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Waiku February 17, 2014

Posted by Ezra Resnick in Language.
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A waiku is created as follows:

  1. Start from a random Wikipedia page.
  2. Find the first hyperlink on the page that completes a five-syllable sequence of words. (For example, “the body of myths”, or “biographical”.) That is the first line of your waiku.
  3. Follow the hyperlink.
  4. On the page you arrive at, find the first hyperlink that completes a seven-syllable sequence of words. (For example, “in the Pacific Ocean”.) That is the second line of your waiku.
  5. Follow the hyperlink.
  6. On the page you arrive at, find the first hyperlink that completes a five-syllable sequence of words. That is the third and final line of your waiku.

* * *

Zeta1 Scorpii

hypergiant star
luminous sphere of plasma
gas may ionize

* * *


in economics
how economic agents
in economics

* * *

The Secret Guide to Computers

to their history
they are now, calculators
of arithmetic

* * *

Spottswood William Robinson III

an educator
sense is a form of learning
existing knowledge

* * *


suicidal thoughts
detailed planning, role playing
to assume a role

* * *


which can include facts
whether it can be proven
proof is sufficient

An Islamist lexicon March 17, 2013

Posted by Ezra Resnick in Equality, Language, Religion.
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The Muslim Brotherhood is extremely concerned:

The 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), taking place from March 4 to 15 at UN headquarters, seeks to ratify a declaration euphemistically entitled ‘End Violence against Women’.

That title, however, is misleading and deceptive.

Does the Brotherhood mean to say that the UN declaration is not actually aimed at eliminating the disenfranchisement, maltreatment, and subjugation of women? Well, not exactly.

That title, however, is misleading and deceptive. The document includes articles that contradict established principles of Islam, undermine Islamic ethics and destroy the family, the basic building block of society, according to the Egyptian Constitution.

This declaration, if ratified, would lead to complete disintegration of society, and would certainly be the final step in the intellectual and cultural invasion of Muslim countries, eliminating the moral specificity that helps preserve cohesion of Islamic societies.

A closer look at these articles reveals what decadence awaits our world, if we sign this document:

1. Granting girls full sexual freedom, as well as the freedom to decide their own gender and the gender of their partners (ie, choose to have normal or homo- sexual relationships), while raising the age of marriage.

2. Providing contraceptives for adolescent girls and training them to use those, while legalizing abortion to get rid of unwanted pregnancies, in the name of sexual and reproductive rights.

3. Granting equal rights to adulterous wives and illegitimate sons resulting from adulterous relationships.

4. Granting equal rights to homosexuals, and providing protection and respect for prostitutes.

5. Giving wives full rights to file legal complaints against husbands accusing them of rape or sexual harassment, obliging competent authorities to deal husbands punishments similar to those prescribed for raping or sexually harassing a stranger.

6. Equal inheritance (between men and women).

7. Replacing guardianship with partnership, and full sharing of roles within the family between men and women such as: spending, child care and home chores.

8. Full equality in marriage legislation such as: allowing Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men, and abolition of polygamy, dowry, men taking charge of family spending, etc.

9. Removing the authority of divorce from husbands and placing it in the hands of judges, and sharing all property after divorce.

10. Cancelling the need for a husband’s consent in matters like: travel, work, or use of contraception.

These are destructive tools meant to undermine the family as an important institution; they would subvert the entire society, and drag it to pre-Islamic ignorance.

The Muslim Brotherhood urges the leaders of Muslim countries and their UN representatives to reject and condemn this document, and to call upon this organization to rise to the high morals and principles of family relations prescribed by Islam.

un-women So, ‘End Violence against Women’ isn’t really a “misleading and deceptive” title for the UN declaration, after all. On the other hand, I think I might have spotted a euphemism or two creeping into the Brotherhood’s heartfelt protest (which could non-euphemistically be titled ‘More Violence against Women’). Here, then, is a handy lexicon listing some common Islamist code words along with their actual meanings:

undermine the family: make it harder for men to control their wives and daughters

complete disintegration of society: a society where women are free and equal members

intellectual and cultural invasion of Muslim countries: concern for the wellbeing of all inhabitants of Muslim countries

the moral specificity that helps preserve cohesion of Islamic societies: brainwashing, ignorance, and coercion

decadence: anything not prescribed in the worldview of a 7th-century tribal warlord

(via Butterflies & Wheels)

Six degrees of Wikipedia October 23, 2011

Posted by Ezra Resnick in Humor, Language.
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Some people have too much free time on their hands.

Inconsistency corrected September 25, 2011

Posted by Ezra Resnick in Language, Religion.
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I recently mentioned the Christian Scientist church across the street from my apartment, where the ironic subject of last week’s Bible sermon was “Reality.” Well, my blog must be favored by someone in high places, because look at the subject of this week’s sermon:

If next week’s subject is “Gullibility” I may have to become a believer.

Rules and reason in Boston August 17, 2011

Posted by Ezra Resnick in Language, Reason.
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The Boston Common park is home to a wading pool called the Frog Pond…

…and I was impressed by the liberalism of its rules:

Notice that rule #5 guarantees the right to engage in running, horseplay, throwing of objects, and objectionable behavior!

Across the street from the park is the Freemason Great Lodge of Massachusetts…

…and I like their motto:

Conflicting messages August 13, 2011

Posted by Ezra Resnick in Language, Logic.
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I came across this somewhat paradoxical signpost in Cambridge, Massachusetts:

If anything exists it changes June 3, 2011

Posted by Ezra Resnick in Language.
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The New Yorker reports on a 300-person game of Telephone, played on the streets of Manhattan as part of the World Voices Festival of International Literature. Into the ear of the first person in the chain were whispered the opening three phrases of a Tibetan Buddhist sutra:

  1. Like a shimmering star, or a flickering lamp.
  2. A fleeting autumn cloud, or a shining drop of morning dew.
  3. A phantom, a dream, a bubble, so is all the existence to be seen.

These are the words of wisdom that emerged at the other side:

  1. Follow the glass stone. Follow the glass stone.
  2. The droid from hell.
  3. If anything exists it changes.

Radical, blind, fanatic, distorted May 30, 2011

Posted by Ezra Resnick in Ethics, Language, Religion.

In an editorial about the San Francisco initiative to make male neonatal circumcision a misdemeanor crime, The Jerusalem Post uses (or rather, abuses) language in order to disguise bad moral argument. They begin by proclaiming that we are facing “a case study of what happens when a radical interpretation of human rights combined with hatred of tradition can blind better moral judgment.” Here, on the other hand, is their own “better moral judgment”:

By marking his most impulsive organ, man makes the unequivocal statement that he is not an animal governed by the laws of nature. Rather, man is a creation whose horizon of aspirations lies far beyond the satisfaction of his natural impulses. The right of San Francisco’s Jews to pass on this religious message to their children, in a practice that experts say does not cause undue pain, has not been proved to dull sexual enjoyment and which might have medical benefits, should be carefully safeguarded against anti-religious fanatics with a distorted conception of human rights.

Notice the contrast between the extreme, decisive words they use to characterize the other side — radical, hatred, fanatics, distorted — and the lame weasel words they use to make their own case: Does not cause undue pain? Has not been proved to dull sexual enjoyment? Might have medical benefits? That hardly sounds encouraging when considering cutting off parts of one’s body — but that is not even the point, since we’re not talking about an adult circumcising himself: we’re talking about forcing an invasive procedure on another person, without his informed consent. So pretending that the issue is about man marking himself in order to make a (silly) statement about his aspirations, or about passing religious “messages” to one’s children, is disingenuous and contemptible. Appeals to tradition are irrelevant here; and opposing the imposition of medically unnecessary surgery on infants is not radical or fanatic. The Post’s moral judgement has been blinded by religious dogmatism, and they’re using duplicitous language as a smokescreen.

The incomprehensible is incomprehensible April 1, 2011

Posted by Ezra Resnick in Language, Literature.
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Kafka’s “On Parables:”

Many complain that the words of the wise are always merely parables and of no use in daily life, which is the only life we have. When the sage says: “Go over,” he does not mean that we should cross over to some actual place, which we could do anyhow if the labor were worth it; he means some fabulous yonder, something unknown to us, something too that he cannot designate more precisely, and therefore cannot help us here in the very least. All these parables really set out to say merely that the incomprehensible is incomprehensible, and we know that already. But the cares we have to struggle with every day: that is a different matter.

Concerning this a man once said: Why such reluctance? If you only followed the parables you yourselves would become parables and with that rid yourself of all your daily cares.

Another said: I bet that is also a parable.

The first said: You have won.

The second said: But unfortunately only in parable.

The first said: No, in reality: in parable you have lost.

Are there any moderate Muslims? January 11, 2011

Posted by Ezra Resnick in Language, Politics, Religion.

Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam behind the so-called Ground Zero mosque, tells Newsweek what he’s learned from the events of the summer:

the real battlefront is not between the West and the Muslim world. It’s between the moderates of all faith traditions and the extremists or radicals — and I include in that the agnostic and atheist community. The radicals are unwitting partners. They fuel each other.

Rauf says that unless we amplify the voice of moderates (like him),

We will go down the route of bin Laden and the pastor [in Florida who threatened to burn the Quran] and insulting cartoons. And we just can’t do that — we can’t do that anymore. We’ve got to put a stop to this insanity.

Insanity, you say? The real insanity is equating people who behead journalists and fly planes into buildings with people who merely voice their criticism, or draw cartoons, or destroy their own books.

Here’s what a moderate Muslim should sound like: “Anyone is free to criticize or ridicule Islam, the Quran, and the Prophet Muhammad, and no one should ever be harmed or threatened for doing so.”

I’m all ears.