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Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Feetish or Fettish?

I was surprised to recently read in David Crystal’s book, The Story of English in 100 Words, that fetish – which I pronounce “feh-tesh” – was once pronounced “feetish.” In fact, in the 1920s, Crystal writes, the BBC had that pronunciation in its guide for radio broadcasters.* It makes sense, of course, when you think […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The ethics of politics via Aristotle

Politics, Aristotle wrote in the Nicomachean Ethics, is the “master science of the good.” The good of which he wrote is the greater good, the “highest good” that benefits the state, not the personal. For even if the good is the same for the individual and the state, the good of the state clearly is […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Marcus Aurelius

I continue to be profoundly moved by the wisdom of the classical authors. It’s often hard to accept that some of them were writing two or more millennia ago: many seem so contemporary they could have been written this century. Of late – within the past year or so – I’ve been reading Lucretius, Aristotle, […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: What’s in a missing word?

There’s a line in one of Horace’s epistles that really caught my eye. In Latin it reads: Utque sacerdotis fugitiuus liba recuso, pane egeo iam mellitis potiore placentis Horace: Epistles, Book I, X No, I can’t translate it.* However, I was reading David Ferry’s 2001 translation and he renders it like this: I’m like that […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Reading: A Canadian tragedy… or not?

The map above might show the making of a serious tragedy for Western and especially Canadian culture. It indicates in colour which nations read the most. Yellow is the second lowest group. Canada is coloured yellow. In this survey, Canada ranks 10th – from the bottom! Twenty countries above us have populations which, on the […]

Molly'sBlog: Milton: A Master of Run-On Sentences

MILTON: A MASTER OF RUN-ON SENTENCES:

     I’m about halfway through the collected works of John Milton. It’s a project that’s taking some time. Mercifully the poetry is at the front of the volume. That’s good because most of Milton’s prose writings have little intrinsic interest. Aside from a few exceptions they are religious polemics against the high church prelates of his day. Reading such things tends to lower one’s estimate of the author. Especially as their tone is beneath even the usual level of political polemics. I’ll see if the tone improves with the more political pieces later in (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Archiving past posts

I spent a busy weekend copying posts from my previous blog (hundreds of posts, currently archived on another server awaiting my resolution) onto my hard drive. I plan to resurrect some of these posts – maybe with a bit of updating or editing – in a WordPress archive site here so I can keep them […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Looking back on 2103

It’s been quite a year, both personally and politically. The best of times, the worst of times, to paraphrase Dickens. Looking back on 2103, it was a busy, eventful, successful, and yet often challenging year. I accomplished many things on different levels – personal and professional – and, I believe, overcame some of the challenges I […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Dictionaries: Concise, Compact, and dacoit

Dacoit: noun; one of a class of criminals in India and Burma who rob and murder in roving gangs. A member of a band of armed robbers in India or Burma. A bandit. Origin: Hindi and Urdu. I love dictionaries. I like opening them up to a random page and just reading, discovering words and […]

Writings of J. Todd Ring: New studies show babies have basically decent impulses and are strongly driven by moral imperatives

More research shows once again that compassion, empathy and mutual aid, and an instinct toward cooperation, are innate in human beings, confirming what the great Russian biologist and anarchist philosopher Peter Kropotkin had already amply demonstrated over a hundred years ago, in his monumental work, Mutual Aid. My but our cherished ideological self-deceptions die slowly. […]

mark a rayner | scribblings, squibs & sundry monkey joys: My conversation with Robert Chazz Chute

I’d encourage you all to check out the Cool People Podcast this week, in which the host (and fellow London, ON author) Robert Chazz Chute, and I discuss the singularity, technology, and monkey brains! (And yes, this means I’m officially … Continue reading →

mark a rayner | scribblings, squibs & sundry monkey joys: You’re invited to Indie Author Night

I’d like to invite anyone who is the region of London, Ontario (or all you readers with some cash or frequent flyer points to burn), to come to a reading and discussion of the indie publishing at the London (ON) … Continue reading →

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Circuitous Path from Bulge to Budget

If tinkers may have leave to live, And bear the sow-skin budget, Then my account I well may, give, And in the stocks avouch it. Autolycus in The Winter’s Tale, Act IV, Sc. III, Shakespeare These lines got me thinking about the town’s finances. Sow-skin budget? What does that mean? And how does that relate to […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Survival of the Fittest

Charles Darwin has long been associated with the phrase, “survival of the fittest.” For a century and a half people have used it to refer to their understanding of his explanation of how species evolved. But it wasn’t his. And it has obscured the understanding of Darwin’s own theory. It came from a contemporary, Herbert […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: We are Stardust… and Viral Genes

In her classic song, Woodstock, Joni Mitchell ended with the chorus: We are stardust Billion-year-old carbon We are golden Caught in the devil’s bargain And we’ve got to get ourselves Back to the garden Which most people assume is merely poetic licence. Well, Joni wasn’t wrong: we – and every living thing on our planet […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Something so basic, yet so different stands between us

You’d think it should be this easy: just take a bread machine, throw in all the ingredients listed in the recipe, push a button, wait, remove loaf and eat. Yum. Nah, of course not. Never is. And there are reasons for this, I’ve been learning. I have an old bread machine – must be 20 […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: 1927, a Year to Remember

1927. It was the year America sent troops to Nicaragua, forcing a US-supervised election. The year Alfred Hitchcock released his first movie. And the year when Fritz Lang released his masterpiece, Metropolis. Buster Keaton released The General that year, although it bombed at the box office. Clara Bow starred in Wings. Sergei Eisenstein released October: Ten […]

Things Are Good: Literary Fiction Enhances Empathy in Readers

Literary fiction, not popular fiction, can make people better understand one another according to a new study. Because literary fiction (i.e. books not for sale at airports) focuses on the psychology and inner life of the characters it gives people a window into the thoughts of others that aren’t covered elsewhere.

On average, people who read parts of more literary books like The Round House by Louise Erdrich did better on those tests than people who read either nothing, read nonfiction or read best-selling popular thrillers like The Sins of the Mother by Danielle Steel.

For example, folks who (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Eyes Have It

This summer my mother was diagnosed with macular degeneration. There is no cure. It is irreversible. It simply progresses. Science has some hope for future cures, and has some treatments to slow the progress, but a cure likely won’t come soon enough for her. At 93, one expects that the body will fail, that organs […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Unknown Monk Meme

This pseudo-poem popped up on Facebook today. It’s been around the Net for a few years, without any source attributed to the quote, but it seems to be making its comeback in the way these falsely-attributed things do: When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult […]

Writings of J. Todd Ring: Reflections on tumblr, facebook and social media

Going from specifics to depth and breadth, and from particularities to universals, here are some thoughts for your consideration, for anyone who may be interested. I’ve come to love the social networking / blogging community / window onto the web which is called tumblr. That being said, tumblr is largely what you make of it. […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Moral Compass

I have a laminated card beside me, wallet-sized so it can be carried around easily. I made it at my shop a few years ago; just a simple, two-sided business card with some text. It’s part of my personal moral compass. We all benefit from some guidance, at times, something to remind us of the higher […]

Writings of J. Todd Ring: The Key of Keys

Egoless divine pride: the most glorious concept I have ever heard – from Tibetan Buddhism. The Uttara Tantra elaborates: There once was a prince, who lost his memory and forgot who he was. Lost in forgetfulness and confusion, he wandered aimlessly, and became a homeless beggar. Years later, a minister to the king came across […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Of Type and Typography

Humans have remarkable ability that is shared by – as far as we know – no other animal. We can turn abstract images and symbols into meaning. Words are, of course, the prime example, as old as our history. We can turn a word like dog, tree, table or vacation into a broad and deep […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Empire of Illusion and the End of Literacy

I don’t know whether to feel vindicated, delighted, frightened or depressed as I read through Chris Hedges’s book, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. Much of what he says reflects many of my own observations and opinions. I started reading this book in part as research for my upcoming […]