discover inner beauty

September 17, 2009

I think this is genius. I have too many little places to post things, so I don’t update at this blog much, am just as likely to post something on facebook or twitter or something, but for some reason this seemed worth putting up a more proper link… It finds any inadvertent haikus within larger texts. This is especially fun to do for your own long texts (I found 3 in my dissertation and many more in a long fiction manuscript I have – guess there are more short sentences in it…)

But it’s also just neat to see what’s in famous texts, e.g., in Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals there was only one:

The reason of this
appears sufficiently from
the treatise itself.

While Anna Karenina (gutenberg’s english version) had easily a couple dozen, a few of which I’ll copy below:

And his face expressed
serious hesitation.
“Are the oysters good?

Tried them: worse. Well, then,
there’s nothing left but to pray
to God. Tried it: worse.

Give me some morphine.
Doctor, give me some morphine!
Oh, my God, my God!

The whole day long there
was fever, delirium,
and unconsciousness.

On the contrary,
I am glad at the very
loss of my freedom.

But now her beauty
and elegance were just what
irritated him.

I speak from my heart.
We’re all gentlemen, aren’t we?
Above suspicion.

See me as you are.
It’s been going on more than
two hours already.

A quite addictive little game… and if it’s a book you’re familiar with, intriguing to catch snippets through a new window…

8 years

September 11, 2009

Eight years ago, I lived on the Lower East Side, near the East Broadway stop on the F train, where I could see the twin towers from my rooftop. On Sept 11, I was woken by a call from my dad asking if I had the TV on, soon followed by calls from friends to check that I was watching. I now think, in retrospect, that there was a sickening undercurrent of giddiness to those first few conversations, during the time between 8:46 and 9:59, from the first plane until a tower actually fell. It was shocking, horrifying even, but it wasn’t fully emotionally serious until a building collapsed.

What I had thought was concern seems like it might have just been rubbernecking, a fascination with someone else’s tragedy. From the start there was no doubt intellectually that it was awful, but I don’t know that emotionally I could distinguish it from the spectacular feeling of a Michael Bay explosion. Our entertainment choices clearly show we love grand destruction, and this is no new thing – all wars, battles of knights and gladiators, all tales of god’s apocalyptic cleansings, are fantasies of this unbridled power. Even Kant wonders if perpetual peace might be boring. A plane crash or a house on fire, a three-car pile-up on the side of the road, these things are terrible but not usually draining or depressing; they tend to widen the eyes and get people talking rather than cause silence and dismay.

But when the first tower fell, reality set in, in a way which could never turn back. That building was part of my home, my skyline. It was a place I’d been that no longer existed – I watched the transition of the tower, from solid reality to dust and ashes, and as it crumpled into mere waste, the truth of the plane became much more clear as well. This wasn’t a show, that cabin had been full of helpless screaming naked apes with families and ideas and plans for the future, human beings hoping desperately that they might live, unprepared for death when all they’d expected was some mediocre food and maybe a movie before landing…

I know that people who really were there or lost close relatives sometimes feel that having all of NY mourn is disingenuous. And I know that New Yorkers often feel that the having the entire country waving flags in memory is inauthentic. No one quite knows what another feels about these kinds of events, in the end. I think of the day first of all as a personal tragedy for those directly affected, and count myself a few tiers removed, even though somehow the loss of architecture, the haze of smoke that settled into our island, really did affect me (and everyone in NY for a few weeks) quite directly. But eight years later, the wound is much more healed than I imagine it is for some.

it’s been a while

August 18, 2009

This blog is stirring, momentarily, to link to something I wrote on Revolving Floor. Terrible, since some portion of the people who are reading this probably only came here because they clicked on the link from the bio of that page. But there may be a few people with RSS feeds who have forgotten about me, and will shrug and go take a look, so. I figured it was worth figuring out what my password was to give it a try.

Maybe now that I’ve stretched my legs and seen that the system still works, I’ll make an effort to be a little more active in the future…

Also, as the wicked witch so rightly notes, the Floor’s a site full of exciting stuff to read and comment on, so, go click around and respond to stuff obsessively. No, seriously, there are a lot of interesting pieces. Anyway, it’s not like you’re getting any work done or anything.


November 23, 2008

Some fun with maps, although of course, not to be taken too seriously. One should not take words too seriously, after all. (“True” names? Would that be like we would recognize the place and know the name without hearing it, being destined to live there forever?) No, it’s just fun to look at etymologies and think about the meanings of place-names. But I appreciate the debunking too.

plato called it

November 12, 2008

very funny though perhaps actually quite depressing video behind the scenes at the daily show, on interviewing voters in this election. It’s further reminder that these systems don’t work not because of some particular disorder regarding the method or implementation or dynamic of power, but simply the force of that power itself, the intelligence of human beings. Hopefully we will muddle through with all our checks and balances 🙂

happy election!

November 5, 2008

I voted in downtown manhattan, where my ballot for barack would hardly make a difference, and I know several people who voted third party or write-in to make a point (at least one even after having campaigned in PA for Obama) but I enjoyed being a part of history. I had intended to vote the D ticket for months, just because I don’t think third party ballots mean anything (if you want to change the system that’s not how to do it) but I only got excited about it in the last couple weeks, and I really was elated after coming out of the booth.

I realize Obama is just one guy, who will certainly run into trouble when it gets down to nuts and bolts and everyone expects different things from him, but at the same time, there is a symbolic importance to this that is transcendent, and there is the possibility of some real work getting done, even if only a very small portion of what some people imagine or hope for. But just getting people excited and involved will make a difference…

Still upset about Proposition 8, though. I hope that somehow doesn’t last long…

This is an interesting little piece on one mr ayers, friendly neighborhood terrorist… who in an interview, I have to admit, it is hard to stay upset with. Power of rhetoric or has he been misunderstood the whole time? Anyway, not that it’s an issue now, just a funny bit of trivia.

Moderate repubs, like Rice and McCain, took the news well & graciously, but some of the bloggers were much less appealing…

another break.

October 24, 2008

It is already halfway through fall – unbelievable. The election is two weeks away, and I’m feeling more calm about it generally (did you know Obama played fantasy football?). But, I think I’ve reached a turning point in my own work that means I’ll be offline a bit more (I know I say this from time to time, but … well, I’m saying it again. but I think I have better motivation this time, since I’ve figured out an important component in what I’m doing…)

Here are some links so you didn’t waste time visiting …

This is an interesting story about Einstein.

Here is science about sunspots.

Plus, slate reviews books about English.

The undecided voter

October 21, 2008

Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama is being given a lot of attention as a powerful move, a thoughtful speech, and a painful jab to the right wing. But one thing that struck me about it was the fact that Powell basically admitted to being one of those many undecided voters the media has been chastising and the comedy shows have been mocking. He said on Meet the Press that he’d been watching carefully these last few weeks and finally chose Obama. But he apparently wasn’t sure until just over two weeks to the election, when voting has already begun in some states. Yet the press still respected and adored him.

He didn’t say he had to decide whether to come out and state publicly that he would vote for Obama; he said he had to decide for himself whether to vote for Obama. He personally just wasn’t sure what to do until he had had time to watch them in action this fall. Does that mean we should think less of Powell or more of undecided voters? Well – that’s up to you. I’m just pointing out the overlap.


October 20, 2008

The times talks about Palin’s future in show biz, which is what I thought of too, after watching her appearance on SNL… She can draw a crowd in politics, but it’s limited, and she seemed more relaxed in the non-political world, or at very least in non-political politics…

Rachel Maddow addressed this charm offensive approach of the McCain campaign; very smart breakdown. Perhaps it won’t work, especially since McCain’s money is so limited and the two level attack is so hard to maintain in such an information-heavy society. This week’s shifts on election projection are minimal but a bit more friendly to McCain than the last few weeks have been…

what you never know

October 19, 2008

I always try to keep in mind that life in the real world is hard to predict, but like everyone I also find myself turning to previous cases that are similar enough to this one, to try to predict anyway. Six months ago I thought McCain had a real chance, and after the RNC I was sure it would be a close race. It was only last week when the polls seemed to just keep getting tougher for him, and Obama just kept cruising along, that I finally felt like maybe we didn’t have to worry that much. But after that last debate and a few positive pop culture appearances for McCain and Palin (Letterman, the Alfred E Smith show, SNL) I could see McCain just being the easy going nice guy underdog, not worrying about it, and Obama trying too hard and irritating everyone with his constant barrage of boring politician-ads. I’m reminded that it doesn’t matter what happened last time or how things go in what percentage of times. All that matters is what is happening right now and how things are going this time.

So it’s a false sense of security to look at 95% likelihood of winning… That site is based on a baseball stat model, which is hardly based on beliefs and psychology at all, and mostly on facts and abilities. BUt politics is all about opinions and group tendencies. It’s a whole different ball game, so to speak. Also, teams actually win and lose multiple times a week, whereas in politics it’s just polls multiple times a week that are providing numbers – the actual “game” only happens once, and could be totally misrepresented by polls the whole time, for a whole host of reasons.

I know the Tribune endorsed him, and that overall more newspapers have gone with Obama. Plus today Colin Powell endorsed Obama. But this is all for people who are following politics on purpose, not for people who just catch sight of things here or there. And Colin is sort of part of the old school anyway. So even with all this I feel like things are less secure now than they were, that McCain has found more of his groove, talking anti-socialism and being a fun guy. Not that it will work, but I think it will be closer.