Friday, August 31, 2007

Administering An Enema With a Rubber Syringe; It Has a Smooth Tip Lubricated With Petroleum Jelly

Frank W. Fetter (Swarthmore College Class of 1920) acquired a series of posters during his visit to the Soviet Union in the early 1930s. In 1932 Ellen Starr Brinton, the first Curator of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, led a study group of members of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom to the Soviet Union. In Moscow authorities permitted her to select a number of posters from a repository. E. Raymond Wilson, Quaker activist and Washington lobbyist, also visited the Soviet Union in this period and later donated the posters he had gathered during his trip.
These one hundred rare propaganda posters fall into two main categories. Approximately half cover child and maternal health, and offer a rare glimpse into the efforts of the early Soviet regime to promote the proper care of infants and toddlers. The remaining posters date from the period of the first five-year plan (1928-1932) and focus not only on the goals and accomplishments of collectivization and industrialization, but also on the class enemies of the Soviet Union, namely the Russian Orthodox church and the clergy, kulaks, capitalists, and foreign powers seeking to sabotage the communist effort to build socialism. (..more>>)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Simpsons via IRON BUTTERFLY

The song is significant in rock history because, together with Blue Cheer and Steppenwolf, it marks the point when psychedelic music produced heavy metal. Later 1970s heavy metal and progressive rock acts like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin owe much of their sound, and even more of their live acts, to this recording. A commonly repeated story says that the song's title was originally "In the Garden of Eden" or "In the Garden of Venus" but in the course of rehearsing and recording, singer Doug Ingle slurred the words into the nonsense phrase of the title while under the influence of LSD. However, the liner notes on 'the best of' CD compilation state that drummer Ron Bushy was listening to the track through headphones, and couldn't hear correctly; he simply distorted what Doug Ingle answered when Ron asked him for the title of the song (which was originally In-The-Garden-Of-Venus). An alternate version of the story, as stated in the liner notes of the 1995 re-release of the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida album, states that Ingle was drunk when he first told Bushy the title, so Bushy wrote it down. Bushy then showed Ingle what he had written, and the slurred title stuck (via dirty)

Urinator - a diver; one who searches under water

If Dr Johnson was writing today surely the internet would have been his best friend. The man of letters would have been able to get his message across the world in a matter of minutes!It's hard to believe that it's 250 years since his dictionary was compiled and published. Along with the Bible or other religious texts, it's probably a book that every bookcase holds. Mind you, with the fast growth of the internet, online dictionaries are now part of everyday life - even your computer programme probably has a spell checker! And it's all thanks to the mighty achievement of this man from Staffordshire. The man Johnson was born in Lichfield on September 18th, 1709 - and you can still visit his house there (see our guide to his house). His father was a book seller, so books and the love of language were in his blood. It's incredible to think that he worked almost single handedly for eight years to complete the book. He would read pages and pages of books, marking passages which explained the meanings of words and would then pass these to a group of poorly paid copyists who wrote them out on slips of paper. Dr Johnson's dictionary wasn't the first to be published, but it's the one that all the poets and authors turned to for help and it's the basis of the books that we use today. Johnson's harvest of 42,773 words, for which he was paid £1,575 (around £100,000 today), doesn't sound like much when you consider that English actually comprised between 250,000 and 300,000 words at that time.
Johnson wasn't a big fan of people from Scotland, for reasons which are unclear, but his definition of oats is: "a grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people"(!)(from BBC via Bibliothecary)

the Basque Country is not for sale

At least 20 attacks using incendiary devices have targeted summer homes, building sites, and real estate agencies since the beginning of the year.
It is a mark that has the ring of a warning. The following phrase covers the targeted buildings, which most of the time end up with walls blown up, collapsed roofs, and devastated rooms: "the Basque Country is not for sale." The French Basque region has been the target of a wave of attacks since the beginning of 2007: more than 20 already. And the phenomenon has further intensified this summer with six new attacks carried out in a period of one and a half months.
The latest aborted attack was the discovery on Wednesday of three gas bottles near the Chiberta Hotel, located on the Anglet Golf Course (Pyrenees-Atlantiques), which now has more than 200 summer guests. No claim of responsibility was found at the site but the police had received an anonymous telephone call early in the week announcing this act.
The past few weeks have been marked by repeated attacks on summer homes, buildings under construction, and real estate agencies from Biarritz to Bayonne as well as in Ciboure, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Hasparren, Guetary, Larrau, Licq-Atherey and Tardets-Sorholu....
But who is hiding behind these bombers and arsonists? A mysterious group called Irrintzi drew attention to itself after an explosion took place in Ciboure in April. However, investigators were unsuccessful in unmasking it. (more from Figaro)

It's Not Easy Being Green

There seems to be a surge lately in counterintuitive stories about green living. First the London Times claimed that taking the train in England may burn more oil than busting out the family car. Soon after, another Times piece declared that merely walking to the grocery store uses up more energy than driving. (This one cited the work of Chris Goodall, "the latest serious thinker to turn popular myths about the environment on their head.") Then The New York Times and Boston Globe followed suit with articles suggesting that eating locally, the holy grail of crunchy types the world over, isn't all it's cracked up to be. Is everything we've been told about saving the planet totally wrong?
Well, not exactly. Much of this green contrarianism is either misleading or in dire need of caveats. Yes, diesel trains in England can sometimes give off more emissions per passenger-mile than cars do, but that's largely because they run well below capacity--the obvious fix is for more people to ride them, not fewer. Likewise, walking to the supermarket only contributes more toward global warming than driving does if you assume, among other things, that the walker gets all of his calories from beef. And while it's true that growing lettuce in a Vermont greenhouse during winter can use more energy than importing heads from Chile, on the whole, eating locally still makes plenty of environmental sense, especially if you stick to seasonal produce. No need to toss out the conventional wisdom just yet(...more>>)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Olympic Flame

Firefighters in Greece narrowly saved the ruins of Olympia from the wildfires that spread across the nation* over the weekend. The blaze torched the edges of the stadium, but officials say the archaeological treasure survived. Can ancient ruins catch on fire? No, but they can crumble from the heat. Greek ruins made of limestone or marble aren't going to burst into flames, but they can undergo physical and chemical changes when subjected to the heat of burning vegetation nearby. The outside layers of an ancient building heat up faster than the inside, causing the surface to crack and fall off in dinner plate-sized chunks. At about 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the rocks begin to release carbon dioxide. (Trees ignite at about 660 degrees, and wildfires can reach 1,800 degrees.) Since CO2 helps hold limestone and marble together, sustained heat can weaken the material until it's reduced to powder.
Olympia sits in the middle of a dense pine forest, which provides plenty of kindling for a fire. (Some ruins have wooden scaffolding to support ancient walls; these can also be set ablaze.) To protect the site from fire during the dry Greek summers, engineers had installed 50-foot metal fire towers in the hills to the north.
Earlier buildings from the archaic period those constructed in the 7th and 6th century B.C were made with wooden columns and roofs. These frequently burned down and had to be rebuilt; none survive today. For instance, an arsonist destroyed the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, which was called one of the seven ancient wonders of the world and took more than 100 years to erect.(from Slate)

Origins of resistance

It is no secret that many American adults reject some scientific ideas. In a 2005 Pew Trust poll, for instance, 42% of respondents said that they believed that humans and other animals have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. A substantial minority of Americans, then, deny that evolution has even taken place, making them more radical than "Intelligent Design" theorists, who deny only that natural selection can explain complex design. But evolution is not the only domain in which people reject science: Many believe in the efficacy of unproven medical interventions, the mystical nature of out-of-body experiences, the existence of supernatural entities such as ghosts and fairies, and the legitimacy of astrology, ESP, and divination.
There are two common assumptions about the nature of this resistance. First, it is often assumed to be a particularly American problem, explained in terms of the strong religious beliefs of many American citizens and the anti-science leanings of the dominant political party. Second, the problem is often characterized as the result of insufficient exposure to the relevant scientific facts, and hence is best addressed with improved science education.
We believe that these assumptions, while not completely false, reflect a misunderstanding of the nature of this phenomenon. While cultural factors are plainly relevant, American adults' resistance to scientific ideas reflects universal facts about what children know and how children learn. If this is right, then resistance to science cannot be simply addressed through more education; something different is needed. (more from Edge)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Homework can be fun

Jessica Alba, the film actress, has the ultimate sexy strut,according to a team of Cambridge mathematicians. The academics found that it is the ratio between hips and waist that puts the sway into a woman's walk - and the nearer that ratio is to 0.7, the better. This ratio provides the body with the right torso strength to produce a more angular swing and bounce to the hips during the walking motion.Therefore, a woman with a 25in waist and 36in hips would have just the right proportions to carry off a sexy swagger as she walks.The Jessica Alba sashay beat off competition from Kate Moss, Angelina Jolie and even Marilyn Monroe, whose walk along a railway platform in Some Like It Hot is one of the most famous in film history.
While Monroe was a fraction off the target ratio with 0.69, the Cambridge team said that Alba had the perfect proportions (from telegraph)

Sound idyllic?

Imagine an egalitarian world in which all food is organic and local, the air is free of industrial pollution, and vigorous physical exertion is guaranteed. Sound idyllic?
But hold on… Life expectancy is 30 at most; many children die at or soon after birth; life is constantly lived on the edge of starvation; there are no doctors or dentists or modern toilets. If it is egalitarian it is because everyone is dirt poor, and there is no industrial pollution because there are no factories. Food is organic because there are no pesticides or high technology farming methods. As a result, producing food means long hours of back-breaking physical work which may end up yielding little.
There is – or at least was – such a place. It is called the past. And few of us, it seems, recognise the enormous benefits to humanity of escaping from it. On the contrary, there is a pervasive culture of complaint about the perils of affluence and a common tendency to romanticise the simple life.( more by Daniel Ben-Ami from spiked)

A bread without salt and a new translation of the Paradiso

If you haven’t yet read the Divine Comedy you know who you are—now is the time, because Robert and Jean Hollander have just completed a beautiful translation of the astonishing fourteenth-century poem. The Hollanders’ Inferno was published in 2000, their Purgatorio in 2003. Now their Paradiso is out. Jean Hollander, a poet, was in charge of the verse; Robert Hollander, her husband, oversaw its accuracy. The notes are by Robert, who is a Dante scholar and a professor emeritus at Princeton, where he taught the Divine Comedy for forty-two years.
The entire Comedy is an allegory, a symbolic representation of the highly systematized theology that St. Thomas Aquinas and other Scholastic philosophers distilled from the Bible, the Church Fathers, and Aristotle in the late Middle Ages. But in the Paradiso the allegory is far more naked than in the Inferno or the Purgatorio. In Dante’s time, and for a few centuries afterward, readers of poetry (learned people, mostly priests) were accustomed to allegory, and thought it was a good teaching tool, because it made you work. As Boccaccio said in his “Life of Dante” (1374), “Everything that is acquired with toil has more sweetness in it.” But since the early eighteenth century that is, since Europeans began questioning the faith that is Dante’s subject there has been a tradition of discussing the Comedy in terms of a “duality” between its allegory and its “poetry.” What is suggested here is that the allegory is anti-poetical, and that what is acquired with toil is mostly toil. The best-known modern statement of this position is a 1921 book, “The Poetry of Dante,” by the philosopher Benedetto Croce. The allegory that is so great a part of the Divine Comedy, Croce declares, is non-poesia, “not poetry,” and he makes fun of it.Croce’s book fell like a bomb on the Italian literary world Luigi Pirandello wrote a wrathful review of it and still today it is regarded by some as an irresponsible document.
When he wrote the Divine Comedy, Dante, because his political party had been routed, was in exile from his native city, Florence, and was living with friends, sometimes in Verona, sometimes in Romagna or Ravenna. The Comedy takes place in 1300, two years before he was expelled from Florence, but in Heaven his great-great-grandfather Cacciaguida predicts his banishment: he will learn how salty is another man’s bread, Cacciaguida says, and how hard it is to go up and down another man’s staircase. What could be simpler or more concrete than this a staircase that seems long, bread that tastes peculiar? (Hollander informs us that, to this day, Florentine bakers make their bread without salt.) Critics exclaim over how much of our world there is in the supposedly otherworldly Comedy. In Paradise, there’s less of it, but it’s still there. Snow falls; the sun burns off the morning mist. Clocks chime (the first reference in European literature to mechanical timepieces). Babies nurse; pigs and dogs do what they do. A pilgrim arrives at a shrine the place he has vowed to travel to and greedily stares here and there in the church, knowing that the minute he gets home his neighbors are going to want to know everything. This last is more than an image; it’s a little story.(much more from New Yorker by Joan Acocella )

...only I could write for myself

Yale University will host an international conference on October 20 and 21 celebrating the life and work of Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai.

"If there is a common theme in my poems beside their authentic connection to my life, my times and my place, it is the desire to make my poems healing and comforting without lying and without pretending to be either happy on the one hand or suffering on the other. I want to conclude by emphasizing that all the poems were written entirely for my own personal use. I began writing out of love for many poets before I started writing myself. But after two wars and loves I felt that only I could respond to my most pressing needs and only I could write for myself. Writing allows me to feel my life as one space that has no early and no late. Writing allows me to reach emotionally, distant points in my childhood without the feeling that I broke barriers of time and space.”

Amichai, considered one of the great poets of modern times, has been praised for the depth and complexity of his language as well as its accessibility, even in translation from the original Hebrew. His books were best sellers in Israel, and in the years before his death, he enjoyed the status of a celebrity.
Benjamin Harshav, the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at Yale, will deliver the keynote address, “Political Discourse and Situational Cognition in Amichai’s Poetry,” on October 20 at 8:30 p.m. Harshav, one of Amichai’s chief translators, was also a close friend of the poet’s for 50 years. According to Harshav, “Amichai is the most universal Israeli poet, expressing the human condition… In an age of ideology, he celebrated the individual’s private moments and existential situation; in an age of war, he celebrated love and love-making.”
Amichai (1924–2000) was born in Würzburg, Germany, and immigrated to Palestine with his family at the age of 12. After high school, he served in the British Army’s Jewish Brigade during World War II and then joined the Palmach, an underground Jewish military organization in Palestine. When the State of Israel was established in 1948, he fought in the Israeli army during the War of Independence.
Amichai first considered becoming a writer while he was stationed in Egypt with the British Army. There he was inspired by an anthology of modern British poetry, including work by Dylan Thomas, T.S. Eliot and W.H. Auden. His first book of poetry, “Now and in Other Days,” was published in 1955. His published writings, which include plays, stories, a novel, essays and three children’s books as well as several volumes of poetry, have been translated into more than 30 languages.
Shortly before his death, Amichai arranged for Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library to receive his extensive personal papers and literary archive. The Amichai papers were the first archive of a major writer in Hebrew to be added to the Beinecke, where they join an extensive international gathering of 20th-century literary archives, including the papers of the Yiddish writer Sholem Asch and poets Ezra Pound, F.T. Marinetti, William Carlos Williams and Czeslaw Milosz.
(more from web wire via rare books)
audio (hebrew and english)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Technology and science, not religion and the divine.

Blood-spurting martyrs, biblical parables, ascendant doves most church windows feature the same preachy images that have awed parishioners for centuries. But a new stained-glass window in Germany's Cologne Cathedral, to be completed in August, evokes technology and science, not religion and the divine. Contemporary German artist Gerhard Richter designed the 65-foot-tall work to replace the original, destroyed by bombs in World War II. As a starting point, he used his own 1974 painting 4096 Colors. To create that piece a 64-by-64 grid of squares Richter devised a mathematical formula to systematically mix permutations of the three primary colors and gray. Funny coincidence: 4,096 is also the number of "Web-smart" colors that display consistently on older computer screens, a limitation some Web designers still take into account(more from wired)

The life of Plants in 11th century

Ps.-Apuleius, Dioscorides, Herbals (extracts); De virtutibus bestiarum in arte medicinae, in Latin and English
England, Bury St. Edmunds; 11th century, late(...more>>>)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Book of Curiosities of the Sciences and Marvels for the Eyes

In June 2002, the Bodleian Library acquired the unique complete manuscript of a hitherto unknown Arabic cosmographical treatise, the Kitāb Gharāib al-funūn wa-mulla al-uyūn, known as the Book of Curiosities. The manuscript is a copy, probably made in Egypt in the late 12th or 13th century, of an anonymous work compiled in the first half of the 11th century in Egypt. The treatise is extraordinarily important for the history of science, especially for astronomy and cartography, and contains an unparalleled series of diagrams of the heavens and maps of the earth.

This newly discovered manuscript contains a remarkable series of early maps and astronomical diagrams, most of which are unparalleled in any Greek, Latin or Arabic material known to be preserved today. The rhyming title of the volume, Kitāb Gharā’ib al-funūn wa-mulah al-uyūn, loosely translates as The Book of Curiosities of the Sciences and Marvels for the Eyes.
The volume contains a single Arabic treatise in five books, of which only the first two were copied in the present manuscript. The first book, on celestial matters, is composed of 10 chapters, and begins with a description of the heavens and their influence upon events on earth. It contains a number of unique illustrations and rare texts, including an illustrated discourse on comets and several pages depicting various prominent stars nearby the ‘lunar mansions’ star-groups near the ecliptic whose risings and settings were traditionally used to predict rain and other meteorological events. The author’s interest here is primarily astrological and divinatory, and no mathematical astronomy is presented.(...more>>>)

Beauty and the Beast

Jonathan Lethem
Brooklyn's literary mashup artist enters the Seed Salon to discuss truth and beauty with the Columbia physicist/novelist-Janna Levin

I love science and I love books in completely different ways, although similar themes recur in my scientific research and my writing. When it came to writing a book, even a popular science book like “How the Universe Got Its Spots”, I wanted to stretch beyond what I could possibly do in technical writing. I wanted to find a voice and tell a story. And when that was done, I wanted to go further and write a book structured on ideas that was purely narrative and hopefully beautiful. The mathematical ideas that influenced this new book are deeply moving and so are the real stories and I didn't believe a reader would get the same visceral impact from a pedagogical lesson. This book is being published under fiction but the kicker is that the core stories are entirely true. And those stories are stranger and more incredible than anything I could make up.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tenor Madness

July 17th was the 40th anniversary of the death of saxophonist John Coltrane, one of the greatest musicians in the history of jazz. Three weeks later, on August 6, his son, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, celebrated his 42nd birthday
Ravi Coltrane is a new acquisition in the Sax Summit ensemble, which will perform at the Red Sea Jazz Festival, which begins in Eilat on Monday. The ensemble, which plays mainly the music of John Coltrane and features three saxophonists up front, until recently included Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano and Michael Brecker - veteran jazz stars. After Brecker's death from leukemia this past January Liebman suggested to Ravi that he join the ensemble. "He played with us last summer, when Michael Brecker was hospitalized, and fit in beautifully. He is very musical, he has spiritual depth, he's much younger than me and Joe Lovano, and therefore can refresh the ensemble, and he's also connected to John, one can't ignore that," explains Liebman, in a phone interview. (more from Haretz)

The Puppeteer

The video was filmed during Ron Mueck's residency at The National Gallery, London. The exhibition Ron Mueck is on view at the Brooklyn Museum, November 3, 2006–February 4, 2007. Video courtesy of The National Gallery, London.

Halloa old girl!

Grip ravenPhiladelphia has landmarks galore. The most unusual is this stuffed bird recently declared a "Literary Landmark" by a national library association. Certainly no bird in history contributed more to literature then this chatty raven who inspired the prose of both Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe.Grip was a beloved pet of Dickens. The author inserted the blabbing raven as a character in his 1841 serialized mystery novel, Barnaby Rudge. We know that Poe reviewed Barnaby Rudge and commented on the use of the talking raven, feeling the bird should have loomed larger in the plot. Literary experts surmise that the talking raven of Barnaby Rudge inspired Poe's most famous poem, The Raven, published in 1845.When Grip died in 1841, Dickens had the bird mounted. After Dickens death, Grip was sold at auction. The mounted raven was eventually purchased by Philadelphia's Col. Richard Gimbel, a collector of all things Poe. In 1971, Gimbel's Poe collection was donated to the Free Library on Logan Circle where Grip holds a place of honor in the third-floor Rare Book Department. The Gimbel collection also includes the only known copy of The Raven in Poe's hand, manuscripts of Annabel Lee and Murders in the Rue Morgue and first editions of all Poe's works.Dickens wrote an amusing tongue-in-cheek account of Grip's death in a letter to a friend. Grip's last words, according to the author, included instructions for disposal of his property. "On the clock striking twelve he appeared slightly agitated, but he soon recovered, walked twice or thrice along the coach house, stopped to bark, staggered, exclaimed `Halloa old girl!' (his favorite expression) and died."(from UShistory)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Me fail English? That's unpossible

Oxford Dictionary Until now, he's probably been best-known for one memorably straight-to-the-point quote - "D'oh!" But today, we can hail Homer Simpson as he takes his place in the pantheon of the world's greatest word-weavers. For the loveable slob from Springfield has secured himself not one, but two listings in the latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations. The honour of appearing alongside golden-tongued literary luminaries including Winston Churchill and Oscar Wilde would probably sail straight over the yellow head of the pot-bellied hero who heads America's most dysfunctional family in the celebrated cartoon series. But in fact it is more of a tribute to Simpsons creator Matt Groening and his talented team. It was Groening's scriptwriters who had Homer utter the immortal phrase: "Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is never try." It appeared in an episode entitled Burns' Heir, written by Jack Richdale in 1994. Another to appear in the dictionary - which is published today - is Homer's homily to the local Asian shopkeeper: "Kids are the best, Apu. You can teach them to hate the things you hate. And they practically raise themselves, what with the internet and all." Both quotations appear under the entry for 53-year-old Groening, who is classified by the compilers as an American humorist and satirist. Homer is not, however, the first character from The Simpsons to find a place in the respected dictionary. Already there is the much-repeated reference to the French by Scottish caretaker Groundskeeper Willie, who remarked: "Bonjour, you cheese-eating surrender monkeys" in a 1995 episode. And Homer's son Bart has entered the hall of fame under a special catchphrase category for his "Eat my shorts!" and "I'm Bart Simpson. Who the hell are you?" From the mouth of Joan Collins there is an insight into love with the utterance: "Older men treat women like possessions, which is why I like younger men." Other first-timers include Linda McCartney ("I don't eat anything with a face."), Yves Saint Laurent ("I wish I had invented blue jeans."), and O J Simpson ("Fame vaporises, money goes with the wind, and all that's left is character.")
Our personal fave, though, is William Hague's inspired comment to John Prescott, broadsiding the battling former deputy PM with: "There was so little English in that answer that President Chirac would have been happy with it.Meanwhile, Stephen Fry gives a take on modern life with the observation that, "The e-mail of the species is deadlier than the mail". And there is a rather double-edged comment on the love of money contained in the quote from fallen media tycoon Conrad Black: "Since when was greed a criminal offence?" (from mail)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Woody Allen interviews Billy Graham, 1969

Part I

Part II

Woody Allen inherited a characteristic blend of one-line quippery and physical comedy genius from the Marx brothers and went on to blend it with his own philosophical musings. The result is a career spanning five decades in which Allen has delivered everything from the farcical and absurd to the downright profound. His personal wrestling match with some of life’s greatest questions, particularly God’s existence, has manifested itself in several of his films. The small selection below is intended to reflect this. Please enjoy both his arguments and his incomparably sharp wit.( via blue rat)

Salvador Dali on "What's My Line?"

In the summer of 1936 Harpo Marx, the beaming, curly-headed buffoon and the most anarchic of the Marx brothers, made a visit to Europe. One of his admirers was the Surrealist painter Salvador DalÍ, who considered the Marx Brothers film Animal Crackers to be the “summit of the evolution of comic cinema”.
DalÍ travelled to Paris specially to meet Harpo at a party. The meeting was a success and the two men, both wildly flamboyant showmen, remained in touch. A few months later, DalÍ sent Harpo a handmade Christmas present. It was a harp, decorated with gilded ornamentation, but with barbed wire for strings and teaspoons and forks for tuning knobs, all wrapped in Cellophane.
Harpo was delighted had a photograph taken of himself seemingly playing it, with bandages on his fingers as if he had injured himself while plucking the strings. This was sent to DalÍ with an invitation to visit him if he were ever in California.
Within a month DalÍ was in Hollywood, where he announced to reporters that he intended to make a portrait of Harpo. For years DalÍ had been entranced by Harpo’s hyperactive character on film and his stunts, such as bringing a steaming hot cup of coffee out of his trouser pocket or producing a candle lit at both ends from inside his coat. To DalÍ, Harpo’s surrealist humour perfectly matched his own carefully cultivated image as the living embodiment of Surrealism.

On DalÍ’s arrival Harpo rose to the challenge of shocking the artist. Their meeting took place in the garden of Harpo’s Los Angeles home. DalÍ later wrote: “He was naked, crowned with roses, and in the centre of a veritable forest of harps (he was surrounded by at least 500 harps). He was caressing, like a new Leda, a dazzling white swan, and feeding it a statue of the Venus de Milo made of cheese, which he grated against the strings of the nearest harp.” (...more>>)

Fulacht Fiadh and a pint of beer

Two archaeologists have put forward a theory that one of the most common ancient monuments seen around Ireland may have been used for brewing ale. While nursing a hangover one morning - and discussing the natural predisposition of all men to seek means to alter their minds Mr Quinn came to the startling conclusion that fulachts could have been the country's earliest breweries. Fulacht fiadh - horseshoe shaped grass covered mounds - are conventionally thought of as ancient cooking spots. But the archaeologists from Galway believe they could have been the country's earliest breweries. To prove their theory that an extensive brewing tradition existed in Ireland as far back as 2500BC, Billy Quinn and Declan Moore recreated the process. After just three hours of hard work - and three days of patiently waiting for their brew to ferment - the men enjoyed a pint with a taste of history attached. Three hundred litres of water were transformed into a "very palatable" 110 litres of frothy ale. "It tasted really good," said Mr Quinn, of Moore Archaeological and Environmental Services (Moore Group). "We were very surprised. Even a professional brewer we had working with us compared it favourably to his own. "It tasted like a traditional ale, but was sweeter because there were no hops in it." The two archaeologists set out to investigate their theory in a journey which took them across Europe in search of further evidence. On their return, they used an old wooden trough filled with water and added heated stones.
After achieving an optimum temperature of 60-70°C they began to add milled barley and approximately 45 minutes later simply baled the final product into fermentation vessels. The men have since made two more batches of beer - the second was stronger and the third was "a disaster" - but they have started work on batch number four which the hope will taste as good as their first. (from BBC)

All yorlye gwen? Let's speak Norfolk

Half the inhabitants of Norfolk Island are descended from the HMS Bounty mutineers
Norfolk Island's blend of 18th-century English and Tahitian, known as Norf'k or Norfuk, will be featured by Unesco in the next edition of its Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger of Disappearing.
The language, one of the world's rarest, is under threat because Norfolk Islanders are increasingly marrying outsiders and because of the influence of television and radio from neighbouring Australia and New Zealand.
The tiny subtropical island, which is part of Australia but maintains a fiercely separate identity, including a different flag and national anthem, is determined that the language should not become extinct.
Nursery rhymes and word games are used to teach the language to the 310 children in Norfolk's only school. In the past children were punished for speaking Norfuk, which was regarded as an embarrassingly backward patois.
The creole evolved between the Bounty mutineers and the Tahitians. After rebelling against Capt William Bligh, the mutineers settled in 1790 on Pitcairn Island. But by 1856 the island was over-crowded and the population was relocated to Norfolk. Today around half of Norfolk Island's 2,000 inhabitants are descended from the Pitcairners and speak Norfuk.Its broad burr evokes West Country English, but it is peppered with Tahitian and other Polynesian words incomprehensible to English speakers.
Norfolk Island was uninhabited when it was first sighted by Captain Cook in 1774, although it had previously been settled. Until 1855 it was used by the British as a South Seas gulag for the most recalcitrant convicts, notorious for its cruelty(...more>>>)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dwarf's penis gets stuck to a vacuum cleaner

A dwarf performer at the Edinburgh fringe festival had to be rushed to hospital after his penis got stuck to a vacuum cleaner during an act that went horribly awry.
Daniel Blackner, or "Captain Dan the Demon Dwarf", was due to perform at the Circus of Horrors at the festival known for its oddball, offbeat performances.
The main part of his act saw him appear on stage with a vacuum cleaner attached to his member through a special attachment.
The attachment broke before the performance and Blackner tried to fix it using extra-strong glue, but unfortunately only let it dry for 20 seconds instead of the 20 minutes required.
He then joined it directly to his organ. The end result? A solid attachment, laughter, mortification and ... hospitalisation.
"It was the most embarrassing moment of my life when I got wheeled into a packed AE with a vacuum attached to me," Blackner said.
"I just wished the ground could swallow me up. Luckily, they saw me quickly so the embarrassment was short-lived."(via sensible)

Unproven Medicine- Enemies of Reason Part 2

Professor Richard Dawkins is having the structure of his DNA altered by a healer named Elisis, who lives in Glastonbury.
Elisis makes little hurdy-gurdy motions with her hands, gives a sharp intake of breath and, hey presto, Dawkins' DNA is restored to the levels we used to enjoy when we all lived in Atlantis.
I know what you're thinking, the Prof tells us. You were expecting a serious debate about alternative medicine and here's Richard Dawkins picking on an easy target.
No, what I'm actually thinking is that I could charge people £140 a day like Elisis does just by waggling my hands!
In The Irrational Health Service - the very watchable second part of his look at the war between superstition and science - Dawkins argues that alternative medicine should more properly be called Unproven Medicine.
And he's particularly scathing about homeopathy which is available on the NHS, forcing, he says, taxpayers to fork out for other people's gullibility.
As you'd expect, Dawkins puts his case calmly, rationally and politely. So it must have been a bit sick-making when he discovers a perfectly logical, scientific reason why some of this hocus-pocus actually works. (from Mirror)
(the first part is posted here)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

End of smoking or end of literature

What do the following have in common: Oscar Wilde, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, T S Eliot, W B Yeats, Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, Evelyn Waugh, Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis?The answer is, of course, that if they were to come back to life in Gordon Brown's Britain and wanted to go out to their club, or a restaurant or café, they would not be allowed to indulge in a habit which sustained them during the most creative phases of their lives.The moment they popped their favoured cigar, cigarette or pipe between their lips and lit up, they would have been fined on the spot.(...more>>)
and the rebuke

Monday, August 20, 2007

Innocents Abroad: Odessa, Russia, August 22d 1867

Before Mark Twain left California for New York at the end of 1866, he secured a job as a travelling correspondent for the San Francisco Daily Alta California. In early 1867 he convinced the Alta to provide $1250 to pay his fare on the Quaker City tour of Europe and the Middle East.
Throughout the five-month trip MT sent 51 letters to the Alta, which the paper published between 2 August 1867 and 8 January 1868 under the running heading: "The Holy Land Excursion. Letter from 'Mark Twain.' Special Travelling Correspondent of the Alta." These letters, together with seven printed in two New York papers, became the basis for Innocents Abroad, written during the first half of 1868.

If there is one thing that is really cheerful in the world, it is cheerfulness. I have noticed it often. And I have noticed that when a man is right down cheerful, he is seldom unhappy for the time being. Such is the nature of man. Now I have often thought that our style of bathing was rather reserved than otherwise, and lacked many elements of cheerfulness. But you cannot say that of the Russian style. I watched a party of them at it this afternoon in the harbor, and it is really nice. The men and women, and boys and girls, all go in together, along about noon, and the men don't wear anything at all, the boys don't, the little girls don't, and the young women and the old women usually wear a single white thin garment with ruffles around the top of it and short sleeves, (which I have forgotten the name of it,) but this would be a very good apology for a bathing dress, if it would only stay down. But it don't do it. It will float up around their necks in the most scandalous way, and the water is clear, and yet they don't seem to know enough to kick up the mud on the bottom. I never was so outraged in my life. At least a hundred times, in the seven hours I stayed there, I would just have got up and gone away from there disgusted, if I had had any place to go to. Several times I had a mind to go anyhow. Why, those young ladies thought no more of turning somersaults, when I was not looking, than nothing in the world. Incensed as I was, I was compelled to look, most of the time, during this barbarous exhibition, because it forced them to make a show of modesty, at least. Yet it wouldn't even have accomplished that, if they hadn't been so fond of show naturally.
Well, you can't conceive of it. It was awful. But sometimes my outraged feelings were crowded down by my fears for the safety of those girls. They were so reckless. One splendid-looking young woman went in with nothing on but a shawl, and she kept it wrapped around her so that I was afraid all the time that she would tangle her feet in its long fringes and drown herself. My solicitude became so unbearable at last that I went and signified to her that if she wanted to take off her shawl I would hold it for her. But she only kicked up her heels and dived out of sight. I just took her to be one of your high-flyer, mock-modest kind, and left her to her fate. But she was the handsomest girl in the party, and it was a pity to see her endangering her life in that way.
I said to Brown: "It makes my heart bleed to look upon this unhallowed scene."
"We better go, then," he said. "If you stay here seven more hours you might bleed to death."
So we went away. But it was marvellously cheerful bathing

(...more on Innocents)

The fate of the camel was not known.

(AP) An Australian woman was killed by a pet camel given to her as a 60th birthday present after the animal apparently tried to have sex, police said Sunday.
The woman, whose name was not released, was killed Saturday at her family's sheep and cattle ranch near Mitchell, 350 miles west of the Queensland state capital Brisbane, state police Detective Senior Constable Craig Gregory said.
The 10-month-old male camel — weighing about 330 pounds — knocked the woman to the ground, lay on top of her, then exhibited what police suspect was mating behavior, Gregory said.
"I'd say it's probably been playing, or it may be even a sexual sort of thing," Gregory said, adding the camel almost suffocated the family's pet goat by straddling it on several occasions.
Camel expert Chris Hill said he had no doubt the camel's behavior was sexual.
Hill, who has offered camel rides to tourists for 20 years, said young camels are not aggressive, but can be dangerous if treated as pets without discipline.
The fate of the camel was not known.
The woman was given the camel in March as a birthday present from her husband and daughter. "She had a love of exotic pets," Gregory said.(via CBS)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

So how many of these practitioners are crooks?

Two years after challenging a selection of religious fundamentalists to justify
their beliefs in Channel 4’s The Root of All Evil,Richard Dawkins – “Darwin’s rottweiler” – is growling again. This time, in The Enemies of Reason, he takes on the wider penumbra of the paranormal, New Age mystical mumbo-jumbo, and the often expensive spiritual services that bring succour to the sucker.
His targets include astrologers, psychics, dowsers, homoeopaths and a woman called Elisis Livingstone who claims that in our Atlantean past we all had 12 strands of DNA rather than two. If the thought of being ten strands short bothers you, Livingstone claims she can restore them.
What makes Oxford University’s Professor of the Public Understanding of Science different from most sceptics, rationalists and humanists is that he won’t let this stuff lie. If someone claims that they can “channel” the spirits of the dead or alleviate the symptoms of some horrible incurable disease by pointing beams of coloured light at your chakras, Dawkins does not want to dismiss it as harmless fun. He wants to know how they claim to do it and what hard evidence they can produce to show that the effects they say they produce actually occur.
So how many of these practitioners are crooks? “The psychics, I think, mostly are,” he says. “But with one spiritualist I couldn’t make out if he was a charlatan or not. It’s possible that they sort of know that they’re cold-reading, but they still think it’s the spirits channelling through them.”
However, the water diviners were “genuinely sincere”. In a rather touching sequence a group of dowsers agree to submit to a double-blind trial. Their success rate in finding water was about what you would expect by chance. “In some cases they were devastated that they couldn’t do it under those conditions.”
And what of the more bizarre medical beliefs, such as the Atlantean DNA strands?“I think there’s a kind of mind that is so devoid of realism that they’re prepared to believe essentially anything,” he says.
His patience appears particularly stretched by Neil Spencer, The Observer’s astrologer, who argues that he would not subject his work to scientific tests because the aim of the testing would be to cause “mischief”.
Dawkins can’t hide his frustration at people’s gullibility. “The science of astronomy is so mind-shatteringly elegant and beautiful and inspiring, that this is demeaning and shallow and a betrayal of what it is to be human, when the human species has achieved so much in understanding the universe.” (from Times)


Born in St Ives (Cornwall) in 1956 I have no recall of The Leach Pottery as we moved to Lowerdown later that year. My grandfather Bernard, already an elderly gentleman when I was born was quite an impressive figure within the family and I remember quite clearly one Christmas he gave me the advice "look for beauty but also usefulness in a pot". Words I still carry with me today.
My Lowerdown childhood must sound idyllic to pottery collectors and enthusiasts alike as I was surrounded by pots of every description and also by people who were "passing through" either as guests or serving their apprenticeships under my father David.-Many of these people still inspire and influence my work.(more on Simon Leach site)

Well? Shall we ­go? Yes, let’s ­go. [They do not ­move.]

Just being ­still
Might give us a brand new ­thrill.
So why don’t we try staying ­home?
Wouldn’t that be ­nice?
We’ve tried everything else ­twice.
So why don’t we try staying ­home?
(“Why Don’t We Try Staying Home?” 1929)
Travel began as a precise landlord’s retribution, and no matter how plush the circumstances of movement have become, lodged still in travel’s DNA are the traces of a sweet deal gone sour: The big plane will shudder, the ­high-­decked ship rock, the Segway reverse course. And physical shocks are the least of it. Our errant first parents had only each other to endure. But we move in the company of . . . others, and it costs us. The assorted penalties of contemporary travel are evidence of how long the Almighty can hold a ­grudge.
Why do we go? Our motives are pretty much what the motives for elective travel have always been: to see the country, or the world; to know the unknown; to open ourselves to new experience; to relax; to confirm that, by golly, people the world over really are the same. An intrepid few of us may even insist, with Robert Louis Stevenson (Travels With a Donkey), “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake.” Easy enough for him to say; the jackass he traveled with wasn’t the garrulous stranger in an adjacent ­seat.
But what’s left for the casual traveler to discover? Since that day when the world was all before our unsettled ancestors, a lot has happened. Adam and Eve may have traveled light, but they did carry curiosity from Eden, and it was the best part of their legacy. All the brave individuals, down through the ages, who said to themselves, “I know what’s here, but what’s elsewhere?” and then set out to answer the question, made us a gift of the world they ­observed.
The great heroic age of travel and exploration is ended. The planet’s become a familiar sight to billions of ­people ­not because they’ve been everywhere, or anywhere necessarily, but because so many others have done the job for them and broadcast the results, in words and images. It’s not just the world’s signature architectural ­sites ­the easy stuff like Pyramids, Parthenon, Pantheon, Kremlin, and ­such ­or natural wonders, like the Nile in flow, that we recognize. Thanks to nature TV, we’re savvy about the world’s rarest flora, and practically on speaking terms with a lot of its fauna. Haven’t we all felt the pain of those hapless penguins, whose ­to-­and-­froing across Antarctica for the species’ survival seems hardly preferable to their fallback fate as a sea lion’s lunch? The camera can profile an insect borne from egg to oblivion on an indifferent carrion bird, or find the shyest mollusk mating in an undersea recess. It won’t be long before TV runs out of novel world, unless evolution picks up the ­pace.
“But isn’t it important to see for yourself? Travel broadens us, right?” How firsthand does experience have to be before it counts as experience? If you’ve seen pictures of the pigeons in Venice’s Piazza San Marco, do you need to have them hem you in on-site, while you confirm that the nearby basilica and the bobbing gondolas look . . . just like they do in their photos? If travel is indeed broadening, the benefits are entirely contained. What’s more numbing than to hear about somebody else’s trip? A routine of vacation slide shows, or maybe PowerPoint presentations, could break the steeliest ­terrorist ­or would The Hague cry “Foul!”( much more from the Wilson Quarterly)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Amanita muscaria and the house that blacksmith built

A psychedelic house of Russian blacksmith in a Russian village near Yekaterinburg city. They say the blacksmith himself has already passed away and his wife gets offers to sell it regularly but she denies them.

Though it is generally considered poisonous, Amanita muscaria is otherwise famed for its hallucinogenic properties with its main psychoactive constituent being the compound muscimol. The mushroom has had a religious significance in Siberian culture and possibly also in ancient Indian and Scandinavian cultures.

The Wife
(via englishrussia)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Max Roach Dies at 83

Max Roach, a master percussionist whose rhythmic innovations and improvisations provided the dislocated beats that defined bebop jazz, has died after a long illness. He was 83.
What distinguished Roach from other drummers were his fast hands and his ability to simultaneously maintain several rhythms. By layering different beats and varying the meter, Roach pushed jazz beyond the boundaries of standard 4/4 time.
Roach's innovative use of cymbals for melodic lines, and tom-toms and bass drums for accents, helped elevate the percussionist from mere timekeeper to featured performer on a par with the trumpeter and saxophonist.
"One of the grand masters of our music," Gillespie once observed (via ABC)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

How to avoid ejaculating in your girlfriend's hair

Petra Mrzyk and Jean-françois Moriceau are a very creative, prolific and sometime provocative couple of artist, living in Paris. They already exposed all around the world their universe, made of strange creatures inspired from pop culture, comics, porn...

Their third video clip is an animation movie made of more than 5000 draws for the French offbeat musician Philippe Katerine. The song is about what a guy should think about in order to avoid ejaculating in his girlfriend's hair. So you'd better start learning French now (via

Ein Hod artists at Harlech Biennale 2007

Ein Hod artists
Nechama Levendel and Nadav Bloch artists from Ein Hod,Israel at Harlech Biennale 2007.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

100 Best First Lines (from Novels)

1. Call me Ishmael. Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)
2. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)
3. A screaming comes across the sky. Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow (1973)
4. Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; trans. Gregory Rabassa)
5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)
6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877; trans. Constance Garnett)
7. riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939)
8. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. George Orwell, 1984 (1949)
9. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)
10. I am an invisible man. Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)
(and 90 more from American Book Review)

My magic charm is working

Mud and Sonny Boy with Blues Brother Matt 'MT' Murphy on gittar, Willie Dixon on bass, the great Otis Spann on pianner, Bill Stepney on the drum stool. American Folk Blues Festival tour, Germany 1963
In the early 20th century mojo meant voodoo or magical power; more recently this has been extended to mean power of influence of any kind. The term was widely used in the US black communities then and in 1926, Newbell Niles Puckett published this definition in his Folk Beliefs of the Southern Negro:
"The term mojo is often used by the Mississippi Negroes to mean 'charms, amulets, or tricks', as 'to work mojo' on a person or 'to carry a mojo'."
McKinley Morganfield, a.k.a. Muddy Waters, would have heard work mojo as he was growing up in Mississippi and used it in the title of his well-known blues classic Got my mojo working in 1956. This is probably the first time that the phrase was committed to record - either vinyl or paper.
Got my mojo working, but it just won't work on you
Got my mojo working, but it just won't work on you
I wanna love you so bad till I don't know what to do
I'm going down to Louisiana to get me a mojo hand
I'm going down to Louisiana to get me a mojo hand
I'm gonna have all you women right here at my command
Mojo is also recorded as meaning cocaine/heroin etc. In Pollock's The Underground Speaks, 1935 he records Mojo as "any kind of poisonous habit-forming narcotics (dope)".

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Khrennikov is dead...?

Nicolai Ghiaurov - The Song of Drunken People
Tikhon Nikolayevich Khrennikov (Russian: Тихон Николаевич Хренников) (born June 10 [O.S. May 28] 1913 in Yelets, Orlov District) - died 14 August 2007 in Moscow was a Russian and Soviet composer, who was better known for his political activities.
"Khrennikov not only survived Stalin's repressive reign but lived in comfort under the succession of Soviet rulers and post-Soviet presidents that followed: Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, Gorbachev, Yeltsin and Putin. He remains an influential musical figure: he is a professor at the Moscow Conservatory and has been chairman of the Tchaikovsky Competition for the last 25 years. In his native city of Yelets, his home has been turned into a museum and an arts school, and a statue has been erected in his honor. His socialist realist works are regularly performed and his songs remain as popular as ever. Khrennikov's long and improbable career began in 1948, when Stalin personally picked him to lead the Union of Soviet Composers. His first accomplishment on the job was an attack on abstract, "formalist" music in a speech at the First Congress of Composers in 1948, two months after the infamous Resolution of the Central Committee that condemned the "formalism" of Shostakovich, Prokofiev and others. "Enough of these symphonic diaries - these pseudo-philosophic symphonies hiding behind their allegedly profound thoughts and tedious self-analysis," he proclaimed. "Armed with clear party directives, we will stop all manifestations of formalism and popular decadence."...more>>>

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mailer, McLuhan and The Longpen

Aptly for a writer of the stature of Norman Mailer, it was a pioneering event - albeit one that mixed the brightest advances in digital technology with the more earth-bound elements of the bingo hall.
Yesterday's transatlantic conversation with the leading man of American letters, held at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, took place by live video link between the festival's main tent in the city's Charlotte Square, and the writer's modest front room in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Afterwards, fans of the writer had their books signed by a new technique called LongPen, with their order chosen by the host, Andrew O'Hagan, in bingo-hall style: reading their raffle tickets numbers from a plastic bag.(more from The Herald)
the video is from 1968. mailer is 45 years old ...
Norman Mailer and Marshall McLuhan expound on violence, alienation and the electronic envelope. The clash of two great minds(1968)

My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors

Moxy Früvous was a folk-pop, socially conscious, politically-satirical band (1990-ca.2002) from Thornhill, Ontario, Canada, just north of Toronto. Canada and the "human experience" are a common theme in Früvous songs. After King of Spain, My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors was probably their most popular song. Unfortunately the quality of this video ain't the greatest, but it's the lyrics of the song that you should be paying attention to, not the visuals.

Well you should see my story reading baby, you should hear the things that she says,She says "Hon, drop dead, I'd rather go to bed with Gabriel Garcia Marquez."Cuddle up with William S. Burrows, leave on the light for Bell Hooks,I've been flirtin' with Pierre Burton 'cause he's so smart in his books I like to go out dancing,My baby loves a bunch of authors My heart's so broke and bleedin'Baby's just sitting there doing some reading So I started watching some TV, played my new cd player too,She said: "Turn it off or I'll call the cops and I'll throw the book at you."All this arguing made me get dizzy, called my doctor to come have a look I said: "Doctor hurry!" He said:"Don't worry, I'll be over when I finish my book" I like to go out dancing,My baby loves a bunch of authors
We've been livin in hovels Spendin' all our money onbrand new novels
So I got myself on a streetcar and it drove right into someone,
You know the driver said:"I was lookin' straight ahead!" But he was reading the Toronto Sun "So?" So my honey and me go to a counsellor to help figure out what we need She said: "We'll get your love growing,
but before we get going, here's some books I'd like you to read."
I like to go out dancing, My baby loves a bunch of authors
Lately we've had some fricton 'Cause my baby's hooked on short works of fiction
So we split and went to a party, some friends my girl said she knew
But what a sight 'cause it's authors night and the place looks like a who's who Now I'm pounding the ouzo with Mario Puzo Who's a funny fella? W.P. Kinsella Who brought the cat? Would Margeret Atwood? Who needs a shave? He's Robertson Davies!
Ondaatje started a food fight, salmon mousse all over the scene
Spilled some dressing on Doris Lessing, these writer types are a scream!
I like to go out dancing,My baby loves a bunch of authors
We'll be together for agesEatin' and Sleepin' and
Eatin' and Sleepin' andEating und Sleeping und Turnin' pages

(via booklust)

Pat Condell: A few words about the chosen people.

I live in England, which is a Christian country. Not as rabidly so as America, but in a more genteel biscuit-tin sort of way. The Church of England is to religion what the cucumber sandwich is to food – it goes quite nicely with a cup of tea, but that’s about it.Our national flag is the cross of St George, the cross of the Crusades. Our trans-national British flag, the Union Jack, is a blizzard of crosses, each representing a different Christian saint.Our American cousins don’t have a cross on their flag, but they don’t need one. “In God We Trust” is written on their money. A cross on the flag would be overkill, and that’s the army’s job.Both the American president and our prime minister are devout Christians, in a warmongering arms dealing sort of way.As a result, our foreign policy is dictated by American Christian fundamentalist nutcases, who are often in a bad mood with the rest of the world because they find themselves in the awkward position of hating Jews, but loving Israel.Ideally they’d like to see all the Jews in the world living in the Middle East. Then they wouldn’t have to focus so much on keeping them out of their golf clubs.They hate Muslims too, but not in the same way. After all, Muslims didn’t kill Jesus. They only killed a few thousand real people, and destroyed some perfectly good real estate.(Incidentally, I’m not blaming the American people for their government. It’s not as if they have a real choice, any more than we do in Britain. But that’s the price of freedom.)These crackpots love Israel because they want to see the Temple of Solomon rebuilt in Jerusalem, which they believe will herald the second coming of Christ. Then, after the mandatory bloodbath (we are dealing with religion after all) true believers will ascend to heaven on a fluffy golden cloud while the rest of us are pitchforked into the eternal flames of hell.(more on Pat Condell site)

When I Paint My Masterpiece...

He has spanned five decades as one of the world's most loved singer-songwriters, and he's still going strong. But as if that wasn't enough, Bob Dylan, the musician, poet, and living legend has confirmed that he is further extending his record as the ultimate artist, by putting some of his own pictures on display.
It emerged last night that Dylan has produced more than 200 sketches and watercolours over the years, which will go on show in October at the Kunstsammlungen art museum in Chemnitz, Germany. The collection, entitled The Drawn Blank Series, will hang in an exhibition alongside works by various European masters, including Picasso
It wasn't immediately clear what the pictures will portray. But some are said to be notable for their vibrant colours. The description reflects Dylan's extraordinary array of music over the years, earning him the name-tag Voice of a Generation.
Dylan has talked before of his love of artworks, characteristically emphasising that they should be popularised: "Paintings should be on the walls of restaurants, in dime stores, in gas stations, in men's rooms," he said in a wide-ranging interview after being booed over going electric. "Great paintings should be where people hang out. The only thing where it's happening is on radio and records, that's where people hang out." But news of the impending exhibition shows that times have changed for Dylan, too. He added: "Great paintings shouldn't be in museums. Have you ever been in a museum? Museums are cemeteries... You can't see great paintings. You pay half a million and hang one in your house and one guest sees it. That's not art. That's a shame, a crime. Music is the only thing that's in tune with what's happening." (via Independent)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Paint It Black on Winter Palace Square

The Rolling Stones’ recent concert on Palace Square has generated a plenty of reviews, but one definitely makes you feel as if you are “Back in the U.S.S.R.” Amid general exaltation about the celebrity visit, Peterburgsky Dnevnik, an official publication from St. Petersburg City Hall, accused the band of Satan worship and promotion of drug use.
“The Stones’ main superhit was called ... 'Sympathy for the Devil,’” the article states.“‘Sympathy for the Devil’ was followed by the no-less infernal ‘Paint It Black,’ etc. The performing style itself — jumps, savage grimaces and the hellish noise of incredibly loud music making the Hermitage’s windows rattle — all this also had a strong smell of sulfur, rather than of roses.”
“The devil has always been a trademark of St. Petersburg recent visitors’ work, whose official motto in the late last century sounded like ‘sex, drugs, love,’” continued the paper.
“As early as in 1967 the Rolling Stones released ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request,’ an album dedicated to Lucifer. The band’s other songs do not smell like flowers either: ‘Cousin Is Cocaine,’ ‘Morphine Is Your Best Friend,’ etc.”
The Rolling Stones has no songs with such titles (no doubt deliberately misinterpreted lines from the 1971 song “Sister Morphine”), but that has never stopped creative Soviet-style propagandists.
“The Rolling Stones’ songs might be a new word in music. And they might be really great musicians loved by many. But it doesn’t matter. Having grown much older, the rockers have celebrated and continue to celebrate the Devil and drugs,” Peterburgsky Dnevnik wrote, linking the rise in crime to the “fashion for Satanists, narcotics, energy drinks, the noise of brain-softening rhythms.”
Although President Vladimir Putin called the demise of the Soviet Union a “national tragedy on an enormous scale” and has reintroduced many Soviet habits such as ardent anti-Westernism and symbols such as the Soviet anthem, the picture is mixed in 2007.
Soviet leaders such as Leonid Brezhnev and Konstantin Chernenko obviosly disliked rock music, but present-day Russia is, in fact, ruled by rock fans.
The Rolling Stones' concert was massively attended by the Russian establishment including former defense minister Sergei Ivanov, frequently seen as Putin's likely successor, who claimed to be a Beatles' fan and a collector of its vinyl records when he was interviewed for the documentary “Paul McCartney In Red Square” in 2003. Meanwhile Putin's other possible successor, Dmitry Medvedev, has recently admitted attending Deep Purple concerts with Ivanov.
Kremlin ideologist Vyacheslav Surkov writes rock lyrics, while Putin himself, whose favorite band is reported to be Smokie, hung around with McCartney in Kremlin while the ex-Beatle performed “Hey Jude” for him on a Kremlin piano.(from St. Petesburg Times)

King Denslow I

William Wallace Denslow (May 5, 1856–March 29, 1915) was an illustrator and caricaturist remembered for his work in collaboration with author L. Frank Baum, especially his illustrations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Denslow was an editorial cartoonist with a strong interest in politics, which has fueled political interpretations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Born in Philadelphia, by the 1890s he was based in Chicago, where he met Baum. Besides The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Denslow also illustrated Baum's books By the Candelabra's Glare, Father Goose: His Book, and Dot and Tot of Merryland. Baum and Denslow held the copyrights to most of these works jointly.
After Denslow quarreled with Baum over royalty shares from the 1902 stage adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, for which Baum wrote the script and Denslow designed the sets and costumes, Baum determined not to work with him again.
The royalties from the print and stage versions of The Wizard of Oz were sufficient to allow Denslow to purchase an island off the coast of Bermuda, and crown himself King Denslow I. However, he drank his money away, and on May 27, 1915, died in obscurity, of pneumonia.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Signed 1st Edition

A tale of eccentric book collectors, a yard sale and a novel that my be worth thousands. Starring Patty Griffin.

For Tessa

Human Head Found In Hamburger

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ants, terrorism, and the awesome power of memes

Here's one of those talks that can change your view of the world forever. Starting with the deceptively simple story of an ant, Dan Dennett unleashes a dazzling sequence of ideas, making a powerful case for the existence of "memes" -- a term coined by Richard Dawkins for mental concepts that are literally alive and capable of spreading from brain to brain. On the way, look out for:
+ a powerful one-sentence secret of happiness
+ a compelling insight into terrorists' motivation
+ a chilling view of Islam
And just when you think you know where the talk's heading, it dramatically shifts direction and questions some of western culture's fundamental assumptions.
One of our most important living philosophers, Dan Dennett is best known for his provocative and controversial arguments that human consciousness and free will are the result of physical processes in the brain. He argues that the brain’s computational circuitry fools us into thinking we know more than we do, and that what we call consciousness isn’t.
This mind-shifting perspective on the mind itself has distinguished Dennett’s career as a philosopher and cognitive scientist. And while the philosophy community has never quite known what to make of Dennett (he defies easy categorization, and refuses to affiliate himself with accepted schools of thought), his computational approach to understanding the brain has made him, as Edge’s John Brockman writes, “the philosopher of choice of the AI community.”
“It’s tempting to say that Dennett has never met a robot he didn't like, and that what he likes most about them is that they are philosophical experiments,” Harry Blume wrote in the Atlantic Monthly in 1998. “To the question of whether machines can attain high-order intelligence, Dennett makes this provocative answer: ‘The best reason for believing that robots might some day become conscious is that we human beings are conscious, and we are a sort of robot ourselves.’”(from TED)

RAREST Historic Beer in the World

Current bid: US $78,200.00
End time: Aug-12-07 19:30:00 PDT (2 days 20 hours)
Shipping costs: FREE
Standard Flat Rate Shipping Service
Service to United States
Ships to: Worldwide
Item location: Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
History: 93 bids
High bidder: Bidder 37
Listing and payment details: HideShow
Starting time: Aug-02-07 19:30:00 PDT
Starting bid: US $1.00
Duration: 10-day listing

(you can buy it now on EBAY)
Until the 1850s Allsopp’s Brewery was most notable for brewing some of the first India Pale Ales for export to the colonies. However, Samuel Allsopp was approached about a different recipe; Sir Edward Belcher was about to led an arctic expedition (1852) to search for the lost explorer Sir John Franklin. The Expedition needed a brew that withstand arctic and sub arctic temperatures, and provide a degree of sustenance and nutritious value. “Captain Belcher reported that Allsopp's Arctic Ale proved to be "a valuable antiscorbutic", helping fight off scurvy, the bane of all sea voyages in those days.” He added that the beer was "a great blessing to us, particularly for our sick" and that it refused to freeze until the temperature dropped well below zero.”
What you are looking at is an actual museum quality sealed and intact bottle of Samuel Allsopp’s Arctic Ale brewed for the 1852 Expedition to the Arctic lead by Sir Edward Belcher. This bottle of beer is likely the rarest, oldest, and most documented bottle of beer in existence! Not to mention the unbelievably unique history surrounding it. Accompanying the bottle is an actual limited handwritten history about the bottle itself.