Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Scewpine Leaves

So, in my search for an authenric biryaniEpicurious.com has helped me find out what Kewra is.

All I need to know now is where I can getr my hands on some.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Loins of War

Yet another nay-sayer weighs in on Alexander.

The Graphing Calculator Story

The Graphing Calculator Story is a wonderful yarn. Merry Christmas.

GO

The heavyweight pros on late-night cable television boast nicknames such as Monster, Razor, Butcher, Assassin and Knitting Needle. The most famed matches in history include the Blood Vomiting Game of 1835, the Famous Killing Game of 1926 and the Atomic Bomb Game of 1945. No, this is not some bone-crushing contact sport. It is a simple parlour game where two opponents, comfortably seated and often equipped with nothing more than folding paper fans and cigarettes, take turns placing little stones, some black, some white, on a flat wooden grid. Simple regarding rules and gear, that is, yet so challenging that in this mind-game, unlike chess, and despite the long-standing offer of a $1.6m reward for a winning program, no computer has yet been able to outwit a clever ten-year-old.
The game known in English as go, Igo in Japanese, Weiqi in Chinese, Baduk in Korean is not just more difficult and subtle than chess. It may also be the world's oldest surviving game of pure mental skill. Devised in China at least 2,500 years ago, it had stirred enough interest by the time of the Han dynasty (206BC-220AD) to inspire poets, philosophers and strategic theorists. One of these strategists, Huan Tan (who died in 56AD), advises in his work "Xin Lun", or "New Treatise", that the best approach in the game is to "spread your pieces widely so as to encircle the opponent." Second best is to attack and choke off enemy formations. The worst strategy is to cling to a defence of your own territory - a warning that would have benefited, say, the designers of France's 1930s Maginot line."

Economist.

Leave Rumsfeld Be

Victor Hanson a rare voice in support of the apparently beleagured Secretary of Defence.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The undiscover'd country

Here is the most famous soliloquy in the language from the most famous play.

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. - Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.


Yet what happens in Act 1, Scene 1? The Ghost comes back from the undiscovered country! I have seen this play half a dozen times, yet this contradiction only just occurred to me. If it was written today, and editor would probably pick it up as a mistake.

Not a Turkey in the Bunch

Christmas feasts from the top-five food magazines.
Sara Dickerman in Slate

This minister is no sister

Melanie Phillips on Ruth Kelly.

It will be interesting to see how the Opus Dei angle plays out pace Rocco Buttiglione's savaging by the EU Parliament.

I am pessimistic about her chances given the entrenched hostility there is to Catholicism. Haven't got a clue about her abilities one way or the other.

The history and origin of fish and chips

The history and origin of fish and chips. Apparently fish fried in batter is from the Jewish East End of London, while the chips are from Lancashire. They were conjoined around 1860 it would seem.

Multiculturalism or the melting pot?

Monday, December 20, 2004

Gay Old Times

Victor Hanson has his ha'penny worthon the new Alexander movie. Rather worryingly, as he is a professional classicist, he is in the anti camp. In both senses of camp come to think of it.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Less Said the better

Telegraph Arts Empire? What empire?:When the late Edward Said put forward his theory that the English novel was essentially the expression of an imperialist culture, his supporters were quite untroubled by the fact that there was scarcely a single major novel between Defoe and Kipling that had a contemporary colonial setting. The failure to mention the Empire was itself, according to Said, an act of imperialist 'marginalising.

The Absent Minded Imperialists reviewed in the Telegraph.

Its a great point.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Rules

A profile of Rules, Covent Garden, the oldest restaurant in London.

Monday, December 13, 2004

What were the Crusades really about?

The New Yorker: The Critics: Books

I have never heard anyone speculate that the sacking of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade really was a key event for the future rise and effective dominance of the West.

I wonder if there is anything to it.

The missing peace

William Dalrymple reviews The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West by Gilles Kepel.
EducationGuardian.co.uk.

Friday, December 10, 2004

The ecstasy of God's dancers

Now more than ever the world needs a gentle, tolerant version of Islam. Sufism is exactly that, but it faces growing hostility from moneyed Saudi fundamentalists. William Dalrymple reports in New Statesman.

Police Promise Peace And Goodwill

Police Promise Peace And Goodwill in Colliers WoodWimbledon Guardian

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Religious hatred Bill is being used to buy Muslim votes

Michael Burleigh in the Telegraph

Laptops a Hot Fertility Issue

Men who regularly balance their laptop computers on their laps when working may be jeopardizing their ability to have children, according to a new study from fertility researchers at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
Wired News

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Naples police in huge mafia swoop

Is the Camora always in the news, or have I only started noticing it since we got back from Sorrento?
BBC NEWS

Mammography, air power, and the limits of looking

Finally something that sheds a bit of life on what the discipline of Derby's Applied Vision Research Institute is.

The New Yorker

Afghan Gems

Travelling from Faisabad we go to Sar-el-Sang, the lapis mine at the Blue Mountain. This mountain was the only source of lapis lazuli in the ancient world. Lapis beads have been found in Mesopotamian graves that date from 5,000 BC and the mine's number one shaft shows traces of prehistoric working with fire and bronze axes in caverns up to 150 feet high. The lapis for the Chinese carving celebrated in Yeats's famous poem and Tutankhamun's death mask was quarried here. The number one shaft is still being worked, making it the oldest continuously worked mine in the world.

Travel Afghanistan - Matthew Leeming

I would love to see this part of the world now it is opening up again. This guy makes a living out local gems.

More Blunkett broadsides

David Blunkett personally ordered Metropolitan Police chief Sir John Stevens to withdraw "tanks" from Heathrow following public alarm at the anti-terror move, it emerged today.
Evening Standard

The Media and Medievalism

" In the next war, while the media provide the global cosmopolitan perspective, the troops themselves may well provide the American one. The fact is that most grunts can't stand to be portrayed as victims. The quietly mounting trend of American soldiers and Marines writing about their experiences and posting them on weblogs rather than having their experiences interpreted by transnational journalists is proof enough. AndrewSullivan.com, among others, has periodically posted such accounts. I recall one from a Marine chaplain in the Sunni Triangle pleading that the grunts' morale was fine and suggesting that their principal fear was the home front going belly-up on them. The parts are all in place for an explosion of this type of commentary. Almost all the troops have their own laptops and access to cybercafes at their bases. The American perspective does not whitewash problems or claim a situation is better than it is, but it does promote warrior virtues and submerge the cult of victimhood, and it recognizes that good morale does not mean the absence of complaints ? troops complain all the time; it would be suspicious if they didn't. It means only the continued spirit to fight.
Robert D. Kaplan - Policy Review, No. 128:

An Englishman's Home ...

The right to protect your family does not derive from any home secretary or chief constable.

Telegraph

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

How Buddhism Got to Russia

How Buddhism Got to Russia despite the best efforts of Stalin and Catherine the Great. Brendan I. Koerner in Slate

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I am not interested in biological details

Stephen Quinn is dignified in the Telegraph. More dignified either of the two main protagonists anyway.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Chris Evans back on the market

Broadcaster Chris Evans has begun selling thousands of his possessions from a stall in Camden Market, London.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Serial Killers and plagiarism

From The New Yorker .

Personality Tests

gladwell.com

I want to quote the first few paragraphs of this in full.

When Alexander (Sandy) Nininger was twenty-three, and newly commissioned as a lieutenant in the United States Army, he was sent to the South Pacific to serve with the 57th Infantry of the Philippine Scouts. It was January, 1942. The Japanese had just seized Philippine ports at Vigan, Legazpi, Lamon Bay, and Lingayen, and forced the American and Philippine forces to retreat into Bataan, a rugged peninsula on the South China Sea. There, besieged and outnumbered, the Amer-icans set to work building a defensive line, digging foxholes and constructing dikes and clearing underbrush to provide unobstructed sight lines for rifles and machine guns. Nininger's men were on the line's right flank. They labored day and night. The heat and the mosquitoes were nearly unbearable.

Quiet by nature, Nininger was tall and slender, with wavy blond hair. As Franklin M. Reck recounts in "Beyond the Call of Duty," Nininger had graduated near the top of his class at West Point, where he chaired the lecture-and-entertainment committee. He had spent many hours with a friend, discussing everything from history to the theory of relativity. He loved the theatre. In the evenings, he could often be found sitting by the fireplace in the living room of his commanding officer, sipping tea and listening to Tchaikovsky. As a boy, he once saw his father kill a hawk and had been repulsed. When he went into active service, he wrote a friend to say that he had no feelings of hate, and did not think he could ever kill anyone out of hatred. He had none of the swagger of the natu-ral warrior. He worked hard and had a strong sense of duty.

In the second week of January, the Japanese attacked, slipping hundreds of snipers through the American lines, climbing into trees, turning the battlefield into what Reck calls a "gigantic possum hunt." On the morning of January 12th, Nininger went to his commanding officer. He wanted, he said, to be assigned to another company, one that was in the thick of the action, so he could go hunting for Japanese snipers.

He took several grenades and ammunition belts, slung a Garand rifle over his shoulder, and grabbed a submachine gun. Starting at the point where the fighting was heaviest-near the position of the battalion's K Company-he crawled through the jungle and shot a Japanese soldier out of a tree. He shot and killed snipers. He threw grenades into enemy positions. He was wounded in the leg, but he kept going, clearing out Japa-nese positions for the other members of K Company, behind him. He soon ran out of grenades and switched to his rifle, and then, when he ran out of ammunition, used only his bayonet. He was wounded a second time, but when a medic crawled toward him to help bring him back behind the lines Nininger waved him off. He saw a Japanese bunker up ahead. As he leaped out of a shell hole, he was spun around by a bullet to the shoulder, but he kept charging at the bunker, where a Japanese officer and two enlisted men were dug in. He dispatched one soldier with a double thrust of his bayonet, clubbed down the other, and bayonetted the officer. Then, with outstretched arms, he collapsed face down. For his heroism, Nininger was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the first American soldier so decorated in the Second World War.

Suppose that you were a senior Army officer in the early days of the Second World War and were trying to put together a crack team of fearless and ferocious fighters. Sandy Nininger, it now appears, had exactly the right kind of personality for that assignment, but is there any way you could have known this beforehand? It clearly wouldn't have helped to ask Nininger if he was fearless and ferocious, because he didn't know that he was fearless and ferocious. Nor would it have worked to talk to people who spent time with him. His friend would have told you only that Nininger was quiet and thoughtful and loved the theatre, and his commanding officer would have talked about the evenings of tea and Tchaikovsky. With the exception, perhaps, of the Scarlet Pimpernel, a love of music, theatre, and long afternoons in front of a teapot is not a known predictor of great valor. What you need is some kind of sophisticated psychological instrument, capable of getting to the heart of his personality


There is however no such instrument. All through my MBA and when I have worked for large companies I have had these tests thrown at me and I have never seen any sort of evidence that they are valid at all.

"Do you hope to disect me with this blunt tool, Starling?"

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Links Between India and China

The intellectual links between China and India, stretching over two thousand years, have had far-reaching effects on the history of both countries, yet they are hardly remembered today. What little notice they get tends to come from writers interested in religious history, particularly the history of Buddhism, which began its spread from India to China in the first century. In China Buddhism became a powerful force until it was largely displaced by Confucianism and Taoism approximately a thousand years later. But religion is only one part of the much bigger story of Sino-Indian connections during the first millennium. A broader understanding of these relations is greatly needed, not only for us to appreciate more fully the history of a third of the world's population, but also because the connections between the two countries are important for political and social issues today.

Certainly religion has been a major source of contact between China and India, and Buddhism was central to the movement of people and ideas between the two countries. But the wider influence of Buddhism was not confined to religion. Its secular impact stretched into science, mathematics, literature, linguistics, architecture, medicine, and music. We know from the elaborate accounts left by a number of Chinese visitors to India, such as Faxian in the fifth century and Xuanzang and Yi Jing in the seventh,[1] that their interest was by no means restricted to religious theory and practices. Similarly, the Indian scholars who went to China, especially in the seventh and eighth centuries, included not only religious experts but also other professionals such as astronomers and mathematicians. In the eighth century an Indian astronomer named Gautama Siddhartha became the president of the Board of Astronomy in China.

The richness and variety of early intellectual relations between China and India have long been obscured. This neglect is now reinforced by the contemporary tendency to classify the world's population into distinct "civilizations" defined largely by religion (for example Samuel Huntington's partitioning of the world into such categories as "Western civilization," "Islamic civilization," and "Hindu civilization"). There is, as a result, a widespread inclination to understand people mainly through their religious beliefs, even if this misses much that is important about them. The limitations of this perspective have already done significant harm to our understanding of other aspects of the global history of ideas. Many are now predisposed to see the history of Muslims as quintessentially Islamic history, ignoring the flowering of science, mathematics, and literature that was made possible by Muslim intellectuals, particularly between the eighth and the thirteenth centuries. One result of such a narrow emphasis on religion is that a disaffected Arab activist today is encouraged to take pride only in the purity of Islam, rather than in the diversity and richness of Arab history. In India too, there are frequent attempts to portray the broad civilization of India as "Hindu civilization"�to use the phrase favored both by theorists like Samuel Huntington and by Hindu political activists.

Second, there is an odd and distracting contrast between the ways in which Western and non-Western ideas and scholarship are currently understood. In interpreting non-Western works, many commentators tend to ascribe a much greater importance to religion than is merited, neglecting the works' secular interests. Few assume that, say, Isaac Newton's scientific work must be understood as primarily Christian (even though he did have Christian beliefs); nor do most of us take it for granted that his contributions to scientific knowledge must somehow be interpreted in the light of his deep interest in mysticism (important as mystical speculations were to him, perhaps even motivating some of his scientific work). In contrast, when it comes to non-Western cultures, religious reductionism tends to be a powerful influence. Scholars often presume that none of the broadly conceived intellectual work of Buddhist scholars, or of followers of Tantric practices, could be "properly understood" except in the special light of their religious beliefs and customs.

Amartya Sen - the Nobel Prize winner in the The New York Review of Books

Dubai Guide

From Economist.com

Arafat's Squalid End

How he wasted his last 30 years. By Christopher Hitchens
Edward Said asked many times, in public and private, where the Mandela of Palestine could be. In rather bold contrast to this decent imagination, Arafat managed to be both a killer and a compromiser (Mandela was neither), both a Swiss bank-account artist and a populist ranter (Mandela was neither), both an Islamic 'martyrdom' blow-hard and a servile opportunist, and a man who managed to establish a dictatorship over his own people before they even had a state (here one simply refuses to mention Mandela in the same breath).

British Library gets wireless net

BBC NEWS | Technology | �35 per month is good. I could work there. I wonder if you can get power.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina

An overview of the new Library of Alexandria.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Cardiff Food and Wine

Article by Amanda Foreman of "Duchess of Devonshire" fame.

daVendito, "the finest Italian restaurant outside of London", needs to be added to my todo list for the next visit to the home town it would seem.

Qosmio

This will be my next pc.

The Beatnik Before Christ

Bin Laden to Borges, via a sleeping Buddha's dreams.

Williams Dalrymple on Pankaj Mishra's An End to Suffering is The Buddha in the World.

(registration required for OutlookIndia.com)

Monday, November 15, 2004

Monday, November 08, 2004

arrack

strong spirits distilled chiefly in Asia from fermented fruits, grains, or sugarcane. In the 19th cent., Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) became quite noted for palm toddy arrack The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001

I drank moonshine palm toddy in Kerala last year, and - I am happy to say that - because of the strong Sri Lankan influence in Colliers Wood, we can buy Arrack in the local Off License.

The Truth About Muslims

William Dalrymple review a collection of new and newish publications in The New York Review of Books. He is no fan of Bernard Lewis.

A.J. Liebling: Boxing and Cuisine

The New York Review of Books: A Great Reporter at Large

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Macromedia contributes to eBay Stores

Apparently you can set up, design and manage an eBay Store from within this site buildong app. I am amazed.PC Pro: News:

Outlook Attachment Sniffer

- extract, save and remove attachments from your Outlook folders in one go with this Add-In
This looks just the job if I start to collect podcasts via Newsgator.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Holden Caulfield

Salinger's creation is aging gracelessly.
washingtonpost.com

Thursday, October 21, 2004

DHL in Baghdad

The courier company sets up in Iraq. A fascinating story from the Telegraph.

A Day Off?

...Sheeit
The Onion

Overland through Asia

Project Gutenberg eBook: Pictures of Siberian, Chinese, and Tartar Life, by Thomas Wallace Knox

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Media Center Extender For Xbox

www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/mediacenter/evaluation/devices/xboxextenderkit.mspx

Midwest Awash in Giant Grottos

Halo2

Halo 2 smashes records already.
BBC

Strategic Central Asia

The secretary general of Nato is touring Central Asia in a sign of the region's growing importance since US troops went into Afghanistan in 2001.

BBC

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Patrick French in Kerala

Interview from early 2003 with the Younghusband author who is currently living in Kerala working on a biography of V S Naipaul.

Nice work if you can get it.

The Week

Notorious Indian bandit shot dead

Killed first elephant aged 14
Accused of smuggling ivory worth $2.6m and sandalwood worth $22m
Escaped from behind the bars in 1986 by killing four policemen and an unarmed forest official in their sleep
Operated mainly in the forests bordering states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu


BBC

Dreams of Empire

A round up review of books addressing the idea of an American empire from The New York Review of Books .


Google 'saved' Australian hostage

An Australian journalist kidnapped in Iraq was freed after his captors checked the popular internet search engine Google to confirm his identity.
BBC
LRB | John Lanchester : Mao meets Oakeshott

Edinbugh and the Enlightenment

On January 8, 1697, at some time between two and four in the afternoon, an eighteen-year-old student named Thomas Aikenhead was hanged in Edinburgh. Aikenhead had been found guilty of a serious charge: the previous year he had several times told other young men that the doctrines of Christian theology were 'a rapsodie of faigned and ill-invented nonsense.'
The New Yorker
gladwell dot com / The Ketchup Conundrum
BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Music | Robbie album sold on memory card
BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Music | Robbie album sold on memory card

Friday, October 15, 2004

BBC NEWS | World | Muslim world celebrates Ramadan: "And in Pakistan it was hoped that the holy month would end recent violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims in which more than 70 people have died."
The Spectator.co.uk: "The state can?t set you free
Roger Scruton on how the Human Rights Act threatens the ancient liberties of the British people "
Harry Shearer

Monday, October 04, 2004

The usual suspects by David Pryce-Jones: "The Soviet Union is no more, and to a whole new generation it already seems unreal, preposterous, some sort of practical joke that the Russians played on themselves and the rest of the world."
Johann Hari - Archive: "Our victory is assured - so we can afford to be very scrupulous in our methods.'" Interview with Christopher Hitchens.

Friday, October 01, 2004

The Spectator.co.uk: "FISH, FLESH AND GOOD RED HERRING: A GALLIMAUFRY"
The Spectator.co.uk: "In Professor Furedi?s view, the relentless drive to ?inclusiveness? in institutions such as universities and museums arises from the loss of the traditional cultural elite?s belief in its philosophical right or duty to remain an elite, coupled with a desire nevertheless to do so. Populism is the means of squaring this particular circle: while the elite maintains its hold on the levers of power, it pretends that it is in the process of delivering power to the people, by means of flattery of the banal, the ordinary, the stupid, the easily grasped. In the process, of course, culture itself suffers. It becomes trivial, undemanding and, above all, unimportant. "
The Spectator.co.uk: "Under the system operating on that day, if one of the many Algerian terrorists living on welfare in Montreal attempted to cross the US border at Derby Line, Vermont, and got refused entry by an alert official, he would be able to drive a few miles east, attempt to cross at Beecher Falls, Vermont, and they had no way of knowing that he?d been refused entry just half an hour earlier. No compatible computers.

On the other hand, if that same Algerian terrorist went to order a book online, amazon.com would know that he?d bought The Dummy?s Guide to Martyrdom Operations two years ago and their ?We have some suggestions for you!? box would be proffering a 30 per cent discount on The A-Z of Infidel Slaying and 72 Hot Love Tips That Will Have Your Virgins Panting For More. Amazon is a more efficient miner of information than US Immigration. "

Mark Steyn
The Cult of Che - Don't applaud The Motorcycle Diaries. By Paul Berman

Top Net Hub

Britain is now home to the internet's biggest data hub.
In total more than 55 gigabits per second of data are regularly passing through the London Internet Exchange

BBC

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

How Frugal Is Gourmet?

A practical new cookbook from the famously extravagant magazine. By Laura Shapiro.

Barcelona clubbers get chipped

BBC Science producer Simon Morton goes clubbing in Barcelona with a microchip implanted in his arm to pay for drinks.

In the UK, guys still go out drinking with chips on their shoulders.

BBC

They've Outlived the Stigma

Once pariahs in Japan, 'kamikaze survivors' are now honored for their spirit of sacrifice. They resent being lumped in with suicide bombers.
LA Times

We visited the Fleet Air Arm museum a few years ago, and - much to my astonishment - the letters written by kamikaze pilots to their families before they set off on what was in almost every case their last flight were sincere, resigned, and desparately moving.

I would have thought that they would be fanatical ramblings but nothing could have been further from the truth. They weren't even particularly idealistic, often they were clear eyed about the inadequacies of their system, yet somehow their fatalism seemed, if anything, noble.

Nobility is a dangerous thing.
Granta: 'The Handbag Studio' by Thomas Keneally
Trying Really Hard To Like India - Step 2: Escaping backpackers by traveling in style. By Seth Stevenson
Trying Really Hard To Like India - Step 2: Escaping backpackers by traveling in style. By Seth Stevenson
Flirting With Disaster - The vile spectacle of Democrats rooting for bad news in Iraq and Afghanistan. By Christopher Hitchens

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Salon | Tiger Woods: "cablinasian like me
TIGER WOODS' REJECTION OF ORTHODOX RACIAL CLASSIFICATIONS POINTS THE WAY
TO A FUTURE WHERE RACE WILL NO LONGER DEFINE US.
BY GARY KAMIYA "
Wired News: Engineering God in a Petri Dish: "On a steep, narrow street above Chinatown works Jonathon Keats, a tweed-suited, bow-tied 32-year-old who, with assistance from a phalanx of scientists, is genetically engineering God in his apartment. "
SIR PERCY SYKES K.C.I.E., C.M.G., C.B. (1867-1945)
Telegraph | Opinion | EUtopia is over join the real world Mark Steyn

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Confessions of an Elephant Polo Groupie - Tailgating in Thailand with the ladyboys. By Cynthia?Barnes Reminds me of Kevin.
Wired News: Free Content Still Sells
Telegraph | Opinion | It's dangerous to get rid of men in tights
Download details: Speech Recognition Profile Manager Tool (SpProfileMgr.exe)
The New York Times > Magazine > Who Was Abused? What horror.
Rewriting the Koran: "The Wahhabi Koran is notable in that, while Muslims believe that their sacred text was dictated by God and cannot be altered, the Saudi English version adds to the original so as to change its sense in a radical direction. For example, the opening chapter, or surah, is known as Fatiha, and is recited in Muslim daily prayer and (among non-Wahhabis) as a memorial to the dead. The four final lines of Fatiha read, in a normal rendition of the Arabic original (such as this translation by N.J. Dawood, published by Penguin Books): Guide us to the straight path, / The path of those whom You have favored, / Not of those who have incurred Your wrath, / Nor of those who have gone astray."

"The Wahhabi Koran renders these lines: Guide us to the Straight Way. / The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who have earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians). The Wahhabi Koran prints this translation alongside the Arabic text, which contains no reference to either Jews or Christians."
Riding with Alexander: "getting the right elephants"

Monday, September 20, 2004

Telegraph | Opinion | All the good things they never tell you about today's Iraq Mark Steyn.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Broadband starts to rival dial-up: "
More and more people are switching to broadband
Broadband has out-stripped unmetered dial-up connections in the UK for the first time, official figures show. "

Friday, September 17, 2004

spiked-liberties | Column | Hunting clash: the illiberal in pursuit of the unsanitised: "What happened was that five men in t-shirts got on to the floor of the House of Commons, shouted some slogans and pointed fingers - not, note, guns or pikestaffs - at the few MPs present, as a protest against the latest move to ban foxhunting. It was not the most politically literate of protests, perhaps, and such stunts certainly do more to connect a minority cause with a wider public than does dressing up as Batman and scaling palace walls. But an historic 'desecration of the basic principles of democracy and law'? Hardly. These must be pretty fragile things in modern Britain if they really can be so easily endangered by a handful of foxhunting chaps armed with nothing more than some brass neck."
Economist.com | The Muslim world

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The Spectator.co.uk Diversity
Name Games - The folly in the attempts to define "African-American." By Richard Thompson?Ford: "Arguments about the correct definition of racial identity are this century's version of medieval scholastic theologians' debates about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. They seem to be of vital moral and spiritual importance, involving many contested terms, conceptual puzzles, and facts not in evidence. They're a great way for smart people to pass the time until the bartender pours the next round."
malabar rebellion I noticed a reference to Malabar in the 20s on a Gurkha statue in London earlier this week. He is the unhappy explanation. I had niavely hoped that Kerala avoided this sortt of thing.
Burning Bushes - A reader's guide to Kitty Kelley's The Family. By Bryan Curtis
Dispatches From Hong Kong - Hong Kong's biggest obsession isn't politics or even cell phones; it's food. By Daisann?McLane
Poetry Magazine Joseph Epstein on the US and UK Poet Laurette.
Hidden Mysteries Books"none dare call it conspiracy" - years ago I worked with a boke who explained everything in the light of this book. Never saw a reference to it anywhere before this.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Monday, September 13, 2004

BBC NEWS | England | Humber | Chief constable returns to duties Buried climbdown by Blunkett.
Telegraph | Opinion | If you've got a tattoo, you'll always love Cisco: "When he copped for an arrow on top of Senlac Hill in 1066, King Harold's body was identified among the pile-up of his followers because he had the words 'Edith' and 'England' tattooed on his chest. "
The New York Times > Magazine > Shakespeare's Leap

Friday, September 10, 2004

spiked-life | Column | Offside, 10 September: "'Garrincha was the half-crippled, illiterate inspiration of Brazil's football awakening. He was also a chronic alcoholic who lost his virginity to a goat."
BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | Architects urged to copy India: "Renowned Indian architect Charles Correa has said housing designs from his home country offer the key to eco-friendly buildings of the future.
Correa, who is famed for design principles based on low-density, low cost architecture at a reduced environmental cost, wants architects to examine low-rise, high-density urban areas such as Rajasthan as a way of best using natural and local resources.
'The basic principle of housing in a country like India is that you have very limited resources,' Correa told BBC World Service's Masterpiece programme.
'Therefore you have to use great ingenuity. That's when you really learn to respect what traditionally is done.
'If you look at a village in Kerala, everything is re-used and recycled. Leaves which fall from palm trees are used again for the roofs."
A Thousand Killed - What a little-known British poet named Bernard Spencer knew. By Christopher Hitchens
Economist.com | Outsourcing to India Bangalore and NOIDA!
Allchin's last stand? | Tech News on ZDNet Allchin's last stand.
New Statesman: "Beslan and 9/11 are leading millions of Muslims to search their souls. Even clerics now question the harshest traditional laws and look for a more humane interpretation of their faith. By Ziauddin Sardar"

Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Spectator.co.uk Graydon Lost Bag. How about that as an oppoartunity for Bumblebee.
The Arabian Nights

Turmeric to the rescue

The news will please any curry lover - spicy food may protect against cancer.

Asian spice turmeric, which gives dishes their distinctive yellow colour, can protect the body against damage that leads to cancers, in particular leukaemia.


ThisisLondon
Taste of London - toptable.co.uk: "Taste of London
London is vibrant, cosmopolitan, artistic and a magnet for talent in food, art and entertainment. With no fewer than 34 Michelin Stars in the centre alone and some of the world?s best theatres, orchestras and galleries, there's no better city worth celebrating. Taste of London is a four-day festival celebrating the Capital?s diverse restaurant and entertainment scene. Here is the opportunity to experience up to 30 of the city?s finest restaurants and a wide range of fabulous entertainment, all in one stunning location. "
Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | In a secret Paris cavern, the real underground cinema: "The perforating Mexicans"

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Enjoyment: "Elmore Leonard, writer of Get Shorty, has long been Hollywood's favourite author. Sholto Byrnes meets the implausibly modest doyen of American crime fiction"
The Spectator.co.uk Auction prices.
Telegraph | Opinion | Bush-beating is nothing but snobbery

Monday, September 06, 2004

Telegraph | Opinion | A 'civilisation' afraid to comfort children: "Across the country, families will be going through the annual return-to-school ritual. Filled with the optimism of a fresh start, caring parents will ruffle their offspring's hair, stick an apple in their satchel and wave them off at the gate as they run, care-free, down the road to school.
Or rather, this being 2004, the procedure will involve chucking a Krazy Cheez Dipper into the Marilyn Manson lunchbox, before bodily lifting them away from the computer, where they are downloading the new Libertines album on to their iPod, and hurling them into the 4x4 for the treacherous 200-yard drive to school, hoping that they might just breakfast on a Pop-Tart on the way"
sp!ked-IT | Article | Culture warrior: "The failure of imagination is that we can't really imagine how culture could be produced, other than concentrated industries producing and broadcasting. So anything that conflicts with that sounds extreme."
Chechnya - What drives the separatists to commit such terrible outrages? By Masha?Gessen: "In June 1995, a group of rebels emerged from what seemed at the time to be a nearly defeated Chechnya and tried to take over the small Russian town of Budyonnovsk. Dozens of armed men ended up barricading themselves in the local hospital, where the patients, including women with their newborns, became their hostages. Russian troops tried to storm the building but aborted the attack quickly. In the end, Moscow negotiated a cease-fire in Chechnya and let the terrorists get away in exchange for the hostages' release. Immediately after Budyonnovsk, Russia started peace negotiations with the Chechen rebels, making the hospital siege probably the most successful act of terrorism in history. It is also the only large-scale hostage-taking that didn't end in a storm." That is something I didn;t know.

Friday, September 03, 2004

First Class - Is it possible to raise rich kids who don't have a sense of entitlement? By Debra?Dickerson: "Listening to my 3-year-old go on the other day about motor boats, preschool, lake houses, Vietnamese food, and skiing at Steamboat Springs, I felt a moment of vertigo followed by panic" Debra Dickerson can write. Vertigo is the clincher here.
Eureka! Bok Choy!: When Do Chefs Create?: "Fricassee of Thai snapper with frogs legs, porcini and ham 'jus' pheasant with blueberries and chocolate sauce coffee-crusted sirloin steak."
Telegraph | Arts | Fathers, sons, feuds and myths Waugh talk
Telegraph | Opinion | Blair's seven key challenges add up to just one thing higher taxes
Economist.com | Outsourcing to India
The Telegraph - Calcutta : Frontpage: "Indian voices in Bush pitch
- Geography error blows lid off campaign outsourcing "

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Guardian Unlimited | Online | Ringing the changes: "An irresistable digression: the Afghan government's telephone network obviously needed to have outside lines and, being VoIP, these could be connected anywhere in the world. They ended up as numbers with a Northampton dial code, and for a few confusing weeks, the Afghan foreign ministry's number in Kabul was one digit off a Northamptonshire butcher's shop. You can imagine the ensuing consequences until, tiring of the continual orders for sausages, the ministry insisted on a number change. "

Bruce Lee statue for Bosnian city

Kung-fu legend Bruce Lee is to be honoured with a statue in the war-torn Bosnian city of Mostar.

A statue of the action hero is intended to remind people of Lee's "loyalty, friendship, skill and justice".

The city remains ethnically split with Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs divided since the 1992-95 war.

Writer Veselin Gatalo said: "Lee is a true international hero and is a hero to all ethnicities in Bosnia and that's why we picked him."


BBC
ic Southlondon - Send these rats packing
Telegraph | Opinion | Walking the midnight streets in Manhattan, yet I feared no evil
BBC NEWS | Business | Microsoft launches iTunes rival

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Ketman

The Captive Mind Now - What Czeslaw Milosz understood about Islam. By Christopher Hitchens

So, I read through these essays again, finding something fresh and worthy each time. But the one I was actually looking for did not have anything, at least ostensibly, to do with the battles against modern tyranny in Europe. It is titled, cryptically, "Ketman." "Ketman" is a term from ancient Persia, brought to Milosz's attention by Arthur Gobineau's book Religions and Philosophies of Central Asia. (Gobineau, now rather despised for his ethno-theories, was a senior French diplomat in Tehran for many years of the mid-19th century.) He had noticed that the dissidents in Persia, long accustomed to theocratic tyranny, had evolved a style of their own. As Milosz had himself observed about intellectuals under totalitarianism, the need for survival often involved more than just keeping your mouth shut. Tough moments could often arise where you had to make positive, public affirmations of loyalty and even enthusiasm. So with the oldest form of oppression known to the mind: that of religion. As Gobineau had phrased it:

"There are occasions when silence no longer suffices, when it may pass as an avowal. Then one must not hesitate. Not only must one deny one's true opinion, but one is commanded to resort to all ruses in order to deceive one's adversary. One makes all the protestations of faith than can please him, one performs all the rites one recognizes to be the most vain, one falsifies one's own books, one exhausts all possible means of deceit."

Gobineau cited the efforts of one Sadra, a rationalist disciple of Avicenna. This savant carefully observed all the cardinal dogmas of Shiism, spent hours elaborating the minutest details of the faith and proclaiming his superior knowledge of them, until he had won great praise from the mullahs and imams. Then, "seasoned with unimpeachable professions of faith, he succeeded in spreading Avicennism throughout the entire lettered class; and when at last he believed he could reveal himself completely, he drew aside the veils, repudiated Islam, and showed himself the logician, the metaphysician that he really was."

Not everybody possesses the arcane intellectual credentials, or the sheer nerve, to practice ketman at this exalted level, but Milosz points out that it can be employed, or perhaps better to say deployed, in less rigorous and demanding forms. One of these is "aesthetic ketman," which relies upon the need of even the most absolutist society to boast of some sort of cultural or academic capacity. "Aesthetic ketman," observes Milosz,

"is expressed not only in that unconscious longing for strangeness which is channeled toward controlled amusements like theater, film and folk festivals, but also into various forms of escapism. Writers burrow into ancient texts, comment upon and re-edit ancient authors. They write children's books so that their fancy may have slightly freer play. Many choose university careers because research into literary history offers a safe pretext for plunging into the past and for converse with works of great aesthetic value."

He goes on to say:

"How can one still the thought that aesthetic experiences arise out of something organic, and that the union of color and harmony with fear is as difficult to imagine as brilliant plumage on birds living in the northern tundras?
"

Victor Davis Hanson on John Kerry, Vietnam & Battle History on National Review Online I think that this is a very wise column.
Essays and Op Eds: "Bruce Schneier"
Telegraph | Opinion | Howard should start caring about Bush: "According to The Sunday Telegraph, 'Howard Tells Bush: I Don't Care If You Won't See Me'. Presumably he didn't actually 'tell' Bush, since his lack of access to the guy is what this thing's all about. "

Friday, August 27, 2004

BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | Hot lunch - a tiffin lady's burden
Economist.com | Iraq Economist on Sistani. Underestimating him in my opinion.
Telegraph | Opinion | White men must stop meddling in Africa: "'Children have lost their lives, their loved ones,' Mr Straw said. At least Mr Straw was armed merely with words rather than AK-47s, but isn't he just another meddling European who thinks he knows best? "

I am no lover of Jack Straw but this is a truly loathsome article.
BBC NEWS | England | Southern Counties | Satellite fault shuts train doors
The Spectator.co.uk Kerry�s quagmire
Mark Steyn says the Democratic contender has made a big mistake in campaigning on his Vietnam war record
Wired 12.09: The War RoomInside the fully immersive proving ground where tomorrow's soldiers are being trained by coalition forces of the Pentagon, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

BBC NEWS | Scotland | New whisky offers taste of India: "An Indian distillery has launched its single malt export whisky in Scotland and plans to sell the Amrut blend in about 460 Indian restaurants. "
ThisisLondon: "Baroness Thatcher might not have been so genial if she had known she was meeting the key plotters in a highly illegal plan to overthrow the president of an oil-rich African country. And she would have been distinctly unhappy if she had known that her beloved son Mark was to be accused of being at the heart of the plot - something he has strenuously denied. "
Wired News: RSS Attracts Really Serious Money

Welcome Back, Europe

I can't help but agree wih Victor Hanson here, that having the US shoulder the bulk of the burden of defending Europe for the last half a century has enfeebled us by undermining self-reliance.

We are still very grateful they did it though.

Isn't it time to impeach Blair over Iraq?

Put down The Da Vinci Code. Jack in the Grisham. Let Jilly Cooper turn yellow and wilt by the pool. I have before me a beach read more shocking than the schlockiest bonkbuster. It is only 80 pages, so you ought to be able to knock it off after even the most vinous siesta. Like all the best holiday reads, the idea is simple. A couple of academics have taken the words of Tony Blair on the subject of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. They have culled each top-spun, souped-up, over-egged quotation, and set it side by side with what the Prime Minister was actually being told about those WMD. You are left at the end feeling angry and bewildered that Blair should take us all for such mugs.
Boris Johnson in The Telegraph

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Goldie Lookin' Chain

According to The Sun, GOLDIE LOOKIN' CHAIN have been banned from performing on this week's Top Of The Pops.

Jimmy Breslin quits genuflecting

When Jimmy Breslin quits genuflecting, the Catholic Church in America might as well pack up its baptismal fonts, chalices and collection baskets and beat a retreat to Rome. And that time would be now. Breslin's latest book, "The Church That Forgot Christ", is an impassioned denunciation -- not of the Catholic faith which Breslin has practiced since his days as a parochial school kid in Queens -- but of the Church as an institution. As Breslin documents here his slow recognition of his own moral disgust with the Church came as more and more accounts of the sexual abuse of children by priests began to reach his desk. Just as evil, in a bureaucratic sense, to Breslin is the Church's long record of cover-ups of such horrors.
Newsday.com - Book Reviews

Darfur exposes trait of Arab politics

London Free Press - Opinion - Columnist Salim Mansur

Words and Figures

TAKE heart those of you who struggled with maths at school. It seems that words for exact numbers do not exist in all languages. And if someone has no word for a number he may have no notion of what that number means.

Economist.com

I find this very hard to believe.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Arms to Sudan

"Britain has sent more than 180 tons of arms to war-torn Sudan in the last three years according to the United Nations." says Andrew Gilligan of Iraq dossier fame in the Evening Standard. (May not be UK manufacture though. Could be through a middle man based here.)
Telegraph Opinion End the wicked politics of divide and rule in Darfur
Telegraph %7C Opinion %7C Kerry%3A strange%2C stuck-up... and stupid
Not So Swift - John Kerry's dubious Vietnam revisionism. By Christopher Hitchens

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Boxing and the Cool Halls of Academe
Why is the US doing its best to alienate all of its allies: "Anyone who wishes to go to the US to work or study is required to set up an interview by dialing a �.30-a-minute premium telephone line%2C as though you are seeking hot lesbian sex. "
Blunkett is an enemy of the people
Indian Version of Spider-Man - New York Magazine Comic Review

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

BBC NEWS %7C Technology %7C PS2 and Xbox price tags slashed XBOX down to �99
BBC NEWS %7C World %7C South Asia %7C India waits for its own Sesame Street
BBC NEWS %7C World %7C South Asia %7C India%27s %27lost Jews%27 wait in hope
Wired News%3A Homeland Security 101
The Spectator.co.uk: "Last week an Afrikaans man with a plump face%2C large spectacles and the nickname of %91Kortbroek%92 %28Short Pants%29 announced that he was joining the ANC. Thus ends the 90-year history of the most radical and notorious political party in the history of South Africa. Thus ends the National party of apartheid"
Travel Intelligence %7C Rajasthan
Travel Intelligence %7C Shopping in Rajasthan by Sue Carpenter

The Red Fort

The chef, his wife and the kitchen. Tana, Gordon Ramsay's wife "runs her own shop "The Red Fort" in Knightsbridge next to Gordons Boxwood Cafe selling wonderful Indian furniture, jewellery, textiles and great household things all sourced by Tana in Rajasthan."
Telegraph %7C Opinion %7C Who will defend our Armed Forces from enemies at home%3F
Darulaman%2C Kabul e.V. %7C Donate for Kabul

Monday, August 16, 2004

The Observer | Magazine | Le Bouchon Bordelais, SW11
Intelliseek's BlogPulse
BW Online | August 11, 2004 | Howard Rheingold's Latest Connection
Polymath with a Cause (washingtonpost.com): "The uplifting thing about contradictions is that they can illuminate, by debate and contrast, and may point the way toward a synthesis. The sad thing about this book is the deliberate way in which it forecloses that possibility" Christopher Hitchens on Edward Said.
Wired News: Modern Students Devour Old Math: "Vedic maths"

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Chalabi Strikes Back - A counterfeit charge considered. By Christopher Hitchens
Forbes.com: Sony to use PlayStation 2 chip in flat-panel TVs - report
ThisisLondon: "Demi to get a knee lift " The key news as it arrives.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Government pays for online search Lunacy.
Telegraph | Opinion A.N Wilson's wonderful obituary for Auberon Waugh.
The View From Out There (washingtonpost.com): "Here are a few things students in this country (the US) will not find in their history books but that students from certain other countries may know for a fact: "

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | US movie actor is 'Afghan prince'
Times Online - World: "Mad Jack and his Sabre Seven" in Afghanistan.
The New York Review of Books: Disaster in Darfur
Economist.com | Arab foreign policy
BBC NEWS | Business | Microsoft opens cut-price Windows
LRB | Edward Said : Always on Top: "Whenever nationalism brought about what seemed to be a successful revolution, as in India, questions remained about the inherent deficiencies of non-Western peoples, including their incapacity for truly civilised behaviour." What a truly unfortunate sentence.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Thursday, August 05, 2004

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | New tape could solve JFK mystery
The Korea Herald : The Nation's No.1 English Newspaper Interesting artlicle on Russia's "culture of contempt". It really reminds me of my experiences in Bulgaria.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

VDH's Private Papers :: If the Dead Could Talk
The Observer | Special reports | Jason Burke: The great disappearing act: "The Americans believe that Abu Al-Haili helped to arrange Osama bin Laden's escape from Tora Bora. So why did British security services allow him to slip the net in Tooting, South London?"

Dingo's origins tracked by DNA

A genetic analysis of the Australian dingo suggests the dogs tagged along on an epic expansion of people out of southern China around 6,000 years ago.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature

Monday, August 02, 2004

Reason: 2001 Nights: The end of the Orientalist critique
w w w . p r o s p e c t - m a g a z i n e . c o . u k: "Without the novel, there would be no Europe"
BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Leaders condemn Iraq church bombs: "A statement from Ayatollah Sistani's office said the attacks were 'terrible crimes' and urged the government and the people to work together to end the attacks against Iraqis.
'We stress the need to respect the rights of Christians in Iraq and those of other religious faiths and their right to live in their home, Iraq, peacefully,' the statement said. "
I wonder if Sistani will get any credit for this.
BBC NEWS | England | Merseyside | Sniffer dog 'dies from overdose'
Dispatches?From Fallujah - Why would anyone volunteer to be an infantryman? By Owen?West: "The biggest mistake of Operation Iraqi Freedom I was not the decision to send young men and women into the breach to remove a despot who possessed illegal weapons. As it turns out, he did not. Yet Saddam managed to convince everyone?the Bushies, the Clintons, John Kerry, France, the New York Times?that he had them. Even Saddam's own soldiers thought he would employ them. Here at 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, they tell the story of enemy soldiers snared in the initial invasion who were carrying gas masks. When asked if they really thought the United States would employ chemicals, the Iraqis responded, 'United States? We're worried about Saddam firing them at you.'"
Is Russia the Next Zimbabwe? - Putin's crusade against Yukos could be economic suicide. By Kim?Iskyan: "In April 2003, Khodorkovsky and Roman Abramovich, a fellow oligarch who owned Sibneft, another large Russian oil producer, agreed to merge their companies. YukosSibneft would have been the world's fourth-largest oil company, accounting for more than 20 percent of Russia's total oil exports to outside the former Soviet Union. 'With Russia still very dependent on export of petroleum to fill state coffers, allowing one person?not a friend of the Kremlin?to control such a large swath of the oil sector was deemed a national security risk,' said Peter Lavelle, an analyst of the Russian political scene"
Jonathan Schwartz's Weblog
BBC NEWS | Technology | Digital memories survive extremes: "The memory cards in most cameras are virtually indestructible, found Digital Camera Shopper magazine."

Friday, July 23, 2004

The Spectator.co.uk: "Miles Hudson is a military historian with several interesting books to his credit, especially his War and the Media (1981), written with Field Marshal Sir John Stanier. He gives his latest book the subtitle ?A Cautionary Tale?, and so indeed it is. It tells the story of the various forces sent to Russia in 1918?19 by the Allies for what seemed at the time good reasons. Each was a separate expedition within the vast geographical range of Russia?s western frontier. Eventually all of them ended in humiliating failure, and their presence was used by the Bolsheviks (or Bolos as they were often called at the time) as patriotic propaganda in their struggle to win their own power.

The British were of course not alone in this venture (except in the Baltic sector). The nationalities of the forces engaged were:
55,000 Czechs
12,000 Poles
4,000 Serbs
4,000 Romanians
2,000 Italians
1,600 British
760 French
28,000 Japanese (later increased to 70,000)
7,500 Americans
4,000 Canadians"

Thursday, July 22, 2004

BBC NEWS | England | Hampshire/Dorset | India trip 'exceeded wildest dreams' The parents of murdered student Hannah Foster have said their trip to India "exceeded their wildest dreams" as police arrested the main suspect.
BBC NEWS | Wales | South East Wales | Cardff 'Best friend' murder trial jury out
BBC NEWS | Politics | MPs lambast Whitehall IT 'waste': "An eight-month probe by MPs into government computer systems has found an 'appalling waste of public money'. "
BBC NEWS | England | Girl given dead foetus in bottle Great Britain 2004
The Observer | Review | Just a pretty face? Che Guevara.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The New Yorker: The Talk of the Town: "For years, the (US) military has offered its recruits free tuition, specialized training, and a host of other benefits to compensate for the tremendous sacrifices they are called upon to make. Lately, many of them have been taking advantage of another perk: free cosmetic surgery."

Binge, Binger, Bingest!

Britons think they are the biggest binge drinkers in Europe - but, when it comes to downing pints, the Germans are in a league of their own.
ThisisLondon
BBC NEWS | Education | School spending remains a mystery
Economist.com | BRAIN SCAN: "Beauty is more important in computing than anywhere else in technology because software is so complicated. Beauty is the ultimate defence against complexity."
BBC NEWS | Business | Microsoft to pay $32bn dividend
BBC NEWS | UK | Business leaders 'may head police'

Friday, July 16, 2004

Telegraph | Opinion | The BNP is thoroughly nasty, so why did 750,000 people vote for it?: "A BBC reporter has spent six months under cover, at great risk to himself, in order to bring us the news that there are some very unpleasant people in the British National Party. Next, he will be telling us that he has discovered strong evidence of Roman Catholicism in the Vatican."
BBC NEWS | World | Africa | Why is the US focused on Sudan?: "His stern rhetoric also signalled another plus point: in the midst of controversy over Iraq, Darfur is an issue on which the US can safely assume the moral high ground, with little international opposition. "

The imputation abover is truly despicable.
BBC NEWS | World | Africa | Libya to open Darfur aid corridor THis is very significant I think.
BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | India school inferno kills dozens
The New Republic Online: Secretary to Hitler.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Amartya Kumar Sen - Democracy as a Universal Value - Journal of Democracy 10:3
spiked-politics | Article | Devolved authoritarianism: "by Dolan Cummings


It would have been easy to get the impression in recent weeks that the British government's obsession with smoking and smacking is distracting it from weightier issues. In fact, ministers have been keen to remind us that they are equally concerned about loitering, graffiti and young women vomiting in the street."
BBC NEWS | Business | US demand boosts India's Infosys
BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | Armitage in India for Iraq talks Mr Chesty
Plame's Lame Game - What Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife forgot to tell us about the yellow-cake scandal. By Christopher Hitchens

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Telegraph | Arts | Delete our cultural heritage?
Telegraph | News | GCHQ code challenge cracked by internet chatterers
BBC NEWS | World | Africa | Zimbabwe 'returning to stone age'
BBC NEWS | Technology | Windows update hits a new delay SP2 now due August.
Telegraph | Opinion | Blunkett's ban will fan the flames
The Project Gutenberg eBook of Sacred Books of the East, by Various, et al
--Blue Foundation-- news
The Project Gutenberg eBook of Simon Magus, by G.R.S. Mead.
:::: Matsuri -High Holborn- :::: Information ::::Intensive one-day course
The highly experienced chefs at Matsuri High Holborn make great efforts on a daily basis to ensure that they serve the best sushi in London, and you can now learn their secrets in a new one-day sushi course. This class has been designed so that, on completion, you should be able to make delicious, authentic sushi yourself. The price includes a kit containing everything you need to get started.

One day course "I What Will"

Monday, July 12, 2004

BBC NEWS | Technology | New PlayStation set for May debut
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Meet the (Bin Laden) in-laws
IOL: Townshend fuming over Fahrenheit row
IOL: Townshend fuming over Fahrenheit row
BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Families re-enact famous US duel: "Descendants of US political rivals have drawn pistols at 10 paces, in a re-enactment of a 200-year-old duel.
On 11 July 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr shot dead the nation's first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers.
The modern-day rivals were Antonio Burr, a distant cousin of Burr, and Douglas Hamilton, a fifth-great grandson of the historical figure.
But this time, no blood was spilled and the two men later went for a beer.
About 100 descendants "
The Rootless Cosmopolitan Edward Said.

Friday, July 09, 2004

The New Yorker: From the Archives: "Marlon Brando, who was considered by many to be one of the greatest actors in American movie history, died on July 1st, at the age of eighty. Here, from 1957, is a long Profile of Brando by Truman Capote."
The Pamplona It amazes me that I did this in my youth.
Yahoo! News - Official's 'Dirty Girl' Quip Draws Fire: "State Education Secretary Richard Riordan jokingly told a child her name, Isis, meant 'stupid dirty girl,' prompting widespread criticism and posing a quandary for the man who appointed him, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger"
Telegraph | Opinion | Imitate the Army - don't butcher it

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Wired 12.07: VIEW: "Once upon a time, politics by other means took the form of war between state-sponsored armies. Then along came the creeping tide of international terror, whose practitioners play by different rules. Terrorists have little use for top-heavy chains of command, cumbersome procurement procedures, and pesky government oversight. They eschew conventional rules of engagement and international codes like the Geneva Conventions. Faced with such an agile enemy, beleaguered states are turning to a force that operates under a similar lack of constraints: private military contractors. Once the hired guns settle into the trenches, though, it can be hard to get them to leave."
BBC NEWS | Technology | Full Spectrum Warrior hits its target: "Full Spectrum Warrior is an excellent military action game that marks an intriguing departure from the norm.
Now available on Xbox, it was initially commissioned by the US military as a training aid.
'The army realised that a lot of their recruits would play video games in their downtime,' explains Greg Donovan, one of the game's producers.
'The game was originally never supposed to be seen as a consumer version. It was always supposed to be a training tool for light infantry.' "
spiked-liberties | Article | Crucifying public debate: " Unless we are able to be wrong, rude and offensive, about Allah, Jesus or even the home secretary, then the right to free speech exists only in theory rather than in practice"
The New Yorker: The Critics: A Critic At Large: "n October 24, 1937, Cole Porter went out for a horseback ride at the Piping Rock Club, in Locust Valley, Long Island?one of those swank playgrounds whose names he liked to rhyme in song and which signalled his fully paid-up membership in the Elegentsia. In the woods, the skittish horse, which the forty-six-year-old Porter had been warned against riding, shied and fell on him, crushing both his legs. According to Porter?a story that William McBrien, the author of ?Cole Porter: A Biography? (1998), finds ?difficult to believe??he passed the excruciating hours while he waited to be rescued composing the lyrics to an elusive verse of his song ?At Long Last Love.?"

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Mark Steyn on the new Iraq
Wired News: Tech Company Gets Hypersensitive: "The technology will lead to one of the first remote sensing devices that can provide readings from several feet away without physical contact, according to executives at Nexense. That could mean no more sweaty heart monitor straps and no more grabbing handles while running on a treadmill -- the device could get a signal through a wristband or a patient's feet. Devices that could use the Nexense technology include heart monitors, satellites, cell phones and automobiles. It could even help people stop snoring. "
Snoring! How's that for serendipity?
Boston.com / News / Boston Globe / Ideas / Operation everything: "In World War II, scientists from a wide range of fields attacked military problems with a potent combination of empiricism and mathematical models. When airplanes came back riddled with holes from enemy attacks, for instance, the intuitive response was to reinforce the armor where the holes were. But, noted the scientists, those were the planes that made it back. They didn't need more armor where they were hit. The real challenge was to figure out the places that had been hit in the planes that went down."

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

ThisisLondon: "Britain accepts that Saddam Hussein is likely to be executed by the Iraqi government for war crimes, senior Government sources have revealed. "
Wild Frontiers Adventure Travel Company specialising in Small Group Tours Tailor-made Tours Luxury and Adventure Holidays Travel Vacations Treks Tours
BBC NEWS | England | Tyne | Hi-tech answer to student cheats
BBC NEWS | Technology | Webcam lets users eyeball others: "Instant messaging could get a lot more interesting if webcam technology by Microsoft gets the go-ahead.
i2i, in development at Microsoft Research labs, Cambridge UK, is a two-camera system which follows a person's movement.
It uses specially-developed algorithms to fuse what each camera sees to create an accurate stereo 'cyclopean' image. "

Making the grandest tour

The Tour de France is the most arduous of the world's sporting events. Riders cover more than 2,000 miles in three weeks at an average speed of around twenty-eight miles per hour. The race can seem more like a test of simple endurance than a display of athletic prowess. The sheer physical effort involved makes it easy to write about its champions in terms of epic poetry.

The race defies ordinary explanation. It is a team sport in which an individual wins. It is an athletic event that actually harms the athletes? bodies. (Racers cannot consume enough food to replace the 6,000 or so calories burned off by each day's stage. Most finish the race with less muscle mass than they began with.) The race's founder, Henri Desgrange, wanted it to be so tough that there would be only a single finisher. He never got his wish, but the sport he set in motion takes such a savage toll on its riders that studies show that the life expectancy of a professional cyclist is barely more than fifty years


Robert Messenger

Monday, June 28, 2004

The Little Tyrant Victor Davis Hanson on Paul Johnson on Napoleon.
Victor Davis Hanson on National Review Online
No Laughing Matter - The Graham Norton Effect is a raunchy, unfunny mess. By Dana?Stevens: " The overall effect (the, um, Graham Norton effect?) is that of being trapped at a raucous, superficial get-together with a bunch of coked-up strangers who are talking over each other in that drugged-out, manic way. You can almost feel the postnasal drip. I'm sure I have been, in some small way, forever sullied by the experience of watching The Graham Norton Effect. But if even one person out there avoids turning it on next week, my sacrifice will not have been in vain. "
Dana Stevens of Slate sticks it to Graham Norton. My sentiments exactly.