Monday, April 30, 2012

Bill Edwards, gender rebel

  Bill Edwards. Click for more at Melbourne Queer HistoryApril 30, 1905 Australia: Woman/man Bill Edwards (1881 - 1956), was arrested and charged with burglary of a Collingwood, Victoria, pub.

Transvestite and/or transexual Edwards (real name Marion Edwards) went on to public notoriety and wrote The Life and Adventures of Marion Bill Edwards, the Most Celebrated Man-Woman of Modern Times: Exciting Incidents, Strange Sensations, Told in the Graphic Manner by Herself (1906).

In about 1897, Marion Edwards had got some men's clothes and, transforming into Bill, rode off on horseback for the Riverina area where s/he worked on a variety of stations (ranches), living as a man for the rest of her life, both in country and city, variously working as Bill Edwards the storeman, clerk, French-polisher, horse-dealer, house painter and barman, later a 'she-male' attraction in a travelling sideshow and SP bookie in a Melbourne pub. Marion Edwards even lived as Bill Edwards abroad, making several horse-dealing trips, including the delivery of horses to India ...

(Read on at the Almanac.)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 29, a big day for Niagara Falls

1921 Death of Bay City, Michigan, USA school teacher, Annie Edson Taylor (Annie Taylor; Anna Taylor), the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel (on October 24, 1901 at the age of 63). Taylor died at the Niagara County Infirmary in Lockport, New York and is buried in the 'Stunters Section' of Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls, New York. Her words following the stunt: "No one ought ever do that again".

Bobby Leach, the Canadian Daredevil1925 Bobby Leach ('The Canadian Daredevil'), a native of Cornwall, UK, who had been the first man over Niagara Falls in a barrel, did not long survive this day's close encounter with a piece of orange peel. In New Zealand, while on a Down Under tour which included Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud and its neighbour, Australia, Leach slipped on said peel, injured himself, and soon contracted gangrene, to which he succumbed (April 26, 1926). He is buried in New Zealand (see his grave's headstone).

Wilson's Webcam Watch
The image of Niagara Falls, below, if it's appearing, is generated by a live webcam. Webcam images refresh at set intervals, so if you refresh this page it might show a changed image. If you click it, you'll go to an enlargement or the recommended webcam site.
Recommend a webcam or report malfunction
Live video feed of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls from the Hilton Fallsview Hotel.

Niagara Falls live

Saturday, April 28, 2012

April 28, 1996: The Port Arthur Massacre

1996 The Port Arthur Massacre: At at the ruins of the Port Arthur Prison Colony, Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia, the world's worst 'spree killer' of all time, Martin Bryant, shot dead 35 innocent men, women and children, and wounded another 21.
The only good thing that came out of it was that the Australian government decided to bring in strict laws against long-arm automatic weapons, and since then there has been a dramatic decline in gun deaths in Australia, although there is still a problem with still-legal firearms, including handguns.
Wendy Scurr was at the Broad Arrow Café that day and treated the wounded – she was almost shot herself; yet she raises many serious questions about the official version. Her name shows up in a lot of gun nut websites, but it's still an interesting angle (my own view is that the conspiracy theories are baseless). The question remains: how could an intellectually impaired, non-shooter have killed 35 people, wound another 21 and stop two cars with only 64 bullets? ...

Friday, April 27, 2012

April 27, 1957: Situationist International

1957 Italy: Situationist International (1957 - '72) founding conference, at Cosio di Arroscia. The SI is often attributed as being one of the key ideological catalysts for the May 1968 revolution centred around Paris.
The founding conference was composed of eight men and women from different European countries. Some founders of the SI came from radical art groups that emerged around 1950 but were still little known: COBRA, called after the magazine of a northern-European (Copenhagen - Brussels - Amsterdam) group of experimental artists and members from the Lettrist International in Paris.
In the 10-plus years of its existence, the Situationist International had about 70 members; some of them were Guy Debord, Michéle Bernstein, Christopher Gray, Jaqueline de Jong, Asger Jorn, Dieter Kunzelmann, Guiseppe Pinot-Gallizio, Alexander Trocchi and Raoul Vaneigem.

The Situationist International
Spectacle is a slogan, used by a Paris based group known as Situationists, to describe capitalism, the state, the whole shooting match. Owing as much to the Surrealists and Dada as Marx and Bakunin, the Situationists' starting point was that the original working class movement had been crushed, by the Bourgeoisie in the west, and by the Bolsheviks in the east; working-class organisations, such as trades unions and Leftist political parties had sold out to World Capitalism; and moreover, capitalism could now appropriate even the most radical ideas and return them safely, in the form of harmless ideologies to be used against the working class which they were supposed to represent. "A science of situations is to be created, which will borrow elements from psychology, statistics, urbanism and ethics. These elements have to run together to an absolutely new conclusion: the conscious creation of situations."

There are numerous sites of interest, but Ken Knabb's Bureau of Public Secrets is the best beginning place, with numerous personal pieces, as well as collecting articles and materials of the SI – all well organised and accessible, with new materials added frequently: also has a nice collection of core material, Situationist International
The Mital site, says the Daily Bleed, provides a quick, useful overview and introduction to the SI, with some contextual material.
Adapted from Wikipedia: The Situationist International (SI), an international political and artistic movement, originated in the Italian village of Cosio di Arroscia on July 28, 1957 with the fusion of several extremely small artistic tendencies: the Lettrist International, the International movement for an imaginist Bauhaus, and the London Psychogeographical Association. This fusion traced further influences from COBRA, Dada, Surrealism, and Fluxus, as well as inspirations from the Workers Councils of the Hungarian Uprising.
The journal Internationale Situationniste defined situationist as "having to do with the theory or practical activity of constructing situations." The same journal defined situationism as "a meaningless term improperly derived from the above. There is no such thing as situationism, which would mean a doctrine of interpretation of existing facts. The notion of situationism is obviously devised by antisituationists."
The most prominent member of the group, Guy Debord, has tended to polarise opinion. Some describe him as having provided the theoretical clarity within the group; others say that he exercised dictatorial control over its development and membership. Other members included the Scottish writer Alexander Trocchi, the English artist Ralph Rumney (sole member of the London psycho-geographical society, Rumney suffered expulsion relatively soon after the formation of the Situationist International), the Scandinavian vandal-cum-artist Asger Jorn, Attila Kotanyi, a veteran of the Hungarian Uprising, the French writer Michèle Bernstein, and Raoul Vaneigem.
Situationist International Online    The Situationist International Text Library Chronology of Situationism    Situationnistes    Situationists - an introduction
The Realization and Suppression of Situationism by Bob Black    'The Society of the Spectacle'
Spectacular Times The Culture Jammer's Encyclopedia
Against Sleep And Nightmare Magazine    Wilson's Almanac Book of Days hip list
Bureau of Public Secrets    Texts     Situationism/Dada    More    More    And more    Yet more

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 25 is a big day for all Australians, and I include myself ... very much

Today we mourn the dead, and the criminal stupidity of those who send them to their fate. It is the anniversary of the Allied invasion of Turkey at the Battle of Gallipoli on this day in 1915. (The Anzac covering force, the 3rd Brigade of the Australian 1st Division, began to go ashore shortly before dawn at 4.30 am on April 25.) An estimated 131,000 Allied soldiers were killed and 262,000 wounded (sources vary widely); about 250,000 (some sources say 450,000) Turkish men were killed or wounded in an area measured in a handful of square kilometres.

Anzac (or ANZAC) Day, named from the acronym of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, commemorates the landing of British and ANZAC forces on the beach at Gelibolu (Gallipoli), Turkey, on this day in 1915, in a failed invasion of Turkey in World War One. In Australia, it is generally commemorated with more reverence and enthusiasm than practically any public holiday, including Australia Day and Easter, and it is more honoured than Armistice Day. Perhaps only Christmas is as widely commemorated.

Gallipoli was the most heavily defended and best-prepared position in the Ottoman Empire, and the Allied assault was marred by great incompetence. The British First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965) was responsible for initiating the debacle. Mustafa Kemal (1881 - 1938) led the Turks, and became a hero to his nation; he is better known today as Kemal Atatürk, or 'Father of Turkey', first President of the Turkish Republic.

In Turkey, the campaign is known as the Çanakkale Savaşlari. In Britain, it is called the Dardanelles Campaign, and in Australia, New Zealand and Newfoundland, it is known simply as Gallipoli.
Although the public holiday commemorates a bloody defeat rather than a victory, this day is considered one of the most important in the Australian and New Zealand calendar of holidays. Dawn services are held across Australia and politicians make pronouncements that, on the whole, pointedly avoid questioning why such a large proportion of young Australian manhood died or were maimed on the other side of the world, on battlefields which had little or nothing to do with us. A generation of male youth was decimated: I remember from my childhood how many old men had limbs missing.

To most Australians, 'we' fought 'the enemy' bravely at Gallipoli. To the Turks, a ruthless aggression was courageously turned back. The only truth is that the actual winners were the manufacturers of armaments who fuelled the whole calamity called WWI.
Footnote: In recent years, the Turkish Government has graciously renamed the landing beach 'Anzac Cove' and each year on Anzac Day many thousands of international visitors and Turks commemorate the tragic campaign on the beach at dawn. In response to the renaming of the beach, in 1985 the town of Albany, Western Australia, renamed the entrance to Princess Royal Harbour, 'Ataturk Entrance' and in 2002 erected a statue of Kemal Atatürk. On Anzac Day, 2003, the the Mayor of Gelibolu (Gallipoli), Mr Cihat Bingöl, and Albany (Western Australia) Mayor, Ms Alison Goode, signed a Friendship Agreement:

"The formation of the Friendship Agreement between Albany and Gallipoli is a key component in progressing Albany's vision to become the quintessential place to commemorate the ANZAC tradition in Australia", Ms Goode said. "The historical links between Australia and Turkey, and particularly between Albany and Gallipoli, are as significant today as they were almost 100 years ago. The connection transcends time and distance and is a tribute to human endeavour, sacrifice, triumph over adversity and future optimism."
ANZAC Day in NZ    History of the Dawn Service    ANZAC Day: A Guide for New Zealanders Anzac Day Vs Eureka Day    Anzac biscuits    Anzac biscuits recipe

A bugler plays Reveille at the dawn service at Anzac CoveRecord numbers remember Anzac heroes    More (mostly uncritical) CEW Bean, John Lack letters and Gallipoli Turks    Anzac memories
Indigenous Anzacs, Traitor and Torres Strait evacuation    Changi diary

ANZAC in the news
Gelibolu, (Gallipoli), Turkey
Gallipoli is a town in north-western Turkey. Its modern Turkish name is Gelibolu. The name derives from the +-+++: Kallipolis, meaning 'Beautiful City'. It is located on the Gallipoli Peninsula (Gelibolu Yarimadasi), with the Aegean Sea to the west and the Dardanelles straits to the east. The Dardanelles were formerly called the Hellespont, the straits that the dashing Lord Byron swam across on May 3, 1810 (deformed right leg notwithstanding), in an effort to emulate Leander of the Greek myth.
A tourism industry has sprung up in and around Gallipoli in recent years, organizing arrangements for the thousands of people who come to Anzac Cove, Turkey each year, especially on Anzac Day when the beach is packed for ceremonies.
This day of days again we keep
In memory of those who sleep
Away beyond the quiet sea ...
Away in far Gallipolli.
'Tis Anzac Day 'tis Anzac Day..
Our soldier comrades far away,
They died in war    that we in peace
May live and love that war may cease.

They also served

"The simultaneous evacuation of the Anzac and Suvla sectors was certainly a big – and perhaps the only – Allied success, and was generally considered as a masterpiece of military planning. At Helles however, the situation was even more precarious: they had to evacuate three weeks later, under the eyes of an alerted enemy. Therefore, additional measures were needed to give the Turks the impression that the trenches were still fully manned. These dummy troops are waiting for their orders to go up the line."   Source
The bloody toll: how Australia's young men paid
for the adventurism of European politicians and arms traders

Total population of Australia in WWI
5 million
Total population (approx.) of males of service age < 1 million
Total enlisted
Total Casualties
Percentage of Casualties
From 'The Band Played "Waltzing Matilda"', by Eric Bogle
A 'Matilda' was the name given to the pack of an Australian bushman or swagman. To 'Waltz Matilda' was to carry your pack around the bush. Fifty-nine thousand soldiers of Australia died at Gallipoli in a stupid and pointless campaign, which was a staggeringly large number for a small country like Australia. About the only thing they achieved was a belated recognition that Australia was 'growing up'; she was becoming a nation in her own right ...
Every April, marches and dawn services are held on ANZAC DAY to commemorate the Gallipoli landings during the first World War, and the dead of the other wars. Like all memorial parades it is both moving and yet somewhat pointless and pathetic. This song was written after observing one such parade.
Liner notes (sub-edited) for "Eric Bogle – LIVE", Autogram ALLP-211, 1977  
See also Eric Bogle, and the remarkable story of 'Waltzing Matilda' in the Book of Days
Irish folk singer, Liam Clancy of the Clancy Brothers, brilliantly sings
'The Band Played Waltzing Matilda', by Scottish-Australian, Eric Bogle (from YouTube; lyrics below)
Now when I was a young man I carried me pack
And I lived the free life of the rover.
From the Murray's green basin to the dusty outback,
Well, I waltzed my matilda all over.
Then in 1915, my country said, "Son,
It's time you stop ramblin', there's work to be done."
So they gave me a tin hat, and they gave me a gun,
And they marched me away to the war.

And the band played 'Waltzing Matilda',
As the ship pulled away from the Quay,
And amidst all the cheers, the flag waving, and tears,
We sailed off for Gallipoli.
And how well I remember that terrible day,
How our blood stained the sand and the water;
And of how in that hell that they call Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.
Johnny Turk, he was waitin', he primed himself well;
He showered us with bullets, and he rained us with shell –
And in five minutes flat, he'd blown us all to hell,
Nearly blew us right back to Australia.
But the band played 'Waltzing Matilda',
When we stopped to bury our slain,
Well, we buried ours, and the Turks buried theirs,
Then we started all over again ...
Complete lyrics
ANZAC Day at Wikipedia    Australian gov't site
Gallipoli Digger in Turkish and English (digger = Australian soldier)
The gambling game of two-up has become an important past of Australia's Anzac Day commemorations, and goes back decades. The exact origins of Two-up are obscure, but it seems to have evolved from pitch and toss, a gambling game involving tossing a single coin into the air and wagering on the result. Two-up was popular amongst poorer English and Irish citizens in the 18th century. The predilection of the convicts for this game was noted as early as 1798 by New South Wales's first Judge Advocate, as well as the lack of skill involved and the large losses. By the 1850s, the two-coin form was being played on the goldfields of the eastern colonies and it was spread across the country following subsequent goldrushes.

Two-up was played extensively by Australia's soldiers during World War I. Games, to which a blind eye was cast, became a regular part of Anzac Day celebrations for returned soldiers.

As time passed, increasingly elaborate illegal "two-up schools" grew around Australia, to the consternation of authorities but with the backing of corrupt police. The legendary Thommo's Two-up School, which operated at various locations in Surry Hills, Sydney from the early years of the 20th century until at least 1979, was one of Australia's first major illegal gambling operations. The popularity of Two-up declined after the 1950s as more sophisticated forms of gambling like Baccarat gained popularity in illegal gaming houses and poker machines (slot machines) were legalised in clubs.

Legal Two-up arrived with its introduction as a 'table' game at the new casino in Hobart in 1973, but is now only offered in Perth's Burswood Entertainment Complex. Two-up has also been legalised on Anzac Day, when it is played in Returned Servicemen's Leagues (RSL) clubs and hotels. Several tourist 'Two-up schools' in the Outback have also been legalised. Under the NSW Gambling (Two-Up) Act of 1998, and playing Two-up in NSW is not unlawful on Anzac Day.

The Diggers Tavern in Bellingen has a two-up game every Anzac Day, and although (to date) I never bet any money, "I like to watch'. I know of no other gambling game in this country, perhaps even the world, in which one has a 50-50 chance of winning, and no one but the players might win some of the money available to winners. I believe that Poker machines in Australia yield pubs and clubs about 84% of the money wagered by each gambler with each game every day. Many of them are destitute people, and poor elderly people (women, in particular). Horse racing has long been popular in Australia, but the financial beneficiaries are usually people in the industry, not the gamblers. And so on. Two-up allows anyone in the room to wager, and no one is making a profit. It is a true game of chance, and one takes one's own chance with a 50-50 risk. I believe that this fact makes it very fair. It is also always attended by people with eagerness, and close observation to the game. It has added some interesting slang to Australia, too. Some of these terms, used by the man in charge of the 'ring' (which is often a square or rectangle, of carpet, surrounded by a rope, on the floor in the main room of the club), seem often now to be palimpsests, from days gone long ago. But they're very Australian, and I find them very interesting.

Some examples are: Come in Spinner!; Get 'em up!; Any more bets?; Any more side bets?; Righto. Here we go.; No more side bets?; Spin 'em up.; One of each!; Heads it is!; Right, hold your money.; That's a good spin!; Hold it! Tails! Above the shoulders!; Outside! (The ring). One at a time.; Where's he been? Etc, etc, etc.
Two-up coins, traditionally old pennies, are thrown with the use of a wooden device called a 'kip' (pictured).
There was a nice man I knew quite well in Bellingen, now deceased, a Christopher, nicknamed Kip.
. I've had quite a few people in this town call me 'Kip'. I can well understand why.

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