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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Slope Saga continues

Opinion > Letters >
May 31, 2004

Diocesan line on Trinity not accepted by all within (text index of Saturday SMH May 29, 2004)


Throwing the book at us
The Reverend Nigel Fortescue, Anglican Church, Naremburn, May 28

Meanwhile, as some people tear each other (metaphorically) apart:
Doctor who could fix a broken heart
Louis Bernstein, Doctor, 1930-2004
May 29, 2004

Louis Bernstein, one of the giants of Australian cardiology, has died at 73 in his beloved Royal Prince Alfred Hospital ...
Although his wit and warmth are what those close to him will remember best, his enduring legacy will be to those Australians with healed hearts, who will enjoy longer and happier lives, because of Lou Bernstein's pioneering leadership in cardiac medicine.

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Email exchange on questionnaire about Wentworth Park  

Email exchange on questionnaire about Wentworth Park

On Monday, May 24, 2004, at 02:08 PM, E wrote:
J. is an elected member of the PA Committee and offered to print the questionnaire and notice of meeting free of charge. I believe he is a local real estate agent. But PA membership is open to local businesses as well as residents. We are very grateful for his assistance. We could not have done it without. As you know, we keep our membership fees very low to ensure that as many people as possible can afford to join. We receive no funding from Council or any other source, other than donations from members.

Residential development of wentworth park is not something we even contemplated. The term "Redevelopment" implies redeveloped as a park, sporting arenas, public amenity or whatever. The questions came out of the responses to the pilot survey conducted at the Ultimo/Pyrmont Festival which came up with a range of views about the future of the park. It was interesting in that initial survey to see quite strong support for retention or reuse of the dog track facilities. It's by no means certain that the community want it all to be a gardens and public open space.
Wentworth Park is and always will be a public park or facility/amenity. I think if you re-read the questionnaire you will see that "redevelopment" is coupled with "open space" and can only be read in the context of a public park or other amenity.
The survey is to ascertain the range of views in the community in order to assist Council in its deliberations on the future of Wentworth Park.

PA at this stage is not pushing a particular point of view. I always think it's dangerous to say "the community want this or that" without canavassing the various options widely within the community. I am hoping that the Ultimo groups will also use the questionnaire to canvass views in their community.
It has been quite a big job canvassing Pyrmont, with volunteers, so any support from Ultimo would be gratefully accepted. We can then combine forces to present the results.

It's always useful to receive background information to use in any submission we make to Council so thanks for the historial notes. Be assured that residential redevelopment is not an option as far as PA is concerned.

Cheers, E

-----Original Message-----
From: D
Sent: Monday, 24 May 2004 10:30 PM
To: E

Subject: Re: Pyrmont Action - Questionnaire for the redevelopment of Wentworth Park

Thank you for your explanation - whilst I dont question the motives of Pyrmont Action which I hope are above board, I am concerned that now the NSW govt has sold off all the public hospitals and schools to developers, the next logical step to to sell off any available local public open space to developers. The Wentworth Park site would be a developer's dream especially the northern end of the Park along Pyrmont Bridge Rd, especially if the dog racing stadium relocated and the facility demolished. I make no apologies for my suspicious nature.

Pyrmont got stuck with the casino because some local residents stood on Pyrmont Bridge with petition boards to ask visitors to Darling Harbour to support a casino in Pyrmont. I was not aware that PA was seeking suggestions from visitors to the Ultimo Pyrmont festival regarding the future redevelopment of Wentworth Park. Feedback from my comments has revealed the same sort of concerns that I have voiced in my notes.

Looking forward to meeting up with PA at the AGM on 1 June


-----Original Message-----
From: E
Sent: Monday, 24 May 2004 11:52 PM

To: D

Subject: RE: Pyrmont Action - Questionnaire for the redevelopment of Wentworth Park
D, it's dedicated as a public park. There's no way whatever body controls it, could, or would sell it off. Yes, it would be interesting to go into the history of why Pyrmont got lumbered with the Casino. They have a lot to answer for.

Cheers, E

My Contribution
From M to E, D
May 25, 2004

The Showground at Moore Park was dedicated as public open space or parkland or exhibitions, and that didn't stop Fox Studios "leasing" it.

The Gladesville public land has already been lost to a walled-off rash of flats. And the locals have to keep continual watch on places like Callan Park, Hunters Hill High School & its associated grounds, maybe even Glebe High, probably many places I've never heard of or forgotten in the rush of events.

Then there's the situation at North Head Quarantine Station. The harbour & estuarine islands are simmering in the background still. Don't forget the dispute at Middle Head as well as the St Marys ADI area.

Years back Paul Keating let the wolves get the scent of blood on an area they'd been hungering after for decades at Garden Island. They haven't forgotten, but for a prize that great might yet be patient a while, just feeding off smaller prey in the interim.

All these were formerly dedicated to public service, whether showground, hospital or armed forces, hopefully to go to a different type of publicly-accessible public good, rather than enriching the few (after all, they'd hardly obtain assets at a price they haven't screwed down as low as possible, and with the "best" conditions to make the greatest private profit, while reducing any public return in the form of taxes) once they moved out of that part of the public service.

If you remember some years back, in relation to the Pyrmont developments, I called this "selling someone else's birthright", since it's sacrificing the good life, health, public amenity & so forth of both the current workers & residents, and those of future ones -- including the residents who'll move into the new buildings -- many thousands of people for decades to come, for the short-term profit of some person or group who possibly may never even see the area, let alone live here or participate in the community.

You do need to keep alert & questioning whenever & wherever anything is in the air for such assets. That's one of the things that is so wearing & draining for "normal" people who have jobs & families & lives to try & keep maintained as part of their society & community. History is full of ... [the rest is missing]

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American Cultural Imperialism! Right here in Harbour City!  
American Cultural Imperialism! Right here in Harbour City!
Krispy Kreme opening at Wynyard -- smaller image 400 x 300 (76 kb)
Krispy Kreme opening at Wynyard -- larger image 1600 x 1200 (861 kb)
(And that starts with "K" and that rhymes with "J" and that stands for "Junkfood"?)

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Oil & Water (together make sauce for the goose & the gander)  
Water & Oil: Just last week both subjects were under strong discussion.
* Debate on water included a lot of people saying "We need to pay more for water so that people won't waste it & will use more effective technology
(for conservation, recycling, etc., etc.)"
* Debate on petrol included a lot of people saying "We're paying too much for petrol!"

Yet both are limited, & getting scarcer, natural resources. Shouldn't the approach be similar to both?

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The more things change, the more they stay the same
Hortensia Patel comments (on the blog comments to the above):
"Certainly the parallels with today's "War on Terror" hysteria are

" 'They altered the accepted usage of words in relation to deeds as they thought fit. Reckless audacity was termed courageous loyalty to party; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation, a cover for
spinelessness; and an ability to understand all sides, total inertia.
Fanatical enthusiasm was rated a man's part; and cautious deliberation, a
euphemism for desertion.' "

(From Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War [] III 82, written in the 5th century BC. Sound familiar?)

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Why are people so unkind?
(Follow down quite a way for some particularly nasty allegations (evil laughter) about GW Bush's latest facial contusions.)
(Get Image for Jeff Koterba on "5/21/04"),2763,1223358,00.html
'I will always hate you people'
Family's fury at mystery death
Luke Harding in Baghdad
Monday May 24, 2004
The Guardian

The first Mohammed Munim al-Izmerly's family knew of his death was when his battered corpse turned up at Baghdad's morgue. Attached to the zipped-up black US body bag was a laconic note.

The US military claimed in the note that Dr Izmerly, a distinguished chemistry professor arrested after US tanks encircled his villa, had died of "brainstem compression".

Dr Izmerly's sudden death after 10 months in American custody left his family stunned, not least because three weeks earlier they had visited him in the US prison at Baghdad airport. His 23-year-old daughter, Rana, recalled that he had seemed in "good health".

The family commissioned an independent Iraqi autopsy. Its conclusion was unambiguous: Dr Izmerly had died because of a "sudden hit to the back of his head",

Several prisoners have been found to have died before or during interrogation. They include Major General Abed Hamed Mowhoush, a former commander of Iraq's air defences, who died last November during interrogation at Qaim.

The original US autopsy said he had died of a heart attack. It now appears he was suffocated during interrogation when a CIA officer put him in a sleeping bag and sat on him.

Last night the family of Dr Izmerly were in little doubt he had been murdered in US custody. The reasons for his death were covered up, they believe.

"This was not natural," Rana told the Guardian yesterday, in the first interview given by the family since his death. "The evidence is clear. It suggests the Americans killed him and then tried to hide what they had done. I will hate Americans and British people for the rest of my life. You are democrats. You said you were coming to bring democracy, and yet you kill my father. By accepting your governments, you accept what they do here in Iraq.

"You offer no proof that he did something wrong, you refuse him a lawyer and then you kill him. Why?"

Dr Izmerly does not appear to be among the cases under the review announced by the US defence department last week

The professor's 60-year-old widow, Sahera Abdullah, said she had received no satisfactory explanation of why he had been arrested in the first place.

Paris Airport (Charles de Gaulle) Roof Collapse
The news gave me a flashback to our sprint down the concourse, after a very delayed late night flight arrived, to catch the bus to the train station to get to Paris. (Grief, like a tiger, is an ambush predator.) Mind you, there would have been far fewer casualties had a roof collapse happened then. One of the three people we saw in the near-dark was a friendly security guard with Alsatian who pointed us in the correct direction.

But I think the news said it was a new construction designed by an acclaimed modern architect. Hope we find what happened.

How to Make a Fake
Buy a mid-level Gauguin. Duplicate it. Slap the original papers on the copy. Sell both paintings to gullible collectors, while the art world looks the other way.
By Clive Thompson

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Spam Canners  
Yahoo's Spam page

An excellent specialist anti-spam site

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Danish Royal Wedding  
Danish Royal Wedding: Crown Prince Fred of Denmark marries Australian real estate agent Mary Donaldson
Sigh. Those frocks! And those rocks! Not to mention all the sharp young men in snappy uniforms -- and the older men in uniforms weighed down by almost as many medals as the ladies' jewels. "All the crowned (& tiara'd & feather-hatted) heads of Europe" (including the ones in exile) are sitting in a batch of wooden chairs up the front that don't look very comfortable. Prince William (Earl of Wessex) is getting quite a high forehead these days. Seems to run in the English Royal Family.

Queen Margrethe is looking very stylish in the national colours, and comfortable for the slightly cool-looking day. She has a white & pale spring-floral gown and shorter lightweight coat in a dark pink/light red silk(?) which matches the bridesmaids, with an equally tasteful necklace, tiara & coat-clasp entirely of diamonds. Many of them quite large diamonds. Her husband, the Prince Consort, was called Henri de Maussepant(sp?). Don't know if he's related to the writer.

Nice music -- at least they still have a choir. And the brass players are keeping their tone well. It's so embarrassing when they go wrong on one of these big occasions. Thousands & thousands of red & white flowers, almost as many Swedish flags & Australian ones. Security looks pretty strong, even tho' some of them at a loose end are taking their own photos of the event. Our Lady's Church I believe it's called, is one of those fairly plain, airy Northern types, built of white stone in a classic Greco-Roman look.

Now the bride has arrived at the cathedral, her father in his dress Donaldson kilt, herself a vision in a clean-lined traditional oyster silk gown with a lovely wispy sort of bouquet & off-the-face embroidered lace veil with elegant little tiara-headpiece. Nice teardrop earrings, but no necklace to spoil the pure line of the off-the shoulder dress. Now she & the groom are holding hands, and one of her sister-bridesmaids has just borrowed a hankie to dab at her tears. He is looking incredibly young

The Bishop of Copenhagen is also gorgeous in his finery, with white ruff and gown, and a cope (?) in greenery-yallery spring colours, with the symbols of the four evangelists on the back and formal floral edging at the front.

Uh-oh. SOMEONE'S mobile just rang. They stopped it quickly, though.

There go the rings! One hopes this royal marriage will go better than some of the high-profile ones have. Harp & children's voices. This is very nice, happy, gentle & hopeful music. Even the republican (i.e. not monarchist) Tasmanian Green Party senator Bob Brown said "everyone needs a bit of magic in their lives" when asked to comment.

I hear there's going to be another European royal wedding sometime soon. Spanish? Anyway, is any of this being covered in the UK or USA? It's been quite intense just over the last few days here, because of Mary being a Tasmanian who met Prince Fredericke during the Olympics in Sydney. [Note that I have refrained from any Apple Danish jokes or mention of that other Prince of Denmark.]

Wedding Update: The wedding party has left the church & is travelling by barouche through Copenhagen in rather weak spring sunshine. Lots of happy cheering crowds. They reckon there's about a million.

There is a large mounted escort wearing classic operetta-style uniforms in bright colours with feathered hats or shiny helmets with horsetail plumes in red or white (do they still frighten the children?), masses & masses of braid, brass buttons, swords, polished boots (& tight breeches over muscular thighs, mmm); some even have those short capes slung over one shoulder. Even the horses & musical instruments have been decorated.

Along with all this, jogging along next to the coach are the security men in dark lounge suits, bare-headed & wearing oblong ID badges. Cognitive dissonance, man.

One of the strange sights earlier on was a very high-tech looking glossy black security bus with tinted windows disgorging a bunch of the guests in precisely this type of comedy uniform & other formal dress around the side of the cathedral, before they walked around the corner onto the red carpet for the cheering crowd & photographers.fs

At the moment a crowd is gathered at the palace waiting for the couple to appear in the traditional balcony waving scene. Everyone is agog for their first official kiss.

It started at midnight Australian Eastern Standard Time, but there are a lot of people dressing up, having herring & other Danish dishes & gathering around their televisions with friends. Almost everything important overseas - especially sports - happens at weird hours here, so it's become part of the culture. It felt so strange having the Olympic events at "normal" times in Sydney; strange, but nice.

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Eau-de-Nil (Some might find bits rude)  
And God said unto Fred: go to the Senate
by Malcolm Brown and Sean Nicholls
May 11, 2004

The Business of Prophecy

Yea, and the Lord saw the prophet Fred, and saw that
his heart was sound and his mind was pure of any
thought and the Lord saw too, that the Prophet Harradine was
old and decrepit and his face was that of the ballsack of
an ass. And the Lord saw that the prophet Gibson had
not yet returned from the wasteland of the west, where
his begetting was as that of a rabbit and that plastic
dangly souvenir crap had him in its grasp.

And the Lord waited until the Prophet Fred was alone,
and the Lord's words echoed off the porcelain tiles and
the Lord said, "Fred, the prophet Harradine is old, and his
face is as the ballsack of a farm animal, and his words
are dry and dusty as of the dust of the road" and the
prophet Fred said, "Uugh, Lord, UUUGH, your perception
is clear and your words are the words of the Lord."

And the Lord thought that the mortal clay of man,
fashioned into the shape of Fred, was perhaps not the
greatest material that the Lord had ever had to work
with, and the Lord waited and the Lord spoke again.

"Fred. FRED! Verily thou art the prophet of a loving God
who talks for clarity as doth the elf from the Lord of the
Rings an entertainment most popular amongst the
elusive 14-23 age bracket that we wish to touch."

"Sorry, communicate with."

And the prophet Fred said that he had not seen that one
as he had heard that it was Godless and filled with the
lies of a pernicious and an evil Satan.

And the Lord said,

"Fred, the prophet Harradine is old, and stooped, and no
longer inspires the people in his garb of sack cloth and
ashes, and his face now resembles the wrinkled
scrotum of an animal that lacks for a high protection
sunscreen. His words are dry and dusty and are the
words of an accountant of taxation and not the words of
a soldier of righteousness."

"Fred. The Prophet Gibson has not yet returned to the
country of Australia with his family of true believers to
lead the land to the peace and joy of truly gritty and "in
your face" MTV love where the V stands for violence
and MT is just mighty. Verily, as the prophet Gandalf
said, Fred, 'it shall not pass,' until my words are

And the prophet Fred saw that the Lord was right, and
he raised up his eyes and he forgot his present business
and he realised that he had allowed his business to
interfere with the business of the Lord. And his
hosannas echoed off the tiles as he raised his arms on
high to the Lord. And his hosannas were mighty.

And the Lord said. "Fred. The prophet Harradine is as
the ballsack of an ass, and the prophet Gibson is a seller
of gimcrack and flapdoodle, in all of Australia, Fred, you
are the last honest man."

And the prophet Fred was flattered and cheered and his
heart was lifted and his seat was raised from his earthly
throne. And the Lord said that Fred should calm down
because Fred was just earthly clay and by "only" he
meant "only available" and Fred was chastened and sat
back down and the Lord was pleased.

And the Lord said.

"Fred, the prophet Harradine cannot live forever, as
much perhaps as I would like him to. His face is wrinkled
and is as the skin on the nads of a donkey, yet his iron
claw holds firm the testicles of the Australian Upper
House, and his legislating is as legislating that we have
not seen since the Dark Ages. And indeed the Upper
House shall be as dark as the space under an altar boy's
cassock after the passing the prophet Harradine."

And the prophet Fred was moved that the Lord was
talking to him as a man speaks, and the prophet Fred
was taken up with his own thoughts, and thought deeply,
in the porcelain room. And the Lord said.

"Fred, FRED! Calm down. Fred. I have chosen you,
Fred, to be my soldier. Fred, I want you to stand firm and
stand for a seat in the Upper House. Take my words
Fred, and legislate as would the prophet Harradine. Your
apprenticeship is done with. No longer should your small
but doughty army march to stamp out sex shops and
saucy videos, no longer must you pretend to be sick and
wear your pyjamas to Parliament. You will be as the
prophet Harradine of the flinty eye to whom all love
excepting for the love of the Lord is alien."

And the Prophet Fred gasped. And the Lord said,

"Your army Fred, shall be the army of the Upper House
where you shall rain down your wisdom upon the
teeming mass of godless man. You shall become as the
mouth of the Lord and the world shall love you, and fear
you and thy word shall be law. And the law shall be the
law of the Lord."

And the prophet Fred was moved with love for the Lord,
and gasped as he felt the love of the Lord pass through
him and he raised up has arms and he cried "Alleluia" as
did he cry "Hosanna" and also "Kum by Yah" and his
soul was lifted and his heart was glad, and the still
waters were still no more.

And the Lord too was glad. And the Lord left to go back
to heaven to tidy up for the arrival of the prophet
Harradine, and the prophet Fred started ringing hack
journalists, and the prophet Gibson continued right on
doing whatever it is that the prophet Gibson does, For
the will of the Lord is the will of the Lord.


Here endeth the lesson.

Alex Rieneck

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Barefoot Doctors & Bush Lawyers  
Uses of Universities - some kind of tunnel vision?
I hear a few people, and see letters to the paper, say: "I never went to Uni, but my taxes are subsidizing these students". Maybe they've taken Maggie Thatcher's "There's no such thing as society" just a bit too literally. We are all interdependent on many others.

Would these persons (or their young children or aged parents) be happy to
be treated by nurses & doctors & pharmacists who did a quick 3-month course by correspondence, like the barefoot doctors?

How would they feel driving on roads, freeways & bridges constructed by engineers who learnt it all from a book & by talking to a council worker who'd worked on some roads?

Wouldn't it be fun using the water supply & sewerage system (or living downstream of a dam) if those designers & engineers were self-taught too? Or being near a factory, refinery or similar complex dealing with toxic chemicals, high temperature & pressure not designed & checked by someone qualified to?

What about walking through the city with its skyscrapers if none of the architects had been certified for anything larger than a 3-storey walk-up that they'd learnt about by being a builder's labourer?

Check with the inhabitants of some of the cities where sudden collapses of blocks of flats happen every year (tho' much of that devastation is said to be because of poor inspection & enforcement of those naughty bureaucratic regulations).

And if you did want to sue for injury caused by faults with these, you'd
have to settle for a Bush Lawyer, I guess.

Labels: , , , , ,

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NSW Liberal hard-right shows its hand (or fist) (text-only version)

Liberals' new branch masters art of the stack, the stoush and the all-in brawl
By Paola Totaro, State Political Editor
May 7, 2004

The first text message arrived about 9.30pm, followed quickly by another and another. By 10.25pm, three police cars, eight officers and a police dog were on their way to Punchbowl.

"The right's starting a fight . . . there's a riot . . . the police have arrived," said the final message to an MP's mobile phone.

The venue was the Croatian Club on Punchbowl Road. The event? A meeting of the newest branch of the NSW Liberal Party.

... With the Young Liberal leadership now dominated by its new hardline right-wing president, Alex Hawke, there is also an increasing push against the moderates inside the parliamentary party. It is being led by his boss, the conservative upper house member David Clarke.

An avowed and vocal Christian, Mr Clarke is vehemently opposed to abortion, gay marriage, harm minimisation and drug law reform... (text-only version)

Brawlers to go, seethes Brogden
Date: May 8 2004
By Paola Totaro and Sean Nicholls

The NSW Opposition Leader, John Brogden, has ordered an inquiry into a punch-up at a Liberal Party branch meeting, warning that anyone involved in "thuggish or violent-style behaviour" will be expelled ...

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Persistent Taxation Myth  
A Persistent Taxation Myth
Is there a deliberate policy that circulates this myth of "paying half what I earn in tax" ?

The only people who ever "lose half their money in tax" are very low earners who may lose large amounts of benefits by earning a small amount. You only pay the marginal rate on the money you get above the limit.

For 2003-2004, you'll pay a total of $16,182 tax at $62,500 -- that's 25.9% tax -- then start paying 47 cents of any dollar above that (not counting any other fancy bits off or on).

To get close to paying 47% of your total income you have to be getting much, much more, e.g. 42% tax on $262,500; 46% tax on $962,500. Since 80-90% of Australians earn less than $62,500 pa, there'd be a very small number indeed liable. Most of those would be doing "taxation minimization" (very legally).

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Dark Hiding Places - The Invisible Web

Those Dark Hiding Places:
The Invisible Web Revealed

Robert J. Lackie, Assistant Professor-Librarian, Rider University

"The Web," according to Chris Sherman, Internet search expert and Associate Editor of, "is increasingly moving away from being a collection of documents and becoming a multidimensional repository for sounds, images, audio, and other formats." Because much of this information is not accessible to many general search engines' software spiders, we need to look for specific search tools that will lead us to this hidden content. Some of these tools include directories, searchable sites, free Web databases, and a few general and many specialized search engines. Begin searching with...

* Directories and Portals when you:
   o have a broad topic
   o want selected, evaluated, and annotated collections
   o prefer quality over quantity
* Invisible or Deep Web [searchable sites and databases] when you:
   o are looking for information that is likely in a database
   o are looking for information that dynamically changes in content
* Search engines [general and specialized] when you:
   o have a narrow topic
   o want to take advantage of the newer retrieval technologies

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An Operatic Aria Database
The Aria Database is a collection of information about opera and operatic arias. Besides providing basic information about each aria, the Database ( ) includes translations for many arias and aria texts for those that are not affected by copyright restrictions.

The Database also provides access to a collection of operatic MIDI files to give visitors an idea of what each aria sounds like.

Currently, the Database holds information on the complete operatic aria collections of Mozart, Verdi, Berlioz, Wagner, and Puccini as well as the partial collections of over 50 other composers
[ 1278 Arias - 170 Operas - 60 Composers - 381 Translations - 1027 Aria Texts - 223 MIDIs ]


Son lo spirito che nega sempre (Whistle Aria)
from Act I, Scene 2 of the Italian opera, Mefistofele by Arrigo Boito
Libretto : Arrigo Boito

Role : Mefistofele, the Devil
Voice Part : bass Fach : heavy bass
Setting : Faust's study, Frankfurt, Germany, medieval times
Range : G2 to E4. Tessitura : D#/Eb3 to D#/Eb4
Synopsis : Mefistofele reveals his true nature to Faust and goes on to describe his evil features.
Sound file : none
Translation and/or Aria Text : Libretto <../libretti/mefistofele03_son.txt> originally entered by Stephen Parker.
Recordings : Complete Opera Excerpts from Opera
Where to Find It : Score of opera and aria alone - Classical Vocal Reprints, 1-800-298-7474. Catalog number for aria : #0741, for opera : #50018 (Ricordi). Buy complete score online at Sheet Music Plus.

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Tax Cuts - Squandering our Future?  

Tax Cuts - Squandering our Future?

My entry in a guestbook asking for comments on recent speculation that this Budget will spend a large expected surplus on giving large tax cuts - which would mostly benefit higher-income people. There could be a lot more said on this, which I won't go into.

EXCEPT for the furphy about "Oh, these are State, not Federal issues".
And just where do the States get the majority of their funding? Most of the money is collected by States and by the Commonwealth & put into the "kitty", then split up & distributed, some via State, some via Federal government, trickling down to Local. Remember that fuss just recently about NSW's share being cut? There are also several bodies which combine Commonwealth & States to look after particular issues either nationwide or like the Murray-Darling or Great Barrier Reef.

AND: "You'll spend it all and we won't have anything left when there isn't any surplus." First, note that I wrote below about putting the investment into things, both physical & social that will stay.

A person educated as an engineer or doctor or nurse or teacher might be lost to that profession, but it's not likely they'll lose all their skills immediately, they'd probably return if they have to change for a short while, otherwise they'd probably - if the government-controlled circumstances allow - go to a different, but still skilled & worthwhile job.

I've lost my skills as a biologist & medical researcher over the last 20 years, but work in a fairly skilled (if averagely-paid) job (though I'd prefer to feel I was contributing more to the world).

A well-built sustainable water collection, distribution & purification system will take some maintenance over time, but will last without huge extra investment. The same for energy or transport systems (eg fixing/rebuilding bridges or taking freight off roads, thereby reducing road damage bills). A big push into reforming (in the genuine use of the word) agricultural practices & land-use, or ways of building cities can lay a good foundation for centuries of advance instead of continuing decline.

Australia is living off two great sources of capital laid down earlier, but we are not renewing or building them up - a bad sign for the future. The bulk of any surplus should be re-invested in these, to help tide us over future difficulties.

One is our natural resources: fertile topsoil, clean fresh water, fisheries & so forth. Only recently I think there was an estimate of $10 Billion to restore them to function on a long-term, sustainable basis after the damage done to them.

The other is the massive public (& private) investment in our infrastructure: water & sewerage systems, transport (not just roads) for goods & people, energy generation & distribution, as well as health systems & education. Many were developed in late Victorian times, into the first half of the 20th Century, & haven't been maintained.

Now we have a chance to repair & *improve* these, learning from earlier mistakes. This will give a good basis for our descendants to improve their lives, instead of scraping by, regretting lost opportunity.

Like the mutual building sculpture above Martin Place showing how a man can't break the bundle of sticks bound together, though each could be broken with ease one-by-one, the point of government is to bundle together our money and effort to do the things that singly are very difficult (how many of us can buy or build a new train or hospital?). And private companies are run for profit, not to provide a service.

If 12% of Australians are in the top tax bracket, 88% are lower. The majority of us know that if we strike trouble - like my recent medical crises - we will need social support. Not just trustworthy & affordable health care, but, say, someone for the aged mother I care for, community nurses who aided my convalescence, meals on wheels, etc.
Even when you have help from family or friends, that support stops the total ruination that you too often see in both the third world & the US when a crisis hits someone. That's why there's support for services - even if there's doubt that spending will go towards what you most want.

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An Iraq Prison Diary
(linked from Billmon's Whiskey Bar at )
You may not feel your blood pressure would survive reading the whole thing. Just one bit I thought might amuse, down in the comments:

... note the crazy little surreal touches?

A conservative radio on-air personality is helping to torture prisoners? Fuck, I'll bet hate radio guys all over the country are half dead with demented envy. I'll bet Michael Savage curses and weeps while he masturbates, because the Goddam Liberals made him stay in the US, and all he's got to look at is a few Abu Ghraib snapshots. - this part includes:
The creepy part, though, is when Hersh starts to go into a more detail about the death of a prisoner under interrogation at Abu Ghraib -- and Blitzer hurries to cut him off: (transcript)
Beowatch (Beowulf/Baywatch)
A Surfer Geat Drama
by Arden Smith and Carl Hostetter
Welcome to, home of the official Hummer H2 salute.

... The H2 is a tax loophole. Under Bush's new tax plan, business owners can deduct the entire cost of their $55,000 H2. If you are in the highest tax bracket, that's a tax savings of nearly $20,000! The government rewards you more savings for buying an H2 than you'd get for buying an electric car ...

Welcome to
The ORIGINAL Illustrated Catalog Of ACME Products
ACME is a worldwide leader of many manufactured goods. From its humble beginnings providing corks and flypaper to bug collectors ("Buddy's Bug Hunt/1935") to its heyday in the American Southwest supplying a certain coyote, from Ultimatum Dispatchers to Batman outfits, ACME has set the standard for excellence.

For the first time ever, information and pictures of all ACME products, specialty divisions, and services featured in Warner Bros. cartoons (made by the original studio from 1935 to 1964) are gathered here, in one convenient catalog
The International Federation of Competitive Eating, Inc current champion
Sonya Thomas
Bib Sheet
Alexandria, VA
Age: 36
Weight: 105

* Asparagus: 5.5 pounds Tempura Deep Fried Aspargus Spears / 10 minutes
* Chicken Wings: 134 chicken wings (in qualifying round) / 12 minutes
* Eggs: 65 Hard Boiled Eggs / 6 minutes, 40 seconds
* Fruitcake: 4 pounds, 14 1/4 ounces Wegman's Fruitcake / 10 minutes
* Hamburgers: 7 Burgers (3/4 pound) "Thickburgers" / 10 minutes
* Jambalaya: 9 Pounds Crawfish Jambalaya / 10 Minutes
* Pulled Pork: 23 pulled pork sandwiches / 10 minutes
* Tacos: 43 soft tacos / 11 minutes
* Turducken: 7 3/4 pounds Thanksgiving Dinner / 12 minutes

The International Federation of Competitive Eating, Inc. supervises and regulates eating contests in their various forms throughout the world. The IFOCE helps to ensure that the sport remains safe, while also seeking to achieve objectives consistent with the public interest -- namely, creating an environment in which fans may enjoy the display of competitive eating skill.

The IFOCE coordinates members and affiliates in the United States, Japan, England, Germany, Canada, Ireland, Thailand and the Ukraine, ...

The IFOCE maintains offices at 151 West 25 Street, Fourth Floor, New York, NY (212) 627-5766.

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Next time you go up in a lift, be thankful
This is just what I felt was likely at bad times after my operation. Luckily it's rare. Poor bloody man, & his friends.

Man's stomach 'fell out' after op

Last Updated: Friday, 30 April, 2004, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
A man recovering from a stomach operation had to be rushed back into hospital after his innards "fell out" when his wound burst.

George Sternat, of Cairns, Australia, had just had surgical staples removed from his abdomen. Cancer patient Mr Sternat was relaxing in his garden when he screamed out in pain, the AFP news agency reported.

His partner Cheryl Orme said he shouted: "Get the ambulance, my stomach fell out ...

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Biscuits, Bonking & Books
All about biscuits, cake & tea! They're just back from a triumphant Cornish Tea Tour.

Artist puts sex scenes on biscuit tins in revenge
An artist who was sacked by a biscuit company took revenge by adding sex scenes to their famous tins.
Huntley & Palmer, which created Ginger Nuts, failed to spot the "extras" in its genteel garden party design, says The Sun. Tens of thousands were sold before a grocer noticed a couple romping in the bushes, two dogs locked together and a jam jar with the word s**t on it. Once they'd been alerted, the company replaced the lids but they became the ultimate prize among collectors of Huntley & Palmer's whimsical tins.

One of the tins is set to fetch £250 next week when it's auctioned in Somerset. Auctioneer Richard Gold said: "I can't say I've made a habit of selling top-shelf tins."

Reversing Vandalism at SF Public Library
In the early months of 2001, San Francisco Public Library staff began making grim discoveries in the book stacks at the Main Library. Shoved under shelves and hidden from public eye were vandalized books, ranging from gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender topics to women’s issues and books on HIV/AIDS. Staff collected over 600 badly damaged books. The torn and slashed books were deemed beyond repair and withdrawn from the Library’s collection. The offender was eventually caught and charged with a hate crime.
Rather than have this end as a total loss, the Library decided to release the damaged books to artists and interested community members in the hope of creating art out of this destructive act.

This one you might not like to read, involving as it does a couple of animals being killed. main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/04/04/ncat04.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/04/04/ixhome.html
By Elizabeth Day (Filed: 04/04/2004)
Both Ford and Ogilvy & Mather - which handles the car maker's £27 million account - have branded the leaking of the ad "totally unacceptable and reprehensible" ... It was, they say, intended as a "viral marketing" tactic - designed to be sent via the internet from one individual to another - although this idea was subsequently rejected by Ford ...

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Nokia voice commands software (Doesn't work on my old-style very low-end model 2100. But I quite like my phone & it does what I need.
Stylistically, I did get a groovy deep-purple high-gloss (finish had depth like car duco) cover for it and was given transparent lilac keypad. Very suavette. At the moment have changed cover to a pale translucent lilac for two reasons:
    1) because I'm deliberately not wearing or using things I had very much in the mourning colours - I haven't worn any black at all, except for only pair of walking shoes, since Easter, as a statement;
    2) just for a bit of a change. The phone has a number of bright internal LEDs, and "original" covers are also translucent to show that off. It wasn't until after I'd used it a few times that I realised after being exposed to a bright light, it glowed in the dark WOW - Ha!
[New Private School "The Cage"]

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A United Kingdom police site which describes various frauds. Includes current email scams,, "phishing" and so forth:
A strange story from Blue's News about Clive Barker's encounter with an unusual fan at a booksigning

The Incredible But True Story of Christopher Robin Incubus
February 17, 2001
by jason "loonyboi" bergman

(As told to Jason "loonyboi" Bergman by Clive Barker)

   loonyboi: There's a story about you that I've been trying to find out the truth behind for about ten years now. Every time I've heard it, it's been one of those "friend of a friend" type things, so I've started to think it's an urban legend. There's a story that says you were at a signing in New York, and one of your fans sliced open their hand, held it out to you and you signed your book in his blood.

   Clive Barker: Here's what happened. It's important you get the facts right. I was at Forbidden Planet [a comic book, sci-fi and horror store in New York city], it was raining very hard, and I had a huge crowd. [The signing was for] a Simon & Schuster book, so it was perhaps the Damnation, it was a Putnam book. A fellow comes up to me, a very good looking young man, so I noticed him. And he was very wet. He was wearing a T-shirt soaked to the skin, and he had beautiful tattoos on his arms. And I said, "those are beautiful." Oh, I know what the book was, it was Cabal - and he gave me Cabal, so it was Simon & Schuster. And he passed it over to me and said, "could you sign this" and I said "yes" and "who should I sign it to?" He said, "would you sign it to Christopher Robin Incubus." Which should have given me a clue right there.

   Anyway, I looked up at him and said, "those really are wonderful tattoos." He looked down as I signed and said, "this is for you." I looked up and he took a straight razor and he cut open his tattoos. And my security men had already gone because we'd been signing for four hours. And my loving fans...fled. I was sitting here at the table and Christopher Robin Incubus was standing with a razor and blood pouring out of his arm. I said, "do you want that in your book?" He said, "yes." So I took his arm, and I put my hand [on it]. There was blood right there, and I gave him a huge Clive Barker hand print in his book. I signed it, and the medics took him away.

   There is a follow-up: he appeared again at another signing, even more tattooed than he had ever been before. He came up, he didn't have a book, looking a little older, but still looking good. And took my hand, and kissed the inside of my palm and left. And that's the true story.

This site,
Where you can add your own text to Iraqi child's cardboard sign (seen originally in two contradictory versions).

Leads thoughts to earlier manipulation of photographs, of which this shows some earlier examples:
Hoax Photo Gallery

(there's a bunch of discussion about the effect seen in these photos of aeroplanes & vapour effects)

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