Monday, July 31, 2006

Cherry Time

On a little island in the South China Seas, fresh cherries have been on sale for a couple of weeks at HK$32.00 a pound. Today, they were on sale at HK$28.00. Penny careful, pound foolish; Mister B bought two generous handfuls of big, dark red, juicy cherries (HK$17.00).

They are delicious. But who knows where they come from? Each cherry is packed with water, but where grew the cherry tree whose roots sucked up the earth's moisture that filled that cherry? Haven't a clue. No idea. Isn't that sad, not knowing? Must ask the lady at the fruit and veg.

Meantime, Mister B will hum the well-known left-wing chanson Le Temps des Cerises (The Time of Cherries), by Jean-Baptiste Clément (1836-1903).

The song was dedicated to Louise, a communarde ambulance woman killed during the bloody right-wing destruction of the Paris Commune (1871). During World War II, Le Temps des Cerises became the signature rallying point during the Nazi occupation for the French Communist Party's resistance fighters: Le Temps des Cerises

Mp3 (scroll down page): Le Temps des Cerises
Paroles: Le Temps des Cerises

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Thanks, Nelson (and Miles)

An unexpected visitor knocked on Mister B's door on Friday evening, what followed was a weekend of some tumult and turbulence. Now Mister B admits his life has a certain comfortable and solitary tameness, and that a good shake up is, in all probability, more than necessary. Welcome, even. But there is turbulence and then there is turbulence.

Fortunately, this weekend Mister B kept in mind Nelson Algren's Advice to Young Man. While Mister B no longer qualifies as a young man, he thinks Algren's advice has some merit. For young or old, man or woman.

You will recall that Algren was a journalist and author. He is probably most well known for The Man with the Golden Arm, later made into a film starring Frank Sinatra. Less well known is that Algren was the on/off lover of Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre's life-long partner. Evidently, Algren was Old School. Years later, Algren was mortified when he read in de Beauvoir's autobiography that he (Algren) had given her her first orgasm; Nelson believed such intimate details should have remained private.

More about Nelson Algren: Wikipedia

Nelson Algren's Advice to a Young Man:
Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a place called Mom’s. Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own.
So what's with the Miles Davis Ascenseur for l'échafaud? The music is cool and spare, a useful antitdote for what had gone before it.

Oh, here is the American trailer for the Louis Malle film: youtube

Friday, July 28, 2006

Israeli assault on Lebanon

CNN has an online vote on whether you agree Israel is justified in attacking Lebanon: CNN vote
Thanks, Nick G!


Source: Aggression on Lebanon updates

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bed sharing 'drains men's brains'

Le rêve, Pierre Puvis de Chavanne (1824-98)

Voulez-vouz coucher avec moi, ce soir? Actually, if it has got to that stage you should be tutoi-ing: Tu veux coucher avec moi ce soir?

Elsewhere, the pros and cons of bed sharing.
BBC News: Health

A Critical History of 20th-Century Art

(click on painting to enlarge)

Built by General Dynamics, the F-111 was a strategic bomber, reconnaissance and tactical strike plane. F-111, an artwork (1965) by James Rosenquist, is painted on aluminium panels, the same material as was used for the outer skin of the F-111. Rosenquist's F-111 is an enormous eighty-six by ten feet and celebrates (?) or satirises (?) a consumer society underpinned by a military-industrial complex.

A Critical History of 20th-Century Art, by Donald Kuspit: artnet magazine

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

The adage that the first casualty of war is truth is evident listening to various reporters, commentators and smooth-talking spinmeisters featured on the radio airwaves via the BBC Worldservice.

For some clarity that pierces the fog of war, try this chronology of the latest Middle East crisis, by Sharat G Lin: counterpunch

Hong Kong: more weather

(click to enlarge)
Source: Hong Kong Observatory Very Hot Weather

Yes, I know, more weather pron. . . those are the maximum temperatures reached on Monday, 24 July 2006. Since when the local thermometer has, thankfully, dropped to a pleasant daytime temp of 26.1C

Hong Kong: shelter from the storm

Re-write of a Hong Kong Airport Authority press release in today's SCMP about possible, occasional, short duration luggage delays during the summer at Hong Kong International Airport at Chep Lap Kok. Ordinarily, luggage retrieval at the airport is mighty quick. But during inclement weather there may be delays, the result of all human activities on airfield apron and ramp coming to a necessary halt during lightning storms.

The airport opened in 1998 and lightning safety measures have been in place since 2003. These include a sophisticated lightning warning system as well as lightning shelters in remote and exposed parts of the airport. No mention of it in the press release, but the SCMP quotes an Air Authority spokesperson as saying that until 2003 eighteen airport workers had been hit by lightning or "injured in lightning-related incidents": press release.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Captain Tobias Hume

(click on image to enlarge)

Short notice, I know, but Mister B only just got the email. My pal Dean Ferrell (see above) is performing at the Kárahnúkur protest camp (28 July), Bechtel (!) Village (29 July), and at the Egilsbúð in Neskaupstaður (also 28 July).

We are talking about places at the extreme east end of Iceland. Neskaupstaður looks really neat: Neskaupstaður

A long time resident of Rekyjavik, Dean is a fine double-bass player, and has developed a one-man show based on the life and times of Tobias Hume (1569?-1645). Hume lived an interesting life as a soldier, mercenary, musician, composer and prankster: Wikipedia

I guess the performances are linked with the protests about dam building which, when completed, will serve to produce hydro-electric power for a yet to be completed ALCOA aluminium smelter. The dams are being built by war profiteers Bechtel. More info: saving iceland

Monday, July 24, 2006

Listless and languid

(click on table to enlarge)
source: Hong Kong Observatory

Thunderstorms and squally showers are on their way.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

We: Arundhati Roy on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict

Youtube? With each passing day, meandering around leads to all manner of new satisfactions:

Isn't that something? What do you think of that 1937 Winston Churchill quote? That little kid with a white flag trying to negotiate a crossroad? Make that a cross road.

Fast paced, with a music soundtrack that includes Nine Inch Nails, Amon Tobin, Massive Attack, the documentary is based on a speech Arundhati Roy gave in 2002. Since when nothing she describes has got any better, got any different.

May I be as bold as to suggest that this is a 'must see' documentary. In its entirety, it's sixty-four minutes long. It will need your time, but it doesn't require your money to watch. Why? It's free. Took Mister B eighteen minutes to download. Hey! Download in the background while you do something else.

Details: We, the documentary

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Lebanon: spontaneous destruction?

No, not if this report is correct:
More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to U.S. and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail. Under the ground rules of the briefings, the officer could not be identified.
San Francisco Chronicle

Friday, July 21, 2006

Bob Dynal: Th*m* T*m* R*d** H**r

Despite receipt of a Cease and Desist which caused a temporary hiccup, WMS is now back in business. That is Good.

Mister B can heartily recommends Baseball, Summer, and the latest one, Cars. Each show comes as archive or complete. If you are interested, Mister B likes the complete.

In any case, one or t'other may require some patience and tolerance as well as cookies enabled to download. If you have any problems read WMS and accompanying comments. Big thanks, WMS: White Man Stew

Midday report

Glorious morning. Fine. Hot. Light Winds. Southerly. 31.2C.
Hong Kong Observatory: webcams

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Lebanon: offensive has mainly targetted civilians

Marc J. Sirois, managing editor of Lebanon's The Daily Star:
As of Wednesday evening, Israeli attacks had killed at least 292 civilians in Lebanon, while Hizbullah rockets had killed 13 noncombatants in the Jewish state. Lebanon has approximately 3.5 million people. On a per-capita basis, that means that as of Wednesday, the rough equivalent of 9/11 has happened every day here for eight days.
Western media has dropped the ball by failing to tell the real story in Lebanon: The Daily Star

Lebanon: the child lies like a rag doll

Robert Fisk:
Why, for example, did the Israelis attack and destroy the headquarters of the Liban-Lait company in the Bekaa Valley, the largest milk factory in Lebanon? Why did they bomb out the factory of the main importer for Proctor and Gamble products in Lebanon, based in Bchmoun? Why did they destroy a paper box factory outside Beirut? And why did Israeli planes attack a convoy of new ambulances being brought into Lebanon from Syria yesterday, vehicles which were the gift of the medical authorities of the United Arab Emirates? The ambulances were clearly marked as a relief aid convoy, according to an Emirates official. Were all these "terrorist" targets? Was the little girl in the field at Tel Harfa a "terrorist" target?
Full article, UK newspaper Independent, via information clearing house

International Red Cross and Red Crescent

(click on Pieter Brueghel [about 1562] to enlarge)

For Lebanon, make a donation

Time after time

Incoming email! This one from Sue R, a past resident of a little island in the South China Sea. Thanks, Sue! For both the reception and content. Plus yr email signature at the end:
I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginnng and the end.
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.

There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Not any more of heaven or hell than there is now.
For Leaves of Grass, Bartleby is yr friend
(section 14, line 31): bartleby
For Whitman, a good start is: Wikipedia

(Mister B: And now, for all those children who have been smitten and smote during the past week in Lebanon, they will never grow any older.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Ray of sunshine

Amid all the current chaos and mayhem:
a thin beam of light
Thanks, Gavin!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dragon fruit

Not the kind with an inside composed of those small black seeds embedded in that boringly tasteless whitish grey stuff, oh no. This one, when you cut it open, has those same small black seeds, but amid a beetroot red and juicy flesh. Really sweet and tasty. The lady at my fruit and veg says the red-inside ones are only available in the summer, and come from Malaysia.

Retail? Six Hong Kong dollars on a little island in the South China Sea. Menu plan: eat half for dessert, eat the other half as part of breakfast.

Beirut: Daily Star

Israeli girls write messages in Hebrew on shells ready to be fired toward Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon. Photo: AFP

Mobile phone deals in war-torn Beirut: Daily Star (Lebanon)
Surreal theatre of the absurd: Daily Star ( Lebanon)

mazen kerbaj's blog, beirut: Kerblog

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hong Kong: drug watch

So just what did Doctor Feelgood prescribe?
Registered pharmaceuticals in Hong Kong search engine: Department of Health
Thanks, Nick G!

Beirut diaries

Jenney Thorson is an American residing in Achrafiye, Beirut. She is originally from Wisconsin.This is her first time in Lebanon. Four days of counting explosions in Beirut: electronic intifada

Efstratios Sourlagas is a third year graduate student in the Anthropology Department at Princeton University, starting his fieldwork on Greek Orthodox identity and intercommunal relations in Lebanon. Personal thoughts from a besieged country: electronic intifada

Middle East: news roundup

Israel not interested in any peace process, David Clark: Guardian
What does Israel want? Ilan Poppe: Labournet
(Thanks, Lincoln!)
Electronic Intifada
Beirut's The Daily Star

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Nothing Compares 2 U

Strong monsoon

After the hammer heatwave earlier in the week, it is now cloudy with occasional showers. Gusty southwesterly winds are sweeping in from the South China Sea. The wind has blown so hard that it seemed prudent to move the plants on the balcony to the indoors! What with the wind and all, temperature is down to a very pleasant 27C.

Thunderstorms are forecast. Then will be time to shut down and unplug the computer, de-couple the modem. The electric storms hereabouts can fry a hard-drive and much else besides.

Me? I'll sit on the balcony to watch and enjoy one of nature's greatest show.

Neighbourhood bully

To comment, or not to comment? That is the question. Political commentary is rare here, for a bunch of reasons.

Oh, screw it. Here goes->

O, wails and lamentations. The burdens of history weigh heavily on the living: Zionism, Britain's 1917 Balfour Declaration, British Mandate, generalised European anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, Jewish/Zionist Irghun and Stern Gang terror groups, United Nation's 1947 Partition Plan, the bloody establishment of Israel in 1948. Bloody? Yes. Arabs were murdered, terrorised, or forcibly removed from their homes and land to make way for those who, one way or another, had managed to survive the truly unspeakable horror that Europe's anti-Semitism had produced.

It is ironic, sad, and true, but from its very beginnings, you know, Israel has always used violence as a first resort to achieve what it wants, keep what it has, and maintain its dominance. That's how they started nearly sixty years ago, by aggression and assault. Since when they haven't changed their ways. Why should they? Muscular language works. Sort of. Beating people works. Sort of. Making people submit works. Sort of. Killing people works. Sort of. Imprisoning people works. Sort of. Military occupations work. Sort of. Bombing and bulldozing olive orchards, homes, blocks of flats, administrative buildings, roads, bridges, it all works. Sort of. Building a continuous 30-foot concrete wall works. Sort of. Kidnapping and abducting people works. Sort of. Assassinating people works. Sort of. Creating facts on the ground works. Sort of.

Another irony of history: Israel is now turning Gaza into a Warsaw Ghetto for the 21st century. Moreover, the Israeli state continues to strengthen, develop and expand its illegal settler occupations in the West Bank; force people out of and further annex East Jerusalem; abduct and imprison people as it sees fit; murder and maim people left, right and centre; withhold medical aid, withdraw educational opportunities and impoverish the general population.

Not content with all that, Israel is now running rampant (again) in Lebanon. Not for the first time, an Israeli blitzkreig is methodically destroying much of that country's vital infrastructure. And, no doubt, it has Syria and Iran in its bomb sights.

We witness an Orwellian War is Peace. Sort of.

There's plenty of blame to go around. The Israelis. The Arabs. The Palestinians. The regional states. The Big Powers. The international community. The weight of history.

These are becoming more dangerous times than usual. If anyone has any solutions that will bring peace and justice -- there is no peace without justice -- to those that live in the Middle East, you are welcome to leave a comment. Thank you.

update: the situation in the Middle East reminds me of the Thirty Years' War (1618-48) in continental Europe. There, too, different state and non-state forces slugged it out -- ostensibly for reasons religious but also for allied social, economic and political interests. Parts of France, the Low Countries, and what is now the western part of Germany were plundered and destroyed, the people butchered. The business of war only stopped when the finances were exhausted and the major players finally got tired of all the fighting and death and destruction. Does history have to repeat itself?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Quatorze juillet

Le 14-Juillet. . . c'est la fête!
Claude Lelouch drives very fast through Paris early one morning: Google Video
Camille chante: youtube
Cheese eaters: fromage

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Your mother should know

Mama mia! Even the Finns do it. Zinédine Zidane and the mother of all insults: Guardian

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


The older Mister B becomes, the more farewells take on a weight and gravity that was absent in earlier days. Will today's au revoir be in reality a final adieu? Whatever. It was good to have spent time together. And only natural to try and stretch those last moments a little longer. At sundown Adam, Antonia, Max and moi-meme lingered to watch the inter-island ferry sail out of the harbour as we waved to a slowly receding Barb and Sonny. The ferry-board travellers' destination? Mui Wo, where a car (thanks, Jacky) was going to pick them up and deliver them to Chep Lap Kok Airport. Just after a 11pm a lovely text message came through so I rang back. They were at the gate but boarding is delayed until midnight. Let's trust they have a safe journey without incident.

Somewhere in the sound library is a CD with Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington and His Orchestra performing Cole Porter's Everytime We Say Goodbye. I think I'll just hum it. . .

Shine on you crazy diamond

Syd Barrett, RIP.
The Madcap laughs no more.
You shone like the sun: Guardian
The Floyd, circa 1966: youtube

Monday, July 10, 2006


What to do around sundown (six-thirtyish at this time of the year in these semi-tropical latitudes)? Meet Barb, some of her brood, and assorted friends at a local watering hole with a westerly view on the busy habourfront praya. That's before repairing to a restaurant further along the waterfront promenade of a little island in the South China Sea for Barb's farewell dinner.

System restore

No posts for a couple of days due to sundry hardware problems, which led to problems booting up. When it did boot up, the machine then became liable to a system crash with the screen going to blackness in a silent poof.

It didn't feel like a hard drive failure. May be the RAM chips? Intel processor? Motherboard? Graphics card? Sound card? Running various diagnostics didn't unearth much in the way of clues.

If in doubt, turn off the machine, unplug it, walk away. Return during day-light hours.

First things first. Reseat the graphics and sound cards. Well, that solved the boot up problem and system crash. But now no sound.

If in doubt, turn off the machine, unplug it, walk away. Return during day-light hours. Reseat the sound card. No sound. Reseat the sound card. No sound. Consider going into town and buy a new sound card. Turn off the machine, unplug it. walk away. Return during day-light hours. Reseat the sound card.

Hey presto! Words and music restored. For the time being. Fingers crossed, et cetera. Although Windows XP no longer wants to Hibernate when so ordered.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


(click on image to enlarge)
Having a lovely time. Wish you were all here. Luv, Barb xxx

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Meet the Handsome Family

Songs that Fall from the Sky, by Steve Perry + three Mp3s: citypages

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Getting high in Tibet

Pens spit ink and packaged foods burst in the low pressure as the "Sky Train" climbed the 16,640-foot Tanggula Pass. Laptop computers and digital music players failed, the tiny air bags that cushion their moving parts broken at high altitude.
Alexa Olesen's Associated Press report on the new Beijing to Lhasa through-train, via Forbes

China: capitalist roaders

Drive, he said. Ted Conover goes on a week-long road trip with some Chinese car owners. Excellent reportage coupled with some worrying numbers that bode badly for humanity: NYT

Otherwise, how about this Robert Creeley poem. I Know a Man:

As I sd to my
friend, because I am
always talking, -- John, I

sd, which was not his
name, the darkness sur-
rounds us, what

can we do against
it, or else, shall we &
why not, buy a goddamn big car,

drive, he sd, for
christ's sake, look
out where yr going.

More Creeley and other American poets: Blue Neon Alley

Dreamgirls: And I'm Telling You (I'm Not Going)

The film version of the musical Dreamgirls is scheduled for release Christmas 2006, starring Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles and Eddie Murphy.

Between now and then, there is this. Members of the original cast performing at the US theatre business's 1982 Tony Awards. Jennifer Holliday gives it her all. . . starting at three minutes and twenty-five seconds.

July 4

Mister B extends
best wishes
to all
American friends
on this

That said, he hopes and prays that (for them and for all of us in the rest of the world) their current constitutional and political arrangements -- a president and executive branch that considers itself above the law, and a Congress which has abandoned executive oversight -- are merely a temporary aberration. Still, it is not a given that the pendulum will swing back. Their country is now firmly controlled by an energy-military-corporate complex with theocratic underpinnings, making up new rules and jettisoning old ones as it goes along.

Elsewhere, the July 4, 1776 Declaration of Independence (most especially the second paragraph) contains words and phrases lifted directly from John Locke's Two Treatises of Government. Locke's book, published in 1689, provided much of the intellectual and political argument for those challenging the anciens regimes in what we now know as the American (1776) and French (1789) revolutions.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness + Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité

This is not meant to suggest anyone should actually go and read Locke (Mister B did a long time ago, but it was a guided tour of duration two academic years). Notwithstanding, let it be remembered that in Book Two of the Two Treatises, Locke asserted that the only legitimate government was government by consent, and that a government's role was to safeguard and protect the individual's property (property meaning that individual's own life, liberty and estate) according to the rule of law. That if civil goverment failed in that duty, by abrogating the rule of law and instead exercising arbitrary power, citizens had the Right to Resist and the Right to Revolution.

One and all: Best wishes, have a day.

Monday, July 03, 2006

7 July, London

First anniversary of the London Tube bombings is coming up. Fifty-six people died. More than seven hundred others were injured and maimed, many horribly.

Interview with the guy in the photo (Paul Dadge): BBC News

One passenger who was travelling in one of the Tube train carriages in which bombs exploded survived and she has been trying to make sense of it ever since. She also reports on what has happened (or not happened) to other survivors: Rachel from North London

Sunday, July 02, 2006

How to be Lank, Fleet and Nimble

The Bloodless Revolution: Radical Vegetarians and the Discovery of India, by Tristram Stuart: Literary Review

How many people on Hong Kong's democracy march?

Depends who's counting: EastSouthWestNorth

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Hong Kong: one country, two systems

Today is the ninth anniversary of the Hong Kong Special Adminstrative Region (of the People's Republic of China). The weather is fine and hot. It's a Public Holiday.

According to the grapevine, Sunny C is in town and going on the Democracy March. Good on you, Sunny!

The rest of us? Bread and circuses. . . This evening there will be a Big Dinner on the waterfront after an afternoon on the beach. It's a pre-match dinner and quite a few people will be present. Yippee!

The soccer, for those who care, starts at 11pm local time.