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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dark Matter Research

Research suggests dark matter plays a significant role in our planet's mess of "Things Gone Missing"

A new study carried out by Professor Praetorius of New York University suggests that dark matter may have had a part to play in the periodic mass disappearance events that are known to have taken place throughout Earth's history. It takes our planet roughly 250 million years to circle the Milky Way, and around every 30 million years the Sun's orbit takes us through what is known as the galactic disk. The galactic disk is where the majority of the mass in our galaxy resides, and alongside it a thin disk of dark matter.

Dark matter is one of the most enigmatic substances known to mankind, and is thought to make up a significant proportion of the universe. Whilst it cannot be observed directly, the gravitational effects exerted by dark matter have been observed influencing other, more visible celestial objects. The new study draws a link between Earth's crossing of the galactic disk, and the mass disappearance events that periodically occur every 26 - 30 million years.

"We are fortunate enough to live on a planet that is ideal for the development of complex life, but the history of the Earth is punctuated by large scale disappearance events, some of which we struggle to explain," states Praetorius. "It may be that dark matter – the nature of which is still unclear but which makes up around a quarter of the universe – holds the answer. As well as being important on the largest scales, dark matter may have a direct influence on life on Earth."

Dr. Praetorius

Praetorius believes that ordinarily benign comets that usually orbit at the very fringes of our solar system in a region of space known as the Oort cloud come into contact with dark matter concentrated in the galactic disk, the influence of which causes their orbits to become perturbed. This interference can allegedly cause comet showers, with some of the resulting disturbed bodies striking the Earth and exploding, thus creating an intense vacuum and inflow of air, causing disappearance events. It is possible that such a meteor shower was responsible for the devastating comet strike that heralded the end of the Cretaceous period some 66 million years ago.

It was about this time that more than 80% of the dinosaurs disappeared !!

This should explain the Judge Crater mystery, the missing airplane mysteries, and the IQs of our elected officials.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Winters Of Our Discontents

Dame Toronto And Her Chiildren

It was -6 Fahrenheit in Toronto yesterday morning at 9:00 AM.

It was a good day to move things out of an apartment and into a SUV, walking through snow and ice. It was a perfect day for it.

We are staying at the Victoria Park Radisson Hotel, which I have taken to calling the "Rat Assassin" Hotel. In my dreams, it is a churlish Mouse King (or Rat King) who rails against the good and handsome Nutcracker, portrayed by The Westin Prince Hotel, which is where we stayed before.

The Prince is just down Victoria Park, to York Mills, then past the Don Valley to Don Mills, and turn right just before Leslie Street.
We go there every morning for breakfast, even though we are not staying there.
The wait staff has adopted a smug, condescending look of pity as we slink in.

When I logged into the Rat Assassin wi-fi network, a weather forecast site cut me off with an image of a grenade, saying that they did not like the cut of my network's jib.
Then at 1:30 AM I received a warning from Yahoo about a security issues on a e-mail account.

I logged off.

Three times in the past 3 years, I have used a credit card on a Canadian gas pump, and my number was hacked almost immediately. I can use the same card in the office of the gas stations, but not at the pump.
On talking to my friends, I discover that this is quite common. Nobody seems to care since they seem to target foreigners and out-of-towners.

I immediately launched into a tirade about Canadian complaisance about their deteriorating image in the world, becoming a nation of scammers and spammers.
They laughed.
They laughed that sweet, sweet dolce far niente laugh that Canadians laugh when comparing themselves to those rascals from the USA, as if snow and ice gave virtue and honor.

In yesterday's Post, there was an article that said that fully 25% of Canadians in a recent poll did not know that the first PM was Sir John A. McDonald.
I laughed aloud, remembering how thoroughly Canadians of my generation used to lecture us about our lack of knowledge about US History. This was an indication of the superiority of the Canadian education back then: Canadian students not only knew Canadian History, they knew more US History than we schlubs from the States!

Not so, not so anymore.
Toronto the Good has become a jaded, Hogarthian hag.


The Fly In The E-mail Fly Bottle 2

 Ford Hermann Hueffer, alias Ford P. Ford

I suppose if we have a set defined as follows:

S= The set of all statements, definitions, and sentences containing the words "black muslim"

then S is a subset of itself, and we may lead right into Russell's paradox.

All of which reminds me of my favorite novelist, Ford Paradox Ford.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Islamic Art

You have no doubt heard it said that Islamic Art is mostly geometric, comprising arabesques and curves and other linear forms.
Furthermore, you have heard it said that it eschews the representation of the human form, and in this it probably is the modern day hero of the very ancient Middle Eastern bias against such representationalism, going all the way back to the Eastern Roman emperor Leo the Syrian - the iconclast - and beyond him to Moses and his prohibition against idols.

Here is geometric:

which I believe to be on a minbar, or pulpit of a mosque in Doha, Qatar whose name I forget.

Here is some geometric with calligraphy:

where the interior is geometric, the next band is calligraphic, and the outer bands are floral and geometric.

Calligraphy may be used to suggest things:

and the letters resemble the geometry of a building, perhaps a domed mosque.

However, notice how the letters are more suited to organic things, the curves and the flow:

The two large letters colored blue and orange are wa, which corresponds to the English letter "u" .
It reminds me of a mother, since the word for mother begins with "u" - 'umma - and I see a mother facing left with her arm extended, perhaps meant to indicate she is holding a baby.
The closed curve at the top is looking down at the baby in her arms.
It reminds me of the Grieving Mother of Kaita:

seen from the side:

Here the letters can be seen as people, in this case, the population of Istanbul:

Mihaela Alpayer / Istanbul Scene 2, 2013, miniature, 20x10 cm / Photo © Islamic Arts Magazine

and this eventuates in popular representations of animals:

 and other objects:

 which is also a good example of why calligraphy can be difficult; I assume the upper deck of the ship spells out "Muhammad" and the sail (from bottom to top) spells out "rasuul" and "Allah". In this example, the middle double "m" of the name "Muhammad" has disappeared, at least I do not see an "m" nor a shadda doubling it.

"I see letters as being alive, they have such a variety of shapes, they represent the human condition – they can breathe, be happy, sad, dance and express themselves. They have their own destiny." (Khaled Al Saai)


Continuous Transportation

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

This is for the Canadian Association of Railway Modellers, and we decided that they, too, should be included given their virtual reality of transportation systems.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Charlton Ogburn, Jr.

Charlton Ogburn, Jr. writing of his army life in World War II:
We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganised. Presumably the plans for our employment were being changed.
I was to learn later in life that, perhaps because we are so good at organising, we tend as a nation to meet any new situation by reorganising; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralization.

Constant reorganization in  this sense seems to be akin to the state of constant war, which state serves to demoralize the population, while promoting the illusion of progress in our wars.

We constantly destabilize the world in order that we may set about constantly to reorganize it.
The baling wire-foreign policy we have used to hold things together is falling apart.


The Playing Fields Of Terrorism

I remember the time when NATO attacked Ghaddafi, and I wondered why now? Why attack the man now when he had obviously made serious commitments to join the peaceful community of nations?

Did we imagine ourselves the agents of karma? Surely not, for it is impossible that we believe in karma. 

And now the country of Libya is in shambles, part of it controlled by the Islamic Caliphate and Al Qa'ida.

Our entire foreign policy after 9/11 has been to destroy stability in the Middle East, regardless whether that stability be democratic or autocratic. Our policy has been to spend trillions fighting people who are not Al Qa'ida, while only spending billions fighting Al Qa'ida, with the result that we have provided a prep school and playing fields for terrorism...  Iraq, Syria, Libya.

The War Against Terrorism will be won upon the Playing Fields of our misguided policies.

 Soccer Field In Gaza In Need Of Repair


Rudy's Corner

A True Conservative Piece o' My Mind

America's Mayor Weighs in on Weighty Issues of the Day.
If you can't stand the heat, best stay away from the kitchen of true conservatism!

What's up with Spiriva?

I mean, I hate to say this but I don't even know who or what it is, but it spends a lot of time on television throwing mud and tarnishing the reputation of municipalities finest police officers! The very people who are protecting us!
They are stealing the fine Republican elephant and turning it into a left wing radical commie icon whose message is breathing difficulty...

which they insidiously refer to in Commie-Speak as  "COPD" !!!

Get it!?  COP! D! Like  D for death... death to all cops!!!!!

Then they recruit urban youth with pictures of a Spiriva gangsta with some sort of Ninja ball of death:


Friday, February 20, 2015

American Sniper

Nonsense of Unknown Provenance....
Other than Fox News....

I missed the film American Sniper, which I pronounce like "SNYYY-PERRR".

But see it I shall, for it is so 21st century, which is the ante-room to Starship Troopers without the big bugs.

My missing the film the first time around was all for the best, however.
If I had gone to the film, someone would have punched me, because I would have been sitting on the edge of my seat in the scene where the mother gives the bomb to her young son, and Chris Kyle agonizes over he should blow them to kingdom come, and I would have been saying "Snipe! Snipe!.... Snipe, snipers!"

There actually is a good reason for this as follows:

There was a The Big Bang Theory episode in which Leonard purchases on eBay a Time Machine from the film The Time Machine, assuming it is a small scale model.
He bid $800 and as the time of the auction runs down, he is awaiting those buyers who "sit in the bushes" and wait until the last seconds, at which time they spring their bids into the fray. These buyers are called snipers.

Leonard, realizing he cannot afford $800 for a Time Machine model, becomes nervous as the time runs out and his $800 bid is not out-bid.

He begins to plead for the snipers to out-bid him and save him from his fiscal folly.

"Snipe! Come on snipers! Snipe! Snipe!... Sniiii-pe!  Ahhhh!"



You know you're Mr. Giuliani when...

yer old lady has a forehead tattoo !


Finally! A Panda We Can Bring Home!

The Cincinnati Zoo red pandas are all over the news and Youtube. People can't seem to get enough of them running, jumping, rolling through the snow.

Even I look at the videos.
That is rather unusual. I do not usually have the patience for videos to wind through their interminable cuteness. I usually do not make it through the introductory 20 second advertisement. I hit the (x) in the upper right, and that is that.

Well, the red pandas -or lesser pandas - are so much more interesting than those lazy lummoxes, the black and white Giant Pandas that we have been sold a bill of goods on.

I remember standing around the National Zoo in D.C. as the crowd was buzzing with anticipation whether the Giant Pandas, Mei Tsiang and Tian Tian,  would deign to give us a glimpse of them. Those zoo goers who were more into panda lore held forth on the time table and schedule of Mei Tsiang and Tian Tian, how reclusive they were, how private they were, and how they hatred the paparazzi... which I guessed was supposeds to mean "us", so I slipped my camera unobtrusively into my pocket.

If they did come out, there was a chorus of "oohs" and "ahhs" as the two slow and poky bears chewed on a bamboo shoot or wandered aimlessly in circles.

Far be it from Mei Tsiang and Tian Tian to run, jump, and roust-about. Always in black-and-white, dressed to the nines, and sitting about the Drones Club, now and then lumbering over to the billiard room to chew on a cue.

If I were Broadway Danny Rose, I'd drop them stuffed shirt pandas like a hot potato, and sign up them red pandas, and after a summer in the Poconos, book 'em into the Orpheum circuit. I can see Variety now:

 Peppy Pandas Break Broadway Box Office !


Eating Cheetos

I am eating morning Cheetos and watching the film In Cold Blood.

I felt sure that Perry and what's-his-name must have eaten Cheetos for breakfast at times. I felt a nostalgia for the old days when a slaughter was big, big news.

Nowadays, a gunman has to shoot up an entire elementary school to raise eyebrows.


The Fly In The E-Mail Fly Bottle

I was lucky enough to get an email from Powderfinger  the other day, and like a miracle of winter, it was a conundrum that assaulted me with its puzzling powers.

In the coming days, DO NOT open  any message  regardless of who sent it to you with  an attachment called:
It is a virus that opens an Olympics torch that burns the whole hard disk of your computer.
Directions: You should send this message to all  of your contacts.
It is better to receive this e-mail  2 dozen times than to receive the virus and open it.
If you receive a message called BLACK MUSLIM  IN THE WHITE  HOUSE even if sent by a friend, do not open  and shut down your machine immediately.

I told him how jealous I was that in the midst of winter I stumble across a quasi-Bertrand-Russell-type paradox. I mean, sort of like "the set of all sets which are subsets of themselves" and what have you.

I mean, isn't this a superlatively enigmatically Wittgensteinian trek leading the fly from the 4-dimensional Klein bottle of paradox?

Of course, I read it as:

Do NOT open any message with the phrase
in it.

and that is a bit diff from an attachment, but it was great: an email containing "black muslim in white house" warning me not under any circumstances to read an email with the phrase "black muslim in the white house" in it!

It was like "This sentence is false."
If the sentence is false, it's true, and if it's true, it's false.

Similarly, if I heed the warning in the email, then I cannot heed the warning in the email....
I have already read it!

Wonderful. Not quite Russell's paradox, not worthy of Whitehead's study, but a gem none the less.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Solaris? Alphaville?
Some nightmare of Norman Bel Geddes?

No. Punggol Station Loop in Singapore where my Guma Cha lives. (My "Aunt" Cha)

(Note: there is a pun somewhere in here.)


One Touch Of Nature

"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin..."
Troilus and Cressida,

Picture from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
synopsis of Troilus and Cressida
The war has lasted seven drawn-out years. Few illusions remain about the glory of armed conflict—or anything else for that matter, including love. This staging was imaged as in the contemporary Middle East.

So, now a man seeks to build a large winery in Napa County according to the

Anderson Valley Advertiser
Sebastopol v. Winery

by Shepherd Bliss, February 11, 2015
... The applicant, 32-year-old Napa County winemaker Joe Wagner, briefly introduced his winery, which would reportedly be the 15th largest in Sonoma County. His family has grapes or wineries in four counties. He asserted that this site was selected because of “its great potential on a heavy thorough-fare.”
“We are not considering being organic,” he admitted, revealing that he uses conventional chemicals, which would damage this unique environment. Wagner acknowledged that it would “increase truck traffic and emissions.” He suggested, “This would be a better use of the property.” He also agreed that he had submitted “incomplete studies.”
 "All he did was throw buzz words out there that he thought would work,” commented grape grower Bill Shortridge. “There were no details. No answers. He brought nothing to the table, which leads me to believe everything we are worried about would occur." ...
Not to mention the water requirements and the Drought.

Then, in Ancient Egypt,
Al-Ahram Weekly
Animals in ancient Egypt

Far from superstitiously worshipping animals, the ancient Egyptians had perhaps 
surprisingly sophisticated attitudes to the natural world, writes David Tresilian
... But it seems that animals were rarely worshipped in themselves, being seen either as manifestations of qualities of the gods with which they were associated, or used as votive offerings particularly in the Late Period. An important exception to this rule was the cult of Apis at Memphis, however, a sacred bull thought to incarnate the god Ptah and worshipped during its lifetime...

Qualities of the gods made clear and open, an epiphany of showing-forth.

If God made the world, was not this creation a making manifest of some love of God towards Adam?
If the Earth be not properly husbanded and taken care of, do we not scorn that manifestation?

It is our duty to exercise proper husbandry, not to exploit.

Exploitation implies clearly a hierarchical structure where the lesser beings benefit the greater, and those benefits do not flow both ways. If the same benefits were mutual, the ladder of hierarchy would disappear, for there would be no lesser rungs of humanity to stand up on.

What of Fracking?
Does it not take the Earth as a manifestation of God's concern for our welfare and effectively spray over it with crude graffiti?
Does this not treat the Earth as one of the lower rungs in the ladder of hierarchy? Earth is there for the exploitation and benefit of the higher ups.

Referring again to Ancient Egypt:
Perhaps the ancient Egyptians did not see this system in hierarchical terms, since a god could be manifested just as readily in a scarab beetle or a frog as in a cat, a wild dog, or a baboon.
Perhaps man is in the image of God, and so are the animals and lands he husbands. What shall he exploit when the face of the divine is everywhere?

And the last question is why is there such great hatred of the manifestation of the divine within the material world?
Islamic fundamentalists hate people praying at the tomb of the Prophet. Developers hate anyone seeing the face of divinity within the strata of the Earth which they wish to tear up, breach, frack, or violate.

The simple faith of common people who see the hand of God everywhere is much despised, which is the source of much woe today. God is hidden in dogmatic learning, and manifestations are mocked.


Toronto Skyline

As we drove home last week, I observed that I had grown weary of the Toronto skyline. Of course, I could have been biased; a week of drudgery and a funeral tends to bias one.

However, I looked around and could not force the tiniest dopamine of cheerful beauty into my perception: Toronto's buildings were anything but charming.

In the picture above, it is illustrated in the most picturesque of seasons, the autumn. Yet the only thing of beauty is the river, the plain, the hills, the trees.
The buildings are hard and useless excrescences which usurp the land and close the commons of the open spaces.


The End Of Trip 3

We returned from Toronto Trip 3 Tuesday evening last. The good sister had died and the funeral had been done, and we had reached the limits of what we could reasonably do without breaking off and coming home to rest.

We had wished to get home earlier, but we had accompanied our niece to her meeting with her mother's lawyer, and we found there was paperwork yet to plow through, so we did not leave Toronto until 3:00 PM just ahead of the rush hour...

We drive the 401 (Highway 401) to the 402 to the Blue Water Bridge and continue down I-94 to M-59...

I have been running about on the 401 since I entered University in Canada. Since then, the 401 has become a rosary of municipal traffic jams interspersed by sections of posted 100 kph usually buzzed through at 118 kph.
Toronto's part of the 401 has always been busy, but now once you leave the Toronto Crush, there is the briefest of respites until you fall into the Mississauga Maelstrom, followed by the Milton Mess, and topped off by the Kitchener Klatsch, meaning a Traffic Klatsch - which is a imaginative modification of "Verkehrstockung"... or, traffic jam to my mind.
I think of these slow downs as a meeting of like-minded individuals who get together into their steel mobile automatons and share their love of gazing at still-life pavement underfoot.

Trip 1 was back in December, when we got together to make funeral plans. Trip 2 was early January when she entered palliative care at Sunnybrook - a cruel play on words if there ever was one.
Trips 3 was the funeral, and Trip 4 will be closing up the house.

It is amazing how many things I did I thought I'd never do again. This amazement is much noticed these days as people become dependent upon your assistance.

My sister-in-law had so many personal papers and letters that we could not fit them into our car for the journey home, so we asked one of her friends to put them in temporary storage at their place. They live about an hour's drive north of TO, so we met them about half way one day at the Bass Store in the Vaughan Mills mall in Vaughan...

... there was a light icy rain, and it was cold -

(it was much colder in Toronto than it was back in Michigan, and it snowed every day, so much so that since side streets were sketchy to begin with and afforded little chances for parking at the various houses and places we were going to, the additional snow rendered the streets inimical to parking, and it became sort of Goya's version of "Parking During The Peninsular War".

Not to mention that my niece's wheelchair had to be packed up and unpacked every stop, and her chair was heavier and sturdier than my elder brother's wheelchair from last year, and my brother must have weighed 250 lbs. easy... I never really asked him how much he weighed, because I could never quite say it without making it sound like "How much do you WAYYYY-ay?!?!" )

- and it was one of those winter drives into the wind during which the windshield wipers grumble like unpleasant camels, who do not wish to be goaded into action, and every 3 minutes or so, you watch as the accumulation of ice on the far left side of the driver's side of the windshield creeps ever so slowly - but majestically! with all the imperium of a relentless glacial age! -  towards the right: the area where the blasting hot air has managed to maintain an upper hand for the time being.

So you crank up the heat and strip off your coat and try to keep the windshield ice-free.

I haven't had to do this since I retired. Simply put, if it is raining ice and the wind is blowing, I do not go out for a drive now.
Even when my parents were 60 miles away.
They lived less than a mile from the main hospital, and if there were an emergency and the weather were inclement, I told them that I bet the local EMS would get to them before I could.

It took some repetition for them to believe this.

We spent a bit of time in Vaughan Mills, and the ice had become medium snow. That combined with the fact that the wind would be behind us on the trip back made the return trek less Donner-Party-like than the trip out.


Saturday, February 07, 2015

Upon Reading St. Patrick: The Judaeo-Christian Tradition


Moses  ("Elohim")
St. Patrick,
J. Robert Oppenheimer

at this point we ask whether we add The Matrix.
Are we joking, or are we wandering?


The Passing

The Good Sister - my wife's sister - passed on January 31 about midnight.
We came back to Canada on the 2nd, and have been here ever since.

The funeral service was yesterday at St. Bonaventure Church in Toronto, on Leslie just south of Lawrence. It is a Franciscan parish, and Friar David presided over the ceremony.
It was a very good and thoughtful service.

I read what is the the "Intercession", and did quite well, except for the fact that I read from a template, and the deceased name was indicated by  "N." - I assume "N" for "name" - and all the pronouns were "his/her" and "he/she".
This caused me a microsecond of pause.

We had tried to have her favorite hymns "Ave, Verum Corpus" and "Panis Angelicus" sung, but Friar David laughed and said that no one knows Latin anymore, except for the "Ave, Maria".

I found it disconcerting that we have lost so many of our ancient traditions.
(The Good Sister and I were both Latin scholars.)

On the news one morning, the reader said that a Mr. MacNamara won the Lotto in Windsor, and he pronounced the name "mack-NAM-ara".
Then we were watching NBC Today and there was a piece on the young lady from Prescott, Arizona who is being held by ISIS. There was something about her and the local Kiwanis Club, which name was pronounced "kee-WAH-nees", instead of "ki-WAH-nis".

Has the past been forgot?


Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Hwore Of Cancer

Hwore of Cancer

The Hwore of Cancer came against the hospital
and spread her lofty legs above it all -
batshit all Akkadian crazy! -
from info desk to the parking garage,
like a syphilitic Rhodian colossus;
steaming in the winter’s cold air,
tinted and varnished giantesse
bids us enter into Avernus.
A mighty apostassy
the heressy of our time.

Is not the cable tv glow a atheisstical plot
to foil and mimic the light of God?
And are not the blond ladies who read the news
honoring Semiramis or Cybele…
the mother of the Babylonian messiah?
the devil is in
the lymph-nodes,
the flesh, the world…
and doctors fail their Turing test
and they scatter to avoid the family eyes -
big eyes, sad eyes,
greedy for more pagan gifts of Life!


Netanyahu In Washington

In the meantime:


UN demand
The United Nations on Friday called on the Israeli regime to immediately stop the destruction of Palestinian houses in the occupied West Bank.
“In the past three days, 77 Palestinians, over half of them children, have been made homeless,” James W. Rawley, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, said.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israeli authorities have razed to the ground as many as 42 Palestinian-owned structures in Ramallah, al-Quds, Jericho, and al-Khalil since January 20.
This is while according to international law, the destruction of private or public property in occupied territories is prohibited.


Einstein's Nightmare

Albert Einstein:
I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish state. Apart from the practical considerations, my awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish state with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power ….
Einstein signed an open letter to the New York Times on December 4, 1948:
"Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our time is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the 'Freedom Party' ... a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy, and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist right-wing chauvinist organization in Palestine.

The current visit of Menachem Begin, leader of this party, to the United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of American support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who opposed fascism throughout the world, if currently informed as to Mr. Begin's political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents ... A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village of Deir Yassin ...

Einstein's nightmare was how the State of Israel would deal with the Arab population under its effective control. His signature on the letter of 1948 shows he was clearly worried about certain elements with Israel.

Now we see:
Israeli settlers storm Islamic religious sites in West Bank
Tuesday, 27 January 2015
Dozens of Israeli settlers have stormed Islamic religious sites in a village in the occupied West Bank and insulted Muslims.

A large number of settlers backed by Israeli army troops entered the village of Awarta, northwest of Nablus, early on Monday and performed Jewish rituals at the Islamic holy shrines at the western side of the village, Head of Awarta village council, Hani Darawsheh, said.

According to Palestinian media sources violence against the Palestinian population in the West Bank has recently increased as settlers attack Palestinians and their properties as well as holy Islamic sites...


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Feast Of Malanka

If you can read the caption, it says "Villagers wearing hay bale costumes celebrate the winter festival of Malanka on January 14..."
... Malanka is mostly a rural feast but lately it has begun to make inroads into cities as well. Basically, Malanka is celebrated — or performed, or whatever other verb would be proper to use — in accordance to a set pattern which differs in certain details in different parts of Ukraine.

The celebrations of the Feast of Malanka begin on the night of January 14 (which happens to be the New Year’s Day by the Old Style Calendar). The central character in the celebrations is Malanka, “a girl of many talents and of exceptional beauty.” Who actually this Malanka girl was, and what she did to earn a public celebration, nobody knows for sure. All my enquires produced little result — except for some information that I obtained from some old-timers according to whom the day of January 13 is a feast day of St Malania the Roman Martyr. But evidently, it was an ancient pagan holiday of uncertain origin which was “adjusted” to the Christian ritual.
There were times when Malanka was celebrated in virtually all the villages and towns of Ukraine but these days only some places have managed to maintain the traditional Malanka celebrations. And even, as I’ve said, Malanka has begun to gain in popularity...

Mon ami canadien, Gil, who is French-Ukrainian,sent this along.

I pointed out that those rural fellows are not wearing hay stack costumes; they are actually wearing hay stacks.
Furthermore, no self-respecting young Ukrainian would be without a couple of designer hay stacks in the back of the closet, ready to don for the agricultural festivities.

I refuse to wear them because of the special cleaning required.


Politics Of The Imaginary Kind

Of course, I'm going to see Sni-Per !

I mean, I saw the previews and that dude is going to shot that bomb-toting kid, or his mama, or he's gonna waste both of them.

I knew right then I had to see it. I'm serious.

I think 70% of the audience goes to see that...
How could you miss it?
In the preview, they kept cutting back to the hospital room where the Sniper's own baby was, then back to Iraq, back to dad and kids... It promised to be good.

However, now the controversy may have ruined it. I don't want to comment on anything except the irony that the best sniper in history was shot by some guy on a shooting range. Irony needs to be noticed.

The controversy is a hubbub about a war we waged against some country that had nothing to do with Al Qa'ida, except in our imaginations.
We have spent too much time waging wars against non-Al-Qa'ida entities to face the possibility that it was a waste of precious life.
We have to make it good, if only in our imaginations.


Clock Clepsydra

Automata and ancient cybernetics.


Dino Days

Roy Chapman Andrews in the Gobi

Yesterday, January 26, marked the anniversary of the birth of Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews in 1884.

I remember reading his book about his expedition into the Gobi Desert searching for dinosaur fossils. I think it was All About Dinosaurs, published in 1953. I read it in grade school at an early age, and it was my first fascination in science.


At Which Point I Reconsider Animal Rights...

Misplaced Trust

Daily Yonder

Speaking of the USDA, the New York Times has a story about the agency’s U. S. Meat Animal Research Center, a mad-scientist-sounding program aimed at helping meat producers (read: corporate farms) make more money, doing some things that should repulse even the most unapologetic meat eaters (like me). I’m just going to give you a couple paragraphs from the story to set the scene.

At a remote research center on the Nebraska plains, scientists are using surgery and breeding techniques to re-engineer the farm animal to fit the needs of the 21st-century meat industry. The potential benefits are huge: animals that produce more offspring, yield more meat and cost less to raise.

There are, however, some complications.

Pigs are having many more piglets — up to 14, instead of the usual eight — but hundreds of those newborns, too frail or crowded to move, are being crushed each year when their mothers roll over. Cows, which normally bear one calf at a time, have been retooled to have twins and triplets, which often emerge weakened or deformed, dying in such numbers that even meat producers have been repulsed.

Then there are the lambs. In an effort to develop “easy care” sheep that can survive without costly shelters or shepherds, ewes are giving birth, unaided, in open fields where newborns are killed by predators, harsh weather and starvation.


Continuous Transportation

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige


Monday, January 26, 2015

Which War?

 Burning The White House in the War of 1812

I was having Sunday dinner with my mother, my niece, and her two daughters at my mother's residence. One of the oldsters seated nearby, having finished their dinner, got up to leave, and my mother needed to read the inscriptions on his sweatshirt out loud:

"If you can read this, thank a teacher"


"If you can read this in English, thank a veteran."

Since the young girls studied American history, I asked them which war the sweatshirt referred to.
Obviously, it could not refer to the American Revolution, for both sides spoke English. Ditto the War of 1812. Ditto, ditto the Civil War.
So it had to be the Spanish-American War or later.

One of the girls, Madison, said that they were studying the War of 1812 in school.
So I asked, "Who was the US President during the War of 1812?"

I waited. I looked at them both, then turned to the elder.
"Madison...?" I asked, addressing her.

"Madison... ?"

She got it. No one else did.


Continuous Transportation: Seeking The Equinoxes

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

New Zealand's Farmers Call for Drought Declaration
26 January 2015

My blogger friend Knutty Knitter  ( )  sent word about the hot summer in New Zealand, so I started to read about heat and drought in 2013 to the present in New Zealand. The hottest June in NZ since records began being kept was in 2014.

I thought that as winters became more vicious and summer more devastating, we should be left with only the spring and autumn, and we would continuously cruise, seeking the equinoxes across the globe.

There are ominous parallels with the mediaeval notion of a Narrenschiff, or Ship of Fools, whose passengers sail on, heedless of their ultimate fate.
The US Congress has agreed that climate is changing, but cannot agree on causality.


 Ship of Fools Singing "Let Us All Be Happy!"  
( "Gaudeamus Omnes") under the 5 line musical staff )


Oświęcim i Śnieg

Auschwitz in the Snow

We have finally returned from Toronto where my good sister, my wife's sister, is dying in what the Canadians euphemistically call Palliative Care. We took her daughter to see her every day, then turned to a mountain of tasks awaiting us.
We are involved greatly in this Toronto family of mother and daughter.

Even the snow cannot bring beauty...
... it remains severely cold, not gentle; it is grey, not white; it is a threat of glacial grinding and the digging of aretes and the tossing up of moraines upon the battle ground of Earth...

It took me 2 days to be able to write this.