Archive for May, 2013

Unintentional Haiku in the works of Lewis Carroll


The other day I decided to run Haiku Detector over the works of Lewis Carroll, as found on Project Gutenberg. This is what I found. It’s a bit of a mixed bag in terms of how well they work as haiku, to the extent that I can still measure that after reading so many (I will have to try out linguistic tagging and work out some heuristic based on parts of speech beginning and ending lines), but simply as bite-sized samples they give a nice sense of the work. I can’t tell whether they’re made more or less whimsical by being stripped of their context.

From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

‘But it’s no use now,’
thought poor Alice, ‘to pretend
to be two people!

But if I’m not the
same, the next question is, Who
in the world am I?

They all sat down at
once, in a large ring, with the
Mouse in the middle.

But I’d better take
him his fan and gloves—that is,
if I can find them.’

‘I haven’t the least
idea what you’re talking
about,’ said Alice.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Eight of Hearts: Ten Minutes a Day


Ten minutes a day,At the wake-up bell in the morning you must get out of bed and put on your clothes.
that’s all you need
to realise your dreams —
not as hard as it seems.
Ten minutes can always be freed.

Ten minutes a day,
a sixth of a clock,
to keep up your writing,
its forced march providing
a force to march through writer’s block.

Ten minutes a day
can’t be denied,
to read through your bookshelf
and castle your rook self
with culture of kings by your side.

Ten minutes a day,
one day at a time,
to inch past the worst of it,
combat inertia that
nothing excuses; must try if it uses just

ten minutes a day,
don’t you forget,
to learn a new language:
word spread, grammar sandwich.
Ten minutes to keep your tongue wet.

Ten minutes a day
(if you’ve spread spores)
to teach well your baby;
remember that maybe
its life will be bigger than yours.

Ten minutes a day,
on- or offline,
to maintain your friendships,
accept rain and send drips;
as long as it’s something it’s fine.

Ten minutes a day —
find it somehow.
Forego social network fun,
finally get work done.
You’ve got all these things to make, it’s really not hard to take

ten minutes a day.
That’s all you do
to try meditation
and self re-creation;
you have to take some time for you.

Ten minutes a day —
it doesn’t take long
to tidy a tight space,
put junk in the right place;
and live with things where they belong.

Ten minutes a day,
not big amounts
to work on your fitness;
don’t tire yourself witless,
but even a small workout counts.

Ten minutes a day?
I can do that!
Grab life while I’m alive,
did all the things and I’ve
got what I’m leaping for now, and I’m sleeping for

ten minutes a day.
That’s all I need. [yawn]
Night dreams are boring;
my real dreams are [sound of snoring]
[snoring continues]

This is another one of those poems which has a tune in my head, and I had a hard time reading it without the tune to see if there were any lapses in rhythm the tune was forgiving. I fear I this may have caused me to write a terrible song and mediocre poem instead of a good poem. But I like it anyway. I might have to make a robot choir recording of it. It even has guitar bits after the second line of each stanza, which will be a fun challenge to record using only my MIDI keyboard and my vague suspicion that things called chords are involved.

I’ve been thinking about this one for several weeks, every so often adding something to the list of things that people say we should spend some negligible and underestimated amount of time on every day. It wasn’t really inspired by that card, and I still haven’t even tidied up my cards since the cruise. On the subject of the cruise, and people telling us to write every day, here’s my video recording of the live episode of the Nerdist Writers Panel recorded on JoCo Cruise Crazy 3.

It might be nice if I changed ‘ten minutes’ to either ‘five minutes’ or ‘one hour’ (‘hour’ pronounced as two syllables) so that I could arrange the first twelve stanzas around a clock and put the last one somewhere where there isn’t time for it, but I prefer the sound of ‘ten minutes’. I was thinking of making it zigzag across the page, three stanzas wide, but that would be pretty gratuitous.

I can consistently introduce and read this one in under three minutes, so I might read or recite it at the poetry open mic at ICV Arcade on the 31st. Let’s see if I can memorise it. My goal will be to make the audience yawn, and with that as a goal I don’t think it’s possible to fail. I bet you’re yawning already, so I’ll stop this now.

Addendum:

I changed some of the words. It originally went:

to try social network fun,
or you could get work done.

but who ever advises people to use social networks more? Apart from to maintain your friendships, of course, but conflicting interests is what this poem is about. Also, I used to have ‘for’ instead of ‘but’ about the small workout counting. I’m thinking about ‘a’ to ‘the’ in the fourth line of the second stanza.

Further Addendum: I recited this at open mic, and lots of people said they liked it, and I wish I could have said the same to the other poets there but I am not good enough at absorbing poetry and memorising faces and attaching the two all at the same time. I have some ideas for illustrations which could turn this poem into a small picture book or large comic strip for people who are told they’re too old for Dr. Seuss, and maybe aren’t yet old enough to realise they’re not. It would also be used for a halfhearted slide-show-style music video when I eventually teach my robot choir to sing this. I’m not sure whether I should attempt to draw it myself using stick figures, or commission someone else to do it. I’m starting to think it would be fun to have merch to shill, even if it the profit would be inevitably approaching zero from one side or the other. I have a day job so I can do that if I want. I enjoyed the ego boost when the occasional person would buy my shareware in the late 90s, and I still have the T-shirts and most of the cheques (the payments were processed by a US company, so they actually used cheques, even though it was almost the 21st Century.) But I won’t start on any of that until I’ve finished the King of Hearts.

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Seven of Hearts: mp<3 (Half-Assed Rapper Version)


IFRemember that poem I wrote about heart-drive based music players, which I said I imagined as a rap? Well, here’s a recording of me ‘rapping’ it (now with new cover art.)

I wore my MC Frontalot glasses while recording it in case they would imbue me with talent. It’s probably still terrible, but I don’t care if you laugh at me or with me, as long as you laugh.

According to The Burning Hell, apart from all the rabbit, chicken, worm or artificial hearts, inside every one of us there also beats the hearts of a mother, a father, a trapper, a cult leader, a comedian, and an amateur rapper. The hearts of a mother and father in me went into cardiac arrest when they saw what parenthood was like (to quote the same song again, where would I find the time to build my compound, my comedy career, my empire of rhyme?) but maybe the hearts of a trapper, cult leader, comedian and amateur rapper still beat in me. In fact, they’re probably quite easy to beat.

It’s pretty light on instrumental stuff, because every time I tried to add something I realised that I’m not very good at making things line up with beats properly, and I was probably making things worse. This is a clear sign that I am a half-assed rapper and should stick to normal poetry, but I’m not going to cudgel my brains about it. Edit, one day later: You know what? I bet you could do better than I could. Here, have a remix kit consisting of all of the parts not already linked from this post or easy to find on the internet, plus a different version of ‘Copy Protected!’. Most of the backing tracks I did use are there more for pun value than anything else: some heart beats, the omnichord track (cheesy panning added by me) and artificial heartbeat sampler track from Jonathan Coulton’s Artificial Heart, the start of Worm Quartet’s I Want To Be Taken Seriously As An Artist (when I start talking about worms) and of course, Devo Spice’s Earworm at the end. My robot choir sang the ‘copy protected!’ part in the Trinoids voice. I would apologise to the artists whose sounds I used in this monstrosity, but when you release music under a Creative Commons license, you have to be prepared to face the consequences. This is also my second song-like-thing in a row containing a Wilhelm scream. Perhaps I should include one in every song; my terrible music screams, so you don’t have to! If Possible Oscar can include Wilhelm screams in songs, so can I.

Fill their briefcase with cut out hearts bloody 400Am I being too self-deprecating? The ad at the beginning just happened to come out at 30 seconds, which I think is a standard length for an ad, so that was nice. Also, I quite like the ending; the intro of that song happens to loop quite nicely at the right length for my words. I hope you get it stuck in your head.

I set the artist name to Angelastic, because rappers never seem to go by their real names, and the song is quite gelastic. I’ll probably submit it to The FuMP sideshow, because I’ve always wanted to submit something to that, but it was difficult because I don’t normally sing when people can hear me, and most of what my robot choir has sung so far isn’t really suitable. Edit: I submitted it.

One thing I discovered while recording this was that I have great difficulty pronouncing the word ‘earthworm’ quickly without making some kind of weird flap or trill sound between the r and the th. That’ll teach me for pitying the unpronounced r’s enough as a kid to adopt a rhotic accent.

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Synaesthete’s Blues, Immersive Edition


On Thursday I was thinking about interesting things I could do if I made a book of some of my writing and typeset it myself, and one of the things I thought of was running Synaesthete’s Blues (a poem about discovering my ‘S’ fridge magnet was blue, when according to my grapheme → colour synaesthesia it should be orange) through Synaesthetist (an app I wrote to display text in a given synaesthetist’s colours) so that it would be displayed in my colours. This would annoy other grapheme → colour synaesthetes in exactly the manner described in the poem (since their colours are almost certainly different from mine) and would probably be jarring for non-synaesthetes too.

If I did make such a book, it would probably be very expensive and time-consuming to produce, so for now, I will just put a coloured version of Synaesthete’s Blues here. The letters are coloured with the colours I associate with them, and outlined with the colour of the first letter of the word they’re in, because the first letter of a word tends to dominate, and the outline makes it clearer what’s going on and easier to read than simply mixing the colours would — see the post about Synaesthetist for more about that. It’s in bold text, which means the outline is thinner than usual relative to the letters, and makes its effect less true to how I see the words, but it makes the text easier to read, and should make it easier for you to see the colours of the individual letters without them being so dominated by the first letters. The title, URL and my name at the bottom are all done by blending the first letter’s colour in with the others in a fraction that looks just right to me.

Synaesthete's Blues

Coincidentally, Friday’s xkcd comic was about grapheme → colour synaesthesia. Neat as a tree. In case you’re wondering, I couldn’t see either big number (though they are there.) I have to look at a few graphemes at a time to get colours from them; I can’t see a colour picture just by glancing at it.

A couple of dictionaries tell me that ‘immersive’ applies to electronics which engage several senses apart from sound and vision, whereas ‘immersion’ does have the meaning I’m after but isn’t an adjective. I’m going to stick with calling this immersive until I think of a better idea. You’re immersed (but not embedded) in synaesthesia and the frustration of seeing graphemes in the wrong colours.

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Unintentional Haiku in the Princeton Companion to Mathematics


I’ve had a copy of the Princeton Companion to Mathematics for a while, and intended to start a series called ‘forms and formulae’, where I’d write about some of the articles using poetic forms from the Princeton Encyclopaedia of Poetry and Poetics (addendum: I have since started a series called Forms and Formulae doing just that.) However, both books are huge and difficult to read on the bus, and the articles are long, so so far all I’ve managed to do in that vein is write a poem about platonic solids in a duel, and procrastinate my way out of writing about the entries whose names were alphabetically closest to Emmental. So I was excited to discover this morning that there is a pdf of the Princeton Companion to Mathematics available for free, apparently legally. Finally I can carry it around with me on my iPad and write poems about it whereever I want. But I don’t even need to do that, now; thanks to Haiku Detector, I can easily find the poems that are already in it. And boy are there some nice ones. Some were missed because Haiku Detector doesn’t know how to pronounce Greek letters and a lot of other mathematical notation, and the book sometimes hyphenates at the ends of lines so it looks like they’re good places for line breaks when they’re not. But these are the best ones I found. First off, some which don’t even sound like they’re about mathematics:

Watch your hand as it
reaches out gracefully to
pick up an object.

The difference between
the two definitions of
a secret is huge.

These ideas will
occupy us for the rest
of the article.

This opens you up
to new influences and
opportunities.

In our case, there are
two natural properties
that one should ask for.

Suppose that households
are able to observe one
another’s outputs.

Everything is now
a martingale and there can
be no arbitrage.

The magician can
at once identify which
digit has been changed.

This definition
has the advantage of great
flexibility.

Let us briefly sketch
the argument, since it is
an instructive one.

Moreover, it was
a thought that took many years
to be clarified.

The blocks are the sets
of seed varieties used
on the seven farms.

If you didn’t know where it came from, this could be about anything, but it also sums up the appeal of mathematics:

But then again, who
can deny the power of
a glimpse at the truth?

And a more transparent statement about the nature of mathematics:

“All roads lead to Rome,”
and the mathematical
world is “connected.”

But I really love it when you can’t tell it’s about mathematics until the last line:

The answer turns out
to be that we should weaken
our hypotheses.

It is important
to have a broad awareness
of mathematics.

We will focus on
the most important special
case: vector bundles.

Sometimes relations
are defined with reference to
two sets A and B.

This remains as an
outstanding open problem
of mathematics.

Church’s thesis is
therefore often known as the
Church–Turing thesis.

How, though, can we be
sure that this process really
does converge to x?

It turns out that both
choices are possible: one
automorphism

We shall now describe
the most important of these
extra assumptions.

Several themes balance
in Hilbert’s career as a
mathematician.

Indeed, the study
of such designs predates their
use in statistics.

This turns out to be
a general fact, valid
for all manifolds.

However, it is
a well-understood kind of
singularity.

In particular,
we can define the notion
of winding numbers.

This is exactly
the task undertaken in
proof complexity.

Questions mathematicians ask themselves:

How much better would
you do if you could compound
this interest monthly?

Why are spherical
harmonics natural, and
why are they useful?

What consequence should
this have for the dimension
of the Cantor set?

Can we reduce this
computational problem
to a smaller one?

How about checking
small numbers a, in order,
until one is found?

For what values of
the edge-probability
p is this likely?

Is every even
number greater than 4 the
sum of two odd primes?

Can one make sense of
the notion of a random
continuous path?

Perhaps this is the answer:

In mathematical
research now, there’s a very
clear path of that kind.

This one sounds like some kind of ‘how many roads must a man walk down’ question:

How many walks of
length 2n are there that start
and end at 0?

And while this isn’t actually a haiku, I can imagine it being sung in response to that song, with ‘the number of such walks’ to the tune of ‘the answer my friend’:

The number of such
walks is clearly the same as
W (k − 1).

Mathematicians don’t always answer questions in ways that other people find useful:

If instead we were
to ask each person “How big
is your family?”

In particular,
the average family size
becomes infinite

It follows that at
some intermediate r
the answer changes.

Things only a mathematician would feel the need to state explicitly:

This is a sum of
exponentials — hence the phrase
“exponential sums.”

What makes them boring
is that they do not surprise
us in any way.

Proof is left as an exercise for the reader; it probably takes several pages, but:

If you do know it,
then the problem becomes a
simple exercise.

Once this relative
primality is noticed,
the proof is easy.

All we have to do
is use one more term in the
Taylor expansion.

Doing things this way
seems ungainly to us, but
it worked very well.

It is not hard to
see that the two approaches
are equivalent.

(Of course, one needs to
check that those two expressions
really are equal!)

But this subtlety
is not too important in
most applications.

Some interesting statements:

For every person
P there exists a drink D
such that P likes D.

That is exactly
what a sphere is: two disks (or
cups) glued together!

Thus, recursion is
a bit like iteration
but thought of “backwards.”

Nevertheless, it
turns out that there are games that
are not determined.

(It can be shown that
there is exactly one map
with this property.)

The remainders get
smaller each time but cannot
go below zero.

There are other ways
to establish that numbers
are transcendental.

(The term “Cartesian
plane” for R2 is therefore
anachronistic.)

As usual, we
identify R2 with
the complex plane C.

Note that a block of
size 1 simply consists of
an eigenvector.

The upshot is that
we should always use a prime
number as our base.

Among the other
important number fields are
the cyclotomic fields.

Thus we obtain a
number that is less than the
quantity we seek.

So we might define
the “points” of a ring R to
be its prime ideals.

(For both halves, the pinched
equator is playing the
part of the point s.)

Thus, we have deduced
that length-minimizing curves
are geodesics.

For example, the
geodesics on the sphere
are the great circles.

The generators
correspond to loops around each
of the two circles.

The image of this
map will be a closed loop C
(which may cross itself).

We consider what
happens to C if we add
a small ball to it.

It is not hard to
show that the orbits form a
partition of X.

There are many ways
of combining groups that I
have not mentioned here.

I have thrown classes
of groups at you thick and fast
in this last section.

To apply Newton’s
method, one iterates this
rational function.

A quick overview
of physics will be useful
for the discussion.

can get away with
not understanding quantum
mechanics at all.

The quantum version
of Hamilton’s principle
is due to Feynman.

These encapsulate
the idea of a proof
by contradiction.

(A graph is simple
if it has neither loops nor
multiple edges.)

It is really an
algorithm that inputs
n and outputs an.

(An involution
is a permutation that
equals its inverse.)

If the tree has 2
vertices, then its code is
the empty sequence.

But the number of
possible orders of A,
B, and C is 6.

Number theory is
one of the oldest branches
of mathematics.

The percolation
and Ising models appear
to be quite different.

First, Albert shouts out
a large integer n and
an integer u.

This one is interesting if you imagine it’s about lines of poetry:

Another affine
concept is that of two lines
being parallel.

A mathematical protest slogan:

equality if
and only if x and y
are proportional.

A title of the mathematician’s equivalent of a song about unrequited love:

5.1.5
Why Is It so Difficult
to Prove Lower Bounds?

A series of short films:

10 Differences in
Economic Life among
Similar People

And something said in a soothing tone after a litany during a maths/mass:

Now let us return
to polynomials with
n variables.

The probability of finding a good haiku in the end matter is low, but I think this one’s pretty neat, even if it only has the right syllable counts if you say the ‘and’ in 906 but not 753:

law of large numbers,
753,
906

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VI of Hearts: The Cantor Ternary Set Cantor Ternary Set


It’s self-referential! It’s self-similar! It would give Jonathan Coulton nightmares! It’s the Cantor Ternary Set Cantor Ternary Set: a representation of six steps in the construction of the Cantor ternary set using sped-up and slowed-down samples of Jonathan Coulton singing ‘Cantor ternary set’ in his song Mandelbrot Set, in which he professes to fear said set. I suppose you could say Jonathan Coulton is the cantor, but would it make him turn a reset?

Six of Hearts on a Jonathan Coulton Mandelbrot Floyd shirtI added a Wilhelm scream to the end, because that seemed appropriate. Here’s the audio-only version.

The Cantor ternary set is what you get if you take a line (technically a line segment, but we’ll call it a line), cut out the middle third, then cut out the middle third of the lines that remain, then cut out the middle thirds of those, and so on. If you continue doing this forever, you end up with just as many points as you started with (isn’t infinity grand?) but they’re nowhere near each other. I made the ‘lines’ at each stage out of clips of Jonathan singing ‘Cantor ternary set’ at different speeds; first at one 27th normal speed, then at one ninth, then one third, then normal speed, then three, nine, and 27 times normal speed. Then I put all the lines (i.e. audio clips) from the different steps on top of each other, positioned according to where each line came from in the original line, to make the full canticle (cantorcle?) You can see how it works in the video. To make it easier to differentiate the different layers, I put the second and fifth layers (counting from the slowest one at the bottom) toward the left ear and the third and sixth toward the right, leaving the other three (1/27-speed, original-speed, and 27-times speed) in the centre.

This didn’t take very long to make, in the end, but there were a lot of false starts. A long time ago I decided to make some kind of song about mathemusician Vi Hart using snippets of the various source tracks I have of Jonathan Coulton songs — a Hart-shaped box, on the table, and far too late you see the one inside the box is Vi Hart, who’s not a real heart but is a real bad-ass mathematician… that kind of thing. I realised some time ago that it would have to be the six of hearts, because in Roman numerals that’s the vi of Hearts. But that didn’t stop me from putting off starting it till about a week after the last minute. It’s a good thing I set my own deadlines.

A couple of days ago I finally started to actually work on this. I cut some sounds together (‘my heart’ and a ‘v’ sound from When You Go) to make Jonathan sing Vi Hart’s name, and collected relevant phrases from other songs. But I needed some kind of musical background track to tie it all together (like the Mr. Fancy Pants choir I used in my ‘Code Monkey Like…’ thingy.) I had considered using Vi’s piano music that she played on JoCo Cruise Crazy 2, but in the moment I didn’t feel like looking for it, and also didn’t feel like I could do it justice; I’ve just recently started listening to a basic and hilariously over-dramatic audio course on music theory, but most of what little I know about music, I learnt from Douglas HofstadterLeonhard Euler, Leon Harkleroad, and Vi Hart herself. While I’m okay with the mathematical side of things, I don’t think I remember enough to make a fitting musical tribute. So I asked myself, as I often do, what would Vi Hart do? Probably something symmetrical, mathematical, brilliant. So I hit on the idea of making a Cantor ternary set of Jonathan Coulton singing Vi Hart’s name, and using that as a backing track for the song.

Well, that was interesting, but it sounded terrible. The gap in the middle (the middle middle, not all the other gaps in middles which make the Cantor set what it is) sounded like a lawnmower, most of the rest sounded like a bad choir being massacred by a possessed lawnmower, and the 3x-speed ‘Vi Harts’ were more prominent and understandable than the ones at the original speed. I fiddled with levels for a while, and tried to make the lawnmower sound better by adding more words from other songs, but no dice. The fact was, using a Cantor ternary set of Vi Hart’s name (sung in that particular way) as a backing track was a terrible idea. And now that I think of it, I seem to recall that Hofstadter mentioned experimenting with fractal music and finding it didn’t work very well. That’s fine, though; I’m no musician, so I figured I could make it work to my low standards eventually. But just to take a break, on a whim I decided to try making a Cantor ternary set out of Jonathan singing ‘Cantor ternary set’.

Five minutes later, I discovered that the greater variety in syllables and pitches makes this sound quite interesting even without added lyrics, and you can fairly easily hear the words at several different speeds, so you can tell what’s happening well enough for it to be a demonstration of the Cantor ternary set in itself rather than just a backing track. Plus it’s a Cantor ternary set made up of the words ‘Cantor ternary set’. Why on Earth did I not think of that in the first place? Sorry Vi Hart; you’ll get your tribute song some day, and hopefully from someone better at music than I am.

On the subject of Vi Hart, last weekend I was at my physicist friend Aidan‘s place and noticed he had made some pretty neat things with Geomag, so I asked him to explain it all on video. He did mention Vi at one point. Here’s the video, in which we talk about RF cavities, conservation of angular momentum, triangles, and various kinds of pole, among other things:

Aidan also makes a lot of videos explaining particle physics; you should check them out.

Also on the subject of physics, and cool people I’ve met on JoCo Cruise Crazy (Vi Hart being one of them) here’s an LHC-related comic that Randall Munroe from xkcd drew for me on JoCo Cruise Crazy 3.

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May the Fourth be with you (even if you haven’t seen Star Wars)


I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s Star Wars day, so it seems like a good time to repost. Remember last Star Wars Day, when I snubbed the CERN CinéClub’s showing of the original three Star Wars movies in order to write a poem about Star Wars, from my perspective as someone who has only seen The Phantom Menace, several hours of The Star Wars Holiday Special (with Rifftrax), the start of the original trilogy, under duress, while tired, from 2a.m. until I fell asleep, and a lot of Star-Wars-related songs and Internet memes? Well, I still haven’t seen the movies, and it doesn’t look like the CERN CinéClub is showing them today. But I did recite the poem in front of a crowd of nerds and geeks at the open mic night on JoCo Cruise Crazy 3, and they didn’t lynch me as an infidel, or throw me in the hot tub and force me to drink mudslides and watch Star Wars on the on-deck movie screen. Some of them even said they liked the poem! Even several people who I know write great things themselves! Here is my video of it. Having a decent microphone and no need to use up all my breath to speak loudly eliminated most causes and symptoms of nervousness, but oh boy, is my high-rising terminal showing at the beginning.

If you’re wondering, my first comment referred to Mike Phirman saying earlier that when you go on stage your body shuts down its vital functions and ‘you can really, really, really have to pee before you go on, and then you walk on stage and your body goes into like war mode, where it’s like, ‘There’s no time for that! We are at war!” I don’t think anyone laughed at the reference to the story Wil Wheaton read on the first cruise, so there goes my best chance at any audience noticing that. I missed out the following lines, at the start of the second stanza:

There were Chewie, and Yoda (the OSV talker)

Han Solo, and Leia, of course, Luke Skywalker.

I excused that in advance by saying I’d spent more time memorising Chicken Monkey Duck than this poem. That was not a joke, although I also made one mistake in Chicken Monkey Duck, so I guess I’m just imperfect. That means I’m not a replicant; hooray! (For what it’s worth, I saw all of Blade Runner for the first time this year, while outside in the rain, no less, so I finally know what that means. And I’m still using it wrong, because it seems like replicants aren’t perfect either. But passing the Voight-Kampff test just seems like it would give a higher-level qualification than passing the Turing test.)

To anyone else out there who still hasn’t seen Star Wars and feels like they should have: remember it’s entertainment. It should not be on your to-do list. Put it on your ‘things that might be fun to do when I need a break from the to-do list’ list if it seems interesting to you. Or, like me, use it to quickly dispatch anyone’s insistence that you see, read or listen to every other piece of culture that they deem important. Once you tell them you haven’t even seen Star Wars yet, they dismiss you as a lost cause and stop trying to add things to your to-do list. And if you’re a geek and they tell you this makes you a fake one, just tell them that, as Marian Call says, you have been a nerd since your first five syllable word, and no TV series or movie changes that:

In other news, I’ve signed up to read something at the Leman Poetry Workshop open mic night (warning: gratuitously-Flash-only website; don’t bother clicking if you have special needs that this won’t cater for) on May 31. I haven’t decided what to read yet, but it’s on my birthday, so probably something about birth, or death, or cake.

Also, I’m working on several different things at the moment, including the long-planned but little-implemented six of hearts, so hopefully I’ll finish those and post them here soon.

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