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Monday, January 30, 2012

Web Mystery #2

When I mentioned recently that a second Web Mystery was in the works I had no idea it would be this soon. I did not know a major artery of the web was being channelized at the expense of its riparian margin. Soon there will be no tree or thicket to hide the flow of personal information from advertisers, stalkers and thrill-seekers watching from their levy prospects.

Google will snag all related searches, conversations, expositions and indiscretions into bunches and set us adrift upon them, for sale down the river --not once but any number of times. That, at least, was my conservative understanding of the new privacy policy. They did furnish an address where one could go look at one's unsteerable raft and see what it's composed of. Several hardy souls of my acquaintance attempted this. It prompted another historically significant Deep Guy Discussion:

Dan: Following the link as instructed in the Washington Post, I learned the deeply disturbing fact that...
Google doesn’t think I’m *anybody*: "...No interest or demographic categories are associated with your ads preferences so far."
The paranoid and surveillance-phobic might be envious, but I feel so ... left out!

Will: Unfortunately, that wasn't so for me. I hope others on this list check it out and report back.

Geo.: I got this message: "You currently do not have an ‘id’ cookie."
I don't care what it means but where does Google get off calling me Cookie?

Jeff: This is slander. Cookie -- or Geo., as we know him -- has an active and vibrant id. Screw Google! Or simply, "Screwgle!"

You may recognize names of some of these researchers from a (Dec. 27, '10) post, "Solstice And Eclipse", in which we deduced the existence of a second moon orbiting Earth, an hypothesis since proven by astronomers with really good telescopes. So you may trust our science here too. It involves psychology and what we don't know about that could make a whole new branch of science --we're that good!

Dr. Sigmund Freud discovered the id while overhauling theoretical constructs in a patient's head. He also found the ego and superego in there. These things twist around in psychic currents to form various drives and initiatives common to all heads. One is the urge to screw and it is called the lumbago. Freud was a medical doctor as well and would doubtless confirm our theory that nothing is worse for the lumbago than clinging to a rudderless raft, cold and wet, for interminable inspection by others.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Web Mystery #1

I'm sixty-tootin' years old and I know plenty. When I was younger I perfected a method of dealing with inquiries, no matter how detailed or complex. I'd say, levelly, seriously --conferring equal respect upon all questions-- and with unimpeachable gravity: "Ask your mother."

This system served well until the kids grew up, moved out and left me among strangers. People want to know specific things now --proof of purchase, tax records, prescriptions, "how long have you had this neurosis?" and "may I see your driver's license?"-- but my answer is unchanged: "Ask your mother."

I am told this method is inappropriate, that I have relied upon it too long and this new century, with its brash technology, has outstripped it. Now strangers consider my research skills unequal to modern demands and methods. I counter by asking where page 404 is. Where in this vast, self-absorbed contravallation of electronic offensives is page 404 and why, after all these years, has no one stumbled across it, held it up and shouted, "OMG!"?

And yet, I'm pretty sure where page 404 is. Let me make a long arm for a likely shelf-member. Yes, it is in this book:

On page 404 of the Boy Scout Handbook (6th edition, 1961) is a copy of Scout Law, which I can recite from memory: A Scout is brave, thrifty, loyal, clean, thrifty...ok, I'm peeking but only for a moment...trustworthy, courteous and...clean. They are good laws. I don't know what punishment follows violation of them. When I was a Scout, it was rumored to be defenestration.

It is distinctly possible page 404 was lost by a disobedient technician in the Boy Scouts, whose handbook took an unknown trajectory when he was thrown out the window. Oh yes, obedience is a Scout Law too. Retention of my Handbook is evidence that I possessed the virtues on page 404, avoided windows and spent most of my time outdoors.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wordlist #12, Realty, Reality

[Hubble photo]

Lord Brabazon said, "If you cannot say what you are going to say in twenty minutes you ought to go away and write a book about it."

Our governor just gave a speech about California. It was only five minutes long, typical Jerry Brown speech-length. He said financial recession came from overleveraged construction and under-regulated mortgages and we must fix that. I think he has always admired Lord Brabazon, who may have confused reality with realty but never in speeches.

Veneration of real estate over principle results in crazy patriotism. In national government, this generates crazy foreign policy. Sometimes we have to speak to them about it. Someone simply walks up and says, "America should stop going around shooting people. They don't like it, you know." I remember some years back a guy said that to Dick Cheney. He and his little boy happened to see Dick Cheney in a shopping mall and thought they ought to say that. Cheney had them arrested.

Lord Brabazon would not have reacted that way. He knew about war. His title, Baron Of Tara (not to be confused with real estate of same name in "Gone With The Wind", which was fictional realty), was created in 1942 in recognition of his aviation merits. It granted him the privileged status of peer everywhere on British soil. We make Jerry go indoors.


One of my favorite theologians, Martin Buber, described reality --a sphere of interactives or "das Zwischenmenschliche"-- as being "very can get it out again and again". If, like me, you wake up groggy --only just beginning to feel your face at 9 a.m., I mean which side of my head it's on-- it is a true comfort to know reality still exists and not too far off either.

For forty years, I worked jobs that required my presence between 5:30 and 6:30 in the morning and I could do it but only managed a marginally convincing facade of alert silence. When questioned, I would politely promise to take the matter under review and have my answer by 10 (when I woke up). I was seldom caught out, except when the answer involved my name.

Hubble photograph above is how reality looks both in my morning head and deep space. We live in a lovely thing. The universe is sometimes easier to understand if we consider it composed of two continua: gravitational and electromagnetic. Colliding waves at this confluence spin wonders at us. But they aren't all safe wonders. You may notice the universe is exploding.

I learned this alarming fact from three sources. ESL (Explosion as Second Language) classes teach confluence and conflict equally to prepare one for social and metaphysical unrest. Home ownership taught me the dangers of real estate investment in explosions, no matter how gradual they are (reference: Jerry Brown vs. Jarvis-Gann 35 years ago). Finally, another favorite theologian, Tom Selleck, once said, "Movies aren't about stories any more, they're about explosions."

So I advise caution, even though I'm not quite qualified to do so. Confusing realty with reality can get you in hot water faster than you can say "das Zwischenmenschliche!"

Monday, January 16, 2012

Wordlist #10 Or #11 After Two #8s

[Norma photo]

stop (STOP):

We all think we know what eight is, twice four, but what's four really? And why is eight and four twelve, what then?

In this blog there are two "Wordlists #8". One in June, another in October, last year. I don't quite know what to do about this. In my head, I reckon this to be #11 but, if I follow my heart, it is #10. We are all of us human, men and women, but different. I have it on good authority that women have four times the emotional range of men.

Four times.

This means 75% of the time, men regularly have no idea what women are feeling. But I am different from regular women and most men and follow neither head nor heart here. I follow the math of the Dodekatheonists (from whom, despite their being human, nobody's heard squat for over two thousand years): next word list will be #12. Just look into the future and see if it isn't.

The woman with whom I have lived 42 years, who understands me four times better than I do, was raised in a small town. We drive through it sometimes. Very little has changed there, even though we live way the heck in its future. Week ago, she took pictures, one of which is located over this wordlist. It is also upside down. It is of an intersection where it's really important to stop, so they painted "stop". Then all the young people moved out of the little town. Arithmetically speaking, the remainder was older and suffered Presbyopia.

I was raised Presbyopian myself and know even its most devout adherents forget their glasses. So the town safety committee decided to paint "STOP" in bigger letters on the asphalt. Now the asphalt is deteriorating and the lettering is cloudy. I believe this is what led humankind to invent signs up on poles. I also predict my wife's home town will join this group someday.

Calculations used in this wordlist of one word (or do lower and upper cases count as two?) don't strictly follow base twelve arithmetic, but it must be remembered that Presbyopianism is not numerologically sophisticated like Long-count Mayanism, Dodekatheonism, Astrology and Apocalyptic sects like the IRS. In fact, it can be corrected with bifocals.

Monday, January 2, 2012


[Norma photo]
Tarnation is not, as philologists opine, a contraction of "eternal damnation". There is no contraction for that. Damnation is a monopolar concept and is, as such, irreducible. Eternity cannot be abbreviated or exaggerated. So what is it? Does anyone know? Be honest, now. I thought so; indeed, neither do I. So, let's begin. Some say tarnation is a sort of Irish bludgeon because James Joyce used the word ("Well, tarnation strike me!"--James Joyce, Ulysses). In school I was asked who James Joyce was and answered, "the poet who wrote 'Trees'". My teacher --might have been Willie-- said, "No, that was Joyce Kilmer." When I asked who SHE was, I was hit with a goofystick and that, I suspect, is what happened to James Joyce. Select scholars --and all dogs-- who have been hit experientially or genetically with goofysticks are not entirely reliable researchers. It is only fair to include this in our topic paragraph.

But now that it's over, let's try and identify tarnation by its topography, geography and position in modern theology (which means I should probably start capitalizing it). There seems to be no zip code, area code, address or telephone number. This is suspiciously similar to the complaints department of AT&T, but does not prove either T stands for Tarnation. As anyone who has tried to settle a difference with a large communications conglomerate can attest, one soon exhausts theology in the generation of expletives. We may proceed to cosmology.

Students of physics learn time is rather more flexible than the entropic direction it takes in everyday life. Astronomically, it is relative. Subatomically, it is entangled. The anti-particle of an electron is a positron. This is an electron with a positive charge but can be interpreted also as a negatively charged particle moving backwards in time. When we consider the universe an assembly of all possibilities, we must conclude it is alive. And, considering our extrasensory position within it, we cannot look at time in only one direction and account for reality. That is, the universe may have created us but it may as easily be our descendant.

Certainly, it's counterintuitive but possible to go backwards into the future. We owe theological conservatives a debt for demonstrating this principle as they have long considered democracy a manifest breach of the fifth commandment, yet here we all are sharing this lovely moment. In the 1960s, theological conservatives espoused a fundamental assumption of Tarnation, that the universe was on our side and all boys should get drafted to fight for it. There were, of course, certain deferments, the least desirable of which was disqualification for being the sole surviving son in a family. My brother and I have admitted relief that it never came down to that.

The inescapable suggestion provided by evidence in this essay is this: the ever-expanding universe and the concept of Tarnation are conterminous.There is a cogent, workable resolution to this enigma but I can't remember where --there should be a word for that-- I left it. But which ever way time takes us and however we make our way through it, there is one indestructible self-delusion that helps one through --repeat after me: "I can hardly wait for tomorrow because I get better-looking every day!"