Monday, October 13, 2003

*Ø* Blogmanac October 13, 1955 | First reading of 'Howl'

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night ...

From ‘Howl’, by Allen Ginsberg; his famous poem was first read publicly on October 13, 1955

You feel like you are going through the gutter when you have to read that stuff. I didn't linger on it too long, I assure you.
An elocution teacher, at the obscenity trial for 'Howl'

1955 American poet Allen Ginsberg organised a poetry reading at Six Gallery, SF (featuring also Michael McClure, Philip Lamantia, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Kenneth Rexroth) and brought down the house by reading ‘Howl’ publicly for the first time.

“The first printing of Howl was mimeographed by Marthe Rexroth, using the version typed by Robert Creeley, for Kenneth Rexroth's poetry class at San Francisco State College in May 1956. The mimeo includes the title-page, with quotation from Walt Whitman, the dedication to Kerouac, Burroughs, Cassady and Lucien Carr, in addition to 15 numbered pages of poetry, including ‘Howl’, ‘A Supermarket in California’, ‘Sunflower Sutra’ and ‘America’, all unexpurgated. ‘Howl’ is dated at the end of the poem on p.9 ‘San Francisco 1955-1956’; (the next three poems are dated Berkeley 1955 and the last poem is undated)."

Anyway I followed the whole gang of howling poets to the reading at Gallery Six (Six Gallery) that night, which was, among other important things, the night of the birth of the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance. Everyone was there. It was a mad night. And I was the one who got things jumping by going around collecting dimes and quarters from the rather stiff audience standing around in the gallery and coming back with three huge gallon jugs of California Burgundy and getting them all piffed so that by eleven o'clock when Alvah Goldbrook (Ginsberg) was reading his, wailing poem ‘Wail’ (Howl) drunk with arms outspread everybody was yelling ‘Go! Go! Go!’ (like a jam session) and old Rheinhold Cacoethes (Kenneth Rexroth) the father of the Frisco poetry scene was wiping tears in gladness.
Jack Kerouac; Dharma Bums Source

*Ø* Blogmanac October 13, 1944 | The witch of Scrapfaggot Green

At midnight on Friday the 13th, a ceremony was held in Great Leighs, Essex, UK, to replace a 2-ton stone in the ground that had been dislodged some days earlier by a bulldozer. The stone was traditionally believed to pin down the evil spirit of ‘the witch of Scrapfaggot Green’, a witch who had been buried with a stake through her heart in the 17th Century. The local village had been beset by extreme poltergeist activity since the stone's dislodgement.

*Ø* Blogmanac October 13 | Feast day of St Edward the Confessor

(Born at Islip, England, c.1004, died at Westminster, 1066; canonised 1161.)

Edward was the son of Ethelred II, king of the English, and Emma, sister of Duke Richard II of Normandy, and he lived in that country from about his tenth year till he was recalled to England in 1041. In the following year he succeeded to the throne, and in 1045 married Edith, daughter of the ambitious and powerful Earl Godwin.

Edward's reign was outwardly peaceful and he was a peace-loving man; however, he had to contend with Godwin's opposition and other grave difficulties, and he did so with a determination that hardly supports the common picture of him as a tame and ineffectual ruler. His anonymous contemporary biographer gives a convincing portrait of him in his old age that has obscured the evidence concerning his middle life. After his death, movingly described by the biographer, a religious cultus of the king was slow in developing until after his actual canonisation.

The belief that Edward was a saint was supported by his general reputation for religious devotion and for generosity to the poor and infirm, by the relation of a number of miracles (he was the first sovereign reported to ‘touch for the King's Evil’, scrofula), and, too, by the assertion that he and his wife were so ascetic as always to have lived together as brother and sister.

Edward and Edith were certainly childless, but that this was due to lifelong voluntary abstinence is unlikely in the circumstances of their marriage and is not supported by adequate evidence.

St Edward was buried in the church of the abbey of Westminster, a small existing monastery which he had refounded and endowed with princely munificence; with one uncertain and obscure exception, he is the only English saint whose bodily remains still rest in their medieval shrine, which was set up in its present position behind the high altar in 1268.

He is called ‘the Confessor’, that is, one who bears witness to Christ by his life, to distinguish him from King Edward who followed. His emblem is a finger ring. When St Edward was dedicating a church to St John the Evangelist, a pilgrim came and asked alms in the saint's name, and St Edward gave him a ring from his finger. The pilgrim was none other than St John the Baptist. He revealed himself to two English pilgrims in the Holy Land, bidding them to take the ring to the king in his name, and ask him to prepare to leave this world. After this they fell asleep and awoke in Barham Downs, Kent, England. They took the ring to St Edward, on Christmas day.

On the vigil of Epiphany (January 5) Edward the Confessor died and was buried in Westminster Abbey, wearing the ring of John the Baptist.

* Ø * Ø * Ø *

The King's Evil
On January 9, 1683, Britain’s King Charles II issued orders for the future regulations of the ceremony of touching the King's Evil.

This was the name used then for scrofula (a tubercular infection of the throat lymph glands), a disease which from the time of King Clovis of France in 481 CE was believed to be curable by a touch of the monarch's hand. Shakespeare mentioned it in Macbeth. The famous English diarist, Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), recorded in his diary for April 10, 1661 that he saw the cure effected by the king.

In Cornwall, it was believed that the seventh son of a seventh son was able to touch-cure the disease. The seventh son of a seventh son was widely believed in the British Isles to have all kinds of powers.

* Ø * Ø * Ø *

The Marcou
In old France it was believed that if a seventh son was born into a family, and he had no sisters, he was called a marcou, and a fleur-de-lis was branded on him. If anyone with the King's Evil (scrofula) touched the tattoo, it was supposed that they would be healed.One particular marcou, a cooper (barrel-maker) named Foulon, set up a business in Orleans, and on Good Fridays the cure was supposed to be most efficacious. Hundreds of gullible people would gather, but eventually the police stopped the practice.

*Ø* Blogmanac | Political Love Poems?

From Colleen:

Bush inspires readers; let us count the ways
By Rob McKenzie and Julie Smyth
National Post

From the dozens of entries penned by aspiring satirists across the nation, the National Post has selected two winners in its Political Love Poems contest.

In the domestic category, the honour goes to Ivan Ivankovich of Edmonton. And in the foreign category, the champion is 15-year-old Lianne Merkur of Toronto.

The contest was inspired by news on the weekend that George W. Bush, leader of the free world, had taken time to write a love poem to his wife, Laura, concerning her European tour. It reads in part:

"The dogs and the cat, they missed you too/Barney's still mad you dropped him, he ate your shoe/The distance, my dear, has been such a barrier/Next time you want an adventure, just land on a carrier."

The Post asked writers to create love poems by other politicians and public figures. Entries satirized not only Mr. Bush but also Saddam Hussein, Joe Clark, Gary Coleman, Adrienne Clarkson, Jean Chrétien, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hillary Clinton, Ralph Klein, Gordon Campbell, Svend Robinson, Stephen Harper, Peter MacKay, Sheila Copps and Larry Flynt. In a sign that separatism is waning, no poems concerned Lucien Bouchard, Bernard Landry or the silver-haired guy who currently leads the Bloc Québécois.

Mr. Ivankovich's poem, short and sweet, is entitled "To Aline":

Roses are red
But I am blue
I keep thinking about Paul
Rather than you

Ms. Merkur's Schwarzeneggerian poem is entitled "Ode to my Biceps":

Of all of your neighbours
None do compare
To you, my lovelies,
My fine bulging pair.
Through the turmoil
Of decades, pageants and more
You are the only ones
Whom I truly adore.
You are the best bumps
In my entire sculpted bod.
You're even better than
My pecs, my calves and my quads.
Gleaming and flexing and rippling,
You have always made Daddy proud.
Pay no mind to those mean critics;
I still say steroids should be allowed.
Don't be alarmed, my sweets;
Because I'll never let you die.
Even now, as Governor,
You're the apples of my eye.
And when I win, I'll convince them all
To put you even more on display.
Yes, all of California will regale
In an Arnold's Biceps Day!

A dozen red roses and a box of National Post chocolates (hard and crusty on the right side, and on the left side -- well, actually we got rid of the left side) are on their way to the winners.

In other poetry news, George Bowering, Canada's poet laureate, who has been opposed to Mr. Bush and his policy on Iraq, told the Post he is not impressed with Mr. Bush's non-UN-approved incursion into poetic territory, regardless of his politics.

"Every husband leaves messages -- like Roses are Red messages -- somewhere," Mr. Bowering claimed.

"And I have seen a lot of them and this is maybe the worst I have seen. It is just awful," he observed.

"It's not poetry anyway. I don't know what was going through her [Laura Bush's] mind -- why she made it public. She said it was cute, or something. She says it was lovely. It was not lovely. She says he's quite a poet. He's not anywhere near a poet. It is just absolutely horrible."

The liberator of Iraq and Afghanistan also lost points for his inadequate rhyming abilities.

"I would compare it with an average kid in Grade 6," Mr. Bowering said in what appears not to be intended as a salute to our nation's 11-year-olds.

Mr. Bowering contributed his poetry to an anthology of anti-war writing one week after Mrs. Bush cancelled a gathering of poets at the White House in February upon learning some of those invited planned to use the event to protest the war with Iraq.

"When she organized that event, I thought, 'Hey, maybe she knows something about poetry.' If this is what she thinks poetry is, I am really glad us poets put the kibosh on that," he said.

© Copyright 2003 National Post


*Ø* Blogmanac | The Mission

ONWARD AND UPWARD -- Motivation and Inspiration for Activism

[Not specifically an action, reading this article is a study of history, notably very recent American history, which gives us the coordinates by which to determine where we are and how we got here. William Rivers Pitt has been on that road with us, but with a wiser, more open eye focused on the key players. We're lucky to have him on our team! Information he shares reveals ways our activism can shape our future and motivates us to "just do it!" Please click through to read this article in its entirety. I believe you'll be moved, as I am, to work harder. The confidence gained from the knowledge and understanding provided here will carry us far in dealing with those of unlike minds. -v]

The Mission
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Friday 10 October 2003

" 'The right-wing politics that had forced the scandal were alien
and unknown to much of the White House senior staff. To them, what
the right was doing seemed so far-fetched, so impossibly convoluted,
that they couldn't quite credit it. The self-enclosed hothouse nature
of the right-wing world made it difficult to explain what was going on
to those who lacked contact with it. Many had never even heard of
people like Scaife.' "
-- Sidney Blumenthal, 'The Clinton Wars'

"I am writing this essay from an internet cafe nestled in a blue-collar neighborhood in Berlin, Germany. I have been, in the last week, to Amsterdam, Antwerp and The Hague. I will go from here to London, Oxford and Paris. I have been giving talks to ex-pat American groups and large crowds of confused Europeans. The Europeans are not confused because they are ill-informed; they are, in fact, far more aware of what is happening in America than most Americans are back home. These Europeans know all about the Project for The New American Century, they know all about the Office of Special Plans, they know all about the lies that have been spoon-fed to America and the world. They know all of this, simply, because the news media in Europe is not owned and operated as an advertising wing for General Electric, AOL/TimeWarner, Viacom, Disney or Ruppert Murdoch.

"What these Europeans don't understand, and what they keep asking me, is why. "America had everything going for it," said noted Dutch author Karel von Wolfen to me the other day. "America had the respect of just about the whole world. No one here can possibly fathom why they would so quickly and so brazenly throw that all away."

"Explaining this whole phenomenon is a bit like trying to unravel a Robert Ludlum plot. It is part fantasy, part madness, part greed, bound together with the barbed wire of an unyielding ideology. I try, again and again, to make it all clear.

"I tell them that all this started in 1932 with the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This election ushered in the phenomenon known as the New Deal -- the rise of Social Security, the eventual rise of Medicare, the development of dozens of other social programs, and the enshrinement of the basic idea that the Federal government in America can be a force for good within the populace. Even in 1932, such an idea was anathema to unrestricted free-market profiteers and powerful business interests, for the rise of a powerful Federal government also heralded the rise of regulation.

"Within the ebb and drift of American politics, those who stood against the concepts espoused by FDR and his adherents drifted inexorably into what is now the modern Republican Party. This drift was aided by the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which motivated the last vestiges of the old, racist, Confederate Democratic Party to bolt to the right. Lyndon Johnson's Great Society plan further widened the rift, and the progressive activism in the 1960's and 1970's solidified the battle lines. Once the shift was completed, the stage was set for the kind of political to-the-knife trench warfare that has been happening to this day.

"Many issues were bandied about in the no-man's land between the lines, but at the end of the day, the issue to be tested was that basic premise brought by FDR: What will the place of the Federal government be in the lives of the American people? Can that government be a help?

"Those who argued against this idea had ample rationales for their resistance, some of them uncomfortable to hear in the light of day. The activism of the Federal government brought about racial desegregation and the rise of minority rights, something a segment of the right finds unacceptable to this day. The activism of the federal government made it difficult for unrestricted free-market loyalists to secure the privatization of available mass markets like health care, insurance and Social Security. The activism of the Federal government kept mega-businesses from the ability to grow to whatever size they pleased, even though such growth was death to the basic capitalist concept of competition. The activism of the Federal government forced these businesses to spend a portion of their profits on pollution controls. The list of complaints went on and on. In a corner of their hearts, many who stood against FDR's plans did so because the rise of an activist Federal government smelled a little too much like Soviet-style communism for comfort.

"And so the trenches were dug, the bayonets were fixed, and the war dragged on and on. The right howled that such an activist government would require the American people to be taxed to death. The right howled that public schooling did not work, and they de-funded public education on the state and local levels to prove their point. The right invented bugaboos like the "welfare queen," with her Cadillac and ten children, who avoided working and lived off the sweat from the honest man's brow. Often, the American people listened to their arguments. The rise of Ronald Reagan is evidence that their message had strength, if not merit.

"The problem, as ever, became clear before too long. Unrestricted free-marketeering, deficit spending, tax cuts for the richest people in the country which would purportedly cause the trickling down of monies to the rest, unrestricted polluting, unrestricted defense spending, and the deregulation of absolutely everything, is poison to any economy that is subjected to it. George Herbert Walker Bush was left holding this particular bag in 1992, and he was not enough of a salesman to convince the American people that it was still working.

"This, I tell my European counterparts, is when all hell really began to break loose."


Saturday, October 11, 2003

*Ø* Blogmanac | They don't call him Rush for nothing

CNN -- "Rush Limbaugh announced on his radio program Friday that he is addicted to pain medication and that he is checking himself into a treatment center immediately.

"'You know I have always tried to be honest with you and open about my life,' the conservative commentator said in a statement on his nationally syndicated radio show.

"'I need to tell you today that part of what you have heard and read is correct. I am addicted to prescription pain medication.'

"Law enforcement sources said last week that Limbaugh's name had come up during an investigation into a black market drug ring in Palm Beach County, Florida. The sources said that authorities were looking into the illegal sale of the prescription drugs OxyContin and hydrocodone.

"Limbaugh, who has a residence in Palm Beach County, was named by sources as a possible buyer. He was not the focus of the investigation, according to the sources."
Source: CNN

Good on Limbaugh for talking about his addiction, and let's hope that his airing of the issue will help more conservatives see that addiction is an illness and not a moral defect, and that many addicts have the disease due to iatrogenic causes. Another thing that might be affected by Limbaugh's revelation is the common mistaken attitude that addicted people are of a certain stereotype.

Friday, October 10, 2003

*Ø* Blogmanac | Full moon: Spawning of the coral, Australia

Full moon in October or November:
Spawning of the coral, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

“Today we know that many corals living on the Great Barrier Reef spawn about four to five days after the full moon in October or November and sometimes in December.

“Over in Western Australia, the corals of the famous Ningaloo Reef and other reefs further north also experience an annual spawning event. But they are five months out of phase with their eastern cousins. Their spawning time occurs 7-9 days after the full moon in March and April.

“Why do corals spawn after a full moon, and why do the east and west coast corals spawn at such different times of the year, despite the fact that these reefs have many species in common?

“There are three triggers that set off spawning in corals, according to coral reef expert Associate Professor Peter Harrison from Southern Cross University ..."

WWF Great Barrier Reef Campaign

"There's another queer old customer,” said Waterloo, “comes over, as punctual as the almanack ... at 11 o'clock on the 10th of October.”
Charles Dickens, Reprinted Pieces

*Ø* Blogmanac | Arafat fabulously wealthy?

"The next time you hear the Palestinians and their supporters bemoaning how Israel's determination to defend itself against terror has 'crippled' the Palestinian economy, consider a new report from the International Monetary Fund.
The IMF recently disclosed that its own audit uncovered the fact that Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat between 1995 and 2000 diverted fully $591 million from the PA budget into a special bank account under his personal control.

"That's nearly $100 million a year!

"Talking about hitting the lottery.

"According to the IMF's Karim Nashashibi, the money – which came from tax revenues collected by Israel and turned over to Arafat – was used to invest in 69 domestic and foreign commercial companies, whose actual owners were not disclosed.

"(Arafat's investments, by the way, returned a profit of $300 million. Not bad for a Marxist revolutionary.)"

[I found this New York Post story at Rhino's Blog, which is highly recommended.

Of course, despite what the cranky right-wing report in the Post says, Israel, with US aid, has indeed crippled the Palestinian economy, and quite deliberately so. Travellers to Palestine speak of families living in abject poverty as bad as, if not worse than, what they have seen in benighted Africa. However, Arafat has been about as much use as tits on a bull for the Palestinian people, and now he turns out to be a rich crook as well. So he can afford a proper trim for his whiskers after all? He had me fooled.]

*Ø* Blogmanac | Iranian Activist Wins 2003 Nobel Peace Prize

First Muslim woman to win the Nobel

"OSLO, Norway — Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi (search), one of the Islamic country's first female judges, won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize (search) on Friday for her work fighting for democracy and the rights of women and children.

"Ebadi, 56, the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to win the prize, has worked actively to promote peaceful, democratic solutions in the struggle for human rights ..."

[The Blogmanac's purpose isn't to post news that readers will see anyway on the 6 o'clock News. There wouldn't be any point, and anyway, we're getting a WWW reputation for posting important items that tend to be a bit more hidden by the media. However, this story is great news for women and children in Iran and elsewhere – a truly historical and perceptive decision by the Nobel Committee at this time – so that's why I'm posting it.] Read on

*Ø* Blogmanac October 10, 2000 | Message in a bottle

New Zealand man's coincidence
Forty-four years after it was thrown from a ship in the Indian Ocean, a message in a bottle was found in New Zealand near the home of Austrian-born author, Hans Schwarz – the man who had thrown it in the first place. While sailing to Melbourne, Australia in 1956, to attend the Olympic Games, Schwarz had thrown the same bottle into the ocean, with a note for a “dusky Pacific maiden”. Schwarz, born in 1934, wrote the message in English and German. The bottle was found by a man living about 70 km north of Wellington, New Zealand where Schwarz was residing.

Log your own coincidences, or those you've read about or heard of,
at ::Aha!:: Synchronicity Central

*Ø* Blogmanac| Sacred wells, springs and grottoes

Some readers might like to join me in exploring the subject of earth spirit as it's manifested globally in sacred founts, wishing wells and the like.

This is very much a page in progress, but I have a funny feeling it will grow to be more than just one webpage, because not only does it fascinate me, and I have lots of info already in the Almanac database (which now exceeds 2 million words), but also there is a vast 'reservoir' [groan] of information and images on the Net, and I aim to surf through much of it.

So I hope you'll join me at Sacred wells, springs and grottoes and even contribute some of your own ideas and perceptions.

Bottoms up!

*Ø* Blogmanac | Recent search terms that found the Blogmanac

21 Sep, Sun, 17:05:55 Google: pronuciation
22 Sep, Mon, 08:52:57 Yahoo: tony blair's spear technique
24 Sep, Wed, 10:22:25 Google: Kofi Annan, Ufo, Unsolved Mysteries
10 Oct, Fri, 02:45:13 Google: "maria shriver" "mental illness"
09 Oct, Thu, 17:35:48 Google: 2003 guestbook oil stock brokers in u.s.a
09 Oct, Thu, 15:18:06 Google: necrophiliac duck rape

[How do you pronouce 'pronuciation'?]

*Ø* Blogmanac October 10, 1609 | Gerrard Winstanley, ahead of his time

The work we are going about is this, to dig up George Hill and the waste ground thereabouts and to sow corn, and to eat our bread together by the sweat of our brows... that we may work in righteousness, and lay the foundation of making the earth a common treasury for all, both rich and poor.
Gerrard Winstanley

Every day poor people are forced to work for fourpence a day, though corn is dear. And yet the tithing priest stops their mouth and tells them that 'inward satisfaction of mind' was meant by the declaration 'the Poor shall inherit the earth'. I tell you, the Scripture is to be really and materially fulfilled. You jeer at the name 'Leveller'; I tell you Jesus Christ is the Head Leveller.
Gerrard Winstanley

Last year, I joined campaigners seeking to erect a memorial to the Diggers on St George's Hill. We occupied a small corner of the estate and started negotiating to plant a stone close to the site on which the Diggers built their village. We stayed for a month, before being injuncted, with the memorial, off the property.
‘Still Digging’, by George Monbiot

1609 Gerrard Winstanley (baptised; his date of birth is unknown), leader and theoretician of the group of English agrarian communists known as the Diggers, who in 1649–50 cultivated common land on St. George's Hill, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, and at nearby Cobham until they were dispersed by force and legal harassment. They believed that land should be made available to the very poor. In The Law of Freedom Winstanley took the view held by the Anabaptists that all institutions were by their nature corrupt:

"Nature tells us that if water stands long it corrupts; whereas running water keeps sweet and is fit for common use". To prevent power corrupting individuals he advocated that all officials should be elected every year.”

Soon after publishing The New Law of Righteousness, in which Winstanley identified private property as "the curse and burden the creation groans under", he established a group called the Diggers. In April 1649 Winstanley, William Everard, a former soldier in the New Model Army and about thirty followers took over some common land on St George's Hill in Surrey and "sowed the ground with parsnips, carrots and beans."

English Diggers
Kenneth Rexroth, Winstanley, The Diggers
Levellers Chronology and Bibliography
Levellers often confused with Diggers
The Religion of Gerrard Winstanley and Digger Communism
Billy Bragg's page on the Diggers, with links
Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties and Beyond
Gerrard Winstanley and the Republic of Heaven
The Diggers
More on Winstanley and the Diggers
Diggers and Dreamers – The Guide to Communal Living in Britain

*Ø* Blogmanac | Vatican: Condoms don't stop AIDS

from Steve Bradshaw, at The Guardian
October 9

"The Catholic Church is telling people in countries stricken by Aids not to use condoms because they have tiny holes in them through which the HIV virus can pass -- potentially exposing thousands of people to risk.

"The church is making the claims across four continents despite a widespread scientific consensus that condoms are impermeable to the HIV virus.

"A senior Vatican spokesman backs the claims about permeable condoms, despite assurances by the World Health Organisation that they are untrue."

Read the full story HERE

-- Steve Bradshaw is a correspondent with Panorama. 'Sex and the Holy City'
will be broadcast on BBC1 at 10.15pm [9.15pm GMT/UT] on Sunday.

*Ø* Blogmanac | Global Control Arms Campaign

from Amnesty International
9 October

"The global arms trade is dangerously unregulated, and allows weapons to reach repressive governments, human rights abusers and criminals, says a new report released today. To address these concerns, three international organisations have joined to launch a global campaign in over 50 countries. The 'Control Arms' campaign aims to reduce arms proliferation and misuse and to convince governments to introduce a binding arms trade treaty.

"Arms proliferation and abuse have reached a critical point, fuelling human rights violations, poverty, and conflict. Someone is killed every minute by armed violence while many more suffer abuse and serious injury. But arms are a dangerously unregulated global business, according to the new report.

"Among the report's findings:

- National arms export controls are riddled with loopholes. The easy availability of arms increases the incidence of armed violence, acts as a trigger for conflicts, and prolongs wars once they break out. Civilians are increasingly being targeted.

- Conflict and armed crime prevent aid reaching those who desperately need it, and often lead to the denial of health care and education.

- The 11 September 2001 attacks and the resulting 'war on terror' have fuelled weapons proliferation, rather than focusing political will on controlling arms.

- The 'war on terror' has led to increasing numbers of arms being exported, particularly by the US and the UK, to new-found allies (such as Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines) regardless of human rights or development concerns.

"'Each year hundreds of thousands of people are unlawfully killed, tortured, raped and displaced through the misuse of arms. With the 'war on terror' dominating the international agenda, there should be renewed interest in arms control. Yet the reverse has occurred. The vicious circle of arms transfers, conflict and abuse can and must be stopped,' said Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

"To address these concerns, Amnesty International, Oxfam and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) have jointly launched the global Control Arms campaign. The campaign will focus on promoting an international treaty covering arms transfers, "the Arms Trade Treaty", as well as a number of regional and locally appropriate measures designed to limit arms proliferation and misuse.

See the Report here

"Editors note:

"A draft Arms Trade Treaty has been developed by a group of human rights, development and arms control NGOs including Amnesty International and Oxfam in partnership with international legal experts. It carries the support of 19 Nobel Peace Prize laureates, led by Dr Oscar Arias. The central aim is to provide a set of common minimum standards for the control of arms transfers, based firmly on states existing responsibilities under international law."

To see a copy of the draft Arms Trade Treaty, visit HERE

Thursday, October 09, 2003

*Ø* Blogmanac October 9, 1940 | Happy birthday John Lennon

I was bored on the 9th Octover 1940 when, I believe, the nasties were still booming us led by Madalf Heatlump(Who only had one). Anyway they didn't get me. I attended to varicous schools in Liddypol. And still didn't pass-much to my Aunties supplies. As a member of the most publified Beatles my and (P,G,and R's) records might seem funnier to some of you than this book, but as far as I'm conceived this correction of short writty is the most wonderfoul larf I've ever ready.
John Lennon, In His Own Write

Lennon/Ono quotes page

Lennon: Shot down in his prime at 40, John Lennon died in some sort of intense energy, just as he had lived. We might have expected it.

Lennon was a master singer-songwriter and a political activist, a hero to many and a villain to others. What is the real legacy of this man?

Lennon's influence from 1963-70 as a Beatle was profound. It was brought about by a combination of prodigious talent, aggressive self-promotion, and technological opportunities. The ability of a single musical act to have the vast reach that the Beatles enjoyed was only made possible by technological advances – satellites, recording techniques, advances in shipping technologies, air travel, even new printing technology aided the Fab Four.

For example, in 1967, the Beatles recorded All You Need is Love in a London studio, watched live by millions of people all around the world in the first ever global telecast, Our World. Fortunately, it was also a great song (yet another Number One), though almost everything they did had the stamp of greatness on it. They never seemed to let their fans down and kept getting better and better.

However, despite that song, and Sergeant Pepper's and a phenomenal 31 Number One Beatle hits (in Australia), John Lennon's intellectual star shone most brightly in the decade following the 1970 acrimonious demise of the band. It was then that full vent was given to the acuity of his mind in combination with his musical gifts ...

Rest of article: John Lennon: Saint or sinner?

Everybody's talkin' 'bout Bagism

*Ø* Blogmanac | Execution Drug May Hide Suffering

by Adam Liptak, New York Times
October 7

"Ashville, Oct. 1 — At the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution here, through a set of double doors next to several vending machines, a gurney stands ready to deliver prisoners to their executions by lethal injection.

"Just about every aspect of the death penalty provokes acrimonious debate, but this method of killing, by common consensus, is as humane as medicine can make it. People who have witnessed injection executions say the deaths appeared hauntingly serene, more evocative of the operating room than of the gallows.

"But a growing number of legal and medical experts are warning that the apparent tranquillity of a lethal injection may be deceptive. They say the standard method of executing people in most states could lead to paralysis that masks intense distress, leaving a wide-awake inmate unable to speak or cry out as he slowly suffocates.

"In 2001, it became a crime for veterinarians in Tennessee to use one of the chemicals in that standard method to euthanize pets.

"The chemical, pancuronium bromide, has been among those specified for use in lethal injections since Oklahoma first adopted that method of execution in 1977. Only now, though, is widespread attention starting to focus on it.

"Spurred by a lawsuit by a death row inmate here, advances in human and veterinary medicine, and a study last year that revealed for the first time the chemicals that many other states use to carry out executions, experts have started to question this part of the standard lethal injection method.

"Pancuronium bromide paralyzes the skeletal muscles but does not affect the brain or nerves. A person injected with it remains conscious but cannot move or speak." [my emphasis - N]

Continue here

Read Amnesty International on the Death Penalty

World Day Against the Death Penalty - 10 October

Sign the petition

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

*Ø* Blogmanac October 8 | Feast day of St Keyne

Which spouse will be the boss?
Keyne (Cain Wyry – Cain the virgin) (461-505), a Celtic saint who lived in the 5th century, was the daughter of Brychan, King of Brecknock, England. Keyne spent her life performing good deeds in the West Country, where she is remembered by the well bearing her name. She planted four trees around this well – an oak, an elm, a willow and an ash – and as she was dying, she imparted to its waters a strange power.

Folklore records a quaint tradition associated with St Keyne's Well, near Liskeard, Cornwall. Legend has it that the first spouse to drink from its waters will have the upper hand in the marriage. This curious old legend has been charmingly related in a poem by Southey which appeared on December 3, 1798 in the London Morning Post.

A well there is in the west country,
And a clearer one never was seen
There is not a wife in the west country
But has heard of the well of St Keyne.

Robert Southey (1774 - 1843), English poet

*Ø* Blogmanac October 8, 1939 | Paul Hogan, Australian comedian

Paul Hogan is perhaps best known in Australia for popularising three myths about Australia: that Australians are rural dwellers (in fact, Australia is the most urbanised nation on earth); that Australians call prawns ‘shrimps’ (in fact, they call prawns ‘prawns’); and that Australians cook prawns on barbecues (a practice unknown prior to a successful series of US advertisements featuring Hogan, and probably fabricated by a copywriter on Madison Venue, New York).

The star of Crocodile Dundee (1986), was born in Lightning Ridge, NSW and was discovered in a 'New Faces' talent quest while employed as a rigger on the Sydney Harbour Bridge – two Aussie icons side-by-side. Hogan (‘Hoges’) made his name as an occasional comedian on Mike Willesee's ATN 7 current affairs program, and soon was granted his own show, an excruciating, Benny Hill-like compendium of corn.

Still, he found a big audience somehow and went on, in 1986, to become Australia’s biggest box office star, via a lucrative series of cigarette commercials in the 1970s.

Thirteen years after its release, Crocodile Dundee remains the most successful Australian film ever made. Its $328 million gross was at the time the 10th biggest in world history.

*Ø* Blogmanac October 8, 1871 | Chicago's Great Fire

The Great Fire of Chicago began in Dekoven St when Mrs O'Leary's cow kicked over the lantern.

Not a great fire
On the anniversary of one of the most famous urban fire disasters, Chicago's Great Fire of 1871, it's a good time to check whether your house is low on fire-risk. Check this list at your place - and take the kids around the house with you so they get the fire safety idea too:

* Two fire extinguishers in good order
* No piles of paper
* Lighters and matches out of kids' reach
* Two escape routes from each room
* Rope ladder stored in each room high above ground
* Kitchen exhaust clean
* Electrical wiring, power points, fuses all safe
* Heating system in good order, clean

*Ø* Blogmanac October 8, 1361 | A strange duel

The duel between a dog and the Chevalier Macaire, France
On this day there took place an extraordinary duel between a dog and a French gentleman. Monsieur Aubry de Montdidier was travelling through the forest of Bondy, when he was murdered and buried at the base of a tree. His dog remained for several days at the grave, then went to Paris and showed up at the home of a friend of the victim. He begged to be followed, and the friend did so, eventually finding the grave. No sign of the assassin could be found, until eventually, when he by chance saw the Chevalier Macaire, the dog jumped at his throat. The king of France, having been informed of the rumours circulating about Macaire, set up a ‘line-up’ at which the dog selected Macaire from a number of men. The king then ordered that the two antagonists fight a duel. The dog attacked the chevalier until Macaire finally confessed to the murder.

*Ø* Blogmanac | The Hazards of Watching Fox News

"The more commercial television news you watch, the more wrong you are likely to be about key elements of the Iraq War and its aftermath, according to a major new study released in Washington this week.

"And the more you watch the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News channel, in particular, the more likely it is that your perceptions about the war are wrong, adds the report by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) ..."

Thanks to our intrepid but currently unwell reporter, Jeannine Wilson, for sending this in, and the Blair story below. Get well soon, J-9!

*Ø* Blogmanac | NY Times corrects Powell's deception

But America's ABC ignores Powell's WMD lie
"Hundreds of FAIR activists wrote to the Times after a recent report (9/29/03) repeated as fact a charge by Secretary of State Colin Powell that weapons inspectors were thrown out of the country in 1998. According to the Times, 'Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, in a television appearance today, noted that the Iraqi leader threw weapons inspectors out in 1998, making it more difficult for intelligence agencies to get hard information.' In fact, as FAIR's action alert pointed out, the inspectors were not kicked out, but were removed by team leader Richard Butler right before an American bombing campaign. The Times had corrected the same error three years earlier (2/2/00).

"The TV program on which Powell made the false statement, ABC's This Week (9/28/03), has yet to correct the error.

"FAIR thanks the many activists who took the time to write to the Times about this matter. For the record, the error was in Monday's edition of the paper, not in Wednesday's, as the Times indicated in its correction."
Source: FAIR e-letter

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*Ø* Blogmanac | Blair 'knew Iraq threat limited'
"The prime minister knew Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction ready for use within 45 minutes, former foreign secretary Robin Cook has claimed.
He said that before the war started Mr Blair privately admitted that Saddam Hussein had no weapons posing a 'real and present danger'.

"Mr Cook – who resigned as Leader of the Commons in protest at the conflict – makes his claims in a book based on his diaries, being serialised in the Sunday Times.

"Downing Street has dismissed the allegations as 'absurd'.

Cabinet 'mutiny'
But the Liberal Democrats and a former Labour minister have both predicted the publication of Mr Cook's diaries will spell another tough period for the prime minister.

*Ø* Blogmanac | Two bastards in 24 hours to be welcomed by Oz PM

"CANBERRA (AFP): US President George W. Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao will address a special sitting of the Australian parliament within a day of each other later this month, Prime Minister John Howard said.

"Howard said Bush would address a joint sitting of federal parliament on October 23, followed by Hu the next day."

At least 15 Australian pro-peace parliamentarians have announced their intention to wear black armbands and stand with their backs to George W Bush when the US President addresses a joint parliamentary session at Parliament House, Canberra.

*Ø* Blogmanac | Australian Senate censure PM over war

"October 7, 2003

"THE Senate today censured Prime Minister John Howard for misleading the people of Australia over the reasons for going to war with Iraq.

"The Opposition, Greens and Australian Democrats voted together to defeat the government by 33 votes to 30.

"The censure motion was initially proposed by Greens Senator Bob Brown but amended by Labor.

"Senator Brown said Mr Howard was involved in an unprecedented deceit of the nation and deserved censure.

"He said Mr Howard had declared that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and support of international terrorism threatened Australia and its people."

Highly recommended
*Ø* Blogmanac | Prisoner torture claims at Guantanamo Bay

"An Australian lawyer working with prisoners at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba says he has no doubt Australians David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib have been tortured.

"Richard Bourke has been working for almost two years with prisoners detained by the United States as part of its war on terror.

"He says reports of torture are being leaked by American military personnel and backed up by former prisoners.

"Among the reports he's investigating are claims of prisoners being tied to a post and having rubber bullets fired at them -- he says others are forced to kneel in the sun until they collapse.

"People sometimes argue about the definition of torture, what they are doing clearly comes within the definition of torture under the international convention," Mr Bourke said.

"He is considering taking their cases to international tribunals, including the United Nations standing committee on torture.

"David Hicks' father, Terry, says he's also heard of torture stories and of his son being put under duress.

"'I have heard that they've been taking him out and firing rubber bullets and putting him into the crucifix position in the sun, belting the bottom of their feet. There's quite a list of what I've gathered over the last twelve months,' Mr Hicks said."

*Ø* Blogmanac | Faith-based initiative?

From Bill:

Bad Moon on the rise
By John Gorenfeld, Salon

Overcoming his church's bizarre reputation and his own criminal record, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon has cemented ties with the Bush administration -- and gained government funding for his closest disciples.

Sept. 24, 2003 | Last December, at his three-day God and World Peace event, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon drew a notable slate of political figures, from Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., to Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., and, perhaps most notably, James Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, who offered some respectful opening remarks to Moon's Unification Church faithful. Moon followed, and called for all religions to come together in support of the Bush plan for faith-based initiatives.

Coming from Moon that made perfect sense, because he already believes all religions will come together -- under him. "The separation between religion and politics," he has observed on many occasions, "is what Satan likes most." His gospel: Jesus failed because he never attained worldly power. Moon will succeed, he says, by purifying our sex-corrupted culture, and that includes cleaning up gays ("dung-eating dogs," as he calls them) and American women ("a line of prostitutes"). Jews had better repent, too. (Moon claims that the Holocaust was payback for the crucifixion of Christ: "Through the principle of indemnity, Hitler killed 6 million Jews.") His solution is a world theocracy that will enforce proper sexual habits in order to bring about heaven on earth.


Related stories hereand here.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

*Ø* Blogmanac | Revelation casts doubt on Iraq find

by Julian Borger, at The Guardian

"The test tube of botulinum presented by Washington and London as evidence that Saddam Hussein had been developing and concealing weapons of mass destruction, was found in an Iraqi scientist's home refrigerator, where it had been sitting for 10 years, it emerged yesterday.

"David Kay, the expert appointed by the CIA to lead the hunt for weapons, told a congressional committee last week that the vial of botulinum had been 'hidden' at the scientist's home, and could be used to 'covertly surge production of deadly weapons'."

Continue here

*Ø* Blogmanac October 7, 1849 | Death of Mr Poe

Lord, help my soul.
Last words of Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it. The poet was known, personally or by reputation, in all this country; he had readers in England, and in several of the states of Continental Europe; but he had few or no friends; and the regrets for his death will be suggested principally by the consideration that in him literary art has lost one of its most brilliant but erratic stars.
Rufus Wilmot Griswold, a literary rival and secret enemy of Edgar Allen Poe

Mother is the name of god on the lips and hearts of all children.
Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allen Poe, American poet and writer of macabre tales (The Tell Tale Heart; The Raven), died on this day in 1849 after a drinking binge in Baltimore, Maryland. The great author of such classic poems as ‘Annabel Lee’, prescient essays like Eureka, A Prose Poem, and chilling tales such as The Cask of Amontillado and The Masque of the Red Death, Poe was not a heavy drinker but someone who might have had an allergy to alcohol, for even a glass or two could send him into extreme behaviour.

On October 3 he had been found, delirious and incoherent at a low-class tavern in Lombard Street, by Dr James E Snodgrass. Summoning one of Poe’s relatives, Dr. Snodgrass took the now unconscious and dying poet to the Washington Hospital where he was put into the care of Dr JJ Moran, the resident physician. Several days of delirium followed, with Poe only occasionally regaining partial consciousness. On his death bed he repeatedly called the name “Reynolds”, and he did know a Reynolds, but not closely. Shortly before dying, he said “the best thing a friend could do for me is blow out my brains with a pistol”. He became quiet and seemed to rest for a short time. Then, gently, moving his head, he said, “Lord help my poor soul”.

The Poe Toaster
Poe is buried in the Old Western Burial Ground in Baltimore. Since 1949, every January 19, Poe's birthday, a mysterious visitor dressed in black and wearing a fedora hat has left on Poe's grave a half-filled bottle of cognac accompanied by three red roses. The significance of cognac is uncertain as it does not feature in Poe's works as does, for example, amontillado. Several of the bottles of cognac from prior years are on display in the Baltimore Poe House and Museum. It has been suggested that the roses represent Poe himself and the two women who were most important to the poet during his troubled life: his mother, and his wife, both of whom are in repose in the same cemetery.

One source suggests that the mysterious man is in fact a succession of men, and when one mourner retires he hands the torch of this enigmatic remembrance to another. In fact, in 1993, the original dark stranger left a note saying, “The torch will be passed”. In 2001 the ‘Poe Toaster’, as he is known, left a note that indicated he was a football fan as well as a Poe aficionado. Each year, a band of Poe devotees watches at a distance for the stranger to appear and fulfil his unknown rite at the grave, taking care not to interfere.

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Feast day of Pallas Athena, ancient Greece
Patroness of Athens, she was later worshipped in Rome as the goddess Victoria. Christianised to St Victoria, or Our Lady of Victories. Her image was placed on top of ceremonial arches, such as Marble Arch in London and Brandenburg Gate, Berlin.

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not an instant stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door --
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door --
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Poe, The Raven

The answers to those Mensa teasers
posted last Thursday, 2 October

The good news is that only three Mensa members achieved full marks, so if you got less than 100% it's no big deal. :)

(1) 26 letters in the alphabet. (2) 7 days in a week. (3) 7 wonders of the world.
(4) 12 signs of the zodiac. (5) 66 books of the bible. (6) 52 cards in a pack (without jokers).
(7) 13 stripes in the United States flag. (8) 18 holes on a golf course. (9) 39 books of the Old Testament.
(10) 5 toes on a foot. (11) 90 degrees in a right angle. (12) 3 blind mice (see how they run).
(13) 32 degrees is the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit at which water freezes. (14) 15 players in a rugby team. (15) 3 wheels on a tricycle.
(16) 100 cents in a dollar. (17) 11 players in a football (soccer) team. (18) 12 months in a year.
(19) 13 is unlucky for some. (20) 8 tentacles on an octopus. (21) 29 days in February in a leap year.
(22) 27 books in the New Testament. (23) 365 days in a year. (24) 13 loaves in a baker's dozen.
(25) 52 weeks in a year. (26) 9 lives of a cat. (27) 60 minutes in an hour.
(28) 23 pairs of chromosomes in the human body. (29) 64 squares on a chess board. (30) 9 provinces in South Africa.
(31) 6 balls to an over in cricket. (32) 1000 years in a millennium. (33) 15 men on a dead man's chest.

*Ø* Blogmanac | GM crops fail key trials amid environment fear

by Paul Brown, The Guardian

"Two of the three GM crops grown experimentally in Britain, oil seed rape and sugar beet, appear more harmful to the environment than conventional crops and should not be grown in the UK, scientists are expected to tell the government next week.

"The Guardian has learned that the scientists will conclude that growing these crops is damaging to plant and insect life.

"The judgment will be a serious setback to the GM lobby in the UK and Europe, reopening the acrimonious debate about GM food. The third crop, GM maize, allows the survival of more weeds and insects and might be recommended for approval, though some scientists still have reservations.

"The results of the three years of field scale trials -- the largest scientific experiment of its type on GM crops undertaken anywhere in the world -- will be published [on October 16] by the august Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. The results have been a closely guarded secret for months, and will be studied by scientists, farmers, food companies and governments across the world."

Continue here

*Ø* Blogmanac | European Human Rights bus tour

From Amnesty International, 6 October

"Amnesty International's most colorful action in Russia yet: a brightly decorated bus with Swiss registration plates -- an 'envoy' for the world's biggest human rights' organization -- is crossing the border of the Russian Federation for the first time. After a hugely successful visit to 14 Central and Eastern European countries, the bus will stop in: St Petersburg 7 October, Pskov 9 October, Novgorod 11 October, Moscow 13 October.

"Visitors to the bus can get leaflets and brochures, watch videos and [see] photo stills presenting Amnesty International's actions on the human rights situation in different countries like Iraq and Turkmenistan, the USA and the Russian Federation."

More about the European human rights bus tour for AI's Russia campaign

Monday, October 06, 2003

Welcome to our 10,000th visitor!

*Ø* Blogmanac October 6, 1962 | The first wave for the Waving Man

1962 Joseph Charles, California's ‘Waving Man’, did his first wave.

The Waving Man
Joseph Charles was a naval supply employee who waved at complete strangers in the Berkeley, California rush-hour for precisely 30 years to the day, from October 6, 1962 until he retired from his vocation on October 6, 1992. The Waving Man started when a neighbour waved to Charles and he waved back; they waved again the next day. Charles had caught the waving bug and he became a California institution.

He stationed himself in his front yard on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr Way and Oregon Street, each day during morning rush hour and for those three decades and waved to motorists. Wearing bright yellow gloves and a big smile, he'd call out, ‘Keep smiling!" and "Have a GOOD day!’ The Waving Man died on March 14, 2002, just short of his 92nd birthday.

At his funeral, attended by more than 200 people, Berkeley’s Mayor Shirley Dean called the waving a “simple act” that cost no money and required no environmental impact reports or endless meetings, yet it “brought joy and improved the quality of life for everyone every day.”

“Our best way to honor him,” Dean added, “is to carry out his legacy – do one simple act of kindness each day. And when you do, whisper the name Joseph Charles in your heart and he will wave.”

After the funeral service, participants lined up outside the door and waved to his casket as it was carried out. Some, like the Rev. Whitney Lester of Independence Community Church in Oakland, thought Charles might be waving again soon.

“I imagine if they gave Brother Charles the space,” Lester had told the congregation, “he'd be out in front of the gates, waving “Come on! Come on!”

Mr Eternity: The Sydney, Australia man with a one-word sermon

Pip Wilson's articles are available for your publication, on application. Further details
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*Ø* Blogmanac October 6, 1914 | Thor Heyerdahl

If you had asked me as a 17-year-old whether I would go to sea on a raft, I would have absolutely denied the possibility. At that time, I suffered from fear of the water.
Thor Heyerdahl

Several times, when the sea was calm, the black water round the raft was suddenly full of round heads two or three feet in diameter, lying motionless and staring at us with great glowing eyes. On other nights balls of light three feet and more in diameter would be visible down in the water, flashing at irregular intervals like electric lights turned on for a moment.
Thor Heyerdahl, Kon-Tiki

We saw the shine of phosphorescent eyes drifting on the surface on dark nights, and on one single occasion we saw the sea boil and bubble while something like a big wheel came up and rotated in the air, while some of our dolphins tried to escape by hurling themselves desperately through space.
Thor Heyerdahl, Kon-Tiki

1914 Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian explorer and anthropologist born in Larvik, Norway, who became famous for his Kon-Tiki Expedition in 1947

The Bird Man of Rapa Nui (an Easter island ritual)

*Ø* Blogmanac October 6, 973 | Murasaki Shikibu, pioneer novelist

973? Murasaki Shikibu (d. 1025?), 10th-century Japanese writer of what is generally considered to be the world's first true novel, The Tale of Genji.

The Tale of Murasaki
More at Wikipedia

*Ø* Blogmanac | 2004 calendars support Wilson's Almanac

Have you seen our range of 2004 calendars? There really are some beautiful ones in our Cafe Diem calendar store. Check them out, as it's about time to do posting overseas for the holiday season. We get a buck or two from each one sold, which is a big help with the Internet bill. Thanks for your support!

We have a new range of posters as well, and lots of books, T-shirts, mousemats, DVDs, etc at Cafe Diem.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

*Ø* Blogmanac | USA's most popular birth date

October 5th is most common birthday in U.SA
May 22 least common

“A recent in depth database query conducted by suggests that October 5th is the United States most popular birth date. It seems that on average more people are born on this day than any other.

“According to the inquiry, an average of 12,576 people are born each year on the 5th of October. It also suggests that some 968,000 Americans celebrate this day annually.

“What makes this early October birth date so fashionable? October 5th however held a not-so-suprising significance, as conception would have fallen right on New Years Eve.

“Which birth date is the least common? May 22nd with an average of 10,259 persons born each year.” Source

*Ø* Blogmanac October 5, 1977 | The Jesus tortilla

1977 Mario Rubio noticed that marks on her tortilla looked like Jesus Christ.

In the small town of Lake Arthur, New Mexico, USA, near the famous ‘alien town’ of Roswell, Mrs Rubio was rolling a burrito for her husband Eduardo's breakfast, when she noticed a 3-inch impression of skillet burns on the tortilla that resembled the face of Jesus. She convinced a reluctant priest to bless the piece of bread, then built a shrine around it, for which she quit her job to devote her full time to tending the sacred tortilla. Thousands of pilgrims have since visited the site.

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New Mexico is also home of the historic Chimayo Shrine, which commemorates an event during Holy Week on the night of Good Friday, circa1810, when a Chimayo friar, Don Bernardo Abeyta, who was a member in good standing of the Hermandad de Nuestro Padre Jes6s el Nazareno (Penitentes), was performing the customary penances of the Society around the hills of El Potrero. There he saw a light bursting from a hillside near the Santa Cruz River. He dug and found a crucifix, quickly dubbed the miraculous crucifix of Our Lord of Esquipulas.

A local priest, Fr. Sebastian Alvarez, took the crucifix to Santa Cruz, but it disappeared three times and was later found back sitting in the hole the friar had dug, leading believers to understand that El Senor de Esquipulas wanted to remain in Chimayo. Consequently, a small chapel was built on the site, following which miraculous healings started occurring. These were so frequent that the chapel was replaced by the larger, current adobe Chimayo Shrine in 1816. El Santuario was a privately owned chapel until the year l929, when several benefactors bought it and turned it over to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

El Santuario de Chimayo is now known locally as the ‘Lourdes of America’. The crucifix still resides on the chapel altar, although its curative powers have been overshadowed by El Posito, the ‘sacred sand pit’ from which it sprang, now behind the main altar. More than 300,000 pilgrims visit Chimayo’s strange shrine each year.

(Note: On June 15, 1963, the face of cult leader JR ‘Bob’ Dobbs appeared on a tortilla of a humble Mexican woman in Plano, Texas, USA.)

Pip Wilson's articles are available for your publication, on application. Further details
Receive similar items free each day with a free subscription to Wilson's Almanac ezine. Send a blank email

*Ø* Blogmanac October 5 | Vaclav Havel, hero of the (velvet) revolution

1936 Vaclav Havel, Czech playwright, human rights campaigner and president, one of the leading intellectual figures and moral forces in Eastern Europe, especially Czechoslovakia. He satirised the communist bureaucracy and supported the Prague Spring reform movement in 1968. He was co-founder of the human rights organization Charter 77 and the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted. In November 1989 Vaclav Havel was one of the leading initiators of the founding of the Civic Forum, an association uniting opposition civic movements and democratic initiatives. From the very first days of its existence he was the head of the Civic Forum, becoming a key figure of the ‘Velvet Revolution’, when, beginning on November 17, 1989, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators for freedom took to the streets of Prague. This became a popular uprising that seized the reins of power from the incumbent Communist Party.

Havel’s works were banned by the government, but the manuscripts circulated privately and printed in Western Europe. He has been awarded numerous international prizes and honorary doctorates.

The music of Frank Zappa and Lou Reed inspired Havel and other dissidents during their struggle against Soviet rule. During Havel’s 1998 visit to the US, Reed played at the state dinner in the White House at his request. Reed visits Havel when he is in Prague.


*Ø* Blogmanac October 5-9 | Thesmophoria, ancient Greece

This was a women’s festival of Demeter (‘barley mother’) the Greek goddess of agriculture, health, birth and marriage. She was associated with the Roman goddess Ceres; she was also the daughter of Cronos and Rhea, and therefore the sister of Zeus. Her priestesses were addressed with the title Melissa. Today was the first day, the Stenia. The Stenia are said by Photius to have celebrated the return of Demeter from the lower world (Anodos), and the women railed at each other by night. Some of the features of this three-day festival are identical with those of harvest festivals long observed in the north of Europe.

The cult was practised universally in the Greek world, from the Black Sea to Lesbos, but the secrets of the rites were so well kept that even today we know very little of what the women did. It is believed that the participants dressed in fawn skins and, carrying a thyrsus, a rod topped with ivy, wandered the mountains at night, participating in such ritualistic activities as nursing baby wild animals and consuming milk, wine and honey. The women would imitate the Bacchae (Maenads), performing frenzied, ecstatic dances, sometimes around an image of Dionysus. On the first day, women gathered in the temple area. On the second day there was fasting, and they would return home for the night.

The rites included married women, this being their only opportunity all year to get away from their husbands and families. Grain was burnt as an offering to Demeter. Piglets, sheep and goats were sacrificed. After the Thesmophoria ended, the priests would gather up the large numbers of female figurines that had been usd in the rituals, and bury them. Unlike the Mysteries of Dionysus, the Thesmophoria seems to have been revered by the men of Athens, but is mocked in Aristophanes's Thesmophoriazusae.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

*Ø* Blogmanac October 4 | So, Pip, what's on today?

Jejunium Cereris, Fast of Ceres, ancient Rome
This Roman holiday was propitiatory, begun in 191 BCE after a series of disasters. Originally held every four years, by the reign of Augustus it was celebrated annually. Besides fasting, celebrants wore garlands in the Greek fashion. This holiday has certain similarities to the Greek holiday of Thesmophoria which also honored the grain goddess.
Blackburn, Bonnie & Leofranc Holford-Strevens, Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999 Source: School of the Seasons

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Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair …
Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
Mother Earth
who sustains and governs us,
producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.

St Francis of Assisi, from Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon

It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.
St Francis of Assisi

Feast day of St Francis of Assisi
Born the son of a wealthy merchant, Francis’s father rejected him for giving generously to Assisi's poor. The Portiuncula, his small chapel, soon became thronged with disciples. Francis of Assisi ecame famous for his love of nature, preaching even to birds. His mendicant friars lived in extreme poverty. He was canonised 1228.

His father had him beaten and fettered because he was giving everything away to the poor. He took Francis before the bishop, whereupon Francis renounced all his rights of ownership and inheritance, and stripped off his clothes as a sign of his taking up of poverty.

If any part of his habit was too soft, he darned it with pack-thread. He slept sitting on the ground. He rarely ate cooked food, and when he did, he sprinkled it with ashes. Yet he disappproved of indiscreet or insincere austerity. He averted his eyes from women, and hardly knew any by sight. He cried copiously and nearly went blind from tears. In one of his hymns, he spoke of his brother the Sun, his sister the Moon, his brother the Wind, his sister the Water. When dying, he said, "Welcome, sister Death". Leo, his secretary, said that he saw the saint levitate while praying. He had the stigmata; the wounds from his hands, feet and sides, though he at first tried to conceal them, wrought miracles. Pope Alexander IV publicly declared that he had seen the stigmata.

Francis is the patron saint of Italy, Italian merchants (due to his family's business), animals, animal welfare societies, ecology, and ecologists.

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1895 Joseph Francis ‘Buster’ Keaton, American comic actor, director and screenwriter (The Navigator; The General)

How Joseph Francis became ‘Buster’
As a six-month-old baby, Joseph Francis Keaton fell down the staircase at the theatrical boarding house where his parents were staying. The accident was witnessed by an unknown by aspiring young magician and 'escapologist', Erich Weiss, who went by the stage name Hary Houdini.

Rushing over to the baby Keaton, Houdini found little Joe unharmed and actually laughing. Houdini told the Keatons, “That’s some buster your baby took”. The name stuck fast.

Waiting for Buster
Samuel Beckett wrote Waiting for Godot with Buster Keaton in mind.

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1903 Otto Weininger took his own life, aged only 23.

“Otto Weininger's extraordinary life culminated in the publication of his timeless work Sex and Character. Soon after the publication he went to Italy to await results. There appeared to be none, and during the next four months an intellectual malady, described by his friends as "a too grave sense of responsibility," became acute. On October 4, 1903, at the age of 23, he took his own life.

"Sex and Character began to sell. It ran through printing after printing. It was translated into innumerable languages, and in a few years his publishers could declare with no more than pardonable exaggeration that no scientific book in the whole history of books had ever a greater success." Source

Weininger aphorisms

*Ø* Blogmanac | Necrophiliac ducks, clever cabbies and reluctant sheep

The Annual Ig Nobel Awards
By Mark Henderson, at The Times

"When a male mallard duck flew into the glass façade of Rotterdam’s Natural History Museum in 1995, Kees Moeliker had little idea that he was about to witness a landmark in biological science.

"Upon hearing a loud bang a floor below his office, the scientist rushed to investigate. He found the bird’s lifeless body on the ground — and another drake 'raping the corpse'.

"Eight years later, Dr Moeliker’s contribution to ornithological knowledge has finally been recognised. His seminal paper, entitled The First Case of Homosexual Necrophilia in the Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos, was honoured last night with an Ig Nobel prize, commemorating achievements that 'cannot or should not be reproduced'.

"The study of the unfortunate duck, which won the biology prize, was one of ten remarkable pieces of research cited in Harvard University’s annual Ig Nobel awards, the Nobel Prize spoof that celebrates bizarre and apparently pointless science."

Read more of this lunacy and the roll of dishonour

Friday, October 03, 2003

*Ø* Blogmanac October 3 | Oschophoria, ancient Greece

The Bearing of Green Branches to commemorate Theseus's return

The Oschophoria was a festival celebrated in Attica, according to some writers celebrated in honour of Athena and Dionysus, according to others Dionysus and Ariadne. Dionysus was the Greek god of wine and ecstasy, known to the Romans as Bacchus, and is pictured here with his companion Pan in a sculpture by Michelangelo.

Said to have been instituted by Theseus, this was a vintage festival, its name derived from the word for a branch of a vine with grapes.

The Greek myth states that when Theseus left Athens, he took with him three girls and two boys dresses as girls. After he killed the minotaur and returned to Athens he was crowned with a wreath of olive leaves. However, because his father died he put the crown on his staff and not on his head. The festival of Dionysus was being commemorated when he returned, and he placed the two boys that were dressed like women at the front of the procession. Consequently, in the procession during the Oschophorian celebrations, two men dressed like women carried vine-branches from the temple of Dionysus to the temple of Athena Skira. They were accompanied by a herald with a wreath wrapped around his staff. Also in the procession were women who carried the sacred foods for the feast. Some of the meat became a burnt offering for the gods, with the remainder eaten or divided up for the participants to take home. When the procession reached the temple, stories were told and many songs sung. The women usually prepared the dinner and narrated myths. Athletic games were also played during the Oschophoria.

We note that October 3 in the Roman Catholic tradition is also the Feast day of St Dionysius, the Areopagite, Bishop of Athens, martyr. Downy helenium, Helenium pubescens, is today's plant, dedicated to this saint.

The god Dionysus (Bacchus) and his drunken festivals (new at the Scriptorium)
The Greek/Roman god and the Dionysia and Bacchanalia

*Ø* Blogmanac | New York leads the way

From Lisa:

Verified Voting - Campaign To Demand Verifiable Election Results

The 'Voter Confidence Act' - HR 2239

Representative Rush Holt and over 30 cosponsors have introduced a bill that would require a voter-verifiable audit trail on every voting system.

It's called the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003 (H.R. 2239).

If we can get this bill passed, we won't have to fight, state by state and county by county, to preserve democratic elections.

We urgently need to get H.R. 2239 passed.

CONTINUE to see what you can do.

*Ø* Blogmanac | Reclusive Irish Nuns on the Internet

DUBLIN (Reuters)

"A reclusive order of Irish nuns has opened itself up to the outside world for the first time by launching a Web site to spread the good news. The Poor Clare nuns, who take vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, say the information superhighway will help them bring comfort to those in need of spiritual guidance.

"They usually only communicate with visitors, and even family members, by talking through iron bars at their closed monastery in Galway, western Ireland.

"'This is another way in which they can engage with the world through prayer and contemplation,' said a spokesman for The Conference of Religious, an umbrella group for Ireland's religious orders. [I take it they won't be surfing! And a brief look at the site suggests they have no email contact address. But it's still a far cry from iron bars. - N]

"The Web site,, depicts the nuns baking at the monastery, and suggests daily prayer ideas. Its launch coincides with the 750th anniversary of the death of St. Clare, the founder of the order, who is also the patron saint of television."


Thursday, October 02, 2003

*Ø* Blogmanac | One for the coffee break

Some brain-teasers for you. They’re from Mensa, published at the Irish Times here. You're given the answer to item 0 to show how the test works. See how many you can get and I’ll post the answers in a few days. 23 correct answers is apparently genius level! (You might like to copy and paste this to do later.) Me? Well so far I’ve got 8 ... Let us know how you do in the 'Comment' box below!

(0) 24 H in a D. Answer: 24 hours in a day.

(1) 26 L of the A. (2) 7 D of the W. (3) 7 W of the W. (4) 12 S of the Z. (5) 66 B of the B. (6) 52 C in a P (W Js). (7) 13 S in the USF. (8) 18 H on a G C. (9) 39 B of the O T. (10) 5 T on a F. (11) 90 D in a RA. (12) 3 B M (S H T R). (13) 32 is the T in D F at which W F. (14) 15 P in a R T. (15) 3 W on a T. (16) 100 C in a D. (17) 11 P in a F (S) T. (18) 12 M in a Y. (19) 13=UFS. (20) 8 T on an O. (21) 29 D in F in a L Y. (22) 27 B in the N T. (23) 365 D in a Y. (24) 13 L in a B D. (25) 52 W in a Y. (26) 9 L of a C. (27) 60 M in an H. (28) 23 P of C in the H B. (29) 64 S on a C B. (30) 9 P in S A. (31) 6 B to an O in C. (32) 1000 Y in a M. (33) 15 M on a D M C.

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