Unacceptable Homework for A High School Girl

The Countess Lurlena von Apfelesser, known as Lulu to her friends took steps to fire Mr. Grogonia the teacher of Old Slavonic because she believed he was seducing her daughter by means of homework assignments.  For example:

Homework for tomorrow.  Translate the following sentence into Slavonic.

1.Inflamed by the odor of the pineapple the bear did great damage to the vacation hut of the sub-adjutant.

Why would Lily, Lulu’s daughter, at the tender age of seventeen need to translate statements about untrammeled lusts and destructive desires?  Was it not clear that in his allegory the lecherous Grogonia had figured male lasciviousness by a bear, and her own daughter’s winsome chastity ripe for plucking by a pineapple fruit?

The Countess grabbed the assignment from her daughter’s hand and over coffee perorated her friends, Taffi and Deshie.

Is this not the essence of the debauched culture of the Slavones, which made them an uneasy addition to the empire?  For the Countess could talk of reproduction without smirking — she could call a knob a “knob” and a purse a “purse”.  But she and her mother and her Grandmother the Arch-Countess of Old Saxony did not call the knob  a weasel, a bear, a hussar or a burning fire, and did not call the purse a rose, a grotto, a maelstrom or a dream.  And her daughter should not either.

The formidable Lulu spoke to Mr. Dax the headmaster who spoke to the Slavonic teacher.  He promised to do better — he needed a job — and the next homework assignment was from the Holy Books of the Slavonic Church.

Translate into Slavonic:

  1. Ignore the body and keep your eyes on heaven for the pleasures of the body are fleeting and misleading, like snows in spring, like the smiles of dreams on the lips of the unfortunate.

“I will not be mocked by a schoolteacher!” railed the Countess after school.

“But Countess, it is scripture.” implored Grogonio. “It offers arguments for a chaste life, which is most appropriate for the young lady.”

“I am not a fool.  Do you think I was born yesterday not to realize that the quickest path to sweetening a fruit is the forbidding of it?  Am I a lamb for you to shear me, or a pony for you to ride me, or a bee for you to squeeze honey from my hindquarters?  Do you think I don’t realize that to describe pleasures as fleeting like the snow in spring is turning the syllables of language into a waltz to set my daughter’s heart racing.”

“I apologize. I am a simple man.”

“Sometimes the simple are the masks for the complicated, as purity and honesty are the subtlest stratagems of vice.  You are warned, school master.  I will read my daughter’s homework assignment tomorrow and if all is not proper and free from innuendo I will crash myself upon your wretched life.  Like thunder.”

“Countess, you will be pleased.”

The third homework assignment read:

Translate into Slavonic.

1+1 =2.

A newspaper article in the Galicianer Zeitung read that overcome by nervous exhaustion the Countess threw herself to her death into a gorge.  Her husband, Count Von Apfelesser,upon hearing the news, challenged their daughter’s teacher to a duel and ran him through with a rapier.    It was an extremely passionate scandal to afflict such a well-revered house.  Everyone talked about it throughout the rest of the spring and well into the summer.

Taffi asked Deshie at the funeral how it could have happened that their friend had given everything up for love.  Deshie wondered whether way, way back, many generations ago, one member of the house of Apfelfesser had not, perhaps, been Slavonic.


Bogus Yogis, The Problem of

-There is a terrible problem of bogus yogis — people who claim to be teaching and practicing yoga but who are not  Yoga is a yoke — it connects heaven and earth, infinite and finite, body and spirit.  But all these so-called “yogis’ do is stretches.

-What would you do?

-We need a rule for the proper use of the word “yogi”.  If you are just teaching people to stretch you cannot call yourself “yogi”.

-So a licensing exam?

-A license that would see if the person claiming the title “yogi” is truly yoking together the finite and the infinite — if they are a lover of eternity in this very body.

-Would the true lover submit to a licensing exam?  Can you test the artist from the faker, the lover from the libertine?

-Can you?

-Do you even want to?

-Kiss me.


Thoughts on Dm-ing a Campaign Where Everybody has Easy Access to the Wish Spell

I’m not sure how to do this.  A lot of the powerful monsters — archdevils, super-demons, deities — have the wish spell.  So could they just wish the party dead?  Could they wish that the party forgets about their existence?  I’m not sure how to handle that.  I’m not sure how to handle a fight between two players each of whom has the wish spell.  Let’s say two wizards, Azamntinius and Berylio who have hated each other for years (each of them killed the other’s beloved monster companion, a ki-rin and a manticore respectively) and they come face to face with each other.

Berylio: I wish you were dead Azamantinius! (casting 9th level spell Wish)

Azamntinius: I wish you were dead, Berylio (casting 9th level spell Wish)

How am I supposed to DM that encounter?  Just have the roll dice and whoever gets the highest zotzes the other guy’s character?  Is this D&D or high card?

Maybe there’s a way to do it with multiverses.  Each of them creates a universe in which the other one does not exist?   So each of them effectively wishes the other one out of the campaign?  And then I as DM meet each of them separately from their on in?

So if the party runs into  Asmodeus and he wishes them dead, I can continue the campaign.  I just say “hey Asmodeus just vanished!  Maybe he never existed!”  And I keep running the campaign.

I just know in my mind that there’s another campaign going on in which Asmodeus is still around and the party is gone?

What I’m tempted to do is create a campaign in which everybody has the wish spell but there is very limited access to ideas about what to do with it.  You would have to go on quests to get ideas that everybody has in our world like “flight” or “living forever”.  Without a scroll with the idea of “living forever” you cannot use wish to live forever.  The game does not limit power, it limits knowledge (or imagination which is a brand of knowledge — I follow Coleridge on this.)

But how do I get player’s to actually roleplay a lack of imagination?  Isn’t that the opposite of what makes D&D fun?

This may be a new boundary in game play that nobody has yet crossed.  In (approximately) equal measure it both beckons and repels!


Prolix GPS

In order to keep my mind sharp I got a prolix, nay a euphuistic GPS.

While before it said “make a left turn then turn right immediately” it now says “there should be nothing mediating between your left turn and your right.”

While before it said “turn right” it now says “Oh dextrous one, incline yourself in the direction that is most opposed to sinister.”

While once it said “make an immediate left on Olympic Boulevard” it says “make an immediate left not on the Ossian Boulevard nor on the Pelian but on that Boulevard tat stole its name from the true mountainous home of the very gods!”

My mind is sharp, but I crash a lot.


Intellectual Credit Rating

Is it possible for people in online communication to have something like an intellectual credit score?  The idea is that you run a risk when interacting with someone just as you run a risk when lending money to someone.  You are lending them your time and credence and to a certain degree your reputation.  There could be a way of quantifying whether people have repaid that risk with others in the past or whether they have ripped people off, and whether in general they act in a responsible intellectual fashion.  For example if they make it clear what would count as proof or disproof of a position and then change it accordingly when given evidence, that would give a person a good intellectual credit rating.  If they put forward a position and then later lie and claim they never said any such thing, they would get a bad intellectual credit rating. And so on.

My hope would be that this would not perpetuate an echo chamber — i.e. you can be a responsible liberal or a responsible conservative, and an irresponsible liberal or irresponsible conservative.  But it would allow us not to lend our time and attention and emotions to people who are bad actors.

Of course there are probably intellectual positions that are only held by people with pretty poor intellectual credit ratings.  But that is to be expected.  In a multi-level marketing scheme or a a factory that makes perpetual motion machines or some other scam, the only investors will be people whose credit ratings (financial I mean) tend to be poor — because they have bad judgment, and because their bad credit means they have fewer opportunities to invest.  So in the epistemic case.  People are attracted to fringe positions like flat earthing, anti-vaxing, and right-wing nationalism because they have poor judgment, and because their poor judgment means they have been shunned from or have deliberately avoided more responsible intellectual communities.

Needless to say if you want to engage in an argument with somebody with a poor intellectual credit rating you might learn something new — you will certainly be exposed to ideas that you won’t be if you hang with more responsible citizens.

But beware — you may also waste your time.


Victorious Purple

When I was in graduate school one of my colleagues Uwe Fischer was a strict vegetarian who lived very abstemiously.  He rented a single room in a working class neighborhood far from our school and paid for his school by selling gems.  He was doing research on the Inverted Spectrum Problem.

The Inverted Spectrum Problem is an argument against the philosophical view that mental states can be ultimately explained as dispositions to behavior.  The dispositionalist argues in a sense that human beings are robots.  When somebody says “red” all that means is he will point out a red object when he says it.  There is nothing so to speak “happening in his head” other than brain processes.  There is no screen with a red apple on it so to speak.

The Inverted Spectrum Problem asks us to imagine that there could be two people whose spectrums are inverted.  Person A sees green where person B sees red and vice versa.  These two people will both point at a red apple and say “red” but person A has a subjective experience of green while person B has a subjective experience of red.

Uwe argued that the inverted spectrum made no sense because certain colors have extra qualities that cannot be inverted.  Purple is victorious he argued.  It carries over the next hill to glory and dominion.  Yellow is cowardly.  There could be no person who sees the victorious purple as the craven yellow or vice versa.

Every paper he wrote received a failing grade.  None of the professors had any idea what he was talking about.  It was not scholarship to make unverifiable statements about what colors were, what colors made you feel.  There was private speculation amongst the faculty that Uwe was mentally ill.

Uwe owned nothing.  I saw him packing up a few papers and a book by Simone Weill from the philosophy lounge as he was leaving the program.  We said we would keep in touch but in fact I never saw him again.  He is unreachable on the internet although I have searched for him many times.

As he left walking down the stairs of Moses Hall he turned to me and flashed a victory sign.

“Victorious purple!” he said and flashed a glorious smile.


Who is the Man with the Beautiful Dreams

Who is the man with the beautiful dreams

Who is coming on a beautiful horse in beautiful clothes

With his beautiful body and beautiful face

Smiling and telling us his beautiful dreams


Mother, Father I am afraid to trust this man

I am afraid he will make my own life seem less beautiful

I am afraid I will envy him his dreams and his beautiful horse

I think I am afraid of myself

Maybe if I knew his life was awful I could trust him

Maybe if I knew he paid a lot for his beautiful dreams

Maybe if I knew he paid nothing for his beautiful dreams I could trust him

And that they fell on his soul like warm rain from God?


I understand that you are afraid to trust him.

That is right.

I understand you are afraid of how ugly your life will be if you never trust him.

That is right.