Thursday, October 01, 2020

The Unreadable Novel

"I didn't read halfway through Finnegan's Wake, and gave up."

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Almost a Quote . . .

"History is a nightmare, but we can't wake up."

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Filthy Lucre

Find a penny,

pick it up.

All the day,

you'll have good luck.



And probably some corona virus, as well, if not something worse.

I wonder . . . have past epidemics ever been carried by cash?

Monday, September 28, 2020

Banksian Brainy Bee

The freelance science journalist Elizabeth Preston tells us that bees with specialized diets seem to have larger brains than those bees that have complex social behaviors, which means that these big-brained bees don't share meals, I reckon. The particular bee Preston singles out to identify is Panurgus banksianus (not actually an all-around urge for a Banksy mural, despite the name), otherwise known as the large shaggy bee, an insect that keeps itself to itself, living alone in burrows throughout the sandy grasslands of Europe, listening to Neil Diamond's Solitary Man, and subsisting on EU social welfare. Just kidding. It lives on a diet of yellow-flowered members of the aster family, stars of the plant kingdom.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Make, Do, and Solve

One of my students, intending to say something positive about computers, opened a body paragraph with these words (and note my underlining):

"On the one hand, computers make things efficient when we do things because they quickly solve things that we do not know."

The thought is comforting, somehow, to know that somewhere in the world, a computer - or several - is working hard to solve things that I do not know. Is it doing this especially for me?

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Anagoglin Treasure

Anagoglin Up That Hill
For G.F., Critic

The young surveyor asked the elder man
if he knew where that corner marker lay.
Said the elder, "You'd do well to stay
here and forget that ever ill-turned plan

to divide up the world beyond that hill,
for wildness begins there, way out yonder,
where you start to wonder as you wander
in that forest thick as night, through deep still-

ness that sorely undertakes your measure."
But young man, ears blocked to never listen,
filled with names of distant lands to christen,
lit out for his anagoglin treasure.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Natural Order

Did you ever wonder how this muddle of 'scientific' terms was selected to identify the natural order of living things:

kingdom
phylum
class
order
family
genus
species

The only word that looks at all essentially scientific is "phylum." Oh, maybe also "genus." Okay, also species, if we're going to loosen the term "species" enough to ignore its various nonscientific meanings.

Anyway, how were these chosen? Anybody know?

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Old Internet Acquaintance Reading My Books . . .

I sometimes receive messages from people I got to know even some twenty years ago through this blog or other internet service, and the man who wrote the email below had been out of contact about ten years but wrote to tell me that he's been reading my published stories:

Hello good sir! I hope this finds you and yours as well as can be in these interesting times!

I just wanted you to know that I have read The Uncanny Story --- LOVED IT!! It was a lot of fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed the interexuality and the meta stuff .... so much fun, though I shall henceforth avoid smokehouses.....

I had problems with Amazon letting me read The Bottomless Bottle of Beer at first, but the problems are now straightened out, so now I'm going back to that tale, having moved it to the top of my list! Enjoying it so far .... and you had me at Old Pecular...;)

I'm gratified to hear that he's liked my stories so much. If only everyone would discover the stories I've published and reach the same conclusion . . .

A link to the Bottomless Bottle is found in the upper right-hand column of this blog.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

PHAKE News Syndicate - Wildfires, an Upside?

According to David Ball, writing for Phys-Org News (September 19, 2020), "California wildfire smoke blankets parts of Canada":

"Smoke from California and Oregon wildfires has cloaked Canada's third-largest city of Vancouver - known for its majestic mountain views and fresh ocean breezes - in the dirtiest air in the world this week."

On the upside, according to some reports from competing news agencies elsewhere in the world (PHAKE News Syndicate), due to the massive marijuana industry in America's Pacific Northwest, much of the smoke probably comes from the large numbers of vast marijuana plantations in flames. Ball, still with Phys-Org News, observes that breathing the air in Vancouver is:

"equivalent to smoking eight cigarettes a day."

I would suggest that the equivalence totes up to more than merely eight marijuana cigarettes a day - especially if one breathing the air should report that the "chest feels like it's exploding" with deeply felt sensations, as Ball reports, once again for Phys-News Org.

Many residents are doubtless happy with the situation, taking unusual advantage of the free tokes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Practicing Opening Lines

The trouble commenced when the Stranger came to town.

We later thought he might have been a Spaniard, on account of a letter arrived from Mahón, Menorca after the gentleman had long gone. The writer represented the Spanish government and asked if there had been a visitation to our Ozark town by a stranger with "a voice of satén" whose Spanish "r" rolled a low rumble, more gutteral growl, "grr," than trippingly on the tongue. Satén grr, we pronounced. Satin growl. That struck a strong chord of memory. We had all noticed that distinctive burr in the stranger's manner of speaking . . .

Monday, September 21, 2020

Revising my poem . . .

I had intended to show you the great progress that I've made on my poem, but the vehicle of my metaphor has been spinning its wheels!

You do, of course, recall my poem? I had put in a comma by yesterday morning, when I posted the poem on this blog.

But I wasn't finished with the poem. I spent all yesterday afternoon working hard to take the comma back out. But I still wasn't satisfied, so I worked all this morning to put the comma back in. The poem now looks much the same as is did the last time that you saw it. Here is yesterday's post of the poem, which of course you've already seen:

        ,    .

Here's its current form: 

        ,    .

You see how much work this is, but it has also been a time truly wild.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Still working on that Poem

I spent some more time working on that poem today:

,     .

As you see, I figured out one thing that goes before the period, a comma.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Working on a poem . . .

 I spent some time working on a poem today:

.

As you see, I've not gotten very far, just a period. There's usually a period somewhere in a poem, I am pretty sure. I just need to figure out what goes before the period, and if anything goes after it.

I hope also to have some more punctuation to share tomorrow. Probably some commas.

Friday, September 18, 2020

All Possible Worlds?

I think I now see the role of the many universes hypothesis, assuming that these universes are linked at the quantum level, for given enough universes, all of them logically unique, temporally parallel, and finite in time, so that an infinite regress of the sort identified by the Kalam Argument is avoided, every logically possible universe can develop, our own universe being one of them.

I think that's what cosmologists like the late Stephen Hawking are getting at, though whether these cosmologists can get all the way to that "at" is the big question.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

But to be serious for a moment . . .

Is DNA really information? Doesn't information presuppose a conscious agent who encoded the information?

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Informer-DNA

 DNA is information: It informs on us all.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

No worse than the Sixties.

People say that America's not been so divided since the Civil War, but the division's really no worse than back in the Sixties.

The Eighteen-Sixties.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Muslims Differ on Preservation of Quran

"Muslim Scholars Shatter the Myth of Quran Preservation," a thirty-minute-long video, reveals radically different views on the preservation of the Quran. One scholar says that if anyone thinks that even a single letter has been changed, that person is an apostate. Some scholars admit to many, many changes. Other scholars say the changes are minor and do not alter the meaning. A couple of scholars point out that the change sometimes results in a reversal of meaning, e.g., from positive to negative.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

We Always Lie to Strangers

Vance Randolph, famous for Pissing in the Snow and Other Ozark Folktales, also wrote a number of scholarly articles, in some of which he argued that the Ozark dialect was closer to Elizabethan English than to contemporary English.

I think Randolph exaggerated, and that gives me  an idea for a story. Say some isolated Ozark settlement learns of the scholar Randolph and his theory, and the folks there decide to play a joke on him, the biggest practical joke ever played on anybody. They decided to arrange somehow for him to hear of their isolated place in which 'Elizabethan' English is still spoken, and he decides to pay them a visit.

Now, they can't speak Elizabethan English, but they can speak King James English, because they do so every Sunday, and that's close enough to fool Randolph, or so they believe.

I'd title the story, The Town That Spoke King James.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Missing Words In A Quran Manuscript

I became aware of this eighteen-minute video by Dr. Daniel Brubaker by way of the Islam Critiqued website. In this video, Dr. Brubaker introduces himself and talks about his research into variants in early Quran manuscripts, such as those found in Yemen in 1972. He shows a page from one of those manuscripts in which a few words are missing, compared to the Arabic Quran text most commonly used today. The differences are minor, in this case, and do not pose any theological problems for Muslims, excepting the singular doctrine that the Quran has been perfectly preserved to the last letter. Since a perfectly preserved Quran is fundamental to the Islamic insistence on the Quran's perfection, however, the problem is a major one indeed. We will see this become a great point of contention among Muslims themselves as they perceive the differences with their own eyes.

Friday, September 11, 2020

September 11?

I've got this vague notion that somebody did something some years back on this date, but I can't quite put my finger on it . . . Was it that Ilhan Omar married her own brother, Ahmed Elmi? No, that's not it, not the sort of dating that leads to marriage. If that had happened, I'd remember it, for sure. No, it was something less invasive than specula on which celebrity is fooling around with which other celebrity. Somebody jog my memory, please . . .

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Earliest Muslims Believed Some of the Quran was Lost

The Christian website Islam Critiqued offers a short, approximately six-minute video that demonstrates from the earliest references that the earliest Muslims did not believe in the perfectly-preserved Quran, and this belief was rather long in developing if the title of this video is accurate: "Perfect Preservation of the Quran is a Modern Invention."


This was posted a couple of years back, so non-Muslims were already figuring things out for themselves.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

The Qur'an Preservation Controversy

Here's an approximately forty-five minute video about an interview with an intelligent Muslim scholar whose blend of honesty and dissembling concerning "holes in the narrative" of the Qur'an's perfect preservation whipped up a controversy that won't die down.

The website is apparently a Christian one.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Qur'an Perfectly Preserved: A Website

Anyone interested in looking into this issue of the Qur'an's preservation can go to The Jay Show and watch a series of videos, each one building on the previous video (excluding the first, of course), and eventually experience fifteen videos on this issue. The presentation is on the line between the the scholarly and the popular. It is also part of a Christian mission to Muslims. As you get into the issue more deeply, you'll see links to various Muslims, Christians, and atheists on many different websites discussing the enormous impact that this new information will have on Islamic theology, for Allah, seemingly, has not perfectly preserved his own words despite having promised to do so.

Fun times ahead, perhaps . . . or perhaps not.

Monday, September 07, 2020

Qur'an Perfectly Preserved?

For a long, long time, Muslims have been told that the Qur'an has been perfectly preserved in Arabic, down to the last letter, but Muslim scholars themselves are now admitting that there are differences among the various Qur'ans throughout the world, not just in the vowels used, but also in the consonants, and even in the wording, and this has made some of the Muslim faithful angry over having been lied to about the Qur'an's perfection, and some of the faithful are even reported to have left the faith over this issue, which I suppose renders them "the faithless" now.

I'll be interested to see what becomes of this issue as more Muslims learn of it.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Causuality: Use Only as Directed?

I wonder what would happen if we did as the poem directs. Let's say that each line refers to itself and the lines before it. Look at the original:

Causuality 1

When if becomes then
and then becomes when,
cause and effect
then disaffect
cause and effect
and then becomes when,
when if becomes then.

Do as the original poem directs, and I believe that this results:

Causuality 2

When when becomes when
and when becomes when,
cause and effect
when disaffect
cause and effect
and when becomes when,
when then becomes then.

Rather severe consequences! Moral? Think ahead before accepting the conditions placed on what one is directed to do. And avoid, if possible, following directions that can only worsen your circumstances.

Let me know if I made any mistakes.

Saturday, September 05, 2020

The Impossible Poem

This is a spin-off from a poem I posted last year, the version of last year being shorter, and also titled differently:
Causuality
When if becomes then
and then becomes when,
cause and effect
then disaffect
cause and effect
and then becomes when,
when if becomes then.

I'm not sure it holds together, but that's okay, for the entire poem disaffects itself, anyway, as was intended already as I was writing it.

Friday, September 04, 2020

Oblivion?

On the other hand, concerning my Pynchon poem of yesterday, the man Pynchon, currently 83 years old (born May 8, 1937), might not wish to be reminded of "oblivion."

There's a bit of irony in the thought of being reminded of oblivion, for the word means forgetfulness. "I am reminded," the old fellow mused, "of my forgetfulness."

By the way, I had forgotten that Pynchon published another novel, Bleeding Edge, on September 17, 2013. Or did I simply not hear of it in the first place? That seems unlikely, since I've long enjoyed Pynchon and have kept track of the man and his writing, despite finding some of his quirkiness quirky.

Should I read Bleeding Edge?

Yes. Sometime. But not yet.

Thursday, September 03, 2020

A Pynchon Poem

I wrote this last year, but I've made a few minor changes since:

Disregard

There was an odd fellow named Pynchon,
who sought to distract all attention
from himself unto others,
so if he'd had his druthers,
he'd've stayed in a state of oblivion!

I should send this to Pynchon - he might get a kick out of it. If he's also still kicking . . .

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Meinong's Jungle

Here's a limerick I wrote last November, but with at least one changed word that I'll explain after you read the poem:

Pound Perambulates

Once as he ambled through Meinong’s odd jungle,
Extra encountered there a great bungle
of two or three or five or four
ontically unwanted objects or more,
adding up to as much as a pungle!

I changed mungle to pungle, because the word "mungle" turned out to have a gutter-level meaning that I never intended. The word "pungle" is a bit odd, but it's not obscene.

Alexius Meinong thought that since we can refer to non-existent things, they have some sort of being. A unicorn is a non-existent thing, but we can refer to a unicorn as a horse-like being having a single horn growing from its forehead. Non-existent things like unicorns therefore have various properties though they lack "being" proper.

The oddness of such non-existent things led to this ontological realm being referred to as "Meinong's jungle."

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Communication with Junichi Nakashima

As my regular readers know, I finally located my old friend Junichi Nakashima from my freshman year at Baylor, and here's his most recent email, in which he refers to a book of photos that I gave him 45 years ago (and he includes an image), among other things that he says:

Hi, Jeffery.

That's the book you gave me.
So now you are a writer. Absolutely amazing. I like to get a hard copy, not e-book.
I've been terribly busy for a few days for the new performance this weekend. 
I'll text you again soon
Keep in touch.

Yours,

Junichi Nakashima

The e-book he refers to is my novella The Bottomless Bottle of Beer, and the performance he mentions has some connection to his acting, in which he acts out vignettes of famous scenes of stage and screen, so far as I can understand what he does. I'll learn more when we've had time to catch up on the past 45 years.

Anyway, he's multi-talented, not just an actor, but a poet, a writer, and a painter. He's also a blackbelt in judo and karate, if I rightly recall.