Always driving home

No head
No headlessness
Only the rolling road

–8 December 2007

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Have a Soggy, Foggy Christmas!

Marty (

) and I wrote a song parody a couple of years ago to the tune of “Holly, Jolly Christmas” from the Rankin-Bass animated production Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964). This TV special plays a large role in Hale family mythology, because I am often likened to the Bumble, or Abominable Snowman (see above), being tall, fat, shaggy, bad-tempered, misunderstood, and frequently accompanied by a toothache, or so the mythology goes. (Overall, I’d rather be a moose.)

Marty and I love Christmas (or whatever you prefer to call it), and we love our city. So listen:

It’s a soggy, foggy Christmas
In Seattle every year;
As you know, there won’t be snow,
But have a micro-beer!

It’s a soggy, foggy Christmas,
All the boats are lit up fine.
No-one’s out to run about,
They’re going to shop online.

Oh-ho, the es-press-o,
Grande, iced or hot;
You’ll want to stay up late,
So add an extra shot!

It’s a soggy, foggy Christmas,
But we’re all still full of cheer.
Oh hot doggy,
It’s a soggy, foggy Christmas this year!

Merry Christmas!

Clowns, continued

Upon reflection, it seems to me that even if I did manage to patent the alphabet, the media would probably treat it as a “human interest story” and trivialize it that way, completely missing or deliberately debasing the point I’d be making about our broken patent system.

Some substantial proportion of the US public still thinks Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11. If they can’t understand the stark facts in that case, how could they understand a relatively abstruse point about “intellectual property”?

There is such a thing as a hypertetrahedron

I’ve been interested in the fourth dimension for most of my life, at least since I discovered Flatland in my junior high school library around age 12. My recent obsession with 4D comes from the coincidence of two recent events

  1. My discovery on the web of the text of C.H. Hinton’s classic The Fourth Dimension and a printable PDF showing the colors of his Hinton Cubes, which are a sort of toy to help learn to visualize the fourth dimension.
  2. My watching the 1939 movie of The Wizard of Oz with my wife Marty and her sister Meredith, the night before Thanksgiving this year. When Dorothy’s house landed and she stepped from the sepia world she knew into the full-color Land of  Oz, Marty and Meredith  remarked  how perfectly the Technicolor simulated a new world full of things so far beyond one’s previous experience and conceptions that one had to find a completely new way to understand and represent them.

I wanted that. I ached for that. Once I found new vistas in pot and LSD, but then I discovered that madness runs in my family. I can’t discover new things that way any more; it’s too dangerous for me. But the fourth dimension is waiting.

That’s supposed to have its dangers too. When Martin Gardner popularized the Hinton Cubes back in the 1950s, he received some letters with warnings about forbidden knowledge that sounded practically Lovecraftian (even the dates are right):

Dear Mr. Gardner:

A shudder ran down my spine when I read your reference to Hinton’s cubes. I nearly got hooked on them myself in the nineteen-twenties. Please believe me when I say that they are completely mind-destroying… It is not difficult to acquire considerable facility… but the process is one of autohypnosis and, after a while, the sequences begin to parade themselves through one’s mind of their own accord. This is pleasurable, in a way, and it was not until I went to see Sedlak in 1929 that I realized the dangers of setting up an autonomous process in one’s own brain…

My inclination is to understand this dreadful, “mind-destroying” process as nothing more than the Tetris Effect. I survived “Tetris dreams” in the 1980s like everyone else. If I’d had them back in 1929, they might have scared me out of my wits, but I predict that’s about the worst they can do. Of course, if this blog goes silent for a few months, please google my name to see if the cops found a slack-jawed vegetable in a Seattle suburb, still clutching what looked much like a Rubik’s Cube — but somehow disturbingly different…

Aiiiee! The unspeakable angles!

Meanwhile, here are a bunch of the most interesting links I’ve found about the fourth dimension. Hey man, the first hit’s free.