# Older blog entries for marnanel (starting at number 978)

Alfie

I walked into a room at Book End the other day. My mum sat at one end of a sofa, and the dog Alfie, the old wise head of the pack, was lying across all the rest of it. My mum looked up and said, "There's plenty of room on the sofa, if Alfie moves up." Alfie obligingly got up and sat down next to my mum so there was room for me.

I am not claiming, of course, that Alfie understands English syntax. But I believe he knows enough keywords to have a fair understanding of most everyday conversations.

Syndicated 2012-12-05 00:02:25 from Monument

What is it?

While tidying the flat, I found this attempted sculpture I'd made in Year 7. *I* know what it's supposed to be, but what do you think?

Anyone who wants it who can take it off my hands is welcome to it :)

Syndicated 2012-12-02 16:40:19 from Monument

Maths

When I was six, my class was given an arithmetic test at school. One question said:

"Write a story about the sum 12+4=16."

And I was confused about this, because it happened that I'd been away on the day when they explained about word problems. I had no idea at all what the question could be asking for. After several minutes of thinking, I wrote:

"One day, the sum 12+4=16 went out for a walk. Then it came back. The end."

Syndicated 2012-12-01 03:03:22 from Monument

Hoaxes

I have just woken up from a dream, and I wish I could give you a coherent picture of it.

It began with a scene from a later Harry Potter book, not one that exists in reality. Soon I realised that it didn't make much sense. But this was soon followed by the revelation that Harry Potter, as a whole, was a hoax. None of the story ever happened. Now, in the waking world, most people know that Harry Potter is fiction. But in the dream, people were shocked, and started making death threats against J.K.Rowling. It was only made clear in a conference held after the final book.

Soon afterwards it came out that another major multi-volume series was also a hoax, to similar results. (I forget which it was; in the dream it was another one about as famous that I'd read.) And then a third series, although that one was translated from Russian and I was only keeping up with it by reading the summaries online so that I could talk as if I'd read it.

You have to understand that these three successive revelations were bombshells not just to the literary world but to the world in general. They were front-page news for weeks.

And then, less than a week after these three stories had come out in quick succession, I found myself at a writers' conference where the three hoaxes were to be discussed. The eyes of the world were on this conference, and most news organisations had at least one representative there. What was to be done? What could be done?

stood up to give a speech on the matter, and it happened that I was the first to realise. There hadn't been three hoaxes. There had been one hoax. Rowling and the others were inventions or dupes of Sumana; she had arranged all three series, and all the films, and the faked deaths of many major players in the literary field and beyond, and several believable scenes in the lives of people involved, including my own, over many years, merely in order to tell a good story. Each discredited series was a necessary part in the metanarrative, and highlighted a different part of the human condition. And she was explaining where all the pointers to this had been buried since the beginning, and how we should all have known.

I should have been angry, but instead I was full of admiration.

Syndicated 2012-11-30 07:25:00 (Updated 2012-11-30 07:30:03) from Monument

Hrothgar

Kit has given me an early Christmas present. It is called THE STAFF HROTHGAR. It is a stout branch about five feet long, polished up with a ferrule on the end and my initials carved into it. It is at least seven kinds of wonderful, and very good for walking with. I intend to lacquer over a small RFID tag on it somewhere so I can hold it up to a door and make the door open.

Syndicated 2012-11-29 17:31:15 from Monument

Hereditary peerages

Since 1965 there have only been three hereditary peerages created for non-royals. Two of these are already extinct.

In 1983, Willie Whitelaw was created Viscount Whitelaw. He had no sons (although he did have four daughters) and so the peerage became extinct upon his death.
Also in 1983, George Thomas was created Viscount Tonypandy. The title was a bit of a joke: it had been his nickname since his youth. He had no children (he was gay, although he fought a losing battle to keep it secret all his life) and the title also became extinct upon his death.
And in 1984 Harold Macmillan was made Earl of Stockton and Viscount Macmillan. His titles were inherited by his grandson, who now holds them.

Syndicated 2012-11-29 16:41:19 from Monument

It's all in Plato, bless me, all in Plato

I was talking to my four-year-old niece.

Me: "And there was a man called Plato who told a story about a cave. You could sit in the cave and watch what the people next door were doing, but all you could ever see was shadows of them. And you had to guess what they were doing. Were they dancing, or eating, or sleeping, or jumping up and down? You had to tell from their shadows."

Niece: "Yes. Well. *I'm* going on holiday to that cave soon."

Me: "You're going on holiday to Plato's cave? COOL!"

Syndicated 2012-11-26 10:37:03 from Monument

qotd

"If a person gave your body to any stranger he met on his way, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in handing over your own mind to be confused and mystified by anyone who happens to verbally attack you?"

-- Epictetus, Enchiridion, 28

Syndicated 2012-11-24 21:50:41 from Monument

"not the least resemblance to a Woman."

Elizabeth Carter (1717-1806), English poet, classicist, writer and translator, was described by Lord Napier as "a fine old Slut, though bearing not the least resemblance to a Woman. She had more the appearance of a fat Priest of the Church of Rome than an English Gentlewoman." I mention this to demonstrate that the likes of A.A. Gill who evaluate scholarly women solely by disparaging their physical appearance are nothing new.

Syndicated 2012-11-24 20:04:56 from Monument

God in check

I was asked for a poem for the newsletter the churches here send out to all the houses in the town. This is what I gave them and they printed. I think it's reasonably good, though it could probably still be improved here and there.

I think I see defences start to crack;
this world shall hear, and see that I am right.
The pawns pass round to right the rook's attack
advancing under cover of the knight
to trap the piece of God, where he shall lose,
and all his plans shall prove themselves in vain.
You, God, who never walked in human shoes!
How can you think to judge a world of pain?
Then all is changed. He takes my form. His flesh
lies screaming on a filthy farmyard floor,
grows up, is murdered, builds the world afresh--
a king triumphant, out of check once more--
counters my every effort to disprove
and asks: what will you do with Christ? Your move.

Syndicated 2012-11-18 15:50:30 from Monument

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