Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Delay-fish Picture

    While I was advertising the last big article to be published at the now-defunct website Bread n Circles, I wrote the "Delays, Delays, Delays" article on November 15th of 2009 describing why it was taking so long for the article to get posted.  I used this picture to portray the situation, representative of a scene in the movie Finding Nemo in which Marlin (the father of young Nemo) tries to ditch Dory because she is slowing him down with her short-term memory loss and high-maintenance need to interact with his search efforts--he describes her as a "delay-fish."

    In an unrelated situation, I had just finished seeing the "Hermagorus Forgotten" article posted as a generous alternative to opening a private debate about its merits as an official submission for consideration as a co-editor of the website.  It was received poorly because its dismissive attitude towards the subject it claimed to defend was too harsh and contemptuous for the current editors to stomach.  In other words, it felt more like a slap-in-the-face than a high-five to them.

    But I am not here to talk about what is happening (or not happening) with the staff of Bread n Circles.  I am here to talk about all the stuff that has happened since then.  You see, the popularity of my blog has been largely due to the inclusion of that very picture and not my writing style or choice of content; and a very small number of hits represent Actual Readers or even Returning Visitors.

    So, the complete lack of interest has nothing to do with my willingness to discuss lofty notions such as the meaning of Truth, in a lengthy and witty article which was posted at Bread n Circles on Thanksgiving day and Christmas Day of 2009.  I had entertained high hopes that the Truth article would be the thing that would save Bread n circles from the wistful wandering-apart which led its contributors to pursue other interests, that it would make Bread n Circles a popular search result in Google's database.  But the simple reality was that all five of us needed to focus on other responsibilities and hobbies, such as parenting, law school, extended job descriptions, and struggling to maintain financial stability during a global meltdown.  The final article posted at Bread n Circles was an advertisement (in a brief blurb) for my newly-published book, Mangled Doves.

    But I did not know how to market the disparate compilation of poems, short stories, essays and fragments that my book presented.  I knew that I needed to be the person to do it, but I had no inkling of what to say that would interest people in it--or even where to find the kind of audience that it would deserve.  Meanwhile, I had to continue writing.  I spontaneously began and persisted in writing an absurd allegory within my Production Report emails at work, and was enthralled at it when I read the entire text after I completed it.  In order to preserve the text of a story which slowly revealed itself to me in short blurbs hammered out in daily reportings of Production Reports at a work-environment which should have shunned such unrelated and creative activities, I posted the compiled (abridged) text and called it "The Production Report Story." It was too long for Google's article-size, so I posted it in four parts.  But its lack of significance and comprehensibility when removed from its original context rendered it largely unentertaining.  Defending it was hopeless, despite its value as a feat of literary ingenuity.  Even in the article titled "Unpublishable Content," I reviled its reliance on pre-existing pop-culture references while extolling its virtue as a literary work.  Although I secretly wished to rewrite the story in a publishable form, I moved on to other subjects.

I wrote a few articles about political and philosophical topics, but I really needed to advertise my book, which was published at in March 2010, so I signed up with the Amazon associates program, which allowed me to post links to products available at and would earn a little percentage from products purchased via links from my blog. As I continued to seek randomly unrelated subjects to blog about in a blogosphere widely dominated by heated rants about economics, politics, religious intolerance, and shaming patriotism, I began to write an unintentional review of the book Constructing Quarks by Andrew Pickering in a series of articles called "Appearing to Study Particle Physics."  I had stumbled upon the title while reading Shrodinger's Kittens, by John Gribbin.  I had liked Gribbin's book, but fought to appreciate Pickering's harsh historical portrayal of the development of Quark Chromodynamics.  Although the first half of the book is entrancing, the accusatory tone began to be too pervasive to be trustworthy.  So, I just returned the book to the library.  After I wrote the closing article of the series, I re-arranged them and posted them as a page in my blog titled "De-Constructing Quarks."   In re-reading the series of articles, I found that it was symbolically a very expressive and succinct review of the book it discussed.  Hence, it stands as my final assessment of Pickering's book.

     Shortly after that, I began a new series of articles called "Dissing Economics at Snacktime," which began in late October and continued in November, but have interrupted the progress of those articles with compiled re-postings of old texts which I had written for Yahoo!Answers in 2008 and 2009.  And now I will resume the series on Dissing Economics, occasionally checking my Hit-counter to see if the random visitors who visit my blog are beginning to find this article instead of "Delays, Delays, Delays" because that picture has been removed form that article and is now in this one. (Just in case, here is another picture!)

Postscript added October 23rd, 2011:  That change has in fact occurred, as my Analytics reports now show that the greatest number of hits fall on this article than any other posting, and the "Delays, Delays, Delays" article does not even show up on the report. So, in a very real sense, nothing has changed.

  In the meantime, I have competed the Dissing Economics article-series and removed the individual articles to a page prefaced by a warning about its sexist content, and have begun writing another new article-series called "Misguided Notions of Internet Journalism."
Another Postscript added February 11th, 2014:  This article has been published in the book, Appearing to Study Particle Physics, which is currently available at

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Original Desk Test Narrative

  Time-out:  Before I continue describing my crack-pot interpretation of pseudo-economics, I thought I would expend a few articles regaling my readers with fond memories of my cantankerous behaviors in the realm of Yahoo!Answers.  The question, asked by SteveMcw, was,

"Prove something other than your own mind?"

He qualified his question with, "Prove that anything exists outside your own mind, or that anything continues to exist once your mind ceases to exist."  My answer appeared to be completely unrelated to the question, but its readers scoffed because it failed to dismiss Solipsism.  In fact, I knew at the offset that it would fail--Solipsism cannot be disproved.  In one decisive moment, the befriending of a tired old pair of stock characters was cemented.  The Stoic Cat and Cartoon Dog repeatedly failed to perform the Famous Desk Test for the next year and a half, written from scratch each time, with different details, occasionally-appearing different supporting characters, and always the same result: One or the other realizes that smacking the Stoic Cat's paw on the desk and killing him immediately afterward would fail to disprove Solipsism.  Since Solipsism questions were almost as blindly repetitive as Meaning-o-Life questions at Yahoo!Answers, I had no fear of boring my readers with repetition.  So, without further ado, here is the exact text of the original "Famous Desk Test Narrative" (Okay, so maybe I fixed one typo)!  

    "Oboy! is it time for my famous Desk Test?" The Cartoon Dog pulled at the desk by the wall, dragging it out to the center of the room.
    "Nope, they're not going to fall for that anymore." The Stoic Cat, standing square-shouldered, held his paw out against the desk, blocking its continued movement across the floor. "Not since we've proven that the desk itself is a figment of your imagination, and the pain in your hand is merely an extension of that imaginary context."
    The Cartoon Dog dropped its paws and stared stupidly into space. "Aw, gee. That kinda takes the fun outta life." He stumbled towards the door. "Wait, I have an idea!" The Cartoon Dog raced over to the Stoic Cat, grabbing its arm.
    "Hey, what are you doing?"
    The Cartoon Dog hesitated for a moment, and then answered. "Look, if I smack my hand on the desk, then you would say that the desk is a figment of my imagination and not yours, and that the pain in my hand is real only to me because the desk is only real to me, and my interaction with this desk is only real to me, which is why only I feel the pain of having smacked the desk with my hand."
    The Stoic Cat shrugged, "Yes, so?"
    The Cartoon Dog grinned, "Well, if I smack your hand on the desk, and if you feel the pain in your hand, then it will prove that this desk is not a figment of my imagination, since your interaction with this desk results in you having the pain. I cannot imagine you having any pain."
    The Stoic Cat exhaled dismissively and stared upward in exasperation. "You have a dizzying intellect. Go ahead," he continued. "Dazzle me with your brilliance! Baffle me with your--your--oh, whatever you call that stuff in your skull!"
    The Cartoon Dog held the Stoic Cat's paw high over its head and began to explain. "Now, if my smacking your hand on this desk causes you intense pain, please let me know immediately." He hoisted the Cat's paw up a little, preparing to bring it downward rapidly.
    The Stoic Cat suddenly looked downward. "Hey, wait. This would still prove nothing, wouldn't it?"
    The Cartoon Dog paused. "What? Whaddaya mean, prove nothing?"
     "Well," The Stoic Cat explained, "If this desk were a figment of my imagination and not of your imagination, then it is quite likely that you are a figment of my imagination as well, and therefore, your claim of having experienced pain was only my imagination pretending to portray realism."
    The Cartoon Dog scratched its chin thoughtfully. "Hmmm, I never thought of that." He glanced around nervously, pondering the conundrum that had just transfixed his mind.
    The Stoic Cat concluded, "And you are a Cartoon anyway."
    The Cartoon Dog grimaced and snarled quietly, "You keep saying that like it should offend me. I know how to answer this! He grabbed the Cat's paw, reached it up high over his head, and shouted, "I'll smack your paw on this desk, and then I'll strike you dead. If the desk is still here, then it cannot be a figment of your imagination."
    He brought the Cat's paw down on the desk rapidly.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Visual Aid for "Appearing to Study Particle Physics"

Look for the book, Appearing to Study Particle Physics, at

The entire text of De-Constructing Quarks, Dissing Economics, and the Behemoth Saga, as well as the continuing antics in Misguided Notions, Against Conspiracy Theorists, and Inappropriate Pictures.  Also, most of the scattered articles from the earliest months of this blog, and Wraxtiorre's contributions to the now-defunct BreadnCircles website and the Nope-Master's texts from the Answers website.

Check in to the ATSPP website for updates, sales, other publications, and reader-submitted photos and comments.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Appearing to Study Particle Physics, Part Three (blog version)

    I stormed into the den, throwing the library copy of Constructing Quarks across the room.  "I don't get it!"  I shouted.  "Even without all the math and chemistry crap it still doesn't make any sense."

    Dr. Jeremy Wraxtiorre walked calmly into the room and held up his hands defensively, admonishing, "Please, don't throw that book around so much!  It belongs to the library.  Here, abuse your copy of Mangled Doves--you own a copy of that!  What's got you all up in arms?"

    I walked across the room and picked up the book.  "I was babe-watching on the freeway today because it's not easy to pretend to read a book about particle physics while driving--it ranks right up there with Driving While Texting--and I couldn't understand the section on Super-Colliders.  Why were they so important to the study of physics if they do nothing more than take pictures of subatomic particles crashing into each other?"

     "If you are having trouble with the usefulness of Super-Colliders in the study of theoretical physics, then you're really not going to understand the upshot of the book's portrayal of their changing role in the development of the Quark Theories."  Dr. Wraxtiorre strolled around to the front of the sofa and sat down comfortably.  "You see, scientists study things that are outside of the realm of a laboratory by taking pictures of them, and then sitting around studying those pictures with their theories in mind trying to explain what is happening in the pictures.  When it comes to subatomic particles, you can't take pictures of them--but you can take pictures of the bubble-trails they leaves in a compressed-gas chamber; or you can take pictures of photodetectors lighting up when they are struck by subatomic particles.  This is what the early particle accelerators did, by generating a beam of protons or electrons, and racing them along a narrow pipe by turning rings of electromagnets on and off, so as to encourage the particles to race along in one direction or the other faster and faster in a slender beam, like a laser.  At a given point in this circular pipe is an opening with electromagnets which encourage the particles in the beam to race out of the ring into a bubble chamber or onto a plate covered with photodetectors.  Super-Colliders are made of two of these ringed pipes--usually stacked on top of each other--racing the beams in each pipe in opposite directions, and that opening in the two pipes is in the same spot, each pointed directly at the other.  The resulting collision produces twice the impact velocity as a particle accelerator."

    I set the book down on the coffeetable and stepped back towards a chair.  "Gee, Doc.  You seem to know a lot about this already.  You're more animated than I have seen you in several weeks.  But how do the theoretical physicists use these pictures to explain their theories?"

    "With the early particle accelerators, the theorists were able to prove that certain particles exist because the properties of the particles caused them to behave in different ways in the bubble chamber, and so the theorists could say that only certain properties would cause a particle to act in the way that a certain bubble-trail would indicate, and that those properties necessarily indicate a particular type of particle.  It's kinda like playing roulette, with balls of different weights and sizes.  A heavier ball will travel further, and so would land on a certain number which has a certain color, either red or black.  In the figure, if the ball were to fall where it is now, it would be black 29. A heavier particle would travel further, and might fall into the slot at red 9."

    I plopped myself into an easy chair beside the coffeetable and looked crossly at Dr. Wraxtiorre.  "So, theoretical physics is like gambling, and particle accelerators are like casinos?"

    Dr. Wraxtiorre shifted uncomfortably on the cushions of the sofa.  He chanted, "I am sofa king.  We Todd it."

    "What's gotten into you?  Are you making fun of me?"  I looked across at Dr. Wraxtiorre with puzzled eyes.  "Or, are you making fun of yourself, using that funky self-deprecating humor that you're so fond of?"

     "Sorry, I was just remembering an old YouTube video of that prank.  What were you saying?"

    I leaned forward and cupped my hands in front of me.  "You were comparing particle accelerators to roulette wheels, and when I suggested that theoretical physics might be like gambling and particle accelerators might be like casinos, you got all flaked out on me."

    Dr. Wraxtiorre straightened his back up and grimaced.  "Maybe it's because I find the comparison inappropriate.  Perhaps a different image will be more helpful.  When I was a child in the prewar years of the Great Depression, we used to play Marbles a lot.  It kept us outta trouble and taught us strategy, along with a little practical usage of physical laws.  If your firing marble went into the ring and hit another marble off-center, then it knocked the other marble out of the ring at an odd angle.  We called that 'putting English on it.'  People who play pool still use that phrase to describe it.  In a sense, Super-Colliders are a lot like the game of Marbles.  The two beams are accelerated in opposite directions, and then turned to ram into each other in front of a wall of photo-detectors. The physicists were able to tell which particles were which by their angle of deflection.  They also began to notice that there were particles in the pictures that they hadn't accounted for in previous pictures.  This, my friend, is where they had to start coming up with new theories."

    "Doc, you're getting that sparkle in your eye again.  Should I get you an Ice Cream bar and a bicycle? I mean, now you're beginning to make it sound like theoretical physics was like being a kid again."

    "Well, it some ways it is.  Haven't you ever gotten two toy cars and smashed them together?"

    I shrugged.  Shaking my head from side to side, I indicated that I had not.

    "You mean you never had a couple of toy cars that you were tired of looking at and just decided to smash them into each other out of sheer boredom, just to see what it would look like with all the pieces flying off in all directions, and the sound of the plastic bending, cracking and snapping?"

    I remained motionless.

    "Well, that's good because theoretical physicists are nothing like that.  All they got to do was recommend specific conditions that they wanted the people at the Super-Colliders to put in place for experiments for them, and go collect the data afterward.  It was the people at the Super-Colliders who were reliving their childhoods."

    I looked across to the kitchen for awhile, thinking about all the things that the doctor had just told me.  The dog trotted across the living room and sat down beside the driveway door, whimpering quietly.  He pawed at the door twice and looked at me, imploringly.  I got up, walked over to the door, and opened it to let the dog go outside.

    Dr. Wraxtiorre looked at me with perplexed eyes.  "So, you really never did that with your toy cars?"

     "Who would want to do that, Doctor?  Really, toy cars are much too important to want to destroy them.  Haven't you seen any of the Toy Story movies?"

This article has been published in the book, Appearing to Study Particle Physics, as "Super-Colliders and Casinos."  It is now available at

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

 For those of you who have been waiting for my book to be sold at a reliable and trustworthy retailer, that day has come.  As I finally surmised, is a competent publisher with a full range of publishing services, products, supports, and even a large writer's community.  But for the individual customer who is buying only one book, it is the wrong place to shop.  If you visit as a paying customer, you will get reliable service when you are making a large purchase.  So I recommend that you visit if you are preparing to stock up a bookstore with several copies of a book, or are planning on blanketing a city by donating a copy to every library in that city.  However, for those of you who are looking to buy one copy, you can now find Mangled Doves at the largest and most reliable retailer on the internet.  For those of you who wish to know what is inside this anthology before buying it, I have started a discussion group at Google Groups (Mangled-Doves-Fans) which anybody can join, and you are welcome to sign up to follow this blog--I will continue to discuss Mangled Doves as well as current and future writing projects in both places as well.  
Mangled Doves at!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Here is a so-far sketch of the Cover Art for the book.  Stacy is drawing it for me, but the full concept is a bit disturbing to her, so she is having trouble drawing it.  However, I just wanted to share the Dove that she has drawn for it--before we mangle it--because it is such a beautiful Dove.  The manuscript is nearly finished, so possibly after this weekend, I could be entirely ready to publish it!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Now, the surprising announcement about the up-and-coming publication of my book begins here!  Yes, I haven't been all that secretive about this project among those close to me, but most of you haven't been close to me recently--sorry about that.  This book I am going to publish soon will be a collection of short stories, poems, a novella, and random jottings over the past thirty or so years.  I will be brief about it now, but I just wanted to get the announcement out there as quick in the New Year as possible.  The book will be called Mangled Doves, and I will make sure that it is available at Amazon so that all of you can encourage your friends, family and coworkers to buy a copy when it comes out. (Yes, more shameless grandstanding.  Sorry, but it kinda has to be done by somebody.)  All that remains is to compile the Table of Contents, and select the cover art.  Does anybody know where I can find a copyright-free picture that that sixties-iconic Peace-Dove?  Otherwise, I might just have to find Sluggo and go to the beach to get a few green-filtered photos of drawings in the sand.