First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they nick your terminology whilst draining all meaning from your ideas, then they win

November 26, 2013 § Leave a comment


What do you think of the word cuspidor? James Joyce said he thought it was the most beautiful word in English. Joyce was one of the poets who oftentimes cared more for melody than meaning.

List words that begin with the letters ”sn.” Don’t just about all have something to do with the nose?

Hardly anybody has even a little something decent to say about Willard L. Bundy. Too bad. After all, what he did goes back a long time. To 1888. That’s when he invented the time clock. But people don’t forget things like that.

Many, maybe even most, of Canada’s lakes still haven’t been named.

Q. Wasn’t it a comic strip cartoonist who dreamed up the girls’ name Sheena?

A. Sheena is the Scottish Jeanne. Since pritnear forever.

The temperature of your toes reveals the rate of your metabolism. Or so claim some medicos. Cold feet, low metabolism. Hot feet, high metabolism.

It’s said of Thomas Edison that he produced a patentable device – on an average – every two weeks of his life.

All the snakes in Tasmania are poisonous.

Q. It’s said the Mayans over 4,000 years ago in their blood rituals used the sharpest knives ever known. What were they made of?

A. Volcanic glass. Obsidian.

Lot of fishermen of the Aegean Sea bait their hooks with lemon peel. And say they do all right.

At least 100,000 people in Europe live all their lives on barges.  read more

ART: Randall Munroe

the real Eldorado is still further on

October 30, 2013 § Leave a comment


The first thing I did after I heard about the highly classified NSA PRISM program two years ago was set up a proxy server in Peshawar to email me passages from Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. A literary flight of fancy. I started sending back excerpts from Gerard Manley Hopkins poems.

The cantankerous Seymour Hersh was my inspiration. He had told me about the program in a clipped expletive-filled summary in the summer of 2011: “They’re scooping fucking everything, man! Phones, Internet, the whole works.”

I didn’t exactly believe him. He had also told me in 2008 that the Bush administration was close to authorizing airstrikes on Iran. So I treated his new pronouncement as a possibility, a sign from a questionable but often accurate oracle. I had wanted to rebel. The idea of esoteric poetry and prose in the NSA’s vaults appealed to me. “Yes,” I said to myself. “Yes I will.” And so I set out to tell Joyce’s story of a Chapelizod family, in a new way.

I acknowledge now, of course, that the venture was not the wisest idea. Certainly after I was indicted I regretted the hoax. My wife has had her regrets, too. Signing over your house to a law firm is a humbling experience, and for my wife, a clarifying one.

I will not acknowledge, however, that my actions were illegal. I admit only that the idea was pretentious.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Pavlina Tcherneva

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