While napping this afternoon, I had a dream that included a sequence where I was being chased. At a point where there was no dialogue but where action got tense, foreboding minor‑key background music started playing. I think this means I watch too many movies. News item from 2010:
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia repeatedly exhorted the United States to "cut off the head of the snake" by launching military strikes to destroy Iran's nuclear program, according to leaked U.S. diplomatic cables.King Abdullah's metaphor was apt: military action is like cutting off the head of a snake in that it might not turn out the way you wanted. Once upon a time, I wrote
For fun, I used to modify outdoor advertising; I changed the wording on billboards and bus shelter ads. I knew it was vandalism, but I justified it to myself by saying that the offense against the advertisers was outweighed by the entertainment value I was offering to the public. I also thought that (some) advertising was insidious and demeaning, and there was value in countering the pretension and crassness of (some) advertising. I took special pleasure in modifying cigarette ads.I was of course hardly the only one modifying outdoor ads, nor the only one justifying it by virtue of value provided to the public. The shadowy Billboard Liberation Front has taken the concept far beyond what I ever achieved. For one, they have a bigger staff. I either worked alone or had a friend on the street watching out for me. I was struck by how easy it was to get friends to participate, even friends with little or no history of such transgressions.
But back to the BLF. Cigarette ads were also a specialty of theirs, and my hat is totally off to them for this piece of work from 1989. For those who (like me) need a definition of heteronomy, try an action determined by some outside influence impelling the subject to act in a certain way. From the BLF's page about their Kant ad improvement:
There is no longer any need for individual choice in this age when all decisions can be left to a skilled professional who specializes in knowing our every desire and need: The Advertiser.Reading the BLF's site almost makes me want to get back in the ad improvement game. Almost.
There was a praying mantis on this window screen earlier. I think the lizard had it for brunch. Today's topic is the section sign. It would deserve a blog posting for no other reason than to celebrate its appearance. I wish it came up more often in topics I blog about, just because it looks so good on a page. It's one of the characters I make a point of checking out when a new font comes my way.
English language Wikipedia tells us its "likely origin" is a combination of two capital esses for the Latin signum sectiōnis and leaves it at that. German language Wikipedia on the other hand offers a plethora of alternate proposed origins, including signum separandi, Senatus Sententia, gothic C (ℭ) for caput, or the Egyptian hieroglyph written at the close of a section and denoting a pause. That last one seems like a stretch, but hey, it's got a book citation—just the ticket to confer legitimacy in the land of Wikipedia.
§ inspires the logo of Section Sign Records, somewhat of a graphic double entendre given the similarity to in music notation.
§ appears in the logo of Austria's Federal Ministry for Justice.
Last but not least: a stock photo house offers a pic of a grass snake (Natrix natrix) roughly assuming a § shape. What could be better than one cactus flower, if not three?
This species won't self-pollinate so it relies on nearby plants flowering concurrently. I've seen flowers sync up and open on the same morning even when the flowers were on different plants in separate pots. I don't know for sure but I suspect the synchronization in separated plants is mediated by airborne chemicals.
Last week, when I said I was skeptical about there being a collective unconscious (in people, not cacti), a friend disagreed and said it was plausible in light of experiments by Grinberg-Zylberbaum—who I'd never heard of before and have since read up on. To summarize: in the 1990s, Professor Jacobo Grinberg-Zylberbaum at the National University of Mexico observed similar EEG waveforms in pairs of people separated and placed in carefully isolated rooms, which he attributed to (what else?) quantum mechanical effects. Professor Grinberg-Zylberbaum mysteriously disappeared in 1994 and hasn't been heard from since.
A carefully collected and analyzed body of such evidence could impress me, but Grinberg-Zylberbaum's work alone doesn't. The papers of his I've read don't go into enough detail, at least one of the people working in his lab didn't draw the same conclusions he did from the measurements, the results haven't been consistently replicated by others, and Grinberg-Zylberbaum's attempts to base the claimed correlations on quantum mechanics are grasping at straws. I can explain further if anyone cares.
Meanwhile, I don't expect to get any seeds this time. I used to have a few of these cacti but now I've just got the one.