Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Comedy crisis …

… Dave Barry on Humor, Writing, and Life as a Florida Man. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


… now, it’s more likely to be a political target, and whichever side it is, I’m inclined to view that kind of humor as lazier. It’s more like, “I know you’re on my team, so if I mock that person, we’ll both get a good laugh, and it also will prove we’re smarter than them.”
That’s kind of the format, the template, for a lot of humor now. And for the most part, it’s not really based on anything real. It’s kind of silly to pretend that all Republicans are stupider than all Democrats, in my opinion, or the other way around. Either way, it’s kind of a dumb template to start with, and yet that is the template now for both sides.
I assume there's a crisis, because it used to be said that the one sure way to kill humor is to analyze it. But this is a very engaging interview.

Anniversary …

 Informal Inquiries: Charles Bukowski's birthday and "all that".

Q & A …

 IMAGE: A Journal of the Arts & Religion -- Back Issue #12 A Conversation with Richard Wilbur. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I think I belong at the Hopkins end of that arc because I'm the sort of Christian animal for whom celebration is the most important thing of all. I know that, as you say, there is terror in my poems, not so much presented as a tangible scariness but as a feeling that the order of things is in peril or in doubt, that there are holes in things through which one might drop for a long distance. The terror is there and it's countered continually by trust and by hope, by an impulse to praise. When I go to church, what doesn't particularly interest me is the Creed, although I find that I can say it. The Creed strikes me as very much like a political platform of some sort, and I believe that's what it was. What I respond to is, "Lift up your hearts!" It's lines like that in the Mass that belong to me, belong to my kind of religious experience.
I feel much the same way.

Something to think on …

It's when you begin to lie to yourself in a poem in order to simply make a poem, that you fail.
— Charles Bukowski, born on this date in 1920

Who knew?

 No, Brian Williams, Your Job Isn't to Scare People | American Council on Science and Health.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Fallen idol …

 Sigmund Fraud? - The Chronicle of Higher Education.
The only time I read very much of Freud was when I was in high school. I didn't read much. I just didn't find it persuasive.

The final expression …

Out From Behind This Mask | The Public Domain Review.

Return …

 Informal Inquiries: A reader's resolution and readers' choices.

August Poetry at North of Oxford …

… 2 Poems by Annie Blake.

 Late, Almost Morning by Lucas Carpenter.

 Unrequited forester contrite with sunrise by James Walton.

… Granny’s Guide to the Galaxy by Barbra Nightingale.

Listen in …

 Episode 231 – Sven Birkerts | Virtual Memories.

“There are thresholds or shelves where we go from having incremental change to systemic moments of transformation.”

The value of undesigned coincidences …

Our latest supercarrier …

… Paul Davis On Crime: The Aircraft Carrier USS Gerald R. Ford: ‘A 100,000-Ton Message To The world.

Light, but not slight …

 Book Reviews | Light. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

There is a vulgar incredulity, which in historical matters, as well as in those of religion, finds it easier to doubt than to examine.
— Sir Walter Scott, born on this date 1771

Monday, August 14, 2017

Much in what he says …

Brendan O'Neill - It's becoming so clear now why the war... | Facebook.

Q & A …

… Wiseblood Books publishes “literature that possesses a sacramental vision of reality” – Catholic World Report. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Ongoing …

… Anthony Madrid's H.D. Notebook (Part 2). (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Unsuccessfully …

… Sanitizing Robert Lowell. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

According to Jamison, Lowell’s life consisted of “sane” periods interrupted by a series of awkward, and sometimes violent, episodes, all excused by his mental illness. Most readers will be sympathetic to her efforts to “normalize” bipolar disease, but will also bewildered by her insistence that Lowell demonstrated character and courage. In fact, Jamison undercuts her own case by supplying overwhelming detail about periods of highly manic behavior and providing almost no detail about periods of less manic behavior.
Lowell's violence seems to have always been directed toward women. Too bad he never picked on the wrong guy and got the shit beat out of him. Might have done him a world of good.

Cartesian composition …

 I Am, Therefore I Write | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

RIP …

 Paul Davis On Crime: Joseph Bologna, 'My Favorite Year' Actor And Oscar-Nominated Screenwriter, Dies At 82.

Love birds …

… Forgotten Poems #26: Christina Rossetti, "A Bird Song".

Something to think on …

Idealism increases in direct proportion to one's distance from the problem.
— John Galsworthy, born on this date in 1867

Sunday, August 13, 2017

And on the other side of life...

...this is so cute

Mom asks for eclipse to be rescheduled because of school schedule.


A friend sent me this.

Caught in the brutal loneliness of the night 
Memories weigh heavy
Silence everywhere
A dark future with no light 
Just age and weakness
All alone

And so many years
So much effort
Into the happy of others 
But they left all of them
And there aren't new ones coming

Just fear and the dark

Unbelievable …

Our daily star …

 First Known When Lost: The Sun.



 The Sun: A Brief Addendum.

Very interesting …

… He Lives: Pathways to God. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Gingerich's book is indeed very worth reading.

Anniversary …

… Paul Davis On Crime: On This Day In History Film Director Alfred Hitchcock Was Born.

The family business …

… Another Waugh Writer | The Evelyn Waugh Society. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Reading Nathaniel Waugh's piece, I was struck how French seem to be. I am life-long walker, but I tend to saunter.The piece also reminded me of when, at De Gaulle Airport on our way to Dublin so I could cover the centenary of Bloomsday, a security escorted us to where we had tom go. As he was leaving, I turned and said to him merci. He stopped, turned, and gave me one of the friendliest smiles I have ever seen Then he waved and walked on.

Listen in …

 Art Tatum & Lionel Hampton & Buddy Rich - 03 - Makin' Whoopee - YouTube. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Spot on …

 Instant info is making us less informed and less thoughtful.

Technology has made getting bits of information so easy that the big picture is lost. A case in point: Most of us now rely on GPS devices in our smartphones for simple navigation. We fail to learn even the most rudimentary knowledge of neighborhoods, much less understand where main thoroughfares are in relation to a street two blocks away. We count on our phones to navigate passageways on the road and in our lives.

Inquirer reviews …

Knausgaard's 'Autumn': A sweet surprise for the end of summer.
This link now works.

'The Unwomanly Face of War': Remembering a million Soviet women who fought in World War II.

Ruth Ware ups the suspense in 'The Lying Game'.

I haven't checked the other links, but first only takes you the art. But so does the link on philly.com.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Sad news …

… Informal Inquiries: Why this blog is being consigned to the wasteland.

Me, too …

Eyesight and vision …

 Seeing Is Believing | Commonweal Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

O’Connor’s aim in rehabilitating the word vision was twofold. First, she wanted to restore the earlier concept of inner vision—sight with the mind’s eye—to Catholic writers and readers alike, since “the Lord doesn’t speak to the novelist as he did to his servant, Moses, mouth to mouth. He speaks to him as he did those two complainers, Aaron and Aaron’s sister, Mary: through dreams and visions, in fits and starts, and by all the lesser and limited ways of the imagination” (Mystery and Manners). Second, she tried to push back against the ways in which technology—whether in the form of film, photography, television, or even microscopes—threatens to further narrow and distort our understanding of vision, by stripping it not only of an imaginative component, but of embodiment, coherence, and any sense of reciprocity between viewer and viewed. “The human eye is not the camera eye,” one manuscript reads. “Vision takes place in the depths of the mind, with the assistance of emotion, knowledge, and belief.”

Electric night …

 Zealotry of Guerin: my human disguise.

Something to think on …

Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active.
— Edith Hamilton, born on this date in 1867

Friday, August 11, 2017

Who knew?

 "Cli-Fi" : ''JG Ballard's novel 'Drought' irrigated our vision of the future'' - headline in a French newspaper features great reporting by Le Monde journalist Julie Clarini.

For the one comng up …

… Annie Dillard's Classic Essay 'Total Eclipse' - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Virginia Kerr.)

Sick bay report …

Started the day feeling pretty energetic, but soon ran out of gas. Physical therapist told me take it, that I need to let my body do its healing. So I'm chilling out mostly.

Hear, hear …

… In Defense of the Dandelion- Make Fun Of Life! (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bad guys …

… Paul Davis On Crime: My Washington Times Review Of 'Three Minutes To Doomsday: An Agent, A Traitor, And The Worst Espionage Breach In History'.

In case you wondered...

Something to think on …

I have lost faith in universal panaceas - work is the one thing in which I really believe.
— Louise Bogan, born on this date in 1897

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hannah Arendt on solitude...

American onslaught...

FYI …

What I was treated for last week is cholangitis. And yes, it is life-threatening and nasty. Apparently, being in pretty good health to begin with has aided in my recovery, but so also, I think, has been the wonderful wishes directed my way.

Something to think on …

Kneading memory makes the dough of fiction; which we know, sometimes never stops rising.
— Barry Unsworth, born on this date in 1930

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

When it sits around the museum,

it sits AROUND the museum.

New largest dinosaur discovered?

I am released …

I have just come home from the hospital. I am, however, still very weak. The pace of blogging will pick up slowly.

How stupid people think …

 Internet Outraged Over Capture of Mammoth Croc in Australia | Lifestyle.

The Pope! And the Catholics! And the Future!

The latest example of the pope’s blueprint for the future is contained in an article penned by two of his closest confidantes. They believe that conservative Catholics in the United States have formed a coalition with Evangelical Protestants to push Donald Trump’s agenda, which the authors call a “Manichean vision.” The article, in the Jesuit publication La Civiltà Cattolica, could not have been printed without Francis’s knowledge and approval.The pope left little doubt about his feelings toward Trump when the president and first lady visited the Vatican earlier this year. In their joint photo, Francis frowns as if he smelled something bad in the room.In addition to rejecting Trump’s worldview, the article’s authors single out White House strategist Stephen Bannon as a “supporter of apocalyptic geopolitics.” “The pope is expressing his displeasure at the election of Donald Trump as president and with the Catholics who voted for him,” says Deal Hudson, former Catholic Outreach director for the Republican National Committee. “It came as a huge surprise to the establishment of the church, who were pulling for Hillary Clinton.”

"How American Went Haywire"

in which the author reviews history and reality based communication.  From the Atlantic.

I am always surprised that people put so much effort into articles that start from a faulty premise -- before now life was reality based. No it wasn't; first, people have always believed in non "real" things, from the earliest recorded history, and second, reality is always being discovered and rediscovered -- how many times have the "experts" been wrong throughout history? Too many to count

Trump and...

...Negative piety
Last fall, I signed a letter in support of Trump for president. Some of my friends were appalled; others thought such a public endorsement unwise. These were not unreasonable reactions. Today’s populism has a revolutionary character, and revolutions are perilous. But I was and remain convinced that we cannot live in metaphysical poverty. We need to be empowered by loyalties and devotions that stir our hearts. Populism may be dangerous, but it reflects the correct intuition that my country and my citizenship cannot be bought and sold, nor can it be subordinated to institutions and agencies devoted solely to the protection and promotion of individual rights.

LSD and Silicon Valley...

Meanwhile...

Something to think on …

Scientific thought, then, is not momentary; it is not a static instance; it is a process.
—  Jean Piaget, born on this date in 1896

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Facebook and Google are MONSTERS!

Facebook and Google get their revenue from advertising, the effectiveness of which depends on gaining and maintaining consumer attention. Borrowing techniques from the gambling industry, Facebook, Google and others exploit human nature, creating addictive behaviors that compel consumers to check for new messages, respond to notifications, and seek validation from technologies whose only goal is to generate profits for their owners.
The people at Facebook and Google believe that giving consumers more of what they want and like is worthy of praise, not criticism. What they fail to recognize is that their products are not making consumers happier or more successful.

Hitler was a WOLF!

 Germany’s lycanthropic predilections rose to new popularity under Hitler’s Nazi regime, with Third Reich officials recalling images of the Germanic wolf in propaganda and commonly associating the term with their leading para-military groups, including the famed Organisation Werewolf. Hitler’s name is itself a derivation of the animal, meaning “father wolf” – a mammalian title he wore proudly, citing himself as a wolf on many public occasions throughout the war.
From The National Post: A review of Hitler's Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich, by Eric Kurlande

A day in the life …

… Informal Inquiries: John Keats on this day in 1818.

Sad …

… On Being a Lapsed Catholic | Anthony Burgess | First Things. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… the state of being a lapsed Catholic is so painful that it sometimes seems to generate a positive charge, as though it had in itself a certain religious validity. 
Well, that is certainly true. He should have tried prayer.


Monday, August 07, 2017

My, my …

… A.N. Wilson: It’s time Charles Darwin was exposed for the fraud he was | London Evening Standard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.))

Talk about pulling no punches.

Picasso...

...War, tragedy, and art

Brouhaha …

… Something is Broken in the UK Intellectual Sphere. – INCERTO – Medium. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

(Sort-Of-Contra) News Item...

Everything from our heating systems to our toothbrushes are plugged in and connected to internet, and smartphones are glued to the palms of our hands. Yet, Americans are using less electricity than we did 10 years ago.
Overall residential electricity sales have declined 3 percent from 2010 to 2016, and 7 percent on a per capita basis, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Something to think on …

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.
— Rabindranath Tagore, who died on this date in 1941

Sunday, August 06, 2017

How do people get new ideas?

A rediscovered essay by Isaac Asimov from the MIT Technology Review.

Sick bay alert …

Blogging by me, I regret to say — really — has been suspended, because I am sitting in the ICU at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. My condition, I am happy to report, is no longer critical, and I will be moved to a regular hospital room sometime tomorrow. I feel obligated to add that the care I have been given has been extraordinary. 

Friday, August 04, 2017

The lasting legacy...

...Of Jane Austen

Great Question!

If The Universe Is Expanding, Then Why Aren't We?
I remember an old science fiction story which I can't look up right now when the conceit was that everything is expanding -- away from us on Earth...

For those who need touching...

Professional cuddling is one of the latest iterations of self-care and wellness, focusing on touch therapy. Since the early 2000s, the field of professional cuddling as a therapeutic tool has transitioned from stigmatized field with pay-for-sex undertones to a legitimate service for healing with proven health benefit.

Science is so hard!


WASHINGTON, DC—Top physicists from several major American universities appeared before a Congressional committee Monday to request $50 billion for a science thing that would further U.S. advancement science-wise and broaden human knowing...
The highlight of the scientists' testimony was a series of several colorful diagrams of how the big machine would work. One consisted of colored dots resembling Skittles banging into one another. Noting the motion lines behind the circle-ball things, committee members surmised that they were slamming together in a "fast, forceful manner." Yet some expressed doubts as to whether they justified the $50 billion price tag.
"These scientists could trim $10 million if they would just cut out some of the purple and blue spheres," said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), explaining that he understood the need for an abundance of reds and greens. "With all of those molecules and atoms going in every direction, the whole thing looks a bit unorganized, especially for science." 
It's Onion Friday

Thursday, August 03, 2017

And while Frank's away...


Those damn kids

That was then... 
"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers." -attributed to Socrates by Plato
Now...

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

Blogging note …

Once again, not feeling well. No blogging until I feel better.

RIP …

"Work harder, My Son."

Which is generally more often to blame if a person is poor: lack of effort on their own part, or difficult circumstances beyond their control?
The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation asked 1,686 American adults to answer that question — and found that religion is a significant predictor of how Americans perceive poverty.
Christians are much more likely than non-Christians to view poverty as the result of individual failings, especially white evangelical Christians.

Blogging note …

Must be out and about. Blogging will resume later.

Something to think on …

I believe that political correctness can be a form of linguistic fascism, and it sends shivers down the spine of my generation who went to war against fascism.
— P. D. James, born on this date in 1920

Worth savoring …

… Dangerous Pavements – Irish Haiku | Brief Poems. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



These really are worth your time.

RIP …

… Geoffrey Godbert obituary | Books | The Guardian.  (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Salvador Dali meets Lewis Carroll …

Another great poem …

Informal Inquiries: Poetry is my transcendental bridge to the sublime

Hmm …

 Cli-Fi.Net -- (the world's largest online 'Cli-Fi' portal for Cli-Fi, a subgenre of sci-fi): Cli-fi, no lie!

Climate change is real, no lie, and the rise of a new literary genre that's been dubbed ''cli-fi'' is no lie, too. 
Well, climate is real and it is continuously changing, being a chaotic system governed by a non-linear dynamic. As for the precise direction it is taking at the moment, I'm with Niels Bohr: "Predicting is difficult, especially the future."

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Why people can't move anymore

US Population Mobility is lowest in over 50 years 

Coping …

Informal Inquiries: Things fall apart: a short-attention-span blogging plan.

An excellent book …

… Informal Inquiries: Mr. Hire's Engagement by Georges Simenon.

Who knew?

The limits of critique...

...Literary desire
There is an admirable humility here, one that takes seriously the experiences of the person sometimes condescendingly called the “common reader”: someone like yourself, when you read for no other reason than because you like to. These readers find themselves drawn into the works of Tolkien, or Austen, or David Foster Wallace, or Anne Tyler, or Eugene Vodolazkin, or whomever not because they want to diagnose something that is wrong with these books, but because they offer an experience of . . . well, something that seems inchoately but truly worthwhile and pleasurable.

Not what you think …

… Cli-Fi.Net -- (the world's largest online 'Cli-Fi' portal for Cli-Fi, a subgenre of sci-fi): ''Cli-Fi or Die!''.
I still think the Cli-Fi novel everyone shoukd read is Michael Crichton's State of Fear. Here is my review of it. Here is an excerpt from the review:
If you've had the misfortune of reading The Da Vinci Code, you owe it to yourself to read State of Fear and see how a real pro writes a thriller. Compared with Dan Brown's pedestrian prose, stick-figure characters, and threadbare plot, Crichton's book is downright Shakespearean.
It's long, too, and transparently didactic. There are charts and graphs, footnotes, a couple of appendices, and a 21-page bibliography. Kenner takes up a lot of pages rebutting environmentalist propaganda. Fortunately, Crichton - a graduate of Harvard Medical School who was once a fellow at the Salk Institute - is very good at explaining science, so this proves a pleasant way of learning a lot worth knowing. He certainly puts his cards on the table and points you to where you can check out his claims.
My thanks to Dave Lull for helping with getting that link back.


Listen in …

 Stream Randy Newman's New Album, 'Dark Matter' : NPR. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Digging deeper …

… Essayism is ultimately about how literature can make a difference. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

What truly comes across in this book is that the essay may well be a sally against the subject, but what is tried, in the final reckoning, are the authors themselves. And, of course, found wanting, in both senses of the word. 

The assault on cats …

… After 35 years, philosophy journal corrects article...by a cat - Retraction Watch at Retraction Watch. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


Gets off with a warning …

… Police called after cat lurking in tree appears to be holding assault rifle.

They're explaining it this way because they don't want people to know that the cats are arming themselves.

Journals then and now …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `When They Are Trying to Be Unusual'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also, much more than that. So are we all.
— James Baldwin, born on this date in 1924

Blogging note …

I fell ill yesterday afternoon, and by last night was as sick as I have ever been — pain, nausea, chills, the whole works. By midnight I was coming out of it and I seem OK today, though I am going to mostly rest up. So blogging will be spotty.