Scraps: the Sehr Gut Weblog

Avatar: Foggyclad the Marshwiggle

Some journaling, some articles and reviews of movies and music. Scraps and ephemera, miscellany, shreds of misplaced thought. This is much easier to maintain than the Sehr Gut Web main page, and is consequently updated much more frequently. Besides that, I always meant to keep a journal . . .

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Location: Pensacola, Florida, United States

I am an inveterate writer, and so am becoming an inveterate weblogger as well. Supported weblogs are Scraps, The Random Quill, Tome, Academic Musings, Ergle Street, and Harbour in the Scramble. I also have a personal, unlisted weblog. If you find it, comment to it. I'll email you something. I don't know. I'll think of something interesting. “21 Steps to Becoming a Democrat”, maybe. By the way, I can be reached from the email portal on my web site. Technorati Profile


Okay, another new page (well, sub-site, really). Since I am a Ph.D. student at the Medical College of Georgia, I figured I could kill two birds with one stone and publish my notes from class lectures on my site. I figure that, besides attracting Google hits, putting all my personal class notes online as they happen should be a good study mechanism. I can't guarantee I'll put everything up, but I'd sure like to.

This semester, I'm taking Responsible Conduct of Research (SGS 8011), Scientific Communication (SGS 8012), Biochemistry (SGS 8021) Molecular Cell Biology (SGS 8022), Introduction to Faculty Research (SGS 8040), and Introduction to Research I (SGS 8050). Not all of them have notes (or a good deal of notes, anyway), but whatever I write down, I'll try to put up. I imagine it'll be a help for other students, both graduate and undergraduate, as well as people just trying to find out miscellaneous bits of information (which may be contained in the notes, if you're lucky *grin*).

Medical College of Georgia Biomedical Sciences Class Notes


Original woodcut of the Jabberwocky from 'Alice in Wonderland' Rodney Matthews' 'Jabberwocky'

“The Jabberwocky” is perhaps the most well-known, well-loved, studied, and revered piece of nonsense literature in the English language (well, ostensibly English, anyway), and perhaps in any language. While it occupies a relatively minor position in Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (commonly referred to as Alice Through the Looking Glass), its renown has spread far beyond that single opening chapter (well, and Humpty Dumpty's later expoundification thereof.

Its popularity has resulted in its translation into a number of languages, including French, German, and yes, even Latin.

Since The Jabberwocky has always been one of my favourite poems, I've recently inaugurated a shrine to the work by Lewis Carroll (aka. Rev. Charles Dodgson, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) in my Alice in Wonderland pages. I'm collecting various translations of the work, along with some of the more clever and less stilted parodies. Hopefully it will grow to be a decent-sized site (though I'm sure not rivaling the Ultimate Jabberwocky Site to which I link in the shrine), and it will at least be a repository for my own thoughts and writings on subjects Jabberwockian.

So, do me a favour and visit 'Twas Brillig, which I think is as apt a name as any for the enshrinement of the ancient scrap of Anglo-Saxon poetry, eh? (For more info on the "Anglo-Saxon" bit, visit the site and look at the Anglo-Saxon translation.)


I've just put up a new bit of content over at the Sehr Gut Web Codex:Celtic.

Spirit of the Gael (Danny Doyle)

A didgeridoo. In Irish music. Did Celts even have didgeridoos? Well, no matter, because in some surreal way, it actually works. In 2002, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store released this fabulous recording by the distinctive vocalist Danny Doyle as part of their Heritage Music collection.

With a diversity of styles from the high mournful tone of "The Fields of Athenry" to the low melancholy of "Kilkelly", from the bawdy good humour of "When the Boys Come Rolling Home" and "Danny Dougan's Jubilee" to the heady adolecent excitement of "Where the Blarney Roses Grow", there's a song to cover every inch of ground that can be covered on Celtic instruments — plus a didgeridoo.


New page here! I just put together the beginnings of a Celitc site (including a bit about my favourite song of all time.

I’ve always loved Celtic music, especially that of the Irish persuasion. Now, I am only 1/16th Ulster Scot (Scots-Irish, Scotch-Irish), but I figure that gives me enough Celtic blood to have some right to the music, eh? After all, I’ve been told that Celtic blood takes precedence over any other comers . . .

While I adore the music, I have a great love for all things Irish (odd, since I have more an excuse for Scottish), and hope to transmit a bit of that love of the Celts to you. Enjoy!

Celtic Music at Sehr Gut Web


I’ve just launched a new subsection of Sehr Gut Web: Sehrgut Anachronism (housing the Codex Anachronisticus: Sehr Gut). Here I&rsqou;ll be depositing all my anachronistic researches and pursuits.

Currently, the Codex is comprised of some ink-related recipes: namely the preparation of yellow dextrine (“British gum”) from corn starch, testing gum solutions for starch using iodine, and the preparation of a dextrine-bound Prussian Blue writing ink using Mrs. Stewart's Bluing.


In memory of those whose dreams and schemes gave us this land, of those who died for the freedom that was America, of those whose blood watered the Tree of Liberty.

We have not kept your dream. We have abandoned your hopes. We have sold the freedom you died for us to have. We have failed you.

Forgive us.

In memory of that for which which once she stood,
In hope of that for which she yet may stand.


July Fourth, Two Thousand and Five, a mere two hundred and twenty-nine years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, found America in the later stages of giving up freedom for security and finding she had neither.

In Memoriam


Yes, folks, at last the time has come to disembark from this port which so long held my mind and thoughts. Scraps is, as of now, an archival weblog. My new weblog, Passage to Serendipity, has sent out its first update pings. The world is now becoming dimly aware of its existance. Do please check out Passage to Serendipity. I have spent a lot of time laying out the design and tweaking the installation of Blosxom, which is fast becoming my favorite content-management scheme.

So, the URL for Passage to Serendipity is http:// (I know, I know. It's poor form to show the .cgi, and even the cgi-bin directory in a URL. However, my host is not yet able to put in a ScriptAlias (they run Apache) for me. As soon as they do, the link should be /passage on that domain, or some other such.



There is in loneliness an exquisiteness which longs to be imbibed unadulterated, like absinthe without sugar. Some delicate flavour among the varied bitterness demands to be tasted of unenwrapt in words or harmony. A call to such an inception of pleasure ensues wildly from the struck gong of a lost half-chance and whips through my hair, wailing from the fenestrations of Never.

All Things Feminine

There is that which running along after like a lost puppy is no shame.

I have an untoward gravitation, I think, towards all things feminine. No, not in the way that I am some girl-crazy kid, but merely in that women seem to make up a larger part of my life than they do for most men. You see, I would very much prefer being the only man anywhere in my life. It is much more pleasant, and pleasant nearly to a fault, to have anything — even the smallest task — done by a woman.

All beauty seems to spring from The Feminine — from the delicate inklings of nature: please do not misunderstand this as neo-Pagan goddess-worship — whether the clean design of a beautiful piece of architecture or a splendid poppy blowing in the wind, what makes something worth just sitting and staring at is always its feminine properties. The delicacy of the flower, the perfectly-arranged sweeping columns of some Parthenon in any country: all point to the beauty that is SHE.

The Feminine has always, as far as I can remember, held a strange fascination for me. There is that which running along after like a lost puppy is no shame. Indeed, I would be ashamed to not throw myself to the great Wind of Beauty. “From far, from eve and morning and yon twelve-winded sky, the stuff of life to knit me blew hither: here am I.”1 To stand firm when such a mistress bids me crumble I find the greatest blasphemy; to fall at her word, the stuff of life. Careless of being crushed by such a force, I would ride high on the gales of Her mischance until swept into the face of Wonder, I live, crippled by sweetness, forever.

Above all, I am a follower of the Feminine. I am a worshipper of Beauty.


From far, from eve and morning
And yon twelve-winded sky,
The stuff of life to knit me
Blew hither: here am I.

Now — for a breath I tarry
Nor yet disperse apart —
Take my hand quick and tell me,
What have you in your heart.

Speak now, and I will answer;
How shall I help you, say;
Ere to the wind's twelve quarters
I take my endless way.

— “XXXII”, A Shropshire Lad, A.E. Housman.

Comfort Ye My People

Note: Yes, this piece is somewhat religious in nature. However, please do not allow that to scare you away. I think I can promise nearly every reader, of whatever creed, a line or idea or turn of phrase to carry away. I think you will be glad you read it.

“Comfort ye.” A sombre lilt of strings — no reeds, and certainly no horns — overlaid with the smoked glass of flute, opens. (The horn players are busy writing and reading, oblivious to a world which shall not require their attentions for several minutes.)
An overture of predawn and long, desert mountain trails, bears no premonitions of the victorious “Rejoice, O Ye Daughters of Zion!” and “Hallelujah!” to come. Indeed, it seems very fitting to that “story we know”1: yet one more tale of heartache and a supposedly-inspiring moral victory somewhere near the end. But this story — that story which kept Handel sequestered months in its telling — is far from a mere moral victory (though it may be rightly called a victory of The Moral).


“The real meaning of Christmas” is a phrase lost now on me and most Americans: it has become a trite “ad-word”, sermonzing catch-all, and moral to any holidy tear-jerker. It’s a phrase hijacked by anyone who wants to say that Christmas isn’t just about getting, but it’s about {giving, family, unity, etc.}. Everyone, down to the most irreligious, has heard at least one rendition of the First Christmas meant to inspire a holy fear or love or somehow-restored devotion. The thrill of that is long since gone.

What is not gone is Handel. It is one thing to tell a story of a young engaged woman found pregnant with the son of God. It is quite another to begin, not with the Anunciation (as is the manner of most religious, due to Catholic tradition), but with God’s deep desire to send comfort to His people.

Jesus was sent with the commission to “comfort ye my people”, God’s people being the Jews. With all the persecution they had faced, and were facing, and admittedly though their own folly, they were still God’s people. The same God who in the Old Testament promised Abraham that a blessing to all nations would come from his line2 fulfilled that promise in the time of His people’s greatest need.


Yes, sing the “Hallelujah!” chorus. It is fitting. “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain”* to receive our praises. But sing “Comfort Ye My People” as well. Handel well knew the real real meaning of Christmas. To him, it was worth what most people would never give up, for friends, family, or even self: comfort. For him, it was a story worth all in the telling, and giving all in the hearing.


“The Story We Know”

The way to begin is always the same. Hello,
Hello. Your hand, your name. So glad, Just fine,
And Good-bye ant the end. That’s every story we know,

And why pretend? But lunch tomorrow? No?
Yes? An omelette, salad, chilled white wine?
The way to begin is simple, sane, Hello,

And then it’s Sunday, coffee, the Times, a slow
Day by the fire, dinner at eight or nine
And Good-bye. In the end, this is a story we know

So well we don’t turn the page, or look below
the picture, or follow the words to the next line:
The way to begin is always the same Hello.

But one night, through the latticed window, snow
Begins to whiten the air, and the tall white pine.
Good-bye is the end of every story we know

That night, and when we close the curtains, oh,
we hold each other against that cold white sign
Of the way we all begin and end. Hello,
Good-bye is the only story. We know, we know.

— Martha Collins

2. “In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” — Genesis 22:17–18

First Sign of Winter

Written Friday, December 10th, 2004, in Pensacola, Florida.

The hibiscus are blooming. In the whipping breezes, long hibiscus branches rising from the ground swing and whirl their tip-tops of Hawai’ian brightness. The hibiscus are blooming, and winter is coming to Florida.

It is funny to me, that whiteness which covers so many Christmas pictures. What is it? And why are the trees dead? How, in a black-and-white death world, can one see the joy of Christmas? And my Grandmother asks how I can get into the Christmas spirit without snow!


How to Raise a Perfect Little Angel

or, Training and Trusting

Of course you’ve heard teenagers and even younger children claim, “My parents don’t trust me.” Every child psychologist will tell parents that the important thing is that they trust their children: trustworthiness is sure to follow. I’m sorry, but I’m just not used to paying for something and waiting six to eight weeks for delivery with no assurance of delivery or recourse when delivery is not made. Trustworthiness is something which results from training, and not from previously-doled-out trust.

Enter Joel L. He’s a second-grader in my Sunday School class at the Campus Church, Pensacola, FL. He’s also the most trustworthy and best-behaved child in the class. In fact, when I need someone to deliver something to the Junior Church teacher (Junior Church follows Sunday School, and is in a different classroom), he is the only student whom I have ever so much as considered for the errand. Joel can spout off a semester’s-worth of Bible verses at the drop of a hat (“How about the one before that, Joel? Do you remember that one?”), answer questions about last week’s story like nobody’s business, and sit still to boot! I have an idea. Let’s follow him for a moment to see where his behaviour and trustworthiness originated: from trust, or from training.

Friday, December 17th, 2004. Sports Center, Pensacola Christian College, Pensacola, FL.
The semester had officially ended at 9:45 that morning. Most of the student body had left, and most of us stragglers were in the Sports Center (gym, weight rooms, bowling, racquetball, ice skating, and miniature golf, along with pool, foosball, and places to just sit and chat or play games) killing time. My friends and I were sitting around watching The Artistry of Ivan1 on Rachel’s computer and making small talk. Suddenly Joel came (from nowhere, as far as I could figure) and stood over me (I was seated on the carpet). He and I chatted a bit, and he eventually sat down to watch the movie with us.

After not too long, Mrs. L, his mom, came over. I stood up to introduce myself (as the recipient of the cookies she had sent with him to Sunday School the previous Sunday to give to his teachers), and ended up in a conversation. I mentioned rather quickly how much I enjoyed having Joel in my class, and how well he always behaved himself.

“Well, I’m glad to hear that! I worry about him . . . When we do school, the girls always do their work, but he always wants to go outside and play.”

Are you seeing where I am going with this? The kid was homeschooled (which I had found out a couple of weeks earlier — but which in no way surprised me, given his beyond-years maturity). That’s nearly a given these days when you run across the rare decorous, well-behaved child. That aside, however, did you see how even the mother of my best student was not assuming of his behaviour?

A child can sense the difference between assumption and expectation, I think. Assumption states that the child will be trustworthy because I trust him. Expectation states that the child will be trustworthy because I train him; and because I, knowing that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked”2, watch for the untrustworthiness when (not “if”) it crops up so I can immediately and lovingly correct it.

And you know, that is love.3 A kid like Joel is going to grow up and go places. A kid like D_____ (unanimously the worst-behaved kid in the class) is going to need some help. But you know, Joel’s folks could blow it. They could start trusting him — who, as sweet and obedient as he is, has a deceitful heart and a sin nature just like you or I. And D_____’s parents could stop trusting him and start training him. That would make all the difference.

1. The Artistry of Ivan is a student-produced documentary of Hurricane Ivan. Daniel Allen, a student at Pensacola Christian College, arranged for footage to be taken throughout the campus during the lockdown for the hurricane itself, as well as interviewing numerous faculty, staff, administration, students, and Pensacola residents after the hurricane had passed. The two-disc set, including a half-hour documentary and a large library of still images and short video clips, may be ordered from Brand X Multimedia by calling 815-212-3564 or 815-886-4144. The cost is $15US +S&H. It is well worth fifteen dollars to see the good coming from Ivan — the good that only God can bring from a catastrophe. As Mr. Allen said, “Ivan’s terror was not random or evil. It was all part of the Painter’s perspective to show forth the glory of God.” The Lord hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. — Nahum 1:3b

2. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” — Jeremiah 17:9

3. “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” — Proverbs 13:24
c.f. Proverbs 22:15 and 23:13


Art Deco and a Piano Man

This was written on November 20th.

I have never exactly considered art deco to be a light, open, “castle-in-the-air” style. Apparently no one told that to whoever designed the central atrium of the Atlanta-Hartsfield airport.

I lounge back with my trusty PowerBook G4 500MHz (“Trillian”) in a huge, red vinyl cushioned chair designed in exactly such a way as to preclude actual comfort (probably to as well preclude missed flights), while not being specifically painful to occupy.

A man of dubious ancestry (in that he could be part Arab, or part African, or part Indian, or part Hispanic) with an odd clerical-collared green-brown suit and a basketball-sized paunch accented by the simplicity of the suit front comes and begins setting up his drums. ‘Tis a pity, as I was enjoying the jazz piano in front of Houlihan’s. The arms of the chair are covered with a sort of faux-granite formica, which isn’t very convincing.

My goodness, he’s practically in front of me. Four drums, a fallen drumstick, a five-speaker cabinet, and an electric guitar case. This looks neither pleasant or cultured. And besides, he has a lazy sneer about his lips: I know that sneer from any- and everywhere. And here come the cymbals.

I was lying in the chair. Yes. Hmmm . . .

Above me — and ahead of me if I stare up through it, is a great eye of a skylight. Decagon bifurcating to icosagon bifurcating to whatever a forty-sided polygon is called in a great display of monochromatic stained glass. If I stared at the fog above long enough, I am certain I'd see my future in its swirling slight eddies.

In the grand tradition of Wonka’s square candies that look ‘round, the whole atrium is undecidedly a squircle. The rail-rimmed eye of skydome surrounded by what looks like a floor of grey slate tiles studded with fire-extinguishing circles, inscribed in the vast circumference of a round atrium with pillared and balconied corners. Running in recesses below each rim round and round the room are neon lights of an almost-pink, except for the three lights above the “Terminal South” — these are forebodingly out.

Around me slides the music from Houlihan’s. I don’t know his name, but I’ve seen him twice now in three days. Mayhap I’ll see him again next time I’m through this way. Mayhap I’ll give him a tip next time. Mayhap he’ll play “Piano Man” for me . . .


The Wavering Misogynist

-or- “A tame, vacant, doll-faced, idle gal!”

I came to the realization yeterday that there are no women worth any time whatsoever. Time is a most valuable commodity — even more so than heart, I think — and I refuse to bestow it where it would be wasted. (Heart may be wasted with more validity than may time, since a true bestowing of one’s heart precludes the tedium of waste — who’s to complain about truly enjoying something, even if it may not be the best thing to enjoy?) I cannot spend my life talking down to a beautiful, vacant woman.

That was yesterday. Today, I found that (even if this is deceiving myself) some women may be worth my time. You see, I’ve always been a sucker for a pretty girl (and might I cite Hemingway on “pretty, rather than beautiful”*), so when I saw two such (whom I happened to be lucky enough to know) walking ahead of me, I naturally took notice. Picking up my pace, I caught up with them and greeted them in the name of Trouble. A quite enjoyable walk ensued, and I parted company in a graceful sense of satisfaction.

So women may not be so tedious after all. If I can find one truly at my level — one who will not ask condescension, the one boon I steadfastly refuse to grant — my time could I easily bestow, and that “unto the half of my kingdom.”

*The Snows of Kilimanjaro, by Ernest Hemingway, included a story by the name of “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” in which Mrs. Macomber was described as “pretty, rather than beautiful”. I might add that, though the allure of “pretty” is that it is more trustworthy than is “beautiful” (see Ben Johnson’s “Still to be Neat”§), Mrs. Macomber ended up killing her husband.

And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom.

Mark 6:22–23

◊ In 1873, Judge Thomas Chandler Haliburton wrote The Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick, Esq., together with his opinion on matrimony (available from the University of Michigan’s Making of America division of their Humanities Text Initiative. While this book has been largely lost to time, Sam Slick's “sayings and doings” do deserve some consideration. Without further ado, I leave you to peruse an excerpt I have entitled “A Woman Worth Having”.

While musing on this subject, my attention was directed by Mr. Slick, who suddenly reined up his horse, to a scene of a different description. "There," said he, "there is a pictur' for you, squire. Now, that's what minister would call love in a cottage, or rural felicity, for he was fond of fine names was the old man." A neat and pretty little cottage stood before us as we emerged from a wood, having an air of comfort about it not often found in the forest, where the necessaries of life demand and engross all the attention of the settler. " Look at that crittur," said he, "Bill Dill Mill. There he sets on the gate, with his go-to-meetin' clothes on, a-doin' of nothin', with a pocket full of potatoes, cuttin' them up into small pieces with his jacknife, and teachin' a pig to jump up and catch 'em in his mouth. It's the schoolmaster to home, that. And there sets his young wife a-balancin' of herself on the top rail of the fence opposite, and a-swingin' her foot backward and forrerd, and a-watchin' of him. Ain't she a heavenly splice, that? By Jacob's spotted cattle, what an ankle she has! Jist look! a rael corn-fed heifer, that, ain't she! She is so plump she'd shed rain like a duck. Them Blue-noses do beat all in galls, I must say, for they raise some desperate handsome ones. But then there is nothin' in that crittur. She is nothin' but waxwork -- no life there; and he looks tired of his bargain already -- what you called fairly onswaggled. Now, don't speak loud, for if she sees us she'll cut and run like a weasel. She has got her hair all covered over with papercurls, and stuck thro' with pins, like a porcupine's back. She's for a tea-squall to-night, and nothin' vexes women like bein' taken of a nonplush this way by strangers. That's matrimony, squire, and nothin' to do; a honeymoon in the woods or young love grow'd ten days old. Oh, dear! if it was me, I should yawn so afore a week, I should be skeerd lest my wife should jump down my throat. To be left alone that way idle, with a wife that has nothin' to do and nothin' to say, if she was as pretty as an angel, would drive me melancholy mad. I should either get up a quarrel for vanity sake, or go hang myself to get out of the scrape. A tame, vacant, doll-faced, idle gall! O Lord! what a fate for a man who knows what's what, and is up to snuff! Who the plague can live on sugar-candy? I am sure I couldn't. Nothin' does for me like honey; arter a while I get to hate it like sin; the very sight of it is enough for me. Vinegar ain't half so bad; for that stimulates, and you can't take more nor enough of it if you would. Sense is better nor looks any time; but when sense and looks goes together, why, then a woman is worth havin', that's a fact.

§ Still to Be Neat

Still to be neat, still to be drest,
As you were going to a feast.
Still to be powdered, still perfumed.

Lady, it is to be presumed,
Though art’s hid causes are not found,
All is not sweet. All is not sound.

Give me a look, give me a face
That makes simplicity a grace.
Robes loosely flowing, hair as free,

Such sweet neglect more taketh me
Than all th’ adulteries of art.
They touch mine eyes, not mine heart.

— Ben Johnson


Heart Basket

   Everything eventually becomes a hobby in my life, whether that be good or bad.
   In place of relationships I think I keep a heart basket: a kind of vasiculum of feminine emotions gleaned from those who granted them to me. My heart will rarely stay with another for long, so I have no connection with the hearts in my basket other than that of owner to trinket.
   Now, lest you think me cruel, I must say that I am not aware of ever keeping whole hearts imprisoned. It seems that when my heart begins again to rise from its temporary resting place on a woman, her heart seems as well to become more her own. Lest, though, I be left utterly destitute, I wield the fine scalpel of time and chance which happeneth to them all and take a small piece of her heart to keep, as a page in a memorandum-book, as a reminder and a possession.
   Few women own such a scalpel, else would my heart be disseminated across continent and perhaps globe; and I would have little with which to purchase hearts for my own collection and much sorrow about which to write &mdash(for everywhere a piece of your heart goes, there follows a portion of your soul, like an all-seeing eye).


William Butler Yeats

‘Your eyes that once were never weary of mine
Are bowed in sorrow under pendulous lids,
Because our love is waning.’
And then she:
          ‘Although our love is waning, let us stand
By the lone border of the lake once more,
Together in that hour of gentleness
When the poor tired child, Passion, falls asleep.
How far away the stars seem, and how far
Is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart!’
Pensive they paced along the faded leaves,
While slowly he whose hand held hers replied:
‘Passion has often worn our wandering hearts.’

The woods were round them, and the yellow leaves
Fell like faint meteors in the gloom, and once
A rabbit old and lame limped down the path;
Autumn was over him: and now they stood
On the lone border of the lake once more:
Turning, he saw that she had thrust dead leaves
Gathered in silence, dewy as her eyes,
In bosom and hair.
          ‘Ah, do not mourn,’ he said,
‘That we are tired, for other loves await us;
Hate on and love through unrepining hours.
Before us lies eternity; our souls
Are love, and a continual farewell.

Find this poem on PoemHunter



   Eratosthenes had my job. Or anyway, I want his job. The life of a scholar is one not often available in our common times (for I would venture to say that times past were most uncommon). Life, and even learning, must be ever compartmented — and he who would venture to another compartment not alotted to him . . . he might be thought “worse than an infidel”* by this pragmatic world.
   Not too terribly long ago, I would not be looked at askance for being a writer studying to become a professor of Biology and Biochemistry. Eratosthenes was a librarian (and I am firmly convinced that there is no other profession more suited to my tastes — in being closer to work as a scholar of the classical type), but he also was a scientist (say, “natural philosopher”). In fact, he was the first to accurately measure, or calculate, the circumference of the earth; he did it with an accuracy of only several hundred miles different from what we now know to be the correct value.
   As well, some of his other accomplishments would, in such common times as today, be compartmented out of his reach, he being librarian of Alexandria or not!
Known for his versatility, he wrote poetry and works (most of them lost) on literature, the theater (notably on ancient comedy), mathematics, astronomy, geography, and philosophy; he also drew a map of the known world and evolved a system of chronology.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, Ed. 6, 2001

   Oh for the life of a scholar! I believe I could be happy ad infinitum surrounded by books and ink and — oh well, I suppose these days I must put up with computers musn’t I? — forever writing and reading and writing about what I read. But you see what I’m saying, don’t you? Now most people would think it odd that a mathematician would write poetry; and much less philosophy! I suppose there is no rule absolutely against such a mix as I, but there is definitely sentiment — expectation, perhaps — against me. I also suppose I don’t care.
   I would not live in any other fashion. Boxes, cells, compartments are not for me.

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

I Timothy 5:8

I view askance a book that remains undisturbed for a year. Oughtn’t it to have a ticket of leave? I think I may safely say no book in my library remains unopened a year at a time, except my own works and Tennyson’s.

— Carolyn Wells

Crosspost: Scraps, Harbour in the Scramble, and Academic Musings


Eight Oh Seven

   True colours do begin to show. In the absence of any organizing influence, the rebellion latent — and obvious to only a few observant — in so many rises like a green film to the surface of life.
   Man in general is not a civilized being, and has not been for almost one hundred years. The days of gaslamps and hansoms and the last of the steamships were man’s last days of full and true civilization. Now civilization is provided for — or hung upon — the many by the few.
   Few there be who still know what consitutes actual civility. To most it is in this chimera of electric lights and Roman running water and then that fifth of the simple machines, the internal combustion engine. Deprived of these that separate most men from the animals, they swing from trees.
   Clothing becomes at best a somehow-still-necessary annoyance and at worst illogical and optional. Crisp and trim dormitories take on the look of Manhattan slum apartments with unwashed clothes hanging from the windows to dry the sweat. An awful din of cleanup from the Czar’s violent visit thickens the air with chainsaws, chippers, and pressure washers; and the utterly non-sophisticates (revealed by their now loosely-regulated dress) make my campus — my den of sophistication — look like downtown Gary, Indiana.
   Houses bisected by hurricanes happen: there is nothing unconquerable about such damage. Trees will be uprooted — testimony to their foolish stand against the inevitable. A diadem of roots shading where I stand bodes no ill at all.
   The clock stopped. Windows can be deglazed, and fenestrated storeys boarded over, and still I would not breather “savagery”. But for days, imposingly erect and yet unlit, the tower has read “eight oh seven”.
   Eight oh seven is when civilization ceased as an imposition upon savagery. Eight oh seven, two mornings ago. How Golding is proven, even in macrocosm and two days’ time! Eight oh seven, and all is not well.

† This is in reference to Hurricane Ivan. The Czar has deprived most of Pensacola, Florida of water and power.
◊ William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies. LOTF was set among a small group of boys on a deserted island: a microcosm of society (sans restraint).

Crosspost: Scraps and Academic Musings


Green Tea and Red China

or The Way of Tea

   Jun loved his tea. About my age, or a little older, or a little younger perhaps, Jun was on his way to William Penn University, a small Quaker institution outside of Des Moines.
   He grew up in Communist China with its grey prospects and simplified characters. True, the western Schezuan area was not as oppressively militarized as more populous areas such as Beijing; still, Chairman Mao’s flabby hand lay heavy on Jun’s life.
   But he loved his country all the same. I guess patriotism is a concept foreign to me — but after experiencing for three years America, how could he rationally love China?
   Green tea.
   Yes, I mentioned my love for tea to him; and for the next quarter of an hour, received a monologue both historical and technical, with some generous helping of fervor and nearly-religious zeal thrown in.
   Five kinds — and all expensive: that’s all he brought with him to the states. And a tea-pot, clay (or “soil”, as his broken translation-dictionary English put it), because you can’t make good tea in a metal pot.
   “The Way of Tea,” he kept saying. “The Way of Tea” dictates you cannot just “make a pot of tea.” Tea is nearly supernatural, to be catered to, appeased, and worshipped through its preparations.
   Funny, isn’t it? All he really wanted was a perfect cup of hot green tea. China was the only place in the world where one could be had. Red China. Communist China. Chairman Mao’s China. So he loved China.
   Though, if we are not prevented from enjoying — and I mean really enjoying, falling-into-a-reverie enjoying — a cup of tea, are we really oppressed? Are we really misused?
   Not for that moment, however short.
   Not for that moment.

Wonder ’tis how little mirth
Keeps the bones of men from lying
On the bed of earth.

— A.E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad

Crosspost: Scraps and Harbour in the Scramble


Project English Language

on (LEET, L337, 1337) and its followers

   I may be part of an breed unwelcome online, so the following may not be a common opinion. Then again, I hope I only attract an audience of the quality which would share this opinion (and yes, that is a biased statement). I hate weblogs run by dumb thirteen-year-old girls which overuse (read: “use even once”) any of the following “leet”-type words, phrases, and practices.

fren(s) lol ttfn rotfl nvm omg jk imho brb ttyl lmao lmfao atm g2g stfu wtf w/e   banned words: neenjaaaaar ppl grrl guestbook ne1 neways every1 cya rox rawks womyn da dat lyk u w/ 4 2 n o u y? r yur ur peeps wen gurl boi sry any1 thanx ya wel teh sk8 gr8 [any substitution of the number 8 for the letter sequence A T E] luv dat plz jus 2moro cuz enuff yu yr wut nuthin meen leet sux pwn[3d] skewl tho liek w00t!@# wateva hear/here no/know their/they're/there rite/right to/too/two your/you're waste/waist -ors -0R5 -orz -z ALL CAPS sTiCkY cApS [Capitalizing Every Single Word In A Title Sentence] !!!11!!111!! a/s/l <g> :) <3 31337 L337

   Just so perpetrators of this linguistic murder know, I automatically write off any infested web page, with whatever content contained, however otherwise-useful it may have been, as worthless. Yes, worthless, uneducated junk. Trash. Shmuts and shmattes*. Scraps of thoughtlessness not worth my time. I don’t care how smart and web-savvy you think you are, if you use “leet”, you are either stupid or fast becoming so.
   Which brings me to the irony of the very moniker the system (if you want to glorify babble by calling it a system) proudly bears. Derived from, or more accurately, a corruption of the word “elite”, “leet” marks it users as far from such. It would fit under the phrase “legends in their own eyes”, I think.
   Anything but elite, “leet” users are merely part of a growing, glassy-eyed herd of media thralls who, like James Whitcombe Riley’s “wee little worm”, imagine themselves as the rulers of all the world, because they know nothing outside their inconsequential hickory-nut:

A wee little worm in a hickory-nut
Sang out, as happy as he could be,
“Oh, I live in the heart of the whole, round world,
“And it all belongs to me!”
   Which brings me to the banner and link introducing this entry. Opposition to “leet” is important to anyone who values his language, and especially to teachers who I’ve heard tell of students daring to turn in papers written in this garbage. Project English Language maintains a blacklist of “leet” words, phrases, and typographic/grammatical practices which I highly recommend (the list, that is: not the words). Though not exhuastive, it comes close enough to make its point — and mine too!

   Oh, and if you use so much as a single word from the above unfortunate lexicon, I will assume, until shown otherwise, that you are a thirteen-year-old know-nothing (or are at least on a similar intellectual level). You probably also had to use a dictionary (do you know how to use a dictionary?) to read this post.

Crosspost: Scraps and Harbour in the Scramble


   Now, I can’t say I would recommend the weblog this came from as a general rule, but the irony of someone as liberal as the author making this suggestion just kills me. (I’m not going to provide a link, since many of the other posts are downright foul.)

Mothers let their wild little beasts roam free like giraffes on the Serengeti. They apparently believe that to control them will somehow stunt the growth of their self-esteem. In the radiology waiting room, there was one wild little beast, age approx. three who kept licking his mother's arm and laughing like Hannibal Lechter until she said, “Stop it, go away”, at which point he crawled over to me and started licking MY flip-flopped feet. I had a feeling that I couldn't gently kick him to get him to stop, so I just glared at the mother. She gave me a sheepish look like, “Well, what can you do, haha.” What can you do? Oh I don't know, you could yank your little [brat] up off the ground and edu-ma-cate him a little with the ol’ spankin’ hand. Conclusion: Parents today are . . . wimps that want to be “pals” with their kids instead of parents.

   An “edumacation” devoutly to be wished, in the case of many wild little beasts, no? “Spare the rod and spile the chile,” is some down-home wisdom which could make many parents better wild animal trainers — which our society has thrust aside to its own undoing.
   You know, that brat is going to grow up to be shocked when the world does not cater to him as does his misguided mother. How much better would it be for him to grow up strong and self-controlled than pampered? And as far as a healthy relationship goes, I know that well-disciplined children are much closer to their parents than free-roaming Serengeti wildlings. One British woman who had never much disciplined her children, soon after beginning a systematic, fair, and predictable order of discipline, was told by her now under-control and loving son, “Mummy? You do a very good job being a mummy.” (No Greater Joy, Jul/Aug 2004, pg. 20)
   It’s certainly not for no reason the Bible says, “He that spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” (Proverbs 13:25)

Crosspost: Scraps, Harbour in the Scramble, Academic Musings


   Here’s a pull from the stale joke file. This just might be old enought to be funny now. Do you remember in 1999 the whole Y2K media-hyped “crisis”? Of course, for a variety of technical reasons, there never was any reason to despair, except for the fact that those frightened by the hype would undoubtably (and did, to a small degree) cause problems. Well, it turns out that the scare was just as bad when making the even-greater transition from three-digit dates to four-digit dates.

By Ashleigh Brilliant

Canterbury, England. A.D. 999

An atmosphere close to panic prevails today throughout Europe as the millennial year 1000 approaches, bringing with it the so-called “Y1K Bug” — a menace which, until recently, hardly anyone had ever heard of. Prophets of doom are warning that the entire fabric of Western Civilization, based as it now is upon monastic computations, could collapse, and that there is simply not enough time left to fix the problem.

Just how did this disaster-in-the-making ever arise? Why did no one anticipate that a change from a three-digit to a four-digit year would throw into total disarray all liturgical chants and all metrical verse in which any date is mentioned? Every formulaic hymn, prayer, ceremony and incantation dealing with dated events will have to be re-written to accommodate three extra syllables. All tabular chronologies with three-space year columns, maintained for generations by scribes using carefully hand-ruled lines on vellum sheets, will now have to be converted to four-space columns, at enormous cost. In the meantime, the validity of every official event, from baptisms to burials, from confirmations to coronations, may be called into question.

“We should have seen it coming,” says Brother Cedric of St. Michael’s Abbey, here in Canterbury. “What worries me most is that ‘thousand’ contains the word ‘Thou,’ which occurs in nearly all our prayers, and of course always refers to God. Using it now in the name of the year will seem almost blasphemous, and is bound to cause terrible confusion. Of course, we could always use Latin, but that might be even worse — The Latin word for ‘thousand’ is ‘mille’ — which is the same as the Latin for ‘mile’. We won’t know whether we’re talking about time or distance!”

Stonemasons are already reported threatening to demand a proportional pay increase for having to carve an extra numeral in all dates on tombstones, cornerstones and monuments. Together with its inevitable ripple effects, this alone could plunge the hitherto-stable medieval economy into chaos.

A conference of clerics has been called at Winchester to discuss the entire issue, but doomsayers are convinced that the matter is now one of personal survival. Many families, in expectation of the worst, are stocking up on holy water and indulgences.


   I hate those silly online quizzes. I really do. But this one is a bit different: it provides some framework for discussing my philosophies of honour and honesty. (Except for that typo right in the image text . . . aargh!)

You Are a  
You are a fencer. You fight honerably. You try not to kill your
opponents, but only disarm them, to force them
to surrender. In a duel you will go all
out and kill your oponent. You use a rapier.

What type of Swordsman are you?
My answers to some of the questions I consider more important to life in general, and explanations of them follow. What does honour truly entail, and what is mere foolishness?

When you find a women in distress, what do you do? Hide in the shadows until the time is right.
   It's foolish to charge in unprepared, make pointless, prideful shows of bravado, or attack before you can make a rational evaluation of the situation.

When your oponent drops their weapon, what do you do? Put my sword to his throat, and ask if he surrenders.
   Again, pointless shows of bravado are foolish, and taking full advantage of the situation by using the opportunity for a death-blow is dishonourable. In such a situation, the opponent ought to be given a chance to surrender. Otherwise, certain death.

When you finally confront your true enemy, what do you do? Stare him in the eye, draw my sword, and vow that I will kill him.
   No need to formalize it with a duel here. A duel is for a purpose: to settle a specific, usually social, dispute. (This is another of Hollywood’s misused standard scenes, merely for drama’s sake. Not every fight is a duel!) No skullduggery here, no foolish charges, but no non-required concessions: I am a capitalist above all.

When you defeat your enemy, he is on his knees, begging to be spared. What do you do? Say to him "We agreed to a duel. I shall not go aganst my word," and slit his throat.
   Honour once, honour always. A duel is a duel, a deal is a deal, and I am not one to go back on my word, much less to give up that which I have rightfully earned. No cruelty here, but no touchy-feely “he’s really not bad enough to kill” nonsense. Hollywood has had a decades-long field day with that whole idea — though it is rationally, morally, and philosophically bankrupt.

   Honour is really a part of how you live your life? How honourable are you? This quiz just might make you think, if you can take it out of its period context and seriously look at the philosophical underpinnings of your answers.


From a time less objective (Jason).

Later that day I went to Sara’s house to watch Ocean’s 11 for the first time. It was really stylized and witty, but I found it rather dry for deeper themes and ideas. The good guys are the ones who steal $160,000,000.00 of legitimately earned cash…it’s kind of sad in hindsight that American culture this desperate for entertainment ideas. It may relect some kind of Robin Hood theme, but one on a massive steroid overdose.
   And might I contrast my view with Jason’s implied approval of Robin Hood. While the original Robin Hood, I would argue, was a capitalist, stealing from the thieves (rich tax-collectors and extortioners) and giving to the robbed (poor tax-payers and extorted), he has in our present day been recast as a social (read: socialist, communist) “hero” — so much so in fact that ”steal from the rich and give to the poor” has become an idiomatic synonym for Robin Hood.
   The fact, then, that Ocean’s 11 can be viewed as having a “Robin Hood theme” is one more count against it, philosophically. Ayn Rand’s John Galt, in fact, vowed to slay Robin Hood (meaning the present misinterpretation of Robin Hood as an ideal), and never to rest until he did.
   Ocean’s 11, then, is just philosophically bankrupt in one more way. Not only does it glorify thievery, it flaunts socialism (and from there, humanism and relativism) in the face of capitalism (and hence the “Protestant work ethic” and the Law of Sowing and Reaping).

Crosspost: Scraps, Academic Musings, Harbour in the Scramble, and Ergle Street

The Gashlycrumb Tinies

or, After the Outing
by Edward Gorey

An Appalling Alphabet Which Introduces A Gallery Of Enchanting Tots And Produces A Gasp Of Involuntary Mirth When They Attain Their Dreadful Demise

A is for Amy who fell down the stairs,
B is for Basil assaulted by bears.
C is for Clara who wasted away,
D is for Desmond thrown out of the sleigh.
E is for Ernest who choked on a peach,
F is for Fanny, sucked dry by a leech.
G is for George, smothered under a rug,
H is for Hector, done in by a thug.
I is for Ida who drowned in the lake,
J is for James who took lye, by mistake.
K is for Kate who was struck with an axe,
L is for Leo who swallowed some tacks.
M is for Maud who was swept out to sea,
N is for Nevil who died of enui.
O is for Olive, run through with an awl,
P is for Prue, trampled flat in a brawl.
Q is for Quinton who sank in a mire,
R is for Rhoda, consumed by a fire.
S is for Susan who perished of fits,
T is for Titas who flew into bits.
U is for Una who slipped down a drain,
V is for Victor, squashed under a train.
W is for Winie, embedded in ice,
X is for Xerxes, devoured by mice.
Y is for Yoric whose head was bashed in,
Z is for Zilla who drank too much gin.

(The which is really much better with pictures. Also, see Susan Barnes’s wonderful new Tinies.)

   I don’t imagine it is possible to make better children’s poetry and illustrations than did our illustrious friend Mr. Gorey.

MP3 file of me singing the first verse 
and refrain of I am a poor wayfaring stranger

I am a poor wayfaring stranger,
While traveling through this world of woe.
Yet there’s no sickness, toil nor danger
In that bright world to which I go.
I’m going there to see my Father;
I’m going there no more to roam.


I’m only going over Jordan,
I’m only going over home.

I know dark clouds will gather round me;
I know my way is rough and steep.
But golden fields lie out before me
Where God’s redeemed shall ever sleep.
I’m going there to see my mother,
She said she’d meet me when I come.


I’ll soon be free from every trial,
My body sleep in the churchyard;
I’ll drop the cross of self denial
And enter on my great reward.
I’m going there to see my Savior,
To sing His praise forevermore.


   Isn’t that a great song? It’s an old spiritual, I think. You’ll have to pardon my singing (that MP3 file of the music is me), though: I’m not especially good.

From Yahoo! News, via The Book of Confusion.

“‘My truth is that I am a gay American,’ McGreevey said.”

My Truth? Folks...there is no my truth or your truth. There is truth and falsehood. Now I admit that it can be difficult to tell the two apart sometimes, but we can’t go calling everything Truth. If everything is true…then NOTHING is true.

There are lot of ways he could have said that. That phrase more than anything shows his world view. It’s not one I can support. I honestly have more respect for someone who holds to a standard of absolute truth – even if it’s different than mine – than I do for those who think it’s all good.

   Relativism is definitely the scourge, intellectually of our age. I have had people, in very recent order, tell me that they “don’t believe in absolute truth,” in a scientific sense! If your disbelief in absolute truth goes so far as to encompass what you can see, measure, and repeat, God doesn’t really stand a chance, does he?

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,” Romans 1:22

Crosspost: Scraps, Academic Musings, Harbour in the Scramble, Ergle Street

Voices from the Gambia

   The piercing voice breaks the stillness of the evening, disturbing the solitude. The noise was startling at first, then distracting, as other voices chime in.
   Is it an announcement? Some sort of singing? Chanting? The loudness of the P.A. system make it sound like it’s right next to our compound, but it is coming from the village mosque, over one kilometer away.
   The voices continue. Concentration is difficult.
   We ask: “What is happening?” “Oh, perhaps a ‘teaching’ for a special holy day; or maybe recitations for someone’s marriage or death. It’s in Arabic. Difficult to know what they are saying. Get used to it; happens often.”
   The voice returns. It’s still dark. It is 5:30 AM! “It’s a call to prayer:; the first of three over the next hour, each coming from a different mosque. We try to sleep; but we think . . . If they are praying, whay aren’t we? We who claim to know the Living God and call Him “Father”.

   It’s early Sunday morning: voices of children come drifting into the compound. They seem to be reciting verses and singing songs. What a beautiful sound! Is it a Sunday School class? “Yes, in a way. It’s the boys and girls attending classes at the nearby Koranic School going through their recitations and praises to Yallah.” We long to teach them about Jesus . . .
   A weekday afternoon: we hear the sound of singing. We go outside. A vanload of men passes by on the road, amplifying their songs as they drive through the town. “It’s a men’s retreat. A Muslim version of ‘Promise Keepers’.” We pray: “May it someday be a Christian group.”

   Evangelism and training go on almost daily in our village here. But we are not part of it. We are the “outsiders”, the “unbelievers”. How we wish this very religious atmosphere could be one of true worship — not only of God, but of His Son, the One Who came to be the Saviour of the world, the One they do not know.

   So wrote Missionary Jim Entner on October eighth, 2003. It raises an interesting question, does it not? Why are so many lost, dying, and yet more devout than we who have the truth? Have we no care for their souls?
   The Muslim has no Father God, since Islam teaches of an Allah who is a taskmaster: easily provoked and hardly appeased, capricious, even. We who know the true God, the one who loves and cares for the world, surely can be more devout worshippers of and witnesses for our God than they can theirs — don’t we have it infinitely better?

I read this prayer letter at Mission Prayer Band while at Pensacola Christian College
Crosspost: Scraps, Academic Musings, Harbour in the Scramble, Ergle Street


Bread and circuses!

   That's about all I can say: it's Shavian to the core. I've never had a movie shake the foundations of reality so severely as did this one. Of course, it being a Shaw play originally, so I should have expected it: something along the lines of Arms and the Man in philosophy. Shaw was a great playwright, but completely Communist (or at least Socialist) in belief.
   The general plot is “bad is good, good is bad“, leaving, of course the interpretation that it's better to be bad, and the good going bad is really becoming better, if you followed that. It breaks down like so:
  • Rev. Anderson: inherently good
  • Richard Dudgeon: inherently evil
  • Mrs. Anderson (Judith): purposely, but precariously, good
   Though she is not presented as the main character, the story is really about Mrs. Anderson. She begins as a “good woman” (quoth Mr. Dudgeon). However, as the plot progresses, it becomes increasingly apparent that her goodness is not inherent, but something she is constantly working at, fighting against her nature the whole time. All well and good, except a sin nature is presented by Shaw as a felicitous thing.
   The ever-present “good in everyone” theme is so specially strong in this story that Dudgeon, an avowed Satanist (to be fair, it’s not clear whether he actually worships Satan or merely said so to needle the minister: either way, though, he’s not a nice fellow), is the hero (and not in the Paradise Lost sense) whose every action is condoned and who is designed to be strongly sympathized with by the audience.
   In the end, Anderson renounces the cloth and becomes a revolutionary (not to say at all that I oppose the American Revolution, historical event though it may be), while Dudgeon is revealed as a sympathetic and all-around nice guy (in a still “bad” character, of course).
   The crowning event of the story is Anderson’s “test” of his wife: he offers her as wife to Dudgeon, who accepts the offer. In a short scene of frantic glances from husband to lover, she runs crying out of the town and up into the hills. After some comradely back-slapping between the two men, Anderson mounts, heads out, and picks up his wife who is running still uphill towards the woods.
   In the manner of A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, Shaw's attitudes of female liberty are even in his own writing shown as false. Like Nora, Judith’s striving for independence from her husband’s authority results in a less-than-satisfactory emotional state. However, while both Nora and Judith are patronized by their husbands, they are both inherently weak thinkers: characters naturally set up for patronization. The patronization of both women is less the fault of the men (though they are not entirely innocent) than of the women themselves, except for the fact that the men “married low” intellectually, and ended up with women they could not possibly respect.

Moral: Don’t marry outside your class (not social, but intellectual).

Literary Heroes (in the epic sense) are more protagonists than heroes in the modern sense. Lucifer (Satan) is the hero of Paradise Lost, in that much of the story is told from his point of view, even though his actions are not specifically condoned.

Crosspost: Scraps and Harbour in the Scramble

   Some things I can do without doing: I'm sure there are some things which are a genuine waste of time. However — and this list may reveal to you something of my temperament — there are certain things which I do not think, however untimely they may be, I could ever classify as true wastes of time.
   Reading a book is one. No time spent reading would I ever call a man into account for, even had much loss occurred because of it. Reading, and in a general sense, learning is in my view one of the truest acts in which a man can engage, since it makes use of the very faculty which separates him from the animals: reason. (My apologies to Aristotle.)
   Writing is kin next to reading, and provides for learning and improvement in much the same way. Writing not only fits when something as pragmatic as learning is to be shown, but as well it is an art, I would say, above all others. Though a painting can very nearly tell a story, no two people will see the same story. Though a piece of music may carry the heart on high emotion and low; be it never so well-played, two men will hear two different songs. I do not mean to say that by writing I can produce an identical impression on two different men, but certainly I may come closer to it than an artist of any other medium.
   Another thing which is no waste is time spent with nature, wheter in the roaming of woods and deserts or the watering of a garden. Again, like learning, the self-betterment which such provokes is worth, I think, more than anything which may be missed because of it, whether it be supper, or a train, or a thirty-thousand dollar bequest. (My apologies to a wise philosopher.)
   Time spent with a beloved I was going to say is no waste. However, that is neither strictly nor consistently true. Very many times, too much time spent with a loved one may destroy what time apart would build up; and too much doting may make for accidental bitterness towards the one doted upon. No, as cold as it may sound, time spent with one's beloved has a far greater danger of becoming a waste than does time spent alone with nature and nature's God, and even than time spent with Estella and Miss Havisham — as cruel as they are.
   There are certain needful things: things without which life, lived for its own sake, would not be worth the paper it would be printed on if a biography were to accidentally be written about such a life. There are certain things which are no waste, and if I don't hurry, I may miss them instead of dinner.

Crosspost: Scraps, Harbour in the Scramble, and Random Quill


or, A Lady Turns Three

     One of the families at church had a birthday party for their daughter, Lisa, who just turned three. It was held as a barbecue for the whole church and any of their family friends who wanted to come. Of course, the high concentration of adults made for a good pile of gifts for little Lisa, but I see another benefit to a child’s birthday party with adults.
     Since socialization is how children learn proper interpersonal skills and develop their interactive ability, oversocialization with their peers is actually damaging to their maturation and emotional development — contrary to widely-held psychiatric beliefs. Giving a child many chances to learn from those more experienced than they, especially in a non-threatening environment like a birthday party, is essential to their well-rounded development.
     Besides that, if you are raising a lady — which I think every parent of a daughter ought to strive to do — much hard work can be undone if appropriate examples are not constantly present to reaffirm “what a lady is”.
     And if you’re raising a lady, don’t forget the flowers. Royce, Lisa’s dad, bought her a bouquet — three pink roses. That little girl was carrying them around along with her new favorite toy, a plush stuffed dog she christened “Maggie”, after her “real” pet.
     Lisa is in for a good and proper life, the way she is going. Her daddy (and yes, you should let your little lady call you ”daddy” even when she is eighteen and twenty) is putting her well on her way to being a lady, and there is such a vast difference between a lady and a woman. That is a gift beyond all others — beyond the stuffed dog with which she made herself inseperable; and yes, even beyond the flowers.

Crosspost: Scraps and Harbour in the Scramble


     A visiting missionary, Tyrone Jackson, spoke at my church tonight. He brought up a couple of very interesting and poignant illustrations, one of which I’ll share below.

     A new pastor at a church gave his first sermon in his new pulpit one Sunday morning. After the service, he was roundly complimented for his “touching” sermon. The next week, then, he got to the pulpit and delivered the exact same message.
     Again, he was complimented by many of the members for the new viewpoint on several issues he presented. The third Sunday, the same thing happened.
     This time, many in the congregation started wondering why he was re-preaching his previous sermon, rather than starting on a new one. In fact, so many people were talking about it that one of the deacons approached the pastor after the service.
     “You know, pastor, we all love your sermon. I mean, it’s a great sermon and all, but . . . don’t you think it’s time to preach a new sermon? I don’t want you to think that we don’t like it, of course. It’s a great sermon. It’s just . . . odd . . . to have the same sermon week after week.”
     “I’ll know it’s a good sermon,” the preacher said, “when you start changing.”

     Ouch! How many times do we need to hear the same think from God, before we finally start obeying it — acting on it?


Many people would sooner die than think. In fact they do.

— Bertrand Russell

     My thoughts exactly, Mr. Russell. Thank you for putting it so succinctly.


     James Oglethorpe gazes south from his permanent residence in Chippewa Square. Daniel Chester French placed the Spanish Invasion there forever in his eyes. You see, Oglethorpe is weathered bronze, French is long dead, and the Spanish are only in the statue's cold bronze memory.
     To the General's right is the First Baptist Church of Savannah. During the Civil war, while every other church in the city was being used for hosptial duty, First Baptist saw itself become the only house of worship available to “Savannians” of any creed. “Baptists, Catholics, Presbyterians, Blacks, Whites,” as Harry put it. I suppose race was very nearly a religion in that place at that time, though, wasn't it . . .
     “Are you Catholic or Protestant?”
     “Protestant,” I said. Baptists are not actually an historical Protestant denomination, having never been affiliated with or part of the Roman Catholic Church; but I decided that particular history lesson had little place there, and let it be.
     “You probably sing a lot of hymns, then?” As I affirmed, he went on, “Lowell Mason wrote his five hundred hymns from that church.” That was something I did not know. A prolific and beloved hymnwriter (q.v. “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and “My Faith Looks Up to Thee”), was actually a member (in fact, the chorister and organist) of Independent Presbyterian, rather than First Baptist (this I found on further study). I had no idea he was even an American. That shows how little of even the history which should matter to me I know.
     Next on the slate was North. Independent Presbyterian stands there, stone and imposing as ever it has been. Actually, that is one of the interesting points of its story. It has not always been stone. In 1889 (Harry thought it was around 1870 or ‘80), the original church burned. Its replacement was erected in stone, really precluding (in my opinion) the possibility of a second trial by fire.
     A second point of interest is the marriage of President Woodrow Wilson, a devoted Presbyterian. Actually, that is a first point of interest, since his marriage to Ellen Louise Axson took place in 1885, four years before the fire.
     Moving around the square to the east, you'll see the Savannah Theatre, the oldest continuously-operating theatre in the United States. True, during a dark time (artistically speaking . . .) in its history it was a movie theatre. However, it is now a live theatre hosting true performing arts on a regular basis. (Sorry about the little rant there: I feel rather strongly about art.) Now, in the grand tradition of giving a story for each location, let me tell you about Charles Coburn.
     It's not exactly “rags to riches”, but have you ever had a friend tell you they work in the film industry, only to find that they are ushering or sweeping at the local theatre? The actor Coburn got his start that way. Beginning as an usher at the Savannah Theatre, Coburn eventually rose to become its manager. Once managing the company tidily, he decided to open his own play on his premises — you get to do that if you own the theatre. Moral: If you can't act, buy a theatre so you can cast yourself for any rôle you please.

     There you have Harry and what he told me, beer on his breath. (How does one come to have beer on one's breath at ten in the morning, anyway?)

Crosspost: Scraps and Random Quill


“Home Schooling Gets More Students”
     That was the quite pleasant subtitle of an article in my local newspaper (The Ventura County Star) today. It was subtitled with a statistic which has been long and opposed in its coming: since 1999, home-schooled students are up 29% nationwide, to nearly 1.1 million students (Education Department, National Center for Education Statistics). The article is from the AP wire; here is a shorter version I found online at the Indianapolis Star.
     Ian Slatter, of the Home School Legal Defense Association’s National Center for Home Education, says,

Home schooling is just getting started. We’ve gotten through the barriers of questioning the academic abilities of home schools, now that we have a sizable number of graduates who are not socially isolated or awkward — they are good, high-quality citizens. We’re getting that mainstream recognition and challenging the way education has been done.
     The two cannons usually leveled at home education are its alleged lower quality of education and a lack of socialization. Since nearly every year the National Spelling Bee is won by a home schooler, home schoolers have SAT scores consitently in the top five and ten percent, and home schoolers (contrary to popular belief) can usually take their pick of colleges — all of which are more than happy to accept someone with such high standardized test scores — this first charge doesn’t worry me to terribly.
     As far as socialization, I think that over-, rather than under-socialization is detrimental to a child’s maturity and emotional well-being, I would level the “socialization” cannon at public schools. I realize that this position is not one usually taken, so I shall attempt to explain.
     When I play chess, I try to seek out opponents who are more skilled than I — better players. It is only from a better player that a less-skilled player can learn, improving his game. In the same way, it is only from those more skilled at life, more skilled with interpersonal relationships and etiquette, that a child can learn how to function in society.
     As evidence, I offer up myself. I never cared for the company of my peers, since it was not thrust upon me. My parents never forced me into situations where my only socialization outlet was my peers, and in the presence of adults, I usually ignored my peers — and this is from three years old and up. There are few who would call me socially maladjusted, introverted, or out of touch with the world. Growing up around grown-ups did in no way damage my current gregariousness and self-confidence.
     I’m not sure it would be exactly politic to propose this on a wide-reaching medium, or even here on my weblog, but may I submit to you that it is public schools which have a lower standard of education, and that it is public schools which are damaging to children’s social lives. I, for one (and one of many millions of satisfied home school graduates) would never trade my education for a public education: I would feel cheated.

Crosspost: Scraps, Harbour in the Scramble, Academic Musings

Not that this is a tip of any great value — I would hope you could even figure it out on your own — but this may jump-start your efforts. If you, for some reason, need to change the user name associated with a weblog, whether because of giving up the address, "clearing" a profile of weblogs for personal and/or “political” reasons, there is no Google-supported mechanism (i.e. button) that would do such a thing.

However, since anyone who is an admin member of a weblog can boot anyone else (including other admin!), this will be our avenue of attack. First, on an existing weblog, "invite" the recipient of the weblog under the "members". Then, once that other member has accepted the invitation, you may make him an administrator. Good. Now all you must do is go into his account (or have him do it) and remove you as a member.

And now, congratulations! You now have one less material possession in this world. Don't you feel good? Now, quick, while you're motivated to succeed, start another weblog!


   Chippewa Square, Savannah, Georgia. A statue of James Oglethorpe, founder both of the Colony of Georgia and the City of Savannah. I was, inveterate (I do so love that word.) writer and self-proclaimed artist that I am, putting on paper the entire inscription from the four sides of the pedestal, even though it consisted mainly of the Charter of the Colony of Georgia, which I could have downloaded in two clicks. There was just a pressing need, an artistic necessity, to copying it down myself. After volunteering answers to several questions by a troupe of girl scouts, I was declared “smart”: upon hearing the words, “I'm a writer” in response to the inquiries as to my reasons for standing in front of the statue and very obviously copying verbatim the inscription, "That explains it." Hmmmm . . .
   Enter Harry. He's a freelance tour guide who really knows the history of the area. After trying unsuccessfully to convince me I would be better to go to the visitor's centre (I hate visitor's centres) and find the inscription I was so diligently (dutifully?) transcribing in a convenient printed brochure, he volunteered a complimentary “tour” of Chippewa Square and environs. (The notes from this impromptu stockstill tour will be used in another travelogue entry, so I'll leave out the historical details here.)
   A European accent, he said. He asked me where I was from, and when I confirmed California (which I had already named as my final destination), he asked, "No, originally. You're from Europe, right?" i demurred, and he explained, "You have a little bit of an accent. It sounds European." I think I've decided to be flattered by such.

[I have really delved into a beloved persona of mine today: the sophisticat, the artist. I even dressed my part, with a “sophisticated casual”, nearly Santa Barbarian look. If I didn't have moral predilections against it, I would say I probably would have looked at home at a wine tasting.]

   “Everyone has the right to his own opinion.”  Bah!
   If you believe that, I have an opinion for you, piping hot, fresh out of the oven, and ready to serve. I believe that thinking people have a right to opinions, and those who do not think about their opinions, but merely “have” them have no business presuming to come to the same forums and expect equal credence as intelligent, self-informed individuals.
   Now, I don't have any problem with someone disagreeing with me. Au contraire, I would rather a thoughtful person disagree with me, and that openly, than have a majority on my side, but that majority be made up of “stupid people”.    For instance, I believe in Creation (yes, the literal, six-day Creation of all things by one personal God); and I have some friends who believe in Evolution, and some who believe in Creation. The fact that certain of my friends disagree with me does not cause me to discount their opinion. Conversely, the fact that others of the do agree with me does not cause me to validate their opinion.    To opine is a right which must be earned, not by the opinion, but by the process through which the opinion was decided. I know some who believe XYZ because some person told them to believe it. That is as much a problem in the Evolutionist camp as it is in the Christian camp; even though Christians are more often accused thereof. I know others who, whether in agreement or disagreement with their upbringing and major outside influences, have arrived at their opinion deliberately. These I respect, whatever their view; and the other, despise, whatever their view.
   I will give an example from my recent experience. I have a friend, A___, who is a Christian, but also believes in Evolution. For him and his opinions I have no respect. I have another friend, K___, who is an atheist, and predictably believes in Evolution. For her and her opinions I have the utmost respect. One rejects his upbringing and embraces the same view another has been raised to hold. What is the difference?
   A___'s opinion on the matter changed when he went to school. His whole life he had not held an opinion of his own because that was too much work. He fed off of the opinions of his parents, peers, and others. When his professors began instilling in him that one could not seriously consider oneself a man of science and not believe in Evolution, he decided to believe in Evolution, with no thought involved — nary a synapse fired.
   K___, on the other hand, sought out knowledge on which to base her opinion. Though she ended up remaining with the opinion handed to her, through her process of discovery it became her own. She honestly and sincerely evaluted the other options (well, in this case there really are only two options, unless you follow the schools of philosophy which say we really aren't here anyway . . .) and then decided — as did A___ — what she wanted to believe.

  There you have a double portrait. You can see the stupid person on the right with his owlish glasses, gawky build, scraggly black beard, and unsure demeanor. To your left is the smart person — the “thinker”, if you will. See her confident attitude, her poise. I'd almost be afraid to ask her a question; with her, there's too strong a possibility she already thought of that question, and decided what she would answer if ever asked it. It would be a fitting answer, too. Just look at her. Look at the difference between the two.

Benjamin Franklin, or Thomas Jefferson, or Thomas Paine, or one of the other great patriots of the American Revolution — I don't remember who, and it isn't that important who anyway — said to a man with whom he disagreed about the necessity of war, “I do not agree with what you say, sir, but I would defend to the death your right to say it.”

Of course, Dogbert, of Dilbert fame, said, “Out! Out, demons of stupidity!"

Stupid People . . .

. . . are, quite simply, those who will not think. I'm not talking about those who cannot think here. They have my sympathy and goodwill. Those people are stupid, truly stupid, who have the capacity to think — their full intact mental faculties — but are too lazy to utilize it. Face it. Thinking is work, and hard work at that (which is why thinkers have my full respect, regardless of their opinions), but those who do not engage in it as more than a dabbled-in pastime or hobby are more than lazy: they are shirkers of their duty to mankind.    I am the last one to claim on less than supernatural ground any type of duty apart from self, but a standard must be set somewhere! If there is no requirement or prerequesite of thought, then from what avenue must one approach an understanding of the supernatural?


3:10 am
   My goodness! Nearly a half an hour late. tsk tsk. That would never have been permitted in sunny CA. I just caught the 2:40 am bus from Aiken, SC to Columbia — at nearly 3:10 am. Even Mussolini made the trains run on time . . .      How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word.

4:50 am (ex post facto)
   That was interesting! A thirty-one-year-old black man (please don't take this as racism, but merely reporting!), who I have the slightest suspicion is “not all there” just came up and started talking to me. I was working on my computer at the time, teaching myself cascading style sheets. I use PageSpinner for my web design, and even my weblog posts (I post by email, mostly, and don't have any other way to preview posts), and it has a great learn-by-example section. I do seem to digress often, do I not? Anyway, he was talking to me, I was nodding and "mm-hmm"ing while I worked. The reason I suspect his faculties is that he didn't seem in the slightest to notice what I was doing (i.e. not giving him my undivided attention).

7:30 am (ex post facto)
   I don't know how I did it, but I got a good three hours of sleep on that bus. Twisting, curling, etc., etc., but I slept. Once I woke up, however, I couldn't get back to sleep. Back to CSS . . . My CSS learning project is going to be a deliberate creative work in its own right: poetry in which each word (or at least many words) link(s) to another poem. It's going to be one of those midget site-in-a-square type of artsy things.

12:11 pm
   As I write this (and the previous two posts), Savannah begins doing her best to drench my computer and I. I had better post this and be off.

Crosspost: Random Quill and Scraps


   I was just looking at Flickr, and saw this really cool photo. It's a great macro shot, I think. The only real non-photogenic part of the picture is the remainder of the bud sheath sticking to the top of the flower head.
Originally uploaded by deadbody.

Embrangle: \Em*bran''gle\, v. t. [Mid-17th Cent.: em- (L. "in") + brangle (obs. "to shake, squabble" > Fr. branler "to shake"]
(past em bran gled
p. part. em bran gled
pres. part. em bran gling
pres. sing. em bran gles
noun em bran gle ment

v. t.1 arch. make more complicated or confused through entanglements; confuse or entangle
v. t.2 arch. confuse, perplex, or entangle somebody or something

Webster's Second New International Dictionary (1913) cites:

I am lost and embrangled in inextricable difficulties. —Berkeley.
(That is quite an artistic way to use the word. Even as a word heretofore unfamiliar to me, it doesn't sound in the least out of place . . .)

   I hate MSN, I hate Encarta, I hate Microsoft, but for some odd reason, I found this list of 10 Words You Simply Must Know on Google. Tenth on the list, after the leader, "defenestrate", and following "cullet", "pellucid", and others, lay a beautiful archaic word: "embrangle". Needless to say, I quickly looked up the etymology (I refuse to use "Google" as a verb) online, and made a long-pondered decision in a moment's time to expose this word from one more (albeit small) venue to the minds of the world.
Public, educate thyself.

Crosspost: Scraps and Academic Musings

parasols: a notebook

   This is one of the truly good weblogs. I don't know what to say, other than she is a fantastic writer, whatever she turns her pen to. Check out the laylock homepage as well. Just read. I can't do it justice.
Crosspost: Scraps and Random Quill

Teahouse Review: Gryphon Tea Room

The first things to note upon entering are the high ceilings, classic dark wood decorations, and shelves displaying antique plates and glasses. Housed in an adapted turn-of-the-century pharmacy, this tearoom is an ideal size: large enough for a crowd, yet small enough to offer privacy.
   The Gryphon Tea Room is, in my opinion, one of the better, and more useful, tea establishments. Though, as the cited review goes on to state, the "high art of a classic tea service etiquette" is not there, the Gryphon is not attempting to be classic. It is through and through an art establishment, but the art in their service is of a different kind than the classic. It is an art of facilitation: an atmosphere in which a writer may sit, undisturbed, and think. The Gryphon is a place to live and breathe art, rather than to experience art.
   As an artist (a writer in particular) I appreciate the way the Gryphon is conducted. No, it is not a place for the uninitiated in English high tea to become educated; but it is a place for those who know what they want — who know their own art — to find a convenient location to mull and ponder. Thoughts with your tea, anyone?