Somehow, my Wikipedia treasure-trails always lead to…

June 13th, 2011

On a lovely trip to Nice yesterday, I saw a monument to a mayor of the city from 1928 - 1943 and 1947 - 1965,

Jean Medécin,

who had a son who was also mayor for a long time,

Jacques Medécin

who, unlike his father, was fond of

Gaullism,

the French political ideology which espouses national independence, including the

Force de frappe,

the tactical and strategic framework for

France's weapons of mass destruction,

which were mostly tested in her colonies and had some costly accidents including the

Beryl incident,

when some soldiers and officials were exposed to radiation, including another Gaullist,

Gaston Paleweski,

long-time lover of English novelist Nancy Mitford, one of the

Mitford sisters,

another of whom married

Oswald Mosley

a notable British proponent of

fascism.

The Unabomber was a hipster

May 15th, 2011

The personal effects of Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unabomber, will be sold via an online auction by the U.S. Marshals beginning May 18, 2011. U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell of the Eastern District of California ordered the sale in August 2010. Proceeds from the auction will be used to compensate Kaczynski’s victims.

The Marshals have seen fit to upload the photos of his effects to a Flickr album, where you can peruse them to make your choice in advance.

What is most striking about the items is not how evil and terroristic they look, but how well they would fit into a Williamsburg loft apartment...

All he's missing is the fixie. Read the rest of this entry »

The digital revolution!!! will be taxed.

May 15th, 2011

I guess knowledge in digital format is less worthy than that on dead trees, or children's shoes.

A lot left to learn

April 28th, 2011

Bold for done, underline for in-progress, italic for not started.

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.

Robert A. Heinlein, 1973

Marlay Grange, grounds and house

March 27th, 2011

Marlay Grange was built by renowned Dublin architect John McCurdy in the 1850s or 1860s, possibly 1866. John McCurdy also designed the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin's city centre. It lies on the Grange Road, in a woodland setting, sitting on 5.06 hectares, or 12.5 acres.

The grounds include specimen trees, two ornamental pounds and a trellis-covered sunken pathway which encloses a semi-circular formal garden. A long tree-lined avenue leads up to a gravelled forecourt in front of the house.

The house and estate were sold by then-owners the McGrane family in the year 2000 to the British Embassy in Dublin for stg£6.4 million. It was intended to replace the British Ambassador's residence at Glencairn House.

Tree-lined extent of the grounds of Marlay Grange, on the Grange Road

Planning permission was received from South Dublin County Council for a lot of work to renovate the property and to add a number of outbuildings and chalets on the estate to accommodate embassy staff, but the plan was eventually dropped due to security concerns. This led to the British Government re-purchasing Glencairn House and putting Marlay Grange back on the market, losing significant money in the process.

The property was bought in 2007/8 by Niall Mellon, property developer and philanthropist, who tried to build houses on the grounds. The council turned down his application for planning permission and the house went back on the market. Enquiries with the estate agent at the time suggested that the asking price was in the region of €12 million, even though the property crash was already in progress.

Last satellite image of Marlay Grange house and formal garden

The building is a cut-stone two storey high-roofed Victorian house built in the Gothic style. The imposing structure contains gables, dormer gables, and a tower with a truncated pyramidal roof.

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage described the house as "a fine and comparatively rare example of a Victorian Gothic country house in the Ruskinian style".

Age And Impotence Await Us All

February 21st, 2011

A free album for everyone: Sampler by Ulrike Jokiel

February 21st, 2011

This album has been doing the rounds online for some time, but I was first recommended it by Aengus a few years ago. I really enjoyed the cut-down sound which reminded me of Rebirth and simpler times.. The tracks have no titles, just numbered 1 to 13. I find it to be great music for driving, and particularly enjoy tracks 4, 9 and 11. Ulrike Jokiel is a pseudonym it seems, but I'm not sure whether the actual artist is Finnish or not.

MC-303 SH-101 TR-606 KMS-30 JX-3P RY-10

Here's what Ulrike Jokiel  had to say about the production of the album:

the equipment used is more than minimal: roland jx-3p, roland tr-606, roland sh-101, mc303 groovebox, yamaha ry-10 drumbox
all sequencing is done with the built-in sequencers, the trigger/midi interface is my good ol' korg kms-30. everything was recorded directly to 2-track stereo tape (no overdubs, no mix, everything LIVE). no computer used.

Read the rest of this entry »

Snowglobes

December 21st, 2010

Another Winter

December 19th, 2010

Young men fighting an old war in the woods,
Clad in cast-off coats of another oppressor.

Walk down a valley of quiet women and no men to work
The mine they guard - truck tracks between the pines.

The morning rays warm the heartland,
House on the hill glows saffron once more.

Allotment gardens in Helsinki at the end of summer

December 19th, 2010

In the cities of Finland, you can find allotment gardens, green spaces divided into little packages of land. Some are given over to vegetables, but most are full of flowers, and the majority include a small colourful building. This functions as a summer cottage where the owner can get away from it all.

Originally, these allotments were created for the poor who could not afford their own summer cottage out in the countryside and to allow them to grow their own vegetables. In the way of things, these allotments became highly sought-after by the rich as well and there are long waiting-lists in each city.

I spent a few hours walking around one of these allotment gardens, while the weather was still warm.

Bus Shelter

December 4th, 2010

WEDNESDAY
YOUR LOVER
OF 29 YEARS'
IS WAITING
FOR YOU.
THIS WAR IS ALL FOR LOVE OF YOU
TERESA+

MR H
TELL TERESA
+ KATE + THE REST
I'LL SEE THEM SOON
YOUR BODYGUARDS

HAM U. YOU TELL "CURLEY" ILL PUT HER ON MY LIST I'LL SMASH HER FACE ILL PUT THAT GRIN ON OTEER SIDE

Marlay Grange, Gate Lodge

November 1st, 2010

Approaching from the road, you pass through tall metal gates, with signs saying "Marlay Grange" on both sides. The driveway turns immediately to the left. Following the driveway, you proceed along a tree-lined avenue, now overgrown. It leads past some sheds on your left and on up to the house.

The gatehouse is to your right as you enter the grounds, a two-story building of approximately 102 sq.m. (1,100 sq.ft). According to the 1911 census, the house has "2 rooms and 2 windows to the front."

The front door is sealed with a metal panel and the windows are blocked up. There is a curious feature at the rear of the house, a platform jutting out from a window with a pole above it.

According to the property brief, the gatehouse is in need of extensive renovation and modernisation. They weren't kidding. The electrics would have to be completely redone, as well as the plumbing most likely. The decoration seems not to have changed since the early part of the century.

There are very few items left in the house, although all of the mounted furniture (such as cupboards) is still in place. The upstairs area is inaccessible, the stairway is blocked.

The gate lodge had at least one famous resident, at the time of the 1911 census, who we will see in a later post.

Short Message Stories

October 18th, 2010

Three very short stories, written a number of years ago, each structured to fit in one text message on a Nokia 3310 (title not included).


Man In The Chair

Facing the wall today. He prefers the window, even when it rains, not that they know. He'd turn aside, but- The impotence is maddening, mist fills the gardens.



M2

M2, clouds of spray to Belfast and on to Dublin. Whin at side, trees beyond, blue-barriered bridge. The inevitable Ford Mondeo. Wet road, verge, fence, church.



Lying Ring

Home from his conference in the sun, she holds him. She always worries, and he can fix the sink. He takes off his ring. She cries at his finger tanned beneath.


The spy in the bathtub, part one

September 26th, 2010

The cliché holds that I should begin my article with "It was like the plot to a spy thriller", so I won't.
This is the longest article I have written so far, but I hope you will persevere.

Police line outside 36 Alderney Street, after the discovery

Police broke down the door of Gareth Williams' flat at 36 Alderney Street after he had not been seen for "at least 10 days". Work colleagues had become concerned. At first the story was not heavily-reported, but it soon became clear what "work" this was.

Gareth Williams worked for GCHQ, effectively the UK equivalent of the United States NSA. GCHQ is responsible for SIGINT (signals intelligence) for the British state, i.e. communications interception and the decryption of data collected. The agency has several listening stations, in Britain and abroad in places like Cyprus, and monitors various communications systems.
Read the rest of this entry »

Burning books requires much time and commitment

September 11th, 2010

In the last few days, we've seen Obama trying to reason with Pastor Terry Jones, an obscure preacher from Gainesville, Florida, over the television and protest rallies sweeping across Afghanistan. Why? Because Jones announced that he was going to burn some copies of the Qu'ran to coincide with the anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center.

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Pastor Terry Jones in Motion

Jones strikes an unusual figure, with his handle-bar moustache suit and 70s-coloured tie. He seems like a figure from a National Lampoon film, but right now he is being taken very seriously. He's called off his protest because the voices in his head told him to.

Back in July, Jones's colleague Sapp posted a YouTube video about their plans, and there was some brief interest, a few news articles. The story has steadily grown, as affiliate television stations have passed on the scandal. The BBC covers its growth in this article.

Burning books has always attracted controversy throughout history, symbolising a destruction of a civilisation and abandonment of intellectual society. It is taboo.

Non-Aryan literature burnt in Berlin's Opernplatz in May, 1933

The burning of books by the Nazis in the 1930s is probably the most familiar example, gleeful SA men piling academic papers and Jewish books onto the funeral pyres of civil society. Heine's quote "Those who begin by burning books will end by burning people" is on the lips of every secondary school History student. See the transcription of Goebbels' speech and the description of the scene.

The burning of the remaining books at the dwindling Library of Alexandria by the Saracens contributed to centuries of disdain in the West for ostensibly uncivilised and anti-intellectual Muslims.

ROSER 2, Nazi_Student_SA_Book_Burning_May_1933-01EXLG.jpg

SA Nazis and students burning books in May 1933

Since the act is taboo, most people have never tried burning books. Perhaps they imagine happy flames devouring the words and knowledge. See how happy everyone is above, glad to be rid of complicated ideas. Even the students themselves are joining in.

The reality is less exciting. Allow me to present a personal anecdote about burning books... Read the rest of this entry »