Thursday, April 27, 2006

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.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

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.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Friday, April 21, 2006

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.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

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.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Wonderful Arthur C. Clarke quote

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


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."

Friday, April 14, 2006

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.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

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.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Interesting case of cannibalism

Relgionnewsblog reports on an interesting case of cannibalism in India:
"Our investigations revealed the pair exhumed the body on Friday and after lopping off its head they devoured its heart, liver and other soft organs, thinking the act would give them with immense powers," Jaunpur police chief Abhay Kumar Prasad said.
"We have also found the half-eaten headless corpse after interrogating these two men," Mr Prasad said.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Drinking gluwein

Originally uploaded by Alhazred.
This photo didn't scan too well, but it's a favourite. Young hippy Mick drunk from drinking gluwein (that's whats in the big pot.)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Memories: the Chicken Pot Pie

When I was younger, and still living in South Africa, I did a lot of hitch hiking. I didn't have a car of my own and by and large hitch hiking was a dependable way to get around. I had a few incidents, but not many. Some amusing, some less so. Here's one of the amusing ones.
I was hiking back from my sister's place in Table View to the flat in Milnerton where I was living with my mother. I got a ride from a young gent, who was eating a pot pie as he drove. (I must pause to say that pot pies in South Africa are usually one hell of a lot tastier than American ones.)
He had another one, a chicken pot pie, and offered it to me. I was touched. I said something like, "Gosh, it's not often that someone will just give you a pot pie."
"Well," he said, "you get nothing for nothing."
I wasn't so much shocked as his proposition as amused that he thought me so cheap. A pot pie? You've got to be kidding. But I just answered, "Umm... never mind."
He continued to try to convince me to "go out for a drink" with him, but I was steadfast. I got back to my flat and we parted ways. But he let me keep the pot pie after all. Nice of him.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Beast on Google Scholar

Search for 'Aleister Crowley' on Google Scholar and you find some interesting papers apart from the usual books. Here are a few that I haven't yet read and that look intriguing:

The Sorcerer and His Apprentice: Aleister Crowley and the Magical Exploration of Edwardian Subjectivity. Alex Owen. Journal of British Studies, Vol. 36, No. 1 (Jan., 1997) , pp. 99-133

Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley and British Intelligence in America, 1914-1918. Richard B. Spence. International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence. Volume 13, Number 3 / October 1, 2000.

The Neverendingly Told Story: recent biographies of Aleister Crowley. Marco Pasi. Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism. Volume 3, Number 2. July 2003

Stuff I Collect - Militaria

Stuff I Collect - Militaria WW2 WWII First 1st Allied Airborne pin OPA ration token (1 blue) WW1 U.S. Shipyard Voluntee...