Saturday, December 29, 2007


Plants with eyes and shit: an animation. Some of it sort of reminded me of Jim Woodring.

Mushrooms kind of freak me out.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Belugas with Santa hats

This is awesome.

Merry Xmas :P

How to make chickens sleep

How to make chickens sleep.

I'm sort of skeptical about whether the chicken is actually "asleep." I suppose you could test it with electrode brain-wave-reading devices.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

i want a pet puffer fish and i will name it puffy.

i wonder what it is like to be a fish under the ocean down where there is no light. one of those very ugly lantern fishes with the glowy lures on their heads. and the vestigial males.

i want a pet moa but i don't know what i will name it. maybe "rainbow". i think that would be a good name for a moa.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

weird animal drawings

Okay, some links:

Patricia Piccinini.

Some cool photography of places in Russia.

This is really awesome. Strange Science, "Goof Gallery." A bunch of fucked up drawings done by naturalists in times and places where, you know, they were going by like third-hand description and had never seen, e.g., a leopard or a giraffe. Organized by category, like mammal, dinosaur/dragon, sea monsters, hominids, monsters, etc. Anyway, and there is some seriously weird shit, and it's really worth a look.

I like stuff from when science hadn't quite branched off from myth, philosophy, etc.

Oh, and one more thing: footage of a pride of lions attacking an (adult male?) elephant. I'm not sure whether they kill him at the end, the footage is kind of ambiguous. There is silly melodramatic narration by Jeremy Irons for the first 3 minutes, in which nothing much happens, so skip 3 minutes in. Unless you want to hear Jeremy Irons go on about color symbolism (grey... versus gold. But the true color underneath it red. Or something like that, as though any of that will somehow make lions attacking an elephant more impressive than it already is) in a hushed voice while a elephant aims a vague kick in the direction of a recumbent lion for three minutes.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What 2000 looks like from 1910

This is pretty cool. I'm sure I'd be able to get more out of it if I spoke French better. Ah well.

Somewhere in the maze of links they also have a photo of a watch from Revolutionary France, back when they tried to make everything be on a base ten system.

Also, "Balance."

Also, a maki. Carly, if you thought that sloth was creepy, you may not want to watch this.

Also, this guy (Zdzisław Beksiński) is cool.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


So I "misplaced" my wallet (and will hopefully find it somewhere in my apartment soon). I went to the store where I thought I might have left it, and asked if they had any wallets. They asked my name, and I told them.

They didn't have my wallet, but they did have a wallet belonging to someone named Saxithorn (first name). Or possibly Saxathorn? I asked how it was spelled, and the guy said it was "pretty much phonetic."

This may be the best name ever.

Also, a bit of overheard conversation I forgot to write down, but that has been on my mind recently:

A young woman, walking with two friends: What would you think of me if I was exactly the same, but I wore Uggs?

Alas, I didn't hear the response.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

production, theological quandaries

In the last couple of days I've printed out most of the stuff that I've written over the last year and a half. Here is a picture of me holding it up. It feels weird, and it does not feel like that much. I was told that the amount I've produced is "exceptionally productive," but I dunno. Maybe if it was all poetry, because if so that would probably come to 2 or 3 times the poems I have now; about half of it or a little more is fiction. That contains only one finished story though. Apparently I have about 30 pages of SDN, which is more than I thought.

Maybe I feel weird or like it's not as much as I'd like just because I want to produce so much more, I have all sorts of ideas. I guess I should be grateful for that; it's just hard to find the time/fortitude/inspiration/etc. to finish a lot of these things.

I'm reading this really cool book, "The History of Hell." A quote:
Intelligent, educated men, who, if they had been born centuries later, might have explained the ineffable or metaphorical in terms of quarks and black holes in space, instead turned their attention to such considerations as whether food consumed during a lifetime would be part of the body at the resurrection. (Yes, was the answer, but then interesting questions of cannibalism arose.)

googly breakfast

Kind of terrifying.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

suicide safety smocks

Okay, so this CNN article made me google "suicide safety smocks."

And I found something incredible.

My first question is about the models. Did they coax actual deranged inmates into modeling these garments, or did they go through headshots, et cetera, and tell the guy not to wash his hair for a couple of weeks?

Some quotes:
* Safety: All of the products from Ferguson Safety are specifically designed to keep problem inmates from hurting themselves and creating more headaches for you and your colleagues.
* Security: Ferguson’s Original Safety Smock is designed to allow placement and removal of restraints, handcuffs and shackles.
* Savings: Ferguson products last years longer and are considerably more tear resistant than cheap knock-offs -- saving you replacement costs, staff time, and lowering your liability by preventing wrongful death lawsuits
Good deal.

From the FAQ:
Q1: Can't they take the smock off?
A: Yes. It's not designed to prevent exhibitionism. It's for people who wish to be clothed, which is the majority of suicidal inmates. We have given some thought to an anti-exhibitionist garment but haven't come up with a safe design. Would you let us know if you have any ideas?
Uh. Yeah, I'm thinking most inmates in general would prefer to wear clothing, which evidently has not always been an option for the suicidal:
While working at the jail a bulky gown was used to clothe their suicidal inmates. She learned that the only way that facilities could get such a garment was to make their own, and so inmates on suicide watch were often kept completely naked.
That would improve my will to live real fast. Man, wouldn't it be cold? Did they get blankets, or were those potentially something you could hang yourself with? Did they keep the cells well-heated then? Man.
Q3: Are they indestructible?
A: Have you heard about the Wisconsin inmate who tore through walls with his bare hands to pull out the wiring? How about the Wyoming inmate who bent a solid steel door in half? These actual events indicate how imprudent it would be to call anything made of fabric "indestructible". Our blankets and smocks are made of the strongest wearable, washable fabric available.

Q7: May we examine one?
A: By all means. We're happy to send you a smock or blanket to examine with no obligation (except to send it back if you don't buy it, of course).
Should I order one? I am thinking the orange is snazzier-looking.

Holy shit.

Monday, December 03, 2007

No bears named Muhammed!

Heard about the school teacher in Sudan who was facing whipping and years in prison? The kids in her class were trying to come up with a name for a teddy bear, and they picked "Muhammed." Which, you know, is one of the most common names in Sudan, and one of the most common names worldwide, period. But naturally if you name a stuffed bear that, it is an "insult to religion," and apparently in Sudan "insulting religion" can land you in jail with a lacerated back.

But fortunately the people of Sudan recognize that this would be an injustice. Ten thousand people thronged the president's palace in protest, insisting that the teacher be executed by firing squad instead.

This is ludicrous. Clearly it's the children who should be executed by firing squad, as they are the ones who picked the name. I'm sure it would set a good example. It is never too early to execute people who "insult religion," and I'm glad these fine citizens have their priorities in order.

divorce is bad for the environment, say morons

This is retarded:

People have been talking about how to protect the environment and combat climate change, but divorce is an overlooked factor that needs to be considered," Liu said.

I may use this as an example in class next term. You know, of an argument that fails.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

ridiculous bento

Also, this is ridiculous.

And this is my 100th post! yay.

giant anteaters

Giant anteaters are so awesome.

"An adult anteater is capable of fending off or even killing its main predators, big cats such as the jaguar and the cougar"!

Needless to say they can also kill a person. They're so big they are sometimes mistaken for bears, and have slashy claws that can open a termite nest, which is pretty impressive because that is like being able to claw a hole in concrete. They are not to be fucked with:

"In April 2007, an anteater at the Florencio Varela zoo in Argentina attacked Melisa Casco, a zookeeper, mauling her abdomen and legs with its sharp front claws. The 19-year old zookeeper was admitted to the hospital in critical condition, and later succumbed to her injuries."

It has the best tail. I want to be an anteater when I grow up.


Great Pharyngula post.

Some highlights:

82 percent of Americans believe in God, according to a poll (I would have thought it was higher, actually, so an 18% being atheists or agnostics was pleasantly surprising).


Most of this 82 percent are not exactly the rational deistic sorts who deplore superstition and religious intolerance. You know, like the founding fathers. Almost all of this 82 percent believe in miracles, a literal fluffy angel land above and a literal firey demon land below, etc. 62 percent believe in the devil and hell.

And less than 50 percent believe that evolution happens.

Let's hope this turns around before we all die of antibiotic-resistant staph.

This sort of thing just makes me want to abandon the country like a rat from a burning building. Not, of course, that just getting out actually helps America, but I wouldn't be living in it.

Anyway, some more highlights:

Some dude:
I think there's a kind of a silliness to banging away at religious beliefs for their obvious falsehood, when in fact, if you're an evolutionist, the only way you would want to evaluate these beliefs is to examine what they cause people to do. Do they help people function in their communities? Then this might be an explanation for why they exist. It also makes it unnecessary to criticize these ideas, again and again, because they depart from factual reality. We should be more sophisticated in the way we evaluate beliefs.

In other words, these beliefs exist, so it's completely unnecessary to point out that they make no sense. I'm all for explicating the existence of religion in rational ways. I'm not sure I really see what the other option is, if one takes a rationalist, secular view of things. Ignoring it entirely, maybe?

My view is this: we humans are really good at finding patterns in things, at discerning cause-and-effect relationships, at creating models that explain the world. Sometimes we see patterns where they don't actually exist. There are lots of cognitive biases that keep us from discarding a view of the world, even if there is plenty of data to contradict it.

I don't think this is because cognitive biases are beneficial per se. I think this is because they are an outgrowth of other aspects of human cognition, perception, and self-perception. I can't see that continuing to adhere to cognitive biases confers any benefit which could not be countered by the benefits that come from not believing in bullshit, though if someone wants to argue the contrary i'd be happy to hear it--and it's silly to think that said biases must be helpful or they would not exist. It sort of seems like a version of the naturalistic fallacy to me, replacing "adaptive" with "moral" or something.

Is this guy even an evolutionary biologist? Sometimes traits keep existing, not because they're beneficial, but because they're not so deleterious that it makes the whole organism and/or species crash and burn. Sometimes these traits may be related to, or a more extreme version of, traits that are helpful. I immediately think of, for instance, sickle cell anemia. It sucks to have. No one would argue that it somehow confers great advantages upon the person with sickle cell anemia; it can be really painful and your life expectation is shortened. But if you are heterozygous for the sickle-cell genes, you're okay, and you've got some protection from malaria. Which is beneficial, if you live in a place with a lot of malaria.

Anyway, so apparently scientists should view religion as existing because of natural evolutionary causes. (As opposed to concluding that it exists by divine fiat?)
That doesn't mean it's not at odds with reality, and that we should nod and smile because in some vague, unsubstantiated way it might be "good for the community." I'm sure there are sociocultural reasons for the existence and popularity of Santa Claus mythology.

And a quote that makes me laugh, by PZ Myers:
If scientists won't stand up for accuracy, empiricism, and an honest evaluation of reality, who will? The priests? Wilson is plainly in denial.
Seriously. Apparently the polite and enlightened thing to do is either a) believe in religion, or, if you don't believe in religion, b) nod and smile and pretend that it's perfectly rational, or if not rational, that it's still just fantastic and is doing the world a lot of good, no doubt, and we'll just ignore all the insanity, wars, etc. that are directly because of people's religious beliefs. Those don't count. Because we all know that religion is a good thing, and it's saying anything to the contrary that is silly.

I remember reading a very interesting book, "God against the Gods," which was basically about the historical rise of monotheism and its eventual prominence over polytheism. And it's an extremely good book, and presents a convincing and devastating case to the effect that certain elements of monotheism, or at least this monotheism, are inherently conducive to intolerance.

Then the author ends the book by saying, "Uh, but despite all this, we mustn't forget all the good things that monotheism has brought to the world." Possibly because he actually thinks that, but likely to cover his ass. And of course he doesn't mention any of these good things. Because they're just so self-obvious and ineluctable that you don't need to, I guess, any more than you need to explain in what way, exactly, the sun makes it warm.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Earth sheltering

I am so living in a cob house with an extensive green roof, and no one can stop me. The icelanders have the right idea.

I am psyched. Now of course I need land. Land with lots of dirt on it.

This is not just for hippie reasons, it just seems like it would be so much cozier and right to live in the dirt. Like a hobbit. I think the neo-hippies will have to live in some kind of earth shelter, or perhaps an earthship. I can even see a transhumanist overlap there.

Monday, November 26, 2007

bouncy balls and synaesthesia

Yaaaaay, this game is fun.

Balls and physics. And it has science trivia. Reminds me of the nerdier version of that Rube Goldberg computer game I remember playing in grade school. If anyone can somehow hook me up with that I will be really happy.

Also, synaesthesia.

not like THOSE morons

"We don't subscribe to this idea of the 'God of gaps,' meaning if you can't explain something, then blame God," Whitmore told me before describing a method that hardly seemed more scientific. "Instead, we think: 'Here's what the Bible says. Now let's go to the rocks and see if we find the evidence for it.'"
Allow me to translate: "Pssh. We don't adhere to the ludicrous logical fallacies of certain creationist morons. We've got completely different logical fallacies! Their dark-age, backwards method, you see, is founded upon ignorantly dismissing all problems and uncertainties with their theories, whereas ours is all about cherry-picking the evidence, and then ignorantly dismissing all the evidence that doesn't fit! See, evidence people! It's what science is all about!"

Sunday, November 25, 2007

facial prosthetics

Oh my god oh my god oh my god

Snap-on face parts.

You heard me.

So, that's what the sinuses look like.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Hipster motifs

What is up with hipsters and the following:

--ice cream cones
--keys and locks

(See: " Panda vs Robot wallet," for an example of several conglomerated hipster motifs. Also has a dragon on it.)

--stuff like hearts, stars, and even rainbows I understand more, if only because those seem like more generic motifs, albeit twee ones.

Of course it's interesting why/how those might have become decorative motifs, through various processes of abstraction, symbology, cultural permeation, repeat, etc.

Reminds me a bit of Egyptian hieroglyphs. How much does the heart-shape, and what it represents--love, romance, innocence, five-year-old girls, tweeness--actually resemble the tough, hardworking muscle in our chests? There have been multiple transmutations of both the symbol and its meaning, since then, whenever Then is. Similarly, some abstruse Egyptian hieroglyph might once have indicated--what, a trachea and lungs? Some sort of hoeing tool?--but they have become their universally understood symbol for something else, in a way that seems to us random and inexplicable.

But hey, if ancient dead saurians can evoke the whimsy and imagination of childhood.

(I'm not sure I want to mention octopuses or dinosaurs, because although those are also hipster motifs, the interest and value of those two seem self-evidenced to me, because I am biased. But presumably the appeal of dinosaurs is the same for us all: that lots of kids were obsessed with dinosaurs in childhood, so there's that nostalgia flavor as well as the fact that dinosaurs are just cool.)

I would also like to complain about the limited palette of insect motifs available. There seem to be basically: butterflies, ladybugs, dragonflies, and bees. But usually stylized bees that look more like smiling, striped blimps, possibly because something actually bee-looking would be too scary.

I am okay with butterflies, and I like dragonflies a lot, and bees. It's just that they are all overused. I would like to see more ants, non-ladybug coleopterans, wasps, realistic bees, and mantises, for starters.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

word illusions

Word illusions. This is pretty cool. I want to figure out how to do ambigrams.

Littlewood's law

Littlewood's Law states that individuals can expect a miracle to happen to them at the rate of about one per month.

The law was framed by Cambridge University Professor J. E. Littlewood, and published in a collection of his work, A Mathematician's Miscellany; it seeks (among other things) to debunk one element of supposed supernatural phenomenology and is related to the more general Law of Truly Large Numbers, which states that with a sample size large enough, any outrageous thing is likely to happen.

I like this.

If only you could control what outrageous thing happened. A miracle quota, maybe. You could save up your smaller miracles for a larger one.



Hazard symbols. This is awesome. I have been thinking about sign symbols and aesthetics and etc. lately, having long been entertained by the unintentional hilariousness of cautionary signs.

Asemic writing. OMG.

DOT pictograms and "Helvetica man."

Red and Yellow Kills a Fellow.

(legal) street sign and traffic light collection.

"ing" implying diminuitive in English.

Street furniture.

Portugese pavement. Cool.

Links page of the sign museum.

We are such signy creatures. I am excited about this. Much more thought should go into this. Patterns, significance of specific concrete things to concepts, language, but so much more than spoken language; symbols as a basic aspect of human thought.

When I was little, I was really into the Smurfs. Often a smurf would read a letter out loud, and they would always say, e.g., "Signed, Papa Smurf."

So I thought that when writing a letter, you were actually supposed to write,


What do you call those little sign-off things? Yours truly, Sincerely, etc.?

Wikipedia's list of unusual deaths

Wikipedia list here. Some ones that stood out to me, organized by category. I was trying to have there be a cut after each section, but I couldn't figure out how to do it. Stupid tricksy blogger; I need something that works like lj-cut in livejournal. Ah well, you can still see what the categories are.

Lame Deaths:

1884: Allan Pinkerton, detective, died of gangrene resulting from having bitten his tongue after stumbling on the sidewalk.

1911: Jack Daniel, founder of the Tennessee whiskey distillery, died of blood poisoning six years after receiving a toe injury when he kicked his safe in anger at being unable to remember its combination.

1923: George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon became the first to die from the alleged King Tut's Curse after a mosquito bite on his face became seriously infected.

1941: Sherwood Anderson, writer, swallowed a toothpick at a party and then died of peritonitis.

1945: Anton Webern, the Austrian composer, was accidentally shot dead by an American Army soldier on 15 Sept. 1945, during the Allied occupation of Austria. Despite the curfew in effect, he stepped outside the house to enjoy a cigar without disturbing his sleeping grandchildren.

Ultra lame:

1947: The Collyer brothers, extreme cases of compulsive hoarders were found dead in their home in New York. The younger brother, Langley, died by falling victim to a booby trap he had set up, causing a mountain of objects, books, and newspapers to fall on him crushing him to death. His blind brother, Homer, who had depended on Langley for care, died of starvation some days later. Their bodies were recovered after massive efforts in removing many tons of debris from their home.

And The Lesson Is:

Hypatia was cool. Too bad she was killed by a Christian mob.

1277: Pope John XXI was killed in the collapse of his scientific laboratory.

Jesus is clearly not a fan of math or science.

1559: King Henry II of France was killed during a stunt knight's jousting match, when his helmet's soft golden grille gave way to a broken lancetip which pierced his eye and entered his brain.

Do not use golden armor, no matter how good it may look.

Kind of Cool Deaths:

1923: Frank Hayes, jockey, suffered a heart attack during a horse race. The horse, Sweet Kiss, went on to finish first, making Hayes the only deceased jockey to win a race.

1967: On Dec. 17 Harold Holt, Prime Minister of Australia, went for a swim at Cheviot Beach near Portsea, Victoria, Australia. He was never seen again. Rumors and theories include suicide, kidnapping by submarine, and shark attack; the true cause remains unknown.

Kidnapping by submarine. :D Awesome.

1975: On 24 March 1975 Alex Mitchell, a 50-year-old bricklayer from King's Lynn literally died laughing while watching an episode of The Goodies. According to his wife, who was a witness, Mitchell was unable to stop laughing while watching a sketch in the episode "Kung Fu Kapers" in which Tim Brooke-Taylor, dressed as a kilted Scotsman, used a set of bagpipes to defend himself from a psychopathic black pudding in a demonstration of the Lancashire martial art of Ecky-thump. After twenty-five minutes of continuous laughter Mitchell finally slumped on the sofa and expired from heart failure.


4 BC: Herod the Great suffered from fever, intense rashes, colon pains, foot drop, inflammation of the abdomen, a putrefaction of his genitals that produced worms, convulsions, and difficulty breathing before he finally gave up. Similar symptoms-- abdominal pains and worms-- accompanied the death of his grandson Herod Agrippa in 44 AD, after he had imprisoned St Peter. At various times, each of these deaths has been considered divine retribution.

Oh ew wtf. What would produce that, just rot in the genital area w/ maggots?

1983: A diver on the Byford Dolphin oil exploration rig was violently dismembered and pulled through a narrowly opened hatch when the decompression chamber was accidentally opened, causing explosive decompression.

Food and Drink:

1135: Henry I of England died after gorging on lampreys, his favourite food.

Are those eels, or is it different?

1478: George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence reportedly was executed by drowning in a barrel of Malmsey wine at his own request.

That's style. If you could choose your method of execution, what would it be?

1771: King of Sweden, Adolf Frederick, died of digestion problems on February 12, 1771 after having consumed a meal consisting of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring and champagne, which was topped off with 14 servings of his favourite dessert: semla served in a bowl of hot milk. [citation needed] He is thus remembered by Swedish schoolchildren as "the king who ate himself to death."

Just posting this because semla sound really delicious. Mmmm.


1687: Jean-Baptiste Lully, composer, died of a gangrenous abscess after piercing his foot with a staff while he was vigorously conducting a Te Deum, as it was customary at that time to conduct by banging a staff on the floor. The performance was to celebrate the king's recovery from an illness.

1978: Janet Parker, a British medical photographer, died of smallpox in 1978, ten months after the disease was eradicated in the wild, when a researcher at the laboratory Parker worked at accidentally released some virus into the air of the building. She is believed to be the last smallpox fatality in history.

1981: Carl McCunn, in March 1981, paid a bush pilot to drop him at a remote lake near the Coleen River in Alaska to photograph wildlife, but had not arranged for the pilot to pick him up again in August. Rather than starve, McCunn shot himself in the head. His body was found in February 1982.


270 BC: The poet and grammarian Philitas of Cos reportedly wasted away and died of insomnia while brooding about the Liar paradox.

69: The short-time Roman emperor Galba was killed after becoming extremely unpopular with both the Roman people and the Praetorian guard-- however, 120 different people claimed credit for having killed him. All of these names were recorded in a list and they all were later themselves executed by the emperor Vitellius.

260: According to an ancient account, Roman emperor Valerian, after being defeated in battle and captured by the Persians, was used as a footstool by the King Shapur I. After a long period of punishment and humiliation, he offered Shapur a huge ransom for his release. In reply, Shapur had the unfortunate emperor skinned alive and his skin stuffed with straw or dung and preserved as a trophy.

Holy shit. I can't decide whether to say that people took their conquests more seriously back then, or that they took them less seriously. I mean, using a guy as a footstool, then skinning him and keeping him as a trophy? These days it would be all speeches and platitudes.

869: Al-Jahiz, an Arab scholar from Basra and author of works on literature, history, biology, zoology, Mu'tazili philosophy and theology, and politico-religious polemics is reputed to have been killed by his own library when shelves fell over on him.

1753: Professor Georg Wilhelm Richmann, of Saint Petersburg, Russia, was struck and killed by a globe of ball lightning while observing a storm.

Man, ball lightning is fucking sweet.

2002: Richard Sumner, a British artist suffering from schizophrenia, disappeared and was not located again until three years later when his skeleton was discovered handcuffed to a tree in a remote forest in Wales. Police investigators determined the death was a suicide, with Sumner securing himself in the handcuffs and throwing the keys out of reach.


Bears in playground 2

More bears on a playground. This time they are pandas. They are like fat little torpedoes.

When I originally posted this it inadvertently said "penguins" instead of "pandas." Whatever that says about me.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Sapphire

Oh, and this story about a fist-sized sapphire worth 2 million dollars--or is it only good as a paperweight?--reminds me of Steinbeck's "The Pearl."

Bears, light, and sleep

In less disgusting news, bears on a playground! I wonder if they're siblings; four would be an unusually big litter, I think, and yet I don't know why else 4 bears of the same age would be playing together.

Makes me want to go to Alaska. During the summer. God, how many hours of darkness do they get at whatever the hell parallel that's at, and how do they stand it?

I've occasionally wondered if the ability to physically and/or psychologically tolerate longer and shorter days might be inherited. That is, people whose ancestors are Inuits are less likely to go fucking crazy from Seasonal Affective Disorder than people whose ancestors hail from the Amazon. But as far as I know, none of my ancestors are from below like, the 45th parallel, so who the hell knows. I need one of those ludicrously expensive sun-visor things, to further my delusion accurate perception of the true climate, which sees past the accident and through to the substance.

Maybe my ancestors were bats. It would explain my delayed sleep phase syndrome (not officially diagnosed; I should get my ass to the sleep clinic they have here), as well as my interest in insects.

Ugh, I got up at like 8 pm last night and stayed up until 8 am or so, got a few hours of sleep, then was off to class. Then, at like 5:30 or 6, I came home and slept as was wide fucking awake at 9:30 p.m. I just don't know what the hell to do. I feel awake and jittery, and yet... it's dark. I don't want to do anything.

Jenkem, or: The Kid Who Huffed Poop Gas

Oh my god, I can't believe this.

Some excerpts:
Jenkem (also jekem) is a narcotic recreational drug composed of noxious gas formed from fermented human sewage...The raw materials are plentiful and freely available in the form of fecal matter from the open sewers of Lusaka. This is then fermented in plastic bottles and the fumes are inhaled. John C. Zulu, director of the Ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development in Zambia informs in November 2007 that Jenkem usage is less common than glue-sniffing and, "Initially, they used to get it from the sewer, but they make it anywhere [...] They say it keeps them warm and makes them fearless."
So disgusting.
The effects of Jenkem inhalation last for around an hour and consist of auditory and visual hallucinations. A fifth-grader in Lusaka said of Jenkem to an IPS reporter... in 1995, "Old man, this is more potent than cannabis." In a BBC report four years later, a 16-year-old boy described his preference for jenkem over other inhalants, "With glue, I just hear voices in my head. But with Jenkem, I see visions. I see my mother who is dead and I forget about the problems in my life."

"Human excreta is scooped up from the edges of the sewer ponds in old cans and containers which are covered with a polyethylene bag and left to stew or ferment for a week." In the BBC 1999 article the process is described as, "...the dark brown sludge, gathering up fistfuls and stuffing it into small plastic bottles. They tap the bottles on the ground, taking care to leave enough room for methane to form at the top."

It has been noted that Jenkem usage will leave a taste of sewage in the mouth lasting for several days.
I'm gonna barf.

Anyway, apparently the American media picked up on this and people thought it was taking off here. An amazing cautionary bulletin, here.

Apparently though, it's not actually a problem here, though as far as I can tell it's a real phenomenon in Africa. The creator of the hoax comes clean:
Internet pundits were quick to jump on the [sheriff's] intelligence briefing, noting that the photos and descriptions of the high jenkem produced came from "Pickwick," a contributor to the Web site, who later admitted his "use" of jenkem was faked using flour, water, beer, and Nutella.

"I never inhaled any poop gas and I never got high off it," he wrote on Sept. 24. "I have deleted the pictures, hopefully no weirdo saved them to his computer. I just don't want people to ever recognize me as the kid who huffed poop gas."

Perhaps I shouldn't laugh, though. I mean, sure, "huffing poop gas," that's funny. But how awful would these kids' lives have to be, where a brief hallucinatory escape from reality is worth days of the lingering taste of raw sewage in your mouth?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Goat Gland Doctor and Mikhail Bulgakov

The Goat Gland Doctor: The Story of John R. Brinkley.
Brinkley, therefore, had all he needed to capitalize on the farmer's idea of goat-gland transplants: he was unethical, he had a wobbly knowledge of medicine, and he had witnessed the rambunctious behavior of goats. And he possessed one more thing: knowledge of experiments carried out in Europe beginning in the late 1800s.
These experiments must be the inspiration for the Mikhail Bulgakov novel, Heart of a Dog! I really need to reread that book. <3 And apparently there's a film of it, which I also need to see!
Brinkley went to work, implanting a bit of goat gonad in Stittsworth's testicle. Within weeks the farmer was back to thank the doctor for giving him back his libido. And when his wife gave birth to a boy, whom they appropriately named Billy, Stittsworth spread the word about Brinkley.
Haha. This guy is a little bit Dr. Nick, a little bit Dr. Moreau, and a little bit those-dudes-who-duped-the-emperor in The Emperor's New Clothes:
Brinkley was charging $750 per transplant, and he couldn't keep up with the demand. All men needed the Brinkley operation, he declared, but the procedure was most suited to the intelligent and least suited to the "stupid type." This, of course, ensured that few of his patients would admit that they had not benefited from the operation.
There were a few problems. Like when Brinkley decided to use angora goat testicles instead of those from the more common Toggenberg goat. Recipients of the angora testicles were decidedly unhappy—Brinkley himself noted that they reeked like a steamy barn in midsummer.
Presumably Toggenberg goat testicles don't make you reek?
The "doctor" then decided that the only way to get his license back was to become governor. So in 1930 he organized a massive write-in campaign, and he almost won.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Immense Japanese underground architecture


Apparently it's the flood-control system, not the sewer system, as the title indicated.

Snakes can fly.

See? The videos you can find are pretty cool.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

sorrow's springs

I did my little presentation on poetry and imperfection today. I hope L wasn't... offended or off-put. Because I just don't really know how I can engage with the idea of the perfect poem, or of what is beautiful to me--which was really the point, right?--without dealing w/ imperfection, temporariness, ephemerality, etc.

I felt like crying while reading the poems (not mine, 2 auden and 1 roethke. maybe I will post them) and pretty much couldn't even get thru the last line of my paper. then i went into my office and cried, for what (i agree with hopkins) is really the best and only reason: that everything i love and everything that is beautiful will pass away.

sorrow's springs are the same--yes. Loss is loss, over and over again, in different forms. I don't know about it being myself I mourn for--because I am very concerned over my own mortality, of course. And if I could live for a million years that would take a lot of the sting out of losing things, because I'd like to see what would happen. But I don't know, I think I could die in more peace knowing or believing that the things I loved would persist after me; that might be enough of a comfort.

Thinking of that James Dickey poem... while the notion of ceasing to exist, being unable to perceive anything, and moreover, unaware that you are unable to perceive anything--the idea of say, actually being killed and eaten by a wild animal holds no terror. I think I would be comfortable with going like that, actually. Not literally comfortable, because being chewed up is no doubt painful. But I could accept my end if it was at the hands of something beautiful that I respected, that overpowered me, and that I could help to go on.

Because I think of "immortality," persistence w.r.t. art--I have been terribly ambitious. I have burned to add something huge and lasting to stories, literature, etc. (I don't know how ambitious I am now, because I guess I feel like I have to do this, and will do this, regardless of the "rewards"). But I think I'd be okay with people not knowing it was *me,* or thinking someone else had done it, so long as something I created could persist.

Maybe this is just a translation of the reproductive urge, which thankfully I don't feel in a literal sense, or maybe, too, it's something less selfish--a desire to give something, a thing that will live and give back and exist outside yourself, for others besides yourself--that your life does not end when your life does, that you can affect things in a positive way beyond the span of your life.

Anyway, shit, I basically pulled a Margaret. Story of my childhood, if not my whole life. I meant the "sensitive poet" thing facetiously, but...shit, man.

Lyre bird

Awesome bird.

It woos by imitating as many sounds as possible. Usually this is other bird calls, but it can also imitate a camera shutter and a chainsaw, really well!

Also, I need the really expensive one that lights up a whole room.

Cladogram of extant sauria

Huh, I did not realize the relationships were like that, with crocodiles being much more closely related to birds than they are to say, lizards or snakes. I guess the layman categorization of "reptile" is really pretty iffy :)

Yep. Birds are sort of arbitrarily scooped out, because uh, they're birds, dammit, not reptiles!

This chart is really cool. Look at how us mammals branch off from our fellow vertebrates after amphibians but BEFORE reptiles and birds! We are strange creatures.

Eurypterids, P-T extinction

Also, yay! I think it's a eurypterid. I want to ride around on one at the bottom of the sea. It could be my best friend. What should I name it?

Let's see what wikipedia says.

They could be up to 2 meters long!

Only the earlier ones were marine, so most lived in brackish or fresh water. Which means we could frolic in rivers and ponds.

A eurypterid is the state fossil of New York! I wonder if they have been found in Washington, or Michigan.
Although many eurypterids had legs too tiny to do more than allow them to crawl over the sea bottom, a number of forms had large stout legs, and were clearly capable of terrestrial locomotion (like land crabs today)...Some species may have been amphibious, emerging onto land for at least part of their life cycle. They may have been capable of breathing both in water and in air.
So we could frolic on land too!

They went extinct during the "Great Dying," i.e. the Permian-Triassic mass extinction, which as far as we know was the most drastic mass extinction that has ever happened on Earth, with up to 96 percent of marine species and 70 percent of terrestrial species dying, and needless to say many higher taxa being totally wiped out.

Other cool animals that bit the dust:
*Blastoids, which I have always liked. Well, "always" since I found out they existed. Warning: the image is huge for some reason.
*Trilobites (which were a whole class. Their extinction would be equivalent to all insects dying, or all crustaceans.)
*Acanthodians, and placoderms! I love placoderms. There is a cool on in the Ruthven natural history museum.
The Permian was a time of great diversity for insects and other invertebrates, and the largest insects ever to have lived existed during this era. The end-Permian is the only known mass extinction of insects.

Huh, somehow I didn't realize that it was that mass extinction which killed all those animals I liked off. Oh wait, that's because it DIDN'T. Other info says that the placoderms went extinct by the end of the Devonian. Tsk, Wikipedia.

But still, worst mass extinction ever, besides the one I'm living in :( It is my goal to one day write (more) about the Holocene mass extinction.

Okay, now I'm sad/mad.

But anyway, what should I name my imaginary pet Eurypterid? I like "Sherlock."
Weird fortune cookie fortunes.

I want to write fortunes for fortune cookies now. I wonder if that is a lucrative career.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I <3 John Donne.

I should read this after putting it into a format that doesn't hurt my eyes. And this.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Heaven of Animals

The Business of Death.

When I die I would like my body to be consumed by wild animals. I'm not sure how legally possible this is. The second most preferred option would be to be buried in a nice natural area in a thoroughly biodegradable manner.

Speaking of being consumed by wild animals, here's a James Dickey poem on the subject, The Heaven of Animals, courtesy of Carly's blog (hi Carly).

Sticker Shock, Shopping Penguin(!!!), Food 2.0

Okay, first to unload these links:

Sticker Shock. My favorites:

Sticker in Earth Science: "You are free to exercise your First Amendment rights in this class and to identify all stratigraphic layers as being 6,000 years old. We are free to flunk you."

Sticker in Collegiate Chemistry: "Electrons. They're like little tiny ball bearings that fly around the atomic nucleus like planets orbit the sun. Except that they're actually waves. Only what they really are are probability waves. But they do make your MP3 player run, seriously."

Sticker in Creationism for Dummies: "Religious belief rests on a foundation of faith. Seeking empirical evidence for support of one's faith-based beliefs therefore could be considered pointless. Or even blasphemous."
Especially the last one. I love it (read: don't love it) when religious fundamentalists try to have it both ways. Sometimes, science and empirical evidence really does validate every claim made by their 4,000 year old book written by nomadic near-eastern shepherds. Except when it doesn't, in which case science is full of shit anyway, as well as probably evil, and all we need to know is the words in the 4,000 year old book written by nomadic near-eastern shepherds.

The next thing is the most ridiculously adorable thing ever, and apparently it's real. As the opening says, "Meet Lala, a fourteen-year-old king penguin, who likes nothing more than wearing his backpack [shaped like a fucking penguin!!!] and going food-shopping for his family in Japan!" Watch him wobble down the road and load up with fish from the fish store! He lives in a refrigerated room!

Finally, Food 2.0: Chefs as Chemists.

I don't know how/why one would cook with lasers and liquid nitrogen, but... well, let's just say if I had a ludicrous amount of disposable income, I would like to buy large quantities of liquid nitrogen and play with it.

Also, apparently xanthan gum is dried slime, which was fermented by bacteria. I never knew that.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Art vs. Craft

I think I respect craft more than art. I guess to me craft = art + utility, and I suppose there are class connotations as well. Like "art," being "quite useless," is more of an upper-class thing, whereas craft is often denigrated as being inferior to "art." I will have to think about this more though. And look up definitions of art vs. craft. I still need to get myself that dictionary.

Oh, and I should reread that Oscar Wilde essay again. And reread Dorian Gray because it's so awesome. Oh man I really wish he'd written more novels.

Bathtime in Clerkenwell

I don't understand what's going on here, but I think I like it.

I may be biased by the fact that it's full of birds.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007



The stone money thing, and the inter-village caste shifts with imposed dietary taboos is interesting to me.

I want to lie shipwrecked and comatose

lasjlskfjaslkfjalsfjk I just want to move to the tropics. Fuck this. I will eat mangoes and write. Goldfish shoals nibbling at my toes. Fun fun fun in the sun sun sun. alksjflaskjflasjflkj I hate winter. I don't mind cold but I really really mind the short days. And it is




It will not even be fucking WINTER for like another 6 weeks.

I really need to find some snow-related sports to do so that I don't resent winter so hard I kill myself/flip out and quit the program and move to Costa Rica.

I think I need that seasonal denial party NOW, and every day of my life for the next 5 months. Maybe I will just go into seasonal denial mode right now.

It is fucking summer. It might not "look" like that or "feel" like that, but that is just an optical illusion. I am going to drink daiquiris and buy some shorts and make that mango recipe thing before the fruit flies have too much more fun with the mangoes. And wear sunglasses because it is SO BRIGHT OUTSIDE and glance with disdain upon anyone who looks at me funny for it, because they are clearly under the DELUSIONAL impression that it is not sunglasses weather.

La la la, flowers and sunshine everywhere. I will go to the store and rig up a shitload of lights in my apartment and ultraviolet myself like a hothouse plant.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Scary Basement

I think "Scary Basement" would be a good title for a book of poems, or maybe a TV show.

Also, "smew" is a good word.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Wikipedia tells me lots of things about spitting. I learned, from the article on expectorants, that I probably shouldn't bother with cough syrup, and that I definitely shouldn't combine antihistamines with expectorants.

Dammit, I want some decongestants, though. I'm not sure if I should use them or not. I feel the great desire to hack stuff up out of my lungs, but can't quite. I should probably just stop it, drink plenty, and rest.

"In London, transport workers who deal with the public have recently been given equipment to collect saliva when they are spat upon by irate passengers. The police can then analyse the DNA of the offender."

I wonder if they send them a ticket or something.

"Social attitudes towards spitting have changed greatly in western Europe since the Middle Ages. Then, frequent spitting was part of everyday life, and at all levels of society, it was thought ill-mannered to suck back saliva to avoid spitting."

Suck back saliva? Is that the same as swallowing your spit? Were you expected to spit constantly, every time your mouth filled up?

No wonder there were plagues.

That, and people must have gotten dehydrated way more easily.

This sentence, in isolation (actually, even in context) is great:

"Many people in the world spit for different reasons."

"Kudu dung spitting (Bokdrol Spoeg in Afrikaans) is a sport in some parts of Africa. In the competition small, hard pellets of dung from the Kudu (a type of Antelope) are spat, with the furthest distance reached being the winner.

Kudu dung spitting is popular enough to have an annual world championship competition, with the formal sport beginning in 1994. Unlike many similar sports, the distance is measured from the marker to the place the dung pellet comes to rest, rather than where it initially hit the ground."

"Spitting (or "gobbing") was a common practise among English punks in the 1970's. When the punk bands played live, it was seen as part of the punk ritual to spit on them."

That is disgusting.

LOL. I don't know why I find gleeking so amusing. Maybe it's the name. I cannot do it on command.

Children's Street Culture.

Oh, awesome: "Phlegm may be a carrier of larvae of intestinal parasites."

Saturday, November 03, 2007

moonwalking bird, hagfish scones

Okay, I think wtf_nature is my new favorite livejournal community.

Check out this video of an amazing bird doing the fucking moonwalk. This bird has insane moves. I really don't understand how he glides backwards on the branch like that.

God, am I going to need a "dancing birds" tag?

Oh, and holy shit: Scones made with hagfish slime.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Halloween costumes

Oscar the Dismayed Cake
To digress further (from here), I was once Bunnicula for Halloween at about that age (7). I had bunny ears and a tail, and vampire fangs. And a long, thin parsnip with a couple of holes in it (meant to resemble a drained carrot).

That was actually a pretty sweet Halloween costume. I was going to be Medusa this year but instead I was nothing, because I was sick.

I always had a penchant for obscure and sometimes difficult-or-impossible-to-make Halloween costumes. Like once I wanted to be that venus fly trap thing that comes out of the pipe in Super Mario Brothers and spits fireballs at you.

So my mother, bless her, stayed up late sewing this costume for me.

Some people actually got that I was a plant, and assumed I was "Lizzie" from Little Shop of Horrors. I think everyone else thought I was a crappy Oscar the Grouch. (If it was meant to be Oscar, it would have been the worst fucking Oscar the Grouch ever, really.)

I think I had a tassel or a fire-colored koosh ball on a string that I was going to throw out my mouth-opening as the "fireball."

I think that was the most unusual Halloween costume of mine that actually came into being, albeit in a crude form. None of that witch or princess crap.

Last year I was the pallid bust of Pallas. One person at the party actually got it, thankfully. But the raven kept falling off my shoulder, so I set him aside for the night. Well-executed, I think that costume could be awesome, but of course it was crude and last-minute, so it consisted mostly of said raven, a bedsheet, and a laurel-crown made of pipecleaners.

digression, qualms about SDN

Ok, yesterday I attended a really interesting lecture by Steven Millhauser (why must there be 2 legitimate ways of spelling Steven/Stephen? One is sure to get it wrong. What are other names like that? The only other one I can think of now is Eric/Erik.), which reminded me of a story idea I had in a hypnogogic/hypnopompic state (I always get those confused as well), and also made me think I had to really re-evaluate the terms of my novel or its overall aesthetics or something.

So at the reception I got to talk to him about this and explain my idea, and his advice was very helpful, as were the suggestions of others in the conversation... so I now have a few books to possibly look at. I think the most important things might be:

a) keeping the momentum of the story, the continual narrative thrust that the SDC creates (it does give it a pretty specific structure, fortunately, with a ramping-up of stakes, a beginning and end, etc.)

b) making the digressions seem ultimately "relevant," ultimately seeming to cohere, as opposed to just "now let me go off on a tangent."

Been thinking about the BM character and what he might be. I feel like he's not an only child, but can't decide what the sister (because it would be a younger sister) ought to be like.

Though I was feeling sick I still ended up writing like 1500 words yesterday. I think I'm in the mid-8000s, which is like 25 doublespaced MS word pages or so. A bunch of that is the brainstorming/overall gist of where I want things to go rather than specific portions that would end up in the novel itself. But it's all good.

Oh, another thing I'm worried about is... it's going to start off small and pastoral and end up big and crazy. And I guess I'm afraid that the tone would morph too much throughout the novel. Not that that's a bad thing per se, but like, I'm afraid that the readers who would be into the later parts of the book might not be into the earlier parts, and vice versa, or at least that the terms would have changed. Hm. I think maybe I can keep the H and M story as a tone-and-content-consistent thing throughout? I dunno. I just feel like the people who will be into alien fashion protocol and transhumanist intrigues might not be the same people who are also interested in, say, the Tuffy story or the uh, more normal domestic fiction. And vice versa.

But I could argue that that's the idea, that many tones/genres/forms can all be interconnected, blah blah blah. There's a problem with that, though. You CAN argue in favor of all sorts of shit on a theoretical-aesthetic level, but that's pretty meaningless if it's not a solid work of art, which coheres intuitively to the reader.

Television Tropes and Idioms

Nightmare Fuel. I think this will be a useful wiki.

And here's one video, Balloon Land, which was linked off it. It's way fucked, and the pincushion man is INCREDIBLY PHALLIC. His body resembles a safety pin around which is a pincushion. And the safety pin is unhooked, so you've got this big quivering metal erection coming up out of his lower abdomen. Which, at one point, he thrusts at a couple of characters in an attempt to pop them.

The first site reminded me of one of my own "nightmare fuel" moments, which was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which I saw in the theater when I was about... seven? I remember myself as being seven, at least. The part where the bad guy dips the shoe in the uh, "dip," and he melts and dissolves. That disturbed me so much that we left the theater.

I always have had a sympathy for inanimate objects. Admittedly, this one was anthropomorphized, with eyes and movement and emotions and such. But I also remember crying over a leaf. A crushed leaf. A fictional crushed leaf. (Margaret, eat your heart out.) It was in Howliday Inn, part of the Bunnicula series. A rambunctious cat plays with a leaf and "crushes it to powder" or something, and I cried, thinking about that poor leaf.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Cloud Appreciation Society

Hehe, there's a Cloud Appreciation Society.

From their manifesto:

WE BELIEVE that clouds are unjustly maligned
and that life would be immeasurably poorer without them.

We think that they are Nature’s poetry,
and the most egalitarian of her displays, since
everyone can have a fantastic view of them.

We pledge to fight ‘blue-sky thinking’ wherever we find it.
Life would be dull if we had to look up at
cloudless monotony day after day.

We seek to remind people that clouds are expressions of the
atmosphere’s moods, and can be read like those of
a person’s countenance.

Clouds are so commonplace that their beauty is often overlooked.
They are for dreamers and their contemplation benefits the soul.
Indeed, all who consider the shapes they see in them will save
on psychoanalysis bills.

There's a cloud-shaped thing in between these manifesto-points, and when I copy and paste it it just says "cloud." And I am confused and want to know how to make it a cloud shape.

Also, this puts things in perspective.

Monday, October 29, 2007

neo-hippie tangent

Anyway, read the neo-hippie article, because it's lol. And obviously written by hippies. Like, the word "hippie" is occasionally misspelled.

Mildly-amusing quote:

With the death of the electric car, the reeling in of social freedoms and the various attempts to ban LGBT relationships; coupled with the growing religious impact within the government, the neo-hippie was born.

Electric cars :D Dig the inappropriate use of the semicolon. But correct punctuation is probably just a way for The Man to keep people down, so hey.

Another quote:

In holding to the past, neo-hippies remain pure-earth. [whatever the fuck that is. I'm skeptical about the degree to which someone living in an industrialized society can completely avoid attributing to non-biodegradable waste products.] They forgo many comforts to protect and save the planet for future generations. They live waste-free; recycling, reusing, and composting most, if not all of their discarded materials. They hold the belief that all that has been made can be unmade.

I'm a level five vegan; I don't eat anything that casts a shadow.

In the United States, some hippies refer to themselves as "Rainbows," a name derived from their tie-dyed T-shirts, and for some, from their participation in the hippie group, "Rainbow Family of Living Light".

This may just be proof of my cynicism, but, ahaha. I don't think I could be part of a rainbow family of living light, because that would make me gag.

Anyway, I am SO having neo-hippies in my novel. Maybe I can get travel grant money to go to Eugene or something. Or go to Asheville with K, as apparently that is also a hippie center!

And I'm having transhumanists. LOL, transhumanism.

the form that dare not speak its name

I wrote some more on my retarded novel. It's kind of "bad" right now for the most part, but I basically have the plot arc, and after that's done, it's time for shitloads of digression. I think I will have a manifesto somewhere in the middle. What other random things should I include? Perhaps recipes. I want it to be fractacular (fractal-like and spectacular. Okay, maybe it's not actually that fractal-like, since I don't really comprehend fractals, but fractals are so cool.)

And apparently fractals appear on "neo-hippie" shirts. I'm not sure what a "neo-hippie" is, although I will soon find out thanks to Wikipedia, but I'm pretty sure they have to make an appearance in my novel.

Oh god, why didn't I think of that before? The connection is so obvious!!!

Oh, and there's my other "novel" which in my head has characters, a plot, complex interpersonal relationships, hilarity, etc., but in practice pretty much all I've written is snippets of inane dialogue that might be amusing to no one but me.

Anyway, it amuses me, and that's what's important, right? My goal is 2,000 words a day on it, which will give me over 50,000 words in a month, which is... I dunno. But I think that's "novel length." That ought to be enough to get across the gist of the plot.

I sat next to B today at a reading, and she had some poetry. She secretly writes poetry. I secretly write fiction. Okay, it's not so "secret," but bah, we get shunted into our little genres.

The reading was great. But at the end the guy read a poem (also great) which he refused to call a poem. It was a "verbal thingamajig" or something. Ahhh, the form that dare not speak its name!

I also came up with a horrible/brilliant opening title for a book:

It was the best of mimes, it was the worst of mimes.

If you steal this and write a novel let me know.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


I was pretty grumpy today and still sort of am. I went to a bubble tea place and ended up working on this story I'd totally forgotten about. I about doubled the word count. Go me. I think I could finish it in a month, yeah? Why not. It's silly and I like it. How many words of prose are there per page, on average?

It starts out normal and pastoral and gradually gets crazy.

Waterhobo: Ever diligent, ever watching.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hopkins and prosody

I did a presentation for my prosody class on Hopkins and I think that went well; I scanned it first according to his own prosody, or at least I tried to, and then according to how I thought it ought to be scanned. I'm down with the idea of feet of 1, 2, 3, or 4 syllables, but it just does not make sense to me to always break the feet so that the stressed syllable is first in the foot. He apparently chose that in part because music is scored that way, but I don't think it accurately represents language, and you have to do some weird stuff to even scan it like that.

I struggle with how to break feet. My way makes sense to *me,* but I'm not sure how much of a priority pauses and clause-breaks and stuff are, in traditional scansion, and I do end up with some sort of weird feet that are based more on old Latin quantitative stuff than they are on English, which is accentual.

Maybe we need something new, for English. The 2 and 3 syllable, 1 stress per foot thing is not quite cutting it for me. I will have to work this out well though and make sure it's really better than traditional scansion, and not confusing or overly complex. I am still a noob now, though. A young upstart in the wide, controversial world of scansion. :P

I also read the poem, of course (The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo; such a wonderful poem). K said it was the best reading of Hopkins he'd ever heard. So that was very flattering of course. He said if there was a way to make a living reading Hopkins, I should do it.

Is there a way? Because if so I totally would (originally typed "wood").

I am thinking of trying to make street-money off of poetry. Writing poems from my little table for a dollar a line, or reciting Hopkins poems for 50 cents until my voice wears out or something. I could hand out a sheet so people could follow along, and then they could keep the sheet, so they'd feel like they were getting something besides just my reading.

I did the typical "So let's scan the poem, guys!" thing, and everyone was like "Uhhh," and shook their heads no. Hopkins' prosody isn't *that* scary, is it? I mean, sure, there are a lot of stresses. Just make them one syllable feet like he did :D Or make them spondees next to regular feet.

I just read some Hopkins poems I hadn't before. Some really amazing lines, and also a good deal of "not really sure what you're talking about there." Knowing that would help (out loud) reading. And comprehension/enjoyment, obviously.

I did for the first time wish that his poems weren't all so Christian. Not just Christian, because plenty of other poems/poets were, but like... it seems like the 2nd stanza of like every poem sort of diverges off onto God, and it seems overall relatively uniform in form and content in that respect. Not that he didn't struggle with his own religious beliefs, and not that his beliefs/portrayal of God and so on weren't nuanced at all, but I guess I wonder about the range of thoughts and sentiments and ideas and implications that he *could* have expressed, or rather, perhaps, that a different poet with such remarkable skills could have expressed. He is so unique that it's almost a bit hard for me to separate the poet as an idea-maker from the poet as a language-user, here. But my god, that could be breathtaking.

He is so amazing, all the same. Oh Gerard. *sigh*

Soaring sighs deliver, etc. But to his poetry, rather than to God--sorry GMH.

Oh, I also felt a bit of Auden's whole problem with the beautiful poetic untruth. Like Hopkins' work can affect me emotionally and I can feel/imagine a bit of those religious sentiments, even though I don't actually believe them. So yeah, there's an example of that for me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Khomeini's "Little Green Book"

This is some crazy shit and I think I'm going to write about it.

"What songbirds, dancing, and knot-tying can tell us about why we speak."

this article is really fascinating and i need to write more about it and also read that book "the singing neanderthal." but i am going to bed now.

It reminds me of that south american civilization where they have those rope-things that some people think are recordings of language.

evo. psych and the 6 most terrifying foods in the world

Ahaha: Belief in Evolutionary Psychology May Be Hardwired, Study Says. (It's fake, of course. And I'm not saying there's nothing whatsoever to evolutionary psychology, but there IS the unfortunate tendency, as there always is every time we try to study our own selves scientifically, for us to project our own little beliefs and desires about humanity onto things. Hence a lot of really iffy retarded crap, especially gender-related. I expect the people coming up with it are not great scientists, or at least they aren't playing great scientists at the time.)

Also: The 6 Most Terrifying Foods in the World.

The escamoles doesn't sound that bad to me, maybe because i've long been tempted by insectophagy. If anything, it just seems like an awful lot of effort to collect the eggs. Not optimal.

The worst to me is casu marzu. D: And I also feel bad for the boiled-alive duck fetuses. Gross is one thing but gross + cruel is another entirely. I wonder how humane it is to freeze or refrigerate bird eggs. Freezing is a very humane method of euthanasia for arthropods, but I seem to recall that this is not the case for, say, reptiles. And birds aren't even cold-blooded. So it's probably a no-go.

I totally buy Harris's arguments in Good to Eat, but I swear that some things must just be eccentricity. Due to their lack of optimality under optimal foraging theory. But perhaps there are bizarre nutritional benefits to some of these more obscure things, and/or socioeconomic status things. Like, so-and-so is so posh, they can afford the baby mouse wine. Which is clearly not a very economical use of either protein or alcohol. The food equivalent of really really long sleeves, or shoes with the curly bits at the toes. Why? Because we can, and the poor plebes can't.

Anyway, I have heard of *way* more horrifying foods than these. Like ones involving cruelty to animals. I hope a lot of those are apocryphal, or at least not routine culinary practices.

Links fixed and post edited 10/25.

Monday, October 22, 2007

My new favorite site: FFFFOUND!

I wish I could register :(

Friday, October 12, 2007

Cockatoo dancing

to the Backstreet Boys. He does some really high kicks, and he sort of headbangs at the end. This bird kicks ass. His crest looks like some kind of lettuce I don't know the name of.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Oh, and also, apparently ostriches are big enough to ride on. Mind blown, world rocked, desire to get ostriches increased even more. And I've always liked bison, too. I have to visit Bisonlandia.

finding money in coat pockets

Met with my professor today and showed her some random poems that I sort of dug up off my hard drive, as the idea was to show her stuff that we wouldn't be workshopping. And she was incredibly positive and encouraging, to the point of suggesting only very minor revisions and talking about publication o_o

So that was pretty good for the self esteem.

And then I was looking back thru my notebook today and found some other stuff I'd forgotten about. Like she said, it's like finding money in the pocket of your old coat or something. Or rediscovering an item of clothing in your closet that maybe you didn't like much before, or that didn't work before, but that is now awesome. It's somehow better, in ways, than getting something new, because there's both the novelty and the rediscovery/recovery.

Read Gombrowicz these last couple of days, who is awesome. Must find more.

Oh, and last night I was reading Auden--I have this book, some selected poems or other thing, which is basically his non-revised versions of earlier poems. God, they are so good, and I pretty much do prefer them to the revised ones. What is it about young voices when they're still a bit raw? Not so smoothed over. Sleater-Kinney, The Clash, Wordsworth, and Auden too. Of course he like retroactively forced this weird moral poetics back on himself. Don't know much about that... I can kind of see where he's coming from, and YET. Beauty is truth. That's what he was afraid of, I think, the lie that seems true because it is so beautiful. And what with propaganda one does have reason to fear that, and in many ways I do admire the integrity of his position. And yet. I'm a sucker for beauty.

I dunno, reading my students' poems, realizing that I'm really a sucker for sound. If it's sounding good to me I'm not so worried about what it means or whether the meaning is clear, or the image. And thinking, too, that I am grooving on and accepting weirder images/combos/associations than I might have at some earlier point. I don't know why that would be. But loosening up, grooving on the weird.

But anyway, I am reappreciating Auden and also his really interesting line breaks and enjambment. I think he'd be a really good person to study for that. Oh Auden <3

People keep asking me who I read and I sort of feel like I'm going back over and over the same dead white guys that I've already loved for years, and that makes me feel ignorant and narrow and insufficient. And yet I feel that I'm reappreciating them in new ways and on deeper levels, soooo.

And I have good suggestions for people to look at next. My professor lent me what I think will be an amazing book, by a poet who seems to sort of have my sensibility in some ways. Language has to sound/feel good! Otherwise you may as well be wearing a shirt with no pants. (Okay, that is probably not a very apt metaphor). But in any case, the sounds will carry you when the meaning and images aren't doing their full work, and vice versa. You can't just rely on the richness of *imagery.* Phanopoeia + melopoeia.

I'm thinking a bunch about logopoeia too, but I have this suspicion that my mental idea of what logopoeia is is a lot different from Pound's, and also that mine might be more complex or specified. But I think my mental version of logopoeia is pretty cool, so...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

*looks at some of her writing*

I rule.

Oh, did I mention I really want an ostrich? Because I know now that I want one. One day! *sigh* Ostrich. I wish they were big enough to ride on.

Also, lmao.
Did I mention I'm really into writing ghazals now? Cuz I am.

I realized that I want poetry criticism to reduplicate or recapitulate in some way the experience of the poem.

I am digging up some older stuff I'd forgotten about, and it's pretty good. Some of it I'm not sure what to do with, and/or if fully fleshed out it could be pretty long.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Oh, and I feel like I've recently experienced a sort of state-change with regards to my appreciation for or attention to sound, in my own poetry and others', and just in language generally. I think it's due to the prosody class. So I'm happy about that. It's like another electron bumping something up to the next valence level. Or something. Because god I don't know shit about chemistry but I was trying to use that metaphor with someone last night and they didn't know what I was talking about, so at least I know about valence levels. "Level" is probably not the right word here. Nor is "about," at it implies a bit more of a grasp than I have. "Of," maybe.

And apparently there are cool other meanings of valence, like in linguistics and psychology.

OMG, that's where "ambivalence" comes from! Holy shit, I never realized that.

Awesome seagull

Although eating chips isn't healthy, so I have mixed feelings about this.

My reading was yesterday. It seems to have gone over really well. And now back to reality and comparative un-glamour. Wait, I suppose the reading was reality too. Now at least I don't have to worry about what I'm going to read.

People seem to have liked the dog one and the geese one especially.

I made some insecure comments here but deleted them.

I have to revise a poem so I can send it to a visiting poet.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Looking for old poems I'd forgotten about as things to possibly read (I have a reading Friday). Went older than I'd planned, to December 2002.

Dear god I couldn't line break for shit.

That and all the other things that jumped out at me.

Man, I'm a way better poet now. That's comforting, at least, that I've improved that much. Makes me wonder, though, how bad I'll find my current poetry in a few years :P

Monday, September 17, 2007

Carrots weren't always orange.

My first memory involving a carrot--or at least a vivid one at a young age--is me pulling up a thin little carrot from our garden and feeding it to my rabbit, Fuzzy, through the bars. And she bit me.

Then we moved and gave her to Kelsey Creek Farm. (This is not a euphemism, she actually did go to live at a farm and I saw her later).

"Carrots were originally purple or red, with a thin root. The species did not turn orange until the 1500's when Dutch agricultural scientists and growers used a mutant yellow carrot seed from North Africa to develop a carrot in the colour of the House of Orange, the Dutch Royal Family. In an attempt to "nationalize" the country's favourite vegetable they began experiments on improving the pale yellow versions by cross breeding them with red varieties. These varieties contain beta carotene to produce orange-coloured roots."

"Carrots were recognised as one of the plants in the garden of the Egyptian king Merodach-Baladan in the eighth century B.C. It was placed amongst the aromatic herbs along with fennel, suggesting that the root was discounted, using only the pleasantly scented flowers and leaves in cooking."

Huh, I don't recall ever seeing or smelling carrot flowers. Now I want to grow some! I'd love a garden; there's so little light in my apartment that my houseplants have a hard time of it, and I think I'm going to install a grow light for them.

"The Greeks had three words each of which could be applied to the properties of the carrot: "Sisaron", first occurring in the writings of Epicharmus, a comic poet (500 B.C.); "Staphylinos", used by Hippocrates (430 B.C.) and "Elaphoboscum", used by Dioscorides (first century AD)."

Um, what? What do those mean, and did they have applications outside of carrot-hood? Any Greek scholars want to fill me in?

"Pliny died in A.D. 79 while observing the famous eruption of Mount Vesuvius. In A.D. 77 he wrote the first encyclopaedia, Historia Naturalis, in which he "set forth in detail all the contents of the entire world." . It was composed of 37 books on natural history in all its phases including meteorology, zoology, geography and botany. This work contains a large amount of information found nowhere else. Headless people were among the many marvels it reported. He reported that it involved 2000 volumes but if so, most have been lost. This work had a profound influence on biology throughout the Middle Ages and practically until the end of the 18th Century. In fact it was the basis for the encyclopaedias of Bartholomaeus Anglicus, Konrad of Megenberg and others."

Cool. (Though this is not directly related to carrots.)

Haha, here is either a very weirdly worded Latin text, or, as I think more likely, a really weird translation. Apparently by someone who thinks "the" is spelled "ye":

"Dioscorides wrote 'ye root ye thickness of a finger, a span long, sweet-smelling, edible being sodden [boiled]. Of this ye seed being drank...and it is good for ye [painful discharge of urine] in potions, and for ye bitings and strokes of venomous beasts; they say also, that they which take it before hand shall take no wrong of wilde beasts. It co-operates also to conception, and it also being [diuretic], both provoketh [poison], and being applied; but the leaves being beaten small with honey, and laid on, doth cleanse rapidly spreading destructive ulceration of soft tissues.' He recommended the seeds of Wild Carrot for the relief of urinary retention, to stimulate menstruation and to 'wake up the genital virtue.'"


"Apicius Czclius, (ad 14-37) a wealthy Roman merchant of the reign of Tiberius, whose real name was Marcus Gavio, was the greatest expert of gastronomy in antiquity and devoted his life and own money to the art of cooking. He taught haute cuisine under Augustus and Tiberius and enjoyed the reputation of a wealthy and decadent gourmet.

Stories of his legendary wealth and excesses abounded and he passed in to history as a kind of croesus of the kitchen. Apicius is primarily remembered as a deranged, sadistic and extravagant tyrant. The historian Aelius Lampridius depicts him feasting on flamingo's' brains, the heads of parrots, sow's udder and vegetables seasoned with precious jewels."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Water experiments in zero gravity

Zero-gravity water experiments!

Check out the Alka-Seltzer one at 2:00. It's the best one. :D

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Leck mich im Arsch

"Lick me in the ass," a canon in B-flat major, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

No, I am not fucking kidding.

The lyrics are:

"Lick me in the ass!
Let us be glad!
Grumbling is in vain!
Growling, droning is in vain,
is the true bane of life,
Droning is in vain,
Growling, droning is in vain, in vain!
Thus let us be cheerful and merry, be glad!"

Ahahahaha I think this is the best thing I have seen all week, at least.

The phrase "lick me in the ass," here, is "apparently a reference to anal-oral contact." Hmm, is that so? Wherever did you come up with that interpretation?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

line breaks. also BEE PARTY.

So I was working on this poem and realized something, which is that my line breaks were possibly hiding less good words or phrases, or allowing me to ignore them or keep them in, whereas otherwise they might be more noticeable or seem more clearly problematic. So I want to continue looking at my own line breaks and maybe reconfiguring things if only to see what that shows me about words/phrases that are weaker or not quite what I was going for. That was a good epiphany and I was feeling pretty smart about myself.

Then we workshopped the poem and brought up a ton of other stuff that didn't even occur to me in that process of myopic scrutinization. This being the good of workshops I think. I think I have enough to mix things up a bit.

One of my colleagues (or whatever the hell I should call it) writes against beauty (in her own words). I think I admire that; in any case, I want to know more about that.

There is some sort of poetry and poetics meeting that's going to be happening. I wonder what the ratio of practicing poets to scholars will be. I don't think any MFA types were heading it, at least, but then again we are understaffed there to begin with.

L thought my line breaks were good, hence why it couldn't/shouldn't be a prose poem. I should probably break it up into more stanzas, because it's kind of dense.

That's probably one reason why we have line breaks and stanza breaks, besides the different semantic or sound emphasis it can put--because poetry usually uses more dense or "charged" language, and it's hard to take it all in at once unless it's more conveniently chunked for you. Sortoflikethereasonwhywehavepunctuationmarksbecausereadingsomethinglikethishurtsyoureyesandyourbrain.

Amazing, though, that people basically *did* write like that for some time.

I have to go prepare for class. The one I'm teaching. I feel like at first I was cramming in way too much syllabus wise and now the pendulum has swung the other way. But I think it's important to start small. Teaching is hard. :B I could talk a lot about all sorts of shit but unfortunately that's not the way to impart this stuff.

Hehe, I broke some sort of formatting tables.

I also told everyone about the mushroom outside my house and about how water is really blue (like its actual innate color. Hence oceans aren't all white on overcast days). And I really got excited about the notion of a bee party.

So yeah, I think I'm quickly uh, showing my true colors to the people I don't know yet. :P


I want to throw a bee party. I *will* throw a bee party, gods willing.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Huh, Ezra Pound is kind of a brilliant literary critic. I'll just try to forget what a fascist he was. Although once you know about it you can totally see it even in his literary criticism, with his talk of flabbiness and disease, of discarding and dismissing vast quantities of what he considers inferior.

I also like how he repeatedly refers to things (e.g. the work of Chaucer) as "creamy." Heh. Maybe he was hungry when he wrote that.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

describing your work

I won a prize (yay me, the money is nice but the validation, especially at a difficult time, is even better), and they asked me to write a blurb about it. And now that I've already sent the description off, I feel like it sounds retarded.

I was trying not to make it all "Bler bler, here's how profound my themes are, in academic language." But my themes are profound, dammit. :P I dunno, it just sounds a little preachy. "Only by blah blah does he reach greater awareness of his self and a communion with his surroundings."

But that's kinda what happens. >_>

Argh. Anyone wanna PR this up for me in like, 2 days?

Oh, and I took a cab today and the guy was asking me what I wrote about. And I was like, mythology and animals and biology and science and stuff. Which, again, is true, and I have no idea how much of a picture it actually gives of what I do, and/or how lame it sounds.

God, I hate when people are like, "So you wanna be a writer when you grow up? :B"

No, I am a writer. Already. Thx.

I'm not sure I really even get that. Like is "writer" the sudden completion of some process of metamorphosis? Achieved once you get a book deal, perhaps? Now I'm just munching on my leaf or coccooning myself up and turning into genetic goo, on the way to some awesome transformation. A proto-butterfly that might be snatched up by hungry birds, and therefore shouldn't call itself a butterfly yet.

I do like bug imagery, and bugs. (I like moths better than butterflies. Butterflies are too laden with twee symbolism, too overused as decorative motif. Butterflies are a monophyletic clade in Lepidoptera, and I only dimly grasp, at best, the wider significance of that although I could roughly define "monophyletic clade" using lots of hand gestures.)

But really, as far as I'm concerned, if you write, you're a writer. That doesn't mean you're a good writer, but come on, I take this seriously. It's the closest thing I have to a "vocation," and even if I had some other job, that would be the thing that pays the bills, writing being the important thing and the vital ambition.

What's that poem that's basically about this? The gist is that you spend years, you know, writing and developing shit and no one takes you seriously (e.g. "You wanna be a writer?") and then finally, at some point (e.g. book deal) everyone's all, Ooh, a writer! and it's like they suddenly get that you were one all along. Well, either that or they actually do think that you, as a writer, magically coalesced into existence at the signing of said book deal, whatever relevant writerly properties you had, or activities you engaged in, being the piled gunpowder that isn't necessarily going to ignite, the wet questionable firework, the setup. For the punchline. This is a tangle of pseudo-metaphors.

I am glad the strike tag works on this. I was afraid it wouldn't.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Harry Belafonte

I knew Harry Belafonte ruled music-wise, but I had no idea just how much of a badass he was and is.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Dreadnought hoax

Also, I want to do things like this.

Not if it has to cost me whatever the modern dollar equivalent of 4,000 pounds is, though.


Oh my god, it's becoming Mirkwood!

*capers in glee*

I want to see it so fucking bad, but uh, I have to be here. D: I wonder when the next break long enough for me to drive down to Texas is. Those webs better still be there, even bigger than ever! I hope it stays permanently :D

Tuesday, August 07, 2007



A very cool-sounding word. Part of me wonders if we really need a "term" for this, but maybe we do.

"Further, in brain scan investigations, individuals who professed to be ‘truly, deeply and madly’ in love showed activity in several structures in common with in the neuroanatomy of OCD, for example the anterior cingulate cortex and caudate nucleus."


I wonder what these "structures" pertain to, as far as OCD goes.

Oh, and another good word is "propinquity." It's just so perky-sounding.

"Nothing propinques like propinquity, Mondale would say after a few weeks in his new office...."



"Queen Elizabeth I, succeeding Mary, is said to have disliked beards and therefore established a tax on them."

"It has been noted that there is a close and consistent association of long standing in American film between facial hair and role—if one lead male character has more facial hair than another, he is far more likely to be the antagonist, and the man with less (or no) facial hair the protagonist."

"One stratum of American society where facial hair is virtually nonexistent is in government and politics. The last President to wear any type of facial hair was William Howard Taft, who was in office nearly a century ago. Virtually no current state governors or members of Congress have beards or mustaches."

"The Bible states in Leviticus 19:27 that "Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard." Talmudic rabbis understood this to mean that a man may not shave his beard with a razor with a single blade, since the cutting action of the blade against the skin "mars" the beard. Because scissors have two blades, halakha (rabbinic law) permits their use to trim the beard, as the cutting action comes from contact of the two blades and not the blade against the skin. For this reason, most poskim (Jewish legal decisors) rule that Orthodox Jews may use electric razors to remain cleanshaven, as such shavers cut by trapping the hair between the blades and the metal grating, halakhically a scissor-like action. Some prominent contemporary poskim maintain that electric shavers constitute a razor-like action and consequently prohibit their use."

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Apparently "vermillion" is an alternate term for the upper lip.

Encourage its use!

Why you don't hear about "ice milk" any more

Names are important. Who knows how many industries have thrived or failed because of the associations of words. :P

"Ice milk or iced milk is a frozen dessert with less than 10 percent milk fat and the same sweetener content as ice cream. Ice milk is typically priced lower than ice cream and is typically sold as a generic product.

In the United States, the term is now virtually unknown. A 1994 change in Food and Drug Administration rules allowed ice milk to be labeled as low-fat ice cream. Within months, the term "ice milk" virtually disappeared from store shelves.

Products containing less milk fat but higher sweetener content are sold as sherbet, and products with no milk fat or dairy analogues are sold as sorbet. Products which use nonfat or lowfat yogurt or dairy analogues are sold as frozen yogurt."

I also now know what "malt" is. Thanks wikipedia! This search brought to you by the fact that I want to make a chocolate ice cream soda:

"The technique is 1, 2, 3. You put 2 tablespoons of syrup or flavoring in the bottom of the largest glass you have. Add seltzer water stirring as you pour to within 2 inches of the lip of the glass. Add 1 large scoop of very firm ice cream trying to get it to straddle the rim of the glass, yet still submerged in the seltzer enough to touch the seltzer deep enough to begin reacting with the bubbles to create a foamy heat. If the ice cream is to deep in the mixture, it will over flow. If it doesn't touch the seltzer at all you don't have a soda. With a little practice you will reach a perfect balance."

I will try this. Thanks internet!