Monday, February 8, 2016

“Dorian Gray” monostich


noiselessly,  with silver feet, the shadows crept in from the garden



[Edited slightly   minimalism causâ.]

Sunday, February 7, 2016



Bright red
Bright red

very very
Bright red


[Note:  This vision appeared  as a result of the arrangements  chronicled  here: ]

Riemann Conspiracy denialism

The evidence for the exitence of a vast, tentacular nexus known to insiders as the “Riemann Conspiracy  (that is just a cover-name, but it’ll do) has been growing now daily  for several years,  and is far too powerful to ignore.

Just this morning -- front-page headline in the Washington Post:

Evidence suggests that times are good, yet many voters said their dominant emotion is fear — and the sense that somebody is keeping them in the dark.

Of course they are:  they don’t want U 2 know !!

And yet, despite all that, some people are still in denial:

Riemann conspiracy denialists

The latest twist in this intricate saga  appeared this morning on the front page of the business section, in the New York Times:

Hong Kong’s Disappearing Publishers

The story concerns the shadowy (and absurdly named) “Mighty Current Media” (the tongue-in-cheekily unidiomatic business-name will remind insiders of the “Foreign Excellent Trenchcoat Company”, run by another Riemann operative, Leopold T.).  It reveals that, since October, no fewer than five of its top operatives have physically vanished.

That in itself might raise eyebrows, though you might just shrug and turn the page, under the misimpression that “disappearing” referred merely to hard a financial climate forcing some media outlets to fold.   But now look at how, in the Times website, the headline has already been censored-down (doubtless in response to a frantic call on the red phone) to the yawn-inducing

In China, Books That Make Money, and Enemies

This, citizens, is how the truth gets deep-sixed !

The real story, to the extent that we are permitted to reveal it (names, dates, and facts have been changed) is that a small, fly-by-night Hong Kong publisher, whose public string-pullers are British and Swedish (fronting for the real owners), operating under regulations different from those on the mainland, masquerading as but a tabloid outlet of the gutter press, has managed to release, hidden in a forest of ridiculous check-out-counter-style “exposés”,  which no serious person would so much as glance at, some genuine inside dope that goes to the heart of one of the Riemann sub-conspiracies.   (That clever scenario is reminiscent of the “Six Days of the Condor” caper, where the truth had been hidden in the form of a novel.)  The book, disguised as a sort of Harlequin-romance-cum-international-thriller, was titled

Whirling Shadows of Spies

(Again:  A deliberately idiotic title, to deflect suspicions from the real intent.)

The moment the authorities got wise to this, they raided every distribution point and pulped the entire edition.   And then -- in a twist that only happens in real life, being beyond the capacity of potboiler-writers to imagine -- they themselves issued a contrary book with an identical title  and distributed it widely, so that anyone attempting to research the issue will find his queries flooded with references to this red herring.  (The New York Times, for example, was completely taken in.)


Well, I’ve got to sign off now -- someone is at the door.  (Which is puzzling, since nobody knows of my whereabouts at this isolated mountain retreat.)   More -- inshallah -- anon.

Meanwhile you can introduce yourselves to the basic outlines of the Riemann Conspiracy, via a series of revealing leaks, beginning here:

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Trump is a wimp

[ Trump ist Weichlingsweib ]

Okay right, so he talks tough;  but when the boots hit the asphalt,  can he do the deed?  Check this out, from Da Man -- Attila the Hun:

“For what fortress” (added Attila),
“what city, in the wide extent of the Roman empire,
can hope to exist,  secure and impregnable,
if it is our pleasure that it should be erased from the earth?”
-- Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1788)

Now, that guy’s a closer.

Write-in for 2016 !

~  A paid announcement  ~
~  ~  from Americans for Attila ® ~  ~
~  “Let’s stain the White House  red!”  ~

Wanna read about Mike Murphy,
a two-fisted private dick  that won’t take “No” for an answer!
The kind that the Trumpette would never read?
Check this out !
(So Murphy would never take Trump as a client)
“Ich bin Attila der Hunne,
and I approved this message
(and slew all who disagreed).”

[Update 7 February 2016]  The Donaldette struggles vainly to prove his manhood:

Donald Trump: I'd bring back 'a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding'

For some reason, the Brits seem to be frontpaging this story  more than the Yanks:

The rest of Europe too, with hair-raising headlines:

Trump für "schlimmere Methoden" als Waterboarding

By contrast, the NYTimes merely runs  a short piece from Reuters, with the relatively bland title

Waterboarding Surfaces at Debate and Divides Republican Hopefuls

~ Celebrity Endorsement ~
~  Jack Bauer:  ~
~ ~  “At first I was thinking I’d go with Trump, ~~
~~ but Attila would absolutely schlong him! “ ~~

[Flash co-ord:  Michael Bloomberg --  R U busy ??? ]

The Ontology of Sociology

The present post is simply a sort of by-trifle to The Ontology of Psychology.   It might alternatively be dubbed “The characterology of individual action in a multiperson structured setting”.

The unit of analysis  in Goffman’s accounts  is always the individual role-player  striving to effect his will  within a role-structuring situation.
-- Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue (1981; 21984), p.  115

This put me curiosly in mind of the ‘sociology’ of chessmen.  (Here we speak, not of the vision of grandmasters, which is doubtless far more holistic, but of patzers, which is the only one I know.) 
Originally, the game was a metaphor or rather ‘video-game representation’ for medieval warfare.  Thrilling stuff.   And to a beginner, at least, it really does feel as though individual pieces are venturing out, or ignominiously retreating,  issuing powerful threats or just pushing pawnily along.   Sometimes, a noble warrior even ventures to be ‘sacrificed’ for the greater good.  I can testify that, as a scrappy lad first learning the rudiments, the queen, rather than just a factor among many, in a sort of multivariate algebraic equation,  was dizzying in her potential power -- “Wait’ll I sic my queen on ‘im!”  It was reminiscent of the culture of trading baseball cards -- Trajea a Mickle Mantle for a Yogi Berra plus a Roger Marris.    An archive of children’s chess-matches  would probably back this up, showing far more early-game forays by that dominating dame, than in expert play.

In Go, by contrast, the counters are all blandly interchangeable in themselves.   They pop out of nowhere, one by one (indefinitely); and once placed, have no power to move from the spot.  A holistic view is imposed even on the beginner.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Mysteries of Cricket

Cricket matches occasionally end in a tie, and often in a draw;  but that does not make it a futile game;  if no side ever won, the game would lose its point.
-- John Watkins, Science and Skepticism (1984), p. 279

Assignment:  Distinguish tie from draw.

I am at last resigned to the fact that I shall never understand String Theory;  and a grasp of cricket  must likewise remain  forever beyond my means.
Given that, Kipling’s dig about “the flannelled fools at the wicket” was quite unfair;  you practically have to be a barrister to make sense of the game.


More re the point of a given genre of game:

Within the vocabulary of chess, it makes no sense to say ‘That was the one and only move which would achieve checkmate, but was it the right move to make?’  … as someone might ask, whose urpose in playing chess was to amuse a small child  rather than to win.
-- Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue (1981; 21984), p.  125

(And what is the point, of this game of life? --  Perhaps, to amuse the gods.)

It would be interesting to imagine extragalactic sociologists or philosophers, provided with a complete, objective and uncommented, play-by-play record of every cricket game ever played, and every chess game ever played; we wonder whether, from these, they could deduce what the point was.  Cf. & contrast the card‘game’ that we children called ‘War’, in which again, the ‘point’ is to ‘win’, only, each player’s moves being completely determined, the resemblance to any normal game is but feeble;  it’s really just a long-drawn-out, inefficient way  of staging a single coin-flip.


Back to cricket, with its arcane distinctions and welter of rules -- surely exceding those of tennis (let along ping-pong), basketball, soccer  and much else.    These come at a cost (we want to shout, Just play the game!), but indeed to such an extent, that what would, from a practical point of view, must surely serve some sociopsychological purpose, delineating the cultural boundaries of the Tight Little Island.   Rather like the Japanese language, with its complex system of grammatical honorifics, which no-one can master who hasn’t grown up in the culture from birth.  Or Anglo-Catholic worship ritual: unlike in an evangelical church, where anyone can wander in off the street and fit right in, for an outsider to attempt to participate  is continually to find yourself sitting when (suddenly, inexplicably) everyone else is standing up,  or standing up when they are sitting down, or kneeling, or crossing themselves.

For an American analogue, we would suggest, not so much our National Pastime of baseball, which physically most resembles cricket, but American football, with its ever-expanding rulebook, its minute schedules of differing penalties for everything from twitching (on the offensive line -- “false motion” -- or the defensive -- “offsides”) to spiking the ball; and its many game-interrupting circumstances. -- What physically most resembles football is rugby;  but here the playing of the game -- the continuous unscripted motion, as in soccer or basketball -- quite trumps the courtly ceremony characteristic of football.


There is generally a core of rules that characterize the essence of a given kind of game.  As for the rest, they contribute to its aura of spectacle,  but are not constitutive of the game.
The essense of football is simply that one guy runs with the ball toward a goal, and the other guys try to stop him.   Early football (and kids’ football even today) was largely just that.   Then they added the possibility of a forward pass:  that was a significant addition to the core, constitutive of an extension of the game (Football  v. 2.0), but one in which the earlier nucleas remained aufgehoben:  after all, there are plenty of running plays even in the NFL, and if you laid them all end-to-end, you’d have a simulacrum of original football (though to be sure, they are subtly different, since each play is instinct with the possibility that someone might throw the ball).

The constitutive rules of chess are the powers of the pieces.   That much is sine qua non -- you couldn’t very well specify the moves of all the pieces except the knight, letting that fellow to joust around as the mood might move him.   But now you’ve got a game, which could just as well exist without niggling side-rules like that of castling, or capture en passant (let alone purely ceremonial, non-structural rules like “j’adoube”).

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Name of the Day: “Henery”

Back in 1965, when I still listened to the blandly homogenized pop medium known as Top 40 radio, a song soared onto the charts  that didn’t fit the rock & roll mold at all, and seemed to come from another world:  “I'm Henery the Eighth, I Am”.  It was harmless, charming, catchy.   Once ever you heard it, you could never forget it:

    I'm 'Enery the Eighth, I am,
    'Enery the Eighth I am, I am!
    I got married to the widow next door,
    She's been married seven times before
    And every one was an 'Enery
    She wouldn't have a Willie nor a Sam
    I'm her eighth old man named 'Enery
    'Enery the Eighth, I am!

Wikipedia (that fount of all that is good and true) provides the surprising background.  It is a British music-hall song dating back to as early as 1910 -- few indeed were the ditties of such venerable vintage that made it onto the pop playlists.  And yet -- scarcely to be credited:

In 1965, it became the fastest-selling song in history to that point when it was revived by Herman's Hermits.


What revived that memory  was a passage in Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), referring to a simple workman of rural southwest England:

He always signed his name "Henery"—strenuously insisting upon that spelling, and if any passing schoolmaster ventured to remark that the second "e" was superfluous and old-fashioned, he received the reply that "H-e-n-e-r-y" was the name he was christened and the name he would stick to—in the tone of one to whom orthographical differences were matters which had a great deal to do with personal character. 

As kids, exposed to the ditty, we made not philological hypotheses concerning the trisyllabic name -- just something silly, metri causâ, we supposed.  But Hardy’s witness demonstrates that the pronunciation is time-honored among the English popular classes.

The medial schwa is not etymological, but the product of popular epenthesis (or anaptyxis, if you insist), like the pronunciation “ellum” for elm, orthe by-form alarum from alarm.