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Tom's Rhetoric

Updated: 2018-03-05T10:18:55.287-08:00


A critical review of “Big Bag of Douche” by Murray


I recently had the pleasure of reading a new work by poet, Murray. In this piece he transcends the trappings of metaphor and alliteration that often plague young writers and delivers a message with clarity and without apology. Stripped bare of ornament, Murray borrows the form of Haiku to deliver a message that grabs the living squarely by the shoulders and looks them in the eye, as well as rattles the bones of dead literati. It says what we all too often long to say but cannot find the courage or the words or pander to the constraints of what is considered an “ordered society.” But, like all revolutionaries, clearly Murray has signed R. Mutt on his urinal and hung it as art in a gallery to make us gasp or giggle in embarrassment or walk out of the gallery in a huff. And though many will debate from this time forward, as they did with Duchamp and the Dadaists, whether or not it is art, no one can deny that it is. And now that it has been done, it is forever in the history books and time can only embrace it as the gospel of innovation.

Though I wouldn’t use the term alliteration, this piece is not without rhythm and repetition. It flows from tongue and teeth and makes one want to close their eyes and soak in its canter:

You are such a dick
You are such total dick
I hate you, you dick

And sit back one more time and say, “read it again, dear. More slowly this time.”


Happy Holidays from Saudi Arabia


Hello everybody,

I was going to comment back to you all on the post that C created, but there was just such an overwhelming rush of well wishing that I thought I'd take a moment to create a post and thank you all here.

First of all, thank you so much for all of your messages. I did get them and they meant a lot to me, being so far from home. Unfortunately, for some reason I cannot perform many functions, like get into blogger to update my blog, etc., with the service that I have in my room here, so basically I just pick up and send e-mail from there. however, there is a dive center at the palace that has satellite service and that is how I am able to do this post. I use it occasionally for chat and internet browsing.

Christmas here was pretty funny. I went to the house of a British friend in a Western housing compound (the kind that like to get car bombed) and as it housed Western diplomats we wound our way through checkpoints and cement barricades and army trucks with rear mounted machine guns with guys sitting in seats attached to them and then through an inner guard station and gate to get to his home. That was how Christmas began. Their house was decorated with the center piece being an artificial fig tree with christmas lights and ornaments. in the back courtyard we barbecued and where the courtyard was positioned we could hear the call to prayer from three different mosques mixing together and echoing in the couryard in a surreal caucophony.

For those of you who don't know, I am a sort of court artist and designer for a faction of Saudi Royalty and do a variety of art and design projects for a specific palace on the Red Sea. My primary reason for being here is to do maintenance on 10,000 Square feet of murals that I perfromed years ago in the marina where His Excellency's yachts are docked in the Red Sea. In additon I completed and had presented at the request of H.E. (we call him "the boss" here) a design that I have been working on for a couple of months now for a private shark aquarium about the size of half a football field with underwater acrylic tube and 360 degree underwater observatory. It is a crazy design that I might share with you later and was met with approval to send on to the architects and engineers for detailed plans. There is a possiblity that the meeting with said architects and engineers will be in Cyprus where the primary contractor has his offices. The architects and engineers are from England. Last project I went to England but I'm hoping this one will be Cyprus for something new and I can take Cindra with me!

So, that's a slice of my alter-life that crops up in between terms of teaching and here and there as the need arises. Mystery no more. I will be bringing home pics so that the curious can see what I am talking about.

Again, thanks so much for dropping by my blog and may peace and love fiind you wherever you are and whatever you may be celebrating this holiday season.

With Love,


Merry Christmas from here to there


Hello Bloggers,

This is Cindra, just hijacking my husband's blog for a moment.

As most of you know, Tom has been in Saudi forever, I mean, for awhile, and he will be there through Christmas this year since our collective brood is scattered about with their other parental units and it won't be Christmas until we are all together anyway. Well, seeing as most of the peeps who work with him have gone home to be with their families for the holiday, although his stoic damned self would not admit it, Tom is understandably getting a wee bit lonely. He has a but a few days left until he is safely home again enjoying his own happy Christmas, but in the meantime, knowing full well how embarrassed this will make him, I encourage you to wish him a happy holiday in the comments area which will go directly to his email, where he will be surprised and thrilled to receive them, I'm sure.

Thanks for that.

May you and yours enjoy a warm and wonderful holiday!


Happy thanksgiving-- a patriotic message


Well, I didn't want the last thing that I posted before taking off to the middle east to be something as sad and disheartening (and political) as war crimes. As I have tried to let everybody know, I'm extremely busy with deadlines, wrapping my term up early in preparation for a solid month of work in what amounts to another world. Traveling to the middle east is one of those things that does cause me to count my blessings as an American.And so, I thought it only appropriate that I should tell what I am thankful for and also make the distinction that cannot be made clearly enough between my unhappiness with the actions of my government and the love for my country, my home.First of all, I couldn't be more thankful to simply have this experience we call life. I guess it's my way of saying "God first," on my thankful list as if by stating anything with the word God in it makes it clear. I don't pretend to know what God is, what shape or gender God takes. Aside from the statement made in Genesis that "God created man in his own image," I don't know whether that is to be taken metaphorically or if the maleness of that statement was just the writing style of the times-- even Jane Goodall, in the early part of her career, spoke of "man" when referring to humankind, Latin uses the plural male form of a noun when referring to male and female together in the plural form. But, what I do have is a profound sense that the mere fact that I can utter these thoughts about something as dark and intangible as what reason or madness is responsible for our existence and awareness of ourselves is in itself a miracle and one that I, in all of my Madisonian logic (if you knew my family you would know what I am talking about ), cannot solely attribute to a mere accident of physics. So, here's to being here. We have won the lottery and have at least a one way ticket on this ride (hats off to my buddhist friends) that we can be sure of. That, my friends, is something to be thankful for.I am thankful for my family. I couldn't be luckier. We have the usual foibles of any family, the usual groans over this or that member that are the hallmarks of any good family. We aren't perfect but we love each other and more importantly, we accept each other. Shrinking that to the nucleus we have at home, I am blessed again. We love and fight and laugh like the best of them. We are loud in everything we do, but when we have a group hug, even the dog gets up on her hind legs and joins in.And I am thankful for America. We are as corrupt as any country in the world but we have a couple of things that some countries do not. We have the right to say that out loud and to publish it here. We have the right to make change as a people, like we did in this last election that not only led to a paradigm shift of political power but the long overdue ousting of Donald Rumsfeld-- but we, as a people, got it done. We have checks and balances, investigators and prosecutors that bring down at least some of the rotten politicians. But, again I wax political and this is not exactly what I want to say. We have something even more important than that. We have the American Dream. I was flying on this same journey last year and seated next a man from Finland. And as we have lost the respect of most of the world there is always a little feeling of apology when you say that you are American abroad. He was quick to tell me how much he loved America and Americans. Then he said, "do you know why?" I asked him why and he said, "Because everybody has a plan. Everybody has a dream. Everybody is going to be rich or make it big and even if it doesn't happen they still have that dream and maybe next year. In Finland, if you are a carpenter you will probably be a carpenter and that's it." I hadn't really thought about it like that or maybe just assumed that's the way life was-- it certainly has been true for me and mine-- always scheming, always dreaming, going back to school or changing [...]

Update on War Crimes Complaint


Hiya folks, thanks for the amazing responses to my previous post on War Crimes. The discussion is still going strong. As an update, the Complaint has been filed. Interestingly enough, my local newspaper, which is fairly liberal being in Greenie Eugenie, made no mention of it. I went to NY Times online and didn't see it in the world section but did keep digging (I think I found it in European news) and came up with something pretty deeply buried.

Below is testimony I found on the CCR (Center for Consitutional Rights) site ( by Brigadier General Janis Karpinksi that is rather compelling. She has flown to Germany to testify. Check out what she has to say:

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War Crimes


One of the things that has bugged me since the capture of Saddam Hussein has been some of the charges which he is being tried for. When there is talk of his killing innocent people in reprisal for their complicity in the first gulf war or as a reprisal for an assassination attempt, when there is talk of incarcerating people against their will, torturing them and having them die at the hands of their torturers, I have to wince. Though Saddam is being charged with the coup de gras of all war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and he's not welcome at my barbecues, many of the things I read about in the course of his trial sound eerily familiar.I had begun to wonder, as Abu Ghraib came out, as the entire reason for our bombing a nation turned out to be null and void, as the death toll in Iraq mounted, if ever there would be a similar trial for Bush and company someday.Well, Bush and company must have wondered that too as you may know that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 passed last month as a response to the Hamdan Vs. Rumsfeld Supreme Court ruling that “held that military commissions set up by the Bush administration to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay violate both the UCMJ and the four Geneva Conventions”—“effectively declaring that trying Guantanamo Bay detainees under the Guantanamo military commission (known also as Military Tribunal) was illegal under US law and the Geneva Conventions.” Both quotes from WikipediaThe Military Commission act of 2006 is “a controversial bill that allows the president to designate certain people with the status of enemy combatants thus making them subject to military commissions, where they have fewer civil rights than in regular trials” (Wikipedia). What you may not know about the Military Commission was that it granted officials retroactive immunity from prosecution for war crimes.Something else that you may not know is that on Tuesday, November 14, a criminal complaint will be filed under the Code of Crimes Against International Law in the International Criminal Court in Germany. The complaint is being filled by the following individuals and organizations along with much new evidence.The Plaintiffs:The Center for Constitutional RightsThe International Federation of Human RightsThe Republican Attorneys AssociationThe International Bureau of Peace (Nobel Prize winner 1910)The 1980 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Adolfo Perez Esquivel2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin AlmadaThe National Lawyers GuildInternational Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear ArmsLawyers Against the WarEuropean Democratic lawyersEuropean Democratic JuristsThe Palestinian Center for Human RightsVeterans for Peace.The Defendants:Former Secretary of Defense, Donald RumsfeldFormer CIA Director George TenetUndersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Dr. Stephen CamboneLieutenant General Ricardo SanchezMajor General Walter WojdakowskiMajor General Geoffrey MillerColonel Thomas PappasFormer Chief White House Counsel Alberto GonzalesFormer Assistant Attorney Jay BybeeFormer Deputy Assistant attorney General John YooGeneral Counsel of the Department of Defense William James Haynes IIVice President Chief Counsel David S. AddingtonThe complaint alleges that high-ranking US officials authorized war crimes in the context of the so-called “War on Terror.” It alleges that the US administration has treated hundreds if not thousands of detainees in a coercive manner and tortured them in violation of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the 1977 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the 1984 Conventions Against Torture, to all of which the US is a party. Some of you may recall that this is a retrial of sorts for some of the defendants of the 2004/2005 complaint that was dismissed. The reason for the dismissal was that the judicial body had no reason to believe that America was not carrying out investigations of their own into the allegations of war crimes. However, the [...]

Tom’s Challenge-- The Riddler 3 Results


First of all, this one was kind of a poker game for me. To explain this, I need to give you the answers first today:The three people being discussed were:1) Silence Dogood,-- the alias for a Boston woman who wrote letters to the editor of the Courant, a newspaper started by one James Franklinaround 1622. Silence wrote letters that satirized the puritanical ethics of the dominant Boston family, specifically it’s patriarch,:2) Cotton Mather. Much to the Chagrin of Cotton and his kin, this rebellious newspaper, especially publishing the sharp-tongued letters of Silence Dogood, was becoming popular in its rebellion. Even the pseudonym, Silence Dogood, was a play on words as Mather had published two works prior to the arrival of Silence on the scene: Silentarius and Bonifacius or Essays to Do Good. However, James Franklin had no idea who was behind the Silence Dogood letters that were found slipped under the door of the print shop. In fact they were the work of a very precocious and ingenious apprentice of his, the one setting the lead type and printing the paper (hence the reference to lead being mightier than swords or pens)—his 16 year old younger brother:3) Benjamin Franklin. James Franklin was less poetic and mysterious in his assaults on the Puritan “ruling class” of Boston and his words landed him in jail and eventually on the lamb from the sheriff. One of the more interesting facts about the younger Franklin’s life was the fact that in order for James’ newspaper to continue, he was forced to sign the management and editing of the print shop over to Benjamin, to prove that he was no longer printing and in compliance with a gag order of sorts.And so, Benjamin Franklin became the manager and the editor of a Newspaper at the ripe age of 16.The reason that I gave the answers first was to show that I was gambling that the words “silence” and “cotton” were mundane enough that they wouldn’t be googled. If you simply google those two words you get the answer immediately. I also had to use improper grammar and not capitalize the two proper nouns or I found it drew way too much attention to those words. A bit of a cheat.As it was, my ruse worked fairly well. The poker analogy is that I gave you the answers up front and so confidently that I was sort of bluffing that you would think them unimportant. Guess I can’t use that trick again, however.First place: The most unfooled and quickest to the draw was: Goldennib! I always ask my winners how they found their way to the answers—if they just already knew them, or partially so, or if it was their mastery of research (or some combination). I haven’t heard back from Goldennib on this yet but she sure was fast! Perhaps she googled silence and cotton!Second Place: Quilldancer! Quilly got Benjamin Franklin and Cotton Mather but not Silecne Dogood and at one point, very aptly named James Franklin a the third person-- who did play a role in the whole satirizing of Mather. However, after telling her to try again a few times she did get the final answer: Silence Dogood.Third place goes to Doug! Doug had an identical problem as Quilldancer and actually turned his answers in second and though I gave him prompts to keep trying for that third answer he let me know that he was headed out of town and probably wouldn’t be able to continue to play.Honorable mention this time goes to O Ceallaigh for the most complicated wrong answer yet received for our game. Sometimes, OC, being smart is a curse. I’m going to cut and paste his answer to the riddle since I don’t even want to try and copy it:“I'm going to guess that you're referring to:Henri BraconnotTheophile-Jules PelouzeChristian Friedrich SchoenbeinAll of whom were involved in stages of the discovery and refinement of the process resulting in gun cotton (nitrocellulose).”Dude, get a PhD. Oh, too late.Thanks for playing [...]

Tom's Challenge- the riddler 3



Well this one is simple, making up for lost time. Due to the election and anniversaries and life in general, my challenge has been a bit slow to come about.

So here it is, nice and simple:

He mocked cotton in silence,
When lead was mightier than swords or pens.

Who are the three people this riddle is referring to?

It's our anniversary!


This picture shows what Cindra was really getting into. It also shows the collective Brady bunch clan that we became.

It’s something, but the work goes on…


Change isn’t over with the election. We can celebrate the fact that the American people have shown the courage to make such a strong statement with their right to vote, but it doesn’t mean that everything will be instantly better. Personally I’m happy about the outcome of the election but I certainly don’t suffer from the delusion that there is but a hair’s thickness of difference between the dealmakers on either side of the aisle, much of the time. Let’s pray for the courage it will take to go the rest of the distance towards a less warring, more humanitarian and environmental state.

These are just a few of the headlines from the last week that summarize the mess we are in and how deep of a hole we have dug.

I celebrate the victory for change and pray that it really will be all that it promises to be. Peace, T

Wild seafood could be wiped out by midcentury

By Juliet Eilperin
The Washington Post
Published: Friday, November 3, 2006

WASHINGTON - An international group of ecologists and economists warned Thursday that the world will run out of seafood by 2048 if steep declines in marine species continue at current rates, based on a four-year study of catch data and the effects of fisheries collapses…

Britain Warns of High Costs of Global Warming

October 31, 2006, Tuesday

Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain warns that failure to act swiftly on global warming would have cataclysmic effect on global economy...

Bloody month ends, but violence doesn't
By Steven Hurst
The Associated Press
Published: Friday, November 3, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A blood-drenched October has passed into a violent early November as a motorcycle rigged with explosives ripped through a crowded Shiite market in Sadr City on Thursday and suspected Sunni insurgent gunmen killed a Shiite dean of Baghdad University.

The attacks showed no signs of abating after at least 1,272 Iraqis were killed in the first full month of autumn and the 43rd month of the U.S. bid to quell violence and build democracy in Iraq….

Rise in Iraqi refugees challenges U.N. agency
By Alexander Higgins
The Associated Press
Published: Saturday, November 4, 2006

GENEVA - Nearly 100,000 Iraqis are fleeing each month to Syria and Jordan, forcing the United Nations to set aside its goal of helping refugees return home after the U.S.-led invasion, officials said Friday…..

AWOL soldiers rethink any return to U.S. soil
By Brett Barrouquere
The Associated Press
Published: Sunday, November 5, 2006

UPDATE on Path to Peace


After some good feedback from friends and our own thoughts on the matter, C and I have decided to cut the prologue to the 2 documents at the Path to Peace site altogether. It was too subjective and might give an impression one way or another-- the mention of Quakersim and the litany of republican scandals certainly gives away that this is being put forth from a liberal point of view. I think that the letter of apology and Bill of Rights can stand alone without a bunch of gratuitous comments. This is truer to our wish for bipartisan support on this matter. Thanks to all for your continued support.

Peace, Tom

Peace blog is up


After much wrangling and reworking, Cindra and I have put together a blog poll called Path to Peace.

This new spot has a condensed version of the post I did at Sar's and two documents: one is an American apology letter which gives you the option of a) If you are an American would you sign this letter (comments available) and b) if you are not an American would the apology letter make you feel differently about America. The second document is the International Bill of Rights to which you can click yes or no to "sign" or not (and comments are active). I invite people to give their locations and we plan on having a map that will show where people have come from to visit and/or vote.

The entire thing is being done anonymously. Obviously, within our circle of bloggers, people already know that this originated at Sar's and may be aware that I am the author. I would love for you to post an announcement and direct people to this new site and vote if you feel comfortable doing so. Otherwise, I hope you will stop by and give feedback and maybe circulate this among your circle of friends. Within that, we ask that if people make comments who know that “Just Tom” is involved, not to use that name or address their comments to me. It is important that this is done without identity to ensure that it does not have any hidden agenda for furthering the cause of any party, group or individual.

Whatever you can do to help launch this on this election/peace day would be greatly appreciated. One by one we can spread the word— we are those butterfly wings, after all.

Peace and thanks,


The Challenge results


First off, great job you guys. It was a slow start as many of my usual participants were somewhat indisposed but this brought in some who hadn’t played for a while and some who had not played before. So, it was good thing.First the answers:1. Archimedes2. Eureka! Greek for “I’ve have found it!”3. A circle inscribed in a cylinderOnto the victors:1st place honors go to O Ceallaigh. Much as he did in one of my first Challenges, I let him know in the course of some other correspondence that the game was on and the going slow. He came back immediately with the answers. So, congratulations to O Ceallaigh for coming back around and kicking riddle booty.2nd place goes to the inimitable Quilldancer, who I’m sure would have snatched the prize had she not been tied up with grading. However, she did quite well finding the answers by simply googling siege+move ships and started seeing the name Archimedes. She is the master of searches, I think. Way to pinpoint the key words right off.3rd place is someone new to the challenge but not new to many of us: Logophile. Logo happens to be teach a classical Greece class (though in what cpapcity I have not yet learned, and it struck a bell. She also remembered a Mythbusters (I love those guys) episode where they tried another of Archimedes tricks during that siege where he is said to have concentrated the heat of the sun through reflective material and burned whole ships like a giant death ray. The Mythbusters failed by the way to burn a ship in this manner.Honorable mention: Someone came in just before I was to submit this and as we had so few people getting these answers I thought it would be worthy of a bit of spotlight. This is also someone new to my blog, though I have visited theirs and found it quite entertaining and made it onto at least two people’s list of five funny blogs—Diesel started it. Ladies and gentleman announcing The Drive By Blogger—take a bow Drive By.Archimedes. I have an art deadline for a client 11 time zones away (morning is rapidly upon them) and so I won’t be able to give a long description here, but here are some interesting facts about Archimedes:First off, Greek mathematicians, in the ilk of Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, etc. felt that the field of applied mathematics, i.e., engineering was a vulgar field and soiling ones hands to make something that might use their ingenious theories for money was well beneath them and left to lesser men. It was similar to the way we think of “selling out” today in the arts. If you are a mathematician, then you are a philosopher and philosopher is somewhat of an ascetic I suppose. Hence, Archimedes only wrote about one or two mechanical achievements and volumes on mathematics. The amazing instruments of destruction described by the Romans (Plutarch being the primary source) are sadly lost to us.However, after giving a physics demonstration to his King, Hieron, of Syracuse about how leverage and mechanical advantage could bring a large ship up into dry dock from the sea with the ease of one man pulling a rope through a series of pulleys, King Hieron, astonished at what he saw, endeavored to give Archimedes the task of creating a mechanical defense system for his fortified kingdom. The King never lived to see it in use, however, as fate would have it a 75 year old Archimedes would be present to pull the ropes of his mechanized war machines against one General Marcellus (similar in sound to Marsalis, the famous New Orleans jazz family) which laid Syracuse under siege. Though the siege that came from the sea was 60 ships strong, equipped with catapults and a large army they were, according to the Roman account, mere trifles for Archimedes machines. Large arms came up and [...]

some Clues for You


Okay, here are a couple of facts that might make a difference:

Those laying seige were Romans, the city under siege bears the name of a city on the Eastern seaboard of the United States and the Roman general in command of the siege has a name that sounds like the surname of some famous, contemporary Jazz musician brothers from New Orleans (not the Neville Brothers-- that's pop).

see if that makes a difference




Here's this week's challenge. I'm working this new theme for a while. It's fun and I can use more cryptic terms. Though with this crew I doubt it will take long. Still it's fun to have a new fellow to talk about. Best of luck!

With a mind like his it is no wonder,
That he did toss whole ships asunder,
And thwart whole armies with wheels and rope,
To give a fortress days of hope.

Yet through stealthy acts the walls were breached,
And inside the fortress, the enemy reached,
They found him pondering dusty glyphs,
And commanded, “come,” though he stayed stiff.

Transfixed by what his mind had conjured,
He hushed them wait ‘til he discovered,
The answer to his diagram,
But an impatient sword, through him ran.

1. Who was he?
2. What is his most famous utterance?
3. What did he have placed upon his tomb?

Please e-mail in your answers. The game is played until we get three winners (first, second and third)



Well, after a record week of printing that coincided with midterms last week I just finished a marathon of sorts. I am doing my best to take it easy this week (my printing slate is caught up and midterms are graded. whew!). The only reason I pulled off the whole guest post thingy last week at Sar's was because there was a mix up and I thought it was going to be featured a week earlier. So I had accidently done my homework early and got to just send it over and check in and make comments in what turned out to be an exchange of upwards of 60 comments that is still going on! I tried to sign off and say thanks and goodbye and then Sar started in again on Major Dad and then O Ceallaigh chimed back in and as of today I entered the fray again.

It's all been a grand experiment but one that has given me some insight and also, sadly, reinforced my feeling that all of the powers of civil discourse cannot make a dent in some levels of dogma. At the end I got scrappy and wasn't proud of some of the comments I made. Though I made some apologies I think I still need to learn the meaning of the phrase "shake the dust from your feet" and walk away or just maintain patience and calm. I still have much to learn.

I am going to have some time to write for a change and I've got people waiting-- nothing great, no more War and Peace, no novel, just computer graphics stuff and if I get the time, my long shot book, The History of Design, From Animal Fat to Inkjet (The War and Peace of Design). I've been waiting to shove open a window to focus on writing these textbooks and it will be a different pace than last week. Something to look forward to.

C Jo and baby Bonnie are going to take off for the coast for three nights. I'll be home alone with the other kids and that will give me more writing time (one hopes). We were set to go as a family but Rob's football team won their first playoff game! It's a single elimination playoffs that is open to all teams, regardless of their record. Well, Rob's team had only won a single game all year. We had heard mid season that only teams that had 4 wins would go to the playoffs. So we scheduled a trip for after football, once his team got to where there were less than 3 games left. Come to find out that all teams go to the playoffs. Okay, no worries, chances are, the way things had been going, that they wouldn't get past round one. Well, they destroyed the first team and looked like Ohio State out there! What happened! They executed plays, they threw passes, they had sacks. Now what do we do? We have a house rented at the beach. So, C said I'll go have some fun with the wee one, you stay and write and support the football thing and it will be fine.

All's well that ends well. I'll miss the beach and my wifey and the little snapper. I love the coast. but a light work week and a weekend without a toddler will be a nice change, especially with all of this writing to do. We'll see-- I do feel like somewhat of a taxi service for my teenage daughter's social life a lot of the time and I don't want to ignore Rob, but at least the spinning head of parental radar can be turned off and I might be able to focus. Famous last words, I know.

Wish me luck. And I hope to steal some time in blogworld, especially since I won't be nursemaiding a somewhat fruitless discussion on war and peace at Sar's that I created. Will I ever learn?


Tom’s Challenge—The Riddler Results.


This week’s challenge champion is “Goldennib!” Way to go Nibby! Ya done good.Second place goes to the reigning queen of the challenge, Quilldancer—always the one to beat.And third place goes to Diesel! a new friend who popped over from the Sar guest post commentary and knew this answer out of his head, it appeared! Though I forgot to mention that Goldennib remembered Turing from a computer class she took and that he was associated with artificial intelligence. Y’all done good. Real good. Here’s the skinny on this week’s mastermind:Alan Turing is perhaps the most unsung hero of the twentieth century. He is another story equally as intriguing as Descartes or Wright from previous challenges. Turing attended the “public school.” – what we in America today think of as private school—the Sherbonne, and went on to King’s College, Cambridge to study mathematics. Turing was one of the first if not the first to pull logic into mathematical circles and marry philosophy and mathematics and to some extent in later years, psychology and neurology to try and create artificial intelligence. At the outset of this quest was a groundbreaking 1936 thesis entitled (short version) “On Computable Numbers,” which is the first extant paper written about how a fantasy machine would work that could calculate anything, using a binary system. Further, once you had one of these machines that could execute a given “program,” you could add programs until it could perform any function you wanted it to. Turing not only described the computer as we use it today, he gave us the math and function of how this could be performed before any hands had touched metal. He called it a Turing machine.His paper was met with little fanfare until experiments began to take place in the US with “computers” and his paper ended up in their hands or in discussions on how to proceed. Little by little, Turings Computable Numbers became the seminal piece for the creation of computers.In 1939, Turing saw the animated movie Snow White and wrote to friends about it. He memorized the lines the Witch said as she created her poison apple. Mostly due to the social discomfort attributed to being gay in a predominantly non gay world, Turing talked about suicide at various times in his life.But, then came the war. At that time, Turing was teaching at Cambridge ( I think) and was snatched up by King and country to go to the now infamous Bletchley Park—the decoding center for the war effort. Turing’s theories were put to use in creating decoders for the German enigma machine, a machine that scrambled text so well and so randomly that the German’s were, to their demise, overly confident that no one would ever break the code. But this job was made for Turing and his intelligent machines. Decoding machines were created under his direction and ultimately a large machine was created called “the Collossus” that many have thought should be given the honor of being named the first computer. In one account I read that until the code was cracked, with the U boats keeping England under siege, it was thought that England had about two weeks worth of food left. I also read that Churchill made a tough decision once the code had been cracked not to warn the people of a particular town that they were about to be bombed, so as not to give away that they had cracked the code. That would be a call I would not want to make. With Turing’s machine, England was spared and the advantage turned to the allies, ultimately guiding their way to victory.As you may have surmised, Turing’s end was not nearly as glorious a[...]

Bonus Question


So far we have some people with the right answers, but still holding out for third place. One thing I noticed was that no one addressed the stanza:

Quick they were with his arrest,
and sentenced him to grow women's breasts,

A rather intriguing couplet, don't you think, considering it promises to be of historic significance?

Solve that riddle and you may move into a new position! I'll have to find some clever way of rewarding you.

Tom's Challenge--the Riddler


When England lay under seige by sea,
and bombs by night rained from the sky,
the food grew scarce and times were grim,
but all was saved by the brain of him.

And great honors to him, his King did pay,
Until it was found that he was gay,
Quick they were with his arrest,
and sentenced him to grow women's breasts,

His life from then was not the same,
Though he tried his best to hide his shame,
But in the end he chose Snow White's plight,
But no kiss would ever bring back his life.

1. Who was he?
2. What did he do for Jolly Old England?
3. What was his fate?

cheaters and heartbreak


My schedule is crazy from Sunday night until Wednesday, but of course the good part is that I am done with any out-of-the-house work at noon on Wednesday (this does not preclude in house work, but that's different). I mentioned in an earlier blog that I am working in a new program that I helped to create, in a new capacity which is great. Only, there is almost no curriculum available since I invented the class and have to create it all myself from scratch-- I try to use other people's stuff or text books that come with CDs and assignments but I just can't do it. I always have to make it my own. So I scramble and I write (four hours of lecture and four hours of lab work per week). It's a labor of love, but the operative word here is labor.But tonight, after a major marathon of class material prep and writing the midterm I gave this morning, I decided to take a break and chill in my robe, play Bazza's quiz and generally dip back into the global friendspace.After reading Quilldancers blog about her test, I had to convey one of the weird things that happened to me in grading my first graphic design project this week: Two people cheated.I gave them an assignment in a page layout program where I give them the raw components--some digital images that are very large and have to be sized down and placed into a string of frames, some text in Word and a set of instructions also in Word. I also give them, only on the first assignment, an example, in the same program, that they can use to see how I constructed mine. I give them a speech that I only give them this one example in the same program that they are using on the first assignment because it is difficult the first time they use the program again after the Summer break. After that I give them a PDF file that will show them how an assignment looks but they cannot "strip it for parts." I told them that unforunately due to the fact that there has been cheating in the past I have had to resort to this, as much as I would love to give them as much information as they need to do the best job that they can. After that speech, I figured there wouldn't be any cheaters trying to turn my own example back in renamed as their own. Plus the fact that I know these guys, they are in their second year, juried in, on track for their degree.So I'm going through this first project, pulling them up one at a time and they are all designed to look like mine, but it's amazing how accurate the human eye is-- I can tell that they are different. It's like, give someone a picture of cut out shapes of paper arranged into a collage, then give them the same colored paper and ask them to cut out their own and paste them up. They won't be exactly the same as the picture but very similar. There are differences in proportion, but when there isn't... it was amazing-- it was like hearing a chord and knowing that it was the same chord you had just heard. I opened up a file and this person had put all kinds of different fonts surrounding the string of resized images to disguise it, but the sequence of images just struck me. I had seen that proportion before. So I simply clicked on one of the images, brought up the info palette which told me the exact dimensions of the image to ten thousands of an inch, opened my example, clicked on the same image and I'll be damned-- exactly the same. I went through all of the placed images and they were all the same dimensions down to ten thousands of an inch. So I marked a "see me" down, I was a a little disappointed and about 6 assignments later there it w[...]

Challenge #5 results


Hello all,

Well, the results are in. Each Challenge gets a little tougher it seems but the race does go to the... well, stubborn. Once again, the reigning queen of the Challenge pulls it off, this time without the hint of a movie she had seem too many times by chance. So, ever more the accomplishment.

First the answers:

1. Frank Lloyd Wright
2. Taliesin (rebuilt twice after fires)
3. Taliesin West, the snow bird school for architecture in Arizona (hence the reference to Jackie's recent migratory departure).

And the winners are:

1st: Quilldancer! I already gave her victory introduction above.
2nd: Bazza! The music hint created an instant bridge over the troubled waters (pun intended) of this challenge for Him. The 1970 album, "Bridge Over Troubled Water," by Simon and Garfunkel contained a song entitled "So Long Frank Lloyd Wright," written by Simon. That album was one of the few to keep the Beatles off of number 1, competing with the Beatles "Let it Be" album. Now that is a high honor to come out number one in that field of competition. Bazza responded very quickly after that hint went up.
and 3rd goes to Kat who pulled this one out of the hat to make it into the winners circle again. Congratulations Kat!

Frank Lloyd Wright is worth a look as there are so many amazing things about his career. Considered a has-been by the time he was in his sixties, Frank made a come back and created his most amazing work after retirment age until his death at the age of 92. the Guggenheim Art Museum in New York was nearly completed at the time of his death and Frank was right in there during the construction up until he reported stomach pains. After surgery to remove an obstruction, he slipped away.

I highly recommend the Ken Burns documentary, Frank Lloyd Wright. It is a stunning piece of work and will keep you captivated through its entirety. Like Descartes and scientific method, we owe as much to FLW and his approach to architecture and design.

Thans for playing and I'll see you in the blogosphere.




For those of you who might still be pondering this. Here is something more for you to chew on.

Upon the death of this certainly most famous person in their field, one of America's most famous songwriters wrote a farewell song for this person.

The album this song appeared on reached number one on Billboard Music Charts pop albums list. It won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year while its title track won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year.

The album proved to be a vast success in the United Kingdom, enjoying several runs at number one, spending some years in the charts and eventually becoming the country's biggest-selling album of the decade that it was released in.

Tom's Challenge #5


(image) Hi everybody. Sorry about the radio silence but the term is starting to build up to midterms and it’s a whole new curriculum this year so I have to reinvent the wheel in all my classes. In addition, I’ve had some design deadlines and some major printing jobs, so it’s been quite a week, but all of it is very good stuff.

We’re happy here though our house has been getting cold lately and we are reluctantly turning on the heat for the first time. It’s a big house and winter means spending a lot more on electricity each month. So, we’ve been telling the kids to put on slippers and wear a sweater or something but our bones are getting chilled and it gets pretty dark around here before seven o’clock rolls these days. The change is upon us.

This week’s challenge is as follows:

This is one of our most famous Americans. This person’s influence led inadvertently to a revolution in Europe in their respective field. By way of Scotland, the most controversial of revolutions traced to this person took place in Vienna.

This person’s personal life was both flamboyant and tragic. At one point, a disgruntled associate, sealed all of the doors but one of the family house, with this person’s spouse and children inside, then lit the house on fire and waited at the only exit with an axe. This person’s entire family was wiped out in a most grisly way on that day.

The last clue is that this challenge is dedicated to Jackie and her annual migration.

Because you guys are so sharp, that is all that I am willing to say at this point.

1. Who is this person?
2. What was the name of the location where the tragedy described took place?
3. What other significant place in this person’s life also bore that name?

Well, I hope this is challenging enough for you. It’s hard to say. These facts may be either new or cryptic but the person is not considered obscure.

As always, please e-mail your answers to me. If for any reason this goes slowly I will post clues. Cheers and happy challenge!

The Winners of Tom's Challenge # 4


Hello all and thanks for participating in the most difficult challenge yet. First the answers:1. The mysterious group was the Rosicrucians ( or the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross)2. The Scholar of old was Christian Rosenkreuz3. And the founders published their manifesto, Fama Fraternitatis, in 1614And the winners are:First place: Quilldancer, who managed to pull the Rose and the Cross from the Sean Connery movie, "Name of the Rose." She said she got lucky and had done caretaking for a woman who watched TV 24/7 and had seen the movie a bunch of times. she says, "lucky," but as she has won several of my challenges, I don't think it's luck at all. I think she's damn smart!Second place: Goes to Jackie's Garden. I think this deserves special applause because she didn't have the flash of a movie to send her in the right direction and did hours of research and came up with all three answers before the clue was put up! That was no easy feat and at one point Jackie declared she didn't want to play any more (but I hope she does). She really did an amazing research job to pull that rabbit out of the hat. Great job, Jackie!And Third place goes to Goldennib who managed to get the Rosicrucians, the date 1614, but guessed, the ancient scholar was Francis Bacon (not a bad guess at all). I'd like to mention here that not only did she get third place, but she should be proud of the fact that nobody else even submitted an answer besides these three. So this was a tough one. Good Job!So, here's to the winners three. I hope you feel especially proud because I went to much greater lengths to make this challenge difficult, googled the stuff that I posted and reworded things to make it less googleable. But the two sisters, Quilly and Jackie, got the answers within hours. You guys are amazing!The Rosicrucians were an exciting mystery during the 17th century as they published anonymously, saying that they lived among the population of any given city, could be your next door neighbor, blended like an alien race into society but held an almost Demi-God (that was the term that was used)-like knowledge of science and magic and met secretly to further humanity and to solve the problems of the world. In the comments, I mentioned Descartes a couple of times as I came across their fascinating story in an equally fascinating book, called "Descartes' Secret Notebook," by Amir D. Aczel-- almost a very real Davinci Code. Truth being stranger than fiction, the adventures of Descartes and his contemporaries are quite amazing and due to the discovery of a single, quickly scrawled copy of Descartes secret notebook, which he had instructed his heir never to show to anyone upon his death, the author explores, among many things, the issue of whether or not Descartes was a Rosicrucian.If that sort of thing is your cup of tea, this book is new, I bought it this summer while visiting Jackie and is probably pretty easy to find. As I said in some of the comments flying around during the contest, Descartes is the root of so much of who we are today. My father told me that he was watching a show where a group of nobel prize winners were round table discussing various topics and the question was put to them what they thought the greatest inventions of all time were and one of them thought for while and said, "the scientific method." So, there ya go. As we are all Cartesian, at least here in the West, if you haven't checked out [...]



Here's something for those of you who...well, still care. We do have a first and second place, but I'm looking for a third. Regardless, here it is: