Tuesday, October 25, 2005

H. L. Mencken

I am reading a book written by H.L. Mencken. As indicated by the title of the book “A Mencken Chrestomathy”, this book is not a fiction, not a biography, not a textbook, but rather it’s a collection of choice passages from H.L. Mencken. The entire book is organized by a wide array of subject groups, which range from Women, Men, and Government to History, Music, and Death. Each subject contains multiple short comments/notes from author’s early works. Here are two examples:

Types of Men: The believer

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable. There is thus a flavor of the pathological in it; it goes beyond the normal intellectual process and passes into the murky domain of transcendental metaphysics. A man full of faith is imply one who has lost (or never had) the capacity for clear and realistic thought. He is not a mere ass: he is actually ill. Worse, he is incurable, for disappointment, being essentially an objective phenomenon, cannot permanently affect his subjective infirmity. His faith takes on the virulence of a chronic infection. What he says, in substance, is this: “Let us trust in God, Who has always fooled us in the past.”

Homo Sapiens: Coda
To sum up:
1. The cosmos is a gigantic fly-wheel making 10,000 revolutions a minute.
2. Man is a sick fly taking a dizzy ride on it.
3. Religion is the theory that the wheel was designed and set spinning to give him the ride.

After reading about 20 pages of the book, I found Mencken’s words simply irresistibly charming. I can’t help but thinking: “How can someone be so wise and so eloquent at the same time?” His choice of words is subtle, elegant, and yet powerful. His messages are cloaked with sarcastic remarks, but always pinpoint to the truth. He definitely has the best command of English of all the authors that I know. I just can’t put enough good words to express my adulation.

OK, exactly who is H.L. Mencken? Henry Louis Mencken (AKA: H. L. Mencken) was born in 1880 in Baltimore Maryland. He was a terrific journalist, most famous for his satirical style (which is heavily influenced by Mark Twain) and eventually known as the "Sage of Baltimore". He is often regarded as one of the most influential American writers of the early 20th century. He died in 1956 at the age of 75. His epitaph reads: If after I depart this vale you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner, and wink your eye at some homely girl.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

You better believe it!

Rocky VI is coming. I am not joking. Not April Fool yet. The fact is ROCKY IS BACK!!!! My first reaction to this is "Holy Shit!!!!" Don't you think it's pretty crazy for a 59 year old senior to climb back into the ring and fight his guts out in front of million viewers?

When I told my trainer this breaking news, the only thing he said was:
"Come on, get the fuck outta here!"
"No, I am serious. Sylvester decided to shoot the Rocky VI. The news came out yesterday."
"Nah, get the fuck outta here!"

Then, an hour later, I was still sweating, breathing, and trembling on the massage table like an injured dog after a hard long work-out. He was helping me stretch out, and he asked me "seriously, is what you said real? Is he making the Rocky VI now?" "Yes, truth, and nothing but the truth." "Oh, man! What the fuck is he thinking!!!"

Well, my trainer's last comment definitely is not the most delicate things I've ever heard, but I can easly sense the wisdom in his simple words. Yes Indeed, What the Fuck is He Thinking?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Wisconsin keeps the AXE!!!

Yesterday #23 Wisconsin miraculously beat #22 Minnesota (38-34) in the last 30 seconds to win a tough road game and keep the Bunyan Axe Trophy for the second year in a roll. At current record of 6-1, we are still in the driver's seat on the road to Rose Bowl. Oh, yeah, the Big Ten Championship - I can feel it right now. Damn, words alone are not sufficient to describe how happy I was. Time to celebrate!!!!!

trophy_bunyan Posted by Picasa


I came across this new Cross-Word Puzzle type of mind game on TV today. They were talking about the first U.S. Sodoku competition in NYU. (A demo game is attached below.) This puzzle is originated in Japan and imported into United States about five years ago. Apparently it has been gaining popularity and many major newspapers start to print this puzzle game, alone with the traditional Cross-Word Puzzles, on a daily basis. The rule is fairly simple:

Fill in the grid so that
(1) every row,
(2) every column, and
(3) every 3 x 3 box
contains the digits 1 through 9.

I actually found a Sudoku on Sunday's Financial Times and spent some time to solve the puzzle. It was actually pretty fun, just as any other brain teasers. If you have never done one before, give it a try. You may find it interesting.

(P.S. If you find the demo too easy, here is a more difficult one. Enjoy~~)

Iraq War

Here is the quiz question of the day: How long has it been since the Iraq war started? No, no, no... no google here... just to test your memory... en... about a year? or a year and half? Actually my memory is rather fuzzy on this matter, but if I have to guess, I would probably say "a year and half". That sounds about right.

OK, let's find out the answer. According to Google, here are the facts:

The war officially started in March 19, 2003.
(Holy shit, it has been 2 and half years already!! Time does fly, er?!)

US casualties in Iraq are approaching the 2,000 mark.
(Well, this number probably would be dwarfed by Iraqi civilian death tolls, but 2,000 is still a nerve-wracking number to look at.)

Total cost of war is over $200bn already.
(As a tax payer, I absolutely hate to read this number. $200 freaking billion dollars!!!! Can you even fathom the concept of $200bn???)

OK, here is what $200bn can normally do:
1. we could have provided approximately 10 million students four-year scholarships at public universities for one year.
2. we could have hired approximately 3.5 million additional public school teachers for one year.
3. we could have fully funded global anti-hunger efforts for 8 years.
4. we could have fully funded world-wide AIDS programs for 20 years.
5. we could have built approximately 2 million additional public housing units.
The list can go on and on, but you should have got the general idea already. After seeing what happened to New Orlean after the devastating Katrina and all the relief effort from all around the world, I can't help but thinking "wouldn't it be nice if we haven't spent that $200bn?")

OK, enough ranting... Life sucks and we just have to suck it up.