Reviews

A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

2. The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown: Down for the Count

In the Previous Post

found here, we saw that the geocentric/geostationary model of the world was not only not unreasonable, but was the best fit for the empirical data that was then available.  Inter alia, you could see the stars and planets moving around the earth!

Oresme subverted that evidence in 1377 in his Livre du ciel et du monde, with an argument from relativity of inertial reference frames.  Whether the Earth were turning and the heavens stood still or vice versa, everything would look the same.  He also proposed "common motion" to counter the Argument of the Winds.  None of these arguments were conclusive and Oresme lacked the sort of instrumentation that might have provided him with better information or the conceptual lumber (inertia, forces, ...) that would have let him frame the issue.  

The main obstacle to the revolution of the Earth was the lack of stellar parallax.  Copernicus (among others) proposed that the stars were really far away and thus the parallax would be too small to see with the naked eye.  But this was saving one unproven hypothesis by throwing in a second unproven hypothesis.  The stars could not possibly be as far away as Copernicanism required because then, given their visible disks, elementary geometry required the stars to be of such enormous size as to dwarf the solar system.  Tycho (among others*) thought this absurd, as it would mean an entire class of new entities.  The Copernicans answered by saying "Goddidit!"  “Who cares how big the stars are?” wrote Christoph Rothmann, since an infinite Creator God is far bigger still.
(*) among others.  Little in the history of science is due to Just One Person.  There is no
"Father of..." this or that.  Those who get credit are typically lucky, more astute in PR, or
standing on someone's shoulders.  The best of them, like Newton, will tell you so. 

Notice, en passant, that it was the Earth being stationary that mattered, not it's being 'in the center.'  The ancients and [especially] the medievals, saw the Earth as being in the bottom of the world, the most ignoble place.  That's why Copernicanism was supported by humanists but opposed by physicists.  It elevated Earth (and humans) to a higher position in the universe.  

1. The Magnificent Seven. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

1. The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown

TOF once wrote an article entitled "The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown and Down 'n Dirty Mud-Wrassle" which described the century-long progress from the first seriously-worked out heliocentric mathematical model to the final overthrow of geocentrism.  A century, more-or-less, is generally what it takes for quantum mechanics, general relativity, and sundry other theories to progress from "wild hypothesis overthrowing the wisdom of the ages" to "standard model," so there was nothing unusual in the resistance to heliocentrism from the scientific establishment of the day.  As Max Planck once put it, a new scientific theory gradually gets accepted by scientists because "all the old scientists have died." 

Now the aforesaid article appeared in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Analog, so it is still technically under the ban.  That is, Analog purchased the English language reproduction rights for a yearTOF considered blogging on it in Latin, but that would present its own problems for his Faithful Reader.  However, a couple of points suggest themselves.
  1. The article has appeared on-line as part of the reading for a course in science education, taught by Leonard Bliss at Florida International University in Miami.  This non-commercial use was with permission.
  2. For technical reasons having to do with file size, the article was published without the accompanying artwork and diagrams.
So, it occurs to TOF that a much-altered version including the artwork might not be amiss.  In particular, because it is often believed that the opposition to heliocentrism was religiously-inspired, a bit of attention to You-Know-Who(*) is warranted.  First, a bit of background.
(*) You-Know-Who.  Galileo.  You knew that, right?

1. Our Ancestors Were Stoopid


Friday, August 23, 2013

Who is the Best SF Writer?

TOF's devoted son sent him this screen cap from Cracked-dot-com:

It's nice to see my Fan hard at work spreading the word. 


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Verbalocity, redux

TOF ran across one of those list-sites and found thereon 25 handy words that English does not have, but should. 

One of the benefits of having a word for something is that one can talk about it without talking around it.  For example, the ancient Greeks had no word for 'velocity' and so could not easily discuss the physics of local motion.  Not that they were unaware that things changed location at various rates, but they simply called it 'motion.'  A constant velocity was said to exhibit uniform motion, that is, it's motion had a single form.  Acceleration, by which a thing took on successively greater forms of motion, was call difform motion.  But that's as far as they took it.  Terms like 'velocity,' 'instantaneous velocity,' and the like awaited the Middle Ages.  So did terms like 'numerator' and 'denominator,' which you kinda need to speak of velocity intelligibly.

Thing is, the ancients (and early medievals) were interested in motion as such, more so than in its magnitude, so they wondered how a thing might move at all rather than in how one would describe that motion arithmetically, and their vocabulary reflects this.  We Moderns are just as hobbled when we try to talk about love, since the distillation of modern English boils everything down pretty much to plumbing.  The fine distinctions of eros, agape, philos, and the like are not for the blunt Modern ear, which just wants to know if she is available and if so, how soon. 

Of the words on the list linked to above, the one that seems most keenly wanted is:
Backpfeifengesicht (German): A face badly in need of a fist
Simply to define the word conjures up many needful applications.  

OTOH, only in German would that even qualify as a single word....

Your task, should you decide to accept it, is to create word badly needed by the English language and give its definition.  The word should be eminently plausible.  It may even be an actual foreign word!

An eager world awaits your contribution.  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Verbalocity





 Words change over the ages, sometimes in form, sometimes in matter, that is, the substantial meaning.  These changes are of two sorts in the final sense: those that make finer distinctions and those that coarsen them.  Call them splitters and lumpers

The magpie tendency of English to adopt foreign words is a case in point.  "Why does English have so many words?" a Sino-Panamanian once asked me.  (The Chinese went to Panama to build the Trans-Isthmian Railroad which, while technically trans-continental, is somewhat shorter.)  She gave as example the two words director and conductor, which she said in Spanish were the same word.  So I conducted her across the room and then directed her to return.  Now both of those words were Latin, so I am puzzled that the distinction did not survive in Spanish. Otherwise, we are aware of the distinctions we make between sweat and perspiration.  Though technically they mean the same thing, there are distinctions in usage.  A ditchdigger sweats while swinging his pick; a nervous suitor may perspire as he comes to pop the question.  That is, sweat carries connotations of hard physical work, of extreme guilt, extreme heat, etc.  Perspiration connotes mere nervousness, moderate heat, etc. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Art Establishment

Cousin Thomas and family
Among TOFs relatives are thirty-odd cousins, many of them extremely odd.  (Yes, I'm looking at you, and you know who you are.)  One of them is a lovely fellow: Thomas Patrick son of John Thomas son of Francis Joseph son of Daniel Joseph son of John Thomas son of Martin of Loughrea.  Not to be confused with Thomas Patrick son of John Daniel son of Daniel Joseph, etc.  He and Ellen are the parents of three lovely daughters. 

He and Ellen are also the parents of The Art Establishment, a projected venue where amateur artists can rent time and facilities to create art or to take and give lessons.  Let him speak for himself: 
"We're all about the amateur artist. The factories and offices and retail shops of the world are filled with artists - pragmatic artists who, tragically, stifle their artistic impulses to earn a living. The great sin is that, eventually, the Artist is forced into submission by the Factory Worker.
Future location of The Art Establishment
We believe there are untold numbers of amateur artists who would love to create if they had better access to studio resources, but we recognize that these artists are typically under-served. For an amateur to have studio access, he or she would have to either set aside space in their home, or commit their time and up front expense on monthly studio rentals or enrollment in semesters of art courses.

The unique nature of our studio is that it will give amateurs access to studio space and equipment on an affordable hourly basis. It will essentially be a "drop-in" studio where the artists can create on their own schedule and on their own terms. We'll offer easel space for painting and rendering, potters' wheels and kiln for ceramic artists, a black and white photographers' darkroom, and a large format etching press for printmakers. We'll also offer art instruction, a gallery to showcase the work, and retail art supplies.
We'll be called "The Art Establishment." (The Art Establishment Project is just a blog journal about our project.) It describes our business, but it's also a subtle dig at the formal "art establishment" that would certainly not deign to interact with amateur artists. We hope, rather, to serve as an entry point to the visual arts.

The daughters are helping by knocking
out the walls
The feedback we're getting from local artists has been very encouraging. Word is spreading about our studio through word of mouth, (we haven't done much marketing yet) and we seem to be causing quite a buzz. And we're thrilled with the caliber of established artists that are willing and excited to teach. The instructors will be independent contractors, who would use our facility.  [That is, the Art Establishment will be an umbrella under which artists may run their own classes. -- TOF] 

Right now we're concerned with getting the doors opened before we run out of money - and it will be a challenge! But when we're open I'd really like to get Uncle Joe in there (Pere), and Uncle Dan as well. And the Flynn discount (free) is always in effect if you think you'd like to step away from the word processor and wield a brush for a change...


You can follow the reworking of the building on The Art Establishment Project blog.  
 ++++++++++++++++

So, if TOF's Faithful Reader is anywhere near the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania and is interested in the Arts, this is going to be the Happening Place. 

It's almost enough to get TOF to scan some of his old artwork from college and post it.....  

Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?

Part I

Looked at the Shroud as an artifact; this part looks at a possible history of that artifact.  

A Stroll Down Memory Lane

A telling point against the Shroud is that no one seems to have known of it until it surfaced in Lirey, France, in 1349.  You would think there'd have been more notice taken of a sacred image!  But then, how many people today natter on about the Shroud of Turin, other than enthusiasts and their debunkers?  Further, it is not entirely reasonable to hold earlier eras to the standards of modern forensic laboratories regarding chains of custody.  We don't doubt Tacitus wrote the Annals even though the earliest manuscript we have of it (M1, from Kloster Fulda) is written in a Carolingian hand (8th cent.), long after Tacitus became tacit, and was itself lost for centuries and rediscovered only in 1506.  Who had the original scrolls?  Where was M1 during the intervening centuries?  How do we know that the Annals and the Histories are not medieval forgeries?  (Or perhaps Renaissance fakes!) 

Simple.  We use a double standard.  For some artifacts, we allow a reasonable filling-in of the gaps.  For other, we do not.  Especially if the other has been touted as miraculous, since at that point reflexive dogma kicks in and anything miraculous must be denied.  But if we suppose the image on the Shroud was formed by an entirely natural process involving the Maillard Reaction, and the only threatening possibility in play is that it might -- might -- establish the historicity of Jesus and the reliability of certain accounts of his death, we may be able to consider it from an entirely materialistic and secular point of view and make no demands beyond those normally made of ancient artifacts.

Of course, some people may find the simple historicity of Jesus to be threatening enough. That is an entirely different topic. 

In fact, few are the artifacts that could satisfy the demands made on this one.  All we have in history are isolated data points, and we must as it were "connect the dots," doing the best we can.  Let's take a look at one possible reconstruction.

In what follows, TOF has taken accounts from a couple of Shroudie sites, largely because no one else bothers to do this.  However, both sites presented information with cautions about reliability and interpretation, and where not, TOF has noted some cautions or omitted the item entirely.  For example, there is a Gnotic hymn called the Hymn of the Pearl that seems to TOF to require a great deal of the verbal equivalent of  pareidolia to link it to the Shroud at all.  And he was unable to find another translation on-line that matched the translation provided at the site, and so TOF does not discuss it here.

Therefore, with the usual standard cautions against the sort of details that have or have not survived the shipwrecks of time, the following reconstruction is offered.

Shrouded in Mystery


Not an actual photograph of Last Supper!
Christ: All right, who made this mess on the table?
Apostles: Not me!  Surely not I, Lord!
Judas: Food fight!

One of those things that periodically shows up on one message board or another is the ever-popular subject of the Shroud of Turin.  It is one of those matters regarded as a done deal in certain quarters, though the deal done differs from one quarter to another.  For some, it has been shown -- usually by Science!™ -- to be a medieval hoax perpetrated by preternaturally clever medieval hoaxers.  For others, it has been shown -- usually by some nit-picking of those Science results -- to be the burial shroud of Christ.  A small cottage industry has grown up around it: the Shroudies. 

Coming down squarely in the We-don't-know camp is of course the Catholic Church.  She points out quite reasonably that an object need not be factual to be useful in focusing the mind on veneration.  (No one supposes DaVinci's The Last Supper to be a photograph of the actual event, but it is often found in altarpieces and the like.)  But neither is she prepared to dismiss the Shroud tout court.  Even if it is a weird work of art, it is still a valuable and important indicator of a lost technology.

John Walsh in The Shroud (Random House, 1963) wrote:
"The Shroud of Turin is either the most awesome and instructive relic of Jesus Christ in existence... or it is one of the most ingenious, most unbelievably clever, products of the human mind and hand on record."
But there are, of course, other logical possibilities.
  • It is neither a relic nor a clever product, but simply a natural occurrence.
  • It really is a first century burial cloth, but it is Yussuf Schmoe, crucified in AD 80, not Jesus Christ.
  • It really is the burial cloth of Jesus, but it evidences only his death, not his resurrection.
And of course, that the Shroud may have a train of material causes that account for it does not preclude its being miraculous. The word for "miracle" is simply mirabilium, which means "marvel." 
"We marvel at something when, seeing an effect, we do not know the cause.  And since one and the same cause is at times known to certain people and not to others, it happens that some marvel and some do not."       -- St. Thomas Aquinas. Contra gentiles
Is the production of a rainbow by double-refraction of sunlight through water droplets, as described by Bishop Theodoric of Freiburg in the 13th cent., any less marvelous than some mumbo-jumbo involving the goddess Iris?  Catholic and Orthodox Christians can get away with this since their notion of God as primary cause does not preclude secondary (or "intrumental") causes.  This is all much more clear in Latin, which possesses an instrumental case and in which no one could utter such absurdities as "I flew to Los Angeles," except perhaps a rational bird.  But we digress.

Shroud image at this link may be inspected in close-up zooms
A 1983 paper by archeologist William Meacham summarized the Shroud situation as follows:
From its first recorded exhibition in France in 1357, this cloth has been the object of mass veneration, on the one hand, and scorn from a number of learned clerics and freethinkers, on the other. Appearing as it did in an age of unparalleled relic-mongering and forgery and, if genuine, lacking documentation of its whereabouts for 1,300 years, the Shroud would certainly have long ago been consigned to the ranks of spurious relics (along with several other shrouds with similar claims) were it not for the extraordinary image it bears.
--- "The Authentication of the Turin Shroud:
An Issue in Archaeological Epistemology." 
Current Anthropology
, v.24 No.3 (June 1983)
The Face of Jaen Cathedral
is supposedly a copy of the
medieval Veronica Veil.  Clearly
a painting in medieval style
.
The only "other" shroud mentioned in the article is the Cadouin Shroud.  It is a monument to the capacity of bumpkin Frankish knights to be taken in by Middle Eastern sharpies that they could believe a Fatimid era shawl with Qur'anic inscriptions was the burial shroud of Christ.  The Cadouin Shroud bears no image, so although clearly not genuine, it does indicate that medievals had no a priori expectation that such a shroud would have an image on it. 

There are also a number of other art works purporting to be copied from the "Veronica Veil" kept in the Vatican; but they are self-proclaimed as copies, and are clearly paintings with the stylized features of the art of the time. The only close up inspection of what is supposed to be the original Veronica Veil in 1907 described it as "a square piece of light coloured material, somewhat faded through age, which bear two faint rust-brown stains, connected one to the other." 

However, from the copies made of the original image, we can get an idea what an artist of that era would consider a good Face-O'-Jesus.  It is hardly the Modern Ages concept of representationalism in art!  The face is stylized and set in a metal matting cut frame the face.  The three points of beard and hair at the bottom is a common feature of all the copies, so the original was likely the same: an image within an opening. 

This essay and the next make heavy, if tentative, use of a number of on-line resourses, which will be linked here and there, and summarized at the end. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Chieftain

For a change of pace, I have put up the prologue from an historical fantasy on the Story and Preview Page.  It is set in the West of Ireland in the Year of Grace 1224-25.  The conceit of the story is that all the events described -- save for the story details -- happen as described in the Annala Connaught, the Four Masters, and the Annala Locha Ce.  In the excerpt, all the characters, except the monk and the servants are actual historical characters.  I have felt free to pencil in their personalities.  Woo, as they say, hoo. 

In particular, we have this entry:



Uair robo tarisi le macaib Ruaidri a n-airecht fein arna cuired do cech oen fo leth dib-sin, acht mad Cormac mac Tomaltaig Meic Diarmata & Dauith O Flainn & a aes grada archena.
 – AnnĂ¡la Connaught, 1225

The sons of Rory felt confidence in their own lieges, having been asked to come into the country by each one separately, except Cormac son of Tomaltach McDermot with David O Flynn and the rest of his officers.
 – Annals of Connaught, 1225


David O Flynn is the Chieftain of the title and the story involves the war between the O Conner cousins over the kingship following the death of Cathal of the Red Hand O Conner. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Scientism redux

Stick or switch?
Some years ago, reading Case Studies in Sample Design by A.C. Rosander and some other books on sampling practice by W. Edwards Deming, TOF was offered this particular nugget of information.  On any particular problem there will be statistical aspects and non-statistical aspects and the practicing statistician's task is to provide advice on the former.  The statistics is not the be-all and end-all of the problem in view.  There may be a wide number of other aspects to it.  A statistical analysis may shed light on some of these, and that is all to the good.  But the important thing to remember is that not all problems are simply statistical problems.

Consider the Monte Hall problem, which puzzled even pros because they forgot that the problem was not probabilistic.  Monte Hall did not use random chance to choose which door he would open.  Let us call this tendency to apply the rules of probability even in non-random situations probabilism.  Which serves as today's lead-in.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

At the Gates of Gath

A poem.  Something like the first line of this occurred to me when I lay in delerium after suffering toxic shock a while back.  I recollect composing a mighty fantasy epic while sundry doctors of the medical arte punched shunts in my right kidney and pushed catheters up where catheters ought not go.  That epic was a serious affair and ended with a pun of intolerable cruelty, all of which, save for the first line, whirled down the memory hole as my mind returned.  Recently, as that line reoccurred to me, sundry other lines also popped up, and I have arranged them here as a sort of rough draft of a rough craft.  The meter is a bit shaky as is the stanza structure, but it might serve for whimsy. 

Tidbits

While TOF noodles away on an Epic Poem and on a probable two-part posting here on the Shroud of Turin, as well as reaching a crescendo on The Shipwrecks of Time, he offers these tidbits:

Quote of the Week:

‘Man who says thing cannot be done should not interrupt man doing it.’

Deer Me

A correspondent at Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manor weighed in on an incident mentioned here.  Apparently the wildlife folks have a SWAT team, too.   Quoth he:
I don’t know about you, but I for one sleep better at night knowing that there are rough men standing on the walls ready to do violence to Bambi on my behalf. Especially when Bambi is awaiting transfer to a wildlife center.
This motivated another correspondent to respond:
Trying to save baby deer is like trying to save a cup of pond scum.
TOF finds himself vaguely in sympathy with both.  More people are killed by deer than by any other animal.  The second correspondent certainly knows his Darwin.  Each year there are born more deer than there is niche space for deer, and so the great majority of them are simply born to die.  The same goes for gray squirrels and other critters. 

Among the Least of Prophets

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”
-- President Barrack Obama, January 231, 2009

The Wisdom of Wiener (No, not that Wiener)

Complacency? Don’t worry about it.
-- Wiener's 20th Law

Are You Going to Scarborough Faire?

"We want fairness. There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat."
-- rioting Chinese students caught cheating on exams



Monday, August 5, 2013

The Miscreants of Northampton County...

The Old Court House (kool)
...were spared for another three years by the reluctance of the ADA and defense attorney to seat TOF on a jury today.  No reason was given  Perhaps it was his overall disreputableness.  And he went to all that trouble to dude up in a tie and sports jacket.  Shoulda remembered the pants.... 
(OK, Internet, that was tongue in cheek.)   

The Juror's Oath in the Commonwealth runs (per 234 PA 6 2(c)) the prospective juror's raise their right hand and respond to:
‘‘You do solemnly swear by Almighty God (and those of you who affirm do declare and affirm) that you will well and truly try the issue joined between the Commonwealth and the defendant(s), and a true verdict render according to the evidence.’’
The new courthouse annex (blah;
all the architects evidently died previously)
by saying "I do."  TOF reflected that the last time he said "I do" he was bound over for a 42 year-long-and-counting commitment.  He also noticed how weenie-sounding the "affirm" part sounded compared to solemn swearing by You-Know-Who.  Like the "well and truly" part, too.  The oath for witnesses goes back to colonial times (1772):
"You [and each of you] do swear by Almighty God, the Searcher of all hearts, that the evidence you shall give this court [and Jury] in this issue now being tried shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth and as you shall answer to God on the last great day."
but TOF did not get to hear the magisterial rumbling of those words.  "Searcher of all hearts," "the last great day,"...  This is serious weenie, the very syllables of which may cause a witness to think twice on what he is about to say.  But then that is the purpose of grand and formal phrasing.  Evidently, the sovereign Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is one of the last states in the Union to use such solemnity in its oathing. 

Northampton County Prison
conveniently located next door to the
courthouse for ease of miscreant handling
One of the pleasant side-effects of living in a small county is that two of the summoned jurors were related to each other, and another had served as an intern under the ADA who was prosecuting the case.  The last time TOF was called up, one of his grandchilden's teachers was in the pool.  It's a small world.

The presiding judge compared jury duty to being in an airport with a delayed flight.  There's nothing to do, and you aren't going anywhere.  He should speak for himself.  TOF managed to write five pages of The Shipwrecks of Time while waiting to be called.  

No one gets off jury duty for such silly reasons as being the sole-proprieter-employee of a business or a single-father-who-gets-only-one-paid-day off for jury duty.  But I noticed that after the ADA and defense attorney went through the list of forty candidates and chose their 12+2, neither of these people were on the jury.  No point being a hard-ass. 

Police lieutenant
The proprietor who said she would lose business if she was tied up for a couple days was a massage therapist.  TOF's solution was to have her give massages to the jurors, and we would take up a collection; but he forbore from suggesting such a happy concatenation of circumstances. 

Assisting the ADA was a police lieutenant from Easton who looked very much like the Nockamixon Cliffs rising above the Delaware River.  Also in the courtroom were a pair of county sheriff's deputies, since they are charged with the security of the prisoners.  Some PA State troopers were also seen floating about, no doubt involved in other cases underway.  So all three levels were represented.  Did not notice any of that most peculiar, and sometimes controversial breed: the Pennsylvania State Constables, who are under the governor rather than the courts, and who act something like government-sanctioned bounty hunters.

The Court of Common Pleas consists of three courts: Criminal Court, whither TOF was summoned to duty, Civil Court, and the wistfully-named Orphans Court.  The latter is Pennsylvania's court dealing with wills, inheritances, marriage and divorce, adoptions, and so on.  TOF wonders where uncommon pleas are heard. 

"What the hell is a prothonotary?" -- Harry S Truman

On the way to the cafeteria at lunch time, TOF passed the office of the county prothonotary.  Pennsylvania and Delaware are the only two states to call their chief clerk of the court by this august title, one which dates back to Byzantium.  There are two Canadian provinces and two Australian states that have likewise preserved the title.  Oh, and the Catholic Church, of course. 

TOF is a champion of diversity and has a soft spot in his head for these local peculiarities.  It will be a sad day when all the States are muscled into being homogenous duplicates of one another, as provinces of a one-size-fits-all central government.


Friday, August 2, 2013

LULZ!

The New York Times is running a "guess the quote" game:

How Recent Popes Differ on Key Issues

Choose the pope who said each quote on seven critical issues.

where "key issue" means "an issue that gets the NYT editorial board hot and bothered."  (Hint: none are labeled as concerning Manicheanism or Transubstantiation or the Apostolic Succession.)  Unsurprisingly, two of the six "issues" are pelvic.  The sequence of the "issues" is also revealing of NYT priorities. 

However, TOF is unsure whether the quiz proves the ostensible point.  It depends on how clueless the NYT people are.   See what you think.  Perceptive TOFians should get high marks based on form rather than matter. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

TOF and the Grinding Wheels of Justice

This next Monday TOF has been summoned by no less than Lady Justice her own self to come an possibly sit on a jury panel of someone's peers in order to sit in judgment on him or her.  TOF looks forward to the spectacle with much anticipation, since the closest he ever got before was to be dismissed from a jury in another county for reasons unspecified.  Already he rubs his hands in glee in expectation of hanging the miscreants -- or setting free the unjustly imprisoned, whichever opportunity presents itself.  He has been watching many Perry Mason episodes in order to prepare himself for all eventualities, like people breaking down while on the stand and unexpectedly confessing to anything at all. 

Whoa, What's This?

adam amateur theology Aquinas argument from motion Aristotelianism art atheism autumn of the modern ages books brains breaking news captive dreams cartoon charts chieftain clannafhloinn comix commentary counterattack crusades culcha dogheads easton stuff economics eifelheim evolution factoids on parade fake news fallen angels Feeders fir trees in lungs firestar flicks floods flynncestry flynnstuff forecasts forest of time fun facts gandersauce gimlet eye global warming glvwg headlines henchmen high frontier history home front how to lie with statistics humor hush-hush hypatia in the house of submission irish Iron Shirts irrationalism january dancer jihad journeyman kabuki kool letter lion's mouth lunacon maps mayerling medieval metrology miscellany modern mythology moose zombies music new years nexus odds odds and ends paleofuture passing of the modern age philosophy philosophy math poetry politics psyched out! public service quality quiet sun quote of the day razor's edge redefinition of marriage religio reviews river of stars scandal science science marches on scientism scrivening shipwrecks of time shroud skiffy skiffy in the news skools slipping masks some people will believe anything stats stories stranger things the auld curmudgeon the madness continues the new fascism the spiral arm the writing life thomism thread o' years tofspot topology untergang des abendlandes untergang des morgenlandes up jim river video clips vignettes war on science we get letters we're all gonna die whimsy words at play xmas you can't make this stuff up