From Pine View Farm

Personal Musings category archive

Adventures in Literacy 0

One of the technicians who repaired our air conditioner earlier this week used the word “inferred” in casual conversation.

And he used it correctly!

A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight 0

Our household air conditioner broke on Sunday.

A new one is scheduled to be installed tomorrow. Natch, this happened just in time for the hottest hot spell of the year so far. That’s just how stuff works.

At the ABC Store today, I mentioned this to the clerk. He wanted to know who I called for service. When I told him, he was most gratified that I had not called [some other outfit]. He was most emphatic about it.

I filed his remarks away and will not call [some other outfit] in the future.

Recommended Reading 0

The Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee (Dee Goong An), as translated by Robert van Gulik.

The Chinese invented the mystery story fully two centuries before westerners did; this is van Gulik’s translation of a Chinese mystery story. Van Gulik went on to write a series of Judge Dee mysteries based on the characters in Dee Goong An which does indeed absolutely rock.

I first encountered van Gulik’s novels in a little bookstore on 33rd Street across from Madison Square Garden (which, ironically, is round) when I was on a long-term assignment in New York City many years ago.

I’ve read them all. Now I’m reading them again. They are better the second time around.

No Place To Hide 0

I normally keep the GPS on my Android phone turned off, unless I have a positive need to use it. For example, I turn it on when I am using Move! Bike Computer to record a bicycle ride. Also, I don’t use the phone for navigation. I use maps.

Remember maps? They are big and colorful and easy to read and don’t talk back.

Yesterday, I turned the GPS on to perform a function and neglected to turn it off when I was done.

After going out for Sunday morning breakfast at our favorite breakfast place (it’s not fancy, but the food is good, the prices reasonable, the people nice, and the country ham to die for), we stopped at a local commercial emporium to purchase some items. Shortly thereafter, I received a message from Google asking me to provide a review of [name of commercial emporium].

I won’t make that mistake again.

It’s not Google’s business, or anyone else’s business, where the hell I choose to shop. Or where you choose to shop.

And people worry about the NSA and surveillance, for Pete’s sake, while they run nekkid through Silicon Valley without consciousness of their nekkidness, as Adam and Eve in Eden before eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge.

We are doomed.


Recommended Reading 0

The Silent Speaker, by Rex Stout.

Though it was written in 1946, it is eerily timely.

Stray Thought 0

Republicans no longer have a “political party.”

They have a hate group, and the sad truth is that hate sells.

Recommended Reading 0

Poets and Murder, by Robert van Gulik.

I think it is easily van Gulik’s best novel.

Okay, so I’m a mystery buff. But I will note that Robert van Gulik’s stories are reputed to give the best picture of day-to-day life in ancient China available to English readers. That is a tribute to van Gulik’s skill, as van Gulik was a Dutch diplomat and scholar who wrote in English.

Stray Thought 0

I used to live in a country. Now I live in a joke.

Q. Why Do Crossword Puzzle Writers Like the Word “Esne”? 0

A. Because it serfs their purpose.

Perversely Adverse 0

Ruth Lee Johnson explores the fascinating background of “adverse possession,” the legal doctrine by which a squatter can become a property owner simply by squatting.

I wish Johnson had delved more deeping into the history of adverse possession. I do know from an intensive study of Midsomer Murders that there exists in English common law a very old tradition that a landowner, for example, may not close an existing public land usage, such as a right-of-way. I would not be surprised to find that adverse possession somehow relates back to that, but I’m too lazy to find out.

Meta: Stats 0

I just checked my stats plugin. The numbers were higher than I had expected.

To all of you who did not abandon me when this blog was having its difficulties earlier this year, I proffer my deepest gratitude. To anyone new, welcome.

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Meta: Stats 0

I just reinstalled a statistics plugin.

I removed it when I was trying to troubleshoot the issues I was having back in February, issues which, with the help of my most excellent hosting provider, seem to have been resolved for several months now. At the time, I was getting about 600-700 unique visitors a day (not too bad for a small blog in the backwaters of the inner webs, AFAIC).

I was talking with my friend today about completing the day’s blogging (since I mostly do what I call “drive-by” posts–Hey! this looks interesting–I shoot for eight or nine posts a day) and she wondered how many persons visit this site. I told her that, right now, for the above-mentioned reason, I don’t really know, but feeding the blog helps me keep sane during this time of danger to our polity.

As I said, I don’t know right now how many visitors I have, but I do care, because I hope that some persons find my ramblings useful, interesting, or, at least, diverting.

Not the Mainstream, Just a Pathetic Eddy Off to the Side 0

No, Kyla Mandel, Mitt Romney is not the “GOP Mainstream.” Donald Trump is.

The stream has moved far to the right as a direct result of Richard Nixon’s southern strategy, which has come full circle and consumed the party, to the extent that it doesn’t even try to pretend any more.

Those who continue to give lip service to the mythical “moderate Republican” are living in a fable of their one creation. Worse, they are perpetuating the myth to the detriment of reality.

Facebook Frolics 0

At The Denver Post, Diane Carman explains that the blame doesn’t lie only with Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and their ilk. A snippet (follow the link for the rest):

Which brings us to the real problem.


Here’s the deal. You know that advertisement for overpriced slippers that keeps coming at you whenever you access your digital newspaper subscription or perform a Google search or check Facebook? At some point you innocently click on the ad to see what it’s all about, and then they’ve got you. The ads keep coming. And pretty soon you think you really need another pair of slippers even if they cost 150 bucks and, after all, they’re still just slippers.

You’ve been played.

A really really good con job is still a con job. Persons who stay aware and do their homework generally do not let themselves get conned.

The same goes for societies.

Recommended Reading 0

The Iliad and the Odyssey, translated by Samuel Butler.

I have tried to read translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey a number of times and have not been able to get through them. I found the celebrated Rouse translations boring to the point of impenetrability.

I stumbled over a copy of Samuel Butler’s translation at AFK Books and recommend it highly. He makes the correct compromises between faithfulness to the original Greek and English idiom.

There will still be elements of the translation that the contemporary reader might find difficult, because of the cultural divide. The catalog of ships, for example, might have had great significance for the Ancient Greeks, whereas the contemporary American reader could care less (sort of like the “begats” in the Bible spoke to ancient Hebrews, but not to contemporary readers of the Christian Bible).

Nevertheless, if you want a readable version of the Homeric classics, Butler’s translation is a good place to start. And it’s worth the effort.

Recommended Reading 0

I trained as an historian and, through that training and a lifetime of reading history and sociology, I am convinced that the past illuminates the present. Accordingly, I recommend A History of China by William Eberhard, as China is important and most Americans, including me, are woefully ignorant about its history and culture–well, not just ignorant, more like farcically misinformed and bigoted.

I do not claim that it answers every question nor that it is without bias (I don’t know enough about Chinese history to make that claim), but the author’s credentials are impeccable and the book is readable and accessible, having been written for the general reader; it can give perspective to why China is what it is now.

You can get it from Project Gutenberg (easily the most noble of internet projects) and read it with the free FBreader.

Maps of China through its history from illuminate the narrative.

To get a sense in English of day-to-day life in ancient China, you probably can’t do better than Robert van Gulik’s Judge Dee mysteries, which I first encountered in a marvelous little bookshop on 33rd Street across from Madison Round Garden (it’s not at Madison Square any more and it is round) in New York City when I was involved in an extensive training project there in the early ’80s. I’m rereading them now.

Twits on Twitter, Facebook Frolics Dept. 0

I am certain I am not the only person who finds that #deletefacebook is trending on Twitter to be somewhat ironic.

In related news, John Aravosis retrieves his data from Facebook and finds that the Zuckerborg has slurped up far more information about him than he imagined.

Depressive 0

When I checked into the ER Wednesday afternoon, the nurse asked, “Do you suffer from depression?”

I said, “Only since the last election.”

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Stray Thought, Self-Fulfilling Prophecies Dept. 0

I once had a history professor (U. S. Early Federal Period) who was fond of noting what he called “the ironies of history.”

Today we are living one such irony.

The U. S. right wing, which has for over 40 years trumpeted the creed that “the federal government can’t be trusted” has succeeded in creating a federal government, one in their own image, mind you, that can’t be trusted.

Stray Thought, Sunday Dept. 0

I wonder whether the Evangelical right still teaches Sunday School children to sing

Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight

and, if so, do they manage to do so with straight faces.