Friday, October 23, 2009

on retreat again

to the tune of "on the road again":

Illustrious Tara

Please be aware of me

Remove my obstacles
And quickly grant my excellent aspirations

"I'll probably be remembered for the pies, and that's all right"

One of my childhood heroes, Soupy Sales, has died. Alas.

Soupy was often accused of using sexual innuendo in his children's show Lunch With Soupy Sales. He not only consistently and adamantly denied this, but had a standing offer of $10,000 to anyone who could ever present any evidence, whatsoever, that he ever introduced "blue" material in any of his kids' shows. No one ever even tried to collect the money!

Nevertheless Soupy Sales was a subversive, like all great comedians. But his was a gentle, if "zany" (and literally "in your face"!), subversion. To this day, Soupy Sales trademark pie-in-the-face is used by non-violent protesters the world across to get their point across with humor and style.

Happy Mole Day

The mole is much more than just a geeky Chemistry concept, although it is that. It is also an initiatory gateway that one must pass through. It's very much like a Zen koan. Once you "get it", well, you know for certain that you have gotten it. It might take a few (or even several) false starts. You might try to fake it, but you can't fool anyone who really knows what a mole is.

I can think back over my years of (over) educating myself and identify several other terms/concepts/phenomena that, at least for me, provided the same kind of "AHA!" experience that can accompany learning about the Great Mystery of the Mole.

In phonology there is the phoneme.

In calculus there is the limit.

In computer science there is recursion.

In marxist economics there is value (surplus, use and exchange).

In magic there is sympathy.

In unix there is the file.

In european history there is Charlemagne.

In chaos there is sensitive dependence on initial conditions.

In protein x-ray crystallography there is anomalous scattering.