Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Adam Waters and the Attack of the Zombie Computers

My old friend from California is, as he puts it, "hunting russian hackers and living quite well." He recently got his words and his mug in a couple news articles.

"'You do not expect banks, airlines or energy companies to be spammers because you assume they are secure and have a lot of guys and are highly incentivised to lock their networks down,' said Adam Waters, chief operating officer of Support Intelligence."

The BBC article is mentioned on the company blog, along with the BBC's security problems.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Do you suppose you'll find a room in Russia--or work?

“Where are you going, Vladimir Ilich?” said the landlord, holding Lenin’s hand and regarding him with pity. “What madness makes you want to return to Russia? What will you do there? Do you suppose you’ll find a room in Russia—or work? Take my advice, Vladimir Ilich, and stay here in peace.”

“I have to go,” Lenin replied.

And he left. He set foot on Russian soil with his little cap, his clean frayed shirt, his shabby coat—an army of one, stubby, pale, and unarmed. Over against him: the boundless Russian land, the sinister, brutalized muzhiks, the roisterous aristocrats, the all-powerful priesthood, the fortresses, palaces, prisons, and barracks, the old laws, the old morals, and the knout. The fearful empire, armed to the teeth. There he stood with his little cap, his tiny Mongolian eyes staring fixedly into the air, while inside him a dancing, whistling demon gnashed his teeth and spoke.

“All this is yours, Vladimir Ilich.”

--Nikos Kazantzakis, Report to Greco


The T-34

From Wikipedia’s entry on the Soviet T-34 tank:

“In May 1944, the Wehrmacht had only 304 Panthers operating on the Eastern Front, while the Soviets had increased T-34-85 production to 1,200 tanks per month.

“‘Quantity has a quality all its own.’
--attributed to Joseph Stalin

“As the factory became surrounded by heavy fighting in the Battle of Stalingrad, the situation there grew desperate: stories persist that unpainted T-34 tanks were driven out of the factory into the battlefields around it.”

photo: Germany, Berlin, 1945 May

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Calvin and Hobbes

This website contains the only writing I’ve come across that pinpoints the disturbingly subversive brilliance of Calvin and Hobbes. The visual and textual parallels to the Columbine High School shooting presented by the author, Douglas Ord, are brilliant in themselves.

“As brought to life both by Watterson's ‘magic’ and -- in a second order of activity within the strip -- Calvin's waking dream, Hobbes was obviously so much more than the stuffed animal that ‘others’ saw.

“As a truly noble beast, he became, at different times, the voice of sophistication, of charm, and of irony. A voice, that is, which was almost entirely denied, in Calvin's real world American suburban vicinity...

“But Hobbes, while being an awesomely indulgent and intelligent playmate, was also complex in a different way. As a presence, he both personified and contained the projection outward of a coiled spring rage that -- as kept within the waking dream -- could then rebound on Calvin harmlessly, as he and Hobbes bantered with one another, mocked one another, sometimes even thrashed one another, in the privacy of Calvin's backyard.

“How big was that rage, though, that potential for violence? In this there was a critical uncertainty, and even a mystery, because Hobbes himself had a night-time side that, apparently on Watterson's whim, could stalk and terrorize Calvin: the side that was captured in Calvin's own description: ‘homicidal psycho jungle cat’.”

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Literary Locales

"More than 1,000 picture links to places that figure in the lives and writings of famous authors"

Including a link to Roy Chapman Andrews' Flaming Cliffs of Mongolia.

Return to Mongolia

Have added entries to the Adventuria blog, including the return trip to Mongolia in 2004-05.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


“It is, in fact, quite an act of ego to sit down in a room, while others are getting on trains and subways, and put one’s vision on paper, and then ask others to pay to read it. Not only to pay but say, ‘Isn’t he brilliant.’ It’s an act of audacity.”

--William Gaddis, in interview with Tom LeClair, 1980, collected in Paper Empire: William Gaddis and the World System, edited by Joseph Tabbi and Rone Shavers, 2007

Monday, June 11, 2007

In Praise of Slacking

“We had pleased ourselves with delectable visions of the spiritualization of labor.... [but] the clods of earth, which we so constantly belabored and turned over and over, were never etherealized into thought. Our thoughts, on the contrary, were fast becoming cloddish. Our labor symbolized nothing, and left us mentally sluggish in the dusk of the evening. Intellectual activity is incompatible with any large amount of bodily exercise. The yeoman and the scholar—the yeoman and the man of finest moral culture, though not the man of sturdiest sense and integrity—are two distinct individuals, and can never be melted or welded into one substance.”

--Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance, 1852

Origin Story

“A great turning-point in the religious history of Mongolia came a few years later when Altan Khan, a powerful prince who was descended from Genghis, invited a Tibetan lama to come and see him and bestowed upon this figure the rank of Dalai Lama. Hence it was a Mongolian prince who created this title for the highest office in the Tibetan Buddhist church, and thereafter the links between Mongolia and the Yellow Faith grew from strength to strength.”

--Nick Middleton, The Last Disco in Outer Mongolia, 1992

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Steppe #6

The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.

—Bertrand Russell, The Philosophy of Logical Atomism

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Friends of Mongolia Rural Youth Scholarships 2007-2008

"Friends of Mongolia invites graduating Mongolian secondary school students and current post-secondary students under the age of 25 to apply for the Friends of Mongolia Scholarship, which provides one year full tuition at post-secondary institutions in Mongolia to successful applicants. The program is intended to address what is known as Mongolia's 'reverse gender gap' by providing opportunities for rural males to attend post-secondary institutions. Applicants must be male and able to prove permanent residency outside of Ulaanbaatar. For more information about the program and to receive a copy of the application, please visit Please distribute this announcement to eligible candidates. Deadline July 20, 2007."

Lone Wolf

An entire gamebook series online. Fantasy adventure; young adult.

Project Aon

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Commemorative 20,000-Togrog Note

I just learned of this note from Eberhard in Germany. I haven't seen any of these or even heard about them, but I'd like to get one.

This is the regular, non-commemorative note:

Friday, June 01, 2007

Batman Hates Ice Cream


Karl Marx

“Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again.... Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

--Karl Marx, “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right,” 1843

Beyond the Great Wall

"It is the beginning of the twentieth century, and you hope to make your fortune by searching China for a missing archaeologist; if you can find him or the ancient cave of treasures he sought, you will be richly rewarded."

An Anonymous Email Message and My Response

Hello Mr. Neuhalfen,

I've read your post about Sri Chinmoy visit in Mongolia. First of all I apologize for my poor English and I hope you'll forgive me for that. I hope as proof of freedom of speech include this post in your blog.

I'm a fan of Sri Chinmoy so I'm not really legitimate to reply to your post. So don't trust me completely.

Although I would like to suggest you that when we are speaking about renowned people it's easy to find different opinions. Especially for people that are in the spiritual field. Christians should remember the beginning of their religion after all. Even San Francesco was criticized inside the church and he went in front of the Pope to prove he was not guilty.

If you could use Google at the time of Gandhi, you could find bad reviews from British but also from Hindu extremists. Same probably for Rev. Martin Luther King, bad review from KKK and also from who like Black Panther and other group thought that his non-violence approach was bad. On Mother Teresa there hundreds of negative websites.

I mention these three names on purpose. I've seen Sri Chinmoy be awarded by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, the most renowned and internationally respected Indian cultural institution, with the Ghandi Peace Award. He received the award together with Coretta Scott King, the widow of Rev. Martin Luther King. I spoke also about Mother Teresa also because I was there when Sri Chinmoy and Mother Teresa met first time so I've seen how she appreciated the poems and the songs he wrote for her.

Are the words of Rick Ross who also have a very uncertain reputation if we enquire on Google
more trustable of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan or Mother Teresa?

About the fact that United Nations asked to Sri Chinmoy to change name, I think is interesting that they did not ask to interrupt the meditations, but to change name of the program. If they would be against the project they would stop it. So I see the permission to keep "The Sri Chinmoy Meditation at United Nation" as a real honour. Of course Sri Chinmoy has no statement in UN, is not employed nor any task is assigned officially to him. Please see the interesting story wrote about Sri Chinmoy and UN from Secretary General U Thant speech writer

About your feeling with the music needless to say Sri Chinmoy is not a musician, but his improvisations on keyboards as any form of art cannot be judged by how complex they are. It's true that also a child can paint like Chagall, or Klee or Pollock. Even the famous speech of lotus of Lord Budda could be done by everyone. When he was asked to explain his teaching, instead of speaking he showed a flower in his hand, remaining silent. Also we could do the same. But probably the audience could not get the same reward.

Back to the music a great admirer of Sri Chinmoy's compositions is one that you mentioned in your post: Ravi Shankar. Is pretty common in art, some likes some not. Many times I've heard people that Pollock paintings are horrible or even scams....

Thanks and good luck for your writer activity



On the contrary, your English is fine, far better than my Italian: thank you for learning my native language. Even if your English were less than fine, no apologies nor forgiveness would be necessary.

In the very recent noise over “freedom of speech” in comment forums, I think this consensus is clear: you are not obligated to allow anyone to post anything to a website that you maintain. “Freedom of speech,” as articulated by the framers of the United States Bill of Rights, proclaims that the right to say whatever you wish shall not be infringed upon. “Freedom of speech” addresses spoken words, whereas “freedom of the press” addresses printed words, so perhaps “freedom of the press” is more appropriate here. Though they have since been inscribed in many nations’ founding charters to be emulated by many societies (Mongolia’s constitution proclaims the protection of these same “freedoms,” as I presume Italy’s does as well), how and with what authority these old American notions of “freedom of speech” and “freedom of the press” shall or should be applied to the World Wide Web is yet unsettled. “Freedom of the press” is not intended to mean that a person who operates a printing press is obligated to print whatever you wish, but it should mean that you may operate your own printing press and print whatever you wish. An appropriate analogy may be: if you wish to post your words to the Internet, you are free to maintain your own website.

Blogger, the entity that provides the resources that allow for me to maintain this website, is owned by Google Inc., a legal entity that is headquartered in California with offices in many countries. How is this relationship to be understood or moderated: an Italian citizen (I presume from your email address) in Italy (I presume again) interacting with an American citizen in Mongolia who maintains a website through a corporation that transcends physical boundaries? “Freedom of speech”? What entity has the authority to proclaim it and, importantly, to enforce it?

There is no such thing as a universal “freedom of speech” because there is no universal governing body with the authority to proclaim nor protect such a “freedom.”

It is perfectly legitimate for you to reply, and I can only express appreciation for your polite and considered words.

Yes, prominent figures always have both supporters and detractors.

Appeals to Christian faith—indeed, to any sort of faith whatsoever—carry little weight with me.

Gandhi and King and other political leaders—no matter how spiritually focused they may have been, nor how great their accomplishments may have been—were humans and therefore subject to human failings. Such failings, though they may be legitimately criticized, do not diminish their political feats.

Unlike Chinmoy, neither Gandhi nor King declared that they were capable of superhuman feats, such as lifting thousands of pounds with one arm.

Regarding Mother Theresa, I find the arguments of Christopher Hitchens to be rather persuasive.

Your assertion that Rick Ross’ statements might be questionable because his “reputation” might be questionable can be dismissed forthright as irrelevant: it is an example of argumentum ad hominem, one of the most commonly invoked of the formal logical fallacies. To expressly dismiss your assertion: a person with a criminal record is not incapable of identifying and speaking truth.

I specify “identifying truth” because much of the content on Ross’ site was not written by Ross himself, but by journalists for various periodicals, which Ross himself only reprinted, including Andrea Kannapell of the New York Times, Patricia Andrews of the Miami Herald, Alex Ginsberg of the New York Post, and Brian Howard of

In my post, the first quotation that I listed from Ross’ website is attributed by Ross to Mike Ervin of the Chicago Tribune.

I read through the speech, which apparently was never delivered; it is not even stated for whom the speech was written. After Weymen Huckabee’s references to a “God” and the will of this “God” and random stories purporting supernatural attributes of the U.N. Meditation Room (dynamite fuses go out all the time: is each place in which a dynamite fuse has gone out a special place?), the speechwriter, Donald Keys, reveals that Chinmoy was “asked from within” to associate himself with the U.N. Keys then claims that “Sri Chinmoy had a particularly poignant and deep relationship with U Thant,” but rather than support this claim with a statement by Secretary-General Thant, which would have been substantial, he presents a statement by Chinmoy, which is not substantial. I could say that I had a deep relationship with Thant, and you could quote me, but that is not as convincing as Thant saying that I had a deep relationship with him.

My opinion: it was an uninspiring concert.

The mythical, anecdotal Buddha is a cool character. I disagree with your assertion that his speech could have been made by anyone: I do not think that an ordinary teacher, when asked to explain her teachings, would have enough imagination, confidence, and self-restraint to be capable of simply displaying a lotus.