Friday, April 30, 2010

Alfred Korzybski Koan

"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"One day, Korzybski was giving a lecture to a group of students, and he suddenly interrupted the lesson in order to retrieve a packet of biscuits, wrapped in white paper, from his briefcase. He muttered that he just had to eat something, and he asked the students in the front row if they would also like a biscuit. A few students took a biscuit. 'Nice biscuit, don't you think,' said Korzybski, while he took a second one. The students were chewing vigorously. Then he tore the white paper from the biscuits, in order to reveal the original packaging. On it was a big picture of a dog's head and the words 'Dog Cookies.' The students looked at the package, and were shocked. Two of them wanted to throw up, put their hands in front of their mouths, and ran out of the lecture hall to the toilet. 'You see, ladies and gentlemen,' Korzybski remarked, 'I have just demonstrated that people don't just eat food, but also words, and that the taste of the former is often outdone by the taste of the latter.' Apparently his prank aimed to illustrate how some human suffering originates from the confusion or conflation of linguistic representations of reality and reality itself."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Volunteer Summer School in Buryatia 2010

“You are invited to participate in the Volunteer Summer School in Buryatia 2010!

“The Volunteer Summer School in Buryatia is an independent educational charity project. Volunteers from all over the world are welcome to spend two weeks, July 16 - August 1, in two villages in Buryatia in Russia near Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world, to teach local kids and motivate them to study for a better life. It aims to broaden the minds of both kids and volunteers.

“There is one school in Mikhaylovka village and one school in Yengorboy village with about 400 students in total, and some of the children have no further prospects of getting higher education.

“In 2009, the Volunteer Summer School in Buryatia took place for the first time with Kate from Canada (English), Eva from Switzerland (Health), Miguel from Portugal (Internet), Juergen from Austria (Judo), and myself, Ayuna from Russia (Journalism) participating.

“If you are going to travel through Russia this summer, make a stop at the Volunteer Summer School in Buryatia!

“Please spread the word! Tell your friends and people who might be interested in participating, post this announcement in groups or on your website, or print our poster and hang it in your university or place of work:


“Ayuna Shoyzhitova
Organizer of the Volunteer Summer School in Buryatia

“WHAT: Two weeks of teaching kids and exploring Buryat culture, food, and nature
WHERE: Russia, Buryatia, Mikhaylovka and Yengorboy: two Buryat villages in the south of Buryatia, on the border with Mongolia
WHEN: July 2010
WHO: Eight volunteers from different countries of the world who want to go where they've never been, see what they've never seen, live a unique experience, broaden their minds, and help local children get wider exposure to the world and educational opportunities.

“The aims of the Volunteer Summer School in Buryatia are to promote higher education for local children and to become a life-changing experience for you.”

“Educate yourself and others.”

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dharma Bums VIIII

"In bed at night, warm and happy in my bag on the good bunk, I'd see my table and my clothes in the moonlight and feel, 'Poor Raymond boy, his day is so sorrowful and worried, his reasons are so ephemeral, it's such a haunted and pitiful thing to have to live' and on this I'd go to sleep like a lamb."

--Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums, 1958


"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"E-Prime (short for English-Prime) is a form of the English language in which the verb to be in all its forms does not exist. E-Prime therefore uses alternate means to express most statements which use the passive voice, thus encouraging writers and speakers to clearly state an action's agent.

"Some people use E-Prime as a mental discipline to filter speech and translate the speech of others. For example, the sentence 'the movie was good' could translate into E-Prime as 'I liked the movie' or as 'the movie made me laugh'. The E-Prime versions communicate the speaker's experience rather than judgment, making it harder for the writer or reader to confuse opinion with fact."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Happy Australia and New Zealand Army Corps Day

1999 June

“Dr Martin Crotty, a New Zealander who lectures Australian students, tells a story of one student who 'thumped the table after I'd given a seminar and complained at having a New Zealander come and tell us about Anzac.'

“'He was genuinely shocked when I told him what the N and the Z stood for.'

“The historian said Australians had a very 'parochial' view of WW1 and were even less aware of France and Britain's involvement than they were of New Zealand's.

“'The push should be not to just understand New Zealand but to see the Gallipoli campaign and the war in general in more internationalist terms,' he said.”


Friday, April 23, 2010

World War I and H.P. Lovecraft

"At the beginning of the twentieth century, belief in the rational suffered a massive blow on the charnel fields of the First World War. Here were the rational, modern, capitalist powers, expressing their supposedly rational interests with an eruption of mechanized human butchery unprecedented in history. The scale of the psychic and cultural trauma of the First World War is vast—perhaps even 'undescribable.' The war smashed apart the complacencies of 'rationality' and uncovered the irrationality at the heart of the modern world with a savagery that eclipsed any fantasist's nightmares. How, then, could the genre known as fantasy present anything that could compare with such horror? Certainly, its stock of werewolves and effete vampires were utterly inadequate to the task....

"Traditionally, genre horror is concerned with the irruption of dreadful forces into a comforting status quo—one which the protagonists frantically scrabble to preserve. By contrast, Lovecraft's horror is not one of intrusion but of realization. The world has always been implacably bleak; the horror lies in our acknowledging that fact."

--China Mieville, introduction to At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft, 2005

Prandtl-Glauert Singularity

U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet breaking the sound barrier
1999 July 7
photo by John Gay

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


“Pity those--adventurers, adolescents, authors of young-adult fiction--who make their way in the borderland between worlds.”

--Michael Chabon, “On Daemons & Dust,” Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands, 2008

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ways to be Nasty

Use all the hot water.

Free your spider collection.

Pour honey in the mailbox.

Slobber on the couch.

Rake the leaves into your neighbor's yard.

Stick your hand in the clam dip.

Throw a tantrum when you lose.

Hard-boil all the eggs.

Scream in the dentist's office.

Cut the strings off all the tea bags.

Giggle during the eulogy.

Burn the toast.

Cut the clothesline.

Salt the Band-Aids.

Plant ragweed.

Deliver lectures on abstinence and temperance.

Stray into other people's snapshots.

Clog the sink.

Ignore everybody.

Don't train your Doberman.

Paint your house chartreuse with pink trim.

Grab someone's nose and don't let go.

Breed rats.

Take the last cookie.

--Jim Erskine and George Moran, Throw a Tomato and 151 other ways to be mean and nasty, 1979

Sudden Prosperity

“Mongolia’s billions of dollars worth of copper, gold, uranium and coal reserves promise the greatest influx of wealth for the country since Genghis Khan conquered much of the known world in the 13th century.

“They also may spawn a crisis. Sudden prosperity can overwhelm an economy, exposing it to commodity-price swings. Mongolia’s leaders say they are determined to avoid a sudden surge in wealth that ultimately hampers expansion....

“'If you go to most developing countries, they’ll tell you, “We’re saved; we’ve found uranium,”' said Hernando de Soto, a Peruvian free-market economist. Mongolia has 'a president who says, “We are in grave danger because we have discovered we have a lot of natural resources.”' The fact that 'they are forewarned gives you hope.'”

--Michael Forsythe,, 2010 February 15

Sunday, April 18, 2010

gloomy contemplation

“Many Americans have never seen a corpse, and those who have probably encountered only the travesty of a beautiful death concocted in the mortician's beauty parlor. Nor is the prevailing present-day lifestyle in the United States and large parts of the Western world, set by egotistical, hyperactive people obsessed with amassing money and luxury goods, conducive to gloomy contemplation of death...”

--Jan Bondeson, Buried Alive: The Terrifying History of Our Most Primal Fear, 2001

Saturday, April 17, 2010

ye believers in gods

"Lo! ye believers in gods all goodness, and in man all ill, lo you! see the omniscient gods oblivious of suffering man; and man, though idiotic, and knowing not what he does, yet full of the sweet things of love and gratitude."

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

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Edurelief Global Giving Challenge

"Dear Edurelief friends and supporters,

"Our goal in 2010 is to start 10 new library projects in rural areas. To kick off this initiative we're taking part in Global Giving's ( Open Challenge. Our challenge is to raise $4,000 from at least 50 individual donors in 30 days. Completing this challenge will not only get us well on our way towards funding 10 new libraries but it will open up the door for us to qualify for Global Giving matching grands, corporate donors, and other sources of funding. We could really use your help completing this challenge! Whether you can give, $10, $25, $50 or more, every little bit counts. Please share this with your friends as well and together I'm confident we can reach our goal.

"We've spent the last two years in Mongolia now, visiting schools, starting new projects, and investigating the situation of education in rural areas. Good school libraries are an urgent need and make a huge difference in their communities. It's proven that access to a school library and textbooks boosts school attendance, improves grades, and motivates new interest in learning.

"This month let's work together to fund our first two school libraries and then we can work towards the other 8 we have planned for the rest of the year.

"Please give via our Global Giving Challenge page found here:

"Thank you for your support!

Jonathan and Marielle Renich


"Эдүрэлиф-г дэмжигч эрхэм хүндэт найз нараа,

"Бидний 2010 оны зорилго нь хөдөө орон нутагт 10 шинэ номын сан байгуулах юм. Энэхүү зорилгодоо эрчимтэй хүрэхийн үндэсийг тавин бид Глобал Гивинг-н сорилд оролцож байна. Биндний энэ сорил нь 30 өдөрийн дотор 50-с дээш хүмүүсээс нийтдээ $4000-ийн хандив цуглуулах юм. Энэ сорилд тэнцэж чадваас бид 2010 оны зорилгодоо хүрэхэд ойртох бөгөөд бидний өмнө Глобал Гивинг-с тэнцүүлэн хандив өгөх, бусад том том компаниудаас хандив авах, болон бусад сангуудтай харилцах үүдийг нээж өгөх юмаа. Тиймээс яг одоо бидэнд та нарын тусламж маш ихээр хэрэг болж байна. $10, $20, $50... чадахаараа туслаарай. Мөн энэхүү үйл ажиллагааны талаар найз нөхөд таньдаг хүмүүцдээ цааш н дамжуулаарай.

"Бид өнгөрсөн 2 жилийг Монголд сургуулиадаар явж үзэж, шинэ шинэ төсөлүүд эхлүүлэн, хөдөө орон нутагийн боловсролын салбарт судалгаа шинжилгээ хийн өнгөрүүллээ. Чанартай номын сан нэн хэрэгцээтэй байгааг ойлгосоноос гадна цаашлаад нийгэмийн амдралд олон талын тустайг харсан. Сурагчдад хүрч чаддаг номын сан сурагчдын сурах эрмэлзэл, идэвхи, хүсэлийг илүү болгодог гэдэг нь батлагдсан.

"Тиймээс энэ сард бүгдээрээ хамтран ажилцгаая! Доорх линкээр ороод хандиваа өгөөрэй:

"Та нарын дэмжлэгт баярлаа! Сайн үйлс дэлгэрэх болтугай!

Б. Мөнх-Эрдэнэ"


"Chers amis et supporters d'Edurelief,

"Notre objectif en 2010 consiste à lancer 10 nouveaux projets bibliothèque en zone rurale. Pour nous lancer nous prenons part à l'Open Challenge de Global Giving ( Notre challenge consiste à réunir $4000 en provenance d'au moins 50 donneurs et cela dans une limite de 30 jours. En relevant ce challenge non seulement nous aurons déjà réuni assez pour nous rapprocher de notre objectif de 10 nouvelles bibliothèques mais en plus nous serons qualifiés auprès de Global Giving nous donnant accès à des subventions, donations d'entreprises et autres sources de soutient. Nous comptons sur vous pour relever avec nous ce challenge! Que vous donniez $10, $25, $50 ou plus, chaque don compte. Parlez-en aussi autour de vous et ensemble je suis sûr que nous arriverons à atteindre notre but.

"Nous avons passé ces deux dernières années en Mongolie, à visiter les écoles, à lancer de nouveaux projets et à enquêter sur la situation de l'éducation en milieu rural. De bonnes bibliothèques scolaires représentent un besoin urgent et font toute la différence dans les villages. Il est prouvé que l'accès au livres et manuels scolaires augmente la fréquentation des écoles, améliore le niveau scolaire des élèves et les motive à apprendre en stimulant leur intérêt et leur curiosité.

"Ce mois-ci travaillons ensemble à financer deux nouvelles bibliothèques scolaires et nous poursuivrons au cours de l'année pour financer les 8 suivantes.

"S'il-vous-plait, faites votre don via la page Global Giving Challenge que vous trouverez ici:

"Merci pour votre soutient!

Jonathan et Marielle Renich

Monday, April 05, 2010

Earthquake in Ulaanbaatar

"Journalists and the general public rush to any suggestion of earthquake prediction like hogs toward a full trough."

--Charles Richter, creator of the Richter scale for measuring the magnitude of the seismic energy of earthquakes

I received the following message from a Mongolian friend in UB:

"Hello Radigan,
Lately, there are some signs of an earthquake in UB. It will be about an 8-ball and even the president of Mongolia announced a warning to the nation on TV. Looks like it will happen for sure..."

Interestingly, the U.S. Geological Survey has done work in Mongolia studying "earthquakes that occur in the interior of continents far from plate boundaries."

There was earthquake activity in Mongolia in the Twentieth Century, but in western Mongolia, not near UB. The last large earthquake in Mongolia was over 50 years ago, in 1957. If the quakes are cyclical, which they may be, there may not be another large earthquake there for thousands of years:

"The penultimate event on the eastern part of the Bogd strike-slip fault occurred about 2400 years ago, whereas on the western segment only two large earthquakes occurred during the 12,000 years prior to 1957. The Dalan Turuu thrust appears to have slipped every 8000 years on average, the Gurvan Bulag thrust appears to produce earthquakes about every 4000 years, and the Toromhon thrust last moved several tens of thousands of years ago."

--USGS: Earthquake Hazards Program, "1998 USGS Expedition to Mongolia: Previous Work in Mongolia"

Just as there can be earthquakes in San Francisco but not in California's capital city of Sacramento, which is 144 kilometers (90 miles) away, there can be earthquakes in western Mongolia and not in Ulaanbaatar. Charted global earthquake activity shows eastern Mongolia as free of earthquakes as the Amazon and the Sahara:

The multi-organizational Global Seismic Hazard Assessment Program concluded that eastern Mongolia is at relatively low risk of earthquakes, though the Program listed western Mongolia at high risk. Ulaanbaatar sits near the juncture of the risk zones:

Conclusion: It seems unlikely though not impossible that an impending earthquake will strike Ulaanbaatar.

Regarding rumors, it is good to remember that earthquakes cannot be predicted:

There was a 5.1-magnitude earthquake in Dundgov aimag in January that was felt in UB. This event probably fanned earthquake rumors:

There was also a 4.8 earthquake near Lake Khovsgol two weeks ago:

It is noteworthy that there was a similar earthquake rumor in UB in the spring of 2008:


Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter (Banned in the UK)

The poem that resulted in successful prosecution for "blasphemy" against the publishers in the U.K. (an episode in the history of censorship):

"The Love that Dares to Speak its Name"
James Kirkup
1918-2009 English

As they took him from the cross
I, the centurion, took him in my arms--
the tough lean body
of a man no longer young,
beardless, breathless,
but well hung.

He was still warm.
While they prepared the tomb
I kept guard over him.
His mother and the Magdalen
had gone to fetch clean linen
to shroud his nakedness.

I was alone with him.
For the last time
I kissed his mouth. My tongue
found his, bitter with death.
I licked his wound--
the blood was harsh.
For the last time
I laid my lips around the tip
of that great cock, the instrument
of our salvation, our eternal joy.
The shaft, still throbbed, anointed
with death's final ejaculation.

I knew he'd had it off with other men--
with Herod's guards, with Pontius Pilate,
with John the Baptist, with Paul of Tarsus,
with foxy Judas, a great kisser, with
the rest of the Twelve, together and apart.
He loved all men, body, soul and spirit -- even me.

So now I took off my uniform, and, naked,
lay together with him in his desolation,
caressing every shadow of his cooling flesh,
hugging him and trying to warm him back to life.
Slowly the fire in his thighs went out,
while I grew hotter with unearthly love.
It was the only way I knew to speak our love's proud name,
to tell him of my long devotion, my desire, my dread--
something we had never talked about. My spear, wet with blood,
his dear, broken body all open wounds,
and in each wound his side, his back,
his mouth -- I came and came and came

as if each coming was my last.
And then the miracle possessed us.
I felt him enter into me, and fiercely spend
his spirit's final seed within my hole, my soul,
pulse upon pulse, unto the ends of the earth--
he crucified me with him into kingdom come.

--This is the passionate and blissful crucifixion
same-sex lovers suffer, patiently and gladly.
They inflict these loving injuries of joy and grace
one upon the other, till they die of lust and pain
within the horny paradise of one another's limbs,
with one voice cry to heaven in a last divine release.

Then lie long together, peacefully entwined, with hope
of resurrection, as we did, on that green hill far away.
But before we rose again, they came and took him from me.
They knew not what we had done, but felt
no shame or anger. Rather they were gald for us,
and blessed us, as would he, who loved all men.

And after three long, lonely days, like years,
in which I roamed the gardens of my grief
seeking for him, my one friend who had gone from me,
he rose from sleep, at dawn, and showed himself to me before
all others. And took me to him with
the love that now forever dares to speak its name.