Tuesday, 28 February 2006

mmmmm ... Pancakes!

Mardi Gras doesn't mean "goodbye meat". Carnivale does. Shrove Tuesday is something different again.

Lundi — Monday
Mardis — Tuesday
Mercredi — Wednesday
Jeudi — Thursday
Vendredi — Friday
Samedi — Saturday
Dimanche — Sunday

Gras - fatty, greasy; fat (noun) - as in the stuff inside sausages, etc.
Foie = liver, e.g. cirrhose du foie = cirrhosis of the liver, huile de foie de morue = cod-liver oil
Pate = paste (noun, e.g. pate a bois = wood filler) or mixture
pate de foie gras = mashed-up paste made from fatty liver

Mardis gras = greasy/fatty Tuesday

carne = meat or flesh (carnal desires, chile con carne = chile with meat)
vale = farewell (usually seen in eulogies, funeral orations as "Vale [whatsisname]"
This is usually anglicised as just 'carnival', and has come to mean things related to the time of 'misrule', celebration & so forth that happened before the start of Lent.

I guess in Europe that would have been at the miserable fag-end of winter, just when it was starting to turn so you could see spring on the way. I've heard a few Europeans say that February was the worst month usually, so a bit of a break-out could be a good idea - something to look forward to, something to work the last demons of darkness out of the spirit before you settle down for the haul to Easter.

Note, 'shrove' is like 'shrive', as in 'short shrift' - that is, absolution after confession . Because you'd be shriven before attending the very serious Ash Wednesday mass for the beginning of Lent. Maybe you'd do it at the end of the day, after letting loose earlier.

"What do you read, my lord?" "Words, words, words."

Delicious Library [MAC software]
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Thursday, 23 February 2006

Sea Launch (Echostar) et al

An unusual tourist destination?
It's good to have a hobby.
www.flickr.com/photos/minifig -- We can't all be working in soup kitchens or cultivating gardens or creating great works of art in our spare time :)

Something in Extremely Bad Taste Indeed.

OK, OK, back to work

Croc on loose in Sydney

<em>February 23, 2006</em><blockquote>Northern Beaches police have been called to a waterway at Cromer after receiving reports a crocodile was sighted eating carp in a natural spring in an industrial unit block on South Creek Road.

Australian Reptile Park operations manager Craig Adams, who saw the reptile last night, identified it as an estuarine crocodile, commonly known as a "saltie".

The species is responsible for all fatal crocodile attacks on humans in Australia and can grow to at least six metres. Mr Adams said "If I was going to speculate, I'd say a kid's chucked it in there who got it off a mate, who got it when he was up north and brought it home as a hatchling, held onto it for a while and then maybe (his) dad said, `look, you've gotta get rid of that'."

He said it would be a "wonderful attraction" for a northern beaches cafe. "(But) it just won't survive the winter unfortunately."

The small crocodile is believed to have spent several months at the natural spring, surviving on a plentiful supply of carp and managing to evade any attempts to catch it. The croc's digs are located at the front of an industrial unit block, and visible from the street.

Cromer cafe owner Silvano Morello, who first spotted the crocodile, was among dozens of people hoping for a glimpse of the eatery's newest neighbour today. Ms Morello said her friends thought she was mad or "had had too much to drink" when she first mentioned the sighting.

Schoolchildren squealed and mums and dads took photographs with cameras and mobile phones today as the reptile teased the crowd with brief moments above the water and on the bank.

Police working with Australian Reptile Park staff were unsuccessful in catching the crocodile last night, but will make another attempt tonight

Once captured, the reptile will be placed in a suitable animal park.</blockquote>

Wednesday, 22 February 2006

Macrocosmos; Microcosmos

The Universe as a Human Body:

Schramm's figures for relative abundances indicate that helium is about 25% by mass and hydrogen about 73% with all other elements constituting less than 2%
[NB, I assume this is non-dark-matter, 'baryonic' I believe it's called, because we don't really know just what the 'dark matter' is, if in fact it's there.]

If a person weighs, say, 80kg & <koff&> virtually none is Helium, there's a fair chunk of Hydrogen, as part of carbohydrates (sugars, starches, alcohols, etc), hydrocarbons (fatty stuff), and the rest &mdash; most of a body &mdash; is made up of the 2% of the universe that isn't either of those. But if I were 80kg, and also The Universe (not counting Dark Matter, which may be my deep secrets and despair, or unconscious mind, or perhaps my spirit or soul), 2% of me would be 1.6 kg (~3.5 lb). Maybe a forearm, or both forearms, or a leg below the knee? I wonder how long a chunk of intestines would weigh that (empty of course). Which would be all the elements and compounds we know apart from hydrogen & helium.

Should I mention that a fair chunk of every human body is non-human cells? Bacteria & protozoa that we carry about on & inside ourselves. Not a particularly large amount by weight, but a lot if you count each human cell as equivalent to a single bacterium or single-celled protozoan.

Also see
imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ ask_astro/answers/971113i.html (one of the answers in Goddard Space Centre's "Ask an Astrophysicist" section - imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/ask_an_astronomer.html

Cosmology - Birth and Death of the Universe
physics.gmu.edu/~jevans/ astr103/CourseNotes/Ppt/ Lec09_pt2_cosmologyModern/ tsld001.htm

Significant Eras back to Big Bang

    Present era = 10 -20 x 109 years after big bang
    Matter era = <106 years after big bang
    Radiation era = 1 s to 106 years after big bang
    Lepton era = 10-4 to 1 s after big bang
    Hadron era = 10-4 to 10-23 s after big bang
    Quark era = 10-23 s to 10-43 s after big bang
    Planck era = earlier than 10-43 s

An independent media collective at the University of Connecticut
Perhaps these people can find themselves in the line of descent of New Journalism

UConn Free Press is an alternative student-run newspaper. We are an anti-profit weekly publication serving the university and local community. We are dedicated to carrying out the tradition of participatory democracy through staff consensus in all matters concerning the paper. We welcome article and art submissions via www.freeuconn.com or uconnfreepress@gmail.com. Consider, criticize, and debate.

Music, Theatre & Dance: A Performing Arts Digital Library

The Library of Congress » Performing Arts Reading Room

This Web site, formerly known as "I Hear America Singing," invites visitors to experience the diversity of American performing arts through the Library of Congress's unsurpassed collections of scores, sheet music, audio recordings, films, photographs, maps, and other materials.
www.loc.gov/rr/perform/ ihas/lcp-home.html

Search Individual Collections
Civil War Sheet Music - lcweb2.loc.gov/cocoon/ ihas/html/civilwar/ civilwar-home.html
A collection of over 2500 titles of music about the Civil War.
Volcano of Delight: Historic Sheet Music, 1800-1922 - lcweb2.loc.gov/cocoon/ihas/ html/volcano/ volcano-home.html
A collection of over 9,000 titles published in the U.S. and Europe.

View Other Special Presentations ...
[includes currently]
A Jazz and Blues Filmography by David Meeker,
lcweb2.loc.gov/cocoon/ ihas/html/jots/ jazzscreen-home.html
a searchable database documenting the work of some 1,000 major jazz and blues figures in over 14,000 cinema, television and video productions.

Ask a Librarian - www.loc.gov/rr/askalib/ask-perform.html

Labour Music links (mp3, rm, midi, & links to lyrics): www.marxists.org/subject/art/music/index.htm

Sheet Music to "International" (1870) : www.marxists.org/subject/art/music/internationale.pdf [PDF]

Esperanto version: www.uv.es/pla/red.net/intesper.html

Listen to the most festive rendition of "The Internationale" ever ( mirukashihime.cool.ne.jp/sound/int_sfms.mp3 [MP3] ), played by a Japanese band Soul Flower Mononoke Summit ( www.breast.co.jp/soulflower ). Sort of a Japanese Klezmer version. Here are the lyrics written in in Japanese mirukashihime.cool.ne.jp/ sound/interjap2.GIF
( via Literary Montages)

This is a good source for the lyrics in parallel versions in several languages, including Asian ones.
The Internationale
(from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Internationale )

Note there are also links here to Writers & other forms of art.

Another Year Gone

Hunter Stockton Thompson
    *18 July 1937
    +22 February 2005

Chief Gonzo

Terms of Use [PDF]

San Francisco Chronicle's coverage last year

Fear, Loathing, and Great Reporting

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson is most remembered for over-the-top writings and personality. But it's worth remembering that he was also a damned fine reporter, with a gift for details and one of the best crap detectors in history.
by Sam Smith
(February 22, 2005)
-- One of the brightest lights in the American firmament blinked out Sunday. Word of Hunter Thompson’s death arrived at our house via the crawl on the network happy news this morning, and there’s irony enough in that fact alone.

Hunter Stockton Thompson, the Good Doctor, is most remembered for his over-the-top tours des excès – "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas" being the most famous. But it’s not the gonzo high spots I’ll remember him for. What has gotten so lost in the legend that Thompson became (and the self-parody he sometimes lapsed into later in his career) is that he was a damned fine reporter.
Forget gonzo for a second. Before HST became an icon of the New Journalism he was an exceptional practitioner of a more conventional journalism, something that’s evident to anybody who’s read the early works collected in "The Great Shark Hunt: Gonzo Papers, Volume 1."

Thompson had a gift for the details and one of the best crap detectors in history. His flawless nose for the truths, dynamics, and motivations driving the players starring in his stories lent those narratives a quality that somehow fused unflinching naturalism with sweeping mythology.

Read "A Southern City with Northern Problems," for instance, where Thompson examines the issue of race in his native Louisville:
"The white power structure has given way in the public sector, only to entrench itself more firmly in the private. And the Negro -- especially the educated Negro -- feels that his victories are hollow and his 'progress' is something he reads about in the newspapers. The outlook for Louisville’s Negroes may have improved from 'separate but equal' to 'equal but separate.' But that still leaves a good deal to be desired."
Read "Hells Angels," Thompson’s landmark study of one of America’s unique subcultures. This wasn’t just exceptional journalism, it was some of the best scholarship I’ve ever read. It was ethnography, the anthropological study of cultures, and whereas some anthropologists study the rites, rituals, and folkways of natives in exotic faraway jungles, Thompson studied the rites, rituals, and folkways of natives living in exotic faraway Oakland, Calif.

Read "Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail," which remains perhaps the greatest political book I’ve ever encountered. While Thompson became famous for harpooning Nixon -- "a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president [who] was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning" -- "Campaign Trail" made clear that you didn’t have to pick sides. He lashed on the Democrats more violently than he did Nixon, in fact. And for good reason. There’s plenty of ineptitude and corruption in both camps, it turns out -- a lesson America circa 2005 would do well to learn.
As tragic as Thompson’s death is -- has there been a time when we needed his honesty and brutality more than we do now? -- I was somewhat heartened by the explosion of tributes around the Web yesterday. My e-mail box was buried by individual notes and list mailings from all directions, with some issuing from journalists saying they’d never have become reporters in the first place without his influence. Almost every blog I checked had, at the very least, a link to an obit, which is more than appropriate given how important, how absolutely essential the pioneering work of people like Thompson and Wolfe has been to the brand of interpretive journalism being practiced in the more enlightened corners of cyberspace.

Further, his death arrives at a moment when the journalism industry is finally starting to contemplate issues that Thompson was railing about four decades ago. A number of very serious figures in the field have recently begun examining the repeated failings of objectivity in the press, with one -- Geneva Overholser of the Missouri School of Journalism -- telling The Hartford Courant that 2004 was "the year when it finally became unmistakably clear that objectivity has outlived its usefulness as an ethical touchstone for journalism."

Hunter tried to teach us that objectivity is a rule set that can be gamed, corrupted, and shaped into a weapon for use against the very principles it was developed to protect. He tried to teach us that fact and truth aren’t the same thing. Quoting Faulkner, he noted that "the best fiction is far more true than any kind of journalism -- and the best journalists have always known this." He set an uncompromising determination to get at the truth ahead of what he saw as artificial rules and conventions, and if the "facts" got in the way of the truth, well, that told you something about the facts, didn’t it?

Although I never heard him say it in these words, Hunter S. Thompson I think understood the artificial Red/Blue, Conservative/Liberal divide that most Americans seem to have bought into for the cynical construction that it is -- a rhetorical fluff job that turns Americans with common cause against each other and that serves the power elites in both parties to the detriment of the public they take turns fleecing.

In short, Hunter Thompson was a champion of the common people. Yes, his reporting was so crazed at times that you couldn’t be sure if you were reading an eyewitness account or a drug-addled hallucination. But he remained to the end one of the most unswervingly ethical reporters of our generation, a man whose commitment to social justice and the public good trumped everything.

Saturday, 18 February 2006

Log-Dump - the raw material

Video & Discussion of Multi-touch Screen Interaction
The World of Smartboards, Sympodiums is about to change
also at:
Video - Multi-Touch Interaction Research
Jefferson Y. Han, Multi-Touch Interaction Research

See for a discussion.
Jeff Han's research page can be found here:

mrl.nyu .edu/~jhan — Some of the comment thread:
The technology is multi-touch screens, developed at NYU. Apple has patented these interactions, apparently.
The main feature that distinguishes this from traditional means of human-computer interfaces is that this sort of touch screen allows coordinated interaction with both hands, instead of limiting oneself to one hand controlling fine 3-D manipulations.
Human's adapt to their tools as much as we create tools for our needs.
The great thing about innovations like this isn't because it will allow you to do what you're already doing everyday on your computers "faster" or even "easier" --- it's that it could (potentially) let you do things you didn't even imagine you'd want to do with your computer.
www.fingerworks.com/ userguides.html - multitouch input surfaces for a number of years. They were marketed as keyboard/mouse replacement systems for those suffering from RSI, and they serve that purpose well - FingerWorks, the people who developed the TouchStream keyboard, had some *excellent* user-interface talent, and they developed a set of multitouch gestures that are astonishingly easy to learn and use. True, the gestures mostly just replace key-modifier combinations, but they're MUCH less painful to use.

Unfortunately, their business folded The company's intellectual property was acquired, most likely by Apple, although nobody's allowed to say. Those of us lucky enough to have their products are hoping that whoever bought them will resurrect something like the TouchStream system.

The background music is 'Who Am I' by Peace Orchestra


Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Bulwer-Lytton
www.annatambour.net/ SocietyforthePreventionofCrueltytoBulwerLytton.htm

World War II Military Situation Maps
The Library of Congress > American Memory Home >
memory.loc.gov/ ammem/collections/ maps/wwii

Looking for a Particular Photo of the Big Snow in Japan
www.asahi.com/english/ Herald-asahi/TKY200602060119.html
Cover Story: Digging in
The Asahi Shimbun

abcasiapacific.com/ news/stories/ asiapacific_stories_1548528.htm
The death toll from Japan's worst snow fall in more than two decades has climbed to 95 as relief workers made progress opening a key road to stranded mountain villages.

Police confirmed six more deaths, mostly elderly people, including a 74-year-old man in the northern island of Hokkaido who died after slipping from his roof while shovelling snow.

Highway 405, connecting the central towns of Tsunanmachi in Niigata prefecture and Sakaemura in Nagano prefecture, was opened for three hours after being closed for most of January.

It has been Japan's deadliest winter since 1983-1984 when 131 people died in snow-related incidents.

news.yahoo.com/s/afp/ 20060116/sc_afp/ japanweathersnow_060116133410
Mon Jan 16, 8:34 AM ET
The number of victims killed in snow-related accidents has topped 100, the highest in more than 20 years, according to public broadcaster NHK.

Injuries have reached 2,100, including a six-year-old boy who remained unconscious after he was buried under a mass of snow which slid off the roof of a play schoo
(AFP/Jiji Press/File)

english.pravda.ru/news/ /10-02-2006/75740-Japan-0
Snow avalanche in northern Japan: 10 injured, one missing


news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/ asia-pacific/4598356.stm
Tuesday, 10 January 2006, 11:33 GMT
Japan struggling to clear snow
Japanese soldiers have been trying to clear heavy snow in the country's north after cold weather killed at least 70 people.
Two neighbourhoods - Tsunan in central Niigata prefecture, and Sakaemura in neighbouring Nagano prefecture - have been cut off for two days.

Worst-hit areas saw Japan's heaviest snowfall on record, with drifts more than three metres (10ft) deep.

web-japan.org/kidsweb/ school/tokamachi/ distinctive01.html
Tokamachi Elementary School
The students of Tokamachi Elementary are friends with the snow and are used to living with it. Let's look at ... some of the ideas they use to cope with the bitter winter cold

Attractive Design in Everyday Practical Objects
moki.milkcafe.to/ manhole/top.html

Virtual autopsy of Egyptian mummy
english.pravda.ru/ photo/report/183
/ All photo-reports / Science © SPIEGEL ONLINE

Jet engines
www.flurl.com/uploaded/ Fordje_blazen_10257.html

A resource for off-label uses and for people with interesting brains who require neurococktails.
Basic drug information and discussion for assorted psychoactive meds - US based for brand names, FDA application approvals. Links too.

Drug Digest is a thorough reference of general health conditions, treatments, drugs and supplements.
It describes itself as "a noncommercial, evidence-based, consumer health and drug information site dedicated to empowering consumers to make informed choices about drugs and treatment options."
Drug Library
Drug Interactions
Drug Comparisons
Conditions & Treatments
Meet the Experts, etc

Super Kong
Attack of the Giant Horny Gorilla
Hideous Mutant
King Kongui daeyeokseub (South Korea)
Super Kong

Directed by
Paul Leder

Writing credits
Paul Leder
Reuben Leder
Runtime: 87 min
Country: South Korea / USA

www.washingtonpost.com/ wp-dyn/content/article/ 2006/02/12/ AR2006021201208.html
For Russians, Car Wreck Is A Case Study In Privilege
by Peter Finn
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, February 13, 2006; Page A01
BIISK, Russia -- The imprisonment of a man who was involved in a traffic accident that killed one of Russia's best-known politicians triggered protests across the country this weekend, especially among motorists who view the jailing as a chilling failure of the courts to protect average citizens from vengeful authorities.

Outraged supporters of Oleg Shcherbinsky, a railway worker whose car was hit from behind last summer by a speeding car carrying the Altai region's governor, rallied Saturday and Sunday in 22 Russian cities ... Shcherbinsky was convicted at a closed trial this month and sentenced to four years in a labour colony.
many motorists can easily imagine themselves suffering Shcherbinsky's fate.

"We have a caste system on our roads: The elite who do what they want and everybody else who is supposed to get out of their way," said Vyacheslav Lysakov, head of a motorists' club in Moscow ...

Memento Mori

medlarcomfits.blogspot.com/ 2006/01/ thy-will-be-done.html
medlarcomfits.blogspot.com/ 2006/01/ death-coming.html

Thursday, 9 February 2006

Different ways of looking at the world

Gridded Population of the World (GPW) page
Demographic information is usually provided on a national basis. But we know that countries are ephemeral phenomena. As an alternate scheme one might use ecological zones rather than nation states. But there is no agreement as to what these zones should be. By way of contrast global environmental studies using satellites as collection devices yield results indexed by latitude and longitude. Thus it makes sense to assemble the terrestrial arrangement of people in a compatible manner. This alternative is explored here, using latitude/longitude quadrilaterals as bins for population information

You can get the actual data, or look at the maps with population densities superimposed: The World in GPW

Dataset Variables
There are four files in this dataset - population counts (i.e., the number of people in each cell), population density (i.e., people per square kilometer), global population (counts, smoothed), global population (population density, smoothed.
The data are available as ASCII files or as pkzip compressed ArcInfo Export files
Each format is available as a global coverage, or as one of five subsets: North and Central America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Europe, Asia, and Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania

Archival and Access Information
GPW v1 is archived and distributed by the Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) and is available via ftp at www.ciesin.columbia.edu/datasets/ gpw/ftpgrid.html. More recent versions of GPW are available at sedac.ciesin.columbia.edu/gpw.

Do-It-Yourself Mapping
GPS Visualizer is a free, easy-to-use online utility that creates maps and profiles from GPS data (tracks and waypoints), street addresses, or simple coordinates. Use it to see where you've been, plan where you're going, or visualize geographic data (business locations, events, customers, real estate, etc.).
GPS Visualizer can draw maps in JPEG and PNG format in addition to SVG. These bitmapped graphics aren't nearly as versatile, but they don't require a plug-in

Geotagging on Flickr
A snapshot taken on 11-Jul-05 of the locations at which 30222 geotagged flickr images were taken.

Trompe l'pedestrian

Julian Beever is an English artist who works on the pavements of England, France, Germany, USA, Australia and Belgium. Its peculiarity? Beever gives his drawings an anamorphic view; his images are drawn in a way which gives them a strong illusion of three dimensionality when viewed from the correct angle.

A famous 'Old Master' using the anamorphic method is Hans Holbein's The Ambassadors — Jean de Dinteville and Georges de Selves — (1533), at the National Gallery in London
plus.maths.org/issue33/ features/dartnell_art — see this Zipped PowerPoint presentation ( www.virtualartroom.com/ presentations/ Anamorphosis.zip ) from an educational site www.virtualartroom.com/ interactive_exercises.htm. This ( www.constant.irisnet.be/ ~peter_w/ log/ index.php?p=20 ) talks about it too. The page is a bit wonky, but it does have a good picture of the anamorphic section of the painting as it looks at the 'right' angle, which is fairly rare.

Wednesday, 8 February 2006

Strange, yet True

Lynette Cook's art site – (Space section)

M Star Planet An M Star Planet (not completely unlike Earth)

United Nuclear sells many fascinating things (if you're in the USA)

Sound from the Roger Rick & Marylin Morning Show witnessing by mobile phone (via wales can be interesting)

Self-Propelled Film-boiling Liquid Droplets
Film-boiling: When a drop of liquid is placed on a surface held at a temperature much higher than the its boiling point (such as a drop of water in a very hot pan) it hovers on its own vapour cushion, without wetting the surface.
This page links to a series of video clips showing a series of such droplets moving at speeds of several centimeters per second on asymmetrically structured surfaces. It can look both strange and rather beautiful.
darkwing.uoregon.edu/ %7Elinke/ supporting/ Movie4.mov
Some of the droplets are liquid nitrogen, which is above its boiling point at 'normal' room temperature.

This page on Brownian Motors relates to similar phenomena. It can relate to understanding how cells transport things within or around them, and might be useful in designing nanotechnology.

Friday, 3 February 2006

Just. Stay. Down.

Over at Kung Fu Monkey there's a great little take-down of some bloke's comments on recent Academy Award nominations. I won't spoil any of the fun quotes, except to say that later on the author wrote in the comments "some of the rhetoric is a bit 5 am-ish".
Go and Enjoy.

A Pale Blue Dot, seen close

From NASA's Earth Observatory Newsroom: The Blue Marble Next Generation (part of "Visible Earth") is a series of images that show the color of the Earth’s surface for each month of 2004 at very high resolution (500 meters/pixel) at a global scale.

An important part of NASA's mission has always been to explore, to discover, and to understand this world from the unique vantage point of space. They now operate 18 of the most advanced Earth-observing satellites ever built. We can share these newly gained perspectives too, and this project is a good way of doing that.

The original Blue Marble was a composite of four months of MODIS observations with a spatial resolution (level of detail) of 1 square kilometer per pixel.

These new monthly images reveal seasonal changes to the land surface: the green-up and dying-back of vegetation in temperate regions such as North America and Europe, dry and wet seasons in the tropics, and advancing and retreating snow cover.

From a computer processing standpoint, the major improvement is the development of a new technique for allowing the computer to automatically recognize and remove cloud-contaminated or otherwise bad data—a process that was previously done manually. The ability to create a digital image that provides great detail in darker regions, such as dense tropical forests, without “washing out” brighter regions, like glaciers, snow-covered areas, and deserts is another of the key improvements,

Pale Blue Dot
Another picture of our planet. From more than 4 billion miles away.

And, comparatively close by ...
Space4case Mars Gallery 2006 - Recent 3D renderings of the surface of Mars. Beautifully done.

    [NB: The original linked from here is ... considerably larger. You might prefer to look in the Gallery linked above first.]

A personal site mostly using the Terragen landscape generating software. The artist, Kees Veenenbos, has also tried images of other parts of the Solar System, and had a go at depicting a view near a known extra-solar planet.

Thursday, 2 February 2006

By the world's most isolated ATM

On a table in the restaurant by the harbour in the town of Hanga Roa on Easter Island is this, which can apparently not be bought at any price, according to this note.