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arcana imperii :: the book of j

30.4.04

«uma imagem vale por mil palavras...»



via troll. muito obrigado!

«multi-lang»

aleut inuit: my anorak is far too cold for a kayak expedition to the igloo. bring me a parka instead.

farsi: this talc bazaar has everything! just one kiosk alone sells lilac tiaras, and azure shawls.

sanskrit: the pundit and his guru were repeating their mantra, hoping for nirvana, when some fool ruined their karma, chipping the crimson lacquer on the chintz.

turkish: oh! effendi! i really must apologise for spilling coffee over your kilim, and dripping yoghurt over your turquoise divan.

czech: fetch the howitzer! some fool's armed the robot with a pistol.

welsh: wrap the corgi in flannel and hide him in the coracle.

portuguese: all this palaver simply because the albino albatross doesn't have a taste for marmalade.

hungarian: get the sabre from the coach! the hussar has overdone the paprika and ruined my goulash.

aztec: i'm not eating avocado with chilli sauce, or tomato with chocolate. feed it all to the coyote!

russian: the commissar orders a mammoth samovar of vodka to be dispatched to the balalaika player.


via babski. kia ora!

27.4.04

iraqis say new flag won't fly...

«it was supposed to be the perfect symbol for a new and unified iraq: an islamic crescent on a field of pure white, with two blue stripes representing the tigris and euphrates rivers and a third yellow stripe to symbolize the country's kurdish minority.

but the new national flag, presented monday after an artistic competition sponsored by the iraqi governing [governing? lol...] council, appears to have met with widespread public disapproval -- in part because of its design and in part because of the increasing unpopularity of the US-appointed council.»


no sh*t sherlock! just when i thought the arrogance of bush&co and its iraqi puppets could no longer suprise me...

26.4.04

quotation of the week

«one should not bring sympathy to a sick man. it is always kindly meant, and of course it has to be taken --but it isn't much of an improvement on castor oil. one who has a sick man's true interest at heart will forbear spoken sympathy, and bring him surreptitious soup and fried oysters and other trifles that the doctor has tabooed.»
~mark twain in a letter to mary mason fairbanks

Labels:

23.4.04

one minute at a time

andy just reminded me of the importance of seizing the day (and the night) via that one particulalry catchy phrase from fight club: «this is your life. and it's ending one minute at a time.» this is no primal call to abandon responsibility, but indeed a reminder that after all, life is for the living and we best get to it, richly, unabashedly and fully right here right now...

shame shame shame!

two national surveys released this week, the washington post poll and the gallup poll, show bush ahead of senator john kerry -- this despite three weeks of grim news from iraq, tv images of US casualties and criticism of bush from witnesses before the 9/11 commission.

according to msnbc, the two numbers are remarkable and remarkably discordant (from the washington post poll): six out of ten respondents say the united states is bogged down in iraq, but bush's approval rating stands at fifty-one percent. one might think the iraq turmoil would be bad news for bush's chances of election, yet ignorant voters seem to see bush as stronger and more capable of dealing with national security. as if! don't these people see that bush contributes to our being a bloody target in the first place?! is this that complicated a concept for most of us to grasp?

emergency elections

the press reports this morning that fearing that terrorists might target US lawmakers en masse, the house of representatives approved a bill yesterday to set up speedy special elections in the event that one hundred or more of its members are killed.

critics of the 45-day election plan said it is both too short a time for some states to prepare for an election and too long to leave congress in a paralysed state (or not enough time for electioneering and partisanship?) in the aftermath of an attack.

wet weather costs the uk £9.5bn*

according to a new survey conducted by researchers from comfort fast dry fabric conditioner, britain's rainy climate costs the country £9.5 billion a year; ruined clothes, cancelled events and increased heating bills leaves the average briton £260 worse off as a result of wet weather.

swansea, meanwhile, was revealed as britain's wettest city with an average rainfall of 1360.8mm (53in) a year, costing the city's residents an estimated £582.4 million.

londonderry, in northern ireland, with 1122.5mm (44in) of a rain a year was the second rainiest city in the uk, with glasgow, plymouth and cardiff filling the next three positions.

however, manchester, the butt of countless wet weather jokes, came a lowly ninth in the rainfall table - although its residents easily paid out the most as a result of its weather, with a combined bill of £653.5 million.

the figures were calculated by multiplying the city's population by the £260 average that briton are estimated to spend each year on wet weather dramas.

not surprisingly rain made more than half of the population feeling depressed (58%), and is also blamed by 52% of britons for making them late for work at least once a month.

model and reality tv star jordan, meanwhile, was named by male respondents as the celebrity they would most like to towel them dry after a good soaking with 42% of the vote. robbie williams was the most popular choice amongst women with 32%. gay men and women were apparently not asked to reply to this question.

the survey was based on the responses of eight thousand apparent heterosexualists across the united kingdom.

*a UK billion is 1012 whereas in the US it's 109.
via ananova.

censorship



tami silicio, an american employee of a military contractor, ie war profiteer, in kuwait was fired this week, along with her husband, when the seattle times published a photograph she had taken of a cargo plane full of coffins draped in american flags. while they theory behind the policy of the department of defence seems to be that pictures of coffins of members of the armed services are intrusive or upsetting to mourning families, it's certainly implemented in order to reduce the impact of large numbers of flag-draped coffins on a public which was lied to regarding the reasons for the attack, invasion and occupation of iraq and who now is being asked to risk the lives of thousands more troops and come up with millions upon millions of addtional dollars to sink into the quagmire.

photo: the seattle times/afp.

«unprecedented hatred» for america

the guardian has published a special report discussing the growing rift between america and the arab world was right as two middle eastern allies delivered damaging rebuffs to bush's policies in the region.

King Abdullah of Jordan flew home from the US wednesday after abruptly cancelling a meeting with the president in washington, dc. the king's move came as the egyptian president, hosni mubarak, said there was more hatred of americans in the arab world today than ever before.

what could be expected? the governments closest to the US in the region rule of the rather anti-american populations and vice-versa. saudi arabia is a ticking time-bomb, the world remains under real threat of horrendous attacks despite the so-called war on terror and bush dares back up sharon and betray decades of established policies and goals as i wrote just a few days ago... we just keep making enemies and then scream like imbeciles, "why us, why us"!

22.4.04

the pervert's been indicted

i didn't know that michael jackson had been indicted by a nineteen-member santa barbara, california, grand jury after thirteen days in session nor that the indictement is sealed. first ammendment anyone? i just heard someone tell deborah norville that "sources say" the indictement is almost a mirror-image of the charges against the deposed king of pop (justin timberlake bears the crown now, right?), which include giving alcohol to a minor, allegedly in order to losen inhibitions so the molestation could take place. «ay, ay, ay, ay, canta y no llores...»

21.4.04

testing einstein's universe

«this is a great moment and a great responsibility, the outcome of a unique collaboration of physicists and engineers to develop this near-perfect instrument to test einstein's theory of gravity», said francis everitt, a physicist at stanford university in california who has led the project over its record forty-year gestation.

anne kinney, director of the astronomy and physics division in nasa’s office of space science said that gravity probe B has the potential to uncover fundamental properties of the invisible universe, a universe which seems very bizarre and alien to our everyday perceptions yet one that einstein tried to show us almost a century ago.

according to the theory of general relativity, the gravity of a massive, spinning body can drag space-time along with it. gravity probe b houses four gyroscopes - the most perfect spheres ever created - that could measure the "frame dragging" caused by earth. the effect would be seen as small changes in the gyros' spin axes relative to a distant guide star.

read more.

a tribute to the fallen

«the war president»

michael moore has created a collage of the 700+ american soldiers killed in iraq. a higher resolution version may be viewed here.

via rover. takk!

«bare vent til du kommer til florida!»



«just wait till you get to florida.»

via dthprod. takk!

world set back ten years by bush's new world order

george bush has had a «devastating impact» on global sustainable development and set the world back more than ten years. writing in guardian society mr jonathon porritt, who is the chairman of the sustainable development commission and prime minister tony blair's senior adviser on the subject, says it is hard to exaggerate the damage done to the planet by bush's drive for a «new world order».

read more.

19.4.04

quotation of the day

«if you try and don't succeed, cheat. repeat until caught. then lie.»

and i knew that sooner or later i would find a redeeming quality in a certain someone... «it may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.»

attribution: unknown to me as of posting time.

quotation of the week

«for each man kills the thing he loves,
by each let this be heard,
some do it with a bitter look,
some with a flattering word.
the coward does it with a kiss,
the brave man with a sword!» ~oscar wilde

Labels:

18.4.04

spain has ordered iraq withdrawal

it's done.

the new spanish prime minister, josé luís rodríguez zapatero, moving swiftly to fulfill his campaign pledge, said he had directed his defence minister, josé bono, «to do what is necessary for the spanish troops in iraq to come home in the shortest time and in the greatest safety possible.»

note that he is not giving in to terrorism in making this decision but actually forcing the speedier co-operation of the united nations in this quagmire bush&co has drawn the country and the world into.

oh and yeah, even shakespeare ended sentences in a preposition (even if he didn't write any of the plays attributed to him)!

we bear responsibility and shall pay dearly

you see?! they're finally saying it, louddly, clearly and simply for all americans to understand. there's no other choice but to take responsibility for the complicity of between our government government and israel's against palestinians and arabs in general, whether muslim or not.

reuters is currently reporting that arabs and muslims, angry at israel's assassination of hamas leader abdel-aziz al-rantissi, are saying today that washington is an accomplice and has abandoned any pretence at neutrality between israelis and palestinians. oil engineer kais al-tobi in the gulf state of oman said bush has given sharon a passport to kill.

today in history: «one if by land two if by sea»

back in 1775 -- paul revere began his famous ride from charlestown to lexington, massachusetts, warning american colonists that the British were coming!

not quite the life...

«drugs and rock 'n roll, bad ass vegas hoes,
late-night booty calls and shiny disco balls.
drugs and rock 'n roll, bad ass vegas hoes,
late-night booty calls and shiny disco balls.
drugs and rock 'n roll, bad ass vegas hoes,
late-night booty calls and shiny disco balls.

disco, disco, disco, disco, shiny disco balls,
drugs and rock 'n roll, bad ass vegas hoes,
disco, disco, disco, disco, shiny disco balls.

drugs and rock 'n roll, bad ass vegas hoes,
late-night booty calls and shiny disco balls.
disco, disco, disco, disco...»
~shiny disco balls, who da funk


via andrew's lyrics

16.4.04

the face of war: american pow keith mathew maupin



the arab television station al-jazeera aired video footage today showing a 20-year-old US soldier captured by iraqi resistance forces, apparently unharmed and surrounded by five masked men holding automatic rifles. the young man is heard as saying: «my name is keith matthew maupin. i am a soldier from the 1st division. i am married with a ten-month-old child».

al-jazeera reported that a spokesperson for the unidentified iraqi resistance group holding the soldier said on the tape that he was being "treated according to the Islamic way of treating prisoners of war".

the us government is currently trying to confirm the identity of the prisoner.

from the beeb: hostages in iraq - timeline, current as of posting time.

the FDA muzzled antidepressant critic

the new york times reported today that top officials from the US food and drug administration concede the agency prevented an expert from testifying at a february public hearing about his belief that commonly prescribed antidepressants caused children to become suicidal.

the officials reportedly stand by their decision, calling dr andrew mosholder's findings 'alarmist and premature,' in the words of mple.

fda associate director dr robert temple told the newspaper that "if you get it wrong and over-discourage the use of these medicines, people could die," denying that the agency was trying to keep important information from the public.

the US house of representatives' energy and commerce committee plans to investigate the fda's actions, according to the associated press.

mosholder, an fda epidemiologist, had been charged with analyzing twenty-two studies involving more than 4,000 children and seven antidepressants. he concluded that children on certain medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were almost twice as likely as those given placebos to become suicidal, the times reported. frequently prescribed SSRIs include paxil and prozac, of which the latter is the only medication in its class to be fda-approved for use in children.

the fda said it is conducting its own review of mosholder's conclusions. in the interim, the agency has warned that patients of any age should be carefully monitored when they begin antidepressant treatment or change dosages.


via HealthDay.

bush reversal of policy unconscionable

the world press had scathing criticism toward israeli prime minister ariel sharon's unilateral plans for the occupied territories (which include denying palestinian refugees the right of return) --and george w bush's support of them.

thousands of lives lost, horrid bloodshed, the security of americans and most europeans all over the planet threatened each and every day and the american government, its supporters and i dare say americans in general still refuse to accept that the continued unqualified and myopic support of israel fuels the conflict and the hatred against us. how many more planes-turned-missiles need to kill how many more thousands before we tell israel that enough is enough, that it must end its illegal occupation of palestine and work at building peace and mutual understanding with its neighbours or else. we can and should say that, especially because we americans pay for that state's existence. part of the money we were forced to hand over to the the us government yesterday will pay for the weapons that enforce the israeli occupation and its "targeted" assassinations policy.

i've had just about enough of the "blame-the-victims" syndrome. palestinians, whether equally targeting civilians and occupying forces are fighting a war. a war in which civilians have chosen to illegally settle occupied land with the pretext that it's given them by a deity and then label attacks against them as terrorism, with the complicity of the american government and media. by this very act settlers and the israeli population at large become targets just as the military force which defends them.

«palestinians and their supporters in washington reacted with disbelief. just before the plan was announced, but after its outline had become known, palestinian leader yasser arafat said it would "put an end to the peace process" and lead to more instability, a not very veiled suggestion that more violence would result.» / «bush is the first US president to give legitimacy to jewish settlements on palestinian land. we reject this, we will not accept it," said palestinian prime minister ahmed qureia».

«george w bush's unconditional endorsement of right-wing israeli prime minister ariel sharon's disengagement plan constitutes a shocking reversal of longstanding US middle east policy and one of the most flagrant challenges to international law and the integrity of the united nations system ever made by a US president.» / «by giving unprecedented backing for israeli plans to annex large swaths of occupied palestinian territories in the west bank in order to incorporate illegal jewish settlements, president bush has effectively renounced un security council resolutions 242 and 338, which call on israel - in return for security guarantees from its arab neighbours - to withdraw from palestinian territories seized in the june 1967 war.»

«all previous US administrations of both parties had seen these resolutions as the basis for arab-israeli peace.»


read more and more (updated as of posting time).

a wank or a shag and a vitamin a day...

keeps prostate cancer away!

do take a couple of minutes to read ejaculation frequency & prostate cancer and vitamin fights prostate cancer for brilliant news on the subject from the world of science.

«men with high levels of the alpha tocopherol form of vitamin E were fifty-three percent less likely to develop prostate cancer.» / «the men with twenty-one or greater ejaculations per month were forty-one percent less likely to develop prostate cancer when compared to the men reporting four to seven ejaculations per month.»

note that the benefits result from the natural intake of vitamins found in foods such as sunflower seeds, spinach, almonds and sweet peppers, not supplements.

¡enhorabuena don rodríguez zapatero!

josé luís rodríguez zapatero, spain's young and largely untested socialist leader, won parliamentary approval today as prime minister, stepping forward to govern a nation shocked by a terrorist bombing and al-qaida threats of more bloodshed. mr rodríguez zapatero is due to be sworn in on saturday before King Juan Carlos.

it is sad commentary on european party politics to see how not one single man or woman from the popular party (pp) supported the new prime minister and voted against him as rodríguez zapatero himself vowed to work with all parties after four years of bitter partisan feuding in parliament.

15.4.04

third-world anglican hypocrisy

developing third world anglican churches have become rather militant about their prejudice and have made it a matter of conscience. are these people in latin america and africa, especially, blind to the fact that they themselves, by virtue of their race and/or ethnicity where once considered by "the church" souless animals who could be captured, enslaved, traded, abused and killed with no objection from the very deity they worship? to think how easily clergy of all faiths the world over support bigotry and hipocrisy even as many of them live, practise and secretly defend homosexuality day in and day out is unconscionable. that these people are looked up to by so many, are exempt form taxation and given myriad privileges and status so undeserved is shameful and objectionable.

the latest attack by anglican church conservatives on the consecration of an openly gay bishop in the US state of new hampshire: «african anglican archbishops resolved today to reject donations from any diocese that recognises gay clergy and will refuse cooperation with any missionary that supports the idea.»

and check this out: «the archbishops, meeting in the kenyan capital nairobi, also recommended that the episcopal church – the american branch of the anglican church –, be disciplined and be given three months "to repent" for the consecration of bishop gene robinson».

lol.

related headlines as of posting time.

«new suth effrican deekshunry» / «new south african dictionary»

officials of the new south african government have come to realise that the current status of having eleven official languages in the new south africa is impractical. a new language was thus introduced. this is the english as it is now spoken on television and radio. the recently published new suth effrican deekshunry defines these new weds. here are some extracts and examples of their usage in the official new suth effrican lungwich:



bad - you sleep on it in the badroom
beds - mossies, doves, and so on
beg - container, as in shopping beg, hand-beg, tog-beg
ben - to set alight
chealdren - our future is in their hands
chetz - where worshippers go on sundays
cuds - you can play poker or rummy with them
cut - a small donkey-drawn vehicle
debben - city in kzn [kwa-zulu natal]
deekshunry - where you find weds
detty - opposite of clean
die'llas - as in drug die'llas or wee-pon die'llas
driva - holds the steering wheel of a teksi
duck - very duck at night when the lights are all off
ebben - you get ebben erriors and rural erriors
effrican - from the continent of africa
erriors - districts, eg. ebbon erriors
ewways - eg. saa, comair
fems - companies, e.g., anglo-american
fest - the one before second and third
fok - used with nifes
fum - you can fum with ship or kettle
fumma - he owns the fum
guddin - where you grow kebbijees
geave - you must geave, i will take
get - a hinged device in a fence
hair - as opposed to heem
heppi - state of elatement, eg. i'm so heppi - i just voted
hiss - masculine form of hairs
hubba - where sheeps dock
itch - as in itch and avairy pesson
jems - little bugs that give you the flu
kah - what you drive around in
kennel - ummy officer
kebbijees - vegetable
keptown - some think parliament doesn't belong there
kettegry - in a system of classification
kipper - one who kips, as in goal kipper
kleenix - where nesses weck
kot - where the judges sit
len - to acquire knowledge
leeda - as in arwa leeda, the president
lungwich - weds what are spokkin

*****************
mick - those who will inherit the eth
miening - what is the miening of this attack?
nesses - they weck in kleenix and hospitals
pee pull - powa to da pee pull
peppa - one way to get the news
pesson - one of pee pull
phlegm - the benning top of a kendal
pees - symbolised by white dove
pees-tox - between the ira and pm john major
reeva - eg. the limpopo, vaal and orange reevas
regime - anything to describe pre-1994
ree kwest - replaced by dee mands
rent - n/a- word obsolete
scotched eth - guerilla tactic
sheep - big boat
shex - houses in squatter camps
ship - provider of wool
shit of peppa - something to write on
shuck-attak - if the shuck-net is brokkin
shuck-nets - at debben, for safety of sweamas
spitch - what politicians make at a relly
suth - opposite of north
sweamas - compete in a sweaming pul
teps - solvent to thin enamel paint
teck - see geave
teksi - kah for hire - sometimes parrot teksi
tenning point - the "top" of a parabola
thest - ice-cold coke will relieve it on a hot day
tipic ally - characteristic
tocks or tox - negotiations
ufrican - pertaining to ufrica
ummy - military force
wee men - ladies
we pon - a gun
wean-dow - with glus for throwing bricks through
weaned - «gone with the weaned»
weaner - the one with the most votes
weckliss - the unemployed pee-pull
weds - what the dictionary is made up of
wekkas - do the weck
weld - the eth
wems - small crawly creatures
weth - she is weth her weight in gold.


dankie/ngiyabonga seanw! brilliant!

«culture without cruelty»

barcelona has taken the first steps to ban bullfights by passing a resolution proclaiming the catalan capital an anti-bullfighting city following increasing pressure from animal rights campaigners and catalans in general who are interested in demystifying bullfights and being known for what they are: citizens of a brilliant, vibrant cosmopolitan centre for the arts, architecture and culture.

read more at the scotsman.

14.4.04

catalan and welsh among forty languages to be added to microsoft windows

forty new languages will be introduced into microsoft windows as part of a project to increase usage by minority language speakers and in response to complaints from around the world that young people in particular were losing their native tongues.

microsoft programmes already run in forty languages including english, spanish, arabic and chinese variants. for instance a welsh start menu and some commands will be available in about six months. the other big linguistic groups to benefit from the expansion will be speakers of gujarati and tamil in india, of catalan in the iberian peninsula and of bahasa in malaysia.

bbc news online reported that native languages from northern canada and ethiopia will also be added. start menus and instructions like 'save' and 'search' will be introduced, said microsoft. the company's worldwide public sector senior vice president maggie wilderotter said they were working with governments and academics to develop the languages over the next year, for microsoft windows xp and microsoft office 2003.

via ananova

don't kill the messenger: criticism of islam and muslims

the head of the catholic church in england and wales has joined criticism of muslims for not doing enough to denounce terrorism.

the former archbishop of canterbury Lord Carey sparked anger when he said not enough moderates condemned the radical activists who carried out attacks "in the name of allah". cardinal cormac murphy o'connor said he sympathised with dr carey's remarks: «he had highlighted something that needed to be highlighted» he said.

the cardinal said Lord Carey was «very bravely» criticising muslim leaders for not saying more to combat those who might be attracted to terrorism and that the former archbishop had contributed a lot of his life to building bridges between christians and muslims: «i think what he said was fundamentally true».

Lord Carey caused outrage with his lecture in rome last month. he said people looked to muslims to condemn suicide bombers and terrorists who used islam as a weapon to destroy innocent lives. but apart from a few courageous examples very few muslim leaders clearly condemned the evil of suicide bombers.

Lord Carey also accused islamic societies of being authoritarian and committed to power and privilege - often led by people who rose to power «at the point of a gun».

he also criticised the islamic faith, saying muslim theological scholarship had declined over the last five hundred years, «leading to strong resistance to modernity».

the cardinal used the interview to call on the west to tackle the gross poverty and inequality which was the root cause of terrorism.


via ananova.

south africa votes

i've meant to write about today's most important elections in south africa, and mostly out of concern for the violence leading to this date, but other matters have occupied my time and now i am left with echoing a washington post editorial on the subject. in any case, this is of utmost importance, given what's really at stake.

«south africans vote today in the country's third post-apartheid election. there is no doubt as to the victor: the african national congress, led by president thabo mbeki, retains the popularity that it built up as the standard-bearer of the anti-apartheid movement. the only questions are whether the anc will win more than two-thirds of the vote, giving it the power to change the constitution without consulting other parties, and whether the party will sweep to power in all nine provincial legislatures. it will be better if the anc falls short of that clean sweep: from mexico's institutional revolutionary party to the liberal democratic party in japan, single-party democracies have a way of falling into corruption. yet the anc's record is, with one glaring exception, good enough to justify its continued popularity...»

13.4.04

i am an english grammar god king*

grammar king!

«you are a grammar god king! if your mission in life is not already to preserve the english tongue, it should be. congratulations and thank you!»

how grammatically sound are you?

*despite any evidence to the contrary on my blog and phlog.

brought to you by quizilla.

note: congrats to my mate seanw who's also proven to be a grammar god king!

do they believe it themselves?

«we don't seek empires. we're not imperialistic. we never have been. i can't imagine why you'd even ask the question.» ~donald rumsfeld, replying to a question by an al-jazeera correspondent, 29 April 2003.

«no one can now doubt the word of america.» ~george w bush, state of the union address, 20 january 2004.


via empire notes.

12.4.04

royal row at miami international

it's simply ridiculous and offensive. while general profiling as commonly understood and practised in the US is wrong and unacceptable, the rather american misunderstanding of the concept of equality and the idiosyncratic inability to recognise one's place and behave accordingly along with the general rudeness of a generation raised on the jerry springer show rules of etiquette actually decreases security and puts the entire nation at avoidable risk.

there is simply no place for bloody meaningless "political correctness" when it comes to security screenings. it is unnecessary and in any case impossible to screen every passenger. random selection is neither efficient nor productive. the criteria for selection must be based on clearly and objectively identified potential risk factors. the idea that a US senator or cabinet member should submit to screening or searches is absurd and a waste of resources as much as it is offensive to the intelligence of even the most average human. the idea that such persons should submit just like anyone else is stupid for they do not pose the identified risk, whereas "khalil abdul mohammed," the anti-modernisation-misguided-confused-mysoginistic-religiously devout-non-frequent flyer-islamist-from-hell poster child for terrorism does and so must and should be searched a capite ad calcem with a magnifying glass if necessary.

and so now that you understand the premise, you may get why a row took place between the spanish Crown Prince, his fiancee and staff at miami international airport. staff which should be summarily executed for representing every misconception i mentioned at the outset of this sunday morning rant.

you see, Crown Prince Felipe and letizia ortiz, and four bodyguards, were due to catch a connecting flight at miami when they had to undergo security checks. airport staff said the search had to be carried out after the couple failed to give the "normal" seventy-two hours notice. miami-dade's mayor has apologised for the "apparent disregard for protocol".

the miami herald reported that the thirty-six-year-old future king and his television anchorwoman fiancee had flown into miami from the bahamas thursday evening. before boarding their iberia airlines flight to madrid, the couple and their entourage had to pass through a security check. they were taken to an american airlines lounge, where they were searched...

the humanity!

what price life?

twenty-one women were killed today in the northern indian city of lucknow in a stampede set off when free saris were offered at a public birthday celebration for lalji tandon, a close aide to prime minister atal bihari vajpayee.

more than 10,000 poor women and their children, responded to the sari offer and gathered under a large white tent in a public park. they rushed forward at the end of the birthday celebration jostling with one another to reach the distribution point and collect a birthday gift which cost twenty-one of them their life. this evening, on a counter, a pile of new saris sat in a heap, undistributed.

for what reason other than to buy votes would the hindu nationalist party do this? who ever heard of a public birthday celebration for a member of staff followed by a clothes giveaway? and how is it possible that nobody had the foresight to suggest a raffle, or distribution from within the amassed group or any other way to reduce risk even if just upon noticing the amount of people turning up?!

these deaths, in the prime minister's home constituency should remind indians that even as mr vajpayee campaigns for re-election trumpeting the country's soaring economy, abject poverty and despair remain a horrid fact of life in india.

via the new york times.

update: presidential market 2004



qv: trading the presidency.

quotation of the week

«i love mankind; it's people i can't stand.» ~charles m schultz

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11.4.04

celebrate hope, rebirth and new beginnings not myth as truth

in case you're among the sadly mistaken sixty percent of americans who believe in the historical accuracy of the bible, or have "faith" in the events therein described, please understand that no three-day-old rotting body ever descended to "hell" or rose to "heaven" with or without a bagful of imputed sins. it did not happen, period. and i indeed strongly hope that since it is neither rational nor acceptable, one day this bloody, baleful, death-centred christian tale of easter be abandoned for a true and conscious celebration of life. enough of religion's exhaltation of misery, cruelty, sadism, insanity, slavery, sexism, war, and death.

the vernal equinox has ushered in the spring season, a time to robe ourselves in the revelry of life blooming everywhere. life, love and HOPE are in the air. and it is precisely the concept of hope which the evangelists intended to convey with their tale of jesus resurrected. i hence advocate taking the "resurrection" message of easter and the solemnity of passover and celebrating new beginnings, health and growth and renewing a commitment to make hope a reality by lending a real helping hand to those in need, be it a neighbour, a homeless person right down the road from your home, an unemployed friend at the end of his rope or a palestinian or jew dreaming of a homeland and fighting for their olive tree.

«on earth there is nothing great but man; in man there is nothing great but mind.»
~sir william hamilton

misreporting the uprising in iraq

mediachannel.org has published a most interesting article by danny schechter detailing how the media is missing the real story behind the misreporting of the uprising in iraq.

«despite all the bremer ballast served up about how only a handful of saddam-worshipping, al-sadr-loving, al-qaeda-following fanatics stand in the way of a US-imposed democratic paradise, the reality on the ground suggests otherwise. reality is fast intruding on the military and the media and it even seems to be reaching americans since the "we-are-winning-the-war-for democracy" news frame is no longer credible».

10.4.04

surround sound mp3s

scientists have come up with a way or producing mp3 files with surround sound. previously it was thought reproducing surround sound required too much data for small mp3 files.

but the beeb reports that the fraunhofer institute has found a way that works with mp3. fraunhofer said that the system it developed would work with existing mp3 software and music players.

surround sound is usually produced by recording audio on different channels so it appears to come from three or more directions. but fraunhofer reproduces surround sound by adding to mp3 encoding extra information that describes the spatial characteristics of the main audio track. using this extra information helps mp3 players recreate the surround sound effect.

music encoded with the new system will work with older hardware and software mp3 players but the extras will only create surround sound when piped through a player that can do something with the extra information.


note: i recently learned that most people recording, saving and sharing mp3 music files do so mostly at an audio bitrate between 128-192 kbit/s (which is fine when file size and download time is an important consideration) not realising that the rate in digital cd recordings is 320 kbit/s.

via ananova.

«administration's house of cards is tumbling down and down»

«we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators» said vice president dick cheney on 16 march 2003. i honestly can't accept the administration and supporters could have truly believed that iraqi streets would be carpeted with flowers welcoming US troops after the attack, invasion and occupation of the country and the toppling of its barbaric regime. they were told this wouldn't be the case even in editorial after editorial right along with warnings regarding the most awful of flaws: the lack of a post-attack, invasion and occupation plan and strategy for anything other than war-profiteering and awarding no-bid contracts.

cynthia tucker reminds us in an op/ed column for yahoo! news that as candidate, bush pledged to restore integrity to the white house and ran on his claims to be a man of strong character -- a politician of plain speaking and straight talk who wouldn't lie to the american people. instead, [the bush] administration has produced more dissembling and distortion, more fabrications and pseudo-facts, than any white house in recent memory -- richard nixon's included. the administration lies brazenly and repeatedly, refusing to back down even when caught in the web of its own contradictions.

americans waking up

reuters has just reported that according to a newsweek poll released today six out of ten americans say the bush administration underestimated the threat of terrorism prior to 11 september 2001, and nearly two out of three are at least somewhat concerned iraq could become another vietnam.

and suddenly the realisation the US faces another quagmire is not limited to those who heard the commentary on npr.

web exclusive from newsweek.com: no apologies - rice never expressed remorse during her 9/11 testimony and bush can’t bring himself to admit he was wrong about iraq. welcome to a quagmire

from the australian iraq quagmire is bush's vietnam.

«...and all for a tenner»

reuters reported tuesday that the royal opera house, fighting accusations of elitism, announced that some of its most sought-after seats (which normally cost around us$320) will be sold for just us$18, thanks to one of the uk's biggest arts sponsorship deals: us$1,8 million from foreign exchange company travelex. the deal will make one hundred of the best seats available monday evenings for £10, to go on sale an hour and a half before the performance. the offer will cover a total of half of all weeks over the next three seasons.

this is truly brilliant news.

the idea of opera as entertainment for the priviledged is rather inaccurate; the art form has indeed entertained the masses and with a rather high degree of vulgarity to be found everywhere from libretto to the very performances of the singers themselves since the time of monteverdi. note as well that historically, the true connoisseurs (which i don't necessarily consider a mark of distinction or even good taste) are hardly ever found in the "expensive" seats, which are more often than not occupied by people who're likely to applaud most everything short of an actual caterwaul.

in any case, i am extremely glad true lovers of the form and the uninitiated will have a chance to enjoy and discover quite affordably some of the very best singing on the planet.

[note: this post is a published draft].

9.4.04

bush makes it all much more difficult

reuters reported just a bit ago that democratic presidential challenger john kerry said earlier today that the ideology and arrogance of the bush administration had created gridlock in iraq that made it 'a lot tougher' for the united states to succeed there.

and i agree wholeheartedly.

8.4.04

darkness

loss of electric power and just over twenty-four hours of hell.

absolute must read and listen: «inside hamas» and chat

johanna mcgeary, time magazine's foreign correspondent has written «inside hamas» --an exclusive and brilliant piece in which she interviews several leaders of the palestinian group whose spiritual leader was assassinated by the israeli military this past 22 march. she had a chat to terry gross on npr's fresh air earlier today and it is simply a must listen.

please note that i object to the term suicide bomber and suggest the use of homicide bomber instead. while the perpetrator believes in his or her martyrdom that is not the goal nor is it to commit suicide. the death of the bomber is a result of the act not its goal.

6.4.04

OUCH! jamie oliver burns his penis while cooking for his wife...

the naked chef was not like the naked news broadcasts one may watch over the net. the idea of the show was to strip down a complicated restaurant recipe to its basic components in order to enjoy it at home with maximum taste and minimum effort, NOT that jamie oliver would be cooking naked.

yet in the spirit of his first television series, jamie decided to cook a valentine's day roast for his wife julie dressed in his birthday suit. he got too close to the oven and OUCH, mary wanda louise, he burned his willy: «i really ruined my evening-- and my night» said the famous chef.

the sun reported that he later treated jools to a break in paris to make up for their ruined valentine's dinner. sweet...

via ananova.

television harms children's brains

it's simple and straightforward: experts have concluded that children under two years of age should not be allowed to watch any television as each hour in front of the screen increases a child's chances of attention deficit disorder by ten percent. children exposed to unrealistic levels of stimulation at a young age continue to expect this in later life, leading to difficulty dealing with the slower pace of school and homework, for instance.

yet this is not really what worries me most. children literally raised by the telly instead of by their exhausted, overworked and underpaid parents (many of whom should have avoided the selfishness of having the child in the first place) are not even learning the basic behaviour required for the ability to follow instructions and obey commands anywhere from the sandbox and creche to school proper.

new book suggests kurt cobain was murdered

while i am indeed a proud bright and sceptic i view conspiracy theories with immense suspicion since when subjected to proper scrutiny they usually prove to be hypotheses with few ties to reality and facts, if any. remember that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

such evidence seems rather abundant in the matter of the death of nirvana founder kurt cobain. according to max wallace and ian halpern, authors of «in love and death: the murder of kurt cobain». along with private investigator tom gray, wallace and halpern appeared on national television yesterday, the tenth anniversary of the death of the acclaimed musician and explained how their research concludes that the suicide scenario believed by police and most of the public is not even plausible. they suggest cobain was murdered and his death staged to look like a suicide and call for the authorities to re-open the enquiry into the singer/songwriter's death.

republicans and democrats alike

ralph nader condemned the bush administration and democrats alike for squandering the nation's treasury on the invasion and subsequent military «quagmire» in iraq.

the seattle post-intelligencer reports.

by the way, nader's stubborn dismissal of the widespread concern that, by running as a third-party candidate from the left, he becomes a de facto ally of the bush campaign indeed able to deliver the presidency to dubya is frightening and most disturbing.

who bill be america's next vice-president?



msnbc correspondent david shuster lets readers have a look at how john kerry will pick his running mate for the upcoming election.

at veepstakes you can pick the running mate yourself and vote on another number of interesting questions.

alert/must listen: npr commentary: quagmire in iraq

and talking about quagmires...

senior npr news analyst daniel schorr said today that this weekend's shiite uprising in iraq, just eleven months after bush announced [prematurely ejaculated] his mission accomplished statement during that abominable and reprehensible pr stunt on the USS abraham lincoln conjures up an unpleasant term from the vietnam era: quagmire, which means that whether or not you should have been there in the first place, you can't get out now without making things infinitely worse.

more and more americans disapprove of bush

public support for the attack, invasion and continued occupation of iraq has been unaffected by the murders and desecration of the corpses of american citizens in falluja. however, continued turmoil and violence in iraq is taking a toll on bush's approval ratings according to a new poll by the pew research centre for the people and the press.

the report: public support for war steady, but bush job ratings slip / after falluja.

note: «47% of americans now disapprove of the way bush is doing his job than approve (43%). just four-in-ten approve of the way bush is handling the situation in iraq, his lowest rating ever and down from 59% in january. bush's evaluations on other issues – the economy, energy and even terrorism – have fallen as well. and by a wide margin (57% to 32%) the public does not think he has a clear plan for bringing the situation in iraq to a successful conclusion

«just 50% of americans favor keeping troops in iraq until a stable government is established there, while 44% support bringing the troops home as soon as possible.»

«just 39% approve of bush's handling of the economy.»

5.4.04

the pulitzer prizes 2004

the winners of the prestigious pulitzer prizes for excellence in journalism, literature and the arts were today.

the los angeles times topped the list winning five of the awards for its coverage of the devastating wildfire outbreak in southern california last autumn Breaking news), and its examination of the tactics that have made wal-mart the largest company in the world (national reporting). the paper was also recognised for its criticism, editorial writing and feature photography, winning the most pulitzers of any publication.

a few interesting facts: the awards are bestowed in twenty-one categories by columbia university's graduate school of journalism on the recommendation of an independent eighteen-member pulitzer board.

more than two thousand entries are submitted each year in the competition. a total of one hundred and two judges who serve on twenty separate juries make three nominations for finalists in each of the award categories. judges include journalists, news executives, playwrights, composers, critics and university officials.

this year the board did not award the prize in the feature writing category – the first time since the category was added in 1979. the last time there was no award in a category was in 1993 for editorial writing.

overall, the journalism prize has not been awarded twenty-four times in the eighty years it's been presented.

each prize consists of us$10.000, except for public service category of the journalism competition, which is recognised with a gold medal. the public service prize is always awarded to a newspaper, not an individual, although an individual may be named in the citation.

john f kennedy is the only US president to receive a pulitzer prize. he was awarded the 1957 prize in biography for his book «profiles in courage»
.

the most poetic of months

the academy of american poets declared april 2004 national poetry month. but, is that it for april? hahaha, you can't even begin to imagine...

quotation of the week

«you've come to fallujah to die, marine» ~unidentified young iraqi child to unidentified US marine, fallujah, iraq.

as reported by eric niiler, embedded with the first marine division, outside fallujah, iraq, 05 april 2004. via atc/npr.

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4.4.04

death toll reaches 600 military and probably surpasses 10000 civilians

a total of six hundred US troops have lost their lives in iraq since bush ordered the attack, invasion and occupation of that country a year go. and according to iraqbodycount the civilian casualties there have passed ten thousand. the concensus is a minimum of 8818 and a maximum of 10668.

3.4.04

don't forget: spring forward!

daylight savings time begins "tonight," technically, early sunday morning--at 02:00--so remember to move forward one hour clocks and watches that require it before going to bed tonight or you'll be late for whatever scheduled activity you may have on your calendar.

just as i despise the editorialising of weather news, especially in winter, when it seems customary among the masses to complain about every possible drop in the mercury and snowflake that may fall on the country yet revel in the horrors of summer heat, i can't stand the ridiculous lengths some idiots would go to complain about this annual and most sensible readjustment of the means by which we atempt to measure the illusion of time. shut up already and if manually readjusting your home's and personal time-keepers is such an onus, then purchase devices that adjust automatically to the change.

national geographic news offers an interesting look back at «springing forward» while there's a comprehensive look at the matter at the webexhibits' daylight savings time site.

1.4.04

the latest attacks belie assurances of progress

it seems that blaming the unrest and latest, most horrendous attacks on foreigners or plainly, "terrorists from overeas" is persuading few observers. analysts believe that the visceral hatred for americans witnessed yesterday and still today suggests that fallujah remains as much a cauldron as it was last 09 april when american troops captured baghdad. and when was it that dubya pulled that stunt on the aircraft carrier?

in the article linked above, the author notes that several iraqis interviewed yesterday, including middle-class professionals, merchants and former members of saddam's army, suggested that america may be facing a war in which the common bonds of iraqi nationalism and arab sensibility have transcended other differences, fostering a war of national resistance that could pose still greater challenges to the americans in the months, and perhaps years, ahead.

and i really can't read how americans are reacting to these prospects. it took much less for the country to lose interest in somalia back in 1993 and force withdrawal soon after seeing images of the two US helicopters guerrillas shot down over mogadishu, the wounding of seventy-three soldiers and the killing of eighteen others some of whose bodies were dragged through the streets.

today, top somali clan leader mohamed farrah aidid is dead. but warlords, chaos and fear still rule the african nation. the city of mogadishu remains a dangerous place where people struggle to survive daily living, disconnected from the outside world. [ref: mark bowden's black hawk down: a story of modern war at the philadelphia inquirer]

film sparks renewed interest in aramaic

aramaic, the language of semitic peoples such as the assyrians, chaldeans, hebrews and syrians throughout the ancient near east, and now as a result of gibson's film, known to the masses as the language of jesus, is gaining new prominence. a dialect of the langauge is still spoken in small communities in syria and serves as an example of how different cultures and religions - arab and kurd; sunni muslim, christian, alawi and druze - have coexisted in their tolerant and largely secular society.

«the passion of the christ» examined

tim callahan has written a most interesting and enlightening review of the film and an essay on the controversy surrounding the "real killers" of jesus from a bright's standpoint, naturally.

via the skeptics society: devoted to the promotion of science & critical thinking and the investigation of extraordinary claims and revolutionary ideas.

the economist sees* the "storm" caused by the film as yet another indicator of america's moral and cultural divide.

*if the link isn't available or requires paid registration, please contact me through the email link in the sidebar.

«venez souper à sans-souci»

«it happens that i had recently read an article on wordplay in the smithsonian magazine in which the author asserted that some puckish* soul had once sent a letter addressed, with playful ambiguity, to

HILL
JOHN
MASS


and it had gotten there after the postal authorities had worked out that it was to be read as 'john underhill, andover, mass.' (get it?)»
~bill bryson, i'm a stranger here myself


*puckish \PUHK-ish\, adjective: whimsical; mischievous; impish.
via word of the day @ dictionary.com.

lies, lies, lies and more lies just a credibility gap don't make...

«the bush administration has perfected the art of being dishonest without lying. unfortunately, a compliant press (and public) have allowed them to get away with it.»

mathew yglesias comments in a web exclusive at the american prospect.

«writing in the 29 march issue of newsweek, jonathan alter described democrats as 'over the top' in their constant references to the president's dishonesty. 'because bush & co. were as shocked as anyone at the absence of wmd' in iraq, he says, 'that's more in the category of grotesque hype than outright lie.'

for a real 'example of dishonesty and, yes, corruption at high levels' we need to look to medicare, where chief actuary rick foster calculated that the bill would cost over $150 billion more than the administration was claiming and was kept silent only through the threat that he'd be fired if he released his work to the congress.

in a sense, alter's right. the administration learned the true cost of the bill, realised that the truth was politically inconvenient, and decided to cover it up and continue to feed the public and the congress information it knew to be false. that is a lie

«ten stories that could be pranks - but aren't»

today is 01 april, when jokers set out to fool and the rest of us are on our guard. but some of the day's seemingly spoof news stories are true. the beeb shares a few.

«triple setback for music giants' global jihad»

this article from the register comments on the three most recent setbacks suffered by "the music industry," which still fails to grasp that this "battle" is indeed about supply and demand in a changing free market in which the consumer exercises the choice to which he is entitled while safeguarding his pocketbook from greed and outright abuse.

technology has changed the market forever and the industry will have to adjust even if this means that parts of it may well be forced to disappear. see, once upon a time some people made a living by making, storing, delivering ice to homes and businesses. eventually the icebox/refrigerator/freezer became available and affordable to all and well, you can well imagine how this story ends... naturally with music and other art forms copyright is an issue as well as copying and distribution for the economic/financial gain of pirates. yet this hardly touches the private and personal realm of individuals who may download, share, burn for personal and private use, regardless of whether it's one or millions. artists will continue to make money the way they have since the beginning of time: by performing and in modern times also from royalties, which may also come from the sale of recordable media, software and even hardware. and "the industry" per se? whom might we mean, the executives who believe that their "work" is worth however many millions they can manage to extricate from consumers and artists alike, without any relation to actual cost and the demands of the market? well, they might as well, dig their own graves.

in 1983 it cost $3.00 to make a cd. it would sell at $16.99, list price. it was encased in wasteful packaging which soon had to be discarded, in part as a result from the outcry of consumers who could see the waste before they even understood the medium. although the industry simply refuses to provide direct and honest answers, it definitely costs a dollar or less, to make a cd today and they think that for $18.99-plus, list price, they can offer me a miserable 43 bloody minutes of music in a medium that can currently handle at least 99, and that i'll just hand over the cash like in days long-gone by? NO BLOODY WAY, MATE! consider how often one listens to those 43 minutes say, just a month after purchase! actually, consider how many of the the 43 minutes one actually cares for!

"the industry" is lucky we haven't simply gone on strike and stopped buying CDs altogether! and as i pointed out in this entry, studies clearly show that file-sharing does not kill cd sales. ridiculous, offensive pricing does.

and mind you, these arguments, which i recognise are far from flawless, come from someone who doesn't even benefit from the technology yet has stopped buying all but the most brilliant and unique of music releases as a matter of principle. does the economic concept of "utility" mean anything anymore?

and since we're at it, just take a moment to think about computer software. it's expensive, invariably buggy despite beta testing (performed for free by millions), lacks proper manuals (which are developed and sold separately by third parties), contains inadequate help files, can and often wreaks havoc sooner or later with one's current setup. consumers are sometimes even expected to pay for support regardless of who bears responsibility for the problem even when the software company doesn't even have the answers. consumers themselves have taken to the task of providing support for each other over the internet... and then they complain about software downloads, cracks and patches? notice that lawmakers pay virtually no attention whatsoever to the abuses in this regard experienced daily by millions of computer users.

enough ranting for now. cheers!

«swapping music files allowed, [canadian] federal judge rules»

the music industry's fight against illegal file sharing suffered a major setback yesterday when a federal court judge ruled that swapping songs on the internet for personal use does not break the law.

«downloading a song for personal use does not amount to infringement,» mr justice konrad von finckenstein of the federal court of canada wrote in his decision. «i cannot see a real difference between a library that places a photocopy machine in a room full of copyrighted material and a computer user that places a personal copy on a shared directory.»