Sunday, August 20, 2017

Thursday, August 17, 2017


I sometimes overlook the most obvious things, for the longest time. I must have read Voyage of the Dawn Treader fifty years ago, and I only just realized the sly title Lewis gave the Governor of the Lone Islands: "His Sufficiency." No majesty or excellence is claimed or aspired to; just "sufficient." Beautiful bureaucrat-ese.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cat videos

In my youth I was a last-picked non-athlete, and I never got much into sports personally. In between other interests and a tendency to deprecate whatever was popular, I never got into sports vicariously.

And so, as a young adult, I didn't see much use in professional sports, and thought investing in a city team a terrible waste of money. Over time I started to notice that watching sports was one of the few civic bonding activities we had. Oh. Maybe this kind of entertainment serves a useful function after all...

Cat videos are a byword for triviality. But in seas of rancid virtue-signalling, perhaps they represent something we can bond on--at least a little. They aren't much at all, but every little bit helps. I won't sneer.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The marchers

It was predictable, and I'm not happy to have been right. We've had one flavor of political shock troops for a couple of years--pretty soon we'll have another; maybe more than two. I'd hoped we could keep it all in the past.

I wonder whose side the driver was on. As of this time I have to take every report with a helping of salt. I can think of four different scenarios for the driver without breaking a sweat--three of them fairly likely. All I know is that somebody is supposed to have been arrested. Update: He's alleged to have been seen with the first group of marchers. As feared.

One picture showed a close group of marchers, probably the same team, carrying confederate and nazi flags. (The old Confederacy lands supplied a lot of volunteers to fight the original Nazis.) I've no reason to doubt that "heritage not hate" is a real description of the motives of a lot of confederate flag wavers--and the combination of a symbol of resistance to central control carried with a symbol of totalitarian rule is more than a little ironic. Probably the pictured group were all nazis, and used the confederate flag as the symbol of racial supremacy it is for some people. Some of the other marchers were said to be racial separatists (not the same thing as supremacists, of course), and I've no notion yet of who the rest were, or even if they knew who all the other groups were. Somebody thought it was OK to have nazis tag along, though. Or wanna-be nazis.

Words are supposed to mean something. I've always been interested in history, and WWII was not that long ago when I was young. Nazis were still the symbol of the enemy, and everybody knew why. I hear horror stories that substantial fractions of today's graduates unable to tell what side England was on during WWII (or else who are pulling the pollster's leg--but I observe a fair amount of ignorance myself). What does "nazi" mean to them? Generic bad group? "I know, teacher! I know! It means Trump and anyone who voted for him!" Similarly, racist means you wonder out loud why we import foreigners to cheaply do the jobs you can't find anymore. It isn't even so much "May as well be hanged for sheep as for lamb" as that the distinctions are blurred.

When the powers-that-be claim that noticing certain problems makes you a swamp-dweller, some proportion of you will join the swamp-dwellers. Think of labor relations early last century. Publicly noticing problems got you called communist, and a lot of noticers joined the communist swamp-creatures.(*)

I suspect that too many people have long memories for the nazis to become a significant force again--certainly not under that name. But the attitudes may come back. We had those attitudes before, and though we've had a few generations in which white racism was suppressed, anything can happen--especially when the elite are alien and arbitrary. "Cling to those you can trust"--and you can't trust Pichai, or the Mizzou administration, or HR.

I used "you," but I, and I suspect most of my readers, are in the happy situation of having skills and education that mean we can comfortably ignore some of the problems, and that, knowing the history, we know the boundaries between the ordinary and the vile. I don't worry about the swamp-creatures--there usually aren't a lot of them. We protect free speech for good reason. I worry when people stop noticing the differences. God help us.

(*) National socialism is congruent to international socialism: totalitarian, the party is the most important thing, violent expansion, have to break a few eggs to create utopia... I regard Che Guevara shirts the same way I think of Martin Bormann shirts.

Blue and Green

I remember wondering once upon a time how it was that the Blue and Green parties got to be so all-encompassing: Religion, class, politics, sports--and probably other things the histories didn't record.

I think I get it now. If I were to find a MAGA hat and pay a visit to a few selected restaurants in Madison, I suspect service would be quite slow, and I might be rebuked for producing a "hostile environment." Virtue signaling your politics or social views in your business isn't ubiquitous, but is still very common. The new restaurant in the building we rent office space from made a point of emphasizing how much they supported Planned Parenthood--even before they opened. I think you can still eat at McD's without implicitly supporting any party, but stories about restaurants refusing to serve cops keep cropping up. Typically corporate comes down hard on the offenders, but clearly the impulse is there.

Has it always been like that? I seem to recall more overlap in interests when I was younger--but the Cubs and the Sox had (overall) different classes for fan bases(*), and my Better Half remembers a visit to Finn McCools to find the band was playing "If you hate the Queen of England clap your hands." (She got by with a visit to the ladies' room and some fractured German to a belligerent inquisitor.)

(*) It was explained to me that the class difference was a side effect of being located in different neighborhoods

Thursday, August 10, 2017


In the Atlantic we find: "Pets don’t actually make people healthier, according to a new analysis. Ability to own a pet does." "The cat owners appeared healthier than people without pets, but the difference went away when the researchers factored in that the cat owners were likely to be healthy for other reasons, mostly bearing on socioeconomic status."

Of course, we want to keep an eye on this to make sure that the result is true. But if it is, what's going to happen to the Emotional Support Animal industry? I haven't seen their reaction yet, but let me guess: "The study doesn't address emotional issues, only deals with children ..."

Monday, August 07, 2017

Chastity of the Mind

It is tempting to embrace every story that comes along that flatters your tribe or besmirches your opponents. After all, the stories generally fit with what you know; build on knowledge you already have.

When you know the CIA is evil and has done unforgiveable things, stories of how they engineered Tolbert’s assassination or plotted 9/11 dovetail nicely with their record of villainy. Racists abound, so when 3 black churches burn in 2 weeks you know it means racist activity is on the rise. When you know the Clintons are corrupt and ruthless, the story that a man killed himself just before he was due to testify about them obviously tells of just another rub-out among many.

Be realistic. Soldiers won’t die if you don’t retweet that bon mot immediately, or repost that quotation of uncertain provenance. You’re not really in a hurry. You may like to think that hearts and minds wait trembling for your imprimatur on the news, but people who know you can probably already predict what you plan to say.

Instantly reposting stories that go down like such sweet morsels is just virtue signaling: your judgment must be profound since you have such noble friends and recognize such a vile and deceptive enemy!

Two words: Richard Jewell. Three words: Duke lacrosse case. Four words: Day care satanic abuse.

A good scientist looks at data that supports his model, and also looks for data that would contradict it. Until it is studied carefully, it is not good for either purpose.

The first reports are usually wrong. (Sometimes later ones are a cover-up, but not so often.) Let your conclusions be tentative, if you must draw any--wait a while and see what else develops.

Yes, I’ve been bitten by that kind of mistake too. It takes practice to reserve judgment.

“There’s a Bene Gesserit saying,” she said. “You have sayings for everything!” he protested. “You’ll like this one,” she said. “It goes: 'Do not count a human dead until you’ve seen his body. And even then you can make a mistake.'” From Dune by Frank Herbert

"Do you read the papers? Of course, you do. But do you read them as I read them? I rather doubt that you have come upon my system. ... I remember once when I lived in the Capital for a month and bought the paper fresh each day. I went wild with love, anger, irritation, frustration; all of the passions boiled in me. I was young. I exploded at everything I saw. But then I saw what I was doing: I was believing what I read. Have you noticed? You believe a paper printed on the very day you buy it? This has happened but only an hour ago, you think! It must be true... So I learned to stand back away and let the paper age and mellow. Back here, in Colonia, I saw the headlines diminish into nothing. The week-old paper - why, you can spit on it, if you wish.” From “And the rock cried out” by Ray Bradbury

“[John]: 'But I must think it is one or the other.'

[Reason]: 'By my father's soul, you must not - until you have some evidence. Can you not remain in doubt?'

[John]: 'I don't know that I have ever tried.'

[Reason]: 'You must learn to, if you are to come far with me. It is not hard to do it. In Eschropolis, indeed, it is impossible, for the people who live there have to give an opinion once a week or once a day, or else Mr. Mammon would soon cut off their food. But out here in the country you can walk all day and all the next day with an unanswered question in your head: you need never speak until you have made up your mind.” From The Pilgrim's Regress by C.S. Lewis

Monday, July 31, 2017

Old stories

Ngimun, Yidyam, and Barany are crater lakes in Australia. There's a story of how they came to be:

It is said that two newly-initiated men broke a taboo and angered the rainbow serpent Yamany, major spirit of the area ... As a result 'the camping-place began to change, the earth under the camp roaring like thunder. The wind started to blow down, as if a cyclone were coming. The camping-place began to twist and crack. While this was happening there was in the sky a red cloud, of a hue never seen before. The people tried to run from side to side but were swallowed by a crack which opened in the ground'....
.. After telling the myth, in 1964, the storyteller remarked that when this happened the country round the lakes was 'not jungle - just open scrub'. In 1968, a dated pollen diagram from the organic sediments of Lake Euramoo [Ngimun] by Peter Kershaw (1970) showed, rather surprisingly, that the rain forest in that area is only about 7,600 years old.

Some other stories refer to places that haven't been above water in 9000 years. "The stories tell of a river that entered the sea at what is now Fitzroy Island. The great gulf between today’s shoreline and the reef suggests that the stories tell of a time when seas were more than 200 feet lower than they are today, placing the story’s roots at as many as 12,600 years ago."

"In one of their stories, Ngurunderi chased his wives until they sought refuge by fleeing to Kangaroo Island—which they could do mostly by foot. Ngurunderi angrily rose the seas, turning the women into rocks that now jut out of the water between the island and the mainland. ... a time when seas were about 100 feet lower than they are today, which would date the story at 9,800 to 10,650 years ago."

The Aborigines apparently have some careful crosschecks to make sure stories don't change: some stories are sacred and must not be adapted by the storyteller. Some of these stories match the ancient landscape nicely--the settings match.

What doesn't quite match is the action. OK, the volcano erupting is a pretty good description of what you might see. But the ocean levels weren't supposed to rise that fast. Stories of a woman crawling along dragging the water after her, or of Ngurunderi angrily raising the sea, are dramatic. That's either something that happens within a human lifetime, or something made dramatic by foreshortening. I'm not sure what would jump a shoreline 20 meters in a human lifetime: Lake Missoula draining won't do it (I estimated about 1mm rise from that). That amount of water draining off the glaciers that fast ought to have done dramatic erosion which we don't see. Great glaciers deciding to up stakes and slip-n-slide to the ocean would have turned the southern US into a Canadian Shield. Could 20 meters happen in a hundred years? My geologic skills aren't good enough for me to say.

That leaves foreshortening. What does that mean in practice? Cast back a few millennia. Stories from 1000, 200, 100 years ago illustrated landscape changes that needed to be explained. Assuming the rock formations were already regarded as women, somebody then synthesized the revised story from the old ones. Although this isn't the sort of thing they do, remember? Otherwise how would the details have stayed intact? Which leaves the option that the story was created at that time. It had to start sometime, of course. But the faster the sea level rise was, the less time was required to keep the stories intact, and the if they didn't need to keep them intact long, the more flexibility ancient the story-tellers/memorisers could have had compared to the modern ones.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity by Mark A Noll

Executive summary: The before and after for a baker's dozen important moments in Christian history. Read it.

  1. The Church Pushed Out On Its Own: The Fall of Jerusalem (70)
  2. Realities of Empire: The Council of Nicaea (325)
  3. Doctrine, Politics, and Life in the Word: The Council of Chalcedon (451)
  4. The Monastic Rescue of the Church: Benedict’s Rule (530)
  5. The Culmination of Christendom: The Coronation of Charlemagne (800)
  6. Division between East and West: The Great Schism (1054)
  7. The Beginnings of Protestantism: The Diet of Worms (1521)
  8. A New Europe: The English Act of Supremacy (1534)
  9. Catholic Reform and Worldwide Outreach: The Founding of the Jesuits (1540)
  10. The New Piety: The Conversion of the Wesleys (1738)
  11. Discontents of the Modern West: The French Revolution (1789)
  12. A Faith for All the World: The Edinburgh Missionary Conference (1910)
  13. Mobilizing for the Future: The Second Vatican Council and the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization (1965, 1974)

Obviously many of these (e.g. The Great Schism) are merely marker dates for larger and longer events. And sometimes the motivating events (e.g. The French Revolution) are external to the Church, but have an impact on it.

The approach gives a convenient framework for covering almost all of Church history. Each chapter's introduction includes a characteristic hymn from the era, and ends with a characteristic prayer. The book is quite readable. The author does his level best to be accurate and empathetic.

Read it.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


I wonder if there is a market for a journal reporting "the rest of the story?"

The news feed tells you what is supposedly happening right now, but anybody with an attention span longer than a day knows that those stories are almost invariably incomplete at best, and often simply wrong. I exclude celebrity gossip stories from "news."

Call it The Follow-up Gazette with the motto All the things we found out later.

  • After the drive-by shooting the police woke up everybody on the block to find out if you had heard anything: One kid was playing with his parent's revolver and accidentally shot his buddy, and they made up the "drive-by" story to try to deflect blame. You didn't hear anything because the shot was indoors.
  • The man who claimed he "just said hello to the sleeping homeless man" when suddenly the homeless man attacked him: He is sticking to his story, but nobody believes that was all he said. The homeless man was charged with battery.
  • A report that claimed that the brains of men and women are indistinguishable received a lot of admiring attention. Peers believe the authors should not be allowed out in public without a minder.
  • The Badger Ammunition facility was declared excess and slated, with great fanfare, for cleanup and transfer to other agencies. This is still going on. Cleanup takes years, and so do negotiations. Ho Chunk wants part of the land but the BIA is not on the same page with them.
  • A was standing in front of his house in his underwear when B walked up to him and shot him dead. B was charged with murder. At the trial he was found not guilty. The defense had argued that he shot A because he had reason to fear for his life.
  • Yesterday we reported that Vlad won a blue Lada in a lottery on Tuesday. We have some minor corrections: It was not blue it was green; it was not Vlad but Oleg; it was not a Lada but a bicycle; it was not Tuesday but Thursday; and he did not win it, he stole it. Aside from that the story is substantially correct. Purloined from You Call This Living?

I took a little liberty with one of the above stories, in which I don't know the complete outcome.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Making of the news

ChicagoBoyz referred readers to a story about the next stage up from press releases: story generators for hire.
On Wednesday, three major news organization published variations of the same story—about the line of succession to the Saudi throne. It seems that in June the son of King Salman, Mohammed Bin Salman, muscled his cousin Mohammed Bin Nayef out of the way to become the Crown Prince and next in line.

It’s a juicy narrative with lots of insider-y details about Saudi power politics, drug addiction, and the ambitions of a large and very wealthy family, but the most salient fact is that the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Reuters published what was essentially the same story, with minor variations, on the same day—not a breaking news story, but an investigative feature.

In other words, these media organizations were used as part of an information campaign targeting Riyadh, for as yet unknown reasons.


On Wednesday, the Times reported that Gen. Abdulaziz al-Huwairini had been put under house arrest by a faction loyal to Mohammed Bin Salman. On Thursday, the Times reported that he was in fact named head of a government body overseeing domestic security and counterterrorism issues.

We've known for years that some reporters simply regurgitate press releases, and that said press releases are often heavily spun ("I say it's spinnage, and I say the hell with it!"). This sounds like a simple expansion of the process.

I've no reason to doubt that there are still plenty of investigators out there--though not nearly as many professionals as there used to be. Unfortunately there's not always an easy way to tell an amateur investigator from a spinner, or worse, a fabricator. And not always an easy way to tell whether the professionals are on the mark either--except by waiting.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Crime stories and otherwise

Naked Manitowoc man catches fire after being tased. OK, it was just his beard and chest hair: the taser hit a lighter he was carrying.

Man Who Pushed Stranger in Path of Train Acquitted of Murder. Sounds pretty dreadful, on the face of it: one man pushed another off the platform and then ran, while people stood around and took movies of them both (a tabloid journalist claimed he was using his flash to warn the oncoming train--and a Nigerian prince wants me to handle his finances). Those people taking movies were the reason Davis was acquitted: the movies proved he pushed Han in self defense. Han was drunk and belligerent--I'd guess nobody helped him out because nobody wanted him attacking them and dragging them onto the tracks with him. With a train coming, you aren't going to get much enthusiasm for collecting a group to join him down there and lift him out.

Funny how much stories can differ from the headlines when you get more of the facts.

Have you seen this warning?

Proposition 65 WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.

I remember buying some textured paint and discovering that sand was supposed to cause cancer. I assume they meant if I sanded the dry paint off without using a breathing mask then maybe some of the silica would find its way into my lungs along with all the other paint crud.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


You can't pin down where an electron is around an atom. You can say where it probably is, but no more. But it is a predictable "chaos:" random but reliable.

In a cloud of molecules some collide, and perhaps interact. Their trajectories are impossible to calculate, and you can't say which oxygen will combine with which hydrogen. It may take a lot of bouncing around to get all the bits combined. But looking at the bigger picture, you can say the oxygen and hydrogen reliably burn to form water.

There are so many molecules in a single cc of air that all the computers on Earth can't predict the trajectories in detail. It looks wild and chaotic on the microscopic scale, but on our scale PV=nRT is a very simple and useful equation.

Inside an amoeba complicated molecules move this way and that with no obvious pattern, but widen the view a bit and you see them breaking down the lump the amoeba engulfed. Widen the view some more and you see an active creature moving about and eating and reproducing.

The plant scatters seeds randomly, and hundreds of other plants compete for the same space. A cow mashes some into the mud. A falling tree obliterates another region. But the big picture shows a green meadow--with its own kind of order. And it's a robust order--or antifragile, if you prefer.

Economies seem to work similarly: disorder at one level, smoothed out to much more orderly at larger scales.

Sometimes my life seems to consist of reacting to one chaotic crisis after another, but at the end of the year it has had a flavor different from somebody else's reacting to chaotic crises.

A crystal is very orderly. Kind of limited, though. Chaos--the building material for order?

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Names In Memoriam

Sometimes a place gets a name because of something that happened there, or that used to be there.

We haven't heard the spring frogs since Nature's Preserve Office Park was built, and it looks like they cut down the trees and scraped off the topsoil to build the Wood Farm development.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Venus atmosphere

"The measurements showed that the temperature near the surface was hot compared to the temperature at an altitude of seven kilometers," Schubert said. "The atmosphere shouldn't have been in that state; it was highly unstable. Whenever you have very hot material underlying a layer of fluid, the fluid tends to turn over." If you have access, the paper is here.

It isn't easy to study Venus. The hot acid atmosphere dissolves space probes. Only one probe's temperature gauges survived all the way to the surface, and even that probe didn't last long. The article says that the pressure, temperature, and composition of the Venusian atmosphere could make it a supercritical fluid, acting like both a gas and a liquid. I don't know if it could act like either alternately, though that would be cool. Did anybody else read Close to Critical?

A terrestrial measurement at much lower temperatures suggests that the gases in the atmosphere might separate out under those conditions, leaving more of the dense CO2 at the bottom, even if the bottom level is at higher temperature. (The calculation of what sort of temperature distribution Venus should have is hard, and I won't attempt it.) Extrapolating to conditions on Venus is . . . um . . . speculative. As the article says, they've two choices: try another Venus probe or try to reproduce Venus conditions in the lab. The lab is probably cheaper.

Why would this be important enough to sort out? The paper notes that there would be much less nitrogen in the atmosphere of Venus if it were excluded from the lowest, most dense layer. And that could influence how we understand both the formation and evolution of the planet. It could also inform our understanding of a variety of other planets, where gases exist under similarly extreme conditions.

That's the sort of stuff that goes in the grant proposal. What's the real reason for trying to study it? It's weird and cool.

Plus, let's face it—it would be pretty cool to have something so bizarre happening on a planet that could be Earth's twin if it were elsewhere in the Solar System.

Yes, I know it is odd to think of Venus' atmosphere as "cool."

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Gain the whole world and lose his own soul

Does it strike you as odd that solipsism is so popular these days? References to "my truth" or the assertion (usually only implicit) that "How I perceive myself is who I am" turn up with disconcerting frequency.

I wonder if part of this is a reaction to "scientific claims" about human nature. When you're told that you do X because of Y, or think Z because of T, you start to feel like a puppet. If your mind is just rationalizing what you've already chosen, you're kidding yourself, so how can you communicate with anyone else? Or can I even cogito?

If you try to shoehorn human experience and communication inside the universe bounded by sense perception and what can be tangibly measured, there's not much room for a "you," and still less for communion. In a way you "gain the whole world" in terms of what power the approach can give, but you lose your soul. That's not universally popular—even Faust regretted the bargain.

Of course you know better, but the these days default parameters of the debate are Descartes': even if you're not a puppet, you still wind up with an incommunicable reality.

There’s another way, of course—or two, or three. One way says that statements about our nature refer to things that "ought" or "ought not." "Ought" is not something you can derive from science, and if you propose to think only in categories of sense-perception and tangible measurements, you're cut off from that. You may find the oughts inconvenient sometimes (like me), but you are free to do the oughts or not. This leaves room for "you," for communion, and purpose—and a creator.

That last item can be frightening. Suppose my creator has different priorities and different ideas about my nature. Will conforming to my creator lose me myself?

Christianity says "just the opposite," but you can see how the prospect would look to someone who believes their nature is their perception of it, malleable by their choice.

Monday, July 03, 2017

The Fate of Africa by Martin Meredith

A History of 50 Years of Independence

The book treats all of Africa, including Arab and Egyptian regions. It’s about a dozen years old now, and things have not gotten better. It is too early to say if the partition of Sudan will help—I hope so. Not every place went to hell, but enough did to show patterns.

Some stories differ dramatically from the others. The history of Algeria makes grim reading. South Africa seemed to show a spot of hope, but the intervening years since the book was published brought little encouragement.

Iron smelting and forging technology spread through Africa long ago, but the various industrial revolutions passed by Sub-Saharan Africa—until the last one, which spread imperial Europe everywhere. (It seems odd, because fairly simple constructions like water mills can send your iron smelting temperatures much higher, to give you more iron at once, and of better quality. Persian windmills ground grain easily—it wouldn’t have been hard to duplicate. There was trade across the Sahara, and across the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. A puzzlement. But perhaps the crops in some areas aren’t as suited to grinding. At any rate...)

What happened after independence?

The imperial powers infamously divided everything up with little regard for tribal or language affinities, except insofar as they helped them govern. Since they preferred to concentrate trade and industry in their own hands (and all the good land), at independence there weren’t many paths to success. “Forced labor” shows up repeatedly in the history—and that doesn’t mean desk jobs or entrepreneurs.

Though Africa has had large kingdoms and even empires before, recent history was all about the European nation-state model—and each new country needed its own government. Participation in which would represent one of the very few paths to success. Moslems often talk about the Ummah and deprecate nations, but in practice they like running the local show themselves just as much as the infidels do. So, the areas had themselves nation-states.

The imperial/global economy defined success and wealth in terms of consumption of Western goods, and offered tantalizing stuff to consume. More temptation, that you need a revenue stream to participate in.

Despite an initial bonding of “us against the imperials” a man’s loyalty was not to a country but to his family, tribe, and hangers-on. And you cannot rely on the support of your tribe if you are stingy.

What followed from this was: mismanagement from the get-go thanks to a lack of managers; concentration of power and ambition in the central government—universal control nominally to have disparate tribes work together for a common goal but in practice for rent-seeking; pretty much universal corruption; “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”—just from a neighboring black tribe instead of a white one. Making a nation a “democracy” merely changed the emphases, and didn’t generally have any effect on the “my tribe in power” corruption.

Some leaders took the European ideologies of socialism and Marxism seriously, as opposed to as bargaining chips in getting aid. Their subjects generally paid dearly for the experiments.

A lot of the details in The Fate of Africa weren’t covered in the news of the day: sometimes out of fear, sometimes because of entrenched lies (e.g. Rwanda genocide), and sometimes because Western news teams couldn’t be bothered. Quite a few people look very different (some worse, quite a few better) than they were originally reported. Lots of heroes had feet of clay, and unfortunately circumstances often brought out the flaws in a big way.

Read the book if you’ve any interest in Africa.

Because there is rarely a sense of nationhood, the obvious path to organic development and to reducing friction would seem to be through a different model of government, with federated statelets based on tribal affiliation, with a relatively weak central government. (Sort of Swiss style) Unfortunately this tends to leave you at the mercy of neighbors that cultivate a large army (African leaders are no more moral than those anywhere else when it comes to a neighbor’s easily stolen stuff). The only way to guarantee the integrity of such federations, at least at first, is for external parties to guarantee them. France has a record of this, and it usually works OK, though there’s a price to pay and they sometimes misfire very badly (e.g. Rwanda).

But—how do you get there from here? You don’t. The local powers-that-be aren’t going to give up their power and iron rice bowls, and (e.g.) European powers have no great interest in enforcing somebody else’s borders for no benefit to themselves.

What could help? The author suggests that industrial countries could cut back on farm supports, and let African exporters sell renewable crops and not just raw materials. That seems reasonable, though politically complicated. The Cold War is mostly over, and the proxy conflicts are done--that helps too.

I’d suggest learning a little more about the full situation before we try to throw food aid at a famine—often that makes the long-term situation worse as it ruins local farmers who tried to produce a surplus, and famines tend to be political creations anyway. And funding tiny projects, not big tempting cash cows (though lots of tiny projects get to be very expensive, since you need more people on the ground to investigate). The expectation is that if you get a degree you deserve to get a government job—that expectation has to change. Define educational objectives and focus on those, with the goal that the farmer will be a citizen farmer, the clerk a citizen clerk, and that education will not be a job training program.

All easier to say than do... The book does not depict Africans as puppets, but as their own agents, working with the environment they found themselves in, or which they helped create. The important changes have to come from the African groups; they can't be imposed. And some will turn out better than others.

Roman cement

Why modern mortar crumbles, but Roman concrete lasts millennia:
Al-tobermorite, long known to give Roman concrete its strength, can be made in the lab, but it’s very difficult to incorporate it in concrete. But the researchers found that when seawater percolates through a cement matrix, it reacts with volcanic ash and crystals to form Al-tobermorite and a porous mineral called phillipsite, they write today in American Mineralogist. So will you be seeing stronger piers and breakwaters anytime soon? Because both minerals take centuries to strengthen concrete, modern scientists are still working on recreating a modern version of Roman cement.

An older view article said:

It's the reaction that occurs between the lime and the volcanic material that produces the stronger concrete, the researchers found. As the concrete hardened, strätlingite crystals formed in spaces around the sand and the volcanic gravel, making the structure stronger.

Can we do the same? Apparently some varieties of fly ash have similar composition to volcanic ash. Maybe the Three Gorges Dam will luck out.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Dana Loesch

I don't keep up with these things, but a recent NRA ad was pointed out to me. I gather that Dana Loesch is or was a NRA representative. "I'm freedom's safest place." Urk.

Not quite.

Some of the things in the ad refer to significant problems. The brownshirts of anti-fa have had malign impact in places like Berkeley, and even here in Madison they allegedly ambushed and attacked a man coming out of a restaurant a block away from me, presumably "pour encourager les autres" (I've eaten at that restaurant a number of times). BLM has participated in and inspired some violent riots. Here in Madison their protest was peaceful. A startling proportion of the movers and shakers in media and arts seem to have started believing their own press releases, and consider Trump a racist and fascist and nazi and what-all else: and the rhetoric is often explicitly violent. But aside from Hodgkinson I don't see a lot of action based on it.

The dangers tend to be concentrated in a few places (I'm not forgetting that attack a block away!), and the rest of the country is calmer. The NRA has always been a bit on the shrill side, (like all such political organizations) but this is over the top. The violence problem in this town isn't from the political street thugs, but the Milwaukee and Chicago gangsters.

I've been predicting that if the existing political street thugs weren't dealt with, we'd start to get right- and center- political gangs as well, and that that wasn't going to end well. It sounds as though the NRA isn't waiting, but the call isn't explicit--plausible deniability. I'd be interested in seeing if Dana is still a representative next week. I hope not.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Heisenberg's chimps

"Chimpanzees in Uganda may have changed their hunting strategy in response to being watched by scientists."
"Sonso" chimps hunt in small groups for colobus monkeys, while those from the "Waibira" troop hunt solo and catch "whatever they can get their hands on".


Biologists who have followed and studied these animals for years think that work may have disturbed the group hunting that seems key to chasing and catching colobus monkeys.

I trust nobody is surprised. You'd probably change your hunting methods if you were being watched by chimps. And I've a strong suspicion that the spear-wielding chimps learned from watching people.

Research can be tough sometimes. And that's when you're not dealing with people. (The author of the latter was one of the Unibomber's targets. "McConnell originally published satirical articles alongside serious scientific articles in the Journal of Biological Psychology but received complaints that it was difficult if not impossible to tell which was which.")

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Stowing wheelchairs

I was talking this morning with a man who’d sustained a temporary injury that meant that although he could walk a little, and drive, he had to use a wheelchair most of the time. He’d fallen. He fell again while trying to store his wheelchair, and in consequence had to rely on other people to help him drive around.

Perhaps that’s actually a good thing, but I wondered if there were ways to make it possible for someone semi-wheelchair bound to drive by themselves.

If he uses a collapsible wheelchair, it might be.

The most obvious approach is to have a four-door sedan in which the front door is hinged, as usual, on the front, and the rear door hinged on the rear. Wheel up, open both doors, sit in the driver’s seat, fold the wheelchair and shove it into the back seat area, then close the doors and drive away. Reverse the procedure to get out.

The problem with that is that remounting a car door would take fairly massive and expensive modifications—probably of order of the cost of a used wheelchair van. (Which aren’t cheap.)

Another possibility is a roof-mounted mechanism using a swing-out arm. It would probably have to be motorized, but that could be arranged.

  1. Wheel up to car, open door, and have swing-out arm open out
  2. Sit in car and fold up wheelchair
  3. Lower and attach the upper attachment cables to the wheelchair.
  4. Raise the wheelchair to mid-station, and lower and attach the lower attachment cables to it
  5. Raise the wheelchair the rest of the way
  6. Have the mechanism turn the wheelchair sideways
  7. Rotate the swing-arm back over the car

Reverse this to get out of the car.

This doesn’t sound like a very cheap prospect either, and mounting it solidly to the roof of a car sounds difficult—though easier than trying to change the frame. It doesn’t sound like something you would rent for a few months.

Or you could strap a walker to the back of the wheelchair, and unlimber that when you need to store the wheelchair. You might need a hooked rod as well to help you get the wheelchair in and out, of course. A lot cheaper...

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Mismatch somehow

I've always liked climbing on things (Right knee registers a dissenting opinion), but never liked heights. A very early memory is of happily clambering partway up a slide and then realizing "Oh crud." (FWIW airplane travel doesn't bother me, and it doesn't matter much whether it is me or someone dear to me near the edge. Or near the foreshortened slope.)

I'm not sure how to square that circle.

Devil's Lake is a beautiful park, even with ominous clouds heading over the bluffs in your direction. We figured that it was going to be super-crowded and so parked at Steinke Basin and took a long access road into the park, which brought us in at the top of the bluff without having to climb or fight traffic. I'm starting to get better at tunnel vision, though that defeats the purpose of taking the bluff trails. (When I walk and stare at something off to one side, I drift.)

When we got to the Devil's Doorway trail we rested and watched our guests, teens, families with little kids, and a one-eyed lady with a cane climb down to see the Devil's Doorway. Felt a little silly.

Further along the path, a Spanish family said someone had fallen. None of us was trained or equipped, so we stayed away to give the pros room, and about 20 minutes later a couple of fire rescue vehicles appeared, and some time later an ambulance showed up at Steinke--it couldn't navigate the paths and waited for the call that the others were bringing the patient. We didn't learn any details, but fallers are usually the cliff-climbers, not the average path-walkers.

Physics and econ

RCS has a link today to a Guardian story: "Why I left physics for economics. I recently decided to abandon the rules that govern nature for the rules that govern people and markets: economics. Why would I do such a thing?"

Short version: work in physics is hard to find and unstable (which means jerking your family around--some of us value stability, contra Zuckerberg's values). Econ has interesting patterns and rules to be discovered, just like plasma physics.

Do other people remember quants on Wall Street? True, that was GIGO and most of the blame lies with screwed-up economic models the quants were given. Still, I'd look twice. Maybe three times.

It seems that the quant jobs weren't all they were cracked up to be. (One of the warnings in that last link is that living near the super-rich and seeing shops devoted to things you'll never afford makes even well-off people feel poor. Wealth is relative--who knew?)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Baseball matches for charity

I hadn't known that there was a charity baseball game between legislators in DC. Nice idea.

I wonder if one could promote a little more amity with similar baseball charity competitions among the three letter agencies. True, some of them are large enough to support whole farm systems as well.

Can you find fitting names?

The FDA Stoners, the CIA Moles, the Dept of Education Hickory Sticks, the HUD Trogolodytes, the NSF Perpetual Motioneers, the Dept of Energy Alchemists, the DOD Atlatls, the DOJ Yardbirds, the DOS Woosters ...

Monday, June 19, 2017


We were retracing our steps along the lower level of the Lime Kiln trail at High Cliff State Park, about ready to head home for the day. (It isn't that high a cliff, but it is part of the Niagara escarpment.) We started hearing a crackling and crashing, as though rocks were starting to break loose on the slope above us. After a second or two we saw that a large tree was falling towards us--maybe a little ahead, maybe not. We went elsewhere quickly.

The falling tree snapped off another tree on the way down, and made quite a crash when it hit.

The crown sat six inches from the edge of the path.

It saps a little of the drama of the incident to realize that we could have just kept strolling along and been perfectly safe...

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Paradox Men by Charles Harness

When I was about 8 or 9 I discovered Dad's Ace Double science fiction books. He left a lot of books behind, but one of those he took with us looked fascinating, and I liked Dome Around America. The book on the other side looked a lot harder to get into, and I didn't actually read it for a few more years.

When I did tackle Charles Harness' The Paradox Men, I loved it. Williamson's Dome I reread once, but it wasn't his best work by a long shot. Paradox Men, on the other hand...

I re-read Paradox this evening, and know enough physics and physiology now to have to force a lot of suspension of disbelief, but the liberties taken aren't for scenery--they drive the plot, which is fast and neatly concluded and as enjoyable as I remembered. Who, and what, is Alar? BTW, the later slightly edited edition is cleaner than the version I remember from 40+ years ago.

Other people have done similar things since (and Frank Herbert borrowed his shields for Dune), but it's a nice un-ironic read.

So if you're willing to forget real physics and physiology for a spell, read it.

Elk learning

Elk learn not just hunting season, but what kinds of weapons they're being hunted with--and adjust accordingly.
During bow season, they used difficult terrain more – making things tricky for bow hunters, who need to get much closer to their prey than those who use rifles. And during rifle season, the elk stayed further away from roads, where hunters might spot them.

The article ends with a suggestion that this might be useful in land management--a little hunting close by farms might encourage elk to take their custom elsewhere.

I wonder if this works for deer.

Monday, June 12, 2017

ViewMaster question

Mattel has contracted out production of this classic to The Bridge Direct, which presumably means their research budget is $0.00. Unfortunately.

I sent the firm an email, but wonder if anybody has seen ViewMaster reels made of plastic instead of cardboard?

Humidity and termites are not nice to cardboard, and it turns out these things are common in some parts of Africa which might benefit from having cheap tools for displaying images of geological features (and meteorological, etc) to children who don't have access to TV or travel. (The students would have to share, obviously.)

So: has anybody seen more durable reels than the ones I remember from childhood? Or from 25 years ago when I asked them for information as part of an outreach proposal for Fermilab. It never got off the ground.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Education in Africa, one data point

I'm doing a bit of research on tools for science education in elementary school in Africa.

From the Guardian, 2012

The hypothesis In the 1990s, a Dutch development charity called International Christelijk Steunfonds decided to fund a programme to support education in Kenya. Previous research had suggested that providing African children with textbooks that they could not normally afford might improve their exam results, so the charity paid for 25 schools to receive sets of English, science and maths books. The charity, however, didn't just provide the books. It decided to run an experiment.

The experiment As Tim Harford describes in his book Adapt, ICS asked the Kenyan government not to select 25 schools that would receive the books, but to identify 100 schools that would be equally suitable. From these, 25 were selected at random. The books were delivered and exam results at the 25 intervention schools compared with those from the 75 similar schools without the extra teaching resources.

The textbooks, it turned out, made very little difference. ICS then tried another intervention – illustrated teaching flip-charts – in a similar randomised trial. Again, there was no significant effect.

=So the charity tried a third approach, funding treatment for intestinal worms. This time, the trial followed a staggered design: 25 random schools received the treatment immediately, 25 after two years, and another 25 two years after that. This time, there was clear evidence: de-worming children unequivocally improved their learning, probably thanks to improved nutrition.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The more things change

I don't believe I can describe political discourse better than Twain.

Thursday, June 08, 2017


I caught part of an interview with a chaplain who wrote about hospice chaplains. I didn't expect the emphasis on silence.

She seemed to be saying that guests who were silent could give the patient permission to be silent also--to be silent with God and their life.

There's a time for goodbyes and making sure things aren't forgotten, and especially for trying to mend fences before it is too late.

Dave Barry wrote a moving column about his father's death, and his disappointment that the last words seemed so trivial. In the nature of things, the time of dying is generally not suited for long deep talks.

But silence means something. On the one hand we know of "the silent treatment" and the "I'm too busy to be bothered," but on the other hand there's the "The words have all been said already, and we can let their meaning echo through our time together."

It's easy to think of silence as like the empty spaces in one of the old Japanese prints. The emptiness has a shape and a meaning there,, given it by the lines. But perhaps silence can also be a positive thing in its own right, a sign of a different kind of communication. "Be still and know ...?"

It turns out silence is hard to come by. Over the years I've met several people who talked as though they feared that they would stop existing if they stopped talking. As I sit here I hear the highway, the turtle tank filter, a ball game broadcast in another room--but all these are easier to quiet than the "drunken monkey." One has to try. "Be still and know ..."

Blast from the past

I don't know why I thought of Bernard Goetz this evening, but the next thing that came to mind was "What happened to the four?"

Fortunately somebody else asked that question already, and the answer in this article matches other stories elsewhere.

Apparently the NYT report about sharpened screwdrivers was wrong--they had some for a planned theft, but not sharpened. And the claim that they were innocent panhandlers was contradicted by one of the four, who said they thought he was easy prey. And the attitude of Ramseur at the trial was so nasty that his testimony was stricken, and some think that Goetz was acquitted of most charges because of Ramseur. And though Goetz shot 5 times, one bullet missed, which was the basis for a reckless endangerment charge.

Cabey was partly paralyzed and possibly brain damaged--his family won a $43M judgment against Goetz which they have yet to collect. Ramseur went to prison for 25 years for a vicious rape, and apparently killed himself a year after getting out (on the anniversary of the shooting). Allen went to prison for a couple of robberies, and there's nothing that comes up since 1995. Canty indulged in a number of minor offenses, and was arrested but not charged for robbery and assault of his common-law wife in 1996.

I assume that Allen and Canty are still alive--either's death would be an instant and easy news story, and I didn't find one. If so, the 20 years since the last reported interaction with the law is a good sign.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

How the mighty are fallen!

Scientific American published an article on plans to recall the brain-dead to life.
First there’s the injection of stem cells isolated from the individual’s own fat or blood. Second, there’s a peptide formula injected into the spinal cord, purported to help nurture new neurons’ growth. ... Third, there’s a regimen of nerve stimulation and laser therapy over 15 days to spur the neurons to form connections. Researchers will look to behavior and EEG for signs that the treatment is working.

The article gives voice to a number of skeptics. Count me among their number. This is too silly for words--"Your laptop's hard drive isn't working? I'll fix it with superglue!"

This isn't the same Scientific American magazine I grew up with.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Featherless biped

Oops. T Rex skin seems cheerfully feather-free. Ditto other tyrannosaurs. They argue that large dinosaurs would, like large mammals, have lost any extra covering that might make them overheat. Or, maybe they never had any? Maybe the putative feathery ancestors were weird uncles and not grandfathers of the T Rex line.
None of the scales are as big as what you see on the back of a crocodile, but they are similar to the scales along a croc’s flank. I suppose tyrannosaur hide would make for a nice set of luggage.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Goldfish swallowing

Nearly half of American children spend at least 16 years in school.

School is a pretty artificial environment. There are fixed courses of study that don’t necessarily bear on what is going on (or will happen!) in your life, and within a course there are arbitrary projects and questions designed to make sure you master the material. When done, typically you won’t care 2 cents about them—and neither will anyone else. They aren’t intrinsically significant.

But we want to do something significant; we want to stand out from the crowd somehow. In school, there are some problems with this.

  • Athletics take lots of uncomfortable work, and in the end you may not stand out much compared to those with natural talent.
  • Math can be hard when you get beyond the elementary branches, and the advanced branches need talent.
  • Music takes practice, and the conductor usually objects to one musician in an orchestra standing out from the rest, unless the score calls for it.
  • Something dramatic and goofy, like phone booth stuffing? Problem is, people might laugh at you.
  • A job, or marriage? The system is designed to make it harder to do schooling when you work or raise a family. Twain said that he never let his schooling get in the way of his education; we need to make sure that schooling doesn't get in the way of our lives. That means some re-design...
  • Student government? The local stakes are normally dramatically lower than they are in state or national government, and that irks. But perhaps if you can expand the scope, and try out Utopian plans?
  • Being a prophet? If you’re an approved type, that can be a good gig—you get to indulge in lots of yelling and denunciation, and since you’re approved you don’t have to worry about the usual troubles real prophets have.


At Ricks by a graded road near our house lay a four foot pond. It bred mosquitoes, of course, but then tadpoles appeared, which seemed to take care of the larvae. The attraction of such a feature in the landscape should be obvious.

We tried slinging in dirt clods and rocks to see who could make the biggest splash. The tadpoles usually wriggled back to the pond, though not always—and that meant flies, which were annoying.

A couple of us tried to throw in a quite substantial quartz rock. Alas, it was so heavy that we couldn’t give it any speed, so it made more of a minor tsunami than a splash. It sank in the mud, leaving only a pyramid an inch above the water.

Next year the pond had filled in, and was now just a minor depression with a bit of quartz sticking out of the dirt.

I saw it again a few years ago. Re-grading had covered everything over, but I knew where it had been, and where the rock still was.

The quartz boulders in the field beyond that were so sharp edged when we used to jump on them were weathered and a little overgrown, and the trees and logs were long gone, but I still remembered where they had been.

Paths we explored, the field where we played 5-man football (It is hard to field two teams with only 5 players), the route the horse took around my grandfather’s house when he borrowed a placid horse so we could ride, where the persimmons that nobody really wanted grew—I can point to all these things.

I think I spent more time reading books than playing outdoors, and books are tangible too. For a while I was in another world, and then all evaporated when it ended. Almost all, there’s a residue in the imagination (what you immerse yourself in affects you). But I could still point to the book and say “I read that.”

Our Youngest Daughter dislikes e-books intensely, even when it is the only way to read some out-of-print work, saying that there is no substitute for the tangible thing in her hands. (Most of the articles and reports I deal with are never printed out, FWIW.)

I started down this path when I started wondering what difference it made for a generation to spend leisure with intangible amusements: video games in particular, though I suppose you could expand that into videos and ubiquitous music. I think the latter are more passive, though: books and the games require something from you to keep them going. It seems as though people don’t make their own music as much as they used to—maybe competing with the ubiquitous pros is too hard. I should try counting how many people seem to be singing in the car.

I have to speak only from observation about video games: I never got into them enough to get the dexterity to enjoy them, and at this stage of my life I don’t care to invest my limited time in them. But they seem especially ephemeral. Maybe you saved the game at some point, and maybe the scores are saved for a while, but close it down and where is it? Your life has fewer tangible markers for things you’ve done.

I wrote software for DAQ, hardware diagnostics, processing and filtering, and analysis—things people needed at the time. They were ephemeral too, but the fact of their service to the team remains. True, the result is a few journal articles, some of which nobody reads anymore. But the help was something real, though intangible. So maybe I should widen my question a bit, but … maybe next time.

Perhaps the best way to say it is that I feel more grounded, maybe a bit more real, when I can point to something and say “I made that,” or “I helped that person,” or “I was there.” Maybe that’s just me, and maybe very few people are as deeply into the ephemeral as advertised. But if not, I wonder how it changes you to live with fewer and fewer markers.

Then again, suppose your accomplishments themselves are focused on the ephemeral...

Saturday, May 27, 2017


If you hear that Jason has a degree in Chemistry, you figure he’s got some smarts and done some hard work. Likewise with a degree in Italian literature: Jason had to put in a lot of study to learn it. You might wonder how many jobs would be available for the latter degree, but college isn’t always a vocational school.

But a degree, or perhaps merely progress to a degree, in sociology doesn’t elicit the same respect. It gets more respect than gender studies, but that’s a pretty low bar.

Students in college tend not to have a list of accomplishments to their credit, aside from the stuff used to impress the admissions office. This is perfectly natural, but youth is often impatient.

Thinking over the list of targets of venom in the news lately: James Watson, Robert Heinlein, Charles Murray, Matt Taylor, even Bret Weinstein (and remember Larry Summers?): they all have this in common: they have accomplished things, earned respect—perhaps as a Nobel prize winner, perhaps as a ordinary professor. Their attackers generally are not in the same league. Those trying to intimidate Weinstein were students, not other professors. I didn’t hear of any Nobel prize winners in the line-up complaining about Watson at U of I. I've not heard that any of those claiming Heinlein was a terrible racist could write a tenth as well as he did.

Perhaps envy may play a big role in the noisy attacks. There's a lot of tribalism too, and of course the screamers get publicity, and often they get their way as well—something is structurally wrong there. When did it get to be carved in stone that youth are wiser and more noble than their elders?

But I get a strong smell of malicious envy from the social justice warriors.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Medicine Wheel

I was tasked with finding things to do/see in Big Horn in the summer(*), and one of the first places that popped up (as opposed to generic activities) was the Medicine Wheel. Archaeology has always been an interest of mine, so...

Stanford has a web page. There one learns that:

n 1974, an archaeoastronomer named Jack Eddy visited this Medicine Wheel and studied its alignments, that is, its arrangements of rocks, cairns, and spokes. He found the arrangements point to the rising and setting places of the Sun at summer solstice, as well as the rising places of Aldebaran in Taurus, Rigel in Orion, and Sirius in Canis Major -- all bright, important stars associated with the Solstice. Later another astronomer, Jack Robinson, found a cairn pair that marked the bright star Fomalhaut's rising point with the Sun 28 days before solstice.


The dawn or heliacal rising of a star is important because it pinpoints a date exactly. This is the day a star is first seen, just before dawn, after it has been behind the Sun for an entire season. From about 1200 AD to 1700 AD, these 4 stars would have acted as solstice markers for the Native Americans - Fomalhaut (F to D) would rise 28 days before the Summer Solstice, Aldebaran (F to A) would rise during the 2 days just before the solstice, Rigel (F to B) would rise 28 days after the solstice, and Sirius (F to C) 28 days after that, at the end of August and hence marking the end of summer and time to leave the mountain.

Which sounds quite complicated and interesting, but the diagram associated with it is not so promising

The cairns aren't exactly neat geometric points, and the resolution doesn't look much better than 5 degrees. And the cairn orientations don't seem to line up with their putative use as observation points. If Jack started with a list of stars significant to the Cheyenne and found things that lined up with each of them, I'd be OK with describing it as a rough-and-ready calendar--though not 100% convinced. If he got a list of stars that were "pointed at" and then went looking for which were significant, I'd be less convinced. "look elsewhere effect"

(*) Things that don't involve strenuous hikes, and preferably also no precipices.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Whole hog

That phrase. "I do not think it means what you think it means."

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Memorable but unremembered

On I65 one of the side roads leads to Walesboro. That name always reminds me of the line in "A man for all seasons": "Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?" Except, of course, that I generally only remember the last 3 words, and have to reconstruct the rest. It's a memorable line, but I can't remember it. I'm even worse at getting all the bits in order for the unforgettable passage that ends "Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"

I've an excuse when an earworm of Hava Nagila turns into mud (or into Halva Nagila, or into Harvey and Sheila, or just repeats like a scratched record), since I never learned the actual words and my ear isn't tuned to pick out the phonemes of Hebrew.

But English is my native language. When my mind says "This is important; stuff it in one of the quick-access slots," how come half of it falls on the floor? I summon up a teaser or key line or executive summary, but most of the details are missing.


On I74 headed east to Indianapolis, there is a billboard touting the services of a law firm that promises to help you after an injury or similar loss. What caught my eye as I drove by was that they describe themselves as "an award-winning law firm."

Not "a case-winning law firm?" Or does that not matter until validated by some awards committee?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Two timing

Back in high school I read a book by Eddington in which he was explaining space-time. In one section, he suggested that different universes, with different numbers of space and time dimensions, would be limited in the ways they could intersect: that you could have a portal from a universe with 3 space and 1 time to one with 3 time and 1 space, but not to one with 2 time and 2 space dimensions. To this day I have no idea why he thought that.

However, it left this science fiction fan with a nagging idea for a setting: suppose we had 2 time dimensions? What sorts of things could happen?

Solving that puzzle had to wait until I got around to working out some of the dynamics, and when I finally did it turned out some other folks had already been playing with the idea. Including Sharshakavili (sp) and somebody named Bars.

To solve the dynamics you first have to decide whether you can violate causality on a macroscopic level--can somehow make your grandfather decide to become a monk before he met your grandmother? (Never mind quantum non-causality; I don't think I want to go there right now.)

I said no, and used a framework like the one Einstein used but with two time coordinates. Then you run into the question--how do you interact with a photon that's running along a slightly different timeline?

Hmm. I guessed that you would still be able to see it--but there'd be some probability that you'd miss seeing it entirely.

That was even cooler--you automatically would have trouble seeing some of the matter in the universe--it would be dark to you.

Presumably near things are mostly on the same timeline, and you'd only start to get major differences far away. OK, so what would a photon look like that came from a distant galaxy with a different timeline?

Oops. It would have the same number of "vibrations" in what would look like a shorter time--meaning it would be blue-shifted. Distant galaxies are red-shifted due to the expansion of the universe, and apparently the expansion is increasing (unless the supernova distribution is wrong somehow), which would make the redshift stronger, not bluer.

Plus, the blue shift complicates energy conservation. I think there might be a way to finesse that, but without either blue-shifted light or disappearing photons I think it safe to say we don't have macroscopic extra time dimensions. I gave up on the study. (If somebody wants to play around with a sci-fi setting in which multiple timelines interleave, feel free.)

On the other hand, if you've got 10 dimensions curled up in M-theory, Dr. Bars suggests that you can spare one for an extra time dimensions. He uses a formalism that uses position and momentum in symmetric ways, and argues from that symmetry that there should be another time dimension. (I think.) Unfortunately I don't share his optimizm about CERN discovering supersymmetry anytime soon--or anytime at all, for that matter.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Doing good

From Sidelights:
What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but absence of self-criticism. It is comparatively of little consequence that you occasionally break out and abuse other people, so long as you do not absolve yourself. The former is a natural collapse of human weakness; the latter is a blasphemous assumption of divine power. And in the modern world, where everybody is quarrelling about the urgent necessity of peace, nobody notices how this notion has really poisoned the relations of nations and men.

Thus the Irishman would never have minded the English saying he was mad; or even that he was murderous and slanderous and cruel. There was something to be said for the assertion; and Irishmen were often ready, if not to admit it about themselves, at least to admit it about each other. The trouble began when the Englishman advanced the obviously ludicrous proposition that he himself was sane; that he was practical and sensible and well-balanced. No wonder a whole nation went wild at so fantastic a fancy as that.

What the Prussian said about the French or the other Latins was simply ignorance: the ignorance found only among the seriously educated. It was what the Prussian said about the Prussian, that made half the world smell afar off something that stank with spiritual pride.

The moral is the same about much milder and more amiable things; indeed it is rather specially true about mild and amiable things. The trouble with the philanthropist is not that he does not love all men moderately, but rather that he generally loves one man too well. And, contemplating the sort of philanthropist who is also an egoist, I am tempted to recommend him to try being a man-hater, that men may more easily love him. I am tempted to say to him: Hate men as a sort of holiday; beat and kick them for a reasonable interval; burn down their houses, in moderation, and lay waste all civilization within reasonable limits: But do not be kind merely to exhibit your own kindness; for that is an insult that is never forgiven.

When you are helping people, pray for a spirit of humility; I had almost said, when you are helping them, pray for an appearance of helplessness. The deadly word ‘patronage’ is, like so many such, a word that has decayed from a much nobler meaning. But in this sense we may find another significance in the old conception of patron saints. It may mean that a man has jolly well got to be a saint, before he ventures to be a patron.

Chesterton nodded a bit here: he did not predict the rise of pat-your-self-on-the-back-for-being-so-observant self-criticism.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Good ideas

One of the talks concentrated on how we should try to organize analyses, and not keep re-inventing the wheel. She showed lists of related analyses, and urged us to make sure that all code was in the repository and not private sandboxes. And that students should learn how to have their code reviewed.

All noble goals. (She has led a working group, is one of the young big names in the experiment, and is a pleasure to work with.)

However, several people who've trained more students than she pointed out a few problems. Part of the apprenticeship is to do some of the exercises yourself, and there's no better way to learn how to minimize a log likelihood function on a complicated data set than to do it yourself. And, then, when you want to try a full-blown analysis, you'll tend to use what you developed and understand the best.

Another problem is validation--are you sure you don't have some subtle bugs in your code or your procedures? They do a lot of cross-checking, but often there's no substitute for an independent analysis. Sam Ting tries to make sure that two independent analysis groups don't communicate with each other. He allegedly is the only one that sees both.

On the other hand, my analyses over the years would have been improved by some better coding practices and review. I kept a record of all my coding errors over a year, and found that the plurality were cut-and-paste errors. She's quite right about that.

And private code from somebody's sandbox is hard to maintain, or re-use when the student has graduated and somebody else wants to process a couple more years' data.


One of the talks was on the possibility of seeing solar flares with the IceCube neutrino detector. That might seem a little counter-intuitive: how do big magnetic disturbances manage to make neutrinos?

A plasma with a magnetic field in it will carry that magnetic field around with it as it moves. (The magnetic field acts on the plasma and the plasma acts on the magnetic field--plasma physics is hard.) So far so good--the plasma erupts from the Sun, and carries some of the Sun's magnetic field with it. Think of it stretching those field lines further out into space.

But it turns out there's a lot of turbulence there too, so the plasma sometimes gets whirled around on itself. What happens when the magnetic field lines cross?

You get what you might think of as a magnetic short circuit. The magnetic field "lines" join and shift--quite rapidly. And this happens over a fairly sizeable chunk of space.

A rapidly changing magnetic field produces an electric field (and vice versa, of course). So out in the middle of Nowhereville-By-The-Sun, a bit of the flying plasma experiences a strong electric field. The protons move one way, the electrons another. Most of them bounce off other things and slow down and go back to balancing each other's charge eventually, but some luck out and keep getting accelerated (remember that the reconnection region can be large). Acceleration over a long distance builds up speed.

Some of those protons (electrons tend to get scattered away more easily) head out in our direction, and eventually may hit the Earth's magnetic field and spiral in to be part of an aurora.

The protons of interest here head back to the Sun, where some of them smash into another nucleus. Those kinds of smashes usually produce pions, and the charged pions eventually decay into a muon and a few neutrinos. And we can maybe see some of those neutrinos. They aren't terribly high energy, but they're higher energy than those usually produced in the Sun--maybe 10 times higher.

It's ironic--neutrinos produced in the center of the Sun are ordinary low-ish energy, but those produced on the outside during flares can be quite a bit peppier. I can't think of any everyday examples, but I notice that boiling water in a pot only really splashes you when bubbles reach the surface and pop. The pop can really fling hot water around. Remember boiling something dry too fast back in chemistry class, and getting "bumping?"

We expect similar sorts of things to happen, but on even larger scales, when the blast wave from a supernova crashes into interstellar gas. Some of the neutrinos IceCube detected were over 10,000,000 times more energetic than ordinary solar neutrinos.

Thursday, May 04, 2017


It isn't a great secret, though the latest negatives haven't been officially published. I suspect we won't have a smoking gun unless/until a Gamma Ray Burster or supernova lets loose in our galaxy. IceCube is designed to detect higher energy neutrinos than a supernova is likely to produce in its explosion, though the resulting shock wave hitting matter nearby is another matter.

Yes, I know it's odd, but the reactions that produce the supernova explosion are supposed to be the ordinary nuclear ones. When the shock wave from the blast (with magnetic field embedded) later interacts with gas (expelled from the star years before), the resulting interactions can accelerate particles to extremely high energies.

What that means, if I understand the matter correctly, is that the most likely neutrinos are too weak to ring up unless there are boat-loads of them, and we'll only get boat-loads if the source is close. And we might have to wait a while for the really high energy stuff to show up, since it isn't produced right away. And even longer for the protons and other nuclei to arrive. (If a source 50,000 light-years away produces iron nuclei whose trajectory is bent a mere three degrees, they'll arrive over three months after the light and neutrinos do. And we don't know in any detail what the magnetic field are out there, so we can't predict when.)

So we see GRBs in other detectors (SWIFT), but don't see anything out of the ordinary in IceCube. So far. Maybe there's an unnoticed glitch in the analyses: I'm not in a position to tell. I just sit through the talks, which show large p-values after unblinding.

There are plenty of things we can do, but some of the tantalizing problems are staying that way.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017


You presumably pick elders as leaders because experience has given those of them willing to learn some perspective, an understanding of what patience means, some sense of proportion, and accumulated knowledge. Not that we have a habit of doing that in this country, but think about organizations of smaller scale than the state, and you may see instances of what I mean.

You'd also hope that habits of virtue would provide some inertia against the pulls of temptations.

Maybe they do--somewhat. But I suppose that power has its own set of temptations that most of us haven't been exposed to: to listen to sycophants, to be flattered by groupies, to come to enjoy arbitrary exercise of power. But history and literature (and, sometimes, our acquaintances) are full of the theme of a worker/conqueror who builds a fortune/dominates an empire only to have the children/grandchildren (born to power) fritter it all away. (Yes, I know I'm defining virtue a bit widely when talking about warlords, but they have to have at least some self-discipline and courage.)

I'm not sure there's a simple and robust way to survey this. If, for example, you looked at the history of family businesses, you might have some difficulty, from outside the family, in distinguishing mere lack of skill from carelessness.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Google translate

I gather that Google Translate has had an upgrade. I've had a favorite text to hit it with, a narration on the subject of the use of jargon. I follow Twain's lead of turning it into French and then English again. Experience on the Feverish Hornet was written by a contemporary of Twain's. It is not even remotely a fair challenge to any automatic translation system.

Google Translate did a better job than last time. Last time the English version still had chunks of French embedded.

"Yes, that's the way it is," Woodtick Williams said carefully as he looked up the high end where the eternal snow was shining in the summer sun.

"You are eminently correct, Mr. Buckskin has stated the exact opinion of the subscriber, safely, as a death and semi-annual evaluations.

"Each trade has its own style of lead and its particular plunge towards the horizon, from the high congressman to the neglected forward agent of the eternal gospel, each trade, I allow, has its own jargon. Pork and Bean Pilgrim States that have stayed in my camp for twenty-seven years said that the miner made more professional snowshoes useless than anyone else, but that is not the case. Take people testing, From flowering to the lower level, T much difference.

"Nine years ago, I and Timberline Monroe and Katooter Lemons of Zion hit the Feverish Hornet on Slippery Ellum. First of all, we knew that the prospecting season had closed and that, The surface had dragged, We decided to sink on the Hornet, just for luck.

"Then Timberline, Katooter and I went to Huckleberry Oleson's store at the lower camp and soaked our face for chuck, tanning the valley and a blastin 'outfit for work.

"Down five feet, she showed 150 colors to a piece of rock no bigger," a bottom plug, with well-defined wall rocks on both sides and a mucous wall like a trusted game at Frisco.

"The quartz, with a slight layer of gouge, seemed to have been blocked by the formation as a Sabbath-school scholar's elbow through an English cream pie, and it had crushed the prehistoric sawdust and Pre-adamite out of the geological crust in good shape.

"Katooter," I say, "if it manifests itself this way all along the way, I will be quite dodbuttered if I do not think we have stuck the sugar finally.We will run up ten feet And see how she looks with the naked eye.

"Ten feet wide, it widens to three feet between the walls, with a solid gray quartz as pretty as a bank notebook, and then we made a five-pound mill in a half-gallon mortar and cleared A dollar of dust on the blade of a long-time hand shovel.

"The Feverish Hornet prospectus was very encouraging.

"I sat on a candle and I sang something. I always have a few notes when I feel tickled on anything.

"Katooter listened to my singing a bit and then we went down the goulash whisper something about my music and pointed out that prosperity always had its little drawbacks after all.

"He slipped to the Fresco Hell and stuck his old red-spotted skin, so full of 49 vintage horse flags that he completely fell away from the head and walked away into the poverty of Rocks he did not know Timberline nor me from A pump in the stomach.

"This is generally the case with men who raise their noses to vocal music.

"Well, he did not improve so quickly that the next day he occupied a front seat at the largest triangular matinee of delirium you have ever heard of and was the sole owner of the largest aggregation of marbled tarantula and Of imported caterpillars and centipedes which has already been exposed in the Columbia Fair Field.

"All the time, he knotted a devilish insect crawling his sleeve or gently brushing his hair, then shouting like a maniac and praying and swearing like a man hired.

"The atmosphere seemed to be full of buzz as big as a stove, and whenever they cuddled or slipped it with their little stifling gimlets, Katooter would jump and rummage like a Piute's cure trying to soften a big waste Of turbulent cucumber.

"At that time Katooter would put his wardrobe and throw me in the fireplace and Timerline under the bed, he would go out in the light of the stars, with the thermometer up to 37 degrees, and would be wrapped only in his growing thoughts.

"As Timberline and I would get up and gobble up the cobwebs and the ashes of our eyes, Katooter would be halfway to the ravine and would light up like a Greek slave hunting for a clothing store.

"First we ran after him and tried to pull him out and frame him, but he was too impenetrable, and apparently so allied to the anguish of putting as much distance as he could between him and the tarantulas Blurry and falling style of centipedes, which he made quite a long time, considering the worst trail and light air of the mountain.

"Then, another thing: when we got to him, it was so embarrassing to hang on.

"You've probably tried before, when you were little, catch the boy who tied your shirt to the upper limb of a dead tree, and you put all of your energy into the effort, but you decided after a while d 'Until he took his clothes before punishing him.

"That's how it was with Katooter, he was the smartest man I'd ever tried to collect in the fold, we think we had it, and suddenly it slipped between our legs like a yaller dog And laughed wild A little laughter that would run the thermometer down 13 degrees, and far, he would read the trail as a red right head.

"Then I finally got angry, and I chased him with a lariat and a yellow fever.

"Yellow fever was a tinnitus mule that belonged to the company. It was called yellow fever because it was so fatal.

"Well, when Yellow Fever and I followed Katooter with the lariat, we always gathered it in - [Bless my soul, how long I twist this thread.]

"Well, to make a long story, Katooter rallied after a while, and during the spell, his chilblains were convalescent, and a newer skin was becoming on his system where he had slaughtered it by the midwife and Falling into the old abandoned holes, I had an offer of $ 50,000 for my third in the Feverish Hornet and sold.

"Then I went to Truckee and bought a small house from an old railroad there, and I stopped for the winter, and I was allowed to withdraw until the Snow remained in the spring.

"One night, about half after 12 years, I judge, I heard someone walking in the window of my boudoir. When I heard that night, I counted that something twisted Passed, so I slipped out of bed and I had my Great Blood Searcher and Liver Purifier, with the new style of central fire and cartridge ejector, and slid towards the window, calculating to push a tonic In which one could be who was picnicking around my request.

"I looked so as to have a good idea of where I wanted to run over him, and then I thought that before mutilating him I asked him if he had a choice on the part of his bowels that 'He wanted to preserve, then I sang it:

"Look below, pard, for I'll call the meeting to order in a minute!" Rise your hands, please, and make the great sign of distress, or I'll have to mutilate you! "And where you would like to have the fatal wound, and be judicious, because I have my brief costume and the evening air is cold!"

"He did not understand me, apparently, for a gurgling laugh from below, and the festival reaps:

"Hullo, Fatty, is it you?" I just saw if you had shot at it again. "You know I had to bring you back if the second seven was gone." Well, I went to the old man. Three are two hours late and four are on time, there are two sevens and two sections of nine, Skinney will take out the first seven and Shorty will train him with 102. It's you and me For the second seven, with Limber Jim on the front and Frenchy to keep the caboose.The first fire is bad side in a wash on this side of Ogallalla, and the old Whatshisname who runs 258 got his Crown leaf ceded And tetrapped his headlights in the middle of New Jerusalem.You know the little Swede who used to run extra for Old Hotbox on the emigrant for a while? Well, he was shooting the 258 and he was under three Apartments and a tank of coal oil with a brake beam s Its coupler, and its system more or less relaxed. He went on to sweet then too. The rest of the boys are more or less demoralized, Follow-up for repairs. Now you do not want to do monkey too much, because if you do not mind like six bits and go out on the tick, the old man will give you a time check and the big eastern bounce. You hear the sweet trill of my bazoo?

I slowly took off the Blood Purifier and moved to the street lamps where the silver rays of the moon could touch my dazzling outlines, I said," Partner, I'm glad and grateful to have met you. I do not know the first ding I am an ordinary miner, and my house is the digestive apparatus of the earth, but for the professional chin melody, you certainly take the cake. You also take the gesture. The cake basket and the cold pie on the spill. My name is Woodtick Williams. I discovered the Feverish Hornet on Slippery Elm. I'm proud, you know. Continue to become more familiar with your profession and by and by whom, when no one can understand you, you will be promoted and respected, and you will finally be a sleepy car driver, and you will enjoy the greatest mental calm and Margin of intellectual stagnation that has never seen the world. ---- '

"But he was gone.

"Then I took a pillow shield and wiped cracked spray on the soles of my feet, and I went to bed, wrapped in a big mouth."<\P>

"Oui, c'est ainsi", a déclaré Woodtick Williams avec attention, alors qu'il regardait vers le haut de gamme où la neige éternelle brillait au soleil d'été.

"Vous êtes éminemment correct. Le monsieur de Buckskin a déclaré l'opinion exacte de l'abonné, en toute sécurité, comme une mort et des évaluations semestrielles.

"Chaque métier a son style de plomb et son plongeon particulier vers l'horizon. Du haut membre du Congrès, jusqu'à l'agent avancé négligé de l'évangile éternel, chaque métier, je le permets, a son jargon particulier. Chaque pèlerin de porc et de haricots Des États qui ont séjourné dans mon camp pendant vingt-sept ans ont dit que le mineur faisait plus de raquette professionnelle inutile que quiconque, mais ce n'est pas le cas. Prenez les gens en train de tester, de la floraison au niveau inférieur, T beaucoup de différence.

"Il y a neuf ans, I et Timberline Monroe et Katooter Lemons, de Zion, ont frappé le Feverish Hornet sur Slippery Ellum. Tout d'abord, nous savions que la saison de prospection s'est fermée et que, comme la disposition de la surface avait traînée , Nous avons décidé de couler sur le Hornet, juste pour la chance.

"Alors Timberline, Katooter et moi sommes allés au magasin de Huckleberry Oleson au camp inférieur et avons trempé notre physionomie pour le chuck, le bronzage de la vallée et une blastin 'outfit pour le travail.

"En bas de cinq pieds, elle a montré 150 couleurs à un morceau de roche pas plus grand", un bouchon de fond, avec des roches murales bien définies des deux côtés et une muqueuse murale comme un jeu de confiance à Frisco.

"Le quartz, avec une légère couche de gouge, avait l'air d'avoir été bloqué par la formation comme un coude d'érudit du sabbat-école à travers une tarte à la crème anglaise, et il avait écrasé la sciure préhistorique et pré-adamite hors de la Croûte géologique en bonne forme.

"Katooter", dis-je, "si elle se manifeste de cette façon tout au long de la voie, je serai tout à fait dodbuttered si je ne pense pas que nous avons coincé le sucre enfin. Nous allons courir jusqu'à dix pieds et voir Comment elle regarde à l'œil nu.

"Dix pieds de pied, elle s'élargit à trois pieds entre les murs, avec un quartz gris solide aussi joli qu'un carnet de banque. Ensuite, nous avons fait un moulin de cinq livres dans un mortier de demi gallon et avons dégagé un dollar de poussière sur la lame D'une pelle à main longue durée.

"Le prospectus de Feverish Hornet était très encourageant.

"Je me suis assis sur une bougie et j'ai chanté quelque chose. J'ai toujours quelques notes quand je me sens chatouillé sur n'importe quoi.

"Katooter a écouté mon chant un peu, puis nous avons descendu le goulache murmurer quelque chose au sujet de ma musique et souligné que la prospérité avait toujours ses petits inconvénients après tout.

"Il a glissé vers l'Enfer Fresco et a coincé sa vieille peau de taches de rousse, si pleine de drapeaux de cheval du millésime de 49 qu'il s'est complètement éloigné de la tête et s'est éloigné dans la pauvreté des roches qu'il ne connaissait pas Timberline ni moi de Une pompe à l'estomac.

"C'est généralement le cas avec les hommes qui montent leur nez à la musique vocale.

"Eh bien, il ne s'est pas amélioré si rapidement que le lendemain, il occupait un siège avant à la plus grande matinee triangulaire de delirium dont vous avez déjà entendu parler et était le seul propriétaire de la plus grande agrégation de tarentules marbrés et de chenilles et de mille-pattes importées Qui a déjà été exposé dans le domaine équitable de Columbia.

"Tout le temps, il nouait un insecte diabolique qui rampait sa manche ou passait doucement ses cheveux, puis il criait comme un maniaque et priait et jurait comme un homme embauché.

"L'atmosphère semblait être pleine de bourdonnements aussi grand qu'une cuisinière, et chaque fois qu'ils le câlassaient ou l'enfilaient avec leurs petits gimlets étouffants, Katooter sauterait et se fouillerait comme un remède de Piute essayant de Assouplir un gros gaspillage de concombre turbulent.

"A cette époque, Katooter mettrait sa garde-robe et me jetterait dans la cheminée et Timerline sous le lit, il sortirait dans la lumière des étoiles, avec le thermomètre jusqu'à 37 degrés, et ne serait enveloppé que dans ses pensées croissantes.

"Au moment où Timberline et moi se lèveraient et engluçaient les toiles d'araignées et les cendres de nos yeux, Katooter serait à mi-chemin du ravin et s'allumerait comme une esclave grecque sardin chasse pour un magasin de vêtements.

"Tout d'abord, nous courions après lui et essayions de l'arracher et de l'encadrer, mais il était trop impénétrable, et apparemment tellement allié à l'angoisse de mettre toute la distance qu'il pouvait entre lui et les tarentules floues et la chute Style de mille-pattes, qu'il a fait un temps assez long, compte tenu du pire sentier et de l'air léger de la montagne.

"Ensuite, une autre chose: quand on est arrivé à lui, il était tellement gênant de s'accrocher.

"Vous avez probablement essayé auparavant, lorsque vous étiez petit, attraper le garçon qui a attaché votre chemise au membre supérieur d'un arbre mort, et vous avez mis toute votre énergie dans l'effort, mais vous avez décidé après un certain temps d'attendre Jusqu'à ce qu'il ait pris ses vêtements avant de le punir.

"C'est comme ça avec Katooter. Il était l'homme le plus intelligent que j'avais déjà essayé de rassembler dans le pli. Nous pensons que nous l'avions, et tout à coup il glissait entre nos jambes comme un chien yaller et riait sauvage Un peu de rire qui courrait le thermomètre en bas de 13 degrés, et loin, il lirait le sentier comme un droit de tête rouge.

"Alors je me suis fâché enfin, et je l'ai poursuivi avec un lariat et une fièvre jaune.

"La fièvre jaune était une mule d'acouphène qui appartenait à l'entreprise. On l'appelait Fièvre jaune parce qu'il était si funeste.

"Eh bien, quand Yellow Fever et moi avons suivi Katooter avec le lariat, nous l'avons toujours rassemblé dans - [Bénis mon âme, combien de temps je tord ce fil.]

"Bien, pour faire une longue histoire, Katooter s'est rallié après un certain temps, et pendant le sortilège, ses chilblains étaient convalescents, et une peau plus nouvelle devenait sur son système où il l'avait abattu par la sage-brush et tombant dans l'ancien Des trous abandonnés, j'ai eu une offre de 50 000 $ pour mon troisième dans le Feverish Hornet et vendu.

"Puis je suis allé à Truckee et j'ai acheté une petite maison d'un vieux chemin de fer là-bas, et je me suis arrêtée pour l'hiver, et j'ai autorisé à me retirer jusqu'à ce que la neige soit restée au printemps.

"Une nuit, environ la moitié après 12 ans, je juge, j'ai entendu quelqu'un se promener dans la fenêtre de mon boudoir. En l'entendant à cette nuit-là, j'ai compté que quelque chose de tordu se passait, alors je me suis glissé du lit et j'ai eu mon Great Blood Searcher et Liver Purifier, avec le nouveau style de l'incendie central et de l'éjecteur de cartouche, et glissé vers la fenêtre, calculant pour pousser un tonique dans celui qui pourrait être qui faisait le pique-nique autour de ma demande.

"J'ai regardé de manière à avoir une bonne idée de l'endroit où je voulais couler sur lui, et alors je pensais que, avant de le mutiler, je lui demandais s'il avait le choix sur la partie de ses entrailles qu'il voulait préserver, alors Je l'ai chanté:

"Regarde ci-dessous, pard, car je vais appeler la réunion à l'ordre dans une minute! Lève-toi les mains, s'il te plaît, et fait le grand signe de détresse, ou je vais devoir te mutiler ! Montrez-moi où vous aimeriez avoir la blessure mortelle, et soyez aussi judicieux, parce que j'ai mon bref costume et que l'air du soir est froid!

"Il ne m'a pas compris, apparemment, pour un rire gargouillant venu d'en bas, et la fête récolte:

"'Hullo, Fatty, est-ce toi? Je viens de voir si tu avais encore tiré dessus. Tu sais que je devais te rapporter si le second sept était sorti. Eh bien, je suis allé au vieil homme Pour voir ce qui se passe dans le tableau. Trois sont deux heures en retard et quatre sont à l'heure. Il y a deux sevens et deux sections de neuf. Skinney va sortir les sept premières et Shorty l'entraînera avec 102. C'est toi et moi pour Le deuxième sept, avec Limber Jim sur le devant et Frenchy pour maintenir le caboose. Le premier feu est mauvais côté dans un lavage de ce côté d'Ogallalla, et le vieux Whatshisname qui exécute 258 a obtenu sa feuille de la Couronne a cédé et a tétrapé ses phares au milieu De la Nouvelle Jérusalem. Vous connaissez le petit Suédois qui avait l'habitude de courir en supplément pour Old Hotbox sur l'émigrant pendant un certain temps? Eh bien, il tirait le 258 et il était sous trois appartements et un réservoir d'huile de charbon avec un faisceau de frein sur son coupleur, Et son système plus ou moins décontracté. Il est allé au doux ensuite aussi. Le reste des garçons sont plus ou moins démoralisés, Suivi pour les réparations. Maintenant, vous ne voulez pas trop faire du singe, car si vous ne vous occupez pas comme six bits et sortez sur la tique, le vieil homme vous donnera une vérification du temps et le grand rebond oriental. Vous entendez le trille doux de mon bazoo?

"Ensuite, j'ai décollé lentement le Purificateur de sang et je me suis déplacé vers les lampadaires où les rayons de lune argentés pouvaient retoucher mes contours éblouissants, j'ai dit:" Partenaire, je suis content et gratifié de vous avoir rencontré. Je ne connais pas le premier ding Je suis un mineur ordinaire, et ma maison est l'appareil digestif de la terre, mais pour la mélodie professionnelle du menton, vous prenez certainement le gâteau. Vous prenez également le geste. Le panier de gâteau et la tarte froide sur le déversement. Je m'appelle Woodtick Williams. J'ai découvert le Feverish Hornet sur Slippery Elm. Je suis fier, vous savez. Continuez à mieux vous familiariser avec votre profession et par et Par qui, quand personne ne peut vous comprendre, vous serez promu et respecté, et vous serez finalement un conducteur de voiture endormi, et vous délecterez du plus grand calme mental et d'une grande marge de stagnation intellectuelle qui n'a jamais vu le monde. ---- '

"Ensuite, j'ai décollé lentement le Purificateur de sang et je me suis déplacé vers les lampadaires où les rayons de lune argentés pouvaient retoucher mes contours éblouissants, j'ai dit:" Partenaire, je suis content et gratifié de vous avoir rencontré. Je ne connais pas le premier ding Je suis un mineur ordinaire, et ma maison est l'appareil digestif de la terre, mais pour la mélodie professionnelle du menton, vous prenez certainement le gâteau. Vous prenez également le geste. Le panier de gâteau et la tarte froide sur le déversement. Je m'appelle Woodtick Williams. J'ai découvert le Feverish Hornet sur Slippery Elm. Je suis fier, vous savez. Continuez à mieux vous familiariser avec votre profession et par et Par qui, quand personne ne peut vous comprendre, vous serez promu et respecté, et vous serez finalement un conducteur de voiture endormi, et vous délecterez du plus grand calme mental et d'une grande marge de stagnation intellectuelle qui n'a jamais vu le monde. ---- '

"Mais il était parti.

"Ensuite, j'ai pris un cache-oreiller et essuyé des craquelins pulvérisés sur les semelles de mes pieds, et je me suis couché, enveloppé dans une grande gueule."