Hello Cruel World
Monday, June 30, 2003
Quick dump of handy links
www.hp-lexicon.org (Harry Potter glossary)

www.hookedonfacts.com (random fact entertainment)

www.pvoice.org (for disabled)


Sunday, June 29, 2003
Good News
It looks like "In a Small Dark Room" is back on deck again. If it's working, I will be able to get back to work on uploading some more digital photographs.
There was some deep difficulty onsite, & like Neo, I had to cut code, reload & hack the flying phenomenology. If only I could look so way-cool, & make those moves -- OTOH, the casualty count there is pretty high, & we've had far too much close-up death, illness & injury round here. Ain't no zombie robot alien ghosts here, we bleed.
Saturday, June 28, 2003
Have read that George Lucas & Co are back in town again, ready to start filming Star Wars (part three of the second trilogy, which deals with bits before the first trilogy, so this one is now called Part 3, with the very first Star Wars now called Part 4). <pant>, <pant>
SMH text story

Anyway, the 'stars' get spotted around town, but they seem to stay fairly safely in the Eastern Suburbs & the other really expensive other parts of town, so I will be pretty free of them. Unlike the The Matrix crew (or Mission Impossible), they don't tend to take over chunks of the city for filming. There's a lot of secrecy around the sets, too, so it's unlikely in the extreme that anyone will see a strangely-costumed actor wandering the streets except for the oddbods of Newtown, during street carnivals, or the ones who you can usually see busking around the streets.

Unfortunately it means you also don't get the frisson of the landscape (as in Farscape, which moved outdoors at times - see below, June 9). I don't know if you get some Australian accents in the bit parts, must try to listen when I see it, whenever that is. Not so keen on this set of three films, but they are often good to look at without taking them too seriously.
Well, have done a bit of blog template editing. Re-formatting archive links & setting up "permalinks" so my many fans :) <ahem> can make proper links to particular entries they might like to send people from within their site or blog. As far as I know only one person has seen this apart from me, but you've got to live in hope or die in despair. Let's see how things work out.

Interesting to consider what other popular films might be redone in similar ways to this (below) - Harry the Clayworker (I have seen a parody book recently called Barry Trotter) or The Matrix. There's a grand tradition of these folk parodies. This sounds a bit like the Mystery Science Theatre (or whatever it is called) that they have in America - have seen tapes/DVDs for sale on US sites, but have only seen one version on really late (taped it) here a year or three back. It was an 'annotated' version of This Island Earth, which is actually a rather better film than the junky ones they apparently usually redo.

Wish I could remember which one I saw done recently as a sketch in a Strine/Blokey Australian way. There was a group here a few years back that did similar things 'live' in movie theatres as the film played. Their name was a pun on one of the movies.

Russia's cult video pirate rescripts Lord of the Rings as gangster film
Nick Paton Walsh in Moscow
Sunday June 22, 2003
The Observer

They call him the Goblin. He is the new toast of Russia's massive pirate video industry, his films sought all over Moscow. The trick of his silver screen success is that the Goblin redubs Hollywood movies, using his own 'better' Russian alternative to the script.

A former senior police investigator from St Petersburg, Dmitri Puchkov began by making fresh translations to replace the appalling subtitles on pirated films. But now his cult following has found pan-Russian appeal, with a ground-breaking rewrite of the first two parts of The Lord of the Rings ...

The new, irreverent version of The Lord of the Rings is set in Russia. Frodo Baggins is renamed Frodo Sumkin (a derivative from the Russian word sumka, or bag). The Ranger, Aragorn, is called Agronom (Russian for farm worker). Legolas is renamed Logovaz, after a Russian car company famed for its Ladas. Boromir becomes Baralgin, after a Russian type of paracetemol.

Gandalf spends much of the film trying to impress others with his in-depth knowledge of Karl Marx, and Frodo is cursed with the filthy tongue of a Russian criminal...

(There's a copy of this article at Buzzle too www.buzzle.com/editorials/6-22-2003-42004.asp )
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

The British Museum section on Mesopotamia - the land between the rivers
Some links to Iron Monkey blog (Tom_Good1 at excite.com) - a few sample posts:
Boycott Arabic Numerals: Remember IX-XI
A friend of mine suggests that if America can rename French Fries as "Freedom Fries," then what we really ought to do to take a stand against Middle Eastern terrorism is boycott Arabic numerals. He writes:

Actually, I was wondering why there was no post-9/11 backlash against Arabic numerals.
"Henceforth, 9/11 shall be written IX/XI"
- House resolution CCLXXXVI-B

I love the name IX-XI, because not only does it use Roman numerals, it is also a palindrome, and appears the same upside down. And it can be written using only 7 equal-length straight lines. It would make a good logo.

We debated how to represent binary numbers, since Roman numerals have no "0". I suggested "smiley face" for 1 and "frowning face" for 0, but he prefers "T" for 1 and "F" for 0.

Friday, March 14, 2003

The talk about Freedom Fries makes me think it's lucky that England supports the current U.S. policy. Otherwise, people would try to rename "English," and we would have to speak "Liberty Lingo" or "Coalitionagainstsaddamese." Actually, the perfect renaming for it would be newspeak.
From the Iron Monkey blog:

Official Magic
My friend sent me to check out the Yellow Bamboo Association ( www.google.com/search?q=yellow%20bamboo%20association). They say:

Yellow Bamboo is an official magic, healing and self defense association founded in Bali with over 30,000 members worldwide.

Good, I wouldn't want to waste my time with unofficial magic associations. Only the best for me.

How would you like to control the entire universe, both what goes within you and what happens with others?

It would certainly help with setting the clock on my VCR ... [please read on]
spiked-politics Mick Hume (Editor of spiked.)

People don't believe Blair - or anybody else

... But there is something different behind the bitter atmosphere that Blair encounters today. It seems that public mistrust has now become institutionalised as an almost automatic, unthinking response ...

In recent times the old collective institutions, from the churches and community organisations to trades unions and political parties, have lost their roots and their purchase. The great political projects of both left and right have also collapsed and died. Our societies have become more individualised, atomised and insecure. Unlike the past, when such ideas as nationalism or welfarism might have held things together, most people today see a lack of any common script or collective sense of identity with which to respond to events.

... This sort of institutionalised mistrust is corrosive of democracy and public life. Its corrosive effects are also seeping into our personal lives, as all surveys reveal that we are becoming increasingly mistrustful of one another. Far from the people united in questioning the authorities, it is more a case of all-against-all, everybody doubting the person next door ...


Escher pix


Magritte pix

Buddhist Mandala Images (similar ones are used in Matrix series)


Goethe’s Last Words
"Open the second shutter so that more light may come in" became the more sublime, "More light!" (There is, as with many last words, some debate. Goethe's last words may in fact have been, "Come my little one, and give me your paw.")

Goethe’s exquisite lyrical poems, often inspired by existing songs, challenged contemporary composers to give their best in music, and such songs as “Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt” [only the lonely heart], “Kennst du das Land” [know’st thou the land],

Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt
Weiß, was ich leide!
Allein und abgetrennt
Von aller Freude,
Seh ich [ans]1 Firmament
Nach jener Seite.

Ach! der mich liebt und kennt,
Ist in der Weite.
Es schwindelt mir, es brennt
Mein Eingeweide.
Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt
Weiß, was ich leide!

English by Lawrence Snyder

Only one who knows longing
Knows what I suffer!
Alone and cut off
From all joy,
I look into the firmament
In that direction.

Ach! he who loves and knows me
Is far away.
I am reeling,
My entrails are burning.
Only one who knows longing
Knows what I suffer!
Another English Translation

None but the lonely heart
Can know my sadness
Alone and parted
Far from joy and gladness
Heaven's boundless arch I see
Spread about above me
O what a distance dear to one
Who loves me
None but the lonely heart
Can know my sadness
Alone and parted
Far from joy and gladness
Alone and parted far
From joy and gladness
My senses fail
A burning fire
Devours me
None but the lonely heart
Can know my sadness

None but the weary heart
Music by Tchaikovsky

English translation. aka "None but the lonely heart"

None but the weary heart
Can know this anguish,
Alone and far apart
I faint and languish.

Upon the firmament
I gaze and wonder,
Ah, from my heart's belov'd
I dwell asunder.

None but the weary heart
Can know this anguish,
Alone and far apart
I faint and languish.

Alone from all thy love
I dwell asunder.

My spirit fails,
A burning fire consumes me.
None but the weary heart
Can know this anguish.


Tuesday, June 24, 2003
The anniversary of the excution of Julius & Ethel Rosenberg has just passed, and our Dr Helen Caldicott also recently was interviewed about how things are going on the nuclear side of things, which has been in the news with Iraq, new Star Wars plan, etc.

Earlier on the Matrix Essays blog I mentioned two non-Christian trinities (that word looks quite strange) in relation to the name of the character Trinity in the Matrix movie trilogy. These two were the three aspects of the Great Goddess - maid, mother, crone (which touches lightly on the Three Fates ) and Brahma, Vishnu & Shiva, the hindu Creator, Preserver & Destroyer.

Thought about Oppenheimer's quotating the Hindu scriptures on witnessing the first ever atomic explosion in the Alamogordo desert, New Mexico (July 16, 1945), a self-description of Shiva "I am become Death, destroyer of worlds".

Then I remembered the code name of that test: Trinity


Why did they call it this? See a review of a book on the Manhattan Project:
The Making of the Atomic Bomb, by Robert Rhodes www.epinions.com/book-review-505D-F145D1B-398E0B01-prod1
Format: Paperback - Perfect (ISBN: 0684813785)
Date Published: 08/01/1995 (published by Simon & Schuster Trade Paperbacks)
928 pages (also available on audio-cassette tape)

See maps, photos of this & other atomic tests at www.angelfire.com/tx/atomicveteran/photos.html

And also this page on the CG Jung site, where he describes a visit to the site as it is now:
The Trinity Site
By Donald Williams, M.A., Jungian Analyst (Boulder, Colorado)

On a 'something completely different' note, wasn't there a hero in spaghetti westerns called Trinity too?

Umberto Eco said he called his book
"The Name of the Rose"
, because the rose had been used to stand for so many different things that it had been pretty much exhausted of meaning. We may be getting close to that for some other words too.

More Real than Real: Disneyland as Matrix

Is Disneyland The Matrix? Is TV?

Umberto Eco's book Travels in Hyperreality, discusses the typically American quest to create the "Absolute Fake," an imitation that is better than reality. (see www.transparencynow.com/eco.htm)

It is in the two Disneys, where he finds the ultimate expression of hyperreality, in which everything is brighter, larger and more entertaining than in everyday life. In comparison to Disney, he implies, reality can be disappointing. When he travels the artificial river in Disneyland, for example, he sees animatronic imitations of animals. But, on a trip down the real Mississippi, the river fails to reveal its alligators. "...You risk feeling homesick for Disneyland," he concludes, "where the wild animals don't have to be coaxed. Disneyland tells us that technology can give us more reality than nature can."

I've heard people tell stories of visiting the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, while it was showing some models and props from the Star Trek TV shows. They were chagrined to discover that they were "more impressed" by the fake TV props than by the actual space vehicles on display nearby. As they put it, "real space ships are boring, they don't look very cool," whereas the Star Trek models were specifically created to engage the imagination.
Time Team digs up row over DIY excavation
Channel 4's nationwide project is condemned as 'grotesque' by professionals, who in turn are accused of elitism

Maev Kennedy, arts and heritage correspondent
Saturday June 21, 2003
The Guardian

This weekend sees the launch of Britain's largest archaeological excavation, against a chorus of protest from professional archaeologists.

The project involves 1,000 test pits of one metre square, which will be dug across the country, in back gardens, allotments, school grounds and patches of wasteland, monitored live on television by Channel 4's popular archaeology programme, Time Team.

The Big Dig experiment starts with a programme broadcast live tomorrow from Great Easton, a Domesday village in Leicestershire...
Monday, June 23, 2003
It's a great story. But like the I-Loo Microsoft hoax (which the
software giant's own PR company perpetuated and assured journalists
was true), the claim that an Oregon mental health centre was looking
for a Klingon-speaking interpreter for its patients was false.

On Monday, the
Associated Press)
said the clinic's research had found that the Star Trek language,
which has its own grammar and syntax, might be needed. "There are
some cases where we've had mental health patients where this was all
they would speak," said the county's purchasing administrator, Franna
Hathaway. That would have obliged them to employ an interpreter.

But the
( following day),
the mental health centre said no Klingon speakers had ever turned up
asking for treatment. "It was a mistake, and a result of an
overzealous attempt to ensure that our safety net systems can respond
to all customers and clients," Multnomah County chair Diane Linn said.

Wren's palatial models go on show

Miniature constructions of the hospital fit for a king on display in Greenwich after being unearthed in National Maritime Museum stores
Maev Kennedy, arts and heritage correspondent
Monday June 23, 2003
The Guardian

www.amazon.com site for
After Man: A Zoology of the Future
by Dougal Dixon

# Paperback: 124 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.46 x 10.82 x 9.09
# Publisher: Griffin Trade Paperback; (October 1998)
# ISBN: 0312194331
# Other Editions: Hardcover

The New Dinosaurs: An Alternative Evolution
by Dougal Dixon
# Hardcover: 120 pages
# Publisher: Salem House Publishing; (October 1988)
# ASIN: 0881623016
# Other Editions: Paperback (Reprint)

Thursday, June 19, 2003
Strange days, indeed. The Hello Cruel World main blog has disappeared, (The Dark Side is Taking Over) but you can reach the archives - once you find a place to reach the archives from. If they are still missing, I hope these hints will help you.

Vaulting ambition has overleapt, by the looks of it.

If you can't see the earlier entries, and you are looking for the Hello Cruel World entries part of Vandaljewels, try the link below, and once you are there you can connect to other parts using the other dated archive links
If you are reading this you probably don't need to do all this.

      beam me up, Scottie, there's no intelligent life here

      Emergency cross-link v1.2

I will have to go in & raise a bit of dust to fix up the problems. Times like this I miss my old platoon, they'd provide some covering fire while I move up on the flank. <ptang!>

Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Have a look at www.lipsum.com about history of the "Lorem Ipsum" passage, they also have a 'safe' filler generator.

Useful for fans of Latin too.


Life isn't always easy.

Sometimes people, teenagers especially, need a little helping hand to help them through the tough times. Moral problems, peer pressure, drugs, and sex are all things that teenagers have to face. Luckily, teens, you know that you're never alone ...

There is some other very nice writing, also 'The Editing Room', which provides abridged screenplays of popular films at other places on the air zero day dot com site.
Updated: 28 March, 1999

Famous Dead Nontheists
A list of famous dead people who have rejected God and religion. These are people throughout history who have advocated living life without deference to a transcendent power. The list is in order of birth date.

The purposes of this list are to combat the pervasive myth that atheists are terrible, immoral people and to convince the undecided that it is OK to be an atheist. Just like any other large group of people, some of these people lived exemplary lives and others did not. The point is not that these people are all heroes, but simply to notice that there are more nontheists out there than most people realize.

For a list of living celebrity atheists, I highly recommend Reed Esau's excellent, Celebrity Atheist List ( www.celebatheists.com ) .

The Online Books Page

Welcome to this special exhibit of books that have been the objects of censorship or censorship attempts. The books featured here, ranging from Ulysses to Little Red Riding Hood, have been selected from the indexes of The Online Books Page. (See that page for over 17,000 more online books!)


Mark Twain's Weapons of Satire: Introduction
By Jim Zwick
At the Center of Controversy

Douglas Adams quotes

Banned Book Week is Sept. 21-28 (2002)
Here are the 100 most frequently banned books in the last decade.

Digital Stars in Our Eyes
(in Stars in Our Eyes: The Star Phenomenon in the Contemporary Era. Edited by Angela Ndalianis and Charlotte Henry, Praeger Publishers, Connecticut, 2002)

Tuesday, June 17, 2003
From a Tolkein site
A page of images of villains from Tolkien's works
Assorted Matrix Movie Discussions
(Nice music in intro.)
Tiygu comment

A discussion thread from the Home Theatre Forum


By Annalee Newitz

Sex in the matrix

Ultan's Library
a journal for the study of Gene Wolfe
updated sep 2002
Editors: Jonathan Laidlow & Nigel Price

News and other off-site Wolfeana

* Gene Wolfe and Neil Gaiman chat in the latest issue of Locus: extracts available online
* Ultan contributor Dr Nick Gevers interviewed Gene Wolfe for SFSite
* Wolfe's essay on Tolkien, "The Best Introduction to the Mountains" now available online


Robert Borski - Desanctifying Victor Trenchard: some notes on Peter Wright's "Confounding the Skin and the Mask"
Peter Wright - Confounding the Skin and the Mask: Gene Wolfe’s The Fifth Head of Cerberus and the Politics of Ambiguity

Jeremy Crampton - Torture and confession in Wolfe's Book of the New Sun

Nick Gevers - Five Steps Towards Briah: Gene Wolfe's The Book of the Long Sun

Nick Gevers - The Reader as Augur: Beginnings and Endings in Gene Wolfe's The Book of the Long Sun

Jeremy Crampton - Some Greek Themes in Gene Wolfe's Latro novels


* The Book of the New Sun reviewed by Peter Wright
* On Blue's Waters reviewed by Nigel Price
* Strange Travelers reviewed by Michael Andre-Driussi
* The Fifth Head of Cerberus reviewed by Robert Borski

Reference Materials

New: Uncollected Short Fiction by Gene Wolfe - a checklist-in-progress
Secondary Bibliography - a working bibliography of critical material on Gene Wolfe
About the Contributors - further details of our writers

Sundry Other Matters:

Details of the Gene Wolfe Symposium held at the University of Birmingham in 2000.(original call for papers)

Links to other Gene Wolfe and Science Fiction websites and resources

from One Ring (the complete guide to Tolkein online), the section
Articles and Essays

Top / Literature / Articles and Essays

There are 35 sites in this category, listed alphabetically.

FOAF-a-matic is a simple Javascript application that allows you to create a FOAF ("Friend-of-A-Friend") description of yourself.

Interzone, Britain's leading science-fiction and fantasy magazine, founded in 1982,

Interzone has published short stories by many of the big names of the field, from Brian Aldiss and J. G. Ballard to Ian Watson and Gene Wolfe, but its particular strength has been in the nurturing of newer writers

Without Interzone, the already depressed British sf publishing scene would become a wasteland, and there would be no place left for new British writers to develop their craft... Interzone is and has been vital to the evolution of science fiction in the eighties and nineties, and I personally hope that it continues to be so for many years to come
- Gardner Dozois, introduction to his The Year's Best Science Fiction, Thirteenth Annual Collection (New York, St Martin's Press, 1996

Monday, June 16, 2003

Taliessin's Riddle

Discover thou what it is,- -
The strong creature from before the flood,
Without flesh, without bone, without head, without feet,
It will neither be younger nor older than at the beginning;
It has no fear, nor the rude wants of created things.
Great God! how the sea whitens when it comes!
It is in the field, it is in the wood,
Without hand, without foot,
Without age, without season,
It is always of the same age with the ages of ages,
And of equal breadth with the surface of the earth.
It was not born, it sees not,
And is not seen; it does not come when desired:
It has no form, it bears no burden.
For it is void of sin.
It makes no perturbation in the place where God wills it,
On the sea, on the land

A classic riddle, made at Castle Teganwy, Wales.
This could be seen as my contribution to Bloomsday. The celebration of the day described in James Joyce's Ulysses is usually quite substantial in Sydney.
Sunday, June 15, 2003

Making Light

Language, fraud, folly, truth, history, and knitting. Et cetera

Dangling engineer

I had this morning a note from John M. Ford:

From a British documentary on the Great Train Robbery:
"The brakeman returned to the cab to find his engineer on the floor, his head bleeding. It was filled with men in balaklava masks that hid their faces."

Obviously an inside job.

Posted by Teresa Nielsen Hayden at June 01, 2003 09:57 AM

Ruthless thogs, those guys.

Posted by: Davey on June 1, 2003 10:09 AM

Are you sure it was a British documentary? It uses the American words "Brakeman" and "Engineer" rather than the British "Guard" and "Driver".

Posted by: Tim Hall on June 1, 2003 11:44 AM

But it uses the word 'balaklava' (shouldn't that be 'balaclava'?) instead of 'bandana'.

That said, I sometimes wear a baklava mask that hides my face...or my mouth at any rate!

Posted by: Xopher on June 1, 2003 02:44 PM

It was a British doc, with British narrator -- part of a long-running "Great Crimes" series that History International shows -- but I may well have accidentally revised the words in the half-hour or so between seeing it and sending Teresa the note. (I -do- have a fairly complete vocabulary of UK railspeak, at least at less early hours of the morning.)

And a balaklava (which can be spelled either way) isn't a bandana -- it's a pullover hood, what Americans call a "ski mask."

Posted by: John M. Ford on June 1, 2003 03:11 PM

His problem is all in his head.

Posted by: Kathryn Cramer on June 1, 2003 03:34 PM

Chris, a balaclava is one of those knitted head-condoms that terrorists and bank robbers are so fond of.

Posted by: Teresa Nielsen Hayden on June 2, 2003 12:23 AM

I still can't get it out of my head that they are talking about baklava, a pastry.

Posted by: marty on June 2, 2003 12:17 PM

If it were a sticky enough pastry, they could be viscous criminals?

Sorry, couldn't resist...

Posted by: Tim Hall on June 2, 2003 05:38 PM

He's filled with tinier men!

Posted by: Alter S. Reiss on June 3, 2003 01:54 AM

Got to love those unclear antecedants....
Thanks for sharing!

(Back to watching out for sheep gambling in the meadow....)

Posted by: Elric on June 3, 2003 08:13 AM


1. The brakeman, his head bleeding, returned to find the engineer on the floor in his cabin, filled with men eating greek pastry that hid their faces.

2. The bleeding brakeman, returned to find his head engineer floored in the men-filled cabin, a hidden balaclava masking his face.

3. The brakeman returned to the head to find his engineer bleeding from the cabin, filled by men in balaclava masks that hid their faces.

4. broken man and bleeding,
from the engineered head,
from the masked face,
returned to the hidden cabin
with his head on its floor.

5. The masked brakeman, returned the cab to his hidden engineer, filled with men wearing balaclavas that hid their bleeding faces.

Posted by: bryan on June 3, 2003 08:51 AM

Bryan, I am slain.

Posted by: Teresa Nielsen Hayden on June 3, 2003 08:57 AM

You left out "Blood was pouring from the head of the engineer, who lay on the floor of the cab as the brakeman entered to find it filled with men in face-hiding balaclava masks."

Also "On the floor of the cab as the brakeman entered lay the engineer, bleeding from the head, and surrounded by balaclava-masked men."

And the extremely GERMAN "The brakeman returned to the men-in-face-hiding-balaclava-masks-filled, having-on-the-floor-the-from-the-head-bleeding-engineer cab."

While seldom tempted by the likes of the third of these, I go through and discard many, many variations like the first two every time I try to write...this may be why I've finished only one story (and that stream-of-consciousness) in the past 20 years.

Anyone else doubt that the GTR felons wore balaclavas? Were they in fashion at the time? If so, have I just been hornswoggled by too many movies, including the famous very first one?

Posted by: Xopher on June 3, 2003 12:24 PM


I too first thought it was some odd misspelling of "baklava," then realized it was something else and began to confuse it with "balalaika," which made for an even more surreal image.

After all, this being the old west, they would have covered their heads with banjos while they cleverly hid in the engineer's wound.

Posted by: Kevin Andrew Murphy on June 3, 2003 01:54 PM

Xopher, I think in German it would be "The brakeman to the men-in-face-hiding-balaclava-masks-filled, having-on-the-floor-the-from-the-head-bleeding-engineer cab returned." Verb at the end.

Just one of many reasons I'm glad my ancestors came to America.

Posted by: Lois Fundis on June 3, 2003 03:56 PM

Naw. There's always a chunk of verb in the second position in a German declarative. It would be "The brakeman turned to the men-in-face-hiding-balaclava-masks-filled, having-on-the-floor-the-from-the-head-bleeding-engineer cab re."
Posted by: Xopher on June 3, 2003 04:00 PM

Now someone translate all that into Klingon...

Posted by: Tim Hall on June 3, 2003 04:55 PM

Idiomatic Klingon translation:

Robbed train. Left no witnesses.

Posted by: John M. Ford on June 3, 2003 07:55 PM

Xopher, my German classes were long ago, but isn't the prefix in the second position? Thus, "the brakeman re to the men-in-face-hiding-balaclava-masks-filled, having-on-the-floor-the-from-the-head-bleeding-engineer cab turned."

Owie. Now I remember why I do medieval French instead.

Posted by: Anne on June 3, 2003 08:30 PM

I've spent too much time in offices. Anne, that leads me irresistibly to

FROM: The Head bleeding Engineer
TO: The Brakeman
RE: Men in face-hiding balaclava masks

Please ensure that subject men fill the cab and are turned toward the floor.

Posted by: Jordin Kare on June 3, 2003 08:59 PM

No, Xopher has got it right. The verb stays put in the middle, the prefix separates and goes drifting off in the breeze, eventually to turn up at the end of the sentence.
Posted by: David Goldfarb on June 4, 2003 01:08 AM

It's the auxiliary verb that stays in second place in German sentences and lets the main verb wander off to the end.

E.g., Der Lokomotivfuehrer sollte das Baklava essen.

Or something like that.

Posted by: Simon on June 4, 2003 12:02 PM

Vielen Dank, messieurs dames...I made it out of German alive only because my 4th-semester prof saw how bad we were and used the grammar-translation method exclusively. (If there's one thing I can do, it's look stuff up.) So I'm always pleased to dig random little bits of grammar out of my subconscious and dust them off.

Posted by: Anne on June 4, 2003 12:29 PM

-- Where is the potato?
She is on the sideboard.
-- Where is the lovely young maiden?
It is in the parlor.

No points for sourcing -that- one.

Posted by: John M. Ford on June 4, 2003 09:59 PM

Yes, John, because the -chen suffix is (or was formerly) always gramatically neuter. BUT in that particular case the feminine gender is commonly used, for exactly the cog-dis reason you point out.

Posted by: Xopher on June 5, 2003 02:44 PM

But, more importantly, is a balaclava named after the battle of Balaclava? or is that Crimean site named after the fashion item which we in the upper 13 are so fond of, especially in 40 below temperatures?

Posted by: Vancouverite on June 10, 2003 01:40 AM

As for whether the Great Train Robbery perps wore balaclavae, I expect this is the 1963 GTR, as opposed to all the other GTRs.

Posted by: James D. Macdonald on June 10, 2003 01:47 PM

[Note see The Windhover "I caught this morning morning's minion" in post for St Andrew's Day (Nov 30) 2002 - think I've worked out how to link to another entry :) ]
Saturday, June 14, 2003
Aha! Looks like the Pyra People (now Google Goons?) have swapped this little black duck over to the new version. Will investigate this to see how well it's working when my eyes/braincells are in better order than now.
PS: Current local time is 0233 on Saturday, 4-IV-2003. Wonder how their time-recognition is in the new dispensation - up to now it's been ... creative :)

But the reason I came over here was to gloat a bit & say HI GUYS to anyone who came over here from the Epacris link over in www.matrixessays.blogspot.com.

From a feedback/comment thread

jumbo jimbo () @ 06/12/2003 10:29:

... Here, i think, is where an important element is overlooked: the dance. the dance in Zion is the thing that staves off oblivion, and all the concern about utilitarian reason or irrational faith centers around a dance between male and female where hierarchical architectural structures submits to individualistic ethos; and the matrix then can be seen not as a machine with a job, but as an ocean of bodies, in which they dance.

Tom (http://matrixessays.blogspot.com) @ 06/12/2003 12:06:

The excerpt in this post is not my personal view. It is just a quote from a review that I found interesting.
I like your point about the dance.

Epacris (http://www.vandaljewels.net) @ 06/13/2003 10:06:

Yes, jumbo jimbo, when you said
"and the matrix then can be seen not as a machine with a job, but as an ocean of bodies, in which they dance."
This is something that's been bouncing around in my mind too. "Matrix" - as someone somewhere has mentioned before in the discussion - is Latin for womb, and from that became metaphorically the ground or base of things out of which they grow (see the other things that came from this in any dictionary entry). Somehow it also came to mean a serried, ordered, grid of numbers (years back I did a term studying matrix maths).
So the word itself contains these 2 images, the bodily-based, organic, & non-regimented creative force & the mathematical/machine abstract, controlled geomatric aspect (that was a typo, but I like 'geomatric' instead of 'geometric')

This little (b)log here that you're reading used to have an entry in Google's results, but it fell off, so now my craving for attenetion (hmm - was that a Freudian typo?) is being fulfilled in other ways :). Don't expect the kind of carefully-crafted, literate, artistic blogs I've seen around. This is just full of thoughts & feelings & a few rants & interesting links & extracts from interesting sites or books, etc. Not The New Journalism by any means.
Thursday, June 12, 2003
I work in Australia for one of those evil giant multinationals (not one of the famous ones, tho'). Due to the joys of email, I can keep in touch with my fellow wageslaves in branches elsewhere, like Canada, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom &, of course, the United States of America.
To leaven the deeply intense work-related exchanges, I sometimes like to toss in something less formal (no-one has yet answered my query about just what eggs 'over easy' are). Here is a recent one I rather liked.
Sent: Friday, 30 May 2003 9:50
Subject: RE: What is it about Krispy Kreme that their doughnuts can influence the Dow?

By the way, have you ever had a Krispy Kreme doughnut? :-)

Subject: RE: What is it about Krispy Kreme that their doughnuts can influence the Dow?
Date: Tue, 3 Jun 2003 14:06:27 +1000

Not yet ...
looks like I'll get the chance Real Soon Now (even before the next Harry Potter book is out).

[I see a KrispyKreme-man, sort of like a cross between the giant marshmallow critter in Ghostbusters & the Michelin man ... coming across the Pacific ocean bed, then through Sydney Harbour as a shape under the surface, rather
like the whales recently, and striding up the Parramatta River, gradually more & more of him above the waterline as he gets closer to the source, the waves in his wake surging up the banks as he turns into the calm green waters of the Nepean, scattering kayakers, 'til he steps ashore, leaning on the road bridge, to visit his immigrant outlet, set on the wide, flat Cumberland Plain. (Unlike the Wicked Witch of the West (East?) he don't dissolve in water.)]


DOUGHNUT maker Krispy Kreme launched in Australia this week, but like fellow American über-brand Marykateandashley, the company eschewed the traditional
advertising route, opting instead for a sampling and PR campaign.

... The first of 30 proposed Krispy Kreme stores will open in Penrith, western Sydney, in June.

Krispy Kreme Australia CEO John McGuigan said ... "On almost any day of the week we will be involved in different sampling activities. We're going to give away a lot of doughnuts."


[This one has some interesting business details]
D'oh!-Nuts from Homerland
By Jeremy Roberts

... Following the well-trodden path of treacly food and drink invented in the south of the US, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts will open its first "store" at Penrith in western Sydney on *June 19* ... - the first export of the product outside North America.

... the KK doughnut will become ubiquitous in Sydney and then Australia if its popularity in the US is any guide (this moderately unhealthy reporter managed four in one sitting before getting a headache).

...Krispy Kreme Australia is 35 per cent owned by Krispy Kreme Doughnuts of the US, and 65 per cent owned by Borderless Australia, controlled by business partners John McGuigan and Lawrence Maltz.

An Australian, Mr McGuigan retired as executive chairman of international *law* firm Baker & McKenzie in 1998 before identifying Krispy Kreme as a
business opportunity and becoming Australian chief executive last year.

His friend and business partner Mr Maltz, one of the driving forces behind international coffee juggernaut Starbucks in the 1990s, is based on the west coast of the US.

[Looks like they've got the coffee & doughnut market sewn up, then. Note that I didn't make any jokes about malts.]

http://www.krispykreme.com.au/faq.html has some factoids.

But it looks like I can't get in on the ground floor.

As you may be aware, we no longer have franchise opportunites/development
rights available in Australia. We are not accepting applications at this
time. Several markets are currently under development and stores will be
opening soon.
Yeah, I know I'm just dumping stuff here rather quickly. One hopes one will get a chance to a) clean up/tighten entries; b) add some explications & ruminations, etc.
F'rinstance, I've added more to my little Matrix rave, but it's on the work machine & will have to either post from there or mail it home & post it to the Matrix Essays site. Ah, the wonderful wired world, hey?
Citrus names (page 1 of 3)
One example
(NOTE: includes other alphabets which don't show here):
Citrus aurantiifolia (Christm. et Panz.) Swingle

SYNONYM(S) : Citrus medica L. var. acida (Roxb.) Hook. f., Citrus acida Roxb. , Citrus lima Lunan , Citrus medica L. var. acida (Roxb.) Hook. f., Citrus aurantium L. subsp. aurantifolia , Citrus aurantium L. var. aurantifolia , Citrus hystrix DC. ssp. acida (Roxb.) Engl., Citrus javanica Blume, Citrus notissima Blanco, Limonia aurantifolia Christm. & Panzer.

ARABIC : Limah.
CHINESE : Lai meng, Lai meng
DANISH : Lime.
DUTCH : Lemmetje, Limoen (Flemish).
ENGLISH : Lime, Common lime, Acid lime, Mexican lime, West Indian lime, Sour lime, Large lime, Key lime.
FRENCH : Limette acide, Limettier, Lime mexicaine.
GERMAN: Limettenbaum, Limettenzitrone, Saure Limette.
KHMER : Krôôch chhmaa muul.
MALAY : Limau nipis, Limau neepis, Limau asam (Malaysia), Jeruk neepis, Jeruk nipis (Indonesia) , Jeruk pecel (Indonesia).
PORTUGUESE : Lima ácida, Limão galego.
SPANISH : Lima ácida, Lima chica, Limón agrio, Limón chiquito, Limón criollo.
TAGALOG : Dayap, Dayalap.
THAI : Manao, Som manao.
VISAYAN : Suwa, (Biyasong, Limun ?).

Sydney Postharvest Laboratory
located at Food Science Australia (CSIRO & Afisc), Sydney, Australia
The Sydney Postharvest Laboratory (SPL) has its origins in a thirty year tradition of international excellence in horticultural and plant physiology research. The main services offered to the fresh fruit and vegetable industry are :- advice and research for specific problems, evaluation of postharvest technologies, storage and handling software, assistance with commercialisation, training, patents for licensing, expert witness and cargo loss.
Fruit The current Laboratory is based on personnel previously from CSIRO. It is located at Food Science Australia (CSIRO & Afisc) and has many close collaborative links with both Food Science Australia and Sydney University involving personnel and equipment. However, it offers a fully independent research and consultancy service. It has a large number of contacts and collaborations with leading Australian and international personnel, both from other Australian institutions and companies and from overseas.
Includes pages:
Optimal Fresh - Horticultural Storage and Handling Database
Produce Fruit & Vegetable Storage Information
Postharvest Information Sheets
Alternate and Botanical Names of Horticultural Crops
Comprehensive Postharvest Horticulture (+ Extras) Links
Australian Fresh Produce Availability and Market Information
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Welcome to Petloss.com, a gentle and compassionate website for pet lovers who are grieving over the death of a pet or an ill pet. Here you will find personal support, thoughtful advice, The Monday Pet Loss Candle Ceremony, Tribute Pages, healing poetry like Rainbow Bridge & much more

Archaeological Resource Guide for Europe
Supported by the EC-SOCRATES project ArcheoNet (1997-1998)
and the EC-INCO project ArchTerra (1999-2000)

The Prehistory of Finland - site has some good pics of assorted finds, as well as bg text - this bit in english.




The National Board of Antiquities, Helsinki 1999
The National Museum of Finland

About Antiquity
Antiquity is a quarterly journal of archaeological research. It has been the main journal of international archaeological debate and reporting for 75 years, and aims to present interesting topical and accessible material to a wide audience

Web Site
  • Arct Gallery: A regular update on ongoing archaeological work, detailing excavations, surveys, investigations and projects world-wide.

  • News: News and information from the archaeological world.

  • Past Antiquity: Access information about past issues of Antiquity. This section contains selected, landmark articles from past issues, a full index to the journal from 1927, and a constantly growing set of contents pages from past issues.

  • Letters to the Editor: The opportunity to voice your opinions, concerns or beliefs online in an ever-developing forum of archaeological debate.

  • www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/06/10/1055010935165.html
    He was a heel, so she gave it to him
    June 10 2003
    A stormy relationship ended up on a Brooklyn street in the early hours of Saturday when a 100kg woman sat on her ex-boyfriend's chest and clubbed him to death with her size 12 high heeled shoe, police said today
    [Well, I've had similar urges, but managed to repress them. What size do you think an American 12 would be in ours? She's somewhat larger than me, I think. Reminds me a bit of that one some months back about the woman running over her ?estranged husband? "accidentally" several times. And during the week of June 23-28, for several days the most popular (highest hits) article on www.smh.com.au was "Man stabbe to death for singing Sinatra off-key.]

    Speaking of "Women Who Go Bad"
    Folbigg is neither a monster nor a genetically controlled puppet

    [also includes quick explanation of "what psychologists know about the consequences of disrupted attachments in early childhood"]
    ... Folbigg's early life had emotional deprivation and multiple separation experiences. The mother was a drunk and addicted to gambling. The father, Jack Britton, was violent, abusive and a hit man. After one argument her mother walked out, abandoning Kathleen.

    Britton left Kathleen with friends. When he tried to persuade the mother to return to the grief-stricken baby, she repeatedly refused. Just before her death, Britton claimed, "I told her the baby was fretting for her and not eating. She said again she couldn't care less." Overcome with rage, he stabbed her 27 times.

    With the* mother dead and the* father behind bars, Folbigg was fostered out... [*Why doesn't she say "her" mother, "her" father? Mimicking affectionless?]

    MATRIX - Some possibilities

    explodingsnap.blogspot.com imagines a pretty funny possible ending to the series:
    What if it's all just a video game and at the end we get to see two teens on a couch, one playing as Neo and the other as Trinity, removing their virtual reality helmets. Then one guy says to the other "Hey...I uhm, thought you were a chick."
    That would mean these movies were secretly the sequels to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure all along. [I think Mr Reeves' first feature film appearance was in that movie.]

    Spoof new Matrix script www.pointlesswasteoftime.com/matrix2/matrix2script6.html

    Matrix: ReSeussed

    On the current matrixessays.blogspot.com there's a version done as a "Gansta" rap video - excellent work.

    Also see "Criticism of Matrix Hype"

    Monday, June 09, 2003
    "[The Matrix] has far more potential for intellectual masturbation than Star Trek as this blog proves superbly." -- Harry

    Might go & see the sequel sometime. I only saw the original on TV. It was a fairly enjoyable reworking of some classic themes. I don't like its attitude towards killing off us little 'transistors' in the circuit board, though - the old 'breaking eggs to make an omelette' rationale.
    As a Sydneysider, it's fun to check out the backgrounds, and nice to see familiar actors. One nice bit of "Farscape" was that most of the non-leads were Ozzie, and even if you didn't recognise their faces, hearing your own voices really comforted the ear.

    The other, amusing, thing was seeing familiar bushland, sometimes with things like bits of bushes splashed with blue paint, or with other odd things inserted to make it look like an alien planet. If they went out into some of the remoter parts of Australia, they'd find some quite alien & strange looking things, but that's not only difficult, sometimes dangerous & also *expensive*.

    Funny thing: One of our touted hot new actresses, Claudia Karvan, played a major part in several connected Farscape episodes, but she was almost totally covered in a very exotically glamorous exoskelton in bluey-purpley-greenish shades, with 1950s type extended fins. She did a nice predatorily evil femme fatale. The later eps of the series seemed to be somewhat influenced by Matrix style.

    My friend The Collector has DVD of the first series, & hopes to collect the other series of it, so we'll be able to follow through & examine some of those sorts of things. The TV station that was showing it treated it very badly, & made it a chore to try & watch & follow. Have missed whole chunks, seen other bits out of sequence & so forth, still enjoyed what I saw, but you miss or misunderstand quite a bit. Doubt that this is some arse-about way of merchandising the video/DVD versions - am inclined to more the stuff-up than the conspiracy.
    Carl Sagan: In the Valley of the Shadow
    I've seen this quoted in several places, but now am not sure just where I found the whole article. Hence it's here in full. I've seen a lot of things quoted out of their context, and it can be very misleading, so here is the body, not just the "bleeding chunks". You could, perhaps, say his whole published corpus is the body :) but this does give a reasonable idea of his main concerns, trying to convey the wonder & beauty - & also the darker side - of the way things are, and to raise the humanity of humans.

    A book, "Billions and Billions" was published after his death, which had a collection of essays & articles including this. The Demon Haunted World, mentioned in it, was also published, and you probably remember the movie of his novel, Contact. It wasn't too bad, though of course I also recommend reading the book which is able to fill out & follow up things the film couldn't.

    In the Valley of the Shadow

    Dr. Carl Sagan

    March 10, 1996
    Parade Magazine

    Four times now I have looked Death in the face. And four times Death has averted his gaze and let me pass. Eventually, of course, Death will claim me – as he does each of us. It’s only a question of when. And how.

    I’ve learned much from our confrontations — especially about the beauty and sweet poignancy of life, about the preciousness of friends and family, about the transforming power of love. In fact, almost dying is such a positive, character-building experience that I’d recommend it to everybody — except, of course, for the irreducible and essential element of risk.

    I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking.

    I want to grow really old with my wife, Annie, whom I dearly love. I want to see my younger children grow up and play a role in their character and intellectual development. I want to meet still unconceived grandchildren. There are scientific problems whose outcomes I long to witness — such as the exploration of many of the worlds in our solar system and the search for life elsewhere. I want to learn how major trends in human history, both hopeful and worrisome, work themselves out: the dangers and promise of our technology, say; the emancipation of women; the growing political, economic and technological ascendancy of China; interstellar flight.

    If there were life after death, I might, no matter when I die, satisfy most of these deep curiosities and longings. But if death is nothing more than an endless, dreamless sleep, this is a forlorn hope. Maybe this perspective has given me a little extra motivation to stay alive.

    The world is so exquisite, with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence. Far better, it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.

    Near my shaving mirror, so I see it every morning, is a framed postcard. On the back is a penciled message to a Mr. James Day in Swansea Valley, Wales. It reads:

    Dear Friend,

    Just a line to show that I am alive & kicking and going grand. It’s a treat.


    It’s signed with the almost-indecipherable initials of one William John Rogers. On the front is a color photo of a sleek, four-funneled steamer captioned "White Star Liner Titanic." The postmark was imprinted the day before the great ship went down, losing more than 1500 lives, including Mr. Rogers’. Annie and I display the postcard for a reason. We know that "going grand" can be the most temporary and illusory state. So it was with us.

    We were in apparently good health, our children thriving. We were writing books, embarking on ambitious new television and motion-picture projects, lecturing, and I continued to be engaged in the most exciting scientific research.

    Standing by the framed postcard one morning late in 1994, Annie noticed an ugly black-and-blue mark on my arm that had been there for many weeks. "Why hasn’t it gone away?" she asked. At her insistence, I somewhat reluctantly (black-and-blue marks can’t be serious, can they?) went to the doctor to have some routine blood tests.

    We heard from him a few days later when we were in Austin, Texas. He was troubled. There clearly was some lab mix-up. The analysis showed the blood of a very sick person. "Please," he urged, "get retested right away." I did. There had been no mistake.

    My red cells, which carry oxygen all over the body, and my white cells, which fight disease, were both severely depleted. The most likely explanation: that there was a problem with the stem cells, the common ancestors of both white and red blood cells, which are generated in the bone marrow. The diagnosis was confirmed by experts in the field. I had a disease I had never heard of before: myelodysplasia. Its origin is unknown. If I did nothing, I was astonished to learn, my chances were zero. I’d be dead in six months. I was still feeling fine — perhaps a little lightheaded from time to time. I was active and productive. The notion that I was on death’s doorstep seemed a grotesque joke.

    There was only one known means of treatment that might generate a cure: a bone-marrow transplant. But that would only work if I could find a compatible donor. Even then, my immune system would have to be entirely suppressed so the donor’s bone marrow wouldn’t be rejected by my body. However, a severely suppressed immune system might kill me in several other ways — for example, by so limiting my resistance to disease that I might fall prey to any passing microbe. Briefly I thought about doing nothing and waiting for advanced in medical research to find a new cure. But that was the slimmest of hopes.

    All our lines of research as to where to go converged on the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, one of the premier institutions for bone-marrow transplants in the world. It is where many experts in the field hang their hats — among them E. Donnall Thomas, the winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for perfecting the present techniques of bone-marrow transplantation. The high competence of the doctors and nurses, the excellence of their care, fully justified the advice we were given to be treated at "the Hutch."

    The first step was to see if a compatible donor could be found. Some people never find one. Annie and I called my only sibling — my younger sister, Cari. I found myself allusive and indirect. Cari didn’t even know I was ill. Before I could get to the point, she said, "You got it. Whatever it is…liver…lung…It’s yours." I still get a lump in my throat every time I think of Cari’s generosity.

    But there was of course no guarantee that her bone marrow would be compatible with mine. She underwent a series of tests, and one after another, all six compatibility factors matched mine. She was a perfect match. I was incredibly lucky.

    But "lucky" is a comparative term. Even with the perfect compatibility, my over-all chances of a cure were something like 30 percent. That’s like playing Russian Roulette with four cartridges instead of one in the cylinder. But it was by far the best chance that I had, and I had faced longer odds in the past.

    Our whole family moved to Seattle, including Annie’s parents. We enjoyed a constant flow of visitors — grown-up children, my grandson, other relatives and friends — both when I was in the hospital and when I was an outpatient. I’m sure that the support and love I received, especially from Annie, tilted the odds in my favor.


    There were, as you might guess, many scary aspects. I remember one night, on medical instructions, getting up at 2 a.m. and opening the first of 12 plastic containers of busulfan tablets, a potent chemotherapeutic agent. The bag read:




    Dispose of as BIOHAZARD

    One after another, I popped 72 of these pills. It was a lethal amount. If I was not to have a bone-marrow transplant soon after, this immune-suppression therapy by itself would have killed me. It was like taking a fatal dose of arsenic or cyanide, hoping that the right antidote would be supplied in time.

    The drugs to suppress my immune system had a few direct effects. I was in a continuous state of moderate nausea, but it was controlled by other drugs and not so bad that I couldn’t get some work done. I lost almost all of my hair — which, along with a later weight loss, gave me a somewhat cadaverous appearance. But I was much buoyed when our 4-year-old son, Sam, looked me over and said, "Nice haircut, Dad." And then, "I don’t know anything about you being sick. All I know is, you’re gonna get better."

    I had expected the transplant itself to be enormously painful. It was nothing of the sort. It was just like a blood transfusion, with my sister’s bone marrow cells on their own finding their way to my own bone marrow. Some aspects of the treatment were extremely painful, but there’s a kind of traumatic amnesia that happens, so that when it’s all over you’ve almost forgotten the pain. The Hutch has an enlightened policy of self-administered anti-pain drugs, including morphine derivatives, so that I could immediately deal with severe pain. It made the whole experience much more bearable.

    At the end of the treatment, my red and white cells were mainly Cari’s. Their sex chromosomes were XX, instead of the rest of my body’s XY. I had female red and white blood cells and platelets circulating through my body. I kept waiting for some of Cari’s interests to assert themselves — a passion for riding horses, say, or for seeing half a dozen Broadway plays at one clip — but it never happened.

    Annie and Cari saved my life. I’ll always be grateful to them for their love and compassion. After being released from the hospital, I needed all sorts of medical attention, including drugs administered several times a day through a porthole in my vena cava. Annie was my "designated caregiver" — administering medication day and night, changing dressings, checking my vital signs and providing essential support. People who arrive at the hospital alone are said, understandably, to have much poorer chances.

    I was, for the moment, spared because of medical research. Some of it was applied research, designed to help cure or mitigate killer diseases directly. Some of it was basic research, designed only to understand how living things work — but with ultimately unpredictable practical benefits, serendipitious results.

    I was spared also by the medical insurance provided by Cornell University and (as a spousal benefit via Annie) by the Writers Guild of America — the organization of writers for movies, television, etc. There are tens of millions in America without such medical insurance. What would we have done in their shoes?

    In my writings, I have tried to show how closely related we are to other animals, how cruel it is to gratuitously inflict pain on them, and how morally bankrupt it is to slaughter them, say, to manufacture lipstick. But still, as Dr. Thomas put it in his Nobel Prize lecture, "The marrow grafting could not have reached clinical application without animal research, first in in-bred rodents and then in out-bred species, particularly the dog." I remain very conflicted in this issue. I would not be alive today if not for the research on animals.

    So life returned to normal. Annie and our family returned to Ithaca, N.Y., where we live. I completed several research projects and did the final proofing of my book "The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark". We met with Bob Zemeckis, the new director of the Warner Brothers movie "Contact", based on my novel, which we are co-producing. We began negotiating on some new television and movie projects. I participated in the early stages of the encounter with Jupiter of the Galileo spacecraft.

    But if there was one lesson I keenly learned, it is that the future is unpredictable. As William John Rogers, cheerfully penciling his postcard in the brisk air of the North Atlantic, ruefully discovered, there is no telling what even the immediate future holds. And so, after being home for months—my hair growing back, my weight back to normal, my white and red cells counts in the normal range and me feeling absolutely splendid—another routine blood test took the wind out of my sails.

    "I’m afraid I have some bad news for you," the physician said. My bone marrow had revealed the presence of a new population of dangerous rapidly reproducing cells. In two days, the whole family was back in Seattle. I’m writing this article from my hospital bed at the Hutch. Through a new experimental procedure, it was determined that these anomalous cells lack an enzyme that would protect them from two standard chemotherapeutic agents — chemicals I hadn’t been given before. After one round with these agents, no anomalous cells — not one — could be found in my marrow. To mop up any stragglers (they can be a few but very fast growing), I’m in the midst of two more rounds of chemotherapy — probably to be topped off with some more cells from my sister. Once more, I have a real shot at a complete cure.

    We all have a tendency to succumb to a state of despair about the destructiveness and shortsightiveness of the human species. I’ve certainly done my share (and on grounds I still consider well-based). But one of my discoveries during my illness is the extraordinary community of goodness to which people in my situation owe their lives.

    There are more than 2 million Americans in the National Marrow Donor Program’s volunteer registry, all willing to submit to a somewhat uncomfortable marrow extraction to benefit some unrelated perfect stranger. Millions more contribute blood to the American Red Cross for no financial reward, not even a $5 bill, to save an anonymous life.

    Scientists and technicians work for years — against long odds, often for low salaries and never with a guarantee of success. They have many motivations, but one of them is the hope of helping others, of curing diseases, of staving off death. When too much cynicism threatens to engulf us, it is buoying to remember how pervasive goodness is.

    Five thousand people prayed for me at an Easter service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, the largest church in Christendom. A Hindu priest described a large prayer vigil for me held on banks of the Ganges. The Imam of North America told be about his prayers for my recovery. Many Christians and Jews wrote me to tell about theirs. While I do not think that, if there is a god, his plan for me will be altered by prayer, I’m more grateful than I can say to those — including so many whom I’ve never met — who have pulled for me during my illness.

    Many of them have asked me how it is possible to face death without the certainty of an afterlife. I can only say that it hasn’t been a problem. With reservations about "feeble souls," I share the view of a hero of mine, Albert Einstein: "I cannot conceive of a god who rewards and punishes his creatures or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I—nor would I want to—conceive of an individual that survives his physical death. Let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egotism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature."

    Update: Found links to Carl Sagan's 'In the Valley of the Shadow' article published in the March 1996 issue of Parade Magazine (he died on 20th December that year) dealing with his illness and some questions arising from it.

    Some related links

    Planetary Society - Oz


    Carl Sagan's 'Cosmos' - updated - a DVD set for sale
    on a site dedicated to him


    Sunday, June 08, 2003
    This has apparently come into some prominence recently, as many people have been looking for support & comfort & ways to warn people about some dangers they see growing in the world.

    Remember that Charles Chaplin was an Englishman, though he'd been in Hollywood for many years by September 1939, when full-strength war broke out in Europe.
    "The Great Dictator" came out in 1940, while America was mostly reluctant to join in, or even to lend much help to the Allied forces. It took over two years, until the end of 1941, when Japan spread the war to the Pacific for the bulk of the population to support this. In the meanwhile quite a few things, including films, were trying to get Americans' sympathy for the anti-fascist cause. "Casablanca" was made soon after the US entered the war, & involves much sympathy raising material, which was also bringing Americans up to date on developments.

    Short Plot Outline: In Chaplin's satire on Nazi Germany, dictator Adenoid Hynkel has a double... a poor Jewish barber... who one day is mistaken for Hynkel

    1-page Summary of plot from Internet Movie Data Base

    Final Speech of "The Great Dictator"

    by Charlie Chaplin

    Schulz: "Speak - it is our only hope."
    The jewish barber: "Hope... I'm sorry but I don't want to be an Emperor - that's not my business - I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that.

    We all want to live by each other's happiness, not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone.

    The way of life can be free and beautiful. But we have lost
    the way. Greed has poisoned men's souls - has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.

    We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in: machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little: More than machinery we need humanity; More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

    The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say "Do not despair".

    The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress: the hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power
    they took from the people, will return to the people and so long as men die [now] liberty will never perish...

    Soldiers - don't give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you - who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder.

    Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don't hate - only the
    unloved hate. Only the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers - don't fight for slavery, fight for liberty.

    In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written "the kingdom of God is within man" - not one man, nor a group of men - but in all men - in you, the people.

    You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy
    let's use that power - let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfil their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfil that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men's happiness.

    Soldiers - in the name of democracy, let us all unite! . . .

    Look up! Look up! The clouds are lifting - the sun is breaking through.
    We are coming out of the darkness into the light. We are coming into a new world. A kind new world where men will rise above their hate and brutality.

    The soul of man has been given wings - and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow - into the light of hope - into the future, that glorious future that belongs to you, to me and to all of us. Look up. Look up."
    Monday, June 02, 2003
    ah, dearie me. One step forward, two steps back*:
    You ring to find out what you need to do;
    They tell you;
    You get your documentation, You go to fill in the forms;
    They say they need (even) more documentation;
    You get more documents together, You go to fill in the forms;
    They say it's OK;
    You fill in the forms;
    They ring to say they need more forms filled;
    They send you forms;
    You fill the forms in,
    You send them back;

    They send you totally off-the-point letters;
    You ring to ask what's happening;
    They say "What! Who you? I'll put you on hold ..."

    silence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    You ring back;
    They say "What! Who you? I'll put you on hold ..." [repeat ad libitum]
    You find the right person
    They say "Oh, we don't have the right form filled in. We'll post you more forms."
    so it goes ...

    *aka "You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out, you do the Hokey Cokey and you shake it all about..."

    Good News
  • One day you'll die and the hurting will stop

  • Bad News
  • Today is not that day

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     / . Lives in Australia/New South Wales/Sydney, speaks English. Eye color is hazel. I am what my mother calls unique. My interests are photography, reading, natural history/land use, town planning, sustainability.

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    Australia, New South Wales, Sydney, English, photography, reading, natural history, land use, town planning, sustainability.