The Tortoise Defined — Ambrose Bierce

“TORTOISE, n. A creature thoughtfully created to supply occasion for the following lines by the illustrious Ambat Delaso:






TO MY PET TORTOISE   by Ambrose Bierce


My friend, you are not graceful –not at all;

Your gait’s between a stagger and a sprawl.

Nor are you beautiful: your head’s a snake’s

To look at, and I do not doubt it aches.

As to your feet, they’d make an angel weep.

‘Tis true you take them in whene’er you sleep.

No, you’re not pretty, but you have, I own,

A certain firmness –mostly you’re [sic] backbone.

Firmness and strength (you have a giant’s thews)

Are virtues that the great know how to use —

I wish that they did not; yet, on the whole,

You lack –excuse my mentioning it –Soul.

So, to be candid, unreserved and true,

I’d rather you were I than I were you.

Perhaps, however, in a time to be,

When Man’s extinct, a better world may see

Your progeny in power and control,

Due to the genesis and growth of Soul.

So I salute you as a reptile grand

Predestined to regenerate the land.

Father of Possibilities, O deign

To accept the homage of a dying reign!

In the far region of the unforeknown

I dream a tortoise upon every throne.

I see an Emperor his head withdraw

Into his carapace for fear of Law;

A King who carries something else than fat,

Howe’er acceptably he carries that;

A President not strenuously bent

On punishment of audible dissent —

Who never shot (it were a vain attack)

An armed or unarmed tortoise in the back;

Subject and citizens that feel no need

To make the March of Mind a wild stampede;

All progress slow, contemplative, sedate,

And “Take your time” the word, in Church and State.

O Tortoise, ’tis a happy, happy dream,

My glorious testudineous regime!

I wish in Eden you’d brought this about

By slouching in and chasing Adam out.”


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Social Media as a Credible News Source | New York Women in Communications, Inc.

“For those who arent “following” Twitter or enabled their Facebook newsfeeds and subsequently didnt hear about bin Ladens death until Monday morning — is it time to get connected in real-time? Since the birth of social media, there has been continued debate within the communications industry, weighing the pros and cons of both traditional and social media. There seems to be a constantly tipping scale of importance for both resources — whether it is the real-time and viral sensation of social media or the credibility and reliable resources of traditional media.” — more —

via Social Media as a Credible News Source | New York Women in Communications, Inc..

As one who remembers John Cameron Swayze, the early CBS News and daily seeing Time, The New Yorker and the NY Times piling up  at home, my views of understanding current events have been challenged.  Time has gotten thinner and Newsweek is gone.  The old National Observer which I cherished is long gone.  I have always counted more on experienced analysis than superficial, ersatz opinion.  I follow David Brooks and Mark Shields still for sane criticism after the immediate hoopla starts to subside.

Of  late, however, I have been more drawn into developing story coverage  — until I realize how much time one can spend watching news develop.  This is the entertainment value of news.  Developing stories also sell more Cialis. After awhile I grow bored by updates from investigations and court workings.  I decide to read a book or watch a movie instead  — hoping for an announcement of some finality.  Alas,  when it comes never really seems conclusive in the land of  “Yes, but What If?”  Everything is suspect it seems.  No Pope escapes public skepticism.  All priests are “suspect.”  We know too much and too little. Sometimes I long for my earlier naivete when we trusted Walter Cronkite, rightly or wrongly.

Steadfast and cautious,

David Milliken

The Tortoise Factor

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15 Famous Authors With Surprising College Majors | Online Colleges

These famous authors didn’t major in writing, or literature, or even journalism. Instead, they enriched their minds taking other, equally challenging classes, and used their experiences to become successful writers. In fact, several of them have won the Pulitzer Prize, considered one of the world’s greatest honors in literature.

via 15 Famous Authors With Surprising College Majors | Online Colleges.

I am a long way from my college days.  One thing life has taught me about the English major. It is a rewarding major but it ain’t the only route to  the life of the mind. Poets, novelists and journalists have no corner on intellectual “coolness” as we used to say.  For example, after hours and hours of literary study I am finding biographies fascinating.  Why? They are grounded in the experience of living.  They deliver excellent “career education” as well.  You know what else?  Biographers are rarely revered in the English departments.  There’s rarely a major in biography writing.  So, where do biographers learn their trade?  Think about it. A major, any major is a mere sampling of this miracle called life.  Life is not esoteric.  It is a miracle.  Get knowledge but with your getting, get understanding.

David Milliken

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The Real Reason I Dropped Out of a PhD Program

“I quit because I’d lost the stomach for being part of the institution of higher education — one that wasn’t sustaining me intellectually, financially or spiritually; one that wanted me to teach classes for very low wages — as a grad student and then likely as an adjunct faculty member. I quit because I was exhausted and couldn’t handle the obstacle course that grad school and the academic job market still required my running through. I quit because I needed to heal from the trauma of watching Anthony die. I quit because far from that so-called Ivory Tower being a place of solace and contemplation, it had become a nightmare of bureaucracy and politics. I quit because I didn’t want to be a cog in that machine. I quit because I felt the system was broken. And at the time, I was broken too.”  — MORE —

via The Real Reason I Dropped Out of a PhD Program.

Here is an addition to my collection of stories on “The Tortoisefactor” about the PhD Octopus and how timeless it has become. The author is Audrey Watters who writes a blog called “Education Hack.”  I trust that the wary will find her thoughts and experience useful.  They simply illustrate the landscape of graduate study and the life of the mind.  My reminder to all is that the library and books are alive and well unsurrounded by the moat of the university.

David Milliken

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Is “Effort” the Next Victim of Language Abuse?

We’ve made “transition” a verb.  Politicians, journalists and pseudo-professionals wanted an infinitive more impressive than  “to change” or perhaps “to “switch” so the friends of bad jargon came up with “to transition” to this or that.  This mindless brevity, a tribute to mental lassitude, has been going on for quite awhile.  But yesterday I actually heard a television reporter using “effort” as a verb. How much more erudite to say, “I’m going to effect a change in my language use.”  No, now we will begin hearing about people who “effort” this or perhaps  “I will ‘effort’ paying more attention to English usage.”  I am incredulous at this one.  What’s next?  I will “television” the Super Bowl?”  Why not just eliminate the distinctive functions of nouns and verbs.  After all, how much briefer is “I will ‘beer’ at half-time.”  Thus we eliminate the word “drink.”  How efficient!  How illiterate!  Our descent into Babble continues.

Steadfast and cautious,

The Tortoise

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Teens learn science and teamwork at Kansas City competition –

Here was a Super Bowl, he said, that “celebrates the accomplishments of the mind.”This was Kansas City’s inaugural FIRST Tech Challenge. It is a robotic challenge that is staking a middle ground between the FIRST Lego League competition at the middle school level and the FIRST Robotics Challenge that has been holding regional championships at Kansas City’s Hale Arena for nearly a decade.

via Teens learn science and teamwork at Kansas City competition –

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