Showing posts from March, 2007

Strange Maps and LARPing

Blog recommendation: Strange Maps. It's a wonderful blog, with maps by turns weird, scary, historically fascinating, or just unusual.LARPs are getting a bit of attention: an article in the Christian Science Monitor no less.

They've been saying it for years

Of interest to conspiracy buffs and eschatologists, comes the news from the Winston-Salem Journal ('Your guide to life in Northwest North Carolina') that animal sacrifice may soon resume on the temple mount:
In a donated apartment concealed among the narrow streets of the Jerusalem suburb of Nahlaot, 13 Orthodox Jewish men meet every Tuesday to debate matters of Jewish law. They are the management team of a larger developing Sanhedrin, or religious court, in Israel.
They plan to sacrifice sheep on the Temple Mount on the day before or one month after Passover, which will start at sundown April 2. Either date is permissible under Jewish law. "If the government will not resist," said Rabbi Dov Stein, 68, a member of the group, "we will do it."
The Passover sacrifice will draw the attention of some religious Jews as well as evangelical Christians who see both the restoration of the Sanhedrin and sacrifice as part of end-times prophecy. Other Orthodox Jews want…

Houdini and Scaterd Few

Houdini died 81 years ago, but his family are requesting an autopsy, in the belief that his death was suspicious:
...rumors that he was murdered have persisted for decades. Eighty-one years after Houdini's death, his great-nephew wants the escape artist's body exhumed to determine if enemies poisoned him for debunking their bogus claims of contact with the dead.I was lucky enough to buy a copy of the brilliant Scaterd Few CD 'Sin Disease.' A hell of a lot of good stuff came out of the Christian music scene in the 80s, mostly in southern California. The hardcore punk band The Crucified, for example, the death metal band Vengeance Rising, Mortal on the industrial side. But Scaterd Few was my favourite. They pushed the limit of what was acceptable in Christian music. As Terry Taylor wrote at the time:
Listen again to that lucid chameleon voice conjuring up the smoggy hot drudgery of L.A. street hassle. There's more angst here in these two lines than you'll find in a…

Heavy Metal, creative commons, Rio DiAngelo

The Telegraph reports that, as slashdot puts it, gifted children find heavy metal comforting:
"Participants said they appreciated the complex and sometimes political themes of heavy metal music more than perhaps the average pop song. It has a tendency to worry adults a bit but I think it is just a cathartic thing. It does not indicate problems."
I certainly found heavy metal a great solace in the confusing years of adolescence. Heavy Metal and Punk bands sang about topics as disparate as social justice, military history, classical themes, alienation, and the like. I could relate to that much more than the vapid pop of the day. (It's only now that I am an old sod that I can appreciate vapid pop.)A highly recommended blog entry on Creative Commons copyright licensing by Jason Scott.The LA Times has an excellent interview with Rio DiAngelo, a member of the Heaven's Gate group.

Security and controversial temples

As Bruce Schneier says, people are the weakest link in any security system. The latest example is a recent diamond theft in a Belgian bank.Foreign Policy has run a piece on the five most controversial religious sites in the world. There are the usual suspects: the Yakasuni shrine (Japan), Potala Palace (China), Ayodhya (India), and the Temple Mount (Israel), with Bob Jones University thrown in to keeps things interesting.


I'm used to associating the word 'kindling' with small pieces of dry wood that can be used to start a fire. The stuff that you would light first before putting on the big logs. Not an uncommon word. But I've been at two separate stores on the Oregon coast where the assistants either didn't know the word at all, or gave it a different meaning than the one to which I am used. I think that both were Fred Meyer, but could be misremembering this.

Me: Do you have kindling?
Store assistant: Is that a special kind of wood?

Me: Do you have kindling?
Store clerk points towards hefty pieces of firewood.
Me: No, I mean kindling. Small pieces.
Store clerk: You mean to start a fire?
Me: Yes.
Store clerk (pointing again at the hefty firewood): That's what I use in my furnace at home.

New photos, hard drives, New Guinea linguistics, chess and strippers,

I love this headline: Young chess prodigy runs away, lives with stripper.Here are some new flickr photos from me:

A fellow tech just told me something rather funny. He was speaking to a guy that started defragging his hard drive (Win XP) just before leaving work. He would then take the laptop with him and put it on the seat next to him as he drove home and the defrag worked away. Ouch. Poor hard drive.Far Outliers has a rather nice blog entry about his linguistic dissertation and fieldwork in New Guinea.


Hell of a thing: laptops don't seem to like having brandy spilled over them.

China in Africa and wikipedia

Rough Type reports on wikipedia's tentative moves to verify academic credentials. Ah: I've just noticed that the essjay affair even made the BBC.Moving from the pathetic conceits of the online world to the all-too-real world, Foreign Policy asks if the USA and China are heading for a confrontation over Africa:
For years, China has been offering loans, building critical infrastructure, and providing engineering and military advice and hardware to African regimes without extracting any promises that the regimes clean up their human rights records—something Western countries insist upon before aid is shipped. This uncritical support of its African partners has allowed China to make diplomatic inroads on the continent, since it provides aid without strings attached, as opposed to the Western approach of basing aid on human rights and good governance benchmarks that many African regimes are unwilling, or slow, to make. Put simply, an African farmer would rather have a Chinese road b…