A Verse That Can’t Be Emailed: The Forbidden String: MEGA.NZ

You may well find that you cannot send an email containing this domain name!

Recently found that emails sent were not arriving — no bounce, and eventually discovered that they were being tossed for containing a specific domain name, that of the cloud storage I use, which I cannot name lest this email go also awry. Anyway, it inspired the following:

M3GA.NZ, The Forbidden String

Email speech just isn’t free.
Change “3” to “E” and try
To email these few lines and see!
Yes, you might well ask “Why?”!

It seems that some domains offend,
They’re words we may not say.
No mail with those words can we send.
It’s simply thrown away.

They say that it reduces spam
And that might well be true
But to repress these tins of ham
My every word’s gone through

in search of a seditious trope
Or some unsanctioned claim
Which bodes a secret slippery slope
Of outlawed word and name.

Our email content — word and thought
Thus fails to flourish free
And there may well be others, not
Just MEGA dot en zee.


— K. Titchenell

Rhetorical Devices used in the Amanda Gorman poem “The Hill We Climb”

Amanda Gorman poem “The Hill We Climb”

Amanda Gorman followed President Biden’s inaugural address to deliver “The Hill We Climb,” echoing many of Biden’s platform planks in dense rhetoric. At 23, Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet ever.  PBS made a lesson plan out of it.

Read the entire transcript of Gorman’s words and “The Hill We Climb”:

Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world,

when day comes we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry a sea we must wade.

We’ve braved the belly of the beast. [alliteration][rhyme]

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace. In the norms and notions of what just is isn’t always justice. [paronomasia][alliteration]

And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it.

Somehow we do it. [rhyme]

Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed [alliteration] a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine,[alliteration][anaphora] but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.[allusion] We are striving to forge our union with purpose. To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions [alliteration]of man. And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.[antithesis] [alliteration]

We close the divide

because we know to put our future first, we must first put [epanodos]our differences aside.[rhyme]

We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms [antanaclasis]to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony [paronomasia]  for all.

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.[hyperbaton]

That even as we grieved, we grew. [rhyme]

That even as we hurt, we hoped[alliteration]. That even as we tired, we tried that will forever be tied together[alliteration][paronomasia], victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.[alliteration][assonance][antithesis]

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their[synesis error] own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid.

If we’re to live up to her own time, then

victory won’t lie in the blade,

but in all the bridges [alliteration] we’ve made.

That is the promise to glade[rhyme]

, the hill we climb if only we dare. It’s

because being American is more than a pride we inherit.

It’s the past we step into[antithesis] and how we repair it.[rhyme]

We’ve seen a forest that would shatter our nation rather than share[alliteration] it. [antithesis]

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.[alliteration] In this truth, in this faith we trust for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.[epanodos]

This is the era of just redemption.

We feared it at its inception.

We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour,

but within it, we found the power[rhyme]

to author a new chapter,

to offer hope and laughter[rhyme]

to ourselves so while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe? Now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us? [epanodos or chiasmus]

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be a country that is bruised, but whole, benevolent, but bold[alliteration], fierce, and free[alliteration]. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation

because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance[alliteration] of the next generation.[rhyme]

Our blunders become their burdens[alliteration]. But one thing is certain,

if we merge mercy with might

and might with right[alliteration][adadiplosis],

then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.[rhyme]

So let us leave behind a country better than one we were left with. Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.[alliteration] We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the West. We will rise from the wind-swept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the Lake Rim cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South.[anaphora] We will rebuild, reconcile and recover[alliteration][parallelism] in every known nook of our nation,[alliteration] in every[anaphora] corner called our country[alliteration] our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful[alliteration].

When day comes, we step out of the shade

aflame and unafraid. [rhyme]

The new dawn blooms as we free it. [metaphor]

For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it.

If only we’re brave enough to be it. [rhyme][anaphora]

The Ben and Laura Jig

Performed by Ben Hockman

A Psalm of Life — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A Psalm of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!—
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,—act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Pangur Bán — An eighth century monk and his cat

Translated from the Irish by Robin Flower:

The scholar and His Cat, Pangur Bán’

I and Pangur Ban my cat,
Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.

Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

English translation by W. H. Auden:

Pangur, white Pangur, How happy we are
Alone together, scholar and cat
Each has his own work to do daily;
For you it is hunting, for me study.
Your shining eye watches the wall;
My feeble eye is fixed on a book.
You rejoice, when your claws entrap a mouse;
I rejoice when my mind fathoms a problem.
Pleased with his own art, neither hinders the other;
Thus we live ever without tedium and envy.

Cranky Old Man poem

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.
Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.
One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.
And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet.
Cranky Old Man
What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .. . … . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . .’I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice . . .the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . .. . . A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not . . . … lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . .The long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking?. .Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am . . . . .. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, .. . . . as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .. . . .. . who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty . . . ..my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now . . . . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . .. . . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . .. With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me . . to see I don’t mourn.
At Fifty, once more, .. …Babies play ’round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me . . . . My wife is now dead.
I look at the future … . . . . I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing .. . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . And the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.
It’s jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells
I remember the joys . . . . .. . I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living . . . . . . . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few . . .. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
Not a cranky old man .
Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. …. . ME!!
Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within. We will all, one day, be there, too!

The Arsenal at Springfield By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This is the Arsenal. From floor to ceiling,
Like a huge organ, rise the burnished arms;
But from their silent pipes no anthem pealing
Startles the villages with strange alarms.

Ah! what a sound will rise, how wild and dreary,
When the death-angel touches those swift keys!
What loud lament and dismal Miserere
Will mingle with their awful symphonies!

I hear even now the infinite fierce chorus,
The cries of agony, the endless groan,
Which, through the ages that have gone before us,
In long reverberations reach our own.

On helm and harness rings the Saxon hammer,
Through Cimbric forest roars the Norseman’s song,
And loud, amid the universal clamor,
O’er distant deserts sounds the Tartar gong.

I hear the Florentine, who from his palace
Wheels out his battle-bell with dreadful din,
And Aztec priests upon their teocallis
Beat the wild war-drums made of serpent’s skin;

The tumult of each sacked and burning village;
The shout that every prayer for mercy drowns;
The soldiers’ revels in the midst of pillage;
The wail of famine in beleaguered towns;

The bursting shell, the gateway wrenched asunder,
The rattling musketry, the clashing blade;
And ever and anon, in tones of thunder
The diapason of the cannonade.

Is it, O man, with such discordant noises,
With such accursed instruments as these,
Thou drownest Nature’s sweet and kindly voices,
And jarrest the celestial harmonies?

Were half the power, that fills the world with terror,
Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts,
Given to redeem the human mind from error,
There were no need of arsenals or forts:

The warrior’s name would be a name abhorred!
And every nation, that should lift again
Its hand against a brother, on its forehead
Would wear forevermore the curse of Cain!

Down the dark future, through long generations,
The echoing sounds grow fainter and then cease;
And like a bell, with solemn, sweet vibrations,
I hear once more the voice of Christ say, “Peace!”


The real value of an academic degree — not much.


The Shadow Scholar, by Ed Dante (pseudonym), a paper by a pay-per-project academic ghostwriter, demonstrates how the proliferation of ghost writing has reduced academic degrees and distinction to an expensive commodity enabling nearly anyone of wealth, regardless of incompetence and illiteracy to obtain one, but not those deserving of them.

We are not talking simple plagiarism here — the illicit use of the works of others without permission or proper citation.  Search engines have rendered this type of plagiarism pointless and dangerous.  This is also not a discussion of papers-for-sale databases.  There are indeed many repositories of papers for sale and also software packages purporting to detect fraudulent papers — both highly lucrative business models that feed upon each other in an unholy symbiosis akin to that of viruses and antivirus software. But plagiarism is not really the core problem in academia.

Papers custom crafted for one single use by expert ghost writers earn top dollar, particularly when done to tight deadlines, and are undetectable as fraudulent as they are unique and written to order.  These are not examples of plagiarism, but of pseudepigraphy or false attribution, an infraction to which academic institutions have absolutely no answer and which promises to pose a major threat to the credibility of academic degrees as its presence is generally recognized.

The paper also reveals the existence of a highly educated underclass, writers deserving of a vast array of distinctions in many fields but relegated to servitude as ghostwriter to the affluent.

It is important to understand that, in the highly competitive world of higher education where fellowships, academic advancement, positions, thesis writing and publication acceptance are highly contested, those who do not take advantage of expert assistance and rely instead entirely on their own efforts, research and writing skills are clearly at a disadvantage and in many cases will either lose out to their competition or will give in to the pressure and demands of the current academic climate, capitulate, and join the throngs who take the safer career path and contract for expertise, even if it is only supplementary, and advisory to their own work.

Dante does ask the big question:

For those of you who have ever mentored a student through the writing of a dissertation, served on a thesis review committee, or guided a graduate student through a formal research process, I have a question: Do you ever wonder how a student who struggles to formulate complete sentences in conversation manages to produce marginally
competent research? How does that student get by you? 

He explains also that he is not aware of any client having been challenged or charged with unethical conduct.  Why is this?  One possible explanation is that this is a can of worms that nobody is willing to open as its contents could be perilous as it might spill in many unexpected directions and on many people.  Imagine if there were a major leak of shadow scholar records.  Teachers, professors, chancellors, principals, bishops, senators, judges, police chiefs, military officers, surgeons, etc. might find their credentials compromised.  There may well be a very salient reason for all to tread lightly around an issue involving people with immense power and much at stake.  If you are an academic ethics officer, you probably know already how far you’re not allowed to invesigate, though you may only have a vague notion of what might happen if you were to overstep your mandate.




July 4, 1776, a closer look at the declaration of independence


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.



A Glimpse into Learning

She drew in one direction and I in another, referencing the strings as needed. She came to add a few twists and turns in mine that magically enhanced the realism.  The picture evolved over some undetermined time, time which seemed to have become forgotten and irrelevant.

Finally standing back and regarding our project, she said “Now, take a look at what you’ve done.”    I couldn’t believe it and was immensely proud, quickly snapping a picture of it before it could vanish away as all content on such an evanescent medium always did.  Jenny seemed just as proud of my accomplishment as I was.  It was then that it hit me.  I had learnt something, something wonderful.  There was no assignment or deadline, no grade.  Jenny had taught me her art willingly and without any mandate other than her own enthusiasm for the art and I had learnt it with similarly unbelabored fervor.  It was magical.  When I looked at my phone I realized that school had ended more than an hour ago, we went our ways, but that experience stayed with me — a fascination but one without context nor agenda.