Archive for June, 2020

Spilled his seed on the ground

June 29, 2020

(You start with Onan, you’re going to get genitals and sexual acts. Not for kids or the sexally modest.)

The morning name for 6/22, a whole VP — which led immedately to the biblical character Onan and thus to levirate marriage and to onanism, in two different senses (masturbation and coitus interruptus, not to mention figurative uses as, roughly, ‘self-gratfication’, as in intellectual onanism). And from that to remarkably hostile attitudes towards masturbation in Christian churches, both Roman Catholic and Protestant. And, ultimately, through the work of scholars of masturbation, to Hollywood goddess Hedy Lamarr, doing an orgasm in a 1932 Czech film.

And then there’s the source of that VP in my subconscious mind, almost surely a result of my having just spilled — spread, broadcast — birdseed on the ground of my patio, in an attempt to lure birds to my new bird feeder (details in my 6/27 posting “Meet the Jays”).

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Bark if you’re Swiss

June 28, 2020

Today is Sarajevo Day (1914), a dreadful occasion, and also Stonewall Day (1969), an astounding occasion, but this posting has nothing to do with either of them. Instead, it’s a little present for my grand-daughter Opal, to whom the paucity of dog postings on this blog must be absolutely scandalous.

So, from Pinterest this morning, this group photo of the four types of Swiss Mountain Dogs:


(#1) [from the National Purebred Dog Day [May 1] site (“celebrating the heritage, diversity and predictability of the purebred dog”) on 2/27/17:] “The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is the largest, the Entlebucher is the shortest, the Bernese Mountain Dog has the longest hair, and the Appenzeller Sennenhunde has a tail that curls”

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Meet the Jays

June 27, 2020

A follow-up to my 6/9/20 posting “The June flora and fauna report”.

The apricot cymbidium orchid I’ve called Cuppy (in #4 in that posting), aways the last to bloom, finally came to an end on 6/24, extraordinarily late. The orchids will now put their energy into their root systems and into shoots that will spring up when the rainy (and cool) season begins in late November.

Then there was the bird feeder (#3 in that posting), which on 6/9 had not attracted any birds, nor had the birdseed spread out as a lure, on the ground near it and on the fence tops. But as the days wore on, I came to be adopted by a pair of California scrub jays — big, often noisy (though not for me), territorial, seriously clever, and amenable to human company (they are corvids, like crows and ravens). They are also crazy fond of peanuts (which my birdseed provides) and acorns (which they can get from the California live oaks that are all over the place here, and in which they are probably nesting).

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David Stampe

June 26, 2020

A preliminary death notice for David Stampe, an old friend and hugely influential colleague in my work in linguistics. A first pass, deficient in many of the customary details about academic careers, reproducing the death notice on Facebook from David’s son John (with some amendments in square brackets):

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Annals of ambiguity: I feel like making it rough for Schrödinger

June 24, 2020

Playing with ambiguity:

— a One Big Happy cartoon with: I feel like a tuna fish sandwich

— a domestic exchange about: I will make a dessert of my youth

— a Pearls Before Swine cartoon with: Tell me roughly

— a photograph, labeled Schrödinger’s Dumpster, of a dumpster with the signage: EMPTY WHEN FULL

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For Alan Turing

June 23, 2020

On the occasion of Alan Turing’s birthday today, this release from NPL:

1912 – 1954:  Alan Turing’s work was instrumental in placing NPL at the forefront of computer technology.

Turing had already achieved a great deal before he started work at NPL. While at King’s College, Cambridge, he earned a scholarship, Maths Tripos Part II Distinction, fellowship and Smith’s Prize, as well as writing his paper on Computable Numbers. He then moved on to Princeton University and earned his PhD in 1938, before moving back to Cambridge and starting work at the Government Code and Cryptography School in 1939, where he was an essential part of the work to break the German Enigma code.

After the war he moved to NPL in 1945, and produced his plans for the ACE computer in 1946. He worked at NPL on the ACE until he left (after being on leave to Cambridge) in 1948, not long after writing his Intelligent Machinery paper.

Two things here: the identity of NPL; and more on celebrations of Alan Turing.

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Raw, firm, and tasty

June 22, 2020

Back in the early days of the lockdown, there were bizarre runs on things in grocery stores — fabled shortages of toilet paper, paper towels, bleach — all more or less explicable — but also in certain stores at certain times, eggs, all the chicken, bean thread, all the pasta, and one memorable friday, at the local Safeway (where Kim Darnell shops for me once a week), all the cheese, of any kind (plain commercial cheese but fancy cheeses as well), except for some commercial smoked cheese in blocks, which apparently is not highly favored locally.

For complex reasons you really don’t want to hear about, I’m on a high-cheese diet — a while ago I had some mid-morning sharp cheddar and Stone Ground Wheat Crackers — and luckily I’m happy with chunks of smoked gouda, but not as my only cheese, day in, day out. I complained on Facebook, and my cry was heard. Astonishingly, by my old friend the excellent linguist Stephen R. Anderson, who wrote with brotherly concern (from Asheville NC, where he and his wife Janine have retired):

No Swiss person should have to survive on smoked cheese from the Safeway

Steve then conspired with his cheese specialist at the Asheville Whole Foods to send me an emergency cheese relief package, of five raw milk cheeses, all firm to hard in texture, four from Switzerland, one a Swiss-style cheese from France.

They arrived on April 22nd. There would have been volleys of  sounding trumpets, but, well, we were in lockdown.

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Gay hedgehog

June 21, 2020

A week before Stonewall Day (1969), this celebratory hedgehog:


(#1) Gay Hedgehog design by JP House from Threadless, available in a great many colors

The hedgehog army

We are the hedgehog army!
Rainbow flags are the weapons we wave
In the fight against prejudice, fear, and rejection.
Ready, aim, be brave!

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Ephebe with a big package

June 20, 2020

(There’s a passing, but highly relevant, note about male genitals, and an ancient Greek male nude bronze. Just a warning for the wary.)

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Duolingo’s Latin cheese

June 20, 2020

From Mike Pope on Facebook yesterday, this Duolingo exercise:


(#1) Mike’s note: “Duolingo is really great for learning those phrases you need every day”; word by word: ‘Marcus cheese greatly smells’ (with verb-final syntax)

A little hymn to Marcus as a cheesy comestible:

Marcus smells greatly of cheese

ripe, redolent of cheddar, his
pubic bacteria broadcasting his
manscent to any intimate nose, a
deeply tasty hunk, serve him up
with a young cabernet

Well then: some Latin, and some reflections on cheese and male sweat.

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