30 December 2005

Saying goodbye to oh-five, looking ahead to ought-six

"You know the curious thing about this is, certainly not to diminish it, I see things like that every day in the newspaper - every day. Somebody fell in their bathtub, somebody pulled out of a driveway, somebody ate a poisoned Mars bar. Who the hell knows?" - Christopher Walken.

"He is a most impractical boy . . . often forgetful, he finds difficulty in the most simple things and asks absurd questions, whereas he can understand the most difficult things. He has the most distorted ideas about wit and humour; he draws over his books in a most distressing way, and writes foolish rhymes in other people's books. One is obliged to like him in spite of his vagaries." - A.H. Gilkes, the headmaster of Dulwich, about the then seventeen or eighteen year old Wodehouse.

"The craft of painting has virtually disappeared. There is hardly anyone left who really possesses it. For evidence one has only to look at the painters of this century. - Balthus.

"This is the archetypal modern disease - hysteria is over. Everyone will end up prone to depression after a certain age. There's not really anything you can do about it because while the demands people make of their lives are going to go on growing, their ability to achieve them won't. There may be a chemical solution.

The advantage is that depressives can often be extremely funny. There's nothing like a good depressive for having a humorous and perceptive take on the world. I am very fond of the depressive narrator as a character. Perhaps too much so." - Michel Houellebecq.


"Q: Do you like coming down to London to film Black Books?

Dylan Moran: London's fine, but there's a whole raft of skills you have to absorb if you're going to get around without killing anybody, or starting screaming at bins. There's a fine line between yourself and the man you're walking around to avoid because he's busy screaming at a bin. Cash point not working, taxi doesn't turn up, your zucchini doesn't arrive on time, and there you are - you're out there... is very fragile, it could all go at any time.

Q: There was this pub in Clapham which used to be full of old shouty Irish guys. They all wore suits, even if they'd been on a building site. It was a uniform, the one multi-purpose suit.

Dylan Moran: Well, that's not true - often they'd have two. They wear the jacket from one and the trousers from another. That's a very Celtic look, it signals your unavailability for work. If you wear the matching suit you could possibly get hired in some capacity, but if you wear the brown trousers and the blue jacket it means you have somewhere to go; you have appointments with other similarly dressed men to discuss the possible fortunes of some horse in the 3.40. Suits are the cornerstone of any self-respecting man's wardrobe. Good for hod-carrying, sleeping in...and you look good in court." - Dylan Moran (Esquire interview).

"I have three New Year's resolutions. The first is to say 'Mushi-Mushi' in a slow drawl when I answer the phone instead of hello. The second is to post some original material here before March. The third I've already forgotten, I think it had something to do with improving myself or humanity, or possibly crushing all my enemies. At any rate it was a lot of blah blah blah that will never happen." - Carter

Ignite a gasper

'... do you realize Jeeves, that my aunt says I mustn't smoke while I'm here?'

'Indeed, sir?'

'Nor drink.'

'Too bad, sir. However, many doctors, I understand, advocate such abstinence as the secret of health. They say it promotes a freer circulation of the blood and insures the arteries against premature hardening.'

'Oh, do they? Well, you can tell them next time you see them that they are silly asses.'

'Very good, sir.'
- B. Wooster & Jeeves, Very Good, Jeeves.

"Yesterday I read the Aspern Papers. No. He writes with a very sharp nib and the ink is very pale and there is very little of it in his inkpot. Incidentally he ought to have proved somehow that Aspern was a fine poet. The style is artistic but it is not the style of an artist. For instance: the man is smoking a cigar in the dark and another person sees the red tip from the window. Red tip makes one think of a red pencil or a dog licking itself, it is quite wrong when applied to the glow of a cigar in pitch-darkness because there is no "tip"; in fact the glow is blunt. But he thought of a cigar having a tip and than painted the tip red- rather like those false cigarettes - menthol sticks with the end made to look "embery" - that people who try to give up smoking are said to use. Henry James is definitely for non-smokers. He has charm (as the weak blond prose of Turgenev has), but that's about all." - Vladimir Nabkov(Karlinksy, Simon ed. The Nabakov-Wilson Letters 1940-1971. New York, Harper & Row: 1979. p.52-53).


19 December 2005

What the world needs now

"The music industry hasn't connected broadly with fans since the late-1990s heyday of the teen pop performed by the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync and Britney Spears. "It's almost like we need a new genre of music," says John Sullivan, chief financial officer of Trans World Entertainment Corp., which operates music stores under the FYE and Coconuts names, among others. "There hasn't been anything fresh to get consumers excited in a while." - Silent Night for Music Sales, the Wall Street Journal.

Tell Mr. Sullivan I'm working on it.

18 December 2005

Grappling with the unknown

"I expect the ruins to be monolithic in character, more ancient than the oldest Egyptian discoveries. Judging by inscriptions found in many parts of Brazil, the inhabitants used an alphabetical writing allied to many ancient European and Asian scripts. There are rumors, too, of a strange source of light in the buildings, a phenomenon that filled with terror the Indians who claimed to have seen it. The central place I call "Z" -- our main objective -- is in a valley surmounted by lofty mountains. The valley is about ten miles wide, and the city is on an eminence in the middle of it, approached by a barrelled roadway of stone. The houses are low and windowless, and there is a pyramidal temple. The inhabitants of the place are fairly numerous, they keep domestic animals, and they have well-developed mines in the surrounding hills. Not far away is a second town, but the people living in it are of an inferior order to those of "Z." Farther to the south is another large city, half buried and completely destroyed."
– Explorer and mystic Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett. His fate remains a mystery. Was he eaten by cannibals? Did he find an inhabited underground city somewhere in the Rocondor Mountains? Or did he vanish into the jungle on purpose?

"El Kudz, as Arabs call Jerusalem, is, from a certain distance, as they also call it, shellabi kabir. Extremely beautiful. Beautiful upon a mountain. El Kudz means The City, and in a certain sense it is that, to unnumbered millions of people. Ludicrous, uproarious, dignified, pious, sinful, naively confidential, secretive, altruistic, realistic. Hoary-ancient and ultra-modern. Very, very proud of its name Jerusalem, which means City of Peace. Full to the brim with the malice of certainly fifty religions, fifty races, and five hundred thousand curious political chicaneries disguised as plans to save our souls from hell and fill some fellow's purse. The jails are full.

"Look for a man named Grim," said my employer. "James Schuyler Grim, American, aged thirty-four or so. I've heard he knows the ropes."

The ropes, when I was in Jerusalem before the war, were principally used for hanging people at the Jaffa Gate, after they had been well beaten on the soles of their feet to compel them to tell where their money was hidden."
- Jimgrim and Allah's Peace, by Talbot Mundy (1879-1940), free download.

Meditador
The drawings of Tomás Sánchez.

"It’s not often that an experienced critic finds himself confronting the work of an “unknown” painter—unknown, that is, to the critic—only to discover that he’s looking at the paintings of a master talent. But this was my experience upon visiting the exhibition of paintings by the Cuban artist Tomás Sánchez (b. 1948) at the Marlborough Gallery" - Hilton Kramer.

Mastering the Kimura (with illustratations).

16 December 2005

More Brief Reviews of Movies I haven’t Seen

Brokeback Mountain:

A love affair between a pair of homosexualist cowboys ends tragically when one is killed by a horse. The actors playing the leads are (supposedly) straight. Includes graphic sex scenes. If you are into this sort of thing stay home and rent the spaghetti western Django Kill...If You Live, Shoot! instead, it's a weird and entertaining film that includes an honest depiction of homosexualist cowboys - an entire gang of them.

Memoirs of a Geisha:

A trio of Chinese honeys infiltrates Japan by disguising themselves as whores. The potential of the premise squandered, as unlike the homosexualist cowboy film Memoirs of a Geisha is only PG-13.

The Producers:

A pair of real life homosexualists (Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane) portray heterosexual Broadway musical impresarios. Notice the pattern. Do you understand 'Hollywood logic' works now?

King Kong:

I’ve decided the old-style stop-motion animation is better than tedious modern CGI effects. The latter mechanically apes reality, the former is art.

11 December 2005

The Way We Linger Now

"Marina Abramovic has often been linked to Chris Burden, and with reason. She has staged extreme masochistic spectacles that shock and repel. In "Lips of Thomas," she carved a pentagram in her abdomen and whipped herself senseless...her most famous work is probably "The House With the Ocean View," performed in New York in 2002 (and featured in an episode of "Sex and the City"). For 12 days, the artist lived on three platforms in a Chelsea gallery. She had a bed, a shower and a toilet, but denied herself any nourishment except for mineral water, and any distraction; she could neither read nor write nor speak. Her life was reduced to a minimum, less than the bare essentials. "This piece will be about living in the moment," she said, "in the absolute here and now." But if the piece made demands on Abramovic, it also made demands on the spectators. Upon entering the gallery, a viewer was immediately confronted with a moral choice: did one take a quick look at Abramovic up on her platforms and then depart, treating her like some kind of animal in a zoo, or did one linger and absorb the experience? For those who lingered - and there were many, including Susan Sontag, Salman Rushdie and Bjork - the effect was magical (or perhaps metaphysical)."
- Barry Gewen, 'State of the Art', The New York Times Book Review.

07 December 2005

Cigarettes extinguished, along with liberty

At midnight tonight the State of Washington’s vindictive and senseless ban on smoking in all bars, restaurants, nightclubs and within 25 feet of any public doorway goes into effect. How did such a revolting and absurd state of affairs come about? The philosopher Roger Scruton explains:
"The emphasis on life-style also explains the extraordinary war now being waged against tobacco. Smoking belongs with those old and settled habits—like calling women "ladies," getting drunk on Friday nights with your mates, staying married nevertheless, and having babies in wedlock—that reflect the values of a society shaped by the clear division of sexual roles. It is a symbol of the old order, as portrayed by Hollywood and Ealing Studios in the post-war years, and its very innocence, when set beside cocaine or heroin, gives it the aspect of discarded and parental things.

Furthermore, tobacco advertising has specialized in evoking old ideas of male prowess and female seductiveness: even now, cigarette ads dramatize decidedly un-hip fantasies that stand opposed to the elite culture—after all, the target consumer is the ordinary person, whose fantasies these are. Nor should we forget that tobacco is big business, from which giant corporations make vast profits by the hour. In almost every way, tobacco offends against political correctness, and precisely because it seems to put older people at their ease and enable them to deal confidently with others, it raises the hackles of those who have never achieved that precious condition and whose discomfort is only increased by the sight of others so harmlessly and sociably enjoying themselves.

This is not to deny that tobacco is a risk to health: of course it is. Moreover, it is just about the only product on the market that relentlessly says so. But the health risk does not really explain the vehemence of the attacks on it or the extraordinary attempts by the Environmental Protection Agency and other bureaucracies to portray cigarette smoke as the single most important threat to our children's well-being. For the risk tobacco poses, when compared with those associated with marijuana, automobiles, fatty food, alcohol, or sedentary ways of life, is not actually very serious. Robert A. Levy and Rosalind B. Marimot have shown that smoking reduces the life expectancy of an American 20-year-old by 4.3 years. In an age when people manifestly live too long, why should Nanny be so worried? And why doesn't she turn her attention instead to those products that risk not the physical but the mental and moral health of the consumer: television, for example, or pornography?

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that what offends about tobacco is not its medical guilt but its moral innocence. It is precisely because it is so harmless, from every point of view other than the medical one, that smoking gets on Nanny's nerves. People don't commit crimes under the influence of smoking, as they do under the influence of drink or drugs. People who smoke have a ready way of putting themselves at ease, of standing back from the world of troubles and taking benign stock of it. Their characters are not distorted or corrupted by their habit, nor is their moral sense betrayed. The smoker is a normal, responsible member of the community, and he can be relied upon, when asked, to put out his fag. He is not led by his habit into transgressing the established order or the old moral code; on the contrary, his habit has been entirely domesticated by the old sexual morality and recruited to the task of glamorizing it."

06 December 2005

I like the new mammals in Borneo

In the wilds of Borneo a team of scientists led by the biologist Stephan Wulffraat, may have discovered a new species of mammal.1 The animal “is bigger than a domestic cat, dark red, and has a long muscular tail.” It's believed to be carnivorous, and thought to drop down from trees on humans and then use its muscular tail to strangulate its victims while viciously gnawing on the unfortunate person’s ears and neck. Once its prey is unconscious (or dead), the nasty creature somehow drains the body of blood. (None of these details are being mentioned in the popular press, in order to avoid setting off a panic. Luckily I have my own reliable sources in Borneo).


This truly is an amazing find. As the head of the “species programme” at the World Wildlife fund Callum Rankine observes "You don't find new mammals that often, and to do so must be extraordinary”.2 I hope to journey to Borneo soon in order to capture one of these rare animals. If I do I promise to let everyone know what they taste like.

1 I’m adding Dr. Wulffraat to my ever growing list of scientists with odd, suspiciously fictional-sounding names doing animal research. It’s a pattern I’ve been monitoring for some time, but so far am unable to explain. The list includes prairie dog linguist Dr. Con Slobodchikoff, Dr. Siobhan Abeyesinghe, an expert on chicken angst, and Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, who is teaching apes how to live in furnished apartments.

2 I’m adding Callum Rankine to the list as well.

04 December 2005

Kazakhstan Update

The president of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev has been re-elected, receiving 91% of the vote. This despite (or perhaps because of?) his squandering the Kazakh people’s wealth on the building of a giant glass pyramid. Regular readers may recall my visit to Kazakhstan, my reflections on the idiotic Great Pyramid of Astana project, and my observations of the often confusing Kazakhstanian nightlife:

Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan – all admittedly have their peculiar charms, but for me of all the countries in the world with names ending in ‘stan’ none compare to Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan! A vast and rugged country (1,049,150 sq miles) populated by descendents of Mongol and Turkic tribesman, it can be found on your map in the unfortunate position between Russia and China. [more
When I announced I was going to Kazakhstan in an attempt to persuade the Kazakhs not to build a giant glass pyramid, in a city with less than 500,000 inhabitants in the middle of nowhere, where temperatures range from -40 F in winter to 104 F in summer, at a cost of hundreds of millions of pounds, people I knew were dumbfounded. It seems that many can’t believe that such a project is real. But it is. [more]

01 December 2005

Microcebus murinus

One reason for the lack of material here, lately, is that I’ve been busy in inventing a new kind of music. I’m not talking about half-assedly combining two existing genres (i.e. “Country-Rap” or ‘Disco-Death Metal) to produce something less listenable to than its components and then dishonestly claiming it to be new, I mean a style of music that is genuinely original.

To do this I’ve assembled an eclectic group of musicians: Gerhard Spitteler, a Swiss Alpenhornist; Donald and Stefan Tanguy, the famous identical twin Bombard players; Candi with an ‘i’, an exotic dancer who produces various percussive tones and rhythms by slapping her nude buttocks while gyrating wildly; Arthur Hines, who plays the Celeste in a free-jazz manner despite having no arms or legs; child Crumhorn prodigy Billy Nertz (age 8), DJ Gleep on the ‘Wheels of Steel’, Rod Price on slide guitar, and Melvin Barnes, PhD, a homeless man I discovered in the park subjecting innocent bystanders to loud, improvised rants about "the nerve gas conspiracy" (whatever that is).

We hope to debut our nine hour long ‘tone poem’ Short and mid-wavelength cone distribution in a nocturnal Strepsirrhine primate Microcebus murinus (in E) by Christmas.

They scamper off now, but for how much longer?

A violent gang of Russian squirrels attacked and killed a large dog:

"Squirrels have bitten to death a stray dog which was barking at them in a Russian park, local media report. Passers-by were reportedly too late to stop the attack by the black squirrels in a village in the far east, which reportedly lasted about a minute. They are said to have scampered off at the sight of humans, some carrying pieces of flesh."

That story also notes:

"...in a previous incident this autumn chipmunks terrorised cats in a part of the territory."

30 November 2005

Curiouser curious encounters, a selection (Part II)

Source: PASSPORT TO MAGONIA UFO SIGHTINGS DATABASE, compiled by Jacques Vallee. Commentary added.
___________________

We’ve come a long way, and we could use a little water:

Apr. 22, 1897. Josserand, Texas. Frank Nichols, who lived 3 km east of Josserand and was one of its most respected citizens, was awakened by a machine noise. Looking outside, he saw a heavy, lighted object land in his wheat field. He walked toward it, was stopped by two men who asked permission to draw water from his well. He then had a discussion with a half-dozen men, the crew of the strange machine. He was told how it worked but could not follow the explanation.

May. 06, 1897. Hot Springs, Arkansas. Two policemen, Sumpter and McLenore, were riding northwest of Hot Springs when they saw a bright light in the sky. About 7 km farther they saw the light again coming down to the ground. One km farther the horses refused to walk. Two men were seen carrying lights. The lawmen took their rifles, called the strangers, and were told that they crossed the country with a flying craft. The silhouette of the machine, about 2O m long, could be seen in the clearing. There was a woman with an umbrella nearby. It was raining, and the younger of the men was filling a large container with water. The elder man had a beard and suggested that the policemen fly with them "to a place where it does not rain." The same witness went back through the same spot 40 min later and found nothing.

Aug., 1914. Georgian Bay, Canada. William J. Kiehl and seven other persons saw a spherical craft on the surface of the water. On its deck were two small men wearing green-purple clothes. They seemed to be busy with a hose, plunging it into the water. On the opposite side were three men dressed in light brown, wearing square masks down to their shoulders. Seeing the witnesses, they reentered the craft except for one dwarf, wearing shoes with a curved, pointed tip, who remained outside while the craft rose 3 m above the water and shot upward, leaving a short trail.

Jul. 02, 1950. Steep Rock Lake, Canada. In a story strangely similar to that of Mr. Kiehl (Aug., 1914)...a man and his wife saw a double saucer with portholes and a rotating antenna come to rest on the surface of the lake. Ten figures, 1.20 m tall, dressed in shiny clothing, emerged and walked on deck like robots "changing direction without turning their bodies." Their faces could not be seen. One of them wore a red cap, had darker arms and legs and "seemed to be their chief." They immersed a hose in the lake, then took off. Fishermen later reported a green moss forming on the lake.

Jul. 24, 1952 Vico, Italy. A man who was fishing in the Serchio River saw a disk hovering for 10 min. From it hung a hose that plunged into the water. The object was 20 m in diameter, with five propellers in the rear and a dome with something like blades on top. An orange glow could be seen through slits along the deck. A man wearing a diving helmet looked at the witness through a window, and he received a kind of electric shock as a "green ray" hit him. He looked up with difficulty, in time to see the object fly away toward the east.
[What happened next resembles a classic ‘Men in Black’ encounter, the elements of which did not become popularized until 1953.] Six days later a stranger with a foreign accent contacted the witness and intimidated him.

May. 20, 1953. Brush Creek, California. Two miners, John Q. Black, 48, and John Van Allen, reported that an object, silvery, 2.5 m in diameter, 2 m thick, with a tripod landing gear, landed on a sand bar 50 m away from them. An occupant described as a broad shouldered dwarf wearing clothing that covered the head and the trunk was also seen. His arms and legs were covered with tweedlike cloth fastened at the wrists and ankle. He filled a shiny pail with water and handed it to someone inside the craft. He then appeared to notice Black and jumped into the craft, which made a hissing sound and departed.

Spring, 1960. Syracuse, New York. An electronics engineer was fishing when he heard a shrill, whirring sound and saw a round object, with a rotating light on top, land on the shore. The sound gradually stopped, an opening became visible, and two dwarfs with oversized heads came out with a hose and pumped water from the river. Later they appeared to play like children. Their bodies glowed with lights of changing colors.


We’ve come a long way, and we could use a little water and some vegetables:

Nov. 04, 1954. Pontal, Brazil. Jose Alves was fishing in the Pardo River when he suddenly saw a craft approach with a wobbling motion and landing near him. Shaped like two washbowls placed together, it was about 4.5 m in diameter. Too terrified to move, the witness saw three little men, dressed in white, wearing tight-fitting skull caps, with dark skin, come out of the craft, gather vegetables and water and fly away.

And some grapes:

Sep. 28, 1954. Bouzais, France. At "Le Grand Tertre" Mr. Mercier observed that someone had stolen grapes from his vineyard. He decided to stay late and catch the "robbers." He was amazed when he saw a luminous mass fall from the sky about 50 m away, and found himself "paralyzed" as three figures emerged from the light and moved about. He lost consciousness. When he came to his senses, everything had vanished.


If it isn’t any trouble some flowers would be nice as well:

Nov. 01, 1954. Poggio d'Ambra, Italy. A 40-year-old lady going to a cemetery suddenly observed an object, shaped like two cones with a common base, resting on a grassy space. Two small seats were visible inside the lower cone. From behind the object appared two dwarfs, 1 m tall, wearing gray coveralls and reddish helmets. Speaking words she could not understand, and with smiles that showed fine white teeth, they took a pot of flowers from the witness and flew away.

And some rabbits:

Nov. 14, 1954. Isola, Italy. Amerigo Lorenzini, a farmer, saw a bright, cigar-shaped craft land near him and took cover. Out of it came three dwarfs dressed in metallic diving suits. They centered their attention on rabbits in a cage while speaking among themselves in an unknown language. Thinking they were going to steal the animals, the farmer aimed a rifle at the intruders, but it failed to fire and the witness suddenly felt so weak that he had to drop the gun. The dwarfs took the rabbits, and their craft departed, leaving a bright trail.

If you don't mind, we’ll just take this chicken back to our homeworld. And this tobacco plant. Thanks again.

Dec. 11, 1954. Linha Bela Vista, Brazil. Near the site of Case 349, Pedro Morais saw two human beings dressed in "yellow bags" take a tobacco plant and a chicken, then go away. Their craft "had a bottom like an enormous polished brass kettle," hovered with an oscillatin motion, and made a noise like a sewing machine. Its upper part resembled a jeep hood.

We'll pay for some of your precious water in intergalactic currency:

Apr. 18, 1961. Eagle River, Wisconsin. J. Simonton heard a whining sound and saw an object, 10 m in diameter, 4 m high, with exhaust pipes around the periphery, land near his house. A door was opened and a man appeared. About 1.50 m tall, he wore a black, turtle-neck pullover with a white band at the belt, and black trousers with a vertical white band along the side. Two figures were visible inside the object. Simonton filled a jug with water, returned it to the man, who gave him three ordinary pancakes, and the craft took off.

Dressed for success:

Nov. 06, 1957. Everittstown, New Jersey. John Trasco saw a brilliant, egg-shaped object hovering in front of a barn and was confronted with a being 1 m tall with a putty-colored face and frog-like eyes. He thought the dwarf said in broken English: "We are peaceful people; we only want your dog." The little man, who was dressed in a green suit with shiny buttons, a green tam-o-shanter-like cap, and gloves with a shiny object at the tip of each finger, fled when the witness denied his request.

28 November 2005

Elsewhere

Live in Switzerland.

Inventions stolen from the pastoralist Karamojong people of Uganda include a better mousetrap, a fashionable sandal made from recycled tires, and a distinctive haircut.

Minor design flaw discovered in Seattle monorail.

The Greek satirist Lucian (c. A.D. 120-180) describes visiting the moon: "Moonmen have artificial penises, generally of ivory but, in the case of the poor, of wood...The diet is the same for everyone: frog."

My so-called friends. Where are they now? I guess a love that bends isn’t worth much anyhow.

20 November 2005

Curiouser curious encounters, a selection (Part I)

Source: PASSPORT TO MAGONIA UFO SIGHTINGS DATABASE, compiled by Jacques Vallee. Commentary added.
___________________

A haystack?

Dec. 07, 1872. Banbury, Great Britain:

At King's Sutton an object resembling a haystack flew on an irregular course. Sometimes high, sometimes very low it was accompanied by fire and dense smoke. It produced the same effect as a tornado, felling trees and walls. It suddenly vanished


The physical description and behavior of the being described in the following encounter are eerily similar to accounts of my Norwegian grandfather:

Apr. 17, 1897. Williamston, Michigan:

At least a dozen farmers saw an object maneuver in the sky for an hour before it landed. A strange man near 3m tall, almost naked and suffering from the heat, was the pilot of the craft. "His talk, while musical, seemed to be a repetition of bellowings." One farmer went near him and received a blow that broke his hip.


Possibly the first account linking UFO’s and cattle mutilation.

Apr. 19, 1897. Leroy, Kansas.

Alexander Hamilton was awakened by a noise among the cattle and went out with his son and his tenant. They saw an elongated cigar-shaped object, about 100 m long with a transparent cabin underneath showing narrow reddish band, hovering 10 m above ground. They approached within 50 m of it. It was illuminated and equipped with a searchlight. Inside it were "six of the strangest beings" the witness had seen, also described as "hideous." They spoke a language no witness could understand. A cow was dragged away by the object with the help of a strong red cable; it was found butchered in a field the next day.


A politically incorrect encounter.

Apr. 25, 1897. McKinney Bayou, Arkansas:

Judge Lawrence A. Byrne of Texarkana, Arkansas, was surveying a tract of land when he saw a peculiar object anchored on the ground. "It was manned by three men who spoke a foreign language, but judging from their looks one would take them to be Japs."


An elegant frog-man.

Fall, 1938 (or following year). Juminda, Estonian coast:

Two persons saw a strange "frog-man" 1 m tall with a round head, no neck, and a hump in front of the body.The mouth was a large, straight slit, the eyes were like smaller slits. The skin was brown-green, compared to pegamoid, hands normal. The creature walked in a peculiar "but elegant" fashion, the head waving up and down while the legs moved "carefully." When pursued, the creature accelerated very fast, with feet "fluttering." About 100 m away it vanished completely'.


Towely-skinned mummies from space.

Feb., 1949. Pucusana, Peru:

C. A. V. an oil company employee, 30, was driving to Lima when he saw a shiny disk at ground level. He walked toward it for 10 min. Three figures came out as he was 20m away. They looked like mummies, had joined legs and one large foot. They "slid" along the ground. They were covered with a strange "towely" skin, asked the witness where they were, had a lengthy discussion with him, and took him for a trip in their craft.


Return of the flying haystack.

Sep. 07, 1954. Harponville, France:

Between Harponville and Contay, two bricklayers, Emile Renard, 27, and Yves Degillerboz, 23 saw an object floating in mid-air over a field: "It looked like an unfinished haystack, with a plate turned upside down on top of it." When they approached, it took off. Diameter 10 m, height 3m. A kind of door was noticed. The observation lasted over 3 min. The object released smoke when it departed.


Beings in bags.

Sep. 26, 1954. Chabeuil, France: Mrs. Leboeuf was suddenly confronted with a creature resembling "a child in a plastic bag, with eyes larger than human eyes." This creature entered a flat, circular machine, which took off toward the northeast with a soft whistling. Traces. Witnesses in state of shock.

Oct. 02, 1954. Croix d'Epine, France:

A mechanic, Ernest Delattre, 19, was riding home on his motor scooter when an egg-shaped object, brilliantly illuminated, landed on the left side of the road 15 m away. He saw short, dark shapes "like potato bags" moving about the object. He sped up, saw the object, the size of a small bus, taking off while its color changed from orange to blue and then to grayish-blue. The witness fainted while telling his story. Two persons in neighboring villages independently reported observing the object.


Someone should have asked little Bertiaux just how much like.

Oct. 04, 1954. Villers-le-Tilleul, France.

Ten-year-old Bertiaux saw an object "like a tent" and an unknown man near it.

15 November 2005

Arrival: Friedrichshafen

I am in Friedrichshafen, Germany, or, to be precise, above Friedrichshafen and Lake Bodensee, floating in one of the Zeppelin company’s fantastic new airships (seats 12, maximum speed 77 mph). I relax in my seat as the airship climbs to an altitude of about a mile. The puffs of smoke from my cigarette are miniatures of the puffy clouds outside my window. The time when smoking is outlawed everywhere (what I call ‘The New Dark Age’) is nearly upon us, but I imagine myself in a Zeppelin, hovering over cities in defiance of their punitive and barbaric smoking bans, forcing the stupid, non-smoking ground wretches to see a giant flying phallus every time they look up. The stewardess brings me a drink. She’s a Teutonic vixen. I contemplate challenging her to a wrestling match, but that can wait until after we land or after I’ve had a few more drinks, whichever comes first. When I last flew on an airplane my stewardess was a homosexualist man. What a contrast. A delightful feature of the Zeppelin airship is that its windows open. This allows fresh air in; even better it allows throwing objects out. Every few minutes I drop a tropical fish, sure to baffle anyone it falls on. The Germans have named this sport, which has a lengthy history, Affebombardierung, after a particularly hilarious incident from 1956 in California.

Our pilot announces landing is in 40 minutes (when asked, the Zeppelin airship can stay aloft for 24 hours). The great Hugo Eckener once said, "In a Zeppelin you do not just fly but travel in every sense of the word in most wonderful way you could possibly imagine." Why must the modern world always prefer the efficient to the wonderful? Where are men the likes of Hugo Eckener? I ponder these sad mysteries as I drop an iguana out the window, and am unable to come up with any answers.

14 November 2005

There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow

Not satisfied with menacing us by the threat of avian flu, birds now seem to be interfering with our Guinness World Record attempts. Is it me, or is Nature becoming increasingly hostile?

Speaking of bird divination, Laudator Temporis Acti discusses augury and auspex.

UPDATE: More on birds - Tom Bethell dissects the avian bird flu hysteria.

12 November 2005

Bananus humongous praedicta

The Angraecum sesquipedale Thouars orchid, native to Madagascar, is notable for having a "nectar tube of 10-12 inches in length with only the distal end filled with nectar". After studying this orchid, Charles Darwin realized there must also exist an insect equipped to fertilize it, and in 1862 Darwin wrote:
"It is, however, surprising that any insect should be able to reach the nectar : our English sphinxes have probosces as long as their bodies ; but in Madagascar there must be moths with probosces capable of extension to a length of between ten and eleven inches !" (On the Various Contrivances by which British and Foreign Orchids are Fertilised by Insects)
The moth predicted by Darwin was finally discovered 41 years later. Named Xanthopan morgani praedicta, it has a proboscis which unfurls to a length of around 10 inches.

In a similar manner, after I read about a newly discovered giant ape Gigantopithecus blackii, who was 10 feet tall and weighed up to 1,200 pounds (and co-existed alongside humans!), I realized in a flash of insight that during the era of this ape-giant there must have also existed (and perhaps still does?) a kind of humongous banana, perhaps measuring as much as yard in length, for the monster to snack upon when he got hungry. I’m optimistic that sometime during the next 41 or so years someone will uncover a fossil of one of these enormous yellow fruits, as it would make perfect sense.

Giant Ape (Gigantopithecus blackii)

Signs of life in Denmark

A Mutual Suspicion Grows in Denmark, Jeffrey Fleishman, November 12, 2005, LA Times:
"I believe integrating a large number of Muslims can't be done. It's an illusion. They don't have the desire to blend in with other people. We've been a Christian country for 1,000 years and we are the oldest monarchy in the world. I want to get married and have a lot of kids who can walk around in a society not influenced by Muslims."
- Martin Henriksen, 25-year-old legislator for the Danish People's Party.

11 November 2005

Red Headed League Revisited

An unconfirmed report claims Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri is dead. There has been speculation that the Iraqi al-Douri (the King of Clubs, for those keeping score) could be connected to the Al-Queda terrorist and fellow flame-top Mustafa Setmariam Nasar.

07 November 2005

After I kicked him awake he asked for another

Have you contracted the deadly bird flu yet? If not, it’s only a matter of time - at least according to the experts it is.1

I’m not one to go down without a fight, so last night I set up an anti-avian defensive perimeter in my yard.2 My hope is that after an infected bird lands and proceeds his way across the lawn to my front door in order to barge into my home and infect me, the winged nincompoop will be tempted en route to sample the toxic liquid from one of the bowls and die. This morning on the grass I found two dead cats and a comatose hobo. Obviously I need to use some stronger stuff.


1I’m told that these aren’t the same experts who prophesized the ‘Y2K bug’ apocalypse, but I’m not sure I believe it.

2About a dozen medium to large bowls of poison.

06 November 2005

Because they’ve had no luck finding her in Scotland

IN CHINA, HUNT ON FOR LOCH NESS MONSTER


Underwater camera photograph some claim is image of 'Nessie'.

Privateers

You probably heard Somali pirates attacked a luxury cruise ship over the weekend (you probably don’t recall that in October Somali pirates captured two UN food ships). As the Sunday Times reports:
“There is growing concern that neither governments nor the shipping industry are doing enough to protect crews and cargoes and that ships are vulnerable to terrorists as well as pirates.”
Unfortunately, as the above article notes, nothing much is being done to counter the pirates. Therefore I hereby urge Congress to exercise its power to "grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water" (United States Constitution (Act 1 sec. 8)), in order that interested private individuals may legally seek and destroy pirate vessels that threaten ships in the Indan Ocean. The shipping industry could offer rewards to sucessful privateers. Not only would this be an efficient solution to the piracy problem, it would also be all kinds of fun. Which is probably why it will never happen.

03 November 2005

via Google Print: An Entirely Novel System

Practical Ventriloquism, 1904 by Robert Ganthony.

An excellent guide to the art of throwing one’s voice that is delightfully free from the political correctness that permeates more modern works on ventriloquism.

31 October 2005

Halloween Chiller

Given the abundance of Iranian taxicab drivers in New York City, when I read the following story I was shaken by the feeling it presages the tragic fate awaiting poor Maureen Dowd if she doesn’t come to her senses in the next few years:
Tehran, Iran -- A 52-year-old Iranian has been sentenced to death for killing his 70-year-old lover when she asked to marry him, a newspaper reported Monday.

A court report in the Etemad daily said a taxi driver, identified only as Hamidreza, became furious when his elderly lover Setareh proposed marriage.

"I went to her house and she said she had deep feelings for me and suggested we get married," he told the court.

Hamidreza explained he already had a wife and children. "She then got frustrated and slapped me," he said.

The man knocked her unconscious and suffocated her with bed-sheets before making off with her jewelry.

23 October 2005

I already cast my ballot absentee

I’ve finally discovered a politician I can enthusiastically support. His name is David Irons, he's running for King County Executor, and while I have no idea (or care, really) what he believes, I greatly admire the fact he once knocked down his mother (from what I’ve heard she had it coming, not that it matters). If there’s one thing we need right now in politics it’s a man who refuses to let anyone block his way, especially bossy old ladies. I hope all those eligible to do so join me in voting for David Irons.

Weaponized parrots

A parrot in the UK has died from the lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu. It occurs to me a cunning plot for the Al-Qaedians would be to intentionally infect birds with deadly bird flu, then ship them (or convince the birds to fly on their own) to Western countries to spread disease. I wonder if anyone who knew this parrot ever heard it say “Allah Akhbar” or “Death to the infidels” or anything similar that might be suggestive of a link to Mohammedan terrorism?

19 October 2005

Breeders' Cup October 29

Posting will be sparse (if not non-existent) until after The Breeders' Cup, the biggest day in horse racing.

Three cocktails inspired by the sport of kings:

Whirlaway, named in honor of the 1941 Triple Crown winner (or was it the other way around?).

Turf Cocktail.

Suburban, an excellent drink, this obscure and unusual cocktail was named after The Suburban Handicap.

11 October 2005

The Cashmere Giants



James Ricalton and the Cashmere Giants


More:

The Cashmere Giants with dwarves.

The Cashmere Giants and friends in the Durbar Amphitheatre.

The eruption of total music

There was no music and there were no flashing lights or flickering screens in the pub, just a few people gathered around small tables, chatting and having a quiet drink. Only an occasional burst of laughter rose above the sociable murmur. I cursed the electricity that produces so many little hells of electronic stimulation, until I recalled that I like my drinks cooled.

No music! That its absence should strike me so forcefully, rather as the heat when you step off an air-conditioned aircraft into a tropical country, demonstrates how insidiously pervasive it has become in our urban environment. It is like a poisonous gas that a malign authority pumps into our atmosphere, whose doleful effect, and probably purpose, is to destroy our capacity to converse, to concentrate, to reflect. It agitates us, keeps us constantly on the move, makes us impulsive and lacking in judgement.
- Theodore Dalrymple, on why the Baroque is superior to Rock.

Like Dr. Dalrymple, I too despise the omnipresence of music and think it malign, though not to the extent that Reger, a character in Thomas Bernhard’s great novel Old Masters, does:
Our age has witnessed the eruption of total music, anywhere between the North Pole and the South Pole you are forced to hear music, in the city or out in the country, on the high seas or in the desert, Reger said. People have been stuffed full of music every day for so long that they have long lost all feeling for music...People today, because they have nothing else left, suffer from a pathological music consumption, Reger said, this music consumption will be driven forward by the industry, which controls people today, to a point where everybody is destroyed; there is a lot of talk nowadays about waste and chemicals which have destroyed everything, but music destroys a lot more than waste and chemicals do, it is music that eventually will destroy absolutely everything totally, mark my words. The first thing to be destroyed by the music industry are people's auditory canals and next, as a logical consequence, the people themselves...I can already see people totally destroyed by the music industry, Reger said, those masses of music-industry victims eventually populating the continents with their musical cadaverous stench...The music industry will one day have the population on its conscience....not just chemicals and waste, believe me. The music industry is the murderer of human beings, the music industry is the real mass murderer of humanity which, if the music industry continues on its present lines, will have no hope whatever within a few decades.

10 October 2005

Today we celebrate Christopher Columbus


"Steered west-southwest; and encountered a heavier sea than they had met with before in the whole voyage. Saw pardelas and a green rush near the vessel. The crew of the Pinta saw a cane and a log; they also picked up a stick which appeared to have been carved with an iron tool, a piece of cane, a plant which grows on land, and a board. The crew of the Nina saw other signs of land, and a stalk loaded with rose berries. These signs encouraged them, and they all grew cheerful. Sailed this day till sunset, twenty-seven leagues." - the journal of Columbus in his voyage of 1492.
It’s become unfashionable to celebrate Columbus Day. The campaigners against Columbus Day hate Columbus because they hate Western Civilization in general, but they also despise him for a more specific reason: Columbus risked life and fortune to sail across uncharted waters and discover The New World. The achievement of greatness through daring and adventurousness is intolerable to the various mediocrities (race activists, phony academics, diversity consultants, etc.) that malign Columbus, as it reminds them they are parasitic worms.

07 October 2005

Phthalates phfalse phalarm?

Is there really a taint shrinkage crisis caused by phthalates? Trevor Butterworth of STATS has written to reassure us there isn’t, and provides a link to an article on the STATS website:
On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal launched a carefully-crafted attack on phthalates, a family of colorless oil-like substances that prolong the scent of perfume, make nail polish flexible, and prevent children’s toys from cracking under the pressure of being chewed among other uses. This follows on an activist-driven campaign over the past year to have the chemicals banned in the U.S (see STATS earlier article “A Health Care that Stinks” for more background).

Without directly endorsing the studies claiming a link between phthalates and male genital deformation, the WSJ suggested that we should be nervous: Phthalates are everywhere, and male infertility is on the rise. Stop the production and distribution of materials using phthalates, so goes the reasoning.

Only there’s a problem: the studies cited in the article are far less conclusive than the paper suggests. The WSJ cites two human studies that conclude there is a link, describing their experiments in detail. But it buries the mention of two studies that failed to find a link among comments doubting their validity, and, at the same time, avoids spending any time describing the studies’ methodologies. The result is a skewed picture of a controversial topic that guides the public towards the belief that most of the evidence points toward a causal relationship, namely, that phthalates are a threat to male reproductive health.
Well, that’s a relief. Or is it? That very article concedes, "the boys had a smaller anogenital index, which is a measure of the distance from the anus to the scrotum, adjusted for weight," but claims (rather astonishingly) this doesn’t matter as "The baby boys were not “demasculinized” in any way".

I suspect the author of that article, Rebecca Goldin, being a woman does not understand that to have a tiny taint is in and of itself demasuculinizing. And while I’m sure some women are indifferent (Rebecca Goldin obviously among them) to a man’s taint, for many women size does matter, and a small percentage of women can only be satisfied by men with enormous taints.

So the while there may not be a full blown taint crisis, there is still much to be concerned about, and still many unanswered questions. I am, however, less alarmed now than I was, thanks to the nice people at STATS.

04 October 2005

Phthalates and AGD

I usually don’t get alarmed about the dangers of toxic chemicals in the environment. The risks are all too often exaggerated, and inadvertently ingesting a little arsenic in a glass of water or accidentally breathing in a few particles of benzene from the air can hardly compare to the amount of toxins I get from all the cigarettes and alcohol I ingest on purpose. But I have become alarmed about phthalates.

Phthalates are industrial chemicals found in all sorts of ordinary household products - adhesives, cosmetics, some types of wallpaper and flooring, many kinds of furniture, even toys. Scientists have discovered that boys whose mothers were exposed to high levels of phthalates while pregnant are likely to be born with shrunken taints.

I truly wish I were joking about this, but the link between shrunken taints and phthalates appears all too real.1

Why is no one speaking out about this? Must there be the tragedy of an entire generation of men born with tiny taints before something is done? Won’t someone think of the taints?

1 The scientific term for shrunken taint is "reduced anogenital distance", or AGD.

The fantastic landscapes of Charles Ephraim Burchfield


Orion in December


"My instinct has always been to shut off all means of self-expression except the brush, so that its product might be all the more intense." - Charles Ephraim Burchfield.

More paintings here and here.

02 October 2005

Hell for those at the receiving end

I often wonder if the city of Seattle could be any more boring. It turns out the answer is yes:
Seattle Considers Lap Dance Ban

...the City Council is planning to vote Monday on some of the strictest adult-entertainment regulations of any big city in the country.

No lap dances. No placing dollar bills in a dancer's G-string...

Under these rules, dancers would have to stay 4 feet away from customers, private rooms would be barred, customers couldn't give money directly to entertainers, and the minimum lighting would be increased - think parking-garage brightness.
If Jesus can have his feet washed by a whore, why is it wrong for an ordinary man to have his lap danced upon by a stripper? Obviously it isn’t.

Sadly, arguments based on the Scriptures carry no weight with the God-hating Leftist types that run Seattle. That these regulations will force many girls, most of whom are capable of little else, into ‘other work’, is of no concern to these people. The zealots of the Seattle City Council surely know what this ‘other work’ will be, and do not care, for they consider themselves superior to the dancers, and therefore have no pity for them. In this they are much like Simon the Pharisee.

I'm reminded of the something Auberon Waugh once said:

"The problem with democracy is that it is not democracy at all but a zealotocracy or rule by enthusiasts. This is a polite way of saying that as many bossy people as possible get a chance to throw their weight around. It may be lovely for bossy people who like deciding how the rest of us should live, but it is hell for those at the receiving end."

30 September 2005

Equilebriated amid the embracings of a monopolized bottle

I had to read this story twice before I could understand it:
Smoking Seems To Increase Brain Damage In Alcoholics

Alcoholics who smoke appear to lose more brain mass than alcoholics who don't smoke, according to a study at the San Francisco VA Medical Center.

It is already well-known that the brains of long-term alcoholics atrophy and shrink, the study authors say, but the new findings are the first evidence that cigarette smoking might contribute to that atrophy, particularly in grey matter of the parietal and temporal lobes.
And as far as I can tell there’s nothing a reasonable a person can do to avoid it either. The only hope is to be one of the lucky exceptions, like James Joyce, whose mind never exhibited any sign of deterioration despite a lifetime of excessive drinking and smoking.

29 September 2005

Free DeLay! Update

Remember my warning of dark forces attempting to destroy Tom DeLay?
As you probably know, the Left and its allies in the Mainstream Media has launched a hate campaign of lies combined with bogus legal charges in order to destroy Majority Leader Tom DeLay. I have become so sickened by these attacks I decided to do something about it: at Café Press I created this thong panty emblazoned with the (or should I say ‘our’?) rallying cry: Free DeLay! Your crotch region is a most personal area, and the personal area is political, get the word out.
Well, as you surely know by now, a monomaniacal prosecutor has indicted Tom DeLay, on the flimsiest of pretexts.

But it is not too late to do something, and in fact now more than ever it’s imperative right minded people show support for our Majority Leader. I can think of no better way to do this than by purchasing one or more pairs of Free DeLay! thong panties. The panties are designed for women, but there is nothing to prevent homosexualists from wearing them too, I suppose, as long as they do so in private. Even oldies can wear them, now that I think about it, which is revolting.

Let your pubic region do something other than itch and stink, let it make a statement for freedom, buy as many pairs of Free DeLay! thong panties as you can today.

27 September 2005

Baby Burlesks

"In 1932, Shirley Temple made her film debut in What's to Do?, the first in a new series of comedy shorts called Baby Burlesks, created to compete with Our Gang. But here, instead of three- and four-years old child actors playing smart-aleck kids, they played adults in adult situations.

A friend of mine, Daniel Riccuito, who happens to be a film scholar, first called my attention to the films. He describes them as such: "Shirley plays a variety of sexually out-there characters. The one I own (Polly Tix in Washington) isn't the most outrageous of the bunch, but it has her playing a whore whose mission is to seduce a new senator and get him to sign The Castor Oil Bill. The all-child cast appears in diapers, mostly topless, with top hats, cigars, flesh."

Another film in the series, he tells me, has a diaper-clad boy squeezing a cucumber that shoots juice out of one end, striking Temple in the face."
- Jim Knipfel

20 September 2005

Reader Survey

Select the answer which best completes the following sentence.
What's depicted in this scene is _____:

a) perfectly normal.

b) odd.

c) insane.

d) something I've done (or would like to do) myself.
Judging by the look on his face, he's as mystified as I am as to why he's being presented with a platter of fruits and vegetables. He also appears to be wearing a collared shirt.

Asking the tough questions

Then if India is given a seat, and it is already a candidate for it, doesn't that mean the escalation of the degree of challenge with Pakistan, the nuclear state? Is that in the interest of world peace? On the contrary, it is a dangerous threat to world peace. And if Japan is given a seat, and it is a candidate for that, doesn't that mean the escalation of the challenge for North Korea that has a nuclear problem, and for China and Indonesia? If India and Japan are given a permanent seat, does that not mean the escalation of the boiling degree of the Chinese hydrogen kiln? Is it really for the benefit of world peace?
- from the curious mind of Col. Muammar Gadafi

18 September 2005

Yo-ho-ho-ho-ho, word to granny's panties

In the past, when I’ve criticized oldies (see here, and here) I’ve received hate-mail, not just from the powerful oldie lobby but also from otherwise rational people who can’t understand my antagonism toward the aged. These critics almost always justify their favorable view of oldies by invoking their own, mostly fond, childhood memories of grandmothers. I too remember grandmothers as being kindly and harmless figures, liked for their skill at baking pies and other goodies. Would that were still the case. Sadly, modern grandmothers are a debased as most of the rest of society, as exemplified by a group known as The Raging Grannies, who describe themselves as being “independent women” dedicated to “activism, social justice” and “politics”, which is a nice way of saying they are horrible, meddling old crones who enjoy annoying normal people. How bad are these hateful hags? A recent article describes how they’ve written a rap about hurricane Katrina:
"A Granny New Orleans Rap"

Our government moves at a very slow pace.
It did not understand New Orleans was a race,
For the needy, the poor, and the black who were there.
If this was a test -- they utterly failed.
This negligent lot should be charged and jailed.
I don’t think I’m alone in hoping that rap is somehow perceived as a dis’ by Suge Knight’s posse.

Nothing enlivens an arctic winter quite like an obese elephant

Apparently not content with the vast abundance of native wildlife (fish, grizzly bears, whales, Eskimos, etc.) in their state, the silly people of Alaska have imported a a 23-year-old female African elephant named Maggie to gawk at. Naturally, the elephant finds the frozen climate disagreeable. Worse, Alaskans are forcing the poor pachyderm to work out on a gigantic treadmill, because they have decided the unhappy elephant is fat. Which she is, of course, because all elephants are fat. I wonder if the Alaskans will figure this out before the exercise and diet regime they've imposed manages to kill her?

15 September 2005

Good for them

It seems the Hindoos are harnessing women to ploughs and making them till the fields. If fads originating in India as silly as Yoga can become popular in the West, is it too much to hope one of their sensible practices might be adopted too?

In other news, in a fascinating interview former President Bill Clinton reveals that "many people" in his administration believed the United States government had recovered a crashed alien spacecraft. Clinton also describes how he personally helped advance 20th century science: "we had succeeded in sequencing the human genome...now you know that we cloned Dolly the sheep".

12 September 2005

Memorable Sayings of Filippo Ottonieri (cont.)

[Ottonieri] observed that irresolute men are sometimes extremely persistent in their intents in spite of all difficulties; and this is as a result of their very irresolution, for if they relinquished their deliberation, they would have to resolve a second time. Often they are extremely prompt and efficient in executing what they have resolved because they are afraid to abandon their decision at any moment and regress to that torturing perplexity and mental vacillation in which they had dwelt before reaching a decision, and, therefore, they hasten the execution of their intents and apply to it all their energies – stimulated, as they are, more by anxiety and by the uncertainty about mastering themselves than by the aim of their undertaking and by the other obstacles they must surmount in order to attain it.
____

…he was listening to a passage of Diogenes Laertius’s Lives of the Philosophers, according to which Chilo, being asked in what way the learned differ from the ignorant, answered: “The learned have hope”; Ottonieri said: “Nowadays it is altogether the opposite; for the ignorant have hope and the learned have no hope whatsoever.”
Operette Morali, by Giacomo Leopardi (translated by Giovanni Cecchetti)

11 September 2005

Holiday

Since 2001 the British have traditionally celebrated Jewish Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27. From its inception, many have complained the holiday excludes other, non-Jews who were also subject to systematic and planned extermination. A simple solution would be to set aside a day for each victim group: whether Jewish, Gypsy, Mohican, Tutsi, Carthaginian, Armenian, Canaanite, or what have you. But that would mean too much vacation for everyone, victims and non-victims alike, and idle time can not be tolerated in our modern age where efficiency and productivity are everything.

Instead, advisers to the insipid Tony Blair have recommended scrapping Jewish Holocaust Memorial Day and replacing it with the generic Genocide Memorial Day. This attempt to please everyone will only please no one. Americans can testify to this, having undergone the combining of Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays into President's Day. It not only cheated everyone out of an extra day off, but worse, merging the separate holidays made it impossible to celebrate either one, since the distinctive celebrations of each are incompatible. And what celebrations they were. I can still recall as a boy how on Washington’s Birthday everyone in town would wear powdered wigs, cherry pie was served, and we would all drink applejack. For Lincoln’s birthday, in contrast, the children would dress as slaves. We would all gather in the town square and there, the tallest of the boys, dressed as Lincoln in top hat and overcoat would read a proclamation ‘freeing us’. The adults would applaud and the children would dance. Suddenly, a boy dressed as a 19th century stage actor would appear and pretend to shoot the boy dressed as Lincoln in the back of the head. The crowd would fall into silence for precisely four-score and seven seconds. Then the adults would applaud and the children would dance, and we would all drink applejack.

I predict that in the future there will be only one holiday, a combination of all existing and all possible holidays. This day will be called “Holiday”, and on this day everyone will stay home from work and watch television.

08 September 2005

Memorable Sayings of Filippo Ottonieri

Filippo Ottonieri – some of whose memorable observations, partly heard from his own lips and partly related by others, I will commit to writing, was born and spent most of his life in Nubiana, in the province of Valdivento, where he also died a short time ago and where there is no record of anyone having ever been insulted by him, either in word or deed. He was commonly hated by his fellow citizens because he seemed to find little pleasure in many of the things which are greatly liked and sought by a majority of men...
_______

He used to say that the most real pleasures in life are those produced by false imagining and that children find everything in nothing and men find nothing in everything.
_______

It is certain that truth is not beautiful. Yet even truth may sometimes bring some pleasure; and, if, in human affairs, beauty is to be preferred to truth, whenever beauty is missing, truth is preferable to anything else. Now, in big cities you are removed from beauty, for no longer does beauty have a place in the lives of men. You are removed from truth as well because in big cities everything is fake or empty. There, so to speak, you see, hear, touch, breathe, nothing but deception – of the ugliest and most unpleasant kind. To fine and delicate spirits this is possibly the greatest misery in the world.
_______

There are an infinite number of things in everyday life and in individual men that are extremely ridiculous, and yet they are very seldom laughed at.
_______

About a stupid individual who had the pretension of knowing very well how to reason and who at every other word mentioned logic he said: "This is indeed man as the Greeks defined him, that is to say, a logical animal."
Operette Morali, by Giacomo Leopardi (translated by Giovanni Cecchetti)

07 September 2005

Elsewhere: It is, after all, knitting

"I think that is what is going on, poor evil Kathy with no blog, no design on the cover of a magazine regardless of weather it is good or bad, no classes to teach, no books to edit or write. Granted yes she has stuff in a book and good for her, but I'm sure that it must rankle, why her and not me? I'm just as good if not better. Must attack when she complains about something, must pull the princess out of the castle. Except there is no castle just someone who works hard at something she loves and is really lucky to be able to share it with the world. That's all it is luck and a lot of hard work. I feel sorry for poor evil Kathy so bound up and twisted it must be hard for her on some days to think straight. But to put it into perspective it is after all knitting..."

Also highly recommended is "Knitters can be bitches":

So, it's ok for you and your friends to follow people sureptiously at fiber arts shows to take photos of their sweaters for the express purpose of making fun of them. Granted this is an old example but it's probably one of your most visible...Guess what? fuzzy yarn scarves will get knitted, acrylic yarn will be used to make sweaters and you might not like that but I really think that the majority of people don't care what you think.

Good grief

In a surprising break with tradition, The New York Times, or Grey Lady as she is known, has announced plans to enliven her dull pages with a funnies section. True to form, the newspaper promises the comics to be published won’t be funny, instead the tedious and pretentious doodles of "graphic novelists” are to be featured.

29 August 2005

Nothing about Swaziland

An article in Slate today by an authoress named Meghan O'Rourke begins:
A man who doesn't want to watch his wife give birth is a jerk. This was the overwhelming consensus reached by a host of respected blogs after the publication last Tuesday in the New York Times of a piece by a therapist noting an unhappy trend: A number of his male patients have reported that after witnessing their wives have babies they no longer feel attracted to them. "I mean, how are you supposed to go from seeing that to wanting to be with …?" one husband asked, unable to finish his sentence. It made no difference that these men were patients in search of help, not Neanderthals who'd ditched their wives; the bloggers—many of whom are usually temperate—were outraged. "Would it hurt if I call you a big pussy?" one woman queried, adding, "Luckily for me, I didn't marry a total asshole, so I didn't have this problem." According to one post, a husband who finds his libido gone in the wake of the delivery room merits the same scorn we'd direct at a man who leaves a woman after finding out that she has a black grandparent.
I happened to have made a few comments in response to the blog post mentioned above, including one beginning:
For most of human history men would not go anywhere near women when they were giving birth, the bizarre and pointless practice of the man watching the process is a recent ‘innovation’
In her essay Ms. O’Rourke remarks:
“For most of human history, of course, men didn't go anywhere near women in labor, and any expectation that they would is relatively new”
Ms. O’Rourke continues by explaining the origin of the nutty and pointless practice of men watching their wives give birth:
This changed in the 1960s, when a doctor named Robert Bradley put power in patients' hands, reducing the number of Caesarean sections and episiotomies he performed and playing up natural ways of making childbirth less painful. One method, he discovered, was to invite the husband in to have him talk to his wife—a practice popularized in the 1970s. Putting husbands in the delivery room not only coincided with feminism but was intimately wrapped up with the natural childbirth movement and its effort to see the modern body in a more holistic fashion.
While it seems Ms. O’Rourke is a fan of my brilliant insights, it’s unfortunate she either didn’t read, or intentionally suppresses, the rest of my comment:
My research suggests that the notion [of husbands watching their wives give birth] originated with and was propagated by a KGB psy-op during the Cold War, with the intent of causing exactly the type of trauma to the male psyche as described by the poor bastards in the NYTimes article.
My investigation is in the early stages, but we know for a fact that Dr. Bradley was influenced by the work of Dr. Ferdinand Lamaze, whom he met in the late 1950’s. Lamaze “had witnessed women in the Soviet Union giving birth without anesthesia” and was influenced by a psychologist from the USSR named Velvovsky. I suspect it is only a matter of time before someone unearths a KGB file detailing the entire operation, and how Velvosky (who may have not have even been an agent himself) was used by Communist spymasters to plant the seed for this wrongheaded and debilitating practice into Western medicine. Note too that the earliest adopters and promoters of these birth practices were all on the cultural Left, which, 'coincidentally' was a movement infiltrated and compromised by the KGB.

And what do you call it? A broatee? A goateard?


Watching the 5:00 local news on the television today I saw two stories (one about a hit and run accident, the other about high gas prices) featuring interviews with men sporting a beard and a goatee at the same time (similar to the illustration at left). Did I witness something improbable? Or is this an increasingly popular style in facial hair that I've hitherto not noticed?

28 August 2005

Loud music, whippings, thousands of dancing bare-breasted virgins

Swaziland, of all places, is in the news again:
The king of Swaziland's daughter was whipped by a palace official at a party of teenage virgins ahead of a festival where more than 50,000 maidens are available to become her father's 13th wife, media said on Sunday.

Princess Sikhanyiso, 17, told the Times of Swaziland a palace official whipped girls, including beauty queen Miss Swaziland, at the party as a punishment after they refused to turn down the music.
Can you imagine our democratically elected President having a government official give a whipping to his obnoxious daughters the next time they misbehave? Of course not, and their lack of manners indicates neither can Bush’s daughters. While disappointing, it is not surprising. Unlike Kings, who are instinctively concerned with custom and decorum, in a democracy not only is there no incentive for a leader to promote manners, doing so is actually a liability, as in order to be elected a head of state must grovel before the mob of ordinary voters most of whom have no manners themselves. Can any reasonable person continue to deny the superiority of monarchy, that democracy is a fad (the polyester leisure suit of political arrangements), and like all fads destined to be laughed at by future generations?

The culmination of the above mentioned festival is called the Reed Dance Ceremony. It’s sort of a combination of spring break, speed dating, and the reality show ‘The Bachelor’, at which "Thousands of bare-breasted virgins will dance" in front of Swaziland’s King for the fun of it and for the chance of marrying him.

Further reading: photos of the Reed Dance Ceremony and the thousands of bare-breasted Swaziland virgins.

Bonus: Gay News Roundup!

21 August 2005

Torpor

There’s been minimal content here lately as I’ve been focusing on doing the world’s business. Herakleitos once said “Even sleeping men are doing the world’s business and helping it along.” Indeed. Herakleitos also said “The sun is one foot wide”. He was a little off with that one.

Speaking of the sun, if the sum of my heart’s ambition were a single, foil-wrapped pat of butter (and it is), the sun, whatever his width, has succeeded in melting it. So don’t expect me to make pancakes for breakfast tomorrow. By ‘make pancakes’ I mean ‘do anything useful’. Which includes making actual pancakes.

Another thing Herakleitos said was “My favorite size for a pancake is one foot wide”. Now that I think about it it might have been some fat guy sitting behind me on the bus who said that. I can’t remember. But either him or Herakleitos.

Despite my lethargy, I’m cheered (and surprised) by the following news:

1) The media is finally noticing the immigration problem.

2) The box office for summer movies is down. Summer television ratings are at an all time low. I would like to believe this is because the public has finally realized that most movies and television shows made today are shit.

3) Swaziland has overturned an asinine and draconian law prohibiting sex with unmarried teenage girls.

15 August 2005

Odd

The above photo of a UFO was taken in New Hampshire in 1870. If you look closely you can see a swastika on the side of the UFO. The swastika is an ancient Hindu symbol. Could it be a photo of a Vimana Aircraft?

The heat is getting to me

According to WFMY News 2:

Wealthy People Allegedly Conned Out Of Millions

This is news? Really, what else would you expect? If you tried to con poor people out of millions you would either have to con a dollar or two from millions of poor people, or else con a dollar or two a day from one poor person for millions of days, neither of which is practical.

In more interesting news, a giant baby the size of a man has been terrorizing the UK.

10 August 2005

America: a land increasingly silly

"The owner of an ostrich ranch is planning to shut down after losing a lawsuit against hot-air balloonists he says panicked his birds into a lethal stampede."
In other news, tiny hairdresser and sometime actor Ezzy Dame has admitted to lying about being one of the original Ooompa Loompas.

A poem by Weldon Kees

1926

The porchlight coming on again,
Early November, the dead leaves
Raked in piles, the wicker swing
Creaking. Across the lots
A phonograph is playing Ja-Da.

An orange moon. I see the lives
Of neighbors, mapped and marred
Like all the wars ahead, and R.
Insane, B. with his throat cut,
Fifteen years from now, in Omaha.

I did not know them then.
My airedale scratches at the door.
And I am back from seeing Milton Sills
And Doris Kenyon. Twelve years old.
The porchlight coming on again.

- Weldon Kees

09 August 2005

07 August 2005

Now I get up around whenever

The next time you hear someone arguing the youth of America are too slothful to compete in the global marketplace bring up Arup Manna of India, arguably the laziest boy in the world, who has been asleep for 11 months.

His parents have been unable to find a way to wake him. I would advise them to try a bear. Not only are bears great at waking people up, they are also inspiring motivators.

01 August 2005

Sea Monster

Even though Man has explored her for centuries, the briny cesspool known as the ocean still has her secrets. I’m referring, of course, to recent events in Ningbo City of Zhejiang Province, China, where the ocean, perhaps as a joke, but more likely as an insult, sloshed the enormous remains of a (possibly) hitherto unknown creature onto Ningbo City beach. The Chinese media reports:

...a fisherman for over ten years, said “I have never seen such a monster; it was larger than a whale.”

It was first seen by villagers on July 20, according to Mei who breeds fish nearby, and is nearly 12 meters long and weighs around 2 tons, according to district sea and fishery bureau staff.

The animal reportedly has a long thin head and a snout nearly one meter long.

...it has been impossible to identify, but has been described as having some hair, and orange stripes across a three to four-meter wide belly. The skull, which alone weighs over 100 kg, and coccyx of the creature have fallen from its body.


Undoubtedly the ocean, in parts yet uncharted, teems with such disgusting blobs – and worse. Given that most of the sea creatures science has managed to catalogue are also repulsive, I believe my stance of never immersing myself in the ocean has never been more justified.

Almost as disturbing as the sea monster depicted in the photo is the appearance of the beach itself, as it seems to resemble a gigantic waffle iron. Why is this? Did the Chinese bosses do it to make skipping work to go to the shore undesirable? Or do the Chinese use their beaches to cook giant waffles?

25 July 2005

July 25, 1884

On the Fifth of July, 1884, the racing yacht Mignonette, being sailed from Southampton, England to her new owner in Australia, sank in a storm after being battered by large waves. The ship’s four man crew, Captain Thomas Dudley, first mate Edwin Stephens, able seaman Edmund Brooks, and seventeen year old Cabin Boy named Richard Parker, found themselves adrift in a small dinghy with no provisions other than two tins of turnips. The turnips were soon eaten, and as they drifted day after day the crew resorted to drinking their own urine. At some point the necessity of cannibalism was brought up. Richard Parker was the weakest, and unlike the others, had no dependents. On July 25th, in an act of terrible desperation, Captain Dudley murdered Parker, stabbing him in the neck with a pocket knife. Then, for the next four days, he and Stephens and Brooks feasted on the body and drank Parker’s blood.

Five days later the men were rescued, by a ship called The Montezuma (Montezuma, you may recall, was a cannibal).

Upon return home the sailors, in a precedent setting case in English law, were prosecuted for murder. But what interests us is not legal precedent, what interests us is that in 1837 Edgar Allen Poe wrote in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket of a group of seamen, adrift at sea, dying of thirst and starvation, who resort to cannibalizing a sailor named Richard Parker:

"He made no resistance whatever, and was stabbed in the back by Peters, when he fell instantly dead. I must not dwell upon the fearful repast which immediately ensued. Such things may be imagined, but words have no power to impress the mind with the exquisite horror of their reality. Let it suffice to say that, having in some measure appeased the raging thirst which consumed us by the blood of the victim, and having by common consent taken off the hands, feet, and head, throwing them together with the entrails, into the sea, we devoured the rest of the body, piecemeal, during the four ever memorable days of the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth of the month."
- Chapter XII

For more on this strange symmetry made famous by Arthur Koestler see this account by the grandson of Richard Parker's cousin as well as this article which includes quotes from Dudley's trial testimony. For more on Poe see his essay on interior design Philosophy of Furniture which indirectly outlines Poe's literary aesthetic.

21 July 2005

Here's looking at you (via The Anomalist)

"Before my eyes a large spherical mass, about 8in in diameter, emerged from the vagina and quickly placed itself on her left thigh while she crossed her legs. I distinctly recognised in the mass a still unfinished face, whose eyes looked at me." - A description of mediumistic teleplastics, from The Phenomena of Materialisation, an account of the scientific investigations and hypnotic experiments of psychiatrist and physician Baron Albert von Schrenck Notzing.

18 July 2005

Israeli-Palestinian conflict takes a darker turn

The interminable Israeli-Palestinian conflict takes a darker turn: it appears that young followers of Hamas are now engaging in Minstrelsy.


A Palestinian boy in blackface sings ‘Swanee'.

Will the world ignore this situation? Or will the UN and the international community do what’s right for once, and dispatch a multi-national team of diversity consultants to the Gaza strip to conduct a series of workshops about hurtful stereotypes? Sadly, probably the former.

17 July 2005

Speaking of birdbrains

A team of scientists, led by (the now unsurprisingly) oddly named Dr Siobhan Abeyesinghe, have discovered that chickens worry about the future. I imagine the birds’ unease is caused in part by all the fear mongering in the media about things like global warming and the social security crisis. So to the list of media sins which include sensationalism, obsession with celebrity culture, and leftwing bias, we can now add animal cruelty. Not all chickens are melancholy, one group of plucky hens has gone into show business in order to provide humans with “spiritual encouragement and educational entertainment.”

In other animal news, the lazy police in South Bend, Indiana have called off their search for a kangaroo that no one is sure really exists after only one month.

10 July 2005

Teaching parrots nothing

Renowned journalist Hector Duarte Jr. informs us of an African gray parrot who has been taught the concept of zero. How long before this parrot knows more about numbers than the typical American junior-high school student? Interestingly, the parrot is able to do this despite having a brain the size of a walnut. It’s thought that the massive dinosaur Stegosaurus also had a brain the size of a walnut, but most don’t think Stegosaurus understood the concept of zero, or even the concept of easy numbers like three. Which may be why Stegosaurus went extinct – he refused to use the powerful walnut sized brain God had given him to it's full capacity.

In his article, Mr. Duarte jr. casually remarks:

...while the language of prairie dogs was found to contain a word for humans.

I was astounded by the implications of this. Since when did prairie dogs have a language? Is it possible, I wondered, that the normally reliable journalist Hector Duarte Jr. was perpetrating a hoax? After extensive research I discovered a news story describing how, according to one scientist, prairie dogs do seem to have their own language:
Prairie dogs, those little pups popping in and out of holes on vacant lots and rural rangeland, are talking up a storm.

They have different "words" for tall human in yellow shirt, short human in green shirt, coyote, deer, red-tailed hawk and many other creatures.

They can even coin new terms for things they've never seen before, independently coming up with the same calls or words...
But who is this scientist ? His name is the utterly bogus sounding Con Slobodchikoff, and he is a biology professor and self-proclaimed prairie dog linguist. But as past experience teaches, scientists with unbelievable names doing odd animal research are more common than one might think (as to why, I don't know - yet). And it does appear that Con Slobodchikoff is a real person who thinks prairie dogs talk to him. At the moment we have no choice but to take his word for it since no one else speaks prairie dog.

Duarte jr. also states:

Studies have also shown monkeys, dogs and rats all know how to laugh.

Oh, they do, do they? I refuse to investigate this claim at all, for if it’s true I would then be forced to contemplate exactly what type of things rats find funny.