Saturday, December 30, 2006

Casualties in Afghanistan

A revealing statistic from this website, icasualties.org: since the US went into Afghanistan, the Americans have endured more than twice as many fatalities as all other Coalition forces combined: 357 vs. 159. Even in 2006, while Canadians reeled over their losses, the US forces sustained 5 more deaths than all other forces combined. The number of fatalities per year since 2001 has increased by more than 10 times.

If you pay any attention at all to the news, it seems as if the Canadian/Coalition forces keep going back into the same general area, fighting hard for awhile, announcing success, and then going back again shortly after, fighting hard, announcing success, and then going back again not long after, fighting hard, announcing success, and then going back again...

Sisyphus would have been proud.

Meanwhile, if you go to this website, the National Priorities Project, you can see how much the US is spending on the war in Iraq...more than 350 Billion dollars so far, and judging by the counter, adding up at about $2,000/second.

Wouldn't we all love to have a peace dividend?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Mental Health Hotline

This is an oldie, but a goodie. Click on the title. I think it requires QuickTime. But maybe not. Or you can download it as an MP3. Or just forget about it. Who has time for this crap anyway?

Stealth Fighter

Since I'm on photos at the moment, here's another one.

Go here to find a whole bunch of photos & videos of planes crashing & crashed. Doesn't it just make ya wanna fly?

I don't have time to look at them all. This was the only humourous one I found.

The Child is Father to the Man

I don't know where this picture came from or who took it or who it belongs to,
but it made me laugh out loud.
You can click on the title to go to the original.
Which looks a lot like the one here.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Godfather of Soul

1933-2006

Ah well, another legend I didn't get to see before he died.

Never mind the hair. Never mind the dance moves looking slightly dated. (Except for the splits...man, that must hurt!)

It was the music. Never was there anyone funkier than James Brown.

I was going to say, if you searched the word "funk" on Wikipedia, there would probably be a picture of James Brown. So I did just that.

Not quite a picture. But here are the first two sentences of the entry:
Funk is an African American musical style. It originated in the 1960s with performers such as James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, and The Meters, and emerged as a distinct genre by the 1970s.
Here's something about the music. Listen to it. The downbeat is the main thing. He emphasizes the one. Brown's music plays off the one. Rock plays off the two and four. Reggae off the three. The one. That's what makes it so solid.

The Godfather always had ground-breaking musicians with him. But in a certain sense, always quintessentially American, with that polish, that sheen that top American acts seem to have. It's showbiz, man. Sometimes in his songs (maybe often) he would tell the band what was coming next. "Take me to the bridge" he'd say. Or "Down D, Funky D." He also devised a whole set of hand signals and even foot movements to send messages to the band. They always knew when the break was coming.

When I was a teenager...never mind when...long enough ago...James Brown was the man. We would go to see bands, and if they could cover a James Brown tune with style, that was way cool. In fact, there were a couple of bands in old Lunchbucket that could do passable, even good covers of James Brown.

Tomorrow is Boxing Day. I think I'll spend part of it listening to James, the Godfather.

Larry's Buddhist Christmas Message


Verily I say unto thee,
Ye may not enter the

Kingdom of Heaven

Unless that ye be

Born Again...


And Again...


And Again...

And Again...

And Again...

(Until you finally realize it's not necessary)

GIFs

Trying to see if these animated GIFs will stay animated.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

King Arthur's Masked Men

Still reading Malory.

A perplexing question: Why do all these kniggits never recognize one another? Of course, they're wearing armour...but please...give me a break here. They can be in the same room (or dungeon) and still not know each other. Sir Palomides & Sir Tristram have met and fought several times, and still they can't seem to put the names & faces together.

Meanwhile, they're all idiots. I just read a passage where Sir Tristram jousts, then fights, with Sir Lancelot. For four hours! Both of them are bleeding all over the countryside. Finally, Sir Lancelot says, "Hey buddy, what's yer name?" Tristram says, "Not telling!" Lancelot says, "Hey, come on, I always tell my name when somebody asks." Tristram says, "OK, what's yer name?" Lancelot says, "Lancelot." Tristram says, "Oh my God, you mean to tell me I've been fighting with you for four hours, and now I find out that it's the kniggit I love most in the whole world?"

(If this were Monty Python, the next part would go like this: Tristram: "Did I hurt you?" Lancelot: "Don't be silly, it's only a flesh wound!")

All this mistaken identity leads me to believe they were called knights errant because they erred so often.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bloody Computers!

Through some incomprehensible black box type event, Suzy Homemaker lost all of her Bookmarks. Gone. Nowhere to be found. At least not by her. Nor me. This is a real drag. I know, cuz I know how I felt when I thought all my Bookmarks were gone after I got the computer fixed.

There oughtta be a law!

Of course, it is imperative that Suzy have Mental Blog properly bookmarked. Just for fun I Googled it. No luck. In order to find it, I had to use vajrasattva1 which is part of the URL. Googling that turned up maybe 30 entries. Amazing how stuff circulates on the net, eh?

One of the entries was this: a website out of University of Hawgtown called BlogScope. It led to my posting about Elvis Costello in Oct./06. That blows me away.

And then, by the way, I found this link as well: SproutWorks which has a bunch of stuff, including a Blog directory where, again, I found Mental Blog.

All this took time. Bloody computers! Time-wasters.

Ladies & Gentlemen! Presenting the World Wide Web Time-Sucking Vacuum! Guaranteed for Life!

I bookmarked Mental Blog for Suzy.

Monday, December 18, 2006

New Format

By the way, publishing is much quicker & less hassle in the new format.

Furthermore, in the process of trying to make the Blog go (Make it go, Daddy! Make it go!) I found Beta Blogger for Dummies. That would be me. It tells you how to do just about everything. (Except get the picture beside the main title instead of underneath.)

If you click on this link, you'll find a bunch of things to do before you "migrate". I didn't do any of these cuz I really didn't know that I should. (I only discovered this site after I migrated & changed to the new format.) Obviously, these are precautionary measures, not necessities. It doesn't appear that I've lost anything. I'm still getting notification when someone posts a comment. etc. etc.

It would be interesting to know, though, if w.t. is still having trouble getting on to the comments page.

The Unauthorized Autobiography

Even though I haven't posted there for a long time, I just switched Larry Keiler: The Unauthorized Autobiography over to the new format. This is actually a little better than the previous one. The template is called Minima Stretch. The text lines are somewhat longer, which I like. Less like a blog. More like a page.

Click on the link to check it out.
Adding A Title?

The test worked, but I can't find a way to add the title of a post. So I'm trying this.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

OK, I discovered what I was doing wrong. It's never anybody else's fault. It's always something that I'm doing wrong. So, we're testing again.

Nuts to This!

I'm startin ta get pissed off.

Here's what I tried to post a few minutes ago:

I went on m@blog a minute ago and noticed that he didn't list Mental Blog as one of those "what he reads a lot". All right for you, Mr. M@!

However, he did have a link in "What I use a lot" called Writely. So I clicked on it and it turned out to be Google doc/spreadsheet, which I haven't really done anything with. Blogger for Werd doesn't werk with the new format. But Writely claims to be able to publish on the blog. So I'm testing.


Well the test failed. For some reason Writely/Google Docs doesn't recognize my username. Can't publish to the blog. Tried my old username & password. Tried the Google account username, which apparently is the one I'm supposed to use. No dice.

I get annoyed when there are technical problems and no tech to talk to.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Geez, Am I Old!

Checking thru details of this new format, I discovered that somehow my date of birth has been set to 1756. Check the profile. I am now 250 years old.

Seems appropriate, somehow. I'm gonna leave it.

Also, email contact has been added to this profile. It was there before & disappeared at some point. It's back now.

Really Changed

I decided that with the new version everything looked too cluttered. Gonna go with this for a while.

Changed

So, I bowed to what appeared to be the inevitable and switched this Blogger account. Still looks pretty much the same, with some tweaking, but there are a couple things I notice that I don't like yet.

Now I can add tags, or maybe you can add tags, I dunno. Don't know if tags are particularly useful for this blog.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Song of the Day

Roots Rock Reggae by Bob Marley


...from the first Bob Marley album I ever bought...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Switching the Blog


I see, suddenly, that changes are in the wind for Blogger. Whether we like it or not. No idea if the look of the blog is going to stay the same or what. That's what happens when you take advantage of free stuff, eh? You don't really have any control over it.

King Arthur's Street Gang

OK, so I have this book. That makes 3 now. A lovely book. Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory. Lovely book. Big. Oversize you might say. No pocket book here. Big. Boxed. A pleasure to behold. (Not necessarily to hold though. Big. Heavy. One must sit at his/her leisure, preferably in a Monty Python-style comfy chair.)

"A facsimile edition of the Dent edition of 1909, containing the complete Caxton text, over one thousand examples of Beardsley's illustrations and designs, and ten illustrations omitted from the first edition."

Had this book for years. Tried to read it once long ago. Put off by the bad language. And the inconsistent speling. I don't really mean bad language. Archaic language. Hard to read. Strange words you have to suss out the meaning by the context or some modern word that resembles it faintly. So...I put it back on the shelf where it made a fine addition and decoration. Boxed.

However. Illustrations by Beardsley! This is a treat. Illustrations and illuminations. Some full page pitchers! Every page has a sample of Aubrey Beardsley at his oddest & taciturnest. Not a single smiling face. But every drawing has that odd combination of medieval and ultra-modern so characteristic of Beardsley.

So I picked it up again a few days ago. After a while I thought me to look in the back of the book and what did I see? A glossary. Praise be to gods of Avalon!

Now, these kniggits! What a story. As far as I can tell, they are the medieval version of these guys:



Smackin each other around the bend at the drop of a kerchief. One hundred pages in and there's been incest, murder, enchantment, slaying of damosels, mistaken identity, false imprisonment. And oh yeah, Arthur's conquered Europe, killed the Emperor of Rome and had himself crowned Emperor. Hmmm. Apparently the "commons" like him.

I can't see much about the rule of law. It's a strange law those early Britons had. Plus a plethora of kings. Warlords I'd say. All these kniggits promising ten thousand men here, twenty there, thirty forty...battles of sixty thousand with two-thirds killed in two pages. Just what exactly was the population of Britain then? A miracle there are any left.

Now, here's Arthur's Round Table. The Dons of the Emerald Isle. The full patch members:



Notice there are twelve. With Arthur, that makes thirteen. How Christian is that? And there's even the one that betrays Arthur by screwing around with his wife! Betrayed with a kiss!

On the other hand, how much did Malory know? That when he tells the tale of the Sangreal, he's poking a stick in the eye of the Pope? Maybe. And he also mentions that Arthur makes somebody (I already forget who) the Duke of Lorraine. A significant post in the later history of the Grail and the Knights Templar. Malory often mentions the French book which seems to be his primary source for these tales. Those French, always the troublemakers. I fart in your general direction!

Some trivia: Malory tells us that the Round Table was in fact more than these twelve. A full complement was 150. Can you imagine 150 Hell's Angels roaming around southern Ontario pretending they were actually the cops? Gang wars!

More trivia: I think I've figured out how e.e. cummings came by his style. Here's a passage from Malory. I've put it into lines, instead of the prose:

But Sir Gawaine's spear to-brast,
and
Sir Lancelot charged so sore upon him
that his horse reversed
up so down.


Up so down?

Yet more trivia: e.e. cummings didn't himself choose this lower case business. His publisher decided it for him.

Yet moremoremore: What a mish-mash that old English is eh? Mr. Glossary tells me, for example, that the word seker or syker means certain. The German word for certain is sicher. And of course, lots of French words too.

Yet one last more: A photo sent by the Hells Angels to some website posting pictures after the London Underground bombings to tell the world Londoners were not to be intimidated:


A comforting thought, no?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Rogues' Gallery of Professeurs

HWSRN stormed into my tiny, cluttered cell in Z Block at the Yoni School this afternoon and clobbered me upside the head with a diploma. His.

"How dare you?" he spluttered. "How dare you adopt my academic credentials as your own?"

"Are you talking about the part where you flunked out of law school? Ouch!"

He'd hit me again.

"No, you insufferable slouch, I'm talking about your ill-considered response to the esteemed Madame X in a comment posted on that clog or smog or fog or whatever you call it that you slave over so slavishly instead of applying yourself to the rehabilitation and remedial spelling programs so generously offered by the Yoni School!"

"Oh that," I said, "Just a slip of the ole keybored. Nothing to get all het up about."

"A slip! A slip, he says. Don't think I don't keep track of your drivel and snivel in the smogosphere. This time you've gone too far. You're so lazy you can't even invent a curriculum vitae. You have to co-opt mine!"

&&&


OK, OK, HWSRN is right. I was a lotus-eater. My academics consisted of snoring in the library at Lunchbucket U when I was supposed to be in English class. I didn't even go to class until October or November, at which point the professeur widened owlish eyes and said, "Who are you?" I forget my response. Still, I ended up with a C or C+ in that course, merely on the strength of a short story I submitted. (Pauvre professeur didn't, wouldn't, couldn't have known that I'd written it in high school. She suggested I read Atwood's Survival because the story ended with some kind of apocalyptic snowfall. I actually took her up on it. Stole the book.

But enough about me. Mememememememememe.

HWSRN demanded that I allow him to set the record straight with his own posting on the Mental Smog. But I demurred. It’s my blog. Let him get his own bloody blog.

Still, I am his altered ego, so in the interests of egocentric amicability, I agreed to enumerate, myself, a few details of his shabby career in that bloody bilingual backwater that sits on the edge of the Bridle Path in Hawgtown. Maudits Anglais!

Therefore, there follows a brief enumeration, the Rogues’ Gallery, of some of HWSRN’s hallowed professeurs.

&&&

1. Let’s see. There was the professeur with the family name that is prominent all over Manitoba, and especially Winnipeg. The name appears on the marquee of a well-known furrier. It is owned by a famous children’s performer. Also, a former attorney-general (or something like that) of Manitoba. (In fact, HWSRN thinks this was the professeur’s brother.) And also by a former Miss Oktoberfest of Winnipeg.

This prof was a former member of the Communist Party of Canada. A good Commie, perhaps, but not much of a professeur. Too inarticulate. Too muddled. Too mumbled. Well-acquainted, however, with the internal machinations of the CPC, and Tim Buck too.

2. Somewhere in there was also a Trotskyist. Long live the Fourth International!

3. HWSRN was also taught by that rarest of birds, a real live former member of the American Communist Party. The students huddled around him in a reverent semi-circle while he sat with his legs crossed, sucking on a pipe, reminiscing about strange days pre-McCarthy.

4. Then there was the prof who later became president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, wrote a famous book about Jewish refugees arriving on Canada’s doorstep before & during WWII…HWSRN thinks it was called, One Book Is Too Many. His wife now sits on the Supreme Court of Canada. Judicially speaking.

This professeur gave HWSRN a D for a paper he wrote about the Dare Foods strike. (A strike which occurred sometime during the middle ages.) He chastised HWSRN for not seeking research advice sooner, and rattled off several sources he should have used…all of which were secondary sources.

See, HWSRN had attempted to restrict himself to primary sources, but didn’t have much imagination about how to accomplish this. He therefore learned a hard lesson on the futility of microfiche, hanging about in the Lunchbucket library sweating and squinting at old obituaries and fragments of information about a strike long gone. HWSRN refused to eat Dare products for years after that. Got a D on his paper. D for Dare. How Dare You? Or as the lapel buttons used to say, “I Don’t Dare.”

5. The son of a famous Canadian historian. HWSRN can’t remember the name of the course, but it was somehow related to public policy. And this son, (HWSRN prefers to finish “son” off with the initials OB) was well-suited to that. He became someone rather well-placed in the Ontario bureaucratic elite.

This prof proved to HWSRN that he must be (or at least his altered ego must be) a writer rather than an orator, for one day he called him into his office and confronted him with a short paper on federalism that HWSRN had handed in. Asked him if he had indeed written it, or had he bought it? Cuz his participation in class certainly didn’t indicate this level of sophistication. Bah! How do you prove that you didn’t buy a paper? In fact, the paper had been quite speculative, proposing a new theory of federalism, or at least a new approach. But the speculation hadn’t really been worked out. Half-baked, it was.

6. A professeur of Chinese politics. Chinese, of course. But of dubious politics. HWSRN never could figure out if he was a Maoist or a Nationalist. But he learned about the Boxer Rebellion, the Opium Wars, Sun Yat Sen, Chiang Kai-Shek and the Kuomintang, and the romance of the Long March.

This prof took his students to a real Chinese restaurant in the real Chinatown of Hawgtown and ordered real Chinese food that had nothing to do with Chow Mein. It was from him that HWSRN learned to use chopsticks.

7. A female professor of Political Economy that HWSRN lampooned mercilessly.

8. A former diplomat teaching International Politics (duh!) who had been there with Pearson at the creation of the United Nations.

9. A T.A. (no, Larry, not T &A) who introduced him to the early days of municipal reform politics when John Sewell soared above the low meanness of city politics and the sordid palm-greasing of downtown development. Because of him, HWSRN became acquainted with the Union of Injured Workers, and one night during a march and rally, surrounded by constabulary, sussed out an unwatched back door and led an injured worker into Queen’s Park. This same T.A. also put him in touch with the Law Union of Ontario.

&&&

HWSRN, that’s all for now. And more than enough, OK? Suffice to say, you got your BA. You got your invitation to Osgoode. Where you promptly sharpened your pinball skills and acted so bullish in Moot Court that the professeurs really thought you must be a Taurus, not a Leo. And ended by finally requesting your withdrawal. Don’t take it so hard. Everyone loses a case now and then.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Inky Dinky Parlay Voo?

Something that struck me about the run-up to the Gliberal convention, and during it was how often the subject of the candidates' command of their "second" language came up. Dion & the Outremonts was criticized for his poor English. Kennedy for his French. Blah blah. (A good phrase, passable in either language.)

Of course, it's clearly an asset for the leader of a national party to be fluent in both official languages. It's the reason why Diefenbaker is not still Prime Minister. But in fact, every candidate did well in both languages as far as I could tell. M. Outremont's English is really very good. M. Kennedy's French sounded quite good to me. Better than Iggy's. He might not be able to keep up with the French lads in a pub. But then, who can except French lads in a pub? Brasserie. Pardon me. Moi. Pardonnez.

I learned a new word today. Punditocracy. And what I say is, all these supercilious members of the punditocracy should be thinking to themselves before they open their mouths, "Gee, I wish I could speak French as well as Dion & the Outremonts speaks English!"

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Only In Canada, You Say

I was reading my last post. No no no, not the last post. Just the most recent one. I noticed that I used the phrase "out west." Funny Canajun thing. We say "out west" and "down east."

And we speak more true than we know. The west is "out there", so to speak (altho not as "out" as it used to be). And the east is down. Down and out. We got em both, and of course it's up to us centrists, legends in our own minds, to rescue The Rest Of Canada.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Really, We're All Closet Gliberals

It was a political orgy in the media. The Gliberal Leadership Convention.

I must find a name for the new Gliberal leader. How about Dion & the Outremonts?

Green Party, watch out. In fine Gliberal tradition, they will soon out-Green you if M. Outremont has his way. Traditional Gliberal tactic: co-opt the enemy's platform. Personally, I don't quite buy it.

As it turns out, they need not have held the actual convention, since, in spite of what all the pundits have been saying, the result was fore-ordained. Why do I say this? Because.

M. Outremont was the only Québecois in the leadership race. The Gliberals had no choice but him. Otherwise they would have broken their tradition of alternating French & English leaders. Heaven forfend! The Gliberals carried out their subterranean genetic heritage admirably.

Le roi est mort. Vive le roi. Bring on the Harpies! Gather the Few Democrats! Block the Bloc! Smite the Greens with their own old-growth planks!

Give me Gliberal or give me Deaf!

The best line I heard in all the media commentary was this. Shortly before the results were announced, there was a discussion about Ken Drily (a well-loved former goal-keeper with the Montreal Canadiens) and why his campaign got shut out. The consensus was that "he was all over the place". Charles Adler (a talk-show host from out west) asked Peter C. Newman. "So, do you think that was it? That Ken Drily was a man in search of an editor? [ie. unable to articulate a coherent program] And Newman's reply, proving that a writer is always an asset when talking heads are on tap: "No, the problem with Drily was, he was a goalie, and goalies don't score!"

Other losers:

Iggy Popped Martha has left the Hall...Finally
No Camelot for Kennedy No Frisson for Brison
Bob's Rae Faded A Wolf in Italian Clothing

Mental Blog Repair 1

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