Monday, January 20, 2020


In recent years Flippism (aka Flipism) has exploded on the public consciousness. When I started this sisyphean enterprise sixteen years ago, there were very few references to the term (besides this blog) on the internet.

No longer. Here are a few ways the term has been commercialized:

Flipburger restaurant chain in Indonesia has a Flipism page on their website:

The online fashion site Lulu’s has a Flipism tote:

For a fee you can buy a research paper on Flipism from New York Essays:

Merchandising of Flipism just wouldn’t be complete without this T-Shirt from Teepublic:

And, finally, Lars P. Syll, a real-life economist, uses a Flipist reference to hawk his books:

Be a Flipster!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, January 17, 2020

Stone Cold

Chapter 4 of The Inheritance, a serial fiction novel on FITK

In the Ice Cave, Mareka and her parents, Sean and Mary, were standing in the dark after Mareka’s flashlight had gone dark when it fell to the floor. As their eyes adjusted to the blackness, Sean and Mary could see that Mareka was glowing, with wisps of light emanating from her finger tips and her head.

“Mareka, are you all right?” said Mary, touching the child on her arm.

“The stones, Momma,” Mareka said with a shudder, “I can hear the stones.”

“What do they say?” said Mary, gently.

“They are singing, they are singing,” said the child, who was shaking.

“What do they say?” said Sean.

“Ianana, Ianana,” said the girl.

“Mareka, I am going to turn on my phone, so we can have some light to see by,” said Sean, “Then we can walk out of the cave, is that O.K. honey?”

“It’s so beautiful, so beautiful,” she said through chattering teeth, “Momma, I’m cold.”

Sean turned on his phone and aimed the screen at the ground. Its diffuse glow overwhelmed Mareka’s aura and was reflected by the stones on the path.

Mary grasped Mareka’s hand and turned her toward the exit. Mareka’s body started to relax as they took the first tentative steps toward the cave entrance. Once they could see daylight they picked up the pace and were soon standing outside in the warm sunshine.

Outside the the ice cream shop in Vesturbæjar, Villí and his Uncle Hilmar looked down at the remains of Villí’s cone that was quickly reverting its physical state from solid back to a milky liquid. Villí was obviously upset, and not just about the ice cream.

“What happened, Villí?” said Hilmar.

“The stones. The stones are cold,” Villí replied.

“What stones are these?” said Hilmar.

“Mareka, Mareka is in trouble.”

“I see,” said Hilmar, ”When we get back home I will text her mother and we’ll see what’s up.”

Hilmar saw that Villí was still upset.

“I’ll get you another cone Willí, it will be alright… ”

At the hotel, Mary and Sean had put Mareka to bed—one of the few times she didn’t object to taking a nap. They closed the door of the en suite bedroom and then sat down at the table.

“Well, that was a mistake,” said Sean, “I should have known better.”

“Maybe not,” said Mary, “She’s going to have to come to grip with her ‘talents’ sooner or later, it might be for the best if she experiences some of this while she is still young. I’m not looking forward to her adolescence.”

“Still, a creepy cave isn’t the best environment for an impressionable girl, I remember your first time in the Ice Cave,” said Sean, “By the way, did you feel anything when you were in there today?”

“Only a mother’s concern for her child,” Mary said, “And I didn’t feel anything special at the graveyard either, that was another of Emily’s ‘power spots.’ I think that they only work once. If Mareka is feeling better after her nap I would like to take her to another one, to the Porter House. That wall of minerals that surrounds it would be a good test. I remember it as being very pleasurable, and not at at all scary.”

“In the long term, how are we going to handle this situation?” said Sean, “My great-grandmother had some of the same powers and she ended up in an insane asylum.”

“I would definitely want her to have a pretty complete knowledge, even if it was not a full understanding, of her powers by the time she was ten or eleven.”

Sean pondered this for a moment. “I really don’t know anything about the lives of girls.”

“You’ll find out soon enough,” said Mary, “You’ll find out, all right.”

Mary’s phone chimed.

“It’s Hilmar, I wonder what he wants?” she said, picking up the phone.


Mary entered her phone app and scrolled to Hilmar’s number on the contact list.

“Já já, hæ, hæ, Mary” said Hilmar, “Thanks for returning my call.”

“What is it, Hilmar, is Villí O.K.?”

“I think so, but we had a fright, “He screamed and started talking, something about ‘Mareka and the stones.’ He said she was in trouble. He was pretty upset, but an ice cream helped to settle him down.”

“When was this?” said Mary.

“Tonight, around six o’ clock.”

“Hmm,” said Mary, “That would be one p.m. here, about exactly the time Mareka screamed too. She had an incident with the ‘powers’, the powers I learned from Emily.”

“Does this mean what I’m thinking?” said Hilmar, “It’s really starting now, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” said Mary, “I’m afraid it is. Let me have some time to think about what we should do. Are you sure Villí is all right?”

“Yá, he’s a tough one, he is.”

“Thanks for calling, I will email you when we get back to Seattle in a couple of days. Byebye.”

“Goodbye, Mary, talk to you soon.”

Neither Sean nor Mary saw that Mareka had entered the room.

“Mother, why are you afraid?” said Mareka, “What did Emily teach you? How could she have? Didn’t she disappear many years ago? And what are these ‘powers’?”

Next chapter: The Wall

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Seduction

A friend had just returned from Iceland and couldn’t stop raving: “You must go, don’t think about it, just do it. Bring warm clothes and an open mind… ”

It was all so easy, everything I needed to do was just a few clicks away: the flight, lodging, day-trips, even a hiking adventure. The most difficult part was convincing my routine-bound mindset that this would be more than just another mediocre vacation.

After a night spent soaring over the stygian Atlantic we touched down and were greeted by a rising sun. It accompanied the Flybus all the way into Reykjavík—its fiery countenance seemed to be saying “Velkominn heim.” At the hotel I left my luggage and then went to soak my jet-lag away in the warm waters of the neighborhood pool, Vesturbæjarlaug. As I was talking to the regulars in the hot pot I could feel my old routines began to melt away. It felt as if I was ready for anything Iceland had to offer, including the hike scheduled for the following day.

As our tour bus went farther and farther into the countryside, every turn in the road brought a new vista and my rational thinking began drifting away. Arriving at the trailhead, we floated into a new world—a world of unfettered sensation. Each breath of the polar air heightened our awareness even as it stilled our thoughts. By the time we reached the end of the trail even the most talkative of the hikers had fallen silent.

Zeppelin-esque clouds traversed the gradated sky, slowly but relentlessly, on their voyage to oblivion, drifting over beds of moss softer than dreams of lambs and a landscape more delicate than fairy wings. Citron and lavender silks unfurled above the infinite horizon while below this aerial display a vaporous veil poured itself into the sensuous curves of the valley primeval, as if the earth was embracing these overtures from the sky in a gentle caress of an old lover.

The moist breath of Nature whispered: “Now Iceland has become a part of you.”

This was my entry to the 2020 Iceland Writers Retreat contest, a short writing based on the image by Roman Gerasymenko, pictured above.

I didn’t win so, if I am going to go, I'll have to pay my own way.

So I did!

The retreat is April 29-May 3, and I booked some extra time before and after, of course.


By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Up Close and Personal

Barbara Borman, June 3, 1968

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, January 10, 2020

I Scream, You Scream

Chapter 3 of The Inheritance, a serial fiction novel on FITK

After the reception, Sean drove Mary and Mareka into town. It had gotten noticeably warmer since the ceremony, but Mary wanted the windows down.

“I like the air here, it’s different than in Seattle,” said Mary.

“It’s stinky,” said Mareka.

“That’s the manure they spread on the fields,” said Sean.

“What is manure?” asked Mareka.

“Cow poop,” said Sean, “It helps things grow.”

“Gross, dad.”

There was a minute of silence then Mareka said, “I heard someone talking to Edwin about Tina’s mother Emily. He said he knew her. When was that?”

“In 1944, at he end of World War II. Tina and Edwin were teens in high school when your great-grandmother Emily came back from New York. To the farm where Tina was living with Emily’s brother Henry and his wife, Alice, remember I told you about them?” explained Sean.

“Why was Emily in New York?”

“She was an artist and was making a living there,” said Sean, “You know about her paintings.”

“Why didn’t she do her paintings at the farm?”

“She had to be in New York, that was the best place for an artist to be then. It still is.”

Mareka was quiet for a few seconds and then asked, “Why did she come back then?”

“She came back because she wanted her baby, my mother Marilyn, your grandmother, to grow up with Henry and Alice and Tina. She thought it would be better for her to grow up here than in New York City,” said Sean.

“Oh,” said Mareka, pensively, “Who was my grandmother’s father?”

“It was a man named John Regelind the second. The paintings were in his estate, passed on through his son, John Regelind the third, to me. He was Emily’s patron—he supported her in her artwork,” said Sean, “The paintings were supposed to be shown but then came the depression, and then the War. Nobody had any money to buy art back then.”

“So Edwin knew my great-grandmother when she came home to have a baby. And then what happened?”

Mary gave Sean a glance.

“Emily went back to New York and left her baby with Henry and Alice and Tina. And then she disappeared,” said Sean, “And that’s all we know.”

“Look, Mareka,” said Mary, “There’s the Whippy Dip. Would you like an ice cream cone?”


In their Reykjavík flat Þora Sigmundsdóttir and her nine-year-old son, Vilhjálmur Stefán, were sitting down to dinner with Þora’s uncle Hilmar.

“Ísbúð Vesturbæjar! Ísbúð Vesturbæjar!” said Villí, pounding his fists on the table. His request to go to the ice cream store was met with disapproval by his mother: “Næ, næ,” said Þora.

Young Villí was the son of Þora and Sean Carroll, the result of a fling when Sean was posing undercover as his brother, Billy Clarkson. Þora and Sean had reconciled, their extended ‘family’ consisted of Sean and Mary, Villí’s cousin Mareka, and Þora’s uncle Hilmar. Although Sean made efforts to be involved in his son’s life, Hilmar was the de facto father of Villí. He was also the leader of “the New Religion“ that was supported by Mary Robinson with her “spells” that she discovered when was helping Sean in his search for his grandmother, the artist Emily Carroll. Young Villí was a handful at time, tonight was one of those times. Although he was two years older, Villí and Mareka had been close since early childhood.

“Mareka gets ice cream,” pouted Villí.

“Eat your supper, then we can discuss ice cream,” said Hilmar, “You can’t always get what Mareka gets.”

They ate in silence. Finally Þora said, “Very good Villí, Hilmar, will you escort Villí to the Ísbúð?“

“Koma, Villí,” said Hilmar, “The ice cream is waiting.”

After Mareka ate her ice cream cone, Sean, Mary and Mareka headed back to the car.

“It’s only two o’clock,” said Mary, “We can’t get into our hotel room until three. Any ideas about what we can do till then?”

“We could go to the Ice Cave,” said Sean, “It would be nice to get out of this heat.”

Mary, remembering the last time she was in the Ice Cave, had an involuntary shudder. The last time she was there she had been exposing herself to various “power centers” in her quest to gain enlightenment via the books of Emily’s that she had discovered. It had been a harrowing experience. Still, she reasoned, she had been at one of the other power centers earlier in the day—in the church cemetery—and hadn’t had any exceptional sensations or revelations.

“I would like to see that again,” Mary said, “Mareka, that’s a place where your father went to when he was about your age, isn’t it Sean?” Sean looked at Mary carefully, surmising that she had thought about it and was willing to go there again in spite of what had happened there eight years ago.

“Yes, my Great-uncle Henry took me. It’s neat.”

“Where is it? Is it far?” asked Mareka.

“Do you see that hill, over there, above the parking lot? It’s up there, it’s not too far,” said Sean.

“We’ll have to get a flashlight,“ said Mary, “They probably sell them in the Cenex,” said Mary.

Hilmar and Villí were walking down Hofsvallagata, on the way to the ice cream store.

“So, tell me Villí,” said Hilmar, “How did you know that Mareka is getting ice cream? She lives far away.”

“I just know, she tells me her thoughts some times,” said Villí, “I tell her mine.”

“Is that something special, something that only happens between you and her?“

“Já, And the stones too, sometimes they tell us things.”

“I know about the stones, I know that Mareka hears things from them. You know that those things are secret, those secrets are between you and her and me and Mareka’s mother.”

“I know, the other kids they don’t believe me anyway.”

They turned west on Hagamelur, heading towards Ísbúð Vesturbæjar, the ice cream shop.

Sean parked the car and walked with Mary and Mareka to the stairs that led to the entrance of the Ice Cave.

“Is this how it was when you were a little boy?” said Mareka.

“Pretty much, the trees are bigger, but the stones are the same,” said Sean, ”How are you doing, Mary"”

“I’m good,” said Mary, “Mareka, are you ready with the flashlight?” The cave’s entrance was only a few yards away.

“Ready!” said Mareka, excitedly.

“Remember, it might be slippery… ” said Sean.

The group slowly entered the cave where there was an immediate drop in temperature. The beam from Mareka’s flashlight wandered over the walls and the floor of the cave and, after a few dozen steps, the light from the cave’s entrance was no longer visible.

"Stop!” said Mareka.

Mareka dropped the flashlight and the cave was plunged into darkness.

“Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” she screamed.

Villí and Hilmar were just starting to eat their cones when Villí dropped his.

“Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” he screamed.

Next chapter: Stone Cold

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Love, Sin, and Time

I hope it wasn’t too much of a shock.

We’ve had some good times together, you’ve been more than generous.

But to every season there is an ending.

I will still get your cards, but the monthly packages must end.

I can’t love you any more…

It isn’t that I won’t still love you.

It’s just that my love has its limits.

And now is the time for me to set one of those limits.

In another world, or in another time, this wouldn’t be necessary.

But we live in this world, in this time.

I can’t love you any more…

… than I already do.

But that has always been the case, ever since I met you.

Love, sin, time.

If I did love you any more my heart would burst.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

October 27, 1914

There is so much beauty in the world. In sorrow, in sordidness, in poverty there is beauty. For example I saw a little girl selling newspapers down on Tenth street. Auburn hair which was trained, not by precise brushing and combing, but which seemed to have curved as it did because it had been brushed back by the child’s hand. Blue eyes with a child light in them, a baby mouth already moulded interestingly by the unsmoothness of life, and an outstretched hand with a paper in it. A little life crying for Life—the outstretched hand and the appealing look and the paper being only its mediums or weapons or tools or whatever you may wish to call it. I mean one did not get the idea that she was trying to sell you a paper but that she wanted to live.

One has to feel beauty as well as see it.

~ Wanda Gág

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2