Thursday, December 28, 2017

Tabarnia, Riemannistan ink pact

The People’s Pataphysical Republic of Riemannistan TM  has signed a mutual-defense and mutual-admiration agreement with the Popular Subregional Areola of Tabarnia, sources revealed.   As part of the deal, Riemannistan agreed to recognize Jerusalem as the Tabarnian  capital (since the villages of that minuscule district can hardly compete);  as an amicable quid pro quo, Tabarnia has declared war on the infidels of Chunky Chipmunk Lane.

The so-called “nation” of Pomerania,
jointly claimed by Tabarnia and Riemannistan

~  The World of Dr Justice ~
~ “News You Won’t Find Anywhere Else”© ~

[Update 29 Dec]  In a disturbing development, Narnia has declared war on Tabarnia, for copyright infringement.

[Update 30 December 2017]  Further complicating the picture, Azawad has announced that it is now allied with one of the belligerants, but it won’t say which.  “That’s a state secret.”

[Update, 31 Dec 2017]  Seems as though this business of national boundaries keeps getting messier.
Accordingly, Abu-Dawud al-Yemeni, imam of Riemannistan, has suggested that the world revert to its pre-Carolingian boundaries and simply start from scratch.
Here you go:

[Post scriptum:  Thus forewarned, Riemannistan has been quick to assert its claim to all of the green areas.  R U basis is B wrong 2 us !!]

[Update, 1 Jan 2018]  In a confusing development,  Tabarnia now claims to have the backing of the Warsaw Pact  in its battle against Narnia.

[Update 2 Jan 2018]  Owing to NATO's refusal to accede to Riemannistan's just demands, the world peace so recently fashioned at the urging of al-Imam Dawud  has fallen apart.
We need a more drastic solution:  Return to the ante-bellum boundaries that obtained in the early Mesozoic. 
Here's how it looks:

Simple, isn't it?  What could go wrong?


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Anne Lamott // Mono/stich

The sun smelled warm,  like laundry in the dryer,
like melting


Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Children's Christmas Eve

The stockings hang beside the hearth,
the holly on the door.
The children hope that they’ve been good --
but they’re not sure.

They think of sometimes thieving fingers,
sticky with cookie-guilt.
A tear creeps to their eye at the corners
as they think of the milk they’ve spilt.

And oh!  What of the times they tried,
but failed, to say their prayers?
Lo, woe!  their whole life seems to proceed
in the spotlight of grownups’ stares.

Untidiness, disobedience,
the list of sins grows long.
Like toddlers walking, they sway on the fence
dividing Right from Wrong.

The stockings hang like judgment
as the children search their souls.
Will sweetmeats by their portion --
or a lump of cold black coal?

Toys left lying, beds unmade,
the Sunday suit awry.
There was even a time, they know to their shame,
when they told -- O coal!  -- a lie!

The children crawl between the sheets
on the night before Christmas day.
The pillow against their cheek is wet.
Their lips begin to pray.

The stockings hang from the scaffold.
The dark tree stands by the stair.
Yet as they pray  they hear the toll
of sleighbells in the air.

Behold!  A chariot slices the sky,
the stars roll back in a tide.
Saint Nicholas stands upon the helm,
the Virgin by his side.

And all the angels  whirl like fire,
bearing the carriage along.
The heavens thunder  with the choir
of joyful Christmas song.

Sugarplums shower from the tree
where CHRIST was crucified.
Raised souls join in a jubilee
redeemed by Him who died.

The children stare at Santa Claus
as light streams from his face.
Their present’s the best  that ever there was --
the gift of Grace.

~     ~     ~

For a further story of miracles through grace,  
have a look at this:
Murphy Makes a Mitzvah


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Hibernation Monostich

Mr Bear,   deathly alive in his cave,
   with no alarm-clock but the distant Spring.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Wintry Mix

Heat the toddies,  stir the fire!
Without, grim winter  stalks the land.
Within -- good fellowship, fine food, and all the blessings of this time of year.

For a collection of our reflections on Winter, try these:

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Salute the Solstice

The Brightening, though Frozen  Solstice

This time each year,  the sun doth wend,
signaling days-dying’s end.
Henceforth  throughout  the grateful lands
our daily dose of light  expands.
Thus do we, cheered  by this faint grace,
take heart for Winter’s chill embrace.
And though the brisk winds  scourge the earth,
look forward to  our Spring rebirth.

Christi dedico in nomine;
Gratias agimus, Domine.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Arabic Adonis

This week’s New Yorker has a brief but keenly interesting article on modern Arabic politics and poetry, by Robyn Cresswell of Yale, taking off from the Syrian (lapsed-Alawite) poet Adonis.
The author remarks on the difficulty of finding satisfactory translations for this verse, owing in particular to the “rhetorical grandeur” characteristic of classical Arabic.   Actually we see part of the problem, more cultural than linguistic, right in the poet’s nom de plume, Adonis.  Cresswell diplomatically explains the eponym as a “vegetal deity of death and resurrection”.    The thumbnail from the Britannica lays the emphasis elsewhere:  in Greek mythology, a youth of remarkable beauty, the favourite of the goddess Aphrodite … Traditionally, he was the product of the incestuous love Smyrna entertained for her own father”.  To an American, the name conjures up something like Jean Marais (Cocteau’s greek-godling toyboy) rather than anything religious.

An additional problem for the translator of this poetry is, paradoxically, the relative lack of technical prosodic problems, since it is mostly free verse -- “tennis with the net down” to begin with -- so that the translator has not the challenge of recreating some sense of the original prosody, as FitzGerald so brilliantly did  with his version of Omar’s Rubaiyat, or Charles Lyall’s metrical experiments in rendering pre-Islamic Arabian verse.  That is to say, a translation cannot be really successful unless confronted  in the original  with something that is in some respects untranslatable.


For our own attempts to grapple with the treasures of the Arabian verse-hoard, try this:


Friday, December 15, 2017

Doctor J’s Winter Fund Drive

Normally, around this time of year, we’d be fishing for our checkbooks to contribute to NPR.   (In past years, I have made mine in the name of The Big Broadcast -- the only program on NPR that was specifically aimed at my demographic.  But now Ed Walker has moved on to that big radio up in the sky …)  
Now, however, that The Don has moved to Pennsylvania Avenue, some of you may be wondering whether that would be … as the senior George Bush used to put it …   prudent, to contribute to any of the more virulently Donophobic of the MSM.
Because The Don does not like you should defy The Don.   To do that, might be to seriously annoy him.   Wouldn’t be prudent.

So -- what to do with those extra dollars, rattling around in your piggy bank, which otherwise would have been wasted on a bunch of liberal low-lifes? -- Perfect solution:  Donate big-time to The World of Doctor Justice  -- your one-stop shopping for monostichs, truthitude, penguin lore, and Trinitarian Minimalism!  All the best people are doing that this year!

Give generously --  Give often !

Unfortunately, unlike contributions to NPR or other barely-worthy causes, through some administrative glitch, cash envelopes to this site are not yet tax deductible.  But that hardly matters, since once The Don takes things in hand, there should be no more taxes anyway.   Anyway not for Winner people like you & me.

Direct all tithings to this site  care of

Gold bullion and Schweizer Franken only, please;  no bitcoins, dollars, or second-party food-stamps.

For further musings from this pen,
check here:

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Combray & Comintern

We earlier reported an uncanny intersection of the Côté de chez Swann and the Komintern, from the private files of the Riemann Conspiracy :

And, seemingly unrelated, Kafka’s little-known one-night sojourn in Room 1408  of the Hotel Lux:

Yet now there appears the missing link that connects them, from the pen of the “Mata Hari of the Rote Kapelle”:

Die Zeit, da man noch offen von ihm sprechen konnte, ihn zitieren,  sich mit ihm  auseinandersetzen durfte,
gehörte  schon seit Jahren  der Vergangenheit an,

als er   eines Nachts   vor meinem Couchbett stand,
und mich aus einem Alptraum  aufweckte.

» Schweißgebadet«,  wie es das geläufige Epitheton
zu lähmender Angst ist,
sah ich die gespenstische Erscheinung   im Halbdunkel:

vielmehr bloß den Kopf   mit der hohen gewölbten Stirn,
blitzenden Augengläsern  und einem spanischen Spitzbart --

das einzige Bild von Trotski

-- Ruth von Mayenburg, Hotel Lux (1978), p. 149

[For earlier antecedents of the Conspiracy in Mitteleuropa, try this: ]

Saturday, December 9, 2017

feu Johnny, feu la France

Rock ‘n’ Roll was overwhelmingly pioneered by Americans.  Later, a wave of Brits joined in, not merely equaling their Colonial brethren, but redefining the genre, and deepening it.   France, for all its many merits, never significantly contributed to the swell of this international current.


In August of 1966, having just turned 17, I left home to live for several months in France.  Thanks to the good offices of Academic Year Abroad, it was a cultural immersion, living with a French family, attending the theatre twice a week, classes at the Sorbonne, and so forth.  And since I had neither TV nor shortwave radio, a cultural abstraction, from all that was going on across the Atlantic.

Among pop songs I particularly enjoyed that year was “Je l’appelle canelle” -- not R & R, but more like a chanson de cabaret, where indeed the French pioneered.   Or a purely franco-française sotie “Gaston Gaston, y’a téléphon qui son, y a jamais person  qui y répond”, impossible to translate and difficult to categorize, save perhaps as a précis of the nasalization of French vowels. (Still funny and endearing, after all these years.  Closest genre-match: the Australian pop hit "Tie Me Kangaroo Down".)
Then one straight-up rock song by Michel Polnareff, “La Poupée qui fait Non”, in conception simple, and not quite like anything an American had done, and permanently listenable owing to the purity of his presentation.  (Appreciaton here.)  Nothing by Johnny Hallyday  particularly caught my ear.
Besides “La Poupée”, the real stand-out for me that year was “Dis-moi, fille sauvage”.  I bought the single, and at the end of the year, excitedly brought it home to show my brother, a taste of what-all had been going on in the City of Lights.  He listened, somewhat puzzled, and at the end, said simply:  “That’s Ruby Tuesday.”
Indeed, it was a pale Gallic knock-off of that Rolling Stones classic, which, sequestered in the Hexagon, I had not yet heard.


The indisputably most popular French star of R&R, Johnny Halliday, died this week, and his passing dominates their headlines.  He lived long, continued to perform, and aged well, as rock stars go.  Several of his Continental his were simply workmanlike knock-offs of American or UK work.  In the U.S., his death rated barely a mention; and when so, the focus has been on the fact of it being a huge story in France, rather than upon any actual songs an American is likely to remember, or even to have heard.

The crowds on the Champs Elysées today  were immense, the emotion genuine.  Mourning the departing, perhaps, not only of one French star, but of the age (do any recall it?) of French national greatness.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

*Another* Day that will Live in Infamy

Historians have long wondered, how, as late as December 1941, with a world war raging, and a litany of Japanese grievances against the U.S., the officers and sailors at our principal Pacific naval base  were all sitting around with their thumbs up their butts, the ships berthed cheek-by-jowl, an impossibly alluring target.
A secondary puzzle was, did FDR have any advance intel that such an attack was likely, but ignored it?   (Let us set aside the conspiracy-theory that he knew but let it happen.) If so, he would take a seat beside Stalin, who likewise had been remarkably lackadaisical with respect to Nazi Germany, which had been waging blitzkrieg, but from whom he felt safe, owing to the piece of paper known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.  Stalin actually did have warning, from Japan-based master-spy Richard Sorge, and quite precise warning at that:    “Der Krieg wird am 22. Juni beginnen, ” a message sent on 15 June.   This was ignored.

Toleja so ...

A lesser-known possibility is that Washington did receive warning of an impending sneak-attack, and indeed from Sorge’s circle.   A Comintern memoirist who had repeated contact with Sorge  writes:

Kurz vor ihrem Hochgehen in Tokio   gab die Gruppe “Ramsay” [i.e., Sorge] noch eine hochbedeutsame Meldung  an zwei Adressaten durch:  Moskau und Washingtron.  Gewiß gelangte sie auf auf den Schreibtisch Stalins, vermutlich nicht auf den Schreibtisch Präsident Roosevelts:  die Meldung, daß die Japaner  ohne Kriegserklärung  auf den wichtigsten Flottenstützpunkt der USA im Pazifik, Pearl Harbor, für Anfang Dezember  unter strengster Geheimhaltung  vorbereiterten.
-- Ruth von Mayenburg, Hotel Lux (1978), p. 144

She goes on to state that Sorge’s Yugoslav coworker Branko Vukelić tipped off an American friend as to the impending attack, to no avail.

In any event, the lesson of 7 December was not promptly learned, for on 8 December, in the Philippines, another branch of the service was likewise caught with its breeches down.   Let Professor Wiki tell it:

Even though tracked by radar and with three U.S. pursuit squadrons in the air, when Japanese bombers of the 11th Kōkūkantai attacked Clark Field at 12:40 pm, they achieved tactical surprise. Two squadrons of B-17s were dispersed on the ground. Most of the P-40s of the 20th PS were preparing to taxi and were struck by the first wave of 27 Japanese twin-engine Mitsubishi G3M "Nell" bombers; only four of the 20th PS P-40Bs managed to take off as the bombs were falling.

A second bomber attack (26 Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bombers) followed closely, then escorting Zero fighters strafed the field for 30 minutes, destroying 12 of the 17 American heavy bombers present and seriously damaging three others. Two damaged B-17s were made flyable and taken to Mindanao, where one was destroyed in a ground collision.

A near-simultaneous attack on the auxiliary field at Iba to the northwest by 54 "Betty" bombers was also successful: all but four of the 3rd Pursuit Squadron's P-40s, short on fuel and caught in their landing pattern, were destroyed No formal investigation took place regarding this failure as occurred in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. The Far East Air Force lost fully half its planes in the 45-minute attack, and was all but destroyed over the next few days, including a number of the surviving B-17s lost to takeoff crashes of other planes.

Thus, not only December seventh, but December eighth,  is draped in crape.