Monday, January 29, 2007

Local Bozo, Iran, Sign, Two Brothers, Putin

1. Got this from See especially the last paragraph:

Speeding car slams into garage off Oregon 212
A car reaching speeds up to 100 mph slammed into the garage of a home located in the 14600 block of Oregon 212.
The incident occurred early this morning, Lt. Jamie Karn of the Clackamas County Fire District No. 1 said.
The home, located on the south side of the highway, was not damaged. No injuries were reported, Karn said.
Karn said the unidentified driver was racing another car when he smashed into the garage, just missing a 100-foot cliff dropping into the Clackamas River.
Making a bad situation worse, the driver lit a cigarette after the crash - a bad idea since gas was leaking from the car. He started a fire and ended up burning himself, Karn said.

2. Global Guerillas muses on the perceived inevitability of war with Iran.
The current situation is open loop -- an open loop system is one where all participants are regularly adding inputs without any consideration of the output/outcome... inputs from allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia (both fearful of growing Iranian power), impetus from guerrillas/militias forcing sectarian conflict, fears over ongoing nuclear development, mutual military preparation for conflict, and a need to assign blame for escalating counter-insurgency failures continue to drive it forward.

3. The thisisbroken blog usually has some rather entertaining signage. Today's entry is a winner.

4. Two Brothers, the Balkan Restaurant on 39th and SE Belmont, doesn't seem to have a homepage, but here is a discussion on I'm liking it a lot. The meals are damn tasty, and you can easily get two servings out of most of them.

5. Foreign Policy gives their list of the five most likely successors to Vladimir Putin as President of Russia. My money is on their number five. Of course I hadn't heard of the other four.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Latin, brains, funny church signs, non-english music

It's Sunday. And here is today's top 5:

The BBC reports the view of the Vatican's 'chief Latinist'
that the future of that language at the Holy See is in trouble. Among other things
...more junior members of the Catholic hierarchy are less enthusiastic about Latin than the recent Popes.
At the Vatican, bishops appointments are still written on papyrus in Latin as are letters of congratulations from the pope, but many bishops and cardinals write back asking for translations.
When I was at the UCT, introductory Latin was very well attended, because it was required for all law students. I was one of the very few that took Latin because I was really interested in the language.
I remember too that the memory of the lecturer was absolutely amazing. There were at least a couple of hundred people in the class, and she soon had everybody's name memorized.

The older I get, the less dogmatic I get. When I was a spiritual young oke I was convinced that consciousness was independent of the body. Now, I'm not so sure and am actually swinging the other way. This story, about a bloke that "forgot the urge to smoke" after suffering damage brain damage after a stroke, is tangentially related to this observation.

To make it easier to maintain a US postal address while I am out of the country, I signed up for an account with Remote Control Mail. With this service, any postal mail received is viewable over the WWW.

Funny church signs from Ship of Fools, 'the magazine of Christian unrest.'

Blog recommendation: 'We promote non-english language music' is pretty much what it sounds like. For music you may not hear about elsewhere, check them out. I found them through a search for fokofpolisiekar, but they are fairly diverse in their offerings. For instance, the last few entries profile Slovak punk, traditional Ladino, Turkish rock, French pop, Klezmer, Afropop. Most of the links seem to be to Youtube - I wish there were more mp3 downloads.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Isabatan, ball lightning, juggling, new CDs

Today's Top 5 links:

Jabal al-Lughat comes across a brief fragment of the now-extinct language of the Isabatan, a pre-Tuareg people of southern Algeria. I haven't recommended this blog as a regular read yet, so let me do so now: if you're interested in linguistics, it's well worth it.

It's an older post, an has been hanging around in my google news box for a while now. Brazilian scientists have managed to produce ball lightning in the lab. Interestingly enough, the article leads off by quoting Aleister Crowley on seeing ball lightning 'in the wild' in 1916:
Aleister Crowley once reported what he referred to as globular electricity in 1916, “what I can only describe as calm amazement, that a dazzling globe of electric fire, apparently between six and twelve inches in diameter was stationary about six inches below and to the right of my knee.” Mr. Crowley, it may not be all in your head.
The Beast shows up everywhere these days.

A lovely contact juggling video from jandrews1983 on youtube. Also, on the 'tube, check out this traditional dance from Fort Cochin, Kerala. Thanks, Arstel.

Huh. I share a birthday with both Lee Harvey Oswald and Jose Padilla.

My friend Camille just released a CD, Star-Eyed Siren. It's available through CDBaby. And Fokofpolisiekar has an EP that has been out for a little while, Brand Suid-Afrika.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

New feral child case

Actually, feral adult, I suppose: she is 19 years old now. This from the BBC:
A Cambodian girl who disappeared aged eight has been found after reportedly living wild in the jungle for 19 years.
Rochom P'ngieng's father says he has identified her through scars but she cannot speak any intelligible language.

Sal Lou, a village policeman, said he recognised the woman as his daughter from a scar on her right arm.
He said: "When I saw her, she was naked and walking in a bending-forward position like a monkey... She was bare bones.

Other accounts of feral children can be found here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Integratron - historical marker

Greg Bishop has a nice post on the historical marker that was erected by George Van Tassel's Integratron near Langley Landers, California. A couple of my photos of this here and here.

Monday, January 15, 2007

An iconoclastic look at the Tibetan Book of the Dead

The New Statesman brings us a review by Mark Bearn of a recent translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. He gives us a rather unflattering opinion of its spiritual value, and of the sensibility of those that find solace and depth in it:
In similar vein, Gayle Hunnicutt believes that reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead "will give me greater peace of mind and benefit all around me". Did she get much peace of mind from the advice for averting death? "One should face westwards towards the sun when it is close to setting, and remove one's clothes. Then placing a dog's tail under you and some excrement in a heap in front, one should eat a mouthful of excrement, and bark like a dog. Repeat three times."
Now, I blush to admit that I have not read the Tibetan Book of the Dead, so I can't comment on the fairness of his account. But the review is certainly a humourous read.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Nick Carr on instant journalism

Only twice so far have I found liveblogging, a.k.a. instant journalism of interest. One was the World Cup. We were not allowed streaming audio or video at work, so I found myself obsessively refreshing the BBC's live text coverage of the match. It was rather unsatisfying. The second was during the recent US congressional elections, when I wanted to get the election results in realtime. Apart from those two times, I've never had much use for it.

All of which is just by way of introduction to this post by Nick Carr on his Rough Type blog. I thought that his comments on the piece of cringe-worthy (funny how the mind works: I found myself typing in Cringely-worthy) writing. The comments are rather interesting too.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Zimbabwean dispossessed farmers to return

This from Business Day (via
In a dramatic about-turn, President Robert Mugabe's government, which over the past six years has seized the bulk of white-owned farms, is about to allow hundreds of white farmers to return to the land, according to the Guardian newspaper.

The London newspaper yesterday quoted the Zimbabwe government's land adviser, Sam Moyo, as saying "there could be about 300 whites back on farms by the end of next year". Most of them would be running commercial farms, he said.

DNS story

This slashdot comment is one of the funniest things that I have seen for a while.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Towards the end of the year, people publish their lists of what they don't want to see back in the next year. I'm coming in late in the game, but here is Curmudgeonly Mick's list of things I'd prefer not to see in 2007.

, especially as in "we have an awesome culture" and other corporate-speak.
The word "awesome" sounds perfectly natural and appropriate when used by a 10 year old to describe the latest Spiderman movie. A serious professional describing corporate culture? Not so much.

ASAP - a word I could really do without for a while. Someone telling me that they need something done 'ASAP!' doesn't motivate me to comply. Especially when verbally spelled out and left on voicemail. Anyway, this acronym is getting old and worn out. I vastly prefer PDQ.

Lazy tagging on flickr. I keep track of a number of flickr tags through my RSS reader. For example, I like looking at the day's photos tagged "Cape Town", because I enjoy seeing snapshots of my hometown. For some (mostly tourists), "Cape Town" just means "everywhere I went during my South African vacation."

Incorrect use of 'apostrophe s'. Not every word that ends in an 's' needs an apostrophe. For some strange reason people have taken to putting an apostrophe everywhere, even in words that are plural. "The film's atmosphere was taut and dramatic" is correct. "I saw two film's this weekend" is not.
Likewise 'lose' (as in "I am beginning to lose it") is not spelled "loose."

eBay auctions: books described as 'rare'. A book ain't rare if I can just go to Amazon and order it there and then. Likewise putting 'L@@K!' in the auction title will probably not make me drop everything and look.

Portland hipsters that drink Pabst Blue Ribbon. Why does PBR have such hipster chic in Portland? It tastes like Budweiser or Coors or any other damn crappy beer that you would care to name. Portland has so many excellent Microbrews, why drink PBR? I guess I just don't get it.


The economist brings us another article of interest to fans of Tim Powers. This one concerns local beliefs in the Jinn among the people of Somalia and Afghanistan.
THERE is a cleft in a stone hill outside Qardho, in northern Somalia, which even the hardest gunmen and frankincense merchants avoid. In the cool dark, out of the bleached sunshine, there is a pit, a kind of Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole, which is said to swirl down into the world of jinn. Locals say jinn—genies, that is—fade in and out above the pit. Sometimes they shift into forms of ostriches and run out over the desert scrub.

Stuff I Collect - Covers - Oregon Coast - Astoria to Kansas City, 1917

Stuff I Collect - Covers - Oregon Coast - Astoria to Kansas City, 1917 The following is a modification of my post in the US : Covers : Ge...