Lately (well, perhaps not that lately) (OK, maybe it was a couple months ago) (but still, there was a time) there have been more warnings than I ever intended. My apologies to one and all. And my apologies to the rest of you as well. And to anyone else in need of some apologies.
Now perhaps, due to this new emerging trend, or possible tendency, there will be (or at least might be) more apologies than warnings, especially given the present post, and I hasten to add that that, too, for heaven’s sake, was certainly never intended. Not at all. One can always (or usually, if not exactly ‘always’ in the infinite sense) have too much of a good thing. If apologies are indeed, intrinsically at least, a Good Thing.
These things get tricky when you try to manage them in public. In my secret subterranean den, all set about with fever trees, I can post stupid remarks and unbalanced rants wherever and whenever I want, and nobody ever sees them. If they (anybody) do (see them), I just snatch them (the posts) from the wall and nonchalantly toss them into the 55-gallon drum by my desk, smiling sheepishly and emitting the usual list of disclaimers.
But here, out in the World, which we (so often) hear so much about, each post becomes an obelisk to my own lunacy.
Sneaky play on words in that last sentence, eh?
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If we open up the ear canals on the inside of the brainpan (removing the brain, of course), then the whole head can become a Helmholtz resonator and absorb from the collective cacophony at least the resonant frequency of the empty head.
To whomever it was (a clandestine agglomeration of you, no doubt) who dropped off that funny yellow volume between my front doors:
Yes, I do like prosthetic gods, as a concept, though I haven’t much enjoyed the book, and lately I’ve grown tired of unbridled analysis and decomposition. But the title reminds me of Small Gods, an SF novel by Terry Pratchett, with some wonderful paradigm-baiting conceptual angles. Foster’s book, of course, is not SF, not at all. It is a grand explosion of PF (Psychological Fiction) based on the notion that all things, if thoroughly disintegrated in a merciless beam of partisan jargon, can be reduced to mere confirmational shrapnel.
There was a tiny trapeze, barely a quarter inch tall, with a swing hanging from cords so fine you couldn’t see them, and the nearly microscopic bar seemed to float in mid-air. A beautiful young female chigger in sequined leotard and striped tights swung from it, executing perilous pirouettes and flips that showed off her shapely carapace.
Dear Dr. Y,
As you know all too well by now, Mr. X is one dumb bunny. Need I say more?
I can’t refuse: He has no friends, or even acquaintances. Even people using adjacent machines at the laudromat have no awareness of him. He is intrinsically immune to the public stall “wide stance” maneuver. All who claim to know him are liars, and are of two classes: those who enjoy momentary selective scotoma, and those who instinctively shun him. Nothing further will be heard from any other living beings, since none who might falsely profess to have perceived him are likely even to possess the power of speech.
Yes, lunch, definitely.
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[Updated Jan. 25, 2016.]
Somehow the word ‘plot’ has become elevated above the word ‘story.’ Perhaps E. M. Forster is to blame, for his canonical, “the queen died, the king died” as a model ‘story,’ based on the assertion that a story is intrinsically chronological, while a ‘plot’ is intrinsically causative (“the queen died, the king died of grief”).
Story = “The queen died. The king died.”
Plot = “The queen died. The king died of grief.”
[See this on Amazon for Forster’s entire brilliant and priceless 1927 lecture series. Note that I have reversed the characters’ roles to make it more poignant and perhaps more modern.]
To my way of thinking, story-telling is quintessentially human, and serves as the basis of virtually all forms of learning beyond the mirror-neurons, and probably involves plenty of those as well. Thus ‘story’ is a crucially powerful concept, while ‘plot’ is a notion arising from the study of literature and story-telling.
My dear X,
Dr. Y is an idiot. You have no friends, especially Dr. Y. The drugs were your only hope, but can only be tried once. Now that you’re off them, they cannot be restarted. The laughter is a sham. Nothing is funny. Except maybe the fact that nothing is funny. But that’s neither here nor there. Mumbling is a sure sign of the dropsy, so get ready for that. Editing is futile unless there’s something worthwhile to begin with, and, well, you know. The memory erasing drug is also a sham. You have forgotten nothing. Forgetting is impossible. All that you remember at any moment is all that you have ever known. All else is delusion. The laughter was an illusion. You never laughed.
Lunch soon, OK?
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If you ask me,
there is a damn good chance that I will answer.
So, knowing that,
and knowing my personal concomitant,
and without discorporate harcourt,
enshrine to me your irrespective queries upon the Hellespont.
Yes, go ahead. Yes. Head.
—I wait here.
I am waiting.
Still I wait.
(Lather. Rinse. Repeat.)
Verily, my waiting knows no bound.
I wait like the weight of somnabulant sturgeons
gouging the intrepid piscene,
denizens of this peppermint operating table.
And yet, in lieu of this,
I wait anon.
He, she, or it waits.
It waits not.
It never waits.
Only I and thee.
It’s interesting to take another look at the “one small step for [a] man” controversy. Obviously, Armstrong meant to say “for a man” to contrast with “one giant leap for Mankind.” But most people heard no “a” and despite Armstrong’s claim that he did say the “a,” many continue to believe he didn’t say it.
An article from 2006 in the Houston Chronicle, reprinted on Chron.com, states:
The missing word was found this month [October 2006] in a software analysis of Armstrong’s famous phrase by Peter Shann Ford, a Sydney, Australia-based computer programmer. Ford’s company, Control Bionics, specializes in helping physically handicapped people use their nerve impulses to communicate through computers.
On Thursday, Ford and Auburn University historian James R. Hansen, Armstrong’s authorized biographer, presented the findings to Armstrong and others in a meeting at the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. They repeated the presentation at NASA’s Washington headquarters, which has long backed Armstrong’s version of the phrasing.
“I have reviewed the data and Peter Ford’s analysis of it, and I find the technology interesting and useful,” Armstrong said in a statement. “I also find his conclusion persuasive. Persuasive is the appropriate word.”
According to Ford, Armstrong spoke, “One small step for a man … ” with the “a” lasting a total of 35 milliseconds, 10 times too quickly to be heard.”
The “a” was transmitted, though, and can be verified in an analysis using Canadian sound-editing software called GoldWave, Ford said.
If you think about it, it’s easy to slur the “a” and lose it in the low-fidelity radio transmission. Not only that, Armstrong’s diction might have been slightly compromised by his actually being the first man on the moon….