Thoughts and Images not otherwise classified

"There is no memory which time does not efface,
nor any pain that death does not destroy."
(Don Quixote; Part I, Ch. XV)
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 Key:  Red  action/warning.  Purple  may offend some persons.  Gray  informational. 
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Three terrific acronyms from the nuclear power industry: "TMTC" (Too Many To Count), "GKW" (God Knows What), and "unk-unks" (unknown unknowns). Picture at right: The "sarcophagus" that has been built over the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, to try to contain its danger: "A chief engineer stated 'no one can tell you what will happen to the sarcophagus in the next half hour'"*. (Click on picture to see it full size.) [ Tour Chernobyl area! ]Tour Chernobyl area ("Ghost town")![ Tour Chernobyl area! ]  
[ Chernobyl nuclear reactor in its sarcophagus ]
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Also in Ukraine[ See Viktor Yushchenko and his supporters after 21Nov04 election!! ]
"A fifth of all the world's reactors and nuclear fuel is concentrated around the Kola Peninsula, home to Russia's Northern Fleet of submarines.... The Russian port of Murmansk, the biggest city in the Arctic, is the world's biggest nuclear dustbin.... [Up to 100 nuclear submarines here] still have their reactors and nuclear fuel on board.... In a cash-strapped world, the Russian navy is reduced to shuffling the decaying hulls from mooring to mooring.... Their country simply does not have the money to remove and reprocess the radioactive fuel which threatens a vast area of northern Europe.... [A] 60 year-old ship, the Lepse... is used to store spent nuclear fuel. Inside the Lepse, there are 642 bundles of fuel rods, two-thirds of which are apparently damaged and still hot.... What appals international nuclear scientists is the fact that the Russians have crammed so many nuclear fuel rods into this one vessel. When they could not get more rods in, they simply hammered them into the superstructure causing it to buckle." (James Robbins, "Russian nuclear dustbin threats", The BBC Online, Monday, 14 August, 2000, 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK)
[ ] [ Oil well burning in Chechnya ]A lead story in the 08 Dec 99 New York Times, described Russian efforts to suppress the ongoing rebellion in Chechnya, by application of massive military force: "Russian commanders boast about their use of maneuver and deception. But the most enduring impression from a three-day visit to Chechnya was of massive firepower. It was as if Gen. Colin L. Powell's doctrine of overwhelming force as the key to victory, used so efficiently in the American war against Iraq, had been transferred to the Caucasus and applied Russian-style." The photograph accompanying the story (right), however, showed something different: Two Russian soldiers looking at a burning Chechnyan oil well. The caption said the rebels had set fire to the well during their retreat, in October, but that the Russians did not have the resources to extinguish the fire. The tragic contrast between Russia's continuing power to destroy, and Russia's impotence to construct, struck me as a powerful symbol of that sad country's condition at the end of the 20th century. (Read about: Soviet nuclear submarine disasters.) [Lest the reader think I am singling out Russia for unilateral reprobation, let me also note that many of the news reports about the 1999 Russian intervention in Chechnya sound to me like replays of news stories from the 1960s, but with the word "Russia" substituted for "United States", and "Chechnya" for "Vietnam"....]
National Public Radio evening news ("All things Considered"), 10 Dec 99, interviewed an analyst from the Institute for Strategic Studies (London), Anatole Levin. They asked Levin why the Russians seemed to be so concerned to minimize casualties among their soldiers in this war, when, for centuries, Russia had not been noted for caring much about casualties. [Ed. note: I recall the cliché that World War II was won with American technology and Russian bodies.[fn.27[ Go to footnote! ]]] Levin replied that, in past, Russian families had many sons, but now a family often had only one son -- which, Levin noted, makes people feel somewhat differently. This idea struck me as the most powerful argument for population control I have ever heard, even though, in general, I have long been aware of the principle that the more there are the less each matters.
On the light side: Diagram of the succession of Soviet space stations (NYT Science Times, 13Mar01, p.1). Fascinating visual composition, in part because the silhouette of each space station looks like a Japanese Kanji. Check it out!
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[ ] Q: What ever became of Dr. Caligari's descendants? [ Click here for answer! ]
[ ] What oil company was incorporated by the First Council of Nicea (AD325)? [ Click here for answer! ]
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[ Go to puns and riddles! ] [ ]
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[ Earl 'Madman' Muntz ]Some of my favorite automobile models: Dodge Objet D'art, Plymouth Neutron, Kaiser Frasier. Mercury Marquis de Sade (Brougham). Lincoln Caprice (Oops! That's a Chevy...). Other models that didn't quite make it (besides the Toyota Forerunner...): Ford Fungus, Packhard Caliban, Nissan Altamont, Plymouth Voyeur, Dodge Dingo, Chevrolet Tacoe (SUV -- "Like a stone"), Chevrolet Desperado, Toyota Tora Bora, GMC Yukon XL Denalial, Chevrolet Monad sport-station wagon (in honor of Gottfried von Liebnitz; See picture!).... Ever see a Muntz Jet? Nash Metropolitan? Most automatic transmission Toyotas have ECT (which Toyota says means: "automatically controlled electronic overdrive", or: Electronically Controlled Transmission; The more expensive Lexus have "ECT-i": ECT with intelligence!). ETC (Cadillac Eldorado Touring Coupe)....
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See also:   My new 2003 Toyota Corolla (I love it!)....
[ ] Hubcap mentalité....
[ ] Bumper stickers, vanity plates & more....
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Detroit downsizes to help America conserve gasoline? The 2003 Chrysler 300 (300M...) has 255 horsepower.
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Model year creep: Mercedes-Benz advertisement received 08 February 2006: "The 2007 S-Class is finally here." (Source: "The latest Mercedes-Benz news and information" mailing list)
The last great French touring car: Facel-Vega (1954-64). [Fellini's film 8-1/2 begins with Marcello Mastroianni stuck in a huge traffic jam, in a Facel-Vega. The stopped cars are packed together like sardines in a tin. Mastroianni has a panic attack, but escapes by rolling down the driver's side window, squeezing himself out, and walking away over the hoods of the other cars.... I wish I could have walked over those same cars and crawled in that same window....] [ ] [ See and learn more about these beautiful cars! ]
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BMW 318ti: Another car I'd like and could more afford (it seems still to be made, but the new version is not sold in the U.S.A.: Click here to see one...). Even better would be: BMW 2000CS (ca. 1966; 83k), or BMW 3.0CSi (ca. 1971)....
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My new car: A 2003 Toyota Corolla LE, which I like so much it's almost a cure for "BMW envy".
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Have a look at mystery pictures: (1) "This is not a Dogon mask".
(2) "This is not part of Hieronymous Bosch's 'Garden of Earthly Delights'".
What do you think they are?[ Email me what you think my mystery pictures are of! ]
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(     (    (   (  ( ((:-)) )  )   )    )     )
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Emoticon (*smiley*): Individual blissfully merging with the Universe 
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[ ]   Neither to float to the surface, nor to sink to the bottom, is best. (~Heraclitus)[fn.49[ Go to footnote! ]]
[ ] [ A fish -- Everyfish -- swimming freely in clear, pure water ]
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Annals of Apocryphal High School Yearbook Pictures. See the ultimate 1950s high school yearbook picture of the ultimate 1950s high school All-American young man: Class President? Varsity Football Captain? Valedictorian? Voted most likely to succeed? Future IBM sales executive? Can you guess who? Click here to see!
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[ ] Whose is my body? Around 1979, there used to be a radio program for children about 6PM each weekday afternoon on New York Public Radio, WNYC: "Kids America". For a long time, the program featured a song, which began and ended with: "My body's my body, nobody's but mine.... You've got your own body, let me run mine." I forget most of the middle, but I think it included such lyrics as that my body was mine to do with as I pleased.... After a while, the program stopped playing the song. I was convinced that it was because the song not only urged children to ward off undesirable approaches by strangers (which everybody thinks is a good idea...), but it also encouraged children both: (1) to find pleasure in their bodies, and (2) to reject unwanted (but not "illegal" or "immoral"!) impingements and controls by their parents[fn.15[ Go to footnote! ]] -- both of which ideas are definitely not approved of by many "conservatives". I was never able to verify it, but I always suspected that "conservatives" pressured the station to remove the song. I believe the song was replaced by something that told children to report to their parents and teachers whenever any stranger tried to approach them in a suspicious way (etc.).
Exposé! As a child, I attended an all-male "prep school", where there were no doors on the toilet stalls for the students, and where, in the seventh grade, two students were expelled for getting caught having oral sex in one of them. I work in a place where there are no partitions between the urinals in the men's room. Public showers are prevalent in "locker rooms" throughout our society. It seems to me that such coerced public same-gender nudity constitutes a continuing affront to personal dignity, social decency and civility. I think it presents each individual with unnecessary temptations (e.g., the two students in "my" prep school). But maybe that's the whole point of it: to test people's character, and to give them opportunities to feel discomfort about "themselves". (If "society" thinks public self-exposure is so good, why is "flashing" a crime? Why is nudity at public beaches generally prohibited?) [To explore public urinals of America and other countries, Please click here! March 2005: Read more about this issue of restroom decency in public places.]
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The most horrifying sound human beings can make may be a hoard of North African (e.g., Algerian) chadors ululating ~ a high-pitched wailing more piercing than an air raid siren, arising from the (probably infibulated...) women cocooned inside the chadors ~ a resonating howling that grows ever more penetrating ~ as if plague of the progeny of the matings of men and carrion birds was coming to rip you to pieces with their talons and their beaks to avenge their own riven life.[fn.45[ Go to footnote! ]]
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Hear example of Bedouin women ululating Apr06: The BBC seems to have removed this audio clip from their website (Download Real Audio -- There is a free version of Real Player there, but you have to look for it...).
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Crowds and Power :: Masse und Macht (ref. Elias Canetti). See mass movement at Islamic Hajj, from Al Hajj website: Click here to see crowd crowding. See also: The ultimate praying machine.
[ Two Saudi Women at a scenic lookout ]
[ ] Un-undertaken Christo-esque art project: Cover all minarets with chadors (even "better": burqas!). Also: The Statue of Liberty, The Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, the Sphinx, etc....[fn.39[ Go to footnote! ]] (Pictures: Left: 2 Saudi women at a scenic overlook. Right: burqas -- click to buy online.) ~ See: comparative pictures of different Islamic women's attire: Hijab, khimar, chador, niqab, burqa. [ ]
[ Go buy traditional Islamic women's attire! ] [ Go buy traditional Islamic women's attire! ]
"A Muslim woman who says the state is violating her religious rights in demanding that she remove her veil for a driver's license photograph will be in court this week to try to regain her driving privileges."(NYT on the Web, 27Jun02) Click here to see her current ID photo, with veil (specifically: "niqab"). 28May03: 11 months later, she's still at it....
[ Go view Rembrandt's Danae! ] [The Annals of Prudery: Did "The Annunciation" go something like this?] Knock! Knock! "Who's there?" "I am Angel Gabriel, representing Y-w-h, your G-d. May I come in?" "I'm sorry, Sir, but my parents are out, and they told me never to let strangers in." "Well, I can understand that. Can you hear me through the door?" "Yes, Sir." "Are you Mary, daughter of Anne?" "Yes, Sir." "I have a message for you, Miss Mary." "Yes, Sir?" "By the order of Y-w-h, your G-d, I hereby inform you, Mary, daughter of Anne, that, in eight months' time, you will give birth to The Messiah." "How can that be, Sir? What was your name, again, please, Sir?" "Gabriel: Angel Gabriel, representative of Y-w-h, your G-d." "Yes, Sir." "Do you understand, Miss Mary, daughter of Anne, that you have been appointed to give birth to The Messiah, eight months from now?" "Yes, Sir. But -- I don't see how that is possible...." "Don't worry, Miss Mary, it has already all been taken care of." "Well, I guess it does explain a small concern I had...." [Ed. note: Mary had noticed that her period had not yet come this month, with no apparent explanation why it was late.] "Don't worry, Miss Mary, everything will be fine. But the science is pretty complicated." "Yes, Sir. I am only a girl, and I know there are many things I do not understand." "I have to be going now, Miss Mary. Don't worry. It will all be alright. Everything has been taken care of. Be of good cheer!" "Yes, Sir, Mr. Angel Gabriel...." "Bye, now, Miss Mary...." "Goodbye, Sir...."[fn.17[ Go to footnote! ]]
Lorenzo Lotto painted an Annunciation in which the Virgin "Like her skittish cat, turns away from the angel and almost recoils in fear"(National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.). Click here to see Mary trying to flee from her mission.
[ ] [ Go to German website with my quote! ][ 24 / 7 :: What makes it tick? ]. A German speaking reader has taken something I have said and translated it on his website: "Je schneller man in die falsche Richtung hastet, umso länger wird es dauern, wieder auf den richtigen Kurs zu kommen, wenn man überhaupt das Glück hat, noch genügend Zeit dafür zu haben!" (The faster a person makes progress in a wrong[headed] direction, the longer it will take them to get back to where they can begin to proceed along a constructive path -- presuming one has the good fortune to have the time left in one's life to get that far.) ~ Go: Slow food!
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[ But sometimes good manners have a positive ROI! ]Warning: being polite can be hazardous to your health! Example: The great astronomer Tycho Brahe died because of a urinary blockage brought on by being too polite to leave the dinner table to heed the call of nature. [Note (13Nov00): I have received email from someone who appears knowledgeable, telling me that Tycho died of mercury poisoning, and that the "politeness" story is just a myth -- but, if it is a myth, it still epitomizes much of our social life:] I have found people are more offended by hearing me floss my teeth than by the prospect of what would happen to my teeth if I did not floss, and they are more offended by the smell of garlic after I have eaten a lot of it than by the possible detriment to my health of abstaining from this food which can help protect us from getting ill.
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[ In garlic we trust! Eat more garlic! ]Another example of politeness taking precedence over substantive social and personal benefit: How people were offended by a proposal to use Princess Diana's image in public service highway safety ads to encourage using seatbelts. Presumably it is less bad for persons to die in automobile accidents because they don't use their seatbelts, than for the people to be motivated to buckle up by being reminded what failing to do so did to one of their role models....
And flying "coach" on long commercial airplane flights can be, too: "'[E]conomy-class syndrome' is a real term given to what some medical experts claim is a... serious consequence of long airplane trips: a circulatory problem known as deep-vein thrombosis, which is essentially a blood clot.... [L]ast week... a 28-year-old British woman collapsed and died at London's Heathrow Airport following a 20-hour, 10,000-mile flight from Australia (with a single stop in Singapore). An autopsy attributed her death to a deep-vein thrombosis. [/] Deep-vein thromboses caused by immobility, a condition first widely diagnosed among Londoners jammed into air-raid shelters during World War II, has been increasingly reported among air travelers in recent years as airplane seating became more cramped on ever-longer domestic and international flights.... [Another problem is] the possible transmission of infectious diseases in poorly ventilated cabins...." (Jow Sharkey, "When 'Just Sit Tight' Is the Wrong Advice", NYT Week in Review, 29Oct00, p.WK2).
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Late September thru early October, 2000, we vacationed in French Canada, Montréal and Québec City. I very much liked the "Old World" atmosphere of the old parts of these cities. I especially liked the slogan on the automobile license plates: "Je me souviens ("I remember"). To see some pictures of the architecture (which reminded me of my trip to Brussels, 1985...), please click here.
[ ] [ Go to French Canada! ] [ ]
[ Go to French Canada! ]
Je me souviens has a complicated provenance which I have not yet figured out. It likely derives from a poem by Eugene Tache (ca. 1883?): "Je me souviens que ne sous le lis je fleuris sous la rose." -- "I remember that born under the Lily, I have prospered under the Rose." It seems these words may have been used by all Canadians, but that the Francophiles, as their resentment against Anglophone rule grew over time, eventually read into these words a denial of their identity in a nominally assimilationistically "united" Canada, in which the French assimilated and the English ruled.... The Francophiles then adopted these words in accusatory irony against their perceived adversaries' view: "I remember? Damned right I remember!" --Contemporary Canadians interpret the phrase in all sorts of ways, some of which have nothing to do with Tache's words (click here for examples). I (BmcC) pair the phrase with: "Never again."
The only time I have been to Europe was a one-week trip to Brussels (1986), to present the project on which I was working to a symposium of IBM Europe systems engineers. I really liked Brussels. It was mid-July. Around 11PM, the row of houses directly across from my hotel was in darkness while the sky above them was still luminously bright -- just like in Magritte's painting (actually, he did 2 or 3 similar paintings on this theme...): "Empire of Light". [See also: Postage stamp from mail I received from Synex Information AB, Sweden.]
Why is René Magritte hiding his face behind his hand?
[ ] Also from Montréal: A Winter's Tale: Don't walk under or park next to edge of building roof, because snow and ice can slide off and hit you in the head or smash your car.
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Copyright © 1999-2005 Brad McCormick, Ed.D. [ Email me! ]
10 May 2006 (2006-05-10 ISO 8601)
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