Archives: April 2004
Fri Apr 30, 2004
Back when I did time in high school, when I was given an assignment unworthy of my talents, I would write a parody of the expected paper. I got A's and F's in equal measure. I am happy to see that today's postmodern youth attach as much importance to their schoolwork as I did.
Walt Whitman is 90 stories tall, and his adventures are legendary. With his blue Ox, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman traveled across young America and helped the nation grow into the angry powerhouse that it is today. He dropped his mighty axe, forming the Grand Canyon; the apple cores he would spit from his mighty mouth planted apple trees all across the counry, and the stomp of his mighty boot caused the stock market to crash.
(Via Sir Banagor.)
Soundtrack: Steven King: "Slaughter on 10th Avenue"
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Bill me later. I understand that if I am not completely satisfied I have been had
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Drowsy no more
Here's a bit of Celtic music of the slash 'n' burn school. It's the Irish reel "Drowsy Maggie" electrified a bit.
Wired Maggie (1.5 megabytes)
Soundtrack: Boiled in Lead, "Byker Hill"
[5/02: Final mix uploaded. I'm still not satisfied with it, but I need to get going on the next fiasco.]
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Or "Peador's." I'm in the mood for some Irish reels.
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Thu Apr 29, 2004
Let's waste some more time with pointless quizzes.
(Soundtrack: Genesis, "Supper's Ready")
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Wed Apr 28, 2004
Tue Apr 27, 2004
From a comment box at Catholic Light:
Is it permissible to punch Michael Moore?
Objection 1: It seems that violence will only further enrage him.
Objection 2: Even if punching Michael Moore would bring about a good, punching him is itself an evil, and it is morally wrong to bring about a good with an evil action.
On the contrary, It is written "O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one, how blessed will be the one who repays you with the recompense with which you have repaid us. How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock." (Ps 137:8-9)
I answer that, Michael More is a complete idiot, and even if nothing good comes out of hitting him, the act of hitting him will at least give vindication to the LORD.
Reply to Objection 1: With the rage he has already shown, no further increase is possible (or noticible)
Reply to Objection 2: see above.
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Chosen and frozen
One of the traumatic memories from my stint in the Cathedral folk choir (I didn't enlist; I was drafted) was occasionally having to play Tom Conry's "Anthem" (dedicated, if I recall correctly, to Raymond Hunthausen and Daniel Maguire). The Recovering Choir Director has devised some better lyrics for the tune:
We are cold, we are frozen,
We are stuck to one another.
They'll have fixed the line tomorrow
Though they said that yesterday.
Huddled up, we can't number
The utility's deceits,
We won't tolerate these blunders:
we'll be switching from gas heat.
Soundtrack: They Might Be Giants, "Cowtown"
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Mon Apr 26, 2004
"Please, May I Have Some Pancakes?"
Greetings to visitors from Rwdls Nwdls. I have a few more Welsh tunes left before I move on to something else.
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Sun Apr 25, 2004
The Knights of the Eastern Calculus
I spent 4.5 hours of the past week watching the anime Serial Experiments: Lain. In the USA, animation usually means kids' stuff or funny stuff. In Japan, animation can be as serious as Ibsen. Although the central character of Lain is a girl about 11 years old (the program notes say she's 13, but she seems younger), it's not for kids. Forget Walt Disney, or even Miyazaki; this extravagantly bizarre tale's affinities are with Philip K. Dick and William Gibson. I'm not going to try to summarize the story. It has to do with the virtual world impinging on reality, and memory and identity, and friendship; imagine a cross between Neuromancer and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch featuring Japanese schoolgirls. (There's also some silly talk about God, which has more to do with geeky hybris than theology.)
Lain consists of 13 20-minute episodes (25 minutes, if you count the opening and closing music) that originally aired late at night on Japanese television (so, in a sense, I do watch tv). The drawing and animation is not as lush as in a Miyazaki film, but the art, which features a generous use of computer effects, is adequate to tell the story. And there is a story, though it might be hard to follow for the first few episodes.
Lain is not a complete success. I didn't mind the deliberate pace, but the series overall is too long and repetitious. The explanation of the riddle of Lain is not as interesting as the mystery. Loose ends are left dangling. And there's the unforgivable lapse in a later episode when storytelling is halted for a lecture on Vannevar Bush and John Lilly.
Nevertheless, Serial Experiments: Lain is probably the closest dramatic equivalent of a Philip K. Dick novel ever made, and I recommend it to all connoisseurs of woozy realities. (Let me emphasize again that this is not for children; it will either bore them stiff or give them nightmares.)
Soundtrack: Richard Thompson, "Shoot Out the Lights"
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Sat Apr 24, 2004
Fri Apr 23, 2004
"The Soldier's Farewell." As you can guess from the spelling, we're still doing Welsh songs.
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Thu Apr 22, 2004
Wed Apr 21, 2004
Bryan Baldwin at Popcorn Critics reviewed Theremin –- An Electronic Odyssey, so I thought I'd find the BBC's virtual theremin for Macintosh that I downloaded a year or two ago. Unfortunately, it apparently is no longer available. However, I did find a number of sites devoted to the theremin and its inventor, whose life was as bizarre as his music.
Lev Sergeivitch Termen & "The Theremin" (1917)
Art's Theremin Page
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Michelle Johnston has put her paper summarizing the results of her Christian bloggers survey online. (She also presents some of her findings on her other weblog.) I haven't had time to do more than skim the paper, but this datum jumped out at me:
It is also important to note that 22% (25/115) of respondents stated that they knew people on their blogroll "in real life" but had never actually met these people in person. [Emphasis in original.]
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Tue Apr 20, 2004
Mon Apr 19, 2004
How many inches in a liter?
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Sun Apr 18, 2004
The Wichita Symphony played the Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition yesterday. During "The Hut on Fowl's Legs," I realized that, although an orchestra was playing onstage, what I was listening to was pure prog rock. The thumping beat, breakneck pace, bombastic riffs, spacey interlude and the booming bass drum all helped make "Baba Yaga" one great rock 'n' roll tune.
It also demonstrated that there is no substitute for a live performance. Unless you have a powerful stereo with huge speakers, no matter how good the recording is, you won't feel the bass drum as you do in the concert hall. (Sub-woofers don't count.)
Soundtrack: Debussey: La terrasse des audiences au clair de lune (Walter Gieseking)
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I got request from my nephew yesterday:
What is a good collection of Isaac Asimov short stories? I don't like the ones on Amazon and the book stores.
Unfortunately, it's been at least 20 years since I last read anything by Isaac Asimov and I don't know what to recommend. Can anyone suggest a few titles? Alicia? Steven?
Soundtrack: Rossini, "Chansonette" (#2 from book 9 of Péchés de Vieillese).
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"Watching the Ripe Wheat." A Kansas title for a Welsh tune.
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Sat Apr 17, 2004
Fri Apr 16, 2004
You Might be a Music Theory Geek if....
* You like polytonal music because, hey, the more keys the merrier.
* You dream in four parts.
* You feel the need to end Tchaikovsky's Pathetique Symphony with a picardy third.
* You have ever heard a wrong note in a performance of a piece by Berio, Stockhausen, or Boulez.
* You consider all music written between 1750 and 1920 to be "rather elementary."
See also the basic classical music library, from Beethoven's "Erotica" symphony through Liszt's "Les Quaaludes" to Tacobell's "Cannon in D" and Tchaikovsky's "Marche Slob."
(Via Reflections in d minor.)
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Travels in the Known World
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"What Shall We Do with a Flightly Maiden?"
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Thu Apr 15, 2004
If Cthulhu's not available ...
Why settle for the lesser of two evils? Darth Vader for President.
Via Kross & Sweord
Also from Kross & Sweord:
In 1962 Leander Perez and several other Catholic politicians in Louisiana were excommunicated by New Orleans Archbishop Joseph F. Rummel. Their offense? Opposing Rummel's pleas to end racial segregation in schools.
Segregation was a Bad Thing. As bad as it was, at least it wasn't a species of homicide. But abortion is homicide, which means it is a Worse Thing. You will look in vain to find an analogue to Archbishop Rummel in today's American episcopate.
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The right means
An interview with Evgeni Tomov, art director of The Triplets of Belleville:
OGDEN: There's an old saying that, since animation is such a long and expensive process, if a story can be shot with human actors, it should not be animated. What are the aspects of Triplets that you feel lent itself to animation in particular?
TOMOV: That old saying doesn't bear much merit, in my opinion. Animation has its charm and qualities. It delivers different aesthetic and emotional experience. It is not just about telling a story the fastest and the cheapest way. The Triplets would have not been nearly as interesting and unique if it was a live action film. The hand made, drawn feel that comes from the screen, the stylization of the characters (you can not find actors with this kind of bizarre physics) resonate quite well with the equally bizarre story we are witnessing.
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Or "The Little Tinker Boy."
Bachgen bach o dincer
Yn myned hyd y wlad,
Cario'i becyn ar ai gefn
A gweithioi waith yn rhad;
Yn ai law 'roedd haearn
Ac ar ei gefn 'roedd bocs,
Pwt o getyn yn ei geg
A than ei drwyn 'roedd locs.
Robert Benchley wrote movingly in "Men of Harlech!" about his inability to sing the songs of his Welsh forefathers because of the intimidating spelling. In fact, it is possible to pronounce Welsh once you know a few rules, but I hope you all will excuse me if I don't type out the lyrics to the other Welsh tunes I post.
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Wed Apr 14, 2004
Or "The Little Black Cobbler." How about a few Welsh tunes?
By the way, this is the 367th daily tune that I've posted. Today marks the first anniversary of Mixolydian Mode.
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Tue Apr 13, 2004
Marty and squid
The Rat Maiden links to a worthy organization, the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas.
By the way, if a music director should inflict "Gather Us In" on the congregation you're part of, here are some better lyrics to sing, courtesy of dylan:
We swim the deep
Here, in the ocean, big squid are swimming,
Dodging the sharks and eating small fish;
Undersea depths with creatures are brimming:
Lobsters and crabs you find on your dish.
We swim the deep, the whale and the dolphin;
Divers descend, are heard from no more.
Submarine snares that you could get caught in!
Best to stay dry and safe on the shore.
Soundtrack: Sandra Boynton/Kevin Kline: "BusyBusyBusy"
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In my school of Theology, good chocolate, as well as perfect roast lamb, are among the most important proofs for the existence of God.
--In principio erat Verbum
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Impacts and pendular motion
A detailed discussion of sword physics: Sword Motions and Impacts. (There's very little mathematics in this article, which might disappoint some readers (Others, I expect, will be relieved).)
(Via the author's weblog, Bastard Sword.)
Soundtrack: Harry Partch, "Castor and Pollux."
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Hark, the bonny Christchurch bells,
one, two, three, four, five, six;
they sound so woundy great, so woundrous sweet,
and they toll so merrily, merrily.
Hark, the first and the second bell,
that every day at four and ten cry
come, come, come, come, come to pray'rs,
and the verger troops before the deer.
Tingle tingle ting, goes the small bell at nine,
to call the bearers home.
but the de'il a man will leave his can
till he hears the mighty Tom!
(H. Aldrich, 1701)
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Mon Apr 12, 2004
One of the Easter edition diocesan newspapers that crossed my desk this morning featured a full-page picture of a white Phalenopsis orchid. Now I’m used to Easter lilies and Easter cacti, not to mention passionflowers (remind me next year during Holy Week to post a picture of the last), but I’m not aware of any association of orchids with Easter. Is there such a thing as an Easter orchid?
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Never been to the Grand Canyon, either
Participating in the current fad quiz:
Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, find line 4. Write down what it says.
“9.4.1 Selection Techniques 427” (from the 18-page table of contents of the Logic Pro 6 Reference Manual)
Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. What do you touch first?
A xerox of the Welsh tune “Dacw ‘Nghariad I” (“There Is My Love”)
What is the last thing you watched on TV?
I don’t remember; most likely The Simpsons. It was years ago.
What is on the walls of the room you are in?
Calendars (Ansel Adams, Pilobolus, Gert Weigelt), cobwebs.
What is the last movie you saw?
The Triplets of Belleville (recommended)
If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy first?
A house in a quiet neighborhood.
Tell me something about you that I don't know.
My family lived in Utah for seven years when I was young, yet we never visited Bryce Canyon. (I’ve still never been there, though certain vistas there are overfamiliar from camera club meetings.)
(Via Irish Elk.)
Soundtrack: Legendary Pink Dots, “Princess Coldheart”
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Hark! Hark! Hark, how the woods do ring
With the hunters' halloo, with the hunters' halloo, and the cry that they follow, that they follow.
O this is music, this is music for a king.
(M. White, 1667)
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Sun Apr 11, 2004
The pretty lark, climbing the welkin clear, chants with a cheer, heer, peer.
I near my deer, then falling thence, the fall she seems to rue;
Adieu, she saith, adieu deer, deer adieu, adieu.
(J. Hilton, 1652)
Would anyone care to explicate this?
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Sat Apr 10, 2004
Feeling dizzy, and the soundtrack to my life
Here's a collection of animated optical illusions. Don't visit unless you have plenty of time.
(Blame Jonah Goldberg for linking to one of these time-wasters.)
Terry Teachout recently said that he is always interested to read what other bloggers read and listen to, and for that matter, so am I. Therefore, I'm going to start mentioning what's on the stereo when I post from home. Right now, for instance, I'm listneing to John Rutter's "The Reluctant Dragon," from Three Musical Fables (recommende for any family with small children).
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Beyond a Western avant-garde scorn
Edward Rothstein on Shostakovich and Stalin:
The biggest irony is that by shocking Shostakovich, Stalin may have also jolted him out of banal avant-garde conventions. The attack inadvertently reminded the composer of more fundamental issues. Matters of life and death were at stake. His scorn for those surrounding him dissipated. His music began to find its real subject, which was nothing less than the tragic history of tyranny. For that he had Stalin to thank. The sad thing is, so do we all.
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War begets poverty, poverty peace;
Peace maketh riches flow, fate ne'er doth cease.
Riches produce pride, pride is war's ground;
War begetteth poverty, the world goes round.
(R. Brown, 1701)
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Fri Apr 09, 2004
Logic and suitablilty
The intersection of photography, design and botany: the work of Karl Blossfeldt, 1865-1932.
The plant never lapses into mere arid functionalism; it fashions and shapes according to logic and suitability, and with its primeval force compels everything to attain the highest artistic form.
--Blossfeldt, quoted in SEE Magazine
Here is a large selection of photogravures by Karl Blossfeldt.
Here are a couple of articles on Blossfeldt:
Rolf Sachsse on Blossfeldt, with some technical notes.
From the Encyclopedia of Photography, with a little biographical information.
Those who enjoy growing plants might enjoy a visit to The Bookish Gardener.
(Via About Last Night.)
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Wars are our delight,
we drink as we fight,
tarara ra ra
dubadub dubadub dub,
tan tara ran tan tan.
(W. Lawes, 1652)
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Thu Apr 08, 2004
Contemporary knights and shieldmaidens
Chivalry Today, courtesy of a 25-year veteran of the Society for Creative Anachronism.
Mr. Farrell's code is decidedly secular, by the way. For instance, his "knightly virtues" include
In the code of chivalry, “faith” means trust and integrity, and a knight in shining armor is always faithful to his or her promises, no matter how big or small they may be.
(Via Finches' Wings.)
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Or "The Watchman's Catch."
With lantern at stall at treetip we play,
For ale, cheese and pudding until it be day;
And for ouir breakfast after long sitting
We steal a street pig o' th' constable's gitting.
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Wed Apr 07, 2004
The nuts, bolts, screws, jar rubbers and erasers of the piano
Want to sound like John Cage, but don't want to risk damaging your piano? You're in luck. Big Fish Audio offers a John Cage Prepared Piano to load into your sampler. (There are some mp3 demos here if you're wondering what a "prepared" piano sounds like.)
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Linus the Red
The history of the world, written by technology geeks:
A.D. 1420: Johann Gutenberg invents the printing press. He is immediately sued by monks claiming that the technology will promote the copying of hand-transcribed books, thus violating the church's intellectual property.
(Via Reflections in d minor.)
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O my fearful dreams, never forget shall I, never forget shall I;
Methought I had heard a maiden's child condemned to die,
Whose name was Jesus, whose name was Jesus.
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Tue Apr 06, 2004
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From a friend:
After his death, Osama bin Laden went to heaven.
There he was greeted by George Washington, who proceeded to slap him
across the face and yell at him, "How dare you try to destroy the nation I
Patrick Henry approached and punched Osama in the nose and shouted, "You
wanted to end our liberties but you failed."
James Madison entered, kicked Osama in the crotch and said, "This is why I
allowed our government to provide for the common defense."
Thomas Jefferson came in and proceeded to beat Osama many times with a
long cane and said, "It was evil men like you that provided me the
inspiration to pen the Declaration of Independence!"
These beatings and thrashings continued as John Rudolph, James Monroe and
64 other early Americans came in and unleashed their anger on the Muslim
As Osama lay bleeding and writhing in unbearable pain an Angel appeared.
Bin Laden wept in pain and said to the Angel, "This is not what you
The Angel replied, "I told you there would be 70 Virginians waiting for
you in heaven. What did you think I said?"
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Seven-year-old serial killer, or sincere artificer?
Are the films of Lars von Trier are worth seeing?
Richard Alleva says no in the April 9 Commonweal:
"Early in von Trier's career, the film critic David Thomson presciently noted that this melancholy Dane 'has wanton skills, a greedy eye, and a taste for lush morbidity that is easily regarded as "the heritage of film noir' but that may have more to do with personal and private dysfunction.... Von Trier is like a seven-year-old serial killer whose bombs and weapons have gone into his eyes.' It takes guts for a critic to take his attack that close to the ad hominem, but Dogville vindicates Thomson. To be sure, the morbidity has become less lush; it's been distilled into the essence of wormwood."
Victor Morton says yes:
I submit that Dogville makes more sense and is meatier when seen as a religious film rather than a political one, the unfortunately crude and literal closing credits notwithstanding. But as a religious work of art, Dogville is a rare breed today – unapologetically moralistic, and displaying and justifying the most unpopular Christian doctrine of all – Hell.
Morton says a lot more about von Trier on his site.
On The Five Obstructions.
On Breaking the Waves.
On Dancer in the Dark.
On The Idiots.
However, the movie I'm waiting for is Howl's Moving Castle. The book it's based on, by Diana Wynne Jones, is first-rate, and I'm not sure that I really want to see it as a movie. Since the movie is being made made, though, I'm relieved that it's being directed by Miyazaki.
If you're not in the mood to watch odd films, you can read odd fiction. Steven has found three novels by Charles Williams at Blackmask. Williams was the another of the Inklings and probably the strangest of the bunch. The offerings at Blackmask are All Hallow's Eve (which I don't think was published in 1914), Descent into Hell and Many Dimensions.
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Bless them that curse you,
Do good to them that hate you,
And pray for them that hurt you.
(J. Hilton, 1652)
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Mon Apr 05, 2004
It's time for some rounds.
Curst be the wretch that's bought and sold,
And barters liberty for gold;
For when election is not free,
In vain we boast of liberty.
And he who sells his single right
would sell his country if he might.
(H. Carey, 1786)
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Sun Apr 04, 2004
And one from Japan. Perhaps the Balkans cover more territory than I think, but this is ridiculous.
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Sat Apr 03, 2004
An English tune from the Balkans? I think the compiler got a bit carried away.
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Fri Apr 02, 2004
I've gotten a horrific amount of spam today. There have been over 50 pieces so far (I generally get between five and ten junk emails a day, which is bad enough). Have other people been similarly hit, or am I being singled out?
I'm going to be out of town this weekend. If you're in St. Louis, you can find me tomorrow evening listening to John Skelton, Mary Bergin and other Celtic musicians at the Tionól concert.
And yet another silly quiz:
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Who's the fool?
A Wichita radio station yesterday alerted listeners to the unsettling fact that there is dihydrogen monoxide in the water here. The water department was not amused:
David Warren, director of Wichita's water and sewer department, plans to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission because the prank misled customers, he said.
"We think this kind of stunt was just irresponsible, sophomoric and asinine," he said.
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Thu Apr 01, 2004
No mere demigod
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!
If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!
How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
(Via Oblique House.)
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John Kerry on artists and politics:
“You know, one of the things I’ve learned over the years is that skill in the arts doesn’t necessarily transfer to the political arena. Art and politics occasionally intersect with great force and power; look at Goya’s paintings, or Jacques-Louis David’s work around the French Revolution. And of course the music of my generation reflected, directed, and intensified the political arguments of the day. But I think that serious politics is best left to those who have the temperament and personality for the real world of governance. You can’t sum up the farm bill in a five-stanza song. You can trot out Woody Guthrie to get the audience to believe you’re for the guy who’s got 40 acres and a mountain of debt, but Woody isn’t much use when you have to balance the needs of the domestic sugar-beet industry against foreign competition.
“It’s not an insult to say that musicians don’t belong in politics, any more than it’s an insult to say that Supreme Court judges shouldn’t tour with Phish, or golf pros shouldn’t start writing articles for medical journals.”
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How to write effectively
Marvin Olasky demonstates:
"The long-separated lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 7 p.m. traveling at 50 mph, the other from Topeka at 4 p.m. at a speed of 40 mph."
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