Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Years wishes

from Jonas Ramoska

a flash of lightning in a serene sky

By and by I learned that, most appropriately, the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs had intrusted him with the making of a report, for its future guidance. And he had written it, too. I've seen it. I've read it. It was eloquent, vibrating with eloquence, but too high-strung, I think. Seventeen pages of close writing he had found time for! But this must have been before his--let us say--nerves, went wrong, and caused him to preside at certain midnight dances ending with unspeakable rites, which--as far as I reluctantly gathered from what I heard at various times--were offered up to him--do you understand?--to Mr. Kurtz himself. But it was a beautiful piece of writing. The opening paragraph, however, in the light of later information, strikes me now as ominous. He began with the argument that we whites, from the point of development we had arrived at, 'must necessarily appear to them [savages] in the nature of supernatural beings--we approach them with the might of a deity,' and so on, and so on. 'By the simple exercise of our will we can exert a power for good practically unbounded,' etc., etc. From that point he soared and took me with him. The peroration was magnificent, though difficult to remember, you know. It gave me the notion of an exotic Immensity ruled by an august Benevolence. It made me tingle with enthusiasm. This was the unbounded power of eloquence--of words--of burning noble words. There were no practical hints to interrupt the magic current of phrases, unless a kind of note at the foot of the last page, scrawled evidently much later, in an unsteady hand, may be regarded as the exposition of a method. It was very simple, and at the end of that moving appeal to every altruistic sentiment it blazed at you, luminous and terrifying, like a flash of lightning in a serene sky: 'Exterminate all the brutes!'

--Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, 1899

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Freedom From Religion Foundation sign at Wisconsin State Capitol

Happy X-mas

"Christian legend, dogma and ritual are the refinement of a great body of primitive and even barbarous beliefs, and almost the only original element in Christianity is the personality of Jesus."

--Robert Graves, The White Goddess

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

air inside the ice cube

I write out my life
hour by hour, word by word
gazing into the anger of old women on the bus
numbering the striations
of air inside the ice cube
imagining the existence
of something uncreated
this poem
our lives

--Adrienne Rich, "Incipience," 1971

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Edgar Allan Poe

"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"On October 7, 1849, at age 40, Poe died in Baltimore; the cause of his death is unknown and has been attributed to alcohol, brain congestion, cholera, drugs, heart disease, rabies, suicide, tuberculosis, and other agents."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

there was such a smell

"The smell of a battlefield in hot weather one cannot recall. You can remember that there was such a smell, but nothing ever happens to you to bring it back."

--Ernest Hemingway, "A Natural History of the Dead," 1933

Friday, December 12, 2008

Rorty, near death

"I now wish that I had spent somewhat more of my life with verse. This is not because I fear having missed out on truths that are incapable of statement in prose. There are no such truths; there is nothing about death that Swinburne and Landor knew but Epicurus and Heidegger failed to grasp. Rather, it is because I would have lived more fully if I had been able to rattle off more old chestnuts—just as I would have if I had made more close friends."

--Richard Rorty, "The Fire of Life," 2007

Thursday, December 11, 2008

the tomb

Kilclooney Dolmen
Ireland, Donegal County

"The Song of Amergin"
ca. 1268 BCE Goidelic
translated and arranged by Robert Graves

God speaks and says:

I am a stag of seven tines,
Over the flooded world,
I am borne by the wind,
I descend in tears like dew, I lie glittering.
I fly aloft like a griffon to my nest on the cliff,
I bloom among the loveliest flowers,
I am both the oak and the lightning that blasts it,

I embolden the spearsman,
I teach the councillors their wisdom,
I inspire the poets,
I rove the hills like a conquering boar,
I roar like the winter sea,
I return like the receding wave,
Who but I can unfold the secrets of the unhewen dolmen?

I am the womb of every holt,
I am the blaze on every hill,
I am the queen of every hive,
I am the shield to every head,
I am the tomb to every hope.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


"Popes matter in ways that challenge our conventional thinking about the way the world works. Popes no longer claim the power to bring penitent princes to their knees in the snow, as Gregory VII did with Henry IV; the modern papacy deploys a greater power, the power to propose and persuade, religiously and morally. Popes matter by changing lives and changing history.

"Which, as it happens, was the only power Saint Peter had."

--George Weigel, "How Benedict XVI Will Make History," Newsweek, 2008 April 21

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Briefing II

You've been dreaming, have you?

I am dreaming now.

No, you are awake now. You are talking to me.

This is no different. A dream, like that.

Oh yes it is different. This is reality. The other is a dream.

How do you know?

You'll have to take my word for it, I'm afraid.

If I did have to, I'd be afraid.

--Doris Lessing, Briefing For a Descent Into Hell, 1971

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Abraham at Gettysburg

"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"The Constitution of France (under the present Fifth Republic) states that the principle of the Republic of France is 'gouvernement du peuple, par le peuple et pour le peuple' ('government of the people, by the people, and for the people,') a literal translation of Lincoln's words."

Monday, November 17, 2008


I spoke to Sylvia. “Do you think this is a good life?” The table held apples, books, long-playing records. She looked up. “No.”

--Donald Barthelme, “The Indian Uprising,” 1968

Monday, November 10, 2008

small problem

"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress."

--Eric Moody, captain of British Airways Flight 9

Saturday, November 08, 2008


The implications of philosophical truth are so horrifying that the human mind cannot comprehend them and remain sane.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Times of India

"What does a possible Obama victory mean for America and the rest of the world (and judging by the worldwide interest and the number of foreign journalists here, it's the only story for the day)?

"Well, for one, it is expected to restore faith and trust in a more engaged and consensual United States as against the perception of the Bush Republican administration as a mostly unilateral regime. The election of a black minority candidate to the highest office in the world's most powerful and advanced democracy will also be seen as the final vindication that America can overcome racial prejudice.

"It still boggles the imagination -- that could soon be reality -- that the 44th US president may be an African-American son of a Kenyan exchange student."

--The Times of India

The London Times

“We support Obama not as a person but as a new phenomenon,” Denis Twahika, a student, said. “We look at America as a continent that disenfranchised Africa. If Obama is the president, then when I meet an American I meet a brother. That white-black thing, we become one.”

--The Times, UK

Did you vote?

"In every election, many people grapple with the nagging suspicion their vote doesn't count.... They are wrong. In fact, our democracy depends on every citizen recognizing the value of his or her vote.

"And here is the value of that vote. In the most recent presidential election 105,360,260 people cast ballots. That means each person's vote counted .000000949%.... So we can agree, your vote counts. It counts .000000949%."

--Stephen Colbert, "Of Course Your Vote Counts!," America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction, 2004

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Nov 2

"All Souls’ Day.
The 2nd of November, so called because the Roman Catholics on that day seek by prayer and almsgiving to alleviate the sufferings of souls in purgatory. It was first instituted in the monastery of Clugny, in 993.

"According to tradition, a pilgrim, returning from the Holy Land, was compelled by a storm to land on a rocky island, where he found a hermit, who told him that among the cliffs of the island was an opening into the infernal regions through which huge flames ascended, and where the groans of the tormented were distinctly audible. The pilgrim told Odilo, abbot of Clugny, of this; and the abbot appointed the day following, which was November 2nd, to be set apart for the benefit of souls in purgatory."

--E. Cobham Brewer, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1898 edition "Revised, Corrected and Enlarged"

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Nov 1

"All Hallow’s Day (November 1st).
The French call it Toussaint, which we have translated All Saints’ Day. Hallowmas is All-Saints’ festival. (Anglo-Saxon, hálig, but Hálig-mónáth was September, and Hálig-dœg was simply a Holy-day.)"

"All Saints
or All Hallows. In 610 the Pope of Rome ordered that the heathen Pantheon should be converted into a Christian church, and dedicated to the honour of all martyrs. The festival of All Saints was first held on May 1st, but in the year 834 it was changed to November 1st. 'Hallows' is from the Anglo-Saxon hálig (holy)."

--E. Cobham Brewer, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1898 edition "Revised, Corrected and Enlarged"

Friday, October 31, 2008

Oct 31

"All Hallows’ Eve.
The Scotch tradition is, that those born on All Hallows’ Eve have the gift of double sight, and commanding powers over spirits."

"Hallowe’en (October 31st),
according to Scotch superstition, is the time when witches, devils, fairies, and other imps of earth and air hold annual holiday."

--E. Cobham Brewer, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1898 edition "Revised, Corrected and Enlarged"

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Western preference

"The narratives of Buddhism in the United States have ignored the contribution and presence of Mongols. While 'Tibetan' Buddhism remains, arguably, the most visible and popular type of Buddhism in North America, how and why it has achieved this status has not been sufficiently queried.... By taking into account the central role of race and how it is defined and manipulated in U.S. immigration and naturalization law, the experience of Kalmyk Mongol Buddhist immigrants in the 1950s can be recovered. Tracing the life and experience of the Mongol 'Living Buddha' within the context of the west's reception of Buddhism reveals a preference for orientalist versions of Asian religions at the expense of Asian American racial and ethnic identities."

--abstract of "Mongols or Mongolians? And the Strange Career of the 'Living Buddha' in America" by Rudiger Busto

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dakota War of 1862

"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"When the tribesmen appealed to Andrew J. Myrick to allow them to take food on credit, he said, 'So far as I am concerned, if they are hungry, let them eat grass or their own dung.' He made this retort while involved in a confrontation between Dakota tribesmen, the United States government, and other traders....

"Myrick was killed on the second day of fighting at the Battle of Lower Sioux Agency as Dakota warriors took revenge at the agency settlement. When his body was found days later, it was discovered that grass had been stuffed in his mouth."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

the most capricious zephyr

"Faith, I know not where I wander. Methinks the most capricious zephyr hath more design than I. But lo: do not detain me, for I am resolved to quit this place forthwith."

--Bill Watterson, The Days Are Just Packed

Friday, October 17, 2008

"Stayin' Alive," CPR

"'Stayin' Alive' might be more true to its name than the Bee Gees ever could have guessed: At 103 beats per minute, the old disco song has almost the perfect rhythm to help jump-start a stopped heart.

"In a small but intriguing study from the University of Illinois medical school, doctors and students maintained close to the ideal number of chest compressions doing CPR while listening to the catchy, sung-in-falsetto tune from the 1977 movie 'Saturday Night Fever.'

"The American Heart Association recommends 100 chest compressions per minute, far more than most people realize, study author Dr. David Matlock of the school's Peoria, Illinois, campus said Thursday....

"It turns out the American Heart Association has been using the song as a training tip for CPR instructors for about two years.

"They learned of it from a physician 'who sort of hit upon this as a training tool,' said association spokesman Dr. Vinay Nadkarni of the University of Pennsylvania.

"He said he was not aware of any previous studies that tested the song.

"But Nadkarni said he has seen 'Stayin' Alive' work wonders in classes where students were having trouble keeping the right beat while practicing on mannequins. When he turned on the song, 'all of a sudden, within just a few seconds, they get it right on the dot.'

"'I don't know how the Bee Gees knew this,' Nadkarni said. 'They probably didn't. But they just hit upon this natural rhythm that was very catchy, very popular, that helps us do the right thing.'

"Dr. Matthew Gilbert, a 28-year-old medical resident, was among participants in the University of Illinois study this past spring. Since then, he said, he has revived real patients by keeping the song in his head while doing CPR.

"Gilbert said he was surprised the song worked as well as it did.

"'I was a little worried because I've been told that I have a complete lack of rhythm,' he said. Also, Gilbert said he's not really a disco fan.

"He does happen to like a certain Queen song with a similar beat.

"'I heard a rumor that "Another One Bites the Dust" works also, but it didn't seem quite as appropriate,' Gilbert said."


Your Name

Дуудах нэрийг эцэг эх өгдөг.
Дуурсах нэрийг өөрөө олдог.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Biology: Polydactyl cat

"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Polydactyly is a congenital abnormality, usually genetically inherited as an autosomal dominant trait with incomplete penetrance. Polydactyly is not life-threatening and usually not even debilitating to a cat. Some polydactyl kittens initially have more difficulty in learning to walk and climb than normal animals. However in some cases it appears to improve the dexterity of the animal. For example, a common variation of polydactyly with six toes on the front paws, with two opposing digits on each, (comparable in use to human thumbs) enables the cat to learn and perform feats of manual dexterity generally not observed in non-polydactyl cats, such as opening latches or catching objects with a single paw."


"When a child with his soul just making itself felt, or a grownup who has never thought of anything before but animal thoughts, or an adolescent in love, or an old person just confronted with death, or even a philosopher or a star-measurer—when any of these, or you or I ask ourselves, with all the weight of our lives behind the question, What am I? What is this Time? What is the evidence for a Time that is not mortal as a leaf in autumn, then the answer is, That which asks the question is out of the world’s time . . ."

--Doris Lessing, Briefing For a Descent Into Hell, 1971

The Flying Fish

It’s fine that nature at least permits a certain fish to fly
with brazen expertise. Every such ascent
is a consolation to the rule, a reprieve
from universal necessity, a gift
more magnanimous than need be, for the world to be world.

--Wislawa Szymborska, “Thomas Mann,” translated by Magnus J. Krynski and Robert A. Maguire

Thursday, October 09, 2008

seen around the world

"The American invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, aided and abetted by the British, was seen around the world as a war without any basis in international law, and as a war that could not be described as just or moral."

--Michael S. Northcott, Angel Directs the Storm: Apocalyptic Religion and American Empire, 2004

Friday, September 26, 2008

two pieces of the same thing

And Ma went on, “They’s a time of change, an’ when that comes, dyin’ is a piece of all dyin’, and bearin’ is a piece of all bearin’, an’ bearin’ an’ dyin’ is two pieces of the same thing. An’ then things ain’t lonely any more. An’ then a hurt don’t hurt so bad, ’cause it ain’t a lonely hurt no more, Rosasharn. I wisht I could tell you so you’d know, but I can’t.” And her voice was so soft, so full of love, that tears crowded into Rose of Sharon’s eyes, and flowed over her eyes and blinded her.

--John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, 1939

Monday, September 22, 2008

So Blown Apart

"The novel closes on the eve of the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as the Plumes reflect on the significance of a memorial built to house remains so blown apart by modern war machines that they can never be put back together in an identifiable form..."

--Amazon book description of the novel Plumes by Laurence Stallings

We just stopped fighting.

"It was early in the Vietnam War, and an American platoon was hunkered down in some rice paddies, in the heat of a firefight with the Vietcong. Suddenly a line of six monks started walking along the elevated berms that separated paddy from paddy. Perfectly calm and poised, the monks walked directly toward the line of fire.

"'They didn’t look right, they didn’t look left. They walked straight through,' recalls David Busch, one of the American soldiers. 'It was really strange, because nobody shot at ’em. And after they walked over the berm, suddenly all the fight was out of me. It just didn’t feel like I wanted to do this anymore, at least not that day. It must have been that way for everybody, because everybody quit. We just stopped fighting.'"

--Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, 1995

The Costa Rican 2,000-Colones Note Has a Hammerhead Shark and a Dolphin On It

photo by Naomi
Costa Rica
2008 September

Saturday, September 20, 2008

David Foster Wallace Has Killed Himself

"If wealth of talent, steady productivity (eight books of fiction and nonfiction), a MacArthur grant, and adulation from fans, critics and peers are not enough to make life's isolation bearable, what hope is there for the rest of us scribblers?"

--Richard B. Woodward, The Wall Street Journal

Monday, September 15, 2008

Our nada who art in nada

"The Nothing is a relentless monotony, unbroken by joy or sorrow. It is unending emptiness without comfort or companionship of man or God. It is the senselessness of each heart-beat that is just like the last and refuses to give in to death."

--Elizabeth S. Wall, "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway"

Día de la Independencia

Happy Costa Rican Independence Day.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Today at 7th Street Books in central San Jose, I traded a copy of The Steppe and a copy of The Shadow of the Wind, an uninteresting Spanish novel, for some books that I have been planning to read: Greene’s Our Man in Havana, a Conrad volume that includes The Secret Sharer and Heart of Darkness, Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, and a novel that I discovered in the bookstore and that I am kind of excited over: Briefing For a Descent Into Hell by Doris Lessing. Lessing, a British writer, is familiar to me for some reason, but the cover copy sold me: “Doris Lessing’s brilliant exploration of a mind beyond madness. . . We are inside the mind of Professor Charles Watkins. He is doomed to spin endlessly on a raft in the currents of the Atlantic. He makes a landfall on a tropical shore. He discovers a ruined stone city, participates, moon-dazed, in bloody rituals in the paradisal forest, is caught in the swirling, savage war of the Rat-dogs, is borne on the back of the lordly White Bird across the sea of the dead. Charles Watkins is having a mental breakdown. Or is he?” And the cover art features undulating bare-breasted women.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Provocative Chinese World Map

A world map at "Supplier Dynasty China Club," a portal website for Chinese goods, depicting a Chinese claim over Mongolia... and strangely not over Taiwan.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Lyrical II

Old Blind Dogs
So come all ye tramps and hawker lads
I'll tell to ye a roving tale of things that I ha' seen

Guy Clark
I have been to Fort Worth
I have been to Spain
I have been too proud
To come in out of the rain

Tracy Lawrence
She was heading nowhere
I was going her way

Johnny Cash
I met her accidentally in St. Paul, Minnesota

Battlefield Band
You can bide your time
till your time runs out
So take this as fair warning

Rodney Crowell
Many a long and lonesome highway
Lie before us as we go

Stroke 9
How many people wanna kick some ass?
I would if I could
but I’m really just a
sensitive artist

Ricky Skaggs
The highway called when I was young
Told me lies of things to come

Keith Whitley
And the oldest friend I’ve got I met today

Better Than Ezra
Sleeping is easy
I used to lay in bed for hours

Counting Crows
You can never escape, you can only move south down the coast

James Taylor
Bridges are for burning

Alien Ant Farm
I watch you drive your stupid car
You go away

Gaelic Storm
I got the sky
I got the road
I got the sky
The world is my home

Bloodhound Gang
I’m the root of all that’s evil
Yeah, but you can call me “Cookie”

George Strait
She said, “Don’t bother coming home
By the time you get here I’ll be long gone
There’s somebody new and he sure ain’t no rodeo man”
He said, “I’m sorry it’s come down to this
There’s so much about you that I’m going to miss
But it’s all right, Baby, if I hurry I can still make Cheyenne”

Friday, August 29, 2008

I finished Moby-Dick days ago

The white whale weighs on my mind.

The Impossibility of Knowledge

"A Frenchman is self-assured because he regards himself personally both in mind and body as irresistibly attractive to men and women. An Englishman is self-assured as being a citizen of the best-organized state in the world and therefore, as an Englishman, always knows what he should do and knows that all he does as an Englishman is undoubtedly correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets himself and other people. A Russian is self-assured just because he knows nothing and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe that anything can be known."

--Leo Tolstoy

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Whaleships of *Moby-Dick*

Eliza, presumably of Nantucket - Chapter 7 The Chapel
Devil-Dam, presumably of Nantucket - Chapter 16 The Ship
Tit-bit, presumably of Nantucket - Chapter 16 The Ship
Pequod, of Nantucket - Chapter 16 The Ship
Goney (Albatross), of Nantucket - Chapter 52 The Albatross
Town-Ho, of Nantucket - Chapter 54 The Town-Ho's Story
Jeroboam, of Nantucket - Chapter 71 The Jeroboam's Story
Jungfrau (Virgin), of Bremen - Chapter 81 The Pequod Meets the Virgin
Bouton de Rose (Rose-button, or Rose-bud), of France - Chapter 91 The Pequod Meets the Rose-Bud
Samuel Enderby, of London - Chapter 100 Leg and Arm. The Pequod, of Nantucket, Meets the Samuel Enderby, of London
Bachelor, of Nantucket - Chapter 115 The Pequod Meets the Bachelor
Rachel, presumably of Nantucket - Chapter 128 The Pequod Meets the Rachel
Delight, presumably of Nantucket - Chapter 131 The Pequod Meets the Delight

historical whaleships:
Jonas-in-the-Whale - Extracts; Chapter 55 Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales
Essex, of Nantucket - Extracts; Chapter 45 The Affidavit
Globe, of Nantucket - Extracts
Commodore Preble - Extracts
Hobomack - Extracts
Glacier - Chapter 35 The Mast-Head
Union, of Nantucket - Chapter 45 The Affidavit
Pusie Hall, of England - Chapter 45 The Affidavit
Amelia, of England - Chapter 101 The Decanter
Rattler, of England - Chapter 101 The Decanter
Syren, of England - Chapter 101 The Decanter

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Posted a big lot of old photos at the Adventuria blog. Here're some...

U.K., Bermuda
nautical archaeology field school
Radigan Neuhalfen

Russia, Kamchatka, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky

Sea of Japan, Far Eastern coast of Russia

Radigan Neuhalfen, self-portrait

Russia, Ural
archaeology dig

Turkey, Istanbul

Ukraine, Crimea, Black Sea

Russia, Siberia, Novosibirsk

Russia, Siberia, Novosibirsk

U.S.A., Illinois
archaeology survey
Radigan Neuhalfen

U.S.A., Minnesota, Minneapolis
archaeology van

Mexico, Yucatan
archaeology course

U.S.A., Texas, San Antonio
Radigan Neuhalfen

U.S.A., North Dakota

U.S.A., North Dakota

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Move Over, Batman

"#1. The Black Condor

"Do please sit down, because this one is a doozy. Little Richard Grey was born in Mongolia during a scientific expedition his parents were members of. The expedition was attacked by bandits and everyone died except for baby Richard, who was later found and raised by condors. If huge carrion eating birds don't know how to raise a baby, then who does?

"Not bad for a bird that doesn't even live in Mongolia, or anywhere near Asia for that matter.

"By the way, did we mention that the condors taught him how to fly? Yes, apparently being raised by birds means you can slap aerodynamics in the face.

"Richard only has the power to fly and possibly also the power to eat rotten dead things."

--Juan Arteaga, "The 7 Crappiest 'Super Heroes' in Comic Book History,"


"Lenin Bagsh"
Ulaanbaatar Hotel
Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar

Non-News - Democratic/Republican National Conventions

"Over time, the heavily scripted four-day affairs have been drained of controversy and spontaneity, offering little news for the media and scarce drama for those watching on TV.

"'The conventions are as dull as dishwater,' said Larry Sabato, a political-science professor at the University of Virginia. 'It amazes me that anybody watches them anymore....'

"In 1996, veteran journalist Ted Koppel famously yanked his Nightline crew out of the Republican convention, saying there was no news."


Friday, August 15, 2008

2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

"Calling itself the RNC Flight Crew, it aims to organize a mass exodus from the metro area the week of the national convention.

"'We’re hoping to get a minimum of 30,000 residents to simulate an emergency evacuation of the city the first four days of September,' explains Eric Stoner, one of the co-founders of the RNC Flight Crew. 'We’d like to have 15,000 refugees escaping north along Highway 61 and another 15,000 heading southwest along 169....'

"'Our objective is to recreate scenes reminiscent of the evacuation of Paris or Warsaw in advance of the German Army’s approach,' Stoner says.

"Stoner says the idea for the Convention Exodus came after he and other organizers of the RNC Flight Crew studied The Society of the Spectacle during a community education class offered at Macalester College last year. Penned by Guy Debord, a French intellectual credited with co-founding the anarcho-artistic movement, the Situationist International, The Society of the Spectacle is credited with helping incite the 1968 uprisings in Paris.

"'Essentially, the Republican National Convention – like the Democratic National Convention – is nothing more than an empty spectacle, a perfect reflection of the empty spectacle of a consumer culture that has commodified every aspect of life, including politics,' Stoner claims. 'Nothing of note, or even of minor news value, is going to occur at the Xcel Center during that time.'

"But despite that, he says, 'The RNC is going to attract a swarm of 15,000 media people and tens of thousands of demonstrators, all of them drawn like moths to the flame by the chance to be part of the spectacle – and hence make themselves feel as if they are "real." As far as we are concerned, everyone involved in the debacle is part of, rather than a solution to, the stupidity of the society in which we live.'

"'What,' he asks, 'can any sane person do except run away from this kind of craziness?'"


Jorge Luis Borges

"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"In his essay 'El escritor argentino y la tradición' Borges notes that the very absence of camels in the Koran was proof enough that it was an Arabian work, inferring that only someone trying to write an 'Arab' work would purposefully include a camel. He uses this example to illustrate how his dialoguing with universal existential concerns was just as Argentine as writing about gauchos and tangos (both of which he also did)."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Grelling–Nelson paradox

An example of Russell's paradox.

“From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“Suppose one interprets the adjectives 'autological' and 'heterological' as follows:

“An adjective is autological if and only if it describes itself. For example 'short' is autological, since the word 'short' is short. 'English,' 'unhyphenated' and 'pentasyllabic' are also autological.

“An adjective is heterological if and only if it does not describe itself. Hence 'long' is a heterological word, as are 'abbreviated' and 'monosyllabic.'

“All adjectives, it would seem, must be either autological or heterological, for each adjective either describes itself, or it doesn't. The Grelling–Nelson paradox arises when we consider the adjective 'heterological'....

“Is 'heterological' a heterological word? If the answer is 'yes', 'heterological' is autological (leading to a contradiction). If the answer is 'no', 'heterological' is heterological (again leading to a contradiction).”

Dead Horse

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Conqueror

"When you think of Genghis Khan (Mongolian, conqueror of half the known world, shrewd military tactician, Mongolian, mass murderer, Mongolian, vengeful, Mongolian) who do you picture? John Wayne, right? Exactly. And that's why he was an inspired casting choice for Howard Hughes' 1956 epic The Conqueror. Speaking before the film was made, Wayne said 'the way the screenplay reads it's a cowboy picture, and that's how I'm going to play Genghis Khan. I see him as a gunfighter.'"

--Danny Harkins,

Sunday, August 10, 2008

1908 and 1912 Pattern British Army Cavalry Swords

"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"The 1908 Pattern Cavalry Trooper's Sword (and the 1912 Pattern, the equivalent for officers) was the last service sword issued to the cavalry of the British Army. It is widely considered the most effective cavalry sword ever designed, although ironically its introduction occurred as swords finally became obsolete as military weapons....

"King Edward VII described the sword as 'hideous' when the pattern was submitted to him for formal approval, and had to be persuaded of its utility before eventually conceding the point."

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Ice Storage

"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"In 400 BC Persian engineers had already mastered the technique of storing ice in the middle of summer in the desert. The ice was brought in during the winters from nearby mountains in large quantities, and stored in specially designed, naturally cooled refrigerators called yakhchal (meaning ice pits). A large underground space with thick insulated walls was connected to a qanat, and a system of windcatchers was used to draw cool subterranean air up from the qanat to maintain temperatures inside the space at low levels, even during hot summer days. As a result, the ice melted slowly and ice was available year-round."

Golden Gate Bridge


They say roses are red
And violets are purple
Sugar is sweet
And so is maple syrple

--Roger Miller, "Dang Me"

The Last Ten Years

On 1998 August 5, I began recording where I spend each night. Of the 3,655 nights from 1998 August 5 to 2008 August 5, the top twenty locales account for 3,475 nights:

1. Mongolia ... 1,184
2. U.S.A., California ... 675
3. U.S.A., North Dakota ... 467
4. U.S.A., Minnesota ... 325
5. Russia ... 182
6. U.S.A., Louisiana ... 112
7. U.S.A., Colorado ... 104
8. U.S.A., Arizona ... 75
9. Canada ... 53
10. Costa Rica ... 43
11. Mexico ... 38
12. U.S.A., Wisconsin ... 36
13. U.S.A., Washington ... 31
14. France ... 29
15. U.K., Bermuda ... 28
16. Australia ... 22
17. Panama ... 20
18. Israel ... 19
19. Pacific Ocean ... 17
20. Guatemala ... 15

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Gorge in the Mountains

The sun hides not the ocean, which is the dark side of this earth, and which is two thirds of this earth. So, therefore, that mortal man who hath more of joy than sorrow in him, that mortal man cannot be true--not true, or undeveloped. With books the same. The truest of all men was the Man of Sorrows, and the truest of all books is Solomon's, and Ecclesiastes is the fine hammered steel of woe. "All is vanity." ALL. This wilful world hath not got hold of unchristian Solomon's wisdom yet. But he who dodges hospitals and jails, and walks fast crossing graveyards, and would rather talk of operas than hell; calls Cowper, Young, Pascal, Rousseau, poor devils all of sick men; and throughout a care-free lifetime swears by Rabelais as passing wise, and therefore jolly;--not that man is fitted to sit down on tomb-stones, and break the green damp mould with unfathomably wondrous Solomon....

And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.

--Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Yeasty Ferment

From regarding me curiously, he turned his head and glanced out over the leaden sea to windward. A bleakness came into his eyes, and the lines of his mouth grew severe and harsh.

“Then to what end?” he demanded abruptly, turning back to me. “If I am immortal—why?”

I halted. How could I explain my idealism to this man?

“What do you believe, then?” I countered.

“I believe that life is a mess,” he answered promptly. “It is like yeast, a ferment, a thing that moves and may move for a minute, an hour, a year, or a hundred years, but that in the end will cease to move.”

“But the hopelessness of it,” I protested.

“I agree with you,” he answered. “Then why move at all, since moving is living? Without moving and being part of the yeast there would be no hopelessness. But—and there it is—we want to live and move, though we have no reason to, because it happens that it is the nature of life to live and move. It is because of this life that is in you that you dream of your immortality. The life that is in you wants to go on being alive for ever. Bah!”

--Jack London, The Sea-Wolf

Courrier des steppes

"Le Courrier des steppes est une association franco-mongole dont l’objectif est de mener des actions sociales en Mongolie."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Joseph Dwyer Has Killed Himself

Ali Sattar and Joseph Dwyer
Iraq, Mishkab
2003 March 25
photo by Warren Zinn

"I don't know that the photograph of Joseph was the best one I ever took, or my favorite, but I think it represented something important. At the time, it represented hope. Hope that what we were doing as a nation in Iraq was the right thing. Hope that our soldiers were helping people. Hope that soldiers such as Joseph cared more about human life than anything else.

"But now when I look at the picture, it doesn't feel hopeful. It makes me realize that so many soldiers are physically torn and in such mental anguish that for some of them, hope has turned to hopelessness."

--Warren Zinn in the Washington Post

Alliteration lifts learning

"Studies have shown that alliteration can act as a better tool for memory than both imagery and meaning...

"Alliteration's affect on memory is not lessened by either the type of work it is used in or whether or not the literature is read silently or aloud."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Obliterating People’s Identities

"We steal their hemisphere, kill twenty or so million of them, destroy five hundred separate cultures, herd the survivors onto the worst land we can find, and now we want to name them after ourselves? It’s appalling. Haven’t we done enough damage? Do we have to further degrade them by tagging them with the repulsive name of their conquerors?

"And as far as these classroom liberals who insist on saying 'Native American' are concerned, here’s something they should be told: It’s not up to you to name people and tell them what they ought to be called. If you’d leave the classroom once in a while, you’d find that most Indians are insulted by the term Native American. The American Indian Movement will tell you that if you ask them.

"The phrase 'Native American' was invented by the U.S. government Department of the Interior in 1970. It is an inventory term used to keep track of people. It includes Hawaiians, Eskimos, Samoans, Micronesians, Polynesians, and Aleuts. Anyone who uses the phrase Native American is assisting the U.S. government in its effort to obliterate people’s true identities.

"Do you want to know what the Indians would like to be called? Their real names: Adirondack, Delaware, Massachuset, Narraganset, Potomac, Illinois, Miami, Alabama, Ottawa, Waco, Wichita, Mohave, Shasta, Yuma, Erie, Huron, Susquehanna, Natchez, Mobile, Yakima, Wallawalla, Muskogee, Spokan, Iowa, Missouri, Omaha, Kansa, Biloxi, Dakota, Hatteras, Klamath, Caddo, Tillamook, Washoe, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca, Laguna, Santa Ana, Winnebago, Pecos, Cheyenne, Menominee, Yankton, Apalachee, Chinook, Catawba, Santa Clara, Taos, Arapaho, Blackfoot, Blackfeet, Chippewa, Cree, Mohawk, Tuscarora, Cherokee, Seminole, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Comanche, Shoshone, Two Kettle, Sans Arc, Chiricahua, Kiowa, Mescalero, Navajo, Nez Perce, Potawatomi, Shawnee, Pawnee, Chickahominy, Flathead, Santee, Assiniboin, Oglala, Miniconjou, Osage, Crow, Brule, Hunkpapa, Pima, Zuni, Hopi, Paiute, Creek, Kickapoo, Ojibwa, Shinnicock."

--George Carlin, Brain Droppings, 1997

Pasquali Photography

Thursday, July 03, 2008


"Russia has never once in a thousand years transferred power between rival political factions by means of an election. Russia is still singing the music of the anthem of the USSR, a totally failed state that caused the deaths of far more Russians than all the country's foreign enemies combined."

--La Russophobe

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

You Are Capable of Atrocity

"There are people who insist that they could never kill anyone, but they invariably add a telling caveat: 'Unless, of course, a person tried to harm someone I love.' So the resource of violence is in everyone; all that changes is our view of the justification....

"We use the word inhuman to describe these murderers, but I know them both, and they are not inhuman--they are precisely human....

"When a bank robber shoots a security guard, we all understand why, but with aberrant killers, people resist the concept of a shared humanness. That's because US and THEM is far more comfortable....

"Judgment results in a label, like calling Robert Bardo a monster and leaving it at that. Such labels allow people to comfortably think it's all figured out. The labels also draw a bold line between that 'wacko' and us, but perception carries you much further.

"Scientists, after all, do not observe a bird that destroys its own eggs and say, 'Well, that never happens; this is just a monster.' Rather, they correctly conclude that if this bird did it, others might, and that there must be some purpose in nature, some cause, some predictability."

--Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear, 1997

Thursday, June 19, 2008


"In the fourth part of the Discourse, Descartes returns to the main thrust of his development of a philosophy. He starts with his methodical doubt: I doubt, or negate, everything that cannot be proven in a mathematical way, he says. So what can Descartes prove? Everything is taken to be false. But Descartes, the person, is doing this doubting. So one thing can be deduced as true: Descartes exists. Otherwise, he could not doubt. Thus, from the negation of everything, a proof is derived of the existence of the person doing the doubting. This is the most brilliant deduction in the history of Western thought."

--Amir D. Aczel, Descartes' Secret Notebook: A True Tale of Mathematics, Mysticism, and the Quest to Understand the Universe, 2005

Friday, June 06, 2008

Absinthe Drinker

Piják absintu
Viktor Oliva
1861-1928 Czech

"I can imagine you as a She-Hulk, naked and entreating and sitting on the damn table."

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Forer Effect

"The Forer effect refers to the tendency of people to rate sets of statements as highly accurate for them personally even though the statements could apply to many people.

"Psychologist Bertram R. Forer found that people tend to accept vague and general personality descriptions as uniquely applicable to themselves without realizing that the same description could be applied to just about anyone. Consider the following as if it were given to you as an evaluation of your personality.

"You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself. While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them. You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage. Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You also pride yourself as an independent thinker; and do not accept others' statements without satisfactory proof. But you have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be rather unrealistic.

"Forer gave a personality test to his students, ignored their answers, and gave each student the above evaluation. He asked them to evaluate the evaluation from 0 to 5, with '5' meaning the recipient felt the evaluation was an 'excellent' assessment and '4' meaning the assessment was 'good.' The class average evaluation was 4.26. That was in 1948. The test has been repeated hundreds of time with psychology students and the average is still around 4.2 out of 5, or 84% accurate."

--The Skeptic's Dictionary

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

from the Mongolian Red Cross Society

"Let’s help people affected by earthquake in China.

"The 8.0 magnitude earthquake on 12 May devastated eight provinces; Sichuan, (the most severely affected), Gansu, Shaanxi, Chongqing, Yunnan, Shanxi, Guizhou and Hubei. In Sichuan, the total affected area measures 65,000 square kilometres, including Aba, Mianyang, Deyang, Chengdu, Guangyuan, Ya’an municipalities and prefectures. According to the State Council, the most severely damaged areas include 44 counties covering 1,061 townships. Over 10 million people are directly affected in Sichuan.

"The Mongolian Red Cross Society launched internal appeal, taking actions to help for people affected by the earthquake together with warm-hearted people in Mongolia, and the campaign to collect contribution for people in China will be finished on 15 June 2008.

"If you want to contribute for the appeal, you can contact our staff in Mongolian Red Cross Society main office.

"May his future efforts for humanity rise as a flame of hope in the shadowed lives of needy people the world over.

"Best Regards,

"Mr. Sukhragchaa Mijidsuren
International Relations Officer
Mongolian Red Cross Society
Tel/Fax: 976-11-320934
Mobile: 976-99234132


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

"It can only be the thought of verdure to come, which prompts us in the autumn to buy these dormant white lumps of vegetable matter covered by a brown papery skin, and lovingly to plant them and care for them. It is a marvel to me that under this cover they are labouring unseen at such a rate within to give us the sudden awesome beauty of spring flowering bulbs. While winter reigns the earth reposes but these colourless green ideas sleep furiously."

--C.M. Street

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Gates of Hell

The Gates of Hell
Auguste Rodin
1840-1917 French

“Dante is the figure sitting at the top of the gate contemplating the horrors of hell. This figure was later isolated and became Rodin's The Thinker.”

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Google is going to Mars

April 1 is celebrated in Mongolia just as it's celebrated in the West. I learned that yesterday. Why do Mongolians celebrate April Fools?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Twenty-six tenses in English

In the American Cultural Center a couple weeks ago, picked up a copy of an “English Tenses Timeline Chart.” The chart lists 26 verb tenses.

“Past Perfect Simple Passive: The painting had been sold twice before it was destroyed.

“Future Perfect Continuous Active: She will have been working here for two years by the end of next month.”

Friday, March 21, 2008

reality for what it is

Lautréamont forces his readers to stop taking their world for granted. He shatters the complacent acceptance of the reality proposed by their cultural traditions and makes them see that reality for what it is: an unreal nightmare all the more hair-raising because the sleeper believes he is awake.”

--Alex De Jonge

Thursday, March 20, 2008

one word, two opposing usages


1. to represent in drawing or painting.
2. to portray in words; describe.

Confessional State

“From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“A confessional state is the concept that a particular government would adhere to a specific creed. Prior to the 20th century, many nations were confessional states and enshrined in their respective constitutions or by decree of the monarch, that the state acknowledged one official religion, even if other religions were permitted to freely practice. In Europe, especially in the time of monarchs, confessional states were common. In the American colonies, prior to the Revolutionary War, most colonies were confessional states in that each colony had an official religion. Subsequently, even after the American Revolution, most of the newly-formed American states had official, tax-funded, state churches the last of which lingered until the 1840s. The confessional state is largely gone in the Western World, although in the Middle East, the confessional state, particularly in Islamic nations, is still quite common.”

Monday, March 17, 2008

In Your Own Time

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

George Berkeley

“He was an idealist: everything that exists is either a mind or depends for its existence upon a mind. He was an immaterialist: matter does not exist. He accepted the seemingly outrageous position that ordinary physical objects are composed solely of ideas, which are inherently mental. He wrote on vision, mathematics, Newtonian mechanics, economics, and medicine as well as philosophy. In his own time, his most often-read works concerned the medicinal value of tar-water.”

Spam and “The Internet as a Solipsistic Phenomenon”

So I got some spam. But I registered the blog at their website. First in Mongolia.


“Your blog Adventuria caught our attention. I'm the CEO of a recently launched startup for bloggers. We are searching the internet for the world's best blogs by geography, and we found yours for Mongolia. I would like to invite you to our site which plots the content of the internet on an interactive map of the world. VerveEarth is an entirely new way to surf the net. It shows spatial and geographic connections that a blog search engine could never reveal.

“The site is

“Kind Regards,

VerveEarth automatically added to Blogger a sidebar widget: “Top 10000 Blog.” It doesn't look like VerveEarth has 10,000 blogs registered yet. But I think their widget with its sadly optimistic hit counter at the top of the sidebar contrasts nicely with the “This Page Is Applied Solipsism” link at the bottom of the sidebar:

“But solipsism is also a very dangerous idea. If one gets too indulged into it he might get carried away. If taken very serious and if you believe in it and think about it too much, the effects are just like other drugs.

“Sure, there are many who disagree with the idea of solipsism, and they have good arguments, too. But even if one plays a little with the idea but generally rejects it he has to agree that in everyday life there can occur solipsistic everyday effects. Again and again you might ask yourself: what is wrong here? . . .am I the only sentient being here? Are these people really existing? Does anything really exist? Am I the only one to notice something?

“And this is where the Internet comes into play. With so many dead links and wasted bandwidth, illogic, faulty search engines, general information overflow - no, information landslide - no one will notice you and your page no matter how nice, intelligent or wholesome it might (or might not) be. And, after all, nobody is really looking for your page, anyhow. So why did you put it up, then?

“The only logic answer to it is, frankly, that you put it up primarily for yourself. The only real visitor will be you. You are going to enjoy your pages, laugh at your jokes, find and fix a bug or check your links and advices. No one takes notice of it but you.

“You have to admit, whether you like it or not and no matter if you believe in solipsism or not, that your page therefore constitutes an actual occurrence of real, Applied Solipsism. Since you are the only person that notices your page, if it weren't for you noone would experience it and therefore it would not exist. The page exists only in your own solipsistic imagination, because if only you experience it who can tell if it really exists? . . .

“But this campaign and its ribbon might also fit you because of its enormous humoristic, absurd potential. Held to its own words, the campaign that ‘exterminates any and all other campaigns’ because it denies the very existence of any sentient outside world is completely useless and self-denying in itself, because where there is no audience, why should there be a campaign to convince it of its non-existence?”

stand on the utility sink

“His undershirt is wet; he can feel the sweat rolling from his underarms. He sits on the step with the empty glass in his hand and watches the shadows fill up the yard. He stretches, wipes his face. He listens to traffic on the highway and considers whether he should go to the basement, stand on the utility sink, and hang himself with his belt.”

--Raymond Carver, “Are These Actual Miles?,” 1972

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mongol Shuudan

The logo of the Russian anarcho-punk rock band Mongol Shuudan.

In Mongolian, “Mongol Shuudan” means “Mongolian Postal Service.”

Their music is inspired by the history of the anarchist forces of Nestor Makhno (the “Black Army,” which fought against both the Whites and the Reds) in the Russian Civil War.

Their name was inspired by a postage stamp.

Hopscotch to Oblivion

Hopscotch to oblivion
Spain, Barcelona, 2003
Andy Wright