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Updates and Coming Attractions

As with most things in life, the rhythms of blogging go in cycles.  Sometimes I am full of ideas and I have (or can make) the time to write about them.  Blogging then comes thick and furiously.  At other times, the muse is absent, the well is dry, and things go on hiatus for a longer or shorter period of time.  Such are the vicissitudes of life.  I sometimes think I should be doing more, but from my first forays into blogging I resolved not to beat myself up over regularity.  I have tried to do journals/diaries in the past, and it never worked out.  Blogging has turned out to be a fruitful outlet for my writing, and has gone on much longer than any attempt at journaling that I’ve ever attempted.  Thus, for everything there is a season–a time to write and a time not to write–and I’m OK with that.

The last couple of years have been relatively fallow, but in the last week I’ve started putting up posts again, and I have some ideas for posts to come in the near future.  No doubt I’ll go into fallow cycles again in the future, but for now I hope to be a bit more productive.  In line with that resolution, I’d like to discuss some of the plans for upcoming things I have, for those who are regular (or even new!) readers of the Chequer-Board.

First, I am currently working on a review of David Bentley Hart’s recent translation of the New Testament, and I hope to have it finished and up within the week.  I will cross-index it under “The Pretty Good Book“, “Universalism (What the Hell?!)“, and “Towards a Gnostic Orthodoxy“, for reasons that will be apparent when I post it.

Second, there are some recent developments on the polygenism front that I want to look at, as well as some new findings regarding animal cognition that I think ultimately tie in to that.  This, in turn, is relevant to any account of the Fall of Man; so I hope to resume work (at least intermittently) on “Legends of the Fall” (the end of which, alas, seems nowhere in sight).

Third, I think I’m essentially finished with my series on universalism (linked above).  I will put the review of Hart’s New Testament there, as I said.  I think I may have one or two short pieces to add, as well; and then I’ll add a wrap-up piece, while of course leaving open the possibility of future addenda, as they suggest themselves.

Fourth, in the slightly longer term, I’d like to continue my series on Star Trek:  The Motion Picture and “Religion, Role-playing, and Reality“.  I pretty much know where I want to go with those, and have had either the ideas or the beginnings of posts (or both) for continuing each series, but haven’t got around to it.  I hope to do so soon.

Fifth, in the somewhat longer term, I desperately need to fix the index for the “Daily Whitman” series.  As you can see by visiting the link, the index is incomplete and has been for some time.  For various reasons, it has proved to be a fiendishly difficult thing to do properly, unlike the relatively simple index for the “Rubá’í of the Day” series.  I have plenty of non-blogging stuff on my plate as it is, and given the complexity of fixing this table, this is something that may have to wait awhile; but it is on my “to-do” list.  Meanwhile, you can use the tags to reach individual installments of the “Daily Whitman” series.

Sixth, I may remove the “Movies” sub-page from the blog.  I used to post a lot of movies, documentaries, and shorts here, but the transient nature of YouTube being what it is, I have scads of dead links lying about.  I’m not sure that it’s worthwhile maintaining them; so I may delete the “Movies” page and/or the individual movie-containing posts.  I’m not sure yet, but we’ll see.

Seventh, and most nebulous, I intend eventually to resume posting series of poetry (probably Masters’s Spoon River Anthology or the haiku of Kobayashi Issa next).  I’d also like to revisit some of my other series, and, wonder of wonders, maybe even start some new ones, or even do some stand-alone posts.

Once more, life is as it is, vicissitudes and all, so I can’t be sure as to the exact schedule on which I’ll be able to do all this.  Keep your eyes out for news and update here, and as always, thank you very much for your continued support!


Back Into the Swing of Things


Regular readers may note that finally, after a considerable time off, I have restarted publishing Leaves of Grass in my “Daily Whitman” series.  I have also resumed posting music of various sorts on Fridays and a “Quote for the Week” on Sundays.  Hopefully this will keep me busy enough with the blog to inspire me to get back to more regular articles in some of the series, particularly “Legends of the Fall“.  In any case, enjoy!

Whither Hence?


I hate it when I run across an interesting blog and find it has not been updated in months, or even years.  I can’t speak for others as to whether my blog is interesting–though the traffic hasn’t been bad lately–but it has not been updated since November, with the exception of a brief note of its five-year anniversary in December.

Alas, life  has got in the way.  With no intention of whining, I have had many personal things, including health issues, that have had to take precedence.  These have caused me to slip out of regular posting; and slipping out of regular posting leads all too easily to no posting.  In any case, this post it to make it clear that I’m still around and do intend–when I don’t know–to resume at least some posting, within the parameters of some still-pressing concerns.

First, I will at some point resume the “Daily Whitman” series.  Instead of backdating it, I will probably just re-start it at whatever date it happens to be, and go from there.  The index has presented some thorny problems, and may have to be totally re-done; so I don’t expect I’ll have it updated for some time, even after I re-start posting the poems.

Second, I’m mostly satisfied with my series on universalism, but may post occasionally to it, as ideas occur or worthwhile exterior links crop up.

Third, I have a broad overview of what I want to do with my tent-pole “Legends of the Fall” series, which I still consider incomplete.  This will require several more posts–I don’t know how many–and I will try to get started back on them in the coming weeks, as I’m able to.  To me, this is the most important series on the blog, and the one I consider the linchpin; so if nothing else, I want to finish it.

Of the other series, I want to eventually resume the series on religion and role-playing, as I have some good ideas for it, and I want to finish the series on Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  Beyond that, we’ll just see what happens.

Many thanks to all of you who follow, read, and (I hope) enjoy the blog, especially those who have kept coming during its hiatus.  That means a lot to me, and I appreciate it very much.  Keep coming–hopefully there will be new material soon!



According to WordPress, this is the fifth anniversary of blogging.  I’ve been taking a bit of break the last couple months, but hope to get back to work soon.  Thanks to all of you who have been readers and visitors, and I wish a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and great holiday season to all!


My 2020th Post, Legends of the Fall, and Blogging: What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been

My 2000th blog post went up on 15 December.  Lots of things were going on, including taking care of a sick child, so I did nothing special for that occasion.  I have had in mind a post that I’ve wanted to do for some time, and since I didn’t do anything marking post 2000, I’ll make the post now as post 2020.  I used to like the old cartoon Sealab 2020 way back when, so that’s an interesting synch, anyway.  What the heck.

I had never thought to get into blogging.  Being of the tail end of the Baby Boom generation, I was well into my adulthood before the Internet started to become the phenomenon it is now.  I had had some experience with intranet BB’s and such in college, but not that much.  Even though I was a math major, at my university we still were doing things mostly the old fashioned way.  It wasn’t until the mid 90’s that I got an email address (long since defunct), and in the late 90’s that I started spending lots of time in cyberspace.

Read the rest of this entry

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Thanks to all my visitors and readers, and I hope you continue to enjoy the Chequer-board in the coming year!



If any of you liked the Robert Service poem I had up earlier today and wonder why it vanished, fear not–it will return.

Somehow I got confused and thought I’d failed to post a “Quote for the Week” this week, so I posted the poem as a belated quote.  When I found out I’d already done this week’s quote on Sunday, as I usually do, I decided to move the Service poem to the next Sunday that I don’t already have scheduled.  Thus, you will be able to read it again on 5 January–less than a month from now.

Sorry for the confusion!

Rubá’í of the Day–and my 1000th Post!


Whoso aspires to gain a rose-cheeked fair,
Sharp pricks from fortune’s thorns must learn to bear.
See! till this comb was cleft by cruel cuts,
It never dared to touch my lady’s hair.

I decided to give the honor of being the thousandth post to the current Rubá’í of the Day, since that is my longest-running and most popular series here.  Of course, to label any post the nth post on something as ephemeral as a blog is a bit misleading.  This is the post that will go live with a current ordinal number of one thousand; that doesn’t mean it was necessarily the 1000th I actually wrote.  I schedule the “Rubá’í of the Day” posts and the weekend music and “Quote for the Week” posts months ahead of time.  In fact, counting scheduled posts and drafts, I currently have over 1100 posts floating about.  Thus, though this will be the thousandth post to appear, it certainly wasn’t the 1000th to be composed; nor are there “only” a thousand posts at the Chequer-board.  

Strictly, it isn’t even the thousandth post to appear.  Some movies that I’ve posted in the past went dead when the YouTube link was removed for various reasons;  also, there  has been a case or two where I’ve inadvertently double-posted the same thing (several incidents of this occurred when I consolidated my Caravanserai posts and put them up here).  In those cases, I’ve deleted the “dead” movies and the extras of multi-posting.  Thus, I’ve quite likely put up a thousand posts already–this is just the “official” thousandth.  If I have to delete more dead media links in the future, this won’t remain the thousandth, either.

Finally, the bulk of the content here isn’t original.  Original essays and the occasional poem make about 10% or so of the total here.  Most is movies, audiobooks, and musical performances to which I’ve linked, as well as a small number of re-blogs of things I found interesting at other places.  I still include them, since it does take some effort to find, categorize, and put up such posts.  The quotes especially often take me a long time to do.  I don’t like putting up unsourced or questionable quotations no matter how much I like them, and I sometimes need to scour the web a lot to find quotations that I really like and which I think readers may like.  Thus, this type of content may not be original, but it does take some work.

Still and all, it’s nice to mark milestones, even if they’re somewhat arbitrary.  My thanks and appreciation to the readers, and I hope you’ve got and will continue to get something out of reading the Chequer-board!

New Books!


I’ve added several books to the Library, including an article on the development of the Elvish languages by J. R. R. Tolkien, the Voynich Manuscript (subject of this documentary), The Mystical Qabalah. by Dione Fortune, The Last Ringbearer, which retells Lord of the Rings from the perspective of Mordor (!), the Kebra Nagast, a semi-mythological history of the kings of Ethiopia, the King James Bible, and more.  Have a look!

Indices, Movies, and Evanescence


As of today, I have the index at the “Movies” tab above up to date.  The process of indexing was interesting–I had unknowingly double-posted two or three movies.  In those cases, I just removed the extra and linked to what was left.  More surprising to me, there were a lot more videos which had been removed at YouTube than I’d expected.  Rather than try to re-post all of them, I just removed them.  Eventually, I may put some of them back up, but I don’t have the time to do so right now.

Of course, both YouTube videos and blogs are evanescent phenomena–so much is here today, gone tomorrow.  There is a term in Japanese aesthetic theory, wabi-sabi.  It’s hard to translate, but roughly it means the perception of beauty tinged with imperfection and impermanence.  The classic example is fading flowers or leaves in the fall–the beauty is enhanced by the transience and slight melancholy of realizing that the object of beauty will soon be gone.

I make no such grandiose claims for this blog, though if it helps me with my writing a bit and gives some pleasure to visitors, I’ve done my job.  Nevertheless, it does make one aware of transience and change.  I try to take the attitude that if something serves its purpose, it’s not my role to get too frustrated if it’s not there later.  Thus, rather than trying to be too obsessive about it, I’m going to post the movies that strike me or that I think might be of interest, and then not worry if they stay up or not.  I admit that coming to a blog and finding things gone that one likes is frustrating; but given my limited resources of time and effort, and the intrinsically ephemeral nature of cyberspace, anyway, when I find a video gone in the future, I’ll probably just delete the post.  If the video was something I really liked, I may try to find a replacement, but I’m not going to put myself out too much.  If you see that a movie you particularly liked (or wanted to view later) has vanished, contact me or post a comment, and I’ll see about re-posting it if I can.

The final interesting point is numbering.  Now and then I’ll post saying, “This is my xth post!”  Post deletions will change this, obviously–so if I say, “This is post 900!” and one were to go and count from the beginning (in which case you need therapy…), one might not get 900.  That’s OK.  The “xth post” designation is only in terms of “officially published posts”, anyway.   My “official” 1000th post is at least two or three months away, at the current posting rate; but counting drafts and posts pre-scheduled to go up later (mostly the “Rubá’í of the Day” posts), I’ve already got 1109 posts up, planned, or in the pipe.  Thus, it all works out one way or another.

Anyway, enjoy the movies, and if any disappear, remember wabi-sabi!