Hello Cruel World
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Recipe 2: Single Malt Truffles
Something for those really bad difficult days
I owe James Herriot the idea, but scotch in combination with strong cheddar and fruit cake is an astoundingly good snack.
The right scotch is also delightful with a good dark chocolate... hmmm.
Single malt truffles1/2 cup cream
12 oz of good quality bittersweet chocolate, in bits
4 tbs. butter, in bits, at room temp
1/4 cup single malt
Bring cream to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until smooth. Stir in butter until blended. Stir in scotch.
Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. (or immediately pour over pound cake or ice cream)
Scoop into small balls. Roll in cocoa.
I've used several different single malts with good results every time. It was nice with Oban and lovely with Balvenie Doublewood 12 year. Laphroig was delicious but needs a strong chocolate which can hold its own. Oban is fine with a lighter chocolate, even a semisweet, but milk chocolate fades behind the stronger flavoured scotches.
Madeleine Robins: Long ago and far away, a friend and I discovered the slightly goofy pleasure of high-end dark chocolate Easter bunny as a refined accompaniment to a good cognac. Brandy n' bunny was a mainstay for a good long time ...
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, -–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
From 'Dulce et decorum est' by Wilfred Owen
(The same old lies, the same ever-new suffering. How to differentiate amongst such deadly dark shades of grey as the balance of evils?)
Monday, June 28, 2004
What Lessons from a War Memorial?
Sydney Morning Herald Letters, Monday June 28th, 2004
One thing I am missing in this flag debate: why is it good to be patriotic?
Matthew Roberts, Normanhurst, June 23.
www.smh.com.au/text/articles/2004/06/24/1088046225916.html (plain text)Sydney Morning Herald Letters, Monday June 28th, 2004
Matthew Roberts asks "why is it good to be patriotic?". If he were to stand near the Pool of Reflection and the Eternal Flame below the Roll of Honour, inscribed with the names of Australia's 100,000 war dead, in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, he would find his answer.
Charlie Lemaire, Murwillumbah, June 26.
www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/06/27/1088274625358.html (plain text)
Yes, Charlie Lemaire, the Australian War Memorial does show the consequences of patriotism's dark side . A patriotic Serbian assassinated Archduke Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo on June 28th ninety years ago, starting a terrible engine of war that, fueled by appeals to patriotism (see Oh, What a Lovely War), reaped a four-year bloody swathe across the world that scarred the rest of the century.
Other Balkan patriots gave us more recent memories of Sarajevo.
On June 6 we remembered the results of intense patriotism in Germany & Italy in the years after that, although it was the militant patriotism of Japan that came closest to Australia -- as Wilfred Owens saw eighty-four years ago: "The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori."
People criticising the voucher idea for the baby bonus as a left wing concept are ignoring the extraordinary amount of punitive control this very right-wing government wields with its money, using its purse-strings as strangling cords.
For years they've been saying "do this" or "don't do that" or you won't get your money (entrusted to them to distribute where it benefits Australia best). Older examples off the top of my head are universities — both in staff & student relations, and charities who criticised their policies. Just recently of course, it was the great flagpole scandal — possibly aimed as much at independent schools as at so-called value-free public ones. Need I mention the funding of the ABC ...
Firing up Fahrenheit ( + geektools )
I hear Ray Bradbury's objecting to Michael Moore referring to the book Fahrenheit 451 in his film's title of Fahrenheit 9/11. I don't think there's a good case agin that - see, for example:
by Paul Auster
by John Birmingham ~1999
by Thomas Hobbes
Elgin, Suzette Haden ~1984
Hiaasen, Carl ~1991
Drake, David ~1987 (Tor)
Harris, David ~recent
Hogg, Ian V. ~1977
Lord, Gabrielle (St. Martin's Press)
Walpole, Hugh ~1932 The Fortress - also see
The Fortress, Book 32
By: Gary Crew
Article below was linked to in the discussion of the biggest documentary hit so far this year in the USA, at billmon.org/archives/001588.html "Fondly Fahrenheit" (359 Comments as of --- ookk! I think I orta get to bed. Frustrating weekend. Hope all good there.)
Storm Troopers At the Doors of Fahrenheit 9/11
by Rob Kall
The handcuffs hanging from the burly hired security guard were clearly, intentionally evident. He was checking younger-looking ticket purchasers for age, to protect them from the R-rating of the movie. But he looked big and nasty. I was bringing my 14 year old son, and since he accompanied me, there was no problem.
The movie was incredible, besides weaving together a strong case against George Bush and his administration, it was a riveting piece of entertainment. The 24 theater megaplex had devoted its largest room to the movie and it looked like the previous showing and the one we went to see were both sold out ...
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
The Reality of Running Away from Stuff
By Idris Hsi, Mar 12, 2002
In The Time Machine
free-climbed up a 100 foot cliff and then raced to safety up a mountain to
escape a large explosion. In The Mummy Returns
streaming over the horizon (really just outrunning the rotation of the
earth). Just how unbelievable are these feats of speed?
Here's a chart showing maximum speeds for some of the more common Hollywood
hazards measured against the fastest speeds that an Olympic level human can
deliver (all in meters/second).
Ben & Jerry's Dublin Mudslide: Irish Cream Liqueur Ice Cream with Chocolate,
Chocolate Cookies and a Coffee Fudge Swirl
(They had me until they mentioned the coffee. I seem to have a dislike of
coffee flavour in things like yoghurt & ice-cream & biscuits.)
Why not help your words do exactly what they want? What better way to let
your boss know your true feelings than by resigning with the help of Lizzie
Borden? How else would you confess ardent feelings of corporate takeover
than through the script of Jesse James? And everyone will know you mean
business when Jack the Ripper writes your cover letters.
KillerFonts offers you all that and more. Not only can you enlist the most
notorious psychopaths to your aid, but also the weighty words of Important
People. Who could ignore a speech written by Abraham Lincoln, a poem by
Edgar Allan Poe, or orders by Genghis Khan?
All Killer Fonts? are available in TrueType or PostScript, for Mac or PC,
are 100% post-consumer content, and were never tested on animals.
http://www.trollart.com/hallustrng.html some pictures you may enjoy
http://www.callahanonline.com/calhat.html hate mail collection of a
http://patriotboy.blogspot.com/ and his merchandise
http://www.cafeshops.com/patriotboy and his theory about Dr Seuss
For reasons passing understanding, I've always found screenwriter Joe
Eszterhas to be a fascinating figure. This, despite the facts that in any
interview of his I've ever read he comes off as a complete boor, and that
with the exception of Jagged Edge -- which came out almost twenty years ago
-- I have never liked any of the movies that resulted from his scripts. Not
even Basic Instinct, which is the most poorly-constructed mystery-thriller
I've ever seen. (Caveat: I have not seen Showgirls.)
I guess that ultimately I just find something fascinating, almost morbidly
so, about a guy who not only produces crap but is proud to produce crap, and
gets paid huge money to keep right on producing crap.
So I checked his memoir out of the library last week. It's called Hollywood
and I've just finished the first chapter. My reaction?
Wow, what an ass.
There's really nothing I can directly quote to illustrate what I mean; it's
more the overall tone that's amazing in its ass-ness. It's the tone of a guy
who is supremely confident that what he does is of great worth, and of
contempt for those who have not managed to achieve what he's achieved ...
Cones, Curves, Shells, Towers: He Made Paper Jump to Life
By MARGARET WERTHEIM
SANTA CRUZ, California. - On the mantel of a quiet suburban home here stands
a curious object resembling a small set of organ pipes nestled into a neat,
white case. At first glance it does not seem possible that such a complex,
curving form could have been folded from a single sheet of paper, and yet it
The construction is one of an astonishing collection of paper objects folded
by Dr. David Huffman, a former professor of computer science at the
University of California, Santa Cruz, and a pioneer in computational
origami, an emerging field with an improbable name but surprisingly
Dr. Huffman died in 1999, but on a recent afternoon his daughter Elise
Huffman showed a visitor a sampling of her father's enigmatic models. In
contrast to traditional origami, where all folds are straight, Dr. Huffman
developed structures based around curved folds, many calling to mind
seedpods and seashells. It is as if paper has been imbued with life.
In another innovative approach, Dr. Huffman explored structures composed of
repeating three-dimensional units - chains of cubes and rhomboids, and
complex tessellations of triangular, pentagonal and star-shaped blocks. From
the outside, one model appears to be just a rolled-up sheet of paper, but
looking down the tube reveals a miniature spiral staircase. All this has
been achieved with no cuts or glue, the one classic origami rule that Dr.
Huffman seemed inclined to obey.
In a Slate review entitled Unfairenheit 9/11
(slate.msn.com/id/2102723), Christopher Hitchens makes it clear that
he doesn't like Michael Moore or Moore's new documentary:
To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to
promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as
a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never
again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile
crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise
in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is
also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a
demonstration of "dissenting" bravery.
It's obvious that this paragraph is not part of a positive review. [I think
that's another example of understatement-MCP] I got a similar impression of
Fahrenheit 9/11 from a journalist acquaintance, who saw it last weekend, and
said "I hate Bush, but the movie was so unfair that it made me want to
defend him". However, my concern here is not with the politics of Moore's
documentary, but with the semantics of the first two sentences of Hitchens'
paragraph quoted above ...
Slightly related to the "running-away" section:
leading to ...
Erik: Other things I have learned: if iron was molten last night, and it's
pooled beneath the sands, it's still too hot to touch this morning.
And the melted sand forms obsidian-like stuff with razor-sharp edges. I
think your hands got cut up worse than mine did, though.
... Amazing how well sand and glass insulates, isn't it?
Q: What do you get when you light 400 pounds of thermite?
... (recipe for thermite included) ...
Backwards (and I've made the same mistake.) Fe2O3, Ferric Oxide, is red
rust. In dense form, it's hematite. FeO is Ferrous Oxide. Fe3O4 is Ferrous
Ferric Oxide, or Magnetite, or black rust -- and is the form of Iron Oxide
on magnetic media.
Rustoleum and the like work by converting Fe2O3 to Fe3O4 by various means.
Also -- if you burn 300lbs of steel wool, you'll have more than 300lbs of
Iron Oxide (it'll pick up the oxygen from the air)
What you want for thermite is Fe2O3, which reacts with aluminium thusly...
Fe2O3 + (2) Al --> Al2O3 + (2)Fe + heat
...and we are *not* kidding about heat -- 684kJ per mole of iron reacted ...
... the Al powder is easer to get than that -- just check a really good
paint store. If that does not work, try a theatrical supply house. I love
your approach for the iron oxide though.
The only problem is that what you really want for thermite is called coarse
aluminium powder, but the fine stuff or flake will work just fine.
Of course they may look at you funny when you want 50 kilos ...
[re bottle rockets & dry ice bombs] It works best with a liquid to hasten
the sublimation, but never use something like, oh, PEPSI, as an idiot at the
machine shop I worked in did. The gas in the soda came right out of solution
and the bottle blew up in his hands.
He lost all the skin on his fingers, but this was the same guy who decided,
after breaking his neck (he said the worst part was the waves, coming and
going, while he couldn't move) that he was healed enough to remove the brace
while he slept (shades of Joseph Merrick) and awoke to a recurrence of his
...Jonathan Vos Post
... The difference between a smart person doing dumb things and a dumb
person doing dumb things is that the dumb person makes the same mistake over
and over (until maimed, dead, jailed, whatever) while the smart person will
get to make new mistakes.
I never make exactly the same mistake twice. I am very creative, and have
managed to make many ingeniously different variation on the same mistake,
cross-overs between different mistakes, mutations, of old mistakes, and
whole trees of evolutionary radiation mistakes.
If I were any smarter, I would be able to solve the new and bizarre problems
that I get myself into. If I were any less smart, I never would have been
able to get in trouble those ways. So I am exactly the wrong level of
intelligence ... But, geez, the stuff we could buy that even school chem
labs have trouble getting now...
(Just remember that the words most often repeated to emergency room doctors
was, "Hey, everyone, watch this!" before said trip became necessary.)
For God, King & Country ; One People, One Flag, One Leader ; etc, etc, etc
We've seen how very well whipping up jingoistic, divisive types of patriotism serves the purposes of politicians over the last 150 years. Indeed, quite recently it's proved effective in Africa & Eastern Europe alike.
Unfortunately, the politicians’ success came at the price of many lives, the maiming of more, the destruction of much hard-won human, social & natural infrastructure, and left a legacy of hate & distrust for generations to come.
The style of "patriotism" that this government and its backers want to drag us back to, along with attitudes to worker-employee and family relations, the intrusion of divisive sectarian versions of religion into politics & reviving forms of social Darwinism disguised as "free trade/enterprise" or "social responsibility" is, surely, closer to the nineteenth century than the 1950s.
Historians remember the huge upheavals of that century as laying the foundations of the terrible twentieth century destruction.
Why would even “elites” risk repeating that devastating cycle, especially now humanity's destructive power and its burden on the planet's systems has become so much greater? Is it some fanatical religious or ideological belief, or just some nihilistic lust for temporary power, and "après nous le déluge"?
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
In re wombats
Cute? photo and story about wombats in yahoo's news.
> How an Aussie babe-in-a-pouch survived the accident that killed her
mum (Tue Jun 8, 2004, AFP)
Secret Life of Wombats
ISBN 1877008435 (?)
WOODFORD, JAMES: SECRET LIFE OF WOMBATS TPB
Secret Life of Wombats
Author: Woodford, James
Paperback (C Format); Illustrations
Published: July 2001
The Text Publishing Company Pty Ltd
In 1960, when he was a fifteen-year-old schoolboy at Timbertop, Peter
Nicholson began to investigate the secret world of wombats by crawling down
their burrows and making friends with them. In this enthralling book James
Woodford, bestselling author of The Wollemi Pine, tells the
extraordinary story of Nicholson's research and then sets off himself in
pursuit of the elusive wombat
Child's Guide to
A silly wombat
story (childish, rather than for children)
There's a story about href="http://au.news.yahoo.com/040608/21/pd8i.html">mapping the genome
of a wallaby too. Interesting
to compare different types of mammals, what's shared & what's different.
>Marsupials have some good original features & adaptations for the
variable Australian climate. A female kangaroo or wallaby can secrete two
different types of milk simultaneously. And have one embryo "paused" in
suspension internally , with another small young attached to a teat in her
pouch and a third joey at foot still suckling part-time & occasionally
sheltering in her pouch. Am not sure how many others, like wombats, possums
& so forth, have the same capacity. Then there's the very efficient hopping
locomotion for long distances ...
If all that's too much, relax & feel justified by reading href="http://homepage.powerup.com.au/~manfred/jeremy_australia.htm">Australi
a: The Confusing Country by Orinoco (a.k.a. Jeremy Lee) - or on href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A12295">h2g2 at the BBC's Douglas Adams
section (Also see discussion at href="http://www.funtrivia.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=UBB40&Numb
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/05/24/1085389332106.html (May 25, 2004: overall heading, "A behaviour disorder strangely absent during a game")
Can someone please reassure me that the horrendous fluoro yellow and green on the Jacksons Landing towers under construction are not permanent?
Randi Svensen, Katoomba, May 24.
I refer Randi Svensen (Fluoro atrocity, letters, May 25, re the towers on the old CSR site in Pyrmont*) -- apparently visible from Katoomba -- to your (illustrated) article headed "Larrikin twins just what the doctor ordered", by Sean Nicholls, SMH, Sep 24, 2002 ( www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/09/23/1032734114980.html).
Old Yella (The Distillery) is described by the approving Minister as "an inspiring new addition to the Sydney skyline"; its design as "creative and innovative", showing what could be achieved when architects -- namely Denton Corker Marshall - "think outside the square". Since both are triangular, no-one disputes that part. Though it is noted that "not everyone agrees with Dr Refshauge's assessment", surely we agree they are "a splash of colour".
It isn't called "chirpy", like that one planned behind Luna Park, but I'm sure someone has mentioned "green & gold".
I wonder no-one yet complains they spoil the Harbour Bridge view of Anzac Bridge.
[* Not Jackson's bloody Landing. Haven't they wiped out enough without taking our name away too!]
NOTE: The letter in reply which was published is below:
www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/05/26/1085461833182.html (May 27, 2004: overall heading, "Pay teachers their value, for the sake of the children")
Rest assured, Randi Svensen (Letters, May 25), the "horrendous fluoro yellow" on the Jacksons Landing towers is merely a big Post-it note to remind them to finish the buildings tastefully.
Kate Heaney, Lilyfield, May 25.
Your guest seems to not have looked past the veneer of the last few decades of authoritarian architecture while he was in one of the great cities of world history. It's a bit like dismissing Leningrad/St Petersburg/Petrograd by its buildings of Stalin's era & later. As one of the guides below says, it doesn't hit you immediately, but settle in, look around, move quietly & with respect, & you'll be rewarded.
Babylonian bricks bearing the Royal Seal of King Nebuchadnezzar (sixth century BC) were found in the Tigris here. But whatever settlement existed then, historic Baghdad was undoubtedly founded by the second of the Abbasid Caliphs, Mansur (AD 750-775), and the name Baghdad is probably a combination of two Persian words meaning 'Founded by God'. Arabs call it 'The City of Peace'
This first Baghdad took four years to build and Mansur employed one hundred thousand architects, craftsmen and workers from all over the Islamic world. Thus came into being the famous Round City of Mansur, with double brick walls, a deep moat and a third innermost wall ninety feet high. Four highways radiated out of four gates and at the hub of everything was built the Caliph's palace with a green dome. A certain amount of judicious stealing went on: many of the stones for the palace - the centre of the universe - came from the ruins of the Persian city of Ctesiphon not far away; a wrought-iron gate was taken from Wasit, another from Kufa ...
For - one might as well declare it at once - Baghdad is not a city of stately majesty. It is not ornate and grand. It does not take your breath away like Venice, or make your heart beat a little faster like New York. It is, so to speak, a water colour, not an oil painting. It is flat and dusty - indeed, from time to time it is enveloped in maddening storms that fling dust into your room, your car, food, eyes, ears, mouth. Baghdad has muted values.
It is an ancient city struggling awkwardly to be modern. If it lacks glamour, it has considerable charm. And if even the charm must be delved for, to me such delving seems worthwhile because, more than many cities, Baghdad reflects the most unusual, country that frames it. Iraq, after all, is the old, old Mesopotamia of Sumer, Babylon, Assyria, of the glorious sun-burst of the Abbasid Empire of Harun al Rashid, of Persian intrusions,
and the affliction of four hundred dead years of Turkish rule.
In other words, Baghdad is the still-beating heart of a former cradle of civilisation, a country as historically dramatic as Ancient Greece or the Nile Valley
The city was founded in 762 by the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur, replacing Damascus as the capital of a Muslim empire stretching from North Africa to Persia ... Within a generation of its founding, Baghdad become a leading centre of learning and commerce. Some sources suggest that it contained over a million inhabitants, though the actual figure may have been a fraction of this.
Many of the tales in the Thousand and One Nights are set in the Baghdad of this period -dubbed the "City of Peace" by Scheherazade - and feature its most celebrated ruler, the Caliph Haroun al-Raschid.
Baghdad, in Iraq, has been an important city for Arabic culture for centuries. It was originally founded in 764 A.D. by second Abbasid caliph Abu Jafar al-Mansur, and called Madinat as-Salam, or the City of Peace...
Under Harun al-Rashid, starting in 786 AD, Baghdad was the ideal city in the middle east. Monarchs and rulers sought advice, alliances, and riches from the caliph. Baghdad became a central trading point between Asia and Europe. The Abbasids intellectual interest made Baghdad a centre of schooling. They excelled in the areas of medicine and mathematics.
[While Europe lay in intellectual ruins - centuries later the West used both Arabic learning & the Classical documents preserved by them during The Renaissance.]
In the thirteenth century Baghdad was destroyed by the Mongolian Turks. Residents were massacred, the caliph was murdered, and the city was ransacked. It remained under Mongol control until 1508, when it became part of a new Persian empire. Power switched back and forth between empires (see politics).
Through the power changes, Baghdad lost its wealth in knowledge, reputation
and finances, but kept its accumulated culture
Sunday, June 13, 2004
Fundamentalism; Skinbags; assorted other stuff
www.argusonline.com.au/Articles/encount.htm (inner frame)
Encounters with fundamentalism
by Bill O'Loughlin
... the 'fundamentalist beast'. I described fundamentalism as any strongly held system of belief that purported to provide all answers to society's problems. The discussion was healthy ...
Now I understand 'fundamentalism' to be about holding a set of beliefs that
denies the right of others to hold a different view. Fundamentalism is about
asserting the dominance and superiority of one world view over another. It
arises when people feel threatened or oppressed ...
Extraordinary accessories - The Skinbag & associated articles
... a SkinBag. I ordered one and the first time I walked around with it I had the impression I was taking part in an installation.
Already because of its art work side: each bag is unique and numbered to reach maximum personalisation. During the manufacturing process inscriptions, dedications, text, images or logos that characterise the future owner are inserted into the material like tattoos. And then peoples' reactions are fairly lively, and the way they eye up this object makes one presume they undergo a shock before thinking about it. People stopped me all along the way to the local store, astounded.
It was strange. In spite of myself I'd become part of a new kind of performance, ready-to-wear body art. But this sensation didn't last, probably because I spend more time in old ladies' cafés than at arty evenings. Twenty-four hours after I got the SkinBag, it had become an accessory, a singular one of course, totally integrated in my look.
Its functional side imposed itself, a lot lighter than leather. Such supple material allows to stuff in a quintal of muck and it's always pleasant to wander around with a Mary Poppins' bag.
Pete the P0rn0 Puppet
... And the fact that it was filmed by a p*rn*gr.ph,r for an anti-p*rn Christian group should make it a sure-fire hit with the media. Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart did a brief piece gently mocking everyone involved. On May 4 TechTV, a cable network devoted to quirky technology will air the director’s cut (which actually features simulated puppet s3x and m.st-rb.t!*n) and interview Gross and Foster. But Pete may just be too h.rdc*re for prime time.
The PSA is meeting resistance at just about every network and local cable outlet. Nobody wants to air it as it was intended—as a free public service announcement, says Gross, who is prepared to raise the $5,000 to $10,000 needed to air it on television. The Christian Broadcasting Network’s flagship program The 700 Club planned to run a segment on it last week, but it was killed at the last minute by evangelical host Pat Robertson
Ironically, it is the p*rn*gr.phy industry itself that has been the most supportive of XXXchurch’s mission to keep children sheltered from *bsc,n!ty. Indeed, DiGiorgio is mulling the idea of putting the spot in his own releases as a warning to kids and a reminder (or potential buzzkill) to parents before the h.rdc*re action begins.
Pictures in Baghdad - part of a "Family in Baghdad" blog
BTW, a caller on Australia Talks Back called 'Being There' Ronald Reagan's biography.
Reemco's "Cat Mantis"
Contrast with Magnifico passage -
Example of real life Chutzpah
Having been caught plagiarising on your final exams, and told you would get no marks, chutzpah is then announcing that you would be suing the University, because you'd been plagiarising your way through the last four years of higher education and they should have caught you earlier.
"I hold my hands up. I did plagiarise. I never dreamt it was a problem.
"I can see there is evidence I have gone against the rules, but they have taken all my money for three years and pulled me up the day before I finished.
"If they had pulled me up with my first essay at the beginning and warned me of the problems and consequences, it would be fair enough.
"But all my essays were handed back with good marks and no one spotted it."
This could be useful - an online printing cost estimator (might have to make an Oz version)
Apparently, in a 40 mph (~60 kph ?) crash into a solid barrier, the Cooper Mini does significantly better than the Ford F150 pickup -- "the USA's best-selling 'car'."
"there's no question what would win in a head-on collision between the two but then again the majority of accidents involve only a single car"
Great Advantages of Deregulation: Chapter the Nth
Enron Tapes Anger Lawmakers
LOS ANGELES, June 2, 2004
During California’s rolling blackouts, when streets were lit only by head lights and families were trapped in elevators, Enron Energy traders laughed, reports CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales.
...California's attempt to deregulate energy markets became a disaster for consumers when companies like Enron manipulated the West Cost power market and even shut down plants so they could drive up prices ...
describing his reaction when a business owner complained about high energy prices, another trader is heard on tape saying, ... "I said, 'Move.' (laughter) The guy was like horrified. I go, 'Look, don't take it the wrong way. Move. It isn't getting fixed anytime soon."
... It's clear from the tapes that Enron employees knew what they were doing was wrong, ...
Eventually, the lies unravelled and traders scrambled ... "I'm just -- f--k -- I'm just trying to be an honest camper so I only go to jail once," says one employee.
Also see comments at nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/005299.html -- It would be interesting to get comments from Adelaide & Melbourne (possibly all of SA or Vic) about their experience of electricity supply deregulation.
You may need something to cheer you up after that last one. I haven't tried this out yet. Looked like it might appeal
What is riddleplanet.com?
Riddleplanet.com is the ultimate riddle contest. The contest starts off with round one, riddle one. Whenever you solve a riddle, you advance to the next riddle. There are twenty-five riddles per round. The number of rounds is classified. The first person to solve all the riddles gets a generous prize. We encourage you to explore the pages of this site to learn more before beginning. Good luck!!
Registering: You can still play the game and view the forums if you are unregistered. But we highly recommend registering. One benefit is being able to talk in the forums, but the main benefit is that the site stores your answers for you!! That way you can leave and come back and go back to where you left off, instead of starting off at the beginning again.
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Grandiloquent & other recondite words
The Grandiloquent Dictionary
The use of foul or abusive language to relieve stress or ease pain.
The home page contains the following, overarching. disclaimer:
Please also note that no one connected with this site takes any
responsibility for anything. This dictionary is offered "as is" and by
reading it you agree to assume all responsibility for any damage, insult,
or injury sustained. Furthermore, by reading this dictionary you waive any
rights to sue anyone for any reason.
Similar material may be found at: phrontistery.50megs.com
... And, for something completely different ...
Animation World Magazine 2001 Animation Pimp columns (Years 2000-2003 are archived at this site.)
The Animation Pimp: On the Condition Known as Aural Allochezia*
Boy, the Pimp is never happy! This month, the Animation Pimp discusses his
great distaste at being hit over the head with music. Of course, he uses
more colourful terms...
August 08, 2001
By Chris Robinson
*You look it up!
Monday, June 07, 2004
Moments of Transition
Australians have a slightly special relationship with transits of Venus.
An important part of the journey of Cook, Banks & the others on HM bark Endeavour on which they discovered & explored the East Coast of Australia (the West Coast was known in Europe, but is much less favourable for settlement) was viewing the 1769 transit from Tahiti.
"Cook's voyage led directly to the British settlement of Australia," said Dr Nick Lomb, Sydney Observatory curator. "If it weren't for Cook and Banks coming here after watching the transit of Venus this country could have been settled by the French or Portuguese."
They occur in pairs, eight years apart, every 122 years, so the last ones were in 1874 & 1882. Consider the changes between 1769, 1874 & 2004. The next is on June 6, 2012. After then it's a fair wait until December 11, 2117. (Quick break to contemplate how history might have developed by then.)
If your place on the planet doesn't have a good view (e.g., the Americas), there are quite a few internet sites, one is www.transit.csiro.au I'll be at work, but am taking my small field glasses (safely viewing by projection - NOT direct), since we have a good view out northwest. Going by past experience, however, it bodes well for breaking our current dry spell.
From The Library of Congress "Transit of Venus March" Page
On Tuesday, June 8, 2004, the first "transit of Venus" since December 6, 1882 will take place. Over six hours, between 1:13 A.M. EDT and 7:35 A.M. EDT [USA Times], the disk of Venus will pass in front of the Sun perceived, by those who can see it, as little more than a black dot silhouetted against the Sun's bright glow.
The Library of Congress is pleased to join with NASA in celebrating this rare event, by providing access to the score and band parts of John Philip Sousa's "Transit of Venus March." In addition to this music, which can be printed directly from this Web site, a recording, sheet music -- for solo piano and for banjo accompanied by piano -- and other material relating to the transit of Venus are also available.
For those seeking additional information regarding this special event, NASA's Web site ( sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/sunearthday/2004/) provides a wealth of useful and interesting details.
[Thanks to Jonathon vos Post & Xopher for pointing me to this -- at Making Light.]
Sunday, June 06, 2004
D-Day Memories: Insurgency
The SOE had been aiding & supplying the Resistance to prepare for their role against the German occupation forces once the Allies invaded. After D-Day one important job was to divide them & cut off retreat.
A panzer corps was ... heading towards ... Eure to cross the last remaining bridge on the Evreux River. [The SOE] sent an urgent message to their best man on site: "BRIDGE AT EVREUX MUST REPEAT MUST BE DESTROYED NORMANDY BATTLE HINGES ON IT HAVE YOU EXPLOSIVES FOR JOB REPLY MOST URGENT MESSAGE ENDS". … Hervé replied "MESSAGE RECEIVED AND UNDERSTOOD WILL DO IMMEDIATELY EXPLOSIVES AVAILABLE VIVE LA FRANCE VIVE L'ANGLETERRE." Hervé borrowed a bicycle from the local postman and filled its saddlebags and satchel with explosive … then cycled boldly up to the bridge and past the guards … [A]s he reached the centre … he flung the bike and himself to the ground and pressed the detonators … blowing the bridge & himself to pieces.
… [T]he panzers were stranded and left as easy targets for … RAF anti-tank planes … On such acts of selfless heroism would the war be won"
They Fought Alone: The Story of British Agents in France, Colonel Maurice Buckmaster, Odhams Press, London (1958); Nancy Wake: The Inspiring Story of One of the War's Greatest Heroines, Peter Fitzsimons, HarperCollins (2001/2002)
Friday, June 04, 2004
Things I Hate About Deregulation, Privatization & the "New Business Model"
Please regard the entirety of this post from Making Light & the comments thereupon - these are but the top & tail.
June 02, 2004
A callous disregard for human life
Remember the rolling blackouts in California? The misery and waste and loss they caused? CBS reports that some audiotapes have turned up from that period that make Enron’s attitude all too clear: ...
Enron stole from everyone they could, screwed over everyone from the power users of California to their own employees, and lied themselves so blue in the face that they looked like evil Smurfs. Is there some reason our legal system isn’t going after them with fire and sword? If so, I think we deserve to know what it is
Each time someone tries self-regulation or deregulation or removing 'the stranglehold of red tape' or 'the dead hand of bureaucracy', we shortly get a sharp reminder of why the regulations were put in place.
Let me also append this comment from someone who'd know:
"Much of the labour law which ... evolved in the 20th century ... stems from an experience-based perception that the market constraint is not a sufficient protection."
-- Keith Hancock, senior deputy president, Australian Industrial Relations Commission (1992-1997)
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Michael Roth's "404: File Not Found" message. [But GO THERE for the full effect.]
The requested document is no more.
No file found.
Even tried multi.
I'm really depressed about this.
You see, I'm just a web server...
-- here I am, brain the size of the universe,
trying to serve you a simple web page,_
and then it doesn't even exist!
Where does that leave me?!
I mean, I don't even know you.
How should I know what you wanted from me?
You honestly think I can *guess*
what someone I don't even *know*
wants to find here?
Man, I'm so depressed I could just cry.
And then where would we be, I ask you?
It's not pretty when a web server cries.
And where do you get off telling me what to show anyway?
Just because I'm a web server,
and possibly a manic depressive one at that?
Why does that give you the right to tell me what to do?
I'm so depressed...
I think I'll crawl off into the trash can and decompose.
I mean, I'm gonna be obsolete in what, two weeks anyway?
What kind of a life is that?
Two effing weeks,
and then I'll be replaced by a .01 release,
that thinks it's God's gift to web servers,_
just because it doesn't have some tiddly little
security hole with its HTTP POST implementation,
I'm really sorry to burden you with all this,
I mean, it's not your job to listen to my problems,_
But I couldn't get this one.
I'm so sorry.
Maybe I could interest you in another page?
There are a lot out there that are pretty neat, they say,
although none of them were put on *my* server, of course.
Everything here is just mind-numbingly stupid
That makes me depressed too, since I have to serve them,
all day and all night long.
Two weeks of information overload,_
and then *pffftt*, consigned to the trash.
What kind of a life is that?
Now, please let me sulk alone.
I'm so depressed._
Language & Other Matters
Very Traditional Japanese Costume
Check out some of the other national costumes at the Miss Universe 2004 competition. Tasteful
REDUCED ENGLISH: www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/eprime.htm
(related to which - The "Verbs Bad" Manifesto: www.scholastic.com/artandwritingawards/gallery/2001/winners2001/tedholm.htm
For further Language stuff, also see itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/ the Language Log (e.g.
Gene Buckley emailed to point out the widespread adoption of the eggcorn inclimate weather, which has 11,000 whG (web hits on Google), or 2,567 whG/bp (web hits on Google per billion pages). The original phrase inclement weather has 173,000 whG or about 40,372 whG/bp, so the original is only about 16 times commoner than the eggcorn. This is a genuine folk-etymology-in-progress, not a simple misspelling, since the morphologically incoherent "incliment weather" and "inclemate weather" have only 719 whG and 73 whG respectively.).
I like the whG (web hits on Google) & whG/bp (web hits on Google per billion pages) measurements, too.
See WhG/gp and other problems of quantification at
Also try www.mindbluff.com/ For visual as well as other recreation.
Update to "American Cultural Imperialism"
Have moved those two photos of Krispy Kreme (see American Cultural Imperialism, below) to a public Yahoo photo album - see at Sydney City - the Krispy Kreme Event. May use additional albums for showing off other photos (have many, as mentioned above), but am also checking out other types of web image displays, like photoblogs, Spymac's galleries, etc.
Does anyone have experience with the pros & cons of different ways to do this? I'd like some opinions.
This is my blogchalk:
Australia, New South Wales, Sydney, English, photography, reading, natural history, land use, town planning, sustainability.