Kenny Neal (Doug Anderson, Creative Commons)

Busy week, not much time for writing starting last weekend. We danced our butts off at the Redwood Coast Music Festival. Anyone reading this catch Kenny Neal? The man is awesome, playing blues guitar, harmonica and what looked to me like an electric mountain dulcimer (someone enlighten me, please). He’s one of those performers who can’t just do their thing up on the stage separate from the audience — he came down and boogied with us all on the floor — singing and playing and bluesing the whole time.

Then I gave a class on Homer’s Iliad (I will take on these things), all the time thinking during the research process that what Homer wrote about a 3200-year old Bronze Age war is as relevant today as it was to his Iron Age listeners. It’s all there the very opening line which speaks of “the wrath of Achilles.” Wrath directed, not towards the enemy, but toward his commander-in-chief, Agamemnon. Why should “the swift-footed Achilles” fight for a cause (getting back the c-in-c’s kid brother’s wife) in which he has no investment? Muhammad Ali put the case for insubordination succinctly: “I ain’t got no quarrel with the Viet Cong.”

Aside: Trying to explain this to my beloved, she asks what Achilles retirement account has to do with anything. Figured out we don’t say Bostonified “wrath” where I come from—my wrath rhymes with your “moth.”

Anyways, between that and a whole lotta other stuff going on, not much time to focus on writing something, you know, LoCO-worthy, for Sunday morning. So you’re going to have to excuse me (or not) for this effort. Call it “The Four-Letter Challenge.” Pretty simple really: what people and events can be recalled in just four or less alphanumeric characters? Once I started, I couldn’t stop:

Marx, JFK, Suez (1956 international crisis), 9-11, Ike, Paul, HRC, WW2, God, MLK, Dali, Adam, Eve, Pele, Cleo (last of the Ptolemies), Tut, Mao, 1066 (Norman invasion of England), Q (a bit dated, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch), M (Judy Dench), Bono, U2, Mr T, D-Day (nope, that’s five), QE II (I was thinking of the ocean liner, but it’s ambiguous—it’s also five symbols, counting the space), K2 (2nd highest mountain), ABBA, J. Lo, KKK, 747, 666, 215…

Does T A F K A Prince’s “Love Symbol” ideogram count? Guess not, it’s not alphanumeric. Or original, either; Chi Rho is 2,000 years older (and in Unicode!).

What am I missing? Any more one and two character events or people? Countries (USA, UK, USSR) and states (CA, OR) are easy, of course.

I suppose if we were trying to find the way expressing the maximum information in the shortest way, we’d have to go with pi or e. Shortening pi to π, of course.

Trivia: the symbol π — representing the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle — was introduced by the father of the guy who founded the science of linguistics on November 29, 1786 in Calcutta. (Sir William Jones, who “knew thirteen languages thoroughly and another twenty-eight reasonably well.”)

Someone help me out here?