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Jun. 4th, 2014


Quote du Jour

It doesn't exist until it's backed up.

Oz Fritz, in this post, part of his ongoing account of recording native music in Morocco.

May. 25th, 2014


Tolkien's "Beowulf"

Since I just got the new Beowulf translation and commentary by J. R. R. Tolkien that was published on Thursday, I’m not going to do a full review of it, but I think the Tolkienistas are going to be confused with the commentary, as this is—to a greater of lesser extent—Tolkien the medievalist writing, and not Tolkien the storyteller, who is covered by the translation and “Sellic Spell” Tolkien's attempt at a rewrite of the Beowulf story as a folk-tale.

It should also be noted that the commentary, prepared for lectures to English majors at Oxford who were only required to read the Denmark section in Old English, doesn’t cover the whole poem, and fizzles out at l. 2212 of the poem (l. 1857 of the translation), i. e. at the beginning of the dragon fight. This is particularly unfortunate, as the theft of the cup from the dragon’s hoard instigates the final action in Beowulf just as Bilbo’s theft of the One Ring from Smaug’s hoard is the initial event in the long epic of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

For those interested, a transcription of Elliot van Kirk Dobbie’s edition of the Old English is here.

Feb. 16th, 2014


Recent weather; online "Illuminatus!" group reading

In the last post I was complaining about the heat. Now we have just finished--he said, hopefully--the first real winter we've had here in recent memory. the temps have been fluctuating over a period of about 10 days or so from highs in the low 70s to highs in the low 30s, with corresponding cycles in the lows. I sure hope this is all over with; I'm getting way too long in the tooth to bounce back from these kind of quick extreme shifts in the weather.

If you are a Robert Anton Wilson fan, then you need to circle 24 February on your calender, because that is when a group reading of Illuminatus! will begin at RAWIllumination, Tom Jackson's blog of all things Wilsonian. It will take about a year or so to get through all 805 pages, but it should be an interesting--and hopefully illuminating experience. The official press release is here.

Aug. 3rd, 2013


(no subject)

Has it really been almost 8 months?

Some changes at LJ while is was gone. So far the new formatting looks good. The new journal updating program is a particularly nice improvement over the old one.

I think all the pesky health issues that have kept me away are resolved for now. They had better be, as I really want to travel some -- and I don't mean just to Houston.

The heat has been pretty grim of late. We've had some rain, but mostly just enough to make it steamy and even more unpleasant. A cousin who lives in Montana says that they have been having highs in the mid-80s. Must be nice. In his novel Job: a Comedy of Justice Robert Heinlein placed Hell in Texas. Yep, been that way the last couple of weeks.

Despite the early hour, it looks like I'm going to have to consume mass quantities, as Beldar Conehead would say, despite the heat; 81 deg at 0230 is insane, even for Texas.

Dec. 5th, 2012


Senior Recital Blues.

Not many songwriters hit a home run with their first published piece, but Franz Schubert sure did when he published his setting of Goethe's ballad "Der Erlkönig" in 1821. Its a familiar enough concert piece and the opening measures are familar from cartoon uses when appropriate music is need for stormy weather.

I had a close encounter with Schubert's lied in high school when, as my senior recital piece, I was supposed to play the accompanyment for someone who would sing it. I made a copy of the vocal line and the English translation for the vocalist. (There was a recording by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau available, but I'm not sure I had it at that time.) Everything seemed to be going according to plan: I worked my ass off learning the piano part while waiting to hear from my voacalist wen we would get together to practice for the Big Concert.

A couple of weeks before the concert date my vocalist crapped out on me. I was both angry and in a panic. I didn't have a backup piece, having put all my time into learning the Schubert. I tried to get out of the concert but my piano teacher had already had the programs printed and assured my that the accompanyment would stand on its own.

So I played the song, sans vocalist.

Later on, I found out that Franz Liszt had done a solo piano arrangement of the lied. Some of Liszt's arrangements can be technically hairy, but not necessarily.The transcription of "Der Erlkönig" is pretty straight foward, without a lot of technical fireworks. Reciently I finally heard the Liszt version, and decided that--had I known about it at the time--I could have learned it.

And I wouldn't have had to deal with a flaky soloist.

So, some links for your listening pleasure.....

Schubert's lied, sung by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

Liszt's arrangement, played by Valentina Lisitsa.

And, as a bonus track, Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst's arrangement for solo violin, played by Hillary Hahn. Ernst was considered one of the successors to Pagninni. This piece shows why.

Oct. 22nd, 2012


Brain fade and Bardic Sonnets.

I may have recently ran into the "information overload" that some people think we're getting from the Internet. Or maybe it was just middle-aged brain fade.

Somewhere, somewhen, but in the last couple of weeks or so, I ran into a reference to one of Shakespeare's Sonnets. I looked it up in my trusty Signet Classic Shakespeare: the Sonnets, read it, and decided I wanted more information, as the footnote references were all related to vocabulary and not to interpretation. I did look it up on Wikipedia, but the article was a stub and not of any help. Yesterday, I found my copy of Stephen Booth's Shakepeare's Sonnets, which had been recommended by a friend who taught Shakespeare at the local Enormous State University. Booth's book has extensive commentary although, since it was published in 1977, it may be a bit out of date on some matters.

Now the problem is that I can't remember which sonnet I wanted to read about. No bookmark or note in the SCS edition, and I can't find the Wikipedia reference on my phonophore, computer or tablet.

(In the meantime, a cockroach, which had scurried across the floor a couple of times while I was writing the about text, just ran out of luck. Booth's book also makes a good roach crusher. I know--bad form on my part--but it was the handiest item with enough mass to give me a clean kill.)

Anyway, the sonnet is one of the "Fair Youth" sonnets, i.e., one of numbers 1-126, and I think it was between 40 and 60. Part of the confusion on the numbering is that I was also chasing down Psalm 82--the "Ye are gods" psalm--at the time and so am pretty sure the sonnet wasn't in the 80s.

I don't read the Sonnets much, usually just when I feel moved to try to write one. Then I'll read several of Shakespeare's to "prime the pump". I've not, to my remembrance, tried to write a Petrarchan sonnet, simply because of the "pump priming" problem. I'd have to hunt to find some English sonnets in the Petrarchan model, but Ol' Bill is right here at hand.

Because I have such problems writing sonnets, I've never really grokked how the Elizabethan writers wrote them in the quantities that the did. Along with Booth's book, I found a tome called Elizabethan Sonnets edited by Maurice Evans. Two hundred twenty-seven pages of the little puppies and, of the poets, only two are familiar: Edmund Spenser and Philip Sidney, though Sidney's brother Robert and sister Mary are also represented. Shakespeare is not in this volume for reasons that should be obvious.

(Somewhere I have an anthology of Elizabethan literature that is notable for not having anything written for the stage--and, quite possibly, nothing by Shakespeare--in it. The playwrights, especially the Big Three--Shakespeare, Johnson, and Marlowe--tend to overshadow the other writers of the period.)

And so it goes, I guess...

Sep. 26th, 2012


Mmmmm, noteriety, and other administrivia.

I just noticed this morning that Tom Jackson has added my poor efforts to his blogroll at RAWIlluminations, his excellent Robert Anton Wilson site. This means getting hits from people outside the LJ ghetto, so I'll have to start posting more -- which I was wanting to do anyway.

Some Motivations for Posting More.

Not the gods rotted election. Gene Healy explains why. (H/t Tom.)

However, I will say, in re the Libya debacle, that someone really needs to fall on their sword for the poor security and general clusterorgy that got our ambassador and several others killed. Yes, I'm talking about you, Madame Secretary!

(Appropriately enough, when going through the tabs just now trying to find the one for Wikipedia, I triggered Valentina Lisitsa'a most excellent cover of the solo piano version of Liszt's Totentanz on YouTube, which is well worth 15 minutes of your time. And I've had my morning coffee fix, honest!)

I may have comments later on the renewal of the "Was Jesus Married?" kerfluffle, but that will take some thinking and maybe trying to figure out how to show Coptic in the blog--rather than being lazy and amateurish and just transcribing it. The Cliff Notes version: Of course he was married, because his parents would have probably have arranged a marriage for him before he got out of his teens. This assumes, of course, the existence of a flesh-and-blood human who had a normal upbringing for Jewish children at the time. Contamination from Gnosticism -- particularly Docetism, the belief that Jesus/Christ had no material component -- has skewed things a bit.

In the meantime, the Forbidden Gospels and PaleoJudica blogs are places to start. The latter especially has been staying on top of all the mudslinging discussion.

And, as an aside to Tom and the OG -- not Erik, the other OG -- Jn 10, 40 references Ps 82, 6a. Theoí este? Hah! We're not even in the same universe yet.

Jul. 2nd, 2012


He's baaaack.......

Etwas schoen fuer dich, nebris, wenn du Zeit habst, um zu lesen..... :)

After dropping out of the carrier pigeon routes after the demise of the old Defense and the National Interest site, William S. Lind is writing again for The American Conservative. His latest, "Unfriendly Fire", is on the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

For some discussion of his article, see this post at Zenpundit.

The backlist of articles at The American Conservative is here. Nothing much has changed: the political brass hats are still clueless, multiculturalism still stinks, and the occasional phone calls to the last Kaiser continue.

Mar. 21st, 2012


Book review: "Moonwalking with Einstein"

Jonathan Foer's Moonwalking with Einstein is ostensibly about the ars memoriae, as well as his own mastering of the system and eventual winning of the American memory championship. The book also goes over what is current in our knowledge of how memory works in the brain, and this is, perhaps, the most interesting part. He interlaces the three threads but, in the end, the ars memoriae itself gets left behind. There is some discussion of how it works, but not really enough for the interested reader to continue without either going to academic works like those by Frances Yates and Mary Carruthers or to one of the books by the guys who are making money off this. He also misses the concise -- as well as useful -- summary of the art which Thomas Harris put in his novel Hannibal (pp. 286-289).

The coverage of recent scientific work on memory and how we learn is probably the best part of the book, and there are references to articles for follow-up reading. He also covers not only memory savants but also one person who, due to a freak viral infection, lost the ability to form long-term memories, and the problems that this loss caused him.

What I would have liked to have seen more of is Foer describing exactly what he did to set up his memory palaces. Not long and detailed accounts, but more than he included. Things I would be interested in knowing is how much was of buildings he knew and how much was totally fictional, and approximate times for construction, especially for finite closed sets like a deck of cards, for which he apparently had 52 separate images.

In the end, Foer comes off as a bit of a dilettante because, while he did manage to win, it was like a piano student learning a Beethoven sonata by brute force without yet really having the technical skills that the piece demanded. As a aspiring journalist, a well-trained memory could be very helpful in situations where note-taking or recording would be difficult or impossible. Cramming for the competition meant that polishing his basic skill was impossible, and thus the practical aspects of the art went by the wayside. This is probably due to his being sucked up into the enthusiasm of his mentors -- none of whom came off as shy and retiring -- and this, I think, explains his saying that his memory was still "average" at the end of his ordeal. The ars memoriae, like piano playing, is something you have to practice the fundamentals of to be good at it. The piano student may curse Hanon and Czerny's exercises, but they do have a purpose, and it sounds like Foer neglected his basics for his "15 minutes".

Despite the negativity in the last paragraph, I recommend the book as a place to start, and for his coverage of the scientific research and discussion of some of the personalities involved. It is also an easy read -- about as far from academic stuffiness as one could get -- which is in itself a plus.

(no subject)

A hefty squall line came through Austin about 0100 Tuesday and dumped 2.5 inches of much-needed rain without the hail and tornados that the weathergnomes were concerned about. I didn't check to see how far north the line went, but it was at least as far a southern Kansas. Besides the rain, the storm pushed a lot of crap out of the area, and the last couple of days have been really pleasant.

When I was in Berlin last fall I deliberately avoided anything having to do with American polyticks, and also any contacts in the US except for the person staying at my apartment and couple of others. I wanted this to be a retreat as much as a vacation.

I didn't do much tourist style activities either. Mostly I wrote a bunch of stuff -- 80 handwritten pages -- and wandered around. On one mildly dreary day i took a ride on what's called The Ringbahn, which is part of the elevated light rail system, and which makes an approximate circle around the geographic center of the city. The trip took about an hour. During the trip I didn't think about anything in particular, just watched the scenery go by. Later on, I decided that I really had to make some major changes when I got back to the US, and one of those was avoiding those whose life revolve around politics -- feral primate behavior, as Robert Anton Wilson once called it. Almost all of these are my approximately my age, and don't seem to have anything else to occupy their minds with. Me, I'm reading Yukio Mishima's Spring Snow -- and hope to read the other tree novels in the series -- and have just finished Jonathan Foer's Moonwalking with Einstein (more on that later). I've pretty much quit reading any blog that deals primarily with polyticks, and this has seemed to have helped my mental health considerably. Man may be a political animal -- as Aristotle once quipped -- but if the troop is headed for the cliff I see no reason to be equally stupid.

The other type who have been exiled from my personal space is the anus americanus vulgaris or common American asshole. Some people have the manners of a feral dog, and I'm just not putting up with their crap any more, if it can be helped.

Having a chronic and eventually fatal disease means keeping away from anything that will weaken your body's ability to fight the disease, and that primarily means reducing stress as much as possible. Having to drive occasionally to M. D. Anderson in Houston is stressful enough. Putting up with schmucks is not really an option.

Dec. 1st, 2011


Ritman Library to reopen.

There is, of course, a cloud behind the silver lining.

Read more.

Oct. 2nd, 2011


WW I Illuminations?

Back on 24 September I opened Jünger's WW I journal at random and found this entry for 3 V 17:

Lag am Morgen in meinem Bett, das wie ein kleines Zimmer für sich ist. Um 8 Uhr kam Knigge und las mir Befehle vor.

"I laid in my bed, which was like a small room for oneself. At 0800 Knigge came and read the orders to me. 1


It was probably because I had been looking at the Illuminatus! translation the day before, but -- as all you Discordians know -- one Adolph Freiherr Knigge was, for a while, Adam Weishaupt's right hand man in the original Illuminati.

I don't know if the Knigge in Jünger's unit was related to the earlier Knigge. There was another Knigge at the time who was from that family, Wilhelm Feriherr von Knigge, who was a member of the Reichstag during WW I, but there is no mention of his being married or having children. (Don't have an English link for him, unfortunately.) During WW I Wilhelm Knigge would have been old enough to have had a son old enough to have been in the army at the time. The Knigge in Jünger's unit was probably an NCO -- no rank has been mentioned but Jünger was a Leutnant (= 2nd Lieutenant) at this time and Knigge seems to be an aide.

There is, annoyingly, no name index for the book, and I haven't found any biographical information on Knigge in the notes. I'm still going trough the journals -- some of this is pretty grim reading -- but so far there have been eight mentions of this Knigge. People come and go in Jünger's journals, but so far no mention of his being wounded or killed. There is a official history for Jünger's regiment, 2 but its not on the Internet even though it is old enough to be in the public domain. I found a couple of WW I sites which refer to it, but they didn't have a muster list, which is what I'm looking for.

1 Ernst Jünger. Kriegstagebuch 1914-1918. Herausgegeben von Helmuth Kiesel. (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 2010.), p. 251.

2 Max von Szcsepanski. Erinnerungsblätter aus der Geschichte des Füsilier-Regiments Generalfeldmarschall Prinz Alberecht von Preußen (Hann.) Nr. 73 während des Weltkrieges 1914-1918. Berlin: Stalling, 1923. The official Reichswehr records of WW I were lost during WW II.

Quote du Jour II

Setting a date for time to end may be the most reliable method yet devised for proving oneself unreliable.

Read the whole thing.

Quote du Jour

Joseph Fouche on secular eschatology.

Sep. 23rd, 2011


Berlin trip 2.0

I have come back to Berlin both to get away from the smoke from the Bastrop County fires, but also to get away from the Schweinerei that American politics has become. My view can be summed up by a line from Romeo and Juliet: "A plague on both your houses!" Nowhere has the old Discordian observation "Convictions cause convicts" been more apparent than the way the political parties and their followers have degenerated into howling mobs looking for a Bastille to sack. I went to a bookstore Wednesday and bought two books, one of which is Ernst Jünger's World War I diaries -- which should provide plenty of graphic organized violence.

Anyway, the weather here is pleasant -- highs in the upper 60s F -- and no rain since the day after I got here. Fortunately I can stay here almost the whole period I can legally without having a visa, and this will provide some interesting experiences, I hope. While I read German fairly fluently, my conversational German is weak, and everyday vocabulary is probably to some extent out of date.

The other book was the German translation of Wilson and Shea's Illuminatus!. I should be interesting to see how the translator handles American slang and the other oddities of the book.

Aug. 30th, 2011


Taxing streetwalkers in Bonn.

This system is like the honor system used on the subways. You buy a ticket from a machine and don't have to deal with ticket takers and such. But there are officers who randomly ask to see your ticket and if you don't have one, it costs you €40.

The Rhineland city of Bonn is now requiring sex workers to purchase a daily tax ticket from a vending machine to walk the streets – ostensibly to make taxation fairer for prostitutes who work in brothels.

As of Monday, prostitutes had to pay the charge of €6 before they start their business, regardless of the number of customers. A notice on the machine defines the prostitute’s working hours with bureaucratic efficiency: Monday to Sunday, 8:15 pm to 6:00 am.

More here.

Hohenzollern Pretender ties the Knot.

Presumably Bill Lind was in attendance...

Georg Friedrich Prince of Prussia and Princess Sophie von Isenburg were married in front of 650 guests at on the grounds of the Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam on Saturday for Germany's own "royal" wedding.

Lesen Sie weiter.
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Aug. 7th, 2011


List pruning

I just dumped all the political lists except one run by a friend. This should help keep my annoyance level below critical mass. However, I did keep the two anti-Dominionist lists for now.

Jul. 13th, 2011


Reise nach Berlin und Dublin.

I've been in Berlin, Germany or the last month ans have been enjoying it immensely. At the top of the list is the coolest thing: the weather. Highest temperature since I've been here has been 86 F. Meanwhile, back in Central Texas... upper 90s to mid 100s, with occasional rain that probably evaporated before it hit the ground. This is not something that I'm looking forward to.

Friday I'll leave for Dublin and be there a week. it looks to be cooler there than in Berlin...also wetter.

I'm sure not looking forward to returning to the Texas Heat Sink.

May. 20th, 2011


The Future of Infiltration.

If everyone is on the Net from cradle to grave, who will be the future deep cover ops?

Secrecy in the sense of intelligence agencies and other actors being able to carry out clandestine and covert activities is rapidly eroding in the face of ominpresent monitoring, tracking, hacking, scanning, recognition software and the ability to access such data in real time, online, anywhere in the world.

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