Another Dark Little Corner
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.
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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Preditors and Editors
Everything you wanted to know about literary agents
On the getting of agents
(and my Wish List)
Recipe 2: Single Malt Truffles
Something for those really bad difficult days
xeger: I owe James Herriot the idea, but scotch in combination with strong cheddar and fruit cake is an astoundingly good snack.
The right scotch is also delightful with a good dark chocolate... hmmm.
I've used several different single malts with good results every time. It was nice with Oban and lovely with Balvenie Doublewood 12 year. Laphroig was delicious but needs a strong chocolate which can hold its own. Oban is fine with a lighter chocolate, even a semisweet, but milk chocolate fades behind the stronger flavoured scotches.
Madeleine Robins: Long ago and far away, a friend and I discovered the slightly goofy pleasure of high-end dark chocolate Easter bunny as a refined accompaniment to a good cognac. Brandy n' bunny was a mainstay for a good long time ...
(The same old lies, the same ever-new suffering. How to differentiate amongst such deadly dark shades of grey as the balance of evils?)
What Lessons from a War Memorial?
Sydney Morning Herald Letters, Monday June 28th, 2004
Yes, Charlie Lemaire, the Australian War Memorial does show the consequences of patriotism's dark side . A patriotic Serbian assassinated Archduke Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo on June 28th ninety years ago, starting a terrible engine of war that, fueled by appeals to patriotism (see Oh, What a Lovely War), reaped a four-year bloody swathe across the world that scarred the rest of the century.
Other Balkan patriots gave us more recent memories of Sarajevo.
On June 6 we remembered the results of intense patriotism in Germany & Italy in the years after that. The dead of the USSR, for instance, equal to the entire current population of Australia. It was the militant patriotism of Japan, however, that most closely affected Australia in that war.
As Wilfred Owens called it eighty-four years ago: "The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori."
People criticising the voucher idea for the baby bonus as a left wing concept are ignoring the extraordinary amount of punitive control this very right-wing government wields with its money, using its purse-strings as strangling cords.
For years they've been saying "do this" or "don't do that" or you won't get your money (entrusted to them to distribute where it benefits Australia best). Older examples off the top of my head are universities - both in staff & student relations, and charities who criticised their policies. Just recently of course, it was the great flagpole scandal - possibly aimed as much at independent schools as at so-called value-free public ones. Need I mention the funding of the ABC ...
Firing up Fahrenheit + geektools
I hear Ray Bradbury's objecting to Michael Moore referring to the book Fahrenheit 451 in his film's title of Fahrenheit 9/11. I don't think there's a good case agin that - see, for example:
by Paul Auster
by John Birmingham ~1999
by Thomas Hobbes
Elgin, Suzette Haden ~1984
Hiaasen, Carl ~1991
Drake, David ~1987 (Tor)
Harris, David ~recent
Hogg, Ian V. ~1977
Lord, Gabrielle (St. Martin's Press)
Walpole, Hugh ~1932 The Fortress - also see
The Fortress, Book 32
By: Gary Crew
Article below was linked to in the discussion of the biggest documentary hit so far this year in the USA, at billmon.org/archives/001588.html "Fondly Fahrenheit" (359 Comments as of --- ookk! I think I orta get to bed. Frustrating weekend. Hope all good there.)
Storm Troopers At the Doors of Fahrenheit 9/11
by Rob Kall
The handcuffs hanging from the burly hired security guard were clearly, intentionally evident. He was checking younger-looking ticket purchasers for age, to protect them from the R-rating of the movie. But he looked big and nasty. I was bringing my 14 year old son, and since he accompanied me, there was no problem.
The movie was incredible, besides weaving together a strong case against George Bush and his administration, it was a riveting piece of entertainment. The 24 theater megaplex had devoted its largest room to the movie and it looked like the previous showing and the one we went to see were both sold out ...
The Reality of Running Away from Stuff
By Idris Hsi, Mar 12, 2002
In The Time Machine
free-climbed up a 100 foot cliff and then raced to safety up a mountain to
escape a large explosion. In The Mummy Returns
streaming over the horizon (really just outrunning the rotation of the
earth). Just how unbelievable are these feats of speed?
Here's a chart showing maximum speeds for some of the more common Hollywood
hazards measured against the fastest speeds that an Olympic level human can
deliver (all in meters/second).
Ben & Jerry's Dublin Mudslide: Irish Cream Liqueur Ice Cream with Chocolate,
Chocolate Cookies and a Coffee Fudge Swirl
(They had me until they mentioned the coffee. I seem to have a dislike of
coffee flavour in things like yoghurt & ice-cream & biscuits.)
Why not help your words do exactly what they want? What better way to let
your boss know your true feelings than by resigning with the help of Lizzie
Borden? How else would you confess ardent feelings of corporate takeover
than through the script of Jesse James? And everyone will know you mean
business when Jack the Ripper writes your cover letters.
KillerFonts offers you all that and more. Not only can you enlist the most
notorious psychopaths to your aid, but also the weighty words of Important
People. Who could ignore a speech written by Abraham Lincoln, a poem by
Edgar Allan Poe, or orders by Genghis Khan?
All Killer Fonts? are available in TrueType or PostScript, for Mac or PC,
are 100% post-consumer content, and were never tested on animals.
http://www.trollart.com/hallustrng.html some pictures you may enjoy
http://www.callahanonline.com/calhat.html hate mail collection of a
http://patriotboy.blogspot.com/ and his merchandise
http://www.cafeshops.com/patriotboy and his theory about Dr Seuss
For reasons passing understanding, I've always found screenwriter Joe
Eszterhas to be a fascinating figure. This, despite the facts that in any
interview of his I've ever read he comes off as a complete boor, and that
with the exception of Jagged Edge -- which came out almost twenty years ago
-- I have never liked any of the movies that resulted from his scripts. Not
even Basic Instinct, which is the most poorly-constructed mystery-thriller
I've ever seen. (Caveat: I have not seen Showgirls.)
I guess that ultimately I just find something fascinating, almost morbidly
so, about a guy who not only produces crap but is proud to produce crap, and
gets paid huge money to keep right on producing crap.
So I checked his memoir out of the library last week. It's called Hollywood
and I've just finished the first chapter. My reaction?
Wow, what an ass.
There's really nothing I can directly quote to illustrate what I mean; it's
more the overall tone that's amazing in its ass-ness. It's the tone of a guy
who is supremely confident that what he does is of great worth, and of
contempt for those who have not managed to achieve what he's achieved ...
Cones, Curves, Shells, Towers: He Made Paper Jump to Life
By MARGARET WERTHEIM
ANTA CRUZ, California. - On the mantel of a quiet suburban home here stands
a curious object resembling a small set of organ pipes nestled into a neat,
white case. At first glance it does not seem possible that such a complex,
curving form could have been folded from a single sheet of paper, and yet it
The construction is one of an astonishing collection of paper objects folded
by Dr. David Huffman, a former professor of computer science at the
University of California, Santa Cruz, and a pioneer in computational
origami, an emerging field with an improbable name but surprisingly
Dr. Huffman died in 1999, but on a recent afternoon his daughter Elise
Huffman showed a visitor a sampling of her father's enigmatic models. In
contrast to traditional origami, where all folds are straight, Dr. Huffman
developed structures based around curved folds, many calling to mind
seedpods and seashells. It is as if paper has been imbued with life.
In another innovative approach, Dr. Huffman explored structures composed of
repeating three-dimensional units - chains of cubes and rhomboids, and
complex tessellations of triangular, pentagonal and star-shaped blocks. From
the outside, one model appears to be just a rolled-up sheet of paper, but
looking down the tube reveals a miniature spiral staircase. All this has
been achieved with no cuts or glue, the one classic origami rule that Dr.
Huffman seemed inclined to obey.
In a Slate review entitled Unfairenheit 9/11
he doesn't like Michael Moore or Moore's new documentary:
To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to
promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as
a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never
again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile
crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise
in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is
also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a
demonstration of "dissenting" bravery.
It's obvious that this paragraph is not part of a positive review. [I think
that's another example of understatement-MCP] I got a similar impression of
Fahrenheit 9/11 from a journalist acquaintance, who saw it last weekend, and
said "I hate Bush, but the movie was so unfair that it made me want to
defend him". However, my concern here is not with the politics of Moore's
documentary, but with the semantics of the first two sentences of Hitchens'
paragraph quoted above ...
Slightly related to the "running-away" section:
leading to ...
Erik: Other things I have learned: if iron was molten last night, and it's
pooled beneath the sands, it's still too hot to touch this morning.
And the melted sand forms obsidian-like stuff with razor-sharp edges. I
think your hands got cut up worse than mine did, though.
... Amazing how well sand and glass insulates, isn't it?
Q: What do you get when you light 400 pounds of thermite?
... (recipe for thermite included) ...
Backwards (and I've made the same mistake.) Fe2O3, Ferric Oxide, is red
rust. In dense form, it's hematite. FeO is Ferrous Oxide. Fe3O4 is Ferrous
Ferric Oxide, or Magnetite, or black rust -- and is the form of Iron Oxide
on magnetic media.
Rustoleum and the like work by converting Fe2O3 to Fe3O4 by various means.
Also -- if you burn 300lbs of steel wool, you'll have more than 300lbs of
Iron Oxide (it'll pick up the oxygen from the air)
What you want for thermite is Fe2O3, which reacts with aluminium thusly...
Fe2O3 + (2) Al --> Al2O3 + (2)Fe + heat
...and we are *not* kidding about heat -- 684kJ per mole of iron reacted ...
... the Al powder is easer to get than that -- just check a really good
paint store. If that does not work, try a theatrical supply house. I love
your approach for the iron oxide though.
The only problem is that what you really want for thermite is called coarse
aluminium powder, but the fine stuff or flake will work just fine.
Of course they may look at you funny when you want 50 kilos ...
[re bottle rockets & dry ice bombs] It works best with a liquid to hasten
the sublimation, but never use something like, oh, PEPSI, as an idiot at the
machine shop I worked in did. The gas in the soda came right out of solution
and the bottle blew up in his hands.
He lost all the skin on his fingers, but this was the same guy who decided,
after breaking his neck (he said the worst part was the waves, coming and
going, while he couldn't move) that he was healed enough to remove the brace
while he slept (shades of Joseph Merrick) and awoke to a recurrence of his
...Jonathan Vos Post
... The difference between a smart person doing dumb things and a dumb
person doing dumb things is that the dumb person makes the same mistake over
and over (until maimed, dead, jailed, whatever) while the smart person will
get to make new mistakes.
I never make exactly the same mistake twice. I am very creative, and have
managed to make many ingeniously different variation on the same mistake,
cross-overs between different mistakes, mutations, of old mistakes, and
whole trees of evolutionary radiation mistakes.
If I were any smarter, I would be able to solve the new and bizarre problems
that I get myself into. If I were any less smart, I never would have been
able to get in trouble those ways. So I am exactly the wrong level of
intelligence ... But, geez, the stuff we could buy that even school chem
labs have trouble getting now...
(Just remember that the words most often repeated to emergency room doctors
was, "Hey, everyone, watch this!" before said trip became necessary.)
"For God, King & Country" (as the cannon fodder millions were lured in World War I)
We've seen how very well whipping up jingoistic, divisive types of patriotism serves the purposes of politicians over the last 150 years. Indeed, quite recently it's proved effective in Africa & Eastern Europe alike.
Unfortunately, the politicians’ success came at the price of many lives, the maiming of more, the destruction of much hard-won human, social & natural infrastructure, and left a legacy of hate & distrust for generations to come.
The style of "patriotism" that this government and its backers want to drag us back to, along with attitudes to worker-employee and family relations, the intrusion of divisive sectarian versions of religion into politics & reviving forms of social Darwinism disguised as "free trade/enterprise" or "social responsibility" is, surely, closer to the nineteenth century than the 1950s.
Historians remember the huge upheavals of that century as laying the foundations of the terrible twentieth century destruction.
Why would even “elites” risk repeating that devastating cycle, especially now humanity's destructive power and its burden on the planet's systems has become so much greater? Is it some fanatical religious or ideological belief, or just some nihilistic lust for temporary power, and "après nous le déluge"?
In re wombats
Cute? photo and story about wombats in yahoo's news.
> How an Aussie babe-in-a-pouch survived the accident that killed her
mum (Tue Jun 8, 2004, AFP)
Secret Life of Wombats
ISBN 1877008435 (?)
WOODFORD, JAMES: SECRET LIFE OF WOMBATS TPB
Secret Life of Wombats
Author: Woodford, James
Paperback (C Format); Illustrations
Published: July 2001
The Text Publishing Company Pty Ltd
In 1960, when he was a fifteen-year-old schoolboy at Timbertop, Peter
Nicholson began to investigate the secret world of wombats by crawling down
their burrows and making friends with them. In this enthralling book James
Woodford, bestselling author of The Wollemi Pine, tells the
extraordinary story of Nicholson's research and then sets off himself in
pursuit of the elusive wombat
Child's Guide to
A silly wombat
story (childish, rather than for children)
There's a story about href="http://au.news.yahoo.com/040608/21/pd8i.html">mapping the genome
of a wallaby too. Interesting
to compare different types of mammals, what's shared & what's different.
>Marsupials have some good original features & adaptations for the
variable Australian climate. A female kangaroo or wallaby can secrete two
different types of milk simultaneously. And have one embryo "paused" in
suspension internally , with another small young attached to a teat in her
pouch and a third joey at foot still suckling part-time & occasionally
sheltering in her pouch. Am not sure how many others, like wombats, possums
& so forth, have the same capacity. Then there's the very efficient hopping
locomotion for long distances ...
If all that's too much, relax & feel justified by reading href="http://homepage.powerup.com.au/~manfred/jeremy_australia.htm">Australi
a: The Confusing Country by Orinoco (a.k.a. Jeremy Lee) - or on href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A12295">h2g2 at the BBC's Douglas Adams
section (Also see discussion at href="http://www.funtrivia.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=UBB40&Numb
A nude model, five bodies and the Mormon assassination plot attempt
By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles
15 June 2004
... This week, a jury in Martinez, a small town outside San Francisco, will
retire to consider the bizarre, brutally violent cult surrounding one Glenn
Taylor Helzer, a lapsed Mormon accused of bludgeoning and dismembering five
people in an elaborate extortion racket intended to hasten the second coming
of Jesus Christ ...
You Can't Mock the President or Say "Balls"
The Most Important Thing I Learned in School This Year
By BILLY WILSON
What I Owe Ronald Reagan
The Brylcreemed B*llsh-tt.r
By BEN TRIPP
... I owe him this: Ronald Reagan made me the scratchy, anarchistic malcontent I am today ...
June 5 / 6, 2004
Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004
In a Nutshell
By SUSAN DAVIS
Any kid from Dixon, Illinois can make it..as long as they cultivate a relationship with the FBI, bust a union or two, rat out their Hollywood friends, and fire a few philosophers.
After that, it was a down hill coast for Ronnie.
But why did he call his wife "Mommy?"
Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004
Goodbye and Good Riddance
By PHIL GASPER
Ronald Reagan has finally died at age 93. Predictably, politicians from both major parties have issued gushing tributes to this venal and vicious man, who was happy to slash workers' wages, see families thrown onto the street, support sadistic death squads and bomb other countries, if this was in the interests of the American ruling class.
Meanwhile, if recent history is any guide, the mainstream media will steer well clear of providing an accurate portrayal of Reagan, the man and the president. Last year, in a stunning act of cowardice, CBS cancelled its much-publicized "docudrama" about Ron and Nancy, The Reagans, caving in to a campaign by the Republican National Committee, right-wing radio hosts, Fox News and conservative Internet sites. The movie was instead shown later to a much smaller audience on the Showtime cable network.
Conservatives attacked the film for portraying Reagan as homophobic, and Nancy as a domineering wife and mother who pulled the strings behind the scenes while abusing her children. They were apparently even more incensed that James Brolin, husband of liberal icon Barbra Streisand, played the part of Reagan.
While The Reagans was undoubtedly a monumental example of third-rate TV schlock, examples cited by conservatives of substantial inaccuracies didn't hold up. One complaint was that the movie showed Reagan ignoring the AIDS crisis because of its association with gay sex, and telling his wife, "They that live in sin shall die in sin." But in real life, Reagan refused to mention AIDS publicly for six years, under-funded federal programs dealing with the disease and, according to his authorized biography, said, "Maybe the Lord brought down this plague," because "illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments."
C. Everett Koop, Reagan's surgeon general, later revealed, "because transmission of AIDS was understood primarily in the homosexual population and in those who abused intravenous drugs, the advisors to the president took the stand, they are only getting what they justly deserve."
In the movie, Nancy slaps her 5-year-old daughter, Patti. In real life, Patti wrote, "I first remember my mother hitting me when I was eight. It escalated as I got older and became a weekly, sometimes daily, event." In the movie, Nancy insists, "Ketchup is a vegetable! It is not a meat, right? So it is a vegetable." In real life, Reagan directed the Department of Agriculture to classify ketchup as a vegetable in September 1981 in an attempt to slash $1.5 billion from the federal school lunch program.
Conservatives also criticized the movie for what it did not include. "Does it show he had the longest and strongest recovery in postwar history?" asked Reagan's White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater. But Reagan's economic policies were a disaster for working-class Americans. Reagan presided over the worst recession since the 1930s, and economic growth in the 1980s was lower than in the 1970s, despite the stimulus of military Keynesian policies, which created massive federal budget deficits and tripled the federal debt. By the end of the decade, real wages were down and the poverty rate had increased by 20 percent.
The real problem with The Reagans was not that it was too critical of the Reagan presidency, but that it was largely uncritical. According to The New York Times, the movie "paints [Reagan] as an exceptionally gifted politician and a moral man who stuck to his beliefs, often against his advisers' urgings."
Reagan was many things, but "gifted" was not one of them. "Poor dear," remarked British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, his closest international ally, "there's nothing between his ears." As for a "moral man," Reagan's morality included union busting -- beginning with his dismissal of striking air traffic controllers in 1981 -- an unprecedented war on the poor, opposition to civil rights and support for apartheid South Africa. The "moral" Reagan trained and supported terrorists, including the Nicaraguan contras ("the moral equal of our Founding Fathers") who killed over 30,000 people, and Islamic radicals in Afghanistan who later formed the al-Qaeda network.
Reagan was also a liar. In November 1986, he publicly denied that his administration had been illegally selling arms to Iran and using the proceeds to fund the contras. One week later he was forced to retract this statement, but denied that the sale was part of a deal to free U.S. hostages. The following year, Reagan admitted that there had been an arms-for-hostages deal, but denied he knew anything about it.
In 1992, that too proved to be a lie when former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger was compelled to release notes from a January 1986 meeting revealing, "President decided to go with Israeli-Iranian offer to release our 5 hostages in return for sale of 4,000 TOWs [U.S. missiles] to Iran by Israel."
The man whose administration spearheaded class warfare on behalf of the rich, dragged American politics to the right, and rebuilt US imperialism
after the Vietnam debacle, is dead. Good riddance.
Dressed in Green & Gold
www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/05/24/1085389332106.html (May 25, 2004
: overall heading, "A behaviour disorder strangely absent during a game")
Can someone please reassure me that the horrendous fluoro yellow and green on the Jacksons Landing towers under construction are not permanent?
Randi Svensen, Katoomba, May 24.
I refer Randi Svensen (Fluoro atrocity, letters, May 25, re the towers on the old CSR site in Pyrmont*) -- apparently visible from Katoomba -- to your (illustrated) article headed "Larrikin twins just what the doctor ordered", by Sean Nicholls, SMH, Sep 24, 2002 ( www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/09/23/1032734114980.html).
Old Yella (The Distillery) is described by the approving Minister as "an
inspiring new addition to the Sydney skyline"; its design as "creative and
innovative", showing what could be achieved when architects -- namely Denton
Corker Marshall - "think outside the square". Since both are triangular,
no-one disputes that part. Though it is noted that "not everyone agrees with
Dr Refshauge's assessment", surely we agree they are "a splash of colour".
It isn't called "chirpy", like that one planned behind Luna Park, but I'm
sure someone has mentioned "green & gold".
I wonder no-one yet complains how they spoil the Harbour Bridge view of Anzac Bridge.
[* Not Jackson's bloody Landing. Haven't they wiped out enough without taking our name away too!]
NOTE: The letter in reply which was published is below:
www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/05/26/1085461833182.html (May 27, 2004: overall heading, "Pay teachers their value, for the sake of the children")
Rest assured, Randi Svensen (Letters, May 25), the "horrendous fluoro yellow" on the Jacksons Landing towers is merely a big Post-it note to remind them to finish the buildings tastefully.
Kate Heaney, Lilyfield, May 25.
Your guest seems to not have looked past the veneer of the last few decades of authoritarian architecture while he was in one of the great cities of world history. It's a bit like dismissing Leningrad/St Petersburg/Petrograd by its buildings of Stalin's era & later. As one of the guides below says, it doesn't hit you immediately, but settle in, look around, move quietly & with respect, & you'll be rewarded.
Babylonian bricks bearing the Royal Seal of King Nebuchadnezzar (sixth century BC) were found in the Tigris here. But whatever settlement existed then, historic Baghdad was undoubtedly founded by the second of the Abbasid Caliphs, Mansur (AD 750-775), and the name Baghdad is probably a combination of two Persian words meaning 'Founded by God'. Arabs call it 'The City of Peace'
This first Baghdad took four years to build and Mansur employed one hundred thousand architects, craftsmen and workers from all over the Islamic world. Thus came into being the famous Round City of Mansur, with double brick walls, a deep moat and a third innermost wall ninety feet high. Four highways radiated out of four gates and at the hub of everything was built the Caliph's palace with a green dome. A certain amount of judicious stealing went on: many of the stones for the palace - the centre of the universe - came from the ruins of the Persian city of Ctesiphon not far away; a wrought-iron gate was taken from Wasit, another from Kufa
For - one might as well declare it at once - Baghdad is not a city of stately majesty. It is not ornate and grand. It does not take your breath away like Venice, or make your heart beat a little faster like New York.
It is, so to speak, a water colour, not an oil painting. It is flat and dusty - indeed, from time to time it is enveloped in maddening storms that fling dust into your room, your car, food, eyes, ears, mouth. Baghdad has muted values.
It is an ancient city struggling awkwardly to be modern. If it lacks glamour, it has considerable charm. And if even the charm must be delved for, to me such delving seems worthwhile because, more than many cities, Baghdad reflects the most unusual, country that frames it. Iraq, after all, is the old, old Mesopotamia of Sumer, Babylon, Assyria, of the glorious sun-burst of the Abbasid Empire of Harun al Rashid, of Persian intrusions,
and the affliction of four hundred dead years of Turkish rule.
In other words, Baghdad is the still-beating heart of a former cradle of civilisation, a country as historically dramatic as Ancient Greece or the Nile Valley
The city was founded in 762 by the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur, replacing Damascus as the capital of a Muslim empire stretching from North Africa to Persia ... Within a generation of its founding, Baghdad become a leading centre of learning and commerce. Some sources suggest that it contained over a million inhabitants, though the actual figure may have been a fraction of this.
Many of the tales in the Thousand and One Nights are set in the Baghdad of this period - dubbed the "City of Peace" by Scheherazade - and feature its most celebrated ruler, the Caliph Haroun al-Raschid.
Baghdad, in Iraq, has been an important city for Arabic culture for centuries. It was originally founded in 764 A.D. by second Abbasid caliph Abu Jafar al-Mansur, and called Madinat as-Salam, or the City of Peace...
Under Harun al-Rashid, starting in 786 AD, Baghdad was the ideal city in the middle east. Monarchs and rulers sought advice, alliances, and riches from the caliph. Baghdad became a central trading point between Asia and Europe. The Abbasids intellectual interest made Baghdad a centre of schooling. They excelled in the areas of medicine and mathematics.
[While Europe lay in intellectual ruins - centuries later the West used both Arabic learning & the Classical documents preserved by them during The Renaissance.]
In the thirteenth century Baghdad was destroyed by the Mongolian Turks. Residents were massacred, the caliph was murdered, and the city was ransacked. It remained under Mongol control until 1508, when it became part of a new Persian empire. Power switched back and forth between empires (see href="http://sun.menloschool.org/sportman/westernstudies/first/old1718/class
Through the power changes, Baghdad lost its wealth in knowledge, reputation and finances, but kept its accumulated culture
Thirteen ways to raise a non-reader
THIRTEEN WAYS TO RAISE A NON-READER:
From Horn Book Magazine (a PDF, www.hbook.com/13ways.pdf).
1. Never read where your children can see you.
2. Put a TV or computer in every room. Don't neglect the bedrooms and the kitchen.
3. Correct your child every time she mispronounces a word.
4. Schedule activities every day after school so your child will never be bored.
5. Once your child can read independently, throw out the picture books. They're for babies.
6. Don't play board games together. Too dull.
7. Give little rewards for reading. Stickers and plastic toys are nice. Money is even better.
8. Don't expect your child to enjoy reading. Kids' books are for teaching vocabulary, proper study habits, and good morals.
9. Buy only 40-watt bulbs for your lamps.
10. Under no circumstances read your child the same book over and over. She heard it once, she should remember it.
11. Never allow your child to listen to books on tape; that's cheating.
12. Make sure your kid reads only books that are "challenging." Easy books are a complete waste of time. That goes double for comic books and Mad magazine.
13. Absolutely, positively no reading in bed.
eferred by Sidelights at Electrolite from eve-tushnet.blogspot.com
Themis = Greek Goddess of Justice (Roman = Justitia). Depending on
source, is either offspring of Helios (all-seeing, penetrator of mysteries),
or of Uranus and Gaea. Original oracle at Delphi passed from Gaea to Themis
to Apollo. Offspring are Horae & Moirae -- the fates
Magic wins over reality
Rose Blanche by Roberto Innocenti and Ian McEwan, Random House, 32 pp, $18.95
[The story of how a child experiences war without really understanding it. Rose observes changes going on around her which others choose to ignore. Her simple humanity teaches her how to reach out to the innocent victims of her times. ]
Rose Blanche - $18.95
Category Children's Picture Books
Publisher Random House Children's Books (A Division of Random House Group)
Publication Date 01-Jan-2004
Dimensions 279 x 210
Oh, what a lovely war
A book for children about World War I has won the best picture-book award.
Christopher Bantick spoke to its creators. (The Sunday Age 17/08/2003)
The story of In Flanders Fields (Norman Jorgensen and Brian
Harrison-Lever, Sandcastle Books, $24.95), gently appropriates, in part, an
actual event during the war. In 1914, the first Christmas of the war, there
was a truce when the dead were buried and the British and the Germans played
soccer in no-man's-land. There were no Australians on the Western Front in
1914. Jorgensen says that the way the soccer match was treated at an
official level was revealing: "The officers told the soldiers off and they
went back to killing each other for four more years."
The final scene in Lewis Milestone's silent movie classic, All Quiet on the Western Front ... the picture book, Rose Blanche, and Eric Bogle's song, And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda, were also influences.
Jorgensen's sparsely told story develops this idea so that instead
of a soccer match, an Australian digger sees a robin caught on barbed wire
in no-man's-land. He ties a white silk scarf on his rifle bayonet and walks
across the killing fields to free the bird. He is a target but under a white
flag is not shot. He frees the bird and returns to the trench with the sound
of the Germans and the Australians singing Silent Night. Jorgensen says that
keeping the story simple was his primary aim.
The Grandiloquent Dictionary - some recondite words
The Grandiloquent Dictionary
The home page contains the following disclaimer:
Please also note that no one connected with this site takes any
responsibility for anything. This dictionary is offered "as is" and by
reading it you agree to assume all responsibility for any damage, insult,
or injury sustained. Furthermore, by reading this dictionary you waive any
rights to sue anyone for any reason.
Similar material may be found at : phrontistery.50megs.com
... And, for something completely different ...
Animation World Magazine 2001 Animation Pimp columns (Years 2000-2003 are archived at this site.)
The Animation Pimp: On the Condition Known as Aural Allochezia*
Boy, the Pimp is never happy! This month, the Animation Pimp discusses his
great distaste at being hit over the head with music. Of course, he uses
more colourful terms...
August 08, 2001
By Chris Robinson
*You look it up!
Australians have a slightly special relationship with transits of Venus.
An important part of the journey of Cook, Banks & the others on HM bark Endeavour on which they discovered & explored the East Coast of Australia (the West Coast was known in Europe, but is much less favourable for settlement) was viewing the 1769 transit from Tahiti.
"Cook's voyage led directly to the British settlement of Australia," said Dr Nick Lomb, Sydney Observatory curator. "If it weren't for Cook and Banks coming here after watching the transit of Venus this country could have been settled by the French or Portuguese."
They occur in pairs, eight years apart, every 122 years, so the last ones were in 1874 & 1882. Consider the changes between 1769, 1874 & 2004. The next is on June 6, 2012. After then it's a fair wait until December 11, 2117. (Quick break to contemplate how history might have developed by then.)
If your place on the planet doesn't have a good view (e.g., the Americas), there are quite a few internet sites, one is www.transit.csiro.au I'll be at work, but am taking my small field glasses (safely viewing by projection - NOT direct), since we have a good view out northwest. Going by past experience, however, it bodes well for breaking our current dry spell.
From The Library of Congress "Transit of Venus March" Page
On Tuesday, June 8, 2004, the first "transit of Venus" since December 6, 1882 will take place. Over six hours, between 1:13 A.M. EDT and 7:35 A.M. EDT [USA Times], the disk of Venus will pass in front of the Sun perceived, by those who can see it, as little more than a black dot silhouetted against the Sun's bright glow.
[Thanks to Jonathon vos Post & Xopher for pointing me to this at Making Light.]
D-Day Memories: Insurgency
The SOE had been aiding & supplying the Resistance to prepare for their role against the German occupation forces once the Allies invaded. After D-Day one important job was to divide them & cut off retreat.
A panzer corps was ... heading towards ... Eure to cross the last remaining bridge on the Evreux River. [The SOE] sent an urgent message to their best man on site: "BRIDGE AT EVREUX MUST REPEAT MUST BE DESTROYED NORMANDY BATTLE HINGES ON IT HAVE YOU EXPLOSIVES FOR JOB REPLY MOST URGENT MESSAGE ENDS". … Hervé replied "MESSAGE RECEIVED AND UNDERSTOOD WILL DO IMMEDIATELY EXPLOSIVES AVAILABLE VIVE LA FRANCE VIVE L'ANGLETERRE." Hervé borrowed a bicycle from the local postman and filled its saddlebags and satchel with explosive … then cycled boldly up to the bridge and past the guards … [A]s he reached the centre … he flung the bike and himself to the ground and pressed the detonators … blowing the bridge & himself to pieces.
They Fought Alone: The Story of British Agents in France, Colonel Maurice Buckmaster, Odhams Press, London (1958); Nancy Wake: The Inspiring Story of One of the War's Greatest Heroines, Peter Fitzsimons, HarperCollins (2001/2002)
Please regard the entirety of this post from Making Light & the comments thereupon - these are but the top & tail.
June 02, 2004
A callous disregard for human life
Remember the rolling blackouts in California? The misery and waste and loss they caused? CBS reports that some audiotapes have turned up from that period that make Enron’s attitude all too clear: ...
Each time someone tries self-regulation or deregulation or removing 'the stranglehold of red tape' or 'the dead hand of bureaucracy', we shortly get a sharp reminder of why the regulations were put in place.
Language & Other Matters
Very Traditional Japanese Costume
Check out some of the others. Tasteful
(related to which - The "Verbs Bad" Manifesto:
For further Language stuff, also see itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/ the Language Log (e.g.
Gene Buckley emailed to point out the widespread adoption of the eggcorn inclimate weather, which has 11,000 whG (web hits on Google), or 2,567 whG/bp (web hits on Google per billion pages). The original phrase inclement weather has 173,000 whG or about 40,372 whG/bp, so the original is only about 16 times commoner than the eggcorn. This is a genuine folk-etymology-in-progress, not a simple misspelling, since the morphologically incoherent "incliment weather" and "inclemate weather" have only 719 whG and 73 whG respectively.).
I like the whG (web hits on Google) & whG/bp (web hits on Google per billion pages) measurements, too.
See WhG/gp and other problems of quantification at
Also try www.mindbluff.com/ For visual as well as other recreation.
Michael Roth's "404: File Not Found" message. (But you should go there to get the full effect!)
The requested document is no more.
No file found.
Even tried multi.
I'm really depressed about this.
You see, I'm just a web server...
-- here I am, brain the size of the universe,
trying to serve you a simple web page,_
and then it doesn't even exist!
Where does that leave me?!
I mean, I don't even know you.
How should I know what you wanted from me?
You honestly think I can *guess*
what someone I don't even *know*
wants to find here?
Man, I'm so depressed I could just cry.
And then where would we be, I ask you?
It's not pretty when a web server cries.
And where do you get off telling me what to show anyway?
Just because I'm a web server,
and possibly a manic depressive one at that?
Why does that give you the right to tell me what to do?
I'm so depressed...
I think I'll crawl off into the trash can and decompose.
I mean, I'm gonna be obsolete in what, two weeks anyway?
What kind of a life is that?
Two effing weeks,
and then I'll be replaced by a .01 release,
that thinks it's God's gift to web servers,_
just because it doesn't have some tiddly little
security hole with its HTTP POST implementation,
I'm really sorry to burden you with all this,
I mean, it's not your job to listen to my problems,_
But I couldn't get this one.
I'm so sorry.
Maybe I could interest you in another page?
There are a lot out there that are pretty neat, they say,
although none of them were put on *my* server, of course.
Everything here is just mind-numbingly stupid
That makes me depressed too, since I have to serve them,
all day and all night long.
Two weeks of information overload,_
and then *pffftt*, consigned to the trash.
What kind of a life is that?
Now, please let me sulk alone.
I'm so depressed._
Update to American Cultural Imperialism
Have moved those two photos of Krispy Kreme (see American Cultural Imperialism, below) to a public Yahoo photo album - see at Sydney City - the Krispy Kreme Event. May use additional albums for showing off other photos (have many, as mentioned above), but am also checking out other types of web image displays, like photoblogs, Spymac's galleries, etc.
Does anyone have experience with the pros & cons of different ways to do this? I'd like some opinions.