Another Dark Little Corner

moon phases

Started this before change to "New Blogger", as backup in case of trouble with digiphoto blog "In a Small Dark Room", or rants & links blog "Hello Cruel World" . Useful - at one stage Dark Room was there, but like the astrophysical Dark Matter, we could't see it ... better now, but kept Just In Case.

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There is nothing. There is no God and no universe, there is only empty space, and in it a lost and homeless and wandering and companionless and indestructible Thought. And I am that thought. And God, and the Universe, and Time, and Life, and Death, and Joy and Sorrow and Pain only a grotesque and brutal dream, evolved from the frantic imagination of that same Thought.
Mark Twain (letter to Joseph Twichell after his wife's death)
[me, on a bad day]

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Fire is a process, not a thing  
"What does the candle represent?"
"Whose life?"
"All life, every life. We are all born as … molecules … in the hearts
of a billion stars. Molecules that do not understand politics,
policies or differences. Over a billion years we foolish molecules
forget who we are and where we came from. In desperate acts of
ego … we give ourselves names, fight over lines on maps, and
pretend that our light is better than everyone else's. The flame
reminds us of the piece of those stars that lives on inside us. The
spark that tells us ... "you should know better". The flame also
reminds us that life is precious, as each flame is unique. When
it goes out, it's gone forever ... and there will never be another
quite like it. So many candles will go out tonight. I wonder some
days ... if we can see anything at all."
J. Michael Straczynski, Babylon 5: "And All My Dreams Torn Asunder"

Put out the Light, and then put out the Light:
If I quench thee, thou flaming Minister,
I can again thy former light restore,
Should I repent me. But once put out thy Light,
Thou cunning'st Pattern of excelling Nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat
That can thy Light re-Lume
William Shakespeare: Othello, Act 5, scene 2

we are a local embodiment of a Cosmos grown to self-awareness ...
We have become starstuff pondering the stars.
Carl Sagan: Cosmos

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Cablegram: Curtin/Roosevelt  
Telegram from Prime Minister Curtin to President Roosevelt

Text of cablegram from Curtin to Roosevelt

After the attack on Pearl Harbour (7/12/1942), Japanese forces swept swiftly down through Asia/South-East Asia. In February 1942, the Air Force (or perhaps the air arm of the Japanese Navy) bombed targets in northern Australia. The city which took the worst of this was Darwin. It suffered numerous raids over several months. This encrypted telegram was sent in this most fearful time. (From state archives of world war II papers.)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

SENT: 22 February 1942

The Australian Minister,
No 40. Most immediate. Most secret
Your 330. For President from Prime Minister

Dear Mr President,
    It is heartening to us to have your message.
We have known always in any crisis of this nature that the
United States of America would stand with us in the way your
message so eloquently indicated.

    2. On our part and we hope without
presumption we too have pledged ourselves to the common cause,
and, as you know, our forces have fought in many distant
theatres with a gallantry the world has been good enough to

    3. We are now, with a small population in
the only white man's territory south of the equator, beset
grievously. Because we have added to our contribution in
manpower so much of our resources and materials, we now lack
adequacy for the forces of our homeland in the defence of
our own soil.

   4. You have indicated an appreciation of the
gravity of our responsibililties in reaching a decision on the
matter referred to in your message. It has affected us
profoundly. As we see the whole problem, our vital centres
are in immediate danger. This is the reason and the only
reason for the reply we have sent to Mr. Churchill, which we
now quote in full for your information.

(here follows cablegram to Dominion
Office -- No 136)



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Urbicide & thoughts on destructiveness  
While checking for a source for Slavenka Drakulic's beautiful/tragic/thoughtful piece* about the destruction of the Bridge over the Neretva River at Mostar, originally in The Observer in 1997(?)
(quoted at, I found this interview, entitled The Normalcy of War Criminals [I presume they mean 'Normality'] web_exclusives/ features/ news/ drakulic_qa.html
It deals with subjects my friends & I have been considering.
(I remember Clive James writing in one of his essays that he feared if he had been a German in the 1930s & 1940s, that he may have ended up being a camp guard. We nearly all have the capacity for extraordinary things, both good & bad.)

Meanwhile, another place to find some interesting discussions (apart from my favourite, Margot Kingston's Webdiary [NEW SITE]) on the Sydney Morning Herald site) [UPDATE: now]
is on the United Kingdom's "The Independent" newspaper site:
which includes one of the people who know the Middle Eastern situation, Robert Fisk, e.g. his piece on the first Anniversary of the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks in the USA at One year on: A view from the Middle East - part of their general coverage of that anniversary, which is at Reflections on September 11.
Oddly, he doesn't seem to appear in their list of regular columnists or commentators, tho' if you use their "Search this site" box with his name, he obviously writes fairly regularly for them.

* A bunch of possible links: Pubs/ chronicle/ 2004/ issue3/ 0304p77.asp sells/ mostar/ mostar.html
A list of references to the story of the Mostar bridge Heartland/ 1935/ bridge.html 9801/ abstracts/ bosnia.html
Against anthropocentrism: the destruction of the built environment as a distinct form of political violence (urbicide) arts/ barbarians-through-the-gate/ 2006/ 03/ 23/ 1143083899330.html

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War Prayer  
Checking out some things about TV series Babylon 5 (parts of which reflect current subjects of interest) [In-depth analysis:;;],
I was intrigued to find episode title "The War Prayer" ( came from a short Mark Twain (Samuel Longhorn Clemens) story. Pertinent whenever & wherever someone is whipping up bellicose feeling, e.g. India v Pakistan, etc, etc, etc. He also is an interesting writer in several ways. Here we are rather fond of his comments about Australia when he visited. Will have to look them up for you.

This is a short biography, with links to several stories:
and a more 'literary' discussion of him, especially his skepticism:

The War Prayer links (It's been used recently too, about current subjects:):

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Old thoughts made new  
One of my reasons for reading science fiction (as opposed to sword & sorcery style fantasy or space-located varieties of westerns, &c) is that it can deal with all sorts of ideas & speculations about humanity, society, reality, &c. This edited extract deals with a subject that's been discussed very many times.

From "Inheritor" by CJ Cherryh
(p 365 of my paperback edition)
Third in a series set on an alien world where 'stranded' humans are co-existing uneasily with another race who are said not to have emotions in the same way as humans. CJC tends towards the 'higher' end of 'space opera' — lots of action & excitement, but touching on bigger themes — tho' she also does other sub-genres.
"Not love, he thought to himself. And then thought, ... maybe they'd had such rotten luck with the love and man'chi aspect of relations because that word in [English] blurred so many things together it just wasn't safe to deal with.
They were lovers. But Ragi said they were sexual partners.
They were lovers. But Ragi said they were associated.
They'd made love. But Ragi said there they were within the same lord's manchi.
They'd made love. But Ragi said there were one-candle nights and two-candle nights and there were relationships that didn't count the candles at all.
They'd made love. But a Ragi proverb said one candle didn't promise breakfast. ...
He was quite out of his depth trying to reckon that. But with Jago he certainly wouldn't count the candles. Whatever they could arrange, as long as it could last from both sides, that was what he'd take."

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Statistics in Wonderland  
The Fallacy of Averages OR Spreading it Around?
[NOTE: If you can suggest a better title, I'd be glad. Am not happy with any I've given it.]
Take a happy group of 10 survivors on the bead economy.

When we first meet them the bead distribution is:
One lucky beado with 90 beads;
one poor beader only 10;
eight get 50 beads each.
Total 500, average 50 beads.

'Big Boy Beado' gets tax cuts and subsidies - funded by cutting general public physical and social infrastructure and ‘middle class welfare’ - does beadstock option speculation - partially funded through cutting company workforces, and wages and conditions, &c. of average working beaders (moving beads from them to him*). ‘Disadvantaged’ Beadie gets social equity beadfunding from the government to 15 . One lucky / clever / cunning BeadHolder more than doubles his to 110 (maybe in Microsphere shares or real beadstate).

Now we have:
BBB with 225 beads instead of 90;
DB gets 15 instead of 10;
BH has 110 instead of 50; and
seven little beaders only have 25 where they had 50.
Total 525, average 52.5 beads each.

"We’re ahead!", cries the Tribal Council. "Average beads are up!" and "The poor are better off!" and "The pie is bigger!" they crow.

But 7 of 10 are worse off beadwise, & underlying social/infrastructure support for all is less. Even the poorest is worse off compared to the highest (earlier 10/90 (=1/9th) is greater than current 15/225 (=1/15th)).

Which do you think is a happier & more cohesive group; before or after?

[*If they do have shares, or their superannuation trustee has, their dividends or equity increase is far less each than that of a very large beadshare holder - rather like the difference between what you personally could do with the $3-$4/week recent average tax cut and what the government could do with the total]

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Anniversary Exchange  
(from the ABC's Foreign Correspondent guestbook)
Name: steve
Visit Time: 19:49:14 10 Sep, 2002 EST
September 11 will be a day that I will never forget. As I sat watching from relative in Melbourne I found myself crying and angry at the appaling loss of innocent life. It makes me angry when I read people justifing these attacks because of American foreign policy...

Name: Mezza
Visit Time: ? 10 Sep, 2002 EST

Dear Steve,
it is disappointing, after a whole year of repeating it, that people can't or won't understand. "Justify" is not the same as "explain".
People were asking (11/9/2002): "Why did it happen?"
Then when you say anything other than: "They are evil; they hate us because we are good.", you are accused of supporting them!
This thinking has killed millions over the last couple of thousand years (if not longer), causing untold suffering, destruction & waste as each side proclaims God or History or Righteousness is on their side. I've considered trying to shut all the dogmatic fanatic types of all ideologies/theologies into the world's largest high-security enclosure to let them beat each other to death with rocks while the people who can live together peaceably continue with their lives outside, but it seems impractical, alas.
Subject: Re: Anniversary Exchange
On Wed, 11 Sep 2002 14:41, Alex wrote:

> I liked that response. Very Henri Barbusse.

> The guy was French. In WW1.
> In Flanders. Wrote a book about people drowning (literally) in mud.
> Wrote, EXTREMELY CLEARLY of the average soldiers hatred of the
> politicos that put them there. Wrote that he wanted to see the
> politicos "locked in a cage naked, killing each other with lumps of
> wood." This was a sentiment echoed by Erich Maria Remarque in "All
> Quiet on the Western Front" ... again lumps of wood.
> Remarques book is very well known because of the film, and because
> of being burnt by Hitler. Personally, I found Barbusse' book to be better.
> Sadly not enough people have read either book, but I found the
> vitriol in your sentiments to be particularly reminiscent of the time.
> I personally, would gas the whole lot of them.

On 11 Sep 2002 at 16:02, MC Pye wrote:
>> Henri Barbusse?
>> Had a quick look up of his details -- he was born 1873, so in his forties
>> during The War To End Wars. Different to many of the young idealists so cruelly disillusioned during WWI.
[Here is a translation of his most famous book, Under Fire (Le Feu). See also a few notes on the group he was involved with after the Great War, Le Clarté, and his contribution personally to the art of World War I, and as an inspiration for others, e.g. the painter Otto Dix]

>> Interesting about lumps of wood. I originally (quite a while back)
>> had image of the hardliners in Palestine/Israel being walled off in
>> a rocky/sandy quarter, where large lumps of wood are rare & rocks in glut.
>> Have since broadened to fundamentalists of all descriptions, whether
>> communist of whichever faction, Hindu, Christian, 'economic
>> rationalist', etc. Whoever puts resulting truly awful human
>> suffering & destruction of natural world lower than some ideal.
>> Some suffering is virtually unavoidable without having a
>> "With Folded Hands"
) (Jack Williamson story about ultimate 'Nanny State') world.
>> Why in hell make it worse?

Amongst My First Reactions to sitting, glazed with horror & seeking a path through the pity, foreboding, terror, of the late-night 'adult themed' drama which unfolded across my television screen over the evening & early morning (here in Australia) of September 11th & 12th, 2001

The bitter ghosts of so many ruined cities now have their smoking mirror in the body of the United States. A sunny summer day is split by the hard rain of glass & rubble, a blue sky broken by smoke. How many shattered families [in other cities] will hold up faded photos, bloodied clothes and say "Do you see how it feels"?

Irony: woman interviewed on the New York street is saying 'we won't kill mothers and children' - do you think she's forgotten or she doesn't know?

But vengeance is a poison pleasure, I struggle to abjure it for the comparatively little injuries done to my land, my city, my home - that way starts the slide back down to tooth & claw; the little rolling stones down the scree slope that build into a tidal wave of rock killing & crushing. Justice is just us.

Here in small-hours Sydney the starry sky has clouded and cold rain is glazing the city. Here we are field mice in the grass while hounds attack a giant boar; our futures can be crushed in sideshow 'collateral damage'. Flicking across television — CNN, ABC, BBC, radio reports — is looking at a cracked mirror through a broken window. Heroism has happened today, a glint of gold always in the dirt & blood, a seed of hope like mountain ash that quickens in disasters - but life creates enough [disasters] without help. The maze of shadows deepens and we hope in fear that the kind & strong among us can keep their guiding lights to help us go beyond it, not back.

My friends' theories centre either on one of the USA's own anti-government /anti-corporate groups or a Middle Eastern-based one. Well organised & co-ordinated, striking some key points quickly before alerts can go out, then a follow-up to catch crowds, rescuers, &c. Very media-savvy. The recent assassination of the main Afghanistani anti-Taliban leader is now perhaps making a part of this pattern — he might have been used as a rallying point against whoever is found to be responsible.

Suspect John Hunt/John Howe/Michael Howard/John Howard's visit might end early. Hope he doesn't get ideas - never did find out if that Olympic security Act got its sunset clause despite Ric Birch's personal assurance.

Will try to sleep now, and later work once more on my fossils of human fault & foible, justice struggling to be born.

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