Collected Quotes

Men despise religion. They hate it and are afraid it may be true.
*Blaise Pascal

There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.
*Blaise Pascal
(I’d forgotten ’twas he who said it first.)

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Fake and Content Free

Gibberesh approved for scientific conference:

Jeremy Stribling said Thursday that he and two fellow MIT graduate students questioned the standards of some academic conferences, so they wrote a computer program to generate research papers complete with “context-free grammar,” charts and diagrams.

The trio submitted two of the randomly assembled papers to the World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI), scheduled to be held July 10-13 in Orlando, Florida.

To their surprise, one of the papers — “Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy” — was accepted for presentation….

“…Rooter” features such mind-bending gems as: “the model for our heuristic consists of four independent components: simulated annealing, active networks, flexible modalities, and the study of reinforcement learning” and “We implemented our scatter/gather I/O server in Simula-67, augmented with opportunistically pipelined extensions…”

The entire article is worth reading. Virtual latte for anybody who can spot the grammatical error in the conference organizer’s Don’t Blame Me speech.

Consider also Richard Mitchell’s words about his compilation of the delightfully cranky newsletter Underground Grammarian to creat the equally delightful Graves of Academe.

“As I went through scores of essays on the relation of language to the work of the mind and critical commentaries on displays of ignorance and stupidity in the written work of academicians, I could see that some were more important than others. They suggested a single theme. They were all more or less about the same thing, that special and unmistakable kind of mendacious babble that characterizes not politicians or businessmen, not Pentagon spokesmen or commercial hucksters, but, always and only, those members of the academic community who are pleased to call themselves the “professionals” of education. Those pieces, taken together, seemed to me at least a skimpy outline, or, better, scattered reference points suggesting something much larger and more momentous than a mere collection of ponderous inanities. It seemed to me that I could, from certain of those small articles, make out the murky form of the hidden monster whose mere projections they were, breaking here and there the oily surface of some dark pool.

As a result, I abandoned the collection and undertook the task of describing, by extrapolation from one visible protuberance to another, and with a little probing, the great invisible hulk of the beast, the brooding monstrosity of American educationism, the immense, mindless brute that by now troubles the waters of all, all that is done in our land in the supposed cause of “education,” since when, as you see, I can rarely bring myself to write that word without quotation marks, or even fashion a sentence less than nine or ten lines long, lest I inadvertently fail to suggest the creature’s awesome dimensions and seemingly endless tentacular complexities. I will try to do better. The somber subject requires clarity.”

He explains what happened when he undertook

“what turned out to be a serious and infuriating study of the use of language, a study that had to lead to a consideration of the meaning of the use of language. That study is, of course, the business of The Underground Grammarian, which has been accurately enough described as a journal of radical, academic terrorism. It is radical because it seeks in language the root of the thoughtlessness that more and more seems to characterize our culture. It is academic both because the tenor of the study to which it subjects the work of its victims is scholastic and because it finds the most egregious examples of mindless and mendacious babble neither in the corporation nor in the Congress but in the schools. It is terrorist because it exploits the fear that many academics feel when they know that their words might appear in print before the eyes of the public, mere civilians who are not members of the education club.”

In his first issue he wrote,

“Clear language engenders clear thought, and clear thought is the most important benefit of education. We are neither peddlers nor politicians that we should prosper by that use of language which carries the least meaning. We cannot honorably accept the wages, confidence, or licensure of the citizens who employ us as we darken counsel by words without understanding.”

But, he says, he didn’t really understand what that meant himself.

“I had not, in fact, given thoughtful attention to “clear thought” and “clear language” and the ways in which they might relate to each other, but I had at least taken hold of one end of what turned out to be a long and tangled string. An examination, if only of comma faults and dangling participles, had begun. Examination has a life of its own. You simply cannot think about commas and the place of modifiers without finding that you are thinking about thinking. It is impossible to examine language at any level without examining the work of a mind.”

He says that the jargon used in education circles “…has to do with the nature of a mind and the way it does its work. That is revealing enough, but it’s only the beginning.”

This type of writing, he says,

“is only a ritual recitation which is not supposed to be subjected to thoughtful scrutiny. It is a formulized pastiche of acceptable jargon terms and stock phrases. While it has, for the inattentive, a formidable sound, it is the kind of writing that is surprisingly easy to compose for anyone who is familiar with all of its traditional devices.”

Now go read (this is a long assignment):

Richard Mitchell’s delicious Graves of Academe.

And don’t neglect this:
John Taylor Gatto’s Underground HIstory of American Education, online here.

You’ll be coming across references to the Committee
of Ten, which met in 1892. You can read more about that here.

You’ll want to know about the later Commission of Reorganization on SEcondary
Education (Richard Mitchell calls it the GAng of Twenty-Seven) and you can find that out here.

Bonnet Tip to Wizbang (which is not always G rated content).

UPdate: Via a comment at Wizbang, see here for more on the questionable conference

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National Poetry Month Post

This post is for those who have already been listening to and reading poetry for several years. This post is for people who already have favorite poems. This post is for people who like poetry already and are comfortable with it. If this describes you, then you might be ready for some of the grammar of poetry, the mechanics or building blocks.

Look for figures of speech in the poems you’ve read this week. Keep your eyes open for figures of speech in other readings.

POetry Terms and Definitions

Metaphor and Simile, also here: try to notice any other examples of the use of simile in other reading.
Create some similes of your own.

Rhyme Scheme: (note: I have only looked at the actual page in question. I have not explored the sites, and cannot guarantee the content. Websites change, domain names become available and sometimes unsavory sorts deliberately buy a previously safe website for nefarious purposes. Please check them out first, and notify me privately if any of these websites become objectionable).

Learn rhyme scheme with nursery rhymes!

If you just need to read another explanation of rhyme scheme or pattern, try reading about the sixth paragraph down on this page

This page has a discussion of slant rhyme using Emily Dickenson’s poetry

Bookmark this website; you may want it again!

Keep a copybook and write down examples of metaphor, simile, and other examples of the things you’re learning about as come across them in your reading.

This is a useful website for learning more about the figurative language of poetry.

Learn about meter, or scansion.

A review of Grammar of POetry by Matt Whitling.

You can teach children to read a poem, note the metre and then write their own poem using the same metre without getting technical. My father taught me how to do that when I was in the fourth grade in the hospital with pneuomonia and bored stiff. He didn’t teach me the technical names, just taught me how to count the number of beats and syllables in a poem and figure out the rhyme scheme. He had me put a long dash over each long syllable, a dot over the short syllables. Thereafter, I entertained myself by writing my own parodies of poems by putting my own syllables in place of the original poem. Later I was able to do this with popular songs. My ability to write parodies of popular songs which ridiculed my teachers gave me quite a boost in popularity when I was in Junior High, but that’s another story

I compiled the above a couple years ago, but I think you could combine this with Carmon’s recent “Fun Poetry Lesson With Carmon” over at Buried Treasure Books (which you do have bookmarked already, right? Yes, I thought so.)

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Positive developments

Found at Blogs for Terri:

Today, attorneys on both sides agreed Magouirk’s brother and sister, A.B. McLeod, 64, of Anniston, Ala., and Lonnie Ruth Mullinax, 74, of Birmingham, will be allowed to visit their sister during regular visiting hours at the University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical Center in Birmingham, where she is receiving treatment for an aortic dissection.

Moreover, Jack Kirby, attorney for McLeod and Mullinax, told WorldNetDaily that under terms of the agreement, his clients will be allowed to talk directly to Magouirk’s doctors about her condition, as opposed to having such information “filtered through third parties.”

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A Unique Opportunity

Joe, over at Evangelical Outpost, offers The Gallery as a weekly feature on his blog. You’ll want to click on that link first and read through his post and the comments.

The Headmistress is pleased to note that Modern Art and the Death of a Culture is cited frequently.

Now go look at a recent Gallery sampling by James Janknegt, “St. John Reconsiders Modern Epistemology.”

Don’t read the comments yet- wait until you’ve looked at the work carefully adn developed some thoughts of your own (and, presumably, at least some of you have looked up ‘epistemology’).

Now read the comments- slowly. Think about them. Compare what you are reading to what you see. Keep reading.

Did anything you read change your thinking? Alter your understanding? Give you something else to think about?

Common Room Scholars might drop a line to Evangelical Outpost and perhaps one of the commentors, thanking them for their contributions to your education. You’ll see which commentor I mean when you’ve read the whole thread.

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