Posted by: David | February 22, 2008

Tagless Minutiae Meme

To continue with the big-in-the-small theme from the last post, I propose a meme.

MINUTIAE    (mi-noo-shee-uh, -shuh) [link]

This meme’s targets are small things that draw one toward large thoughts. That’s what I like to call minutiae. Remember the Seinfeld where Elaine went on and on about the tedium of minutiae? Well I don’t find minutiae tedious  at all because god lives in those details. Or the devil. Whoever. But to “play” this meme, we must abandon the word’s negative connotation. Do you like the backsides of these blossoms?

Orchidbottoms. Minutiae? Yup.

Minutiae are everywhere, but must be isolated and contemplated to fit the label. A small,  usually ignored but obvious detail. The orchid stem shot counts as minutiae because of the unusual viewpoint, even if it is too beautiful.

How about this cat crossing the feed store parking lot?

Cat crossing parking lot … hmmmm. Let’s see. Well it’s a black cat, which has its own traditional context, but sure, why not? That event counts.

Yer damn right it counts!

How about a strangely amusing newspaper headline? Is this starting to feel like that schtick on David Letterman– Is This Anything? Well it is. I didn’t invent this stuff. The nature of minutiae is its omnipresence. You find it by just looking. And seeing.

Dodds probably does NOT consider this to be minutiae.

But I say it is because it’s just one headline out of 366 this leap year AND is notable for its odd contradiction. And because this is my stupid meme!

OK, I know. You’re probably asking “What the heck?! What ISN’T minutiae?”

This isn’t. No way. Image courtesy of CERN website.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN [link] is scheduled in a few months to start smashing things together harder than ever. Yes, SMASHING! Get this! It’s the largest machine ever built to smash together the smallest particles known at the highest energies possible. Here’s what the header on their “Outreach” page says, in adorable geek prose:

LHC – the aim of the exercise: To smash protons moving at 99.999999% of the speed of light into each other and so recreate conditions a fraction of a second after the big bang. The LHC experiments try and work out what happened.

By the way, does anyone else find this a little scary? The February 9 issue of NewScientist magazine has an article (preview of article [link]) on the approaching startup of the LHC. The writer reports on scientists speculations that these experiments may generate mini black holes, generate closed timelike curves, or open spacetime wormholes. Not to worry they say, any transdimensional wormholes are sure to be very tiny. [Mr. Spock Voice] Fascinating.

It’s all minutiae from here. Hubble telescope’s “Ultra Deep Field” image ca. 2004 [link]

If you’d like to try this meme, please observe and report 3 examples of minutiae whenever it’s convenient for you. Follow the 3 things with something that is NOT minutiae. And you can’t use the CERN LHC cause I already did. Or the whole universe. Also taken. Sorry. Have fun and thanks for reading!



  1. What a great meme! These photos are gorgeous, and so is your current header.

    The proton smasher thingie is spooky (I’m so glad Wendy taught me how to italicize).

    Maybe Dodds has a pet named “guilty” and it ran away or something.

    Anyway, another great post!

    Thanks moonbeam! Dodds was found guilty by a jury of faking an auto accident and disappearing for 27 hours in order to attract attention to his flagging campaign for some pathetic state office post. It was all very sordid and he had the shifty look of a liar liar. I liked the contradiction between “found” and “disappearance”. Not a belly laugh, but good minutiae.

  2. “A meme is any unit of cultural information, such as a practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. Examples include thoughts, ideas, theories, practices, habits, songs, dances and moods and terms such as race, culture, and ethnicity. A meme is self-propagating and can move through a “culture” in a manner similar to a virus. A meme is a unit of cultural evolution having a resemblance to the gene. Richard Dawkins, in his book, “The Selfish Gene”,[1] is credited with coining the term meme to describe how Darwinian principles might be extended to explain the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena.”


    the creeps

    Thanks for the definition of meme, cantueso. Dawkins’ coinage is an interesting concept. I’ll interpret the 4 question marks as puzzlement on your part and try to explain … and apologies in advance if I’m misinterpreting the ????

    [“the creeps” I’m not sure what you mean by that … is it that CERN LHC or the Hubble UDF? Both are intimidating.]

    In the blogosphere a “meme” is a sort of chain-letter-like conceptual game in which some theme is invented. Then, usually the first poster “tags” others in their cluster to invite them to try the theme. Those folks then tag others, and so on. It’s often lists- like 4 things about you, 7 things about me, top ten books, etc. The “Fridge Meme” was nice and simple- just take a photo of what’s in your refrigerator. Sometimes memes get a blocked blogger freed up.

    But maybe you already know this? Your blog posts are usually short, sweet, and on point. I’ve been meaning to ask you how you came to title your blog “FISHING”.

  3. I live in the details. No one else here currently. Saturday night and they’re out for a party.

    I’m reading the graphic novel Watchmen. Scary stuff. Very neat.

    “I live in the details” I like the sound of that! Looks like a movie of Watchmen is due out in a year or so. It does look kinda interesting. Thanks for mentioning it Nimish.

  4. Ultra deep field is one of my favorite photographs. To think of the billions of galaxies out there, well, there are no words for it.

    Have you ever seen the book called “Powers of Ten”? If you haven’t look it up. I think it would be right up your alley.

    If I do this meme, I want to take my own photographs so it might take me a while.

    Thanks joanharvest. For me, what KICKS ASS about the UDF is, as with the Deep Field before it, is that they spent all that time trying to find the “darkest” spots in the sky at which to point the Hubble for long time exposures. Not so dark after all! And the colors of those galaxies! Breathtaking- ‘no words’ as you say.

    I haven’t seen the Powers of Ten book, but I remember seeing the film on PBS. And thanks to your reminding me of it I just watched it again on the Powers of Ten website! I’m still scared about the LHC.

    It’s a “tagless meme” Joan, so no pressure. I’m curious about our appreciation of the “small stuff”. Minutiae.

  5. On my home page, I get the astronomy picture of the day. I thought you would be interested in this one.

    Thanks Joan what a great shot! That is freakin crazy shit isn’t it? I’ve been looking at a lot of the photos on the LHC website and it just blows my mind- the scale of it. But that thing I read in the magazine- the idea of a miniature black hole being created, that scares me. So if the entire planet gets sucked into a black hole this summer, somebody please let me know OK? There are 3 little virtual reality QuickTime thingies (with sound loops) of parts of the LHC on this web page [link]

  6. I will do my best to comprehend that meme concept. These things always take time to sink in. Now I came here to try and find the photo of a garden bed covered with straw where there is just one little plant coming up through the straw. What a surprise! Of all the photos that are on this blog, this is the one that made it. The little plant says: eppur si muove, which is Italian for “let there be light”. In fact, the photo should be called The Afterthought.

    This goes to illustrate the Proustian theme of how nobody will ever have the remotest, faintest inkling of what people will remember about them, completely unrelated to what they suspect or hope will be remembered.

    As to the name of my blog: I would have loved to call it “ecce ego mittam angelum”, because I did not know about the US Jeez cheese. When I saw that, I considerd renaming the blog: teaching the pig, with reference to Heinlein’s “Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” But I desisted in favour of “Let the Fish sing”, which seemed a bit too enigmatic, and so I called it “Fishing”…

    Thanks for the explanation on the blog’s name. Much more complicated than I was expecting, but satisfying. You were wise to avoid the angel containing name as those Jeez Cheez folks would have stomped through your blog and branded you a heretic or a blasphemer, or whatever you are.

    Maybe the picture you were looking for is on this post: ??

    Oh and don’t waste too much of your mental energy on comprehending the meme “concept”. Like many of my concepts it’s weak. Minutiae are everywhere and pointing them out is just a way of celebrating the ordinary.

  7. Later I did call it “Let the fish sing”, but discovered that the saying has to do with some lake in the Tibet and I thought there might be New Age connotations that are not my cup of tea.

    Anyway, your blog title is a lot worse than mine: it means nothing, it is hard to remember and even hard to spell, and …there are usually three things in an enumeration, but I cannot think of a third one right now.

    Besides, I am pretty sure that both WordPress and Google do not go by the blog name, only by the post title. So I left out the blog name in the header of that blog, and there doesn’t seem to be any need to have it there.

    Not ONLY is my blog TITLE worse than yours, my entire BLOG is worse than yours. If you think that the title means nothing, I guess I achieved my goal. 🙂 I’ve always liked the title of your blog. It makes me think about how the activity of blogging is something like fishing, with words as the bait to catch people’s minds. I often wondered if that was your intention in titling your blog. I also like the way you space out the letters F I S H I N G, although I see now that your title is not there.

  8. Interesting Read

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