ae stallings

This is a good idea, and spurred me to make this post, which I’ve had in mind for ages. (And April was National Poetry Month; who knew?)
It’s tough to pick just one poem by my favourite contemporary poet AE Stallings, so I’ll go with the first of hers that I read, way back when it was featured on Poetry Daily:

The Man Who Wouldn’t Plant Willow Trees
Willows are messy trees. Hair in their eyes,
they weep like women after too much wine
and not enough love. They litter a lawn with leaves
Like the butts of regrets smoked down to the filter.
They are always out of kilter. Thirsty as drunks,
They’ll sink into a sewer with their roots.
They have no pride. There’s never enough sorrow.
A breeze threatens and they shake with sobs.
Willows are slobs, and must be cleaned up after.
They’ll bust up pipes just looking for a drink.
Their fingers tremble, but make wicked switches.
They claim they are sorry, but they whisper it.

Ms Stallings’ homepage gives links to another two dozen or so poems; I particularly liked this and this and this, but go and read them all, even if you think you don’t like poetry. She has a wonderful, distinctive voice, erudite, whimsical and powerful all at once, and manages the delicate balance between profound and trite with enormous skill. There’s an interview in the Cortland Review here, where you can hear Stallings reading a couple of her own poems (if you can put up with the wretched Real Audio format). The essay on formal verse mentioned in that interview is well worth reading and can be found here at the Alsop Review, which also hosts Stallings’ excellent close reading of The Darkling Thrush. In addition, Stallings moderates a forum called Musing on Mastery at Able Muse‘s Eratosphere and so is one of the few working poets with whom you can actually “talk shop”, in a sense. Finally, her first (and, sadly, so far only) book, Archaic Smile, is available from the publisher (U of Evansville Press), and all good book stores. I cannot recommend it too highly.
Update: below the fold, a list of blogs featuring poems for Poem On Your Blog Day. Not exhaustive by any means, just the ones I found tracking back to Ronn’s entry or with a couple of quick searches on Google, Technorati or Bloglines. If I missed your entry and you want on the list, email me.

Continue reading

no bottom to worse

Remember this story about worthless douchebag Scott J Bloch? As the newly appointed director of the Office of Special Counsel, which is supposed to protect whistleblowers and other federal employees from retribution, this subhuman sack of satanic dingleballs removed references to sexual orientation from the anti-discrimination information provided by his department. Not long after that, he blithely announced that gay federal employees could be fired without recourse on the basis of their sexual orientation.
It seems that Shifty George and his Uptight White Christian Right Junta liked that idea just fine, so now they’re doing the same thing to women’s issues. The National Council for Research on Women has released a report (available here) detailing the multitude of ways in which Shrub’s Morlocks are undermining the body of reliable public scientific and sociological information. From the report’s Executive Summary:

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fact sheet that focused on the advantages of using condoms to prevent sexually transmitted disease was revised in December 2002 to cast doubt on the effectiveness of condoms, calling evidence on condom use and transmission of HIV and other STD

hand spam

Got some comments spam last night; the weird part is, the spousal unit renamed all the cgi scripts after obscure comedians, so how did I get hit? Was it some dork sitting up all night spamming by hand? Anyway, add to your blacklist.

die, you evil bastards, die!

I hope this will kill Diebold dead. The Oakland Trib has a better article:

the nation’s second-largest provider of voting systems concedes that its flagship products in California have significant security flaws and that it supplied hundreds of poorly designed electronic-voting devices that disenfranchised voters in the March presidential primary.
Diebold Election Systems Inc. President Bob Urosevich admitted this and more, and apologized “for any embarrassment.”
“We were caught. We apologize for that,” Urosevich said of the mass failures of devices needed to call up digital ballots.

After the vile way in which the Bush junta siezed power in 2000, I have no doubt whatsoever that they will steal every vote that isn’t nailed down. As this latest farce shows, using Diebold machines is just handing them opportunities. Bruce Schneier recently pointed out how cheap it would be to steal an election based on electronic voting, and Bev Harris has loads of info. This is one of the most important issues of the 2004 election, if not the most, and it gets more important with every upswing in Kerry’s fortunes. BushCo™ has no intention of ever losing power; if The People™ are to thwart their designs, voting must — must must must — be transparent.
Die, you malignant corporate tumour on the tainture of America! Die!
(via Body and Soul)
Update: from For the Record, who have been all over this issue for some time, comes a related story from Florida, the spiritual home of election fraud, and a timely reminder that some of the best anti-disenfranchisement resources around can be had at Verified Voting.

hippo birdies

Naze turns 40 today. I rarely read personal journal blogs any more, but days of naze was one of the first I ever picked up (I remember when he didn’t even have his own domain) and it’s lasted all this while because I just plain like him. Read a few of the stories in his archives and see if you don’t, too.
So happy birthday, Chris, and many happy returns!

naze turning forty
gopher a thing of the past —
how’d I get so old?
never did sign up
for his email notices —
naze by RSS

(Did I mention that he likes to get haiku for his birthday? Go ahead, send him one. You don’t have to be Basho.)

Posted in joy

not really updates as such, just some vague promises…

Something bad seems to have happened to my images, but since I have all the technical chops of Mr Computer I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for it to get fixed. “Wait!” I hear the anguished voices cry, “doesn’t your spousal unit make her living from that dire species of satanic voodoo known to decent, CPU-fearing folk as “computer stuff”?” Well, yes, but if I bother her with computer stuff too much, she kicks me in the nuts. It hurts, you know, but I figure I deserved it. Those of you who live with tax accountants or lawyers or doctors or any other useful professional, you’ll understand. After all, it’s not like the SU set me up this site just so that she could spend her precious minutes of free time hacking code (where I come from, a hacking code is subthig you see a dogtor for, but I just love to use jargon I barely understand) in response to my twittering. But Respectful of Otters is now in Rocket Scientists where it belongs, and I haven’t forgotten about the teeny-tiny text in the comments boxes either (hi, P!). There are other things to fix, too: front-page links to my bio and copyrightanything notice, and a bunch of sites I don’t read by RSS but to which I do want to offer linky props over there on the sidebar somewhere.
So I’ll get to all of these things eventually, but please be patient. My nuts thank you.

ok, ok, i’ll do it

I’ve been seeing this all over the place, most recently at Pharyngula, and meaning to play along:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the sentence on your blog along with these instructions.

“This produces lymphocytes, each bearing a distinct receptor, so that the total repertoire of receptors can recognize virtually any antigen.”
The antecedent of “this” is recombination of variable receptor gene segments and clonal selection of lymphocytes; the sentence is from Janeway, Travers, Walport and Shlomchik, Immunobiology 5th edition 2001 (Garland ISBN 0-8153-3642-X). If you want a good introduction to immunology, you can’t go past this book; it really is first class. Both text and figures present a clear, concise but comprehensive and superbly well organised overview of the field. Highly recommended. You can see for yourself here at the NCBI Bookshelf, although you’ll need to come up with searches (base ’em on the chapter headings is the easiest way) because there’s no way to browse.


Whenever I am tempted to sneer at religion and to think of it in terms of the Pat Robertsons and Fred Niles, it does me good to read something by or about ex-POTUS and tireless champion of the poor Jimmy Carter; but even he can piss me off sometimes:

I personally, in my Sunday-school lessons, don


scissors icon From the EFF, an excellent Wired story about the dangers of electronic voting (and a link at the bottom to further coverage of the issue). This is perhaps the single most compelling issue in American politics right now, and I predict that it will spread to other countries. If this unmatched opportunity for subversion of the democratic process comes anywhere near you, fight it. If you vote in the US, do it by mail for the forseeable future, until e-voting is forced to add a paper trail at the very least.

scissors icon From Neat New Stuff: “provides direct links to over 7000 scholarly periodicals which allow some or all of their online content to be viewed by ANYONE… for free”. Marylaine points out that the site only has an alphabetical index, so it’s mainly good as a reference link for when you already have your citation. (Also, I haven’t checked but “some or all” may be problematic.)

scissors icon Remember the dragon in a bottle that made the blog rounds a while ago? Turns out it was a promotional prank by this self-satisfied asshole. The report calls it a hoax, but it was just a grubby moneymaking stunt. Hoaxes should have a point, dammit; Ern Malley is turning in his grave. (via links miniblog)

scissors icon Lots of things from Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools go straight into my “want” folder. Consider this gorgeous book on African rituals, or this collection of somewhat more Western ones.

scissors icon US troops will soon be armed with a weapon that jwz aptly dubs the Bowel Disruptor: a stun gun that emits a baby’s scream, played backwards, at between 110 and 145 decibels (the pain threshold is around 120, which is like standing next to a jet aircraft as it takes off).

scissors icon They played every song as if their nuts were on fire, and shrieked out incomprehensible banshee babblings; this was music to kill dogs with a hammer by.

scissors icon From Stavros: Charlie Brown is an existentialist, and a collection of truly remarkable pictures.

scissors icon I might as well just pipe Graham‘s RSS feed straight in. All human communication fails, except by accident: Jukka Korpela has provided the world with a translation of, and some commentary on, Wiio’s Laws. Wiio:communication::Murphy:everything, pretty much. It’s funny ‘cos it’s true.

scissors icon Noam Chomsky has a blog, which is where I found a link to The Nation Institute via one of their projects, TomDispatch. They’ve been around for a while, and look good at a glance:

Founded in 1966, The Nation Institute has a fundamental commitment to the values of free speech and open discourse. The Institute places particular importance on strengthening the independent press in the face of America’s increasingly corporate-controlled flow of information, and through its programs the Institute promotes progressive values on a variety of media platforms.

They list their Trustees but don’t give any details on where their money comes from.