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Jeff Donlan
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The search for the Universal often seems prompted by the ache for Something More. The World of Ten Thousand Things is not enough, and yet it's always too much for any single theory of Everything. There usually seems to be a kind of desperation in the effort, which probably accounts for the inevitable sense of fundamentalist fear and anger in the language of such writings. And that's my attempt at analysis for the day. You have an interesting collection of pamphlets, John.
The "un" can make a narrative of some of these words. From the Joyce list, I like "unsaluted," which wants to spin a story even more seductive than "unlace" or "unbutton." From the 1828 list, the "unbe" words behave similarly. "Unbenighted" and "unbestarred" beg more information than "unnighted" or "unstarred" would. It's one thing not to be starred, but it's quite another to find oneself not bestarred. How has one failed to be bestarred--the fault of oneself or of another (possibly even God)? Oh, the injustice!
I wasn't sure I wanted to read this, given the title, since I'm sitting here with tea and bagel, but I peeked and saw what it was about. The sugar photo is amazing. I wonder if all that sugar was, in fact, usable. I wonder what the sugar deep in that pile was like after such pressure and heat. I wonder if it was after this discovery that the Coca Cola Company really took off. That's a lot of sugar. [Wait ... a million tons is only two-days worth of production nowadays. Geez. A million of anything is nothing these days. Twenty years ago, the teabag string industry used a million pounds of cotton per year. It seems an absurd number, and yet it's real. It's actually a small market. This is one reason it's good for me to visit cities now and then, to see a different scale of things.]
A pi-ku: Hey, I want a piece delicious pi nearly fully rum Except rounding should probably make the last word "wine" or "beer." A less appetizing pi.
Well, you got it in your pocket. That's something. Emile Borel's calculations seem to point to the random production of the Bible within the current universe. The first monkey likely produces the first sentence. There are 788,280 words in the King James Version, and taking an average of 6 characters per word and dividing by the first monkey's production of 56 characters, similar production by a mere 84,458 monkeys could result in the finished text. Maybe fewer in Hebrew. Of course, I'm not a statistician and even I can see the issue is more complicated, but I'm wondering if Borel proceeded any further considering the work of a million such monkeys. Perhaps it's more reasonable than we often think to accept not only our own evolution from inanimate matter but that the Bible could have arisen in a similar fashion. Or maybe there's nothing to it.
Remarkable response, really. Maybe THAT's the mark of genius--having the equanimity to reply to a questionnaire like this, and to do so eloquently. If I didn't run out of the room at first sight, I might start on the questionnaire, but then after the first question, my vision would darken and narrow, my mind would dissolve into blankness, and my face would settle into a scowl of aversion. I wonder, were I to mimic the characteristics he describes, if I might accomplish some tiny fraction of what he did (although I've already exceeded his life span considerably, so maybe I should just enjoy my tea and read about him).
FWIW, you've probably already mentioned Project Orion from the '50s. One more "peaceful" use of nuclear bombs. I just finished an old biography, "The Starship and the Canoe," about Freeman Dyson and his son George. Freeman was on the Orion project conceiving and developing a propulsion system using sequences of nuclear explosions. They did demonstrate the principle with non-nuclear explosions, but fortunately, chemical rockets won out for liftoff from Earth.
I learned a good word: cooperant. I hadn't run into that one before, but there it is in the OED. Nice. I'll be looking for occasions to use it.
Nice find. One wonders which came first: Mondrian or the design on manhole covers? As a child in NYC, I was fascinated by these portals, along with sewer grates and the remarkable upwelling vents over the subways. Now and then, an ancient door into stone or concrete that looked as if it hadn't been opened since the Romans. Even then, the patina and design were from another age, pre-polymer.
Wait! I copied and pasted too much ... "A screaming comes across the sky."
A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now. -- Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon.
"Normal may or may not be a desirable thing ..." -- although isn't the "norm" always a positive thing? At least in math? Also, there's Intercourse, PA, which is twice Halfway, GA.
Toggle Commented Sep 16, 2013 on Finding Normal, USA at JF Ptak Science Books
C'mon, these are no worse than a Nascar pit stop. Also, I think you may have posted the wrong picture for the ship and dock. What I see is "Suggested layout for a small filling station at the side of a main road in a rural district." Where I find sharp and absurdly non-intuitive turns are in new suburbs. Even today, after 70 years of building suburbs, we can't do it sensibly.
Toggle Commented Sep 10, 2013 on A Note on Sharp Turns at JF Ptak Science Books
At some point in my early youth, I was fascinated with the job of cleaning up trash in the park using a stick with a spike on the end. Now, it is becoming ever more appealing to me again.
The two guys in boaters are looking at the cemetery full of other human flies who have tried to scale the building across the street. "Ah, remember Jimmy? So close!"
Nice library. I like the introduction to book-keeping thrown in there, plus the art of bookbinding. By the time I got down to the M's, I forgot whose library I was looking at, and I thought, "How many copies of Maxwell's Theory of Heat does this guy need?" Then I remembered.
I agree with Mr. McKay -- bubble canopies are cool. Especially two. Also, what is the proposed propulsion? I presume the vacuum is to precede the train and reduce wind resistance, but something else is needed to get to 400 mph.
The answer to the Buddha's question is ... but wait, it looks as if perhaps it wasn't the Buddha who said that, or at least not Siddhartha. Of course, it could be a fake fake Buddha quote, part of an NSA plot. Regardless, the proper salutation would be kind, well-wishing, compassionate, equanimous.
Dragons = dinosaurs makes great sense. The ICR likes Mt. St. Helens, too. Still, I prefer Arthur C. Clarke's explanation for gargoyles (see Childhood's End).
I feel more and more Crustacean as I get older. Looking at Haeckel's 1879 tree, this is a long way down. Can Ontogeny De-recapitulate Phylogeny?
It's easy to imagine a cataloger at the end of the day picking up that pamphlet thinking 'I'll do one more.' I can feel the deflation as it sinks in what is in hand. The interior battle to be professional about an unprofessional thing begins. I would have banged my head on the typewriter keys and turned in the catalog card that way. What would the more professional librarian have done -- faithfully typed the entire thing or typed a fraction sufficient to recognize the work (of someone never to be read ... until now).
I'd like to see the typewriter that could make a carbon copy of a catalog card. Most impressive. Interesting for me to see the name "Frazee," which I've only come upon in local (Salida, CO) history. Steve Frazee was a popular Western author (and author of Westerns) and his books saw some Hollywood action. He also published a book in 1961 called "More Damn Tourists," loosely based on Salida life, which is instructive for locals who moan as if tourism were somehow a new part of our regional economy, supplanting railroads, mining, and ranchin' thanks to more damn Liberals ... Ok, I'll stop. But of course, a check of shows a great many Frazees out there. Only twelve Ptaks in Colorado, though.
A decline in suicide! Enough to make one's heart sink. Thank goodness for the likes of Mr. Chesterton. The problem is that would-be eugenicists are unembarrassible. But then, neither am I for using such a word.
Amazing photo. I wonder if it isn't a "colored" photo vs. color photo. The far distance looks monochromatic. If it IS a re-touched photo, it's a marvelous job.
At first glance, the moon and the light bulb made me think of Flash Gordon.