Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Cat Sonnet

November 9, 2013

Hugo waits, his every muscle taut,
Except for twitching tail uncanny still.
Soon, suddenly, he’ll strike, as swift as thought:
Soon hapless mouse will be but bloody kill.
Then later, after napping, he may play —
Or is it fight? there’s no good way to tell.
Perhaps his human servants’ flesh he’ll flay,
Or make his cat companion’s life a hell.

And now he craves attention, tame and meek,
Imploring only to be stroked and scratched.
He purrs and stretches, lang’rous, long, and sleek.
Gentleness and innocence are matched
With casual violence in the feline race,
Dual natures joined in feline grace.


The Thin Place

October 31, 2013

The borders of the world are pale now,
See how they grow very thin.
Near to us loom other places
Home to things not quite our kin.
What doors to otherwhere may open,
And what may come in?

An impish goblin, bent on mischief?
A Faerie prince from Tír na nóg?
A witch with her familiar daemon,
Ghostly cat or spectral dog?
Baleful and mysterious figures
Creeping through the fog?

Souls that should be long departed;
Wights and wraiths with sorrow crowned;
Boggarts, brownies, keening banshees
Sounding their unearthly sound;
Kobolds, dwarves, and little men
From caverns underground.

Stay within your homely dwelling!
Do not depart, nor take your leave!
Pull the blinds and bar the door ‘gainst
Things of which you daren’t conceive!
Unless you want to see what visits
On All Hallows’ Eve.

My New Year’s Resolution

January 2, 2010

Which I’m making public in hopes of shaming myself into keeping it: Get some exercise, you great walrus.

One of the few things I learned in Elementary School that really stuck was that Exercise Is Evil. Turns out that’s not true.

My First Car Crash

October 11, 2008

And speaking of New Experiences, I was in my first actual car crash yesterday. I guess it counts as a car crash, anyway: I got rear-ended in a highway entrance ramp. The good part about being rear-ended is that it clearly was not my fault. Actually, I blame society, in its civil engineering manifestation. That highway entrance is dreadful.

No injuries, but lots of car damage. My car looks more or less OK, but something is clearly out of whack in the trunk-n-bumper area, and I won’t know how much til the body shop tells me on Monday. The other car looked to be a total wreck—my bumper pwned its radiator. Turns out they need to call the fire department when antifreeze leaks (“leak” being a massive understatement in this case). Who knew?

The state trooper who was the first responder to the 911 call seemed kind of bored. The local policewoman who ended up taking the case—apparently there are jurisdictional things having to do with exactly where the accident happened—was downright friendly. Is that representative of state vs town police? A sample space of one each is kind of meaningless, but still, it does vaguely make sense.

The Recency Illusion

August 10, 2008

From Language Log, here‘s a post about the “Recency Illusion,” “the (often inaccurate) belief that a usage you have recently noticed is in fact a recent development in the language.” Not something I’d ever thought about in particular, although I suppose it’s not surprising—prescriptivist grammar pundits tend to be very much in the “we’re going to hell in a handbasket” mold, and hence are predisposed to think that “bad” == “new” (where “bad” means “not to their liking”). (Curmudgeons have said civilization has been going to hell in a handbasket ever since there was civilization, and probably before there were handbaskets. We have yet to arrive. Unless maybe we started there.) The standard examples seem to be “singular they” and “between you and I.”

Here are a couple of usages that seem recent to me. Can you, dear readers, tell me that I’m wrong? Please do, I’m genuinely curious.

  • The “historical present”: “Caesar now crosses the Rubicon.” Not that using present tense for past actions has ever been unusual in certain contexts, but it now seems universal among, for example, talking-head historians in TV shows. I don’t remember that being the case at all before the advent of the History and Discovery Channels, and their low-budget endearingly-cheesy-reenactment shows. I figure it’s out of a (false) sense that the present tense is dynamic and interesting while past tense is dull and stuffy. But maybe I was just missing it before.
  • “Gone missing”: that sounds very British to me, and I don’t remember hearing it in common American use until the last few years. Was it? According to this article, no—it cites Chandra Levy as the turning point. Is that right?

On the subject of Briticisms crossing the pond, I nominate “shambolic” to be the next one. Any others?


For the record, I’m fine with “singular they,” as English really has no good alternative construction. “Between you and I” annoys me, but I don’t think I ever thought it was new.

Also for the record: I say Condit called his no-good brother Darrell in a panic about Chandra being pregnant and wanting Gary to be her forever lover, and Darrell said something to the effect of, “I’ll take care of it.” This he then did.

Gangsta Progamma Rap

April 1, 2008



February 20, 2008

Having heard this on the radio the other day, I now think that the superdelegate system, and the alleged conundrum the poor things may face, is even sillier than I had thought.

First off, the Obaminators’ argument that the superdelegates should vote The Will of the People is obviously boneheaded (setting aside the obvious fact that the Obama camp would immediately say otherwise if he weren’t ahead in inferiordelegates).  If they were supposed to be rubber stamps, there would really be no point in having them at all; and indeed they were originally created to provide “leadership” in close cases.  Given the “leadership” the Democrats in Congress have shown the last few years, it’s hardly surprising that they’re desperately trying not to show any now.  (I find myself reminded of the GE Followship Award from 30 Rock.)
And beyond that, if the tallies are close enough that the superdelegates can matter, then really there’s no Will of the People to follow–the difference in the two would be within the margin of error of our ridiculous primary/caucus system, in comparison with which the Electoral College looks positively sane.  The superdelegates were a stupid solution to a stupid problem, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that they seem a bit problematic now.  Remember that the only time they’ve mattered before, the result was Walter Mondale.


January 26, 2008

[or, There Will Be Blood]

I had a gum graft the other day–the first of several I’ll need. Fun!  I was apparently a real bleeder, which I’m told made it difficult for the periodontist to see what he was doing.  Not really what you want to hear from someone who’s cutting away skin inside your mouth.

The aftermath isn’t what I’d expected.  I had planned to be whimpering from the acute pain in my mouth, but there isn’t really any acute pain at all, just a dull ache and an intermittent nasty headache.  Both of which might be correlated with the massive swelling and the impressive shiner I have–I look like I’ve been in a bar fight, and people keep asking witty questions along the lines of “trouble at home?”  Besides the swelling the really annoying part is the dressings over the “donor area” and the gum itself, which feel like big lumps of silly putty and taste like especially gross old chewing gum.

The aches are enough to warrant a fair bit of ibuprofen, and I’ve also had a little of the vicodin they prescribed.  The warn you that it knocks you right out, but it perks me right up.  Whee!

Scientific Research, Japanese-style

December 21, 2007

I just heard an item on the BBC about Japan’s proposed “whaling mission” in the name of Scientific Research. This scientific mission was to kill a bunch of whales—and I am not making this up—to determine whether there are enough whales that they can kill them. And here I thought it was research into Cetacean Tastiness.

A Well-Regulated Militia, …

December 17, 2007

I have to agree with Eugene Volokh’s take on Adam Freedman’s NY Times op-ed piece, but it does give me a chance to rant a bit about the Second Amendment and its discontents.

An argument that may be implicit in Volokh’s post, and is at least half-explicit in Instapundit’s post on the same article, is that the framers wanted to ensure that the People would be able to overthrow, or at least resist, the government if such should become necessary.  That’s a standard argument among anti-gun-control partisans, and it’s one I’ve never really believed.  (I’m pretty sure George Washington wouldn’t have believed it either.)  What I DO believe is that the founders didn’t trust large standing armies, which could in their experience all too easily become instruments of tyranny.  Hence the reliance on the militias, hence “a well-regulated militia being necessary for the security of a free state.”

We of course no longer feel that way about standing armies.  The Recent Unpleasantness Between the Sections and subsequent unpleasantnesses have changed our minds pretty completely.  The assumptions that went into the framing of the Second Amendment are no longer at all applicable.  This creates a bit of a challenge for interpreting it, if I can understate the case a bit.

While I’m on the topic, I’ll also mention that I think the framing of the debate about the Second Amendment as one of “Individual” vs “Collective” rights has been a brilliant strategy by the anti-gun-control forces.  I don’t buy that framework either, and I don’t think it has much to do with the way the framers thought about it, but once the argument is framed that way the Individual Rights case really does seem stronger.