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

Click here to find out why.

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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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution cartoon by Mike Luckovich on 25 February, 2004
Commenting on the proposed Amendment to the USA Constitution to specifically disallow 'same-sex unions'

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'Damn! ", ", ", " ' (H Higgins)
Left hand slammed in car boot lid today. Blood, pain, etc. Now bandaged but sore. Typing slow, awkward. Will reduce comments, mail. V tired - bad week incl this.
Excellent cartoon.

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ArtLex art dictionary

for artists, collectors, students and educators in art production, criticism, history, aesthetics, and education
hooptedoodle - A literary word that, technically, has no place being in this dictionary. Stuff that gets in the way of a story's making progress, it is wordy, unnecessary, space-taking, and, typically, should be edited out. Related to balderdash, folderol, flummery, foolishness, and fill; nonsense, prattle, blather, bombast, and baloney.

Quotes about hooptedoodle:
    "I like a lot of talk in a book and I don't like to have nobody tell me what the guy looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks. . . . figure out what the guy's thinking from what he says. I like some description but not too much of that. . . . Sometimes I want a book to break loose with a bunch of hooptedoodle. . . . Spin up some pretty words maybe or sing a little song with language. That's nice. But I wish it was set aside so I don't have to read it. I don't want hooptedoodle to get mixed up with the story."

Spoken by a character in a novel by John Steinbeck (1902-1968), American writer. Sweet Thursday, 1954, as quoted in the New York Times, July 16, 2001 thus,
    "What Steinbeck did in Sweet Thursday was title his chapters as an indication, though obscure, of what they cover. 'Whom the Gods Love They Drive Nuts' is one, 'Lousy Wednesday' is another. The third chapter is titled "Hooptedoodle 1" and the 38th chapter 'Hooptedoodle 2' as warnings to the reader, as if Steinbeck is saying: 'Here's where you'll see me taking flights of fancy with my writing, and it won't get in the way of the story. Skip them if you want.'"

Elmore Leonard, American novelist, temporary link New York Times, July 16, 2001.
Also see bad art, banausic, bric-a-brac, brummagem, camp, decoration, decorative, decorative arts, gewgaw, kitsch, ornament, taste, and tchotchke.

Also see the entry below, referring to Making Light's discussion of Elmore Leonard's discussion ... <starting to feel giddy, I'm circling so fast>

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Adding to the comments on "Elmore Leonards' 10 Rules of Writing" at
I don't think anyone there mentioned the rules George Orwell suggested at the end of his excellent essay "Politics and the English Language" (1946), so I present them here.
... one needs rules that one can rely on when instinct fails. I think the following rules will cover most cases:
    1. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
    2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
    3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
    4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
    5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
    6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything barbarous.

It has some other nice observations about usage in his time, many of which are still applicable.

And after all that kerfuffle for his Centenary too (Is a Centennial different?) Or was it that everyone was sick of hearing about him after that?
A sad side note. His works are/were available online here in Australia at but I believe that with our new "Free Trade Agreement" with the USA extending copyright from 50 years after the author's death to 70 years, that will no longer be legal.

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In case you hear someone quoting this (first pars are a couple of variations), check out the final paragraph from Bartleby:

"Our youth love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, and disrespect for their people. Children nowadays are tyrants. They no longer rise when their elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble their food and tyrannize their teachers".
Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers. What will become of them? This world is truly coming to an end. - Socrates, 470-399 B.C
On Youth
Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority. They show disrespect for elders and they love to chatter instead of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize their teachers. (Socrates, 425 BC)
AUTHOR: Socrates (469–399 B.C.)
QUOTATION: The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

ATTRIBUTION: Attributed to SOCRATES by Plato, according to William L. Patty and Louise S. Johnson, Personality and Adjustment, p. 277 (1953).

This passage was very popular in the 1960s and its essence was used by the Mayor of Amsterdam, Gijsbert van Hall, following a street demonstration in 1966, as reported by The New York Times, April 3, 1966, p. 16.

This use prompted Malcolm S. Forbes to write an editorial on youth.—Forbes, April 15, 1966, p. 11. In that same issue, under the heading “Side Lines,” pp. 5–6, is a summary of the efforts of researchers and scholars to confirm the wording of Socrates, or Plato, but without success. Evidently, the quotation is spurious.

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Television captioning for the hard-of-hearing (& multitaskers like me) is under attack by censors in the USA, apparently
The Palm Beach Post editions/sunday/opinion_0442326e064c624b0099.html

National Association of the Deaf

Posted October 2, 2003
The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) urged President Bush to overturn a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Education to declare almost 200 television shows inappropriate for captioning by the Department’s Technology and Media Services for Individuals with Disabilities program, effective October 1, 2003. According to NAD President, Andrew J. Lange, the Department's action is government censorship and contradicts President Bush’s promotion of family values and parental accountability.

Voles in Love OR Love is closer to Addiction than some think. Others have believed it for a long time.

Lionotype OR Linotype and Monotype

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On the talkback on radio the other day they were discussing Mark Latham's recent comments in his National Press Club speech about 'mentoring' boys & the 'crisis in masculinity', and John Howard's response to it:

It was intriguing - though not unusual - to hear one 'right wing' Liberal supporter yet again blame 'the problems with boys' (they also can be talking about 'the problems with children' or 'the problems with families') on the part of the "Social Revolution" that he probably doesn't like, e.g. the change of woman's roles, instead of the the part that he probably does support, e.g. the increased "flexibility" (= insecurity & uncertainty) in work & decreased government family support (baby clinics, school advisers, etc, etc) that means people feel much more personal pressure to dedicate themselves to their work lives, while having less to fall back on.

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The Midnight Disease
by Alice Weaver Flaherty

... Why is it that some writers struggle for months to come up with the perfect sentence or phrase, while others, hunched over a notepad or keyboard deep into the night, seem unable to stop writing? In The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain (Houghton Mifflin, January), neurologist Alice W. Flaherty explores the hows and whys of writing, revealing the science behind hypergraphia — the overwhelming urge to write — and its dreaded opposite, writer's block. The result is an innovative contribution to our understanding of creative drive, one that throws new light on the work of some of our greatest writers.

A neurologist whose work puts her at the forefront of brain science, Flaherty herself suffered from hypergraphia after the loss of her prematurely born twins ...
... Dissecting the role of emotion in writing and the ways in which brain-body and mood disorders can lead to prodigious — or meager — creative output, Flaherty uses examples from her own life and the lives of writers from Kafka to Anne Lamott, from Sylvia Plath to Stephen King ...
[NOTE: She now has 'twin daughters', so she must have had another set. MCP]

FROM the Q & A:
... One person who fascinates me is van Gogh, who was hypergraphic and who painted with a fury that amazed others and even himself. He was one of the most prolific artists ever, and at the same time he wrote two to three long letters a day to his brother Theo. Schumann is another example — he wrote feverishly while he was composing feverishly. The incredible drive of those two artists to communicate something, regardless of the medium, is evidence that the temporal lobe is involved not only in the drive to write but in the drive behind other art forms as well.

As for examples of writer's block, the strange thing is how paradoxically eloquent many writers are in describing their block ...

AND ... In psychological terms, it seems that drive is more important than talent. Dean Simonton at Stanford has argued that the composers who produced the greatest works, like Mozart and Beethoven, are simply the ones who wrote the most — they were composing all the time, as they walked down the street or sat at a dinner party. But the type of motivation is important ...

ALSO ... I've grudgingly come to admit that exercise greatly increases my mental sharpness and creativity. And there are scientific studies showing that exercise is as good as Prozac in mild depression.

AND ...
   Q) ... Do you think there is a particular link between creativity and disease?
   A) That question has a very complicated answer ...

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Via Silt ( ), I see this "Constitutional Amendment codifying marriage entirely on biblical principles" ( ):
    A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)

    B. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)

    C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)

    D. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)

    E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)

    F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen. 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)

    G. In lieu of marriage, if there are no acceptable men in your town, it is required that you get your dad drunk and have sex with him (even if he had previously offered you up as a sex toy to men young and old), tag-teaming with any sisters you may have. Of course, this rule applies only if you are female. (Gen 19:31-36)

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Slightly Different Slant on Rail Situation

I haven't heard any reminders or special offers from the Metro Light Rail group alerting people in the Inner West to their alternative service.

They might be offering a discount for travellers with periodical rail tickets. They could organize some loop bus runs with chartered buses to take customers from their stops to some of the suburbs more distant from their route - perhaps to link up with SRA stations or to government bus routes that would take commuters across suburbs to other destinations.

At the least this might make space on what trains are running for those who are travelling further out where there isn't much in the way of non-heavy rail car alternative transport.

Are they laying low because they are totally full now? I'd be interested to find out.
After all, I believe they have an agreement that the State Government won't add new or increase any competing bus or train routes in the area they cover, so you'd think there might be some sort of moral debt to the travelling public if the Light Rail is making sure that there aren't transport alternatives in that area.

Comments on entries about current 'Rail Crisis' on Sally Loane's local Sydney ABC Radio station website guestbook

Name Martin Olmos
Visit Time 09:06:40 11 Feb, 2004 EST
Town/City Westmead
Topic Rail system
This is what happens when we chip away at a system in the name of 'efficiency' to the point where they become very fragile. Each little chip will allow someone to say they've cut costs and create efficiencies, but it just leaves the system more vulnerable to outside events. As a general rule, when a system reaches 80-90% of its capacity, it starts to thrash and is very unstable. We need spare capacity to keep our infrastructure robust.

Here's a lesson for the other infrastructure systems we rely on: electricity, water, roads, etc.


Name steven Mcwhirter
Visit Time 09:12:41 11 Feb, 2004 EST

Town/City asquith
Topic trains
Maybe if we took away the taxpayer funded cars from costa and carr, forced them to use the public transport system that they have taylored to this point.maybe then the system would work, or maybe they'd even care..

I'd like to put strong support for Marty Olmos' point about the fallacy of 'efficiency' and 'productivity' and the way the concepts are twisted around in business and utilities.
If the Sydney Harbour Bridge had been built in that kind of 'efficient' and 'productive' way, we'd either have had to rebuild it several times or (admittedly a tempting daydream for those dedicated to public transport) limit the private traffic allowed over it.

It's also comforting to hear other people like Steve McWhirter arguing my opinion:
Everyone responsible for funding, planning or organizing transport (and it might be well to extend it to those developing, redeveloping or planning areas who need to take such an important facility & amenity into account) should have to spend at least one fortnight in midsummer & another in midwinter travelling for every journey by the public transport system. Not just work & back, but shopping, socialising, etc. - preferably also taking children or elderly parents around.

To avoid them getting lifts or taking taxis they'd need to be tagged with a large brightly coloured wristband or something (eartag?) which is hard to take off or hide & easy to spot.
The taxi fare would have to be, say, 3-5 times the usual, for people with these tags to 'level the playing field' back to the equivalent impact on one of median/average income ($35,000 - $45,000). It would be possible to help them in, say, medical emergencies, but if it wasn't an emergency the lift-giver would face a stiff penalty if caught - of course, there would be rewards for spotting a taggee entering or leaving a car so that detection would be fairly likely.

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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.
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': )

Portrait of an Artist as a Programmer
Review by Al Stevens
Copyright (C) Dr. Dobb's Journal, January, 1993
(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
"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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The Path to Rome
Hilaire Belloc

First published in Great Britain 1902
Published in Penguin Books 1958

This, the best-known of Belloc's books cannot be placed in any literary category. It has no ancestry, and left no progeny. It is a pilgrimage during whhich the pilgrim sings and sketches as he goes along; a travel-book in which the traveller talks of anything that comes into his head. The talk never becomes tedious, because when Belloc himself is bored by a stretch of road, he makes fun of his own boredom, and because the tone of voice changes continually. A passing thought, or a landscape which comes like a vision at the turn of a path, evokes that tenderness and melancholy which are are so surpriseing in such a vigorous and combative companion. Belloc once said "The Path to Rome is the only book I ever wrote for love".

To Miss R. H. Busk
Published in the Canadian C. S. Lewis Journal, #100, (Autumn, 2001), 16-24.

James V. Schall, S. J.
   Georgetown University, DC, 20057-1200

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Absolutely Essential Reading for Anyone Concerned with Writing
Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest

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2004-02-04 (nice (never naughty) pictures from A Maturing Photographer)
leading one to:
and even
thence, eventually
Infectious Photo Projects is intended to be a simple site that lists photography-related memes on the web. Please tell us about any new memes, so we can add them to the list. What is a meme? - Meme In simplest terms, a meme is a contagious idea. Therefore, these are all interesting photo projects that focus on a uniquely contagious idea or theme. Also, not all photo meme projects need to be collaborative, although many of them tend to be.

Then there's
Interactive Atlases of Valley of the Kings & Theban Necropolis

Film Sound Stereotypes and Common Logic Flaws (on general Film Sound site)

And while we're looking at Ancient History & film-making, let us take inspiration from Mr Gibson & get our props here:

Chortle. OK, it's not the worlds wittiest or most subtle, and may not even be all that accurate (unlike the wonderful one below (20th January). Today's Sydney Morning Herald cartoon by Alan Moir just struck my funny bone right.

Alan Moir cartoon, 4th February 2004

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Give Your Cat Fun for Hours!

A Sample from our wide range:
Give Your Cat Fun for Hours
(Remember to wear black.) Neil Gaiman's Fred might like this - it might distract him from the collar-thing he has on right now. - "The Heart of Things" has some not-uninteresting discussion/ramblings/material, e.g.:
In my Ozu anniversary post I quoted Donald Richie’s belief that “you are what you do, and nothing more nor less; the sum total of your choices, your actions, is the sum total of yourself”. Thus it should be clear that my antipathy towards the unconstrained vision of human nature is based at least partly upon a conviction that intentions count for nothing, that only actions have value.

It is my struggle with precisely this that gets me down betimes. So much I think & feel & intend & want, so little achieved. ,,, ummmm ... You work it out. If you want
February 16, 2004 issue
SUBJECT TO DEBATE by Katha Pollitt

Judy, Judy, Judy
The ongoing public inquest into Dr. Judith Steinberg [Howard Dean's wife] makes me see, however, that we need First Ladies ...
(NOT the one mentioned in the above article. This one is "By JUDITH SHULEVITZ" and Published: February 1, 2004")

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Saturday, January 31, 2004
Zap, crackle and bop
posted by Neil Gaiman 1/31/2004 12:03:58 PM

Fred the Unlucky Black Cat spends all of his spare time trying to remove the conical white plastic collar that the vet put on to stop him licking his stitches. He tries to remove the collar by rubbing it, continually, over and over, against the carpet, or against a blanket or the carpet-covered-cat-climbing-thing-I-got-him-to-keep-him-busy. Rub rub rub rub rub rub rub, over and over, in the dry air of a wintery bedroom. As he does this he builds up static charges which do not discharge, then wanders the room with all his fur on end, attracting hair, dust, small pieces of paper, fluff and lint, a black cat slowly going grey with dust. I am sitting here typing, and I just felt Fred go past, six inches away, like a prickly ghost of static wind. It occurs to me that if I actually reach down and touch him, the immediate result will be a lot like these images ( ). Or these films ( ).

NeilG also points out this:
There are gorgeous [MC] Escher snakes in motion at (via the ever-impressive Shanmonster - - who has a story about cats, kittens & porcupines called Little Kitty Foofoo).

Bucket 'o' Kitties

A tribute to Mopsey, the cat

One Tom Lehrer song I used to know, The Elements, is beautifully realised on this page:
I must refresh my memory so I can shock, amaze & bore listeners with it again.
There are links from here to other Tom Lehrer pieces on line, including lyrics, mp3s and interviews.

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gavelkind (an unsatisfactory definition - gotta find those other links again)

Department of Economics
University of Bristol
Resources for the History of Economics
Henry Sumner Maine: Lectures on the Early History of Institutions
Ancient Divisions of the Family
Includes details of some gavelkind & other familial systems.

Connections to Some Other Interesting Sites from this site
[NOTE: Some are broken - I haven't hunted down updated links yet. If you're intrigued enough you could cast around to find either their new address or a replacement.]
The Avalon Project at Yale Law School (Recommended) The Marx-Engels Archive The George Mead Archive {moved} The Galileo Galilei Project The Classics Text Archive The Center for the Study of Colonial Currency The Steam Engine Library (My Eyes! My Eyes!)
Cornell's Math Book Collection [WRONG - CHECK] Warren J. Samuels Collection of Portraits at Duke Centre d'études interdisciplinaries Walras-Pareto (Swiss University, in French)
Broken Links The Tom Paine Historical Association [BAD] The David Hume Archive [BAD] The Bertrand Russell Society [BAD] The Historical Text Archive [BAD] Classics of Psychology [BAD] Hall of Economists [BAD] Centres Auguste et Léon Walras [BAD] Frederick W. Taylor Project
Auguste Comte and Positivism [BAD]

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So many things I haven't got time to put up. Also, I put in quite a nice submission to a SMH forum debating about people's attitude to Sydney, but they didn't put it in, and I don't think I have a copy of it. Bugger.

Here are just a few pages spotted on the way around the Net
Borges' story "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius"
Voynich manuscript
A fractal images gallery
Lipstick On A Pig by the Plaid Adder - see full site at

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