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]
Absolute Write Paypal donation button: Absolute Write is one of the leading sites for information on writing and publishing, especially the scam versions thereof. It has a broad, deep online community with an enormous message base going back years. Now it needs help. See the details and discussion here
Preditors and Editors
Everything you wanted to know about literary agents
On the getting of agents
(and my Wish List)
Erich Kastner, writer
Erich Kastner at the Looniverse
To establish the proper atmosphere, this is as good a place as any to show a sample of the bill you got for having your husband killed by the Nazis for political, or any, reasons.
Yes, you were supposed to pay for the execution (or else...) It comes to a total of what now must be well over $6000. They even charged you 12 cents for the stamp to send you the bill.
A Sample of Erich Kastner's Poetry
[Mein Gott! I actually know the poem this is based on - I did an amateur translation of it, used on Chris' Memorial Site.]
And in the year of 1933 my books were burned with dark festive splendor in Berlin, on the large square next to the Opera, by a certain Mr. Goebbels. He triumphantly called out the names of twenty-four German writers, who symbolically had to be eradicated for eternity. I was the only one of the twenty-four who had appeared in person to witness this theatrical insolence...
War Prayer, repeated again
I am re-posting URLs for a short Mark Twain story (THE WAR PRAYER) I mentioned back on the 10th of October, 2002 (just before the Bali Bombing). It might be useful to keep bringing its message back into mind in the times we are going through: www.classicalfencing.com/sorrow/warprayer.html
While checking out some things about TV series Babylon 5 (parts of which reflect current subjects of interest). One of my reasons for reading science fiction (as opposed to sword & sorcery style fantasy or space-located varieties of westerns, &c) is that it can deal with all sorts of ideas & speculations about humanity, society, reality, &c.
[In-depth analysis of Babylon 5: www.midwinter.com/lurk/toc.html; www-theory.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~aaa/B5.Ref.html; www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylon_5],
I was intrigued to find episode title "The War Prayer" (Synopsis at www.midwinter.com/lurk/guide/007.html Background at www.midwinter.com/lurk/guide/007.html came from a short Mark Twain (Samuel Longhorn Clemens) story. Pertinent whenever & wherever someone is whipping up bellicose feeling, e.g. India v Pakistan, etc, etc, etc. He also is an interesting writer in several ways. Here we are rather fond of his comments about Australia when he visited.
Links to The War Prayer (It's been used recently too, about current subjects:):
THE WAR PRAYER
The New York Times, April 24, 1910
MARK TWAIN --- PHILOSOPHER OF DEMOCRACY
The Serious Side of the Famous Humorist Whose Dominant Note Was Love of Liberty and Hate of Shams.
This is a short biography of Twain/Clemens, with links to several stories:
and a more 'literary' discussion of him, especially his skepticism:
Down at Circular Quay in Sydney here, there is a "Writers' Walk" with inlaid plaques commemorating both Australian writers' work about Sydney & foreign writers' visits or their writing about us. He's there, commenting on his travels in Australia.
Smith Centennial - lynks
The New York Guggenheim is having a sculpture exhibition.
Corvid v Primate
Corvid v Primate
Re Tool Use in non-Primates
This page includes links some movies of Betty the New Caledonian Crow making & using tools.
There's also a "laymen's" report in PDF format at www.theweeklyreport.com/Newsletters/Aug12.pdf , Science (9 August 2002), 'Shaping of Hooks in New Caledonian Crows' by Alexander Weir, Jackie Chappell and Alex Kacelnik
... Showing an extremely rare capacity for an animal to understand cause and effect and create a tool out of non-natural material, the female crow bent straight garden wire -- a material she had only seen before on cage meshes -- into a hook ...
Health Care Horrors cont.: Current UK Experience of Privatizing Public Health Systems
The Joys of Privatization: Public Health (Current UK Experience)
Second patient dies following oxygen switch
by Celia Hall
www.telegraph.co.uk/ news/main.jhtml?xml=/ news/2006/02/18/ noxy18.xml&sSheet=/news/ 2006/02/18/ixhome.html
A second woman has died after chaos in the system to supply oxygen at home, which was switched to private companies at the beginning of the month ...
GPs told to abandon private suppliers of oxygen
by Sam Lister, Health Correspondent
FAMILY doctors unable to obtain oxygen for their patients were advised last night to abandon the newly privatised supply service and revert to an old system to ensure that more lives were not put at risk.
Blunder left trail of lethal radiation
February 18, 2006
by Andrew Norfolk
Safety cap left off toxic cargo as it travelled 130 miles across Britain
A LETHAL beam of radiation was emitted from a casket containing highly radioactive waste on a three-and-a-half-hour road journey across England, it was disclosed yesterday.
High Technology Finland 2005
Diamonds for lower friction
DIARC-Technology, one of the pioneers in the industrial processing of amorphous diamond thin-film coatings, has developed a new diamond coating: DIARC® Miclub. This is an ideal solution for a vast number of applications where low friction properties are a priority,
Amorphous diamond coatings produced by DIARC-Technology are much harder than thin-film coatings of hard metal nitrides or diamond-like carbon films made from hydrocarbons. It is so hard that it can only be scratched by a natural diamond. The coatings are processed at low temperatures, which makes it possible to deposit them on all types of metal substrates, as well as on ceramic materials, and even plastics.
The friction coefficient of a DIARC diamond coating against steel under dry sliding conditions is only one fifth of the corresponding figure for steel, which means that it can serve as a permanent dry lubricant.
The newly developed DIARC® Miclub coating reduces friction in lubricated contacts as well,
St Valentine's Eve? 13th February
The 28th anniversary of Australia's first putative terrorist bombing, which killed three people on George St opposite the QVB bus stop on the night of February 13th, 1978?
I am thankful that the memorial plaque, which worryingly disappeared for a year or so, has reappeared on a street-side pillar of the renovated Hilton Hotel.
I wonder if the night of the 13th should be called St Valentine's Eve? If we called it "the Valentine's Eve bomb", instead of "the Hilton bomb", it'd be easier to remember the day, and I'm sure the Hilton Hotel people would be happier, but then, it seems to be so far out of our consciousness that they don't need to worry
Bloody Hell. Here I am struggling to drag mysel' (with help) from the morass of depression, despair & defeast (aka The Slough of Despond) and this is the message I get. Probly deserve it for trying the quiz in the first place.
I still wonder if my store of courage was used up by the decision to keep on trying to live (by invoking my Inner Mongrel) when it would have been so easy to quietly slip away, and that's why I feel so cowardly now.
Four Big Cruise Ships went in & out of Sydney Cove in a week
February, February, stinking, sticky February. I loathe Sydney's weather in February. It's come early this year, that feeling of being trapped under a grey flannel blanket with a steam-iron above it. Cockroaches bloat on the heat and damp -- the engineers back in the old wooden ferries, where you could look down a hatch into the engine room, called them 'steam flies' -- and go zooming around seeking richer pickings. One sweaty evening not long back, I had to bat one fat shiny brown and BIG buzzing critter back with folded newspaper as it flew happily in through my windows, stretched wide open to try and catch any cool evening breeze.
In the lingering heat & humidity of night, the air seems to cling and carry any scent. An overpowering sweetness from the Murraya hedges or jasmine vines, seaweed trailing over the shore, leaves and blooms quietly rotting down under the green branches pushing out.
How many words for snow?
I'm repeating this post below, which comes originally from back in 2002, because it's still relevant, and the subject has been discussed again recently by people around me.
One of my reasons for reading science fiction/speculative fiction (as opposed to sword & sorcery style fantasy or space-located varieties of westerns, &c) is that it can deal with all sorts of ideas & speculations about humanity, society, reality, &c. This edited extract deals with a subject that's been discussed very many times.
From "Inheritor" by CJ Cherryh (p 365 of my paperback edition): Third in a series set on an alien world where stranded humans are co-existing uneasily with another race who are said not to have emotions in the same way as humans. CJC tends towards the 'higher' end of 'space opera' — lots of action & excitement, but reasonable characters and touching on bigger themes — tho' she also does other sub-genres. The protagonist is a translator.
"Not love, he thought to himself. And then thought, ... maybe they'd had such rotten luck with the love and man'chi aspect of relations because that word in [English] blurred so many things together it just wasn't safe to deal with.
Thinkin' About Numbers
bellatrys on Nothing New Under The Sun (the ARX acta diurna) tries to help us get things in perspective.
USA Census: What 298 Million looks like (21-Jan-2006)[NOTE: I highly recommend this writer, and blog. There is very much good analysis & information in it; this little note is just a small thing that caught my imagination, like this in Hello Cruel World, a while back now.]
A comparable Australian number
Imagine each of those dots is an Australian dollar note — if you can remember what they looked like — or dollar coin. Don't leave off those last two pages, making up the full 300 sheets. That's the amount of money that our wheat farmers (and other taxpayers, I suspect, less directly) paid supposedly to transport our wheat exported to Iraq under the "Oil for Food" program. These were seen as payments to 'facilitate' the process (= bribes) by the Australian Wheat Board (now a private company called AWB), which was iffy enough, but is often seen as the price of dealing with "different cultures". (I won't discuss that problem here.)
It turns out, however, to have been funneled fairly straight to the higher levels of Saddam Hussein's regime, rather than the standard excuse that bribes support poorly-paid lower levels of the government. Whether much of it went towards supporting their extravagant way of life, got socked away in secret overseas bank accounts, paid the army & secret police, or was spent on armaments is probably less important than just the fact that it didn't go into the "Oil for Food" program to buy food, medicine or public health works for the general Iraqi public, whose sufferings were used for propaganda by their regime. The population of Iraq is somewhat larger than the population of Australia, which is 20 million people, but not huge (Iraq is about one-third the area of New South Wales, or twice the area of Victoria). So $300M would buy a fair amount to spread among them. At least it seems they did get the wheat in good condition. One hopes it made some difference to the people's hunger.
... reality is a thug and the thug doesn't much care ...