Monthly Archives: December 2012

Quotations and attributions

Quotes- on language

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
– Nelson Mandela

When you go to a country, you must learn how to say two things: how to ask for food, and to tell a woman that you love her. Of these the second is more important, for if you tell a woman you love her she will certainly feed you.
– Louis L’Amour

I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my dog.
– Emperor Charles V

Not only does the English Language borrow words from other languages, it sometimes chases them down dark alleys, hits them over the head, and goes through their pockets.
– Eddy Peters

It’s no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase “As pretty as an airport” appear.
– Douglas Adams

Language is the means of getting an idea from my brain into yours without surgery.
– Mark Amidon

By words the mind is winged.
– Aristophanes

Translators are like ninjas. If you notice them, they’re no good.
– Etgar Keret (אֶתְגָּר קֶרֶת)

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.

-Philip K. Dick

Flash Fiction


When I walked in the house, I could hear Pitt talking to himself in the kitchen. I have not always shown up at the best time but always at least in the nick of time.

“She’s driving me crazy. She wants every little piece I work on to be perfect before I can move on to the next. I can’t work this way. Am I supposed to stand around doing nothing until the right parts or fixtures show up? Am I?” He turned to stare at me fixedly. He was close, I could tell; like he was on that crossing from England to the mainland all those years ago when we first met. He was close to stircrazy then too.

That was when we met, on the crossing. Back then he was Brad Pitt. This was before there was another Brad Pitt out there in the world whom everyone knew. During the course of the last few moves Pitt’s name became what it is: Pitt. When someone would ask if it were his first or last name, the response would come: just Pitt.

We stepped outside on to the flagstone patio. Pitt pressed his hands onto the top of a wrought iron chair and leaned into it as if trying to plant it into the stone beneath. Pushing himself off, he turned to face me. “What do you think I should do?”

“Wait a minute,” I said. His face relaxed and he rocked back on his heels. He came up short. “Wait…wait…” I repeated. I’d been feeling the moisture increase out here and had driven through the storm on my way up the mountain.

The approaching storm began as an ever-loudening hiss. I could see Pitt’s shoulder’s noticeably tighten. “Wait,” I repeated. The first drops snuck up behind him, overcame him, and consumed me all within the space of three seconds.

“Yeah?” He said it as half-question, half-plea against the reality of it.

“Yes,” I said as confirmation. Pitts face went slack: total awareness of his surroundings and acceptance. It was time to leave. This was not working. She was not the one.

“Why?” he asked in hope of a reprieve of the verdict.

“You know why.” I continued to hold his eyes, not letting him go.

“Shit….yeah. I should have known when I saw you this time. It was so good to see you and I was having such a bad day; I didn’t put two and two together. How do you always know?”

I can always tell by the tone of his voice when we talk on the phone what stage of a relationship he is in but I say, “I just know.”

“Should we wait? She should be back soon. She just ran to the store for cigarettes.”

“That’s your call. I’ll do whatever.”

Pitt drew his slackened shoulders up again. “I’ll tell her.” There was a resolve in his eye that was not there a minute ago and I knew his old self was back again.

“This won’t be easy now,” I said, “you’ve changed back to who you were when you met her. She won’t want to let go of you if she notices.”

”She changed me though. How can I stay?”

“That’s not what I’m saying. She will see what attracted her, the old you, and she will make it hard because that’s who she wants.”

“OK. Noted. Go start the car,” he said. And then, almost as an afterthought, threw in, “She can keep the house.” And he walked away into the kitchen. Out front, I heard a car door slam and decided to take the route around the side of the house.

I argue

The World Has Always Been Round

As anyone who has ever spent time at the ocean or on a boat can attest, it is quite obvious to the unaided eye that the surface of the world is round. In fact, hundreds of years before any scientist discovered this a man in a sea town in, I believe it was, Portugal figured out the circumference of the earth within under 1,000 miles just by noting the arc of the curvature of the Earth between two points at the mouth of a bay. Extrapolating that arc, this man figured the circumference of the planet. He did it by sitting beside the ocean and staring at it and noting that the horizon is not a straight line.

This being true, it seems more reasonable that sailors, who spend entire lives on boats, would notice the same thing as well. I find it far more likely and reasonable that some sailor, as a joke, began telling tales to naive landlubbers and neophytes about monsters and sailing off the end of the earth.

So the lesson today  is that one should learn not to joke around with ignorant or foolish people. You may have a good laugh at their expense and marvel at their stupidity but if you do not let them in on the joke, and they repeat it as fact, you could end up with another Inquisition. Tens of thousands of people tortured and killed because the Earth is FLAT and Rome is the center of the universe and the Sun revolves around the Earth.

The entire philosophy of Catholicism grew into a notion that the closer one is to G-d, the closer they are to perfection. G-d is the unmoving Mover and the Pope is closest thing to perfection on Earth. The Earth does not move and Rome is the center of the Earth. Like the idea of ‘Chinese-ness”, by which the closer you are to the Forbidden City the more ‘Chinese’ you are, so too it was that the closer you were to Rome, the closer you were to the center of the Universe, to G-d. Science dispelled this notion by dethroning the Earth from its place of privilege.

At first blush, this may seem innocuous enough and not a reason to imprison Galileo Galilee under house arrest for the remainder of his life, but Rome, the Pope, was enough of a student of politics to understand (or at least his adviser’s were) that one cannot unseat the Earth without by inference unseating Rome…and the Pope…of their power and mystique. Science was after truth and, like all entrenched powers, Rome could only think of crushing opposing thought instead of taking the new thought by this new thinker; this new thinker who educated the Pope in his youth; and re-working their power within this new Truth. No, the Pope found himself and the Church under attack and instead chose to issue a Papal Bull to torture all those whose heresies (heretica meaning ‘to choose’) threatened to break the ties that bound all men to the power of Rome.

All because some sailor thought it would be funny to tell some ignorant soul in a pub that the Earth was flat and he almost sailed off the edge last week.