Monday, January 30, 2006

Prophet Mohamed


Muhammad/Mohamed ( 570–632 )

The earliest surviving biography of Mohamed is the Life of the Apostle of God, by Ibn Ishaq (d. 768). Ibn Ishaq wrote his biography 120 to 130 years after Muhammad's death.

Mohamed ibn Abdullah was reportedly a widely travelled merchant. Muslims believe that in 610, at about the age of forty, while praying in a cave, he was visited by the Angel Gabriel. The angel told him to memorise and recite the verses sent by God. The verses spoke of the one God, the God of Jesus and Abraham. God was described as being a God of mercy. Long after Mohamed's death, the verses were written down as the Qur'an/Koran.

The Prophet Mohamed wanted to help slaves and the less fortunate.

Mohamed's closest friend was Zaid, his male slave.

Mohamed's first wife was Khadija. She was was aged forty at the time of their marriage and 'well past her youth'. Mohamed was about fifteen years younger.

Handsome fifteen year old Zaid was the wedding gift given by Khadija to Mohamed.

Mohamed and Zaid became very close friends.

Zaid's family found their son and tried to rescue him.

Zaid told his family that he wanted to stay with Mohamed. Zaid said: "I would not choose any man in preference to Mohamed. He is to me both a father and a mother."

Mohamed said: "Zaid is my heir and I am his."

Muhammad's youngest wife Aisha believed that if Zaid had not died, Mohamed would have made Zaid his successor.

Later in his life, Mohamed spent a lot of time with Zaid's son, Usama ibn Zaid.


A group of people from Mecca plotted to kill Mohamed. When the murderers burst into Mohamed's room they found Mohamed's 23 year old cousin, Ali, lying on Mohamed's bed. Mohamed had escaped.

Ali was a handsome youth. Mohamed said that "Looking upon Ali is worship," and that "Ali would appear (even) to the dwellers of paradise as a morning star."

Reportedly, one historian wrote of Mohamed: "He often made (Ali) sleep by his side, and Ali enjoyed the warmth of Muhammad's body and inhaled the holy fragrance of his breath."

Mohamed, reportedly, said: 'Ali and I, fourteen thousand years before the creation of mankind, were one light. When Allah created Adam, he split this light into two, one of which I am and the other is Ali." (Salman)


According to Shia Moslems, Mohamed appointed his cousin Ali as his successor.

Shias believe that Mohamed's companions Abu Bakr and Umar plotted to oust Ali and make Abu Bakr the leader or caliph.

The Sunni Moslems say that the leaders of the community freely chose Abu Bakr as leader.

Abu Bakr became the new leader, and this led to the split between Shia and Sunni.



A soviet of workers' deputies! That's what Marxist John McLean tried to get Glasgow's Trades Council to turn itself into, back at the time of the Russian Revolution.

Glasgow is like St Petersburg. I like St Petersburg and I like Glasgow, in spite of St Petersburg's reputation for crime and Glasgow's reputation for most things.

Glasgow was the second most important city in the Empire. And it is as grand as Russia's former capital.

And it has the famous football team: Queens Park!

Daniel Defoe called Glasgow, "one of the cleanest, most beautiful and best-built cities in Great Britain." How true!

It's wrong to say that Glaswegians are tough and narrow and mean. When there's an Orange Parade or its Catholic equivalent, you may see a few hard sectarian faces, but most Glasgow buddies are warm and friendly. Some look gorgeous in an Italian sort of way. Many are secretly very romantic. Only a few Glaswegians carry Uzi sub machine guns.

Glasgow has had a little bit of violence in the past, but mainly in the rougher quarters to the east, and the general public would not normally be involved.

The News of the World (4/3/01) gave a list of some characters:

"Arthur Thompson Senior: known as The Godfather, dominated Scottish crime scene for 30 years until death in 1993 aged 62. Survived numerous assassination attempts. Had links with Kray and Richardson gangs.

"Arthur Thompson Junior: Known as Arty and Fatboy, murdered in 1991 aged 31 while on leave from jail for drug dealing. Ferris later cleared of killing.

"Thomas McGraw, aged 48, The Licensee flits between plush Glasgow villa and Tenerife. Had interests in taxis and ice cream vans, but now interested in construction industry. Cleared in major drugs trial in 1998.

"Tam Bagan: aged 45, serving 12 years for bungled security van hijack. Survived death threats after alleging seven Strathclyde detectives were on payroll of the Licensee...

"Paul Ferris: aged 37, served seven years in Durham's Frankland Prison for gun-running.... etc. (One of Arthur Thompson's daughters died of a heroin overdose; Arthur Thompson's son Billy Thompson was left brain damaged after being kicked and stamped on the head)

Glasgow has more saints than sinners.

Take Tom Allan. In 1962 Tom Allan opened what later became known as the Tom Allan Centre at 23 Elmbank Street, as a centre for helping alcoholics, drug addicts and outcasts.

The regeneration of Glasgow began in the 1980's with the GLASGOW'S MILES BETTER campaign.

In 1990 Glasgow was chosen as the 1990 EUROPEAN CAPITAL OF CULTURE. Glasgow is not all tower blocks and motorways!

Glasgow, of course, has top class restaurants, shops and nightlife; much of it around the centre : Buchanan St, Argyle St, Jamaica St...... BUT it is also a city of art and architecture and parks. And street markets and charity shops.

Places to shop include: THE BARRAS: 1/4 mile East of Glasgow Cross you will find this world famous market. Saturday and Sunday 9am to 5pm. Wednesday to Friday 10am to 4pm. Cafes, buskers and everything you need to equip an expedition to the Amazon. The Barrowland Ballr oom has associations with the serial killer Bible John. (You can read about Bible John and Glasgow crime life in Ian Rankin's thriller "Black and Blue") Since the early 1990's many Glasgow sex workers have been murdered. This makes Glasgow unique in Britain. Edinburgh has saunas, Glasgow has street walkers. Research suggests 92% of Glasgow prostitutes inject drugs and 85% have hepatitis C (which can lead to death from cancer or cirrhosis of the liver). One third are said to be homeless.

GALLERY OF MODERN ART CAFE: Queen St. If you like the vibrant, Van-Gogh-like works of Adrian Wiszniewsky, you'll love this place.You also get a great view of Glasgow.

THE PEOPLE'S PALACE on GLASGOW GREEN: (museum closed Tuesday) This cosy little museum, on Glasgow Green, records the history of the city, including its shipbuilding past, its links with America including the import of tobacco and sugar, and its music hall past. You can see Billy Connoly's big banana boots! But use your camera on the former carpet factory on the green; it's a copy of the Doge's Palace in Venice.

GLASGOW GREEN used to be common pasture. This was where anyone could park their coos. Glasgow Green was also where huge crowds would gather to witness public hangings, carried out here between 1814 and 1865. In 1965 a huge crowd gathered here to await news of the execution, at Barlinnie Prison, of mass murderer Peter Manuel. Glasgow Green has also, in the past, been the site of gang fights.

THE CATHEDRAL & NECROPOLIS: make sure to take your camera to the big graveyard the NECROPOLIS on the hill. It's world class in terms of Victorian views and it's modelled on the famous Pere Lachaise ceme tery in paris. The cathedral is medieval/gothic and survived the Reformation! lookout for the Blackadder Aisle. (Open April-Sept, Mon-Sat 9am to 6.30, Sun 2pm to 6.30)

THE HUNTERIAN ART GALLERY, 82 Hillhead St, (Mon-Sat 9.30am-5pm) has paintings by Chardin, Pisarro, Sisley and Whistler. I love Sisley.

The SCOTLAND STREET SCHOOL, 225 Scotland St., (open 10-5, Sunday2-5) designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, is worth a visit with your camera. This building makes me think of Egypt or maybe a child's castle. Inside is a museum of Scottish education: view a Victorian classroom etc. The classroom for 1891 contains a dunce's cap. Kids can borrow old toys to play with. And what I like best of all are the old films showing children's games.

GLASGOW SCHOOL OF ART, designed by Mackintosh : 167 Renfrew St, (Mon to Frid 9.30-5, Sat 10-12) Built in 1845 this was the first building in Europe to belong to the 'Modern Movement'. Note the towers and big glass bay windows. Mackintosh's work is in fact a wonderful mixture of the modern with the Celtic and medieval.

GLASGOW WILLOW TEAROOM: 217 sauchiehall St. A Mackintosh building. Serves light meals and tea. Delightful. Lovely funiture.

ALEXANDER 'GREEK' THOMSON'S architectural works can be seen at Great Western terrace, the St Vincent St Church and the Egyptian Halls in Union St. THE UNDERGROUND : this is a clean and modern way to travel. I can remember when it smelt of ozone and looked as if it was made of wood.

THE BOTANIC GARDENS, 730 Great Western Road, (Underground: Hillhead) with its tree ferns and glasshouses is the sort of places where spies meet. (The nuclear sub base at Faslane is not so far away).

THE GORBALS : Don't forget to see where the famous inner city slums used to be. Read "No Mean City" by A McArthur and H Kingsley Long to find out about the pre-war underworld. "Dancing was then, in 1921, and still is, the most popular sport in Glasgow's slumland.... Outside the Rose Street pub there were only two couples dancing, a young man and his girl and two other girls waltzing together...." 'No Mean City', which tells the story of a Gorbal's gang leader, unfairly seems to suggest that many of Glasgow's poor were violent drunks with no morals. In fact Glasgow's poorer areas used to be packed full of churches and in the past produced many Boys Brigade and Scout troops, saintly nurses, respected teachers, hard working ship workers...

FILMS about Glasgow include Peter Mullan's black comedy ORPHANS. In this film you observe the Glasgow friendliness turn to menace and then violence. But it is comedy.

TENEMENT HOUSE: 145 Buccleuch St (open 1 March to 31 Oct. 2pm-5pm) This is a typical late Victorian tenement, occupied by a relatively well-off family. Worth a visit to see the bed, furniture, curtains....Don't expect a working class residence.

The modern 'slums' are the huge housing estates like CASTLEMILK. Castlemilk is (or was) the biggest housing estate in Europe. I remember it as having no amenities ot her than a few shops with boarded up windows. EASTERHOUSE is like Castlemilk but worse? Male unemployment used to be 60%. BLACKHILL: is worse than Easterhouse.

THE CLYDE : Take your camera along the famous River Clyde. This is when it gets like St Petersburg. And when you reach the sea it's better than Barcelona. Shipbuilding was once Glasgow's biggest industry and even today you may find old Clyde-built ships in faraway parts of Asia and Africa. In 1914 Glasgow (and the Clyde) was the biggest producer of ships in the world. Many workers came from IRELAND and from the HIGHLANDS to get jobs in the shipyards.

THE WAVERLEY is the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world! Cruise along the gorgeous Clyde coast. Start at Anderston Quay. If the sun is shining, a cruise to the island of Bute or to Dunoon will be more romantic and heavenly than any cruise in the Caribbean. Accordion music, seagulls, steep purple mountains, bonny lassies...

FOOTBALL! Glasgow has many fine teams. But, a wee warning: "Match-related murders after Old Firm games appear to have become accepted in Scotland," according to former senior sports writer Tom Lappin.

1995- a 16 year old schoolboy had his throat cut in London Road, following a celtic match.

1997- a 19 year old Celtic fan was stabbed near Ibrox after an Old Firm match.

1998- Three men were stabbed by a 17 year old Rangers fan.

1999- a 16 year old Celtic fan died after being stabbed by 2 Rangers fans in bankhall St after an Old Firm match.

1999- a man was stabbed by his neighbour when he was seen to be wearing a Celtic top.

2001- a Celtic fan was stabbed in Forbes St after an Old Firm match.

Watch what colour you are wearing.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Fine Art IV

Julien Pacaud


Anthony J. Waichulis

Kenneth McGough

Sharon Sprung

Von Gloeden

Kara Castro

Giuseppe Bruno
69 Giuseppe Bruno Bambini di Montescaglioso, 1958

Valeri Larko
Valeri Larko

Johan Jongkind

Robert Doisneau

Bildindex der Kunst und Architektur

Mike Tedder

Beryl Cook

Sir William Russell Flint

Adolf Echtler

Bernard Karfiol

Hermann Seeger

Robert Frank

Willy Ronis

Andre Kertesz

Antoine Durand


Jean-Francois Jonvelle

John Atkinson Grimshaw

Timothy Mensching

John Millais

JW Bunney

Mark Richards

Lewis Carroll/Charles Dodgson"He wrote more about Harry than he ever wrote about Alice." (Lewis Carroll's Creativity)

Edward Steichen


Danny Lyon

Frederick Monsen

Maurice Engel

Oscar Rejlander

Charles Zoller

Nickolas Muray

E.S Co.


Louis-Camille D'Olivier

Ferdinando Scianna


Monday, January 23, 2006

The Upanishads, Creation, Pierre de Maupertuis, Jean Baptiste de Lamarck, Patrick Matthew and Alfred Russel Wallace

According to The Upanishads, the Hindu New Testament:

God is within all the created world (immanent) and outside all the created world (transcendent).

God creates matter out of himself.

God becomes immanent (within all) until the end of evolution when the immanent has all again become transcendent (outside the created world). The created world evolves into the transcendent God.


For the joy of creation.

Why is there evil?

For the joy of good arising from it.

Why darkness?

That the light may shine more.

Why suffering?

For the instruction of the soul and the joy of sacrifice.

Why the infinite play of creation and evolution?

For pure joy.

The more the lower self is forgotten in good works, and in the realisation of the beautiful and the true, the quicker becomes the process of evolution. The Upanishads (Penguin Classics): Books: Anonymous ...


Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species was published in 1859.


Darwin Didn't Discover Evolution or Natural Selection

by David N. Menton, Ph.D.

The French astronomer and mathematician Pierre de Maupertuis (1698-1759) is generally credited with being among the first to have developed an essentially modern theory of evolution which included a process of random change (mutation) and natural selection.

In his book Essaie de Cosmologie he said: "Chance one might say, turned out a vast number of individuals; a small proportion of these were organized in such a manner that the animals organs could satisfy their needs. A much greater number showed neither adaptation nor order; These last have all perished - thus the species which we see today are but a small part of all those that a blind destiny has produced."


Why did giraffes get long necks? Lamarck suggested that the long neck is attributed to the frequent stretching of the neck as giraffes reached for food.


Jean Baptiste de Lamarck (1744-1829) ... proposed in 1809 two principles that purported to explain the source of the variation that led to new and useful structures in living organisms.

The first of these - called the "law of use and disuse" -- proposed that new organs (or modification of old ones) arise spontaneously through need satisfied by "use" and, accordingly, disappear through "disuse."

The second - called the "law of inheritance of acquired characteristics" -- proposed that physical characteristics acquired by "use" are passed on to offspring. These so-called "laws" are perhaps best illustrated by the popular example of the giraffe's neck.

According to Lamarck, the giraffe once had a neck no longer than that of a zebra, but as the early giraffes stretched their necks to feed from the highest limbs of a tree, their necks got longer and longer (as a result of use based on need). This acquired trait was then presumably passed on to subsequent generations of giraffes who would be born with long necks.

From: Patrick Matthew

In 1831 Patrick Matthew developed a theory of natural selection nearly thirty years before the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species in 1859.

Matthew was born on a farm in Scotland in 1790.

Educated at the University of Edinburgh, Matthew traveled widely in Europe, but spent most of his life on his estate in Scotland, where he owned and managed an orchard of over 10,000 fruit trees. He died on June 8, 1874. Matthew is an obscure figure in the history of evolutionary thought; relatively little is known about his life. He was not a trained scientist, and his evolutionary insights lie buried in the middle of his books and articles on agriculture and politics...

Matthew's theory lacked Darwin's concept of evolution as an ongoing, continuous process. Matthew did not see evolution as the gradual accumulation of favorable variations leading to adaptation, nor did he believe in extinction except by catastrophe. Matthew saw species as classes of similar organisms, not as interbreeding populations. He also never relinquished his belief in natural theology: he wrote to Darwin in 1871 that "a sentiment of beauty pervading Nature. . . affords evidence of intellect and benevolence in the scheme of Nature. This principle of beauty is clearly from design and cannot be accounted for by natural selection." The phrase quoted above, "There is more beauty and unity of design in this continual balancing of life to circumstance," sums up Matthew's attitude to natural selection: it showed the workings of Providence, of the designed laws of nature.



In February of 1858, ... Alfred Russel Wallace suddenly, and rather unexpectedly, connected the ideas of Thomas Malthus on the limits to population growth to a mechanism that might ensure long-term organic change. This was the concept of the "survival of the fittest," in which those individual organisms that are best adapted to their local surroundings are seen to have a better chance of surviving, and thus of differentially passing along their traits to progeny. Excited over his discovery, Wallace penned an essay on the subject as soon as he was well enough to do so, and sent it off to Darwin.

Darwin's Origin of the Species was published in 1859.


Friday, January 20, 2006

Fine Art III



Leopold Robert

Dorothea Tanning


Donata Wenders

Lehnert and Landrock


Manuel Rodriguez

Walter Palmer

John George Brown

Frank Brangwyn

Diane Nelson

Valdir Cruz

Norbert Bisky


Nigel Ayers

David Heatherington

Philip Guo

Ali Davies

Michael Segal

Ernesto Bazan

Matt Dunn

Mike McElhatton

Judy Mundy

David Julian

Talal Abu Rahma

Damon Lynch

INFA Indische Fotosite
Indische foto's KITLV
Indische foto's '47-'50
Foto-album: Rob Bouwman
Foto-album: Wieteke van Dort
Semarang in foto's
Indische familiefoto's
Schoolfoto's Ned. Nieuw Guinea
Die ene foto...
Historische kaarten

Peter Hollinger

Manuel Librodo

Marc Demoulin

Maciej Dakowicz

Brian McMorrow


John Humble

Carl Mydans

Ernst Haas

Alfred Eisenstaedt

Andreas Feininger

Dan Winters

Mark Edward Harris

Max Yavno

Alexey Titarenko

Larry Silver

Lucia Guanaes
Lucia GuanaesBrasil popular

Tina Manley

Bernard Faucon
Bernard Faucon photographs

Manuel Alvarez Bravo

Lewis Hine

Yevgeny Khaldei

Mary Ellen Mark

Elliot Erwitt

Lewis Carroll/Charles Dodgson
"He wrote more about Harry than he ever wrote about Alice." (Lewis Carroll's Creativity)


Monday, January 16, 2006

Emperor Constantine

The Emperor Constantine, General Franco, George Bush and Tony Blair are among those leaders who have claimed to be Christians and friends of the church.

In The History of the Christian Church by Henry C. Sheldon, 1895, it is suggested that Constantine may not have been too serious about his Christianity :

The motives by which Constantine was actuated in siding with Christianity have been variously defined. Gibbon intimates his belief that he was moved at first almost entirely by considerations of policy...

Constantine had members of his own family put to death.

According to Sheldon: Licinius, the husband of Constantia, the sister of Constantine, was put to death, in violation of a solemn pledge that his life should be spared. To be sure, there was an accusation of treasonable designs on the part of Licinius; but unproved accusations cannot count for very much under the circumstances.

A few years later, Crispus, the eldest son of Constantine, a youth of high promise, amiable, martial, and enterprising, was ordered to be executed by the jealous and suspicious father. At the same time, Licinius, the son of the emperor of the same name, was sacrificed, in spite of the tears and entreaties of his widowed mother. The innocence of both of these accomplished youths is commonly regarded as beyond question.

According to very full and confident testimony, the Empress Fausta, the stepmother of the murdered Crispus, was another victim. As the story goes, her machinations, in order that she might advance her own sons, had served as a chief instigation to the execution of the innocent and slandered youths; and Constantine, coming finally to understand the case, was filled with fury, and ordered her to be suffocated in an overheated bath.

Much valuable information on Constantine comes from the site:

The Council of Nicaea

Much to Constantine's annoyance, God's harmony continued to elude the Christian Church - as churchmen disagreed over the exact nature of Jesus. In 325, he called for the Church's first ecumenical (general) council, which was to meet in the city of Nicaea for the purpose of deciding by committee the nature of Jesus Christ and other issues.

Of Christianity's 1,800 or so bishops, 318 attended the conference - most of them from the eastern half of the empire. Constantine presided over the meeting.

One group of bishops, led by the bishop Arius, claimed that God and Jesus were separate beings, that because Jesus was God's son there must have been a time when Jesus did not exist.

Another group of bishops could not accept the notion that Jesus had been created from nothing and insisted that he had to be divine and therefore a part of God...

Constantine decided against Arius...

Constantine held that those bishops who refused to sign the settlement at Nicaea were to be exiled, and to those Christian sects that the Church considered heretical he sent a letter proclaiming that their places of meeting would be confiscated.

With the power of the state behind them, the bishops decided to make their authority law. Cutting off the possibility of common Christians choosing their own bishop, the bishops ruled that in no province of the empire was anyone to be made bishop except by other bishops within that province...


Constantine ordered the execution of Crispus and forced Fausta to commit suicide.

Constantine created severe penalties...

For a variety of... crimes, people were to have their eyes gouged out or their legs maimed...

Constantine passed a law allowing masters to beat their slaves to death.

Unlike Diocletian, he allowed infants born to slaves to be sold. Constantine allowed slaves who were caught seeking refuge among "barbarians" to have a foot amputated. Slaves in the public services caught attempting to leave town were to be beaten. Anyone caught sheltering a runaway slave was to be fined. With the agreement of bishops, slaves who sought refuge in Christian churches were to be returned to their masters...


Constantine revived the secret police, which was notorious for its corruption.

Under Constantine taxes remained oppressive, the great landowners often paying bribes to avoid taxes or passing the burden onto their tenants.

As under Diocletian, everyone was forced to follow their parent's occupation, including the sons of soldiers... Local government was becoming a hereditary duty rather than inspired by any kind of civic pride.

In Rome, Senate seats continued to pass from father to son, but the Senate remained without powers: a prestigious club for conversation. Only a few senators, mainly those who happened to live in Rome, attended Senate meetings.

The Church

The Church... left behind its original communal sharing and its sense of equality among members.

The bishops were growing in wealth and in the splendor of their dress...

Pagan habits were modified to fit Christianity...

Among the pagan practices adopted by Christians in bringing pagans into the fold were a devotion to relics, the kissing of holy objects as an act of reverence, genuflection, and the use of candles and incense...

Many peasants who had venerated a pagan female guardian of grain would transfer that veneration to a new guardian and creator of their grain: Mary, the mother of Jesus.

The Emperor Constantine died in 337.


Johnny and the Bomb; Charlie and a gravestone

In his book, The Unbelievable Truth, one of the true stories told by Gordon Smith is about a gravestone.

At the end of October 2001, 17 year-old Steven Andrew Smith joined the Royal Navy.

A few days later, Gordon Smith, father of Steven, went for his usual Sunday walk in the old cemetery near his home. With Gordon were Gordon’s friend Jim and Gordon’s dog Charlie.

Charlie disappeared into the bushes and was later heard to be barking, as if in some distress.
Gordon and Jim found Charlie sitting in front of an old headstone.

The names on the headstone were Gordon Smith, a writer, and his son Steven Andrew Smith, an able seaman who had died at sea during World War One.

The 17 year-old Steven Andrew Smith, who had joined the navy in 2001, decided to leave the navy after a few weeks. His father never mentioned the gravestone to him.

In February 2004, Gordon, Jim and Charlie returned to the old part of the cemetery where the Gordon Smith gravestone was located.

Something had changed. The headstone still bore the name of Gordon Smith, writer. But the name Steven Andrew was missing. The only other name on the stone was that of a daughter called daphne who had died in the 1920s. BBC - Religion & Ethics - Everyman
Spirit Messenger and Unbelievable Truth - Books by psychic Gordon ...
From the BBC press office:

Johnny And The Bomb is a time-slip story.

Based on the book by Terry Pratchett, it's a thrilling adventure that takes Johnny Maxwell and his pals back into the Second World War.

Everything revolves around the 21 May 1941, when the small Pennine town of Blackbury suffered its only air raid of the Second World War.

Along with Mrs Tachyon, Johnny's Gran and Grandad were there - of course they were only teenagers at the time - but they fell in love when Grandad, Tom Maxwell, made his epic bike ride to raise the alarm and saved the residents of Paradise Street (including his future bride, the pretty young Rose Bushell) from the horrors of the Blitz.

Tom and Rose survived to get married and the rest is history – at least it was until young Johnny started messing with the Bags of Time.

He and his friends slip back to the Second World War and with the best of intentions start 'bumping into things'. And this is where Terry Pratchett asks the big question – if you could go back in time, would your actions make any difference, or is history already written?

...And as if our heroes hadn't got enough on their plates, the unique world of Pratchett lets them slip sideways as well as forward and back. So they also find themselves in an alternative present where the changes they've made for better or worse just get to play themselves out.


Terry Pratchett, Johnny and the Bomb

Tom Knapp wrote: Johnny discovers a "time lorry," a bag-lady's means of circumventing the usual linear flow of history, and is then stuck with the dilemma of leaving history as is or taking action to try and save some Blackbury residents who, in 1941, were in the wrong place when the Luftwaffe flew overhead. Plus, there's the small matter of Johnny's friend Wobbler, who inadvertently ensures that his grandfather will never meet his grandmother....


Thursday, January 12, 2006

George Best's uncle Albert and life after death.

Albert Best was a postman and a world famous spiritualist medium. He was also the uncle of footballer George Best.

Ann Kennedy was the wife of a Church of Scotland minister called the Rev. David Kennedy.

Ann Kennedy died while she was still in her forties.

Before Ann had died she had promised to try to find a way to contact her husband from beyond the grave.

Although it was against his religion, the Rev. David Kennedy contacted a medium called Lexie Findletter. Lexie told David that Ann was trying to communicate with him.

A week later David was asleep at home. He was awoken by the sound of the phone ringing. He looked at the clock on the wall. He realised that he only had five minutes to prepare his sermon and find a clean collar. He lifted up the phone.

"Your wife Ann is with me," said a voice. "She tells me that your clean collars are in a bottom drawer of your wardrobe and the speech you prepared last year for this service is in the top drawer of your desk. Incidentally, my name is Albert Best."

David looked in the bottom drawer of the wardrobe and found the three clean collars.

Albert went on to say that Anne told him to tell David that he (David) needed to send to the laundry the 23 soiled collars which he had already accumulated in a special box where he kept his collars. When David counted the number of collars in his box, there were 23 in all.

More messages reached David in the days that followed. On one occasion Albert said that Ann had asked him to tell David to phone Ann’s sister and ‘ask about the ballet shoes’. When David did so, Ann’s sister was astounded that he knew about the private joke that had been a secret between Ann and her sister.


Gordon Smith, The Unbelievable Truth (Hay House, 2005)
The Unbelievable Truth The Unbelievable Truth: Books

David Kennedy, A Venture in Immortality (Colin Smythe, 1973). A Venture in Immortality: Books A Venture in Immortality: Books


Prime Numbers and laws

The first few primes are 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37...

Euler commented "Mathematicians have tried in vain to this day to discover some order in the sequence of prime numbers, and we have reason to believe that it is a mystery into which the mind will never penetrate" (Havil 2003, p. 163).

In a 1975 lecture, D. Zagier commented "There are two facts about the distribution of prime numbers of which I hope to convince you so overwhelmingly that they will be permanently engraved in your hearts. The first is that, despite their simple definition and role as the building blocks of the natural numbers, the prime numbers grow like weeds among the natural numbers, seeming to obey no other law than that of chance, and nobody can predict where the next one will sprout. The second fact is even more astonishing, for it states just the opposite: that the prime numbers exhibit stunning regularity, that there are laws governing their behavior, and that they obey these laws with almost military precision" (Havil 2003, p. 171).

From Prime number - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

4 = 2 times 2

23244 = 2 times 2 times 3 times 13 times 149

The fundamental theorem of arithmetic states that every positive integer larger than 1 can be written as a product of primes in a unique way, i.e. unique except for the order. Primes are thus the "basic building blocks" of the natural numbers. For example, we can write 23244 = 2 times 2 times 3 times 13 times 149 and any other such factorization of 23244 will be identical except for the order of the factors. See prime factorization algorithm for details for how to do this in practice for larger numbers.

The importance of this theorem is one of the reasons for the exclusion of 1 from the set of prime numbers. If 1 were admitted as a prime, the precise statement of the theorem would require additional qualifications.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Fine Art II

Socialist realism

Yang Peizhang...

Darlene Cole

Balinese art

Norman Linsday

David Bromley

Michael Prince


Steve Hanks

Rick Chinelli

Ed Cunicelli

Chris Leschinsky


olivier christinat

Bouguereau (1825-1905)


Georges Antoine Rochegrosse


Magazine Illustrations

George Hughes

W M Prince

Konstantin Razumov

Mead Schaeffer

Stevan Dohanos

Michael Sprouse



Rafael R. de Rivera

Erika Tysse


Humphrey Spender

Alexander Mann

William Orpen

Arthur Meadows
Arthur Joseph Meadows


Steven Karaflyllakis

Bert Hardy,338,0,0,1,0,338,0,0,1,0#

Jeanne Isley

1926 London


Goya - Charles IV and his Family

Jules Bastien-Lepage

Bill Brandt

Alfred Sisley




Marc Ribout


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Richard Dawkins and God and terror

Atheist professor Richard Dawkins presented a programme about God on the UK's Channel 4, on 9 January 2006.

Dawkins is an expert on evolution. But he appears to know little about terror.

In his TV programme, Dawkins blamed the recent terrorism on people who believe in God.

The Emperor Constantine created a lot of terror. But he may not have been a genuine Christian. Constantine seemed to hijack the Christian church in order to use it to keep himself in power.

Mao and Stalin were atheists and were responsible for a very large chunk of the terror in the 20th century. Hitler may also have been an atheist.

What about 9 11? Dawkins seems naively to believe that 9 11 was the work of Moslem fundamentalists. He made no mention of Operation Northwoods, the Staybehind Network or the fact that Mohammed Atta and friends were trained at American bases linked to the American military and CIA.

9 11 and the recent terror is most likely to be the work of atheists within the security services of certain nations.

"Staying Behind" NATO's Terror Network As the 50th anniversary of ...

9 11 9 11 9 11 Revealed - The Daily Mail

In his TV programme, Dawkins met 'swaggering' American pastor Ted Haggard who regularly speaks to George Bush. Dawkins quite rightly referred to certain American 'religious' figures as fascists.

But Dawkins made no mention of the links between the CIA and certain American 'Christian' fundamentalist leaders. Much of American 'Christian' fundamentalism seems to be an exercise in CIA brainwashing.

Dawkins made no mention of the CIA's funding of Moslem fundamentalists.

Dawkins referred to Darwin. But what about Alfred Russel Wallace who came up with the idea of evolution at the same time as Darwin?

Wallace believed in spiritualism. He believed he had evidence of life after death. Wallace believed in natural selection but 'did not view his adoption of spiritualism as a retreat from natural selection; rather, he considered spiritualism the best available accounting of the overall direction of evolution at the moral/intellectual level, and endorsed it accordingly.'
Alfred Russel Wallace on Spiritualism, Man, and Evolution: An ...


From Ektopos
Posted by: Matthew on Jan 09, 2006 -


As GK Chesterton pointed out, the problem when people don't believe in God is not that they believe nothing, it is that they believe anything.There's an underlying anxiety that atheist humanism has failed. Over the 20th century, atheist political regimes racked up an appalling (and unmatched) record for violence.

Atheist humanism hasn't generated a compelling popular narrative and ethic of what it is to be human and our place in the cosmos; where religion has retreated, the gap has been filled with consumerism, football, Strictly Come Dancing and a mindless absorption in passing desires.

Not knowing how to answer the big questions of life, we shelve them - we certainly don't develop the awe towards and reverence for the natural world that Dawkins would want.

So the atheist humanists have been betrayed by the irrational, credulous nature of human beings; a misanthropy is increasingly evident in Dawkins's anti-religious polemic and among his many admirers.

This is the only context that can explain Dawkins's programme, a piece of intellectually lazy polemic which is not worthy of a great scientist.

He uses his authority as a scientist to claim certainty where he himself knows, all too well, that there is none; for example, our sense of morality cannot simply be explained as a product of our genetic struggle for evolutionary advantage.

More irritatingly, he doesn't apply to religion - the object of his repeated attacks - a fraction of the intellectual rigour or curiosity that he has applied to evolution (to deserved applause). Where is the grasp of the sociological or anthropological explanations of the centrality of religion? Sadly, there is no evolution of thought in Dawkins's position; he has been saying much the same thing about religion for a long time.


Monday, January 09, 2006

Malta is the happiest place on earth

According to an annual World Database of Happiness, compiled by Rotterdam Erasmus University Prof Ruut Veenhoven, Malta is the happiest place on earth.

Malta is a small country with a low divorce rate and a good community spirit. Malta does not bomb its neighbours.

The study shows that 74 per cent of Maltese people said they are happy, followed by Denmark and Switzerland with 73 per cent.

Among the other countries that were placed in the world’s top ten are Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada and Finland.

Some Latin American countries had high scores. "Latin america is known for its warm family ties, the way of life and enjoyment of festivals and the particular brand of Catholicism, all of which contribute to people’s happiness,” said Professor Ruut Veenhoven.


Experts believe a combination of the “rat race” of rising working hours and the decline of traditional families and communities has resulted in happiness levels reaching a plateau in Britain. In Britain, divorce rates have more than quadrupled since 1970 while every year 40,000 children and adolescents in Britain are prescribed antidepressants.


The study shows that Zimbabwe, Ukraine, Moldova and Tanzania are the most unhappy countries. Less than 20 per cent of the citizens in the latter countries said they are happy.

The United States is placed 16th after Guatemala and Uruguay.

One quarter of the people of the USA have a mental health problem.

The United Kingdom and Germany are at the 21st and 22nd places.


Friday, January 06, 2006

C S Lewis

The Chronicle: 12/2/2005: For the Love of Narnia
Philip Pullman said of C S Lewis: "He didn't like women in general."

CS Lewis and the Great Dance
Toby Johnson, PhD, wrote:

"As we know from the play and movie, Shadowlands, C.S. Lewis was a "bachelor," living with his alcoholic brother most of his life, living as a sort of celibate cleric of academe. He certainly wasn't a modern gay man, but he was one of us, I think...

"His longest lifetime friend, Arthur Greeves, was homosexual."

CS Lewis on Pederasty
In C. S. Lewis' autobiography Suprised by Joy, Lewis writes: "I cannot give pederasty anything like a first place among the evils of the Coll (private secondary school)."

CS Lewis on Pederasty
'Littlebear' wrote: "I believe C.S.Lewis was a paedophile. A university tutor of mine once mentioned that he enjoyed taking pictures of young children who 'weren't wearing very much'".
Adam Gopnik wrote:

Lewis :"A bright and sensitive British boy turned by public-school sadism into a warped, morbid, stammering sexual pervert."

Narnia? "A powerful lion, starting life at the top of the food chain, adored by all his subjects and filled with temporal power, killed by a despised evil witch for his power and then reborn to rule, is a Mithraic, not a Christian, myth."

Joy Davidman? "the real Joy Davidman, a spirited Jewish matron from Westchester who had been impressed by Lewis’s books, was not delicate and transcendent but foulmouthed, passionate, a little embarrassing."

Inside the Mind of Gloria Brame: CS Lewis...submissive?
A new biography of writer C.S. Lewis dwells a bit on his interest in sadomasochism and speculates that he was submissive.

...we are in need of biographies such as this, that remind us that he was, after all, just a man -- and a very complicated one.

The members of the C. S. Lewis Society of Oxford discuss an angelic, High Church Lewis who was a lifelong celibate - regardless of the facts that he was married for four years and before that lived with another woman for nearly 30, or that his letters to his lifelong friend Arthur Greaves discuss both masturbation and sadomasochism.

Many of Lewis's admirers never seem to grasp that they do him no favors by making him an unfallen angel -- his virtues and accomplishments would have been without merit and his life would have nothing to say to us....


1898 C S Lewis is born. Lewis's father became an alcoholic.

World War One: Lewis's friend Paddy Moore is killed in battle. Lewis has promised to look after Moore's mother.

1921 Lewis, aged 18, begins living with 45 year-old Mrs Janie Moore and her 11 year-old daughter.

1830 Lewis and his brother Warnie and Mrs Moore begin living at a house called 'The Kilns'.

1951 Mrs Moore dies.

1952 The middle aged Lewis meets Joy Davidman, an American Jewish woman who has two young sons.

1954 Joy Davidman divorces her husband.

1956 Lewis marries Joy Davidman in a civil ceremony; this is to allow Davidman to continue to stay in the United Kingdom. The civil marriage makes Lewis legally responsible for looking after Joy's sons if Joy is unable to do so.

1960 Davidman dies of cancer. Her sons live with Lewis.

1963 Lewis dies.


Adam Gopnik wrote:

Christianity? "Lewis was drawn in by the likeness of the Christian revelation to pagan myth...

"Many of the elements that make Christianity numinous for Lewis are the pagan mythological elements that it long ago absorbed from its pre-Christian sources...

"A central point of the Gospel story is that Jesus is not the lion of the faith but the lamb of God, while his other symbolic animal is, specifically, the lowly and bedraggled donkey.

"The moral force of the Christian story is that the lions are all on the other side. If we had, say, a donkey, a seemingly uninspiring animal from an obscure corner of Narnia, raised as an uncouth and low-caste beast of burden, rallying the mice and rats and weasels and vultures and all the other unclean animals, and then being killed by the lions in as humiliating a manner as possible—a donkey who reĆ«merges, to the shock even of his disciples and devotees, as the king of all creation—now, that would be a Christian allegory.

"A powerful lion, starting life at the top of the food chain, adored by all his subjects and filled with temporal power, killed by a despised evil witch for his power and then reborn to rule, is a Mithraic, not a Christian, myth."


C.S. Lewis: The Boy Who Chronicled Narnia by Michael White.

Reviewed by Frances Atkinson

CHILDREN'S AUTHORS - especially those who have had a big impact - always attract a particular kind of scrutiny of their personal lives. Think of Enid Blyton, Lewis Carroll, A. A Milne. All flawed human beings; all writers who altered the landscape of children's writing.

So what sort of man was C. S. "Jack" Lewis, creator of the Narnia series? As a boy he was sickly and read voraciously. By 12 he'd written stories set in "Animal Land" that his latest biographer, Michael White, says were "extremely dull".

Lewis' older brother, Warren, was his closest childhood companion and when their mother died of cancer, aged 46, their lives fractured. Their father, Albert, drank heavily; on some level, Lewis blamed him for her early death and their relationship was subsequently strained.

White's biography is at its most interesting discussing Lewis' later life, especially his writing career, which didn't take off until he was in his 40s. White, whose other subjects have included Tolkien and Stephen Hawking, is a fan who is able to approach not only the man, but the storyteller who became the man.

By 1918 Lewis was at Oxford but was soon dispatched to the front where he made an agreement with a soldier friend, Paddy Moore: if either should die, the other would look after the remaining parent. Lewis was wounded and returned to England but Moore was killed in France.

Lewis, at 21, began a relationship with Moore's mother, the separated and lonely 46-year-old Janie. He called her "mother" and while the relationship lasted for 30 years, its intimate nature is unclear since neither ever discussed it in detail.

Lewis returned to Oxford and by his late 20s was a don at Magdalen College. Here he met J. R. R. Tolkien, whom he considered a "kindred spirit". Theirs was a mercurial friendship and the pair often locked horns over Lewis' Christianity as well as matters of professional jealousy.

White says Lewis was inspired by his faith to write non-fiction works. In 1942 he published The Screwtape Letters, "a correspondence between two devils". The book was reprinted eight times in one year.

In 1950, the world embraced The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe while Tolkien called it "a meaningless jumble". Lewis would be criticised for what some called a "deliberate indoctrination and Christian propaganda" (Philip Pullman, for instance, loathes Narnia books) but White says "Narnia has given a great deal of simple pleasure to many millions of readers without too much observable harm being done".

Much of the success of The Chronicles of Narnia is due to Lewis' ability to reach back into his childhood and recall the stories "he held in aspic somewhere deep in his own mind". The irony is that Lewis didn't really like children and had very little to do with them, yet he "adored his fictional children Lucy, Susan, Edmund and Peter".

By 1951, Janie was dead and Lewis was about to meet Joy Gresham, the American mother of two boys, whom he married four years before her death from cancer. She was a controversial figure among his (sometimes stuffy) friends because she was confident and American to boot, but Lewis was devoted to her. There was no doubt that this time it was a real marriage and her death in 1960 left him all but broken.

The most any reader can ask of a biography is a sense of who the person was, what made them tick. White's take on Lewis, while affectionate, remains balanced and comprehensive. More importantly he eloquently reveals the heart of a storyteller - flaws and all.

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