Thursday, June 29, 2006

A sad world...

It seems Israel is looking to do a clean sweep. The old saying is, if you want a job done right you have to do it yourself. So much for the value of the UN and other peace keeping agencies. Watch now how the U.S. Security Council springs into action to sanction Israel… Erm… Yeah Right!!!

Watch how the U.N. will attempt to pass a meaningless resolution condemning Israel for the invasion of the state of Palestine. After all, the Hamas government was duly elected by western democratic elections, weren't they? These events will unfold just as sure as the sun will be rising in the east tomorrow morning. More than likely it will lead to a confrontation with Syria that will draw Russia back into aligning with Syria and Iran. Just a gut feel that is… De ja vue all over again? Or will Russia align with the West this time to put an end to terrorism? Observe events in Chechnya closely and alliances with China and North Korea! The world has become one bloody dangerous place in an awful hurry. Does anyone still doubt that the world is at war aside from the New York Times??

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Jap Fashion...

The future is, as the advert says, orange, but I'm not sure that it's that bright. The Harajuku girls, who brought the world the goth-lolita look (bondage and frills) are starting to look past their sell-by date when compared to the chic J-girls of Shibuya. The Shib girls wear coloured contact lenses and tape their eyes wide open for a stary look without resorting to gobbling ecstasy, though the two-inch multicoloured eyelashes rather obscure this. The hair is fairly obvious- backcombing and peroxide, but the skin is the main feature. They sun bed and dye themselves bright orange, which sets their white lipstick and eye make-up off a treat.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

L'Avo con disegno

Viveva in India un bravo contadino
zappando i campi sotto un sole infame.
Occhi color del tè, pelle di rame
sudata ed odorosa di cumino.
Menava un’esistenza di letame,
d’insulti e bastonate, poverino,
dal giorno (al grande sdegno del bramino)
che prese a mangiar mucche e non salame.

Un giorno disse : «Non ne posso più!»
Così, senza curarsi del periglio,
fa le valigie e parte su un naviglio
lontano dalla terra di Vishnù.
Aveva navigato qualche miglio,
quand’ecco che la barca cola giù.
Periron tutti, tranne l’ex-indù,
che a un ramoscello avea trovato appiglio.

Con il furor d’un branco di cavalli,
lo trascinano l’onde per il mar,
per poi deporlo infine (Allah Akhbar!)
su una spiaggetta dai riflessi gialli.
In fondo, ha fatto proprio un buon affar:
cantano tra le palme i pappagalli,
nell’acqua chiara brillano coralli…
Altro che le risaie del Chhattisgarh !

Ma ciò che avviva nel suo cuor la brace,
son tutte quelle femmine avvenenti
color cacao e candide di denti,
dal corpo stuzzichevole e procace.
Lo circondano tutte, saran venti…
E questa situazion tanto gli piace,
che esclama (contemplando da rapace
le tette sode e i bei culoni aulenti):

«Saprò, vedrete, rendermi gradito:
difatti, da buon indo-mussulmano,
oltre alle sacre sure del Corano
conosco il Kama Sutra a menadito!»
Già più non sa dove palpar con mano,
dove premer le labbra o ficcar dito…
Decide di restare in questo sito
ad impregnare donne a tutto spiano.

E da quel giorno più non si riposa.
Tutto gli riesce come per incanto:
l’aman le mogli, i figli gli dan vanto,
la sua famiglia è ricca e prosperosa…
Qualche parola, per finire il canto,
sulla sua discendenza numerosa :
fan prova di talento in ogni cosa,
son buoni mussulmani, e tromban tanto.

The Knights Templar - Chapter I.

Continued from: Knights Templar – Preface.

This chapter will talk about the origin of the Templars--The pilgrimages to Jerusalem--The dangers to which pilgrims were exposed--The formation of the brotherhood of the poor fellow-soldiers of Jesus Christ to protect them--Their location in the Temple--A description of the Temple--Origin of the name Templars--Hugh de Payens chosen Master of the Temple--Is sent to Europe by King Baldwin--Is introduced to the Pope--The assembling of the Council of Troyes--The formation of a rule for the government of the Templars Page.


"Yet ’midst her towering fanes in ruin laid,
The pilgrim saint his murmuring vespers paid;
’Twas his to mount the tufted rocks, and rove
The chequer’d twilight of the olive-grove:
’Twas his to bend beneath the sacred gloom,
And wear with many a kiss Messiah's tomb."

THE extraordinary and romantic institution of the Knights Templars, those military friars who so strangely blended the character of the monk with that of the soldier, took its origin in the following manner:--
On the miraculous discovery of the Holy sepulchre by the Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine, about 298 years after the death of Christ, and the consequent erection, by command
p. 2

of the first christian emperor, of the magnificent church of the Resurrection, or, as it is now called, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, over the sacred monument, the tide of pilgrimage set in towards Jerusalem, and went on increasing in strength as Christianity gradually spread throughout Europe. On the surrender of the Holy City to the victorious Arabians, (A.D. 637,) the privileges and the security of the christian population were provided for in the following guarantee, given under the hand and seal of the Caliph Omar to Sophronius the Patriarch.
"From OMAR EBNO ’L ALCHITAB to the inhabitants of ÆLIA."
"They shall be protected and secured both in their lives and fortunes, and their churches shall neither be pulled down nor made use of by any but themselves." *
Under the government of the Arabians, the pilgrimages continued steadily to increase; the old and the young, women and children, flocked in crowds to Jerusalem, and in the year 1064 the Holy Sepulchre was visited by an enthusiastic band of seven thousand pilgrims, headed by the Archbishop of Mentz and the Bishops of Utrecht, Bamberg, and Ratisbon. † The year following, however, Jerusalem was conquered by the wild Turcomans. Three thousand of the citizens were indiscriminately massacred, and the hereditary command over the Holy City and territory was confided to the Emir Ortok, the chief of a savage pastoral tribe.
Under the iron yoke of these fierce Northern strangers, the Christians were fearfully oppressed; they were driven from their churches; divine worship was ridiculed and interrupted; and the patriarch of the Holy City was dragged by the hair of his bead over the sacred pavement of the church of the Resurrection, and cast into a dungeon, to extort a ransom from the sympathy of his flock. (Continued in our Warehouse)
p. 3

Thursday, June 22, 2006


In the beginning there was nothing but soft darkness, and Raven beat and beat with his wings until the darkness packed itself down into solid earth. Then there was only the icy black ocean and a narrow strip of shoreline. But people came soon to live along the coast. And Raven felt sorry for them, poor, sickly things, who never had any sunshine. They lived by chewing on nuts and leaves, and crushed the roots of the alder trees for something to drink.

"I must help them," thought Raven; and he flew down to earth, calling, "Ga, ga, ga!" and gathered the people together. Like ghosts, they were, shadowy and pale in the misty darkness.

"Raven has come!" they told each other. "It is Raven-Who-Sets- Things-Right."

The poor things were encouraged, and they gathered round to see what he would do.

Raven plucked a branch from an alder, and scattered the leaves on the surface of a pool. At once the leaves were sucked under, and the water started to bubble. After the pool had boiled for a moment, the surface cleared and fish began to jump there. So that was how Raven gave the people fish.

But now that they had fish to eat, they were thirstier than ever. They called on Raven, and down he came, and the people said, "Here is Raven-Who-Sets-Things-Right."

Raven knew that there was only one spring of fresh water in all the world. A man named Ganook had built his house around it, and refused to give any away.

"Maybe," thought Raven, "I can drink enough to carry some back to the people."

So he went to the house and asked to come in, and Ganook was very glad to have his company. Raven sat down and made polite conversation, and pretty soon he asked for a drink of water.

"Very well," said Ganook grudgingly, and showed him the spring, a crystal pool welling up in a basin of rock.

"Don't drink it all!" Ganook warned him. "You know that's the only fresh water in all the world."

Raven knew it well; that was what he had come for. But he said, "Just a sip!" and drank until he staggered.

"Hold on there, Raven!" cried Ganook. "Are you trying to drink the well dry?"

That was just what Raven was trying to do, but he passed it off lightly. He made himself comfortable close to the fire and said, "Ganook, let me tell you a story."

Then Raven started out on a long dull story about four dull brothers who went on a long dull journey. As he went along he made up dull things to add to it, and Ganook's eyelids drooped, and Raven spoke softly, and more and more slowly, and Ganook's chin dropped on his chest.

"So then," said Raven gently, with his eyes on Ganook, "on and on through the long gray valley through the soft gray fog went the four tall gray brothers. And now, snore!" And Ganook began to snore.

Quick as a thought, Raven darted to the spring and stuck his beak into the water. But no sooner had he lifted his head to swallow than Ganook started up with a terrible snort, and said, "Go on, go on, I'm listening! I'm not asleep." Then he shook his head and blinked his eyes and said, "Where are you, Raven? What are you doing?"

"Just walking around for exercise," Raven assured him, and back he went, and in a low, unchanging voice he went on with the dull story of the four brothers. No sooner had he started than Ganook began to nod, and his chin dropped down, and he jerked it back and opened his eyes and scowled at Raven, and nodded his head and said, "Go on! What next?" and his head dropped down upon his chest.

"So on and on," said Raven slowly, "over the hills, went the four tall gray brothers. The air was thick and gray around them. Fog was stealing softly over the mountains. Fog before them, fog behind them, soft, cloudy fog. And now, snore!" And Ganook began to snore.

Quietly Raven slipped to the spring, and, glub, glub, glub, he drank up the water until the pool was dry. But as he lifted his head for a last long gulp, Ganook leaped up and saw what he was doing.

"So, Raven!" shouted Ganook. "You think you can lull me to sleep and steal my water!"

He picked up his club and started to chase Raven round and round the fire. Raven would run a few steps and flap his big wings and rise a few inches off the floor. Then with a last tremendous flap he went sailing towards the open smoke hole. But he had swallowed so much water that he stuck fast in the opening, and there he struggled, while Ganook shouted, "You squint-eyed Raven, I've got you now, Raven! You miserable thief!" And Ganook threw green alder logs on the fire and made a great smoke which came billowing up and almost choked Raven to death.

Raven hung there, strangling and struggling, until at last he pulled free with a mighty wrench and went wobbling heavily across the sky. He was so heavy he flew in a crooked line, and as he flew he spurted little streams of water from his bill. These became rivers, first the Nass and the Sitka, then the Taku and the Iskut and the Stikine. Since Raven flew in a crooked line, all the rivers are crooked as snakes. Here and there he scattered single drops, and these became narrow creeks and salmon pools.

And so Raven brought fresh water to the people but he bore the mark of that smoke hole ever after. He had gone to Ganook as a great, white, snowy creature, but from that day on, Raven was black, as black as the endless sky of the endless night.

© Copyright 2005 All rights reserved.
American Indian Heritage Foundation.
P.O. Box 6301, Falls Church, VA 22040
Tel: (703) 819-0979

Monday, June 19, 2006

The scholar

'He began to work long before daybreak.…He read nothing without making extracts; he used even to say that there was no book so bad as not to contain something of value. In the country it was only the time when he was actually in his bath that was exempted from study. When travelling, as though freed from every other care, he devoted himself to study alone. In short, he deemed all time wasted that was not employed in study.' (Pliny the Younger, Epp. iii.5 - an account of Pliny the Elder's manner of life told by his nephew and heir Pliny the Younger).

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Ozymandias of Egypt

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lis,whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, a sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things.
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boudless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1817

Ozymandias is a famous sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley, published in 1818. It is frequently anthologised and is probably Shelley's most famous short poem. It deals with a number of great themes, such as the arrogance and transience of power, the permanence of real art and emotional truth, and the relationship between artist and subject. It explores these themes with some striking imagery, amplified by a setting–Egypt and the Sahara desert–that was exotic for European audiences in the early 19th century. The poem's sense of distance is further enhanced by its second-hand narration; the commentator is relating to us the words of an unnamed "traveller from an antique land". Although written more than a century ago, this poem is still as fresh and enchanting today as it was then, and many of the insights even now hold true for it resonate with today's sad contemporary events…

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Erm... New Age bombs...

In Au piranha we blog what we like.
Most of the time we like our own stuff. While some other time, it might happen that it is some other cool bloke’s original posting that we enjoy… Well this time is Leon’s, so enjoy it all, for I have enjoyed it quite a lot!

Leon’s thoughts on...U.S weapons that never made it

American media is still parading news of the bombing of Al-Zarqawi. So in the spirit of dropping bombs, I’ve decided to drop one myself, about the U.S weapons that never made it past the drawing board. Sure you’ve about the impressive weapons the Yanks have in their arsenal. The Apache Helicopter, the Nimitz class aircraft carriers and their nuclear…sorry, nuc-u-lur weapons, just to name a few. But do you know about the “gay bomb”?

No, it’s not an effeminate, fashion-conscious bomb that whistles show tunes as it plummets to the ground. Actually, it was a bomb that was supposed to contain an aphrodisiac that would provoke homosexual behaviour among enemy troops. The “Brokeback Bomb” as I like to call it, would be non-lethal, but would completely obliterate the morale of enemy soldiers. A chemical was in the works that would attract angry wasps and rats. A chemical “Kick Me” sign if you will. There was one that would make skin extremely sensitive to sunlight (Great, give the enemy a reason to hide). There was also an idea to create a chemical that would cause long-lasting bad breath, so enemy soldiers would be easier to detect if they tried to blend in with civilians.

And get this, they were thinking of making a bomb that would simulate flatulence in enemy ranks. Hello? That’s called a fart bomb. You can pick one up at your local toy store! These plans were made in 1994, and if pursed, they would have cost $7.5 million. But why weren’t they pursued? Was it the wanton misuse of taxpayer’s money? No, that never stopped them before. I guess at the end of the day, it’s just easier to blow your enemies to kingdom come. I mean liberate them. Isn’t that right Bush?

Food For bloggers....

There are some words that bloggers just love and can’t have enough of them… One indefatigable blogger actually went and counted each of these words’ appearances in the blog titles and so I thought to carry out somehow of a less mammoth job and went to check how many times these words appeared in Google (in the beginning common folk and kings from distant lands travelled to Delphi to have their questions answered by the Greek god Apollo. Today, however, life is much easier: there is Google). My Googling revealed that, indeed, some specific words are more frequently encountered not only in blogosphear but also in common search:

Search 16,020,000,000
Life 3,960,000,000
Random 872,000,000
Bug 697,000,000
Thoughts 478,000,000
Soul 371,000,000
Mad 260,000,000
Reflection 145,000,000
Geek 143,000,000
Punk 137,000,000
Rant 61,000,000
Nerd 34,000,000
Rambling 20,400,000
Ramble 10,600,000
Musing 8,050,000
Ponk 352,000

Web definitions:

Geek: A carnival performer whose show consists of bizarre acts, such as biting the head off a live chicken, or A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept. And although I prefer the former, I think that in this context the latter is more suited...

Nerd: A computer expert by aptitude and not mere training. Usually male, under the age of 35 and socially inept; a person whose tremendous skill with operating or designing computer hardware or software is exceeded only by his passionate love of the technology

Rant: To speak or write in an angry or violent manner; rave. To utter or express with violence or extravagance: a dictator who ranted his vitriol onto a captive audience.

Rambling: Often or habitually roaming; wandering, tending to depart from the main point or cover a wide range of subjects.

Ponk (PonkZ in the plural): People of no kolour… or better those who are so pale that when they walk in the street the multitude approaches them to ask for an autograph, as they, usually, are mistaken for one of the members of the Adams family.

Punk: Punk is a set of social and political beliefs, morals and standards that indicate an absolute rejection of conformity.

Ps. did you know that the life of a mad rambling punk, which also has a reflection on the quickly-modernizing pro-ponkz, reminds us of the musing geek who went for a ramble and heard the rant of a nerd that had got the Bug through a random search and lost his soul thanks to his foolish thoughts?

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Please read this agreement carefully (although you probably can’t) as soon as you have received it (I’m sorry if I’ve lost you already), sign at the bottom (a X will do) and return to Mugs Estate Agents (if you can work out how to put it back in the envelope provided and find the nearest post-box; you know, those fat red things on pavements that your dog pisses against when you’ve run out of phlegm). We cannot arrange viewings until you have done so (signed, not gobbed). (This is actually bollocks, since nobody ever does, and we’d never get any viewings if we waited).

The sole agency period is for 12 weeks. Naturally, this means nothing to you as you’ve already told five other agents that they will be your sole agent.

Should it be necessary to cease marketing temporarily (like when you’ve got some terrorists staying there), then when this is resumed, the remainder of the agreed period would apply. (That is assuming that you’ve still got a house standing).

Should a sale fail to complete (because you’ve told us the remaining lease is 90 years when it is actually 50), then marketing would be resumed for the remainder of the agreed period following the point at which the sale was agreed and marketing ceased. (You will of course expect to get a higher offer now, and believing it to be our fault, want to change agents.)

Please give us 14 days notice in writing prior to the end of the agreement period if you wish to discontinue marketing, otherwise we shall assume that marketing is to continue after the agreement period. If you later wish to discontinue, please also give us 14 days notice. (There is more chance of the white hairs on my scrotum resuming their ginger hue.)

Mugs Estate Agents has sole marketing rights (that means you can sell it behind our backs to whom you damn well please) during the period of this agreement. Should a buyer arise other than through our agency we would handle the progress of the sale in the normal way and be due the commission agreed. (But you will try to be clever and do it yourself, only to come back to us in six weeks time complaining that we did not have a back up buyer.)

You would be charged commission should a sale complete at any time during or after our agency period with anyone introduced to your property by our agency. (This means that, having told us you are not selling, the nice honest looking family we sent round five months ago are now living contentedly in your old house, and nobody will ever tell us.)

You would only be charged commission should completion take place following an exchange of contracts. No other charges would be due to our agency. (However, even after completion you will suspect that there is a catch and complain that all agents are thieves.)

Our commission would be bugger all % plus V.A.T. (But naturally, you will try to knock us down on exchange. How about cash money? We’ll trust you to drop it all in sometime.)

Property address: (Several X’s will not do here. Get a passing child to fill this bit in for you.)

Vendor’s signature: (You know what to do.)

Date: (Pick an auspicious date that suits nobody else but you. Ditto exchange & completion)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Runaway Groom

Santa Barbara, groom sprints away from his newlywed bride to blog a post. A groom left his new bride in tears after less than 30 minutes of marriage when he legged it out of their wedding reception to plonk a new post in his blog.
Guests were flabbergasted when George. G., 29, and his best man made a dash for the nearest Internet Café. The couple had tied the knot at the San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara on Friday. The reception buffet was still untouched when, after a hurried best man’s speech, Mr. George. G. and his friend Arthur. W., 25, galloped for the exit. The bride, Lisa P., 27, was left absolutely devastated.
The men returned after one hour. Mr. G. said: ‘It was a strange feeling, I couldn’t cope with the idea that I hadn’t written any new post whatsoever for more than 2 hours, I had to do it, I, just, couldn’t resist the temptation. Some might think that I am a sick man, a blog addict perhaps, but I can stop at any time…’

Todd O'Dwyer, Assorted-Nonsense Press, Santa Barbara.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Have I got ABC or CBS? Definitely both!

Yes I admit it I am sick… I’ve tried it all and yet nothing seems to work… I still cannot really believe it…. It took me only a month, or even less, to develop it and now it is in its final stages… I am shattered… I knew it form the very beginning that something wasn’t right… I can’t really describe it… may be yes, I can now… but I don’t really want to… I don’t want to admit it… But the evidence is all there… It was during one sleepless night that I stumbled in a place where I learnt what I had…. Why me? How? One does not realise it until it hits oneself straight in the forehead… Yes I admit it I have been afflicted by a very grave case of Acute Blog Compulsion and Compulsive Blogger’s Syndrome… How did I found out? It is thanks to Bloggers Anonymous… Well… I’ll let the expert talk…

10. You check your blog stats a LOT. You occasionally get up in the middle of the night and sneak a peak.

9. Your significant other suspects you are having an affair with your blog. Even when you’re alone with your special person, you do find yourself thinking what your blog might be doing right then…

8. You “mental blog” while driving or on the train, and sometimes even when you are alone in the shower.

7. You filter everything through your post-writing. You can’t watch a movie, see a play, read an article, or share a sweet moment with your child without thinking of whether it’s blog-worthy.

6. You suffer from “blog envy” when another Blogger posts something juicy before you do. You suffer “comment envy” when said post gets 40-something comments – the jerk!

5. You “binge blog” 3 or 4 posts at once—only to feel guilty and empty afterward.

4. You ditched all your real friends for blog friends, because, well, “they understand.” you also bypass a night out with the mates and The Story of My Life at the bookstore (who really cares?) while you reach for Naked Conversations.

3. You think: “I can stop at any time.”

2. Your lunch hour has become your “blog hour.” You keep a few posts tucked in your desk in case you need them during the day.

1. After 5 minutes of meeting someone really interesting you ask: “So - do you blog?”

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Great Wall of China – Why the Wall?

(Continued from: The Great Wall of China - On walls in general)

Shortly after the unification of China (221 B.C.), with Ch’in’s proclamation as the sole ruler and his becoming the first emperor of the country, an army of 300 thousand men was sent to quell the barbarians in the north. With this task accomplished, Ch’in’s new concern was how to keep his territory safe from all inner and outer dangers. Thus there were a great number of reasons for building the Wall, which later on would be called Wan li chang chen, or better the long wall of 10,000 li (a li being approximately one third of a mile). The most common of these reasons, as generally believed, was to keep the territories of China proper safe from the hordes of northern barbarians, and in an age where man’s chief military weapons were swords, arrows, bows, hooks, spears and lances the building of such a kind of structure must have seemed a sensible idea. In keeping with this thinking, we can find written evidence in three different periods, in these proofs the imperial ministers suggest building a wall against the nomadic tribes and to settle a garrison who would maintain themselves by means of farming:

The Xiongnu live on meet and cheese, wear furs, and posses no house or field. They move like birds and animals in the wild. They stop only at places which abound in grass and water, want of which will start them moving again. Today the Xiongnu are herding at several places and hunting along the frontiers, confronting Yandai, Shangjun, Beidi, and Longxi, waiting for a chance to make an intrusion once the garrison troop are decreased. Your Majesty is concerned about the border troubles. It will be profitable to you to dispatch generals and officials together with troops to govern the frontier areas. People should be selected to settle along the borders areas permanently, who can set up families and grow food grains while getting prepared against possible invasion by the Xiongnu. Then we can have high walls built with deep ditches dug, and we can prepare boulders and roadblocks inside the walls. At strategically important points and passes we can set up minor cities with a thousand households each. [During the Han dynasty second century B.C.]

[Seven centuries later]

The Northern Di people are brave but ignorant. They excel at field operations, but their weak point is the assault on the cities. We must avoid their strong point while taking advantage of their weakness. The Di people live scattered in the open country by pounds and they are often on the move in search of grass and water. We ought to build the wall along the terrains north of the six strategical posts in order to stop the northern tribes. This wall, once completed, will bring profit for centuries. At the strategic points we can set up passes, beside each of which we shall build a small city. When the Di people come, we can defend the frontiers making use of the city and the garrison troop. If they do not come to take the city, they will get nothing; they will surely leave when they find themselves short of grass. [During the Northern Wei dynasty 487 A.D.]

[And again, another seven centuries later]

The minorities in north China who lead a nomadic life, and excel at horsemanship and marksmanship, often attack and plunder the border areas, coming and going unpredictably. In the past dynasties troops were stationed there to guard the frontiers. We must make use of natural barriers such as mountains and rivers. Man-made barriers ought to be set up along the strategically important terrains. Our country has driven away the intruders, the Rong and Yuan, and is now unified. To hold our land together, we should set up a series of strategic posts – zhen – and station troops at each. [During the Ming dynasty 1408 A.D.] [1]

For Ch’in, however, the construction of the wall not only was seen as a means of
defence, but also he had realised that this was a great opportunity to rid his newly built empire of those subjects who were politically undesirable. Hence, with such an enormous body of unwelcome men at his disposal – a labour force that was essential to soak up immediately – a public work, such as the building of the Great Wall, was the easiest answer to his problems. Lastly, the Wall was also considered as a barrier which divided two very different ways of life: ‘all north of the Great Wall is the country of the bowmen […] all south of the Great Wall is the country of hats and girdles’ [2]. Thus, cleverly planning its construction, he made sure that as many sources of water and fertile land were left inside the new barrier. He constructed approximately 500 miles of fresh wall, demolishing parts of previous built wall, and adjoining his to some others already built. During his reign almost 1800 miles of continuous wall was put up, which eventually was to stretch for nearly 4000 miles [3]. (To be continued).

[1] Lou Zewen, The Great Wall, McGraw-Hill Book Company, England, 1981, p. 42, 43 and 49.

[2] Peter Lum, The Purple Barrier The Story of the Great Wall of China, Robert Hale Limited, London, 1960, p. 20.

[3] Jonathan Fryer, The Great Wall of China, New English Library, London, 1975, p. 50.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Viveva in India un bravo contadino
zappando i campi sotto un sole infame.
Occhi color del tè, pelle di rame
sudata ed odorosa di cumino.
Menava un’esistenza di letame,
d’insulti e bastonate, poverino,
dal giorno (al grande sdegno del bramino)
che prese a mangiar mucche e non salame.

Un giorno disse : «Non ne posso più!»
Così, senza curarsi del periglio,
fa le valigie e parte su un naviglio
lontano dalla terra di Vishnù.
Aveva navigato qualche miglio,
quand’ecco che la barca cola giù.
Periron tutti, tranne l’ex-indù,
che a un ramoscello avea trovato appiglio.

Con il furor d’un branco di cavalli,
lo trascinano l’onde per il mar,
per poi deporlo infine (Allah Akhbar!)
su una spiaggetta dai riflessi gialli.
In fondo, ha fatto proprio un buon affar:
cantano tra le palme i pappagalli,
nell’acqua chiara brillano coralli…
Altro che le risaie del Chhattisgarh !

Ma ciò che avviva nel suo cuor la brace,
son tutte quelle femmine avvenenti
color cacao e candide di denti,
dal corpo stuzzichevole e procace.
Lo circondano tutte, saran venti…
E questa situazion tanto gli piace,
che esclama (contemplando da rapace
le tette sode e i bei culoni aulenti):

«Saprò, vedrete, rendermi gradito:
difatti, da buon indo-mussulmano,
oltre alle sacre sure del Corano
conosco il Kama Sutra a menadito!»
Già più non sa dove palpar con mano,
dove premer le labbra o ficcar dito…
Decide di restare in questo sito
ad impregnare donne a tutto spiano.

E da quel giorno più non si riposa.
Tutto gli riesce come per incanto:
l’aman le mogli, i figli gli dan vanto,
la sua famiglia è ricca e prosperosa…
Qualche parola, per finire il canto,
sulla sua discendenza numerosa :
fan prova di talento in ogni cosa,
son buoni mussulmani, e tromban tanto.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I gramps

Li ho trovati come sempre in salotto, lui nella “sua” superpoltronona di pelle nera, prodigio della tecnologia estensibile e reclinabile, lei in una poltrona nera pure lei ma più modesta, con il cuscino rigido per il mal di schiena. E’ la visione tranquilla che accoglie ogni mio ritorno. Entro in casa, richiudo discretamente la porta e automaticamente mi volto verso il salotto: eccoli lì seduti, inconsapevoli della mia presenza. Mi ci vogliono spesso un paio di tonanti «bonjour» prima che alzino lo sguardo dal giornale per accogliermi con un «aaaah!» soddisfatto.
Une breve sosta per raccontare la mia giornata, poi via in camera « a lavorare », pretesto ipocrita dell’ adoladulta inemancipata che ho la disgrazia di essere diventata (o piuttosto rimasta).

Malgrado i loro 83 anni, sono degli sfegatati della tecnologia: in casa contiamo una media di 1,3 periodo computer per persona, senza contare le svariate macchine e videocamere digitali, lettori dvd e minisdisc ultimo grido, contapassi, umidificatori e agendine elettroniche. Il loro ultimo acquisto, un congelatore elettronico, ha la dote di fare beep quando lo si lascia aperto troppo a lungo. Il che è molto pratico, a meno di essere un po’ duri d’orecchio.

Quella sera non avevano sentito ne’ me, ne’ l’incessante beep proveniente dalla cucina. Il lamento perforante del frigorifero contrastava in maniera commovente con la loro pacatezza: potrebbe crollare giû la casa, scoppiare una bomba, eruttare (eruggere?) un vulcano e loro continuerebbero tranquillamente a leggere il giornale.

Corriamo in cucina a constatare i danni: ebbene sì, la gramps ha dimenticato di chiudere il congelatore! Le nostre reazioni divergono: io tiro un sospiro di sollievo, per una volta non sono stata io a fare casino. La gramps, spirito pratico, richiude la porta del congelatore e non ci pensa più. Ma il gramps, spirito oltremodo perfezionista, non si da’ pace, tanto più che il congelatore continua a fare a beep…

Anche la vita però continua, e il rituale riprende dove era stato interrotto: di ritorno in salotto, mi lancio nel resoconto delle giornata stravaccabbarbicata sulla poltrona come un calamaro su uno scoglio, mentre la gramps mi ascolta composta, il giornale posato sulle ginocchia. Le conversazioni grampsesche sono un momento privilegiato: loro mi prestano un orecchio indulgente e le loro perle di saggezza (che così spesso mi è capitato di riciclaree per gli amici in crisi), e io presto loro un po’ di sano casino. Si vede che quella sera le mie scorte di casino erano particolarmente abbondanti, perché la conversazione si è protratta piuttosto a lungo…

Non è stato che al momento di andare a dormire che mi sono resa conto dell’assenza del gramps. Meno loquace della gramps, la sua partecipazione alle conversazioni grampsesche è meno attiva (tranne che per l’occasionale formidabile perla di saggezza). Dato che si stanca anche più facilmente di lei, ci siamo dette che doveva essere già a letto.

Ma quando sono passata in cucina con un vago sentimento d’incredulità nel cuore, l’ho trovato lì, lungo lungo e appena un po’ ingobbito…da tre quarti d’ora, con le braccia ballonzolanti e l’angoscia in volto, se ne stava dritto davanti al maledetto congelatore che non aveva ancora smesso di fare beep.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Knights Templar

This, what I am going to present here in short instalments, is a mainstream history of the Knights Templar, written in the 19th century by Charles G. Addison.

The Templars were entrusted by the Church and States of Europe to be the spearhead of the crusades. Although individual Templars had taken a vow of poverty, in the process to fight off the infidels from the Holy Land they gained immense wealth and influence. Jerusalem was won and lost several times by the crusaders through the 12th and 13th centuries. Addison notably cites eyewitness descriptions from both the Crusaders and their Muslim opponents to give a well-rounded picture. After the crusades, and the loss of the Holy Land, the Templars began a quick decline from which they never recovered. Accused of heresy and bizarre secret rituals, the Templars were subjected to torture and the stake.

The second portion of the book focuses on Temple Church in London, the English headquarters of the Templars in their prime. Addison describes the architecture and history of this edifice. The Temple Church eventually became the centre of the legal profession in the City of London, a hostel and school for lawyers.

The author quotes liberally from contemporary accounts in Latin, Norman French, and Early Modern English (which he thankfully occasionally translates), and includes extensive citations of source documents. If you want to learn the fascinating history of the Knights Templar without any extraneous theorizing, this is an excellent book to start with.

The History of the Knights Templar
by Charles G. Addison
THE extraordinary and romantic career of the Knights Templars, their exploits and their misfortunes, render their history a subject of peculiar interest.
Born during the first fervour of the Crusades, they were flattered and aggrandized as long as their great military power and religious fanaticism could be made available for the support of the Eastern church and the retention of the Holy Land, but when the crescent had ultimately triumphed over the cross, and the religion-military enthusiasm of Christendom had died away, they encountered the basest ingratitude in return for the services they had rendered to the Christian faith, and were plundered, persecuted, and condemned to a cruel death, by those who ought in justice to have been their defenders and supporters. The memory of these holy warriors is embalmed in all our recollections of the wars of the cross; they were the bulwarks of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem during the short period of its existence, and were the last band of Europe's host that contended for the possession of Palestine.
To the vows of the monk and the austere life of the convent,

p. viii
the Templars added the discipline of the camp, and the stern duties of the military life, joining
"The fine vocation of the sword and lance,With the gross aims, and body-bending toilOf a poor brotherhood, who walk the earthPitied."
The vulgar notion that the Templars were as wicked as they were fearless and brave, has not yet been entirely exploded; but it is hoped that the copious account of the proceedings against the order in this country, given in the ninth and tenth chapters of the ensuing volume, will tend to dispel many unfounded prejudices still entertained against the fraternity, and excite emotions of admiration for their constancy and courage, and of pity for their unmerited and cruel fate.

Matthew Paris, who wrote at St. Albans, concerning events in Palestine, tells us that the emulation between the Templars and Hospitaliers frequently broke out into open warfare to the great scandal and prejudice of Christendom, and that, in a pitched battle fought between them, the Templars were slain to a man. The solitary testimony of Matthew Paris, who was no friend to the two orders, is invalidated by the silence of contemporary historians, who wrote on the spot; and it is quite evident from the letters of the pope, addressed to the Hospitaliers, the year after the date of the alleged battle, that such an occurrence never could have taken place.

The accounts, even of the best of the antient writers, should not be adopted without examination, and a careful comparison with other sources of information. William of Tyre, for instance, tells us that Nassr-ed-deen, son of sultan Abbas, was taken prisoner by the Templars, and whilst in their hands became a convert to the Christian religion; that he had learned the rudiments

p. ix

of the Latin language, and earnestly sought to be baptized, but that the Templars were bribed with sixty thousand pieces of gold to surrender him to his enemies in Egypt, where certain death awaited him; and that they stood by to see him bound hand and foot with chains, and placed in an iron cage, to be conducted across the desert to Cairo. Now the Arabian historians of that period tell us that Nassr-ed-deen and his father murdered the caliph and threw his body into a well, and then fled with their retainers and treasure into Palestine; that the sister of the murdered caliph wrote immediately to the commandant at Gaza, which place was garrisoned by the Knights Templars, offering a handsome reward for the capture of the fugitives; that they were accordingly intercepted, and Nassr-ed-deen was sent to Cairo, where the female relations of the caliph caused his body to be cut into small pieces in the seraglio. The above act has constantly been made a matter of grave accusation against the Templars; but what a different complexion does the case assume on the testimony of the Arabian authorities!

It must be remembered that William archbishop of Tyre was hostile to the order on account of its vast powers and privileges, and carried his complaints to a general council of the church at Rome. He is abandoned, in everything that he says to the prejudice of the fraternity, by James of Vitry, bishop of Acre, a learned and most talented prelate, who wrote in Palestine subsequently to William of Tyre, and has copied largely from the history of the latter. The bishop of Acre speaks of the Templars in the highest terms, and declares that they were universally loved by all men for their piety and humility. "Nulli molesti erant!" says he, "sed ab omnibus propter humilitatem et religionem amabantur."

The celebrated orientalist Von Hammer has recently brought forward various extraordinary and unfounded charges, destitute

p. x

of all authority, against the Templars; and Wilcke, who has written a German history of the order, seems to have imbibed all the vulgar prejudices against the fraternity. I might have added to the interest of the ensuing work, by making the Templars horrible and atrocious villains; but I have endeavoured to write a fair and impartial account of the order, not slavishly adopting everything I find detailed in antient writers, but such matters only as I believe, after a careful examination of the best authorities, to be true.

It is a subject of congratulation to us that we possess, in the Temple Church at London, the most beautiful and perfect memorial of the order of the Knights Templars now in existence. No one who has seen that building in its late dress of plaster and whitewash will recognize it when restored to its antient magnificence. This venerable structure was one of the chief ecclesiastical edifices of the Knights Templars in Europe, and stood next in rank to the Temple at Jerusalem. As I have performed the pilgrimage to the Holy City, and wandered amid the courts of the antient Temple of the Knights Templars on Mount Moriah, I could not but regard with more than ordinary interest the restoration by the societies of the Inner and the Middle Temple of their beautiful Temple Church.

The greatest zeal and energy have been displayed by them in that praiseworthy undertaking, and no expense has been spared to repair the ravages of time, and to bring back the structure to what it was in the time of the Templars.

In the summer I had the pleasure of accompanying one of the chief and most enthusiastic promoters of the restoration of the church (Mr. Burge, Q.C.) over the interesting fabric, and at his suggestion the present work was commenced. I am afraid that it will hardly answer his expectations, and am sorry that the interesting task has not been undertaken by an abler hand.

Temple, Nov. 17, 1841.

p. xi

P.S. Mr. Willement, who is preparing some exquisitely stained glass windows for the Temple Church, has just drawn my attention to the nineteenth volume of the "MEMOIR ES DE LA SOCIÉTÉ ROYALE DES ANTIQUAIRES DE FRANCE," published last year. It contains a most curious and interesting account of the church of Brelevennez, in the department des Cotes-du-Nord, supposed to have formerly belonged to the order of the Temple, written by the Chevalier du FREMANVILLE. Amongst various curious devices, crosses, and symbols found upon the windows and the tombs of the church, is a copper medallion, which appears to have been suspended from the neck by a chain. This decoration consists of a small circle, within which are inscribed two equilateral triangles placed one upon the other, so as to form a six-pointed star. In the midst of the star is a second circle, containing within it the LAMB of the order of the Temple holding the banner in its fore-paw, similar to what we see on the antient seal of the order delineated in the title-page of this work. Mr. Willement has informed me that he has received an offer from a gentleman in Brittany to send over casts of the decorations and devices lately discovered in that church. He has kindly referred the letter to me for consideration, but I have not thought it advisable to delay the publication of the present work for the purpose of procuring them.

Mr. Willement has also drawn my attention to a very distinct impression of the reverse of the seal of the Temple described in page 106, whereon I read very plainly the interesting motto, "TESTIS SVM AGNI. (to be continued…)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Chomsky's Failed States.

While I was wandering the net I came across a very interesting excerpt from Noam Chomsky's Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy. And to take a small breack from the joyful playfulness of my usual posts, I thought to pubblish it. Chomsky's Failed States touches on many of the problems we currently face as well as on hopeful developments.

Published on Tuesday, May 30, 2006 by the Independent / UK

Why It's Over For America
by Noam Chomsky

An inability to protect its citizens. The belief that it is above the law. A lack of democracy. Three defining characteristics of the 'failed state'. And that, says Noam Chomsky, is exactly what the US is becoming. In an exclusive extract from his devastating new book,"Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy," America's leading thinker explains how his country lost its way.

The selection of issues that should rank high on the agenda of concern for human welfare and rights is, naturally, a subjective matter. But there are a few choices that seem unavoidable, because they bear so directly on the prospects for decent survival. Among them are at least these three: nuclear war, environmental disaster, and the fact that the government of the world's leading power is acting in ways that increase the likelihood of these catastrophes. It is important to stress the government, because the population, not surprisingly, does not agree.
That brings up a fourth issue that should deeply concern Americans, and the world: the sharp divide between public opinion and public policy, one of the reasons for the fear, which cannot casually be put aside, that, as Gar Alperowitz puts it in America Beyond Capitalism, "the American 'system' as a whole is in real trouble - that it is heading in a direction that spells the end of its historic values [of] equality, liberty, and meaningful democracy". (For copyright reason this article is continued in here)

© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited

Letter from a caring mother...

Piaare Puttar (dear son),

Just a few lines to you to let you know that I am still alive. I'm writing this letter slow, because I know you can't read fast. We have moved, so we don’t live where we did when you left home. Your pappa read in the paper that most accidents happen 20 miles from your home, so we moved 20 miles away. I won’t be able to send you the address because the Sardar (landlord) who stayed here took the number plate with him for his next house, so he would not have to change his address. This place is really nice. It even has a washing machine. I'm not sure it works too well. Last week I put in 5 shirts, pulled the chain and haven't seen them since. The weather here isn't too bad either, it rained only twice last week: the first time it rained for 4 days and second time for 3 days. The coat you wanted me to send you, your nani (grandmother) said it would be a little too heavy to send in the mail with all the buttons, so we cut them off and put them in the pocket. I went to the doctor's on Sunday and your father came with me, he was quite grumpy I have to say, I think it was because he would rather have watched the Cricket... Anyway, the doctor put a small tube in my mouth and told me not to talk for 15 minutes. Your father offered some money and all the jewelry that I was wearing to buy it from him. Your father has another job. He has 1500 men under him. He is cutting the grass at the cemetery. Your sister had a baby this morning. I haven't found out whether it's a girl or a boy, so I don't know whether you are an Aunt or Uncle. Your uncle, Ramesh fell in a whisky vat. Some men tried to pull him out, but he fought them off very bravely and drowned. We cremated him and he burned for 5 days. There isn't much more news this time. Nothing much has happened.
A lot of love form Nani, Nana, Chaci, Chacia, Masi, Masa, Puppi, Puppa, Banji, Banja, Bahre Baih, Chote Baih, Baiji, Munna, Munni, and pappaji.

P.S. Remeber to eat makkhan (butter) every day, and also to eat gobi and aloo-chola!
P.S.S. When will you make your mammá happy? When are you going to get married? you are getting old you know! and I would like to play with my 10 grandchildren.
P.S.S.S. I was going to send you $10 with this letter but I have already sealed the envelope...

La culesque bataille (poème épique)

C’était un joli soir de juin
Un joli soir d’été,
On avait bu pas mal de vin,
Fumé un narguilé.

Soudain nos deux parties charnues
Se sont livrées bataille,
Et le voilà qui s’tapent dessus,
Qui se désentripaillent!

Le mien, gonflant ses joues, criait
«En garde!» et «à l’attaque!»
Tu le lui as bien fait payer
A grands coups de matraque.

J’ai dû reCULer sous l’assaut
De tes fesses maudites,
Car mon popo avait bobo
A toute sa cellulite…

Ô culs! Vivez dans l’allégresse
Et rappelez-vous que
Il faut bien ménager vos fesses,
Vous n’en avez que deux!