Quotes that Say Something

"Please, dad, get down and look. I think there's some kind of monster under my bed."

Life when seen in close-up often seems tragic, but in wide-angle it often seems comic. -- Charlie Chaplin

"And when the cloudbursts thunder in your ear, you shout, but no one's there to hear. And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes, I'll see you on the dark side of the moon." -- Roger Waters, "Brain Damage"

Jul 28, 2013

Rejection -- How Am I Off the Island?

          The Pain of Rejection is More Powerful Than We Think

          'The human brain registers rejection much like physical pain.'

          I caught this commentary on the Salon website a few days ago. Lucky for me. I had been thinking about the gaping blowholes that personal and professional rejection tear up through one's skin and bone, leaving vulnerable breaches here and there. Then this thought provoking writing appears on Salon.com without fanfare, rising up amidst other articles lined up above and below it. A key point comes through strikingly: the harsh karma of rejection gets mindfully registered in one's psyche a lot like physical pain and it sparks in the same wound zone of the human brain. Those bitter and wicked doses of rejection, well just about everybody experiences some of them -- and some people manifest them much more than others.

          The idea source here is the book, Emotional First Aid, by Guy Winch, Ph.D. Rejections can cause four distinct psychological wounds, the severity of which depends on the situation and our emotional health at the time. Specifically, rejections elicit emotional pain so sharp

  (1) it affects our thinking,
  (2) floods us with anger,
  (3) erodes our confidence and self-esteem, and
  (4) destabilizes our (sense of) belonging.

          Many rejections we experience are comparatively mild; our injuries heal with time. But when left untreated, even the wounds created by mild rejections can become “infected” and cause psychological complications that seriously impact our mental well-being. When the rejections we experience are substantial, the urgency of treating our wounds with emotional first aid is far greater. This . . . minimizes the risk of “infections” or complications but also accelerates our emotional healing process.

          What characterizes rejection is the magnitude of the pain it elicits. We liken it to being punched in the stomach or stabbed in the chest. -- Some people equate it to the feelings of natural childbirth and cancer treatments! Other emotionally painful experiences, such as intense disappointment, frustration, or fear, while highly unpleasant, pale in comparison to rejection.

          So, the rejection process often hurts much more than other emotional suffering? The (reason) lies in our evolutionary past. Humans are social animals; being rejected from the tribe or social group in the pre-civilized past would have meant losing access to food, protection, and mating partners, making it extremely difficult to survive. Being ostracized would have been akin to receiving a death sentence. Such consequences caused human brains to develop an early-warning system to alert humans about risk and terror, or being “voted off the island." Harsh pain was sensed when there was even a hint of social rejection.

          . . . Brain scans show that the very same brain regions get activated when we feel rejection as when we experience physical pain. The two systems are (very) tightly linked . . . Sadly, other unpleasant emotions like embarrassment do not share these characteristics.

Emotional First Aid by Guy Winch, Ph.D. Hudson Street Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Guy Winch, Ph.D., 2013.

Jul 14, 2013

The Mathemagics

Bruce Banner
During his decades of publication, Banner has been portrayed differently, but common themes persist. Banner, a physicist is sarcastic and seemingly very self-assured when he first appears in Incredible Hulk #1, but is also emotionally withdrawn in most fashions.[1] Banner designed the gamma bomb which caused his affliction, and the ironic twist of his self-inflicted fate has been one of the most persistent common themes.[3] Arie Kaplan describes the character thus: "Bruce Banner lives in a constant state of panic, always wary that the monster inside him will erupt, and therefore he can’t form meaningful bonds with anyone."[7] As a child, Banner's father Brian often got mad and physically abused Banner's mother, creating the psychological complex of fear, anger, and the fear of anger and the destruction it can cause that underlies the character.
His fractured personality led to transformations into different versions of the Hulk. These transformations are usually involuntary, and often writers have tied the transformation to emotional triggers, such as rage and fear. Writers have adapted the Hulk, changing Hulk's personality to reflect changes in Banner's physiology or psyche. Banner has been shown to be emotionally repressed, but capable of deep love for Betty Ross, and for solving problems posed to him. Under the writing of Paul Jenkins, Banner was shown to be a capable fugitive, applying deductive reasoning and observation to figure out the events transpiring around him. On the occasions that Banner has controlled the Hulk's body, he has applied principles of physics to problems and challenges and used deductive reasoning. It was shown after his ability to turn into the Hulk was taken away by the Red Hulk that Banner has been extremely versatile as well as cunning when dealing with the many situations that followed. When he was briefly separated from the Hulk by Doom, Banner became criminally insane, driven by his desire to regain the power of the Hulk, but once the two recombined he came to accept that he was a better person with the Hulk to provide something for him to focus on controlling rather than allowing his intellect to run without restraint against the world.[48]
The original version of Hulk was often shown as simple and quick to anger.[49] The Hulk generally divorces his identity from Banner’s, decrying Banner as "that puny weakling in the picture."[32] From his earliest stories, the Hulk has been concerned with finding sanctuary and quiet[3] and often is shown reacting emotionally to situations quickly. Grest and Weinberg call Hulk the "dark, primordial side of [Banner's] psyche."[5] Even in the earliest appearances, Hulk spoke in the third person. Hulk retains a modest intelligence, thinking and talking in full sentences, and Lee even gives the Hulk expository dialogue in issue six, allowing readers to learn just what capabilities Hulk has, when the Hulk says, "But these muscles ain't just for show! All I gotta do is spring up and just keep goin'!"
In the 1970s, Hulk was shown as more prone to anger and rage, and less talkative. Writers played with the nature of his transformations,[50] briefly giving Banner control over the change, and the ability to maintain control of his Hulk form.
Artistically, the character has been depicted as progressively more muscular in the years since his debut.[51]

          The header on the webpage read

                Police Search for Missing MSU Professor

                Police are searching for Timothy Dunn, Ph.D., a long-standing and award-
                winning faculty member at Michigan State University. Dunn, 59, went                
                missing in the Dartmoor neighborhood in East Lansing, near his home,
                late last night.
               Dunn is described as 5 foot 6  inches tall and 190 pounds. Authorities report
               he was apparently walking his dog about 9:30 p.m. when he disappeared.
               The dog was found unharmed on Dunn's front porch with its leash still on.
               Detective Arnold Bickler of the Lansing Police Department said at the scene,
               “We have reports that Dr. Dunn might have recently experienced some health

               Police ask the public to call either 911 or their department if they have any
               information about Dunn's whereabouts.

              Empty Picture Frame in the Dunn House

      Bickler and the other officers investigating the scene were puzzled when they entered Professor Dunn's house. To the untrained eye there were no signs of  robbery or other foul play throughout its rooms, no problems. The front door remained unlocked. Dunn's life partner was not there: an itinerary sheet in the foyer said that he had flown out of DTW on Tuesday morning to his hometown to see his family before the new semester. But on the table in the Professor's dusty retreat, which resembled a heavily curtained den plus a fussy academic library, was an open book -- The Man Who Knew to Much, by David Leavitt. There was also a pipe that told Bickler that Dunn favored a fruit-scented smoking tobacco, a journal lying open with a silver Cross pen. The booklet contained page after page of complex math equations and random doodle drawings. On a lonely back page Bickler, now wearing orange latex investigation gloves and latex booties over his shoes, came upon an odd sketch of a weirdly skinny, human-looking creature with black eyes, crab claw hands, and oversized cranium contoured like a racy bicycle helmet with a rounded point, a protruding tail, on its back end. The detective's felt his claustrophobia mildly kick in.

     Soon Bickler then other police in the den were confused about the testimony to Dr. Dunn's final minutes in his house. In addition to the book and pen on the work table, there was a partially-eaten Delicious apple, a bowl with a few salty orange Cheetos and pretzel twists, a heap of sticky candy mix in a tray, sugary coffee in a half-emptied U. of M. mug, a glass of water with two pills lying nearby, and an old-fashioned small pink paper. On it was black print that said While You Were Away and below in handwriting (apparently Dunn's) were the words "Turing called again! Chile" but there was no phone number. The room held no phone. A modern CD player had the album Wish You Were Here loaded onto its deck. On a tall bookcase, there were rows of books old and new on the topic of magic. Trickery and magic, Bickler considered. Several of the volumes were devoted to the art all manners of disappearing acts. Hanging on the back of the study's door was a silken black cape with a red lining and a black Houdini top hat with the gold inscrition El Dunno. The detective pictured the short Dr. Dunn standing alone with his dog Lancer on a leash on the Dartmoor sidewalk. Then he looked back at his house with longing and sadness.

     The collection of items told Bickler that Dunn's dog had abruptly needed to go out. There were no signs the professor had vanished intentionally. Bickler flicked through the pages of the hardcover book again. In fact, the scene suggested that Dunn had been settling in for the evening. Bickler pronounced for all to hear, 'Looks like we got us a missing person. Like he just disappeared. Poof.' Or was abducted in plain sight by somebody out on the street, what was the motive?, very risky, said Mochmann the new guy. Bickler nodded with a frown. The once-crispy apple and the untaken white pills lingering in the study bothered him. In all of his years he had never seen such an expensive but empty picture frame hanging on a wall like the one Dunn had opposite his likely favorite reading chair. Bickler wondered how he had gotten so lucky in catching what seemed to be a complicated case of high-profile kidnapping.
     Just that week, as Dunn's partner was flying out of Detroit International, the old veteran detective had given a lecture hall talk at the academy for new cop recruits. His words included, "A missing subject is one who's disappeared. Their state is alive or dead? Uncertain. It is not apparent where she or he is or what their physical condition is. Standard procedure calls for checking police reports done recently, especially about accidents, jail records, hospital reports and patient lists, all family and friends, co-workers, and all means of travel that could have been utilized by the MIA subject or his or her abductor."

     Bickler sipped some cold coffee then went on. "The situation of uncertainty involved when a person goes missing can be mighty confusing or painful for those in the case. So keep that in mind out there. A missing person case can be due to one's personal decision, crime, a mishap or death where the body can't be located or the like. There are many causes including a lot of mental issues and suicide when someone seems to have just upped and disppeared."

      Later on the day that he first entered the professor's place, Bickler with Mochmann in tow with their latex booties and gloves wearily climbed the stairs to see what they could see. Other officers had preceded them but now were gone. The departed had indicated that Dr. Dunn's partner, named D'Arcy P. Worthy, Ph.D., a native of Great Britain, maintained a bedroom and study upstairs apart from the professor's room. The whole second floor seemed eerily dark and abandoned. They pushed open the creaky door of Dunn's shaded bedroom.

     At first all seemed normal. But both Bickler, again feeling claustrophobic, and Mochmann noticed an improbability. Another ornate gold but empty picture frame hovered on the brown wall above the professor's bed. To the right was a stone pedestal that bore an unusally big bust. According to a slim shiny metal tag on the piece, it depicted Alan Turing, the tragic English scientist. The inhabitant's bed was rumpled, covers strewn about. Dunn did not impress Bickler as a subject who would chronically leave his bed unmade. On a pillow was a paper. Mochmann picked it up carefully. It was old, yellowed, dry. It appeared to be a page ripped out of an aged book. Bickler looked over the younger man's shoulder. He read:

                You get born and you try this and you don't know why only you keep on trying it and
                you are born at the same time with a lot of other people, all mixed up with them,
                like trying to, having to, move your arms and legs with strings only the same strings
                are hitched to all the other arms and legs and the others all trying and they don't know
                why either except that the strings are all in one another's way like five or six people all
                trying to make a rug on the same loom only each one wants to weave his own pattern
                into the rug; and it can't matter, you know that, or the Ones that set up the loom would
                have arranged things a little better, and yet it must matter because you keep on trying
                or have to keep on trying and then all of a sudden it's all over.

     The older detective recognized the style instantly. When he was a young man, Bickler had often read the novels of William Faulkner. He could not remember if this came from Light in August, or perhaps As I Lay Dying.

     'What the frack is this?,' Mochmann wondered aloud.

     'More to the point, what is it doing here on this bed? All teed up for us. Too convenient wouldn't you say, pal?,' Bickler asked.

     Mochmann felt like joking, 'Maybe a gay U. of M. lit professor dropped it here?' But he knew the older guy didn't go in for smart aleck remarks.

     Bickler stared into the empty picture frame, puzzled again. 'Just too easy, just too out there,' he noted while battling a wave of claustrophobia. 'Now take that masterpiece and bag it and tag it.'

     Let's suppose you are a senior in high school, and your school happens to be an all-boys, Catholic institution. If you went there in the 1960s or '70s, there were three unwritten rules for students to heed with a mathematician's precision. First, never do anything to lose the respect of your classmates or the younger guys in school, even if the ever odious faculty and administration do not approve. Second, never, ever, get caught competing like a smart guy who is better than the average secondary school captive. (This fiat takes perseverance and practice. Make no big deal about it.) A corollary exists: agree with other guys a lot, even if they seem as dumb and insentient as the rocks you examined, between 2:00 and 3:00, right before final bell, in Ms. Graeter's horror-show Geology class.

     This was the other rule. It was the most important -- in an ultimate, cosmic kind of way. You'll understand. -- Three, never, ever, kill a classmate even if the bastard really has it coming to him. Seek other types of retribution. This hallowed rule is likwise closely related to a corollary that some boys and I learned spontaneously. Never (ever!) make a classmate die or go missing until a bewildered parent wonders aloud "Hey, where in the Hell is Duncan?" or whatever name has been tamped onto their son's official, school nametag.

     It has taken me years to relate this. If I had not read about Doc Dunn's utterly strange disappearance in the cool, Lansing night a while back, I may never have done so. The news bureaus called it the Case of the Missing Mathematician. I contacted the local police. The blowback was a lot like 1970. What I knew made no sense (to anybody but me). I was told to sit on my speculations.

A Teenage Talk Show Rocks

     Our senior year of got rolling on an appalling note. The typical cast of characters had sullenly assembled during the last week of August, a case of academic business as usual. There was me, my close friends -- who were mostly unremarkable Midwest kids with a few exceptions, about 200 other seniors, 1000 more boys in shirts and ties, the stricken faculty, the brain-challenged administrators, and . Parents and lunch room ladies grieved. Secretly much laughter took place among cliques of seniors after a few days). An incident on the Thursday evening after Labor Day, 1969, during the first week of classes.

     The big lights were on and were blindingly bright when pointed at the stage, cameras were primed to film the occurences, the cliched and tattered red velour curtain was pulled across to conceal the stage and there was much going on here and there behind it as often happens before a show starts. An audience of about one hundred, mostly senior and a few junior schoolboys and some of their girlfriends, sat twitchily in the fixed to the floor seats in the large assembly hall.

We were about to act out a sixty-minute show that mimicked the famous Tonight Show hosted by Johnny Carson that was full of interviews, jokes, and variety acts and this (it was either going to be extremely lame or amazingly whimsical, and I leaned to the fear of lameness side of the meter) was to be a media gift from the senior class to all the gathered-anew freshman when they accumulated at the school from 7:00 to 10:00 on Friday night for the now legendary Freshman Welcome Night. One senior I knew not very well but seemed in all ways to be likeable had been selected, and he was a reliably funny young man, to be the Johnny Carson styled host. His name and I know you will not take this at face value was Don Bill. Somehow, I had been drafted to enact the co-host role, in old times the Ed McMahon bit, due to my legendary but not finely honed at the school and at drinking parties reputation constructed by doing a stand up comedian routine.

At 7:00-ish the glaring lights blinded me and I did my level best to kick-start the show in front of the cameras that so far has never, ever, ended. I announced the guest acts including one that featured an odd-duck senior who rarely talked while on campus who did otherworldly well at calculus, physics, and some outside and beyond the state-approved, mean average, teach to the test curriculum subjects that we seniors were planning just to let flow on by us, as the daily countdown to freedom in June took place, like airy balled-up clouds propelled over our empty heads by unseen winds. This boy's name was Tom Dunn. Hidden by horn-rimmed black glasses, beset during all seasons during all four years of school by nasty acne patch breakouts, given to quietness flawless academic performance that seemed ethereal, otherworldly, and as I and others often though downright unfreaking fair, and official grade reports of Tom Dunn reflected this. So Tom was not a braggart or any kind of a know-it-all. He just let it flow from an intellectual standpoint without comment, just a meek little smile creasing his face now and then, and when he took to wearing late in our junior year black shirts with black pants, and with the required necktie, black, to school he began to quietly unnerve me a little. Never, ever, had I encountered someone with a rightly-shaped human brain and the first inklings of young adulthood who actually could score higher than a 4.0 on his academic transcript. Apparently though Tom Dunn was so attention deprived and friend poor, and emitted some kind of high-pitched 'walk around me' buzz that only dogs and reasonably attractive teenage girls could hear, that he began practicing card tricks, then pulling bunny rabbits and birds out of top hats, then using some kind of flash powder to create modest illusions. Tom never, ever, broke either rule one or rule two. He either knew what he had to do intuitively or maybe an older brother or cousin or somebody had schooled him. Rule three you ask?

Once I had pronounced the names on the lineup of acts for the show, I got to the Heeeeere's Donny! moment. There was a notable hush of anticipation then clapping but then Don B. began. One could say that most of Don Bill's warm-up jokes died but it would be more accurate to assess that the audience beat them to death. From this limp start up we never did get all the way through the hourlong presentation. At exactly 6:46 on the timers and timestamps on each of the two handheld cameras being employed, something rose up from which our high school and especially the stunned members of our senior class never, not ever, recovered. I am still living out the consequences and that is something I never, ever, could have imagined there in the assembly hall that humid September night.

At 6:40:32, Don brought out Tom Dunn, amateur magician, dressed all in black with a cape, black coat and pants, white shirt with red tie, and tophat of course. The natural inclination of most of the audience members was to groan since they could not foresee anything particularly engaging or even relatively acceptable about watching some teenaged academic worldbeater, that quiet and unassuming straight A science and math wiz do magic tricks with a slide-rule or something. It was crazy but Tom was proving effective. It would be more accurate to say that he was startlingly good. The audience members leaned forward, craned thier necks to see him and his tricks better, took a card any card a couple of times, oohed and ahhed over a lifelike bunny rabbit, allowed one or two of them to be blindfolded temporarily, and by 6:45 which meant most of El Dunno's allotted time had flown by, we were all deeply immersed in it. We clapped. Some kids whistled. Tom just gave all those gathered one his quiet little twists of a smile which to me was suddenly taking on a more sly, knowing, and sinister aspect than humble or innocent or sincere. His gaze momentarily locked on mine. His brow furrowed a bit. I gave him a labored index finger across my throat signal thus stressing to him that he might never, ever, leave the stage fulfilled but it was time for our genial and on this night unexpectedly unfunny host Don Bill to big musical fingive way to the big finish musical act, something with kazoos and mandolins as I recall, to this show that was an intended gift of sorts to the freshman in-coming classmates.

'You have been a wonderful audience -- all of you! Now, in a daring feat never before attempted at this high school or any other,' the Great Dunno said in a confident, commanding tone of voice which neither I nor any other person present had ever heard, 'So, I will need three volunteers from the audience.'

Don and I locked eyes with perplexed looks then shrugged, as did our hassled and pale redheaded stage director, Kelly, whose expertise now entailed almost two Summertime weeks of go-fer internship at the famous TV station WGN in Chicago and about 46 minutes of our droopy little performance. 'Okay, folks, let's hear it loud,' host Don called out. 'Who will step up to give a hand to El Dunno?'

Tom abruptly injected, 'I will now call up three esteemed seniors from our student council and theyse volunteers will be Stewart, Shep, and Duncan.' These three losers in my opinion and in the opinion of many others as I learned before the night's proceedings were over had majored in tormented Tom Dunn the brainy boy, who was now with great relish adopting the persona of El Dunno Grande, in a merciless bullying manner for years.

The three seniors oddly somewhat sheepishly came forward and stepped up onto the low stage, and they all smiling kind of stupidly and looking wary, because they probably guessed simultaneously that something was racing at them at light speed, still not wanting to be put in some personally embarrassing fix or to be considered chicken-hearted or in some prestidigitation display that would require even a modicum of mental agility. Magic Tom arranged the three side by side closely and facing the now stock-still curious audience members. I guessed upon peering at their reddened eye sockets that all three of these wilting councillors had gotten allsmoked up out in a parent's car or over on the brown Fall season soccer field stands before they dragged, because they were required by Ms. Graeter the Council advisor from the faculty, into the TV studio of an assembly hall. Tom urged the three using theatrical language and broad swoops of his caped arms not to move. It was only then that I noticed that he had a shiny red silk lining inside his jacket that I responded to with a quick and passing set of feelings that can be described irrationally as thrilling alarm.

From a hidden spot on stage-left over by the scrunched up drawn open dusty red velour curtain, two teenage girls not wearing any recognizable school uniforms from local girls' insitutions but instead very ordinary leisure clothing for the time and these were two young ladies according to all police reports taken later and once the videotape had been studiously reviewed countless times that each and every attendee at the show for the vulnerable, incoming freshmen who incongrously had never, ever, been seen before (or since), rolled out a squeaking contraption that was made of two, seven-foot tall steel poles with a wire stretched between the pair of poles. Hanging tautly from the slim wire from pole to pole was a darkest blue curtain with beautiful sprays of small-dot stars, a glittery milky way, and assorted planetary objects, and when it was in place according to the great Tom's instructions the audience could not see Stewart, Shep, and Duncan at all. Don and I stood off to the side, shrugged perplexed in tandem again, and it was clear to me that both of us could see the trio and the Midwestern pretty but unidentified girls.

The lights dimmed, how never knew, then glittering sparks started shooting from El Dunno's cane. He extended his arms, cane reaching high, his shiny black cape flowing out and red silk lining peeking out of his suit jacket. 'I will now perform my last magic trick,' he proclaimed. He smiled that sly smile.

'I call it The Curation.' The what?, I wondered. 'Now, and now, concentrate, everyone! There could have been a dramatic drum roll filling the hall but I didn't hear any. Tom said with emotion, 'Now, now, I command you fucking assholes to disappear.' A sharp, bright big burst of sparks blew out of and toward the rich blue spacescape on the rigged curtain from his black cane. The girls stepped aside. A great cloud of smoke plumed up from some place in the floor surprisingly and there was a great Bang that was loud enough to hurt my ears and echoed through the assembly hall. Don and I lurched back in surprise as did Kelly the redheaded stage manager.

'Pull it up, pull it up, the curtain, now,' Tom yelled edgily. Kelly scrambled to pull up the cerulean curtain because the two girls were nowhere suddenly to be seen. The smoke rose and dissipated into rising curls and the smell of something like old gunpowder filled the space. All three of the bulliers were gone. The tired linoleum floor where they had stood closely side by side was empty. Smoke in cloudy whisps reached up to the acoustic ceiling tile from the shockwave flash bang boom that had inexplicably been set off.

Hours crept by as skeptical police officers and parents and news reporters from local radio and TV stations, plus dazed faculty and sweaty uncertain administrators, asked questions and wanted to hear answers dammit and shook their collective heads yet the boys and the pair of mysterious young ladies were missing completely. El Dunno sat slumped on a fixed to the floor assembly hall seat front row center and wagged his shaved head as if baffled. He would only say over and over to all baffled questioners and admirers alike that the illusion had never worked like this before. Each time he rendered that statement he added that he had no idea far-fetched as it may sound as to what had become of the three classmates and the two nameless females. I thought I could detect that sinister little curl on his small mouth now and then when people looked away from him. But I was not sure.

Don Bill, our former host, was in a state of shock. Like me host Don had seen them all (five by my count) vaporize like on the fictional new TV show Star Trek with not a trace of the five remaining on any part of the stage or in the backstage zone. "Holy fuck, what a fucking way to end a show. No fucking way, man!" I heard Heeere's Donnie say that about forty or fifty times before the police let us go home. Tragically, he was unknown to all of his senior class mates secretly scheduled to die less than a year hence while partying too hard and too long at a daylong indoor rock concert modeled after the famous Woodstock Festival. Don it was soon said expired while surrounded by toasted scruffy bystanders in a messy wet men's room in the arena from an overdose of LSD, a disillusioned victim of talk-show post traumatic stress disorder, and never got to hear along with his unlikely date, the pretty but drooping divorcee and former science teacher named Ms. Graeter, the big name closing act, The Grateful Dead, and their encore which he would have loved.

Something that rarely happens to me happened as El Dunno the Great set off that monster of a flash bang surprise before our eyes. I was rendered virtually speechless for hour after hour and I sat curled up and rocking back and forth on the worn linoleum tile of the stage floor. At one point our ghostly pale stage manager, Kelly, the WGN experienced pro-am media wannabe, handed me a plastic cup of water. That water tasted bitter then metallic like some kind of quicksilver to me.

The sole words that I could get out as hours passed and as we all reviewed and re-told over and over about the incident, again and again, with the authorities from the police to the school to the news reporters to the scandalized president of the PTO were 'El Dunno, Tom, dude, you know you broke rule three right? You effing crushed rule three all to hell, man. You broke the frack out of Rule Three!'

The amateur magician with the small mouth and the buzzcut and his cape with the red silk lining underneath smirked openly from his chair in the assembly hall. But only toward me. Now and then, he smoothed wrinkles out of his scrunched up black cape and softly patted his monogrammed top hat.

It Begins Again

     The persistent town of CopiapĆ³, in northern Chile, was the site of a notorious unidentified flying object (UFO) occurrence during 1864 -- maybe the most memorable one in the southern hemisphere during the nineteenth century. According to some, the incident happened during March, while others insist that it unfolded during August, on August 5 to be exact. Later, a book called La Drama en el Desierto! (published in 1931) by an investigator, named Charles Force, provided an account of the UFO sighting. Later, lurid details from this work found their way into the 1969 book Anatomy of a Phenomenon by the French researcher Jacques Vallee.

     Local inhabitants have long claimed that the infamous 1864 incident was one of a long string of abduction visits through centuries (at least 10,000 earth years) within the Copiapo region. Ancient and not so ancient eyewitness accounts solemnly recount the sudden, unforseen welling-up, a materialization, of a wide and jagged dollop of quicksilver -- or up to three of these jagged mercurial dollops -- hovering out high over the vast and secretive Western ocean blue. The unshapely dollops it is said then reconstitute effortlessly (from liquid islands of mercury squishing here and there), into something else again -- as if the practiced hands of some unbeheld master craftspersons were secretly, confidently, plying their artistic wiles. Eyes both amazed and unbelieving, from the earth, would watch as if hypnotized as the unusual metal gatherings morphed into gleaming and unblemished items shaped like bocadillos and made of gleaming quicksilver or the purest and most shiny of all platina. Powershafts of brightest white, gold, and cerulean light beams would shoot out of the metallic skin of each flying craft. They shone piercingly down to certain places on the choppy waters and then left and right -- with wide blue and golden laser shafts -- to the Chilean coastline, and the sun-fried, desert hillocks beyond. To the Copiano inhabitants, this had long been thought to be a signal of some sort. Soon, at least usually so, a triad or quartet of creatures would suddenly appear in the midst of gathered, gawking darkened-skin natives. The deeply glowing black jumpsuits and sleek helmets of the odd intruders (that seemed to be rendered magically energetic, as if potently alive things), dazzling and techtronically sophisticated exoskeletons actually it turned out, were adorned by precise electric-green neon piping that coursed up and down in evenly-spaced vertical lines and horizontals, and pulsed electrically like muted strobes, from head to toe.

When the conclusions of such visitation episodes came about, the proceedings seemed always, unquestionably perverse to observant families throughout the Copiano region. The flying, mercury-glowing craft -- whether one, two, or three in number -- rocketed back out over the Pacific like spiky glowing missiles launched from high-tension silos beneath the ground. The airborne crafts came to an immediate stop at the same altitude (and apparently the same longitude and latitude) at which they had originally appeared as spreading splotches in the sky. The black and neon intruders, from standing still on a patch of earth, disappeared instantly and noiselessly. The bocadillo-shaped airships of platina, spotlights still piercing down and swinging about here and there, investigating all remaining large or small curiosities in their paths, began to deconstruct, liquefy, morph into misshapen dollops -- they would "melt" was the most frequently used term by the peasant miners and their families -- and then quickly, inexplicably vanish traceless, soundlessly, completely, over the persistent and lapping ocean waves.

A disorienting and largely unexplained incident took place as the 1864 visitation was well underway. It led to vividly lasting memories and colorful tales in the local culture. A pair of young men, often prancing about full of unripe machismo like immature horned bulls, disappeared, dematerialized, like the suddenly vanished and odd ships that cruised up in the ocean air with their ineffable creepy riders.

Mario and Victor were male cousins in the Zamora clan. Walking slowly up the beach, not talking much because they were tired from being out all night, leading their high-stepping horses in and through waterfront rock formations, the tidal waves crashing and water burbling all around them to deepen the hue of the brown beach sands, they suddenly beheld someone who was most startled to see them. They had been laughing stupidly and derisively for a few moments about their entertainments and their forced conquests of several senoritas before the quiet dawn of the day, dos senoritas whom the boys had abducted nefariously, playfully, from their family dwellings to enjoy guilty pleasures while the moonlight on the pacific ocean gently cast a glow over the coast line.

Mario stopped abruptly and cried aloud, "Ay! Quien es el?" and then he put his hands in defense up to his face. Victor's first inclination was to avert his eyes quickly, grab for his deadly knife in his belt, and then look away again. The creature they had not anticipated, was standing on a pair of bone-thin gray legs, measuring about four and one half feet tall. Its two arms were similar. It had a huge and hairless and earless cranium which was slate gray, with two black almond-mold eyes, a slightly puffed-out gray torso, and hands that resembled -- in a slightly comic way -- a whimsical artist's metallic crab pincers. There were two horizontal slits between and below those prominent almond eyes. There was no mouth apparent. This person seemed to evince a subtle green and bilious hue up through submerged layers of stretched dermis, like a dead human form often does.

The boys' prized horses reared up and snorted. The unknown intgruder stepped quickly back with one foot and almost stumbled backwards over a large sea rock buried partway in the beach's sands.
Mario and Victor the scions of the local Zamora tribe, the wealthy mine owning familia, were instinctively repelled and stopped their reveling over the sins committed through recent benighted hours. The two young men though were soon drawn to and fixated on a gleaming silver see-through rectangle implanted in the sloping gray forehead of the stranger. It displayed to them in vivid colors most terrifying images. They first saw themselves standing on their toes, eyes pried open wide while holding tightly the bridle harnesses of their spirited horses, as loud swishing and sweeping waves of ocean water broke loudly and clearly in the background on the beach.

"Victor, let us flee this evil place pronto!" Mario cried with alarm. At that same second, a replica Mario -- a black-bearded persona, a Mario barking words urgently from the box in the creature's forehead, the implant, repeated precisely the same words desperately, "Victor, let us flee this evil place pronto!"

Victor swung up athletically, without hesitation, onto his saddled horse. "!Si, vamanos, mi amigo!" Then, he heard his own strident words, like sharpened pinpricks, echo back at him from the terrible instrument. "!Si, vamanos, mi amigo!"

The El Incidente del Mar became a legend, in that northern Chile mining territory, during late August of 1864. A variety of disorienting and odd-hour encounters between the local mining-region inhabitants with dour gray green strangers went on for weeks, and stretched out for several months. Neither frantic family members nor amigoss, nor secrets female paramours, nor any mining authorities, nor the policia could find Mario or Victor or their highly prized horses. Months later, on a cold windy day, the two steeds were found ambling along the same beach -- seemingly well-fed, clean and groomed, their bridle harnesses and festooned saddles still perfectly set in place -- and after a little fuss were recaptured at the exact spot from where they and their promiscuous riders had vanished from human sight.
The shape-shifting airframes, sometimes alone, often in trios, with the probing white, gold, and cerulean search beams that terrified yet mesmerized the people that stood in the lights, came and went at dusk and returned during darkest night times, and then without announcement sprinted like the finest racing steeds up and down at about 100 feet high the sandy and gleaming sunsplashed Chilean beaches. No one, not grown man or woman or sheltered minor, who lived there in 1864, ever personally encountered the suddenly missing young men, Mario and Victor, ever again.

One hundred and forty-six years later, on an unmercifully August-hot day, the 5th of the month, not too far from there some men were sweatily laboring to extract copper from a mine shaft about 1000 meters deep beneath the earth's outer crust. When the sun was at its summigt in the Chilean sky, something shook the ground perilously throughout the area like a middle size earthquake. Then, a growling and deep rumbling began within the deeply buried plates, like the stirring and waking of some meta-historic animal Collosus, signalling grating shifts and slides of massive rock ledges. These tectonic adjustments began bury 33 men in a dystopian and grave-resembling hidden chamber, at the far down tip of the passageway that they had taken down into their mine. One of the 33 was named Mario and the other Victor, a special amigo to Mario-- who both hailed from the dwindling and now mostly poor Zamora clan (you could research this fact) that had settled throughout the Atacama many, many years before. If picture comparisons were possible, but they are not, you would behold that they were the same Mario and Victor who had momentarily startled and then been startled 146 years ago by a rather ugly gray ectomorph who possessed thin arms and legs, an abridged human face, with no mouth or ears, and a shiny talking box planted up in his (he intuitively looked male but otherise there was no way to tell the sex of the intruder). Mario and Victor were particularly stunned and sickened abjectly in direct counterpoint to their machismo over their libidinous and careless night before, because they could hear this creature communicate with them in Spanish mixed with a native dialect that the young men could clearly comprehend. After some prodding and rough cajoling the two were persuaded to call their cyborgian captor by the curious name of Gray.

One Day in Copiano

The one hundred year-old San Jose copper mine is 28 miles north of Copiano in Chile. The complex burrows of the mine are situated underneath the Atacama Desert, one of the most dry and most barren regions on earth. When the sun was high in the cloudless sky of August 5, 2010, just a few months after the copper-rich landribbon of Chile, along the Pacific Ocean boundary, had been shaken, rattled, and rolled by a crackling earthquake, deep down in layers upon layers of sediment and rock in the earth's outer mantle, a great rumble of falling rock, cracked stones, and bone-dry dust fell down -- augured by a classic slip-strike tectonic shift -- toward thirty-three men laboring painstakingly deep in the sinuous San Jose mining caverns. They were thought to be over 1000 meters below the earth's crust. The unlucky group -- which was now buried underneath a shifty rock ledge that weighed almost 600,000 tons -- was a savvy crew of experienced miners, along with a handful of near rookies, and technical support-staff, had miraculously survived for 69 days in their dangerously dark and sunken womb of earthen plates.

For days, people around the world wondered if any of the San Jose workers had survived the calamitousness. If there were any who made it through, many people thought that they would quickly die of starvation. Of course, no one suspected at first that the group of 33 miners were not alone. No one, not even one of those who held special cultural and religious roles among the native Chileans, like curanderos (spiritual healers), diviners, shamans, scientific and technical gurus, and tribal priests, guessed that the tectonic-reforming slippages and falldown on August 5 was caused by flying craft accident -- the "oopsie" product of some boys will be boys misadventurism (as some would say, in Earth talk).

An emergency rescue operation led by Chile's national government soon got underway after August 5. Political posturing by Chilean powerbrokers kept the names of individuals and companies that raced to the hapless scene (to help the victims and their families) out of all of the news reports official and unofficial. Around the globe, but especially on the South American landmass, people clamoured for the return of the buried and disappeared to their scared-stiff and grieving families.

Later, on the hot and dusty afternoon of August 22, seventeen long days and nights after the rumbling cataclysm rearranged the inner alignment of the earth, the rescue team again pulled a massive drill-bit up and out of a bore hole that they had been creating. The team thought they might know, by educated guess, where the trapped would be huddled. Amazingly, when the drill tip was extracted, no one paid much attention to it. It was cast aside in the dust. Then a few members of the rescue effort noticed something white near the metallic bit. It was a fragment of paper from a bottle's label. It had scrathy red writing on it.

Everyone who saw it did not know whether to shout or drop to their knees in prayer. The mysterious note simply said: "Estamos bien en el refugio, los 33." Some of those who first saw it wondered if the words had been written with blood.

Alan M. Turing
Mathematician and Cryptanalyst

Turing's Memorial in Manchester, England

He has a very restless imagination. He was interested in the theoretical foundations of things. Thus, Turing went from one idea to soon another then another.

Computer science and A.I.

Half-eaten apple by his bed when his body was found. (Like the dog . . .)
was an English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist. He was highly influential in the development of computer science, giving a formalisation of the concepts of "algorithm" and "computation" with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general purpose computer.[1][2][3] Turing is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence.[4]

During World War II, Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School (GCCS) at Bletchley Park, Britain's codebreaking centre. For a time he was head of Hut 8, the section responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. He devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers, including the method of the bombe, an electromechanical machine that could find settings for the Enigma machine.
After the war he worked at the National Physical Laboratory, where he created one of the first designs for a stored-program computer, the ACE. In 1948 Turing joined Max Newman's Computing Laboratory at Manchester University, where he assisted in the development of the Manchester computers[5] and became interested in mathematical biology. He wrote a paper on the chemical basis of morphogenesis, and predicted oscillating chemical reactions such as the Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction, which were first observed in the 1960s.

Turing's homosexuality resulted in a criminal prosecution in 1952, when homosexual acts were still illegal in the United Kingdom. He accepted treatment with female hormones (chemical castration) as an alternative to prison. Turing died in 1954, just over two weeks before his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning. An inquest determined that his death was suicide; his mother and some others believed his death was accidental. On 10 September 2009, following an Internet campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for "the appalling way he was treated".

Author and historian David Leavitt has written about Alan Turing's tragically short life and work in the book The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing the Origins of the Computer. He would have marked his 100 birthday during the year 2012.

D'Arcy P. Wigglesworth, Ph.D.


Send Not, It Tolls for Thee

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thy friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

                         --  John Donne, 1624

The Last Word for Now


Jul 10, 2013

Tuesday Night: Black Bean Sauce in a Cave


Black Bean Chicken with Lo Mein



Thank you for being here.


Jul 5, 2013

Pope Publishes First Text

        A ninety page encyclical letter, titled Lumen fidei, or “Light of Faith,” by Pope Francis, was released today in Rome.

          The new text includes outreach to people open to God but who have not yet arrived at the fullness of belief.

        It says, To the extent that they are sincerely open to love and set out with whatever light they can find, they are already, even without knowing it, on the path leading to faith.

        Francis also claims a genuine concern for others, even among non-believers, represents a stirring of faith. The document adds, Anyone who sets off on the path of doing good to others is already drawing near to God.

        Christians should not be arrogant about this. Lumen fidei says instead that, on the contrary, truth leads to humility.

        Noted American spiritual writer and Jesuit priest, Fr. James Martin, noted that the new statement could help “the seeker, the doubter, the agnostic and even the atheist.”

         Lumen fidei is a heartfelt attempt to speak to anyone searching for God, Martin concluded.

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