Saturday, 30 October 2010

yemeni crickets or sheiks on a plane

Although the message that these thwarted terror attacks is clear forboding for bogeymen of all sorts and a bit of erstwhile rallying for the American mid-term elections, it strikes me as suspect that such ink-jet fireworks were uncovered just days after the European aviation authorities expressed their indignation, led by Great Britian, wanting to put an end to the unnecessary kow-towing to US air travel rules, especially the ones that they have not yet applied to their own domestic flights.  While there are certainly forces out there that might restore to deguising a bomb as a printer cartridge--I like the French word, cartouche, much better as it makes me think of all the Ramesse and King Tut exhibitions that I have visited and the gift shops there offered to render one's name in phonetic hieroglyphs (in a pharonic cartouche) and  I would like to see graffiti in ancient Egyptian: Monkey, Eagle, Cat, All-Seeing Eye--it smacks too familar, like besmirching one's carry-on's, belt, underpants, essential fluids, and finally one's dignity.  While thousands more are deputized in the name of safety and security and more extensive and far-reaching bad-touches are offered as alternatives to naked body scans, passengers must realize that if for one second one was considered any less thorough than the other or any risk was present, no choice would be given, no passage offered.  US rules of engagement are merely innuring factors, performed by agents ignorant of their psychological and numbing effects.  Nothing negates determination as highly as the chance dissuasion, and disillusionment can be counter-acted through more direct means.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

whatever happened to with my transylvania twist?

It seems every second Halloween is much scarier than on off years, and one imagines that we are a little spooked by the election cycles in America. Campaign spending and cult of personality has escalated out of control, and for the usual reasons, which cannot be repeated too often: elected representatives and their army of groomed pages and administrative staffs are essentially immune from insider-trading. A congress person or a senator, especially one seated in one of the numerous committees and to the manor born, like agriculture, defense or social programs, is privy to nonpublic information and can even influence legislation in favour of one company or special interest over another, and nothing bars (saving perhaps the recursive and self-governing ethics committee) them from owning and trading stock in the midst of the deal. Elected representatives certainly have a vested interest in retaining their incumbency, maintaining influence or preening their connections for future careers in the private sector that has bankrolled their terms to begin with. European politics are not altruistic and of course not exempt from such persuasions, although appointments and outfitting of former public servants with their hoped for golden parachutes draws at least some attention if not outrage.

schwung and kool-aid

The truly frightening facet of politics, particularly so in America, involves the inertia and moment of what either or any party can claim as a mandate. Changing course is forever the status quo because underlying factors remain entrenched. Government does not solely exist to promote economic welfare, but its policy and deportment which cast the mold for whatever shape businesses and tax-payers, as both purveyors and beneficiaries, can assume, the peg barely fitting the hole, whittled down to baseline requirements or made more substantial with all the riders it can carry and still squeeze through. Neither the diameter of a loophole nor manipulation of the facts through sophistry changes market fundamentals and obligations for civic and economic stewardship. A disengaged public is more liable to accept the truthiness of the governing party without healthy scrutiny and in general innocence of corrobative influences. Redirection without commitment of energies, standing on spindly legs, is only so much gas to inflate the next market bubble.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

jinkies

With Halloween and trick-or-treating fast approaching, I thought it high time for a little holiday roundup.  I thought that this costume idea, from the opening credits of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?--the scary witch-doctor, was very clever and instantly recognizable.  Myself, when I was very little, I can remember, however, wanting to be Velma "Liz" Dinkley.
For those of you still looking for a costume idea, with the democratization of shiny colour-printing and papercraftiness, I defer to the excellent website Superpunch and this collection of downloadable and printable masks (or come up with your own design) for holiday cheer.
 

Monday, 25 October 2010

product elasticity or wappenschmidt

Inspired by the rather inordinate and unseemly public hue and cry that followed a clothing label's decision to change its logo that could be considered familiar if not iconic, which surely inspired more directed debate and attention than a lot of other more important things, I thought I would try my hand at reimagining our fair and fake city.  Being that there's already inconsistent signage with different looks all about the town, the classic heraldry, a pop-art version with squares and a Q*Bert like creature, and a few not particularly memorable or creative, I thought I could offer this one up for municipal consideration, if only to rescind it later and pretend it never happened.  Maybe there should be a whole series of pop-art incarnations of this, lozenge, tinctures, field.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

knock-about or double-rainbow day

H and I are just back from holiday in western Ireland and environs.  The visit was absolutely outstanding in all regards: the people, the history, the ancient and holy sites, but the natural wonderments were really superlative.  Here are just a few snapshots.  More photographs and stories are posted on the companion blog.

Downpatrick Head
This tall rocky outcropping at Downpatrick's Head was where the Devil lived but crumbled away from the mainland in the Middle Ages, and like the snakes, was banished from Ireland.
Doolin Harbour
At the southern edge of the karst moonscape, the Burren, we visited the village of Doolin before traveling on to the amazing Cliffs of Moher.
Cliffs of Moher
  There was no end of things to see and we certainly did not exhaust the Connemara region, with its undulating ribbons of coastline and picture-perfect drives.  We did venture further north, however, through County Sligo.  On the descent from the hike up Knocknarea Mountain, we had a spectacular view of Ben Bulben, which dominated the land like a green version of Ayers Rock, sides carved out by rivulets that swelled with cascading white water after a good, brief rain.

Ben Bulben
 
And about the weather, it was forever damp but the rains only stayed for a brief spell and afterwards we were rewarded with a cavalry of rainbows, coming one right after another, like the dominions of Rainbow Brite, My Little Pony and the Care Bears all put together.  Here was a particularly nice one over the fjord that frames Killary Harbour, just looking out of the window of our cottage.
Killary Habour



Thursday, 14 October 2010

ichthys

My mother also has an extensive holy collection, icons, monstrances, crucifixes, and Jesuses--a Jesus Corner.  Once, in what may well be an apocryphal episode but still a cute story nonetheless, a visitor, a neighbor, studying the assemblage, remarked, "Gee, you have so many Henrys."  Henrys?  "You know, 'Inri."  The INRI is the initialism for Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum, Jesus from Nazareth, King of the Jews that was hung above the Cross.  In some places and at certain times, one hears the phrase "Jimminy H. Christmas" or "Jesus H. Christ" flung around like His middle name was Henry or something, whereas the H is actually a majuscule Greek letter Eta, one form of the definite article, the.  Incidentally, the once secret fish symbol for Christians, the Ichthys, probably originated itself because Jesus' birth fell at the dawn of the zodiacal age of Pisces, the Fish.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

news of the world

Though it may be just a case of very poor timing, it is interesting to observe that the council of astronomers, perhaps the same body that demoted Pluto and bereft the Scorpios of a ruling planet, is now recanting the surety of the discovery of Gliese 581g, saying that perhaps the readings were not rigorously peer-reviewed beforehand, just after this bulwark of journalism seemingly patched together a random and incredulous old report of strange signals emanating from the neighborhood of the star. It is as if once that news organization picked up on or wanted in on the story, it spoiled it for everyone else, and made skepticism a much more acceptable stance. I always wondered how many premature claims could be attributed to smudge on the lens, stellar pareidolia and scientists forcing the results they are expecting, but nonetheless, the bulk of the findings from the exoplanet spotting missions are unprocessed or have already yielded more solid discoveries. I hope a hopeful and curious audience does not become overly suspicious or jaded by the next big revelation.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

mothballed

English language daily The Local has an interesting piece on the secret bank bunker, prompted by West-East tensions with the building of the Berlin Wall and Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960s, in Cochem at the bend of the Mosel, close to Bonn and Wiesbaden. Of course, there was much area speculation on the nature of the shelter but there was no official disclosure regarding the contents until just a few weeks ago, including some 15 billion Marks on reserve in the form of an Ersatz currency to be used to counteract hyperinflation in the event of an emergency. Guided tours are ensuing.
I suppose that this mechanism could only so far in terms of stabilizing a devastated economy and with the lapse of the Cold War, there are certain priorities that would not pass muster as far as government sanctioned paranoia, but countries should not be so quick to abandon their sanctuaries and refuges because apprehension is adept at reinvention. A secret bank bunker might be handy in the event of a currency war and other market shocks. Continuity projects, like at Greenbriar or Denver Airport or Ullenwood, secret or not, in terms of infrastructure and intention are still valuable real estate.  I would like to take a tour of that bank bunker and explore the underworld caverns.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

tee fribet or double ten day

Cheerleaders for political dissidents are rather few and far between, and sometimes their advocates have themselves been overwhelmed by potential and promise or provocation, rather than working to honor and perhaps effect change. I believed, until researching the matter further, that the latter was another example of the former, provocation, an excuse that might become the trigger for an unabashed currency war. This choice, however, was not some everyman representative of countless unnamed others nor an abstract encouragement, but a real lifetime and career dedicated to change, whose work is even acknowledged by recent honorees. Redirecting one’s gaze, in the general and specific sense, can garner impetus, and is a stance well taken.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Au+Ag+Ni+Si+C-H-OH

This past week has seen quite a haul of treasures.  Both of our parents were on holiday and brought a bottle of original, fabled Goldwasser from Danzig (Gdansk)--note Secretary Kitty in the background, and then another original rarity from Prague, a bottle of Czech wormwood Absinthe.   Goldwasser probably, influenced by the efforts of alchemists, originated with goldsmith's using alcoholic solutions for the delicate business of gilding and wormworn was held to be a natural tonic since the ancient Egyptians, though its dangerous and crazy-making reputation was probably unwarrented.
Over the weekend, we wandered for hours through Bamberg's historic center and found a few unusual bargains, though the antique flea market's prices, by the concentration of merchants and shoppers alone, were about three times too high. 
Among a few other finds, H spotted this very retro, Rhythm transitor alarm clock, and then little silver oil lamp, which I thought looked like the most elegant and sweetest little incendiary device, marked "Triple Deposit" with a simple triskelion and then "Mappin & Webb / Prince's Plate / London & Sheffield."

scan-tron or à pois rouge

For laureates in most other disciplines, there is somewhat of a probationary period for they are bestowed with high honors. The co-inventor of the process of in vitro fertilization (I like the German term: Retortenbabies, test tube babies) had to wait until the first offspring was a well adjusted adult with healthy children of her own before receiving the Nobel prize. Another dynamic scientific duo from Manchester also had to wait four years or so after their initial experiments and documentary on the material properties of Graphene, a wonder-substance like the advent of coal-tar, synthetic rubber, Bakelite and nylon that is the shearing off of graphite into one-atom thick layers of carbon atoms arranged in a honey-comb.
With proper alchemistic alignment, this substance could yield better photovoltaics and room-temperature super-conductivity. This material, by the way, is the velvety leavings of the lead of a pencil every time a mark is made.
Though I really have grown fond of the original stock background, I have been thinking of repapering the place, maybe brighten it up a bit. I think I would like to keep the King of the Mountains theme. Here are a few candidates.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

threat level polka dot or how i learned to stop worrying and love the bomb

The nebulous warnings that defy further coming into focus and unwilling to bear much scrutiny--like quantum jihadists, though apparently their strength is known, have already had enough mileage through fear- and hate-mongering without a boost in incredulity from a connection that spans the whole of Eurasia and anchors militants firmly in German lands.  Although stoic about these latest developments and implications, European leadership has adopted an appropriate attitude regarding these threats.  Just weeks after US minds labeled their own unsustainable debt and porous fiscal policy a serious threat to national security, however, it seems curiouser and curiouser that these warnings can emerge fully-fledged after months of intelligence work after the US announced that it would flood its coffers with a trillion dollars.  While no nation particularly wants a strong currency presently, since it would harm exports, undoing diligence could certainly help mediate deflationary shocks and maintain a modicum of confidence in American markets and the evanescent dollar.

Monday, 4 October 2010

gleek oder heineit

Last night H and I celebrated the twentieth anniversary of German reunification with a glass of Rotkäppchen Sekt and watching some of the party highlights from Berlin.  There was coverage that will make for singular and interesting footage for future archives: a very elite audience of present and former German politicians sitting in the sunny afternoon on the promenade by the Bundestag and watched a very energetic performance, a capella, glee-club style cavalcade of pop tunes.  Five and twenty years from now, I am sure we will have a glimpse of that spectacular and wonder and maybe cringe at today's popular culture influences.  The assembled did not quite know what to make of it but overall it seemed like a good and appropriate celebration.