Friday, September 28, 2007

Vive la revolution!

As probably all of you can tell, I can hardly be described as revolutionary in my personality. I'm simply not aggressive, and indeed one of my great personality traits is that I very easily see the other side of an issue and can often even sympathize with it. However, today I am more cynical than before.

Today the University Board of Regents approved the establishment of a University-Affiliated Research Center which essentially will do research for the Navy. The research could be of any kind. Now, I've never felt very strongly against the center, and there are good arguments for and against it. However, many people on campus do feel strongly about it, and there were protests and sit-ins at the President's office and meetings and, most importantly to me, votes by both the official student body organization and the faculty senate in opposition to the center. So while I don't particularly oppose the actual Center, it really does anger me when the Regents completely ignore the stated positions of both the faculty and the student body.

As I was at breakfast this morning, I realized that I have never ever heard of a case where the people in power, whoever they may be, host a town meeting, hear of opposition to something, and change their mind due to persuasion. It never happens. Whether it is building a new Dell factory in Nashville, a new high rise on the water front on Oahu, bringing the Super Ferry to the islands, or building a Navy-affiliated research center, whatever the plan was before the town meeting is virtually the same plan after the town meeting. It would be great to say that this is because the original plan was always the best rational choice, but it appears more and more that whoever is in power wins.

I should explain the SuperFerry, which has been a disaster all the way around. Believe it or not, despite this being a state made of islands, there is no boat from one island to the next. The only way to get to a neighbor isle is to fly (of course, there are private boats, shipping lines and yachts). A business decided to start the SuperFerry here, and it fills a strong market niche and I support its existence. But from the beginning they and the state have wanted to cut corners, the main corner being not performing an environmental impact study on the harbors that will support the ferry. People went to the official meetings and argued that this was indeed important, but it was ignored. It was ignored because the federal government promised to give many millions of dollars ONLY IF the state of hawaii did not require an impact study. The state changed the rule, took the money, and the ferry came.

However on their maiden voyage, they learned that many people really do care about these things. In particular, the ferry has not been able to land in Kauai because surfers and others clogged the harbor so that it could not safely approach. And now the ferry's future is dubious. This is all ridiculous in many ways because flying to Kauai, due to the carbon emissions from fuel consumption, is likely at least as damaging to the environment as the boat. So now we've got an embarassed state, a company losing money, planes dumping CO2 in the atmosphere, and still no boat from one island to the next. Almost all of this could have been avoided if everyone had just listened at the town meeting, done the study, and then operated the boat. But going to meetings and voicing an opinion changes nothing, it seems, since the opposition isn't giving away money, and the only way to have an opinion is to illegally clog the harbor with your body.

I wrote my first ever comment on the Honolulu Advertiser's message board today, where I reveal my new cynical self, and here it is:

"I have to disagree very much with the person who earlier stated that the lesson from this was that protestors need to be polite and sit down when told. I myself said similar things three years ago in an opinion piece in the Ka Leo paper because I too was exasperated and offended by many of the protestors' tactics.

However, whenever people simply go to meetings such as this and stand up and present their arguments, nothing ever changes. The number of times in which the organization with power, such as the regents, city hall, state gov, or neighborhood board, has ever changed their mind from people attending the designated meeting that they are supposed to attend and politely voicing their opposition comes now to a big fat zero. Zero. Whatever the project is, from a high rise in Waikiki to the super ferry to UARC, the people in power always do virtually the exact thing they planned to do before any rational opposition was expressed.

Many here are pretending that the only people opposed to UARC are people who hate the military, but, as the article detailed, both the UH Manoa Faculty Senate and its Student Body group voted against it. But of course there is no money in these opinions and so the Regents just ignored them.

It would be great if life worked the way we want it to in which we all sit back and offer good arguments and then make a decision, but in reality the good argument from someone in power trumps the good argument of the average citizen about 50 to 1, and the only way for the citizen to have any voice appears to be, not just to reason, but to protest.

That's what I have learned from this whole episode. Call me now jaded. Apparently the only way to have a voice is to swim out into the harbor as the boat comes."

IIII wrote that? Really?

I was browsing my little statcounter this evening, looking to see what bizarre keywords brought someone here (like "naked women deer hunting"), and I saw a link from another blog and so I followed it. Right at the top was this:

"Hester, in my eyes, the sun is nothing but a rock at the bottom of the sea covered in barnacles soiled in the droppings of starfish when compared to your undying radiance." "Yes, I know. You said that on the gondola earlier, Henry. But I wish you would leave out the starfish thing."
The weblog of the one true paca: 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005

And I just stared and stared at it. I saw this blog title below the quote, but I would have sworn I'd never even seen those words before in my life, much less be their author. And yet...

I am. Or I did or I have. Two years ago, but it looks to have been me, when I was doing a series on "trying to write really badly."

I wonder if I've ever written anything else kind of clever. I think I'm about to waste an hour back in 2005....

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Inscrutable amazing beings that we are

The story of Tania Head, former President of the World Trade Center's Survival Network. Yes, I condemn her deeds if they are indeed based on lies, but mostly it just leaves you shaking your head. We all like to choose new identities for ourselves, no matter the cost.

This definitely is novel-idea fodder, not just a story like this, but people choosing to inhabit worlds they do not belong to, I guess, to become important again.

Congratze Katze

Many of you may not remember seeing the name Katze here too often, but there is a regular reader named Katze who has been stopping by the blog for over a year. She's been a bit busy lately, what with a wedding and all. And that's the point of this message.

Our own blog reader Katze was married about 4-5 days ago. She just posted a nice picture of the ceremony on her blog here

Congratze, Katze.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Secret Event - REVEALED!!

I feel like Robert Stack here.

A couple posts down I detailed how a large chunk of the university campus will be closed for a private function this weekend and how they even told us which staircases not to use.

It turns out that it isn't the VP or higher who needs such privacy, it's...

drumroll please...

AEROSMITH

Yes, Aerosmith.

Specifically, Toyota is having it's dealers' convention in town and they have hired Aerosmith to do a private concert in the stadium. As a result, NO CAMPUS FOR YOU, to paraphrase the soup nazi.

Back in my old corporate life, we used to have an annual convention with entertainment, but the only thing I can remember right now is the Opryland amusement park opening for us. That was fun. I didn't know that for a few (hundred thousand) bucks more, we could have gotten Aerosmith.

So there you go. You didn't haggle enough when buying your Camry, because Toyota's got enough money for Aerosmith. Here's the news article if you wish to follow more.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Kuliouou Ridge Trail

The only other versions of these pictures I could find are only a bit bigger, so let's just go with the thumbnail version. Oh well.


Through much of July and August over summer break, I and a classmate met each Wednesday morning to go on a hike. With one exception, we explored the mountain ridges of the Ko'olau Mountain Range (one of the two ranges on Oahu) from central Honolulu to the eastern tip of the island. You've already seen Makapu'u Point and the Koko Head Crater hike pics. In the end, we did about 5 or 6 hikes.

My favorite was the Kuliouou Ridge Trail. It was our biggest hike as it ascends 2,000 feet, but it was definitely worth it. All of the pictures you see below are from my classmate, not me. I was too lazy and just went with a water bottle, while she carried stuff and I mooched.

It starts off in the back corner of a subdivision and you end up somewhere on the top of those thing.


The first two-thirds looks kind of like this. It's basically switchbacks up the ridge.

When you get to the top of the ridge, there's these stunning forests of ironwood trees, which are evergreens with tiny needles, and then end up carpeting the entire forest in a gray brown snow.

Unfortunately, there are idiots up on top who destroy the mood.


At the end of this, you get to a little hut with a picnic bench that industrious boy scouts built. After this, it gets much steeper and more dangerous. N, B, and I actually came back a few weeks later and hiked to the picnic bench. It took 6 hours to get all of us up there and back down, but we did it.

Anyway, as soon as you leave the stand, things get narrower and their can be drops a foot to either side of you. This is one portion.

Somehow this tree by itself on the ridge looked like an immediate landmark.

Of course, one must take an obligatory photo of Diamond Head when on this part of the island.


And what's special about this ridge trail is that it takes you all the way up to the cliffs of the windward side, making everything worth it. Yeah, we are on the top of those cliffs here.



Yeah, Oahu.

Why women think men are lame (and vice versa)

Everyone knows that men are commitment phobes and women are faithless. Well, that may or may not have any basis in reality, but it's the cliche. I had a flash on why many have a lower opinion of the opposite sex' relationship potential than is real.

Most of us only end up in a small number of semi-permanent relationships that last more than a year or two, unless you are Elizabeth Taylor. So you have one, two, or three men or women with whom things really worked out for a few years.

But most people dated before the semi-permanent relationships and since they didn't last a long time, there were a bunch of them. If you date six guys and break up with them, and then have a real click with guy number 7, well, look at the count. Six men were lame, one good. In fact, you stop looking as soon as you get the good one (well, you are supposed to), which means you never encounter the other good ones. It's complete sample bias.

Or maybe most men are skirt-chasing, womanizing, juvenile, sports-obsessed idiots. I'm good with whichever explanation.

Bah humbug

I just spent forty-five minutes writing this long post about a hike I did a month or so ago with pictures of magnificent vistas. Then I published it and discovered that all the pics are just thumbnails.

Magnificent.

So it's sitting as a draft now until I have time to replace them all with at least palm size photos.

In its stead, you get this picture of a quesadilla from a few weeks back.


And we also bought too many bananas at Costco a few weeks back, so we experimented with making frozen chocolate covered bananas; some just choc, some with walnuts, some with coconut. The extras help the chocolate stay on the banana when in the freezer.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Rebel Paca

I, and 20,000 other university people, just got an email from our vice chancellor that a certain section of campus has been rented out for "a private function" on Saturday and Sunday. Apparently, "Individuals not authorized to be in the area will be asked to leave." It then proceeds to tell us how, for our safety, we will not be allowed to use such and such gates, such and such roads, such and such parking lots, and even details the individual staircases that we may not use. All for a mysterious "private function."

Now, I had no plans to go anywhere near this area of campus this weekend, but, suddenly, I do. What could they possibly have going on that doesn't allow a student to walk to their dorm for two days straight? (They've arranged a special shuttle to transport the trapped students.) If this is anyone less important than the Vice-President, I'm going to be disappointed. I gotta crash this party.

Ugh

Last thing I remember I was reviewing conditional probability mass functions around 10:30. And then I woke up on the floor of my office at a quarter to three a.m. Bah.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

possible story opening

The great struggles of our age are just a question for a 10th grader to get wrong on a history test a hundred years from now.



I'm not sure where it goes after that. Feel free to offer advice, tighten, or go "huh?"

Is this better?

A hundred years from now, the great struggles of our age will be a question for a tenth grader to get wrong on a history test.

Friday, September 21, 2007

tiny language question

So, two sentences...

"He has a fruitcake."

"He does have a fruitcake."

What's the difference? I don't know, though I am sure I should.

The second seems more emphatic somehow, like you are correcting someone....

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I guess I was paying attention

I made the mistake of getting intellectually upset over at The Moderate Voice blog while on a break. Someone was doing a post about originalist judicial philosophy, over which I have no real opinion, and then a commenter declared the post to all be garbage, but provided absolutely no reason that it was so. I got mad and asked if he was ever planning on providing evidence for anything he says or not. This is a regular occurrence with this commenter. He always exclaims "false" and walks away as if that has helped anyone. The commenter then actually did provide evidence for what he was saying, but lead off his comment by stating that no evidence was needed.

I finally responded with the post below, in which I was shocked to learn that apparently I had paid attention in philosophy class a decade ago. Here you go and I'm headed back to linguistics:

Now, let’s tackle your lead off statement:
“Correct statements of fact aren’t “claims” (or “assertions,” a word I see misused frequently), and I owe no evidence or proof any more than if I say the world is round, rather than flat.”

Indeed brute facts are brute facts and remain so whether or not we believe them and whether or not we have evidence for them. There may be a certain number of stars in the universe at this instant and that is a brute fact. (The problem we will run into is when something is still a star and when not, but let’s ignore that. The point is that the universe is the way it is, no matter our beliefs or evidence.) I believe the error you are making is in equivocating over the words “fact”, “belief” or “claim” or “assertion”, and “knowledge”.

If I were to throw out an exact number of stars in the universe right now, I may or may not be right about it. Whether or not I am right is a fact. But when I give you the number, I am not providing a fact, I am providing a claim or assertion about a fact. I think that the number of stars is so-and-so. You may wish to know if what I am claiming is a fact or not and so you might ask me why I say that, i.e., what the evidence is.

Let’s say I cannot provide any evidence at all. In fact, I completely made the number up off the top of my head. The number I made up could still be true just by chance, it could be accurate; however, you’d have no good reason to believe it. In such cases, it is customary to say that I have a correct belief, but I lack knowledge, because I have no evidence for the belief.

One reason we want to make this distinction is that, as the cliché goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day. For two moments every day a broken clock gets the time exactly right, but that’s only because it must, and not because it can actually tell time. If I actually want to know what the time is in general, I’d much rather have a functioning clock that has a reason for the time it is giving, even, depending on my function, if it’s always 3 minutes off.

When you make claims about originalism, they may or may not also be facts out in the world. You clearly think that you have knowledge of those facts, meaning you think, based upon reading of originalists and general judicial philosophy, that your beliefs are correct and justified. However, no one else knows if you are right or not. We don’t know why you yell out the word “false” and claim to have established something. Those of reading your words need to distinguish the broken clock who might have it right by chance and the functioning one who has evidence, because, if we believe in a reasonable world, we think that complete guessing is not as likely to be correct most of the time as is a statment based on knowledge.

Giving up the idea of evidence when someone states something just because it is or is not a fact out in the world would be like going into a court room, having some one declare “guilty” for who knows why, and walking out. The person might have stated a fact, but no one, perhaps even the person who stated it, knows.

Of course, as always, this is all outlined in Plato, particularly the Thaeatetus.

where i'm hiding

For the most part this is what I've been up to the last few days. And now I'm up to this. I should emerge again soon.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I'm kinda, sorta innocent I tell you! Innocent!

It's Saturday night and B is asleep, so what would I be doing but dialing into work editing Review 1, which I thought was finished days ago, but one of the editors sent a whole list of new changes.

However, my connection to the work computer crashed yet again. I needed to wait a few minutes before re-connecting, and I'd already read all my normal blogs, so I clicked on Amazon. Maybe I'd browse my wishlist or something as a break.

You know how Amazon is always featuring ads from some store of theirs on the front page? Well, today's store.... Let me just say

Whoa.

Apparently, it was ladies' undergarment day, and not just any old lingerie set, they ain't promoting Hanes HerWay here; I'm talking fishnet body stockings with cutouts for ummm, uhhhh, my mom and spouse read this, ummm cut-outs for.... well, there were two openings. Balanced. That required strategic finger placement.

Now, I, despite being shocked, shocked I tell you!, found the courage to click on one undeniably sexy, but still in the classy version of sexy, instead of the raunchy version of sexy, picture.** In fact it was this one. Now before you click the link, it will take you to sexy lingerie pics on Amazon. You must judge if it's NSFW or not. Oh, the link.

From this link, you can follow links to other things people purchased who looked at this, and I was genuinely surprised for some reason. I remember quite clearly quite clearly in high school, guys hording the shocking and risqué Frederick's of Hollywood catalogue. Logic tells me that I shouldn't be surprised that Amazon sells these things and that they have pictures of models wearing them. I know one mall here has a Fredericks' store in it. And actually the whole family was in Sears a few days ago because N was buying a new dress for a conference banquet that she is at right now. While N was in the dressing room, I was having a fun time amusing myself with B in the lingerie section of Sears, which truly was right next to the dresses. I would hold up a little red lace thong for B and turn it around, saying, "oh no! they forgot the back side!" N didn't find the game exactly appropriate.

But despite the fact that most of the same stuff is at Sears, I for some reason was genuinely surprised to find it on Amazon. Of course, Sears doesn't have women wearing it walking around. Hmm.. I see a visit to the Sears Suggestion Box in the near future. Anyway, how do teenage boys ever do anything if they can look at these things right on Amazon? There must be this 6 month vanishing act now around the age of 12 or 13 when puberty hits.

After all this, however, I was left with a question. After extensive research and careful study, I can't tell the difference between a chemise, a charmeuse, and a baby doll. Does anyone know? And if you do know the answer, could you, um, explain it with pictures?***

Did I say "extensive research"? I meant a passing glance. In fact, the only reason I was on any of these pages for any length of time at all was because I was so bored I kept falling asleep.

**(OK, maybe classy isn't exactly the word, but it's not this!)
*** Here's my best guess. I kept studying the shape of the... garment. But is it perhaps in the fabric itself? The charmeuse and chemise seem more satiny than the baby dolls.

B's first blog

I asked B if he wanted to tell a story. For the most part, I only asked him, "what's next?" to get this.

Noah Noah builds an ark. The waterfall comes on the grass. Yeah? Boat sails on the waterfall water on the grass it sails on there. Sails on there. Sales on the waterfall water on the grass. The front things falls off. He parks it. People, all the animals came off. All the animals came off. Yeah?

Baby Jesus. The baby jesus in Mary's tummy. Mary's tummy is big. It has a baby inside. Its name. What's the baby's name? Babe Jesus! His name is Baby Jesus, yeah? The bad king comes to the house. He takes the baby Jesus away. The Mary and Joseph run to get her baby back. Mary and Josephs are mad! at the bad king, right? The good king say, "hey, where'd your baby Jesus go?"

The baby in the basket. Baby. In. A basket. He was in the water. The basket was in the water with the baby. Adam with the black hair. He comes too. Has brown hair. Has one beard and two beards.

Whats an astronaut? He goes out to space and parks in the sky. What's park in the sky? You need a spaceship.

(Pointing at two Chinese characters): mommie and the brother. That's Japanese.

He-Man! Japanese. He-Man and Japanese. The king said "Go to there! It's so messy in this cookie jar. Go to Japanese ones. Eat Japanese ones (he's playing with a box of Korean cookies). Ah!! (knocks papers off the table). Picking up all these things. Picking up the car. That's a big fall.

(Are you all done telling your story?)

No, not yet.

Little stinky frog. He says, "shhhh". Fly is flying around. Out went his tongue and sdkf the fly was gone. The beetle came crawling by.... (OK, B is too fast for me on this. He's reciting the sticky frog book.) The frog was gone!
What's the fish's name? Kiki the girl fish. Kiki!! Girl fish. Stomped the boy frog.

And baby cry and the boy frog eat him too. And kiki the girl fish comes to a shark! The pirates jump in the water, the sharks. The one big shark sticked his nose out. Out, out, out. with a captain and pirate and orange thing.The pirates went out of the water. Pirates are bad mens. Bad mens. Right? He can't be pirates anymore. Pirates are bad, bad, bad men. Captain Feathersword is a good, good, good pirate. 'You can't be pirates anymore', Dr. Doolittle said.

Mountain lion has daddy hair?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Great picture

Great picture linked over at ello's blog.

Dragon Wars

Absolutely awful movie title, but it looks kind of fun. Seems to be a Korean director and outfit making a movie with sort of B-level Hollywood folk. Is this the start of the Korean Wave on the mainland? We will see....

Anyway, yeah, looks fun to me.

Dragon Wars

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The environmentally friendly explosive

Russia has developed a new, gigantic bomb. Here's a brief article. One of the things that the Russian military is touting about the bomb is that it is environmentally friendly. Seriously. Here's the quote:

"At the same time, I want to stress that the action of this weapon does not contaminate the environment, in contrast to a nuclear one."

This revelation about the environmental merits of conventional bombs spurred me to create a list.

Top 10 Ways that Bombs and the Russian Military are Good for the Environment.

10. Wipes out invasive species in seconds! (and everything else, too).
9. Prevents clear-cutting of trees across the entire blast radius. Where there's no trees; there's no logging.
8. After a strike, the former agricultural lands lay dormant for years. Builds up nitrogen in the soil, you know.
7. Creates virgin territory for plants to move into.
6. If the flammable materials weren't in the bomb, they'd probably be in a Hummer and you wouldn't be able to see around them. So really bombs reduce traffic accidents, too.
5. Russian military buys carbon offsets for each bomb they drop on Chechnyans.
4. Civilian body parts are part of the web of life.
3. Worm populations typically increase by 20% after a strike.
2. Our bombs are grown without pesticides.
1. Two words: population decrease.

Are we there yet?

I seem to have gotten into this vortex in about the last two weeks where everything is. almost. finished. but.

not.

I have almost finished copy editing the October issue, almost finished the working paper, almost gotten my reading lists ready, almost finished the research for the Tuesday seminar, almost cleared out the work email box, and almost finished the draft on Korean apologies.

And yet not a single one is actually finished.

One day about a week from now, I'm either going to have the most excitingly productive day in years, or I'm going to explode.

We will see.

In other news, Dance, Dance! (Nod to katze for link.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Organizing thoughts

There are two big job-related goals for me this semester - dissertation proposal and comprehensive exams (comps). If I pass both, I officially become a "PhD Candidate" and move into the dissertation stage.

I'm wondering if any of you can offer advice on the comps thing based on your old classes and law degrees and such. Here's how comps in my department work:

I put together a dissertation committee and choose three sub-fields of linguistics that will be my comps areas. (Language acquisition, intonation, and psycholinguistics for me). For each area, I make a reading list, usually about a 3 page reference list for each, making nine pages of references. My committee reviews the list and then suggests changes. Since a single line could be a several hundred page book, I will end up with a few thousand pages of academic text to read.

The goal then is to read these few thousand pages over the next two months. Then in November, I will declare myself ready and the committee gives me questions to answer about each area. I then have two weeks to do written responses to each. I think people usually write about 20 pages for each topic. At the end of the two weeks, I turn my answers in and then a couple weeks after that I defend them.

What I am looking for are creative ideas on note-taking and organization of all this stuff. It seems like the key to doing this successfully is to only have to read the stuff completely once. After that, I need to be able to find details quickly so that I can write my answer papers in just about 4 days each. (They are clearly 'open book'.) Any thoughts on doing this?

I can't just underline things as many of the books are library books. I tried to make a table once of some literature I was reviewing, but I didn't find that particularly helpful in the end for finding stuff. It did make me have to dig through papers in some detail to fill in all the rows and columns. If I didn't do a table, I could just take notes, and end up with some 50 pages of notes to scroll through, which isn't great but clearly better than several thousand to scroll through. A possibly nice idea is a set of simple web pages that let's me have, say, a list of main findings for each paper, with links to, say, methodology, results summary, and problems... or something. This could be very cool, but I also don't want to spend all the time I should be reading working on my web site.

Any suggestions? How did you get organized to pass your senior thesis or the bar?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Really? Popemobile?

I just saw this sentence in an AP news article about Pope Benedict:

"The pope, who had arrived in Mariazell from Vienna by car instead of by helicopter due to the weather, waved to the crowd through the windows of the Popemobile as he made his way to the centuries-old white and pink basilica in Mariazell."

Now, I've heard people call it the popemobile before in casual conversation, but, well, is it really called the Popemobile, such that the AP uses the term? I always just thought it was, like, a fake term. So, really? It is the Popemobile? Does it have rockets on it? Or perhaps it can send sprays of holy water at its enemies.

I'm sorry, because I shouldn't, but I'm definitely having images of the Frocked Crusader taking out demons, vampires, and covetors right now. "Holy Satan Spawn, Pope Man!" BAM! ZAP! IN EXCELSIS DEUS! I guess the Pope's sidekick's name is clear at least. Cardinal.

Writing snippets

Over on WrittenWyrdd's blog, she posted a few story ideas she's had over time that she contemplates writing up one day. I have these as well. What intrigued me was how different the sources of our snippets were (not that her post is likely representative of all ideas she has in any way...). Kristin, the BlueRidge Writer often mentions getting ideas from TV. Wyrdd's ideas this time happened to be stories she's heard from true life. Other people mention things they read about in the paper. My ideas come from various places, myths, historical fragments, or just images or emotions that sound like they are worth writing. Anyway, I decided to list a few here:

1) The Norse myth of Baldur. In the myth, Baldur is a beloved god who is the most gloriously handsome creature in the nine worlds. His mother, Frigga, Odin's wife wants no harm to come to him, so she goes around asking all the creatures of the world to promise to never harm Baldur. They all promise, but when Frigga comes to the harmless hemlock plant, she decides not to bother, because, after all, what could such a little plant do? Since Baldur is now pretty much invincible, the gods start playing games where they hurl dangerous things at Baldur which all miss him or bounce off, making everone laugh. Loki, however, somehow makes a spear with hemlock on it and gives it to Hodur, the good, blind god. Hodur throws it at Baldur killing him. Frigga goes to visit the goddess of the underworld, Hel, and asks her if Baldur can come back to life, but Hel says she will only allow this if every creature on earth wishes for his return. Again, Frigga asks everyone, and they all wish him back, but one old hag (often portrayed as Loki in disguise) refuses and Baldur must remain below until he is reborn after Ragnarok.

I don't plan on actually ever retelling this exact story. Instead, I want to grab the essential ingredients and make a new one. In this case, I view the myth of Baldur as telling of our own self-destructive nature. No one wants harm to come to Baldur (except Loki perhaps), and yet he is killed. Any story of someone that we all love meeting unintended tragedy is the Baldur myth.

2) There is a memorial in Fort DeRussy Park in Waikiki to the Japanese-American units in WWII who mostly fought in the European Theater. They volunteered to come out of internment camps and became some of the most decorated units in the entire war. There's definitely a story there.

3) When in college, a woman wanders by an old delapidated building and hears someone playing a piano. In my head, it's always Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. She listens in and quite quickly falls in love. However, things do not work out in many ways, and some 15 years later, she sees a poster for her old love, playing a concert tonight. Our heroine goes to the concert where as an encore the pianist plays the Moonlight Sonata in tears for her.

4) Reading a history of Korea in the 5th century or so, I read about their deer antler helmets and bone armor, and the amazing victory that tiny Koguryo achieves in fending off the mighty Chinese empire. There's a story there.

5) Man visits a used book store and finds a fragment of a Buddhist sutra in a book. Soon he's being chased by clandestine Chinese sects.

6) Something with Eugenie Danglars, cause she's just so cool.

You get the idea....

Friday, September 07, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle, most famous for writing A Wrinkle in Time, passed away today at 88.

Yahoo AP News link

I absolutely loved A Wrinkle in Time when I was 9 years old or so. It was great in every way a book could be great. Honestly, I haven't re-read it since, though I do stare at the cover when in the children's section contemplating picking it up, so I have no idea how it would hold up today, but it didn't get any better at the time. And, for all the authors who read this blog, she too says A Wrinkle in Time was rejected many times before finding a publisher in 1962.

Thank you, Ms. L'Engle, for not giving up because of the rejections.

For the record

This still amuses me:

What did his friends call the tree who sang love songs all the time? Sappy.


Maybe I should drop the doctorate thing and come up with jokes for Bazooka Joe bubble gum wrappers. I did have an entire book of "waiter, there's a fly in my soup" jokes as a kid.

Smoochie, I'll eat anything

I was reviewing the goatskin pants blog and I noticed that I promised to explain the saying, "Smoochie, I'll eat anything!" so here I am to do so.

Smoochie was my paternal grandmother.

Um, okay, I was writing this up, but in doing a little research on the topic, I discovered I've actually told this same story not all that long ago. Yes, indeed, this is disturbing as I was going to tell the story of this saying as an example of someone repeating the same story, and it turns out that I am currently repeating the same story. If you read the descriptions of my personality type last week, you may have noticed the term "absent-minded" in it. Speaking of which, I wasn't a great waiter back in the day. Guess why.

Here's the Smoochie story.

Umm, that's not quite right

A 8.5 x 11 flyer for a local art house movie theater appeared in my mail box a few days ago. It's the movies that are coming soon, with a paragraph describing each. Most of it is fairly expected stuff - only three of twelve movies are American; at least one of those is an Indie and another stars actors with Indie cred still, i.e., Christian Bale. Then there's the comedy Knocked Up that came out a couple months ago.

That seems a little out of place to me. And, well, I just noticed the flyer thinks that it came out in 2006, which is wrong, but whatever. It was a pretty funny movie; they can show whatever they want. Then it finishes with the sentence, "Full of laughs yet keenly observant of human nature, this terrific comedy was nominated for four teen choice awards."

Nominated for four teen choice awards. First, is that a normal art house badge of honor? Second, is there any irony at all in a Rated R movie being a teen choice award? I'm sure all the teens went to see it with their parents, though.

Uh huh.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Crazy first spouse (paca)

So, imagine you are President. And I do think the odds are quite high that at least two of my readers will be President one day, so when you are, hook me up with some sweet government contracts, no-bid. Thanks.

Now, let's say your spouse, well, he or she goes crazy. I don't mean actually insane with real mental health issues. I mean they just start spouting off crazy stuff. Stuff that people post to blogs at 1:00 AM when they're half-drunk, or even worse, crazy stuff that I'd post to this blog at 10:00 AM when I'm fully functioning. They start offending other nations, making up foreign policy initiatives, doing Maxim layouts, and telling that story about you and the water hose when you were in college, .... Now, if the spouse was anyone else in the whole government, you'd just fire them and say they don't speak for you. But the First Spouse isn't in the government and can't be fired. Would it ever be right to divorce them for the greater good?

No, this question has no purpose. I'm just wonderin'.

Speaking of crazy

I've gone and done it. I signed up to give a Tuesday Seminar. This is a seminar that happens... guess when... on Tuesday, and the whole department is supposed to attend, though they often don't. I've given a Tuesday seminar before; that's not the crazy part. No, I chose to sign up for two Tuesdays from now, which it appears will be the first seminar of the entire year. People might not be completely cynical yet and actually attend. Moreover, the topic is that nativism in language one I've mentioned before, which people love to debate and get super-excited about. The last time they hosted a debate on the topic, it was Standing Room Only. People from other departments even care about that. We've got some die-hard nativists in Second Language Studies.

Now, I'm safe to some degree. I'm going to discuss Aristotle for a bit. Nobody outside of a philosophy department gets passionate about Aristotle. But I've done other crazy things to make up for that safe part. I've invented an entirely new theory of language comprehension. I've invented an entirely new way to interpret pronouns.

Disaster in the making.

And speaking of Aristotle

Here is an old "joke" that went around the circle back when I was in a philosophy program, oh, way back in the mid 90s. Ah, I remember the times well. The sweat of the horses and the covered wagons; gun powder from the new Winchester rifle; sipping tea with John Stuart Mill as I gave him a few tips in writing "On Liberty".

So here's a scene of philosophers in love screaming at each other on Jerry Springer. It's high art with lines like, "You're no existentialist, bitch!"

Monday, September 03, 2007

Around but tired

Hi, all. I'm around and have things to write about, but I'm getting more and more tired right now. See you all tomorrow or thereabouts.