Tag Archives: Creativity

National Grammar Day – Haiku Winners

Haikus can be wonderful. I’m not a purist, so if something doesn’t adhere to the classical rules of Haiku, I’m not going to complain, as long as it’s honest about its heritage.

Grammar Girl posted a short piece on the recent National Grammar Day Haiku Contest winners. I’ll share a bit of that with you, because I love Haiku and so should you.

This being Grammar Girl and Grammar Day, the contest focuses on haikus that centrally involve grammar.

This one, written by Arika Okrent in 2013, cleverly references we all know from experience.

I am an error

And I will reveal myself

After you press “send”

The first and third place winners from 2016 didn’t move me, so I won’t share them here, but you can find them here.

The second place winner, from Monica Sharman, is striking in its emotion and metaphorical truth.

“Edit” in Latin

means “He eats” or “She eats”—

We devour your words

The fourth place winner, from Larry Kunz, is brilliant in its use of grammar and mental imagery.

She said, I love you.

Her beau replied, I loved you.

Then the time passed, tense.

If you enjoyed these, there are many more a quick search away. I’ll close with a non grammar related mutt of a haiku that always cracks me up.

Take me down to Hai-

ku city where the grass is

green, and the dammit

One Thing Computers Cannot Do

The most creative innovations of the digital age came from those who were able to connect the arts and sciences. They believed that beauty mattered.

Steve Jobs Speaks At Apple Web Developer Conference

This short essay from Walter Isaacson is well worth reading. I believe he’s right about the necessary intersection between art and science. I like to say that science makes our lives possible but art makes them worth living.

What are the most philosophical cartoons?

This political cartoonist is truly brilliant.

Quora Answer by Anonymous:

One of my favorite cartoonists, Mana Neyestani (an Iranian cartoonist in exile), is in my opinion an absolute genius. He often draws cartoons in relation to absurdities of the Iranian politics (not sure if it passes as philosophical, but I assume it does). What makes him incredibly impressive, apart from his brilliant work, is that he usually draws clever cartoons within a day or two of the news emerging. They are often full of both covert and overt points, sometimes too many of them, that are more universal than just the Iranian politics. Below I provide a few of his cartoons, with a bit of context for some.


Context: Freedom through war (Ahem, Mr. Bush).
Titled Freedom for a second.

Context: Oppression (during the Iranian green movement).

Context: Being born in the developing world.
Titled: Come out, the world is beautiful!

Context: The ‘confident’ hardliner.

Context: Immigration. Notice the subtleties about ‘fitting in’, and ‘vanishing’ as well as all the stuff that will end up on the guy’s head.


The Iranian parliament is discussing a bill to prevent population control measures and oppose pregnancy prevention. Violators are subject to up to 5 years of jail time. Here are a couple of his cartoons related to this topic.

Context: The oppressors presence in the most intimate of places.

Context: same as above.
Title: Orgasm!


Context: Homosexuals in Iran.

Context: Sexual child abuse, and the low legal age of marriage.

Context: Netanyahu’s ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing speech in UN’.
Title: Where is the wolf?

Context: World media’s silence on Syrian war for about a year before it finally caught their attention.
Title: The blind spot.

Context: Saeed Jalili, former Iranian nuclear negotiator, showing the path to the future in his presidential campaign.

Context: The effect of the nuclear related sanctions on the Iranian people.

What are the most philosophical cartoons?

Turkish Citizens Brighten Istanbul with Rainbow of Colors

rainbow_stairs_Turkey-Gürol_Demirutku-Twitter

A summary from the Good News Network details this wonderful action as well as I could.

“A 64 year-old man in Istanbul decided to brighten people’s days by painting rainbow colors on the old, gray, crumbling stairs near his house.

When municipal officials sent workers after nightfall to hurriedly repaint the stairs gray, a quiet revolution started on Twitter.

Not only did volunteers come out to repaint those stairs that Huseyin Cetinel had spent hundreds of dollars on, they started painting other stairs and walkways in other cities around Turkey posting photos on social media.

A very colorful Pandora’s Box had unwittingly been opened.”

This New York Times article has the full story.

I would wholly support such a movement here. My personal tastes run to “plain” colors, but I love to see people express themselves in vibrant colors and shapes, in their appearance, possessions, and (as here) on their surroundings. It’s a quintessential part of being human. 

Consultants and Confused Apes

This article resonates with me. I don’t necessarily agree with the author’s summaries of the philosophers and scientists he cites, but I think his overall point is excellent.

The article has an embedded short video of Richard Feynman describing the feeling of confusion and how he views his work. I include it here.

Diagrams are our friends

Simple Flowchart: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flowchart

Simple Flowchart: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flowchart

The linked article is not a particularly strong one, but I agree with the basic premise that making diagrams can be a fantastic way to communicate your ideas. Also, it got me thinking of how I use diagrams at work and home.

I deal a lot with complex systems, most of which don’t exist when I’m dealing with them because I’m helping someone design them, translating their system requirements into sets of software (and often hardware) components that will not only fulfill their requirements but function as an optimal system to fulfill their mission goals. Those of you who’ve worked with customers designing systems, especially complex and expensive ones, know that considering only written requirements is a recipe for a very suboptimal system and often a disaster. IBM is now infamous for this practice. See http://www.cringely.com/2013/08/07/fulfilling-customer-requirements-is-a-weapon-at-ibm/ for high level details.

Many humans can only grasp complex relationships (i.e. systems) when they’re presented in a visual format. Even for those of us capable of wading through a huge mass of documents and discerning the purpose and critical requirements of a system, it’s usually very helpful to create diagrams of what we think the system’s properties are, so we can communicate this to both colleagues and the customers, to be reasonably sure that we all end up agreeing on the same architecture.

A mistake in understanding here can be costly in time, money, and reputation, since it’s often easier for a customer to blame the engineers than accept responsibility for a mistake. It’s just human nature to point fingers when something big goes wrong.

Okay, I really just wanted to say here that it’s worth the time to draw a diagram, structural, flowchart, whatever is appropriate, to help you understand and follow through on tasks, especially if you need to coordinate with others on a project. I often put off making architectural diagrams because it’s a pain in the ass, with Visio at least (thanks Microsoft), but I never regret putting in the time to create a diagram once it’s done.

There are advantages to creating diagrams even apart from communicating with others. Creating a clear representation of an idea or set of related structures (i.e. the diagram) forces you to clarify and often refine or substantially change your proposed architecture as you see things that sounded good in your mind but on “paper” are obviously suboptimal or unworkable.

Finally, you’re already using diagrams. A task or shopping list is a simple diagram, as is an itinerary or schedule. These tend to more text based than visual, but as you’ve probably experienced, even these simple diagrams can increase your understanding when you add order, time, and spatial (e.g. a map) relations to them.

I hope this was helpful. I started out to write a much simpler article but a lot of new thoughts jumped out and demanded to be included.