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Showing posts from 2006

Cosmos

Oh, UFOMystic has been giving us such gems, and they have been around for such a short time. Today, Greg Bishop points out that Carl Sagan was a pothead, and furthermore:
...she had attended one of Sagan’s lectures in the 1970s and he had accidentally left his wireless microphone on during a break. After he disappeared backstage, the people who remained in the auditorium were treated to his attempts to seduce his secretary as he chased her around the green room.
Good for him, I say. The sort of thing that I would do if I had a secretary.

'Socialized the agreement'?

Today I received an email that spoke of a group of people having reached agreement on a certain working arrangement. The phrase used was person X has socialized the network agreement with Y and Z...

Socialized the agreement? Is this a new form of corporate jargon with which I am unfamiliar? Sounds rather silly to me.

Global Guerrillas

Another blog that I would like to recommend is John Robb's excellent Global Guerrillas, which tracks the changes in strategy that are being adopted by non-state combatants around the globe. Two recent entries, When will Brazil's Gangs Make the Jump? and A failure to embrace black globalization in Somalia, are good examples of his thesis.
I'm no expert in modern warfare, thank god, but his thoughts on the nature of 21st century war seem to be on the mark. I wish his posts were longer, and I have a vague discomfort over his use of the term 'open source' to describe the warfare of guerrilla groups, but those are minor quibbles.

Chaos and traffic patterns

A butterfly flapping its wings in China can cause traffic snarlups in Boise. Well, no, not quite. But this article on chaos mathematics and traffic jams is rather interesting.

For Tim Powers fans

If you've read Expiration Date (and you really should!) you will get this one.

It is evident from this old blog post that since 2004 Google has been researching mass ghost catching techniques - http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2004/06/man-plan-pointless-program.html
What nefarious scheme is Google cooking up?

Thanks to G- for the link.

UFOs, Hasids, Mourides

Looks like I can blog at work again. To celebrate this event, a few quick reading recommendations:

Nick Redfern and Greg Bishop have started blogging about UFO topics at UFOmystic.com. Highly recommended for those looking for alternatives to the 'visitors from another planet' school of UFOlogy. (You may remember Greg from his excellent old zine The Excluded Middle, and the book Wake Up Down There, a compilation of the best of the latter.)

Dumneazu is a new blog to me, but one that I shall start following. The latest entry, for instance, is a highly interesting piece on the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community of Crown Heights, New York.

And finally, there is this piece from The Economist on the highly organized international business network of Senegal's Mourides.

Postcrossing

What an excellent concept. Here is how Postcrossing works:
- Register with the site.
- Request an address to which you will send a postcard.
- Send postcard to the address, including a unique identifier (also provided.)
- User gets the card, confirms receipt on the Postcrossing site, and you become next in line to receive a card.

Vampires among us

The line between work and home life is definitely becoming more blurry. When one is oncall this is readily apparent: one is expected to be ready to jump in to action, even on a weekend off. But my work won't even let me access blogger through their proxy servers. Bloody hell. Bugger you, Websense.

Anyway, that having been said, the FBI confirms that there are vampires among us. If it leads to more appearances of Buffy in short skirts, I'm all for this development.

Matisyahu article

JamBase has an excellent article on Matisyahu:
The initial shock value of the religious young man jumping and kicking and chanting with a distinctly Yiddish accent coupled with a Jamaican patois diminishes to reveal an honest, complicated, endearing artist... After seeing the man in concert three times, and later speaking with him, it's clear he embodies a humble, everyman quality...

Let them eat cake?

In a BBC news story entitled 'Zimbabwe jail over bread prices' comes this snippet:
The government introduced price controls in order to tackle inflation.
Many shops have now run out of bread.
Correspondents say shops are instead stocking buns and scones which are not covered by the government controls.

A few wikis

I like to play around on wikis during my brief moments of free time at work. Besides the big one, there are a few others that I have found that are either of interest, or show potential.

Thelemapedia - About thelema, Crowley, etc. A fair amount of entries, but not very active.
dKosopedia for those interested in US politics.
Archaepedia - an archaeology wiki. Not much there, but has potential.
Fans of Strongbad and the other work of the Brothers Chaps will find all they want on the Homestarruner wiki.
Biocrawler has an excellent biology wiki.
Wikitravel is a good resource (by and large) for travellers.
There's not much on this Science Fiction wiki, but it has potential. Ditto this wiki for the Buffyverse.
The International Nath Order has a fine wiki regarding their lineage and tantric matters.

Any ones you recommend?

Shanghai Museum artefact

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Ignore the date - it was actually last year.

Kasteelberg photo

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From the archives - the crew of the 1997 Kasteelberg excavations lead by Professor Andrew Smith, University of Cape Town.

Finishing Victoria blog

In two previous posts I briefly reviewed my two favourite places from my brief Victoria visit. In this entry, I will very briefly do the rest.

We entered Victoria via Port Angeles by ferry. At around $55 for two people and a car, it wasn't a bad trip at all, I don't think. The trip takes about an hour and a half and there is crappy food in a cafeteria if one wants it.

In Victoria we stayed at the Red Lion on Douglas. It was a good basic hotel, but I don't know that I would recommend it to others. Location is fine, rooms are small. Staff is friendly and knowledgeable. Internet access by ethernet rather than wireless, but that is a minor inconvenience. There was an additional $50+ charge to my card when I got home, that I don't know what the hell for. Less than pleased about that.

In addition to the two good pubs that (Irish Times and Swan's Brewpub - both highly recommended), we tried a number of other places. Let's see, there was Syn - which had interesting lookin…

Pushing the envelope

One for the collectors of human sexual behaviour outside the generally accepted norm: having sex with a deer carcass. As the Duluth News Tribune reports:
Bryan James Hathaway, 20, of Superior faces a misdemeanor charge of sexual gratification with an animal. He is accused of having sex with a dead deer he saw beside Stinson Avenue on Oct. 11.
But has an actual crime been committed? As this guys lawyer notes, the statute, which falls under the heading “crimes against sexual morality,” was meant to protect animals. That would be unnecessary in the case of a dead animal.
“If you look at the other crimes that are in this subsection, they all protect against something other than simply things we don’t like or things we find disgusting,” he said.

Victoria pubs, cont: Irish Times

Another decent pub to visit if you find yourself in Victoria is the Irish Times. It was busy when we went, but not wall to wall (probably because it was a Sunday night.) The crowd was nice and mixed, and it was pleasant just to chill out (and dry out - we walked through pelting rain to get there) and watch the various patrons.
Food seemed quite excellent too.

Swan's in Victoria

'ello 'ello. I'm just back from a long weekend visit to Victoria, British Columbia. I should have some reviews and the like (no photos, alas) in the days to come. But for starters:
The best place to have a beer in Victoria is Swan's Brewpub, I reckon. The Appleton Brown Ale was damn good. And the resident jazz band wasn't bad.
Though it was pissing down with rain that evening (and for most of the weekend), it was pleasant to sit in the glass covered patio area and quaff ale. Good for the spirits.

Jon Strongbow

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While in Seattle this past weekend, we came across the works of artist Jon Strongbow, and was very impressed with his visionary efforts. He draws tribal and mythical figures among the Seattle streets, showing the hidden world of the spirit. Below is his work 'The Mythological Parade.'

Larger versions of his drawing can be seen at his homepage.

I love this tongue in cheek description of Lovecraft

from the New York Review of Books:
...he was a nerd. He was a nerd on a grand scale, though— a heroic nerd, a pallid, translucent, Mallarméan nerd, a nerd who suffered for his art. His art consisted exclusively of conveying horror, and in this his range was encyclopedic. As a setting for his horror he built a whole world—a whole universe, with a time-span measured in eons...

The rest of the article is pleasingly penetrating and accurate. Years of fine Lovecraftian scholarship from the likes of Joshi, Mosig, Cannon and Faig have paid off.

And the writer's thoughts on Lovecraftian film is spot on:
...there have been around fifty film and television adaptations, although hardly any of these have been more than superficially related to their sources. There is a reason for that superficiality. Lovecraft's work is essentially unfilmable, not because his special effects are too gaudy or too expensive to translate to the screen, but because they are purely literary.

Lunch report

Before going to lunch today, two co-workers asked me why I was going earlier than usual. In answer, I dashed off this amusing little piece of hackwork when I got back.

----
Mick glanced over at the clock. It was only 11:15 and he was already tired, wishing that the work day was over. Not a good sign. Yesterday, he had read that some scientists had fed fat mice some substance in red wine and that they had lived pretty well because of it. Mick is not a fat mouse, but decided to make this an excuse to drink more wine anyway, a decision he would put in place that very day. But right now, he was stuck in his cube. Mick sighed, and made the decision to take an early lunch. But first, he had to get rid of the oncall phone. The hated oncall phone. Mick sighed again. Moving to the other side of the room, he successfully palmed it off on his colleague C-, who took it graciously and without fuss. That pleased Mick, but then C- and his fellow bald cubemate B- noticed that Mick was heading…

Excavation focusses on Blackbeard's ship

A team has been excavating the pirate Blackbeard's ship, Queen Anne's Revenge, in North Carolina. The Yahoo News article ain't great, but it does have this nice quote about Blackbeard:
"With the fuses in his hair and heavily armed, he's a frightening person," says Butler, who added that pirates preferred to take ships without a shot. "There were some psychopathic pirates out there, but Blackbeard was not one of them. We have no evidence that Blackbeard ever murdered anyone or ever tortured anyone.

Oregonian circulation falling

OPB reports that... only the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Los Angeles Times had bigger drops in circulation than The Oregonian. According to Editor and Publisher magazine, the Portland-based daily saw circulation fall by 6.8%.

Latin is alive and well in Finland

The BBC has a nice little story about the wide use of Latin in the Finnish media. A very interesting read. I learned Latin in university and wish that I had kept in practice. Well, never too late to get back into it, and it looks like Finnish web sites and radio are a good resource:
I think it might be interesting to read the news in brief in Latin," Ms Lahti believes...
Lurking within the world of EU Latin, which is only marginally more difficult to comprehend than EU English, is one delightful statistic - more people subscribe to the newsletter in Latin than to the one in French.
...
The news in Latin on national radio gets 75,000 listeners, which may not sound like much, but on a per capita basis is more than some BBC Radio 4 programmes get.

Now that's what I call secure!

The watchlist

I guess there must be a Michael Taylor who is considered a threat to security, because virtually every time I fly a call has to be made to the TSA before it is determined that I am not the guy they are after. This story from focusses on the effectivity of the list. An excerpt:
In New York, Kroft spoke to the group, all of them named Robert Johnson; all said they have trouble getting on airplanes. They don’t look like a very dangerous group. There is a politician, a soccer coach, businessmen, even a member of the military. Yet they say they are pulled aside and interrogated, sometimes for hours until someone at the Transportation Security
...
The Robert Johnson meant to be on the No Fly List would seem to be the known alias of a 62-year-old black man who was convicted of plotting to bomb a Hindu temple and a movie theatre in Toronto. After serving 12 years, he was deported to Trinidad. But the airlines ticket agents don’t have any of that information on their computer screens. They just h…

Rite of Venus

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The Rite of Venus: A Rock Opera - CoHo Theater - Portland, Oregon - June 9, 2007 e.v.

Kudos to Lon

Lon DuQuette reports that he has just been informed that on November 1st USABookNews.com... will announce the winners and finalists of its "BEST BOOKS 2006" NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS and has named my newest book; THE KEY TO SOLOMON'S KEY: Secrets of Magic & Masonry "Award-Winning Finalist" in the category of "Religion: General".

Good for Lon. He is deserving of a wider mainstream readership for his unique blend of wisdom and humour.

Oldie: NAEQ horrors

I was reminded the other evening of this spoof of my friend Gerald's book New Aeon English Qabalah Revealed. I'm glad that people are enjoying it.

Brief email thoughts

I've been watching CNN in the morning while I exercise, so I'm getting more than my fill of the Foley affair. And of course it's in all the newspapers.
What strikes me is that even though we have long known that the most questionable communications come through instant messages, newspapers and politicians alike seem to be referring just to emails. Perhaps the newspapers think that even in October 2006 instant messaging is not widely known enough, and they are deliberately simplifying.

Newport log cabin museum

We were on our way out of town by the time we visited the Log Cabin Museum in Newport, operated by the Lincoln County Historical Society, so did not have sufficient time to browse thoroughly. It's a smallish museum, but there is enough there for me to recommend a visit. Of special note are the various historical photos of Newport and Nye Beach.

Newport - Cafe Stephanie

We had a lovely short vacation on the coast, staying at a yurt in Beverly Beach State Park. Going away on a weekday ensures that the parks a good deal quieter than they are over the busy weekends.
We didn't get many good photos, unfortunately. We did discover a wonderful new restaurant, though: Cafe Stephanie on Nye Beach. We went there for breakfast both mornings that we were on the coast (and they had Matisyahu playing both times - good for them.) The crab and artichoke quiche was bloody excellent. As were the scones, which come complementary with every breakfast. Add to that cute and friendly staff and you can't go wrong - I highly recommend Cafe Stephanie.

Aleister Crowley in the Media III

It's been a week since the last 'Crowley in the media' post, so I may have missed a couple of things.

Lonelygirl15 is still making the news after all these weeks. Who the hell cares? The Stanford Daily has a fairly decent article on the subject, though.

More interesting is Slate'sstory on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. They briefly rehash Hubbard's involvedment with Jack Parsons:
In the mid-1940s, he [Hubbard] fell in with John Parsons, a wealthy and brilliant young rocket scientist in California, who also happened to be under the tutelage of the infamous satanist Aleister Crowley (no relation to yours truly, thankfully)... followed by the whole sad yacht incident.
Infamous Satanist indeed. Just when we thought Crowley was beginning to get a fair shake in the media.

From the Los Angeles City Beat comes a nice article on symbolism in Led Zepplin's music. Of course Jimmy Page's interest in The Beast is mentioned:
The real attractions for Page were Crowley’s theori…

Help Robert Anton Wilson pay the rent

I got this via email from my friend Adam Gorightly, who in turn got it from this blog entry. I've cut it somewhat.
...Robert Anton Wilson, whose infirmity and depleted finances have put him in the precarious position of not being able to meet next month’s rent.In case the name doesn’t immediately ring a bell, Bob is the guy who wrote Cosmic Trigger - still the best narrative on how to enter and navigate the psycho-spiritual realm, and co-wrote the Illuminatus Trilogy, an epic work that pushes beyond conspiracy theory into conspiracy practice.
Robert Anton Wilson will one day be remembered alongside such literary philosophers as Aldous Huxley and James Joyce. But right now, Bob is a human being in a rather painful fleshsuit, who needs our help. I refuse for the history books to say he died alone and destitute, for I want future generations to know we appreciated Robert Anton Wilson while he was alive....
Any donations can be made to Bob directly to the Paypal account olgaceline@gmail.…

Cowjacked!

Some inventive thieves in the R. S. of A, using local resources in their carjacking exploits:
The gang of six men apparently herd the cows into the road to first stop motorists travelling through Mpumalanga's deep rural KwaMhlanga district, and then herd smaller groups of cows to surround the cars so their victims cannot escape.
"Once the vehicle is surrounded, the men produce firearms and force the driver out of the vehicle.
They tie up the victim, clear the cows out of the way, and all six men then jump into the vehicle and speed off,"

Hoo boy

At the blood donation center yesterday:

Tech: So I see you've been overseas in the past three years. Whereabouts?
Me: South Africa
Tech: And what countries in South Africa?

Health news: don't be religious

From religionnewsblog:
Women who watched religious television programmes and read religious texts were more likely to be obese than women who did not (although frequent religious attendance was also associated with lower rates of obesity). Men did not show a similar pattern.
Even allowing for their Southern roots, Baptists were the largest all-round congregation, with 30 per cent being obese. Next, with an obesity rate of 22 per cent, was Fundamentalist Protestant (including Church of Christ and Pentecostal). Third, at 19 per cent, was Pietistic Protestant, which embraces the Methodists, among others.
Some 17 per cent of Roman Catholics are obese. Among non-believers, the rate was 7 per cent. Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons came in at 3 per cent, and Jews at 1 per cent. Taken together, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists had an obesity rate of 0.7 per cent.

Euchre and Joker

I had always assumed, without thinking too much about it, that the tarot trump The Magus (aka The Magician or The Juggler) derived from the playing card The Joker. The International Playing-Card Society has an excellent short history of cardsthat gave the true derivation:
Americans added to the Euchre deck a card even higher than the designated Bowers. It was called the Imperial Bower or the Best Bower. This was the genesis of the Joker. According to the latest theory, the Best Bower alternatively was called "the Euchre card". This could have been mispronounced as "Juker card," which then gave rise to "Joker card".
and later
...it is certain that the Joker card itself was not a European invention. It is one of America's most picturesque contributions to the history of playing cards.
So there you have it - the Joker was actually the later development.

Madame Bovary - very educational

about items of women's clothing that I knew nothing about. For instance:
Fichu: a light triangular scarf with a point in the pack and tied in the front.
Muff: ok, I've seen these in the movies, but I didn't realize what they were called.
Pelerine: a short cape with pointed ends that meet in the front.

Weekly Aleister Crowley Media Roundup II

TheLonelygirl15saga has dominated all Crowley media mentions. Enough already.

Well, and apart from that there is a Rolling Stone article on Daniel Pinchbeck, which has the following quote:
"Leary, and Aleister Crowley before him, had messages that were essentially optimistic and expansive, about making your life a joy and a triumph through the methods they touted," says Brian Doherty, author of This Is Burning Man...

Best quote from a politician ever

Comes from Hungary's Prime Minister:
In the excerpts [of a tape leaked to the media], Mr Gyurcsany says harsh economic reforms are needed.
"There is not much choice. There is not, because we screwed up. Not a little, a lot. No European country has done something as boneheaded as we have.

Oldest writing in the Americas

Probably by now everyone has read of this discovery, which may date to around 2900 before present. From the BBC:
The stone slab, named the "Cascajal block", was first uncovered by road builders digging up an ancient mound at Cascajal, outside San Lorenzo, in the late 1990s.
It weighs about 12kg (26lbs) and measures 36cm (14in) in length, 21cm (8in) in width and 13cm (5in) in thickness. Its text consists of 62 signs, some of which are repeated up to four times.
...
The team says the text "conforms to all expectations of writing" because of its distinct elements, patterns of sequencing, and consistent reading order.

Best looking chess player ever

Of if not, very near the top. Photo and article here (from The Border Mail.)

Weekly Aleister Crowley Media Roundup I

As Crowley's name gets better known, he is mentioned (sometimes just in passing) more often in the mainstream media. I thought that it would be fun to catalogue these appearances in what may be a regular entry.

The lonelygirl15 saga seems to have been exposed as viral marketing (see this article from the Chicago Tribune as an example.) As to her connection with the Beast:
...Oblique references popped up to "my religion," which was never named but which forbade things such as attending Daniel's high school graduation party.
... Above her bookshelf hung a photo of famed occultist Aleister Crowley.

Apart from that there are three references to Crowley from the art world. By far the most interesting comes from South Africa's Mail and Guardian Online concerning the prolific artist Aryan Kaganof. I was not aware of this chap until reading this article, and his work seems rather interesting. Besides his gallery art and digital works, there is also a stream of books (poems, …

FLDS lineages

I'm interested in spiritual lineages, particularly Thelemite (e.g. A.'.A.'., EGC episcopal), western Shaivite (e.g. AMOOKOS, various Nath groups), and various other yogic groups that have become popular in the west (e.g. Self Realization Fellowship, Ramakrishna Order). But most lineages are interesting in their own right. The Deseret News has a nice short article on the lineage of the various current polygamist LDS groups.

Parsi death rites ain't what they used to be

The Parsis have the (quite sensible, I think) practice of leaving their dead out to be eaten by vultures. Trouble is, most of the vultures on which they rely have been dying due to lack of habitat, use of pesticides, pollution, and the like. So the dead are not getting eaten quick enough, and are lying decomposing for rather long periods. From the Khaleej Times:
For centuries, the Zoroastrian dead have been wrapped in white muslin and left at a leafy, funeral ground in downtown Mumbai’s Malabar Hill, where they are devoured by vultures. But with only a handful of the critically endangered birds remaining in the city, authorities installed solar panels three years ago to dry out the bodies and speed up decomposition.

Soapbox Derby

We attended the opening heats of the Portland Adult Soapbox Derby this morning. Well, done everyone that took part - many great racers. I got a few photos on ye olde el cheapo disposable camera, which should appear on flickr sometime soon.
My favourite racer was the office cubicle one (link is a photo by the Portland Mercury.)

Matisyahu at the Edgefield

I saw Matisayu and Roots Tonic at the Edgefield last night - it was great fun.
I can't remember the name of the opening band. I suppose that I could look it up easily enough, but they made such a small impression on me that I can't be bothered.
Highlights of the evening:
The crowd was nicely mixed (though mostly whitey) and having a good time.Matisyahu does one hell of a beat box.He also has a great voice.He dances like a white boy, but a white boy that is having a great time.Two drummers (or a drummer and a percussionist.) Good stuff.McMenamins has fine beer.

eBay: get a tarot reading from Robert Anton Wilson

As RAW prepares for passing over, he is giving one card tarot readings to the first 77 buyers. As the auction says:
Each Tarot Card will be STAMPED with a HAND MADE official discordian stamp made with a real potato from Bob's own fridge. To Ensure AuthenticityAndEach card comes with an official Certificate of Provenance. This is the third such Tarot Auction, and will likely be the last.

A beautiful phrase

I had not heard the Bob Dylan phrase "the old, weird America" before I ran across it today. What a wonderful phrase! I wish that I had experienced the old weird America. The new America, though not lacking in weirdness, can be rather mediated.

Crowleyesque bar?

From the Scene Report in the Portland Mercury, comes this interesting snippet:
...Loveland is more or less closed down; in its place Rotture will be opening, and Food Hole will be taking a short break. Says booker Bennett Yankey, "We're opening a new bar at 315 SE 3rd. It's called Rotture (roh-TUR-ay, Italian for 'breaks,' the alternate name for Aleister Crowley's Book of Lies).
If anyone gets there before I do, let me know what it's like.

O.T.O. news: International Cabinet appointed

From the O.H.O.:
...
As implemented in our Bylaws, the Cabinet is not a voting body, being purely advisory. Membership in the Cabinet is not restricted beyond a ceiling of twelve members, and appointees can have differing religious affiliations. The Frater Superior, Secretary General and Treasurer General are ex officio members of the Cabinet. The initial non-member appointments are Prier Wintle (South Africa), David Michael Tibet (UK) and Harvey Bialy, Ph.D. (Mexico), all of whom have longstanding involvement with Thelema.
...

Of the three, I have only had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Wintle. He was a true gentleman and I greatly enjoyed our conversation.

Usually I don't post these 'News of the Weird' type stories

But this one is weirder than average. I wonder if it is Xinhua playing at being The Onion.
Chinese state media says a Chinese woman's attempt to teach her dog how to drive proved a costly error, as her car crashed into an oncoming vehicle.
Xinhua news agency reports no one - including the dog - was injured, but both vehicles were slightly damaged.
Xinhua says the accident happened recently in the city of Hohhot, capital of north China's Inner Mongolia region.
The woman, surnamed Li, had noticed how fond the dog was of crouching on the wheel, and thought it should have a go at steering the car.
She herself operated the accelerator and the brake.

IT - least likely to steal your lunch

From the Houston Chronicle, comes this amusing bit on workplace lunch stealing:
So which department is most likely to steal a lunch?
Accounting, Buffini said, drawing on his experience with personality traits at work. They have to do things by the book, but they're often mad in a passive-aggressive way.
Another likely candidate is the customer-service department, because personnel there are under constant pressure and have to handle angry people, he said.
As for the least likely lunch bandits, Buffini said, it's managers because of the scrutiny they're under from all sides, as well as "hero" departments like information technology, which come to your aid when you're down.
And the mellow marketing folks get so many gift baskets that they're not interested in someone else's tuna sandwich, he added.

Lawrence Sutin profile

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune has a short profile of Lawrence Sutin, author of the excellent Philip K. Dick biography Divine Invasions. His other works includes Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley.
His latest book, All is Change, 'tracks Buddhism's influence on Western thought from ancient Greece to modern America.'

I heartily recommend Divine Invasions. It is essential to a balanced understanding of PKD.

HH on the recent history of the DRC

Head Heeb has written a good few posts on the Democratic Republic of Congo recently. The latest looks at the recent history of the DRC as a comparison with present challenges. An excerpt:
The relationship between the DRC and the international community is also a very mixed picture. On the one hand, the end of the Cold War has rendered the United Nations' intervention somewhat less partial and more conducive to state-building. On the other hand, the immediately neighboring countries - Uganda, Rwanda, Angola and Zimbabwe - are as interested in controlling the DRC's natural resources as Belgium was in the 1960s, and haven't been hesitant about using armed force and local allies to advance their interests.

More eyecandy

My blogging of Mongolian ladies seemed fairly well received. And I do cater to please. Anyway: in that vein here are some great photos from DragonCon 2005.

Tribal Networks site

I just learned (thanks to a link in a slashdot users sig file) of this project. This network:
is a group of people who are helping tribal people around the world to own their own means of high-tech communications.
Though the site does not mention many specific projects, this sounds quite promising.

Shanghai Bund - river

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Shanghai Bund - river
Originally uploaded by Alhazred. Photo of Shanghai river taken from the Bund. Can just see Pudong off to the right.

Santa Fe College - sculpture3

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Santa Fe College - sculpture3
Originally uploaded by Alhazred. Snapshot from 1992, when I was staying at the College of Santa Fe dorms.

60th Anniversary 'Autobiography of a Yogi' publication

This work, and Paramahansa Yogananda's life in general, remains a great inspiration to me. And on the 60th anniversary of its publication, Self-Realization Fellowship is planning events to promote its message. Relionnewsblog has the story.

Indian swami Paramahansa Yogananda strode onto the sunny canvas of Los Angeles in 1925 with tales of magic in a far-off place and a meditation technique he said could liberate the soul.The charismatic founder of the religious organization headquartered in Mount Washington went on to introduce America to yoga and, with his "Autobiography of a Yogi," become the 20th century's first superstar guru.
...
"Yogananda was unique in his time; he seemed to be genuinely sincere," said J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara. "He also had a corner on the market. It wasn't until the Beatles hooked up with the Maharishi Yogi in the mid-1960s that Yogananda had any real compe…

Jack Parsons mention in the media

The Los Angeles City Beat features this bus tour, which takes in some local SoCal military sites and is organized by Physicians for Social Responsibility. Here is what the reporter writes about the Jet Propulsions Laboratory part of the tour:

Ammonium perchlorate’s use as a rocket-fuel booster has its origins at JPL, which is now known primarily for its NASA space work. A young scientist named Jack Parsons developed this exotic fuel in the Arroyo Seco and led a short life just as explosive. Parsons dabbled in the occult as a follower of Aleister Crowley, held sex- and drug-drenched orgies at his Pasadena mansion, and lost his wife and money to a pre-Scientology L. Ron Hubbard. At the young age of 37, Parsons blew himself to pieces in his kitchen during an experiment with fulminate of mercury, a gray crystalline powder that, when dry, explodes under percussion or heat and is used in detonators...

USPS benefits from net commerce

I admire the US postal service. By and large I've found them quick, reasonably priced, and efficient. And so I was pleased to read this report in the New York Times that details how the growth of internet commerce has been a boon to the USPS:
“Six years ago, people were pointing at the Internet as the doom and gloom of the Postal Service, and in essence what we’ve found is the Internet has ended up being the channel that drives business for us,” said James Cochrane, manager of package services at the Postal Service.
I hope that other world postal services see an increase in usage from internet commerce.

Mick heart Ubuntu

I installed the latest release of Ubuntu linux on my spare laptop (a Dell Latitude CPi) last night. Not only did it install smoothly, but to my delight the PCMCIA wireless NIC was immediately functional. I'm loving it.
There are still things to work out. Only half the hard drive seems to be mounted. But, no big deal - I'll have fun figuring it out.

Strange and Dangerous Dreams - Geoff Powter

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Crowley completists should note that the Beast is one of the adventurers profiled in a new book called Strange and Dangerous Dreams by one Geoff Powter. There is a decent review in the Lewisville, Kentucky, Courier Journal. I have not yet read this book, but it seems to focus on Crowley's mountaineering, which would make it rather interesting.A couple of quotes from the review:With the exception of Meriwether Lewis, none of the characters profiledin Geoff Powter's book "Strange and Dangerous Dreams: The Fine LineBetween Adventure and Madness" (Mountaineers Books, 256 pages,hardback, $22.95) are folks I'd care to camp with....Others chronicled here include Solomon Andrée, who tried to pilot aballoon to the North Pole, sailor-of-sorts Donald Crowhurst, polarexplorer John Franklin, aviator Jean Batten, Aleister Crowley, would-bemountaineer Claudio Corti, Mount Everest dreamer Earl Denman and thetragic trio of Guy, Johnny and Bill Waterman.

Venice Beach - I think - 1991

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Venice Beach - I think - 1991
Originally uploaded by Alhazred.

"Woo Hoo!" news - Babylon 5 to return

Best entertainment related news that I have read in a while:
During last weekend's San Diego Comic Con...at a panel that (evidently) didn't enjoy the "in your face" notoriety of, say, TRANSFORMERS or SPIDERMAN 3... producer/writer/director J. Michael Straczynski (JMS, or "Joe") made an announcement regarding the future of this little concept he has called BABYLON 5.
The thrust of the news is this: straight-to-video BABYLON 5 adventures...involving B5 characters in an anthology format...should arrive late next year. Written and directed by JMS.

Territorial conflicts

Foreignpolicy.com has an interesting list of 'The World's Forgotten Territorial Disputes,' with a short analysis of each. Disputed areas covered are:
The area between Bolivia and the Pacific Coast (disputed with Chile.)The Spratly Islands (China, Phillipines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam)Hans Island (Canada and Denmark)An area along the China-India borderThe Ethiopia-Eritrea border

New species of giant peccary

All the details are available at Cryptomundo.
And the Homeresque first reader comment is a gem.

Social networking services

I'm fast becoming a member of every social networking service known to man (though I still need an orkut invite...) So far, I have to say, it's not been that hell of a useful. I've yet to be reunited with old friends, or made lasting contacts. I'm somewhat more hopeful about linkedin, though, because of it's focus. Hopefully it may even prove useful to get job contacts when I move back home.
On another note, the Port Townsend Farmer's Market is quite pleasant.

Space impact and Tutankhamun gem

An article from the BBC reports that the one of the gems in a necklace of Tutankhamun may have come about as a result of a space impact. The gem was found upon analysis to be made from an usual green glass, which may have been produced when a comet hit Egypt. Thinking of the Tunguska strike,
Wasson wondered if a similar aerial burst could have produced enough heat to turn the ground to glass in the Egyptian desert.
The first atomic bomb detonation, at the Trinity site in New Mexico in 1945, created a thin layer of glass on the sand. But the area of glass in the Egyptian desert is vastly bigger.
Whatever happened in Egypt must have been much more powerful than an atomic bomb.

Good days for eschatologists

Now that war is brewing in the middle east, expect a spike in end of the world predictions. Here's one group that is preparing for Armageddon.

Philip K. Dick in Orange County

The Orange County Weekly has a nice summary of Philip K. Dick's life in Orange County, with the lovely title of 'The infinite mercies of God make no sense whatsoever.'

Pueblo Blanco 1992 - sifting

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Pueblo Blanco 1992 - sifting
Originally uploaded by Alhazred. More from the Pueblo Blanco archaeological excavation in the Galisteo Basin, New Mexico.

Demon Ducks

In the old RuneQuest RPG system, there were the standard elves, dwarves, trolls, ogres, etc. And then there were... ducks. They were often doughty warriors, these ducks, and one did not want to meet them in a dark alley in Prax.A news item this week details some of the new critters that roamed prehistoric Australia. These include killer kangaroos, and, yes, a fearsome duck:
The team also found prehistoric lungfish and largeduck-like birds."Very big birds ... more like ducks, earned the name 'demonduck of doom', some at least may have been carnivorous aswell," Hand told ABC radio.So it seems that perhaps Greg Stafford and the lads were on to something.

edgeio-key: b36f300f922da9cbb071d745d18dab0822d061eb

Karoo - burnt out range

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Karoo - burnt out range
Originally uploaded by Alhazred.

Strange Statues page

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This is a fun page that collects photos of unusual statues. Such as this one:

Pueblo Blanco 1992 - making notes

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Pueblo Blanco 1992 - making notes
Originally uploaded by Alhazred. First of the shots from the 1992 Pueblo Blanco, NM, excavation that I'll post in the days to come.

New Tim Powers interview

I didn't make it to the Horsebrass this morning to watch the England - Ecuador game. I'm getting live updates on the web, though, and England are presently 1-0 up.
Anyway, making up for not seeing the match, there is a new Tim Powers interview up that is a great read. Especially interesting is Powers detailing his methods of plotting his books.

I destroy wishes

When I was at Jungle Gym, the owner's daughter (about nine years old, I guess), came over to show us a ladybug on her arm.
Scott: That's very lucky. You should make a wish.
Little Girl: I don't make wishes. I destroy them.

Best quote ever.

Thelemapedia

I just noticed that I've been awarded a Star of Thelemapedia. Goodo. May it continue to grow and prosper.

Lovely Tim Powers quote

This is from an interview with Tim a few years back that can be found here. In it, Tim talks of himself and Blaylock reading the poetry of their creation William Ashbless at weekly creative writing groups:
And so we began bringing Ashbless' poems in fact to this little writers group that the old Irish lady hosted and we would say "Our friend William Ashbless gave us these to read here and he wants to know what the company thinks of this work." And people would go "Why couldn't he come on his own?" and we'd go, "He's hideously deformed! Terribly crippled!" and everybody would go "Oh, good heavens! That's so sad. Do, do read his poems." And so Blaylock and I would start reading but we couldn't get more than four lines in before we'd start laughing real hard. And everybody thought we were just totally insensitive to be laughing this way at the work, no doubt painstaking, laboured work of this tortured cripple. Ha! And som…

Fake Name Generator

For when you do not want to use your identity on online forms and the like. Located here.

My Natal Chart

A permanent link to my natal chart here.

New Googleplex in The Dalles

The International Herald Tribune has a nice short article, tying this in to Google's overall technology. Excerpt:
On the banks of the windswept Columbia River, Google is working on a secret weapon in its quest to dominate the next generation of Internet computing. But it is hard to keep a secret when it is as big as two football fields, with twin cooling towers protruding four stories into the sky.

Miao Fa Chan visit

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On Friday, after coffee and before evening weightlifting, I visited the Miao Fa Chan temple with my friend S-.
The Venerable Fa Thai led us in about thirty minutes of chanting, followed by quiet meditation for about another half hour. Then walking meditation, and finishing up with a talk. He has interesting observations on the impermanance of the world. Perhaps more on that later.
I look forward to returning some time in the medium future.

Wizardmaze

I'm playing in an online RPG for the first time in ages, Wizardmaze's Arthmor Campaign. It's nice and low key.
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03/14/2010 update: The campaign is long gone, but: Ara, if you stumble across this post (e.g. through googling Arthmor) shoot me an email.

Christian Anarchist Gathering

From the site Ekklesia comes an announcement about a Christian Anarchist conference in the UK:
The conference at All Hallows Church centre in Leeds brought together a range of thinkers and activists formed in their justice and peace work by their Christian faith, but also appreciative of the non-statist, autonomous progressive viewpoint associated with non-violent anarchism and syndicalism.
One of the many fascinating things about the Christian religion is the diversity of viewpoints within it. They range from the suburban megachurches to the many facets of the Roman Catholic faith to more radical groups such as the ones mentioned in the article.

Pittock Mansion

You know how it is: when you live in a town, you never actually visit the tourist attractions. But living in Portland or not, some of the tourist attractions are really worth it.
So today we went to visit the Pittock Mansion, in the Northwest of the city. It was well worth it, with displays of Maxfield Parrish paintings, lovely furniture, and the house itself is just exquisite. There's no such thing as a bad view in that place.

Santa Fe College - sculpture

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Santa Fe College - sculpture
Originally uploaded by Alhazred. One of the sculptures on the grounds of the College of Santa Fe. 1992.

[edit: 7/11/2011 - I was staying at the dorms in the College of Santa Fe while working at the NIU archaeology field school that was excavating at Pueblo Blanco in the Galisteo Basin.]

LA Riots - aftermath

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LA Riots - aftermath
Originally uploaded by Alhazred. I was in LA in the 90s just after the riots. Some of the aftermath was quite dramatic.

Jaron Lanier

How did it take me so long to come across this guy? The only time that I've seen him before (I think) is in the photo book Dreads. But this article is simply brilliant, and I'll be spending many happy hours searching for more stuff by him.
The article to which I refer to above refers to the internet and the hive mind (as witnessed in sites such as wikipedia.) Here is a brief extract:
I've participated in a number of elite, well-paid wikis and Meta-surveys lately and have had a chance to observe the results. I have even been part of a wiki about wikis. What I've seen is a loss of insight and subtlety, a disregard for the nuances of considered opinions, and an increased tendency to enshrine the official or normative beliefs of an organization. Why isn't everyone screaming about the recent epidemic of inappropriate uses of the collective? It seems to me the reason is that bad old ideas look confusingly fresh when they are packaged as technology.

Courteous to a fault

And I mean fault. I refer to the 'oh, please, you go first' attitude that Portland drivers have at stop signs and the like. They even courteously wave you through when they have the right of way.
Hell, it's not even uncommon for them to stop and wave you through when you have a stop sign and they don't. That's not being courteous, that's just silly. As this article points out:
"There are many drivers who think that yielding right of way is always a courtesy, when in actuality it can be frustrating or even dangerous,"

Motivational Poster

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Unfortunate headline

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LA Riots aftermath - 1991

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LA Riots aftermath - 1991
Originally uploaded by Alhazred.

when I was a young chap, I enjoyed the Gor books

A future without bananas?

This from New Scientist:
Go bananas while you still can. The world's most popular fruit and the fourth most important food crop of any sort is in deep trouble. Its genetic base, the wild bananas and traditional varieties cultivated in India, has collapsed.

Vortex Camp

Those in the Tacoma area may wish to check out Vortex Camp, O.T.O. Founded in 1992, it is the longest continually operating body in Washington State. And I had a fine time there yesterday.
The site Serendipity has a nice description of a visit to the Alakh Nath temple in Bareilly, India, including some wonderful photos of sadhus. (Indian holy men always seem so photogenic.)

Trepanation kit on eBay

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Take a look at the auction here. And there are only 22 hours to go, so hurry and get your bids in.

Swamp Gas Revisited

A study by the British Ministry of Defense has found no evidence of UFOs:
"Considerable evidence exists to support the thesis that the events are almost certainly attributable to physical, electrical and magnetic phenomena in the atmosphere, mesosphere and ionosphere."
Oh well.

Last Jew in Eritrea

I found this article quite moving.
...in 1998, Cohen's wife and daughters fled to Italy, leaving him behind [in Asmara, Eritrea]. They meet up from time to time in various countries. His four sisters live in Britain, the United States and Israel.
Times are tough and economic stagnation has hammered business, but Cohen plans to stay on in his home town, making a living from his import-export business.
"I was born here," he tells Reuters with another shrug.

Hot singer

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shanghotsinger
Originally uploaded by Alhazred. From the Paulaner Brauhaus in Shanghai.

Things I don't miss

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NIU - Winter - 1991
Originally uploaded by Alhazred. Northern Illinois University. Winter, 1991.

I haven't quoted Nick Carr in way too long

So here is something from a recent blog entry:
The quality of any entry in Wikipedia, for instance, is ultimately determined not by how many people work on it but by how many talented people work on it. An entry written by a single expert will be better than an entry written by a hundred fools. When you look deeply into Wikipedia, beyond the shiny surface of "community," you see that the encyclopedia is actually as much, or more, a product of conflict than of collaboration: It's an endless struggle by a few talented contributors to clean up the mess left by the numbskull horde.

Heart warming story

A pair of brothers has been sending each other the same birthday card for 42 years.
Each time the now-laminated card is sent, the brothers add messages to it. The small messages combine to make a sort of abridged family history. When the writing space on the card was used up, the brothers began attaching hand-written notes to the card. Over the years, the envelope has grown in thickness, with six small note pages attached to the original.

A Komodo dragon virgin birth

From the Pakistani Daily Times comes the joyful news that Sungai the Komodo dragon has given birth. The question, though, is "how did it happen?"
But Sungai laid the fertilised eggs before even meeting her British lover — and the last time she is known to have had intercourse was two years ago, with another Thoiry Komodo dragon called Kinaam. Thoiry founder Paul de la Panouse told AFP that there were two possible answers to the riddle.
As an aside, I'm amused at the Komodo dragon's rather gruesome method of killing prey, infecting them with the stew of bacteria in the dragon’s thick, copious saliva—bacteria virulent enough to infect and kill deer, goats, water buffalo and other creatures unfortunate enough to get bitten by the drooling reptile.

Beer bottle in bird's nest

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Beer bottle in bird's nest
Originally uploaded by Alhazred. Taken way back when. I suspect that the beer is Castle Lager.

Some Zimbabwean farmers to return to land?

The BBC has an article stating that some white farmers have been invited to return to their old farms:
Zimbabwe's white farmers say they have been invited to apply for land - in an apparent U-turn by the government which has seized their land.
All but 300 of the 4,000 white farmers have been forced off their land since President Robert Mugabe started his "fast-track" land reform in 2000.
A farmers' leader says some 200 applications have already been made and more are coming in.

The article is a little short on details, though. Hopefully more will be forthcoming soon.

Cape Town: Hovercraft ferry for Table View?

I got this from a kiteboarding forum (thank goodness for Google blog search):
Cape Town's hovercraft ferry service from the fast-growing Table Bay seaboard with its nightmare traffic jams to the city centre is a step closer to reality.
The City of Cape Town has agreed to lease prime property near the Big Bay beachfront to a company that plans to run a modern, fast hovercraft ferry service to the V&A Waterfront. This could ease the notorious traffic jams from the seaboard suburbs such as Table View, Parklands, Milnerton and Blouberg to the city centre. The area has rudimentary public transport.

O.T.O. news

Wonderful Arthur C. Clarke quote

that I hadn't seen before:
For every expert, there is an equal and opposite expert
Thanks AaronLawrence

truckkitty1

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truckkitty1
Originally uploaded by Alhazred. So cute! Mattress looks kinda grimy, though.

The Durban monster of 1923

Cryptomundo republished an old account of a most singular creature. The monster, apparently first noticed attacking two whales, is described thusly:
He measured it and found it was 47 feet long with a tail 10 feet long and 2 feet wide and, instead of a head, a trunk like an elephant’s, 5 feet long and 14 inches in diameter, but resembling a pig’s snout at the end. The monster was entirely covered with snow-white hair 10 inches long.
To which one can only say, "Hell of a thing."

Zupan's is fine with me

Usually I don't write suggestion letters to companies, but I did write one to Zupan's recently. I was extremely impressed by their responsiveness, getting a reply from both their Owner and their Director of Marketing. Zupan's obviously cares about their customers, and that is very gratifying.

Information in short bursts

The phenomenon of continuous partial attention - the inability to concentrate on any given thing for a long period of time - has received it's few seconds of attention recently. Nick Carr has written a few cogent entries in his blog concerning this. Today, for instance:
The more we suck in information from the blogosphere or the web in general, the more we tune our minds to brief bursts of input. It becomes harder to muster the concentration required to read books or lengthy articles - or to follow the flow of dense or complex arguments in general.

Mike Salovesh, Anthropologist, passes on

Michael Z. Salovesh, a retired professor of anthropology who spent nearly three decades at NIU, died Wednesday, Dec. 7, at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Baltimore, just two days prior to the death of his new bride, Louana M. Lackey. He was 74.

I took a few classes with Dr. Salovesh in the early '90s, when I was a graduate student at NIU. He was a charming, funny, level-headed chap. RIP, Mike.

Link to full obit.

How I love 5ives

Take a look at Merlin's Five suggested Flickr tags.