Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Imprecations!

Imprecations
On Those
Who Drive
While Cursing

Back to doggerel:
Best Advice
Early to amble
off to sweet
beddie-byes
makes for a huge
devastating surprise!
But I don't know the surprise --
else it would be no surprise.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Pound it in: Be Penny Wise!


Writer
Early to bed,
but
arise to revise,
makes better profits
and suits penny wise.

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

I know doggerel's great fun, but I feel compelled to bring this report on free will!

Free Will

I've occasionally, if rarely, discussed free will on this blog, but I'm doing so today because I read an intriguing article by Michae1 Egnor titled "More Than Material Minds" (Christianity Today, September 14, 2018), in which  are discussed the significance of recent findings in neuroscience on the possibility of free will:
Some of the most fascinating research on consciousness was done by . . . Benjamin Libet at the University of California, San Francisco. Libet asked: What happens in the brain when we think? How are electrical signals in the brain related to our thoughts? He was particularly interested in the timing of brain waves and thoughts. Did a brain wave happen at the same moment as the thought, or before, or after?

It was a difficult question to answer. It wasn't hard to measure electrical changes in the brain: that could be done routinely by electrodes on the scalp, and Libet enlisted neurosurgeons to allow him to record signals deep in the brain while patients were awake. The challenge Libet faced was to accurately measure the time interval between the signals and the thoughts. But the signals last only a few milliseconds, and how can you time a thought with that kind of accuracy?

Libet began by choosing a very simple thought: the decision to press a button. He modified an oscilloscope so that a dot circled the screen once each second, and when the subject decided to push the button, he or she noted the location of the dot at the time of the decision. Libet measured the timing of the decision and the timing of the brain waves of many volunteers with accuracy in the tens of milliseconds. Consistently he found that the conscious decision to push the button was preceded by about half a second by a brain wave, which he called the readiness potential. Then a half-second later the subject became aware of his decision. It appeared at first that the subjects were not free; their brains made the decision to move and they followed it.

But Libet looked deeper. He asked his subjects to veto their decision immediately after they made it -- to not push the button. Again, the readiness potential appeared a half-second before conscious awareness of the decision to push the button, but Libet found that the veto -- he called it "free won't" -- had no brain wave corresponding to it.

The brain, then, has activity that corresponds to a pre-conscious urge to do something. But we are free to veto or accept this urge. The motives are material. The veto, and implicitly the acceptance, is an immaterial act of the will.

Libet noted the correspondence between his experiments and the traditional religious understanding of human beings. We are, he said, beset by a sea of inclinations, corresponding to material activity in our brains, which we have the free choice to reject or accept.
The veto is interesting, but I wonder if the fact that it was already decided in advance makes a difference to the outcome. Perhaps the brain wave in this case entailed both the decision to press the button and the decision to veto that decision. Comments welcome.

For the entire article, click here. This article originally appeared in Plough Quarterly No. 17: "The Soul of Medicine" (Summer 2018).

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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Just one of the guys


Disguise
Earl-ly to bed
and
earl-ly to rise
maketh man noble -
just one of the guise!

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Friday, September 14, 2018

Join the Loco Chapter!

Crazy

Mere Squalidity

Squirrelly to bed
and
squirrelly to rise
leaves a man's mind
in a squirrelier guise.

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Some Nonsense About Fries


One Untimely Born

Early to bed
and
early to rise
meant Benny
ne'er tasted
MacDonald's
French Fries.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Actuarial Deliberations . . .

Re-Boot Camp?

Actuarial

Rarely to bed
but
ever to rise
makes a man
likely for
early demise!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Dough, a deer, a female deer . . .


Baker

Early to bread,
to watch the dough rise,
makes a  man stealthy,
perhaps even wealthy,
but of health in no wise!

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Monday, September 10, 2018

Less Grouchy Benjamin

Disguise


Flexible

Lately to bed,
I must improvise,
and take on
a healthy,
and wealthy
disguise!

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Sunday, September 09, 2018

Dr. Franklin's Curative

Betty Boop

Pre-Curative

Of girlie to bed,
or just fantasize,
the latter's more
healthy --
you're wealthy,
and wise!

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Saturday, September 08, 2018

Poeticizing Dr. Franklin

Poeticizing
Franklin

Franklinism

Early to bed,
for push-ups to rise,
makes a man ruddy,
exercise-wise.

If I write enough Franklin doggerel, I'm sure a handful of them will be inspired poems of genius, but bear with me, for this may take a while . . .

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Friday, September 07, 2018

Franklin causing Richard Saunders grave distress

Not Penny Money

Engraven

Early to bed,
and early to lies
made slightly more likely
Poor Richard's demise.

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Thursday, September 06, 2018

Staying Alive


Jamin

Earlier dead
or longer alive,
a lifespan's
too short
for a body
to thrive!

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Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Faster than Light, Slower than Heavy

Critical Theory
Flecting and Re-Flecting

Crit Lit

Early to bed,
still earlier to rise,
would surely make
physical laws
meet demise.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Franklin's Frivolities Imagined

Robert Feke's Rendering
1856

Here, again, lies the image of an imagined Franklin:
Marital Arts

Early to wed
and
early to rise
makes a man
babies:
li'l gals,
li'l guys.
The word "lies" is, as always, ambiguous.

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Monday, September 03, 2018

A sad Franklin gazes down on us with sympathy

A Dollar Bill
(Apologies for
so little value)


Here's another ripoff of Richard Saunders, Franklin's alter ego, whom Franklin treated badly:

Franklin Wrote This Not
Bully to bed
and
bully to rise
makes a man
headstrong,
not
wealthy
nowise.
And Franklin didn't even share any of the price money with his alter ego!

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Sunday, September 02, 2018

Milton: Books are not absolutely dead things . . .

John Milton

I borrowed from at least two different writings by Milton and at least a couple more not by Milton in composing this sonnet below, which is in the series of poems I've called the Writing Block series. In order to make this more fun, let's see which readers can find the sources to the poem below:
Not Books Alone
Also is letter not completely dead,
But in the vial of the living word
Sustained is law that oft soundeth absurd,
Provoking object that, provoking, led

To choiceless choice, for reason is but choice,
And Satan quick did grasp the naked truth,
That Eve and Adam, much to their great ruth,
Grasped naked, that reasonless meant the Voice

To excite voiced obedience: "Now choose
Life" from the Tree of Life and live by faith
Sustained through grace, or so He sayeth,

Yet still I fear can this salvation lose,
Though grace hath promised that she ever stayeth,
For gaze on Lucifer, who ever strayeth.

There it is, a sonnet in process, which might or might not be finished. I generally keep tinkering on my poems forever . . .

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Saturday, September 01, 2018

Utopia, Texas - Town Motto: "There's no place like utopia."



Schroedinger's Utopia:

Utopia is nowhere.

Utopia is now here.

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Friday, August 31, 2018

Rotund, but Franklinesqe?

Deflated Basketball
A Provoking Object

The following isn't doggerel - it's even worse! It's in the pre-doggerel, feline-fine category:
Going to Fat

Burly to bed
and
burly to rise
makes a big belly
that can shimmy
likewise.
And whoever wrote this inglorious, if diffuse, even nebulous screed against adipose tissue is a skinny little anorexic fatophobe!

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Thursday, August 30, 2018

NYT Error? - Neil Simon, 1927-1918

NYT Error?

My wife took this photo of the NYT's lower left-hand quarter section, which gives Neil Simon's birth and death dates as 1927 and 1918, respectively, of which the latter figure would appear to be possibly wrong, but who am I to argue with the NYT?

To argue or not to argue. That is the question . . .

Shouldn't one express some skepticism at a report that a man passed away about nine years before he was born, especially if that same man is shown in fine fettle in an accompanying photo dating to the year 2000, when he would already have been dead for about eighty-two years?

There must be some error here, but I can't quite figure out what it is . . .

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Astrology in Gnosticism

Bullsh*t

The friend whom I referred to as a thought-thief also displayed a lack of integrity on the issue of astrology in Gnosticism. She gave a presentation on Gnosticism and was asked if astrology was found in the gnostic system. She said she hadn't noticed it.

I spoke up and said, "I can answer this question. Astrology is pervasive in Gnosticism."

My friend didn't like to hear that, and she said to me later that when one visits another person's seminar for the first time, one should remain courteously silent.

I knew that  was bullsh*t, and that the real reason was that she was embarrassed at being so totally wrong on such a basic point in a field within which she was supposedly an expert.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Those upon whom Allah's wrath rests and those who have gone astray


Last Friday, I noted that a manifesto had been published in France as a call to the Muslim world to 'freeze' verses in the Qur'an that call for violence against Jews, Christians, and unbelievers.

Muslim leaders angrily complained of racism, Islamophobia, ignorance, and other epithetical expletives, and they said that there are no such verses in the Qur'an.

I noted that there are a number of verses that urge violence against those upon whom Allah's wrath rests and upon those who have gone astray, and these unfortunate fellows have often been identified as Jews and Christians, respectively.

I therefore suggest that we search the various writings of those Muslim leaders who have denied any hostility toward Jews and Christians in the Qur'an and see how they interpret such verses.

I'd suspect that we'd find many such readings by these  Muslim leaders.

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Monday, August 27, 2018

Already Educated a Bit

Religion

Once upon a time, nearly two decades ago, I proofread and helped edit a book on "women and religion" for a friend who was working hard to make her mark in religious studies. There were a number of minor corrections that I made, as well as some matters of style that I adjusted, all of which she accepted. She had long realized that I was a better writer, and she didn't try to argue against my alterations.

But I then startled her by pointing to an important passage in her book and saying that she could strengthen her argument considerably by reworking the passage in a certain way.

She looked at me in surprise, dumbfounded for a moment, then said, "Well . . . I guess you learned something from my book."

My turn for surprise. I looked at her in silence, though I could have said, and maybe should have said, "Well, if I learned something from your book, then why did your book have to learn it from me?"

But we were still friends at that time, and I didn't want to embarrass her, though I now realize that I shouldn't have let her get away with that thought-theft.

She needed to know that I was already a fairly well-educated fellow before I met her, for she seemed remarkably oblivious to that fact.

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Sunday, August 26, 2018

More Franklinish Wisdom?


Surliness!
Surly to bed
and
surly to rise
makes a man
hellish and selfish
who lies!

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Saturday, August 25, 2018

Horrific Crimes . . . or Not


I re-read this great novel during my recent vacation with my family, and I liked it just as much this time as I did the first time I read it.

I must confess, however, that the book has a few (very few) flaws, for example:
- page 127:

"Well, then, Mr. Bousted, good night, until we meet again, and thank you for your kindness to your [my] brother."
This sort of error above is more common than one might think, as is the following kind of error:
- page 253:

me -- a man who had not touched a drop of spirits since that evening when I met Snyder in the saloon on Ohio-street. [Has not drunk alcohol more than once.]
Compare:
- page 219:

By this time, but for the roaring pain in my head (which a bit of Colonel Goode's excellent brandy had blunted somewhat). [Has drunk alcohol more than once, one time in the saloon, a second time at the Goode mansion, this second time being prior to the reference to alcohol on page 253.]

- page 121:

I pressed the glass to my lips and took a tentative sip. At once my mouth was filled with burning bitterness. [Has drunk alcohol for the first time and wants no more of it due to its taste and the drunken condition in which he finds Snyder.]
Despite the words of the protagonist on page 253 that he had not touched a drop of spirits since the tentative sip on page 121, he tells us on page 219 that he had drunk some excellent brandy (since that tentative sip on page 121).

This is not some dreadful lie, nor any sort of lie on the part of the protagonist; it is merely a moment in which the author has erred in memory, forgetting that the protagonist has in fact had a drink.

If any readers happen to read these words and imagine that 'Dr. Boli' is careless, let me assure all readers that after one has written and rewritten and again rewritten a passage several times -- and I speak from experience -- nearly every author would have difficulty recalling what has been kept and what rejected.

In the spirit of crowd sourcing editorial work, I note these minor errors as assistance to 'Dr. Boli' when he releases his next edition of The Crimes of Galahad.

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Friday, August 24, 2018

French Manifesto


In a Memri posting (August 20, 2018, Inquiry and Analysis Series No.1413), we find an important manifesto directed to Muslims. Many French public intellectuals and political leaders recently signed this manifesto against Islam, criticizing the hatred in some Qur'anic verses directed toward Jews, Christians, and unbelievers and urging Muslim authorities to disavow such verses as obsolete:
"Therefore, we urge that the Quranic verses calling to kill and punish Jews, Christians and non-believers be declared obsolete by the theological authorities."
Needless to say, this didn't go over well with those aforementioned "theological authorities":
The signatories to the manifesto, they said, were simply ignorant and harbored racist sentiments towards Muslims . . . . "[The] Quran does not contain a single verse that calls to kill Jews and Christians, nor is there any room for such barbarity and cruelty in that book." . . . Mentioning Quran 2:256, which states that "there is no coercion in religion," [the question is] asked: "Why should the Quran call to kill Jews and Christians? . . . How can any reasonable person make such a claim?" . . . "No to freezing a single letter of the Quran. Whoever demands this can go to hell . . . . [If] they rely on their own faulty understanding, then to hell with them and their demands."
This sort of response goes on and on for page after page, denial after denial. No attempt is made to engage the manifesto's criticisms.

As the Islamic authorities surely know, there are verses in the Qur'an that are understood to refer to Jews and Christians, for instance, in Surah 1:7, which says, "Guide us in the straight path, the path of those whom Thou hast blessed, not of those against whom Thou art wrathful [the Jews], nor of those who are astray [the Christians]."

Islamic tradition has understood verse 7 to refer to the Jews as those with whom Allah is angry and to the Christians as the people who have gone astray. One sees how Allah's attitude toward Jews and Christians could lead to believers' violence against them.

As for the widely quoted verse about no coercion in religion, it is widely held to be abrogated, namely, that it was espoused when Islam was weak but does not apply when Muslims gain power.

And we see that anyone calling for reform of Islam by suspending verses in the Qur'an can simply go to hell.

One can see why the French signatories are alarmed. More here.

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Vacation Nearly Over

Here we are, still at the East Sea, also still stubbornly 'known' by some people as the Sea of Japan:

Hurricane in No Hurry

But the weather looks ominous . . .

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Vacation

Here we are at the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan:


I'm using my iPad, so I won't try to compose anything today.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Poems: Composing . . . or Decomposing

A friend of mine saw these two moments in the process of composing poetry and wanted to take photos, so here they are:

Composing 1

Composing 2

Both photos reveal a poet at work amending poems that appear to be in the final stages of composition . . . or decomposition.

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Monday, August 20, 2018

The Other Forgotten Poem


The other poem is titled Mistral, and according to NRL Monterey, Marine Meteorology Division, the "mistral is a strong, cold northwesterly wind system that blows from Southern France into the Gulf of Lions  . . . with sustained winds often exceeding 40 kt, and gusts sometimes to 100 kt." Folk belief holds that it drives men insane. Here's the poem:
Mistral
Wind of evil from the mountains,
Wind from darkness of the hills,
Toss the stars in glowing fountains
Struck like sparks from grinding wheels.

Drive a man to dread the morrow -
Whisper nothing in his ear;
Wrap his soul in shrouds of sorrow -
Hold him in unyielding fear.

Wind of evil from the mountains,
Wind of darkness from the hills,
Toss the stars in glowing fountains
Struck like sparks from grinding wheels.
Nothing special, this poem, but I want to put it with my next collection of poems, which will appear in 2050.

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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Forgotten Poems

Dante

In perusing the first Emanations anthology to see how far Carter Kaplan's project has come over the years, I discovered that I had somehow left out two poems from my Radiant Snow collection. Here's one of them:
Dante's Odyssey
Those nights I often dreamt
of broken labyrinths
where black, black flames rise up
in resurrected death
to prophesy with no one's tongue
on what shall come, is passing, or has passed.
I like this one, so I don't know how I neglected to include it.

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