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What is taller, higher, softer, smaller?

Anaïs Mitchell's version of "Riddles Wisely Expounded" has these questions:

“What is greener than the grass?
And what is smoother than the glass?”
“What is louder than a horn?
And what is sharper than a thorn?”
“What is deeper than the sea?
And what is longer than the way?”

And these answers:

“Envy’s greener than the grass
Flattery’s smoother than the glass”
“Rumor’s louder than a horn
Slander’s sharper than a thorn”
“Regret is deeper than the sea
But love is longer than the way”

So here is a twofold task for you. First, can you answer one or two of the following, in comments? And then, can you add a question or two of your own, on this pattern? And, if you stop by and others have already commented, feel free to answer one of their questions rather than one of these.

What is blacker than coal?
What is more slippery than oil?
What is faster than lightning?
What is more bold than a lion?
What is more fragile than a bubble?
What is colder than ice?
What is hotter than the sun?

sovay asks,
What is sleeker than the silk?
What is harder than the stone?

sartorias asks,
What is purer than the spring waters?
What is sweeter than blossom honey?

pjthompson, commenting on Twitter, asks,
What is slower than an old woman's step?
What is more barren than an icebox? a cabinet of ice?**
What is more crowded than the head of a pin?

(She supplies answers too, but I want to see what you'll supply)
**I misremembered--this latter is her actual wording

marycatelli asks,
What is earlier than a crocus?
What is later than an aster?

pigshitpoet asks,
What is loftier than a cloud?

cmcmck asks,
What is fouler than a swine?
What is deader than a nail
What deeper than a mine?
And what is slower than a snail?

khiemtran proposes some questions that can all be answered with "Holyoke Voles." (This makes more sense in the context of this thread.)
Who are faster than lightning?
Who are blacker than coal?
Who are bolder than a lion?
(Yes!) It's the Holyoke Voles!

Who are sleeker than the silk?
Who are tougher than the Moles?
Who are harder than the stone?
(Yes!) It's the Holyoke Voles!

marycatelli has a new question duo:
What is more silver than silver?
What is more gold than gold?

call it an organization

In a very-unlikely-for-me dream scenario, I was overhearing an insurance agent trying to tell a city baseball team manager one last thing when the latter had already turned to go.

"He says you're probably going to want to raise the team's insurance," I said, since I was near the manager. The manager winced.

"Call it an organization, not a team," he said. I conveyed this information back to the insurance agent, who then queried the manager about the "organization's" founding and structure.

"Well," the manager said, "the players pooled to buy uniforms ..."

I think it's very democratic and inclusive of my dream life to include things that I have ostensibly no interest in. I've just now looked at a bunch of pages that describe how baseball teams in the United States are organized, trying to see if my dream depiction bears any relation to anything. It doesn't. What I want to know is, how does a team get *started*? All I can find is about people buying teams, but at some point someone had to found a team, didn't they? WHY AM I EVEN WANTING TO KNOW THIS?!

Here is a player on the Holyoke (MA) Valley Blue Sox team. Before the Valley Blue Sox were the Valley Blue Sox, they were the Concord (MA) Quarry Dogs. That knowledge is now in my head ....




The high school volunteering I do isn't actually in a high school, it's at a special program for kids who have to amass a fair number of credits in a short period of time in order to graduate, and it's on the third floor of a downtown building. It shares space with a program for adults who never got their high school diploma, who are catching up on education and passing a high school equivalency test.

The program director had these little scenes hanging on her wall. She told me they're portales--representations of storefronts doorways (but a lot are storefronts; those are the ones I especially liked)--which are a folk craft. Hers come from Puerto Rico and Ecuador.

Here are some of them up close. If you can turn yourself small, you can go into them, and you'll find yourself in the actual place. I think. I mean, it stands to reason, right?

I said it would be fun to make those for storefronts here, and she said, "Wouldn't it! And our students would love it; they're so creative. I can't tell you how many times I've written grants for arts-related things, but we never win them."

Electoral defeat for Irom Sharmila

Irom Sharmila got just 90 votes in the election. When interviewed by K Sarojkumar Sharma of the Times of India, she said

"I knew it would be a very difficult task for me to fight a three-time chief minister in this election. I got 90 votes which I consider very precious ... Though I have been defeated, I'll continue to fight against the draconian [Armed Forces Special Powers] Act." (Source)

However, she won't be doing it through politics. "I will fight as a social activist," she said. (Source)

Good for her for trying politics, and good for her for deciding to take a different approach for now. Still cheering for you, Sharmila!

fairy path

Missy went walking
On the fairy path one day
And this alone remains
After she was spirited away

"Stargazing," by Leticia Rossi

Remember when I reported about the Five College Student Film Festival, and there was one film I really liked but that wasn't available online? I sent an email to the creator, and she sent me a link. (3.22 minutes) I really love the simple images and her thoughts ...

Then, looking up at night can make us feel connected, not only with each other, but with everything that exists ... Maybe we like stargazing because it makes us reflect on our places in the universe, and suddenly our mundane problems don't feel so heavy when you look into infinity.

and also the various facts she shares--like the size of the sun relative to Aldabaran.

Here's "Stargazing," by Leticia Rossi. Enjoy!

Irom Sharmila's new life

For 16 years Irom Sharmila tried to use the moral suasion of a hunger strike to gain the repeal of a law that granted the military impunity in her state of Manipur, India. It didn't work: she was reduced to the role of icon and symbol, going through the same motions year after year, without accomplishing her goal, while meanwhile her life slipped away.

Then last year, she did a remarkable thing: she ended her fast and declared she was going to enter politics to try to accomplish her goal that way. There are segments of the population who haven't been happy about that--they preferred her as an inspiring icon on a shelf; they don't want her "dirtied" by politics. But that hasn't deterred her. She's formed her own political party, People's Resurgence and Justice Alliance, and among the other candidates on the slate are Najima Bibi, the first Muslim woman to run for office in Manipur. Najima Bibi is an advocate for women's rights and the founder of a home for destitute women. Erendro Leichombam, another candidate, has worked for the United Nations Development Programme.

Erendro Leichombam, Irom Sharmila, and Najima Bibi, PRJA candidates

Source: Hindustan Times

Writing for firstpost.com, Amukhomba Ngangbam says,

The party's poll plank is based on three pillars - incorruptibility, people's voice and hope for change. The party's campaign style is different from the conventional big rallies, fanfare and flags. It's a door-to-door campaign, where party members visit houses and spend 10-15 minutes talking to available family members about Manipur's issues, the family's problems and the party's objectives.

Unlike other parties, which distribute cash during election campaigns, Sharmila's team seeks donations from the people.

To get from place to place, Sharmila has been bicycling:

Source: Hindustan Times

For a campaign symbol, they have been handing out whistles, with the idea that people can be whistleblowers.

Photo: Oinam Anand, for Indian Express

Manipur has layers of colonization and marginalization and corruption and political and other violence stewing in the pot, and what seems like a good idea to an outsider can be recognized as a disaster by someone in the know locally, and same in reverse with bad ideas, so I have no intention of commenting on PRJA's platform and what will work out best for Manipur.

However, I think candidates talking one on one with people is an excellent thing, and I am very happy for Sharmila in a personal way, as I think being in the world, meeting people, and trying to accomplish things with others is also an excellent thing.

The first round of elections is tomorrow! Whatever happens, I wish all the best for Sharmila as she takes on new tasks and challenges.

This one is on rebellion as mental illness: "How to Be a Better Dictator: Much Madness Is Divinest Sense."

It is so much easier to help patients who already accept their own insanity: they are far more amenable to replacing their bad thoughts (“I’m unhappy because society is so unfair; only revolution can make me happy”) with good ones (“I’m unhappy because my brain chemistry is broken; I know this must be true because only a person with a defective brain could be unhappy in a society as wonderful as the one I live in. Only submitting completely to treatment will make me happy”).

Princess of small creatures

Last Thursday wakanomori and I were in the town of Turner's Falls, and we saw this fabulous mural (photo is his).

So much story in there. I'm ready to like this lady of small creatures right away.

Two sounds and a thought

I am having trouble posting--not technical trouble; inside-my-head trouble. Nothing is in my Goldilocks zone. It's either too one-thing or too another-thing. WELL GOLDILOCKS, I'M ALL OUT OF LUKEWARM PORRIDGE SO YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO ACCEPT THIS.

Sound One is the dawn chorus of fishes, which ann_leckie reblogged on Tumblr. How about that! Fishes sing to greet the day, just like birds. I am sure there are places where people set out in boats before dawn to hear those songs.

Sound Two is the woodcock. He's doing his mating call (peeent, peeent) and his mating dance (a twittering, spiraling flight up into the air) already, earliest I've ever noticed. One of my favorite memories is going out with the healing angel to witness the dance. The woodcock is such a sweet, shy, dorky-looking bird; I'm glad his mating ritual is such a grand display.

The thought has to do with law-breaking and hypocrisy. I wrote a whole entry on this and then deleted it. Here's the executive summary: There is not a driver I know (including myself) who doesn't sometimes drive faster than the speed limit. This is, however, a crime. People's excuses for their behavior fall into the everybody-does-it category, the the-posted-speed-in-this-area-is-ridiculous category, and the I-normally-don't-but-today-I-was-late/it-was-urgent category. Whatever. The point is, people are willing to break that law for, essentially, no good reason whatsoever. It's not like exceeding the speed limit offers the possibility of freedom from a life of hardship and deprivation. Nope. People just... do it. And yet speeding--especially if you go considerably above the speed limit (which, admittedly, not everyone who speeds does) makes you an actual threat to people--like, your likelihood of killing someone goes up. You know what doesn't increase your likelihood of killing someone? Crossing a border without papers in hopes of gaining work. So. No one who speeds should ever use "but they're breaking the law" as a way to condemn undocumented immigrants.

How's that for mood shift! Goldilocks has her head in her hands. Sorry, kid.

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