Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve In Tucson



No text today... pictures only.


Some Photos Taken December 30, 2010
Tucson, Arizona

Snow Clouds Moving Over The Mountains

(Click photo for larger view)










And Again . . .



__________

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Am Not An Artist

_____

_____

From A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, I read:

White roses and red roses: those were beautiful colours to think of. And the cards for first place and second place and third place were beautiful colours too: pink and cream and lavender. Lavender and cream and pink roses were beautiful to think of. Perhaps a wild rose might be like those colours and he remembered the song about the wild rose blossoms on the little green place.

What is a reader to think immediately upon reading those lines? I am probably the only person alive who would think the inappropriate thoughts that crept into my mind after I read those words. I thought:

...of rods and cones and extremely short wavelengths and unimaginably high frequencies.

Neither the beauty of colors nor the artistry of the words and phrasing impinged for even an instant upon my literal analysis of what I was reading. Not until much later, that is, after the moment had fled -- had drifted off to (as always) disappear into whatever hidden depths such moments are fated to fall.

What the hell is the matter with me?

Why am I always the one who sees things differently than others see things?

Why is it always me who visualizes (while reading a novel) that a character described as "driving along the coast and looking out at the ocean" is a driver gazing over the waters of the 'Atlantic,' -- until I later read that this character is driving North along the coast, looking to his left, and only then do I come to realize that he is seeing, not the Atlantic, but instead, the Pacific Ocean.

Perhaps I am Joyce's solitary green rose growing in some alien place.

But I have now read the first two chapters of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and (surprisingly) enjoyed the reading of them.

#

Why is death a thing to be feared, or to evoke sadness? I can understand why one would fear the pain that might occur just preceding death, but not the state of being dead itself. And why should one be saddened by the passing from life to death of another: a treasured pet, a close friend, or even a much loved family member? It seems to me that the grief attending death is a sadness one feels at being deprived of another's companionship, a sense of loss at no longer being able to interact with the one who has just died.

I don't mean to appear callous by writing this. All I am trying to do is discover and honestly express in words how I truly feel about life, death, and bereavement.

I should keep those non-typical feelings to myself . . .
Words are sometimes inadequate for a full disclosure.

#

It has come to my attention that a 3.8 Earthquake occurred East of Kokomo, Indiana this morning. That is the vicinity of my old home town, which is less that a hundred miles from Kokomo. I am sending out questioning emails to friends and family still living there.

More here about the quake.

__________

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Am Not An Atheist

_____


_____

A great many people believe in a personal God, a supremely powerful entity that is responsible for the creation of the entire universe and all things in it, and who is vitally interested in the minute by minute, second by second actions and thoughts of each living person's everyday life.

I do not.

All the many wrongs I have committed throughout my long life are my sole responsibility, committed either from my own ignorance of the harm I was bringing about to others or through the all too many pleasure seeking indulgences of my inborn and wholly instinctive animal passions.

My wrongdoings are my own. They are not merely the bits and pieces of some hugely complex plan of some unseen and unknowable divinity.

#

Catholicism

The Predator Priest Who Got Away:

The Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy admitted he sexually abused deaf boys at his boarding school for 22 years. Victims tried for more than three decades to bring him to justice, but documents show that the church neither defrocked him nor referred him for prosecution.

Catholic priest molests 200 deaf boys says The New York Times.

According to The Times, that priest was Lawrence C. Murphy, who worked at a renowned school for deaf children for 22 years. But it is only one of thousands of cases forwarded over decades by bishops to the Vatican.

The Catholic Church . . . "yuk!"

#

Islam

An adherent of Islam is called a Muslim.

Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable. Muslims also believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed at many times and places before, including through the prophets Abraham, Moses and Jesus.

I prefer to say nothing here, and at this time, about Islam.

After all, its many publicized actions speak for itself.

#

The Protestants

Once a protester, always a protester. Members of the Protestant Church believe that God, goodness, and evil are exactly what each individual protestant believes those things to be, within his or her own individual mind.

There is a great truth stated in the King James Bible, which is:

Vanity of vanities,
saith the Preacher,
vanity of vanities;
all is vanity.

--Ecclesiastes 1:2

#

I am not an Atheist

While I have become unable to believe in the simplistic concept of a personal God as proposed by the major organized religions, I cannot bring myself to smugly deny the possibility of some ultra-powerful entity existing within (or perhaps outside of) the thought-model we label as the universe.

The early morning sky above the peaks of the Rincon Mountains I am now seeing out my window from the corner of my eye as I type this...


...could be but a single unit (cell?) of some superhuman being that is somehow responsible for regulating some facet of the workings of the cosmos.


Or The Earth itself could be that single cell.




Or, our solar system could be that single cell.



Or a galaxy could be that single cell.



Or, perhaps the entire universe, composed of billions of galaxies could itself be that single cell.

(give that some thought)

Organized religions are so chintzy with their paltry concepts of God.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Show Me Your Papers

_____


_____

I went to the Motor Vehicle department in Tucson to get my official Arizona resident non-driver Identification Card. As per published instructions, I presented to the clerk my current Florida State non-driver Identification Card, my Social Security Card, and my Birth Certificate.

The very first thing the Clerk told me was, "This is not a valid Birth Certificate."

Well, since it had been issued to me by the County Hospital on May 19, 1939, complete with a set of baby footprints, and since I had used it throughout my life to:

1. attend public school
2. enlist in the U.S. Air Force
3. acquire a FL non-driver ID
4. obtain Social Security retirement benefits

(among many other things) --
Well, I think this Birth Certificate 'is' valid.

But "nooooo..." A hospital issued certificate is no longer valid. The state of Arizona requires a 'certified by the State' record of birth. A Birth Certificate from a County Hospital is not good enough for Arizona. What I must do, is contact the Indiana Vital Records department and purchase from them a stamped 'copy' of the original County Hospital Certificate, 'that I already have.'

I must either send a check for ten dollars to the Indiana Vital Records division along with acceptable 'proof of identity' (Good Lord!) and then wait for three to four weeks for processing -- or I can get in touch with a private company that has been contracted by the State to provide 'expedited' handling of birth certificates, for an additional fee, of course, and this company accepts all major credit cards.

Additionally, my current Florida Identification card cannot be used as a 'primary' piece of identification in Arizona, because Florida is not as strict in their demands when issuing ID cards. After all, the state of Florida (for shame, for shame) recognizes as valid a hospital issued Birth Certificate.

All this has come about in the name of Homeland Security -- and that makes it all just 'hunky dory'.

Someone once said, "... a nation's people get the government they deserve." -- or something like that.

But, that's enough ranting and moaning, and crying over spilt milk...
'for now.'

__________

"If you want to make enemies, try to change something."
--Woodrow Wilson

Monday, December 27, 2010

Short Entry Today

_____


_____

I have to go out into the world this morning and tend to some business, so this entry will be short.

#

At The Daily Dish I read an excerpt from a letter to Rodin from Rilke --

"I have often asked myself whether those days on which we are forced to be indolent are not just the ones we pass in profoundest activity? Whether all our doing, when it comes later, is not only the last reverberation of a great movement which takes place in us on those days of inaction…"

Profound activity produced by laziness and sloth? This seems to me to be a non sequitur. Or perhaps I do not possess sufficient cognitive equipment to follow such an apparently intuitive grasp of the creative thought process.

Yes, that's probably what it is.

#

How much water should the average person drink per day? 8 glasses? Are you sure? How about beverages containing caffeine? Do they cause dehydration? Yes? Are you sure?

World of Psychology
says, "Drink when you are thirsty, not because you believe you need to."

#

The Fictionaut Blog

Fictionaut brings the social web to literary fiction, connecting readers and writers through a community network that doubles as self­-selecting magazine highlighting the most exciting short stories, poetry, flash fiction, and novel excerpts.

A short interview with Daniel Handler



Daniel Handler is the author of the literary novels The Basic Eight, Watch Your Mouth, and, most recently, Adverbs. Under the name Lemony Snicket he has also written a sequence of books for children, known collectively as A Series of Unfortunate Events, which have sold more than fifty-three million copies and were the basis of a film starring Jim Carrey. His intricate and witty writing style has won him numerous fans for his critically acclaimed literary work and his wildly successful children’s books.

Handler says, "...character is bunk. There is plot, and there is voice, and they conspire to create an illusion we call 'literature'."

Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Beginnings Follow Endings


The new year, 2011 C.E. is steadily approaching.

Since New Year's Day is a recognized time for new beginnings, for resolutions and such, I thought that I might resolve to improve my blog entries -- to upgrade, to clothe the contents in higher quality raiment.

Why?

I don't know. Just seems to be a noble venture.

But New Year's Day is not until next week, of course.

So . . .


The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy is tough slogging for me, and I am not enjoying it. But I feel that I can learn something valuable from reading it. The story can be read FREE of charge online.

#

I just recently read an old poem, Elegy in a Country Church-Yard by Thomas Gray.

Want to read it? Click here.

#

Blogger would not allow me to insert a profane image here, because of some HTML technicality. But that's okay. It was pretty lame anyway. Here is a better one.

Honey Baked Ham

(Yum...)

#

Cedric opening his Christmas gift

(It's a toy bone)

__________

"Belief is a shortcut the brain uses to speed up data transfer"
--Unknown

Saturday, December 25, 2010

This Is Christmas Day

_____

Tucson Weather Today
_____

To all who observe Christmas...

MERRY CHRISTMAS

And to all who do not...

Happy Holidays

** Best wishes **

Gene Chambers
__________

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tonight's The Night Before Christmas


I have finished a third draft of my novel's prologue, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2. but now I have run into a real snag: not with Chapter 3, but with the entire novel -- there is no story. Oh yes, things happen to the characters and the characters interact with each other, but... the thing itself has no underlying meaning.

Also, there is no single protagonist. In fact, every one of the characters seems to be the main character at the moment within his or her individual scene. The textbook Fiction Writing For Dummies states absolutely that a story cannot have more than one protagonist. There can only be one main character who is presented with a problem, seeks to overcome that problem, is thwarted in that quest time and again, and finally triumphs in the end. Other fiction writing textbooks say the same thing.

These How To books are not telling me how to write a novel. Not at all. What they are telling me is how to write a novel that will be published, one that will be bought by book buyers, and will be read by the purchaser.

Oh well. I can always stop writing and go off to read a book -- a book that has an interesting and well-plotted story, one written by a real author.

And I can then come back and write some more, perhaps finding some meaning in my manuscript that I had originally overlooked.

Perhaps.
#

Smokers Suck!


#

Still don't feel very well. My stomach is queasy, my muscles sore and joints stiff, eyesight weak and filled with dancing spots... occasional spells of light-headedness. Tired, no energy. Mentally sluggish. Congestion that comes and goes. Sporadic fits of coughing. Sudden sneezes, sometimes as many as six in a row.

And there's more, but...

Ah well, that's enough complaining.

After all, today is Christmas Eve.

#

Advanced Fiction Writing is another web site that claims the ability to teach a person how to write a novel that will be published. It raves about The Snowflake Method.

Sometimes I think I would be better off if I would just ignore all these "How To" offerings and just write whatever I want to write, and to write it my way and be happy with that -- just forget about getting the results published. After all, I have seen some of my stuff in print before, back in my younger years, and it's not such a great and wonderful thing. The Earth does not tremble. It does not stop rotating.

The feeling of pride in an accomplishment lasts for about a minute and a half... then life goes on.

#

Eva is requesting that I take her outside.

So...

__________

Three rules for literary success:
1. Read a lot.
2. Write a lot.
3. Read a lot more, write a lot more.
--Robert Silverberg

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Feelin' Kind'a Poorly This Mornin'

_____


_____

A NASA Spinoff page
provides information on how new discoveries from Space technology is being used to provide innovation in everyday life. Citizens can download this information as .pdf files by visiting the above link.

A NASA DISCLAIMER:
While NASA does not manufacture, market, or sell commercial products, many commercial products are derived from NASA technology. Many NASA-originated technologies are adapted by private industry for use by consumers like you. Spinoff developments highlighted in this publication are based on information provided by individual and private industry users of NASA-originated aerospace technology who acknowledge that such technology contributed wholly or in part to development of the product or process described. NASA cannot accept responsibility or liability for the misinterpretation or misrepresentation of the enclosed information provided by these third-party users. Publication herein does not constitute NASA endorsement of the product or process, nor confirmation of manufacturers’ performance claims related to any particular spinoff development.

Again, the link is:

http://www.sti.nasa.gov/tto/Spinoff2010/

#

I received an email message yesterday that informed me:

Here is a list of all the developed nations of the world that offer birthright citizenship to the babies of tourists and illegal aliens:

1. United States of America
. . .
. . .

That's right, every other modern developed nation in the world has gotten rid of birthright citizenship policies.

Some modern countries that recently ended their birthright citizenship policy:

* Canada was the last non-U.S. holdout. Illegal aliens stopped getting citizenship for their babies in 2009
* Australia's birthright citizenship requirements are much more stringent than those of H.R. 1868 and took effect in 2007
* New Zealand repealed in 2006
* Ireland repealed in 2005
* France repealed in 1993
* India repealed in 1987
* United Kingdom repealed in 1983
* Portugal repealed in 1981

(end of message)

Well. This birthright citizenship thing is another of those questions of which I am undecided.

#

Umwelt means 'environment' or 'surrounding world.' In other words, it means 'those aspects of the environment to which animals respond.'

In a scientific article about the tick, I read the following:

"…this eyeless animal finds the way to her watchpoint (at the top of a tall blade of grass) with the help of only its skin's general sensitivity to light. The approach of her prey becomes apparent to this blind and deaf bandit only through her sense of smell. The odor of butyric acid, which emanates from the sebaceous follicles of all mammals, works on the tick as a signal that causes her to abandon her post (on top of the blade of grass/bush) and fall blindly downward toward her prey. If she is fortunate enough to fall on something warm (which she perceives by means of an organ sensible to a precise temperature) then she has attained her prey, the warm-blooded animal, and thereafter needs only the help of her sense of touch to find the least hairy spot possible and embed herself up to her head in the cutaneous tissue of her prey. She can now slowly suck up a stream of warm blood.”

And yet we humans complain about how hard life is for us here on this Earth.

'Umwelt' indeed.

#

There are seven foods that should never touch your lips. And, no, that does not mean that you can eat them as long as you keep your lips away from them. Those foods are:

1. Canned Tomatoes
2. Corn-Fed Beef
3. Microwave Popcorn
4. Non organic Potatoes
5. Farmed Salmon
6. Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones
7. Conventional Apples

The story about those 7 foods (plus a ton of other info) can be seen...
Here at Prevention

#

Unbelievable!

Houston businessman Farid Seif says it was a startling discovery. He didn't intend to bring a loaded gun on a flight out of Houston and can't understand how TSA screeners didn't catch it. Nearing the height of last year's Christmas travel season, TSA screeners at Bush Intercontinental Airport somehow missed a loaded pistol, one that was tucked away inside a carry-on computer bag. "I mean, this is not a small gun," Seif said. "It's a .40 caliber gun."


#


Linus tells Charley Brown what Christmas is all about

__________

"All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath."
--F. Scott Fitzgerald

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Times That Try Men's Souls...




While it's true that I was too lazy to get out of bed Monday night to go out and watch the lunar eclipse, I did find a time-lapse video of the whole thing. If you'd like to watch it, the link is:


#

More and more I have been stumbling across anecdotal reports of the current "Do not offend anyone" policy so prevalent in schools and other institutions and organizations. And this trend is not confined to the United States. Some of them are ridiculously unnecessary and many are downright stupid in my opinion. Some of them make a guy wonder if the term 'human intelligence' is not an outright oxymoron. Below is an example:

The parents of a Muslim boy who attends a secondary school in La LĂ­nea, Cadiz province, have reported their son's teacher for an incident in the boy’s geography class which the child said caused him offence as a Muslim.

The teacher, Jose Reyes Fernandez, with more than 20 years in the profession, was explaining to the class how the cold climate in Trevelez, Granada province, aided in the curing of the village’s most famous local product, jamon serrano. The boy told his teacher that hearing the word 'ham' in class was offensive to him because of his religion and asked his geography teacher to stop referring to the product which caused him offence.

El Mundo newspaper reports that the boy’s parents then reported the teacher to both the National Police and to the courts. They placed a denuncia against the teacher for psychological ill-treatment in the context of xenophobia and racism.

Read more here:

#

Donald Harington said: "If you are destined to become a writer, you can't help it. If you can help it, you aren't destined to become a writer. The frustrations and disappointments, not even to mention the unspeakable loneliness, are too unbearable for anyone who doesn't have a deep sense of being unable to avoid writing."

I suppose that could be true. But how can one author know this to be true of other writers? One can observe other people throughout a long lifetime, but making a statement like that one seems to me to be setting one's self up as some kind of god like figure. To know the workings of one's own mind is nearly impossible, so knowing what or how another person thinks (even if seemingly revealed by that person) is ludicrous. And ludicrous means (to me) laughably absurd.

So many of the cockamamie conclusions we humans reach and so easily accept, upon observing the actions of other individuals, are truly bizarre. But, those are the kindling sticks of fired up storytelling. I have in mind The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in case you were wondering.

And no, I have not yet read any of Donald Harington's fiction. But I have two of his (01-cent used) books in my Amazon Shopping Cart at this moment. I'm still pondering upon the question of whether or not to make the purchase.

#

I read a short, short-story a few days ago and I don't know what to think about it. It might be prophetic... or it might be merely mush-brained alarmist crap. I'm still not sure.

It is titled: Good Gaia Day

#

Have you been hearing a lot lately about something called "Dark Matter?" Yeah? So have I. But until a few minutes ago I had no idea what it was. Now I know.




It's a body building supplement... in other words, it's not mysterious at all.

"Good Grief!"

#

By the way... even at my age I can still be surprised. Here is an Christmas Card I received from an admirer. It was attached to an email message.



__________

The average man, who does not know what to do with his life, wants another one which will last forever.
--Anatole France

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I Caught The Full Moon Last Night



This one made me LAUGH!



The above panel is one of many funny, funny comic strips that I've been enjoying from the site, xkcd,com: http://xkcd.com/

#

I caught the full moon last nigh just as it rose up above the Rincon mountain peaks. As in almost all things, the picture below does not do justice to the actual viewing at twilight as recorded by the ever-questing eyes of an awestruck watcher.

Tucson, AZ Full Moon, 5:30 P.M. December 20, 2010

(Click photo to see full-size picture)

In all sincerity I thought that I might get out of my warm winter's-night bed at just after midnight and carry my camera outside to witness and attempt to record the long duration of the December 2010 lunar eclipse. But, of course, I did not do so, instead merely slept thorough this singular period of history as I have done so many other times throughout my life... so far.

#

Word For Today

katzenjammer
(KAT-sen-jam-uhr)
noun:
1. Hangover
2. Distress; depression.
3. Confusion; clamor; uproar.


When I was a little kid my dad subscribed to the Chicago Sun Times and one of my favorite comic strips was The Katzenjammer Kids. Every Sunday I thrilled to the hilariously naughty and anti-authority exploits of Hans and Fritz.


The Katzenjammer Kids was the second strip I turned to, immediately after reading my very favorite, which was, of course, Li'l Abner...

(and Daisy Mae, of course)

#

Global Warming



From: National Geographic --

Mars, too, appears to be enjoying more mild and balmy temperatures. In 2005 data from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions revealed that the carbon dioxide "ice caps" near Mars's south pole had been diminishing for three summers in a row.

Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of space research at St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, says the Mars data is evidence that the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun.

"The long-term increase in solar irradiance is heating both Earth and Mars," he said.

And Robert W. Felix said:
"I used to say that global warming is a myth.
I take that back. The idea of human-caused
global warming is a flat-out lie."

#

During one of my daily walks I noticed and cropped out a picture of an unusual juxtaposition of a Christmas Angel and a road sign. Was this some sort of message? Or am I being a tad bit too subjective here?

? ? ? ?


Oops! One more . . .

(yuk yuk)

__________

"My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse
or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference."
--President Harry S. Truman

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Dark Of The Moon



The entire nation gets a ringside seat to a total lunar eclipse tonight (Monday, December 20, 2010.)

The total eclipse late tonight will last for 72 minutes, a deeper "night within a night," as someone put it. The moon will be partially eclipsed for about an hour as it goes into and out of the Earth's shadow.

The total eclipse will last from 2:41 to 3:53 a.m. ET.

More at USA Today

#

Recently I found myself curious as to when I first became aware that a poem or any other piece of writing could contain more than the surface meaning that its words conveyed. The earliest such insight that I can remember came about when I was in Middle School in the 1950s and the poem was:

The Blind Men and the Elephant
by John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant (Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, "Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he;
" 'Tis clear enough the Elephant Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can
This marvel of an Elephant Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he,
"the Elephant Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

After reading that poem, and after thinking about it, I all at once knew (without it being explained to me by a teacher) that this poem was telling me that if a person comes to a conclusion based on too few facts, that conclusion is probably incorrect, and that one should not form a definite and final opinion concerning a subject until one has all of the available facts.

That particular instance of sudden discernment has stayed in my memory all these years, and it has many times caused me to look deeper into meanings that might be possibly hidden in pieces of both poetry and prose (or in political speeches.) I am not always successful at identifying the exact meaning behind the seemingly obvious words and poetical word-pictures, but this can usually be blamed on my lack of 'formal' education and therefore being unfamiliar with 'classical' terms and references.

#

My friend Anthony recently wrote about Norman Mailer. I considered leaving a comment regarding my enjoyment of The Naked And The Dead and The Executioner's Song... and I might yet do so. I enjoyed reading both of those books (so long ago it seems) and I consider Norman Mailer an excellent craftsman, based of course on the fact that I most certainly did enjoy reading those works. I cannot fairly judge the lofty 'literate' book (when it ignores craftsmanship) since I rarely read them, and even when I do, I rarely understand them and rarely 'enjoy' reading them.

#


Chancellor Of Germany,
Angela Merkel


The Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, told a gathering of young members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party this weekend that the "multikulti" concept -- where people of different backgrounds would live together happily -- does not work in Germany.

Another article, titled Multiculturalism, RIP heralds the possible end of multiculturalism. This is in The American Spectator and it explains its title. Below is the opening paragraph:

Throughout my adult life governments around the Western world have been propagating the gospel of multiculturalism, which tells us that immigrants, from whatever part of the world and whatever way of life, are a welcome part of our "multicultural" society. Differences of language, religion, custom, and attachment don't matter, they have reassured us, since all can form part of the colorful tapestry of the modern state. Anybody who publicly disagreed with that claim invited the attentions of the thought police, always ready with the charge of racism, and never so scrupulous as to think it a sin to destroy the career of someone, provided he was white, indigenous, and male. To be quite honest, living through this period of organized mendacity has been one of the least agreeable ordeals that we conservatives have had to undergo. Keeping your head down is bad enough; but filling your head with official lies means sacrificing thought as well as freedom.

Note to the more close-minded of liberals: If you refuse to read the above article because of what you have heard about Conservative publications, please remember the plight of each of the blind men who knew all they needed to know about the appearance of an elephant by what their limited contact with a single part told them about the entire elephant.

__________

"The truth is that the State is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens ... Henceforth, I shall never serve any government anywhere."
--Leo Tolstoy

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Being A Published Author




Conventional publishing or self-publishing:

Why?

Why not?

If and when I ever finish this dad-blamed novel, I will most probably be too old and senile (and cantankerously unpleasant) to go through all the myriad machinations and foolish fol-de-rol of submitting it first to a series of author's agents, or failing that, mailing it off to the corporate owned publishing houses, all in the vain hope that someone (some editor) will read it and like it sufficiently to convince the bosses to have it printed and marketed to the general public. Which, after acceptance of the manuscript, will take a matter of years before its appearance in retail bookstores. Where it will probably sit gathering dust.

But I am not too old to take advantage of the self-publishing industry, such as the Print On Demand process. It will cost me an initial outlay of cash, but the end result will probably be the same, but coming into fruition within a single year instead of many. And I will have a printed book that I can hold in my hand and pass out to family members, friends, an others of those who might care about such things.

Something to think about.

#

I have been reading some of the words of the late...

William F. Buckley, Jr.


Here is an excerpt from something he wrote for National Review, circa 1955 --

A: It is the job of centralized government (in peacetime) to protect its citizens’ lives, liberty and property. All other activities of government tend to diminish freedom and hamper progress. The growth of government(the dominant social feature of this century) must be fought relentlessly. In this great social conflict of the era, we are, without reservations, on the libertarian side.

D: The largest cultural menace in America is the conformity of the intellectual cliques which, in education as well as the arts, are out to impose upon the nation their modish fads and fallacies, and have nearly succeeded in doing so. In this cultural issue, we are, without reservations, on the side of excellence (rather than “newness”) and of honest intellectual combat (rather than conformity).
--William F. Buckley, Jr.
From: National Review Mission Statement

#

Word Of The Day:

ontology The philosophical study of existence and the nature of being.

That says it all... right?

No, it does not... not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin... If you'd like to delve into ontology to a greater degree, you might start with what Wikipedia has to say about it. But I wouldn't advise it, unless you are retired and have a wealth of free time on your hands. Wiki will undoubtedly confuse the reader and invite further research into philosophical questions that will only serve to further confuse and eventually drive men (and women) mad.

One might as well ask:


__________

"A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one."
--Poor Richard's Almanac

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Doing Some Deep Thinking...


I read somewhere: "Governments process full-bodied humans into soldiers; corporations process them into personnel. Public schools process children into obedient cogs. Individual initiative is nearly always wasted, and technocracy threatens to waste it ever more expeditiously in the service of the state."

That's something I believe that I should think about. And not forget.

#

Words For Today:

quantum (physics) the smallest discrete quantity of some physical property that a system can possess (according to quantum theory)

leptorrhine
(LEP-tuh-ryn)
adjective: Having a long narrow nose.

#

Yesterday and today I have devoted my time to reading and thinking, not blogging.

__________

Our individually unique minds are merely each person's self-translation of phenomena as observed through the lens of that individual's formerly constructed mental models of what is. --Gene Chambers A Personal Observation

Friday, December 17, 2010

No Title


_____


_____

Nothing today.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Title Goes Here . . .



Again today I read a piece praising the works of Jane Austen. Although I have one of her novels, Pride and Prejudice on my KindlePC, I have yet to read it. Oh, I've tried; I have started reading it several times. But I cannot get past the first few pages before a rather ungracious thought pops into my mind, and that thought is... This sucks.

Even the preposterous but highly acclaimed first line: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife" seems to me to be no more than a self-adopted fantasy belief, inspired by inborn vanity, of a not so perceptive, misguided woman. Not to say that a man could not have written this, and believed in its self-absorbed absurdity. But that, of course, is an entirely separate story.

As I read on, it becomes wearily apparent that this is similar to the modern-day cheap paperback romances that gleam and glitter from the bookshelves of the chain bargain stores, differing only in possessing the blessings of mountain-leveling time, and in inspiring blind worship of an era long-passed, sufficiently lauded by the hallowed opinions of the scholarly, the avowed preachments of the clan of socially elevated sensitive souls.

I will, of course, continue trying to read the story. Mainly because I have found on occasion in the past that my first impressions, my first opinions as to my potential enjoyment of a novel of which I have merely sampled a small portion, are often proven, upon deeper delving, to be wrong.

#

While viewing a Youtube video regarding RSS feeds, I noticed that the young dorky nerds explaining RSS several times referred to the word 'distribute' but instead of pronouncing the word 'dis-TRIB-yute' as I had learned it years ago, they pronounced it 'DIS-truh-byute.' It makes no difference to me how it is correctly pronounced; I must admit that the first way, the way I'd originally learned it, sounds correct to me. The second way, the modern youthful way, sounds artificial, stupid, and just plain wrong... to me.

Elmer Fudd knows what I mean.

#

Did you know that The Social Security Administration has a list of services they offer that can be activated online?

Well, it does.

__________


"History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren't there."
--George Santayana

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What Are Personal Opinions Worth?




There is a serious strip (not a 'comic' strip) regarding Climate Change that should be a 'must read' for any thinking person.

I read it, and even left a comment concerning one panel's use of the term 'comprised of' instead of 'composed of'. Adding of to comprised is incorrect usage, no matter how 'popular' it has become to do so. And yes, that is a personal opinion, for what it's worth.

A few hours later the strip's creator had evidently read my comment (along with other grammar errors reported in the comments) and had made corrections. Good for him.

Now I feel better.

I posted the above on my Writers List certain that surely I'd get some responses. And I did. (Sorry about calling you 'Shirley')

#

Regarding the octothorpe The National Post featured an opinion piece that noted:

. . . it was in decline for years. After generations of vigorous life everywhere in the retailing world where numbers were written, it lost out to computerized invoices and receipts that simply ignored its value. In literature, after centuries showing printers where to put spaces, it was abolished by computers that do the same job with the touch of a keyboard.

Okay. But I, for one, still use the octothorpe to mark an extra space between scenes in my novel. Consider this: when the writer ignores the octothorpe and depends only on an extra tap of the return key, when the scene ends at the visual end of a manuscript page and the next scene begins on the monitor's next page, this extra space is unseen by the reader. Below is an example of what I mean:

The story is moving along and we reach the end of the page, and the scene ends here.

Now comes the next scene and it begins at the top of this, the next page.

See what I mean? No way to instantly know one scene ended and another scene began. But consider this:

The story is moving along and we reach the end of the page, and the scene ends here.

#

Now the next scene begins here, at the top of this next page.

See what I mean? The trusty old octothorpe has saved the day. The reader seamlessly skipped to the next scene.

#

3 QUARKS DAILY has a piece titled Some notes on the grammar of the curry. I was amazed after reading the method used in preparing authentic curry.


Do people actually go to all that trouble just to cook some meat and potatoes? Heck Fire! I was born and raised in Indiana where meat and potatoes (seasoned with only salt and pepper) was the staple of our daily meals. I'm 71 years old now and have never tasted Indian Curry. And given the now precarious state of my aged gastrointestinal tract, I probably never will.

I'm not complaining, though.

#

Can anyone make sense of the following sentence taken from from Walter Scott's novel, Rob Roy?

"He's no a'thegither sae void o' sense neither; he has a gloaming sight o' what's reasonable--that is anes and awa'--a glisk and nae mair; but he's crack-brained and cockle-headed about his nipperty-tipperty poetry nonsense--He'll glowr at an auld-warld barkit aik-snag as if it were a queez-maddam in full bearing; and a naked craig, wi' a bum jawing ower't, is unto him as a garden garnisht with flowering knots and choice pot-herbs."

Not me.

#

While reading in some obscure source, I happened upon a new word (new to me, that is) -- neologism. Of course, me being me, I delved into the meaning of the word, finally arriving at:

In psychiatry, the term neologism is used to describe the use of words that only have meaning to the person who uses them, independent of their common meaning. This is considered normal in children, but a symptom of thought disorder (indicative of a psychotic mental illness, such as schizophrenia) in adults.

People with autism also may create neologisms. In addition, use of neologisms may also be related to aphasia acquired after brain damage resulting from a stroke or head injury.

Well! I decided immediately that here (suitably adapted) is something I can use in my novel. And I will.

More about neologisms here at Wikipedia.

#

Oh! And did you know that a monoglot is a person capable of speaking only a single language?


__________

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

NASA's Fiction-like Facts . . .


_____


_____

I just bought another FREE book from Amazon.com for my KindlePC. It is 'Edgar Allan Poe's Complete Poetical Works' and it's great. I'd forgotten how much I had enjoyed reading that man's poetry. And I had forgotten how just reading (or hearing) the words 'drear' and 'sere' especially when repeated again and again, within a context of 'fear' could actually affect my mood.

We humans are such manipulable creatures.

Puppets on a string; indeed.

_____


Below is a NASA update I received yesterday.

Dec. 13, 2010
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
RELEASE: 10-334

NASA PROBE SEES SOLAR WIND DECLINE EN ROUTE TO INTERSTELLAR SPACE

PASADENA, Calif. -- The 33-year odyssey of NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has reached a distant point at the edge of our solar system where there is no outward motion of solar wind.

Now hurtling toward interstellar space some 10.8 billion miles from the sun, Voyager 1 has crossed into an area where the velocity of the hot ionized gas, or plasma, emanating directly outward from the sun has slowed to zero. Scientists suspect the solar wind has been turned
sideways by the pressure from the interstellar wind in the region between stars.

The event is a major milestone in Voyager 1's passage through the heliosheath, the turbulent outer shell of the sun's sphere of influence, and the spacecraft's upcoming departure from our solar system.

"The solar wind has turned the corner," said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. "Voyager 1 is getting close to interstellar space."

Our sun gives off a stream of charged particles that form a bubble known as the heliosphere around our solar system. The solar wind travels at supersonic speed until it crosses a shockwave called the termination shock. At this point, the solar wind dramatically slows down and heats up in the heliosheath.

Launched on Sept. 5, 1977, Voyager 1 crossed the termination shock in December 2004 into the heliosheath. Scientists have used data from Voyager 1's Low-Energy Charged Particle Instrument to deduce the solar wind's velocity.

When the speed of the charged particles hitting the outward face of Voyager 1 matched the spacecraft's speed, researchers knew that the net outward speed of the solar wind was zero. This occurred in June, when Voyager 1 was about 10.6 billion miles from the sun.

Because the velocities can fluctuate, scientists watched four more monthly readings before they were convinced the solar wind's outward speed actually had slowed to zero. Analysis of the data shows the velocity of the solar wind has steadily slowed at a rate of about 45,000 mph each year since August 2007, when the solar wind was speeding outward at about 130,000 mph. The outward speed has remained at zero since June.

The results were presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

"When I realized that we were getting solid zeroes, I was amazed," said Rob Decker, a Voyager Low-Energy Charged Particle Instrument co-investigator and senior staff scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. "Here was Voyager, a spacecraft that has been a workhorse for 33 years, showing us something completely new again."

Scientists believe Voyager 1 has not crossed the heliosheath into interstellar space. Crossing into interstellar space would mean a sudden drop in the density of hot particles and an increase in the density of cold particles. Scientists are putting the data into their models of the heliosphere's structure and should be able to better estimate when Voyager 1 will reach interstellar space. Researchers currently estimate Voyager 1 will cross that frontier in about four years.

"In science, there is nothing like a reality check to shake things up, and Voyager 1 provided that with hard facts," said Tom Krimigis, principal investigator on the Low-Energy Charged Particle Instrument, who is based at the Applied Physics Laboratory and the Academy of Athens, Greece. "Once again, we face the predicament of redoing our models."

A sister spacecraft, Voyager 2, was launched in Aug. 20, 1977 and has reached a position 8.8 billion miles from the sun. Both spacecraft have been traveling along different trajectories and at different speeds. Voyager 1 is traveling faster, at a speed of about 38,000 mph, compared to Voyager 2's velocity of 35,000 mph. In the next few years, scientists expect Voyager 2 to encounter the same kind of phenomenon as Voyager 1.

The Voyagers were built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which continues to operate both spacecraft. For more information about the Voyager spacecraft, visit:


_____

I didn't post the above because I'm too lazy to think of something new to write about today. It's just that I think the whole space exploration thing is pretty amazing.

Voyager



such a powerful
puppet master
must be the artist
who is putting on this
colossal celestial show

who or what
I wonder
comprises its audience

__________

Monday, December 13, 2010

This Is A Good Day For . . .


_____




_____

I am having a lot of trouble with the opening for Chapter 2 of my novel. This is probably because I am attempting to insert too much detail into an already slow moving scene (all dialogue) of trying to describe the characters, this particular special hospital room's unique equipment and surroundings, and at the same time move the story along. Leaving out some of those details might solve my problem, but then I would have to characterize these important people later, after they have been involved in some fast action sequences.

And I don't want to do that.

It's a thorny situation, but I'll probably come up with a brilliant (or at least satisfactory) solution if I keep diddling around with it.

_____

Is Reality Really Real?




In an article, Michael Shermer asks: "Is Hawking right to claim that reality is dependent on the model used to describe it?"

In his new book, The Grand Design, co-authored with the Caltech mathematician Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking presents a philosophy of science he calls "model-dependent realism," which is based on the assumption that our brains form models of the world from sensory input, that we use the model most successful at explaining events and assume that the models match reality (even if they do not), and that when more than one model makes accurate predictions "we are free to use whichever model is most convenient."

Intriguing article.

_____

This morning I read the following:

"The bed was massive and so was the man. He wore a faded gray sweatshirt with washed-out blue cuffs and pocket. The shirt was tucked into the waistband of black woolen trousers that were frayed at the cuffs. Patchen wore blue, maroon and tan Argyle socks, but no shoes. His body seemed muscular and powerful; his face delicate and sensitive. His skin was white and his eyes were a deep blue-gray."

To some that brief passage is exactly how a writer should describe a character within a location.

But to me, as a reader, not necessarily as a writer, it is a waste of words and a waste of time. It seems to tell a lot while actually saying little of real substance. To say "the bed was massive and so was the man" is subject to reader interpretation. The word massive means something totally different to the male reader who is a 90 lb. weakling than it means to a reader who is a 6' 6" tall 300 lb. line backer for the Chicago Bears. The litany of what the character was wearing at the moment might be the truth, but it says nothing about the character's reasons for dressing in that specific manner, so who cares? His skin being white has no bearing on anything. And his eyes being 'a deep blue-gray' is superfluous.

But that is just an example of my style of reading. I tend to skip (or briefly scan) long descriptions.

_____


Now that's a freakin' sandwich . . .

_____

It's getting late, a little after 7 A.M. and I'm chompin' at the bit. Gotta get to work on my novel.

__________

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Who Needs A Title Anyway?




My friend and fellow writer is alive and writing again. If I were a poet (which I most emphatically am not) I would emote my great relief and exultation at receiving that absolutely grand and glorious news. I have missed his daily posts at Spilled Beans and I am looking forward to reading his upcoming offerings at that web site.

. . .

A few minutes ago, at approximately 7:01 A.M. all the dogs in the neighborhood began to bark and howl and make a cacophonous commotion, and Eva came running in to where I sat at my keyboard from the living room where she'd been snoring on her nap pillow and informed my (by jumping up and down and whirling in place) that she felt an undeniable need to go out on the back deck immediately.

Recognizing her instinct-driven agitation I immediately complied, accompanying her out the back door leading to the fenced in expanse of desert scrub, where the canine hubbub was being spurred on by the howls and yapping of a pack of coyotes loping across the dry wash a couple hundred feet to the rear of the house.

I had grabbed up my camera on the way out, but not a peek did I get of the clamorous marauders.

After about five minutes all settled down to a few scattered barks from the less experienced pups somewhere in the surrounding area.

So I came inside from the cool sixty degree temperature and sat back down here to record that somewhat exhilarating event.

And Eva went back to doggie dreamland.

. . .

Oh... and before I forget, a new picture has surfaced of last month's Thanksgiving Dinner 2010 as enjoyed by the dogs of the family. Notice how well trained they are, sitting there patiently and obediently awaiting the command to "Go!"


Eva, Tycho, Cedric

Click the pic for larger view)

. . .

My mouse has two daddies... exclaims PZ Myers (noted biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris) who has written a piece regarding a recent genetics-oriented announcement. PZ begins:

This is awesome news. Biologists have figured out how to enable two male mice to have babies together, with no genetic contribution from a female mouse. I, for one, look forward to our future gay rodent overlords.

Not being overly endowed with much of an understanding of even basic biology, I enjoyed PZ's analysis of this breakthrough.

I thought you might like to read about it, too.

. . .


I viewed a short video featuring a series of Bushisms -- which only proves that speechification is not the forte of everyone.