Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Wednesday April 30, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:30 PM


My main computer decided to take a vacation, so there will be no more detailed entries for (probably) a couple of weeks.   Congratulations, all you short-timers, on having nearly made it through another school year.

Update of May 1: Change “detailed entries” to “entries that take a lot of research time on the computer.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Tuesday April 29, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:17 PM

Being and Time


Heidegger’s birthday: September 26.

Einstein’s birthday: March 14.

Fred Zinnemann, who won an Oscar
for directing “From Here to Eternity“:

Zinnemann’s birthday: today, April 29.

In honor of Zinnemann, a cheerful man, who died on Einstein’s birthday in 1997, our site music today is the cheerful Gershwin tune “Our Love Is Here To Stay.” In honor of Olivia Newton-John (granddaughter of physicist Max Born), who notably portrayed the Muse Terpsichore in “Xanadu” and who shares a September 26 birthday with Gershwin, T. S. Eliot, and Heidegger, today’s midi of “Our Love” has a special arrangement. Ms. Newton-John might wish to commemorate the romance (“Passionate!” — Yale University Press) of Hannah Arendt, a Jewish political theorist, and Heidegger, a Catholic Nazi, by listening to “Our Love” on the acoustic bass and glockenspiel.

Terpsichore is the Muse of Dance.
See also Einstein’s first paper on relativity:
“On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies,”
Annalen der Physik,

September 26, 1905.

Not to be confused with an Orson Welles
film based on the life of
William Randolph Hearst,
whose birthday is also today.

Glockenspiel means “bell-play.”
See Metaphysics for Tina.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Monday April 28, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 12:07 AM


Toward Eternity

April is Poetry Month, according to the Academy of American Poets.  It is also Mathematics Awareness Month, funded by the National Security Agency; this year's theme is "Mathematics and Art."

Some previous journal entries for this month seem to be summarized by Emily Dickinson's remarks:

"Because I could not stop for Death–
He kindly stopped for me–
The Carriage held but just Ourselves–
And Immortality.

Since then–'tis Centuries–and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity– "


Consider the following journal entries from April 7, 2003:

Math Awareness Month

April is Math Awareness Month.
This year's theme is "mathematics and art."


An Offer He Couldn't Refuse

Today's birthday:  Francis Ford Coppola is 64.

"There is a pleasantly discursive treatment
of Pontius Pilate's unanswered question
'What is truth?'."

H. S. M. Coxeter, 1987, introduction to Richard J. Trudeau's remarks on the "Story Theory" of truth as opposed to the "Diamond Theory" of truth in The Non-Euclidean Revolution


From a website titled simply Sinatra:

"Then came From Here to Eternity. Sinatra lobbied hard for the role, practically getting on his knees to secure the role of the street smart punk G.I. Maggio. He sensed this was a role that could revive his career, and his instincts were right. There are lots of stories about how Columbia Studio head Harry Cohn was convinced to give the role to Sinatra, the most famous of which is expanded upon in the horse's head sequence in The Godfather. Maybe no one will know the truth about that. The one truth we do know is that the feisty New Jersey actor won the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for his work in From Here to Eternity. It was no looking back from then on."

From a note on geometry of April 28, 1985:

The "horse's head" figure above is from a note I wrote on this date 18 years ago.  The following journal entry from April 4, 2003, gives some details:

The Eight

Today, the fourth day of the fourth month, plays an important part in Katherine Neville's The Eight.  Let us honor this work, perhaps the greatest bad novel of the twentieth century, by reflecting on some properties of the number eight.  Consider eight rectangular cells arranged in an array of four rows and two columns.  Let us label these cells with coordinates, then apply a permutation.







The resulting set of arrows that indicate the movement of cells in a permutation (known as a Singer 7-cycle) outlines rather neatly, in view of the chess theme of The Eight, a knight.  This makes as much sense as anything in Neville's fiction, and has the merit of being based on fact.  It also, albeit rather crudely, illustrates the "Mathematics and Art" theme of this year's Mathematics Awareness Month.

The visual appearance of the "knight" permutation is less important than the fact that it leads to a construction (due to R. T. Curtis) of the Mathieu group M24 (via the Curtis Miracle Octad Generator), which in turn leads logically to the Monster group and to related "moonshine" investigations in the theory of modular functions.   See also "Pieces of Eight," by Robert L. Griess.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Sunday April 27, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 3:24 PM


Graphical Password

From a summary of “The Design and Analysis of Graphical Passwords“:

“Results from cognitive science show that people can remember pictures much better than words….

The 5×5 grid creates a good balance between security and memorability.”

 Ian Jermyn, New York University; Alain Mayer, Fabian Monrose, Michael K. Reiter, Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies; Aviel Rubin, AT&T Labs — Research

Illustration — Warren Beatty as
a graphical password:

Town & Country,”
released April 27, 2001

Those who prefer the simplicity of a 3×3 grid are referred to my entry of Jan. 9, 2003, Balanchine’s Birthday.  For material related to the “Town & Country” theme and to Balanchine, see Leadbelly Under the Volcano (Jan. 27, 2003). (“Sometimes I live in the country, sometimes I live in town…” – Huddie Ledbetter).  Those with more sophisticated tastes may prefer the work of Stephen Ledbetter on Gershwin’s piano preludes or, in view of Warren Beatty’s architectural work in “Town & Country,” the work of Stephen R. Ledbetter on window architecture.

As noted in Balanchine’s Birthday, Apollo (of the Balanchine ballet) has been associated by an architect with the 3×3, or “ninefold” grid.  The reader who wishes a deeper meditation on the number nine, related to the “Town & Country” theme and more suited to the fact that April is Poetry Month, is referred to my note of April 27 two years ago, Nine Gates to the Temple of Poetry.

Intermediate between the simplicity of the 3×3 square and the (apparent) complexity of the 5×5 square, the 4×4 square offers an introduction to geometrical concepts that appears deceptively simple, but is in reality fiendishly complex.  See Geometry for Jews.  The moral of this megilla?

32 + 42 = 52.

But that is another story.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Friday April 25, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , — m759 @ 7:59 PM


Today is the feast of Saint Mark.  It seems an appropriate day to thank Dr. Gerald McDaniel for his online cultural calendar, which is invaluable for suggesting blog topics.

Yesterday's entry "Cross-Referenced" referred to a bizarre meditation of mine titled "The Matthias Defense," which combines some thoughts of Nabokov on lunacy with some of my own thoughts on the Judeo-Christian tradition (i.e., also on lunacy).  In this connection, the following is of interest:

From a site titled Meaning of the Twentieth Century —

"Freeman Dyson has expressed some thoughts on craziness. In a Scientific American article called 'Innovation in Physics,' he began by quoting Niels Bohr. Bohr had been in attendance at a lecture in which Wolfgang Pauli proposed a new theory of elementary particles. Pauli came under heavy criticism, which Bohr summed up for him: 'We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question which divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct. My own feeling is that is not crazy enough.' To that Freeman added: 'When a great innovation appears, it will almost certainly be in a muddled, incomplete and confusing form. To the discoverer, himself, it will be only half understood; to everyone else, it will be a mystery. For any speculation which does not at first glance look crazy, there is no hope!' "

Kenneth Brower, The Starship and the Canoe, 1979, pp. 146, 147

It is my hope that the speculation, implied in The Matthias Defense, that the number 162 has astonishing mystical properties (as a page number, article number, etc.) is sufficiently crazy to satisfy Pauli and his friend Jung as well as the more conventional thinkers Bohr and Dyson.  It is no less crazy than Christianity, and has a certain mad simplicity that perhaps improves on some of that religion's lunatic doctrines. 

Some fruits of the "162 theory" —

Searching on Google for muses 162, we find the following Orphic Hymn to Apollo and a footnote of interest:

27 Tis thine all Nature's music to inspire,
28 With various-sounding, harmonising lyre;
29 Now the last string thou tun'ft to sweet accord,
30 Divinely warbling now the highest chord….

"Page 162 Verse 29…. Now the last string…. Gesner well observes, in his notes to this Hymn, that the comparison and conjunction of the musical and astronomical elements are most ancient; being derived from Orpheus and Pythagoras, to Plato. Now, according to the Orphic and Pythagoric doctrine, the lyre of Apollo is an image of the celestial harmony…."

For the "highest chord" in a metaphorical sense, see selection 162 of the 1919 edition of The Oxford Book of English Verse (whose editor apparently had a strong religious belief in the Muses (led by Apollo)).  This selection contains the phrase "an ever-fixèd mark" — appropriately enough for this saint's day.  The word "mark," in turn, suggests a Google search for the phrase "runes to grave" Hardy, after a poem quoted in G. H. Hardy's A Mathematician's Apology.

Such a search yields a website that quotes Housman as the source of the "runes" phrase, and a further search yields what is apparently the entire poem:

Smooth Between Sea and Land

by A. E. Housman

Smooth between sea and land
Is laid the yellow sand,
And here through summer days
The seed of Adam plays.

Here the child comes to found
His unremaining mound,
And the grown lad to score
Two names upon the shore.

Here, on the level sand,
Between the sea and land,
What shall I build or write
Against the fall of night?

Tell me of runes to grave
That hold the bursting wave,
Or bastions to design
For longer date than mine.

Shall it be Troy or Rome
I fence against the foam
Or my own name, to stay
When I depart for aye?

Nothing: too near at hand
Planing the figured sand,
Effacing clean and fast
Cities not built to last
And charms devised in vain,
Pours the confounding main.

(Said to be from More Poems (Knopf, 1936), p. 64)

Housman asks the reader to tell him of runes to grave or bastions to design.  Here, as examples, are one rune and one bastion.


The rune known as

the balance point or "still point."

The Nike Bastion

 Dagaz: (Pronounced thaw-gauze, but with the "th" voiced as in "the," not unvoiced as in "thick") (Day or dawn.)

From Rune Meanings:

 Dagaz means "breakthrough, awakening, awareness. Daylight clarity as opposed to nighttime uncertainty. A time to plan or embark upon an enterprise. The power of change directed by your own will, transformation. Hope/happiness, the ideal. Security and certainty. Growth and release. Balance point, the place where opposites meet."

Also known as "the rune of transformation."

For the Dagaz rune in another context, see Geometry of the I Ching.  The geometry discussed there does, in a sense, "hold the bursting wave," through its connection with Walsh functions, hence with harmonic analysis.

 Temple of Athena Nike on the Nike Bastion, the Acropolis, Athens.  Here is a relevant passage from Paul Valéry's Eupalinos ou L'Architecte about another temple of four columns:

Et puis… Écoute, Phèdre (me disait-il encore), ce petit temple que j'ai bâti pour Hermès, à quelques pas d'ici, si tu savais ce qu'il est pour moi ! — Où le passant ne voit qu'une élégante chapelle, — c'est peu de chose: quatre colonnes, un style très simple, — j'ai mis le souvenir d'un clair jour de ma vie. Ô douce métamorphose ! Ce temple délicat, nul ne le sait, est l'image mathématique d'une fille de Corinthe que j'ai heureusement aimée. Il en reproduit fidèlement les proportions particulières. Il vit pour moi !

Four columns, in a sense more suited to Hardy's interests, are also a recurrent theme in The Diamond 16 Puzzle and Diamond Theory.

Apart from the word "mark" in The Oxford Book of English Verse, as noted above, neither the rune nor the bastion discussed has any apparent connection with the number 162… but seek and ye shall find.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Thursday April 24, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 4:13 PM


A Terrible Beauty

On this date in 1905, Robert Penn Warren, the first poet laureate of the United States, was born.  

This is also the date of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Monday rebellion, of which Yeats wrote that “a terrible beauty is born,”  and the date of Vatican I’s 1870 attack on reason, Dei Filius.

My comment on Yeats’s remarks:

“No honourable and sincere man, said Stephen, has given up to you his life and his youth and his affections from the days of Tone to those of Parnell, but you sold him to the enemy or failed him in need or reviled him and left him for another. And you invite me to be one of you. I’d see you damned first.”

— James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist, published 1914-15 in serial form

My comment on the Vatican’s remarks:

“[Robert Penn] Warren taught for years at Yale and became toward the end of his life one of the most vocal critics of deconstruction, which had Yale as its headquarters. He is said to have exclaimed, ‘They got a whole new line of bullshit up here.’ ”

Dr. Gerald McDaniel 

Warren wrote that

“…only, only,
In the name of Death do we learn
    the true name of Love.”

For some clues as to whether this, too, is bullshit, see my note of Easter Monday 2003,

Time, Song, and Tragedy.

Thursday April 24, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:33 AM


Shortly after midnight on the night of April 22-23, I updated my entry for Shakespeare's birthday with the following quotation: 

"With a little effort, anything can be shown to connect with anything else: existence is infinitely cross-referenced."

Opening sentence of Martha Cooley's The Archivist

About 24 hours later, I came across the following obituary in The New York Times: 

"Edgar F. Codd, a mathematician and computer scientist who laid the theoretical foundation for relational databases, the standard method by which information is organized in and retrieved from computers, died on Friday…. He was 79."

The Times does not mention that the Friday it refers to is Good  Friday.  God will  have his little jokes.

From Computerworld.com:

1969: Edgar F. "Ted" Codd invents the relational database.
1969: Edgar F. "Ted" Codd invents the relational database.

1969: Edgar F. “Ted” Codd invents the relational database.

1973: Cullinane, led by John J. Cullinane, ships IDMS, a network-model database for IBM mainframes.

1976: Honeywell ships Multics Relational Data Store, the first commercial relational database.

For a better (and earlier) obituary than the Times's, see The San Jose Mercury News of Easter Sunday.  For some thoughts on death and the afterlife appropriate to last weekend, see The Matthias Defense.

The Exorcist, 1973

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Wednesday April 23, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 AM

Midnight in the Garden
of Good and Evil
on Shakespeare’s Birthday

Tony Scherman on an April 7, 1968, recording by Nina Simone:

“…nobody could telescope more emotion into a single, idiosyncratically turned syllable (listen to the way she says the word “Savannah” in her spoken intro to “Sunday in Savannah.” It breaks your heart — and she ain’t even singin’ yet!).”

See also the following entries on midnight in the garden:

Trinity, Oct. 25, 2002

Midnight in the Garden, Oct. 26, 2002

Point of No Return, Dec. 10, 2002

Culture Clash at Midnight, Dec. 11, 2002

Dead Poets Society, Dec. 13, 2002

For the Dark Lady, Dec. 18, 2002

Nightmare Alley, Dec. 21, 2002

For the Green Lady, Dec. 21, 2002

“With a little effort, anything can be shown to connect with anything else: existence is infinitely cross-referenced.”

Opening sentence of Martha Cooley’s The Archivist

Woe unto
them that
call evil
good, and
good evil;
that put
for light,
and light
for darkness

Isaiah 5:20



As she spoke about the Trees of Life and Death, I watched her…. 
The Archivist

The world
has gone
mad today
And good’s
bad today,

And black’s
white today,
And day’s
night today

Cole Porter



Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Tuesday April 22, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:23 PM



The Star
of Venus


In memory of Nina Simone, a singer who died April 21, whose autobiography was titled (after the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins song) I Put a Spell on You, and in honor of Aaron Spelling, producer of “Satan’s School for Girls,” whose birthday is today, I suggest the following three cultural milestones.

First, an accurate, if tasteless, recounting of Scripture at a Christian site that correctly notes that Satan may appear as “an angel of light”… rather like Aaron Spelling?  This site also offers, as background music, a lame parody of the evils of Rock ‘n’ Roll in the form of a midi of “Fire” that would hardly tempt even someone Hell-bent on sinning. 

Second, a book, The Club Dumas, by Arturo Perez-Reverte, the basis of the Roman Polanski film “The Ninth Gate.”  This book is notable for the way it skillfully, and perhaps accurately, depicts Satan as an “angel of light” who does not resemble Aaron Spelling in the least.   This Satan could really tempt me.

Finally, my favorite music video of all time: the 1988 Kylie Minogue “Locomotion.”  If the Devil could now look, sing, and dance like Kylie in 1988, I would be lost.  Fortunately, perhaps, the days when Kylie could make me fall in love with one glance are now over.  Still, if I had to fall, I would much rather do it with Kylie than with Spelling.  As she herself says,  

It’s better the Devil you know.”

For more on Kylie, trains, and death, see the Jan. 3 entry The Shanghai Gesture

The locomotive image is courtesy of a website that may, in view of the subject of this entry, prefer to remain anonymous.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Monday April 21, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:23 PM

This world is not conclusion;
  A sequel stands beyond,
Invisible, as music,
  But positive, as sound.
It beckons and it baffles;         
  Philosophies don’t know,
And through a riddle, at the last,
  Sagacity must go.

Emily Dickinson

From an obituary of a biographer of Emily Dickinson, Richard B. Sewall, who died on Wednesday, April 16, 2003:

"Descended from a line of Congregational ministers dating back to the Salem of the witch trial era, Mr. Sewall was known for infusing his lectures with an almost religious fervor."


What is the hardest thing to keep?

For one answer, see my entry of April 16, 2003.   For commentary on that answer, see the description of a poetry party that took place last April at Sleepy Hollow, New York.

See, too, the story that contains the following passages:

"As to the books and furniture of the schoolhouse, they belonged to the community, excepting Cotton Mather's History of Witchcraft, a New England Almanac, and book of dreams and fortune-telling….

The schoolhouse being deserted soon fell to decay, and was reported to be haunted by the ghost of the unfortunate pedagogue, and the plough-boy, loitering homeward of a still summer evening, has often fancied his voice at a distance, chanting a melancholy psalm tune among the tranquil solitudes of Sleepy Hollow."

Washington Irving

Update of 11:55 PM April 21, 2003,

in memory of
Nina Simone:

See also the last paragraph of this news story,
this website, and this essay,
or see all three combined.

From the entry of midnight, October 25-26, 2002:

Make my bed and light the light,
I'll arrive late tonight,
Blackbird, Bye-bye.

Nina Simone

For more on the eight-point star of Venus,
see "Bright Star," my note of October 23, 2002.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Sunday April 20, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:30 PM

Hall of Shame

“You belong with the cowards and ideologues in a hall of infamy and shame.”

— Actor Tim Robbins, who played pitcher Nuke LaLoosh in “Bull Durham,” in a letter to baseball Hall of Fame president Dale Petroskey.  Petroskey cancelled a scheduled April 26-27 Hall of Fame celebration of the Bull film due to the possibility of political remarks.

In further remarks at the National Press Club on April 15, Robbins said

“Sportswriters across the country reacted with such overwhelming fury at the Hall of Fame that the president of the Hall admitted he made a mistake and Major League Baseball disavowed any connection to the actions of the Hall’s president. A bully can be stopped, and so can a mob. It takes one person with the courage and a resolute voice.”

 Wonder Boy

Shoe, Easter 2003

Update of 2:00 AM April 21, 2003:

A belated Easter greeting from Durham, North Carolina.


Sunday April 20, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:28 AM

Easter Greetings.

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Saturday April 19, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:56 PM

Claves Regni Caelorum

“June dawns, July noons, August evenings over, finished, done, and gone forever with only the sense of it all left here in his head. Now, a whole autumn, a white winter, a cool and greening spring to figure sums and totals of summer past. And if he should forget, the dandelion wine stood in the cellar, numbered huge for each and every day. He would go there often, stare straight into the sun until he could stare no more, then close his eyes and consider the burned spots, the fleeting scars left dancing on his warm eyelids; arranging, rearranging each fire and reflection until the pattern was clear.”
— Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

“Socialism or Death”
— Banner in the film “Guantanamera” (Cuba, 1994)

“I’m thinking, I’m thinking!”
Jack Benny, replying to bandits who demanded his money or his life.  Benny was born on St. Valentine’s day and died on St. Stephen’s day.

For what it’s worth, both Bradbury and Benny are from Waukegan, Illinois.

“Through the unknown, remembered gate….”
— T. S. Eliot, epigraph to
Parallelisms of Complete Designs, by

Peter J. Cameron

Saturday April 19, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 2:45 AM


In memory of the many who have died on April 19, most notably Octavio Paz.

"There is a suggestion of Christ descending into the abyss for the harrowing of Hell.  But it is the Consul whom we think of here, rather than of Christ."

— Introduction to Malcolm Lowry's classic novel Under the Volcano, by Stephen Spender

"Hey, big Spender, spend a little time
with me." — Song lyric

For a somewhat deeper meditation on time, see Architecture of Eternity.

See also Literature of the Descent into Hell

"Mexico is a solar country — but it is also a black country, a dark country. This duality of Mexico has preoccupied me since I was a child."

Octavio Paz, quoted by Homero Aridjis


Concluding Unscientific Postscripts:

"Once upon a time…" — Anonymous

"It's quarter to three…" — Sinatra

Friday, April 18, 2003

Friday April 18, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:17 PM

A Red Mass

For G. H. Hardy, who, although he kept a portrait of Lenin in his rooms, knew more of truth than most Christians ever know.

317 is a prime, not because we think so, or because our minds are shaped in one way rather than another, but because it is so, because mathematical reality is built that way.”
— G. H. Hardy, A Mathematician’s Apology, 1940

Friday April 18, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 1:17 PM

To the Society of Jesus (also known as the Jesuits):

Have a Good Friday, Traitors

Prompted by Pilate’s question “What is truth?” and by my March 24 attack on Noam Chomsky, I decided this afternoon to further investigate what various people have written about Chomsky’s posing of what he calls “Plato’s problem” and “Orwell’s problem.”  The former concerns linguistics, the latter, politics.  As my March 24 entry indicates, I have nothing but contempt for both Chomsky’s linguistics and Chomsky’s politics.  What I discovered this afternoon is that Georgetown University, a Jesuit institution, in 2001 appointed a Chomskyite, David W. Lightfoot, as Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

“Why do we know so much more than we have evidence for in certain areas, and so much less in others? In tackling these questions — Plato’s and Orwell’s problem — Chomsky again demonstrates his unequalled capacity to integrate vast amounts of material.” — David W. Lightfoot, review of Chomsky’s Knowledge of Language

What, indeed, is truth?  I doubt that the best answer can be learned from either the Communist sympathizers of MIT or the “Red Mass” leftists of Georgetown.  For a better starting point than either of these institutions, see my note of April 6, 2001, Wag the Dogma.

See, too, In Principio Erat Verbum, which notes that “numbers go to heaven who know no more of God on earth than, as it were, of sun in forest gloom.”

Since today is the anniversary of the death of MIT mathematics professor Gian-Carlo Rota, an example of “sun in forest gloom” seems the best answer to Pilate’s question on this holy day.  See

The Shining of May 29.

“Examples are the stained glass windows of knowledge.” — Vladimir Nabokov


Motto of Plato’s Academy

The Exorcist, 1973

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Thursday April 17, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:30 PM

Bishops sued for slander

Bishop Donald Trautman

By Ed Palattella
Erie Times News
Erie, PA
April 17. 2003, 8:29 AM

Three women who spoke out against the Catholic Diocese of Erie are now speaking up in court.

They are suing the diocese, Bishop Donald W. Trautman and retired Bishop Michael J. Murphy on claims of defamation.

The women say the bishops slandered or libeled them a year ago in public statements that Trautman and Murphy made about the women’s concerns in the case of a former diocesan priest, Robert F. Bower.

Bower resigned from the priesthood a year ago over his arrest in 1999 on felony charges that he possessed child pornography on his personal computer.

The women came forward in an Erie Times-News article April 17, 2002, to say that they had tried to raise concerns about Bower long before his arrest. They said they met with Murphy in 1982, and that he did nothing to discipline Bower.

The women’s suit, filed Wednesday, marks the first time that someone has sued the 13-county Catholic Diocese of Erie in connection with the sex-abuse scandal that started rocking the Roman Catholic Church nationwide more than a year ago.

The women’s lawyer said the bishops accused the women of lying. The bishops were responding to comments the women made in the Erie Times-News article, when the women said they met with Murphy 20 years ago to express their concerns about gay pornography that one of the women said she found in Bower’s mail when she was his church secretary.

That woman, Sally Beres, said she was fired as secretary two days after the meeting with Murphy. Beres claims that 20 years later, when she aired her concerns about Bower again, the bishops responded by defaming her and the other two women who came forward, Ann Caro and Helen Rusnak.

The women’s lawyer, Richard A. Peterson of Greenville, said the suit will focus on the written statement Trautman issued April 21 in which he sharply criticized Beres, Rusnak, Caro and the Erie Times-News.

Thursday April 17, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:14 PM

Holiday Affair

From a site recommended by oOMisfitOo:

In The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi (Rutgers University Press, 1999), Michael R. Molnar explains how the purchase of a $50 Roman coin led him to discover the real date of Jesus’s birth.

The coin that provided the clue portrayed Aries the Ram looking back at a star.

From Molnar’s own site, Star of Bethlehem:

“On April 17, 6 BC, two years before King Herod died, Jupiter emerged in the east as a morning star in the sign of the Jews, Aries the Ram.”

Therefore, according to Molnar, today is Christmas.  Accordingly, let us sing a (slightly improved) carol in memory of the late Murray L. Bob (see April 15 entries):

God rest ye, merry gentleman.

Let us also voice a rousing chorus of one of my personal all-time favorites, in memory of a film director (see previous entry), who gave us a vision of Robert Mitchum (Ram) and Sarah Miles (“Lady Caroline Lamb“) united in marriage (Ding-Dong):

Who put the Ram in the
Ram-a-Lamb-a Ding-Dong?

Why, David Lean, of course.

Update of April 21, 2003:

When You Care Enough
to Send the Very Best

“Jan Scott, 88, a television art director and production designer who had won 11 Emmy Awards, died April 17 at her home in Hollywood Hills, Calif. The cause of death was not reported.

She started working in television in the 1950s and earned her first Emmy nomination in 1956 for a “Hallmark Hall of Fame” production. Her first Emmy Award came in 1968 for her work as an art director for “Kismet,” which appeared on ABC. Her last Emmy was awarded in 1989 for “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” on NBC.”

The Washington Post, April 21, 2003

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Wednesday April 16, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 9:36 PM

Keeping Time

The title of this entry comes from T. S. Eliot (see below).  The subject, and the relevance of the Kipling passage, are from Eleanor Cameron's Green and Burning Tree, itself the subject of an April 15 entry.

Part I

From Puck of Pook's Hill, by Rudyard Kipling

The Theatre lay in a meadow….  a large old Fairy Ring of darkened grass, which was the stage….  Shakespeare himself could not have imagined a more suitable setting for his play….

Their play went beautifully….  They were both so pleased that they acted it three times over from beginning to end before they sat down in the unthistly centre of the Ring to eat…, This was when they heard a whistle among the alders on the bank, and they jumped.

The bushes parted. In the very spot where Dan had stood as Puck they saw a small, brown, broad-shouldered, pointy-eared person….

He stopped, hollowed one hand round his ear, and, with a wicked twinkle in his eye, went on:

'What, a play toward? I'll be an auditor;
An actor, too, perhaps, if I see cause.'

The children looked and gasped. The small thing – he was no taller than Dan's shoulder – stepped quietly into the Ring. 

"I'm rather out of practice," said he; "but that's the way my part ought to be played."

Still the children stared at him — from his dark blue cap, like a big columbine flower, to his bare, hairy feet. At last he laughed.

"Please don't look at me like that. It isn't my fault. What else could you expect?" he said.

"We didn't expect anyone," Dan answered slowly. "This is our field."

"Is it?" said their visitor, sitting down. "Then what on Human Earth made you act Midsummer Night's Dream three times over, on Midsummer Eve, in the middle of a Ring, and under — right under one of my oldest hills in Old England? Pook's Hill — Puck's Hill — Puck's Hill — Pook's Hill! It's as plain as the nose on my face."

"…. You've done something that Kings and Knights and Scholars in old days would have given their crowns and spurs and books to find out. If Merlin himself had helped you, you couldn't have managed better!"

Part II

From "East Coker," by T. S. Eliot

In that open field
If you do not come too close,
    if you do not come too close,
On a summer midnight,
    you can hear the music
Of the weak pipe and the little drum….
… Round and round the fire
Leaping through the flames,
    or joined in circles….
… Keeping time,
Keeping the rhythm in their dancing….

Part III

From The Real World, by Anonymous:

Tonight is the night of the Paschal full moon, which is used to calculate the date of Easter.

On this date in 1871, playwright John Millington Synge was born.  He wrote of "the wonderfully tender and searching light that is seen only in Kerry."

On this date in 1991, director David Lean died.  He showed us the tender and searching light of Kerry in "Ryan's Daughter."

The summer harvest festival of County Kerry is known as "Puck Fair."

The song "The Kerry Dance" includes the following lyrics:

O the days of the Kerry dancing….
When the boys began to gather,
    in the glen of a summer's night.
And the Kerry piper's tuning 
    made us long with wild delight.

Tonight's site music is "The Kerry Dance" arranged in a form appropriate to the spirit of "East Coker" and the spirit of Puck Fair.

Eliot and Eleanor Cameron were both concerned with "keeping time" in a very deep sense.  For more on this subject, see my previous entries for April 2003, Poetry Month.

See, too, Midsummer Eve's Dream.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Tuesday April 15, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:07 PM

Green and Burning

After posting the 2:42 PM entry at a public library this afternoon, I picked up the following at a “Friends of the Library” used-book sale:

The Green and Burning Tree:
On the Writing and Enjoyment
of Children’s Books

by Eleanor Cameron (Little, Brown and Company, Boston and Toronto, 1969).

Cameron, on page 73, gives the source of her title; it is from the Mabinogion:

“And they saw a tall tree by the side of the river, one half of which was in flames from the root to the top, and the other half was green and in full leaf.”

Cameron finds the meaning of this symbol in Dylan Thomas: His Life and Work, by John Ackerman (Oxford University Press, 1964), p. 6:

“Another important feature of the old Welsh poetry is an awareness of the dual nature of reality, of unity in disunity, of the simultaneity of life and death, of time as an eternal moment rather than as something with a past and future.”

For part of a Nobel Prize lecture on this topic — time as an eternal moment — see Architecture of Eternity, a journal note from December 8, 2002.

That lecture is from an author, Octavio Paz, who wrote in Spanish.  Here are some other words in that language:

Mi verso es de un verde claro,
Y de un carmín encendido.

My verse is a clear green,
And a burning crimson.

These lyrics to the song “Guantanamera” (see Palm Sunday) were on my mind this afternoon when Cameron’s book caught my eye.

Green and crimson are, of course, also the colors of Christmas, or “Christ Mass.”  In view of the fact that Cameron’s book is about children’s literature, this leads, like it or not, to the following meditation.

From a religious site:

Matthew 18:3 – And said, Truly I say to you, Unless you are converted, and become like little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Mark 10:15 – Truly I say to you, Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall not enter it at all.

Luke 18:17 – Truly I say to you, Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall by no means enter it.

A meditation from a less religious site:

“What I tell you three times is true.”

Finally, from what I now consider 

  • in view of the song lyrics quoted above,
  • in view of the fact that it deals with a Cuban movie also titled “Guantanamera,”
  • in view of Cameron’s remarks on Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal” (p. 129), and
  • in view of my April 7 entry on mathematics and art,

to be an extremely religious site, a picture:

Tuesday April 15, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:01 PM

Once Upon a Time 

On Tuesday, April 15, 2003, at 5:01 PM EST, this place was reserved for later use.

It now seems an appropriate spot to put Maurice Rapf, a screenwriter, a blacklisted Communist fellow-traveler, and later a professor of film studies at Dartmouth, his alma mater. 

Rapf died on April 15, 2003, at the age of 88.

He contributed to the screenplay for Disney's "Cinderella" (1950). According to his Washington Post obituary, "he said he gave the character of Cinderella a spirit of class struggle." 

Rapf described his Hollywood childhood in Back Lot: Growing Up With the Movies, 1999.

"A dream is a wish your heart makes."

Entered Friday, April 18, 2003, 3:24 AM EST.

Tuesday April 15, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:42 PM

Certain Things

by Murray L. Bob


  1. The great equalizer.
  2. The only vacation for which you need no reservation.
  3. Death was more acceptable when people didn’t live as long.  More proof, if any was needed, that the more you have, the more you want.
  4. There is something comforting about its finality.  There is nothing unexpected about death except the time, place, and manner of its occurrence.
  5. The solution is dissolution.
  6. Has an undeservedly bad reputation: think of all the sons-of-bitches it’s ridden us of.


The people who benefit the most from research are never the people who pay for it.

Both items above are from

A Contrarian’s Dictionary Strikes Again! —
2001 Impudent Definitions For the 21st Century

by Murray L. Bob.

Murray, a library director, checked out during National Library Week, April 6-12, 2003.  From the work quoted above, two of his classic parting shots:


When you look at everything else in this town you know there shouldn’t be a great library here.  Fortunately, the librarians don’t know this.


Old librarians never die, they just close the books.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Sunday April 13, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:59 PM

Palm Sunday, Part II:

Cold Mountain

From the notes to the CD of Songs From the Mountain (John Herrmann, Dirk Powell, Tim O’Brien):

“John [Herrmann, banjo player] would like to dedicate his work on this recording to Philip Kapleau Roshi, Kalu Rimpoche, and Harada Tangen Roshi, who all know the way to Cold Mountain….”

 See Buddha’s Birthday (April 8) and The Diamond Project.

“What are you thinking of? What thinking? What? 
  I never know what you are thinking. Think.”

— Tom Eliot, The Waste Land 

“I am thinking…
… of the midnight picnic
Once upon a time….”

Suzanne Vega, “Tom’s Diner

Once upon a time…

Later the Same Day
Enormous Changes
At the Last Minute

Grace Paley

“De donde crece la palma” — Song lyric 

From On Beauty, by Elaine Scarry, Princeton University Press, 1999, a quotation from Homer —

in Delos, beside Apollo’s altar
the young slip of a palm-tree
springing into the light.”

See also A Mass for Lucero and The Shining of Lucero.  

How much story do you want?”

— George Balanchine

Sunday April 13, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:07 PM

3:07 PM

Palm Sunday

“The folk scene, in reality, was a strange coming together of liberal ideals, rural traditions, marketing and youth culture….”

David Hajdu, review of “A Mighty Wind” in The New York Times of Palm Sunday, April 13, 2003

Those who recognize the church below will understand the caption.

For Peter, Paul, and Murray:
A Palm

Saturday, April 12, 2003

Saturday April 12, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 2:23 PM

2:23 PM
to the previous two entries

"This world is not conclusion;
A sequel stands beyond…."
— Emily Dickinson

Today's birthday: dancer/actress Ann Miller.

"In 1937, she was discovered by Lucille Ball…."

Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz,
and Ann Miller, cast photo
from Too Many Girls (1940)

"Just goes to show star quality shines through…."
— Website on Too Many Girls 

"It'll shine when it shines."
— Folk saying, epigraph to The Shining

"Shine on, you crazy diamond."
Pink Floyd

"Well we all shine on…"
— John Lennon, "Instant Karma"

Saturday April 12, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:44 AM

Rhetoric Happens

“Rhetoric is concerned with the state of Babel after the Fall.”

— Kenneth Burke, A Rhetoric of Motives, quoted by Douglas Robinson at the site Linguistics and Language

CNN.com headline, Saturday, April 12, 2003, Posted at 12:24 AM EDT:

Rumsfeld on looting in Iraq:
‘Stuff happens’

For further rhetoric, see

A Short Comparative Guide to Religion and Philosophy

This site has the added attraction of a midi of Lennon’s classic, “Instant Karma,” mentioned in yesterday’s entry “Heaven’s Gate.”

Friday, April 11, 2003

Friday April 11, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:56 PM

Heaven’s Gate

“Rhetoric is concerned with the state of Babel after the Fall.”

— Kenneth Burke, A Rhetoric of Motives, quoted by Douglas Robinson at the site Linguistics and Language

Mesopotamian mathematics:

“Location: present-day Iraq, between the Tigris and Euphrates

Cities: Babylon, founded 2300 BC, 70 miles south of present Baghdad, on the Euphrates….

Babylon = Bab-ilu, “gate of God,” Hebrew: Babel or Bavel.”

Modern rendition
of “Bab-ilu


Perhaps the real heaven’s gate is at

Pottawatomie College.

Instant karma update:

 At 5:09 PM I read the following in the New York Review of Books, dated May 1, 2003, which arrived today.

From a review of Terror and Liberalism, by Paul Berman:

“As a general analysis of the various enemies of liberalism, and what ties them together, it is superb.  All — Nazis, Islamists, Bolsheviks, Fascists, and so on — are linked by Berman to the ‘ur-myth’ of the fall of Babylon.”

Speaking of Ur, Berman likes to quote a non-Biblical Abraham, named Lincoln.  The first, Biblical, Abraham was a damned homicidal lunatic, and the later American Abraham also delighted in blood sacrifice.  But that’s just my opinion.  For a different view, see the Chautauqua Abrahamic Program.


Wednesday, April 9, 2003

Wednesday April 9, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:00 PM

The Poet as Prophet

In honor of Wallace Stevens, quoted in
yesterday’s entry of 3:07 PM EDT:

April 8, 3:07 PM EDT

April 9, 10:50 AM EDT

Wednesday April 9, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:01 PM

The Shadow and the Valley

Bad news this morning.  An old friend is gone.
In light of last night’s entry, the best I can do
at the moment is yet another trilogy of links:

A song

A reading

A psalm

Wednesday April 9, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 12:25 AM

Hearts of Darkness

Today's birthdays:

Charles Baudelaire, poet, b. 1821

Leopold II, King of Belgium, b. 1835

Tom Lehrer, mathematician, b. 1928

In view of these birthdays and of yesterday's entry quoting Eliot on "the Shadow," the following trilogy of links seems appropriate:

The Lamont Cranston:

Part I   Part II   Part III

Nota bene:

Today is also the birthday of
Paul Robeson and J. William Fulbright,
shadows to respect.

Tuesday, April 8, 2003

Tuesday April 8, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 3:07 PM

Death’s Dream Kingdom

April 7, 2003, Baghdad – A US tank blew a huge statue of President Saddam Hussein off its pedestal in central Baghdad on Monday with a single shell, a US officer said…. “One shot, one kill.”

“When smashing monuments, save the pedestals; they always come in handy.”

Stanislaw J. Lec 

“In death’s dream kingdom….

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow”

— T. S. Eliot, Harvard 1910, The Hollow Men

“A light check in the shadow
is the same gray as
a dark check outside the shadow.”

— Edward H. Adelson, Yale 1974, Illusions and Demos

“point A / In a perspective that begins again / At B”

— Wallace Stevens, Harvard 1901, “The Rock

See also

Shine On, Hermann Weyl.

Tuesday April 8, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:56 AM

Babar’s Dream

In memory of Cécile de Brunhoff, discoverer of
Babar, who died yesterday at the age of 99.

“Here we see the imagined universe of Babar’s Dream by Jean de Brunhoff. In an archetypal battle between good and evil, the graceful winged elephants — the angels of kindness, intelligence, courage, patience, perseverance, knowledge, work, hope, love, health, joy, and happiness — drive out the demons of misfortune, anger, stupidity, discouragement, sickness, spinelessness, despair, fear, ignorance, cowardice, laziness.”

— Source cited: Edward R. Tufte, Visual Explanations

Today is Buddha’s birthday.  For the
connection with elephants, click here.

Tuesday April 8, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 AM

Buddha’s Birthday Song



As I’m listening
To the bells
Of the cathedral
I am thinking
Of your voice…
And of the midnight picnic
Once upon a time….

Thinking of her voice

Monday, April 7, 2003

Monday April 7, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 11:59 PM

Math Awareness Month

April is Math Awareness Month.
This year's theme is "mathematics and art."


Monday April 7, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 1:17 PM

An Offer He Couldn't Refuse

Today's birthday:  Francis Ford Coppola is 64.

"There is a pleasantly discursive treatment
of Pontius Pilate's unanswered question
'What is truth?'."

— H. S. M. Coxeter, 1987, introduction to Richard J. Trudeau's remarks on the "Story Theory" of truth as opposed to the "Diamond Theory" of truth in The Non-Euclidean Revolution


From a website titled simply Sinatra:

"Then came From Here to Eternity. Sinatra lobbied hard for the role, practically getting on his knees to secure the role of the street smart punk G.I. Maggio. He sensed this was a role that could revive his career, and his instincts were right. There are lots of stories about how Columbia Studio head Harry Cohn was convinced to give the role to Sinatra, the most famous of which is expanded upon in the horse's head sequence in The Godfather. Maybe no one will know the truth about that. The one truth we do know is that the feisty New Jersey actor won the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for his work in From Here to Eternity. It was no looking back from then on."

From a note on geometry of April 28, 1985:


Saturday, April 5, 2003

Saturday April 5, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 9:49 AM

Art Wars:
Mathematics and the
Emperor’s New Art

From Maureen Dowd’s New York Times column of June 9, 2002: 

“The shape of the government is not as important as the policy of the government. If he makes the policy aggressive and pre-emptive, the president can conduct the war on terror from the National Gallery of Art.”

NY Times, April 5, 2003:
U.S. Tanks Move Into Center of Baghdad
See also today’s
op-ed piece
by Patton’s grandson.

Meanwhile, at the Washington Post, another example of great determination and strength of character:

Donald Coxeter Dies: Leader in Geometry

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 5, 2003

“Donald Coxeter, 96, a mathematician who was one of the 20th century’s foremost specialists in geometry and a man of great determination and strength of character as well, died March 31 at his home in Toronto.”

From another Coxeter obituary:

In the Second World War, Coxeter was asked by the American government to work in Washington as a code-breaker. He accepted, but then backed out, partly because of his pacifist views and partly for aesthetic reasons: “The work didn’t really appeal to me,” he explained; “it was a different sort of mathematics.”

For a differing account of how geometry is related to code-breaking, see the “Singer 7-cycle” link in yesterday’s entry, “The Eight,” of 3:33 PM.  This leads to a site titled

An Introduction to the
Applications of Geometry in Cryptography

“Now I have precisely the right instrument, at precisely the right moment of history, in exactly the right place.”

 — “Patton,”
the film

Quod erat

Added Sunday, April 6, 2003, 3:17 PM:

The New York Times Magazine of April 6
continues this Art Wars theme.

                 (Cover typography revised)

The military nature of our Art Wars theme appears in the Times’s choice of words for its cover headline: “The Greatest Generation.” (This headline appears in the paper, but not the Internet, version.)

Some remarks in today’s Times Magazine article seem especially relevant to my journal entry for Michelangelo’s birthday, March 6.

“…Conceptualism — suddenly art could be nothing more than an idea….

LeWitt moved between his syntax of geometric sculptures and mental propositions for images: concepts he wrote on paper that could be realized by him or someone else or not at all.  Physical things are perishable.  Ideas need not be.”

— Michael Kimmelman, chief art critic of the New York Times, April 6, 2003

Compare this with a mathematician’s aesthetics:

“A mathematician, like a painter or a poet, is a maker of patterns.  If his patterns are more permanent than theirs, it is because they are made with ideas.”

— G. H. Hardy, A Mathematician’s Apology (1940), reprinted 1969, Cambridge U. Press, p. 84 

It seems clear from these two quotations that the real conceptual art is mathematics and that Kimmelman is peddling the emperor’s new clothes.

Friday, April 4, 2003

Friday April 4, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 4:36 PM

Mathematics Awareness Month

April is the cruelest month….

Do you know nothing?
Do you see nothing?
Do you remember "Nothing"?

— T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land, 1922

From Michael Pearson, Director of Programs and Services for the Mathematical Association of America, in his Liaison Newsletter of January 2003

"For this year's Mathematics Awareness Month, April 2003, the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics has selected the theme of Mathematics and Art….

Financial support for Mathematics Awareness Month 2003 is provided by the National Security Agency."

From a ReelWavs.com transcript of 
"Good Will Hunting":

nsa.mp3 (436K)
Will:  "Why shouldn't I work for the N.S.A.? That's a tough one, but I'll give it a shot. Say I'm working at N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. So I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I'm real happy with myself, 'cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hiding and fifteen hundred people I never had a problem with get killed. Now the politicians are sayin', Send in the marines to secure the area 'cause they don't give a shit. It won't be their kid over there, gettin' shot. Just like it wasn't them when their number was called, 'cause they were pullin' a tour in the National Guard. It'll be some guy from Southie takin' shrapnel in the ass. And he comes home to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, 'cause he'll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile my buddy from Southie realizes the only reason he was over there was so we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And of course the oil companies used the skirmish to scare up oil prices so they could turn a quick buck. A cute little ancillary benefit for them but it ain't helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. And naturally they're takin' their sweet time bringin' the oil back, and maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and play slalom with the icebergs, and it ain't too long 'til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So my buddy's out of work and he can't afford to drive, so he's got to walk to the job interviews, which sucks 'cause the shrapnel in his ass is givin' him chronic hemorroids. And meanwhile he's starvin' 'cause every time he tries to get a bite to eat the only blue plate special they'r servin' is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what do I think? I'm holdin' out for somethin' better. Why not just shoot my buddy, take his job and give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected president."

From an eulogy for Ivan Illich:

"He frequently cited the Latin maxim 'corruptio optimi pessima,' the corruption of the best is the worst."

Friday April 4, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 3:33 PM

The Eight

Today, the fourth day of the fourth month, plays an important part in Katherine Neville's The Eight.  Let us honor this work, perhaps the greatest bad novel of the twentieth century, by reflecting on some properties of the number eight.  Consider eight rectangular cells arranged in an array of four rows and two columns.  Let us label these cells with coordinates, then apply a permutation.




IMAGE- Knight figure for April 4


The resulting set of arrows that indicate the movement of cells in a permutation (known as a Singer 7-cycle) outlines rather neatly, in view of the chess theme of The Eight, a knight.  This makes as much sense as anything in Neville's fiction, and has the merit of being based on fact.  It also, albeit rather crudely, illustrates the "Mathematics and Art" theme of this year's Mathematics Awareness Month.  (See the 4:36 PM entry.)



The visual appearance of the "knight" permutation is less important than the fact that it leads to a construction (due to R. T. Curtis) of the Mathieu group M24 (via the Curtis Miracle Octad Generator), which in turn leads logically to the Monster group and to related "moonshine" investigations in the theory of modular functions.   See also "Pieces of Eight," by Robert L. Griess.

Thursday, April 3, 2003

Thursday April 3, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:12 PM

Musical Metaphysics

Some background for my journal entries of  April 2, 2003 (Symmetries), of March 31, 2003 (Sunday Lottery), and of March 28, 2003 (Bright Star):

In memory of

Today’s site music (see midi console at top right of screen) is “All or Nothing at All.”

In view of the Sunday Lottery entry of March 31 and of Starr’s hits,  this song might be retitled “007 or 256.”

In view of Draper’s hit

“Tell all the folks that
  this life’s a game of poker….”

the following article is of interest:

“GOD MAY PLAY DICE with the universe, as Einstein once feared, but serious gamblers, scorning metaphysical crapshoots and the casino’s house edge, prefer no-limit Texas hold’em poker….”

— James McManus, Boston Globe, Sunday, March 30, 2003

Two other quotes, epigraphs to the classic novel Cosmic Banditos, seem relevant:

God does not play dice with the universe.
— Albert Einstein

Not only does God play dice with the universe, but sometimes he throws them where they cannot be seen.
— Stephen Hawking

Those who prefer Jewish metaphysics can consult the related book

Seinfeld and Philosophy:
A Book about Everything and Nothing

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Wednesday April 2, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 2:30 PM

Symmetries…. May 15, 1998

The following journal note, from the day after Sinatra died, was written before I heard of his death.  Note particularly the quote from Rilke.  Other material was suggested, in part, by Alasdair Gray’s Glasgow novel 1982 Janine.  The “Sein Feld” heading is a reference to the Seinfeld final episode, which aired May 14, 1998.  The first column contains a reference to angels — apparently Hell’s Angels — and the second column provides a somewhat more serious look at this theological topic.

Sein Feld


1984 Janine

“But Angels love their own
And they’re reaching out
    for you
Janine… Oh Janine
— Kim Wilde lyric,
    Teases & Dares album,
    1984, apparently about
    a British biker girl


Logos means above all relation.”
— Simone Weil,
    Gateway to God,
    Glasgow, 1982

Gesang ist Dasein….
 Ein Hauch um nichts.
 Ein Wehn im Gott.
 Ein Wind
— Not Heidegger but Rilke:
Sonnets to Orpheus, I, 3

Geometry and Theology

PA lottery May 14, 1998:
S8  The group of all projectivities and correlations of PG(3,2).

The above isomorphism implies the geometry of the Mathieu group M24.

“The Leech lattice is a blown-up version of
— W. Feit

“We have strong evidence that the creator of the universe loves symmetry.”
— Freeman Dyson

“Mackey presents eight axioms from which he deduces the [quantum] theory.”
— M. Schechter

“Theology is about words; science is about things.
— Freeman Dyson, New York Review of Books, 5/28/98

What is “256” about?

Tape purchased 12/23/97:


      Gypsy Jazz

“In the middle of 1982 Janine there are pages in which Jock McLeish is fighting with drugs and alcohol, attempting to either die or come through and get free of his fantasies. In his delirium, he hears the voice of God, which enters in small print, pushing against the larger type of his ravings.  Something God says is repeated on the first and last pages of Unlikely Stories, Mostly, complete with illustration and the words ‘Scotland 1984’ beside it. God’s statement is ‘Work as if you were in the early days of a better nation.’  It is the inherent optimism in that statement that perhaps best captures the strength of Aladair Gray’s fiction, its straightforwardness and exuberance.”
— Toby Olson, “Eros in Glasgow,” in Book World, The Washington Post, December 16, 1984

 For another look at angels, see “Winging It,” by Christopher R. Miller, The New York Times Book Review Bookend page for Sunday, May 24, 1998. May 24 is the feast day of Sara (also known by the Hindu name Kali), patron saint of Gypsies.

For another, later (July 16, 1998) reply to Dyson, from a source better known than myself, see Why Religion Matters, by Huston Smith, Harper Collins, 2001, page 66.

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