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My walk was the walk of a human child, but my heart was a tree.

"Whenever you see an oak-tree felled, swear now you will plant two."

6/18/16 09:55 pm - please do not press this button again

I was once in a psychiatrist's waiting room and they had a coffee machine with enough buttons to belong to Captain Picard. You know the sort of thing-- buttons for white coffee, black coffee, cappucino, hot chocolate, and so on and on. But one of them was unlabelled, and THAT was the one I wanted.

It took a while to brew me a cup. When it had cooled, I took a sip. The stuff was utterly foul-- like a sort of hot instant coffee made with lemons and ammonia. I can still taste it in memory.

Just then, the psychiatrist arrived, and asked what I was grimacing about. I explained the story and showed him the button. "Right," he said. "That's the self-cleaning function."

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5/28/16 03:19 pm - pig blood

[blood, guns, Islamophobia]

February 2016: Trump tells (untrue) story about General Pershing stopping terrorism by shooting Muslims with bullets dipped in pig blood. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/feb/23/donald-trump/donald-trump-cites-dubious-legend-about-gen-pershi/

May 2016: Texans are dipping their bullets in pig blood. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/texas-men-train-to-shoot-muslims-and-dip-bullets-in-pig-blood-so-victims-go-straight-to-hell-a7053086.html

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5/21/16 11:27 pm - like a night in the forest

When John Denver says "you fill up my senses like a night in the forest", is that supposed to be a compliment? Because I don't get it.

Forest floors are full of stones and roots, and dead needles if it's a pine forest, and you can't get comfortable. There are mosquitos hanging around, as well as other nasties that want to bite you. It pours with rain, and then the trees carry on dripping on you for hours.

It gets really really dark, with weird rustling noises, which is terrifying if you can't find your way out of the forest. And if you CAN find your way out of the forest, why the hell are you still in the forest?

I'd assume forests are different where John Denver comes from, except I know they're even worse because there are venomous snakes and poison ivy.

So if someone said I filled up their senses like a night in the forest, I'd think they meant I look pretty good from a distance, but when you get up close you'll wish you hadn't. IDK, maybe that's what John Denver meant too.

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5/16/16 09:19 pm - koans

The koan thing has always messed with my head. I once had a coworker who converted to Buddhism and got very excited about koans, and for the first few months we had conversations like this:

Me: I can't decide how best to fake up the credit card handling on the staging server. Any thoughts?
Him: Does a man who owns a forest buy his own axe?
Me: I don't know.
Me: ....
Him: ....
Me: Hey, I have a friend who owns some woodland. I could phone him and ask?

It might not have been that particular sentence, I forget now, but I could never make anything of things he said like that. He stopped doing it after a while.

Someone explained the "one hand clapping" one to me once so I get that.

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5/5/16 05:45 pm - the liberal wing of Ukip

"Hello, I'm the Ukip candidate."
"Not at all my thing, I'm afraid."
"Oh, don't worry, I'm on the liberal wing of Ukip."
"Everyone says we're about racism! It's not about racism! It's about space! Like, I proposed at national conference to send a cruise ship to the Med to pick up the migrants and check their papers. Better than letting them drown!"
"Well, yes, better than letting them drown."
"But let me tell about healthcare tourism! People from all over the world come here and get treated free."
"It's not that common for..."
"Pshaw! Have you been to Salford Royal recently?"
"Then why did I need to get health insurance when I lived in the US and came back to the UK?"
"That's what I mean! Foreigners shoulf have health insurance!"
"We have to go now."
"Thanks for talking to me! So many people don't."

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5/3/16 12:20 am - Alexander and the wise, resourceful, no-fool philosophers

[Alexander the Great is questioning some Indian philosophers, and has threatened to execute anyone who gives a wrong answer]

• The first one... being asked which, in his opinion, were more numerous, the living or the dead, said that the living were, since the dead no longer existed.
• The second, being asked whether the earth or the sea produced larger animals, said the earth did, since the sea was but a part of the earth.
• The third, being asked what animal was the most cunning, said: "That which up to this time man has not discovered."
• The fourth, when asked why he had induced Sabbas to revolt, replied: "Because I wished him either to live nobly or to die nobly."
• The fifth, being asked which, in his opinion, was older, day or night, replied: "Day, by one day"; and he added, upon the king expressing amazement, that hard questions must have hard answers.
• Passing on, then, to the sixth, Alexander asked how a man could be most loved; "If," said the philosopher, "he is most powerful, and yet does not inspire fear."
• Of the three remaining, he who was asked how one might become a god instead of man, replied: "By doing something which a man cannot do";
• the one who was asked which was the stronger, life or death, answered: "Life, since it supports so many ills."
• and the last, asked how long it were well for a man to live, answered: "Until he does not regard death as better than life."

-- Plutarch, "Lives", late 1st century

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4/23/16 12:00 am - "I shall come back" by Dorothy Parker

by Dorothy Parker
I shall come back without fanfaronade
of wailing wind and graveyard panoply;
but, trembling, slip from cool Eternity —
a mild and most bewildered little shade.
I shall not make sepulchral midnight raid,
but softly come where I had longed to be
in April twilight's unsung melody,
and I, not you, shall be the one afraid.
Strange, that from lovely dreamings of the dead
I shall come back to you, who hurt me most.
You may not feel my hand upon your head,
I'll be so new and inexpert a ghost.
Perhaps you will not know that I am near —
and that will break my ghostly heart, my dear.

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4/14/16 02:00 am - REVEALED: Corbyn's links to apple thieves

REVEALED: Corbyn"s links to apple thieves

REVEALED: Corbyn's links to apple thieves
• Caused original sin
• Family held apple shares
• Responsible for fall

Jeremy Corbyn is descended from notorious apple thieves Adam and Eve, the Telegraph can reveal.

Speaking today on condition of anonymity, a senior Labour backstabberbencher. told of his shock at the hypocrisy.

“Adam dared to question the ways of God. Clearly that was only the start, since Corbyn has now dared to question the Prime Minister's tax returns.

“And don't forget, as soon as she ate the apple, Eve learned that she was naked, and hid herself. In all the years Corbyn has been a member of Parliament, I have never seen him naked. What does he have to hide?”

At press time, God was unavailable for comment. (cont. Genesis 94)

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4/7/16 09:42 pm - What the bikers said in "The Ogre Downstairs"

In Diana Wynne Jones's book "The Ogre Downstairs", there's a scene where some menacing bikers grow out of the ground like plants. Their speech is colloquial English, but written in Greek script. Some people have asked for a transcription, so here it is. I've avoided trying to represent their accent in the English text, so I've put "them" for "'em" and so on. The typesetters for some editions of the book seem not to have understood the joke; in my copy (HarperCollins, 2010) capital lambda is written as a section mark, and capital beta as a comma. I've seen editions with even stranger substitutions.

They stared at the buried man in some perplexity, wondering how he got there and whether to help him out. While they stared, the face shook its chin free of sand and stones and spoke.

“ν θε λιδαγειν ᾿ανσε υοτιωγετ!!” it said. ["...n the lid again and see what you get!" - I think some text from the MS might have been lost here?]

“What language is that?” said Johnny.

“It might be Greek,” Douglas guessed, equally mystified.

A clattering of gravel made them look up. The other mushrooms, up and down the lane between the cars, had also grown into men in crash helmets. The next nearest was now only buried from the waist downward. He had his hands on the gravel and was levering to get his legs free. Beyond him, a number had grown to full height and were stepping up onto the ground, shaking their boots. They were all identically dressed in black leather motorcycle suits and white crash helmets, and they all had most unpleasant faces.

With one accord, Douglas and Johnny looked round to see how near the car was. It was twenty yards off. Between them and it, the lane was filled with motorcyclists stepping free of the ground and moving menacingly down toward them.

“I don’t like the look of this,” said Douglas. “And don’t tell me it’s my fault. I know.”

The nearest man struggled up from the earth and shook himself. Stones clattered from his leather clothes and mud spattered the boys. Carefully he drew his boot from the last of the gravel and walked a step or so toward them.

"Θιωκ ᾿ιυ κνιτ φελλως ᾿ον Θε εδ δουιου?" he demanded of Douglas. ["Think you can hit fellas on the head, do you?"]

“I’m sorry. I don’t understand,” Douglas said.

The man looked round at the other motorcyclists.

"Θης κιζ τραιδ του θυμπ μι, φελλως!" he said angrily. ["These kids tried to thump me, fellas!"]

From the way the others reacted, it was clear that, whatever this meant, it meant no good for Johnny and Douglas. They all gave the boys most unpleasant, blank looks and strolled nearer. "'Ωκει, λετς τεικ βωθοφεμ ᾿απαρτ ᾿αβιτ" ["Okay, let's take both of them apart a bit"] said one. And one who was still only half out of the ground added "Λετμε ᾿αττεμ." ["Let me at them"] Neither of these suggestions sounded pleasant. Johnny looked despairingly round what he could see of the car-park between the advancing leather suits. He found nothing but cars, lines of them, locked, silent and deserted. There did not seem to be another soul in sight.

“Get back to back,” said Douglas. “Use the mop on them.”

Johnny at once scrambled round Douglas and leaned against his back. He held the dustbin lid as a genuine shield, and put the head of the mop under one arm, with the stick pointing outward toward what was now a circle of menacing motorcyclists. Behind him, he heard the clang of the strawberry soap rolling in the dustbin as Douglas raised that for a shield and leveled the broom. Johnny was glad that he had such a tall back as Douglas’s to stand against. If it had been Caspar’s or Malcolm’s back, he would have felt a great deal more frightened. Not that their defenses seemed to impress the motorcyclists. Some laughed jeeringly. One said, "Φυλλα σπιριτ, 'αρυντθει?" ["Full of spirit, aren't they?"] which was clearly a sarcastic remark of some kind, and all of them laughed. Then the first of them said, "Λετσγω, φελλως." ["Let's go, fellas."] And they closed in.
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3/31/16 01:27 pm - jaggery

Marn: I had to look up some of the things on the ingredients list. Did you know what jaggery is?
Kit: Spelt?
Marn: No, it's cane sugar.
Kit: I see what happened there-- I meant, "how is it spelt?"
Marn: Ohhh.

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