Always read the plaque

 Quote of the Day  Comments Off on Always read the plaque
Dec 202014

On my list of podcasts is 99% Invisible, whose creator, Roman Mars (and is there a better name that Roman Mars?) Has the above as his personal motto.

One sees lots and lots of carved stone plaques like this at every ancient Greek site, of which there are many in Turkey.

ancient plaqueplaque detail







I always wondered what they said. Celebrating great victories? Dedications to the gods? Finally, at a fabulous place called Patara, my question was answered.

Honorary Inscription of the people of Patara for Marcus Antonius Idagras

The people of Patara has honoured – with the people having introduced the motion concerning the honours for him – Marcus Antonius Idagras, son of Antipatros, citizen of Rome and of Patara, who was general of the Lycran League (selected) from al Lycians ambassador on behalf of the demos and of the Lycians to the (Roman) imperatores and received privileges to the advantage of the League and through his request obtained  discharge of 600 (fellow) citizens from military service; who at Argos won the boys’ pankration as the first of the Lycians, and at the Rhomaia organized by the Lycian League every four years as isolympic games (won) the boys and the teenagers’ pankration, and at the Letoa organized by the Lyclan League  and at the Rhomaia at Rhodes (won) the boys’ pankration; who also won other holy and stephanitic contests, with a golden wreath and a bronze statue, because he is an excellent man in the tradition of his ancestors.

Its a completely typical plaque. I have a similar one from a board I was on for a time. Nothing changes except the medium.

“Because he is an excellent man in the tradition of his ancestors.” I love that.

 Posted by at 11:02 pm


 Religion  Comments Off on Screwtape
Dec 192014

After writing the great “Out of the Silent Planet“. a pioneering work of science fiction, and before writing the famous “Chronicles of Narnia”, CS Lewis wrote a thin volume called, “The Screwtape Letters“, published in 1942. I consider it to be on a par with “The Prince”. The letters are written from Hell by Screwtape,  a veteran demon giving advice to his young nephew, a novice tempter. Lewis took an explicit and conventional Christian belief system as his starting point. In spite of that (says I) the book is full of insight into human character.

Substitute “irony” for “flippancy” in the following, cited by Screwtape as an aide to exploiting human frailties:

But flippancy is the best of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny. Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it. If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour-plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter. It is a thousand miles away from joy it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practice it,

Your affectionate uncle   SCREWTAPE

C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis


Lewis dedicated Screwtape to his good friend and fellow Oxford don, JRR Tolkien. I think Tolkein may have based Bilbo Baggins on Lewis, who gave Tolkein a lot of encouragement to write about Middle Earth.


 Posted by at 4:42 am


 Picture of the Day  Comments Off on Exit
Dec 162014

In memoriam for the demise of a great Seattle institution


 Posted by at 9:50 pm


 Essay  Comments Off on Lost
Dec 132014

For some reason I have been thinking how I miss the Occupy Wall Street movement. They had trenchant humor

corporations are people

and righteous indignation
shit is

And terrific graphics

take the square

direct action


And where are the movies? Where is the romantic comedy about the two people pictured above? Where is Shia LaBeouf as the cynical police sergeant awakening to what’s really going on? Where is Paul Giamati as a city bureaucrat trying to cope? Where’s Peter Sarsgaard  as a protest leader? Where’s Amy Adams doing whatever she wants? Sound check,  film makers!

By the way, I googled the phrase “shit is fucked up and bullshit” to find the image above. The images page for that search is just great.

 Posted by at 6:58 pm