As I said before, I am still around, but
in part otherwise occupied and in part not much inclined to write
Even so, here are some bits, and if you did not read the third - in
Mark Twain's War Prayer - you should. Here it was triggered - in
my mind: it's on my site since many years - by the second bit that
2. It must be true for it is in the news + the US-value
3. Mark Twain on people as they often are
Tip for the reader: You can well afford to miss my prose and
quotations in the first two items, but you should not miss the last
piece, if you don't know
War Prayer already.
Also, for people with ME (or their caretakers) there is an
interesting graphic that concerns the question:
what is the human worth of folks in the US with
ME/CFS, in cash value terms?
The last time I wrote a Nederlog I was
occupied with watching a series of videos of lectures on programming
put on line by Stanford University in 2008. It's a long series, and
presently I am somewhere in lecture 15 - and suppose I have watched
too much too eagerly given the state of my health.
But it still is a pleasure to watch and meanwhile I learned a few
things, besides which it is pleasant to see that the general ideas of
programming I have acquired do correspond to those of a pro.
What few things did I learn? I'll briefly mention two, since I
don't suppose most of my readers are really interested:
(1) I had guessed but did not know compilers may add some headers in
memory before the starting point of an executable procedure that
enables it to keep track;
(2) there wasn't much about assembly in the course, and what there was
involved an assembly language I did not know about, called Mips.
In case you're interested: This is the beginning
Lecture 1 | Programming Paradigms (Stanford) - and you'll
probably will find no joy in it whatsoever unless you like programming
and can do some in C. (But if these conditions are met, the likelihood
is that you will learn a lot.)
2. It must be true for it is in the news + the
US-value of ME/CFS
This and the following item are mostly triggered by what I shall
for the moment be pleased to call "my wry sense of humour".
this by way of Phoenix Rising, and I quote a few pieces of it in a
moment, because my bogosity meter has been pinned:
Bogosity is measured with
bogometer; in a
seminar, when a speaker
says something bogus, a
listener might raise his
hand and say “My
bogometer just triggered”.
More extremely, “You
just pinned my bogometer”
means you just said or did
something so outrageously
bogus that it is off the
scale, pinning the
bogometer needle at the
highest possible reading
(one might also say “You
just redlined my bogometer”).
The agreed-upon unit of
bogosity is the
microLenat. 2. The potential field
generated by a
1. [orig. CMU, now
very common] The degree to
which something is
This was quoted from a piece I wrote
in 2007 (in Dutch), and is cited from Raymond and Steele's "Jargon
files", which is concerned with terms especially used by hackers
(in the sense of: creative programmers, rather than cybercriminals).
Now to what evoked that memory:
The original of the next quotation is on the CNN-site, so it must
be true - and what got me apart from what seems to me the bogosity of
it is the sense of moral priorities that's expressed, as a
matter of course also:
Researchers aim to 'print' human skin
Researchers are developing a specialized skin "printing" system
that could be used in the future to treat soldiers wounded on the
Scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine
were inspired by standard inkjet printers found in many home
"We started out by taking a typical desktop inkjet cartridge.
Instead of ink we use cells, which are placed in the cartridge,"
said Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the institute.
The device could be used to rebuild damaged or burned skin.
The project is in pre-clinical phases and may take another five
years of development before it is ready to be used on human burn
victims, he said.
Burn injuries account for 5% to 20% of combat-related injuries,
according to the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine.
The skin printing project is one of several projects at Wake Forest
largely funded by that institute, which is a branch of the U.S.
Department of Defense.
Wake Forest will receive approximately $50 million from the Defense
Department over the next five years to fund projects, including the
Researchers developed the skin "bio-printer" by modifying a
standard store-bought printer.
Researchers said it is difficult to speculate when the skin printer
may be brought to the battlefield, because of the stringent
regulatory steps for a project of this nature. Once the
skin-printing device meets federal regulations, military officials
are optimistic it will benefit the general population as well as
I hope you are suitably impressed, and I admit to partial
quotation, albeit fairly indicated by
be sure - if you believe what I just quoted - to say a prayer tonight
to say thanks for the noble intentions of the unnamed US "military
officials", and also for
God's goodness in
giving civilian folks the same sort of skin as soldiers.
O, and since I have ME: In the US, there
are about 1 million Americans with CFS, while the research into ME/CFS
(from the link in the title of the picture) amounts to this:
NIH Budget for 2012 and Disease Prevalence
- Multiple Sclerosis - $135 million – 500,000 Americans
- $114 million – 1.5 million Americans
- West Nile Virus - $46 million – 3,630
- Lyme Disease - $25 million –
150,000 Americans (since 1992)
- Fibromyalgia -
$9 million – 3-6 million Americans
- $6 million – 1 million Americans
The needs and interests of 1 million Americans who are ill with
ME/CFS are worth, in research funding, around 1/10th from what the
needs and interests of the Wake Forest Institute, where money or
miracles are milked from printer heads, are worth.
And then there are some folks who don't believe in
God's goodness -
for which see also the next item:
3. Mark Twain on people as they often are
"Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and
Protector of our land and flag!"
As I said, my own bogosity meter was seriously pinned by
the above, of which I believe virtually nothing,
except the gift of 50 million dollar to the amazing scientist Dr.
Atala - "We started out by taking a typical desktop inkjet cartridge.
Instead of ink we use cells, which are placed in the cartridge" - but
I also admit to a very small chance that I may be mistaken and
to a considerable hope I may be, since burns are indeed awful, and all
moderated by my usual rational skepticism.
In any case: If you believe the above CNN-News, you are blessed
with a more credulous disposition than I am - and I do agree it would
be nice if it were true. (But then that is the usual trick of
salesmen, conmen, politicians and priests: Promises, promises,
Then again, the morality of it all also got to me: It is presented
as if it is an imminent step forward to fewer serious casualties for
US troops on battlefields.
Now that may be - and indeed in some senses: is - a noble aim, but
it did remind me also of the following, that also hails from the US,
although the writer has lately been much PC-ified (*):
The war prayer
It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up
in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of
patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy
pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and sputtering; on
every hand and far down the receding and fading spreads of roofs and
balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily
the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in
their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and
sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as
they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting,
to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts
and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of
applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the
churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country and
invoked the God of Battles, beseeching His aid in our good cause in
outpouring of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.
It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen
rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt
upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry
warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank
out of sight and offended no more in that way.
Sunday morning came-next day the battalions would leave for
the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their
faces alight with material dreams-visions of a stern advance, the
gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the
flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce
pursuit, the surrender!-then home from the war, bronzed heros,
welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the
volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the
neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to
the field of honor, there to win for the flag or, failing, die the
noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from
the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was
followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one
impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and
poured out that tremendous invocation -- "God the all-terrible! Thou
who ordainest, Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!"
Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of
it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The
burden of its supplication was that an ever--merciful and benignant
Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers and aid,
comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them,
shield them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident,
invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to
them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory -
An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless
step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long
body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his
white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his
seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes
following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without
pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there,
With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence,
continued his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words,
uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O
Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"
The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside --
which the startled minister did -- and took his place. During some
moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes in
which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said
"I come from the Throne-bearing a message from Almighty God!"
The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it
he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your
shepherd and grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His
messenger, shall have explained to you its import-that is to say,
its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in
that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of-except he
pause and think.
"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused
and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two- one uttered, the
other not. Both have reached the ear of His Who hearth all
supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this-keep it in
mind. If you beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without
intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you
pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that
act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop
which may not need rain and can be injured by it.
"You have heard your servant's prayer-the uttered part of it.
I am commissioned by God to put into words the other part of it-that
part which the pastor, and also you in your hearts, fervently prayed
silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so!
You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That
is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those
pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have
prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results
which follow victory-must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon
the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part
of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!
"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts,
go forth to battle-be Thou near them! With them, in spirit, we also
go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the
foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds
with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale
forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the
guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to
lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to
wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief;
help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to
wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and
hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy
winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee
for the refuge of the grave and denied it-for our sakes who adore
Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their
bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with
their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded
feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of
Love, and Who is ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are
sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.
(After a pause)
"Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger
of the Most High waits."
It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because
there was no sense in what he said.
Thus Mark Twain.
Incidentally, my title "The mother of invention"
was not so much inspired by the thought of Necessity, as by noting
that, as things go, mostly, it is war that is the mother of
invention, for humans.
And in case you missed it: Neither Twain nor I was claiming all
wars are bad, even if most are, and I am also not claiming
inventions made to improve Our Side's War Effort - "help us to drown
the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in
pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of
fire" etc. etc. - are necessarily bad or immoral, but that
indeed I am suggesting it is one of the more unhappy features of human
beings that it is often war that triggered or at least enabled
the discovery or invention of useful things.
(*) Mark Twain has been recently PC-ified by
replacing "the N-word" - "nigger" - by "slave" in a new edition of his
work. To me, that sounds pretty sick: If that was what he meant, he
would have written it, while to believe that Mark Twain - when adult -
was a racist is pretty stupid. It's very much a form of
indeed ad usum
delphini, even if that category of folks in these PC days has been
replaced by ad usum profanum vulgus.
P.S. Corrections must wait till later.
So far this year I have kept up with
Changes: Summaries of relevant changes on the site.