ISSN 1188-603X

No. CDXXXIII April 1, 2011 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2


From: Adolf Ceska

Since the very beginning of BEN (June 1999), I considered the following poem to be a motto of my futile effort. It was written by Christian Morgenstern (1871-1914). Morgenstern offered us an alternative view of The World, The World where only sworn masochists can find some enjoyment:

Blödem Volke unverständlich
treiben wir des Lebens Spiel.
Gerade das, was unabwendlich,
fruchtet unserm Spott als Ziel.

Magst es Kinder-Rache nennen
an des Daseins tiefem Ernst;
wirst das Leben besser kennen,
wenn du uns verstehen lernst.

No kidding, this poem is difficult to translate.

I tried the GOOGLE TRANSLATE on it. Here is the result:

Stupid people understand
drive of life we play.
Just what unabwendlich,
fertilized our scorn as a target.

Children like to call it revenge
On our being deeply serious;
'll know life better,
if you learn to understand us.

It looks to me that the GOOGLE TRANSLATE does not make a difference between the YES and NO.

When I used the GOOGLE TRANSLATE and translated the Morgenstern's poem from English back to German, it came out like this:

Dumme Menschen verstehen
Antrieb des Lebens, das wir spielen.
Genau das, was unabwendlich,
befruchtet unsere Verachtung als Ziel.

Kinder mögen es nennen Rache
Auf unserer zutiefst ernst;
'll wissen das Leben besser,
wenn Sie lernen, uns zu verstehen.

Translated back to English, it comes like this:

Stupid people understand
Drive of life that we play.
Exactly what unabwendlich,
fertilized our contempt as a target.

Kids like to call it revenge
On our deeply serious;
'll know better life,
if you learn to understand us.

As you can see, the GOOGLE TRANSLATE (should I include their TradeMark?) failed to restore the original.

The first English translation of this poem that I stumbled across when I was "grazing" [apologies to Nabokov's Pnin] in the University of Victoria Library, was this one:

Enigmatic for the masses,
playfully with life we fool.
That which human wits surpasses
draws our special ridicule.

Call it infantile vendetta
on life's deeply serious aim --
you will know existence better
once you understand our game.

Not too good, but what a hack!

Never mind, be sure that:
"'ll wissen das Leben besser,
wenn Sie lernen, uns zu verstehen."

I will try the GOOGLE TRANSLATOR next year, to see if it gets any better.


From: the Canwest News Service January 13, 2009

Dog electrocuted in Toronto park

TORONTO - A dog was electrocuted Tuesday after trying to relieve itself near a hydro pole in a west-end Toronto neighbourhood, the second occurrence in three months.

A 25-year-old man had been walking his five-year-old Labrador-poodle dog, Mrak, in High Park around 2:15 a.m., when the dog stepped on a metal plate at the base of a Toronto Hydro pole.

"The dog instantly lost consciousness and went into convulsions," said Toronto police Staff Sgt. Mary Shaw. Toronto Fire and Toronto Emergency Services also attended the scene. "CPR was performed on the dog for about 20 minutes. It was then transported to an emergency animal clinic where he later passed away," Shaw said.

Police say Toronto Hydro crews discovered a live electrical wire at the top of the pole. "We don't have the cause of death for the dog established yet [gee, gosh!]," said Karen Evans, a Toronto Hydro spokeswoman. "We have . . . cordoned off the area and have begun an investigation." Evans added that there is no apparent risk to the public [unless you do the same as the dog did]."

The company is currently doing an "infrared investigation" for all hydro equipment throughout the city, following a similar death last November, when a German shepherd was electrocuted in the same west-end neighbourhood.


From: Monday Magazine December 27, 2007 p. 29

An orchestral composer out of the Czech Republic has claimed that he steals most of his music from singing mushrooms in the forest near his home. Composer Vaclav Halek, who has written 2,000 songs, numerous film and theatre scores, and one symphony, says the secret to his prolific musical output lies in his frequent walks he takes in the woods, where he carries a pencil and paper and lies down near a pile of fungi and listens intently. "I simply record music that a mushroom sings to me," says Halek, who claims that music also comes from rocks and trees, but that mushrooms sing the best melodies.

Vaclav Halek: Hudebni atlas hub. I. Hriby. Jak zpivaji houby [A Musical Atlas of Fungi. 1. Boletus. How Mushrooms Sing.] Fontana, Olomouc, 2003.

My friend Gordana Lazarevich from the University of Victoria Music Department gave me the following review: "The composer, Vaclav Halek must have eaten one too many of the magic mushrooms in order to be inspired to compose music about each mushroom. Unfortunately, I was not able to download the actual sound of his music from your e-mail, but what I was able to read from the musical notation of the single line, it sounds weird!"

Mind you, you cannot judge the lifetime work from a single line of the musical notation. One drawback BEN can see in Vaclav Halek's work is that the composer have been inspired only by a several species of boletes, mostly those that were edible. His music will be more dramatic when he comes to the deadly Amanita species.


Kent Bridges, my plant ecological buddy from the University of Hawaii, devoted some of his creative efforts into translating digital data into music. Long, long time ago, he let me listen to several climatic diagrams of various weather stations and yes, you would be able to detect their individual patterns. He and John Dunn produced a CD of the DNA translations into the music. It is called "Inflections" and it is available at I was only sorry to see that the DNA squence of the HIV was not included into their selection. The transposition of the HIV DNA into the music produced the most macabre tunes you can imagine.

There is more of this DNA generated music on The Web, see:

Mind you, I have not been able to review all that music, but I wonder if Philip Glass did not know this music generating algorithm well before Kent Bridges' efforts.


From: United States Army 1943

United State Army: Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq during World War II. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. ISBN: 13-978-0-226-84170-0. 29 p. US$10.00

"American success or failure in Iraq well depend on whether the Iraqis like American soldiers or not."

This bit of advice is from a pocket manual that was in the kit bags of thousands of American soldiers in 1943 as they were deployed to help the British guard against Nazi infiltration in Iraq.

The book has a certain charm to it and you have to read it from the first page to the last one. Every paragraph stands out as a unique piece of the "military staff culture" as I knew it from my salad days when I had to succumb to the compulsory army draft. Sadly enough, the book is still relevant today.

One sentence stuck out from this manual: "When visiting, don't overstay your welcome."


When Bill Clinton opened a new US embassy in Ottawa, he claimed that since 1812, both Canada (The British Territory at that time) and the United States had lived in peace. As much as I appreciate Bill Clinton's education and his Rhodes Scholarship, HE WAS WRONG. He forgot the Pig War that raged on the West Coast of North America from 1859 to 1872, for the full twelve years!. I like that war, since the only victim of the Pig War was the pig that caused the conflict, never mind the scores of alcoholics who were waiting in vain for a real military action. The Pig War also produced some important US personalities to us. One of them was General Pickett, who led the famous "Picket charge" at the [loosing for him] Battle of Gettysburg. The second one was Henry W. Robert, who started his military career there. His career later culminated in the production of his ingenious "Pocket Manual of Rules of Order for Deliberative Assemblies", now forever known and loved as "Robert's Rules of Order".

For more of this fierce conflict see:


DISCLAIMER: I did not the GOOGLE TRANSLATE to produce this BEN. AC

Send submissions to
BEN is archived at