Tuesday, April 30, 2002
the sayings of richard wrangler
"There is only one way to get ahead in this town: you either work for me or you work for somebody else."
pix of the day: loch dee in galloway, scotland
i lived for some time in galloway and 'Loch Dee Sunset' is very evocative of those haunting landscapes. the original may be viewed as a high-res panorama if you have the resources. the scottish mountain photo gallery is maintained by douglas e.wilcox and is also home to the morss collection of aerial photographs of the mountains and islands of scotland. highly recommended if you are interested in the scottish mountains or just enjoy looking at landscapes, the site has lots of additional material to enjoy -- don't miss the 'landstat' picture of the cuillins! i thought i was even able to see the plantation in which i once rode out the tail end of a hurricane as it passed across skye.
Monday, April 29, 2002
pix of the day: carnival in venice
in an earlier 'pix' i featured the work of bob sarrasin from his gallery on 'pbase'. today the featured photographer is another 'pbase' gallery contributor haim ziv who is a press photographer with the 'yedioth aharonoth' daily newspaper in israel. haim has a wide range of subjects exhibited and i selected him because he fills the frame: the best advice i was ever given was by an old polish guy i bought a camera from many years ago: "decide what is your subject, then use it to fill the frame". yeah, yeah, i too have got lots of examples where the picture works because that rule was broken, but if every beginner did that as an exercise i am sure their work would take giant leaps of improvement. haim's work is much more polished than just that of course. please visit and enjoy his excellent work which includes several more from the venice carnival.
Saturday, April 27, 2002
john betjeman, poet and spy
there are two excellent pages on metroland.org, the first with a concise biography of sir john betjeman the poet laureate. the second page details the UK tv C4 documentary on betjeman.
examples of his poetry are the darkly whimsical 'slough' and my own favourite 'a subaltern's love song'. if you read both you may appreciate this limerick:
John Betjeman, poet bar none,
Had a crush on Miss Joan Hunter-Dunn
She said to him, "How
Would you like it in Slough
Now the bombing you prayed for's begun?"
betjeman was however also a spy! an article by fiachra gibbons at guardianunlimited has the details of how an IRA execution squad was called off because of one man's admiration for the poet's work. a great character who enriched english culture and gave pleasure to many. charles winpenny has a picture of betjeman's gravestone in st. enodoc churchyard.
Friday, April 26, 2002
michael h. reichmann's luminous landscape website is one of the web's best resources for keen photographers. if you like looking at photographs (surprisingly the two don't necessarily go together!) then you will enjoy his extensive photogallery. most of the images are american landscapes but there are other worldwide locations too. all the pictures are technically and creatively suberb. the example shown is entitled "cloud under dead horse" and is well worth looking at full-size in its original context, among several other utah panoramics taken on the same trip.
michael also offers a very special production: "The Luminous Landscape Video Journal is the world's first and only quarterly video magazine for serious photographers. Published on DVD video, The Journal arrives in your mailbox every three months loaded with up to 90 minutes of lively travel articles, timely and in-depth photographic product reviews, tutorials, and on-location interviews with famous and talented photographers. Professionally produced in broadcast-quality video, The Journal compliments the extensive content of this web site, showing you field techniques, tutorials, product reviews and more, in a way that the printed page or the Net simply can not. This is The Luminous Landscape on TV."
pix of the day: new display arrangements
displaying pictures at 500 pixel width is causing slow download of the archive pages for readers without high bandwidth internet connections. from today pictures will revert to a 100 pixel wide thumbnail sometime during the third day of their display. clicking the picture will load the full size image in a new window. thanks to readers for their input.
Thursday, April 25, 2002
john & larry & osbert & johnnie
christopher a. long writes an amusing cameo of his bumpy interview with the redoubtable anne scott-james, but you will have to read it yourself to understand the full character list (notwithstanding the author's stern copyright warning!) my own recollection of osbert lancaster (ok, i'll 'fess -- i attended one of his lectures, though he did glare at me when i approached him afterwards, thus pre-empting what might have been an amusing anecdote these many years later) was his brisk "any questions?" followed by an even brisker "good, thank you everyone" as he closed the proceedings abruptly.
pix of the day: supertruckers
dallas & doug are a trucking team. their site is parked up for the time being because they are so busy. i sneaked in the back door to get this flamboyant doctored picture of their 525 horsepower kenworth truck -- but i sense the boys will not mind. i see these big rigs from all over the USA cruising up and down the nearby interstate-15. one local company advertising for staff promised to get their drivers back home every ten days!
pix of the day: garden of earthly delights
i spent a frustrating day searching through 1,000 lines of html code for the error that was causing a misformat to to the whole document. late in the evening i was torn between going through the 'possibles' folder or choosing this which i loved from the moment i saw it on charles&nbs;pwinpenny's site. deeply saturated colour is not my usuual choice, but this one deserves it for these osteospermums near the village of hayle towans. charles had a picture of a view across the bay towards godrevy from gwithian towans today. i spent several minutes looking at it: a very soothing way to end the day with a cup of earl grey in hand.
Wednesday, April 24, 2002
scott at edgecurve.com says that "other than EdgeCurve.com and maybe amazon.com the internet doesn't have a whole lot to offer. it's highly overrated." perhaps scott missed the recent simpsons episode where homer set up an internet business and was elated to discover that "now they even have the internet on computers!" second best gag of the show was homer's answer when marge asked what his business actually did: "it's growing so fast it's hard to tell." scott also has a photogallery from whence i picked that munch-style gargoyle in the mineral deposits of a hot spring in yellowstone national park.
st. george of england UK and utah USA
today is st. george's day in the UK. visit jeremy boot's page for an excellent summary of the history of this saint and his importance as the patron saint of england. the nearest large town to where i live is st. george UT, USA which has quite a different source for its name. set in the 'dixie' area of south east utah it was named for george smith one of the saints of the mormon church. utahsdixie.com has a concise introduction to the area which was established by brigham young during the civil war period as part of the LDS (church of jesus christ of latter day saints) self sufficiency movement to grow cotton (hence the dixie name) and other produce. the picture is of the st. george temple, the first LDS temple built west of the mississippi while the main temple in salt lake city was still under construction.
Tuesday, April 23, 2002
pix of the day: before genocide became politically incorrect
this picture of kit carson's grave in taos, NM is from a moody piece on john farr's 'grack!' website entitled tuzas on the curb. john writes insightfully into those yo-yo mood swings familiar to anybody who responds to their environment and the weather. the page contains this: [WARNING: possibly incongruous images ahead. They seem to fit, but I really can't say how. It's been that kind of week.]
oh well, the picture of kit carson's grave fitted perfectly for me. i always get a little edgy whenever i think about kit carson. i learned to read before i went to school by looking at 'the kit carson annual' which for several years was the usual christmas gift from my grandmother. back then his title "indian fighter" seemed a noble appellation and fine career for a hero to pursue. you may read a short biography of col. christopher carson on the always excellent PBS website and about 'the long walks of the navajos' on the history net website. even understanding the historical context of the era it is difficult to have anything but contempt for carson and his colleagues.
internet radio: 7,609,100 total listening hours
the latest newsletter from j. betty ray, self-styled "internet radio evangelista" at live365.com, has this announcement:
"We're thrilled to announce that Live365 has, yet again, topped the
Arbitron Webcast Ratings for the seventh consecutive month. At 7,609,100 total listening hours, we continue to place in front of Clear Channel (you know...the world's largest commercial radio conglomerate, with 1200 terrestrial stations in the US?) They had 5,041,200 total listening hours.
that's a lot of listening going on. between them these two have 12,650,300 hours of airplay. we really have entered what somebody called "the leisure age". go to the in search of the great leisure seeker pages and there you may read a chinese perspective on hustlers and loafers from sinorama limited, a chinese swiss managed foundry.
hard decisions: san francisco earthquake, 1906
eyewitness is a site that re-tells "history through the eyes of those who lived it". the entry for the san francisco earthquake of april 1906 contains this chilling account
"rather than see the crazed men fall in with the roof and be roasted alive the military officer directed his men to shoot them, which they did in the presence of 5,000 people."
and this is another report of a similar incident
"the most terrible thing i saw was the futile struggle of a policeman and others to rescue a man who was pinned down in burning wreckage. the helpless man watched it in silence till the fire began burning his feet. then he screamed and begged to be killed. the policeman took his name and address and shot him through the head."
there are entries for the 1930 topping-off of the empire state building, and for april the start of the american revolution on lexington green in 1775; the death of abraham lincoln in 1775; the sinking of the titanic in 1912 and u-boat attack in 1916. a very rich site well worth an extended browse.
Monday, April 22, 2002
pix of the day: motherlode!
pbase is an online photo gallery service. it is free, though support is requested and richly deserved for this excellent service. if you like looking at other people's pictures this is the motherlode!
one guy on pbase with a wealth of excellent pictures is bob sarrasin and this beautiful picture of a red tailed hawk is a superb example of his work -- click on the link or the picture to see it full size! a wonderfully detailed shot of a magnificent bird. the picture comes from his nature and wildlife gallery which has lots of equally good shots.
for this fat, balding old rocker who loves pat benatar's track "feel the kick inside" a gallery of her august '01 concert in buffalo NY was an added treat -- is she really a granny? wonder what bob was doing to get her to look directly at camera?
latest pidgin post
just in from the exotically named ms. fairy yang in pudong, shanghai, china, "We got a good reputation on international markets for not only the best quality but also the competitive price, and the knight services." the link was buried amongst the chinese characters at the end of the email which at least explains the connection with "knight services" but whatever the connection with fairy yang's laser surgery products might be defeated my investigation. i give you my solemn promise that i'm not making up this stuff.
Sunday, April 21, 2002
robert urich: beauty, harmony, order and peace
the actor robert urich died on 16th april 2002. his official website carries his own moving story of discovering he had cancer in what should have been the middle, rather than the end, of a successful career. robert's work included:
• 'The Love Boat: The Next Wave' (1998)
as Captain James 'Jim' Kennedy
• 'The Lazarus Man' (1996)
• 'Spenser: For Hire' (1985)
• 'Vega$' (1978)
as Dan Tanna
• 'S.W.A.T.' (1975)
as Officer Jim Street
• "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" (1973)
as Bob Sanders
fittingly for our times the piece end with this:
We can change the world when we change ourselves.
And the energy of our consciousness, like the energy of all light,
continues into the eternity.
When there is light in the soul there will be beauty in the person.
When there is beauty in the person there will be harmony in the home.
When there is harmony in the home there will order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation there will be peace in the world."
- Chinese Proverb
pix of the day: both sides of the channel
i thought it might be interesting to have these two cloudscapes side by side; the one on the left is st. michael's mount in cornwall on one side of 'the english channel'; the one on the right is mont st. michel on the other side of what the french, with less jingoism, call 'la manche' (the sleeve).
the picture on the left is by charles winpenny, whose excellent images and website have featured here before (there is a permanent link to charles' site in the sidebar on the left). the picture on the right is by graham wilcock, who is a member of the horsham photographic society in england. please click the name links or the pictures themselves to see the originals at much higher resolution.
horsham photographic society is a member of the regnum crouch group (RCG), which is an umbrella organisation for eleven photographic clubs and societies in the county of west sussex. photographic societies have always been a stronghold of excellence and this one is no exception.
horsham's latest exhibition features on the RCG site: i particularly liked ian sadler's still life and there are several other exhibitions available. my broadband connection slowed down loading these pictures. i had read the webmaster's warning "...please be patient, as high quality images take a little time to download!" but was bemused to find that the pixel dimensions greatly exceeded the size at which they are displayed. perhaps they are provided oversize so that members can download them for offline viewing.
RCG members bognor camera club and crawley camera club both have offsite webs of their own. an enjoyable visit -- thanks to all the RCG members (especially graham wilcock) and to charles winpenny.
stanford prison experiment
i guess every degree level introduction to the field of psychology contains reference to the 1971 stanford university prison experiment which was a simulation study of the psychology of imprisonment. when i read about this my course materials gave a brief description of the set up, a couple of images with a resumé of the events and a short conclusion. i was horrified at the thought that we, you and i, could so easily slip into fulfilling the r&eocirc;les that are allocated to us. do we really have so little control over who we are?
one of the four researchers who conducted the experiment was philip g. zimbardo and thanks to the website he has created about the experiment we have an opportunity to further examine the experiment and its conclusions. you may be less sure of who you are after you have been through the site: if your self-image is simply re-inforced then i worry for you. [thanks to steven osburn.]
Friday, April 19, 2002
pidgin n. a simplified language containing vocabulary from two or more languages, used for communication between people not having a common language. pidgin Englisha pidgin in which the chief language is English, used orig. between Chinese and Europeans. corrupt. of business
i would like to share with you a business communication my wife received: "You probably feel that we are boring. (Because we always e-mail to you every one period.) But please don't laugh at our shameless, you know that we cordially hope the pleasure of establishing business relationship with you. well actually i only grin, because i always think on these occasions that the writer definitly speaks my language better than i speak his. a colleague of mine once received a menacing email from the far east articulating the writer's hope "that we will often be touching each other". elsewhere on this blog in small nations go to war: internet blamed for schism i told of a letter i received begging me "you must understand that here in suriname we are having a throat cutting competition".
one disadvantage of the english speaking world's resolute refusal to communicate in anything but the mother tongue has to be the endless joy we deny our overseas correspondents by not giving them the opportunity to laugh at our efforts. i wonder what might be the chinese word for broken mandarin?
pix of the day: cherry blossom of a cornish spring
a great delight of the english spring are the flowering cherry trees laden with blossom so that their boughs bend under the weight. this photograph by charles winpenny captures them perfectly. charles' cornwall CAM website has images from all over this english county, many of them conveniently archived for your viewing pleasure. the archive also contains records of visits to other parts of the UK and some special event archives. yes, you guessed, you may also buy from a choice of no less than three CDs for GBP12.50 (GBP13.50 overseas) and kodak prints for GBP8.00 (plus shipping) for an 8"x10" with other sizes available.
Thursday, April 18, 2002
the engines of our ingenuity
only two men have followed their fathers into the white house to become president of the USA. the first was john quincy adams (his father john adams was the second president) and the next... well i guess you know who that is.
the adams family was a dynasty, with charles in the third generation serving as a congressman and ambassador to england during the american civil war. the fourth generation produced henry; not only a writer but also a congressman and a noted historian.
all four appear in the illustration on the left in the drawing by maria zsigmond-baca used on the source website by permission of peter gordon.
henry studied two great french medieval buildings; the abbey at mont st. michel and the cathedral at chartres. in his autobigraphy, which was written on a watershed of history, he tells how he was overwhelmed by the 1900 exhibition in paris.
i have john lienhard at the university of houston ("where we're interested in the way inventive minds work") and his website the engines of ingenuity to thank for this information.
john is the writer of a radio series of which the current episode at the time of writing is #1703. each episode has been recorded as an audio stream and transcribed for the web. a wonderful resource, just the right depth for a quick dip!
pix of the day: grasmere from loughrigg terrace
another delightful photograph from tony richards. as my father often said "if you live in heaven, where do you go for your holidays?" tony has a daily update (as an added bounus he gives a daily quote that is always worth scrolling down to read) and whatever the vagaries of the unpredictable weather in the english lake district seems to come home with at least one good shot. tony's work was one of the reasons i decided on the 'pix of the day' feature and i thank him for the joy he has brought me in my exile. there is another of tony's pictures in the blog archive. here's the plug folks: buy the CD with 200 hi-res images (1280 x 1054 pixels) direct from tony for an absurdly cheap GBP12.50 (about USD18.00) including worldwide shipping and an included screensaver.
if your browser is MS explorer on the mac under osx the home page will crash the application. this is no big deal though because it is essentially just a splash page and everything can be accesssed from the URL given.
Wednesday, April 17, 2002
bad neighbors in the brain
the search for shigeo fukuda's shadow motorcycle went cold, but i did turn up this site by eric haseltine which is part of the walt disney 'discover magazine' website. if you visit you will find almost thirty "neuroquests" (i particularly enjoyed brain drain) that will show you things about your brain that you never even suspected.
pix of the day: fell ponies in the english lake district
superwalker ann bowker's photograph was taken on 'high rigg' somewhere in the vicinity of 'tewitt tarn' in the english lake district. ann has an update page featuring walks in lakeland from her home in keswick. elsewhere on the site there is 'mountain madness' from all over the world.
the hills in the picture are (left to right) 'skiddaw', the whaleback shape of 'lonscale fell' and in the distance cone shaped 'great calva' one of the most delightful places in the northern fells. author aw wainwright remarked that climbing the north east buttress of lonscale had "a grand abrupt finish". i can testify to that having once popped out onto the summit where a couple were dining al fresco. i strolled by with a cheery "hello, lovely place for a picnic" to which the man rather tartly replied "yes... we usually have this place to ourselves". miserable old curmudgeon!
ann also has an excellent picture gallery of all her walks on 'the wainwrights', a list of fell tops culled from aw's 'pictorial guide to the lakeland fells'. when i carried my life in two suitcases to america i brought only three books and one of them was aw's 'northern fells'.
sue millard has a fell pony online museum full of history and interesting facts about these fascinating animals. this blog's archive contains two entries about fell ponies: the last with a picture of 'BJ' and the first with recollections of farmer john gate whom i re-discovered through sue millard's agriculture site.
Tuesday, April 16, 2002
perpetrator or victim?
this photograph of christine keeler became an icon in 1963. the same year as the great train robbery in england, the buddhist monk immolations in vietnam and the assasination of john f. kennedy. the photographer lewis morley tells the story behind the image from the 'victoria and albert museum' website.
keeler's ghosted autobiography 'the truth at last' is discussed in this 'guardianunlimited' interview which also has a chronology of the 'profumo scandal' that rocked britain at the time.
a quotation from caroline coon, a campaigner on liberal issues and a friend of keeler's since the sixties, came as a shock: "remember, in all of this, she was the only one who ever went to prison for what happened", though actually she went to prison on an 18-month perjury sentence relating to a detail in the trial of johnnie edgecombe, a former lover, who fired shots at her. maybe somebody should send monica lewinsky a copy of this book.
american treasures of the library of congress
june 1776: thomas jefferson (1743-1826) original rough draft of the declaration of independence: "we hold these truths to be self evident..." i was gratified that in its introduction to american treasures of the library of congress the curators saw fit to rank the early compositions of jelly roll morton with the top treasures gallery.
the introduction says "the written word plays a uniquely significant role in america's history. documents such as the declaration of independence, the constitution, and the gettysburg address define who we are and what we aspire to be as a people. the library of congress holds documents associated with george washington, george mason, james madison, jefferson, abraham lincoln, and christopher columbus among others -- in trust for the american people."
there they are for you to see folks, the founding fathers original documents as they took the inheritance of magna carta and declared themselves free people. it's easy to be cynical about the behaviour of any particular current US administration and forget that what these men achieved has become an implicit part of the aspirations of people all over the world.
pix of the day: life in inner mongolia
the minolta website has a monthly feature photograph. the one i have chosen is from the backnumber archives entitled 'the frozen wastes of inner mongolia' and is by ken hosaka. in the accompanying text ken says that the exceptionally bitter mongolian winter has claimed 7,000,000 head of sheep, which does not seem to have had the same press attention as the foot & mouth losses in the UK. life must be very hard for these nomadic herders.
Monday, April 15, 2002
english as she is spooked
dave budd has a poem written for the edification of NATO staff in paris to help them with pronounciation
"Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
that's just the first of twelve stanzas and it gets far more opaque than that! -- quicker to learn esperanto ("I speak esperanto like a native" : spike milligan.) the picture? oh, completely unconnected -- it is the work ofluis r. cancel who is the owner of esperanto.com (and who seems to be something of an over achiever) and is entitled coltrane's song" you see this weblog is all about rambling. [thanks to the essex girl living in the netherlands. that must be quite a culture shock all round.]
burgeoning new talent
this blog is always on the lookout for aspiring new photographic talent from whom exciting new images can be sourced for the 'pix of the day feature'. recently i have been deluged with emails (both of them on the same day, actually) recommending that i take a look at david barton's work. this guy's photogallery slays me. david has "included notes on the equipment used for the novices amongst you" which will doubtless be very helpful if you aspire to such levels of creativity. though not yet ready for prime-time i am fairly sure that any day soon one of david's pictures will make it into 'pix of the day'. a funny site with lots of creativity. i hope he expands it. [thanks to jenny cockshull.]
pix of the day: a llama called 'wooly bear'
john farr offers image syndication from his extensive fotofeed.com picture library. many were taken around where he lives in taos, NM but also of other places to which he has travelled. this picture was taken in des montes, NM and was featured on his website 3rd april 2002. in the UK where i come from, llama is pronounced with an "L" at the beginning, though of course with this being spanish influenced new mexico they will pronounce it correctly, as is the case throughout the southwest, with a "Y". if you are interested in john's part of the world you may also enjoy his writings under emigrante moon or some of the wide variety of other writing on offer at his jhfarr.com website. if your a camelid buff (the classification which includes llamas and alpacas) then you are assured of finding something to enjoy on the stackyard.com camelid links page.
Sunday, April 14, 2002
big iron man
david murray is someone of unknown vintage but his first bike was a honda S90 circa 1964 of which he has fond memories in this article on the chuck hawks site. the left hand picture is from a honda advertisement of the time. the one on the right, with some extensive frame modifications, comes from the euro spares site, where afficionados of exotic iron can drool at michael moores's motorcycling resumé (he even owns a 'trac 100' which is an S90 built under licence in korea).
recent inside information is that david has graduated to a domestic hog (quite different from domesticated) and prowls the suburbs of new york looking for androgynous swedish bmw riders wearing baby blue leathers, so that he can explain to them the errors of their tofu induced ways. potato, potato, potato...
new daily picture feature
one of my surfing pleasures is looking at the photographs that are available in abundance on the web. i have decided to start a daily picture feature and don buruleaux's north york moors CAM scores as the first entry:
on december 27th 2000 don set off for a walk around skelton, his home village in northern england, but it was such a glorious day he ended up in nearby saltburn. i once spent a day in saltburn dozing on the promenade in its genteel, sleepy victorian charm that has escaped from the brash commercialism of some other seaside resorts. however, close by there was an amusement machine that jarred me awake every now and then with the crazed call of an electric chicken!
i even fished off the pier when a mackerel shoal arrived in a feeding frenzy: i was the only person there who didn't catch anything, but one of the gruff locals took pity on me and gave me two fish for the supper i had been planning. the beach at saltburn is home to the largest, most fiercesome looking ragworms i have ever seen, though on that day i was using 'mackerel feathers' on my line. a delicious oily fish that can be enjoyed for hours after the meal.
don has set himself the task of photographing every cross on the north york moors... so if there is one missing off his list please let him know. this site is in the great tradition of those featuring the webmaster's home area and is one of the best.
pill may someday replace exercise
it's obviously a close run race between my expanding waistline and the research team developing the exercise pill described in this CNN article. i await the result with bated (well gasping, actually) breath.
Friday, April 12, 2002
unfit for a family publication
if the first adjective that comes to mind for pairing with "history" is "dry" then forget it if your going to read this. from salon.com comes a review about "the beggar's benison", the weird history of two men's sex clubs in 18th century scotland. the book itself is fully entitled "the beggar's benison: sex clubs of enlightenment scotland and their rituals" by david stevensonby who is an emeritus professor in the department of scottish history at the university of st. andrews. our local golf club (dress code "no overalls" and 3% beer only) advertises its "relaxed atmosphere" and they have lady members: contrast this with the all male (occasional invites to disrobing maids for viewing only) sex clubs with strong liquor flowing freely and testosterone everywhere. so now you know what happened before the internet, lap dancing bars and MTV. [thanks to steven osburn.]
an australian correspondent is organising a 'malt whiskey pubcrawl' to scotland: perhaps as a momento giving a 'wig club' facsimile glass to each participant might be an elegant gesture. as they say "may your purse na'er be toom, and your horn aye in bloom."
Thursday, April 11, 2002
home-thoughts from abroad
Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England - now!!
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops - at the bent spray's edge -
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
- Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!
Robert Browning (1812-1889)
from "Home-thoughts, from Abroad"
tony richards' LAKELANDCAM.CO.UK is always a delight to visit, but this blackthorn blossom picture is a knockout. the site is updated every day and all it lacks is a comprehensive archive to do justice to tony's output, though for a paltry GBP12.50 (about USD18.00) he will send you 200 high-res images on a CD.
update: "we have the way out"
the microsoft/unisys website "we have the way out" mentioned in a recent blog entry is now up and running. sure enough an operating system check on the site returns <Microsoft-IIS/5.0 on Windows 2000>. there are some free offers available in return for entering your contact details: 'Trends in Large Data Centers - Candid Interviews with 300 Top Executives', 'Data Center Simplification and Consolidation' and 'An Introduction to Server Consolidation' sound a bit dry, but things look up with "Gorillas Play Leapfrog: Unisys Takes SAP Benchmark Record' and 'Windows Meets Big Iron: Unisys ES7000'. you may also "join our eCommunity and receive customized content relating to high-performance servers for the enterprise data center." i still think "we have the way out" is one of the worst campagn tag lines in recent times: just wait for the unix geeks to put up a spoof site "we are on the way out" and "windows meets big sissy". perhaps, even as we speak, the site is being authored by whoever configured the servers at walmart.com to return the deliberately erroneous response <Microsoft-IIS/5.0 (Windows NT) on Linux>.
Tuesday, April 09, 2002
tom toles: cartoonist
tom toles is a cartoonist whose work appears in the new republic online in the guise of 'the office of strategic mystification'. good example on what the president calls newcular weapons, under 'it's just PLAN to use them, we have no plans to use them': "the important things is to make our enemies wonder. are you wondering?" answer: "yes. but i'm an american citizen."
trading standards -- the GFY clause by JFK
when jay f. kominek put his dictionary online in the public domain he added this disclaimer "if it somehow breaks, you get to keep both pieces" which is probably a better deal than you will get from some giant software publishers that come to mind. you may also read his essay on the importance of apostrophes to civilization (pdf format), though i can already hear the click of keys as an antipodean correspondent avers [to declare or affirm as true: "Before God I swear I am innocent."] that:
Have you ever walked into a bank, and asked for some money? "Yes, I'd like 4 $20's please."
is incorrect usage [the act of using; mode of using or treating; treatment; conduct with respect to a person or a thing; as, good usage; ill usage; hard usage. "my brother is prisoner to the bishop here, at whose hands he hath good usage and great liberty. -- shak.] which sounds a bit scary in this state.
macintosh osx users will be delighted to learn that macDICT by navdeep bains is now available for osx to access a slew [a large number or amount or extent though as the oxford sniffily notes US colloq.] of online dictionaries, translators and even a SOUNDEX algorithm database if your spelling is really that shaky. it's freeware but why not send navdeep a few dollars for his hard work? there is a pretty, though less comprehensive, freeware alternative with an aqua interface available from omnigroup whose omniweb browser (osx only) is beginning to look like a serious competitor to the offerings from your evil huge media corporation of choice.
the alternative view from fortogden
steven wright is a guy who 'sees different' from the rest of us. my favourite is "right now I'm having amnesia and deja vu at the same time. i think i've forgotten this before." lots of fun on the homepage too, which assures that there will be "no full noodle frontery" and an interesting las vegas photogallery featuring the casinos -- hey! those are our lights on the top of the bellagio! when the production manager went to check them out she was treated to a scary walk round the top deck. reminds me of steve wright's quip "the other day, I was walking my dog around my building... on the ledge. some people are afraid of heights. not me, i'm afraid of widths." [thanks to steven osburn]
more fell ponies
my recent blog about fell ponies has generated some correspondence. it seems that some folks have a passion for these attractive animals including the fifty animals that have been imported into north america. looking at that picture it's easy to see why they are so admired. all pedigrees must be registered with the fell pony society back at penrith in the UK. there is a herd of belted galloway cows just over the mountain in pine valley here in utah. perhaps one day i might even see a fell pony!
Sunday, April 07, 2002
the NPPA (national press photographers association) decided to give first place in the 'domestic news (newspaper)' category of the 2001 'best of photojournalism' contest to a shocking picture of a young woman being stripped and sexually abused by an out of control mob. judge for yourself.
oh, joy! an online etymology dictionary!
i will spend hours here, i feel sure, browsing through douglas harper's wonderful website. the author's favourite entry is porecelain which certainly puts the product's associations of elegance and sophistication in a whole new light. one wonders what sort of people have that sort of detailed knowledge and how they came by it in the first place!
Saturday, April 06, 2002
gorblimey, love a duck, it's gorboduc!
when in correspondence i casually used the phrase "prepare for the worst and hope for the best" little did i know that i was quoting a four hundred and forty year old phrase by thomas sackville, 1st earl of dorset. sackville is important in english literature as the author, with thomas norton and others, of gorboduc (first played 1561), a drama in blank verse, generally considered the earliest english tragedy. strange to think that whenever we speak we are boilerplating together words, phrases and ideas that have been passed down to us from we know not where, usually. i wonder from whence sackville and norton got the expression. by coincidence my correspondence began when researching lady anne clifford who was married to richard sackville, who was the grandson of thomas sackville and later became the 3rd earl of dorset. lady anne was the 14th baroness de clifford and was a fascinating woman who left her mark on both her times and the area in which she lived. travellers on the A66, in the UK between scotch corner and penrith, may notice on the left approaching penrith a pillar lady anne erected to commemorate the place where she said her last farewell to her mother. there is a good links page on www.visitcumbria.com pointing to some excellent image resources connected with lady anne's life.
Friday, April 05, 2002
if you like trivia (or as abraham lincoln circularly declaimed "people who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like") you will love this: presidential trivia page.
Thursday, April 04, 2002
edward gibbon on wild monkey business
gibbon's style is well represented in this extract 'follies of elagabalus' from 'the history of the decline and fall of the roman empire'
"A rational voluptuary adheres with invariable respect to the temperate dictates of nature, and improves the gratifications of sense by social intercourse, endearing connections, and the soft colouring of taste and the imagination. But Elagabalus (I speak of the emperor of that name), corrupted by his youth, his country, and his fortune, abandoned himself to the grossest pleasures with ungoverned fury, and soon found disgust and satiety in the midst of his enjoyments. The inflammatory powers of art were summoned to his aid: the confused multitude of women, of wines, and of dishes, and the studied variety of attitudes and sauces, served to revive his languid appetites. New terms and new inventions in these sciences, the only ones cultivated and patronised by the monarch, signalised his reign, and transmitted his infamy to succeeding times. A capricious prodigality supplied the want of taste and elegance; and whilst Elagabalus lavished away the treasures of his people in the wildest extravagance, his own voice and that of his flatterers applauded a spirit and magnificence unknown to the tameness of his predecessors. To confound the order of seasons and climates, to sport with the passions and prejudices of his subjects, and to subvert every law of nature and decency, were in the number of his most delicious amusements. A long train of concubines, and a rapid succession of wives, among whom was a vestal virgin, ravished by force from her sacred asylum, were insufficient to satisfy the impotence of his passions. The master of the Roman world affected to copy the dress and manners of the female sex, preferred the distaff to the sceptre, and dishonoured the principal dignities of the empire by distributing them among his numerous lovers; one of whom was publicly invested with the title and authority of the emperor's, or, as he more properly styled himself, of the empress's husband.
nobody writes paragraphs like this any more! elagabalus would have felt quite at home in hollywood or washington, i feel sure. ajp taylor once said that the increasing complexity of the tax laws were a sure sign of a culture on the wane. everything changes, everything remains the same.
millard fillmore's bathtub
pre internet hoax about the Millard Fillmore Bathtub, by the redoubtable h.l. mencken. "June 1926 The Boston Herald, which had printed Mencken's confession, nonetheless reports as fact the original hoax." hahaha!
"there are only good books and bad books" - oscar wilde
seems someone called michael moore has written a book called 'stupid white men' that is a #1. i know this because the pulsating banner on his site assures me of that fact seven times that i counted, plus a couple of gratuitous self congratulatory pats on the back. he does have detractors, however, who suggest he may be self-serving rather than the self proclaimed multi millionaire champion of the downtrodden. even one of his admirers drew the line at MM's version of events that the admirer witnessed first hand. another detractor levels the charge of "gasbag" and expends many column inches explaining why. i am sure you will make up your own mind -- but if you read the book, you will have contributed in some way, however small, to another pulse on MM's banner. perhaps that's what moore's namesake, dudley of that ilk, meant when he said "issa dilemma pete, that's what it is, innit?"
fell pony history
near where i grew up in the UK there are fell ponies whose lineage is traced back to roman times on this fascinating historical website. the other half of the site is a countryside museum where i came across a quote from john gate, farmer aged 84, "There was an old man used to say: any fathead could plough.... but it took a good man to harrow." i wonder if he is the same mr. gate who farmed at mosedale at the foot of carrock fell when i was a boy and later moved to shap. i have fond memories of being allowed to drive the horse drawn hay cart and eating mrs. gates' salty rock buns in the hayfield washed down with billy cans of scalding tea. wonderful treasure trove of a site, worth visiting, especially if you are in unfamiliar territory.
Wednesday, April 03, 2002
small nations go to war: internet blamed for schism
when estonia's ultimatum to suriname expired at midnight on 31st march 2002 open hostility resulted. the presidents of both countries are both mac users and hardware envy may be at the bottom of all this as the president of estonia has an imac while the president of suriname has to make do with an older model. UN sec gen kofi annan is aware of the conflict which seems to be the result of communication misunderstandings. usual high standard of reporting from 'the onion' in this article.
i do not find this surprising. many years ago i was an overseas sales administrator for a UK company with a customer based in paramaribo, the capital of suriname. every enquiry for a quotation came on several sheets of closely typed airmail paper giving details of my correspondent's personal life and the daily events in his country. one request for large quantity discount on a very small order was supported by the assertion that i should understand that "here in suriname we are having a throat cutting competition".
i'm pleased to learn that enough people survived to consider that fighting outsiders might be a safer bet!
sorry, he doesn't work here any more.
when microsoft and unisys decided to diss unix someone goofed -- the website for 'we have the way out' was installed on a unix box! who thinks up these buttock clenchingly bad tag lines anyway? unisys is spending $25 million on this exercise and microsoft won't say how much they are kicking into the pot. maybe given the inroads unix has made into microsoft's and unisys' businesses maybe it's less 'we have the way out' than 'last one to leave switch out the lights'.
update: that linked www.eastsidejournal.com article was dated yesterday -- today pointing at www.wehavethewayout.com returns a page that says "No web site is configured at this address." a search on the netsol whois listed unisys as the domain registrant.
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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)