Sunday, February 25, 2018

Reveling In The Glory Of Software (On A Stormy Night!)

0 fTo iterate is human; to recurse, divine.
~ Peter Deutsch
Well begun is half done.
~ Aristotle

Preamble ๐ŸŒ’


Whoa, Help Us Get Our Bearings!

It was a dark and stormy night… The pitch black sky remained sunk under mounds of darkness, only occasionally lighting up from the sporadic dazzling displays of lightning strikes. The stark storm bolts reminding me of the awesome power of nature; for all practical purposes, it was only during those fleeting moments of stormy lights that I was able to maintain my bearings on the desolate hillside where I found myself that night in the rustic countryside  ⛈
3 f
As I stood there, gingerly balanced on the parapet of the castle on the hill overlooking a deep gorge—peering intently into the deep gloom fore and aft which had swallowed up the night—an  especially ominous storm bolt seared the nighttime sky… ๐Ÿฐ

Wait, wait, cut! (Part I: Apache Storm) ๐ŸŽฌ

A Storm Bolt Kicks Off The Drama…

Did someone say something about… a Storm bolt, amirite? ๐Ÿ’ซ

How could it be, far removed from civilization as I was at that time, that my geek psyche—upon the mere mention of a storm bolt—had reflexively jump-started my mind into high gear with the recent adventure with, what else, but a Storm bolt, of course.
4 f

All Alone In The Supercomputing Lab

It was a dark and stormy night… There I was, all alone in the supercomputing lab, with the power of practically limitless computing heft at my disposal: My fingers were flying across the keyboard as I wrestled with, what else, but a Storm bolt of course. Scheherazade-style, I immediately set about crafting the telling of the story in one of the languages I know best: the language of computers! ๐Ÿ’ป
2 f

Recursion And Automagic, Oh My!

Recursion writ large… Anyhow, here was the problem I was trying to solve (should any of my software savvy sisters and brothers wish to give me a helping hand, mostly for a software postmortem at this time) at the witching hour, all alone; supercomputers haven’t quite achieved sentience, yet, so I still feel confident that my earlier statement about my lonesomeness holds water ๐Ÿ‘ป

Ah, yes, I was going to tell you about the vexing problem with the Storm bolt: If you all recall the beauty—so the adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is doubly true when it comes to us troublesome and troubled techie types—of using the Java class named BaseBasicBolt as our base class is that it "automagically" give us programmers two lovely gifts: (1) anchoring, and (2) acking. Storm does them both—anchoring and acking—equally well, swimmingly well! ๐ŸŠ
5 f

Brave New World Lies Yonder

(Fair warning: Not that it’s a bad thing at all—in all fairness though to my non-technical readers—but the next two paragraphs contain technical content… I straddle the two worlds, the technical and the non-technical, caring deeply for each in equal parts, because that’s my thing: crafting essays at the intersection of culture, software, technology, and engineering. In fact, it was a scant few minutes ago that I heard from one of my dear, non-technical readers—she was providing feedback on an earlier draft of this essay—where she had the following poignant observation to share with me, far too valuable to miss sharing with you: "If George Orwell or Aldous Huxley were living today, what would they have to say about today’s computers and the way they speak in tongues? It’s the Tower of Babel all over again, as the uninitiated grope around blindly in a brave new world.” Ah, for one thing, it sure rings true with me, and for another, now if only I could write like she does; maybe one day, though I wouldn't hold my breath; you're pretty much stuck with me for now!) ๐Ÿ‘บ
  1. When it comes to anchoring, all you have to remember is this: Within the execute() method of the BaseBasicBolt implementation, I'll be emitting a tuple to be passed on to the next bolt. At this point of emitting, the out-of-the-box BasicOutputCollector will assume the responsibility of anchoring the output tuple to the input tuple. In the other—complementary—bolt, we simply emit the result. What happens is that this outgoing order tuple will be "automagically" anchored to the incoming complementary tuple. As simple as ABC; no rocket science going on here! ⚓
  2. And when it comes to acking, all you have to remember is this: Whenever the execute() method of the BaseBasicBolt implementation has done its thing, the tuple that was sent to it will be "automagically" acked. Should there be a failure within the execute() method, the way to handle that is to notify BaseBasicBolt by throwing a FailedException or perhaps another suitable Exception. From there onwards, the BaseBasicBolt will take care of marking that tuple as failed. How simple is that? How elegant is that, now? ⏰
Eureka! I was onto my moment of enlightenment, woohoo! The lightbulb went off in my head; everything was clear, even as I pleaded the heavens to make it just so… Oh, to be unshackled from the chains of human bondage, all the while profusely apologizing to the hovering spirit of Somerset Maugham out there, somewhere, perhaps in the vicinity of where the caged bird sings… I know it now: the caged bird soared heavenward. I saw it with my own eyes.

21 f

All Your Dreams Are Strange, Love Comes Walking In…

Woohoo, problem solved, so it must be time for yours truly to go home, amirite? Well, not so fast, buster…

It slowly dawned on me that everything that I’ve finished narrating at this point—my adventure of deriving a unique solution all alone in the supercomputing lab—was merely a dream. Rats! A gloomy night like the one in which I found myself enshrouded, right out of something from the dark imagination of Edgar Allen Poe, sure can do strange things to one's consciousness… ๐ŸŽฅ

As I braced myself to absorb the full import of this realization, I took an ill-advised step on the castle's parapet where, as you'll recall, I was gingerly balanced all along, and then… I slipped!
10 f

Hurtling Down Into Empty Spaces

Next thing I knew, I was hurtling through space (barely half a foot away from the stony wall of the castle) but luckily, on making impact with the steep embankment at the foot of the wall, I fell—miraculously enough—such that my back rammed flush against the thick grassy slope, and whose cushion proved to be a lifesaver and a half!

Nonetheless, states change, shift happens, and I kept sliding down at breakneck speed down the grassy slope and headed straight for a Kafkaesque cave that threatened to swallow me whole ๐Ÿ™ˆ

Remember how Neo—in the first movie of The Matrix trilogy—had perilously slid down the chute, thanks in large part to the rescue mission headed by Trinity, and commandeered, of course, by Morpheus? (Or perhaps like Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner both riding the mudslide somewhere in Central America, in the fun movie Romancing the Stone!) I found myself in an eerily similar predicament… ๐Ÿ™‰

Oh. My. God.
7 f

And Into The Kafkaesque Cave!

For a few moments—for all I know it might have been at eternity—I think I lost consciousness. When I came to, I found myself not in a Kafkaesque abyss, but rather what looked like the maw of a gloomy cave… Stalactites and stalagmites all over the place, no matter in which direction I don’t my head. It sure felt like being in a spooky cave… A handful of sonar detection-savvy bats screeched past my ears and confirmed as much! Oh my, out of the fire, and into the frying pan, oh my! ๐ŸŒ

Mercifully enough, though, I had somehow managed to careen down the perilous slope largely unscathed other than some ragtag bruises along my back and legs. How that Kafkaesque cave came to be at the foot of the castle, or how that castle came to be at the top of the hillside above the cave, I will perhaps never find out… At that point In time, frankly, I couldn't have cared less for such epistemological concerns!

Wait, wait, cut! (Part II: Apache Kafka) ๐ŸŽฌ ๐ŸŽฌ

Careening Into Cloud Computing

Did someone say something about… Kafka, amirite? ๐Ÿ’ง

It was a dark and stormy night… There I was, all alone in the basement of a Menlo Park startup in California, with the power of practically unlimited computing heft—thanks to the marvels of cloud computing—at my disposal: My fingers were flying across the keyboard as I grappled with, what else, but a Kafka spout of course (I don’t think I was dreaming this time, or was I?) ๐Ÿ‘“
8 f

A Smashing Time With Cloud Computing

Needless to say, this particular Kafka spout—a programming conceptual construct of sorts—was the conduit out of the Storm topology and into my Apache Kafka topic! And there I was: I sipped cool lemonade from a tall tumbler standing next to my keyboard as I listened to a tune by Mark Knopfler (the song Golden Heart, if you really must know!) Life was good.

(Another fair warning: Not that it’s a bad thing—in all fairness though to my non-technical readers—but the next two paragraphs contain a fair amount of technical material… No rocket science for you techie types; just saying…) ๐Ÿš€

So here was the problem—not half as vexing as the one involving the Storm topology which I had dreamily wrestled with earlier on, in the supercomputing lab as you'll recall, but an interesting problem nonetheless—that I had set about solving with the Kafka topics at my beck and call: Remember good old compaction? Why yes, you know the routine where Kafka will normally store incoming messages for fixed periods of time, afterwards purging messages older than whatever the retention period happens to be…

Will You Change, Or Will You Stay The Same?

More interestingly, and closer to the topic at hand (pun intended even though we are generally chatting about Kafka topics), a software application can blithely use Kafka to store its current state. Anytime—make that every time—the state of the application changes, the application simply writes out the new state into a Kafka topic. And this is where the resilience guarantee of Kafka comes in: all that an application needs to recover (its latest state) is to reads those messages from Kafka to recover from a crash, and you're done! ๐Ÿš‘
9 f

Alas, Reality Intrudes…

But here is the rub, the fly in the ointment, reality intruding into our serene tub: Remember what we read above about good old—make that bad old—compaction? Indeed. So there I was, having a blast with handling the power to change the retention policy on a topic from “delete” (recall how it deletes events that are older than retention time to “compact”, which, in turn, only stores the most recent value, per-each-key, in the topic)?

Ooh la la,  here, then, was the dastardly fly in the ointment—fly-swatter anyone?—cheekily staring me in the eyes! Darn, my Kafka topic contains null keys, and you know what happens in such situations, right? Yep, compaction will fail, miserably so. Yoohoo, Tony Hoare, now did you really have to make that billion dollar mistake, did you, really? Arghh… (Someone hand me Maalox, and that, too, by the bowls so I may ingest the antacid into my bowels!) ๐Ÿ˜ญ
Maalox f

The Joys Of Eventual Consistency

Hmm…  I wonder, I thought to myself, if perhaps Apache Kafka will allow me to change the retention policy on a topic from "delete" (which, as you might know, will delete events older than the retention time) to “compact” (which, as you might also know, will store only the recent-most value for every topic key available). I wonder…

Indeed, such are the joys of eventual consistency ๐Ÿ˜‰

Just as I was getting warmer—not in the physical sense since it was a dark and stormy night, for crying out loud, dear well-wishers of mine—by the minute, realizing that I was on to a fabulous solution, I was awakened by another batch of stealthy bats screeched away, whooshing barely inches from my ears… ๐Ÿ˜ณ
12 f

I Make It To The Lip Of The Cave

Groaning and positively nonplussed that my magnificent Kafka solution would have to wait for another day, I creakily stood up, my back still hurting from the long skid along the hillside by the castle, and made it to the lip of the cave ๐Ÿ˜ต

A1 fDarn, I Feel Dwarfed

Feeling small and lowly—like the boy Jack in the palm of the outstretched hand of his nemesis The Giant—there I was, all tattered and torn, broken and bereft. Thus it was that I looked up into the sky and saw… a spark! ๐ŸŒŸ

Surely this couldn’t be happening, I thought to myself, rubbing my eyes in disbelief. My head reflexively jerked forward—the full impact of having been hit by the proverbial wall of bricks was only now beginning to make itself known to my body—and then, just as suddenly, my head jerked backward and I looked up again…

It was still there, that spark, hovering barely five feet above my head, suspended like a hummingbird in its selfsame incandescence!
13 f

Wait, wait, cut! (Part III: Apache Spark) ๐ŸŽฌ ๐ŸŽฌ ๐ŸŽฌ

Rescuing Machine Learning

Did someone say something about… Spark, amirite? ๐Ÿ”ฅ

It was a dark and stormy night… There I was, all alone in the Miami penthouse, with the raw power of an extensive server farm of brawny computer at my beck and calling: My fingers were flying across the keyboard as I put together a Machine Learning (ML) solution with, what else, but a Spark topology of course ๐Ÿ‘•
Miami f

Only For You

Due to its confidential nature—it’s for your eyes only and on a strictly need-to-know-basis—I can’t talk much about the monumental significance (both in scale and sophistication) of the ML solution I was carefully crafting in the luxurious Miami penthouse overlooking the soft and sandy moonlit beach which was frequented at this time by only the occasional crab or crustacean going out for their midnight snack… ๐Ÿ™
Recurse f

Of Infinite Loops And Recursion

Surely I’m not dreaming this time, or am I? ๐Ÿ˜‚

Immersed in my suspended state of recursion-writ-large (you know the routine about sometimes-non-terminating babushka doll inside babushka doll inside…), just as I was contemplating the lack of macros in the otherwise awesome language that is Scala—my ML solution sure could have used a Lisp style macro-driven boost right at that time—a gust of wind brazenly blew straight into my face and woke me up! Darn it!! ๐Ÿ˜ด
Emerge f

Yet There I Was…

I let out an audible groan this time—darn those oh-so-elusive tantalizing dreams—doubly reverberating my  earlier contemplation of how I had, and not too long ago either, creakily stood up, my back still hurting from the long skid along the hillside by the castle, and made it to the lip of the cave. But there I was, standing above the cave’s lip ๐Ÿšง

I looked up and momentarily saw—thanks wholly to the light from yet another lightning streak in the  nighttime skies above—a winding staircase carved into the rocky hillside merely a hundred feet away from where I stood. Yet again, as had happened just a bit earlier in the Kafkaesque cave, my head reflexively jerked down—the physical agony of having been hit by the wall of bricks was increasingly making itself known to my body—and then I looked up again…
15 f

Hope Springs Eternal In The Human Breast!

Woohoo! This would be my ticket, my escape from the sordid mess in which I found myself—you know the Kafkaesque abyss and the equally Kafkaesque cave where we had been spelunking. Truth be told, I wanted to give that staircase a bear hug right then and there (Hmm… On second thoughts, that might prove a tad too painful, you know, hugging the staircase and all!) ๐Ÿป
6 f

The Word In Spanish, I Mean, In Italian?

All the same, there it was, the loveliest staircase on which any human had cast their eyes. So lovely, in fact, that I got to thinking about the Italian word for a staircase: Scala!

Wait, wait, cut! (Part IV: Scala) ๐ŸŽฌ ๐ŸŽฌ ๐ŸŽฌ ๐ŸŽฌ

It Still Was A Dark And Stormy Night All Right

Did someone say something about… Scala, amirite? ๐Ÿƒ

It was a dark and stormy night… There I was, all alone in the Austrian Alps, listening to the sound of music softly playing all around me, surrounded even as I already was in fields of bright flowers that stretched in every direction until I just couldn’t make out the horizon ๐ŸŒป ๐ŸŒป ๐ŸŒป ๐ŸŒป
16 f

Somewhere In The Austrian Alps Now…

By the way, the transatlantic flights of late and cheap restaurant food have not done wonders for my health; in particular, my throat was hoarse as hell. So a word to the wise—especially for those of you into home remedies—that as I sat there squatting on a tuffet somewhere in the Austrian Alps (and hey, I wasn’t eating my curds and whey!) with my trusty MacBook balanced on my lap, I was gently sucking on some Ricola throat lozenges… (Good stuff, I’m telling you, that Ricola).

Dude, like, what was I doing all alone in the Alps? Frankly, I couldn’t care less how I had got there; all I knew—and frankly cared for—was that I found myself in a paradise-on-earth in the middle of springtime! On top of all that, I was hacking Scala code for crying out loud (If this be a foretaste of things to come, I’m toast!) Woohoo, life was good… ๐Ÿ„
14 f

Let's Get The Loveliness Of Macros Into Scala!

So here was the problem that I was trying to solve: implement and add the capability into the Scala programming language for users to create their own macros (Lisp-style). Oh yes!! (Out of thin air, the solution suggested itself to me; it came to me unbidden, so I really can’t even take credit for it). And did I mention that I make it a point to carry with me during my travels—transatlantic and otherwise—a vellum-bound notebook, Leonardo da Vinci-style, in which I write especially significant results and observations? For sure, my MacBook remains trusty as ever; it’s just that using a vellum-bound notebook on special occasions makes them, those occasions that is, well, special occasions! ๐ŸŽจ
Notebook f

Why, Hello Kitty

All excited, I sat down to scribble the magnificent solution—we programmers tend to think that something on the order of implementing and adding the capability to the Scala programming language to empower users with creating their own macros (Clojure-style) would qualify as a special occasion—in my vellum-bound notebook. But wait, did I hear a cat's soft meow, almost a purr? Surely this wasn’t true; I mean, what would a true-blue member of the feline species be doing in the Austrian Alps, for crying out loud?! ๐Ÿฑ
11 f

In Honor Of Fermat's Last Theorem

But hey—being the cat-lover that I am—I needed to get to the bottom of where the tantalizing feline sound was coming from… But before getting up, I scribbled something in the margin of my notebook only this much, even as the siren sounds of a cat somewhere in time beckoned wildly to me. I wrote: "Today I have discovered a truly remarkable software design (and implementation) for macros in the Scala programming language which, alas, this margin is too small to contain. Sigh."

Then I went a-hunting for cats and, as they say, the rest is history… ๐Ÿ““

Right at that moment, a particularly stiff breeze blew into my face and woke me up ๐Ÿ˜ด

Darn, waking up at the most momentously wrong moment—times number four, for crying out loud—is no fun! Dang!!

I let out yet another mournful groan—darn those oh-so-elusively tantalizing dreams—on realizing that Scala programmers hankering for macros (myself prominently included among them) would have to wait for another day. Oh well ⛵
Freedom f

Back At The Ranch

Meanwhile, back in the real word, things were looking up: the storm had mysteriously subsided into nothingness, into nothingness in the blink of an eye, and I found myself looking up into a clear nighttime sky. Much more importantly—for someone like me looking to lift himself out of the Kafkaesque furnace—the staircase ahead, a mere hundred feet away, was going to be my ticket to freedom ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ

So I took a step in that direction… Everything went well—and this is primarily for those dear readers who will settle for nothing less than the full gory details of our story in its winding down (denouement aka unraveling) phase—as I climbed up the staircase back to be reunited with civilization, I met an individual sure looked like he had been a sailor at one time or another in his life.
18 f

Popeye The Sailor Man, Toot Toot!

Shiver Me Timbers! There he was, standing upright, busily puffing away as pipe, evidently thinking deep thoughts, and only occasionally would he look up. That lonesome soul had clearly not seen a fellow human in ages because his eyes lit up on spotting a fellow human: me, having just climbed up the final step of the staircase.

He uttered to me (almost as if the desolate soul thought that I was perhaps a fellow seafaring chap) the following fateful words as best as I can recall: "It was a dark and stormy night and the captain said to the first mate, 'mate tell us a story,' so the mate began 'it was a dark and stormy night.’"
19 f

Back To Square One…

Oh. My. God.

No sooner had the crusty sailor uttered those fateful words that the sky suddenly darkened—just as suddenly as I had witnessed it clear up—and it was a dark and stormy night… all over again!
It’s been said that, All’s well that ends well. Would that that were true for yours truly at that juncture, hey, even half-true, amirite?

Yikes, back to square one…
20 f
Look into my eyes.
Can't you see they're open wide?
Would I lie to you, baby?
Would I lie to you?
Don't you know it's true?
Girl, there's no one else but you.
Would I lie to you, baby, yeah?

~ Donny Osmond (Lyrics from Would I Lie To You)

Shipwreck f
Through the storm we reach the shore
You give it all but I want more
And I'm waiting for you
With or without you
With or without you
I can't live
With or without you
And you give yourself away
And you give yourself away
And you give
And you give
And you give yourself away
My hands are tied
My body bruised, she's got me with
Nothing to win and
Nothing left to lose

~ U2 (Lyrics from With Or Without You)
A f
Oh, she takes care of herself
She can wait if she wants
She's ahead of her time
Oh, and she never gives out
And she never gives in
She just changes her mind
She will promise you more
Than the Garden of Eden
Then she'll carelessly cut you
And laugh while you're bleedin'
But she'll bring out the best
And the worst you can be
Blame it all on yourself
Cause she's always a woman to me

~ Billy Joel (Lyrics from She's Always A Woman)

Do you not draw me into existence, and into yours I draw you?
This is the last straw, why would I then claw you…

Shall we remains locked in our recursive scaffolding?
Where you draw me, and I draw you…

Can the frost freezing our resonance not melt away?
You thaw me, and I thaw you…

Does mutually assured destruction serve either one?
I bleed when you saw me, and you bleed when I saw you…

Let's wash our hands of old sins, shall we?
Where you would fault me, and I
would flaw you…

Enough is enough, roughness and lacerating gruff, no?
You bludgeon my armament, and I raw you…

Shall we will cease-and-desist, love and build each other up?
Where you laud me, and I laud you…

What are these voices from the past, they wail to us now?
Saying that you lost me, and I lost you…

Is forgiveness giving up all hope for a better past?
If so, let's remember how you first saw me, and how I
first saw you…

~ Akram Ahmad ("The Trampoline Of Our Lives" ๐Ÿ’” ๐Ÿ’• ๐Ÿ’˜ ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ž — A random poem of fiction by a writer, blogger, software craftsman, son, husband, father, brother, and friend)
B f
For in reverie you cannot rise above your achievements nor fall lower than your failures.
And take with you all men:
For in adoration you cannot fly higher than their hopes nor humble yourself lower than their despair.
And if you would know God, be not therefore a solver of riddles.
Rather look about you and you shall see Him playing with your children.
And look into space; you shall see Him walking in the cloud, outstretching His arms in the lightning and descending in rain.
You shall see Him smiling in flowers, then rising and waving His hands in trees.

~ Kahlil Gibran (from his lyrical poetry-prose-mishmash gem entitled The Prophet)
C f

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The 10 Most Intriguing Predictions Ever Made!

0 b
It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future ๐Ÿ˜ฝ
~ Yogi Berra (the inimitable baseball-playing philosopher)

Fellow Americans, we all grieve as yet another unspeakable tragedy rips our hearts asunder… Our hearts are torn to see playgrounds and classrooms in our nation turning into killing fields… I dedicate this essay to our younger generation: I salute your courage as you stand up and call BS. I salute your audacity of hope. I can see it in your eyes—yours is the generation that will put an end to future tragedies like this from ever happening again!
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

Preamble ๐Ÿ”ฎ

— Reader: Hey Akram, so what do you know about making predictions?
— Me: So I only now scant little…
— Reader: So how come you wrote up this essay?
— Me: So I could rant a little…
— Reader: Okay… Let me put it another way and ask, What got into you to serve up this balderdash?
— Me: So I could pant a little… (Pavlovian salivating dogs notwithstanding!)
— Reader: Hmm… Will you, um, deceive us with fake news?
— Me: No. Never, but of your trust you must grant me a little…
— Reader: I see. Well, how did you imagine us reacting to this bizarre start?
— Me: So I had wished to beguile you as I chant a lot and enchant a little…
— Reader: Groan, this is clear as mud… We’re not getting anywhere!
— Me: Oh, perhaps we should decant a little…
— Reader: You might as well go ahead!
So the time has arrived to decant the contents… (Check out the lush garden below, with the flowering-can in the decanting position!)

Shall we proceed? ๐Ÿ‘€
1 b

Decanting The Contents (Predictably Enough!) ๐Ÿšฟ

  1. Prediction About Life In A World Awash In Data ๐Ÿ˜
    — Patrick Tucker (in The Naked Future — Published by Current) ๐Ÿ˜
  2. Prediction About The Impact Of A Significant Other On One's Journey Through Life! ๐Ÿ‘ช
    — John Hattie and Gregory Yates (in Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn — Published by Routledge) ๐Ÿ‘ช
  3. Prediction About What It Takes For A Writer To Succeed ๐Ÿ„
    — Stephen King (in On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft — Published by Scribner) ๐Ÿ„
  4. Prediction About Cash In The Hand ๐Ÿ’ธ
    — Jelaluddin Rumi (in the translation by Coleman Barks entitled The Essential Rumi — Published by HarperOne) ๐Ÿ’ธ
  5. Prediction About What A Computer Program Is (Really) Up To ๐Ÿ”ฌ
    — Pierre-Yves Saumont (in Functional Programming In Java: How Functional Techniques Improve Your Java Programs — Published by Manning) ๐Ÿ”ฌ
  6. Prediction About The Words "Nerd", "Dude", And "Geek" Becoming Entrenched ๐Ÿ™
    — Steven Pinker (in The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century — Published by HarperOne) ๐Ÿ™
  7. Prediction About How Much Students Will Learn ๐ŸŽ“
    — David Perkins (in Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching Can Transform Education — Published by Jossey-Bass) ๐ŸŽ“
  8. Prediction About The Real Secret Of Shakespeare’s Monumental Success ๐ŸŽญ
    — Shakespeare (in William Shakespeare: Complete Works — Published by Random House Publishing Group) ๐ŸŽญ
  9. Prediction About Predictable Stack Usage (in Computer Programming) ๐Ÿ“ถ
    — Paul Chiusano and Rรบnar Bjarnason (in Functional Programming in Scala — Published by Manning) ๐Ÿ“ถ
  10. Prediction About The Limitlessness Of Inventing New Theories ๐Ÿ
    — Edward Ashford Lee (in Plato and the Nerd: The Creative Partnership of Humans and Technology — Published by The MIT Press) ๐Ÿ
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— Reader: Dude, are you done already with decanting?
— Me: Um, so I am, but only on the plants in that lush garden, and that, too, a little…
— Reader: Ooh la la, this blogger needs a brain transplant!
— Me: Methinks, too. Let's proceed with the implant, though only a little…
— Reader: I’m crying uncle, and aunt!!
— Me: Hey, no fair… But I suppose I shan’t be doing so now… For crying out loud, I had barely warmed up to tell all the truth, but tell it slant a little…
Oh my! Check out the selfie below. Right now. (Okay, so it's already inspiring a brewing narrative in your blogger's mind and deserves an essay of its own; stay tuned.) ๐Ÿ“บ
Selfie b
Now we dive headlong into our collage. Check out the picture below: Two brave souls waltzing away stoically even as they find themselves shoulder-deep in the deluge of data… What's going on?

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1. Prediction About Life In A World Awash In Data ๐Ÿ˜

THE date is February 29, 2012. The setting is the O’Reilly Strata Conference in Santa Clara, California. Xavier Amatriain, engineering manager of Netflix, is concluding his presentation on how the company recommends movies to users. In 2009 Netflix launched a $1 million prize to build a better recommendation engine. The conditions for the award were: the winning algorithm had to correctly predict the next 2.8 million ratings, around 6 per user, 10 percent more accurately than the current Netflix system (10 percent defined by rote mean-square deviation).
~ Patrick Tucker (in The Naked Future — Published by Current) 
Here Be Where I Bake My Take: Thus wrote Tucker in Chapter 5—a chapter with the intriguing title of "Unities of Time and Space”—of his fine book, The Naked Future. I think Tucker does a really good job of bringing palpable excitement to the narrative of how we came to be inundated by the tsunami of data. His writing style is slick, his reporting accurate, and his mastery of the domain (of Big Data) admirable. All in all, if you want to find out what it takes to make predictions in this domain—including of course the Netflix Prize of a million dollars—check out The Naked Future.

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2. Prediction About The Impact Of A Significant Other On One's Journey Through Life! ๐Ÿ‘ช

So we find that (a) positive student-teacher relationships can buffer effects associated with poor home background factors, and (b) good home and parental factors can buffer effects associated with less-than-optimal teacher-student relationships. But furthermore, Benner and Mistry established that students with the most favourable educational outcomes enjoyed congruence between the home and school. That is, positive relationships and expectations stemming from both parents and teachers predicted just who the most successful students were. The worst outcomes were associated with low expectations from both parents and teachers. Such research findings give strong support to the notion that every child needs a significant adult to express positive regard in him or her.
~ John Hattie and Gregory Yates (in Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn — Published by Routledge) 
Here Be Where I Bake My Take: Thus wrote Hattie and Yates in their fine book, Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn. And as someone who has searched high and low for the core components of what makes the learning machinery tick, this book is a godsend! It’s all stuff, no fluff. I won’t be surprised if each and every one of us—as we cast a glance back at our past—can identify one individual (or perhaps even more) whose mentoring made all the difference. Don’t you want to thank your lucky stars as you remember your mentor (or mentors)?

3. Prediction About What It Takes For A Writer To Succeed ๐Ÿ„

I predict you will succeed swimmingly … if, that is, you are honest about how your characters speak and behave. Honesty in storytelling makes up for a great many stylistic faults, as the work of wooden-prose writers like Theodore Dreiser and Ayn Rand shows, but lying is the great unrepairable fault. Liars prosper, no question about it, but only in the grand sweep of things, never down in the jungles of actual composition, where you must take your objective one bloody word at a time. If you begin to lie about what you know and feel while you’re down there, everything falls down.
~ Stephen King (in On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft — Published by Scribner) 
Here Be Where I Bake My Take: Thus wrote the one and only Stephen King in his extraordinary book, On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft. Take it from a doting of King’s memoir that if you were to read only one of his books, make it this one; I simply can’t say enough good things about it! He knows what he’s talking about, and, best of all, he knows how to tell it—dude, King is awesome! See how he grab your attention with his Spartan simple sentence above ("I predict you will succeed swimmingly…”) and took you along for a delightful ride? I could go on and on and… (As a matter of fact, I have done exactly that: Check this essay!)
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4. Prediction About Cash In The Hand ๐Ÿ’ธ

There are some mysteries that I’m not telling you.
There’s so much doubt everywhere, so many opinions
that say, “What you announce may be true
in the future, but not now.”
But this form of universal truth that I see
This is not a prediction. This is here
in this instant, cash in the hand!

~ Jelaluddin Rumi (in the translation by Coleman Barks entitled The Essential Rumi — Published by HarperOne)
Here Be Where I Bake My Take: Thus wrote the phenomenally gifted Jelaluddin Rumi—as presented here by his phenomenal translator Coleman Barks—in the gem entitled The Essential Rumi. Oh goodness, we do I even begin to tell you about the wonders that await you between the two covers of this gem? (Much like the pearl embedded inside the two clam-like shells of its resident chambers, you have to dig in and find out for yourself…).
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5. Prediction About What A Computer Program Is (Really) Up To ๐Ÿ”ฌ

In functional programming, you won’t see much logging. This is because functional programming makes logging mostly useless. Functional programs are built by composing pure functions, meaning functions that always return the same value given the same argument, so there can’t be any surprises. On the other hand, logging is ubiquitous in imperative programming because in imperative programs you can’t predict the output for a given input. Logging is like saying “I don’t know what the program might produce at this point, so I’ll write it to a log file. If everything goes well, I won’t need this log file, but if something goes wrong, I’ll be able to look at the logs to see what the program’s state was at this point.” This is nonsense.
~ Pierre-Yves Saumont (in Functional Programming In Java: How Functional Techniques Improve Your Java Programs — Published by Manning) 
Here Be Where I Bake My Take: Thus wrote Pierre-Yves Saumont in Chapter 13—a chapter with the rather workmanlike title of "Functional Input/Output"—of his interesting book, Functional Programming In Java. So this is where my true colors might be showing: I am, first and foremost, a hard-core software designer and developer who revels in the domain of the IoT (the Internet of Things). What better to capture one of the conundrums which besets us developers than taking a stab at the functional take on the crucial area of the logging done by a computer application? 
In an intriguing section entitled "Why logging is dangerous” ( which you find in Chapter 13, as I mentioned above), Saumont takes the lid off on what it takes to make predictions about what a computer program is (really) up to… A fair warning: The narrative isn’t for the faint of heart! But if you are up to it—if you are ready to stomach some of your fondest assumptions challenged—you'll find much of interest in Saumont’s marvelous take on making predictions about what a computer program ( from the vantage point of computer application logging).
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6. Prediction About The Words "Nerd", "Dude", And "Geek" Becoming Entrenched ๐Ÿ™

In the last edition published in his lifetime, White did acknowledge some changes to the language, instigated by “youths” who “speak to other youths in a tongue of their own devising: they renovate the language with a wild vigor, as they would a basement apartment.” White’s condescension to these “youths” (now in their retirement years) led him to predict the passing of nerd, psyched, ripoff, dude, geek, and funky, all of which have become entrenched in the language. The graybeard sensibilities of the style mavens come not just from an under-appreciation of the fact of language change but from a lack of reflection on their own psychology. As people age, they confuse changes in themselves with changes in the world, and changes in the world with moral decline— the illusion of the good old days. And so every generation believes that the kids today are degrading the language and taking civilization down with it.
~ Steven Pinker (in The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century — Published by HarperOne) 
Here Be Where I Bake My Take: Thus wrote the one and only Steven Pinker in his top-notch book, The Sense of Style. What can I add to Pinker’s scintillating account above of the guts of making predictions about the words "nerd", "psyched", "ripoff", "dude", "geek", and "funky" becoming entrenched?
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7. Prediction About How Much Students Will Learn ๐ŸŽ“

Academic learning time predicts rather well how much students learn, much better than time sitting in class. Such research reveals the tricky logistics of settings of learning. Just because the learners are there does not mean that they are learning much. Effective learning requires artful management of the entire situation to lift academic learning time toward something close to the total time available, making the most of it rather than letting it slip away like sand.
~ David Perkins (in Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching Can Transform Education — Published by Jossey-Bass)
Here Be Where I Bake My Take: Thus wrote David Perkins in his fabulous book, Making Learning Whole. Oh my, just in case you haven’t read this awesome book, run to your nearest brick-and-mortar bookstore to buy your own copy! Rather than repeat what I’ve already written about Perkins' work in this area, here I’ll refer you to that essay itself!
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8. Prediction About The Real Secret Of Shakespeare’s Monumental Success ๐ŸŽญ

The great scholar Edmond Malone predicted that “A time may arrive, in which it will become evident, from books and manuscripts yet undiscovered and unexamined, that Shakespeare did not attempt a single play on any subject, till the effect of the same story, or at least the ruling incidents in it, had been tried on the stage and familiarized to his audience.” He has almost been proved right.
~ Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen (in William Shakespeare: Complete Works — Published by Random House Publishing Group)
Here Be Where I Bake My Take: Thus wrote Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen in their sparkling commentary in the stellar tome entitled William Shakespeare: Complete Works, brought to lovers of the English language by the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company), which is a world-renowned ensemble theater company in Stratford and London, dedicated to bringing the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries to a modern audience. So if ever you've wondered what led to Shakespeare’s monumental success, read up this amazing analysis by two distinguished Shakespearean scholars—dude, these two guys (Bate and Rasmussen) sure know what they’re talking about.10 b

9. Prediction About Predictable Stack Usage (in Computer Programming) ๐Ÿ“ถ

The StackOverflowError problem manifests itself in Scala wherever we have a composite function that consists of more function calls than there’s space for on the call stack… The StackOverflowError problem manifests itself in Scala wherever we have a composite function that consists of more function calls than there’s space for on the call stack… But there’s no I/O going on here at all. So IO is a bit of a misnomer. It really gets that name from the fact that Suspend can contain a side-effecting function. But what we have is not really a monad for I/O—it’s actually a monad for tail-call elimination! … Using TailRec can be slower than direct function calls, but its advantage is that we gain predictable stack usage.
~ Paul Chiusano and Rรบnar Bjarnason (in Functional Programming in Scala — Published by Manning) 
Here Be Where I Bake My Take: Thus wrote Paul Chiusano and Rรบnar Bjarnason in Chapter 13—a chapter with the rather workmanlike title of "Functional Input/Output"—of his interesting book, Functional Programming In Java. By the way, real quick, did anyone notice the uncanny coincidence as you relate this back to the fifth element—“5. Prediction About What A Computer Program Is (Really) Up To"—in this pictures-and-commentary-mashed-into-one collage? Indeed, in the eeriness of the choices that were available to me, I ended up selecting an excerpt each (of the only two excerpts dealing with computer programming) from the 13th chapter of the respective books! Goodness, I did a double take on realizing this, whereupon I had set out to make sure this wasn’t a factual error (of commission) on my part…
Anyhow, this is going to be times number two in this essay where my true colors are showing: Much as I said on the first occasion earlier, I am, first and foremost, a hard-core software designer and developer who gets a kick out of working in the domain of the IoT (the Internet of Things). As such—given the premium I place on using computer resources efficiently—making accurate predictions about predictable stack usage is bread-and-butter for me. Enough said. (Should you wish for the gory details, I invite you to check this out…)
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10. Prediction About The Limitlessness Of Inventing New Theories ๐Ÿ

What is the relation between Gรถdel’s theorem and whether we can formulate the theory of the universe in terms of a finite number of principles? One connection is obvious. According to the positivist philosophy of science, a physical theory is a mathematical model. So if there are mathematical results that cannot be proved, there are physical problems that cannot be predicted. 
As we will see, Gรถdel’s theorems tell us that within any (consistent) formal system, some statements cannot be proven true or false. So Hawking is saying that, given some formalism for modeling the physical world, inevitably some statements within that formalism we cannot know to be true or false. Although this could be a huge disappointment to scientists striving for that ultimate goal, the grand unified theory, Hawking draws a more optimistic conclusion: 
"Some people will be very disappointed if there is not an ultimate theory that can be formulated as a finite number of principles. I used to belong to that camp, but I have changed my mind. I’m now glad that our search for understanding will never come to an end, and that we will always have the challenge of new discovery. Without it, we would stagnate."
With this conclusion, Hawking reaffirms my observation that scientists, like engineers, will never be finished. Although each formalism that we might come up with has its limitations, there is no end to the suite of possible formalisms. There will always be room for invention of new theories.
~ Edward Ashford Lee (in Plato and the Nerd: The Creative Partnership of Humans and Technology — The MIT Press) 
Here Be Where I Bake My Take: Thus wrote Edward Ashford Lee in his extraordinary book, Plato and the Nerd: The Creative Partnership of Humans and Technology. which was published just last year (in 2017). Okay, no beating around the bush: Much as I’ve said in a bunch of earlier essays—most recently for example when I said parenthetically in an essay elsewhere that this is my book-of-the-decade—so if ever you remember your blogger for having fallen in love with a book, this is the one. This book is my spark; it’s my joy.
12 bI knew it all along
You're so predictable
I knew something would go wrong (something's always wrong)
So you don't have to call
Or say anything at all
You're so predictable (so predictable)

~ Good Charlotte (lyrics from the song Predictable)
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Sunday, February 4, 2018

World's 10 Coolest Sentences Get Gangsta Treatment!

So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can't plant me in your penthouse
I'm going back to my plough
Back to the howling old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
Oh I've finally decided my future lies
Beyond the yellow brick road
~ Elton John (lyrics from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road)


Preamble ๐Ÿ‘Š

Brutha'—and sista'—we're gonna' be revisiting some of the loveliest writing known to mankind, but with a twist: We'll do all that from the unique vantage point of gangsta speak, woohoo! (Even as I invite you to cross over the threshold of this seemingly innocent essay, my feelings are tinged with sympathy for you; should I really be doing this to you, dear Reader?)

Such was the gravity of the question with which your blogger grappled during the past 24 hours. I'm tellin' ya, the life of a blogger ain't easy; it sure ain't a bowl of cherries ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’ ๐Ÿ’

Whoa, methinks I be getting ahead of myself so I be holdin' my horses now! ๐ŸŽ

Ah yes, so there will be gangsta speak in just a bit—mounds and mounds of it, I promise—but meanwhile I need to spare your sensibilities by indoctrinating you ever-so-slow(ly) into gangsta speak, into the hood', as I like to call it, you and others, playa' by playa' (See, didn't I tell you a moment ago that my feelings are tinged raw with sympathy for you, debating as I did to the last moment whether I even ought to be doing this to you, dear Reader?) ๐Ÿ’ช

The Decision Is To Proceed Full Steam Ahead ๐Ÿš‚ 

For an essay with a title like that—World's 10 Coolest Sentences Get Gangsta Treatment!—I got to thinking stuff like, "Where do I begin?" ๐Ÿญ

Yo, here's the lowdown: Whether it's the famished and starry-eyed boy in a candy shop, or the desiccated mosquito that has randomly buzzed its way into an oversubscribed nudist colony, or perhaps the inveterate book-lover as she takes the step in crossing the threshold of Harvard’s Widener Memorial Library, the question remains the same, "Where do I begin?" ๐Ÿ

Let's face it: Sentences are, after all, what make prose sing and poetry weep; they are, after all, the irreducible elements out of which we bootstrap our thinking; and they are, after all, the indestructible building blocks—imagine a horde of tingling LEGO-like widgets all-abuzz—with which we assemble and scaffold the edifice of our writing ๐Ÿข

The Elements (aka Journey Pit-stops) In Our Collage ๐Ÿ‘’

Tell you what, this time I’m going to let the cat out of the bag from the very get go ๐Ÿˆ

Yes, even before I regale you in the wherewithal of how I came to make these choices—my selection of the finest sentences that came to mind—I want you to know the names of the stellar writers who wrote them (Some of these names will be instantly recognizable, others perhaps less so). Here, then, are the authors who have either (1) already entered the Pantheon of writing greatness, or (2) are well on their way to crossing its threshold:
  1. William Shakespeare ๐ŸŽญ
  2. Stephen King ๐Ÿ’ฐ
  3. Mary Karr ๐Ÿ’
  4. Charles Dickens ๐Ÿฐ
  5. Samuel Johnson ๐Ÿฐ
  6. William H. Gass ๐Ÿ„
  7. Robert Frost ๐Ÿ˜‚
  8. Edward Ashford Lee ๐ŸŽ
  9. Paul Graham ๐Ÿ”ฎ
  10. T.S. Eliot ๐Ÿฑ
  11. Kitty Fassett ๐Ÿ’Ž
  12. Emily Dickinson ๐Ÿ† 
While there is some significance to the order in which the names appear on the list above—for example I wedge everyone between the two most supremely gifted writers that Shakespeare and Dickinson are universally acknowledged as being—the names appear pretty much in the order in which some especially memorable sentences of those writers' percolated up through the nooks and crannies of my mind… ๐Ÿ˜ด

Here, then, I present those 12 writers again, but this time along with the title of the accompanying commentary—and all that stash coming up real quick, fellow gangstas—on their craft, gangsta-style of course:
    1. William Shakespeare ๐ŸŽญ
      —Finessing The Duality Of Comparing And Contrasting ๐ŸŽญ
    2. Stephen King ๐Ÿ’ฐ
      —Impressing The Heart And Mind With Gusto ๐Ÿ’ฐ
    3. Mary Karr ๐Ÿ’
      —Connecting Minds Through The Rawness Of Tribal Drama ๐Ÿ’
    4. Charles Dickens ๐Ÿฐ
      —Scaffolding With The Power Of Balance And Proportion ๐Ÿฐ
    5. Samuel Johnson ๐Ÿฐ
      —Injecting Ethereal Layers Of Similarity And Difference ๐Ÿฐ
    6. William H. Gass ๐Ÿ„
      —Projecting Breathtaking Acts Of Balance ๐Ÿ„
    7. Robert Frost ๐Ÿ˜‚
      —Directing Emotions With Deftness ๐Ÿ˜‚
    8. Edward Ashford Lee ๐ŸŽ
      —Marshaling Reason Through Creative Vigor And Intuition ๐ŸŽ
    9. Paul Graham ๐Ÿ”ฎ
      —Melding Language, Thought, And Abstraction ๐Ÿ”ฎ
    10. T.S. Eliot ๐Ÿฑ
      —Corralling Fleeting Remembrances With Strokes Of Genius ๐Ÿฑ
    11. Kitty Fassett ๐Ÿ’Ž
      —Harnessing The Desiderata By Discarding Inessentials ๐Ÿ’Ž
    12. Emily Dickinson ๐Ÿ†
      —Carving Astonishing Feats Of Imagination ๐Ÿ†
      And hey, before anyone impugns my motives, gets all roiled up, and suggests that yours truly should be placed in a remedial arithmetic class—I know, I know, I've dragged in 12 authors despite brashly claiming that I’d be treating you to the "World's 10 Coolest Sentences Get Gangsta Treatment!"—let me say in my defense, by way of a rhetorical question, "Hast thou heard of thine Baker’s dozen?" ๐Ÿช ๐Ÿช ๐Ÿช… ๐Ÿช

      There's something magical about the number 10, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to make it a Baker’s dozen… ๐Ÿ‘ป

      (The actual story is a bit more complicated, and you don’t want me digressing no moh’, or do you? Easy there now! I was just checking… ๐Ÿ™‰ Sheesh, some folks do get all roiled up over piddling stuff, dayum ๐Ÿ™ˆ)
      Check this… ๐ŸŸ

      So here we are, on the threshold of diving into the sheer loveliness of those sentences—and as you reflect on the Sydney Opera House being reflected in the waters on its embankment—I invite you to take a few moments in pondering over the following question:
      Does art follow life or does life follow art?
      With that, we now be diving into the uncharted waters of gangsta land; here be dragons… ๐Ÿ‰

      1. William Shakespeare (Finessing The Duality Of Comparing And Contrasting) ๐ŸŽญ

      The Original (William Shakespeare) ๐ŸŽ

      As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him: but, as he was ambitious, I slew him. There is tears for his love; joy for his fortune; honour for his valour; and death for his ambition ๐Ÿ”ช
      ~ William Shakespeare (in The Tragedy Of Julius Caesar)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) ๐Ÿ€

      Brutha’, you gotta somehow keep love in the hood. Your man Brutus knew, however, that too much love make you soft and dat ain’t happenin’ around here; gotta keep the hood good, so chill, RIP (and I ain’t talkin’ Rip van Winkle, yo…). So Brutus did the hood a solid and straight merc’d Caesar with a dagger; yo, that's when we got Caesar all choking up and saying things like, "You Too Brutus.” (in the Roman language of course!). But da bottom line still is: another one bites the dust, and that why we got Brutus ‘splainin above ‘bout why he be killing Julius Caesar, amirite?

      2. Stephen King (Impressing The Heart And Mind With Gusto) ๐Ÿ’ฐ

      The Original (Stephen King) ๐ŸŽ

      It’s a question that people ask in different ways—sometimes it comes out polite and sometimes it comes out rough, but it always amounts to the same: Do you do it for the money, honey? The answer is no. Don’t now and never did. ๐Ÿ’ฐ
      ~ Stephen King (in On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) ๐Ÿ€

      When I read da sentences above—so many things clicked together in a flash—I got so inspired that I wanna’ give King a bear hug! 
      I’m tellin’ ya, King’s got it down good, real good… All he sayin’ is dat our society become way too materialistic; we all going down the drain, brutha. So I got a primo plan to nip the society problem in the bud. Yo, get with the plan and come togetha, show each otha some love, and stay warm; money ain’t everything, for crying out loud. 
      Rememba’ that dat wise-as-an-owl shrink sista' Mary Pipher (yo, she gotta a PhD next to her name, and even wrote up a terrific book called Reviving Ophelia)? Brutha, she now be talking’ about all of us becoming The Shelter of Each Other and stuff like that. Let’s all of us show our love in the hood for good? Brutha’, you gotta keep love in the hood, amirite? So go out and write—or read, or run, or sing, or whatever your thing happens to be—with passion and climb out all of the toilet-drain that is the making oodles of dollars, which threatens to pull us all into the vortex of no return… 
      Brutha’, we gotta keep love in the hood, for good!

      3. Mary Karr (Connecting Minds Through The Rawness Of Tribal Drama) ๐Ÿ’

      The Original (Mary Karr) ๐ŸŽ

      All drama depends on our need to connect with one another. And we’re all doomed to drama; even the most privileged among us suffer the torments of the damned just going about the business of being human… Still, a living, breathing human being—even a boneheaded or barely articulate one—conveys so much in person. The physical fact of a creature with heart thrumming and neurons flickering—what Shakespeare called the “poor, bare, forked animal”—compels us all; we’re all hardwired in moments of empathy to see ourselves in another. Hearing each other’s stories actually raises our levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin, which is what nursing mothers secrete when they breastfeed—what partly helps them bond with their young. It helps to join us together in some tribal way ๐Ÿ‘ช
      ~Mary Karr (in The Art of Memoir)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) ๐Ÿ€

      The way the cookie crumbles is dat we all need to connect with one another from time to time; otherwise, we all get the cabin fever. And you don’t want to go there—at da core, we real social creatures, all of us, so let’s chill. Thang is, the need to bond be baked into our very nature. We one big family, all of us on dis planet, so we better start reaching out to one another. That’s the way to go, bro’. That’s right, this sista’ be slinging some of the finest sentences imaginable! They all be the fruit of Herculean efforts. But the way prose be flowin’ effortlessly, a homie like you and me think it come easy; it don’t. Hats off to the sista’ now. 
      Her message be one of hope, one of warmth, and one of timeless wisdom—let’s start by playing some of that mushy gushy song We Are The World now…

      4. Charles Dickens (Scaffolding With The Power Of Balance And Proportion) ๐Ÿฐ

      The Original (Charles Dickens) ๐ŸŽ

      Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little ’prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in the misty clouds ๐ŸŒ‚
      ~ Charles Dickens (in his novel Bleak House)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) ๐Ÿ€

      Dayum, I’m tellin’ ya, that Dickens fella’ one mean writer; he be painting pictures with his words; and he got the art of writing down smack like no one else! A cool-headed homie, he nonetheless be writing from the wellspring of his fertile imagination, settin’ the readin' and writin' world on fire. Remember the lovely song Nightshift (by The Commodores) where they be singin' all 'bout soul/R&B singer Jackie (Wilson) and rememberin' us dis'
      Jackie (Jackie), hey what'you doing now
      It seems like yesterday
      When we were working out
      Jackie (Jackie, oh) you set
      The world on fire
      You came and gifted us
      Your love it lifted us
      Higher and higher
      Keep it up and
      We'll be there
      At your side
      Oh say you will sing
      Your songs forevermore (evermore)

      ~ The Commodores (Lyrics from Nightshift)
      No doubt about it, Dickens be one mean writer and prolific, too—settin' the readin' and writin' world on fire—but he always be serious, talkin’ grim business that make you scratch your head. My sweet grade school-teacha’, though, she tell me herself, many moons ago, that I be doing myself a favor reading Dickens; she sayz to me, "It’s good for you, it gonna broaden your horizons and make your mind groove in the right directions”, or something close to that is what I remember her telling me, my sweet grade school-teacha’ hesself!)
      While Dickens—he sure was one dickens of a writer—got the power of balance and the power of proportion, it's in their mixin' that the mean brutha’ outdo everyone. Erryone and their brother you care to mention, yo, he outdone them all! So even though he sometimes be writing all prissy about fog and other touchy-feely stuff, he make you think; he wrap you up—and no, not in nylon as Madonna would have you—in all kinda’ exquisite atmospheres with, as I was alluding to earlier, his smashing-good word-painting. He be my mayne man, my homie; he the real thang’.

      5. Samuel Johnson (Injecting Ethereal Layers Of Similarity And Difference) ๐Ÿฐ

      The Original (Samuel Johnson) ๐ŸŽ

      The style of Dryden is capricious and varied; that of Pope is cautious and uniform. Dryden observes the motions of his own mind; Pope constrains his mind to his own roles of composition. Dryden is sometimes vehement and rapid; Pope is always smooth, uniform, and gentle. Dryden's page is a natural field, rising into inequalities, and diversified by the varied exuberance of abundant vegetation; Pope's is a velvet lawn, shaven by the scythe, and levelled by the roller.” ๐Ÿ ๐Ÿ
      ~ Samuel Johnson (in The Works of Samuel Johnson)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) ๐Ÿ€

      Check it—the two rams in the picture above ain’t no Alexander Pope and no John Dryden. They both good homies, always dressing up real decent, wearing ironed shirts and shirt-ties, their hair all combed-back slick like Johhny Depp, with gobs of da real thang, that LA Looks hair-stylin’ gel; Pope and Dryden weren’t all that bad either… Hey, just checkin’, just checkin’, cuz’ no rams wearing no LA Looks! Just wanna’ make sure you all stay awake. No napping around heah’. (Disclaimer: I ain’t—never was and never will—hustling no hair styling products, yo!) 
      Ennyhow, here’s what went down with Samuel Johnson (SJ) ramlin—err, rambling—about Pope and Dryden, the dynamic duo: As SJ be tellin’ us, Pope real uptight, always makin’ sure he cover his butt; he don’t want nobody put the smack on him for violating uniformity in his writing. Dryden, on the other hand, he one cool goose, always chillin’ and going with da flow (he be my style of writer!). 
      While Pope give his reader prissy velvet lawns, Dryden be groovin, giving us readers the real deal, giving us the scoop at Ground Zero: Dryden never talking down to us homies. In fact, he level with us, and he level us—in a good way—with them mighty machine the steamroller, amirite?

      6. William H. Gass (Projecting Breathtaking Acts Of Balance) ๐Ÿ„

      The Original (William H. Gass) ๐ŸŽ

      In the preface to his Dictionary, Dr. Johnson whines (another persistent feature of the genre)—“It is the fate of those who toil at the lower employments of life, to be rather driven by the fear of evil, than attracted by the prospect of good; to be exposed to censure, without hope of praise; to be disgraced by miscarriage, or punished for neglect, where success would have been without applause, and diligence without reward”—a whine, yes, but how perfectly composed. As the reader reads these prefaces, ticked across a clock of ages, he can be expected to exclaim, Another lame excuse, still further transparent self-flattery, one more bitter complaint, abject apology, resentful pose, inadequate defense, insufficient explanation; yet gladly add, on account of the pure delight to the eye they are, But when has lameness or insufficiency—so common, so ordinary; when has flattery—oft offered, oft bought—been so acceptably employed, so agreeably offered, or so well and comfortably expressed?” ๐Ÿ˜พ
      ~William H. Gass (in A Temple of Texts: Essays)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) ๐Ÿ€

      Errybody know da story of those snooty literary critics swooping down like vultures and feasting on other people’s writing instead of doing their own writing, you know what I’m sayin’? But this gangsta’—a mighty righteous gaseous fella’ named what else but Gass bro—he different from erryone else: He going around writing some of the slickest prose this side of the Mississippi, Mark Twain notwithstanding. 
      I’m tellin’ ya, Gass the real deal, a true hustla', writing with virtuosity I ain’t see anywhere else! He write with valor, verve, uninhibited by what others think or what others say; he bring da subject—no matter what subject he be tacklin’ in an essay at any given time—to life in a way homies like you and I just can’t match.
      Plus the lucky stiff be married to an architect biddy who keep on building personal libraries for her hubby—Gass, who else?—to betoken her luv’ for him. So he be reading all day long, and he be writing his butt off all night long; dayum, after all that, homies like you and me ain’t got the prayer of a chance to match the prose that Gass be slinging… 
      In the sentence(s) above, Gass be giving us the lowdown on what another big dawg (Samuel Johnson by name) was up to when he (SJ who else, bro, and no, not SJ as in San Jose, cuz’ it’s SJ as in Samuel Johnson) was trying to tell us when he was yammering ‘bout them two rams dressed up slick with their LA Looks-combed-back fur, sunbathing on the mountainside—dang, me at times bedeviled by Freudian slip shenanigans—I meant to say that we were talking 'bout the two gents that we met (in the previous element in our collage that we got going here)!

      7. Robert Frost (Directing Emotions With Deftness) ๐Ÿ˜‚

      The Original (Robert Frost) ๐ŸŽ

      No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader. For me the initial delight is in the surprise of remembering something I didn’t know I knew. I am in a place, in a situation, as if I had materialized form cloud or risen out of the ground. There is a glad recognition of the long lost and the rest follows. Step-by-step the wonder of unexpected supply keeps growing. The impressions most useful to my purpose seem always those I was unaware of and so made no note of at the time when taken, and the conclusion is come to that like giants we are always hurling experience ahead of us to pave the future with against the day and when we may Want to strike a line of purpose across it for somewhere. We enjoy the straight crookedness of a good walking stick. Modern instruments of precision are being used to make things crooked as if by eye and hand in the old days. I tell how there may be a better wildness of logic than of inconsequence. But the logic is backward, in retrospect, after the act. It must be more felt than seen ahead like prophecy ๐Ÿ‡
      ~ Robert Frost (in The Figure a Poem Makes)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) ๐Ÿ€

      Frosty be one of them three solitary poets to make my list, assuming we’re not counting Billy Shakes as a full-fledged poet—his sonnets of course are a phenomenon to behold in their own right though he shaking the world of prose real good—and deserves high marks for slinging some amazing verses. Actually, what you got above is an example of Frosty’s prose, though he still be talking smack about his real love: verses of poetry! 
      This gangsta’ be a master of the turn of phrase. Check this: "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader…”. This ain’t no fool we are dealing with; he’s our own homie, so chill (If only he had done less of that Apple picking—I don’t like no apples cuz’ I’m strictly a coffee kinda’ guy and not dig da jejune you know, bro’—and more of Starbucks’ Coffee, I be talkin’ even more highly of Frosty now!)

      8. Edward Ashford Lee (Marshaling Reason Through Creative Vigor And Intuition) ๐ŸŽ

      The Original (Edward Ashford Lee) ๐ŸŽ

      The title of this book comes from the wonderful book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan (Taleb, 2010), who titled a section of the prologue “Plato and the Nerd.” Taleb talks about “Platonicity” as “the desire to cut reality into crisp shapes.” Taleb laments the ensuing specialization and points out that such specialization blinds us to extraordinary events, which he calls “black swans.” Following Taleb, a theme of my book is that technical disciplines are also vulnerable to excessive specialization; each specialty unwittingly adopts paradigms that turn the specialty into a slow-moving culture that resists rather than promotes innovation. But more fundamentally, the title puts into opposition the notion that knowledge, and hence technology, consists of Platonic Ideals that exist independent of humans and is discovered by humans, and an opposing notion that humans create rather than discover knowledge and technology. The nerd in the title is a creative force, subjective and even quirky, and not an objective miner of preexisting truths ⛏ ๐Ÿšง
      ~ Edward Ashford Lee (in Plato and the Nerd: The Creative Partnership of Humans and Technology)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) ๐Ÿ€

      This brutha’—Edward Ashford Lee—know all about bringing understandin' and keeping love in the hood. He neatly sidestep the prollem that a lotta writer folk got when they treat their readers like they stupid or something. But not Edward, no sir, he not have anything to do with making errything so damn confusin’ jus’ to sound smart. Instead, Edward do da exact opposite: he be servin’ his readers through his writing by (and methinks he take da cue from another smart cookie by the name of Albert Einstein) making errything as simple as possible, but no simpler.
      And dat the thing that bring real love to what Edward write for us homies. And to boot, he be sportin’ a great sense of humor on the reg! 
      That got me all excited; it’s a long story. So I wrote up my very first essay on the work off this brutha’. Then I wrote up another one. Dayum, and if that wasn’t enough, I wrote up a third one, the longest essay methinks I ever wrote! (Haven't had this much fun in a great long while!)

      9. Paul Graham (Melding Language, Thought, And Abstraction) ๐Ÿ”ฎ

      The Original (Paul Graham) ๐ŸŽ

      Experienced Lisp programmers divide up their programs differently. As well as top-down design, they follow a principle which could be called bottom-up design—changing the language to suit the problem. In Lisp, you don’t just write your program down toward the language, you also build the language up toward your program. As you’re writing a program you may think “I wish Lisp had such-and-such an operator.” So you go and write it. Afterward you realize that using the new operator would simplify the design of another part of the program, and so on. Language and program evolve together. Like the border between two warring states, the boundary between language and program is drawn and redrawn, until eventually it comes to rest along the mountains and rivers, the natural frontiers of your problem. In the end your program will look as if the language had been designed for it. And when language and program fit one another well, you end up with code which is clear, small, and efficient ๐Ÿ™‹
      ~ Paul Graham (in On Lisp)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) ๐Ÿ€

      So here’s my main jam with this brutha’, cuz’ he be groovin’ and movie’ the world of programming like nobody else. He be special, real special. In the passage above, he be tellin’ us all about the magic that happen when you be fooling around long enough with melding language, thought, and abstraction: heady stuff, so betta’ have your wits about you when reading what this brutha wrote.
      Take heart, though, cuz’ this Lisp hacker—an uber code-slinger of yesteryear—did a solid to the programming community by staying the course, even as he be slinging (and sharing with the rest of us homies) some of the slickest computer programs in the Lisp programming language that the world ever put their eyeballs on… And he be avoiding philosophizing about ethereal stuff like Mary Shelley doin' in her novel Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus.
      (Sadly, he no more be writing a smidgen as much as he used to, which is a dang pity cuz’ he know his stuff and he know how to write awesome… Graham be one of my main mayne and big influence on my own writin' style and programming philosophy!) 
      Here he be jamming about what makes Lisp the lispiest language known to mankind bro’, and womankind to be sure, so chill. I support our sista’, all of them—even Sarah Huckabee Sanders as I want to be reachin' out across the aisle—and of course to honor all of them my sista'. So I be a feminist, amirite?

      10. T.S. Eliot (Corralling Fleeting Remembrances With Strokes Of Genius) ๐Ÿฑ

      The Original (T.S. Eliot) ๐ŸŽ

      The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window panes,
      The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window panes
      Licks its tongue into the corners of the evening,
      Lingers on the pools that stand in drains,
      Lets fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
      Slips by the terrace, makes a sudden leap,
      And seeing that it’s a soft October night,
      Curls once about the house, and falls asleep
      ~ T.S. Eliot (from his poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) ๐Ÿ€

      Check the curled-up cat that be all asleep in the pic atop this element in our collage… She be a good cat. Much the same, poetry be all good, my sayz unabashedly! It’s for all reg’ homies like you and me. Brutha’, poetry be the distillation of reams of prose; how cool is that. 
      We now be entering the realm of corralling fleeting remembrances with strokes of genius (Different stroke for different folks, amirite?) And who betta’ to round up them evanescent thoughts than T.S. Eliot, a homie way smarta’ than all da otha’ ganstas' who be writing poetry with valor. 
      Brutha’, anyone even remember what I wrote up ‘bout another poetry-slinging thug by the name of W.H. Auden in a recent essay? (Hint: Say “Yes!” And keep your blogger’s heart from breakin’ yo, so I know you be paying attention to what I be writing, or I be preachin’ to the choir sound asleep?) 
      You know something? T.S. Eliot owes a boatload of (intellectual) debt to Billy Shakes. So our mayne man—who else but Billy Shakes, the leader of the pack who put down the smack on the readin’ and writin' world—the fella’ who be leading our list of writing loveliness, is still the biggest dawg of ‘em all ๐Ÿถ
      Even though he sling lovely verses of poetry, it’s the world of prose that he be shaking and turnin’ upside down! And so I be sharing a ditty I wrote up to honor my nemesis, the Bard: 
      While Auden may be the modern new thang whose poetry be pelting you both soft and hard,
      Yo, it’s still the inimitable Bard who be rollin’ with the punches and holdin’ every single card
      And so it is that I hold aloft the message I myself wrote up on this trifold placard
      “Yo, words never had it so good as when they were in the safe hands of the Bard!"

      11. Kitty Fassett (Harnessing The Desiderata By Discarding Inessentials) ๐Ÿ’Ž

      The Original (Kitty Fassett) ๐ŸŽ

      He had a mischievous streak and I remember his instructions to an employee on the makings of a martini: "Fill a large glass with ice, pour in a jigger of gin and just a drop of vermouth," he said. "Then when my wife isn’t looking add two more jiggers of gin." 
      He was an incorrigible punster, too, but most of all a gifted poet. One day he started quoting the first lines of his fiftieth reunion poem: "Return to jubilation! Scorn the woe – of mortal age and time’s relentless flow! — Do you know who wrote that?" 
      "You did, Pop," I replied. 
      He was disappointed. He’d hoped I would guess Milton. It was a good poem, although I resented one of its stanzas that stated that astronauts had returned to earth "on wings of mathematics." When it came to mathematics he just couldn’t let go. I liked his limericks better ๐Ÿฌ
      ~ Kitty Fassett (from her essay Pop’s War: My Father, the CIA, and the Green Death)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) ๐Ÿ€

      This sista’ got mojo like nobody else. While Kitty Fassett may not be a household name, yet, cuz’ she be an unassuming writer, she be second to none, writing with peerless clarity, grace, wit, and verve (Sista’ got the creds too: degree from Vassar, she went on to be one of the most refined pianists evah’). 
      So I be havin' the distinct honor of featuring a marvelous essay she had wrote up—my readers who come to this blog on the reg will clearly remember how this sista’ saved you all from my quotidian prose, once anyway for crying out loud—and not too long ago either. That’s right, this playa' be drooling over what she write, it so good: I decided to set my sights high, and be tellin’ myself, morning and evening now for a long time (and especially when on my knees, right before going to bed, with my grubby hands outstretched, imploring the heavens in prayer), that one day I be writing like this sista’. 
      Here’s what went down: Me, I be literal in my writing—and elsewhere as those in the know be knowin'—putting the whole thang on the page; she, on the other hand, be showing us through her writing how to go about harnessing them desiderata by discarding inessentials. 
      To take just one example—straight out of the excerpt above—she be discarding all kinda’ inessentials in the last two sentences (“When it came to mathematics he just couldn’t let go. I liked his limericks better.”) and distilling reams and reams of related thoughts into that above-mentioned lean and mean pair of gangsta' sentences, amirite?
      (Hey, had it been left to me, heavens-forbid, had I instead gone about capturing them same thoughts—you guessed it right for a change—I would’ve blithely plastered reams and reams of paper with pools and pools of ink. But not her; she be supremely gifted. Sista’ got a way with words. 
      Check this. What I got here is serious laughing gas—by who else but Gass who be projecting breathtakin’ acts of balance—which will illustrate what I got in mind when I said that, "Sista’ got a way with words.” (And you may look up the glorious details in the Dedication section in another essay). But in a nutshell, here’s what—and let’s now light up the torch—in the words of Gass: 
      He writes equally well in two languages: Nitty and Gritty. He is a minimalist because he compresses, and puts everything in by leaving most of it out. Joyce wished to rescue the world by getting it into his book; Beckett wishes to save our souls by purging us—impossibly—of matter.
      ~ William H. Gass (in A Temple of Texts: Essays)
      Sista’ be doin’ the writing hood such a solid—making us all proud in the process—that from now on I be calling her Little Red Writin’ Hood. But there’s a catch…
      Right, only prollem is, she so refined—dad-gum, didn’t I tell you a short while ago that sista’ be one of the most refined pianists evah’?—that she prolly don’t want no bizness with us gangstas… If she somehow find out, heaven-forbid, that I be writing like thiiiis, she put the smack on me, and I be out of the writing bizness. Forever…
      You prolly be thanking yo' lucky stars when that happen, sayin’ stuff like “good riddance to bad rubbish”, but I be a forlorn writing homie, all tattered and torn, amirite?

      12. Emily Dickinson (Carving Astonishing Feats Of Imagination) ๐Ÿ†

      The Original (Emily Dickinson) ๐ŸŽ

      The soul selects her own society,
      Then shuts the door;
      On her divine majority
      Obtrude no more.
      Unmoved, she notes the chariot’s pausing
      At her low gate;
      Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling
      Upon her mat.
      I’ve known her from an ample nation
      Choose one;
      Then close the valves of her attention
      Like stone
      ~ Emily Dickinson (In her poem XIII: EXCLUSION, from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson)

      Gangsta Remix (Akram) ๐Ÿ€

      I’m gonna’ level with you now… (By the way, regarding the poem above, was that writing greatness or was that writing greatness?)
      Anyhow, here's the thang: My verses are obviously ground zero, both literally and metaphorically. Yo, now why did I say that? Here's why: I used that million-dollar word (“metaphorically") cuz' of the symbolism of the epicenter of a phenomenon and I used another of them million-dollar words (“literally") cuz' of what I’ve shared above with you all in my hood—Emily’s rocking’ poem XIII: EXCLUSION as an example of her at the top of her phenomenal writin’ game—is writing greatness, amirite?

      I’m tellin’ ya, Emily is da one who mercs poetry, never ceasing to amaze her fans (yours truly notably among them!) as her sentences float around like butterflies—in the selfsame unbearable lightness of being—lifting the glory of verse to dizzying heights. Dayum, others then came long and getta free ride, or so they thin… But you know what? There still ain’t no one—many tried their hand in futility at emulating her—who be writin’ poetry not half as good as hers (Thang is, her impersonators try to do what she did, and then when it ain’t working out, they all bent outta shape, amirite?)
      She bad, the baddest of all the poets who ever lived. Sista’ betta’ than all them Yeatses, Keatses, Plaths (all put together, brutha’). You name em’, and my sista’ Emily outdone em’ all (Frosty approach her virtuosity a bit, and at times only, but then he get all bogged down in the mire of roads-not-taken and boondoggles like that. What else can I say?)
      Emily be the baddest, which is why she get to have the last word in the hood, our Pantheon hood of writing greatness!
      The collage be done now, but I gotta slip this in edgewise: See them two little hoodlums in the pic above? Brutha’, that be Emily, along with some homie whose name be lost to history. She be lightin' the way for future generations of writers—those crafting verses of poetry as well as those crafting lines of prose—in a way no sista’ (or brutha’ for that matter) ever done before…

      Emily, to you I pose—reaching back now through the incorporeal mists of time—with the utmost sincerity the following rhetorical question:
      People stay just a little bit longer
      We want to play -- just a little bit longer
      Now the promoter don't mind
      And the union don't mind
      If we take a little time
      And we leave it all behind and sing
      One more song--

      ~ Jackson Browne (lyrics from Stay)
      What do you say, Emily? Yoohoo, Emily, wherefore art thou? ๐Ÿ‘’

      An aged man is but a paltry thing,
      A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
      Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
      For every tatter in its mortal dress,
      Nor is there singing school but studying
      Monuments of its own magnificence;
      And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
      To the holy city of Byzantium.

      ~ W. B. Yeats (from his poem Sailing to Byzantium)

      We walk the highwire
      Sending men to the front line
      And hoping they don't catch the hell-fire
      Of hot guns and cold, cold lies
      We walk the highwire
      Send the men to the front lines
      And tell 'em to hotbed the sunshine
      With hot guns and cold, cold lies
      Our lives are threatened, our jobs at risk
      Sometimes dictators need a slap on the wrist
      Another Munich we just can't afford
      We're gonna send in the 82nd Airborne

      ~ The Rolling Stones (lyrics from Highwire)
      When shepherds pipe on oaten straws
      And merry larks are ploughmen’s clocks,
      When turtles tread, and rooks and daws,
      And maidens bleach their summer smocks,
      The cuckoo then, on every tree,
      Mocks married men, for thus sings he:
      Cuckoo, cuckoo.’ O word of fear,
      Unpleasing to a married ear.

      ~ William Shakespeare (from Stanza 2)
      When are you gonna come down
      When are you going to land
      I should have stayed on the farm
      I should have listened to my old man
      You know you can't hold me forever
      I didn't sign up with you
      I'm not a present for your friends to open
      This boy's too young to be singing the blues

      ~ Elton John (lyrics from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road)