Thursday, November 29, 2007

The most elusive puzzle in the world of cryptography

"In 1912, the antiquarian book dealer Wilfrid M. Voynich bought a number of mediaeval manuscripts from an undisclosed location in Europe. Among these was an illustrated manuscript codex of 234 pages, written in an unknown script.

Voynich took the MS to the United States and started a campaign to have it deciphered. Now, almost 100 years later, the Voynich manuscript still stands as probably the most elusive puzzle in the world of cryptography. Not a single word of this 'Most Mysterious Manuscript', written probably in the second half of the 15th Century, can be understood."

The Voynich Manuscript


Apologies all around for stealing this from my own defunct blog.

“The theory of general relativity conceived of empty space as actually being a fabric of space and time, with gravity caused by the imprints objects make in it. Imagine the depression a basketball would make if placed in the center of a taut sheet; when a less massive object, like a marble, travels close to the ball, it will be derailed off its course and begin circling in the curved depression made by the ball. In this way, the earth orbits the sun, and we are forever floundering in the deep space-time trench around the earth. Einstein’s gravity is not so much a force as a circumstance: the very material of the cosmos has crumpled steeply around you until, almost conspiratorially, all of your possible paths have been narrowed to one.”

- Jon Mooallem, “A Curious Attraction: On the quest for antigravity”

Harpers Magazine, October 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

Always tell it

"When someone has told us a good joke immediately there starts up something like a tickling in the stomach and we are not at peace until we've gone into the office across the hall and told the joke over again; then it feels good immediately, one is fine, happy, and can get back to work... When something weird happens, when you find a spider in your shoe or if you take a breath and feel like a broken window, then you have to tell what's happening, tell it to the guys at the office or to the doctor. Oh, doctor, every time I take a breath... Always tell it, always get rid of that tickle in the stomach that bothers you."

Julio Cortazar

Learning to Love You More


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Princess Kay of the Milky Way

"Princess Kay of the Milky Way is the title awarded to the winner of the state-wide Minnesota Dairy Princess Program... The Princess is crowned every year at the Minnesota State Fair..." where their portraits are carved in butter.

Garfield without his thoughts

Speaking of Flanner O'Connor

If Flannery O'Connor had a blog...

Friday, November 23, 2007

John Steinbeck's Pigasus

"Earthbound but aspiring."

Larry Sultan

Portrait of his parents.

Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone

No Country for Old Men

Sort of the film equivalent of the Julio Cortazar story "A Yellow Flower."

Flannery O'Connor

"Do you think, Mr. Motes," she said hoarsely, "that when you're dead, you're blind?"
"I hope so," he said after a minute.
"Why?" she asked, staring at him.
After a while he said, "If there's no bottom in your eyes, they hold more."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Donald Barthelme

Donald Barthelme, what a wonderful discovery!

"People prepared to attend the death of Edward Lear as they might have for a day in the country. Picnic baskets were packed (for it would be wrong to expect too much of Mr. Lear's hospitality, under the circumstances); bottles of wine were wrapped in white napkins. Toys were chosen for the children. There were debates as to whether the dog ought to be taken or left behind. (Some of the dogs actually present at the death of Edward Lear could not restrain themselves; they frolicked about the dying man's chamber, tugged at the bedclothes, and made such nuisances of themselves that they had to be removed from the room.)

Most of Mr. Lear's friends decided that the appropriate time to arrive at the Villa would be midnight, or in that neighborhood, in order to allow the old gentleman time to make whatever remarks he might have in mind, or do whatever he wanted to do, before the event. Everyone understood what the time specified in the invitation meant. And so, the visitors found themselves being handed down from their carriages (by Lear's servant Giuseppe Orsini) in almost total darkness. Pausing to greet people they knew, or to corral straying children, they were at length ushered into a large room on the first floor, where the artist had been accustomed to exhibit his watercolors, and thence by a comfortably wide staircase to a similar room on the second floor, where Mr. Lear himself waited, in bed, wearing an old velvet smoking jacket and his familiar silver spectacles with tiny oval lenses. Several dozen straight-backed chairs had been arranged in a rough semicircle around the bed; these were soon filled, and later arrivals stood along the walls."

From "The Death of Edgar Lear"

Also recommended: "The School"

Scientists Discover Newest Terrifying Character in Nightmare-Land

LONDON - This was a bug you couldn't swat and definitely couldn't step on. British scientists have stumbled across a fossilized claw, part of an ancient sea scorpion, that is of such large proportion it would make the entire creature the biggest bug ever.

How big? Bigger than you, and at 8 feet long as big as some Smart cars.

Joseph Campbell and the origin of the blog address

Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labryinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.

- Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces

Or use YouTube

Old people who blog

Sideways bike


Babies can tell helpers from hunters

Babies as young as 6 to 10 months old showed crucial social judging skills before they could talk, according to a study by researchers at Yale University's Infant Cognition Center published in Thursday's journal Nature.

The infants watched a googly-eyed wooden toy trying to climb roller-coaster hills and then another googly-eyed toy come by and either help it over the mountain or push it backward. They then were presented with the toys to see which they would play with.

Nearly every baby picked the helpful toy over the bad one.

Waking up

WARSAW, Poland (June 3) - A railway worker who emerged from a 19-year coma woke to a radically altered Poland and thinks "the world is prettier now."

Jacques Henri Lartigue

Noche de Robanos

I can fly

First things first

For the time being, I can still write all this down, can still say it. But the day will come when my hand will be distant, and if I tell it to write, it will write words that are not mine. The time of that other interpretation will dawn, when there shall be left one word upon another, and every meaning will dissolve like a cloud and fall down like rain.

Rainer Maria Rilke