Friday, December 25, 2009

on the side of the underprivileged

“In a discussion on BBC Radio Ulster in August P A MacLochlainn said that in his view the details of Jesus' life as presented in the Bible led him to conclude that he was a homosexual.

“'I believe that a 33-year-old unmarried rabbi living in Israel, in the time that he was living and having a favourite friend among the apostles called John, was quite clearly a gay man,' he said.

“'I am entitled to that belief as a gay Christian.

“'Christ, if he were alive today, would be on the parade with us, on the side of the underprivileged, not standing superciliously at the side looking on.'”

--Tony Grew, Pink News, 2007 December 31

Saturday, December 19, 2009

the nastier and more dangerous jobs

“'In the same job, doing the same work, who will be paid more, a woman or a man?'

“'The man!'

“If it's true, then employers are practicing shameful sexism.

“But does this even make sense? If employers knew that women would do the exact same job for less money, they'd hire only women...

“Decades ago, Warren Farrell was the rare man who, with Gloria Steinem and other women, went to feminist protests. He's the only man to have been elected three times to the board of the National Organization for Women. He told me, 'I used to wear a "59 cent" pin to protest the fact that men earned a dollar for each 59 cents [now it's 78.5 cents] that women earned for the same work.'

“But then he had his 'eureka' moment.

“WARREN FARRELL: 'I asked myself one day if men are earning a dollar, maybe I'll go out and start an all-female firm and I'll be able to produce products for fifty-nine cents, that male firms are producing for a dollar... I'd get rich! [So I thought] there's something wrong with the statistic.'

“Farrell then spent about fifteen years going over U.S. Census data and other studies. He found that the wage gap exists not because of sexism, but because more men are willing to do certain kinds of jobs. He illustrates this when making speeches.

“He asks people to stand up if they work more than forty hours a week, or, 'if you worked in a field that exposed you to the wind, the rain, and the snow for at least two years of your life...' He goes on to list some of the nastier and more dangerous jobs.

“Again and again more men stand. 'That's why men earn more,' says Farrell. Men take jobs that are more likely to require longer hours, longer commuting times, safety risks, and frequent travel. Those jobs pay more because fewer people want to do them.

“It's not sexism, he said, it's just supply and demand. Women make less because they want different things.

“WARREN FARRELL: 'The women themselves say they're far more likely to care about flexibility. The men say: I'm far more likely to care about money.'”

--John Stossel, Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Why Everything You Know Is Wrong, 2006

Monday, December 14, 2009

niche political games

"It was the British who developed the idea of the board game as an instrument of moral instruction and exported it to America. There, it was adapted to promote the American Dream of free enterprise and economic success.

"This crusading element in board games is perhaps best exemplified by the best-selling game in history - Monopoly - which celebrated wealth and avarice in the wake of the Great Depression. Ironically, this most capitalist of games was derived from a radical socialist game first published in Britain in 1913....

"The British continue to produce niche political games like War on Terror which plays on satire, but mainstream British games designers have joined the computer games revolution."

--BBC Four Programmes: Games Britannia - Monopolies and Mergers

Sunday, December 13, 2009

the graves we lie in

Earth gets its price for what Earth gives us;
The beggar is taxed for a corner to die in,
The priest hath his fee who comes and shrives us,
We bargain for the graves we lie in...

--James Russell Lowell, "The Vision of Sir Launfal"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter Night

"There is a time of apprehension which begins with the beginning of darkness, and to which only the speech of love can lend security."

--Kay Boyle, "Winter Night"

Monday, December 07, 2009

Linus Pauling, 1962 Nobel Peace Prize laureate

1945 March 7, Los Angeles Examiner:

"Jap Flag Painted on Garage Door

"Altadena, March 6--'Americans die but we love Japs.'

"On the walls of the garage at the home of Dr. Linus Pauling, Caltech chemistry professor, last night were emblazoned those words. Near by, also in red paint was a crude Jap flag.

"Dr. Pauling, developer and chairman of the chemistry and chemical engineering department at Caltech, recently hired a 24-year-old Japanese-American from the relocation center at Hart Mountain to do gardening work for him.

"The young Japanese-American, George Miniaki, was born in Gardena and is a graduate of Monrovia High School. His parents are still at the relocation center.

"Said Dr. Pauling:

"'I do not know who is responsible for this un-American act. I suspect, however, that this trespass on our home was carried out by one or more of those misguided people who believe that American citizens should be persecuted in the same way that the Nazis have persecuted the Jewish citizens of Germany.'"

towards 1941 December 7: weep on the shoulders

"Let us begin with a short and elementary lesson in practical economics.

"The Japanese, cooped up on their little island, and as prolific as Italians, need more land. All the pretty words in the world and all the treaties in the world and all the well-meant speeches of all the well-meaning old ladies and gentlemen in the world won't change this fact....

"They live in a country that is smaller than California (155,652 square miles for California and 148,756 square miles for Japan) and of these only 16,000,000 acres can be used for agriculture, which is less than 2% of all the arable land of America. If you want the comparison to come a little nearer home, it is a trifle less than the improved farmlands of New York State alone. Even with the help of one of the best staffs of scientific agricultural experts to be found anywhere in the world, you will see at a glance what sort of problem it is that faces these poor island folk. Living so near the sea-shore they would of course fish; but although they have now reached the point where they are raising certain sorts of fish in the muddy water of their rice fields, the difficulty remains unsolved and unsolvable in view the fact that the population increases by more than 650,000 people a year.

"It was inevitable therefore that Japan should look for more territory; and it was only natural that first of all she should think of the badly administered and sadly neglected lands that lay just across the China Sea.... The road to Manchuria was indicated by the land bridge of the Korean peninsula from which the mainland of Japan was separated by the narrow Strait of Korea. This strait is only 102 miles wide and is conveniently divided into halves by the Tsushima islands, those islands near which the Japanese fleet destroyed the Russian squadron in the year 1905, and killed Russia as a possible rival in eastern Asia....

"The immediate causes for a war are rarely interesting. It is the real underlying motives that count. In this case, as in the case of the expedition of 1592, they were to be found directly and absolutely in the necessity of the Japanese government to provide its rapidly increasing population with food.

"As soon as Japan had defeated Russia and had driven the Muscovite troops back from the Yalu River, the river that separates Korea from Manchuria, Korea became a Japanese protectorate. In 1910 it became a part of the Japanese Empire quite as much as Formosa, which the Japanese had taken from the Chinese in 1895, or the southern half of the island of Sakhalin, which they had taken from the Russians in the year 1905 in lieu of a war indemnity. Today already half a million Japanese have moved in among the twenty million Koreans. The rest will follow in due course of time.

"As for Manchuria, it had long been a bone of contention between the two nations that fought for supremacy in the northern half of the Pacific. After the Peace of Portsmouth, which made an end to the Russo-Japanese war, the fate of the country was sealed....

"Many people seem to experience a profound indignation at what they are inclined to denounce as a brutal expression of 'Japanese ambition'. I would rather call them 'Japanese necessities'. In matters of international policy, a certain healthy egoism is rather a desirable quality. Japan has got to find an outlet for the extra people at home. It is finding such an outlet in northern Asia, in a part of the world that is very lightly populated, and that has been accustomed to such outrageous forms of government that the inhabitants cannot possibly be worse off now than they were ever before.

"If this northern Asiatic safety-valve did not exist, the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Australia, New Zealand and the western coast of America would be forever exposed to a Japanese invasion and we would be obliged to station a battle-ship in front of every Polynesian island lest it be towed away over night by a Japanese cruiser.

"On the whole, the present arrangement seems much more practical. Those who feel inclined to shed tears at these callous and selfish utterances, are politely requested to weep on the shoulders of our own Indians."

--Hendrik van Loon, Van Loon's Geography: The Story of the World We Live In, 1932

Dolma Ling Convent fire

"Hi guys,

"Just seeing news that the Dolma Ling nunnery in Ulaanbaatar suffered a major fire. I'm just telling everyone I know who's been there or might have some particular sympathy, so maybe we can get some donations flowing their way to rebuild next year. So heartbreaking.

"Yours in the Dharma,


"Friday morning, about 4AM, fire destroyed the main building of the Dolma Ling Nunnery that housed the kitchen, dinning room and was also home for several of the eldest nuns. Fire officials are still determining whether the fire was due to shoddy electrical wiring (a problem in developing countries due to poor construction standards) or the real possibility that it was deliberately set. It is a miracle that no one was hurt, especially due to the fact that the eldest nun, over 95 years old, had to escape by climbing through a window that fortunately had no bars (most first-floor windows in Ulaanbaatar are barred). The building is a total loss but it might have been partially saved except the night watchman was no where to be found and he had the gate key that the fire department needed to get into the property (the fire trucks arrived within three minutes after getting the call about the fire). All this with night-time temperatures reaching -30F."

Sunday, December 06, 2009

a world about whose values he was so often skeptical

"Melville himself said in Moby Dick, 'to write a mighty book you must have a mighty theme.' Here he had it -- the rebellious struggle of Captain Ahab against the overwhelming, mysterious vastness of the universe and its awesome, sometimes merciless forces....

"What baffled its early readers was the book's wild extravagances of mood and language, its effect of what the modern critic Van Wyck Brooks calls 'a shredded Shakespearean play.' Melville confided to Hawthorne that it had been 'broiled in hell-fire,' referring to the turbulence of his own spirit from which the book sprang. Moby Dick was too powerful for the readers of its time....

"Melville passed the last twenty years or so of his life in almost total obscurity, withdrawn from literary circles. Back in New York, for nineteen years he was a clerk in a customhouse. His long-agitated spirit finally seemed calm. He had withdrawn himself from a world about whose values he was so often skeptical."

--Edmund Fuller and B. Jo Kinnick, Adventures in American Literature: Laureate Edition, 1963

Monday, November 30, 2009

Young Mongolian American Professionals

“To unite Mongolian-American active professionals across the United States and Mongolia by providing development and information sharing opportunities to create positive change to the community.”

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Hajj

Muhammad at the Kaaba
illustration in Siyer-i Nebi (The Life of the Prophet)
ca. 1595 Ottoman

Monday, November 23, 2009

like the despairing sounds of futile existence

"Short films are lithe and trim athletes; TV series and feature films, meanwhile, are colossal lardarses: their bodies great acres of blubber, their pendulous jowls resembling saggy, blue-veined buttocks, their limbs ever-shifting oceans of lumpy porridge, their sugar-encrusted maws forever agape as they release low, continuous bellows directed at the heavens like the despairing sounds of futile existence."

--Toon Zone, "Toons of the 2000s: Top 5 Animated Shorts," 2009 November 23

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Haditha Massacre

On 2005 November 19, in the city of Haditha in Iraq, United States Marines murdered 24 people, many of them children.

Abdul Hamid Hassan Ali, 76 - grandfather, father, husband
Khamisa Tuma Ali, 66 - wife
Walid Abdul Hamid Hassan, 35
Jahid Abdul Hamid Hassan, middle-aged
Asma Salman Rasif, 32
Rashid Abdul Hamid, 30
Abdullah Walid, 4
Younis Salim Khafif, 43 - husband, father
Aida Yasin Ahmed, 41 - wife, mother
Noor Younis Salim, 14 - daughter
Sabaa Younis Salim, 10 - daughter
Muhammad Younis Salim, 8 - son
Zainab Younis Salim, 5 - daughter
Aisha Younis Salim, 3 - daughter
girl, 1
Jamal Ahmed, 41 - brother
Marwan Ahmed, 28 - brother
Chasib Ahmed, 27 - brother
Qahtan Ahmed, 24 - brother
Ahmed Khidher - taxi driver
Akram Hamid Flayeh - university student
Khalid Ayada al-Zawi - university student
Wajdi Ayada al-Zawi - university student
Mohammed Battal Mahmoud - university student

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Edurelief: Laptops for Teachers

"We are proud to announce that Edurelief has just launched an exciting new program in our ongoing endeavor to promote education in Mongolia. Laptops for Teachers is a program that provides teachers with laptops at 0% interest loans to aid them in their efforts of educating Mongolia's youth. We've been dreaming about this program for a long time and are beside ourselves with excitement that it is finally happening. We delivered our very first laptop this month and are working hard to put together a pilot program for 10 other teachers. We've never seen 10 applicant spots fill so fast, demand is huge.

"Meet Natsagdorj, the first teacher to benefit from our Laptops for Teachers program. Natsagdorj is a 62-year-old Mongolian language teacher and one of only two teachers in the entire country that has a doctorate in teaching Traditional Mongolian Script. Natsagdorj has had a great need for a laptop to continue his research and textbook writing so he can pass his knowledge onto other teachers and students but until becoming a part Edurelief's Laptops for Teachers program, was unable to afford one. Thanks to our 0% interest loan and the ability to pay over an extended period of time, he chose to split up his payments over the next six months and has already started working on a new textbook. It is our hope that with seed money from investors we will be able to provide many more teachers in Mongolia with laptops and thus vastly improving their ability to prepare lessons, share curriculum, and promote education.

"Help us invest in Mongolian education by helping teachers to purchase laptops. These teachers are working face-to-face with children daily and being able to do research, plan lessons, and write and share curriculum makes a huge impact on the development of education. A $500 donation covers the cost of a new laptop, as well as shipping and customs fees related to getting the laptop into the hands of a teacher. This cost is still well below market price in Mongolia and since teachers can split up their loan into as many as 12 monthly payments it's an opportunity that many will benefit from. After the loan is fully repaid we simply use those funds to purchase another laptop. What does this mean for you? It means that over the course of several years, your $500 donation is reused over and over again, aiding teachers and promoting education in Mongolia. Help make a difference today, invest in a teacher."

--Edurelief Staff

Lord Dunsany's Chess

Chess variant by the British weird-fiction writer Lord Dunsany:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

all collapsed

"All collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago."

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

Friday, November 13, 2009

"Joy" by Tomi Joy

"Bridesmaid" by Sara H

"CDR photo re-touch" by christiane robinson

"Never Hesitate" by jenni tapanila

"ocean 118" by Hengki Koentjoro

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

red piranha (Serrasalmus rhombeus)


"One morning, deep in the Amazon jungle, a native woman cut her hand while washing clothes on the flat stones set in the bank of the small stream bordering her village. Forgetful, she waded into the dark water to wash away the blood. Suddenly, the stream came alive, churning with piranhas in a hungry frenzy. Hearing her screams, the villagers rushed to her rescue, but in the brief moment it took to reach her, these ferocious fish had reduced her body to shreds. Hundreds such stories are told of the fanatical fury of these fish, but oddly, the piranha in captivity undergoes a strange transformation, and becomes almost a different fish. Alone or with only one or two others, it becomes nervous and jittery, easily frightened by a sudden movement outside the aquarium tank. Still capable of slicing a piece off another fish in the tank, the lonely piranha seldom demonstrates the boldness it possesses when surrounded by others of its kind."

--Animal World in Color, Volume 8 - Hunters: Birds, Fish, and Amphibians, edited by Maurice Burton, Childrens Press: Chicago, 1969

piranha or caribe (Serrasalmus piraya)


"The most ferocious of all living creatures exists not on land, but in the fresh waters of South American rivers. It is the much-dreaded piranha or caribe, that is irresistibly attracted to blood. No animal, however big, or even a man attempting to ford a piranha-infested stream, can hope to survive if their skin is even slightly scratched. The piranha will instantly attack, and scores, even hundreds of its kind, will rush to the kill, literally slicing their victim to shreds in a matter of minutes. An authentic instance occurred in eastern Brazil, where a horse including its saddle was destroyed in five minutes. This butchery is easy for the killer because its teeth are serrated and sharp enough to cut through flesh and sinew at one snap. Even if a victim drags himself ashore, the piranha still clings, viciously biting to the last moment of its life. Anglers fishing for piranha, for the sake of its delicate flesh, have to use a specially strong hook and line. Ordinary tackle would be snapped like cotton."

--Animal World in Color, Volume 8 - Hunters: Birds, Fish, and Amphibians, edited by Maurice Burton, Childrens Press: Chicago, 1969

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Urangoo Baatarkhuyag needs helps to fight leukemia

"Urangoo Baatarkhuyag was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia on Sept 5, 2009. She came to Provo, Utah from Mongolia when she was just 18 years old to attend Utah Valley University. A little less than a year ago, she was awarded a Bachelor's degree in Engineering/Drafting and graduated with honors....

"The blood test results showed leukemia cancer cells spread in the blood stream and deteriorated her immunity. After chemotherapy treatments during these last few days at the LDS hospital in Salt Lake City, the cancerous cells are still found active and further damaged the chromosomes. She is predicted to live few months unless she undergoes an immediate bone marrow transplant which is an extremely expensive procedure....

"She has about 60% survival rate if the procedure is carried out. Our goal is to raise $350,000 to cover the initial cost. She needs our help and generosity to live and smile again. Please, give her the gift of life and donate what you can; every dollar will count and make a difference. Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity."

Saturday, November 07, 2009

clear as water, stiff as earth, high as a rock when the hour nears

Oh, I am drunk
When the hour nears, you will die within a day and a night
The body as soft as cotton and then as hard as wood
Your eyes clear as water and stiff as earth
Your belongings heaped up high as a rock
Will be covered with dust
The very dearest and closest friends turn into demons
Your serenity, burning like fire will collapse like ash...
Your fame like the wind will fade, like the rainbow
And one will throw away like an old fur
What you have treasured like gold

--Danzan Ravjaa, in History of Mongolian Literature by Walther Heissig

Friday, November 06, 2009

nothing is momentous; soon

"Practically all writers and artists are aware of their destiny and see themselves as actors in a fateful drama. With me, nothing is momentous: obscure youth, glorious old age, fateful coincidences--nothing really matters. I have written a number of good sentences. I have kept free of delusions. I know I am going to die soon."

--Eric Hoffer, 1977

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ways to Celebrate Halloween

"Egg or toilet paper your own house, then, stand outside and angrily blame it on every innocent person who walks by.

"Gather some friends and go Halloween caroling. Instead of singing Christmas songs, knock on doors and try out an A cappella version of Cypress Hill's 'Insane In The Brain.'

"Wait at home for trick or treaters and instead of giving out candy, hold out a big bowl filled with some delicious punch. They have no cups! What are they gonna do without cups? Hilarious."

--PDX Magazine, 2008 October

Monday, October 26, 2009

First Lovecraft Reading in Mongolia

HALLOWEEN SPECIAL at Cafe Amsterdam in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia:
H.P. Lovecraft Horror Stories as read by Radigan Neuhalfen

"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."
--H.P. Lovecraft

Thrill to a selection of H.P. Lovecraft's sanity-shattering horror stories in a special Halloween live reading by Radigan Neuhalfen.

H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) is the most influential American horror writer of the Twentieth Century and the acknowledged heir to Edgar Allan Poe. Through his stories, which blended gothic horror with elements of science fiction, Lovecraft presented a stark and compelling view of the universe as something incomprehensibly and horrifyingly vast, within which great forces operate that are essentially indifferent--and perhaps even malignant--towards humanity, a view that has come to be known as "cosmic horror."

Everybody is welcome Wednesday October 28 at 8PM in Cafe Amsterdam for a very special and thrilling evening.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

With every influx of light comes new danger.

"Or do men desire the more substantial and permanent grandeur of genius? Neither has this an immunity. He who by force of will or of thought is great and overlooks thousands, has the responsibility of overlooking. With every influx of light comes new danger. Has he light?--he must bear witness to the light, and always outrun that sympathy which gives him such keen satisfaction, by his fidelity to new revelations of the incessant soul. He must hate father and mother, wife and child. Has he all that the world loves and admires and covets?--he must cast behind him their admiration and afflict them by faithfulness to his truth and become a byword and a hissing."

--Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Compensation," Essays, 1841

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

imponderable thoughts

"Oh! how immaterial are all materials! What things real are there, but imponderable thoughts?"

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

Sunday, September 27, 2009

"Calvin and Hobbes": a Critique of Society's Values

"Although ethical discussions are not a particularly popular subject for the mass media, many people who might rarely, if ever, have been exposed to ethical arguments (much less challenged by them) were exposed to them through this comic strip."

--Alisa White Coleman, "'Calvin and Hobbes': a Critique of Society's Values," Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 2000

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Charismatic Cults

In defining Max Weber's concept of "Charismatic Authority," you cannot go wrong in providing Jesus and Hitler as your only two visual examples:

"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"In his writings about charismatic authority, Weber applies the term charisma to 'a certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These are such as are not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as of divine origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them the individual concerned is treated as a leader...' (Maximilian Weber, Theory of Social and Economic Organization, 1922, translated by A.R. Anderson and Talcott Parsons, 1947)

"Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber to be an example of a charismatic religious leader.

"Hitler is also considered to be an example of a charismatic leader."

will one day cause great changes in the world

“Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labours and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world. Americans are the western pilgrims, who are carrying along with them that great mass of arts, sciences, vigour, and industry which began long since in the East; they will finish the great circle.”

--Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, “What is an American?”, Letters from an American Farmer, 1782

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Myths and Legends of the Swahili

My favorite stories from Myths and Legends of the Swahili by Jan Knappert, copyright 1970, published by Heinemann Educational Books: London, Nairobi, Ibadan, Lusaka:

A man was travelling along a river; when evening came he sat down for a rest. Suddenly, a spirit flew down from a tree and knocked him on the head. The spirit lifted him up like a dead branch and carried him across the river. There he put him down. The man found himself in a city where all the houses were made of gold. In one of these houses the door was open and a beautiful girl was awaiting him. She welcomed him and he had a wonderful time with her. After some days he felt dizzy in the head. He went to a doctor who gave him medicine to drink. He fell asleep, and when he woke up he was again sitting near the bank of the river.

A certain traveller was on safari in the wilderness, and when night fell he saw no town or village. So he decided to sleep in the bush. As soon as he was asleep, a hyena arrived and started to drag him away by his cloak. He woke up, and when he saw the hyena he leapt up and ran away. He saw a house, went in and shut the door. At first it was dark, then he saw two little flames, then a woman with two candles. She was very beautiful, she smiled and bid him welcome. She gave him a copious meal of meat and fruits; then they slept. The traveller spent many weeks with the good woman and they were very happy. At last the traveller had to go back to his town and his business. He said good-bye to his hostess, and asked her what her name was, so that when he wanted to come back he could ask the people on the road how to find her house. She said: “I am the Hyena.”

Three men were travelling in the wilderness when they discovered they had only one loaf of bread left. They decided it would not be enough for the three of them, so they made an agreement that one man would have all the bread. After much discussion they decided it should be the one who would have the best dream that night.

They settled down for the night, and two of them slept at once. The third one could not sleep as he was plagued by hunger. So he got up and ate the bread. All of it. The next morning his companions rose early and he pretended to be emerging from profound dreams. He asked them at once what dreams they had had.

The first one said: “I dreamt that I saw a golden ladder rising up into the sky. I climbed it, up and up and up, until I reached the gate of Paradise. The gate was at once opened by a beautiful angel who took me by the hand and led me to a hall where there was music and food and feasting. And I was told I could stay there for ever. Alas, it was only a dream.”

The second one said: “I dreamt that an ugly devil arrived, seized me and dragged me down into Hell through a hole in the ground. There, I was locked in chains and shackles and beaten with iron rods. Oh, it was horrible. Thank God it was only a dream. The worst was that I was told I would stay there for all eternity.”

Now the man who had eaten the bread told his companions: “I dreamt that an angel came to me and asked me: 'Have you seen what has happened to your friends?' I said no, I have not. So the angel took me by the hand and flew with me, up towards the stars and into Heaven. There we entered a hall where musicians were playing and where people were eating and feasting, and there I saw you, my friend, sitting on a golden throne and surrounded by beautiful angels. I was then told that you would be staying there until the end of time.

“Next, the angel took me down, down, past the stars and the clouds and into the ground through a narrow passage, until we arrived in Hell. There I saw you, hanging in chains and shackles and being beaten by ugly devils. And I was told you would stay there and never get out. So when I came back here, knowing that neither of you would return, I ate the bread.”

The Dukes of Hazzard at Cracked

"The Dukes of Hazzard was a long-running CBS television show starring a 1969 Dodge Charger and Catherine Bach's ass in short shorts....

"The Duke boys were constantly involved in car chases with the law, even though the authorities chasing them knew exactly who they were and where they lived....

"Sorrell Booke graduated from both Yale and Columbia universities, served the U.S. during the Korean War as a counterintelligence officer, fluently spoke five languages, and once conducted the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Naturally, he is best known for playing Boss Hogg, a greedy fatass in white polyester."


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Health Care

"What Americans often consider a single unique system of health care is an illusion: we exist in a sea of not-so-unique alternatives. Like the citizens of Germany and Japan, workers in the United States share insurance premiums with an employer. Like Canadians, our older, destitute and disabled citizens see private providers with the government paying. Like the British, military veterans and Native Americans receive care in government facilities with the government paying the tab. And like the poor around the world, our uninsured pay cash, finagle charity care, or stay home."

--Abigail Zuger, "One Injury, 10 Countries: A Journey in Health Care," New York Times, 2009 September 14, review of The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T.R. Reid

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lovecraft Film Festival

Oregon, Portland, Hollywood Theatre
2009 October 2-4

Founded in 1995, the "H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival promotes the works of H.P. Lovecraft, literary horror, and weird tales through the cinematic adaptations by professional and amateur filmmakers."

"The only festival that understands."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

if you ponder

"You can't appreciate the beauty of a rose if you ponder that the color red is just the brain's interpretation of a specific wavelength of light with crests that are roughly 700 nanometers apart."

--Joel Achenbach, "The Power of Light," National Geographic, 2001 October

photograph by jules

Thursday, September 10, 2009

one must be

"To cut oneself entirely from one's kind is impossible. To live in a desert one must be a saint."

--Joseph Conrad, Under Western Eyes, 1911

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

a spiritual culture

"'Art is a spiritual culture whose best conceptions are never brought down to the physical plane.' This may have been esoteric philosophy, or it may have been an excuse for indolence--of that intellectual kind that often accompanies great powers."

--Julian Hawthorne, "The Delusion of Ralph Penwyn," 1909

Monday, September 07, 2009

American Samoa

"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"In March 1889, a German naval force invaded a village in Samoa, and by doing so destroyed some American property. Three American warships then entered the Samoan harbor and were prepared to fire on the three German warships found there. Before guns were fired, a typhoon wrecked both the American and German ships. A compulsory armistice was called because of the lack of warships."

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Songs entitled "North Dakota"

"North Dakota" by Lyle Lovett, U.S.A.
album: Joshua Judges Ruth, 1992

The boys from North Dakota
They drink whisky for their fun

"North Dakota" by Thrush Hermit, Canada
album: Sweet Homewrecker, 1997

If it makes you sad
It makes me sadder
If you ever miss me
I will always miss you more
In North Dakota we can only waste our time

"North Dakota" by Kris Delmhorst, U.S.A.
album: Appetite, 1998

And I'm watching your goodbye and I'm trying to cry
Guess I'm not built for this load, guess it's back to the road

So now Delaware is tollbooths, Virginia is twilight
and Michigan's beef jerky in a small boy's hand
and Arkansas's a skinny cop, Oregon is purple hands
and Flagstaff, Arizona is delirium at night

And I love North Dakota 'cause you have never been there
and the days go on for hours and the towns all look the same
and I can ride the back roads and I can walk the main streets
and I could show everyone your picture but they would not know your name
I love, I love, I love
North Dakota

"North Dakota" by Chris Knight, U.S.A.
album: A Pretty Good Guy, 2001

I never should have brought her here
Living’s rough this time of year
Trying to keep food and fire till winter's done
Sometimes she gazed across the plains
With a look that I couldn’t name
And I’d wonder if she’d stay till springtime come

I found her on the first warm day
The rain had washed the snow away
Went for wood and lost her way back home
And I ain’t the kind believes in ghosts
But some nights I get pretty close
When the North Dakota winter moans

"North Dakota" by Hold On Kid, Australia
album: Just For The Record - Demo, 2008

Maybe we should get away
Be ourselves, just the two of us
In your car, we'll drive till the road runs out
We can run forever

Hey and when we get there
We can find a cheap hotel
Where we can hide from the world
We can pretend that we're all alone
And no one else exists

Saturday, September 05, 2009

your notion

The girl wept. Through her tears she said, with a knife for a voice: "If you are a man, you will do it."

"Oh no, lady. Only if I am your notion of a man."

--Tanith Lee, Cyrion, 1982

Friday, September 04, 2009

spiritual over-lord

"The Buddhism of Tibet is not the pure original doctrine of the gentle Indian prince who lived and died six centuries before the birth of Christ. It is the usual degenerate form, full of devils and spooks, and it has forgotten a great many of the noble teachings of the founder of that great Asiatic faith. But Tibet has been a bulwark of Buddhism which has been of great help in preserving that religion against the attacks of the Mohammedans from the west and the pagan creeds of southern India....

"During the reign of Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan and an ardent convert to Buddhism, the abbots of an important Tibetan monastery were recognized as the political rulers of all Tibet. In return for this favor, the new Dalai Lama, in his quality of spiritual over-lord of the whole Buddhist world, officially crowned the Tartar Khan Emperor of Mongolia, just as Pope Leo III had crowned Charlemagne."

--Hendrik van Loon, Van Loon's Geography: The Story of the World We Live In, 1932

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

the ontological argument

"I have never seen anyone die for the ontological argument. Galileo, who held a scientific truth of great importance, abjured it with the greatest ease as soon as it endangered his life.... Whether the earth or the sun revolves around the other is a matter of profound indifference. To tell the truth, it is a futile question. On the other hand, I see many people die because they judge that life is not worth living. I see others paradoxically getting killed for the ideas or illusions that give them a reason for living (what is called a reason for living is also an excellent reason for dying)."

--Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, 1942, translated by Justin O'Brien

Monday, August 31, 2009

Causality Loopy

"Many years from now, a transgalactic civilization has discovered time travel. A deep-thinking temporal engineer wonders what would happen if a time machine were sent back to the singularity from which the big bang emerged. His calculations yield an interesting result: the singularity would be destabilized, producing an explosion resembling the big bang. Needless to say, a time machine was quickly sent on its way."

--Barry Dainton, Time and Space, 1958

Sunday, August 30, 2009

a millisecond prior to impact

"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"The nictitating membrane (from Latin nictare, to blink) is a transparent or translucent third eyelid present in some animals that can be drawn across the eye for protection and to moisten the eye while also keeping visibility....

"Woodpeckers tighten their nictitating membrane a millisecond prior to their beak impacting the trunk of a tree in order to prevent their eyes from leaving their sockets."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Freedom Parade 2009

"I wanna invite you to FREEDOM PARADE 2009 on 12th September on Freedom Square.

"I'm working for MONFEMNET as information manager. We have a youth campaign for Human Rights. The campaign name is "Hands Up 4 Your Rights" ( Our campaign has a lot activities. One of them is FREEDOM PARADE. If u wanna to see last year's parade pictures:

"I hope that you'll participate in our FREEDOM PARADE, and support activity that promotes Human Rights, Freedom, Gender Equality, and Democracy in Mongolia.

"Sincerely, Zola"

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dharma Bums VII

"We gotta go to Berkeley after this and attend a lecture and discussion at the Buddhist Center."

"Aw I don't wanta go to no such thing, I just wanta drink in alleys."

He was really sad about it, and worried about me, but I just went on drinking.

When we got to Alvah's cottage and it was time to leave for the Buddhist Center lecture I said "I'll just sit here and get drunk and wait for you."

"Okay," said Japhy, looking at me darkly. "It's your life."

He was gone for two hours. I felt sad and drank too much and was dizzy. But I was determined not to pass out and stick it out and prove something to Japhy. Suddenly, at dusk, he came running back into the cottage drunk as a hoot owl yelling "You know what happened Smith? I went to the Buddhist lecture and they were all drinking white raw saki out of teacups and everybody got drunk. All those crazy Japanese saints! You were right! It doesn't make any difference! We all got drunk and discussed prajna! It was great!" And after that Japhy and I never had an argument again.

--Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums, 1958

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dharma Bums VI

"I saw there was nothing to do because nothing ever happened, nothing ever would happen, all things were empty light."

--Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums, 1958

Saturday, August 15, 2009

to treat mental diseases

"While investigating Tibetan books in the library of a former lamaistic university of Gandan, I found a book, by Lovsan-Yondon and Tsend-Otcher, entitled in free translation Anatomical Dictionary for Recognizing Various Diseases. It was a typical Tibetan book, printed from woodcuts on long, narrow strips of paper. Each leaf was printed on both sides and each page was from a separately cut wooden plate. In the systematic discussion of the fauna of Tibet and adjacent regions I found on p. 24, in a group of monkeys, an illustration of a wild man. This illustration shows a biped primate standing erect on a rock, with one arm stretched upwards....

"While studying the literature in the central library of the Scientific Committee in Mongolia I found, in the Tibetan department, another, more recent, edition of the above book, printed a century later in Urga (now Ulanbator). The author of this edition was Jambaldorje. An illustration of the above biped primate, along with monkeys, appears in this book also as part of a systematic discussion of Tibetan natural history on p. 119....

"Left of the picture there is a Tibetan text which in free translation runs: 'The wild man lives in the mountains, his origin is close to that of the bear, his body resembles that of man and he has enormous strength. His meat may be eaten to treat mental diseases and his gall cures jaundice.'"

--Emanuel Vlcek, "Old Literary Evidence for the Existence of the 'Snow Man' in Tibet and Mongolia," Man, volume 59, 1959 August, pages 133-134

Friday, August 14, 2009

Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus)


"In Lapland, herds of reindeer on migration swim between the islands, and some never reach the shore. Largest of the species of dogfish that live in the cold oceans near the poles, the giant Greenland shark often exceeds 20 feet in length and frequently weighs over a ton. Fishermen seek it out for the valuable oil found in its liver -- over 30 gallons in a really big one. Though this ferocious predator can swallow a seal or reindeer whole, when caught by man it gives itself up with the meekness of a lamb."

--Animal World in Color, Volume 8 - Hunters: Birds, Fish, and Amphibians, edited by Maurice Burton, Childrens Press: Chicago, 1969

Sunday, August 09, 2009

finally, an epiphany

I have identified what it is that bothers me about the portrayal of gay people in contemporary American comedic movies and television programs. It is straight people pretending to be gay people for a straight audience; it is the emphasizing and exaggerating of stereotyped traits of gay people for the amusement of straight people. It is equivalent to the American minstrel shows of not very long ago, in which white people pretended to be outlandish caricatures of black people for the amusement of white audiences.

It will not be very long before these comedies are looked back upon with the same distaste and shame with which the old minstrel shows are currently looked back upon.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

perception of the universe

"Much of both modern fantasy and modern horror, it seems to me, still deals with the relationship of the ordinary human world with Faerie, the Land Beyond the Hill, the World Beyond the Wood, that land of ghosts and shadows and unearthly Powers that still flickers just beyond the periphery of our bright, tidy, rational modern world... The major difference between the two, I think, is not so much subject matter as Attitude, the prevalent emotional weather or coloring of each....

"Much of modern horror has succumbed to--in fact, wholeheartedly embraced--a numbing sort of nihilism and fashionable designer despair, the message of which seems to be: you can't win, nothing matters, neither ethics nor morals nor religion are an effective guide to behavior, and none of them will save you; you can survive for a while by turning yourself into a savage predator, devoid of remorse or compassion or pity, but there's always a bigger predator in wait somewhere; in the end, the grave will get you, and sometimes you will continue to be flayed and tormented even beyond death. The house always wins, you always lose, and nothing you can do has any significance at all.

"This perception of the universe may be closer to 'reality' than that of fantasy..."

--Gardner Dozois, Modern Classics of Fantasy, 1997

Sunday, August 02, 2009

to be an American

“Sarah!” she called. “Sarah, do come and meet young Mr. Mathews, who wants to be called Warren.”

A tall, pretty girl turned from a group of other drinkers to smile at him, extending her hand, but when Marjorie Blaine said “He’s an American,” the girl’s smile froze and her hand fell.

“Oh,” she said. “How nice.” And she turned away again.

It wasn’t a good time to be an American in London. Eisenhower had been elected and the Rosenbergs killed; Joseph McCarthy was on the rise, and the war in Korea, with its reluctant contingent of British troops, had come to seem as if it might last forever.

--Richard Yates, “Liars in Love,” 1981

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ethics with Calvin and Hobbes

excerpted from Open Questions: Readings for Critical Thinking and Writing edited by Chris Anderson and Lex Runciman, copyright 2005, pages 413-414:

‘Today at school, I tried to decide whether to cheat on my test or not.’

“The creator of the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, Bill Watterson (b. 1958) refused to merchandise his characters. Calvin and Hobbes appeared in more than 2,300 newspapers around the world, and ran from November 1985 through December 1995.

“Calvin: Today at school, I tried to decide whether to cheat on my test or not.
Calvin: I wondered, is it better to do the right thing and fail...or is it better to do the wrong thing and succeed?
Calvin: On the one hand, undeserved success gives no satisfaction. … But on the other hand, well-deserved failure gives no satisfaction either.
Calvin: Of course, most everybody cheats some time or other. People always bend the rules if they think they can get away with it. … Then again, that doesn't justify my cheating.
Calvin: Then I thought, look, cheating on one little test isn't such a big deal. It doesn't hurt anyone. … But then I wondered if I was just rationalizing my unwillingness to accept the consequence of not studying.
Calvin: Still, in the real world, people care about success, not principles. … Then again, maybe that's why the world is in such a mess. What a dilemma!
Hobbes: So what did you decide?
Calvin: Nothing. I ran out of time and I had to turn in a blank paper.
Hobbes: Anymore, simply acknowledging the issue is a moral victory.
Calvin: Well, it just seemed wrong to cheat on an ethics test.

“What does it say?
1. There are two figures in this comic strip, Calvin and his tiger, Hobbes. Track what each one says. Calvin obviously does most of the talking. What does Hobbes say and when does he say it? What is your reaction to Hobbes's final statement? How does Hobbes's body language—his facial expressions, his gestures—contribute to your understanding of what he says?
2. It doesn't take long to read a comic strip like this, and first reactions are usually quick, too. Describe yours. As soon as you stop reading, jot down a quick four sentence response. Did you laugh? Why? What made this funny? If you didn't laugh, what was your reaction and why?

“What do you think?
3. Bill Watterson, the cartoonist, doesn't come out and say what he wants this comic to mean. He is neither Calvin nor Hobbes. What do you think Watterson is getting at? Write a brief essay that presents your understanding of the thesis statement of this cartoon, and explain the evidence that supports your analysis.
4. Though Watterson is neither Calvin nor Hobbes, one of these characters may serve as his spokesperson. Which do you think does? Which of these characters comes closest to representing Watterson's own views, and how do you know? What details in the comic lead to this conclusion? Or do you think that neither character represents Watterson?
5. People often send their friends and families copies of cartoons they like. Who would you send this cartoon to, and why?
6. Hobbes says that ‘Anymore, simply acknowledging the issue is a moral victory.’ Write an essay agreeing or disagreeing with that statement, explaining your position.

“What would they say?
7. Read Lawrence Hinman's ‘Virtual Virtues: Reflections on Academic Integrity in the Age of the Internet.’ How would Watterson have to adapt this particular cartoon to reflect Hinman's analysis of ethical behavior and the Internet? Would the cartoon have to be any different? Is there something about cyberspace that changes the ethical dilemma that Calvin is describing?
8. Based on your reading of Hinman's ‘Virtual Virtues: Reflections on Academic Integrity in the Age of the Internet,’ do you think he would put a copy of this cartoon on his office door or on his syllabus for one of his courses? (Hinman is an ethicist who teaches courses in ethics and ethical reasoning.) Explain why or why not.
9. Write an essay explaining how you think Stephen L. Carter, in ‘The Best Student Ever,’ and Donald McCabe and Linda Klebe Trevino, in ‘Honesty and Honor Codes,’ would respond to this cartoon. What would they say? Would they agree with its premise? Why or why not?
10. Out of all the essays you've read in this book, which writer comes closest to embodying Calvin's position in this comic? Which writer comes closest to embodying Hobbes's position? Explain.”

Saturday, July 25, 2009

*John Dies at the End* by David Wong

"It’s a drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. On the street they call it Soy Sauce, and users can drift across time and dimensions. But some who come back are no longer human.

"Suddenly a silent, otherworldly invasion is underway, and mankind needs a hero. What it gets instead is John and David, a pair of college dropouts who can barely hold down jobs.

"Can these two stop the oncoming horror in time to save humanity?

"No. No, they can’t.

"John Dies at the End is coming to book stores and everywhere else September 29th, 2009 from St. Martin’s Press."

The website includes a characteristically entertaining and lucid explanation by Wong of pareidolia:

"Everything you need to know about the universe, you can learn from this picture of Captain Kirk holding a rock shaped like a boner."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Delaying not, hurrying not, low and delicious

O give me the clew! (it lurks in the night here somewhere);
Oh, if I am to have so much, let me have more!

A word then (for I will conquer it),
The word final, superior to all,
Subtle, sent up--what is it?--I listen;
Are you whispering it, and have been all the time, you sea-waves?
Is that it from your liquid rims and wet sands?

Whereto answering, the sea,
Delaying not, hurrying not,
Whispered me through the night, and very plainly before daybreak,
Lisped to me the low and delicious word death,
And again death, death, death, death,
Hissing melodious, neither like the bird nor like my aroused child's heart,
But edging near as privately for me rustling at my feet,
Creeping thence steadily up to my ears and laving me softly all over,
Death, death, death, death, death.

--Walt Whitman, "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking," Leaves of Grass

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Mongolia: Surviving the Winter" by Richard Wainwright

"Under the streets of Ulaan Baatar, the coldest capital city in the world, many children struggle to survive the bitter winter.... Munkhbat (15) & Altangeret (15) have lived down this manhole in Unur district of Ulaan Baatar for over 3 years."
Mongolian Buddhist Information and Education Network

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Dharma Bums V

"Sociability is just a big smile and a big smile is nothing but teeth."

--Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums, 1958

Saturday, July 04, 2009

are ambiguous

"Real moral dilemmas are ambiguous, and many of us hike right through them, unaware that they exist. When, usually after the fact, someone makes an issue of them, we tend to resent his or her bringing it up."

--Bowen H. McCoy, "The Parable of the Sadhu," Harvard Business Review, 1983 September/October

Happy Independence Day

propaganda poster
Harald Damsleth
1906-1971 Norwegian

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Cat in the Rain

"Hemingway has succeeded in rendering an immensely poignant human experience with all the poetry that pure prose can achieve. The simple language and brittle style simultaneously conceal and reveal a powerful emotional situation without the least trace of sentimentality. The delicacy and accuracy of the achievement are magnificent."

--John V. Hagopian, "Symmetry in 'Cat in the Rain,'" College English, 1962 December

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

protracted conflict

"Since the early nineteenth century, borderlanders have witnessed protracted conflict rooted in the vastly unequal power relationship between Mexico and the United States."

--Oscar Martinez, U.S.-Mexican Borderlands: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, 1996

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dharma Bums IIII

"Across the evening valley the old mule went with his heartbroken 'Hee haw' broken like a yodel in the wind: like a horn blown by some terribly sad angel: like a reminder to people digesting dinners at home that all was not as well as they thought. Yet it was just a love cry for another mule."

--Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums, 1958


Slumdog Millionaire
The first 3/4 is basically Oliver Twist and makes for excellent viewing, but the dramatic climax of the film appropriates the inauthentic, manufactured drama of awful reality television (the film's climax cleaves exactly to the fulsomely protracted climax of any episode of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?), and the ending is happy-happy dreadful.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Australian Hughie, our pretending-to-be-Canadian Wolvie, pivots his motorcycle by slashing asphalt with his claws and then takes out a Humvee with his claws and then flies up in the air and stabs a helicopter and rides on top of the helicopter. And Liev Schreiber is Sabretooth.

the entire Eastern seaboard might join the European Union

"The front page of the December 29 issue of the Wall Street Journal carried a story about a Russian professor, who predicts the disintegration of the United States by 2010....

"Igor Panarin, a former KGB analyst, forecasts economic, financial and demographic turmoil in the U.S. leading to a political and social crisis that will result in social unrest and a civil war before the country breaks up along ethnic lines....

"Panarin, the dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s academy for future diplomats, first predicted a U.S. collapse in 1998 at a conference in Linz, Austria... [Attendees] lined up afterward and asked him to autograph copies of the map showing how America would break into different regions that would align with foreign lands.

"He essentially predicted nearly a decade ago that California and many western states will become part of China (or fall under Chinese influence), Alaska will go back to Russia, Hawaii will go to either China or Japan, Texas and several southern states will become part of Mexico, northern states will become part of Canada and the entire Eastern seaboard might join the European Union.

"Panarin spends plenty of time at receptions in the Kremlin, lecturing to students, publishing books and appearing in various media outlets as an expert on U.S.-Russian relations, which are pretty dismal right now....

"His projections of a U.S. breakup have made him a darling of the Russian media and power circles.

"White House reaction at a December news conference drew laughter from the press corps. But Panarin warns a similar 1976 prediction by a French political scientist, Emmanuel Todd, correctly predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union 15 years before it happened."

--Rick Killion, Prairie Business Magazine, 2009 March

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Painting the Space Needle, 1962

"Giving an upper leg its coat of 'astronaut white,' painter pauses in high cage to view awesome sight. Copyright 1962, The Craftsman Press, Inc."

U.S.A., Washington, Seattle
Space Needle

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lyrical III

Seven Nations
I'm waiting for midnight
I'm waiting for silence

John Cougar Mellencamp
She calls me "Baby"
She calls everybody "Baby"

Marilyn Manson
Kill your god
Kill your god
Kill your TV

Merle Haggard
If someone ever said I gave a damn
They damn sure told you wrong

Deep down I know she loves me
But she's got a funny way of showing me how she cares
Last night she did a donut on my lawn
Then drove off with one finger in the air

I found it hard
It's hard to find
Oh well, whatever, nevermind

Motion City Soundtrack
I'll be back tomorrow
I'll be back in the ballroom, swinging
I'll be back with a capital "H"
It stands for "Hero" and the Hero is me

I'll be back tomorrow
I'll be back at a quarter to eleven
I'm half drunk, I can't see straight
And I'm off to save the world

New Found Glory
I finally have an audience to ignore me

There's a party at your house
'Cause your mama is a stripper

No Address
She don't like me singing songs
She don't wanna sing along
It's still the same
She only likes me when I'm gone

Counting Crows
Well, I woke up in mid-afternoon
'Cause that's when it all hurts the most

Steve Earle
I got an empty feeling deep inside
I'm going over to the other side


In the Garfield universe, Arbuckle can't hear Garfield's thoughts. Remove Garfield's thought balloons, and the strips become poignant: a very lonely man, talking to his cat.