letter to Ted Rall

Posted on: Thu, 03/01/2007 - 15:20 By: Tom Swiss

Letter in reply to Ted Rall's column:

Hello Ted. Long time reader, first time writer.

Regarding your piece "What Must Die So We Can Live?":

> Since the mid-19th century, some scientists have claimed, for example,
> that plants respond to music and speech. "The Secret Life of Plants" was
> a bestseller in the 1970s. The truth is, no one knows.

In fact, we know pretty well. "The Secret Life of Plants" is in the
same category as creation science, global warming "skepticism", and

Gun control laws are about as effective as drug control laws

Posted on: Tue, 02/27/2007 - 14:43 By: Tom Swiss

Letter to the editor, Baltimore Sun:

The logic of gun control ("Ban assault rifles, save Maryland lives", February 27) is seductive: take away the bad guys' guns and they can't hurt us.

But the hard fact is that gun control laws keep guns away from bad guys
about as well as drug control laws keep heroin away from junkies.

It's easy to turn away from that unpleasant truth into the sort of factual
and logical errors that Mr. Helmke falls into.

First, we must be accurate in our terms. It is unfortunate that advocates
of stronger gun control have consistently obscured the meaning of "assault
rifle". Assault rifles - carbines capable of selective automatic or
semi-automatic fire, such as the M-16 carried by American soldiers - are
already so heavily regulated as to be effectively banned for civilians. The
National Firearms Act of 1934 strictly regulates all automatic weapons, the
only sort capable of anything resembling the "spray" of bullets that Mr.
Helmke mentions.

February 18th Zeldas: a dozen little poetry projects

Posted on: Mon, 02/19/2007 - 09:33 By: Tom Swiss

This is an exercise based on "Twenty Little Poetry Projects" from our usual text, "The Practice of Poetry". We had four people there and each contributed three little "projects", things to put in a poem, for a dozen total.

1. use a color under many names

cloudy perlescent smoky indeterminate

2. describe an emotion

left him feeling like an empty cup, full of possibility, light, ready to hold anything the cosmos might poor into him

heart singing, like Bugs Bunny,

3. use a sentence that bugs bunny might use

carrots are divine, you get a dozen for a dime, it's magic

4. reach for french vanilla in your thoughts

Feb 11 Zelda's Inferno

Posted on: Mon, 02/12/2007 - 09:30 By: Tom Swiss

exercise: an alphabet list

Alley behind my parent's house
Baseball games with ghost runners, my brother and I
Car coming down, time out!
Double if it went into the yard with the pool
Equal, me older, but my brother more athletic
Fencepost over there, third base
Gloves, oiled leather, breaking them in, the smell
Here is the true game, in alleys and lots and schoolyards, not in stadiums
Infield fly rule, Talmudic mysteries of the baseball rulebook
Jim, my brother, my opponent, my playmate, the strange relation of brothers
K, the scorer's symbol for a strikeout
Line drive over my brother's head, him turning to chase it up the alley

Green power generation for the olive drab

Posted on: Wed, 02/07/2007 - 09:33 By: Tom Swiss

Purdue University researchers have developed a "tactical biorefinery" that generates electricity from food, paper, and plastic trash. Food waste is fermented into ethanol; other trash is heated under low-oxygen conditions and is converted to propane and methane gas. The mix of fuels is burned in a modified diesel engine.

Apparently they got funding for this because it has military applications (reducing the need for fuel to troops in the field, as well as disposing of much of their trash). But the civilian applications are

February 4th Zelda's exericse

Posted on: Sun, 02/04/2007 - 22:25 By: Tom Swiss

At Zelda's - missed first exerfcise, busy ripping hole in the living room wall for the satellite cable. It was to write a five stanza poem, with one for each of the five senses.


exercise 2: wordlist, on the theme: music
/guitar /emotion treble harmony pitch melody comfort /catharsis visions dance /tension /colors /sharp /crescendo /voice

seeking catharsis of sharp emotion
voice rises in a sharp SCREAM
let it out through the throat
instead of taking up a sharp blade
to let it out through the skin

tension builds like tightening a guitar string
until something must either snap or be cut

sick puppy - update

Posted on: Wed, 01/31/2007 - 22:50 By: Tom Swiss

Chewie's home, seems everything went ok. He's got a drain line in the surgical site that I get to flush out with betadine twice a day, and he has to wear one of those satellite dish collars to keep hom from ripping it out, which means he can't get out the dog door and keeps running into things. So he's not a happy dog at the moment, but looks like he'll be just fine.

Robert Anton Wilson called. He says, "23! 23! 23!"

Posted on: Tue, 01/30/2007 - 15:43 By: Tom Swiss

I recently - just last Wednesday or Thursday - finished re-reading the late Robert Anton Wilson's book Cosmic Trigger.

One recurring theme in the book is the interesting string of coincidences that starts to follow you around once you start to enter the practice of magick, of "self-induced brain change" as he puts it. RAW is carefully agnostic on whether the perceived coincidences stem from psychology of perception, parapsychology, quantum physics, a holographic universe, some synchronicity beyond our ken, or what.

One of his favorites is the "23 connection". I've always been more of a "Law of Fives" man myself (remember, the harder you look, the more you'll see the Law of Fives manifest), but I've seen 23 spring up a few times.

Like when, on Saturday, just a few days after finishing re-reading Cosmic Trigger, 23s still dancing in my head, I see one of these movie posters for "The Number 23" in a bus stop shelter as Cathy was driving us to the Metro stop to go down to D.C. for the anti-war march.

sick puppy

Posted on: Mon, 01/29/2007 - 21:38 By: Tom Swiss

Took the dogs to the vet today. Wanted to make sure they were up on their shots before I go jetting off, and also Chewie had a lump I thought out to be looked at.

I thought it was probably just a swollen lymph node, but Dr. Oweis said tumor.

So, Chewie's in for surgery. The tumor is small and seems to be fairly superficial, and he should be coming home Wednesday. Any positive healing thoughts directed toward the wookiest dog in Catonsville, are appreciated.

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