Archive For 2009

Life’s little mysteries

Some day when Oskar asks me where babies come from, I will tell him The Stork brings them. And when he asks me why people die, I will say The Stork took them. So watch out for The Stork — he can come for you at any time. (Especially while you’re sleeping.)

Metal Machine Music

[ thanks to Cory, my coworker, for the link ]

(But, then, I should really just shut my bloody trap. Shouldn’t I.)

Dream: local homicidal madman (“The Butcher of Baghdad”) in Minot

Disturbing dream…:

Minot. Alone. Driving around what is an extremely run-down slum of a neighborhood — the corner of Broadway and University Ave. Make a wrong turn into the driveway behind this one particularly dilapidated house on the corner, and I see a body under the wheels of this ancient beat up pickup truck. Looks like it’s been dead a long time, and was just left there. I drive around the dirt back yard, just trying to turn around and get out of there, and all over the yard I see piles of corpses — stacked up in piles — and stray body parts. Most of the people are dark-skinned — black? African? Middle Eastern?… Now I stop. I call 911 and explain. I wait… No one shows up. This is Minot — they should have been here in 5 minutes, 10 tops… I call Kari and tell her what’s going on; while I’m talking to her, I see this guy drive up in another really old, smoky rusty huge car. I see his face — he looks foreign, like an Arab. He sees me. I panic, and get the hell out of there — but I park nearby to try and watch him, or see what I can figure out. He’s brought back more bodies in the back of the car, and is chopping them up in the yard. Now I hear screams — the people aren’t dead, they’re being dismembered alive…

I keep thinking: how is nobody aware of this?? It’s right out in the open. And why aren’t the police here yet?…

I eventually discover that the guy is an Iraqi, who immigrated here along with a very large extended family and many other Iraqis from different tribes; there are tribal and religious feuds, more aptly called gang wars.

I learn that the police are well aware of the situation, but are ignoring it because they feel that “The Butcher of Baghdad” (as they call him) is helping them out — cleaning up the streets, getting rid of the immigrants, and essentially doing their job for them. He is sort of a private joke for them.

Later I am stuck in the back of that big car. He doesn’t know I’m there, I’m hiding. Another big old car pulls up; the driver has brought more bodies, seemingly as payment for something. I can’t understand their language. But it seems this payment is not enough, so the driver turns and says something to the person in the passenger seat, who then cuts off one of his fingers and offers it as payment…

I hear thunks, screams. The windshield of the car is splattered with blood. I hide on the floor in the back seat of the car and try not to move or make a sound…

I can’t remember any more…

(But, then, I should really just shut my bloody trap. Shouldn’t I.)

The effects of smoking on man-in-the-moon marigolds

A brief exchange with my nephew Danny this week went like this:

Danny: “You know if you smoke you’re gonna die.”
Me: “Oh, really? What happens then?”
Danny: (shrugs) “You go to Heaven.”
Me: “Oh, o.k. Cool.”

(Of course, at some point he’ll probably hit me with the whole “Hell” thing, and then I’ll have to find another tactic…)
(But, then, I should really just shut my bloody trap. Shouldn’t I.)

Porn tax? That’s UnAmerican!

In his 11 years in the Washington Legislature, Representative Mark Miloscia says he has supported all manner of methods to fill the state’s coffers, including increasing fees on property owners to help the homeless and taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, most of which, he said, passed “without a peep.”

And so it was last month that Mr. Miloscia, a Democrat, decided he might try to “find a new tax source” — pornography.

The response, however, was a turn-off.

“People came down on me like a ton of bricks,” said Mr. Miloscia, who proposed an 18.5 percent sales tax on items like sex toys and adult magazines. “I didn’t quite understand. Apparently porn is right up there with Mom and apple pie.”

. . . . . . . .

Struggling States Look to Unorthodox Taxes – NYTimes.com

Counting on Your Body in Papua New Guinea


Nearly all of languages investigated begin counting on the little finger of one hand. In some cases, the left hand is specified as the starting hand, but in most the count may start on either hand. The count then proceeds through the fingers of the starting hand, then to the thumb and then up the adjoining arm to either the head or chest. The count next proceeds down the other side of the body until it ends at the little finger of the other hand. Figure 1 shows the count for Anggor, a language spoken in the West Sepik Province.

Anggor includes the wrist (6 and 18), forearm (7 and 17), elbow (8 and 16), upper arm (9 and 15), shoulder (10 and 14), breast (11 and 13) and the sternum (12) in its tally-system. The count ends at 23 and it is customary to call such a system a 23-cycle system. For counts above 23, such systems would usually continue on with a phrase like “one man and ” begin the count anew. (Although see Saxe, 1981 for a count that proceeds back up the arm in the reverse direction.)

The Faiwol body-part tally-system is an example of one that includes counting locations on the head. This 27-cycle system is shown in Figure 2. The inside of the elbow is counted 8 and 20 in Faiwol in contrast to the outside elbow in Anggor. Eleven and seventeen in Faiwol are counted at the collar bone.

There is great variation in the cycle length of PNG body-part tally-systems. Cycles of length 12, 14, 18, 19, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 35, 37, 47, 68, and 74 have been reported. When the cycle length is odd there is usually a unique midpoint to the count that is located along the person’s line of symmetry (e.g., the sternum in Anggor and the nose in Faiwol). Table 3 summarizes the cycle-lengths of PNG body-part tally-systems and gives the midpoint location for cycles of odd length.

Miriam is unique in having three count locations on the body’s line of symmetry (Lean ,2002, Vol. 12, p.36). Yupno differs from all other languages in several ways. First, the count in Yupno proceeds back and forth across the body with 6 -10 being counted on the right hand after 1 -5 is counted on the left. Second, the toes are included in the count with 11-15 on the left foot and 16-20 on the right foot. Finally, Yupno includes locations below the waist with 31 counted at the left testicle, 32 at the right testicle, and 33 at the penis. (Wassmann and Dasen, 1994, p.84).

. . . . . . . .

The relationship between the words spoken while counting, and the body part referenced, is complex. Lean (2002, Vol. 12, p.2) observes that “body-part tally-systems tend to fall into two types: 1) those in which all tally-words have a body-part referent, and 2) those in which the first few number words are numerals with no body-part referent, the remaining tally-words all referring to body-parts.”

Baruga, spoken in Oro Province, is of particular interest here because of the generality of the spoken words. The Baruga body-part tally-system is a 22-cycle system that begins with the little finger of the right hand . Baruga counting is shown in Table 4. Notice that the counting must be visual since the word “doro” stands for 3,4,5,19,20, and 21. Baruga counting also is unique in including the left eye before the central nose and mouth, thus breaking the vertical axis symmetry pattern.

. . . . . . . .

(But, then, I should really just shut my bloody trap. Shouldn’t I.)

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