Saturday, July 26, 2014


I might be off the grid for a bit;  so in the meantime, here is a link to the complete roster of individual indices, by theme (literary criticism; movies; psychology; geopolitics; philosophy; mathematics; etc.).

And, for those of you who risk acute hypocutopoenia during the interval,


Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Man of Sorrow, and Acquainted with Grief

Sorrowful indeed:
Roscoe Holcomb - I am a man of constant sorrow

Less so:
Man of Constant Sorrow - The Stanley Brothers

Dylan’s version (1963):
(The album version is even more robust, but it seems to be unfindable online.)

The Soggy Bottom Boys (these are the real singers; lip-synched by various movie-stars):
(Terrific video, thanks to the Coen Brothers)

Stabat mater, dolerosa

Darker, deeper:

Schubert, “Der Leiermann”

Yet another notch  down/down/down …


Mélanges géopolitiques

Some recent essays of sociopolitical interest:

Even the principals did not realize for some time that it was leading to a World War.
Yet it marked a powerful and permanent turn, of the groaning millwheel of History;  and on that day, Clio laid aside her pen, and wept.

Lacrimae rerum

"The cabinet noir  introduced, in a curious way, the Open Diplomacy  advocated by the enthusiasts of the League of Nations."

The hyperconservatives’ public rhetoric may in many cases be simply ad usum minus habentium.

الدولة الاسلامية في العراق والشام

There is no more a logical contradiction between someone born by surrogacy  coming (upon mature reflection) to condemn the practice, than in the analogous case of someone born by rape, or prostitution, or incest, or bigamy, or A.I.D., or fructification by Zeus in the form of a swan, objecting to (as a general practice) rape, or prostitution, or incest, or bigamy, or A.I.D., or extra-Olympian dalliances by randy deities sub specie cygni.

Trigger warning:  This philological note may contain some very, very bad words.  You must be over 21 to read this.  No, make that 31.   91.   In fact -- Don’t read it at all.

As a native who returned, Thomas Frank combines, to advantage, the insights of the Visiting Martian (Toqueville, Dickens, Chesterton …) with those of the indigene.  And in richness of description, his book recalls that never-equaled masterpiece, John Gunther’s Inside USA.

Incredible though it may appear, the students at UC Santa Barbara face more deadly perils than the lapses from correctitude in The Great Gatsby:

A word on that fixed phrase, “rape or incest”, inscribed in stone like “peanut-butter and jelly” or “Laurel and Hardy”.   Sociologically, morally, the collocation makes perfect sense.  But practically, there is a certain redundancy …

The 1996 book It Takes a Village, by Barbara Feinman (writing as “Hillary Clinton”), was meant -- commendably -- to point to the need (which in practice, in America, had never been denied, until recently) for community involvement in child-rearing, beyond the autarky of the nuclear family.  Such was the unquestioned state of affairs during my own childhood…

A mittel-europäischer rationalist recalls “those golden, and, all in all very peaceful final decades of the colonial system”,  and adverts ad the hermeneuts …

An Irishman, a person of unrecorded nationality, and an individual from a nation we dare not name, walk into a bar …

Striking a blow  for freedom of adultery,
and the muzzling of the press.

If the geopolitical playing-field were momentarily tilted slightly differently, you’d have Congressmen standing on their chairs shouting for the inalienable rights of the freedom-loving Crimean People to determine their self-determination themselves.

But now a wildcard pops up out of the deck.   The current Justice Department, the one in office at this particular instant (and again, possibly after a wild night of ibogaine abuse, that part is unclear), lets it be known that it would prefer to stay in bed rather than defend the government’s side of the case, on this issue.   At which point a voice (of uncertain origin) bellows from the wings, that in that case, the Supreme Court lacks jurisdiction! Which means, the original litigant wins by default, just as though it were a Little League game where the Wellfleet Woodchucks failed to appear.

There is another, subtler layer to the story, namely that the ever-oily, ever-ingratiating Hollande -- who is by no means accustomed to laying bald facts out plain -- was, in this case, actually attempting, in his ham-handed way, to be politically-correct :  only, within a certain sociopolitical microclimate …

While France is absorbed in such insipid distractions as the latest entry in the palmarès of “The Wit and Wisdom of François Hollande”, some genuine events are unfolding in Françafrique, following in the wake of much bloodshed, and heralding more bloodshed to come

This item will sell like hot falafel!  Bulk-order Ur copies now !!!

It is depressing even to have to think about North Korea, the geopolitical equivalent of anal warts.

France’s practice of repeatedly doling out ransoms, while denying that it does so, has planted a tree with poison roots.  Here, perhaps, are some of its fruits.

Glurge alert!  The French President  goes groveling  before the fratricidal chaos of Africa.   If he needs a good whipping, why can't he go get it at Madame Sévère’s Bondage Basement, instead of dragging all France into his fantasies?

Mister Pecksniff  and Ted Cruz -- separated at birth?

Outsource the police state to charity:  The Swiss NGO Terre des Hommes lays a honey-trap…

“I don’t know which Mafia I dislike the most.  I’m leaning toward liking the Italian Mafia  because they are just immoral  and still believe in mother and child.  But the Art Mafia is immoral and, from what I can tell, they’ve stopped procreating.”

Tom announces on national television that he intends to kill John.   Then Tom is charged with murder, because, though his intended victim is still among the living, what Tom did was “just as bad”.  And if you imply otherwise, you are insulting the murder-victims community.

Wie eine Kultur  sich selbst auffrißt



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Update to the “Paschal scandal”

In a WDJ X-clusive, we earlier revealed a clue to the the perplexing Case of the Disappearing Wristwatch, from the Orthodox patriarch -- and this, in a locked room!!

And now, in a startling development, the purloined watch  has turned up on the wrist of the Caliph Ibrahim, Amir al-Mu’minîn:

The Tell-tale Timepiece

Does this, then, signify  the passing of predominance  from Christianity to Islam?
Truly, this is a sign of the End Times.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Jour de la Bastille

Félicitations à nos alliés de plusieurs guerres, et meilleurs vœux pour une solide coopération entre les Présidents Obama et Hollande. 
Et heureux anniversaire à mon épouse Suzanne Marie, née en ce jour il y a, eh ben, quelques années et le pouce, et qui porte un nom français en l’honneur de cette amitié  plusieurs foix séculaire.
Pour célébrer, voici le palmarès de nos aperçus hexagonaux:
A consulter aussi:
(1789 vs. 1776)
(nos compliments de l’année dernière)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fun Topix

At the very bottom of each post, there is a field labeled “Labels” (rather meta, that).  On most computers, they show up as blue, turning to red once you’ve clicked on it;  if you are a member of the Illuminati, yours will show up in gold.  These are functional, labeling one of the topics of that particular post, so if you’d like to see other posts with that same theme, you simply click and are presented with the whole roster of posts that deal with it.

Mostly the labels are straightforward and utilitarian:  things like topology or linguistics.   The word itself might or might not appear in the actual post;  and the post as a whole need not be mostly about that topic:  for instance, in the humorous deadly serious post Topology of a Conspiracy, there is an image intended to suggest the wheels-with-in-wheels complexity of the dastardly Riemann Affair:  the image depicts the Alexander Horned Sphere, a famous topological construction showing infinite linkage.

Sometimes, though, the labels are themselves alluring words.  Check these out:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sensuous Sounds

It’s a curious thing.  All sorts of little clicky sounds  are normally irritating.  As, the intermittent clatter of dishes and spoons from the next room.  Only … perhaps the annoyance does not inhere in the raw sound, but is relative to the surrounding ideation.
For:  One of the “audially erotic” tricks of cinema, is the quick precision  k-L!CK  of precise metal gunparts, snapping into place, in the hands of an expert.   This gimmick is used with expertise in the somewhat underrated film “The American”.   Here George Clooney plays the role analogous to that of Edward Fox in “Day of the Jackal”, but more engagingly.  Fox  has the odor of dishwater, somehow;  Clooney can be vibrantly charismatic, but here wisely abstains from any fireworks, given his role as a deeply undercover guy:  a discretion exactly parallel to that of the other Seven-Arts god  Ben Affleck, in “Argo”, for quite the same reasons.

Anyhow,  the  Cklick;    Cklack;    of the sniper-rifle parts, 
parallel but surpass  those of the “Jackal”.

In the end, however, such slick tricks are mechanical and empty:  so proves the film to be.   The looks and sounds are expertly produced;  but in the end it is all sonority without sense.   Plot, motivation, character  -- such details had doubtless been jotted down, but then left in “the pocket of his other suit”.   Nothing -- beginning with the title, and ending with the World’s Shortest Shootout -- has any point to it.

Bonus factoid:  In this movie,  Clooney rather resembles this gentleman,

خالد مشعل
who, unlike sundry Hollywood actors, truly does live a life of international intrigue and derring-do.