Saturday, October 22, 2016

Trump as "Delusional Tiger"?

Wounded Tiger
Daily Mail Online

Over at Malcolm Pollack's Waka Waka Waka site, one anti-Trump commenter let his emotions get the better of his rhetorical control, so I took some time to perform a bit of exegesis on one of his sentences, specifically his "Delusional Tiger" metaphor, which I segued into from George Orwell's words on political language:
Speaking of Orwell on language, what would he think of this:
"Trump is a wounded tiger, delusional and dangerous, and he doesn't care if he burns the house down in his never-ending race to the bottom."
I'll grant that a wounded tiger is dangerous, but is it delusional? Well, maybe, if it has blood poisoning from its wounds. Okay, I'll grant that, too. But where did this blood-poisoned, delusional tiger obtain the fire – and how does it carry this fire – that might burn down the house, though the tiger doesn't care one way or the other about that? Moreover, this blood-poisoned, delusional, indifferent tiger is in a never-ending race to an apparently bottomless bottom?

In short, we've got this blood-poisoned, delusional, fire-bearing, house-bound, indifferent, racing-to-a-bottomless-bottom tiger that poses a danger to its own house.

Orwell would agree that these mixed – and even mixed-up – metaphors clearly reveal much to worry about.
There you have it, my explication of words expressed by a man whose political sentiments have exceeded his capacity to control their flow and his ability to judge their propriety.


Friday, October 21, 2016

Ravens as Birdbrains?

Mary Wakefield

Mary Wakefield, commissioning editor of The Spectator, asks, "Just how clever are ravens?" (The Spectator, October 22, 2016), and as regular readers know, I am interested in animal intelligence, so let's see what Ms. Wakefield has discovered:
Until recently, neuroscientists had little time for birds. It was assumed that brain size (relative to body size) was the most significant factor in animal intelligence. What good could any bird brain be? Plus birds have no neo-cortex, which in mammals is vital for intelligence. A seven-year study at Duke University, North Carolina, tested 36 species for their ability to inhibit impulses (a significant part of being clever) and the results were presented, in 2014, as a league table of animal IQ: great apes top, dogs honourably middling, birds at the bottom.

But those scientists at Duke had not considered crow-kind. This year, researchers from Lund University in Sweden repeated the Duke experiment with corvids (jackdaws, crows and ravens) and found, to their shock, that these birds were the equal of apes. Ravens, Corvus corax, the smartest of all crows, scored 100 per cent on the Duke test. This was not an anomaly. All around the world scientists are discovering that ravens are alarmingly smart. They will make and use tools to get food; they can grasp abstract concepts and use imagination. Ravens will not only stash food in hidey holes to eat later, but, if they think another bird is watching, they'll fake-hide their food to fox the competition. This isn't pre-programmed behaviour - this is considered strategy.
Growing up in the Ozarks, I always knew that crows were smart. I don't recall seeing any ravens in those hills, though, but I sure wish I had . . .


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Weird Shariah?

Almighty Allah

I once asked a Muslim man how sharia functions in the case of an honor killing, since the right to retribution would sometimes fall to the individual accused of the killing, but I received no response. Maybe the case of honor killing detailed below can supply an explanation:
While recording his statement in . . .court . . . , the accused, Faqeer Muhammad, not only pardoned himself, but also his son and nephew who were his accomplices in the case.The accused said in his statement: "The deceased, Kiran Bibi, was my real daughter. She was unmarried at the time of her murder. There are no other legal heirs of the deceased except her mother, Bushra Bibi, and me. I have forgiven the accused persons in the name of Almighty Allah, and have no objection to their acquittal. I also waive my right of Qisas (retribution) and Diyat (blood money)." Faqeer Muhammad had shot dead his daughter and her alleged lover, Ghulam Abbas, "to save family honour" in 2014. His son, Muhammad Illyas, and nephew, Muhammad Tahir, were also accused of abetting the double murders. Abbas' mother Azmat Bibi named the three accused . . . . Later, the complainant moved an application, requesting that the court make the offence (the murder of her son) compoundable . . . . The court allowed the application after which Azmat Bibi and her second son, Waqas Ali pardoned the accused, pleading that they had no objection to their acquittal, and also waived their right of Qisas and Diyat. After the complaint cleared them, Faqeer and Bushra recorded their statements as legal heirs of the deceased girl, and forgave the accused.
This shameless process appeared, as reported by Rana Yasif, in "Man kills daughter for 'honour' in Lahore, goes scot-free after pardoning self" (The Express Tribune, October 18, 2016). In fact, this process is so blatantly unjust that I have to wonder if we're reading a satirical piece and The Express Tribune a Pakistani equivalent of The Onion!


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

"Nobel Prize for Literature? That's a bit much . . ."


I have to agree with my friend Bill Vallicella, who felt compelled to raise a dissenting voice on Dylan's Nobel:
This brings me to Bob Dylan who was recently awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. Now I've been a Dylan fan from the early '60s. In the '60s I was more than a fan; I was a fanatic who would brook no criticism of his hero. And I still maintain that in the annals of American popular music no one surpasses him as a songwriter.

But the Nobel Prize for Literature? That's a bit much, and an ominous foreshadowing of the death of the book and of quiet reading in this hyperkinetic age of tweets and soundbites. A large theme. Get to it conservative bloggers. Why do I have to do all the work?
I'd defend quiet reading, but I'm too busy reading books. Anyway, I want to note that I was a Dylan fan - and still am - though never a fanatic, and I wish to echo Bill's remark that the Nobel Prize is a bit much.

On the other hand . . . Dylan can be an inspiration to us all! If Dylan can get a Nobel Prize, maybe we can, too!

Whur do I go tuh pick mine up?


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

It's a Hard Rain's Gonna Fall

Raining Hard at the 41st Class Reunion

And hard rain it did, driving classmates back indoors to the oddly, if appropriately named 'pool' room where swimming is not only not allowed, it's simply' not possible . . .


Monday, October 17, 2016

Kelly Zeigler

Kelly Zeigler

Another photo from Jimmie Jones, this time of Kelly Zeigler, though the picture's not the best.

Kelly's the guy who got me interested in Cub Scouts, which led to an interest in Boy Scouts, through which I met the Scoutmaster, Mr. Holland, who died a few years back when he was 92 and one of my oldest friends.

One thing leads to another . . . and another . . . and another . . .

But back to Kelly.

Kelly had the strongest willpower of all us boys, and I think all the other boys would agree.

Say amen, somebody.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Just Good Friends

Danny Davis and Anita May

Yet another class-reunion photo from among the many sent me by Jimmie Jones, this one showing Danny Davis getting a big hug from Anita May!

Danny was a friend from baseball times - specifically, the Little League Tigers team, on which we both played, Danny as pitcher and me as catcher.

Danny was a good pitcher. I recall that he had excellent ball control. He didn't throw quite as hard as our other pitcher, Mark Young, but Mark could be a bit wild, and I was always a little afraid whenever he was pitching.

Just as in the photo above, Danny always had such a broad, friendly smile . . . and mischievous eyes. Like he knows something you don't . . .


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Roger and Jimmie

Roger Bryant and Jimmie Jones

Here's another photo from among the many that Jimmie sent me, this one of him and Roger Bryant. Roger seems to be the host here, busy grilling the steaks and hot dogs, but not too busy to help Jimmie open a beer.

Roger was a very good baseball player. His position was catcher, like me, except that Roger was actually good as a catcher. He wasn't afraid of the ball or the bat, he didn't let a ball get past him, and he could throw a baseball straight to second base without having to stand up first, a useful skill to have against a player trying to steal second.

He and I also hauled a lot of hay together when we were 15 through 17, and that's pretty much how we became friends. Before working together, we were just two guys in the same class at school and on different teams in baseball. He was a hard worker, and so was I, and that used to be important among men . . . though we were just boys.

He once remarked that he didn't want to grow up and mature because he'd noticed that guys who'd 'matured' seemed to lose their sense of humor and feel insulted even at good-natured ribbing. I've always thought that was pretty insightful, at least for the Ozark culture we grew up in, a culture in which a man wouldn't take an 'insult.' There wasn't a lot of self-irony among grown-up men back there then . . .


Friday, October 14, 2016

Noble Prize Gets Bob Dylan!

After years of eluding the Big Lit Prize, Mr. Bob Dylan was finally gotten by the Prize Committee yesterday. Expressing consternation upon hearing the news, Mr. Dylan reportedly said:
"I wish it was more meaningful, like the Noble Piss Prize, or somethin', but if I'd knowd this was gonna happen, I'd've taken worse care of myself so it wouldn't've had to've happened."
Reporters are still trying to confirm what this means and whether Mr. Dylan actually said it. As is so often the case with him, the word is as elusive as the man, as he is a man of his word.

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

An Uptick in Sales?

Not that anyone (other than yours truly) actually cares, but my novella has sold about four copies over the past couple of days.

For newer readers - who might not yet have decided not to care - here's a synopsis:
"The story of a naive young man who trades his soul for a bottomless bottle of beer, but has a change of heart and tries to get his soul back."
If that interests you, go and browse through the free preview . . .