Poetry, Daily-ish

And They’re Running
I used to quite like poetry. Don’t tell my Dad, but for one brief moment in college I considered changing my major to poetry from journalism & broadcasting, a degree program he tolerated far more than philosophy (the other brief moment degree change I considered). Then I “got out of the habit” of reading poetry in so far as I read prose pretty much all the time since about 1995. Oh, sure, I would grab a New Yorker or some such and read its bit of poetry on my travels, but it was no longer a part of any kind of regimen or diet.
Recently I signed up for the 3 Quarks Daily RSS feed. I get a regular dose of poetry from it. Some of the poetry I don’t particularly care for, some I do, and to some I find myself indifferent. But I’m reading it, and I like what it is doing to me. Please see the above link for an example of a poem I like.
(Picture via Running in Floresville | HD photo by Jennifer Birdie Shawker (@nursebirdie) on Unsplash)
Categorized as culture

The End of Reputation

AI can now easily (8 seconds) change the identity of someone in a film or video.
Multiple services can now scan a few hours of someone’s voice and then fake any sentence in that person’s voice. […]
Don’t buy anything from anyone who calls you on the phone. Careful with your prescriptions. Don’t believe a video or a photo and especially a review. Luxury goods probably aren’t. That fish might not even be what it says it is.
But we need reputation. The people who are sowing the seeds of distrust almost certainly don’t have your best interests in mind-we’ve all been hacked. Which means that a reshuffling is imminent, one that restores confidence so we can be sure we’re seeing what we think we’re seeing. But it’s not going to happen tomorrow, so now, more than ever, it seems like we have to assume we’re being conned.
Sad but true.
What happens after the commotion will be a retrenchment, a way to restore trust and connection, because we have trouble thriving without it.

(Via The end of reputation; photo via Raphael Lovaski on Unsplash)
Apologies to Seth for quoting nearly his whole post, but it’s important and scary.
Neal Stephenson, in his book Fall; Or, Dodge in Hell 🇺🇸 🇯🇵, addresses this very issue of reputation and authenticity. In very simplistic & basic terms, it involves leveraging something like blockchain to “check in” or “sign in” to legitimate things by you or things you control. He also talks about Editors, who are human professional social media filters, which takes us down a different rabbit hole.
As I move my on-line life as much on to platforms I control or trust, I am thinking about how to validate “me” outside of that without that validation coming back to bite me later, assuming such a thing is possible.
What do you think?

I Hereby Declare The Lions The Most Miserable NFL Franchise

So while there are a lot of valid contenders for worst franchise, with a variety of arguments for them, the Detroit Lions have ONE PLAYOFF WIN IN 62 YEARS. I’ve capitalized, italicized, and bolded that phrase for emphasis, and I’d make it blink if I could. One win. How is that even possible? It’s a staggering degree of nonstop ineptitude across multiple generations. It’s possible to be a Social Security- and Medicare-eligible Lions fan and to have witnessed a single, solitary postseason victory. And to know that it was followed a week later by a 41-10 loss in the NFC championship game. There hasn’t been much to cheer for in all these years, either. Calvin Johnson was extraordinary, Barry Sanders was the coolest player ever, and, um, Billy Sims was fun to watch. The other dude to wear No. 20, Lem Barney, was pretty great, too. Beyond that? I’m sure some pedant in the comments will lecture me about the underappreciated exploits of Joe Schmidt or whoever. But everyone else ought to get my drift by now: The Lions haven’t done jack shit since Bobby Layne shoved off to Pittsburgh and settled his last bar tab.
The Lions won the NFL championship three times between 1952 and 1957. Since then, 18 head coaches have guided them into this never-ending hellhole.

(Via I Hereby Declare The Lions The Most Miserable NFL Franchise by Dom Cosentino: picture Lion pulling a tongue | HD photo by Wade Lambert (@wade_lambert) on Unsplash)
Think about that – the level of ineptitude the Lions embody. I love and miss living in Detroit; I do not miss hearing Lions fans ache and moan about the team’s performance on every given Sunday.
By the way, my Dad got to see those glory days in the ’50s. He doesn’t remember them as he was but a tyke. Every Thanksgiving we try to reminisce, but don’t.

The Lions have won just three division titles since the merger. All told, they are 1-12 in playoff games since 1958. Only the Texans (eight) have played in fewer postseason games in all that time, and the Texans didn’t exist until 2002. The Patriots, by contrast, have played more playoff games (14) in _just the last five seasons _than the Lions have in 62 years. What the Lions have accomplished is truly unmatched across the NFL. God help all of you who are doomed to root for them.

God either has nothing OR EVERYTHING to do with it, if you’re into that sort of thinking.
I absolutely love this bit of football hand waving by “Future former head coach” and Chrysler minivan model name inspiration, Mike Patricia:

Sports Illustrated‘s Albert Breer reported last week that Matt Patricia, who might as well change his title to future former head coach, had a hill built next to the Lions’ team facility. The idea was create a conditioning challenge for the players not unlike the grueling terrain that abuts the Patriots’ practice field–but an unnatural phenomenon in the flat Midwest. Sisyphus himself couldn’t have come up with a better metaphor for this franchise.

This is a fine strategy for all of those NFL football stadia, and especially the team’s own Ford Field, where one or more hills impede the Lions’ forward progress.
There is no hope for the Lions while they are owned by the Ford family. I do not know anyone in Detroit who thinks otherwise.

Categorized as culture

Mencken's Notable, Quotable and Witty Compendium

Nobody reads a reference book to be amused, much less charmed. Useful though they are, the vast majority of dictionaries and encyclopedias are poker-faced pieces of work that stick to the facts and present them as soberly—and unstylishly—as possible. One of the reasons why this is so is that such books tend to be written not by individuals but by panels of experts. Try to imagine a joke written by a committee and you’ll get the idea.
Fortunately, there are a handful of shining exceptions to this drab rule, the gaudiest of which is H.L. Mencken’s New Dictionary of Quotations on Historical Principles From Ancient and Modern Sources, a million-word monster (the original manuscript weighed 35 pounds) that is celebrating its 70th birthday this summer [2012]. The “New Dictionary” was a byproduct of its prolific editor’s fanatically industrious journalistic career. For years Mencken maintained a card file of quotations “that, for one reason or another, interested me and seemed worth remembering, but that, also for one reason or another, were not in the existing quotation-books.” In 1932 he decided to turn it into a book. When the “New Dictionary” finally saw print a decade later, Time praised it as “one of the rare books that deserve the well-worn phrase ‘Here at last.'”
Painstakingly organized and cross-referenced by subject, with each entry arranged in chronological order by date of original publication, the “New Dictionary” is formidably wide-ranging. Indeed, the only major writer missing from its index is Mencken himself. (“I thought it would be unseemly to quote myself,” he told a curious reporter. “I leave that to the intelligence of posterity.”) Its 1,347 pages abound with such innocent-sounding rubrics as “Civilization,” “Flag, American,” “Hell,” “Hypocrisy,” “Old and New” and “Science and Religion.” At first glance you might mistake it for a cornucopia of the world’s wisdom—but don’t let appearances fool you. The fathomlessly cynical Mencken wisely warned his readers in the preface that the “New Dictionary” was aimed at “readers whose general tastes and ideas approximate my own…. The Congressman hunting for platitudes to embellish his eulogy upon a fallen colleague will find relatively little to his purpose.” […]
For all its sly wit, H.L. Mencken’s “New Dictionary” is in point of fact a full-fledged reference book, one whose comprehensiveness and logical organization make it wonderfully easy to use. Would that it were still in print, but used copies are easy to find and worth acquiring. Rarely does a week go by that I don’t have occasion to consult the “New Dictionary,” frequently with amusement, usually with profit and invariably with gratitude to its maker, who may have been a cynic but who was also an amateur scholar of the highest seriousness—one with that rarest of scholarly attributes, a sense of humor.

(Via The Wall Street Journal; picture from biblio.com)
I would love for a new edition of this book or a viable ebook. Digital scanned copies can be checked out on archive.org. The drawback is that the scan is dicey in spots. I picked up my dead tree edition off of eBay (or maybe Amazon) in slightly damaged condition originally sourced from the Rowan Public Library of Salisbury, North Carolina.

Friday Jazz: Bird

Charlie Parker (1950)

Bird is building a metropolis with his horn.
Here are the gates of Babylon, the walls of Jericho cast down.
Might die in Chicago, Kansas City’s where I was born.
Snowflake in a blizzard, purple rose before the thorn.
Stone by stone, note by note, atom by atom, noun by noun,
Bird is building a metropolis with his horn.
Uptown, downtown, following the river to its source,
Savoy, Three Deuces, Cotton Club, Lenox Lounge.
Might just die in Harlem, Kansas City’s where I was born.
Bird is an abacus of possibility, Bird is riding the horse
of habit and augmented sevenths. King without a crown,
Bird is building a metropolis with his horn.
Bred to the labor of it, built to claw an eye from the storm,
made for the lowdown, the countdown, the breakdown.
Might die in Los Angeles, Kansas City’s where I was born.
Bridge by bridge, solo by solo, set by set, chord by chord,
woodshed to penthouse, blue to black to brown,
Charlie Parker is building a metropolis with his horn.
Might just die in Birdland, Kansas City’s where I was born.
by Campbell McGrath
from Poem Hunter

(Via 3 Quarks Daily)
If you need an intro, check out this collection from the David W. Niven Collection of Early Jazz Legends hosted on archive.org.
Note: I meant to send this yesterday but forgot to publish.

Categorized as culture

Friday Fun: Watch the Talking Heads Play Material From Their Groundbreaking Album Remain in Light in an Incredible Concert from 1980

[…] See them at the top play much of the material from Remain in Light, as well as from previous album Fear of Music (released 40 years ago today), where the experiments with African rhythms began, at the Capitol Theatre in New Jersey in 1980, with an expanded lineup including King Crimson’s Adrian Belew. The experimental guitarist is in incredible form throughout the show, as is the entire band. Byrne was clearly enamored with Kuti’s original musical vocabulary. “The whole concept was different,” he tells Babcock, “the grooves were so great. The grooves are intense, trance-inducing,” and themselves the product of generous borrowing. Fela drew from the music of James Brown, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis, from the Black Power movement, fusion, and psychedelic rock.
Talking Heads brought those transformed borrowings back to the U.S. and transformed them again into the kind of music only these musicians could make, born of deep appreciation and study, skill, and the willingness to freely expand their own idiom while still retaining their distinctive voices.

(Via Open Culture)
Easily my favorite Talking Heads album. And I’ve enjoyed it covered live by Beninese singer Angelique Kidjo.

Categorized as culture


How to Use a Thesaurus Correctly, According to Martin Amis:

Martin Amis uses a thesaurus. The British novelist and critic is known as kind of a snob, and the thesaurus is known as a dangerous tool abused by amateur writers trying to sound smart, but as you’ve probably guessed, Amis uses his thesaurus very differently than a college freshman. In the Big Think video […] (via Open Culture), he describes a better way to use a thesaurus. […]
Amis uses a thesaurus to match the style and rhythm of his words. He might find his current word too long or short for the sentence it’s in. Or he might want to avoid an awkward rhyme or alliteration. He points to Vladimir Nabokov, who changed the English title of his novel Invitation to an Execution to Invitation to a Beheading. Say both out loud and you’ll hear the improvement.
He also double-checks his word use by looking up words in the dictionary—not necessarily to check their definitions, but to check their etymology. For example, he says, the lapid in dilapidated comes from the Latin word for stone, so while he might refer to a dilapidated house, he wouldn’t refer to a dilapidated hedge.
You don’t have to be as careful as Amis with your word choice.

(Via Lifehacker: picture Mark Miller)
You should be as careful as Amis. I try to be:

if you truly want to write better, pay more attention to the rhythm of your words, and study their usage and etymology. Your thesaurus and dictionary are one right-click away—use them well.

Check out my Tools page for a listing of mostly free resources for writing, presentation tools, and tips.

50 Must-Read Fantasy Books by Women | Book Riot

50 Must-Read Fantasy Books by Women | Book Riot:

What’s better than a truly transportive fantasy? The best fantasy stories keep you spellbound by intricate world-building, unforgettable characters, and riveting storylines. In the following list of 50 must-read fantasy books by women, you’ll find a range of sub-genres represented, from portal fantasy to epic fantasy and everything in between. Featuring middle grade, YA, and adult novels, these unmissable fantasy books by women authors reflect the diversity of the genre—and its endlessly magical opportunities.

(via Book Riot)
I like Rob Beschizza’s note on Boing Boing:

First pick is All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders, which I’ve been looking forward to since Cory’s stellar review here at BB. Then I’m checking out Tomi Adayemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, recommended to me by none other than ██████████.

I’ve read about 10% of the books. Time to dive in!

Categorized as culture