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Travel back to 2018-09, 2018-04, 2018-03, 2019-03, 2018-11, 2017-06, 2018-08, 2019-04, 2019-05, 2019-02, 2017-04, 2020-01, 2018-02, 2018-12, 2019-06, 2019-12, 2020-09, 2018-10, 2018-01, 2019-01, 2017-07, 2017-12, 2019-11, 2020-02
'twas during the slow summer months of the diabellum that the most revered landowner of the Mississipi Delta received the most peculiar request. After his favorite retiree, bronzed and bleached far less than his advancing years would have you expect, had finished tuning the concert grand centerpiecing the ground-floor lounge, Doc turned to his owner and, placing his spectacles respectfully at his side, put it to the simplest words:
"One of the field hands would like you to hear him play, Sir."
This simple enough request was quickly granted, and the landowner instantly recognized the same youth who was regularly called upon for tasks both heaviest and most requiring of deft precision. The youth carried a dusty, rusty, six-string, coils of spare wire adorning its neck, and looked about for a place to sit.
"You may sit at the piano, Scott, jus' don't be touchin' them keys! You know how sensitive Mr. --- is about that piano."
Scott sat facing the lounge audience, and, without a moment's pause to check the tuning pegs, began to pluck out one of the standard accompaniments, as he sang softly enough to satisfy the awe commanded by the audience, yet so boldly that his voice carried the words direct to the landowner's heart.
I been a good hand, Mister; paid all of ma earthly dues. Yes I been a good hand, always paid ma earthly dues. Yet one thing I can say for certain, yes, sir! Even good hands get them blues. So I took a walk, Mister, quiet like the barn cats do. Yes I took a walk, Mister; 'scaping like them barn cats do. Lemme 'fess up, Mister; I went the way them barn cats do. Then we met a big dog, Mister, biggest that there ever grew. Yes we met a big dog, Mister, and he asked me to, uh, "Listen closely, Scotty, 'cuz this big dog wanna a sing a tune!". This is the song your big dog sang to me, Mister: "I been a good dog, Scotty,", an' he licked the bottom of ma shoes! "You know I am a guard dog, Scotty,", yet he licked the bottom of ma shoes! "Only got one thing to tell ya, Scotty,", and that dog began to sing them blues. That's all, Mister. Hope you enjoyed my tune.
The landowner smiled, and waited until the last echoes of the well-tempered guitar had faded softer than the rustling hoop skirts of the lounge audience, then addressed Scott directly: "I've already heard about your little walks, and I'm glad to see you here again, again, and again. Since this is the first time I've ever heard even one peep outta your mouth, I've got to ask you this: what's got you so blue, boy?"
Scott did not answer for so long that Doc had to meet his eye, nodding once, as though to say that the truth was good enough this time, so Scott told the truth, and met his end a few months later in a shallow puddle a few days' march towards the front. Once he'd left the lounge, Doc recollected the spectacles and began to wipe down the piano seat at his worldly leisure. One of the lounge guests, momentarily forgetting the decades of seniority between his own crass insolence and the man whom he addressed, called out: "Hurry it up, Doc! Mister --- will want to play that piano again soon."
Doc paused, mid-wipe, and as he reached again for the spectacles, was preceeded by his owner's drawl: "Kid, you better shut your mouth, afore you get it shot off by some Yank next week. That is rag time, now, and you must never rush through rag time."
TERROR WARNING: The weak of spirit would call this a waking nightmare; they who have so diligently abraded all traces of spirit against the lathe of heaven must recognize it by now as merely the latest page in a choose-your-own horrorshow.
In chilling duality to that recurrent sensation wherein the final peace found at the end of freefall is merely sudden resumption of consciously sensing the equilibrated support of one's own somata, one of the worst states of mind into which to awaken is the panic of an uncontrolled dive from full comprehension of plexure hypervalent than the waking state: final grips at an idea's full graph alternate with sense data, and soon enough the tendency of entertaining the illusion of control compels the counting compulsion to reveal that the two sequences tend in opposite directions. Punt that observation of how the Zeroth Impersonal is less lonely than the person into whom I now awake, in favor of hinting the local nabla, that it may guide tomorrow's turn...
Imagine an amphiphilic fluid near criticality, foaming as it struggles to contain the nucleated vapor phase within at least two surfaces of liquid. The liquid itself churns, oligomers forming and vanishing while enthalpy dances between the phases. Consider only those oligomers lasting longer than the relaxation time of the pressure imbalance across a punctured membrane; and consider only those regions of the liquid sufficiently thin to contain no more than a single layer of so-called bulk separating the surfaces. The arrangement of such units is enumerable, whether the fluid is water or words.
I can't quite recall how I ended up there; although the immediate surroundings were unrecognizable, their nature hinted at an unforgettable compound where the scarcity of water paled in comparison to that of shade. I scrambled partway up a slope of loose earth, pausing to squat by a cement cube crumbling to expose iron loops rusted far past their original usefulness. My rest was soon interrupted by a procession of cadets, clothed in nondescript uniforms and carrying all manner of equipment: rifles, ammunition, stretchers, tents, people.
After they had assembled into formation, a uniformed officer's familiar face materialized at my side.
"How did you get here?", asked his puzzled look of recognition, as though eight years had meant nothing and I belonged with the others. Recalling where I'd seen him last, I answered: "After giving up on the military career quest, I am currently in the academic career quest, although about to give up on that one too, and am wandering alone at the edges of Known Space in search of a tangible goal. What about you? You, too, are almost where I left you, but not quiet."
He smiled, the same smile polite to the point of bashfulness that had earned him so much scorn from the cadets, as though he wanted to grin yet was afraid the aerosol of flies, mosquitos, and desert dust would fill his mouth should it ever open without a simultaneous exhalation, and the dreamtime vacuum energy filled my mind with his hypothetical predicament:
"When you met me, I prepared artillery men for officer training. Now, I prepare officers for artillery training. I do not know whether I entered this revolving door forwards or backwards, but it spins too fast for me to leave."
As I wonder how I would navigate out of his boots, I find them gone, replaced by my own bare feet, gathering dust at the gateless gate of Abulafia's missing art; there is a war in heaven, yes, although the angels and demons are all our own.
In the time that's passed since the last nucleation radiation, forces dark and wondrous have conspired to invalidate the crumbly metaphor, forcing the use of another. What's the use? Rice won't refuse, scattered by the handful or sleeping, steeping, waiting for thermobaric renaturation, perhaps hoping for a date with the polite intestine... or merely biochemical amylysis; what a ruse!
- Cutoff Time
- What's That Trash?
- Shelter From The Worm
- Diamond Anvil Recycling
- Monarchy Retirement Plan
- Who's Bass Is It, Anyway?
- Donald Rumsfeld's Omission
"WE EVEN HAVE EARMUFFS, IF ANY OF YOU WANT A COUPLE."
Fine, the rest of this story will not contain shouted words, although the use of CamelCase at the start of sentences may be preserved; anyway, it pertains to a multiple-choice exam sat by the author recently, where the primary hindrance presented to the students consisted of FAA-compliant noise. Noting that nobody needed even a single muff, the proctor glanced at my choice of seating.
I nod, scattering allergens to assure the poison sniffers that the correct ghola had showed up for the Mentat Bowl, and prudently leave my cheating machines concealed yet readily accessible. Another proctor kindly wished me good luck, although the whorls of spacetime conspired me to think of the all-too-recent practice wherein children were forced to conform to seating limitations regardless of neurology. Ah well, we all bleed our age one way or another.
"Good luck!" said just about everyone, whether aloud, to themselves, or just to pretend they hadn't run out of mere politeness (quite the scarce resource).
Eventually, I notice a unital (as opposed to unitary, i.e. dimensional) discrepancy. These buggers are pernicious, especially when the exam purports to pertain to the physical sciences, but in truth does not contain a single SI-qualified value, opting instead for alphabet soup interspersed with "happy particles". I flag down a passing professor.
"You have a question for this one?", he mimes, doubtlessly thinking of the overworked teaching assistant.
"YES, YOU SILLY GOOSE, WHO ELSE?" I shout at nobody in particular, while nodding silently to respect the silence theater quivering at the brink of metastability. He walks over, punts my question at the nearest underspecified constant, and wanders off to give polite hints to less helpful questioners.
I guess it's time for me to eat more rotting fructose, since competitive thermodynamics is an awfully energy-consuming game: time is in finite supply, proportioned according to the Cayley-Hamilton nulleph (if you've got that sphere mapped; if you don't, please do: see Poincare's cut if you've already passed Dedekind). I don't blame that professor for my inevitable failure at this exam, as he'd actually given quite a helpful hint: he could tell I was asking for him to make a public clarification regarding a sloppily-worded question, the correct answer to which was painfully obvious, so he instead reminded me that the Grand Canon controlls how many ells deep drinks the spider.
Teacup - empty; birdseed - messy; orange - too flagrant a juicy snack, and there's still half the alloted time left! What could I possibly do now, other than start to actually work out the silly little calculus exercises? Maybe asking the proctors to unplug the noisy desktop computer fanning itself for no apparent reason, or at the very least tell us which prion it was busy refolding for the good of humanity, although somehow I suspect the answer to that would've been closer to:
Hush, little baby; don't say a word! ... never mind that noise you heard. It's just the wormholes in your ear, crawling thru that strength we fear.
At which point, the student to my right gets up, hands in his papers, and moves to leave.
"No! Stay!" quoth an audience member, who had elected to sit the exam undercover, out of true respect for the process.
"Sorry, honey, I've got a plane..." he replies, politely ignoring her "Can't it wait?" as he glides out, better than the most professional of bettors.
At least the desktop had decided to continue cooking its motherboard in silence by the time our friendly noisemaker began running his own fans overhead.
TRIGGER WARNING: Vital escense is not absorbed by the kidneys!
Hokay, so: there's the sun, which is active matter of one sort.
There are planets, or overgrown, well-behaved comets, or aggregated, annealed, aquatic asteroids, or whatever you call the rocks. You can kick them quite hard, cut your teeth on them, eat them, smash them at eachother to make more or less of them, but as far as I can tell, they're the kind of stuff the turtles swim above.
On the better-civilized parts of some rocks, are a bunch of... museums. I use that word in the Wolfeian sense, and expect audience familiarity with everything I can recall during the acts of creation, editing, auditing, and reliving, so a "museum" is not quite what you'd expect. Perhaps you know me better than I do myself, and you could define the concept more accurately than my feeble effort, so I'll let you do that yourself as an audience exercise.
One of my earliest memories involves a dispute about who'd visit which parts of a museum, under what conditions (note the omission of unpriced admission). When museums grow large enough, these disputes can heat so vigorously as to cut costs on central heating, and soon enough the tearily nostalgic demand for a thermostat gives way to the much more interesting challenge of climate maintenance. Control, as you may be aware, is naught but the name of a button or two on various antiques littering this museum; maintenance, whether by hand, foot, or nail, is a fucking career.
The incorrect way to express displeasure about museum administration is by amateurly executing the chief executive amateur.
RIP Yitzhak Rabin (b: 1 March 1922; d: 4 November 1995; c: trauma, kidney failure, life)
(cum apologia papae)
Now I send me out to ride... trust the Lord protect my hide; If it gets lost in a far-off land: I trust my steed to cope unmanned; and if I find some garbage cute: please forgive my smash and loot. Should I swallow a suspect weevil? Brace yourself to purge that evil! Forgive my calling grapeshot puts, (I hope that won't cost me a foot) but if I die in a combat zone: gather what's left and ship it home. And if I die of likely cause, let me lie and hold your applause.
Content Warning: This post may contain renovated memories. It is an attempt to collect things said during my military service which I consider today, several years wiser, as the greatest compliments received, although they may not have been intended as such by the speakers; others may simply be moments which I do not wish to forget.
+ Good work. + Adlai, go there. + "... and then fire the missiles!" + Do you know who I am? I am your captain. + Adlai, your problem is that you are a technocrat. + Yes, we can stay friends... what a stupid question! + Of all of us, the last I expected to become thus is you. + I envy the woman who wins your heart, because you are a wager of peace. + Of all the sergeants in our company, you are the only one after whom I'd charge under fire.
It's been years since I met some of those who spoke those words. Some of them weren't in good shape back then, and some of them are in worse shape today, and that's quite a flexible word being used to its full range of meanings. I hope they're in better shape than I'd expect. I have forgotten the full name of the third speaker, and that makes me sad.
Trigger Warning: This post may have been produced in a facility that also processes lucidly-written prose.
Though some might consider this rebellious streak merely some idiotic "looking for trouble", I actually enjoy getting asked by complete strangers what I did during my military service: this being nearly 36 months of forced Israeli defense. I've parroted much nonsense in answer to such questions, always avoiding barefaced lies and never quite cutting to the matter's heart, but it's about time I set down the definitive story, if only for my own sanity.
Artillery battalions are funny beasts. They consist of dozens, if not hundreds or thousands - let's settle for "myriads" - of autonomous agents, each with its own specific task; and a well-designed battallion can function even with its head cut off and impaled, dripping blood, sweat, and bile, at the entry gate, for every man to witness. The agents can run about like headless chickens, hardly hearing each other's plea, as long as the most important guidelines are followed. The responsibility of those commissioned "Officer"'s to make sure that nobody gets hurt. My job was to lobby for the continued execution of enemies. It's that simple.
Pop taught me: to think Ma land: how to sew mine fields Lots to think about!
This will not be a lucid post, yet not quite "S-o-C" either. The system must be laid out clearly, for any interested child to decipher with the assistance of a bored yet educational adult (or at least, adult-ascendant), yet they should not need the use of any tooling other than deft hands, and perhaps a jeweller's loupe (or one of those magnifying glasses from the olde dictionaires, the kind they just don't make anymore).
Who is the audience? As a writer on vacation from the stage, or an actor cut off from the scheduler's queue, I am not the one to answer that question. Perhaps you, Dear Reader, are a member of that illustrious category, or at least aware of its existence, identity, form, or functional; mine pleasure would be all encompassing should you inform me of its return value under the simplest fixed-point process, yet I try not to delude myself that truth can be so easily raped from the bowels of our shared simulator.
When is the now? You may glance upwards, recall your Catholic Consensus Clockology, and see that there are no more days left for this message to be broadcast from this window so fictitious as to elicit week-long street-orgies of public-drunkenness -- a grand time, indeed! Yet perhaps not the one appropriate for so clear a message, no, that's why the speaker is muffled, the meaning so shuffled, the rules bent and twisted prose so far that even before the first key stroked, hands knew to tag it "verse".
Less than twelve hours into this site's public availability, this entire server got visited by the lazy, skiddy sister of the pentest fairy. Though I don't presume to fathom the murky art of flooding webservers with garbage in the hope that some magic phrase will trigger their undressing and enlistment in your servitude, perhaps some bored entomologist might:
[EDIT: Due to Coleslaw choking when trying to compile a mere two megabyte preformatted block from markdown into HTML, the full log has been removed from this post. If you're still itching to read it, ask for a copy directly.]
My guess is that Hunchentoot is immune to tricks that seem better suited to PHP, and I also suppose that successful intrusion would be followed by purging of evidence; yet the most devious invader might leave only the evidence of failed attempts, cultivating a sense of false security in the gullible admin. Perhaps someday, I may be so flattered as to have this level of attention on my case, but my gut tells me this script wouldn't even know what to do with a REPL if it managed to squeeze one out.
A cursory study of the above material reveals that Hunchentoot, as currently configured, leaks whether a user exists in the system. Doing anything with this information beyond noting it in a blog post is left as an exercise, as is the configuration and deployment of better ramparts.
Should yous and company wish to achieve constructive interference in joint action, one will likely count aloud so all beg in sync. Counting down in Hebrew runs the risk of whispers or stress amplifying the already likely false positives from confusing the unvoiced fricatives closing "shesh", "hamesh", and "shalosh" with the natural element that concludes the count: "esh", the igneous; the others do just fine.