Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Dog Days of War

Dogs: Wikipedia

Yesterday, I was asked by a certain Ms. Lynn Rosa to comment on Dog Wars:
Hello is it possible to speak with you regarding Korea and some health issues relating to the eating of dogs? Thanks, we are making a documentary on this topic, Dog Wars. I am the executive producer, Lynn Rosa... Thank you!
I replied:
Dear Ms. Lynn Rosa, I think that I am too ignorant of the Korean dog meat industry to add anything substantive to the debate. I am on the side of the dogs, of course. I know that some Korean men think that eating dog soup provides them with energy, particularly sexual energy. I know that this is nonsense, and the belief that beating the dog to death increases the energy is evil nonsense. Some Koreans have told me that dog meat is easier to digest because dogs and humans are more closely related than, say, cattle and humans. I tell them that if this is true, then dog meat is more dangerous to eat since we - dogs and humans - share too many similar pathogens. Beyond what I've posted here today, I know nothing.
I suppose Ms. Rosa will find her expert somehow or other, but not through me, unfortunately.

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Monday, April 22, 2019

Mad Men Advertising

Bottled Sparkling Water

This is the mineral water I mostly drink: "Victoria Sparkling Water: Plain." I like the water, but I've noticed something misleading. Below the large word "Victoria" is the large image of a waterfall, leading one to infer that this water comes to us from "Victoria Falls." Granted, the words "Sparkling Water" do come between "Victoria" and the "Falls," but only in much smaller font than "Victoria" and in much smaller effect than the "Falls."

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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Biblical Remembering?

Heart

Once upon a time, I was working on an article on the biblical view of the "heart," which contained this paragraph:
This Jewish and Christian understanding of the remembering of crucial salvational historical events as though one had personally experienced them has its grounding in a larger Biblical understanding of memory as a faculty of the heart, but this means far more than mere recollection, for in Biblical anthropology, "heart" as a technical term "denotes the center of the person as a rational, emotional and volitional being" (Eric Jager, The Book of the Heart, 2001, page 13). Planning and volition thus come from the heart, which serves as the root of religious and moral conduct. I would like to call attention to the active aspect of this unity, as expressed in the Biblical understanding of "remembering," by surveying and commenting upon a number of Biblical passages.
I had some things I wanted to explain to my own satisfaction, but I didn't remain long enough in one place with a theological library, so I stopped working on the manuscript, which has been gathering metaphysical dust for about fifteen years.

I had thought that my sabbatical might offer me the time, but I now suspect it won't.

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Saturday, April 20, 2019

Translating Engines for Email?


I received an email reminder of an upcoming literary conference on English literature to be held in Korean:
회원선생님들께,

안녕하세요. 이제 봄날씨가 제법 완연합니다.

변덕스러운 봄날씨에 건강유의하시길 바랍니다.

중세근세학회 춘계학술대회가 한 달 앞으로 성큼다가왔습니다.

일정표 첨부하오니 참조하시고 회원선생님들의 많은 참여 기대하겠습니다.

감사합니다. 그럼 학회때 뵙겠습니다!

최지연 배상

총무이사

한국중세근세학
I can't read or speak Korean, so let's see how the Korean-to-English translation engine works:
Member Dear Sir,

Hi. Now, Mr. springtime recipe wanyeon.

Please note that the health fickle spring seeds.

Modern Medieval Society Conference has been approached stride forward one month.

These haohni see attached itinerary will expect participation of its members teachers.

Thank you. So I'll see you when the Society!

Choejiyeon damages

General Affairs Director

Korea Medieval Modern Society
How does it work? Not very well. But blame the state-of-the-art, not the state-of-the-artist.

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Ill Logical Syllogism

Gold?

I need to get a little money, and I've figured a way to do so if people will just cooperate:
Ill Logical Syllogism
All that glitters is not gold.
Gold glitters.
Gold is not gold.
As this Ill Logical Syllogism 'proves,' all that yellow, soft, metallic, glowing, arguably glittering stuff called gold is worthless, and offers nothing of value, and I will gladly take it all off your hands.

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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Yet Still Another One of Pollack's Problems

Great Biological Tree
"Tree Of Life"

The following is Pollack's first question and his musing on possible answers:
1) Where do people come from? How did we get here? . . . At some point . . . . a few billion years ago, self-replicating molecules appeared . . . . Once this process of self-replication began, the mechanism illuminated by Darwin's great insight began to operate . . . . these replicators became more complex, and differentiated forms found niches of various kinds . . . . [T]his gradual, iterative operation eventually resulted in the world we live in . . . . The continuity and unity of Earthly life seems clearer and clearer the more we learn, and perhaps the strongest argument for the evolutionary connectedness of the great biological tree is the weaknesses of many living forms, the little hack-jobs and jury-rigs made by repurposing existing parts . . . . That said, it's hard to look at the astonishing machinery of life — especially the micromachinery . . . . — and not have the feeling that there has to be something more at work here than the purposeless agitations of atoms and the void . . . , it's hard to look at the detail of it all — the incomparable engineering of it all — and not see it as being, somehow, miraculous. This wasn't a problem for me when I was twelve, or twenty-five, or even forty, but it is, I must confess, becoming rather a problem for me now.
Pollack easily sees evolution at work in "the little hack-jobs and jury-rigs made by repurposing existing parts" because that's what we would expect of a random process such as natural selection. However, "[t]he astonishing machinery of life - especially the micromachinery" - "the incomparable engineering of it all" - is "somehow, miraculous," something more like design.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Yet Another of Pollack's Problems

Fine-Tuning of the Universe

My third-most-liked (by me) of Pollack's problems is his number 2:
2) "We know that there are physical laws and constants that appear to be fine-tuned to support the existence of the world around us. If any one of them were different by even the slightest amount, our Universe would be completely uninhabitable. How can we explain this?"
My difficulty with number 2 is that I've not yet studied these physical laws and constants, and I thus don't know many of them. Other than death and taxes, what are the other constants? I have no idea. I know only that we got really lucky in the ones we got. Or . . . was this not luck?

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Another of Pollack's Problems

Conscious Quarks?
Panpsychism

My next-favorite problem is number 4, our 'magical consciousness':
4) "What is consciousness? How can it possibly be produced by the human brain, which is, after all, just a blob of ordinary matter?"
I've lunged in various directions trying to answer the question this way or that way. I sometimes think that consciousness is no more mysterious than the existence of a subatomic particle, say, a quark. Maybe, basically, everything boils down to brute facts. Just keep asking the same question: "What is X made of (X being the the previous building block, which must now be broken down into its own building blocks)?" Other times, I think that a quark is just as mysterious as consciousness. And I even other other times suspect that quarks are conscious. (They may be listening to us right now.) But mostly, I don't know what to think.

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Pollack's Problems


Malcolm Pollack has lately been asking some hard questions for philosophical naturalists, and my favorite is this one, number 3:
3) Why is there something rather than nothing? . . . Mightn't nothing, not even the laws of physics, ever have come into being at all?
This is - as noted - my favorite question. But I didn't tell you why. Here's why. The question boggles my mind. I can find no proper way to ask the question. Why not? Because no matter how hard I try to think of pure nothingness, I always find a residue of 'somethingness' in it. Doesn't this boggle your mind, too?

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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Daddy-Long-Legs?

Daddy-Long-Legs?

At one time not so long ago, I intended to write as a journal article an academic paper setting forth a critique of Jean Webster's epistolary novel, Daddy Long Legs.

I'm still thinking about this, but I've discovered that eight months is not a long time.

But I'm also still thinking about it . . .

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Saturday, April 13, 2019

Revisiting Visitations Revisited

Word-Smith
Smiter of Words

I had some insight on how to improve the poem. Here is the original:
Visitations [1]
We visit them each year, no special day,
Just drop in, unexpected, filled with ruth,
And never have they anything to say,
Nor we, to speak the honest gospel truth.

Perhaps we mumble a few pieties,
But they have surely heard it all before,
And from the horse's mouth direct to seize
What lies for us yet still beyond the door.

Our nothings said, we beg our leave to go,
Turn, step away, with graver thoughts ahead,
But soon forget what we had come to know,
The awful, artful silence of the dead.
Here's the poem with stanza 2 re-worked:
Visitations [4?]
We visit them each year, no special day,
Just drop in, unexpected, filled with ruth,
And never have they anything to say,
Nor we, to speak the honest gospel truth.

Perhaps we mumble a few pieties,
But they have surely heard it all before,
And from the horse's mouth direct they seize
What lies for us yet still beyond the door.

Our nothings said, we beg our leave to go,
Turn, step away, with graver thoughts ahead,
But soon forget what we had come to know,
The awful, artful silence of the dead.
Is this latter version better? Clearer? More intelligible? Nobel Prize material? I believe it's version number four. Anyway, it's the most recent rewriting.

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Friday, April 12, 2019

Proverb

Apple:
First Fall Started All!
Pronounce it Well
or to Pay There's Hell!

A proverb is a short sentence based on long experience.

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Visitations Revisited

Wordsmith: The Work is the Word

My main critic, a man I've known for 40 years, suggested that stanza 2 needed different punctuation. Here is the original poem:
Visitations [1]
We visit them each year, no special day,
Just drop in, unexpected, filled with ruth,
And never have they anything to say,
Nor we, to speak the honest gospel truth.

Perhaps we mumble a few pieties,
But they have surely heard it all before,
And from the horse's mouth direct to seize
What lies for us yet still beyond the door.

Our nothings said, we beg our leave to go,
Turn, step away, with graver thoughts ahead,
But soon forget what we had come to know,
The awful, artful silence of the dead.
Here's the poem with stanza 2 re-punctuated:
Visitations [2]
We visit them each year, no special day,
Just drop in, unexpected, filled with ruth,
And never have they anything to say,
Nor we, to speak the honest gospel truth.

Perhaps we mumble a few pieties,
But they have surely heard it all before
And from the horse's mouth direct to seize,
What lies for us yet still beyond the door.

Our nothings said, we beg our leave to go,
Turn, step away, with graver thoughts ahead,
But soon forget what we had come to know,
The awful, artful silence of the dead.
Is this latter version better? Clearer? More intelligible?

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Bite as Bad as Its Bark

Know Your Spices!
(A Knuckle Sandwich)

I've been taking a daily walk to get my cardiovascular system running better. That appears to be working, especially since my walk is up to the top of Mt. Bonghwa and down again.

But one ought to take precautions. Let others know your whereabouts. You cannot, of course, really get lost on a big hill. If in doubt, go up.

One more thing. Always carry pepper spray. The women with their little toy dogs are out and about, and they can be dangerous!

The dogs, I mean.

The day before yesterday, on Mt. Bonghwa, a little lapdog about half the size of a small chihuahua burst forth from under a bench where its kindly, elderly, female owner was seated, quickly achieved lift-off, and a split-second later landed on my right calf, where it attached itself by its sharp teeth to my lower right leg and hung there like a second appendage.

Briefly. Very briefly. But painfully.

Pepper spray would been a perfect revenge. That's why I told all of you up above: "Always carry pepper spray!"

I didn't follow my own advice, and I am now a sadder but wiser man . . .

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Tuesday, April 09, 2019

On the Necessity of Punctuation!

Punctuation

For instance, what would this sentence mean?
write sees backwards
What would this sentence want us to do?

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Monday, April 08, 2019

We've all heard of . . .


Look, now, we've all of us heard of, nay even directly felt, that cold calculation against our skin called the wind chill factor . . . but has any one of us, any single one of us, ever seen a wind chill factory?

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Sunday, April 07, 2019

Lines of Significance


I read an article the other day about one of my Berkeley professors, John Heilbron. I should say that I stumbled upon the article because I was not looking for anything remotely like it. The article, by Geoff Manaugh, concerned Heilbron's discovery that the great cathedrals of Europe had served as observatories. Manaugh titled his article "Why Catholics Built Secret Astronomical Features Into Churches to Help Save Souls: After centuries of war, Catholicism and science reconciled over meridian lines." I suspect that Manaugh missed one of Heilbron's points, namely, that the warfare-between-science-and-religion motif is much overdone. I was also amused that Manaugh initially thought that the Church had executed Galileo. Other than these misunderstandings, the article is pretty good.

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Saturday, April 06, 2019

Yes, there are also enrichening encounters between Muslims and Christians

William Lane Craig in Denmark

The Christian philosopher William Lane Craig went on a speaking trip to Denmark in March, from the 18th to the 25th, and had an interesting encounter:
We then flew to Copenhagen, where our host was Jesper Christiansen, a Christian businessman who organized my debate with the Danish philosopher Klemens Kappel in 2012. This time I spoke at an evangelistic meeting on "The Existence of God." This meeting was held in a local church in a somewhat run-down neighborhood. What I later learned is that this is a Muslim section of town with many immigrants, and so a sizeable part of the large audience that night was Muslim, as we could readily see from the head coverings worn by the women. I was shocked that they would attend a Christian meeting in a church. But the Lord is doing a good work in this community. One man we met, now an ardent Christian, told me that 2 and 1/2 years ago he was a member of ISIS! During the question-and-answer [period,] we once again had intelligent questions posed by both secularists and Muslims in the audience.
Turns out, there is here still some common ground where Muslims and Christians can meet and discuss even theology. Some Muslims may even know the name "William Lane Craig" because he has almost singlehandedly resuscitated the Kalam Argument, an argument developed in the Muslim world, formulated to prove that the world has a beginning at a finite time in the past.

Let me offer an example. A church service might seem to have gone on forever, but it has to have had a beginning at a finite time in the past, or we would never have gotten to this point in the sermon.

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Friday, April 05, 2019

Islamist Sociologist Demonstrates Correct Wife-Beating Technique

Wild-Eyed Kindness!

On April 3, 2019, Special Dispatch No. 7983 reported on the 'Islamically' correct way to beat your wife, according to an expert:
On March 29, 2019, Qatari sociologist Abd Al-Aziz Al-Khazraj Al-Ansari . . . gave a demonstration and explanation about how to beat your wife in an Islamically permissible fashion. He said . . . that a man . . . must sometimes exercise his authority and discipline his wife "out of love." . . . Al-Ansari then demonstrated how to beat one's wife on Nayef – a little boy who might be his son – by slapping him on the shoulders, grabbing him and shaking him, and saying loudly: "I told you not to leave the house! How many times do I have to tell you?" Al-Ansari . . . explained that it is in some women's nature to like domineering, authoritative, violent, and powerful husbands.
There, that'll show 'em who's boss! And if that doesn't work, use a toothpick, or so I've heard said. But what if that also doesn't work? Then what? Bind several toothpicks together with dental floss and try again? And if that doesn't work? Maybe ratchet things up a notch or two by using toothbrushes?

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Thursday, April 04, 2019

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems (1931): Paraphrased

Kurt Friedrich Gödel

My Paraphrase of Kurt Gödel's Two Incompleteness Theorems

These are theorems of mathematical logic showing the intrinsic limitations of any formal axiomatic system that can model basic arithmetic.
The first states that no consistent system of axioms whose theorems can be listed by an algorithm can prove all truths about the arithmetic of the natural numbers. For any such consistent formal system, there will always be statements about the natural numbers that are true, but that are unprovable within the system.

The second incompleteness theorem extends the first by showing that the system cannot reveal its own consistency.
I hope I have stated these theorems correctly. Here's a roughly expressed example:
"This statement cannot be expressed within the Russell-Whitehead formal system set forth in Principia Mathematica."
Note the paradox. The statement is false if it can be expressed within the Russell-Whitehead system, and the statement is true if it cannot be expressed within the Russell-Whitehead system. Consequently, the Russell-Whitehead system is either incoherent or incomplete.

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Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Logical Positivism?

Two Logical Positivists

Carter Kaplan posted on Sunday, March 31st the paragraph below by P. M. S. Hacker, Wittgenstein's Place in Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophy (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996, p. 123), which Carter labels "Analysis of Intellectual Mythology":
In the days of the Enlightenment, science was rightly seen as being in the forefront of the struggle against religious mystification, superstition and dogma. Today science has replaced religion as the source and authority of truth. Every source of truth must, in the nature of things, also be a source of falsehoods, against which it must itself struggle. But it may also be a source of intellectual mythology, against which it is typically powerless. One great and barely recognized source of such mythology in our age is science itself. The unmasking of scientific mythology (which is to be distinguished from scientific error) is one of the tasks of philosophy. For philosophy is not the under-labourer of the sciences, but rather their tribunal; it adjudicates not the truth of scientific theorizing, but the sense of scientific propositions. Its aim is neither to engage in nor abjure science, but to restrain it within the bounds of sense, to curb the metaphysical impulse that is released by misinterpretations of the significance of scientific discoveries, to restrain scientists and philosophers (who have been beguiled by their myth-making) from metaphysical nonsense.
This has the admirable aim of preventing scientism, but it might go too far in rejecting all metaphysics. If what is called here "analytic philosophy" means the same as "logical positivism," then we must note that the famous Verifiability Principle itself is problematic. If there are only two sources of knowledge, logical reasoning (including mathematics) and empirical experience (including physics, biology, psychology, etc.), then how is the Verifiability Principle to be verified?

But perhaps Carter meant something else . . .

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Tuesday, April 02, 2019

MacLeish vs.Milton: The Final Conclusion?

Arch MacLeish Eyeing
Milton's Influence

I've had some time to think about whether Milton or MacLeish is the stronger poet (as if we didn't already know):
In MacLeish's two roles – as a major poet and a major public figure – he was much like Milton, for both felt the ambiguity of calling and of duty. In the details, however, emerge differences, such as Milton justifying the ways of God to mankind and MacLeish saying that such justification cannot be accomplished. Milton set himself the harder task, actually justifying God's actions down to the nitty-gritty details, but one cannot say that he succeeds (therefore leaving us with a genuine, if failed, theodicy). However, neither does MacLeish succeed with his atheist's logical conundrum, that God is either God and not good or good and not God, for we are not epistemologically positioned to know the answer (leaving us still with the possibility of God, even if only a mere logical possibility). Perhaps more interesting is the lack of symmetry between creation (Milton) and uncreation (MacLeish). Milton describes creation as a process by which the Spirit of God broods upon the pre-existing, unformed, empty materials of chaos. MacLeish, though, implies creation from absolute nothing because he presents an uncreation that results in "nothing at all." And to present the creatio of his poem "The End of the World" as still more original than Milton's creatio, he does not breathe even a whisper of a sigh that Milton might have influenced him in any way in that poem – even though the influence is obvious – and this reluctance to acknowledge Milton's influence reveals MacLeish as the weaker poet. Moreover, is this lack of symmetry really so distinct in its difference? Do the pre-existing, unformed, empty materials of chaos have any actual existence? Or is Milton's God brooding over abstract concepts that exist only in his mind? Thus do the possible answers, like Milton and MacLeish themselves, swerve around and around on powerful wings spread wide from beginning to end in the awful vastness of chaos.
Now, having read my concluding paragraph, which poet would would you say I have called stronger, Milton or MacLeish? An easy question . . .

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Monday, April 01, 2019

News, Fake News, and No News . . .

Ilhan Omar

There's News, There's Fake News, and There's No News . . .
"Omar Refuses To Condemn Gays Being Stoned To Death Under Sharia Law," by Ryan Saavedra, Daily Wire, March 29, 2019.
This is no news. Of course she won't condemn stoning! She's an Islamist!

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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Recent (Re-)Publications by Michael Butterworth

Michael Butterworth

Carter Kaplan has asked me to convey some words about a few recent publications on behalf of International Authors and Null23, which have collaborated to publish two new books by Michael Butterworth: Butterworth and My Servant the Wind.

I first became aware of Michael upon reading his contribution to the very first Emanations anthology way back in 2011, a short story titled "Das Neue Leben," whose opening line read as follows: "He stood five feet eight, and the anaconda, not yet full grown, slightly longer than that." Talk about a hook! I liked the story immensely and told Michael he should turn it into a novel. That hasn't happened yet, but we do now have other things by him to read.

Let's see what Carter (or is it Gareth Jackson?) says about these other writings:
Butterworth presents the collected short works [including "Das Neue Leben"] of the author Michael Butterworth - previously found in long-out-of-print anthology paperbacks and yellowing magazines such as New Worlds and other offshoots submerged by the accumulation of time, and which have been mostly lost and overshadowed by his later "Ecker" infamy as the co-publisher of the Northern provocateurs Savoy Books . . . These works are often located in a post-atomic wasteland of haunted deserts, conjoined with a dislocated Manchester of memory - being speculative fictions with veins of autobiography. The page becomes a structural space in which narrative is dismembered and arranged. Place becomes uncertain and hallucination is explored with thoughtful rigour. Neither of the future nor of then, these are works which occupy an era but conversely exist outside of any catalogued time.

My Servant the Wind: Navigating his story, there is nothing linear; autobiography becomes speculative memoir that crosses into fiction. In alien contacts the geography of the page disintegrates and time has become uncertain, located neither here nor there. The wind is blowing from the future deserts which he remembers from his youth. He is haunted by himself and memories of the apocalypse. He has travelled through new worlds and wild turbulence, protracted labour - a difficult birth. The wind blows a novel against his receiver and he transcribes . . .
Carter (Jackson?) also offers a bio of the man:
Michael Butterworth is a UK author, publisher and editor. He was a key part of the UK New Wave of Science Fiction in the 1960s, contributing fiction to New Worlds and other publications. He began publishing small press literary magazines, including Corridor in 1969, and in 1975 founded Savoy Books with David Britton. He co-authored Britton's controversial novel Lord Horror (1989), and in 2009 launched the contemporary visual art and writing journal, Corridor8. His last book was a memoir, The Blue Monday Diaries: In the Studio with New Order (2016). He is a regular contributor to Emanations.
Descriptions of the new books as well as links to respective Amazon sales pages can be found at the International Authors website:

International Authors

Here are links to Amazon, UK:

Butterworth

My Servant the Wind

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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Yemeni Academic, Dr. Arwa Al-Khattabi Argues: "ISIS is Islam!"

Dr. Arwa Al-Khattabi
Memri
March 28, 2019
Special Dispatch No. 7971

"Yes. This is the truth, [that ISIS represents Islam], and we must discuss this in full honesty and fairness. We must confront our [problems]. ISIS has come to implement Islam as it is, by the book. It has not come up with anything on its own. It evoked the religious texts exactly as they are. It did not distort, change, or replace anything. It came with the text and implemented it exactly as it is. They came in order to [implement] the proper Islam, complete with slave girls, the rape. It is very unfortunate that we want to deny. We have a huge problem and we must recognize this before [we do] anything else. We have a problem, and we must take responsibility for it before we blame others for what is happening in the world. We cannot shut our eyes and deny this. It is happening because of us. When we deny things and place the blame on others, as if we are forced to do all this and are not the reason for what is happening. We must all own up to what is happening."

By Dr. Arwa Al-Khattabi

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Friday, March 29, 2019

Another Stanza from Lindh

Not THE Jarhead

From looking more carefully at Lindh's ballad, I concede that there's a poem lurking in there, but it needs a more careful hand. For example, look at the stanza below:
A blistered bloated jarhead face
Deep purple findernails [sic]
A smell seeps out that's foul enough
To cleanse a man's entrails
The imagery is descriptive and strong - the third and fourth lines are very effective - but the writer needs to put more care into spelling and punctuation. Let's improve the stanza:
A blistered, bloated jarhead face,
Deep purple fingernails,
A smell seeps out that's foul enough
To cleanse a man's entrails.
Cleansing one entrails through vomiting makes for an effective image.

Although I could help Lindh rework his entire 'poem,' I'll stop here. I wouldn't help him for any money, no matter how much.

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Advice for John Walker Lindh: Don't Quit Your Day Job!


According to Memri (March 22, 2019), the American citizen and Taliban soldier John Walker Lindh will be released from prison in May, when his approximately 20-year sentence ends. During his incarceration, he has composed at least three poems . . . sort of. I've copied a stanza and pasted it here:
The Ballad Of The Fleas

For wolves may foam and bark and bite
And gnash and gnaw and hiss
But if a sheep should dare bite back
He'd be a terrorist
Most of the stanzas just go on and on like this one, and some are inadvertently funny. Lindh also sometimes misses the right term, e.g., "terrorist" doesn't really rhyme with "hiss."

Lindh isn't truly a poet, but with a lot of effort, he might become a versifier, especially if he aims at humor.

Except, as Khomeini reminded us, Islam is dead serious.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Kim Ji-hyun Paraphrases Life's Preposition


Ms. Kim Ji-hyun writes a Korea Herald column once a week, and I recently (March 21, 2019) read a singularly insightful remark in which she cited the comic actor Jim Carrey on life:
Two years ago, actor Jim Carrey gave an inspiring commencement speech that went viral. The essence of it was, that life doesn't happen TO you - it happens FOR you. It's a subtle difference, just one word, but the impact was lasting. It makes you want to go out and do things, to thank life.
That little prepositional change can make all the difference if you choose the things you want for yourself and refuse to see yourself as a victim to whom things happen.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Part of the Introduction on Milton and MacLeish

J. M.

I may have posted an earlier version of this already, but so be it if I have:
A moment's reflection on MacLeish’s dual roles as poet and public figure should lead readers to see that MacLeish not only knew the two roles, he also had the skill set to make good use of them. He was like Milton in these ways, for Milton was definitely both poet and public figure. However, where Milton wants to justify God's ways to humankind, MacLeish will argue that God's ways cannot be justified at all. Both Milton and MacLeish composed short lyrical poems, but also long, epic ones. They both therefore had to deal with myth and even to mythologize. In fact, the similitude of their similarity and the depth of their difference may very well have left MacLeish anxious about there being too much of Milton in MacLeish's filling of the two roles at least as well as Milton had, but also perhaps anxious to fill the two roles still better than Milton had, even while drawing attention away from Milton's influence. This article will explore these various possibilities.
Feel free to suggest improvements!

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Monday, March 25, 2019

MacLeish and Milton: Conclusions thus far . . .

Nothingness

In MacLeish's two roles – as a major poet and a major public figure – he was much like Milton. In the details, however come the differences, such as Milton justifying the ways of God and MacLeish saying it can't be done. Milton set himself a harder task, actually justifying God's actions down to the nitty-gritty details, and one cannot say that he succeeds. But neither does MacLeish succeed in his logical conundrum, that God is either not God or not good, for we are not epistemologically positioned to know the answer. Perhaps more interesting is the lack of symmetry between creation (Milton) and uncreation (MacLeish). Milton describes creation as a process by which the Spirit of God broods upon the pre-existing materials of chaos. MacLeish, though, implies creation from nothing because he presents an uncreation that results in "nothing at all." And to present the creatio of his poem "The End of the World" as even more original than Milton's creatio, he does not breathe even a whisper of a sigh that Milton might have influenced him in that poem – even though the influence is obvious.

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Sunday, March 24, 2019

How Many Homi?

Homi

Here's a report by Kim Yoon-ho and Jung Myung-suk from the JoongAng Daily about a "Traditional Korean hoe [that] is a surprise international success" (March 23-24, 2019). The blacksmith Seok No-ki, who makes the hoe, is an overnight success, to use a cliché that's actually accurate this time.

This special gardening tool, pictured above, is called a "homi," and it has become very popular in the West over the past few years because its curved shape puts less strain on the wrist -- even if more strain is sometimes put upon the imagination, for example:
Seok's homi are 100 percent hand-made. If one or two of his neighbors in their 70s help, he can make up to 120 a day, while alone he can produce around 60. It takes about 30 minutes to make one.
So . . . working alone will have him making 60 per day. He's also said to be able to make one every 30 minutes working alone. That's two per hour working alone. If he worked alone a full 24 hours, he'd make . . .

You do the math.

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