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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Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is now in Australia
So a topical repeat of some previous posts -- see January 11, 2003 and June 17, 2003

Particularly this:
Gene Wolfe's essay on what The Lord Of The Rings means to him.
The Best Introduction to the Mountains
by Gene Wolfe
With that preparation I entered the Mills of Mordor, where courtesy is weakness, honesty is foolishness, and cruelty is entertainment
It is said with some truth that there is no progress without loss; and it is always said, by those who wish to destroy good things, that progress requires it. No great insight or experience of the world is necessary to see that such people really care nothing for progress. They wish to destroy for their profit, and they, being clever, try to persuade us that 'progress' and 'change' are synonymous ...

I do not agree with all his attitudes (browse through this blog to get a feel for mine if you are interested), but do sympathise with quite a few, rather like my attitude to Tolkien, parts of which, even in my early teens thirty years back, quite set my teeth on edge.
Perhaps it's because of the slightly fraught relationship between Great Britain/Europe and Australia (there are hints of a similar affect between the USA & the 'Old World', but it is distinctly different too).
Perhaps it's because I was (still am) female.

Nearby may be found other bits of Andy W Robertson's site, such as: DSL Notes on Content and

Meanwhile, others have been busy *** MAJOR MOVIE SPOILERS ***
Return of the King Scene-by-Scene

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2003-12-26 Deals well with the much-disputed origin of the name "Boxing Day"

It even got into Parliamentary debate in Australia: all/CA256D110020B6CD4A2564350022CDCE
Mr ZAMMIT (Strathfield) [3.53]: The Minister for State Development, and Minister for Arts spoke about Australia and New South Wales being part of a global economy. Nothing brought that home to me as much as when I visited China about 10 months ago with the former Premier. When we visited a very large factory the first question I was going to ask the factory manager was what he paid his staff, but instead I asked him , "Do you give your staff holidays?" He replied, "Holidays, yes, every Sunday." This is part of the working world and the global economy against which we have to compete ...
[Page 5689]
... I have a definition by Rabbi Brasch of how Boxing Day began. He says:

The custom originated with the Romans and their feast of Saturn, during which they gave each other presents as an expression of the merry spirit of the celebration of the winter solstice.

[This I see more as one of the existing customs Christmas is based on. Remember, Christmas is not Jesus' birthday, it's the celebration of this birth. This was more familiar to people in older times, when people had name-days rather than birthdays. I have an adopted friend whose parents picked a day for his birthday, not knowing the actual one.]
... The definition of Boxing Day in The All-Australian Calendar Book says:
Boxing Day probably takes its name from the fact that on the day after Christmas in Britain, the alms boxes which had been placed in the churches over the Christmas period were opened. The contents were distributed to the poor. On the same day, apprentices and servants broke open small earthenware boxes in which their masters had deposited small sums of money. In large households, the family may have used this day to distribute Christmas boxes to their staff.

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Posted by: Faren Miller on December 14, 2003 10:48 AM
... And soon, I'll take more time out to gleefully peruse my birthday present (given early so I could appreciate it on the weekend instead of Monday when my time will be much more limited), the Kino Video 5-DVD set of the birth of cinema, "The Movies Begin." 133 complete motion pictures. As I told Cathy, even if I only enjoy 128 of them, it's still perfectly swell ...
Sunday, November 09, 2003
Meditations While Making Analog Digital
The Project is going ahead apace. Converting my old videos to VCD (and eventually DVD) requires a shitload of ones and zeroes, but I'm rediscovering some interesting stuff on the video shelves. You see I stack them vertically and two deep on the current white Ikea bookshelves and with around 1400 movies there, it's dead easy to forget what is in the back row of each shelf.
I'm trying to prioritise the digitisation on the basis of entropy. The movies most likely to be going to shit get first go. (And also, Sally's videotapes of The Goodies which include episodes that weren't on the recent DVD release... a promise is a promise.) All this requires a bit of rummaging around the shelves and the occasional discovery of videos I had forgotten I had. Stuff like these:
Sixty minutes of five minute episodes of the old Trans-Lux cartoon series The Mighty Hercules.
Dave Friedman's The Erotic Adventures of Zorro and
The Long Swift Sword of Siegfried.
Richard Franklin's Road Games,
a copy of Goodbye Paradise signed by Ray Barrett (I'm still not sure if that is Pauline Hanson playing an extra in that nightclub scene),
a triple pack of Chips Rafferty movies -- Bitter Springs, Eureka Stockade and The Overlanders
and a whole bunch of lesser 1970s blaxploitationmovies.
So while the digitisation is a lot of pains-taking hard work, there are rewards. Maybe one day I'll even find the time to sit down and rewatch some of these flicks. archive/2003/12/15/DDG923MBEI1.DTL
Call them what you will -- obsessive compulsive eccentrics, materialist philosophers or pack-rat artists -- collectors' 'unruly passions' make sense of our world
Monday, December 15, 2003
Steven Winn, Chronicle Arts and Culture Critic

... For some, the collecting impulse morphs into self-destructive hoarding -- newspapers are a common target. Elias Aboujaoude, a psychiatrist at the Stanford School of Medicine, says hoarding occurs in 5 to 15 percent of patients diagnosed as obsessive compulsive. "I don't want to pathologize collecting," says Aboujaoude. "Almost everyone is
attached to a certain kind of item."
With hoarders, he says, insight-based therapies are largely ineffective. "My experience is that folks who can identify the root causes, some missing relationship in their lives, have not been able to control the behavior."
Collecting, hoarding's socially sanctioned cousin, may finally resist scrutiny and causal dissection as well ... archive/2003/12/13/DDGHU3LI8B1.DTL
Writer and raconteur John Baxter collects books as a form of self-expression and as a way to savor -- and live -- the good life
Saturday, December 13, 2003
James Sullivan, Chronicle Pop Culture Critic

For this film biographer, longtime BBC commentator and incurable book hound, books are much more than mere vessels of information. They are treasurable objects utterly essential to the good life, worthy of scouting trips to the four corners of the globe and the joyful surrender of vast sums of money ... and the beloved science fiction of his youth in the Australian bush.
The first of Baxter's proposed four volumes of memoir on his lifelong mania, "A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict" (St. Martin's Press, $24.95), has just been published in America following widespread acclaim in England and Europe.
Now living in Paris,...
homepage for the University of Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary Project
The Cuneiform Database Project (Some is under construction)
Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (A joint project of the University of California at Los Angeles and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)

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Bartlett Beat-Up / Partial Competition Policy  
Part 1
What an extraordinarily overwhelming fuss being made about such a completely minor thing.

From all I've heard or read: Late at night (~10:30pm) on the last day of Parliament, probably after drinking at end-of-year parties, a couple of adults of similar size, tho' from different political parties, had a petty argument. It was apparently loud on both sides & swearwords were used (not sure if mutually). It did not last a long time. No blows were exchanged, although apparently B shook F by the arm.

Will the one who has never, ever, shouted at someone, or had a robust disagreement over their whole adult life please step forward, stone in hand.

The Aust Democrats have much bigger problems. Perhaps that is why all the vultures have descended into this amazing storm in a polystyrene party cup.

Part 2
This 'competition policy' - all anyone has mentioned is to do with sale of alcohol. Was anything else covered in it?

I am concerned because a lot of people have been talking about the US/Oz Free Trade Agreement discussions on a few subjects, such as pharmaceuticals, film (&c), and primary products.
If you look at the ideology in it, it also tries to discourage things like government support of public transport and public schools - any kind of mutual social support pretty much. Does the 'competition policy' work towards things like that too?

Bartlett references online
(Note that they all mention alcohol, but I think depression was another major part in the incident) story_page/0,5744,8147645%255E2702,00.html
One drink and Bartlett for the road
By Matt Price, Adrian McGregor and Terry Plane
December 13, 2003 story.jsp?sectionid=1338&storyid=637093 printerfriendly.jsp?sectionid=1338&storyid=637093
Bartlett affair a storm in a glass
December 15, 2003
FEW things could be sadder than Kevin Rudd's sobbing depiction of the loneliness of the committed politician.
Labor's foreign-affairs spokesman last week painted Parliament House as a place of cruelty and sterility.
"You could die in your office in Parliament House and not be found until a month later," he said ... story_page/0,5478,8119024%255E662,00.html
Bartlett: I will not step down
Gerard McManus
Redemption for Bartlett would offer many hope
December 11, 2003
People with alcoholic problems deserve proper treatment - not daggers, writes Miranda Devine.
Bartlett sorry over clash that brought disrepute to party
December 7, 2003 - 6:11PM
Australian Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett today admitted he had brought his party into disrepute by abusing and manhandling a Liberal senator in Parliament.
Senator Bartlett today appeared in public in Brisbane to again offer an unconditional apology to Liberal Senator Jeannie Ferris, with whom he had a physical and verbal altercation in the Senate last week
Bartlett to take leave over fracas
December 6, 2003 - 8:05PM
Australian Democrats Leader Andrew Bartlett has stood aside as a result of his altercation with Liberal Senator Jeannie Ferris this week.
The incident left Senator Ferris nursing an injured upper arm ...
Senator Ferris had written to Senate President Paul Calvert to complain about the incident, which occurred on the floor of the Senate chamber after a division.
"Senator Bartlett was angry with me because I had gone around to attempt to retrieve five bottles of wine which he had taken back to his office from the coalition Christmas barbecue," Senator Ferris said.
"As he was crossing over from a voting position, he grabbed me and started to scream at me.

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Nov 23 2003
Queen's fury as Bush goons wreck garden
Exclusive By Terry O'Hanlon
THE Queen is furious with President George W. Bush after his state visit caused thousands of pounds of damage to her gardens at Buckingham Palace.

Royal officials are now in touch with the Queen's insurers and Prime Minister Tony Blair to find out who will pick up the massive repair bill. Palace staff said they had never seen the Queen so angry ...
The rotors of the President's Marine Force One helicopter and two support Black Hawks damaged trees and shrubs that had survived since Queen Victoria's reign.
And Bush's army of clod-hopping security service men trampled more precious and exotic plants ... [then there's the flamingos (yes, flamingos)]
... "The lawns are used for royal garden parties ... But 30,000 visitors did not do as much damage as the Americans did in three days ...
LINKS: content_objectid=13652625_method=full_siteid=106694_ headline=-GROUND-FARCE-1-name_page.html
OR printable_version.cfm?objectid=13652625&siteid=106694
[Below (Nov 24, 2003) is another extract about the UK visit by Bush II]

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2003-12-02 content_objectid=13652625_method=full_siteid=106694_ headline=-GROUND-FARCE-1-name_page.html
OR printable_version.cfm?objectid=13652625&siteid=106694

Nov 23 2003
Queen's fury as Bush goons wreck garden
Exclusive By Terry O'Hanlon
THE Queen is furious with President George W. Bush after his state visit caused thousands of pounds of damage to her gardens at Buckingham Palace.

Royal officials are now in touch with the Queen's insurers and Prime Minister Tony Blair to find out who will pick up the massive repair bill. Palace staff said they had never seen the Queen so angry ...
The rotors of the President's Marine Force One helicopter and two support Black Hawks damaged trees and shrubs that had survived since Queen Victoria's reign.
And Bush's army of clod-hopping security service men trampled more precious and exotic plants ... [then there's the flamingos (yes, flamingos)]
... "The lawns are used for royal garden parties ... But 30,000 visitors did not do as much damage as the Americans did in three days ...

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Tuesday December 2, 2003
Dear Yahoo!:
Why don't cigarette companies list their ingredients?
Midway, Arkansas

Dear Addicted:
According to the CDC, current regulations require tobacco companies only to disclose levels of tar and nicotine on cigarette cartons. It would take a very large carton, however, to completely list the 600 odd additives contained in a single cigarette. Some of these include butane, formaldehyde, arsenic, ammonia, methane, and acetone.

Federal laws dating from the '80s require cigarette companies to submit their ingredients to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Bowing to increasing legal burdens, in 1994 six major cigarette manufacturers came public with a list of commonly used additives. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated that "although these ingredients are regarded as safe when ingested in foods, some may form carcinogens when heated or burned."

You can view the ingredients of Philip Morris tobacco products on the company's web site ( product_facts/ingredients/ brand_by_brand_ingredients.asp). You can view a similarly lengthy list of additives used in RJR Reynolds cigarettes ( More than 40 of the additives listed have been known to cause cancer.

The Yahoo! Full Coverage page ( fc?tmpl=fc&cid=34&in=health&cat=smoking) dedicated to smoking issues features a number of helpful resources, including a fascinating Flash animation from NOVA on the Anatomy of a Cigarette ( cigarette/anatomy.html). Most cigarette filling is comprised of "reconstituted tobacco," which is a pulp product made from tobacco plant detritus that is chemically treated, died, and cut to resemble leaf tobacco.
[NOTE: Some long URLs have had spaces inserted so they'll wrap & not cause layout problems. The links themselves should work, but if you copy the visible section, remove any spaces.]

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Following a discussion after the change of Labor Party leaders  
I was very disappointed to hear someone as experienced & intelligent as Antony Greene get sucked into the twisted logic* of the current political ideology.

Yes, people 'aspire' to, for instance, have a good education for their children. But what the idea used to be was that (like Medicare) _everyone_ is entitled to have a reasonable, good education, _everyone_, having benefited from all the previous generations, contributes to the education of the current crop of children. If there is some special social or religious reason you want something different, then you may pay extra for that, but the majority learn together, each according to their talents.

The present ideology puts the general public good at the very bottom, along with the world (or 'environment'). To almost quote what was said "If you want a good education, send your children to a private school." Thus we end up a divided & fractious society, Catholics there, Anglicans here, Muslims off there, etc, etc.
Suspicious & fearful, closeted off in our own mental (perhaps eventually physical) gated communities & wonderful prey to the political types who feed on that kind of energy. Remember the countries where groups who'd lived together for a century or more were torn apart by this kind of divisive policy, even in Europe

The same with medical treatment - if Kerry Packer pays his taxes he is as entitled to use the general ambulance service if, say, he has a sudden heart attack as anyone else is. He doesn't have to pay for a private one to trail around after him just in case. And we all benefit because there's a well-supported service. Again, the same applies to a good public transport system instead of continual cutbacks, with tax support for private cars & roadbuilding.

If you rip the guts out of the general public services - transport, health, education, social support for those in difficulty - grind down those who are trying to work in them, treat the passengers, patients, pupils, people, who use them without respect, as 'no count trash', naturally those who are able will probably move away. And those who can't? It's axiomatic if you treat people like garbage, they won't love you or treat you well either. Getting respect means giving respect. So you end up in a vicious circle of increasing 'public squalor', driving more away.

ENVY: If you say a policy or set of behaviours is greedy, selfish, short-sighted & very destructive, this is called 'envy'. That's obviously wrong, since 'envy' means you want what the other person has. What you are actually doing is 'aspiring' to a _better_way_ of doing things, benefiting yourself perhaps, but society & the world most importantly.

ASPIRATION: If you want to imitate the people who are doing destructive, selfish & short-sighted things, you are called 'aspiring'. I call this 'envy'. You may 'aspire' for yourself & your family, like the Suharto family did - the well-known phrase is "bugger you Jack, I'm alright" - but without caring what the consequences are for anyone else.

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There's a lot of excited people next door in New Zealand tonight where the
big final Lord of the Rings film is having its world premiere. Alas, the
Big Island (or the Western Isle as we are - very rarely - called by some
Kiwis) here (or Oz as we sometimes call it) has to wait, like the rest of us
here on this 'isthmus of a middle state' until St Stephen's Day.

I hope that they did end up putting just some of the 'Scouring of The Shire'
in the coda. It really is, in one sense, pretty much the major point of the
rest, bringing us face to face with everyday, banal evil stripped of glamour
& magic.
The kind we, sadly, often encounter in the selfish & destructive behaviour
of people around us, and then have to decide whether to, say, 'blow the
whistle' on fraud or cheating, like Mr Wigand or Ms Brockovich, or that lady
- was it Enron or one of the other big companies? Both in the book and in
real life they are often left damaged & sadder, rather than the triumphant
heroes in so many stories. Perhaps it was Tolkien's war service that showed
him that so clearly.

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving (drinking "Turkey & Gravy Soda"?)

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