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.

Your ABC

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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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Some things do make you feel better. DO NOT EAT OR DRINK WHILE YOU READ THIS.
(Zany Brainy?) Takes you to other nice places nearby

The above can be found in the Humorous Posts finalists for the Koufax Awards

2003 Koufax Award Finalists Most Humorous Blog

2003 Koufax Award Finalists Most Humorous Post

List of categories & links to voting for the Koufax Awards
(slightly more information at )

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Some people are throwing doubt on the accepted story of the development of Penicillin - apparently the aliens did it (again)! Why is there so much doubt of what humans are capable of?
So you don't believe the Universities of Sheffield ( ) & Oxford, Howard Florey ( ) and Ernst Chain?

[The history of penicillin] is a complex tale of accident, serendipity, oversight, conflict, the pressure of war, idiosyncratic personalities ...
These are two good sites - the BBC one gives lots of different aspects & details, the other talks about the different legends that build up about important events & people. and

And these are some fairly detailed descriptions of the work "from the horse's mouth": (chemical-tech) of early work & warning of resistance) (The German quest for penicillin.)

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A portion of a nice photo site which has the snow & ice-covered forest on The Brocken in the Harz Mountains. I think the Walpurgis Night scene in Faust is set on The Brocken, when Mephistopheles shows Faust a witches' coven. (Haven't checked the facts on this - from memory = If I Recall Correctly = IIRC)
Neil Gaiman's Journal January 26th, 2004 (Australia Day)
... but I feel like my head is filled with cold porridge, except for my sinuses, which have carefully and delicately been packed with molten lead, ...
BBC Homepage
» Panoramics

There are over 80 panoramic views of London now online!

Welcome to the Unofficial Down Street Station Virtual Tour
The photos on this tour were taken on Wednesday 17th February 1999 on a tour organised by the London Transport Museum. I understand that an official virtual tour is being planned but in the meantime unless you are one of the VERY LUCKY individuals that can get a place on the real tour this is the best you can do.

I found the details of the tour by visiting the London Transport Museum web site at www.ltmuseum

Pages created and photographs taken by Jonathan Hall ©1999
This site is member of the London Transport Web Ring

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Cartoon: Look! Shiny!
The Editorial Cartoon of the Sydney Morning Herald for January 20th, 2004 (by Alan Moir). It just exactly reflects what I said some months back. This behaviour is like a child dumping his 5-minute-old toy to grab a shiny new one.

Alan Moir cartoon in Sydney Morning Herald, 20th January, 2004

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Taken by a crocodile
As told to Michelle Hamer January 12, 2004
Philosopher Val Plumwood survived a crocodile attack while paddling in a canoe in Kakadu nine years ago ...
... The experience also changed my overall theoretical outlook and had a big impact on the direction of my work. It forced me to rethink a lot of things - life, death, being human, and being food. Before the crocodile, I wrote about the value of nature, but after the crocodile, I started writing about how we see ourselves as outside nature, about the power of nature and our illusions that we can control it, that we're not embodied beings and are apart from other animals.
During the encounter I had a sense that it was all a dream, that it wasn't really happening. But I now think it's ordinary life and consciousness that is the dream. We don't understand ourselves as ecological beings that are part of the food chain - we're still fighting that knowledge ...
[More links between Howard & Bush - my link there, not his]
... This president exploits the basest instincts of his basest supporters and by doing so, is playing with fire ...
Monday, January 19, 2004
Or Not Working in America
[The examples in this article & the one it links to ( New York Times Magazine essay, “A Poor Cousin of the Middle Class,” by David K. Shipler ) are the sort of thing that makes me spit in disgust when I hear someone justify some obscene overindulgence or ripping of resources out of useful things to pour more wealth into the receptacles of the proto-Herr Vireks of the day by saying "I've worked hard for what I have".]

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Michel Cluizel's Chocolat Noir Infini has been recommended: "Michel Cluizel Noir Infini is a 99% cocoa content dark chocolate. To call it dark though is an understatement - this stuff is as powerful as it gets, and strictly for the True Believer. It is normally purchased in individually wrapped, and often individually sold, small squares. If you see it, buy it immediately, as it is difficult to obtain.". Sounds interesting.
During shopping before Christmas I spotted a tea-flavoured chocolate, which sounded intriguing. Might go back & try it sometime soon.

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Why we hate America
We don’t, of course, but dweeblings from the far right keep saying we do. It’s a bizarre but persistent habit of theirs ...

Contribution to Comments
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt

"My country right or wrong" is like saying, "My mother drunk or sober". -- G.K. Chesterton

"To be a patriot, one had to say, and keep on saying, 'Our Country, right or wrong,' ... Have you not perceived that that phrase is an insult to the nation?" -- Mark Twain
(Remarking on his opposition to the Philippine-American War, which " The War Prayer" is one lasting reminder of -- see earlier posts March 25, 2003 and October 10, 2002 )

In Far Horizons of July 1999 ("Babylon 5 -- Creating the Future" at ) Robin Floyd has a few pertinent things to say about some of the themes & messages in B5 (made 1993-1998 & with an episode called "The War Prayer" and a Ministry of Truth, among other references) such as choice & community. One is turning about the saying "Power can't be given, it must be taken" in a character's speech "Nobody takes power. They're given power by the rest of us".

Another piece which shows some themes have been with us for quite a while is Orwell's "Second Thoughts on James Burnham", 1946 (from Shooting an Elephant) also printed as a pamphlet "James Burnham and the Managerial Revolution"? It is about the ideas of an American who published, during WWII, The Managerial Revolution, The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom & an essay, "Lenin’s Heir" who, Orwell says, wrote along the lines
Capitalism is disappearing, but Socialism is not replacing it. What is now arising is a new kind of planned, centralised society which will be neither capitalist nor, in any accepted sense of the word, democratic. The rulers of this new society will be the people who effectively control the means of production: that is, business executives, technicians, bureaucrats and soldiers, lumped together by Burnham, under the name of “managers”. ("They Just Don't Want to Know: Of Dissidents and Dissonance" by Ben Tripp - Counterpunch June 14, 2003)
... the Founding Fathers (now Foundling Fathers, sorry guys) ... established a series of checks and balances to ensure that human weakness didn't get in the way of human affairs. We've done away with said checks and balances, mostly, and so the brilliant system of setting three separate branches of narrow self-interested shysters against each other, thus to ensure the common good will be served in the resulting scrum, has broken down.

How does this cause cognitive dissonance? Because people don't want to believe it, at any cost. They are desperate to believe it's all going to work out fine ...

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Hordes of Hoarders  
Just a quick comment on the post in Hello Cruel World about the story of the fellow in the New York apartment who was avalanched upon by the contents of his magazine collection or "hoard" (see Thu Jan 01, 01:50:04 PM ). In one of the stories it was described as a 10 foot by 10 foot apartment he paid $250 per month for. I must compare that to current Sydney rents. Does sound a touch expensive, since it didn't sound like a very flash place. Like, was this entire place a single 10-foot-square room? With toilet & bathroom facilities down the hall? Or was that size just the 'bed-sitting room', and he had his own amenities which didn't count in the description?

These are just a grabbed handful of the links from a search engine.

There is a wonderful difference in tone between these next two reports of the incident. Interesting that, except for the ones which are pretty much just a copy of one of the others (e.g. from a wire service/news agency/whatever they're called these days), that different little bits of facts (?) come out in different stories.
Recluse buried by paper avalanche
Robert D. McFadden NYT
Neighbors save New Yorker who never threw anything out orl-livhoard04010404jan04,0,5635066.story?coll=orl-living-headlines
Chairmen of the hoards
The case of a Bronx man trapped for two days under a huge pile of magazines and catalogs is the latest example of a most curious behavior.
By Nina Bernstein | New York Times
Posted January 4, 2004

"I had to squeeze inside my apartment," Patrice Moore, 43, said of his 10-by-10-foot room, which rents for $250 a month.

Let me just drop the name Sir Thomas Phillipps — yes, that's the spelling — here. Most of the New York and many US stories about the incident mentioned the Collyer (Collier?) brothers, a famous hoarding story from the area.

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Raymond Kurzweil ( ), a name synonymous with the potential of machine intelligence, brings you the latest in CyberArt advancements with AARON, the Cybernetic Artist.
AARON is not your ordinary screensaver. Developed by Harold Cohen ( ) over a period of nearly thirty years, and productized by Kurzweil CyberArt Technologies, Inc., AARON is the first fine art screensaver to utilize artificial intelligence to continuously create original paintings on your PC.
With his continued commitment to human assistive technology, Raymond Kurzweil is proud to introduce this breakthrough screensaver. AARON is offered as shareware! Download a free trial copy of AARON ( ) and try it for yourself. If you decide to keep the AARON software, we ask you to register it. However, the product will not time out, and the payment requirement is based on trust.
(The download page for the 'artist'
AARON is offered as Shareware. You can download the product at no charge. After using the fully functional product for 3 days, if you wish to continue to use AARON, we ask you to purchase a registration key for $19.95. However, the product will not time out, and the payment requirement is based on trust. Included in the product is a Register function that enables you to make the payment.
To start enjoying AARON right now, just complete the form below (required items are marked with an asterisk) and click "Download."
Ray Kurzweil's Cybernetic Poet
A screen saver that writes poetry, a Poet's Assistant that helps you write poetry (and song lyrics!), and 50 professionally - designed "poet personalities."
Upgrade to get the Poet Analyzer, the Poet Creator, and 50 additional poet personalities.
Find out how the RKCP can help you find rhymes, alliterations, ideas for the next word of your poem (or song), ideas for turns of phrase, and more.
The first version of Ray Kurzweil's Cybernetic Poet was written by Ray Kurzweil in the mid-1980s
NOTE: The free version of the software requires a PC running Windows95 or Windows98. WindowsNT and Macintosh are not supported at this time. The software has not been tested on Windows2000.
A Sampler of Poems by Ray Kurzweil’s Cybernetic Poet
(The download page for the 'poet' )
____________________ (needs registration to get to free parts or subscription to get to other parts)
Extracts from a review by a programmer of a book about this program, its author & its products: - at
Portrait of an Artist as a Programmer Review by Al Stevens Copyright (C) Dr. Dobb's Journal, January, 1993
"Aaron is not a typical image generator of what has come to be known as "computer art." Aaron does not generate geometric forms, certainly interesting, but infinitely repeatable. Aaron does not produce fractals, beautiful and random, but not representative of the items that comprise the world. Aaron is not a tool for painters, designers, draftsmen, or animators to be used as a medium to express the creative ideas of the human user. Instead, Aaron is a computer program with a software interface to a hardware drawing device that creates original pictures, each picture different from the others" ...
"The programming reader will find much with which to relate in Aaron's Code. We will ask questions, too, about issues that McCorduck does not address--or, at least, not adequately for us. Cohen wrote the first version of Aaron in Fortran on the CDC 3200. It is amusing to read of his discovery that batch debugging by passing card decks through the window to an unseen computer was less than productive. He solved the problem by getting hands-on access to a Data General Nova. Subsequent machines included the PDP-11 and VAX, with the current implementation a Micro-VAX. Sometime during those ports he switched from Fortran to the C language, which McCorduck calls a "trifle obsolescent." Today, all new development is proceeding in LISP on a donated LISP machine, reflecting the program's roots in artificial intelligence. All these ports suggest a revealing but unrevealed study in portability" ...
"It is not clear how extensively Cohen studied programming as a discipline beyond what he needed to learn to develop Aaron. He seems to have independently discovered certain established tenets of artificial intelligence, learning later that disciplines already exist that have covered those bases comprehensively" ...
"The first device was a mechanical turtle that wheeled around the floor on a mural-sized sheet of paper, raising and lowering a pen. The book suggests that Cohen built the turtle himself. He abandoned it for what appears to be a flat-bed plotter because the turtle, being cute, drew attention during exhibitions from the artwork it was drawing. Some pictures are said to be produced on a laser printer. The book says that the plotter, which it does not identify as such, is a "homebrew" device, suggesting that Cohen built it specifically for Aaron," ...
"[the] program that has the potential to be in many places simultaneously generating unique works of art. Does its ability to mass produce lessen the value of its creations? What is the test of quality? Aaron cannot critique or reject its own output. The program has no archival storage of past works. Its performance does not change due to experience, criticism, or acceptance. It does not repeat qualities that sell well and reject those that do not ... What are the consequences of works of art that the artist -- Aaron -- creates after the meta-artist -- Cohen -- dies? Who owns the creative rights to the work? If a pirated copy of Aaron creates a picture, is the picture a part of the pirate's contraband?"
"Aaron's Code: Meta-Art, Artificial Intelligence, and the Work of Harold Cohen Pamela McCorduck W. H. Freeman and Company, 1991 225 pages, $25.95 ISBN 0-7167-2173-2 "

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There is a body in Australia (don't know about overseas versions/branches, but they definitely have contacts in 'foreign parts') called Wrap With Love.

People are asked to to make 10" squares, knitted or otherwise (Instructions & advice at You send them in or they are collected at groups and people sew them together into 'wraps', which are given to either people in need in Australia or sent to places in other countries where there are particular needs.

Angela Catterns, the breakfast announcer on the Sydney Local ABC radio station (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, like the British Broadcasting Corporation, sort-of PBS) took up knitting last winter (i.e. middle of 2003), heard about this group, and suggested her listeners might start knitting squares.

They eventually organized a 'Knit-In' morning where people brought or sent in squares and had a big sew-together down in the foyer of the ABC Building in Ultimo (Sydney) during her show one morning. There's a couple of pages on the ABC site about it with photos - see and the listeners' email reactions at

Wrap With Love has been quite active this year, with The Handknitters Guild having them on their "Knit for a Cause" list ( & other connexions it's made.

The Handknitters also had a "Guardian Angel" project -- to knit something suitable for a newborn to 2 year-old which would again be given away -- and "Tree Hugs", which was an art/social/environmental idea.

Perhaps this is part of the 'reknitting' of human connexions which have been badly frazzled over the years & so many people try to do in so many ways -- some more harmful than helpful.
Rooms designed to heighten the senses
23 December, 2003

(called A Room Comes Alive With Color and Sounds in the New York Times

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