If man could be crossed with the cat, it would greatly improve man but deteriorate the cat. --Mark Twain

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Escher Staircases on the World Wide Web 

Ascending and descending at the same time?

Do you ever feel like you are going in circles on the WWW? Amazing but apparently true - here is the reason why! It is shown that Escher Staircases, i.e. cycles of four nodes in a graph with reciprocal links, form a basic structural element on the World Wide Web. Huh?

Read the 4 June 2004 edition of First Monday - Peer Reviewed Internet Journal for the complete article Escher Staircases on the World Wide Web

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Curveballs to Congress 

AKA the Unintelligent War or the Magnitude of the Deception
The Senate Intelligence Committee has spoken on the intelligence that led us to war. If only we had known ...

Read this 16 July 2004 article at the American Prospect Online Edition Curveballs to Congress

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Friday, June 18, 2004

Through the labyrinths of information 

An excerpt from Why I Am in Love with Librarians
by Julia Alvarez

Curiosity sends us out
To a world both larger and smaller
Than what we know and believe in
With a passion for finding an answer
Or at least understanding our questions.

That road is paved with librarians,
Bushwhackers, scots with string
Through the labyrinths of information,
Helpers who disappear the moment
You reach your destination.

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Earliest known map of Angle-terre, ca. 1050 AD 

Previously unknown medieval Arabic map

On public display this year from 7 June to 30 October is a truly amazing medieval Arabic map. It is not often that a previously unknown map comes to light and this one is especially notable for the earliest representation of England. On display at the Oxford's Bodleian Library, this map identifies England as a small, egg-shaped lump labelled as "Angle-terre", the earliest use of that name in reference to the British Isles. Part of an unbound manuscript, Book of Curiosities of the Sciences and Marvels, which probably originated in Nile Delta region before 1050 AD and was copied about 150 years later in Egypt, this map is one of an array on display in the exhibition 'Medieval Views of the Cosmos.'

For more details read Vaness Thorpe's article published on June 6, 2004, in the Observer Ancient map shows egg-shaped England

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Sunday, June 13, 2004


Sweet revenge!!

Okay, call me a curmudgeon, but I not a fan of the Harry Potter books. Foremost amongst my reasons for lack of interest is that they seem to be a blatant rip-off of "The Worst Witch" series, which was popular during my oldest son's early school years in the U.K. Interestingly enough he also does not care for Harry Potter books.

Another reason for distancing myself from Harry Potter books is that the spells contained therein are written in pretend-Latin. Granted they are pretend spells, so writing in a pretend manner makes sense at some infantile level. On the other hand, I cannot count the number of times my younger son, who spent his early educational years in the US, not the UK, has come to me asking for a translation of a Latinish spell. Invariably surprised to learn it is meaningless because it looks so deceptively real, he finds it hard to understand why the author does this. His frustration is valid, afterall if the author is going to write mumble-jumble couldn't she just do so, without confusing youngsters by making it look real?

Now sweet revenge is mine!! At last I have found a name for Harry Potter's annoying, magical gibberish - Dog-Latin, as in Latin that has gone to the dogs - and I couldn't agree more fully! Perhaps the dogs could please chew up all the Harry Potter books as well?

For more on Dog-Latin read Cobham E. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable.

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About thinking outside of the box 

By Leo Cullum

Published in The New Yorker

November 30, 1998

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More from the people who wear their sins on their bodies dept 

Size matters

Paraphrasing the American philosopher John Rawls, "The best measure of a just society is whether you’d be willing to be thrown into it at random.”

Do short men feel society is "just" when tall men get married sooner, get promoted quicker, and earn higher wages, while short men are unlucky in politics and in love? This sounds like the thin vs fat women controvery. So it is also a sin to be short! How fair is that? Apparently not very fair at all, because surprisingly, tallness appears to be more dependent, NOT upon DNA, but upon the overall prosperity of a society. For more on this topic read Burhard Bilger's article, published May 5, 2004, in the New Yorker, The Height Gap.

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From the people who wear their sins on their bodies dept 

Private Life

On June 11, 2004, in salon.com's Table TAlk, bbudke writes, "But honestly, is there a fat woman alive who DOESN'T KNOW? Who doesn't know every minute of every day? ... And meanwhile, people who don't have to wear their sins on their bodies, people who cut people off in traffic and park in handicapped spots just for a second and smack their children and cheat on their taxes and laugh at homeless people? They get a pass. Because you can't tell what kind of person they are just by looking at them. And you can't tell who I am just by looking at me, either. But some people think they can anyway. And it makes me tired.

Private Life

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Open-source medical research 

An open-source model for medical research

A recent report in the Economist asks, "Can goodwill, aggregated over the internet, produce good medicine?" For a thought provoking and inspiring read see the complete article, An open-source shot in the arm?

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Saturday, June 12, 2004

The new WCPL 

WCPL isn't just a radio station anymore!

WCPL sure sounds like the call name for a radio station, but in actuality maybe there never was one. I don't really know. Regardless of any past lives WCPL may have enjoyed, it now refers to a newly minted website on behalf of the Washington Carnegie Public Library in Daviess County, Indiana,which I began in fulfillment of a class assignment.

Visit WCPL soon and let me know what you think.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2004

In Homer Simpson's Opinion 

A Brief History of Mother Shabubu

Marge: I'm afraid we're going to need a bigger house.
Homer: No, we won't. I've got it all figured out. The baby can have Bart's
crib and Bart'll sleep with us until he's 21.
Marge: Won't that warp him?
Homer: My cousin Frank did it.
Marge: You don't have a cousin Frank.
Homer: He became Francine back in '76. Then he joined that cult. I think her
name is Mother Shabubu now.

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Monday, June 07, 2004

God's Secretaries by Adam Nicolson 

The Making of the King James Bible

After featuring Adam Nicolson in a previous blog, I couldn't resist sharing this. Just image the time of Shakespeare...

"Four hundred years ago, a Scottish king ascended the throne of a deeply divided England. Bubonic plague had broken out in the towns and cities. Within two years, political terrorists would be plotting to blow up Parliament. And many of the most fundamental assumptions about spiritual life were being called into question by the movement known as the Reformation. In that time of turmoil, some fifty scholars and clergymen began work on what would become the most influential and awe-inspiring book of English prose ever produced: the King James Bible. How did it happen?"

Read the full transcipt from the PBS Think Tank of an interview with Adam Nicolson regarding his amazing literary achievement, God's Secretaries .

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As if Google wasn't enough, now we have even More Google

Sarcasim aside, this is good stuff with lots of new features and it is fun, fun, fun!! Download is free so don't wait. Check out

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Sunday, June 06, 2004

Salon - if you can't bill it kill it 

The new Salon

Robert Gelfand of San Pedro, CA writes, " For those who don't know it, Salon is a Web site which has become something of an oasis for us rational centrists who enjoy intellectual combat but distain the paranoid fantasies of either the far left or the far right. I don't remember when I first chanced upon Salon but it was well before the dot com collapse. At the time, Andrew Leonard was writing fascinating articles about Internet culture and business, Camille Paglia was writing diatribes on the vapidity of postmodernist theory, and Bill Clinton was in the Whitehouse."

Salon was founded in late 1995. It was named Website of the Year by Time magazine and received the Webby award for Best Online Magazine several times. As a result in the dot.com collapse its advertising revenues have dropped significantly and Salon has started charging readers in order to survive finacially. For more read Gelfand's article from June 6 2004 entitled Salon's Future: Iffy, yet promising

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