Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Building an Excellent Adventure From a GKC Quote

Wow... since I last posted here, I wrote a short story... nothing profound, of course, but just something entertaining. No "moral" at the end, no little aphorism to go around being burdened with. Instead, I rather started with the aphorism.

I took a very powerful line from Chesterton:
A man cannot deserve adventures;
he cannot earn dragons and hippogriffs.
[GKC Heretics CW1:72]
and built it up into a story.

(If this reminds you of God making Eve, I understand. But then you see I am made in the image and likeness of a Maker... see Tolkien's essay on Fairy Tales for more on that.)

Anyway, the story is called "How Mark Earned a Dragon" and it came out very nice. (Yes, the "Mark" is Mark Weaver, one of the Weaver triplets from Quayment, the famous book town on the Atlantic.) I hope that you will get to read it shortly, but that depends on things beyond my control. I shall, however, keep you informed about it. Yes, it really has a REAL dragon in it...

(Image from the excellent Larousse Encyclopedia of Animal Life)

But I mustn't spoil it for you. No, I have no plans on writing about how Mark earns a hippogriff - if you want to, go right ahead. I'd like to read such an adventure!

Friday, July 16, 2010

News for the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

First, I got some good news yesterday about a personal difficulty and wish to thank God for it. Clearly someone was praying for me very hard - and I am grateful for that too. Please don't stop. For my part, I continue to pray for all who read this blogg, and even for those who don't.

Now, for some more exciting news. I have finished the next component of my great Saga: The Tree of Virtues, in which we get to hear some more about Quayment and the Weaver triplets, about Steve Brown and his two young associates, and a lot of other curious characters. Some very unusual juxtapositions of extreme high tech, of strange history, and even stranger historical secrets... all interwoven with an ever-growing drum-beat, rather like Ravel's "Bolero". Oh yes, a will and a lot of money, and a snake too, and something about a secret under St. Peter's Basilica. Quite exciting. No artwork yet, as this one required a good bit of software to be written first, but I hope to prod the Art Department into getting something together eventually. Right now there's a lot of editing to do, and I'm still waiting to hear back from my lab assistants who are the first to experience our new products... hee hee.

Also, I set up another fun tool in the hope of keeping my computer out of trouble. It is busy determining primes of 15 places which are palindromes... Oh boy! We all know from the Media how important these are to our planetary security, so we can all sleep better knowing that numbers like
100 000 323 000 001
are prime. (After all - we all know from movies that extraterrestrials can't read English, even if they understand our method of measuring latitude and longitude, and use the same diatonic system of music... let's all hum d-e-c-C-G together, shall we? Hee hee!)

Here's another, just for your own personal satisfaction:
115 731 626 137 511
So elegant. I grant you there is wonderful art to be found in sunsets (or sunrises, if you are up early enough for them) and in ocean waves and rain and roses and frogs and stars and galaxies, or even in the muscles of the hand or the retina of the eye. But let us not forget there are marvels in the numbers as well, just as there are marvels in words and even in thoughts... so generous is our God.

Let us therefore, as St. Paul says, "dedicate ourselves to thankfulness." [See Col 3:15 as translated in the Divine Office]

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Oh no! Yet another secret organization!

As I have told you in the past, one of the very few real accomplishments during my doctoral work (besides the actual research that helped biologists with their work on in situ hybridization) was a small and quite precious collection of humorous quips. Some of them were phrased by others, and I collected them; some of them were my own. One which seemed to phrase itself was the very nifty insight linking mathematics and espionage - that is, work in the dull realm of national security/top-secret/classified information - and the more exciting and dangerous world of integers and the operators which manipulate them... Yes, it is a thrill to recall the antics which went on in that battle-ground where I spent so much time - the battle-ground of applied and theoretical mathematics. We who study permutations liked to call it "Ah, Almost Alone" - and our battle there came to be enshrined in one famous line:
Spies Like Big Prime Numbers.
No, I never had a tee-shirt with those words... besides, it wouldn't do to advertise such a wonderful truth. Of course now that I know some really big primes like 1 000 000 000 039, I still don't feel any interest in being a spy, or having any dealings with spies. And despite my recent work on primes, which I performed just to keep my computer busy while I am doing other things, the market for big primes is not what it used to be.

But such clandestine dealings continue to creep into my world... at least my fictional world, which is a lot more fun, and a lot more exciting. Actually from what I hear about the real world, it's not the spies who like big primes any more, but bankers. It's hard to get very excited about a fat guy in a vest, sitting at a desk and murmuring yet another fifty-digit prime, which is probably his account balance, and not his secret id code. Ah well. But then that's why God invented Quayment, and Rutevia, and Mbognu, and all those other distant places which make our world so interesting.

Recently, due to the death of F. Ralston Ludlow, a famous wealthy bibliophile, I happened to learn of a very curious secret organization... I am not quite sure what their real name is, but I have managed to acquire a screen-shot of their logo:

As such organizations go, these people seem to be comparatively benign... yet their head - or perhaps I ought to call him their FACE, since all we've ever seen of him is his face, a young, handsome face that smiles. Ahem. As I was saying, their head (or face) certainly seems to have all the sinister attributes of the traditional leader of YABSSO - Yet Another Big Sinister Secret Organization... except of course for the fact that as yet we've only seen his face. It's quite creepy.

We must consider ourselves warned. Beware of this group "IC"! Beware of that laughing face. We don't know what he wants, or why, so let's assume the worst anyway.

I'm sure he likes big prime numbers...

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Five-Five on Seven-Seven

It's the Nones of July, and that means all sorts of things... It means, for example, that I've travelled about 32 billion miles. It's not very far considering Alpha Centauri is about 750 times further, but hey, you've got to start somewhere. Besides, if I'm going visiting, I hardly expect to go to Alpha Centauri, which is a very nice place - but everyone knows if you want beer, you head for Earth.

Anyway, I was going to post some excerpt or other, since that would be appropriate - but I cannot decide what to post. Maybe I will just write a little commentary. The Nones of July are an imporant date in my Saga, since it falls between the birthdays of Bernie Brown (July 6) and Marty Felsen (July 8), who were both born in 1995. It was in 2007 that they turned 12, the year of the Motu Proprio about the Latin Mass (usus antiquior) - which was also the day they first received the shirts bearing the coat of arms of the Order:
I know you are wondering about which Order this is, but I am afraid you will have to wait for the book to learn more. For your edification, here is the blazon:
Sable, a mullet radiated argent; a double tressure flory-counter-fleury Or.
Motto: ouk eimì mónos "I am not alone" (from Jn 16:32)
Of course from another part of the Saga called "Joe the Control Room Guy" we learn that July 7 is the birthday of the unnamed "Doctor" at AC&TG. He wears a lab coat and does their software development, which he says was derived from a papal encyclical. Hmm, I wonder what that could be about? (hee hee) It appears from at least one illustration of that book that this Doctor carries a magic wand....
but I didn't think one could earn the doctorate at Hogwarts. Perhaps he attended Domdaniel... actually it is more likely he attended the Ambrosian, which is a famous "Newman University" in western Pennsylvania. Actually, from the information I have available, it seems that the magic that was performed was very limited in scope - and it was performed only for the sake of solving very serious technical difficulties.

And no, contrary to rumor, he did not make tea-trays float in the air. That was NOT magic... but perhaps you ought to just get the book and find out for yourself.