeat us in our own games! They are competing with us and outperforming us.

Ah, the humanity . . . er, robotity . . . uh, androidity . . . um, cyborgity . . .


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Poetry Break: Some More One-Line Poems

"Grime and Punishment"

Here are three new one-liners:


Sage born, he could recall no flair of youth.

Galactic Hitchhiker's Guide

A well-thumbed guide leading nowhere at all.


The GPS knows badder than you do!

Perhaps I've engendered a new genre of poetry . . .


Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Poetry Break: One-Line Poems

These one-liners are great fun to play around with:

Free Verse
This poetry gives verse that's free . . . for free!

This poem asks where this damned sentence ends!

This passive-active verse is not averse.

To play with words gives oft a painful pun.

Anyway, I'll keep at them for a while - trying for all that while to avoid that painful-pun punishment of yore . . .

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Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Trump This!

Donald Ducks Responsibility for ISIS Remark?
Photo by Sgt. Gabriela Garcia

Nicholas Kristof, writing his column this week on "Donald the Dangerous" (NYT, March 5, 2016), recalls something Trump said last year that I missed at the time:
Asked about Syria, Trump said last year that he would unleash ISIS to destroy Syria's government. That is insane: ISIS is already murdering or enslaving Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities; executing gays; destroying antiquities; oppressing women. And Trump wants ISIS to capture Damascus?
Trump apparently didn't realize that ISIS is another name for Islamic State. I'm assuming Trump at least knows of the Islamic State and wouldn't want to give it Damascus. But I might be wrong. Possibly, Trump's ignorance is deeply, profoundly, abyssmally, boundlessly, bottomlessly, even toplessly unlimited.

However, I do wish Kristof had supplied a citation, for I should have remembered such a statement by Trump, so I'd like to see exactly what the man said.


Monday, March 07, 2016

Boko Haram Fails to Manage the 'Savagery' it Created!

Abubakar Shekau
Leader of Boko Haram

Dionne Searcey, writing for the NYT, informs us already in her article's title that the Nigerian Islamist State adherents known as "Boko Haram Falls Victim to a Food Crisis It Created" (March 4, 2016), and her article itself offers this example:
This week, dozens of emaciated Boko Haram fighters, along with captive women and children, surrendered to military officials in Nigeria, a situation the authorities expect to repeat itself in coming weeks.
This mismanagement of Islamist savagery would be amusing if the food crisis were being experienced only by Boko Haram, but famine is afflicting everyone in the regions where Boko Haram has imposed its reign of terror.

Recall that "Boko Haram" means "Western Learning is Forbidden," and we see the results when rational thinking is rejected.


Sunday, March 06, 2016

A Note from a High School Friend

One of my high school friends who attended last summer's fortieth anniversary has since read my first novella, The Bottomless Bottle of Beer, and wants to re-read it:
Your book was entertaining the first time I read it. I want to re-read it and catch all the details and nuances I missed by having read through it quickly the first time. I am truly impressed by all your talents and your intelligence. You are an amazing man.
This friend has also promised to review the book on Amazon. Grateful for the promise, but embarrassed by such praise, I responded:
I'm not really so amazing or intelligent. As I tell my friends, I'm second rate, but if I apply myself well, I can do some first-rate work. That's my secret. My only point of genius is that I can write well . . . and I've had lots of practice.
And that's the truth, as Lily Tomlin used to say . . .

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Saturday, March 05, 2016

Portrait of the Artists as a Young Couple!

Yuko and Terrance

Terrance Lindall sent this photo of Yuko Nii and him cavorting with a tractor on Terrance's family farm in Minnesota way back in 1968! Impressed with the apparent old age of that contraption, I wrote:
Great Photo! But did that old thing actually run? Was it a steam-powered tractor or diesel?
Terrance replied:
It ran!! My father was a great mechanic! Gasoline or diesel.
But not steam-powered, so Terrance was no steam punk . . . though the photo has a certain steampunkish aspect.

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Friday, March 04, 2016

Dr. Tim Anderson: Flabbergasted by Own Book!

My old friend Tim Anderson, whom I first met when we were both 18, attending Baylor, and living in the same dorm, has very recently seen his book see publication after his seeing it through various stages, and he is flabbergasted to finally see the actual result: a book bigger than his head! Which is odd since the book sprang from that same head . . .

Be that as it may, we had a brief exchange of emails, the first words being words of his, and these words of his refer to the photo above:
Tim: "Check this out . . . a sort of selfie."

Jeffery: "So . . . how many Tim Andersons are there in the world? Seriously, congratulations! May I put this photo on my blog?"

Tim: "Nahh . . . if you're gonna blog me, let me at least give you a better picture. Vanity."

Jeffery: "But the picture was the reason . . ."

Tim: "Ok, go for it . . . just don't make a fuel out of me."

Jeffery: "No worries, you won't look fuelish!"
Foolish, maybe, but never fuelish . . . so no auto-da-fé for you, my friend, despite the Spanish context! Anyway, this is great news for scholars who are curious about the construction and use of millstones in Southern Spain. Actually, the thesis - now, a book - is quite an interesting work in showing the links between this technology and the ongoing history of the region over the centuries . . ..


Thursday, March 03, 2016

LinkedIn promised a profile . . .

LinkedIn notified me the other day that my older brother now has an updated profile, so I checked to see:

Brad Hodges
Updated Profile?

Well . . . no . . . no . . . no . . . the photo's still pretty much a frontal perspective. Granted, his head is very slightly turned to his right (our left), but the result can hardly be called a profile.

LinkedIn has therefore much exaggerated in its note to me, so I will take its future pronouncements with a grain of salt . . .

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Wednesday, March 02, 2016

My Fantasy . . .

My Fantasy Novella

I blogged several days ago on Ursula K. Le Guin's criticism of Kazuo Ishiguro for a remark he made about fantasy that she found derogatory, but I won't get into that again now, so if you're interested in the details, go here.

My post today is about a consequence of that post. Another blogger linked to it, and I suddenly had nearly 100 visits to that post - by today, over 110!

Meanwhile, within the past 24 hours (as of my writing these words), two or three copies of The Bottomless Bottle of Beer have sold!

Mere coincidence? I hope not.


Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Singularity: Limits of Wisdom?

Singularity Loop?
We can only hope . . .

My good friend Malcolm Pollack, over at his own blog, Waka Waka Waka, liked a question I posed, in fact, liked it so much that he made it the topic for a blogpost. So . . . what am I talking about?

The issue began with a post by Malcolm, titled "What Next," on the coming "Singularity" - simply put, the very rapid convergence of various developments in science and technology to a point at which artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence. Malcolm suggested the need for wisdom to deal with this rapidly approaching future, to which I said:
Wisdom is insight gained through reflection on experience, and it worked well as a guide to dealing with a future that would be similar to the past, but the future we face threatens to be radically unlike the past, so what role remains to wisdom?
This is a point that's been knocking about in my head for the past few years now, so I'm grateful to see what others think on this, and here's a big thanks to Malcolm and his blog, where an incisive debate will surely take place on his next blogpost, titled, "Is Wisdom Obsolete" - so go there!

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