Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Cow (Paul Bowles)

The most satisfying exposition I have seen of the average Hindu’s feeling about this exalted beast is a little essay composed by a candidate for a post in one of the public services, entitled simply “The Cow.”  The fact that it was submitted in order to show the aspirant’s mastery of the English language, while touching, is of secondary importance.


        The cow is one wonderful animal, also he is quadruped and because he is female he gives milk – but he will do so only when he has got child.  He is same like God, sacred to Hindu and useful to man.  But he has got four legs together.  Two are foreward and two are afterward.

       His whole body can be utilized for use.  More so the milk.  What it cannot do?  Various ghee, butter, cream, curds, whey, cova  and the condensed milk and so forth.  Also, he is useful to cobbler, watermans and mankind generally.

        His motion is slow only.  That is because he is of amplitudinous species, and also his other motion is much useful to trees, plants as well as making fires.  This is done by making flat cakes in hand and drying in the sun.

        He is the only animal that extricates his feedings after eating.  Then afterwards he eats by his teeth which are situated in the inside of his mouth.  He is incessantly grazing in the meadows.

        His only attacking and defending weapons are his horns, especially when he has got child.  This is done by bowing his head whereby he causes the weapons to be parallel to the ground of earth and instantly proceeds with great velocity forwards.

       He has got tail also, but not like other similar animals.  It has hairs on the end of the other side.  This is done to frighten away the flies which alight on his whole body and chastises him unceasingly, whereupon he gives hit with it.

         The palms of his feet are so soft unto the touch so that the grasses he eats would not get crushed.  At night he reposes by going down on the ground and then he shuts his eyes like his relative the horse which he does not do so.  This is the cow.  

Excerpt from "Notes Mailed At Nagercoil" in Their Heads Are Green And Their Hands Are Blue.  New York, Random House, 1963. 

Paul Gauguin Paintings --  Top:  The Red Cow (1889); Center:  Seated Breton Girl (1889); Lower:  Horse and Cow in Field (1885)    

See also:  Here for Parrots
                Here for Cobras 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lord Haw-Haw's Got A Brand New Bag

White House Issues Guides on Sept. 11 Observances

WASHINGTON The White House has issued detailed guidelines to government officials on how to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, with instructions to honor the memory of those who died on American soil but also to recall that Al Qaeda and other extremist groups have since carried out attacks elsewhere in the world, from Mumbai to Manila.

      The White House in recent days has quietly disseminated two sets of documents. One is framed for overseas allies and their citizens and was sent to American embassies and consulates around the globe. The other includes themes for Americans here and underscores the importance of national service and what the government has done to prevent another major attack in the United States. That single-page document was issued to all federal agencies, officials said.

      After weeks of internal debate, White House officials adopted the communications documents to shape public events and official statements, and they sought to strike a delicate balance between messages designed for these two very important but very different audiences on a day when the world’s attention will be focused on President Obama, his leadership team and his nation.

      The guidelines list what themes to underscore — and, just as important, what tone to set. Officials are instructed to memorialize those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and thank those in the military, law enforcement, intelligence or homeland security for their contributions since.

     “A chief goal of our communications is to present a positive, forward-looking narrative,” the foreign guidelines state.

      Copies of the internal documents were provided to The New York Times by officials in several agencies involved in planning the anniversary commemorations. “The important theme is to show the world how much we realize that 9/11 — the attacks themselves and violent extremism writ large — is not ‘just about us,’ ” said one official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal White House planning.

     Some senior Obama administration leaders had advocated a lengthy program of speeches and events to mark the anniversary, but the final decision was for lower-key appearances by Mr. Obama and other senior leaders only on the days leading up to the anniversary and on Sept. 11 itself.

    Mr. Obama in his weekly address on Saturday said that this year’s anniversary will be one of “service and remembrance.”

     “We need to make sure we’re speaking to a very broad set of audiences who will be affected by the anniversary,” Benjamin J. Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, said in a telephone interview on Friday.

     That may be, but some American counterterrorism and intelligence officials are complaining that the White House missed out on tying together the 10th anniversary with recently announced strategies to combat terrorism and violent extremism into a more coherent, longer-term plan. “They don’t do that kind of long-term planning,” said a senior counterterrorism official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid disciplinary measures from the White House. Mr. Rhodes rejected that criticism, saying these themes have threaded through many of Mr. Obama’s speeches in recent months.

     As the White House sharpens its messages for the commemorations, officials say they have also stepped up efforts to spot signs of foreign or domestic terrorist plots timed around the anniversary. So far, they said, they had not detected any specific plots or an increase in threats.

     Officials interviewed at several federal departments said they would consult the White House guidelines, but had been given broad leeway to hold commemorative events at their agencies.

     One significant new theme is in both sets of documents: Government officials are to warn that Americans must be prepared for another attack — and must, in response, be resilient in recovering from the loss.

     “Resilience takes many forms, including the dedication and courage to move forward,” according to the guidelines for foreign audiences. “While we must never forget those who we lost, we must do more than simply remember them —we must sustain our resilience and remain united to prevent new attacks and new victims.”

     At the same time, Obama administration officials caution that public commemorations here should not cast the United States as the sole victim of terrorism, an argument underscored by killings and maimings from extremist attacks overseas.

     Some senior administration officials involved in the discussions noted that the tone set on this Sept. 11 should be shaped by a recognition that the outpouring of worldwide support for the United States in the weeks after the attacks turned to anger at some American policies adopted in the name of fighting terror — on detention, on interrogation, and the decision to invade Iraq.

     So the guidelines aimed at foreign audiences also call on American officials to praise overseas partners and their citizens, who have joined the worldwide effort to combat violent extremism.

     “As we commemorate the citizens of over 90 countries who perished in the 9/11 attacks, we honor all victims of terrorism, in every nation around the world,” the overseas guidelines state. “We honor and celebrate the resilience of individuals, families, and communities on every continent, whether in New York or Nairobi, Bali or Belfast, Mumbai or Manila, or Lahore or London.”

     The death of Osama bin Laden was viewed as reason for officials to “minimize references to Al Qaeda.”

     While terrorists affiliated with Bin Laden’s network “still have the ability to inflict harm,” the guidelines say, officials are to make the point that “Al Qaeda and its adherents have become increasingly irrelevant.”

     The guidelines say the absence of Al Qaeda playing any significant role in the “Arab Spring” uprisings against longtime autocrats in the Middle East and North Africa should be cited as evidence that Bin Laden’s organization “represents the past,” while peaceful street protesters in Egypt and Tunisia “represent the future.” Left unsaid was that many of the deposed leaders were close American allies and partners in counterterrorism operations.

     Resilience is a repeated theme of the communications. “We celebrate the resilience of communities across the globe,” the foreign guidelines state.

     Or, as Mr. Rhodes put it in the interview: “It’s a statement of strength that the United States can outlast our adversaries. We’re stronger than the terrorists’ ability to frighten us.”

     The domestic guidelines, entitled “9/11 Anniversary Planning,” are shorter and less prescriptive than the talking points created for overseas audiences. For example, they note that the ceremonies will honor Americans killed in the Sept. 11 attacks but also “all victims of terrorism, including those who had been targeted by Al Qaeda and other groups around the globe.”

     But these guidelines also acknowledge that Americans will expect government leaders to explain what steps have been taken to prevent another 9/11-style attack and to encourage Americans to volunteer in their communities this Sept. 11.

     The domestic guidelines also ask something of Americans that has been lacking in Washington: “We will also draw on the spirit of unity that prevailed in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.”

Note:  Remembering and honoring victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania requires no third-party instruction or advice, especially "official" unsolicited guidelines conjured by politicians and expelled through lackeys.  

Hideous. Almost unbelievable.

A Strange Dream (Tripoli)


Last night I lay in bed for a long time with my eyes closed and the television on.  CNN was covering ongoing events in Tripoli and the surrounding regions and “covering” never seemed so passive.  I heard Anderson Cooper’s and Nic Robertson’s American and British voices slowly and steadily going back-and-forth, not even rising and falling, regretting, clucking, and periodically praising each other’s journalistic efforts.  There was a long exchange about whether the Lockerbie bomber Megrahi, whose location Robertson had discovered earlier in the day in a Tripoli suburb, was faking final illness and further discussion about the depth of impression his head left on the pillow (indicating whether the pillow had been freshly placed under his head or had been there for a while).   

Constant loud gunfire was going off in the background.  One of CNN’s female Middle East reporters (unfortunately I don’t remember which one, but they all tend to be pretty, bland, and western-looking like Cooper and  Robertson, with Arab-sounding first or last names and “mid-Atlantic” accents) said the gunfire was definitely  celebratory and not battle-related.  I imagined all of the reporters  wearlng “fashion” t-shirts in varying shades of gray (gray-blue, gray-brown, gray-black, gray-gray) and I knew I didn’t need to open my eyes to confirm this.  I couldn’t discern even slightly their point of view, which side they were on, or supposed I was on.  A long time ago I remember hearing an English teacher warn a fellow student away from using the phrase “a strange dream,” but that’s what this was.  To the extent it wasn’t, that it was actually occurring, is even stranger.


1.  Brice Marden:   Dylan Study 2 (1963)

2.  Brice Marden:  Return 1 (1964-5)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ukulele (Jane Is 14)

Charles Demuth:  The Figure 5 In Gold (1928)

       Five days ago, ahead of Jane’s 14th birthday, we visited a local music store and bought her the presents she requested, which included: a) a ukulele; b) a melodica; c) a capo for her guitar; d) a set of guitar strings; and e) an electronic string tuner

Lanakai Curly Koa Concert Ukulele

           We had a wonderful excursion, and once we found a Sam Ash store employee willing and able to help us (that took some doing; we were initially discouraged by the somnolent retail atmosphere, which seemed unusual in these straitened times), things proceeded smoothly and well.

George Formby with ukulele

               Jane selected for purchase a Lanakai concert-size ukulele made of Hawaiian curly koa wood after shyly trying out a number of other larger and smaller instruments.  The concert uke sounded fantastic in the store and was by far the most sonically and visually appealing of all the models being offered, including both more and less expensive instruments. Buying a koa ukulele made Jane very happy, in part because I initially told her (based on inadequate prior research, which included seeing pictures of Taylor Swift playing an extravagantly beautiful, oversized koa guitar) that koa was definitely going to be out of our price range.  As things turned out, this was definitely “the one” and Jane has already progressed significantly in her playing over the last several days, building on her unexpected, welcome and utterly surprising guitar progress made over the summer, and giving her new axe a near-constant workout.

Hohner Melodica

             I owned a Hohner melodica when I was younger than Jane, but I never got very far or did anything remotely interesting with it.  Jane became fixated on the instrument after coming across a melodica demonstration video on Youtube and I was pleased to buy it for her because she’s a very talented and expressive pianist and I’m trying to encourage her to pursue every musical desire she has.  Kids are funny: I would like Jane to be the next Augustus Pablo, but she’s enthusiastically and assiduously pursuing the instrument  simply because she clearly has something significant, highly personal and individual going on upstairs. (That being said, I would still like her to take some time and listen to Augustus Pablo with me.  The one time I saw Pablo perform live, years ago at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan, backed by a killer band, which included Earl “Chinna” Smith, George "Fully" Fullwood and Carlton "Santa" Davis aka The Soul Syndicate,  it was life-changing).

The very great Augustus Pablo

             I haven't mentioned that what I really wanted to have happen during our shopping trip was for Jane to buy a banjolele like George Formby’s.  Sam Ash told me that banjoleles aren’t in great demand these days (unlike more traditional ukes), but I think we did absolutely fine.  

          What I have going on upstairs is THIS, i.e., writing something for you, and I’m grateful to you for reading and listening.   Jane is 14 today and she begins high school just after Labor Day..  Yikes!  I’m grateful for that also, but sometimes feel overmatched by circumstances. 

Claude by Jane

           I expect we’ll all measure up in the end.  To say that it’s been a trying summer would be a great understatement, but I have found that it’s mostly always darkest before some sort of quasi-dawn.   Perhaps we'll up-stakes and move to Guam.  Someone I used to know quite well told me once that it's great there and my cat Claude needs some new territory to mark as his very own.

Flag of Guam

Link: The Great Roy Smeck Plays Ukulele

Link: The Great Augustus Pablo Plays Islington Rock


Sunday, August 28, 2011

My Mind (Two Views) (Part 2)

There's too much on my mind
There's too much on my mind
And I can't sleep at night thinking about it.
I'm thinking all the time;  There's too much on my mind,
It seems there's more to life than just to live it.

There's too much on my mind and there is nothing I can say.
There's too much on my mind and there is nothing I can do About It.

My thoughts just weigh me down and drag me to the ground,
And shake my head until there's no more life in me.
It's ruining my brain; I'll never be the same.
My poor demented mind is slowly going.

Link:  Kinks -- There's Too Much On My Mind 

William Baziotes Picture Key:

Top:  Cyclops (1947)
Second:  Sleep (1952)
Third:  Sea Phantoms (1952)
Fourth:  Flesh Eaters (1952)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Small Nostalgia (Judy Nylon)



Judy Nylon photographed by Eno

Because I feel very little nostalgia for anything, this can be short.  

        I could hazard a guess about why this is, but "hazard" would be the operative word and, as they used to say, I don't want to "go there."

Judy Nylon, London 1971

        Earlier this week, however, I felt some small nostalgia for a few moments and wondered where Judy Nylon was and what she was doing these days?

        I only met Judy a couple of times and didn't know her very well at all, but when I first (unexpectedly) was introduced to her in 1977, over lunch at Gallagher's Steakhouse on West 52nd Street in Manhattan,  I was extremely excited because she was a major celebrity known to me through the pages of Rock Scene magazine, as a back-up performer on John Cale's Fear lp (on the song The Man Who Couldn't Afford To Orgy) and a "name-checked" personage in Eno's song Back In Judy's Jungle on the Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) album.  The circumstances of the lunch might possibly make for interesting reading, but would distract from the main point.

Judy Nylon and Pat Palladin -- Snatch


      Judy was tall and striking.  An American expatriate in London, contemporary with some other eventually to be better-and-less-well-known American female London ex-pats, including Chrissie Hynde, Kate Simon, Pat Palladin, Jerry Hall and (I might as well mention for the sake of completeness) Ruby Wax, Judy was terribly friendly, nice and well-mannered and a great lunch companion.  In those days, I was working at ABC Records in the publicity department while also attending art history graduate school, and Caroline and I ran into Judy a few other times, in the ABC offices and at rock clubs around town.

Judy Nylon today

      A brief but completely good memory, I was pleased to use social media to summon Judy's shade and fill in the colors the other night.  She currently works as part of an interactive online art/literature collective called Aether9.  She occasionally gives interviews (mostly about the past) and they are highly articulate and, dare I say it, wise.  (In one, she fielded a question about Patti Smith's "achievement" about as deftly and delicately as one can possibly imagine.)  She even responded to one of those ridiculously, but addictively, readable "Proust Questionnaires" for one publication in a highly impressive and entertaining way.  And she still looks like Judy, which prompted feelings of small nostalgia in me.  Wherever Judy is tonight, I hope she's well and happy.

Pal Judy lp

Friday, August 26, 2011

Diamond Bigger Than The Ritz

 Astronomers Discover Planet Made Of Diamond

"The evolutionary history and amazing density of the planet all suggest it is comprised of carbon — i.e. a massive diamond orbiting a neutron star every two hours in an orbit so tight it would fit inside our own Sun.” -- Matthew Bailes of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne

By Ben Hirschler
LONDON | Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:26pm EDT
(Reuters) - Astronomers have spotted an exotic planet that seems to be made of diamond racing around a tiny star in our galactic backyard.

The new planet is far denser than any other known so far and consists largely of carbon. Because it is so dense, scientists calculate the carbon must be crystalline, so a large part of this strange world will effectively be diamond.

        "The evolutionary history and amazing density of the planet all suggest it is comprised of carbon -- i.e. a massive diamond orbiting a neutron star every two hours in an orbit so tight it would fit inside our own Sun," said Matthew Bailes of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.

         Lying 4,000 light years away, or around an eighth of the way toward the center of the Milky Way from the Earth, the planet is probably the remnant of a once-massive star that has lost its outer layers to the so-called pulsar star it orbits.

      Pulsars are tiny, dead neutron stars that are only around 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) in diameter and spin hundreds of times a second, emitting beams of radiation.

        In the case of pulsar J1719-1438, the beams regularly sweep the Earth and have been monitored by telescopes in Australia, Britain and Hawaii, allowing astronomers to detect modulations due to the gravitational pull of its unseen companion planet.

       The measurements suggest the planet, which orbits its star every two hours and 10 minutes, has slightly more mass than Jupiter but is 20 times as dense, Bailes and colleagues reported in the journal Science on Thursday.

        In addition to carbon, the new planet is also likely to contain oxygen, which may be more prevalent at the surface and is probably increasingly rare toward the carbon-rich center.

        Its high density suggests the lighter elements of hydrogen and helium, which are the main constituents of gas giants like Jupiter, are not present.

       Just what this weird diamond world is actually like close up, however, is a mystery.

        "In terms of what it would look like, I don't know I could even speculate," said Ben Stappers of the University of Manchester. "I don't imagine that a picture of a very shiny object is what we're looking at here."

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Sophie Hares)

My Mind (Two Views) (Part 1)


Thinking for a While
My mind strayed
A thousand miles.
Thinking about the Sunshine
That dry my clothes on the line.
Thinking about the Rain
That goes pitta patta on my window pane.
And the sinful People
Who come along in vain.

My mind keeps going on
On and On and On.
To sing my little song,
Thinking about my girl
Who has left me and Gone. 

Hugh Mundell -- "My Mind" (From "Africa Must Be Free By 1983")

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Scientists find underground river beneath Amazon (AFP)

An overview of an area in the Amazon rain forest in northern Brazil, in 2005. Brazilian scientists have discovered an underground river some 4,000 meters (13,000) feet deep, which flows from west to east like the country's famous waterway.
An overview of an area in the Amazon rain forest in northern Brazil, in 2005. Brazilian scientists have discovered an underground river some 4,000 meters (13,000) feet deep, which flows from west to east like the country's famous waterway. 

AFP - August 25, 2011

        Brazilian scientists have discovered an underground river some 4,000 meters (13,000) feet deep, which flows from west to east like the country's famous waterway.

        A statement this week from Brazil's National Observatory named the underground river Hamza and said it represents one of two different draining systems for the large rainforest region.

        A team of scientists led by Elizabeth Pimentel came to the conclusion from studying 241 wells drilled by the state oil giant Petrobras in the Amazon region.

        Even though the two rivers cover a similar path they have differences. The underground river flows at a far slower pace and empties into the ocean deep underground.

       "It is likely that this river is responsible for the low level of salinity in the waters around the mouth of the Amazon," the statement said.

LINK: Amazona -- Roxy Music (From Stranded, 1973)

Above-ground Amazon Aerial

A Horse From A Dream

For peace we cry O Artemis the grandmother of lions,
Nurse of the hedgehogs and fawns, white-breasted dawn!
To the fading stars we sing, we sing our Agido
The doe-slight tender cousin of Hagesikbora the tall,
She is so like the sun that when she lifts her rosy arms, 
Which is Helios, which is Agido?  But Hagesikbora
Among us is like a stallion among his mares,
The silken quiver of his flanks rounding their eyes,
A horse from a dream and not of this world.

III (Excerpt) Alkman: A Hymn to Artemis of the Strict Observance.

Guy Davenport translation from 7 Greeks. New York, New Directions, 1995. 

Copy of a work by Leochares (4th century BC): Artemis with a hind, better known as "Diana of Versailles". Marble, Roman artwork, Imperial Era (1st-2nd centuries CE). Found in Italy.  Given by Pope Paul IV to Henry II of France. The Louvre, Paris.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Charisma Comeback: After Near-Extinction, Otters Return To Every County In England (From The Independent, August 18, 2011)

Once the rivers were cleaned up, fish returned to once-polluted waters and otters began to spread back eastwards from their strongholds in Devon and Wales

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor

Thursday, 18 August 2011

           It has taken 30 years, but the otter's comeback is now complete. After becoming extinct across most of England in the Fifties and Sixties, one of Britain's best-loved animals has now returned to every English county, the Environment Agency announced yesterday. 

          The slow but steady recolonisation of its former haunts has been rounded off with the reappearance of otters in Kent, the last county to have been without them, the agency said. 

     The otter's return represents a happy ending to one of the worst episodes in modern British wildlife history: the sudden disappearance of one of our most widespread and charismatic mammals.

        The process began around 1956 and was almost certainly caused by the introduction of powerful organochlorine pesticides such as aldrin and dieldrin. Residues of these chemicals were washed into the rivers where otters lived, poisoning them. 

          As wild otters are hard to spot – their presence is usually detected by their spraints, or droppings – it was several years before the scale of their disappearance began to dawn on people, but by then they had been wiped out over vast areas of lowland England. 

          Despite the banning of organochlorine pesticides in the mid-Sixties, otters continued to decline, and their population reached a low point by the end of the 1970s, when they had effectively vanished from everywhere except the West Country and parts of Northern England (although good numbers remained in Wales and Scotland). 

          The first national otter survey, carried out between 1977 and 1979, detected the presence of otters in just over 5 per cent of the 2,940 sites surveyed; all the sites were known to have held the animals previously. 

          But then a comeback gradually began. Helped by a substantial clean-up of England's rivers, which brought back fish to many once-polluted watercourses, and by legal protection, otters began to spread back eastwards into England from their strongholds in Devon and in areas of the Welsh borders, such as the Wye Valley. 

          By the time of the fourth otter survey, carried out between 2000 and 2002, more than 36 per cent of the sites examined showed otter traces; and when the fifth survey was carried out, between 2009 and 2010, the figure had risen to nearly 60 per cent, with otters back in every English county except Kent. Now wildlife experts at the Environment Agency have confirmed that there are at least two otters in Kent, which have built their holts on the River Medway and the River Eden. 

          "The recovery of otters from near-extinction shows how far we've come in controlling pollution and improving water quality," said Alastair Driver, the Environment Agency's National Conservation Manager. "Rivers in England are the healthiest for over 20 years, and otters, salmon and other wildlife are returning to many rivers for the first time since the industrial revolution. 

      "The fact that otters are now returning to Kent is the final piece in the jigsaw for otter recovery in England and is a symbol of great success for everybody involved in otter conservation." 

          Otters are at the top of the food chain, and are therefore an important indicator of river health. The clean-up means that they are now inhabiting once-polluted rivers running through cities – something which would have been unthinkable before the population crash – and they have been detected in places such as Stoke-on-Trent, Reading, Exeter and Leeds, as well as in more likely urban centres, such as Winchester.  

          Although they are now widespread once more, otters' nocturnal habits and riverine habitat make them difficult to glimpse, let alone observe, in England. The best place to see otters in Britain is Western Scotland, where the animals have become semi-marine and live along the coast. They can regularly be seen foraging along the shoreline in the daytime, especially on some of the larger islands, such as Mull and Skye.