New Book!

Yeeehaw! The book I’ve been working on for the last year and a half, “The Shit Guru (an Expat’s Story)” is done, done, done, and should be available to download on Kindle at quite a reasonable price by this time tomorrow, and as a real paper and ink model via Amazon.com in approx. 3 business days, so I expect by next Tuesday at any rate.
If you’re in Prague, I’ll be walking around with copies pretty soon, and will try to get them into Shakespeare and Sons in Malostrana.
I think it’s a good book. It has lots of interesting stories, some are funny, some are interesting, some are a bit hard to believe, it takes place in some very exotic settings such as Prague, Shanghai, Kaifeng, Italy, Egypt, Amsterdam, and the American midwest.
Come to think of it, it would make a damned good movie.
It’s my first actual book, and by that I mean not a collection of poetry, and I hope to write more, but the poetry is cranking along at a goodly pace, too.
I’ve been seriously working on the poetry for the last 15 years and the pace just seems to be increasing. I hope to get out a book or two of poetry by the end of the summer, but I’m also looking for another novel to write. Poetry doesn’t pay.

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Renewal!

Here’s what happened. We got home last night at about 10:30 after Isabel’s ballet performance, big end of school season/ballet classes extravaganza, performed at the eternally elegant Státní Opera (hard to pick her out from all the other 8 year old girls whirling around in identical white outfits), polished off a big bucket of KF chicken (they put a chemical in it to make you crave it fortnightly), and then I sat down to check facebook and write my blog, but as I searched for a topic I got sleepier and sleepier until I realized I’d been asleep for a while and finishing the blog, or even getting it started was not going to happen, so I went to bed figuring I’d write it in the morning and just do two today, as I have done 2 or 3 times in the 4 or so years I’ve been writing this blog – I swear, fewer than 5.
Anyway, woke up this morning, took Isabel to school, came home, finished a Sudoku puzzle, futzed around on facebook for a while, and the remembered: oh, shit, I have to write a blog. I tried to go to my blogsite and discovered I’d been evicted overnight.
A simple matter of a late payment, forgetting to renew, I was sure, but I don’t know how to handle those situations, so I called my help desk (i.e. my wife, Helena) and she said it wouldn’t be a problem, but she had to wait until she got home.
So, I worked a bit on the book (it is finished! It has been sent to create space for proofing. Within a few days you’ll be able to download it on Kindle, if you have a Kindle, and I absolutely guarantee you it will not be the worst thing you’ve ever read, even if it’s shit, because I know damned well y’all have read some crap.)
Now it’s time to get started on my next project, which is a page of ekphrastic poetry, which is what I’ve been writing lately.
The blog is renewed!

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RIP, John Nash

John Forbes Nash is dead. So is his wife. They died in a traffic accident which, the way it’s being described, makes no sense. I wonder if their driver was wearing a red tie.

John Forbes Nash, dead at 86

John Forbes Nash, dead at 86


(that’s a little joke. Because Nash thought people wearing red ties were part of a secret group of communists who were targeting the U.S. government and he, John Nash, specifically.)
John Nash was nuttier than a fruitcake. The technical term is paranoid schizophrenia. Same thing.
Who was John Forbes Nash? He’s the guy Russell Crowe played in the movie A Beautiful Mind, which was based on a book, which was based on his life. The movie got a lot of flack for not being historically accurate, but I think it hit the main points, which are: A. He was brilliant B. He was nuts.
Besides, most people had never heard of John Forbes Nash before the movie, so it served a purpose. You can’t blame people, though.
Think about it. How many famous mathematicians do you know, not counting the guy we’re talking about? If you said zero, that’s a big ‘me, neither’ from me.
Most people can probably name 30 or 40 popular musicians without straining their brains too much, ditto famous actors and actresses, or major sports stars. We can tell you what songs they sing, what movies they’ve been in, what team they play for and, in some instances, a little bit about their personal life. Mathematicians, not so much.
And yet, his work was more important than theirs. Funny world we live in.

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Why the Internet Will Never Grow Up

I saw an interesting clip the other day of a guy promoting his book; Jon Ronson, and the book is called “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.”
It’s about the phenomenon of internet shaming, which is one somebody does or says something and the internet response is viral and vitriolic, swift and vicious. It’s an interesting topic. Some day I might even read the book.
But the interviewer (whose job it is, obviously, to lob softballs at the interviewee) said something like “Social media is obviously in its infancy. Do you think we’ll grow out of this phase?” to which the author (who’d probably suggested the question himself) answered something like “I certainly hope so, and think this book might contribute to that.”
Well, I don’t think so. It would be nice, it would be great if the internet were to evolve into the great marketplace of ideas it has the potential to be, and at some sites it already has, but I don’t think we’ll ever get past the mob mentality, the curse of the lowest common denominator, the cyber lynchings and stuff like that. There are a few reasons why: First, human beings have a memory only slightly better than goldfish, who swim round and round and every time they see the little castle is the first time. (or so it’s been said – I don’t know if that’s ever been tested) How often do you see somebody posting “Name a city that doesn’t have an A in it – bet you can’t!” as if nobody’s ever seen that before? Pretty damned often, right? So, we are condemned to see the same stuff over and over again.
Another reason is the age thing. There will always be somebody who is using facebook for the first time, people turn 9 every day. And they’re going to post some stupid shit and forward even stupider shit.
However much the technology might improve, facebook, twitter and all other forms of social media still are collectives of individuals, and human beings are not improving, or at least not at the speed of technology.
My last class of the week, on Friday afternoon, is a group of boys who are, I’d say, all between 8 and 11. They’re a good bunch of kids. They’re smart, they’re nice, they’re funny. Yesterday, though, I decided to read them Dr. Seuss’s story about the scary pale green pants with nobody inside ’em.
They thought it was a laugh riot because it gave them lots of opportunities to use the words ‘poop’ and ‘butt’ (which they did NOT learn from me) and to make fart noises.
“This is the future,” I thought.

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Josh Duggar, Family Man

First, the disclaimer: I’ve never seen the ’19 and Counting’ show, but it’s in the news and on the discussion boards often enough that I think I have a rough idea; it’s a reality show about a family with a ridiculous amount of children, and they’re crazy family values Christians, which is absolutely the most obnoxious variety of Christian.

Josh Duggar, family man

Josh Duggar, family man


I watched Honey Boo Boo once, for about 5 minutes. If it’s anything like that, I’m not missing a thing.
Also, I don’t want to totally jump on the ‘Let’s Lynch Josh Duggar because he’s a filthy child molesting pervert’ bandwagon. Maybe just hang onto the side and ride it down the street a ways, but not jump on firmly with both feet. There are a couple of reasons for that.
First, I’ve heard many, many people over the past couple of years criticizing the Duggars for having so many kids, but I’ve got no problem with that. I might not agree with their Christian reasoning, but big families are great (I’m one of seven)and if they can afford it and are good parents, more power to them.
Secondly (and feminists hate this) there really are different degrees of sex crime. Not everything is rape and, among rapes, not all are equally horrible. Josh Duggar did not hold any women down at knife point and forcibly have sex with them. He snuck into girls’ bedrooms, when he was 14, and touched them up while they slept. The news article I read didn’t specify, but I imagine the girls involved were his sisters.
It’s not a good thing, but it’s not Bill Cosby bad, it’s maybe not even Woody Allen bad.
So much for the defense. Now let me ride the bandwagon.
He’s a nasty morality crusader who is famous for saying “Gays are child molesters” so it’s comical to see him in this situation. Comical but somewhat predictable. All of the fiercest anti-gay types turn out to be closet homosexuals, or have some other skeleton in the closet, and child molesting definitely counts as a SITC.
Mike “will never be President, no matter how bad he wants it” Huckabee came to his defense, saying “Good people can make mistakes.” Perhaps the good reverend Huckleberry is thinking of the time his own lovable little lardbucket tortured and killed a dog at summer camp.
Here’s the thing. Just like Bush invading Iraq, just like Huckabee’s son torturing the dog, just like Mitt Romney and his buddies forcibly holding a kid down and cutting his hair, it was NOT a mistake. He did not walk into their room looking for his toothbrush and accidentally put his hand down their panties. What he did, no matter where it ranks on the hierarchy of sexual misbehavior, he did on purpose.
He probably won’t be prosecuted, it doesn’t seem as if his wife is going to leave him and he’s more or less gotten away with it. The network canceled their program, though. That’ll teach him.

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Thursday’s Meaning of Life

On Thursdays I have three classes at a Gymnasium. When I got there today I had what I thought was kind of a lame, last minute lesson plan. But it worked. Pretty well, actually.
I started off by getting them to write a sentence – I said a minimum of one sentence and a maximum of five, because if you just say ‘write one sentence’ half of them will manage to do less than that, which one or two students managed any way. The subject was ‘What is the meaning of life?’
The key to an exercise like this, of course, is to make them sit separately, or at least do it without looking at anybody else’s paper, or they’d all just write the same, exact, damned thing and then your left with 40 minutes of class and no idea what to talk about.
One student checked his phone right away and posed the question, and got the answer ‘a movie.’ He is a lazy sod, and obsessed with his phone, but that led to a pretty good discussion of movies. One student seemed to really think I need to see a movie called ‘Rounders,’ so maybe I’ll check that out.
One took a very small piece of paper and wrote in green ink in concentric circles that the purpose of life is to be totally in tune with nature and to ‘evolve perfection.’ I’d had no idea. Usually he just sits and draws in class and doesn’t say a damned thing.
Quite a few people said there was no meaning to life but that led to some good discussions about, well, the meaning of life.
A few people mentioned children. In one class, that let to a discussion about whether or not they would want to choose the gender of their child, in the future. Because you know it’s going to be possible soon.
It was a fun day. Almost all of them did manage to write at least one coherent sentence, and a couple of them started right in to write a novel.
Maybe they’re not all as dumb as they look.

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Obeema

More than 3/4ths of the way through his presidency, I still can’t figure Obama out. He supports that Pacific trade deal that absolutely nobody likes – at least not any actual human beings, I’m sure some corporations love it. He’s been fairly good at blocking the Keystone Pipeline, but he’s all for allowing Shell Oil to drill in the Arctic Ocean, which is a disaster waiting to happen. He’s cool, and he’s smart, and I love the way the

Thanks, Obama

Thanks, Obama

Republicans go into an incoherent rage whenever his name is mentioned, but I’m still not sure he’s one of us, and by one of us I mean people who are concerned with the well being of the human race and would like to see it have a future.
Consider this. On the one side, it’s nice to see that this urgent problem is at least being addressed at the presidential level.
While most of the American public is busy debating gay wedding cakes, assault rifles, and abortions, Obama is taking time out of his busy schedule to try and do something, at least, about the dying bees.
On the other hand, it’s not near enough. He’s proposed more research into neonicotinids, when it’s already been shown they are bad for bees and they should be banned outright.
But, setting aside some land to plant plants that bees like is an awesome idea, because it will help the bees and make the roadsides prettier. It’s a win-win.
But, it’s not enough, and I’m pretty sure he smart enough to know that. So, I worry.

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