Thursday, April 30, 2015

Musical Interlude: Shakira, “Empire” (Instrumental)

Shakira, “Empire” (Instrumental)

"A Look to the Heavens"

“What created the Waterfall Nebula? No one knows. The structure seen in the region of NGC 1999 in the Great Orion Molecular Cloud complex is one of the more mysterious structures yet found on the sky. Designated HH-222, the elongated gaseous stream stretches about ten light years and emits an unusual array of colors. 
 Click image for larger size.
One hypothesis is that the gas filament results from the wind from a young star impacting a nearby molecular cloud. That would not explain, however, why the Waterfall and fainter streams all appear to converge on a bright but unusual non thermal radio source located toward the upper left of the curving structure. Another hypothesis is that the unusual radio source originates from a binary system containing a hot white dwarf, neutron star, or black hole, and that the Waterfall is just a jet from this energetic system. Such systems, though, are typically strong X-rays emitters, and no X-rays have been detected. For now, this case remains unsolved. Perhaps well-chosen future observations and clever deductive reasoning will unlock the true origin of this enigmatic wisp in the future.”
Commenting on the above image, Chet Raymo writes, "A "waterfall" of glowing gas in the vast molecular clouds of the constellation Orion. Nothing else quite like it that I know of, and its origin is a mystery. Of course, it only looks like a waterfall if you view it in one orientation - there's no up or down in the greater universe. And the scale? Ten light-years from "top" to "bottom," about the distance from the Sun to Sirius. No roar, no mist, no solid strata. But powered by the same four forces of nature - the squeeze of gravity, fusion reactions that involve the strong and weak nuclear forces, electromagnetic radiation.

It's all of a piece. The universe is infinitely complex and stunningly simple. On a planet of a distant star there are undoubtedly waterfalls - same forces, same elements, same molecular bonds. And what about the boy and the girl, sitting side by side, holding hands, falling in love? In a sense, utterly unique. But then again, just one more way the universe churns with endless cycles of matter and energy."

The Poet: Eugene O'Neill, "Free"

by Eugene O'Neill

"Weary am I of the tumult, sick of the staring crowd,
Pining for wild sea places where the soul may think aloud.
Fled is the glamour of cities, dead as the ghost of a dream,
While I pine anew for the tint of blue on the breast of the old Gulf Stream.

I have had my dance with Folly, nor do I shirk the blame;
I have sipped the so-called Wine of Life and paid the price of shame;
But I know that I shall find surcease, the rest my spirit craves,
Where the rainbows play in the flying spray,
'Mid the keen salt kiss of the waves.

Then it's ho! for the plunging deck of a bark, the hoarse song of the crew,
With never a thought of those we left or what we are going to do;
Nor heed the old ship's burning, but break the shackles of care
And at last be free, on the open sea, with the trade wind in our hair."

A Cherokee Proverb

"One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, generosity, empathy, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about this for a minute and then asked the grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

 A Cherokee Proverb

"Sometimes You Do..."

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do."
 ~ "Harper Lee", "To Kill a Mockingbird"

Chet Raymo, “Les Matins Du Monde”

 “Les Matins Du Monde”
by Chet Raymo

"Thirteen billion years ago it was morning in the universe." So began a story in the New York Times about new studies of the earliest galaxies. The Hubble Space Telescope and the giant Subaru and Keck Telescopes on Mauna Kea in Hawaii are turning back the curtain on the birthing room of the first stars- colossal spheres of primeval hydrogen and helium, hundreds of times as massive as the Sun, that lived and died in violence, forging heavy elements, seeding creation with the stuff of planets and life.

Tous les matins du monde sont sans retour: The mornings of the world are without return. If the astronomers are right in their current calculations of the recession rate of the galaxies, the universe will expand forever, growing ever more dilute, ultimately expiring in cold and dark.

Some years ago we imagined that the universe might be cyclic- expand, contract, expand, contract, an endless repetition of big bangs tethered by gravity, God's big bolo bat. For the time being, a cyclic universe does not seem to fit the data. Is the universe then a one-shot affair? Who knows. There's another possibility. That this universe is just one of many, perhaps an infinite number, bubbling into existence, blazing brightly, then collapsing upon themselves or stretching themselves infinitely thin.

Every people, at every time, have had creation stories. Our story is the first to be affirmed tentatively, the only one held to the refining fire of empirical observation. We take our story seriously, but we don't stake our lives on it. Unlike every people who lived before us -- and most who are alive today- we take our meaning from the search, not from a conclusion. We define ourselves as explorers. We welcome mystery as a challenge. We embrace our ignorance as a vessel waiting to be filled.”

The Daily "Near You?"

Thessaloníki, Thessaloniki, Greece. Thanks for stopping by.

"What Part of “No, Totally” Don’t You Understand?"

"What Part of “No, Totally” Don’t You Understand?"
by Kathryn Schulz

"Not long ago, I walked into a friend’s kitchen and found her opening one of those evil, impossible-to-breach plastic blister packages with a can opener. This worked, and struck me as brilliant, but I mention it only to illustrate a characteristic that I admire in our species: given almost any entity, we will find a way to use it for something other than its intended purpose. We commandeer cafeteria trays to go sledding, “The Power Broker” to prop open the door, the Internet to look at kittens. We do this with words as well—time was, spam was just Spam—but, lately, we have gone in for a particularly dramatic appropriation. In certain situations, it seems, we have started using “no” to mean “yes.”

Here’s Lena Dunham demonstrating this development, during a conversation with the comedian Marc Maron on his podcast “WTF.” The two are talking about people who reflexively disparage modern art:

MARON: They can look at any painting and go, “Eh.” They can look at a Rothko and go, “Hey, three colors.” And then you want to hit them.
DUNHAM: No, totally.

Dunham is twenty-eight years old, but the “No, totally!” phenomenon is not limited to her generation. It’s not even limited to “No, totally.” I first started noticing it when a fiftysomething acquaintance responded to a question I asked by saying, “Yup! No, very definitely.” That sent me looking for other examples, which turn out to be almost nonexistent in written English but increasingly abundant in speech. In 2001, the journalist Bernard Kalb told the White House correspondent Dana Milbank that it was the job of reporters to thoroughly investigate political candidates, to which Milbank responded, “Oh, no, yes, I agree with you there.” In 2012, Anderson Cooper, talking with the CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger, referred to Newt Gingrich as “the guy who has come back from the dead multiple times.” Borger’s reply veered toward Molly Bloom terrain: “Yes, no, exactly, exactly, exactly.”

“No, totally.” “No, definitely.” “No, exactly.” “No, yes.” These curious uses turn “no” into a kind of contranym: a word that can function as its own opposite. Out of the million-odd words in the English language, perhaps a hundred have this property. You can seed a field, in which case you are adding seeds, or seed a grape, in which case you are subtracting them. You can be in a fix but find a fix for it. You can alight from a horse to observe a butterfly alighting on a flower.

Such words—also called auto-antonyms, antagonyms, Janus words, and antiologies—can arise for different reasons. Some are just a special kind of homonym; what appears to be one word with two opposite meanings is really two different words with identical spellings and pronunciations. Thus “clip,” meaning “to attach together,” comes from the Anglo-Saxon clyppan, while “clip,” meaning “to cut off,” comes from the Old Norse klippa. Other contranyms arise when nouns becomes verbs. Sometime around 1200 A.D., dust turned into a verb and, as dust will do, went every which way: “to dust” can mean to remove dust, as from a bookshelf, or to add something dusty, as flour to a cake pan or snow to the streets of Brooklyn. Alternatively, a contranym can reverse meanings when it is used as a different part of speech. As a noun, “custom” refers to a behavior that is common to many people. As an adjective, it refers to something designed for just one person.

Occasionally, however, a contranym arises through a process called amelioration, whereby a normally negative word develops a secondary, positive meaning. This phenomenon is particularly common in slang: “bad” becomes good, “wicked” becomes awesome, and “sick” and “ill” become wonderful. (They have been ameliorated: made better.) The use of “no” to mean “yes” appears to be an example of amelioration, but with one important distinction: “no” can’t mean “yes” on its own. Consider a slightly abridged version of Lena Dunham’s conversation about art appreciation:

MARON: And then you want to hit them.

Take away the “totally” and Dunham appears to be rejecting anti-philistine violence. By contrast, you can take away the “no” without doing any evident semantic damage at all. A perfectly fine response to “Then you want to hit them” is “Totally”—or, for that matter, “Yes, totally,” or just “Yes.” In fact, every instance of “No, totally” and its kindred phrases can be replaced with “Yes,” without any disruption of grammar or meaning. So why do we sometimes use “no” instead?

At first blush, “no” does not appear to be the kind of word whose meaning you can monkey with. For one thing, there is its length. At just two letters and one syllable, it lacks the pliable properties of longer words. You can’t stuff stuff inside it. (You can say “unfreakingbelievable,” but you cannot say “nfreakingo.”) You can’t mangle it, à la “misunderestimate” or (the finest example I’ve heard lately) “haphazardous.” On the contrary, it is so simple and self-contained that it is a holophrasm, a word that can serve as a complete sentence. (Holophrasms aren’t common in English, but any verb in command form can be holophrastic—“Go,” “Help,” “Run”—and babies just learning to talk use single words to express complex ideas all the time, albeit without regard to grammar: “Ball,” “Up,” “Want.”) Moreover, the word has the apparent fixity and clarity of a logical operator: like “if,” “then,” “and,” “or,” and “not,” “no” seems designed to be unambiguous. When we ask, in the face of excessive pestering, “What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?,” what we mean is: “Unless you are a complete cretin, there is no part of ‘no’ that you could possibly misunderstand.”

Well, perhaps you would care to join me for a while in the land of complete cretinhood. For instance, answer me this, if you can: What part of speech is “no”? I thought it over for a while and concluded that it must be an interjection, even though it fails the Mad Libs test. (“The burglar bumped into the dresser and exclaimed, ‘_______, my toe!’ ” The last time someone filled in a blank like that with “no” was never.) At a generous estimate, I was only one-sixth correct—but, in my defense, “no” resists all ready grammatical categorization. It is not an interjection, except when it is. (“Oh, no, I missed the train.”) It is not a noun, except when it is. (“The nos have it.”) It is not an adjective, except when it is. (“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”) It is not an adverb, except when it is. (“I’m no clearer on this than I was when I began.”) Some linguists grant it the separate part-of-speech status of “sentence word,” because, as I noted, it can serve as a stand-alone sentence. Others consider it a particle—even though, as a rule, the point of particles is precisely that they can’t stand alone; they exist to affect the meaning of other words.

In addition to this grammatical ambiguity, “no” also sometimes suffers from semantic ambiguity—which is odd, considering that we regard it as absolute. But consider the question “You aren’t a fan of cilantro?” The answer “No” is confusing, since it can mean either “No, it tastes like dish soap” or “No, I adore it.” Some languages avoid this type of indeterminacy. In Japanese, for instance, hai and iie, although generally translated as “yes” and “no,” actually mean something closer to “That’s correct” and “That’s incorrect.” This eliminates the grey area. “You’re not a fan of cilantro?” “That’s incorrect,” you are a fan. In English, by contrast, we must resort to elaboration: “No, I like it fine, I just don’t want any on my pancakes.”

Until the end of the sixteenth century or thereabouts, English had a tidier solution to this problem: we had two words for “no,” which we used in distinct ways. Those two words formed half of what’s called a four-form system of negation and affirmation. If you speak French (or, in a statistical unlikelihood, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, or Icelandic), you are familiar with a three-form system: in French, non can negate anything, oui is used only in response to positively phrased questions or statements, while si is used to contradict questions or statements phrased in the negative. In Franglish:

Would you like to have dinner with me on Friday?
Oui, I’d like that very much.
You don’t like the cilantro pesto I made?
Si, it’s delicious!

Back when English was a four-form system, it, too, had a si—a word used specifically to contradict negative statements. That word was “yes.” To affirm positive statements, you used “yea”:

Shoot, there aren’t any open pubs in Canterbury at this hour.
Yes, there are.
Is Chaucer drunk?
Yea, and passed out on the table.

Similarly, “nay” was used to respond to positive statements or questions, while “no” was reserved for contradicting anything phrased in the negative:

Is the Tabard open?
Nay, it closed at midnight.
Isn’t Chaucer meeting us here?
No, he went home to bed.

Over time, the distinction withered, “yea” and “nay” became obsolete, and “yes” and “no”—the words that started out as special cases, for responding exclusively to negatives—came to hold their current status. Or, as the case may be, statuses.

What does all this have to do with the strange case of “No, totally”? The linguists I spoke with thought that this use of “no” might be a response to an implicit or explicit negative in the preceding statement: the type of “no” we used back when we also had “nay.” In modern English, you need to use something to clear up the cilantro-style confusion—so why not “totally” or its ilk? Here’s ABC News’s Joy Behar talking to the comedian Ricky Gervais about how girls, unlike boys, are not encouraged to make fools of themselves in public:

BEHAR: Well, they don’t get rewarded for acting stupid.
GERVAIS: No, exactly, yes.

Because Behar’s statement is negative, either “yes” or “no” on its own would be a confusing response. Gervais chooses “no,” then has to add “exactly, yes” to indicate that he doesn’t mean “No, Joy, you’re wrong.” You could argue that there’s also a negative, this one implicit, in the exchange between Mark Maron and Lena Dunham. By that logic, Maron is really saying, “You want to hit them [because these guys don’t know anything about art],” and Dunham’s reply means, “No, they don’t, I totally agree.”

In suggesting this negation theory of “No, totally,” linguists are borrowing from their far more developed explanation of a seemingly similar expression: “Yeah, no.” The “no” in that phrase is generally thought to retain its customary negative function. I’m a little dubious about whether that’s the whole story, but it doesn’t matter, because I’m going to ignore “Yeah, no” here. For one thing, those who are interested can refer to what the Oxford English Dictionary lexicographer Jesse Sheidlower called “the extensive ‘Yeah, no’ literature.” (An excellent place to start is this three-part analysis by the University of Pennsylvania linguistics professor Mark Liberman.) For another, the comparison only gets us just so far—because in many examples of “No, totally!” there doesn’t seem to be any negation whatsoever. Consider:

LYDIA: That book is constructed so brilliantly. It’s like a locked-room mystery.
IVAN: No, totally.

In this case and many others like it, “No, totally” appears to be all affirmation—a surprised and happy seconding. A rough translation might be, “Wow, that’s just how I feel!”

We’ve been using “no” to express surprise, including happy surprise, for a very long time. You hear that use in “No way!” You hear it (or heard it) in the early-aughts slang “Oh no you di’int!”And you hear it in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” after Tom asks Huck Finn what you can do with a dead cat. Why, you can use it to cure warts, Huck replies. “No! Is that so?” Tom exclaims. Here, “no” is again serving as an interjection, akin to the “damn” in the phrase, “Damn, that’s smart”—“damn” being another normally negative word that can sometimes swap polarity and become positive. With both “damn” and “no,” the slimmest hint of the negative might linger, in the form of envious admiration. But, for the most part, this enthusiastic “no” has very little negative meaning, or really much semantic content at all. It is more like verbal punctuation—like the initial, upside-down exclamation mark in Spanish that alerts you to impending excitement: ¡Totally!

I don’t mean to suggest that animated agreement singlehandedly explains all instances of “No, totally,” or that the negation theory is wrong. The way we use language is so variable and versatile that Occam’s razor does not apply; both explanations might easily be correct, and several others as well. In some cases, the expression might simply function as a conversational hinge—“No, totally, but what I was going to say was…”—akin to the empty but rudder-like “no” in that phrase comedians love to deploy immediately after jokes: “No, but seriously, folks.” Or maybe—and this is the theory I like best, but can least substantiate—“No, totally” is really a contraction of “I know, totally.” That is linguistically improbable; I know of no instance in the English language where a homophonic slippage of this sort has taken place. But I like the theory anyway, because it captures what is often the semantic intent of “No, totally” with uncanny precision: I understand, and I am fully in accord.

And, ultimately, it is the semantics that counts. If we are turning words inside-out to create more ways to agree with one another, I am all for it. No language could have too many ways to express the pleasure of emotional, aesthetic, and intellectual connection—or, for that matter, too many ways to simply say yes. Saying yes as often as possible is, famously, the first rule of improv, vital to maintaining energy, imagination, and humor. It is also, I have long thought, a sure sign that you’re falling in love, not to mention crucial to sustaining that love over the long haul. And, while sometimes impractical, dangerous, or just plain dumb, saying yes to as much stuff as possible is, over all, a pretty good strategy for getting through life.

In the course of investigating this subject, I called up Shaun Lau, who hosts, together with Brian Hanson, the film-criticism podcast “No, Totally!” When I asked Lau how he came to choose the name, he told me that he was bored with critical conversations in which people who disagreed spoke past each other to try to score points with the audience. “It just didn’t seem interesting to me to be another guy arguing with another guy,” he said. But nor was he interested in predictable or polite agreement. The phrase “No, totally!” seemed to suggest, instead, genuine engagement: a startled, joyful discovery of common ground. To use it, he said, “You have to be in a conversation that has a certain level of passion.”

"Not You..."

"Let others lead small lives, but not you.
 Let others argue over small things, but not you. 
Let others cry over small hurts, but not you.
 Let others leave their future in someone else's hands, but not you."
 - Jim Rohn

"Hahaha vs. Hehehe"

"Hahaha vs. Hehehe"
by Sarah Larson

"I’m a big real-life laugher, and in recent years, in e-mails, chats, and texts, I’ve become a big “haha”-er. You say something hilarious, I’ll write a few “ha”s. That’s how I e-laugh. I realize that this isn’t especially dignified. My “haha”s make me look the way I do in party photos: open-mouthed, loud, a little vulgar. Writing “hahaha” makes you look deranged, but, then again, so does laughing. I’ve accepted this state of affairs, and my friends have, too, for the most part. I like a good-faith representation of how much laughing we’re doing and how hard we’re doing it. Some of my friends are above it—they don’t “ha” much or at all, which makes me self-conscious. They accept an amusing back-and-forth as a normal course of events and press on hilariously, without a lot of ha-ha goofery. I can’t do that. Even among those regal beagles, I have to laugh away.

The terms of e-laughter—“ha ha,” “ho ho,” “hee hee,” “heh”—are implicitly understood by just about everybody. But, in recent years, there’s been an increasingly popular newcomer: “hehe.” Not surprisingly, it’s being foisted upon us by youth. What does it mean?

Let’s start with the fundamentals. The basic unit of written laughter, which we’ve long known from books and comics, is “ha.” The “ha” is like a Lego, a building block, with which we can construct more elaborate hilarity. It sounds like a real laugh. Ha! The “ha” is transparent, like “said.” If you’re chatting or texting, a single “ha” means that a joke has occurred, and you’re respectfully tipping your hat to it, but that’s all it deserves. If I say something hilarious and I get one “ha,” it’s a real kick in the teeth. If I make a mild observation, a “ha” is just great.

The feel-good standard in chat laughter is the simple, classic “haha”: a respectful laugh. “Haha” means you’re genuinely amused, and that maybe you laughed a little in real life. (The singsong Nelson Muntz-style “ha ha,” of course, is completely different—we don’t do this to our friends. There’s also the sarcastic “ha ha,” a British colleague reminded me: he’s used to reading “ha ha” as “Oh, ha ha,” as in, Aren’t you a wag. “But I’m learning to read it as good,” he said. Poor guy.) “Hahaha” means that you’re really amused: now you’re cooking. More than three “ha”s are where joy takes flight. When you’re doing this, you’re laughing at your desk and your co-workers can hear you, or you’re texting with both hands, clacking and laughing away. Somebody has been naughty and fun: a scandalous remark, a zinger, a gut laugh, the high-grade stuff. If things get totally bananas, you might throw a few “j”s in there, because you’re too incapacitated by joy to type properly.

I tend to put spaces between my “ha”s, but, if I’m laughing and typing like a house afire, I leave them out. If I’m about to lose my marbles, I’ll use all caps, maybe an exclamation point, but at that point exclamation points are mostly superfluous. My phone has a “haha” autocorrect that turns a reasonably good laugh into a deranged mess—an incoherent hahhhahaahahhh or a crazy HAHAHAHAHA—and if I hit send before catching it, I send a retraction. You need to be judicious with your all-caps—honest about how violently you’re laughing and how sane you are.

There are other terms in the lexicon. “Heh” is for a sort of satisfyingly good point, a nice moment shared, with a possible hint of down-home vulgarity. “Ho ho” indicates that someone needs a mild scolding after a bad joke, as when a friend mentioned “the Genesis stuff” and I, knowing that he meant Noah’s ark, typed something about Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel. That was beneath me, and I deserved “ho ho,” or worse. (My friend who often uses a single “ha,” a “heh,” or a “ho ho” is also my friend who is most reluctant to high five. If you get a high five or a “ha ha” out of him, it’s a red-letter day. If he ever wrote “hahaha,” I’d take him to the emergency room.) “Hee hee” is cute and conspiratorial. Hee hee, we’re gossiping in the corner! Hee hee, he texted me! Hee hee, isn’t life grand! It’s similar to “tee hee,” which is extremely cute. Possibly too cute. If you’re saying “tee hee,” you’re in love, beautifully giddy, or up to no good. You might need to take it down a notch.

Then there’s the mysterious “hehe.” “Hehe” is a younger person’s e-laugh. My stepsister has used it, and she’s a person who also says “hiiii”—but, reassuringly to me, she’s also one of the best hahahahaha-ers in the business. A friend who’s in his thirties and savvy, with friends of all ages, uses “hehe.” I find it charming—he’s a perfect speller, and he’s a lively, tidy writer, and his “hehe”s are a strange mystery. I know what they mean: friendly, somewhat sneaky giggling at a shared joke. But why the single “e”?

I consider “hehe” to be the “woah” of laughter—an odd but common enough misspelling of a common term of social communication. I think it’s “hee hee,” our conspiratorial buddy, sweetly shortened to “haha” length in a slightly bizarre way. Is it more a masculine “hee hee”—literally a bunch of “he”s? Is it a squished-up “heh,” with some filigree? Is it a cross between “haha,” “hee hee,” and “heh”? I asked around.

First, I asked people my age and older. (I’m forty-two.) A TV writer said, “ ‘Hehehe’ reminds me of Scooby-Doo. Unless it’s ‘heh’ as in ‘hepatitis’?” Good point: Scooby’s laugh is a sneaky, musical series of “hee-hee”s. And he’s no speller. (I don’t think it’s heh as in “hepatitis.”) A writer and professor visiting the office said that his students use it, perplexing him. He imagines it sounding like a lofty “Hee-hee-hee!,” which, as he pronounced it, was an airy la-di-da sound that evoked brandy snifters and drollery. He, too, has to remind himself to read it as standard giggling.

Then, the nitty-gritty: the hehe-ers themselves. One user said that she thought of “hehe” as “more of an evil giggle and less of a straightforward crack-up.” That’s definitely a hee-hee. Her friend thinks of it as “a more covert laugh” and pronounces it “heh heh,” and said that it can be “evil or private and shared.” Was it like “hee hee” and “heh heh” smashed together? I asked. Yes, it was, she said. An adventurous writer in his mid-thirties agreed that it was a mischievous laugh, pronounced “heh heh,” and said that he uses it to indicate that he’s being “super-casual,” and as a “sort of knot to tie off a back-and-forth exchange.” If he senses that there’s a “small amount of awkwardness” in the exchange, he uses “hehehe” to dissolve it or to inoculate both parties against it. He waved his hands around while describing this, and I imagined a baker using frosting to cover imperfections in a cake.

My savvy friend whose use of “hehe” provoked all these questions said that “hehe” is one of his favorite words. He pronounces it “heh heh,” to indicate mild amusement “without having to resort to emoticons, LOLs, or ROTFLs.” He said that “haha” indicates “more serious amusement,” and adds extra “ha”s for “more serious mirth.” He wrote, “There is no such thing as “hehehe” in my vocab, though.” Noted.

Another young “hehe”-er thinks that it’s “hee-hee,” doesn’t know where he picked it up, and enjoys that it helps him avoid older terms like “hahaha” and “LOL.” “Have to keep things updated,” he wrote me in a chat.

That’s just what I’d suspected and feared: while I’m ha-ha-ing my way into middle age, younger people have coined a new laugh. Good for them. They’re “heh-heh”ing to professors who hear “hee-hee”ing; they’re being conspiratorial with fortysomethings confused by the terms of the conspiracy. I’m just glad we’re all having a good time. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch “Hee Haw.”

"You Are Not Crazy: Taking a Time Out"

"You Are Not Crazy: Taking a Time Out"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"Sometimes as adults, we just need a time out to refocus and gather ourselves before starting out again. Most of us feel a little crazy from time to time. Periods of high stress can make us feel like we’re losing it, as can being surrounded by people whose values are very different from our own. Losing a significant relationship and moving into a new life situation are other events that can cause us to feel off kilter. Circumstances like these recur in our lives, and they naturally affect our mental stability. The symptoms of our state of mind can range from having no recollection of putting our car keys where we eventually find them, to wondering if we’re seeing things clearly when everyone around us seems to be in denial of what’s going on right in front of their eyes. For most of us, the key to survival at times like these is to step back, take a deep breath, and regain our composure. Then we can decide what course of action to take.

Sometimes a time-out does the trick. We take a day off from whatever is making us feel crazy and, like magic, we feel in our right mind again. Talking to an objective friend can also help. We begin to see what it is about the situation that destabilizes us, and we can make changes from there. At other times, if the situation is particularly sticky, we may need to seek professional help. Meeting with someone who understands the way the human mind reacts to stress, loss, and difficulty can make us feel less alone and more supported. A therapist or a spiritual counselor can give us techniques that help bring us back to a sane state of mind so that we can affect useful changes. They can also mirror our basic goodness, helping us to see that we are actually okay.

The main purpose of the wake-up call that feeling crazy provides is to let us know that something in our lives is out of balance. Confirm for yourself that you are capable of creating a sane and peaceful reality for yourself. Try to remember that most people have felt, at one time or another, that they are losing it. You deserve a life that helps you thrive. Try and take some steps today to help you achieve more balance and a little less crazy."

"How It Really Is"

"The Americans"

"The Americans"
By Jill Jackson

"Wow," said Alice. "You look wasted." The White Rabbit rubbed his bloodshot eyes and let out a long sigh. "Just marathoned season 3 of “The Americans.” 10 hours. Blew me away."

"That's that series about the Russian spies, right? Living undercover as Americans in the US- in the Jurassic Era."

"Yes, in the 80's. The Cold War with the Evil Empire."

"Back then, too?" Alice said. "I guess history repeats itself."

The White Rabbit snorted.

"Here's your tea," said the Mad Hatter with a smile. "Have to say, I certainly did not expect one particular character to make it to next season."

"I didn't expect many characters to make it out alive, even the leads," nodded the White Rabbit. "Heckuva lot of nasty stuff going on. But, I guess they have to exaggerate for the entertainment value."

"Of course. That's why it's called fiction." A hint of sarcasm?

"I really felt sorry for their kids, especially their daughter," Alice admitted. "I mean learning that everything you grew up with was a lie, and that your parents weren't perfect people after all."

The Mad Hatter chuckled, "Ah, yes, the Teenage Experience."

"Oh, man." The White Rabbit slapped his forehead with a paw. "How could I have been so naive?"

"You still think your parents are angels?" Alice was incredulous. "Do you know how many half-siblings you have?"

A glare from the White Rabbit. "Only 435- no, 438. Like any other family. No, I'm talking about the whole point of this season. I'd thought the show runners had been trying to have us identify with Stan, the FBI agent. Truth, justice, and the American way and all. But, you know, we're not Stan, we're not the FBI, we're the DAUGHTER, Paige. Growing up thinking we're living in paradise, on the side of the angels. When our leaders are really anything but saintly- or honest about it."

"You trying to say WE'RE the Americans? I mean we're Americans, but I thought they meant the Russians were trying to be like us, the good guys."

"Yes, they are like us," the White Rabbit sighed, "And we are like them. And once we find out that's the case, what do we do? Do we run away?" He turned out his paws with a shrug. "Where can we run to nowadays anyway?"

"You're welcome to re-visit my rabbit hole," laughed the Mad Hatter.

"Thanks, but I don't think I can handle that." Another sigh. "So, do we turn to a Pastor Tim, to religion or faith, to rescue us from the purgatory of Spy vs. Spy?"

"Nah, I like to sleep in on Sundays." Alice yawned.

"I suggest, my dear Rabbit," counseled the Mad Hatter, 'that you avail yourself of another cup of my delicious tea, and then have a lie-down on my comfortable couch. A good night's sleep would do you a world of good."

"But I'll have to wake up eventually," moaned the White Rabbit.

"No, you won't," the Mad Hatter. "There's always the mainstream media. I'll turn on Fox News. Milk in your tea?"

The Economy: "America’s Expensive 'Nobility'”

"America’s Expensive 'Nobility'”
by Bill Bonner

Gualfin (“End of the Road”), Argentina - "US stocks are still near their all-time highs. Gold is still clinging to the $1,200-an-ounce mark. So, let’s return to the examination of why the 21st century has been such a dud so far. Here’s a simple answer: There are too many zombies.

$75,000 a Year from Uncle Sam: First, a reader explains how to become a zombie: Follow these easy, proven 13 steps to financial well-being... 

1. Don't get married to her 
2. Use your mom’s address to get mail sent to 
3. Guy buys a house 
4. Guy rents out house to his girlfriend who has two of his kids 
5. Section 8 will pay $900 a month for a three-bedroom home 
6. Girlfriend signs up for Obamacare so guy doesn't have to pay out the butt for family insurance 
7. Girlfriend gets to go to college free for being a single mother 
8. Girlfriend gets $600 a month for food stamps 
9. Girlfriend gets free cellphone 
10. Girlfriend gets free utilities 
11. Guy moves into home but uses mom's house to get mail sent to 
12. Girlfriend claims one kid and guy claims one kid on taxes… now you both get to claim head of household at $1,800 credit 
13. Girlfriend gets disability for being "bipolar" or having a "bad back" at $1,800 a month and never has to work again 

This plan is perfectly legal and is being executed now by millions of people. A married couple with a stay-at-home mom yields $0.00 dollars. An unmarried couple with stay-at-home mom nets: 

$21,600 disability + 
$10,800 free housing + 
$6,000 free Obamacare + 
$6,000 free food + 
$4,800 free utilities + 
$6,000 Pell grant money to spend + 
$12,000 a year in college tuition free from Pell grant + 
$8,800 tax benefit for being a single mother 

= $75,000 a year in benefits

We haven’t verified the details above… But if they’re correct… $75,000 a year is not chicken feed.

Zombies in Suits: But the big money is still not in food stamps and disability. The big money is on Wall Street and in Northern Virginia. That’s where the zombies wear suits. Archaeologist Arthur Demarest explains that we’re not the first society to be brought low by zombies. They caused the decline of the Mayan civilization too: "Society had evolved too many elites, all demanding exotic baubles […] all needed quetzal feathers, jade, obsidian, fine chert, and animal furs. Nobility is expensive, non-productive and parasitic, siphoning away too much of society’s energy to satisfy its frivolous cravings."

Yes, it’s the elite zombies who are most expensive. The hoi polloi get peanuts (albeit lots of them). The elites get much more. For example, where did all those trillions in Fed “stimulus” go? Little of it went to the guys on disability (although it did help cover Washington’s spending deficits). 

No, that money helped prop up the prices of financial assets (directly in the bond market and indirectly in the stock market). Shareholders made money. Executives got bonuses. Wall Street firms made out… well… like bandits. It’s easy. The financial wizards arrange for a company to sell bonds – earning millions in fees for the service. Then the company takes the money (borrowed at the lowest interest rates in history) and uses it to buy back its own stock (paid for at one of the most richly valued levels in history). The price of the remaining shares goes up (because more earnings accrue to each remaining share) – triggering bonuses for all the insiders. 

The trick is so sweet that corporate America is set to hit a new milestone this year – nearly $1 trillion in buybacks!

Let Them Eat Cake: Everybody is happy… all the corporate nobility, that is. The poor working stiffs are worse off than ever. Because all this insider financial gaming reduces the long-term capital formation and serious investing that creates real jobs and real wealth. But the plain people have no idea how the money system is rigged against them. And at least they have disability. The elites always figure out ways to crony up with government… and to turn themselves into zombies. 

King Louis XVI of France must have been a decent fellow. But he was surrounded by zombies. Almost the entire First and Second Estates – the clergy and the nobility – lived off of privileges, tariffs, taxes, grants, rents and other entitlements. After they took their share, there was hardly enough national output left to support the working classes. And you think America’s hedge fund managers have a nice tax deal with their “carried interest?” 

France’s elite was practically exempt from taxes. But with so many zombies, 18th-century France struggled to stay solvent. A couple of bad harvests… and people began to starve. “We’re hungry. We want bread,” chanted the poor women in front of the Tuileries Palace in Paris. At that moment, if you believe the popular account, the king’s young wife, Marie Antoinette, needed better PR people. “They say they are hungry,” the flack might have told her. “You should say something about how you care deeply about their hunger. How you feel their pain. And how you are working day and night with the royal court to alleviate the food shortages in France.” Instead, the darling but dim Austrian blurted out what must have sounded, for a moment, like a “bon mot.” “They have no bread? Well, let them eat cake!” Whether it was true or not, the story got around. And it sounded true enough. Soon the mob was roused and the revolution couldn’t be stopped."

Fukushima: “Nuclear Number Games”

“Nuclear Number Games”
by Miriam German

"A number is something that expresses a mathematical value. A reference point representing a neutral fact. For example, some numbers regarding the Columbia Generating Station nuclear plant in WA State:

• 1 Nuclear Reactor.
• 12 Earthquake Fault lines.
• 764 fuel assemblies.
• 185 control rods.
• 0 containment around the fuel pool
• 7 million people in Washington State
• 1 million people in Oregon.
• 56 million gallons of radioactive waste next door at Hanford.

Numbers. They represent value. But the value depends upon the validity of the process, the integrity of the process whereby the numbers were ascertained, determined or in the case of TEPCO and Fukushima, created. TEPCO figured out at the very start of 3.11 that numbers, their values and the process of distributing those numbers to the media, to the world, was the very juncture at which they could control the story. If they could confuse, obfuscate, create, disburse and seem as though they were the authority rather than the ship of fools that they truly are, credibility was going to be built in with as much assurance as 2+2=4 with each number they released.

Let’s take a look at the number 300. It is half of 600 and 100 less than 400. But still, it is static and relative. Then ask a question: Is using the number 300 in terms of the amount of tons of radioactive water flowing from Fukushima-Daiichi into the Pacific, a reality or one of the best PR campaigns ever in the history of the worst disasters created by man on Earth?

300 Tons of radioactive water flowing, 24/7. No more. No less. TEPCO’s story line is this: 300 tons of radioactive water is flowing daily into the Pacific Ocean.

Let’s look at the numbers for any sort of reality base. But first… Imagine turning on your faucet in your bathroom sink. You are brushing your teeth. When you’re finished, you turn off the water. How much water did you use? 5 gallons? 10 gallons? 2? You might like to think 2 gallons because it is less than all of the other options you have made up. But really, you don’t know. You are still guessing but feel good about 2 gallons rather than more. If you had a gauge on your tap, you would know how much water you used.

Do you think you use the same amount of water each time you brush your teeth? How would you know? Do you turn the water on the same amount with regard to pressure? Do you brush for the same duration each time? You have no way of knowing unless you have a gauge. No gauge? All guesses.

300 tons is a random number TEPCO chose to use after deliberating with the messaging of yet another PR campaign of dis-information. The first numbers we heard were 400 tons but those morphed into 300 and then 600. 300 stuck when an article was written claiming that 300 tons of radioactive water leaked from one of the tanks at Fukushima. It had nothing to do with all of the water flowing into the Pacific nor was it based in reality since the tanks had no gauges on them. Nevertheless, 300 tons stuck.

The amount of radioactive water flowing into the Pacific comes from many sources. There are no gauges on rain water, on ground water, on the amount of water leaking from the tanks bolted together at Fukushima. There is absolutely no way to know definitively, let alone exactly, how much highly radiated water has been flowing over the melted cores of Reactors 1, 2 and 3 and from the fuel pool in #4 since 3.11 began. Here we go again. Numbers. Reactors 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Rain water. Ground Water. Hosed in water. Tanks leaking water. Surely TEPCO had a way to determine this number of 300 tons of leaking radioactive water into the Pacific that even our anti-nuclear leaders to this day, still espouse to the public when talking about the ongoing disaster at Fukushima.

Back to the point. The number 300 is an “unknowable” in the sense that in this equation of how much radioactive water has been leaking, pouring, flowing, seeping into the Pacific, 300 would equal X. X is the unknown factor.

In an article from “Japan News” from Sept 7, 2013, Kazuaki Nagata writes, TEPCO said ‘it will install water gauges on all flange-type tanks storing radioactive water from Reactor #1 to enhance monitoring.’ So we know there were no gauges on the tanks when they were haphazardly created and TEPCO had revealed itself early on to be 100% full of lies; the gauges which they said they did attach at a later date, didn’t work as we were soon to find out.

But to go on with that article, Nagata reveals that a tank leaked 300 tons of highly radioactive water, “causing a domestic and international uproar over environmental contamination.” There was no uproar. All was quiet like a mouse. So how did TEPCO get the number ‘300 tons’? It’s hard to know when gauges aren’t present or those that are, are broken or when TEPCO is only obfuscating the truths of things exponentially worse than what they are reporting.

Word problem:

Find the amount of radioactive water leaking from each of the 1000 bolted tanks.
Add X to each tank that does not have a gauge.
Add X to each tank whose gauge does not work.
Add X when you find that there was no way to determine how much water filled each tank originally.
Now add the amounts of rainfall over Fukushima since 3.11 day one through current date.
Then determine how much ground water sits beneath Fukushima-Daiichi and how much of that ground water flows into the Pacific.

How much ocean water was poured over Fukushima on 3.11 till current date from hoses to keep the fuel pools cool?
How much water was in the fuel pools and how much leaked out?
How much steam was cast out into the atmosphere and back down over Fukushima from 3.11 to current date adding to the amount of 300 tons?
Add all of these together.
The answer is still X.

The only answer to this word problem is that it is impossible to know how much radioactive water flows into the Pacific but it exceeds 300 tons by exponential realities.

We know that TEPCO is a conduit of deception, evasion, and lies so let’s not pass along in our teachings to others, anything from their PR campaign, the most ubiquitous of which being the amount of radioactive water flowing into the ocean; 300 tons is a gross misrepresentation of the 24/7 massive radioactive assault on the Pacific Ocean and her animals.

What are the real numbers? As you can see now, we will never know. What is the real damage? As we witness the death toll rise among the ocean animals, we will have a better and clearer recognition that the damage that nuclear power creates is one that is NEVER worth the risk.

Now that you’ve made it to the end of this article, everything you just read about the water is true but it is a DISTRACTION! It is a distraction by design from TEPCO. As John Bertucci of Fukushima Response points out, “repetitively attaching this number to the contaminated water effectively mutes public perception and discussion of the real 300 tons we should be worried about: the missing core material from 3 empty reactors, each of which contained about 100 tons of fuel rods, called corium now, although that assumes it has retained some coherent physical state.”

We know definitively that parts of the core of Reactors 1, 2 and 3 (you knew I’d circle back to these, didn’t you!) blew across the world and landed in your organic gardens, your lungs, your children’s lungs, your food supply and of course, in your DNA. The isotopes that blew with it are lethally yours for the next tens of thousands of years.

So remember, when you hear 300 tons of water, think 300 tons of melted and atmospherically dispersed radioactive material in our ocean, air, food and soil and you will be 1 day smarter than yesterday. There is no number to designate a “safe level” of radiation because there is no such thing as a safe level of radiation, but there is value to each and every one of your lives and even more value when you add the life of future generations to the life of our planet. Do the math."
Miriam German is the director of She founded No Nukes NW in 2012.
As always, I encourage you to do a "Search" of this blog for "Fukushima."

“The 13th Warrior: Prayers Before Final Battle”

“The 13th Warrior: Prayers Before Final Battle”

Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan: “Merciful Father, I have squandered my days with plans of many things. This was not among them. But at this moment, I beg only to live the next few minutes well. For all we ought to have thought, and have not thought; all we ought to have said, and have not said; all we ought to have done, and have not done; I pray thee God for forgiveness.”

“Lo, there do I see my father.
Lo, there do I see my mother and my sisters, and my brothers.
Lo, there do I see the line of my people back to the beginning.
Lo, they do call to me,
they bid me take my place among them in the Halls of Valhalla,
where the brave may live forever.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Musical Interlude: Michael Jackson, “Earth Song”

Michael Jackson, “Earth Song”

"Don't Give Up..."

Free Download: Mark Twain, “The Mysterious Stranger”

"The Mysterious Stranger"
by Mark Twain

"An unfinished novella that Mark Twain worked on periodically from roughly 1890 until his death in 1910. The body of the work is a serious social commentary addressing Twain's ideas of the Moral Sense and the ''damned human race.'' Published posthumously in 1916 by Twain's biographer Albert Bigelow Paine.

“…I must go now, and we shall not see each other any more."
“In this life, Satan, but in another? We shall meet in another, surely?”
Then, all tranquilly and soberly, he made the strange answer, “There is no other.”

A subtle influence blew upon my spirit from his, bringing with it a vague, dim, but blessed and hopeful feeling that the incredible words might be true - even must be true.
“Have you never suspected this, Theodor?”
“No. How could I? But if it can only be true –”
“It is true.”

A gust of thankfulness rose in my breast, but a doubt checked it before it could issue in words, and I said, “But - but - we have seen that future life - seen it in its actuality, and so –”
“It was a vision - it had no existence.”

I could hardly breathe for the great hope that was struggling in me. “A vision? - a vi –”
“Life itself is only a vision, a dream.”

It was electrical. By God! I had had that very thought a thousand times in my musings!
“Nothing exists; all is a dream. God - man - the world - the sun, the moon, the wilderness of stars - a dream, all a dream; they have no existence. Nothing exists save empty space - and you!”


“And you are not you - you have no body, no blood, no bones, you are but a thought. I myself have no existence; I am but a dream - your dream, creature of your imagination. In a moment you will have realized this, then you will banish me from your visions and I shall dissolve into the nothingness out of which you made me... I am perishing already - I am failing - I am passing away. In a little while you will be alone in shoreless space, to wander its limitless solitudes without friend or comrade forever - for you will remain a thought, the only existent thought, and by your nature inextinguishable, indestructible. But I, your poor servant, have revealed you to yourself and set you free. Dream other dreams, and better!"

“Strange! that you should not have suspected years ago - centuries, ages, eons, ago! - for you have existed, companionless, through all the eternities. Strange, indeed, that you should not have suspected that your universe and its contents were only dreams, visions, fiction! Strange, because they are so frankly and hysterically insane - like all dreams: a God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave his angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice and invented hell - mouths mercy and invented hell - mouths Golden Rules, and forgiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man’s acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to worship him! 

You perceive, now, that these things are all impossible except in a dream. You perceive that they are pure and puerile insanities, the silly creations of an imagination that is not conscious of its freaks - in a word, that they are a dream, and you the maker of it. The dream-marks are all present; you should have recognized them earlier. It is true, that which I have revealed to you; there is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a dream - a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but you. And you are but a thought - a vagrant thought, a useless thought, a homeless thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternities!"

He vanished, and left me appalled; for I knew, and realized, that all he had said was true.”

Freely download Mark Twain’s “The Mysterious Stranger”, in many formats, here:

Musical Interlude: Yanni, "Magical Concluding Musical Performance"

Yanni, "Magical Concluding Musical Performance"

"A Look to the Heavens"

"The dark Horsehead Nebula and the glowing Orion Nebula are contrasting cosmic vistas. Adrift 1,500 light-years away in one of the night sky's most recognizable constellations, they appear in opposite corners of the above stunning mosaic. 
 Click image for larger size.
The familiar Horsehead nebula appears as a dark cloud, a small silhouette notched against the long red glow at the lower left. Alnitak is the easternmost star in Orion's belt and is seen as the brightest star to the left of the Horsehead. Below Alnitak is the Flame Nebula, with clouds of bright emission and dramatic dark dust lanes. The magnificent emission region, the Orion Nebula (aka M42), lies at the upper right. Immediately to its left is a prominent bluish reflection nebula sometimes called the Running Man. Pervasive tendrils of glowing hydrogen gas are easily traced throughout the region."

The Poet: Arthur O’Shaughnessy, "Music and Moonlight"

"Music and Moonlight"

"We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone seabreakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world forever, it seems…
We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Ninevah with our sighing,
And Babel itself in our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth."

- Arthur O’Shaughnessy, "Music and Moonlight" (1874)

Chet Raymo, “The Seat of the Soul”

“The Seat of the Soul” 
by Chet Raymo

"It was not my first visit. I had been there once before to talk with the great man, to the Castle of Cloux, near Amboise, in the valley of the Loire. He had been living there since 1516, at the invitation of Francis I, king of France. He was 67 years old, bundled up in a thick fur wrap by a roaring fire. His face showed age but not infirmity. Long white hair fell about his shoulders. White beard. Thick, downswept brows shaded his eyes like awnings. A strong nose. And of course the mouth, serious yet generous, not unlike the mouth of the Christ he had painted on the wall of the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.

The king likes to surround himself with luminaries - artists, poets, philosophers, talented people of all sorts. Leonardo's reputation, of course, is known throughout Europe. It was inevitable that the king would draw him to France. A prize of war? So be it.

The last time I visited we talked about his paintings, only three of which had followed him to France. This time I wanted to hear about his anatomical studies. I had heard he had hundreds of drawings, recording the meticulous dissection of cadavers. "Might I see them?" I asked. Kindly, he aquiesced, and asked his young apprentice and friend, Count Francesco Melzi, to fetch several thick portfolios. As I carefully turned the sheets, I was stunned. Never had I seen such detailed representations of the human frame. Bones, muscles, tissues. Heart, lungs, stomach, liver. "From life?" I asked, forgetting myself. "From death," he replied with a slight smile. "Not so may years ago I had the privilege of working with Marcantonio della Torre, professor of anatomy at the University of Pavia. He gave me access to corpses."

As the thickly-annotated sheets slipped through my fingers I realized I was looking at something marvelous, a marriage of art and science.

"Extraordinary," I whispered. "All a waste," he said. He closed his eyes. "A waste? What do you mean?" I knew I was looking at documents of historic significance.

He rocked quietly for a moment, then looked into my eyes. "I was looking of the soul," he said. "All my life I have been trying to capture the human soul in my paintings, the ineffable essence of a man or woman. But all I was painting was the surface of a person, the face, the skin. What I wanted was something else, whatever it is that shines out through the eyes, that warms and animates the skin. I wanted the thing behind the gesture, the lamp that gives the light."

"And…?" He pulled the fur robe more tightly about him. "I didn't find it. I didn't discover the seat of the soul. When I had taken the body apart, looked into its most secret recesses, all I had was a gory mess of tissue and blood."

"The soul had flown? Returned to its Maker?" "Perhaps." The old man looked to Count Melzi, who smiled sympathetically. Then Leonardo returned his gaze to me. "Perhaps," he said. "Or perhaps what I was looking for was there all along, in the face, in the gestures, in the glow of skin. As the music is in the tuned lyre. Dismember the lyre, untune the strings…"

I looked again at the densely inscribed sheets in my hands, the flayed muscles, the sectioned valves. "Sir," I whispered. "If I may be permitted. There is no music without wood and fret and strings. You have given us a …" "Shush," he said. He closed his eyes and his chin dropped to his chest. Melzi indicated it was time to go. I placed the anatomical drawings in their portfolios, and looked again at the old man in the chair. A great soul. Of science and of art.”

The Poet: Linda Pastan, "What We Want"

"What We Want"

"What we want
is never simple.
We move among the things
we thought we wanted:
a face, a room, an open book
and these things bear our names-
now they want us.
But what we want appears
in dreams, wearing disguises.
We fall past,
holding out our arms
and in the morning
our arms ache.
We don't remember the dream,
but the dream remembers us.
It is there all day
as an animal is there
under the table,
as the stars are there
even in full sun."

~ Linda Pastan, "Carnival Evening"