Wednesday, 29 June 2005

Like ships that pass in the night ...

An exchange of emails:
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Employee Benefits
>> Sent: Fri, 05 Sep, 2003 5:32 PM
>> To: All NNC Australia
>> Subject: New Benefit Available - Novated Leasing
>>Improving NNCAP Reward Practices
>> Novated Leasing
>> No-Name Company Asia-Pacific is pleased to
>> announce the launch of an exciting new employee benefit for
>> our Australia based employees as a next step in the
>> enhancement of our Reward and Recognition Framework.
>> Novated Leasing enables an employee to “salary package” a new
>> or used motor vehicle of their choice. This service is
>> available to all permanent (Australian) employees of No-Name
>> Company Asia-Pacific.
>> We are also holding information sessions for employees
>> commencing Wednesday 10 September, to explain Novated Leasing
>> in more detail. Employees are encouraged to attend a session
>> to find out what Novated Leasing is and how it might be of
>> benefit to them. Access the session booking of your choice
>> through the link - http://nncapnet/nomination/Nomination.asp.
>> Numbers are limited, so be sure to register quickly!
>> If you have any questions please contact your HR representative.
>> Ann Nonymous
>> Director HR, No-Name Company Asia-Pacific
> -----Original Message-----
>From: Name, My
>Sent: Tuesday, 9 September 2003 5:32 PM
>To: Nonymous, Anne
>Subject: FW: New Benefit Available - Novated Leasing
> Interested if it applies to my $1,200 (this year) annual Green
> Travelpass - or might be applicable to, say, Sydney's highest
> priced Purple Travelpass @ $2,080.00 :-)
> As the author of this, I grant you, the next recipient, permission to pass this on in accordance
> with fair dealing, with caution as to any identified copyright material that may be included.

>My Name
>My Position
>Dust of the earth, help thou my unbelief...
>Be, beloved, threatened world.
>Each minim mote...
>the ordinary glow of common dust in ancient sunlight.
>Be, that I may believe.
> Denise Levertov, 'Opening Words'

> The views, opinions and judgements expressed in this message are solely
> those of the author. The message contents have not been reviewed nor
> approved by No-Name Company Asia-Pacific (ABN 12 345 678 901)
-----Original Message-----
From: Person, Another
Sent: Wednesday, 10 September 2003 8:36 AM
To: Name, My
Subject: FW: New Benefit Available - Novated Leasing

'Anne' has asked me to respond to your email.
Novated Leasing relates to purchase of new or used car for personal use. It is unrelated to public transport travel.
If you have any questions about Novated Leasing you are welcome to come to a session to find out more.


Another Person
Human Resources Business Services
Asia Pacific
No-Name Company (ABN 12 345 678 901)
She was either very good at pretending she didn't know what I meant and ignoring my point or so phase-locked into a tunnel vision of car-dependency that she didn't understand it.

Dissent, Digimages & some comfort after

Dissenting Digimages
Poison Box image page
Poison Box - Big Version

KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation
The CIA's Secret Manual on Coercive Questioning -
Related Documents
Psychological Operations In Guerrilla Warfare -
Guerrilla Operations Outline - Korea -
A Study of Assassination -

Horturba (plant-growing table thing) -

Looking at aspect of spam possibly less offensive than most - see here (with over-shoulder caution if necessary) - from

How Buildings Learn

Gashlycrumbs & Ghastly Ghosts of True (Sydney) History

The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey ( An Alphabet Book of Twisted Tales, by an author with an apposite appellation.

Leviathan: the Unauthorised Biography of Sydney
by John Birmingham
[Recorded at the 2000 Brisbane Writers Festival and broadcast on Radio National's Books and Writing program, 2001. Also used at]

ISBN: 0091842034
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 563

[An] epic tale of a city with a cold vacuum for a moral core. John Birmingham drills beneath the cover story ... Combining intensive research with the pace of a techno-thriller, [he] creates a rich portrait of a city too dazzled by its own gorgeous reflection to care much for what lies at its dark, corrupted heart ... Leviathan is history for the Tarantino generation.


At Dymock's Bookshops;
At The Well Bookshop

Tuesday, 21 June 2005

Enlightenment & the like

English and Related Literature - Eighteenth Century Information Sources

University of KwaZulu-Natal Library - Pietermaritzburg campus - Subject links
General subject gateways; Period studies; South African and postcolonial literature; Dictionaries; South African Organizations, etc.
Black History & Classical Music
Composers & Musicians of African Descent
George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower (1780-1860)
Afro-British Violinist Accompanied by Beethoven
A persistent urban legend claims that Ludwig van Beethoven was Black! He was not. His ancestors were of Flemish and German descent. However, his Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 47, now called the "Kreutzer Sonata", was originally dedicated to the Afro-British violin virtuoso George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower (1780-1860).
Bridgetower had an African American father and a European mother. He was raised in London, and began his career as a violinist at age ten!

Paul's Humanities (mostly Latin) Links page ( )
Related Links - Ancient Greek & Latin, and 18th Century work related to or inspired by the Classical spirit.

Guide to Dr. Samuel Johnson - Texts, biographies, writing and anecdotes

Monday, 20 June 2005

Bookish; Are fossils words in the Book of Earth?

Side by side Chaucer at the Medieval Sourcebook:

The Kelmscott Chaucer
After a quick glance at the Kelmscott Chaucer, one might think the book was printed in the 15th or 16th century, not long after the printing of the Gutenberg Bible. In fact, it was printed in 1896. Its intentions, however, were very much rooted in the early history of the printed book. The publisher was the founder of the Kelmscott Press, William Morris, who was not only a noted printer and typographer, but also a famous commentator on a vast array of subjects, from the design of textiles and furniture to politics and social studies. The Kelmscott Chaucer was Morris' response to what he considered the cheap quality of books of the time

Walking directions to Mordor site

From a set of not-entirely-serious commentaries on most of the book
There are a great many jokes in Moby-Dick, including possibly the world's most erudite fart joke: "For as in this world, head winds are far more prevalent than winds from astern (that is, if you never violate the Pythagorean maxim)..."

Jim Woodring's FRANK visits the Burgess Shale!

Thursday, 16 June 2005

Bronowski's Best Available Again! (+ Ken Clark's)

Sorry that this is long, but I'm hoping to have this extract of Bronowski in so many places around the net that many people may see it, and some think about it.

The dangerousness of people who are certain of themselves is a recurrent theme we can see in history. Events have recently resonated with a couple of memories, plus there has been some recent good news (see at the end). So here are two related treatments of it, edited from old entries.

The Sydney Morning Herald runs some opinion columns by columnists that deliberately set out to bait their mostly "liberal" readership. One of them is called Miranda Devine (great name, like Athena Starwoman, Slim Pickens, Rip Torn &c.). In a column in my most difficult year ( War-wary will not weary them, SMH 12th February, 2003) she praised statesmen of great "moral purity". The type that really frighten me. Here is one strong and clear explanation of some reasons I feel that way:

Extract of "Knowledge or Certainty", episode 11 from the 1973 BBC series The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski (shown on PBS in the USA), as transcribed by Evan Hunt:
"The Principle of Uncertainty is a bad name. In science -- or outside of it -- we are not uncertain; our knowledge is merely confined, within a certain tolerance. We should call it the Principle of Tolerance. And I propose that name in two senses: First, in the engineering sense -- science has progressed, step by step, the most successful enterprise in the ascent of man, because it has understood that the exchange of information between man and nature, and man and man, can only take place with a certain tolerance.

But second, I also use the word, passionately, about the real world. All knowledge -- all information between human beings -- can only be exchanged within a play of tolerance. And that is true whether the exchange is in science, or in literature, or in religion, or in politics, or in any form of thought that aspires to dogma. It's a major tragedy of my lifetime and yours that scientists were refining, to the most exquisite precision, the Principle of Tolerance -- and turning their backs on the fact that all around them, tolerance was crashing to the ground beyond repair.

The Principle of Uncertainty or, in my phrase, the Principle of Tolerance, fixed once for all the realization that all knowledge is limited. It is an irony of history that at the very time when this was being worked out there should rise, under Hitler in Germany and other tyrants elsewhere, a counter-conception: a principle of monstrous certainty. When the future looks back on the 1930s it will think of them as a crucial confrontation of culture as I have been expounding it, the ascent of man, against the throwback to the despots' belief that they have absolute certainty.

It is said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers. That is false: tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance. It was done by dogma. It was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality -- this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.

Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known; we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge or error, and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end, the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ: Think it possible you may be mistaken."

Other sites with parts of this extract:;;

[Exciting news, after many years, when the BBC would only sell the series in the UK to educational bodies, and it could be bought at a very high price on VHS in the USA only, they wouldn't ship elsewhere, now The Ascent of Man (USA) and Civilization (USA) are out in DVD box sets! If we all keep our extremities crossed, perhaps "O!, What a Lovely War will make it to DVD too. (Start your wish-list ... ) The books of both series are available second-hand reasonably regularly.]

and a reaction to the events of September 11, 2001 which also refer to this:
The Danger of Knowing for Sure
A special joint edition of
The Millenium Project and Quintessence of the Loon
September 12, 2001 by Peter Bowditch
... Bronowski was making a distinction between science and non-science - between knowing something with confidence and knowing something with certainty. The Nazis knew with certainty that they were right. Science, and its handmaiden skepticism, is based on the principle that knowledge is testable and that ideas and beliefs can be rejected and replaced if they can be demonstrated to be wrong or outdated. It is a process of continuous learning. Yes, science can have bad outcomes, but those bad things can be challenged and changed if necessary. When ideas cannot be challenged then learning, improvement and the correction of mistakes are impossible. There is no way back ...

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21

Another aspect of the 'Knowlege & Certainty' point. In late January 2003, a piece by billionaire financier George Soros, was published, first in the New Statesman. [You may be able to find other sources.] He wrote that the Nazis and Russian communists had one thing in common: "a belief that they were in the possession of the ultimate truth" - and that America too now shared this fatal flaw.

But of course, this is also true of the Taliban, the Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis and its other incarnations, as well as current fundamentalist Christian groups, other fundamentalist religious groups (e.g. Hindus & Sikhs have been massacring each other in the Indian subcontinent for some decades, with politicians whipping up religious groups as cynically for their own benefit as in any 'christian' society), the aforementioned political movements, and even the economic hardliners who are willing to "break a few eggs to make an omelette".

Consider also the philosophy discussed by EM Forster in his essay "What I Believe" or "Two Cheers for Democracy", published in 1938.

To me probably the most important religious principle - of which 'love thy neighbour as thyself' is a version - is "Do as you would be done by". This has to apply to the non-human world as well, which is often not appreciated.

Thursday, 9 June 2005

(written for the vigil opposing the death penalty in Singapore)

2005-05-09 - 10:40 p.m.
It was a little after I had my lunch when I heard the knock at the door. When I opened it, a polite man greeted me and passed me an envelope. Please collect the body within 24 hours, or it will be cremated. There was no room for shock. The whole week I had prepared myself for this. I did not let my hands tremble as I accepted the envelope ...

Some online photos

A photo e-book by Roger Richards on Sarajevo - archived, now photos on (on the 'architectural' side, where Roger Richard's ones above are heavily human-centric).

Mezza's photos at Flickr - another inner-city Sydneysider.

"Heroes Never Die"

Don't Mourn - Organize!: Songs of Labor Songwriter Joe Hill
Smithsonian Folkways

The inclusion of Joan Baez's version of "Joe Hill" on the Woodstock album has been single-handedly responsible for keeping Joe Hill in the public consciousness. Sad but true, for Joe Hill, poet, songwriter, and organizer, was the most popular intentionally proletarian artist in American culture. Not an easy feat, especially considering how many people have tried to be popular proletarian artists.
This album, named after Joe Hill's famous last words before he was executed by the State of Utah, is a testament to Hill's power as a musical and cultural figure. It also attempts to secure his place in our memory;
Baez won't last forever, of
course. The album consists of two elements, Hill songs performed by important interpreters and songs about Hill, again in historically important performances. Among the former, number Harry McClintock singing "The Preacher and the Slave," Pete Seeger doing "Casey Jones (The Union Scab)," and Cisco Houston's version of "The Tramp."
The latter category contains the more varied and more interesting contributions. Among these are poet Kenneth Patchen's spoken word piece "Joe Hill Listens to the Praying," Billy Bragg singing Phil Ochs' "Joe Hill," and both Paul Robeson and Earl Robinson performing the Robinson-penned number Baez made her own, "Joe Hill," with its classic line, "I never died said he."
Excellent as an album and as a cultural document, hopefully this album will not let us forget the important
legacy, a sense of purpose, Joe Hill bequeathed to our culture. ~ Brian Whitener, All Music Guide

Wednesday, 8 June 2005

Les Miller's death of Leukaemia - Media Statement by 702 ABC Sydney

Les Miller - Media Statement by 702 ABC Sydney
Tuesday, 7 June 2005
Presenter: Simon Marnie

It is with great sadness that 702 ABC Sydney farewells Weekend Woodie Les Miller, who passed away this morning.

Les, a stalwart of the 702 ABC Sydney Weekends landscape for the past 4 years was one of our beloved Weekend Woodies ...

The Weekend Woodies - Les Miller (left) and Peter Masia
Medium Resolution Image: (54.76 KB)
High Resolution Image (1.21mb)

He acquired something akin to cult status thanks to his often hysterical but always instructional co-presenting of the Weekend Woodies with fellow expert Peter Masia and 702 ABC Sydney presenter Simon Marnie. Listeners with no interest in home renovation would often tune in just to hear the highly entertaining banter that is the Weekend Woodies. Les was also a regular guest on ABC TV’s The New Inventors hosted by 702 presenter James O’Loghlin ...

All the staff at 702 ABC Sydney share their grief with Les' family and friends. Les was not only a colleague, he was a friend to all of us and his great wisdom, generosity and cheeky spirit inspired us all. We will miss him dearly ...

Saturday, 4 June 2005

"Royal de Luxe" Performance piece in Nantes, in memory of Jules Verne

This looks great. Could Sydney Festival bring it out? A certain friend of mine would say I should go to "London (UK) the 8, 9, 10 and 11 of September, or in 2006: Bilbao (Spain), Antwerp (Belgium), Calais (France)." where other performances are planned :)
Found this at, also noted at
Personal Picture Gallery at
This is an official site, with commentary in French, but is mostly just good photos - bit on Jules Verne

Helmintholog (The Worm Book)
The Treachery of Technology:
oh jesus fuck
I just spent four hours straight with Robert Trivers, one of the
greatest biological theorists of our time. For two of them, I had a
digital voice recorder going, with a new battery carefully inserted
and all the old tracks on it deleted, a tricky business without the
manual. I checked after a couple of minutes to make sure it
wasworking. I watched that the little red light kept blinking … ah,
blinking. When I returned to my hotel room, exhaused but triumphant,
it turned out that I had somehow switched on the voice operated
recording function while deleting the old stuff in a coffee shop
before the interview, and it only operated when people spoke very
loudly. So I have a record of these two hours 35 minutes long and much
of that is laughter. ha ha ha.
I think we go for quote approval on this story.

UPDATE: went back and did another forty minutes, with everything
working. Now transcribed, though less funthan the original.

WormGuy, above, links to "The Weirdest Book I ever read - 519211.html?thread=25103915#t25103915
and jwz/490497.html
which relate to (a nother lot of stuff on creationism, but with some neat drawings & a fun theory of dinosaurs, with film suggestions)