A random.random() Joseph Wilbrand Weblog

A random.random() Joseph Wilbrand Weblog

Category: Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts

Rhetoric: The Common Topics

  1. Invention
  2. Arraingement
  3. Style
  4. Memory
  5. Delivery

Invention (Coming up with stuff to say)

The Common Topics are organizational tools for developing an argument.

Definition – What is the thing? This can be split into genus and division. Genus is into what broad category (or forms) does the definition fall. Division are subcategories: type, kind, sort, group and class.

Comparison – What is the thing like and unlike? Similarity? Difference? and Degree (by how much does this thing deviate?)

Relationship – Cause and Effect: what has caused the thing to be the way it is and what would this thing cause? Antecedent and Consequence (if P implies Q, then P is called the antecedent and Q is called the consequent), Contraries (terms opposed), and Contradiction

Circumstance – [What was happening at the time this thing existed] or Possible / Impossible (example: There is nothing else to do about it) // Past fact, Fact, Future Fact – (A topic of invention in which one refers back to general events in the past or to what we can safely suppose will occur in the future based on the record of the past.)

Testimony – What other people say about this thing

  1. Definition: Definition in rhetoric refers to the clarification and explanation of a term, concept, or idea. It involves providing a clear and concise explanation of what something is, as well as its meaning and significance. Definition is often used in arguments to establish a common understanding of a topic and to provide a foundation for the argument.
  2. Comparison: Comparison in rhetoric refers to the process of comparing and contrasting two or more ideas, objects, or concepts. It involves highlighting similarities and differences, and is often used to illustrate a point or to make an argument. Comparison is a powerful rhetorical tool that can help the audience understand complex ideas and make connections between seemingly disparate concepts.
  3. Relationship: Relationship in rhetoric refers to the connection between two or more ideas, concepts, or objects. This connection can take many forms, such as cause and effect, analogy, or contrast. By establishing a relationship between ideas, speakers and writers can strengthen their arguments and help the audience understand complex concepts.
  4. Circumstance: Circumstance in rhetoric refers to the context and conditions surrounding an event or situation. This can include factors such as time, place, and events leading up to the event. By considering the circumstances surrounding an event, speakers and writers can provide a more complete and nuanced understanding of the topic.
  5. Testimony: Testimony in rhetoric refers to the use of personal anecdotes, expert opinions, and other forms of evidence to support an argument. Testimony is often used to provide credibility and support to an argument, and to demonstrate the personal experiences or expertise of the speaker or writer.

These five elements, along with others, are often used in combination with each other to create a persuasive argument. Whether speaking or writing, effective rhetoric involves the use of various techniques and strategies to influence the audience and to make a compelling argument.

Harvard ClassicsRandom Thoughts

Franklin on moral perfection

Franklin on Moral Perfection

It is appropriate that the first reading of the new year is an excerpt from Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography in which he describes his method for increasing personal virtue.  Franklin stated his initial aim was to achieve moral perfection as he wished to live “without committing any fault at any time.” However, Franklin discovered this venture was impossible, and personal examination revealed: “much fuller faults than I had imagined.”

Franklin suggests some points consistent with living a good Catholic life: a daily examination of faults and the creation of habit to counteract human nature.  Franklin identified a mere desire to do better was not enough; corrective action required conscious effort through examination and practice.  Franklin suggested beginning the day by considering “what good” you might accomplish and, at the end of the day, considering whether that goal was met.  2023 is as good a year as any to focus on self-improvement, and Franklin’s list and methodology have a lot to offer.  

13 Moral Virtues with Precepts

1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.  
2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.  
3. ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.  
4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.  
5. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i. e., waste nothing.  
6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.  
7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.  
8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.  
9. MODERATION. Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.  
10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.  
11. TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.  
12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.  
13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates. 

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Random Thoughts


For Beef stock will need: some bones: I am using beef bone marrow bones, some gelatin meat: I am using ox tails, and some lean meat: I am using top sirloin.

To make your beef stock flavorful you will need:

1 onion

1 carrot,

1 parsnip

1 celery stalk

some parsley and

dry spices like: bay leaves, coriander seeds and black peppercorns.

Also, some salt and pepper to taste and one dry chilly pepper.

For Borscht you will need:

3 medium size beets( with beet greens)

4 medium size potatoes

2 medium size carrots

1 parsnip

2 cloves of garlic

1 head of green cabbage

celery greens

1 bunch of parsley

1 bunch of dill

2 tbsp white vinegar

To serve you will need:

2 cloves of garlic

fresh dill

sour cream

Method: In a large stock pot add all your meat and vegetables for the stock( you don’t need to peel them, since they are going to be discarded after the stock is done). Add spices. Add cold water to cover stock size ¾ of a way. Set to boil. Right before boiling process have started collect and discard the foam that appeared on the top. Leave to simmer for about an hour.

Peel beats. After one hour simmering time, take out bone marrow bones and you can enjoy them with just a sprinkle of salt or spread it on toast. Add beets to simmering stock and cook until beets are fork tender.(about 30-35 minutes). Take out the meat and beets, set aside to cool. Strain beef stock and return to pot. Set on slow simmer. Add grated carrots and grated parsnip, cook for 10 minutes. Add chopped beet greens and chopped beet stalks. Add cubed potatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Add chopped cabbage and cubed meat. Cook until cabbage is just al dente. Grate beets, add chopped garlic and vinegar. Add to soup along with fresh herbs, Turn off the heat and close the lid. Let sit for 10 minutes. Enjoy Borscht with chopped garlic, fresh dill and sour cream. Serve it with Russian black bread.

Random Thoughts

Steak Alfredo with Red Wine Reduction Sauce and Vanilla Crème Brûlée

Alfredo Sauce

½ Cup Butter
1 ½ Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Teaspoons Garlic Minced
½ Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
½ Teaspoon Salt
¼ Teaspoon Pepper
2 Cups Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan cheese: For optimal results, use real Parmigiano-Reggiano right off the block. Avoid those shaker-style containers or tubs filled with pre-shredded cheese. They don’t melt properly, making your sauce grainy. And they simply don’t taste nearly as good as fresh.

Butter: Either unsalted or salted work great. If using salted butter, I recommended omitting the additional salt until you’ve tasted the sauce and then add extra, if necessary.

Heavy Cream: We use heavy whipping cream for the ultimate indulgence. This will give you the creamiest, richest results. Go big or go home, right? You certainly can use regular heavy cream, though, and it will still be wonderful! (See note below for lower-calorie options.)

Garlic: We use a mix of garlic powder and fresh garlic, which we think is perfect. If you want a more subtle garlic flavor, you could cut back on one or the other.

Seasonings: Salt, pepper, and dried Italian seasoning. This trio of spices really takes the sauce up a level. Parmesan cheese is already salty, so we’re only adding in a touch more.

  1. Add the butter and cream to a large nonstick sauté pan, over medium-low heat; whisk until butter has melted.
  2. Add in the minced garlic, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper; whisk until combined and smooth.
  3. Bring to a gentle simmer (do not boil) and cook for 3-4 minutes, whisking constantly, until it starts to thicken.
  4. Stir in the parmesan cheese just until melted and the sauce is smooth.
  5. Take off the heat and use right away or store it for later.
  6. (If the sauce isn’t quite thick enough, allow it to stand for 2-3 minutes before tossing with pasta.)

Gordon Ramsay Steak

  •  Ribeye (or really any cut of steak)
  •  Large grain sea salt
  •  Ground pepper
  •  1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  •  Fresh garlic slight crushed
  •  Fresh thyme
  •  2 Tbsp butter
  1. Remove steaks from fridge and let sit room temperature for 20 minutes
  2. Put a pan over medium-high heat on the stovetop 
  3. Season thawed steaks generously with salt and pepper and rub the bottom of the steaks into excess salt and pepper on table
  4. When pan begins to show any signs of smoke, place olive oil in pan and make sure pan is coated and well covered
  5. Lay steaks away from you and flip every minute including rendering the fatback side
  6. Add the crushed garlic, fresh thyme, and another Tbsp of olive oil in the pan around the cooking steaks
  7. Add the butter and baste the steaks while continually flipping steaks on the minute
  8. Remove the steaks when they reach your desired tenderness (cheek = rare, chin = medium, forehead = well done) and let rest for 5-10 minutes. 

Red Wine Reduction

  • drippings from steak 
  • minced garlic or garlic paste
  • minced shallots or red onions
  • red wine of your choice, or equal amounts beef stock if not using wine
  • balsamic vinegar
  • fresh thyme 
  • beef stock
  • parsley leaves
  • butter
  1. Reserve 1 Tablespoon steak drippings from your cooked steak in the pan over medium heat. If you haven’t cooked a steak, melt 1 Tablespoon butter in a cast-iron skillet. Then, add garlic and shallots and sauté, stirring until tender, about 1 minute.
  2. Add red wine, beef stock, balsamic vinegar, and fresh thyme sprigs. Bring liquid to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat.
  3. Allow the wine mixture to reduce until thickened, approximately 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the thyme from the sauce and turn the heat to low. Whisk in 2 Tablespoons butter and let the sauce simmer. 
  5. Add parsley and season with salt and pepper if desired. Serve, and enjoy!

Crème Brûlée

  • 2 cups heavy or light cream, or half-and-half
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 5 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar, more for topping
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a saucepan, combine cream, vanilla bean and salt and cook over low heat just until hot. Let sit for a few minutes, then discard vanilla bean. (If using vanilla extract, add it now.)
  2. In a bowl, beat yolks and sugar together until light. Stir about a quarter of the cream into this mixture, then pour sugar-egg mixture into cream and stir. Pour into four 6-ounce ramekins and place ramekins in a baking dish; fill dish with boiling water halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until centers are barely set. Cool completely. Refrigerate for several hours and up to a couple of days.
  3. When ready to serve, top each custard with about a teaspoon of sugar in a thin layer. Place ramekins in a broiler 2 to 3 inches from heat source. Turn on broiler. Cook until sugar melts and browns or even blackens a bit, about 5 minutes. Serve within two hours.
Python3Random Thoughts

The Zen of Python, by Tim Peters

import this

Beautiful is better than ugly.
Explicit is better than implicit.
Simple is better than complex.
Complex is better than complicated.
Flat is better than nested.
Sparse is better than dense.
Readability counts.
Special cases aren’t special enough to break the rules.
Although practicality beats purity.
Errors should never pass silently.
Unless explicitly silenced.
In the face of ambiguity, refuse the temptation to guess.
There should be one– and preferably only one –obvious way to do it.
Although that way may not be obvious at first unless you’re Dutch.
Now is better than never.
Although never is often better than right now.
If the implementation is hard to explain, it’s a bad idea.
If the implementation is easy to explain, it may be a good idea.
Namespaces are one honking great idea — let’s do more of those!

Random Thoughts

Rainbow Trout With Potatoes And Garlic

Rating: 4 out of 5.


2 large rainbow trout fish whole fish (gutted and washed) or fillets
4 large potatoes
5 spring garlic or 5 medium cloves regular garlic
1/2 tsp pink salt
1 pinch black pepper
1/4 lemon juice or cider vinegar
4 tbsp fresh herbs // parsley and chives
2-3 tbsp cider vinegar optional to drizzle over when serving


1 – Peel, wash and cut the potatoes into the desired shape.
2 – Season the fish with salt and pepper and place some herbs and a little garlic in the inside of the fish.
3 – Take two pans out for simultaneous cooking, place both on medium fire.
4 – When both pans are fairly hot, add a drizzle of olive oil into each pan and add the fish in one and the cut potatoes into the other. Cover the potatoes but not the fish. Lower the heat for the fish and cook for at least 4-7 min on one side, until the fish will no longer stick to the pan.
5 – Meanwhile, give the potatoes a little seasoning and toss them. If they stick do allow them to cook further until they get a crusty layer on the outside. They will release themselves from the pan. Add a drizzle of extra oil if you feel it is necessary.
6 – Once the fish cooked on one side turn the fish gently on the other side and cook for a further 5-6 min on medium fire.
7 – Give the potatoes another toss and cook uncovered for another 5-6 minutes tossing them occasionally until they have cooked thoroughly.
8 – Paste the garlic and add to the potatoes and the fish in the last minute of cooking. Season more if you think it’s needed. Turn off the heat and serve immediately with a side salad or some cooked vegetables or greens.

FitnessRandom Thoughts

Bodyweight Workout

Week 1 Monday, Wednesday, Friday; 2 miles per day, 8:30 pace 6 miles/week
Week 2 Monday, Wednesday, Friday; 2 miles per day, 8:30 pace 6 miles/week
Week 3 No running. High risk of stress fractures
Week 4 Monday, Wednesday, Friday; 3 miles per day 9 miles/week
Week 5 Monday – 2 mi, Tuesday – 3 mi, Thursday – 4 mi, Friday – 2 mi 11 miles/week
Week 6 Monday – 2 mi, Tuesday – 3 mi, Thursday – 4 mi, Friday – 2 mi 11 miles/week
Week 7 Monday – 4 mi, Tuesday – 4 mi, Thursday – 5 mi, Friday – 3 mi 16 miles/week
Week 8 Monday – 4 mi, Tuesday – 4 mi, Thursday – 5 mi, Friday – 3 mi 16 miles/week
Week 9 Monday – 4 mi, Tuesday – 4 mi, Thursday – 5 mi, Friday – 3 mi 16 miles/week

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
Week 1 4×15 push-ups; 4×20 sit-ups; 3×3 pull-ups
Week 2 5×20 push-ups; 5×20 sit-ups; 3×3 pull-ups
Week 3 5×25 push-ups; 5×25 sit-ups; 3×4 pull-ups
Week 4 5×25 push-ups; 5×25 sit-ups; 3×4 pull-ups
Week 5 6×25 push-ups; 6×25 sit-ups; 2×8 pull-ups
Week 6 6×25 push-ups; 6×25 sit-ups; 2×8 pull-ups
Week 7 6×30 push-ups; 6×30 sit-ups; 2×10 pull-ups
Week 8 6×30 push-ups; 6×30 sit-ups; 2×10 pull-ups
Week 9 6×30 push-ups; 6×30 sit-ups; 3×10 pull-ups
Note: for best results, alternate exercise. Do a set of push-ups,
then a set of sit-ups, followed by a set of pull-ups. Do not rest
between sets.

(Sidestroke with no fins, 4-5 days per week)
Week 1 Swim continuously for 15 minutes
Week 2 Swim continuously for 15 minutes
Week 3 Swim continuously for 20 minutes
Week 4 Swim continuously for 20 minutes
Week 5 Swim continuously for 25 minutes
Week 6 Swim continuously for 25 minutes
Week 7 Swim continuously for 30 minutes
Week 8 Swim continuously for 30 minutes
Week 9 Swim continuously for 35 minutes
Notes: If you have access to a pool, swim as often as possible. Your initial work-up goal is 4-5 days per week and 200 meters distance per session. Develop your sidestroke on both right and left sides. Try to swim 50 meters in one minute or less. If you DON’T have access to a pool, ride a bicycle for twice as long as the recommended swim duration.


Week 1 Mon – 3 mi, Tues – 5 mi, Thurs – 4 mi, Fri – 5 mi, Sat – 2 mi 19 miles/week
Week 2 Mon – 3 mi, Tues – 5 mi, Thurs – 4 mi, Fri – 5 mi, Sat – 2 mi 19 miles/week
Week 3 Mon – 4 mi, Tues – 5 mi, Thurs – 6 mi, Fri – 4 mi, Sat – 3 mi 22 miles/week
Week 4 Mon – 4 mi, Tues – 5 mi, Thurs – 6 mi, Fri – 4 mi, Sat – 3 mi 22 miles/week
Week 5 Mon – 5 mi, Tues – 5 mi, Thurs – 6 mi, Fri – 4 mi, Sat – 4 mi 24 miles/week
Week 6 Mon – 5 mi, Tues – 6 mi, Thurs – 6 mi, Fri – 6 mi, Sat – 4 mi 27 miles/week
Week 7 Mon – 6 mi, Tues – 6 mi, Thurs – 6 mi, Fri – 6 mi, Sat – 6 mi 30 miles/week

Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Week 1 6×30 push-ups; 6×35 sit-ups; 3×10 pull-ups; 3×20 dips
Week 2 6×30 push-ups; 6×35 sit-ups; 3×10 pull-ups; 3×20 dips
Week 3 10×20 push-ups; 10×25 sit-ups; 4×10 pull-ups; 10×15 dips
Week 4 10×20 push-ups; 10×25 sit-ups; 4×10 pull-ups; 10×15 dips
Week 5 15×20 push-ups; 15×25 sit-ups; 4×12 pull-ups; 15×15 dips
Week 6 20×20 push-ups; 20×25 sit-ups; 5×12 pull-ups; 20×15 dips

Goal: 5 Sets
Number of Repetitions
Pull-ups 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Push-ups 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 (2x the # of pull-ups)
Sit-ups 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 12, 9, 6, 3 (3x the # of pull-ups)
Dips 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

(4 – 5 days per week)
Week 1 Swim continuously for 35 minutes
Week 2 Swim continuously for 35 minutes
Week 3 Swim continuously for 45minutes
Week 4 Swim continuously for 45 minutes
Week 5 Swim continuously for 60 minutes
Week 6 Swim continuously for 75 minutes
Notes: When starting with fins, alternate swimming 1000 meters with fins and 1000 meters without. This will reduce initial stress on your foot muscles. Your goal is to swim 50 meters in 45 seconds or less.

Random Thoughts

Letter from Adrian Perkins (83) from Ely, England


1956. Aged 17. School friend Ben and I were having a Spring holiday in Borrowdale in the English Lake District for the second year running. This year Rodney came too and we were camping rather than youth-hostelling. We felt that hostelling had been too restrictive because of the need to pre-book the hostels, and thus our exact route for the whole week.

Following day one’s bus and scramble to the top of Helvellyn via the wonderful and hair-raising Striding Edge, we were trudging down the road towards the field where our tents were pitched:

“Hi! I thought I might run into you lot. Where’d you go today?”

It was a boy from our school two years above us. We hardly knew him beyond knowing his name was Warwick Wilkinson.

“Hi Warwick!” Ben said. “How did you know where we were camping?”

“I overheard you planning, back at school.”

“In other words you were eavesdropping,” Rodney challenged.

“Keep your hair on, Rodney. I’m offering to help you chaps out. Would you like me to take you rock climbing tomorrow? I’ve got all the kit we’ll need.”

“Golly! I’d love that,” I said.

“Me too,” Ben agreed.

“Hang on! Will you …. Are you qualified for this?”

“You’re quite right to ask, Rodney,” Warwick replied. “Yes I am. My dad’s a professional climber. He’s been teaching me intensively since I was ten. So I know more or less all there is to know about rock climbing. Bugger all else, mind! I’m about to fail all my A-level exams next term, but I couldn’t give a damn.” He grinned cheerfully.

For my part I was starting to think we were in the presence of a god.

“So, can we meet at nine o’clock tomorrow at the entrance to Seathwaite car-park?” Warwick asked.

Ben and I reached the rendezvous ten minutes early (Rodney had cried off, and Ben lent him his map for the day). Warwick soon arrived. We took off along the bridleway following the River Derwent upstream to Stockley Bridge. The bridleway turned right across the river, and we continued steeply uphill to reach Sty Head. Here, Warwick turned west along a narrow footpath. We reached a tall, slender pinnacle of rock (680 meters high), with a huge chunk of rock balanced on top of it.

“That,” Warwick said, “is called Napes Needle, and worry you not, we’re not going to climb it. We will be going that way.” He pointed to the massive heave of mountain known as Great Gable, of which the Needle was an outcrop. He showed us how to tie the rope round our waists. He would lead at the top of the rope, I was to be number two in the middle, and Ben number three at the end. He explained that there would never be more than one person climbing at a time. Warwick had planned it in three pitches. At the end of each pitch it was always the first task for the person above the current climber to belay the rope between them with three turns around a suitable pinnacle of rock. As the climber below climbs, the one above will wind the rope around the belay. Thus the person climbing is always protected if he should fall, with, of course, the exception of number one. “That’s why he’s called the leader and knows what he’s doing,” as Warwick put it.

The memory of this climb, beyond the fact that it was wildly exciting, I have largely lost – with the exception of the second pitch. This was along a narrow ledge, about two centimetres wide for the most part, running diagonally up a rock-face at an angle of about 45°. There were a few handholds at a usable height along the way. I had watched Warwick step along the ledge with apparent ease until he reached a small rock platform at the end of the pitch. He belayed the rope and called me on up.

Jesus, I can’t do that! But I must. I’ve just got to. I very slowly stepped along the ledge, face pressed against the rock, desperately grasping at hand-holds in the rock when I could – often no more than swellings in the cliff. About half-way along I took another small step. My foot slipped off. I fell. I continued dropping. Help! At last the rope went tight. But it was stretching. I fell another couple of feet – and I was swinging like a pendulum across the cliff – from side to side about a foot from the rock-face. I pushed my boots forward to drag on the cliff and stop the pendulum. Slowly, slowly with the help of knobs and cracks in the rock I pulled myself up the cliff, with Warwick keeping the rope tightly belayed. I have no memory – none at all – of the rest of that day. Not surprising, I suppose.”

Random Thoughts

Tintoretto’s Last Supper

Tintoretto depicted the Last Supper several times during his artistic career. His earlier paintings for the Chiesa di San Marcuola (1547) and for the Chiesa di San Felice (1559) depict the scene from a frontal perspective, with the figures seated at a table placed parallel to the picture plane. This follows a convention observed in most paintings of the Last Supper, of which Leonardo da Vinci’s late 1490s mural painting in Milan, Italy, is probably the best-known example. Tintoretto’–1594 painting, a work of his final years, departs drastically from this compositional formula. The centre of the scene is occupied not by the apostles but instead by secondary characters, such as a woman carrying a dish and the servants taking the dishes from the table. The table at which the apostles sit recedes into space on a steep diagonal. Furthermore, Tintoretto’s painting features a more personal use of light, which appears to come into obscurity from both the light on the ceiling and from Jesus’ aureola. A host of angels hover above the scene.

Tintoretto’s Last Supper makes use of Mannerist devices in its complex and radically asymmetrical composition. In its dynamism and emphasis on the quotidian—the setting is similar to a Venetian inn—the painting points the way to the Baroque. “The ability of this dramatic scene to engage viewers was well in keeping with Counter-Reformation ideals and the Catholic Church’s belief in the didactic nature of religious art.”