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Fritz
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Re:En Passant
« Reply #45 on: 2010-01-15 15:05:45 »
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A note worthy consequence to the snowy weather in Europe; just a reminder I guess of other adventures ahead this year .... don't forget those emergency food supplies ?

Cheers

Fritz


The price of salt: Salt sellers

Source: The Economist
Author: The Economist print edition
Date: 2010.01.14

A common commodity in short supply

THE stuff is everywhere, but in snow-blanketed Britain there is not enough of it. Fears grow that the gritting salt that is keeping the country’s transport system open is running out. Britain’s salt mines are working round the clock and rationing is on the cards.



Prices for different types of salt vary widely. The lowest grade of gritting salt for de-icing roads generally sells for around $40-50 a tonne in America and Britain. Refined salt used by the chemicals industry is more expensive, at up to $150 a tonne. At the top end of the range discerning gourmets pay the equivalent of $70,000 a tonne or more for fleur de sel, the highest-quality French sea salt, harvested by hand at picturesque locations but still the same sodium chloride.

The huge price differences are not the only things that distinguish salt from other commodities. Salt is not traded on any exchanges, there is no derivatives market and there is not much international trade. Because salt is cheap and plentiful in many parts of the world, yet bulky and expensive to transport, it is a heavily regional commodity. China, the world’s biggest saltmaker, used the 60m tonnes it produced in 2007 at home. Where salt is exported it is to countries that cannot meet their own needs. Japan’s chemicals industry imports most of its supplies from Australia.

Demand for industrial salt is steady and predictable. As a rule of thumb, the chemicals industry grows (or contracts) at roughly the same pace as the wider economy. Gritting salt, by contrast, is susceptible to large short-term fluctuations in demand. In countries such as America and Britain, where the weather is changeable, the chemicals industry accounts for some 40% of annual salt production and a similar proportion goes on slippery roads. (The rest goes on things like food and agriculture.)

Local governments generally sign contracts for gritting-salt supplies in the summer but heavy snowfall, such as Britain is experiencing at the moment, can exhaust stockpiles rapidly. Shortages boost prices, diverting salt set for industrial use to de-icing and encouraging imports from warmer climes. But because most traded salt is tied up in contracts, getting fresh supplies from abroad is a lengthy process. And by the time the salt arrives all that snow may have melted anyway.
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Where there is the necessary technical skill to move mountains, there is no need for the faith that moves mountains -anon-
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Re:En Passant
« Reply #46 on: 2010-01-15 20:00:23 »
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If you put Sodium Chloride on roads you kill plants and the soils bacterial colonies. Most road salt in the USA is Saltpeter. Potassium Nitrate or KNO3, which is a fertilizer.
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With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg, 1999
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Re:En Passant
« Reply #47 on: 2010-02-18 08:27:36 »
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[Blunderov] For those not familiar with chess arcania, there is a very venerable means of opening the game known as The Ruy Lopez. Over the years this opening has acquired the nickname "the Spanish torture" due to the sustained pressure that it confers upon the 1st player.

Over to Mig Greengard of the Daily Dirt chess blog.

http://www.chessninja.com/dailydirt/2010/02/linares-2010-r4-steady-on.htm

<snip> "Comps (sic) have no inclination for the epically intricate maneuvering of the traditional Ruy Lopez, the long-term positional play that earned it the name "The Spanish Torture," (I mean, "The Spanish Enhanced Interrogation Technique.") </snip>

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Blunderov
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Re:En Passant
« Reply #48 on: 2010-02-18 08:42:31 »
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[Blunderov] For those who may be interested in doings on the Dark Continent, here is a "local is lekker" (wonderful, nice) piece of viral theatre/music. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for "Die Antwoord" (The Answer)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wc3f4xU_FfQ

It went viral but turned out to be not quite what it seemed.

http://www.nme.com/blog/index.php?blog=15&title=die_antwoord_and_zef_sooth_ifricah_s_mos&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

In other news, Hitler receives the news of the iPads release. Not well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQnT0zp8Ya4



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Re:En Passant
« Reply #49 on: 2010-02-18 15:19:58 »
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Quote from: Blunderov on 2010-02-18 08:42:31   

[Blunderov] For those who may be interested in doings on the Dark Continent, here is a "local is lekker" (wonderful, nice) piece of viral theatre/music. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for "Die Antwoord" (The Answer)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wc3f4xU_FfQ

It went viral but turned out to be not quite what it seemed.

http://www.nme.com/blog/index.php?blog=15&title=die_antwoord_and_zef_sooth_ifricah_s_mos&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

Thanks for this Bl,

Yes, Waddy Jones ... Parktown Boys High School posh kid. Talented, in a Ali G way. Rich Bitch is my favourite

My claim to fame is feeding Waddy some of his first Rap records ... back in '87 '88.

the.bricoleur
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Re:En Passant
« Reply #50 on: 2010-02-19 03:38:32 »
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Quote from: the.bricoleur on 2010-02-18 15:19:58   

Thanks for this Bl,

Yes, Waddy Jones ... Parktown Boys High School posh kid. Talented, in a Ali G way. Rich Bitch is my favourite

My claim to fame is feeding Waddy some of his first Rap records ... back in '87 '88.

the.bricoleur

[Blunderov] Glad you enjoyed it and that it brought back some memories for you..

Waddy's tattoos (except the fairy fiasco on his left shoulder) were done by Tyler B Murphy of Sins Of Style Studio in Cape Town. In order to achieve that rough prison tat look, the artist apparently used his left hand .

More on Zef@

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vx1cYUb-0f4

Take No Prisoners - Interview with Die Antwoord (Official)

Best regards.
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Re:En Passant
« Reply #51 on: 2010-05-04 12:11:45 »
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[Blunderov] May the 4th be with you.

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Re:En Passant
« Reply #52 on: 2010-05-05 14:40:24 »
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[Blunderov] Times Square: after all the multiple erosions of social liberty in the name of security, was it too much to hope that some or another organ of the USA would have detected the attempted bombing before the event?




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Re:En Passant
« Reply #53 on: 2010-05-05 18:23:46 »
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Quote:
[Blunderov] Times Square: after all the multiple erosions of social liberty in the name of security, was it too much to hope that some or another organ of the USA would have detected the attempted bombing before the event?


I think'in that we need to work together and think more critically and Christendom hasn't left Western Society with those skills.

"Root Cause" remains an allusive concept in all things political and belief based.

Cheers

Fritz


http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/seealso/2010/05/times_square_suspects_movement.html

See Also: US media on security failures in Times Square bomb plot
Host | 13:45 UK time, Wednesday, 5 May 2010
The ability of Faisal Shahzad, a suspect in the Times Square bomb plot, to board a plane bound for Islamabad via Dubai has raised questions about shortcomings in US security.

Karen DeYoung and Anne E Kornblut of the Washington Post question how Mr Shahzad arrived at JFK airport while being tracked by the FBI.

Most curious is how Shahzad, a suspected and potentially dangerous car bomber who was being tracked by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies since late Sunday, was able to drive to crowded Kennedy Airport, with a loaded 9mm handgun with extra clips in the car. It appears that the FBI and others watching Shahzad lost track of him for a period of time as he made his way toward the airport in Long Island.
Scott Shane of the New York Times reports that Emirates failed to check for an added name to the no-fly list.

In addition, the airline he was flying, Emirates, failed to act on an electronic message at midday on Monday notifying all carriers to check the no-fly list for an important added name, the officials said. That meant lost opportunities to flag him when he made a reservation and paid for his ticket in cash several hours before departure.
Eileen Sullivan and Matt Apuzzo of the Associated Press explain that Emirates worked from a no-fly list that was not current.

But when Emirates sold the ticket, it was working off an outdated list. Airline officials would have had to check a Web forum where updates are sent if it were to flag him. Because they didn't, law enforcement officials were not aware of his travel plans until they received the passenger list 30 minutes before takeoff, the official said.
Jennifer Rubin of Commentarymagazine.com suggests that security lapses are a common occurence since 9/11.

We have benefited from the relative ineptitude of two terrorists - one who could have incinerated a plane-load of people and another who could have killed scores of people and created havoc in Times Square. The administration calls these "failed" incidents and thereby skates from incident to incident, never quite coming clean on its shortcomings. We should be pleased Shahzad was quickly apprehended, but we should demand a full explanation as to how he got on the plane.
Mark Hosenball of Newsweek suggests that Mr Shahzad's name should have been more swiftly entered into an airline reservation system.

While Homeland Security, often blamed for aviation security lapses and gaffes, can take credit for spotting and grabbing the suspect, officials concede not all of its procedures worked perfectly either. Once Shahzad's name had been entered on the "no-fly" list due to his status as a suspect in the bombing case, the alert on him should have been entered into all airline reservation systems so that he would be denied a ticket and authorities would be alerted if and when he tried to buy one. According to a knowledgeable official, fearing that the "no-fly" listing would move too slowly through the system, Homeland's Transportation Security Administration did put out a special alert related to Shahzad and asked airlines to check their passenger lists by hand to see if his name was on them. But this emergency procedure didn't work and he still wasn't taken off the plane until what was essentially the 59th minute of the 11th hour.
Nsenga Burton of Theroot.com asks why a one-way ticket paid for in cash did not indicate foul play.

What exactly is the point of a no-fly list if wannabe terrorists are going to be allowed on the plane anyway? How is it that us regular folks get searched and seized for things like mascara, lipstick, hand lotion and belt buckles? Suspected terrorist Faisal Shahzad reserved a one-way ticket on his way to JFK airport, paid for it in cash and coasted through security to secure a seat on his Emirates flight. We're not security experts, but even we know that one-way tickets bought in cash is an indicator of terrorist behavior. How do we know? September 11, 2001. We're just saying.
Times Online reports that the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, agrees that Shahzah should not have been on the plane.

White House officials have praised the handling of the investigation, pointing out that Mr Shahzad was arrested before he could leave the country. But questions have been raised about the glaring security lapses on the part of government agencies and the airline that almost allowed him to flee the country. Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York, said: "Clearly the guy was on the plane and shouldn't have been. We got lucky."
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Re:En Passant
« Reply #54 on: 2010-05-09 23:37:13 »
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May 8th in central Ontario Canada. aka Spring .... snowing ... global warming ?

Cheers

Fritz

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Re:En Passant
« Reply #55 on: 2010-05-14 19:51:45 »
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[Blunderov] "Communism led just as inexorably, everywhere on the globe where it was applied, to starvation, torture, and slave-labor camps."

Sadly the Hermit seems to be currently unavailable for Troll Patrol and Mo, a busy man, seems to have missed this one, so once more unto the breach dear friends. I suppose if one defines communism as those regimes which have inflicted "starvation, torture
and slave-labor camps" on the citizenry then we shall have to do our humble best to contain our amazement that some previously unsuspected communist regimes will bubble to the surface in the light thereof. The Aztecs spring to mind, as does Chaka Zulu. But not the USA. It does these same things in the name of democracy and is therefore not communist QED. (What slave labour camps? Say 'what' one more time MF...)
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Re:En Passant
« Reply #56 on: 2010-06-14 16:06:07 »
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[Blunderov] Events in my life have diverted me from usual haunts and climes including my beloved CoV. So, this is just to say I'll report back in when opportunity permits. I'm currently working in Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast).I should be here for about another 3 weeks. It's just like that Tom Waits lyric:

"And I'm tired of all these soldiers here
No one speaks English, and everything's broken
And my Stacys are soaking wet"

Well not everything is broken. Staying in a very nice hotel The President in Yamassoukrous. Sadly the tropical climate is my least favourite environment suffering as I do from hyperhydrosis. Still, sometimes these things must be endured in the name of making a living

Tom Traubert's Blues
(Four sheets to the wind(1) in Copenhagen)

Wasted and wounded, it ain't what the moon did
I got what I paid for now
See you tomorrow, hey Frank, can I borrow
A couple of bucks from you?
To go waltzing Matilda(3), waltzing Matilda
You'll go waltzing Matilda with me

I'm an innocent victim of a blinded alley(4)
And I'm tired of all these soldiers here
No one speaks English, and everything's broken
And my Stacys(5) are soaking wet
To go waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
You'll go waltzing Matilda with me

Now the dogs are barking and the taxi cabs parking
A lot they can do for me
I begged you to stab me, you tore my shirt open
And I'm down on my knees tonight
Old Bushmills(6) I staggered, you buried the dagger
In your silhouette window light
To go waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
You'll go waltzing Matilda with me

Now I've lost my St. Christopher(7), now that I've kissed her
And the one-armed bandit( knows
And the maverick Chinamen, and the cold-blooded signs
And the girls down by the strip-tease shows go
Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
You'll go waltzing Matilda with me

No, I don't want your sympathy, the fugitives say
That the streets aren't for dreaming now
And manslaughter dragnets, and the ghosts that sell memories
They want a piece of the action anyhow
Go waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
You'll go waltzing Matilda with me

And you can ask any sailor, and the keys from the jailer
And the old men in wheelchairs know
That Matilda's the defendant, she killed about a hundred
And she follows wherever you may go
Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
You'll go waltzing Matilda with me

And it's a battered old suitcase to a hotel someplace
And a wound that will never heal
No prima donna, the perfume is on
An old shirt that is stained with blood and whiskey
And goodnight to the street sweepers, the night watchmen, flame keepers
And goodnight, Matilda, too

Written by: Tom Waits
Published by: Fifth Floor Music (ASCAP), © 1976 & Warner Bros. Music Ltd, 1976
Official release: "Small Change", Elektra/ Asylum Records, 1976 &
"Bounced Checks", WEA/ Asylum Records, 1981 &
"Asylum Years", WEA International Inc., 1986
Arrangement and lyrics published in "Tom Waits - Anthology" (Amsco Publications, 1988/ Nuova Carisch, 2000)

Known covers:
Home And Deranged. The English Country Blues Band. 1984. Rogue FMSL2004
Unplugged And Seated. Rod Stewart. March, 1993. Warner Bros. Records
Lead Singer. Rod Stewart. March 12, 1993. Wea/ Warner
Tubas From Hell. Dave Gannet. February 28, 1994. Summit/ D'Note Classics
Dry County. Bon Jovi. March 31, 1994. Polygram International (sung by Tico Torres)
Mister No Good. Ole Friis. September 21, 1994. Poul Hansen/ Kick Records (Denmark)
Irish Cream. Seasons. November 23, 1994. Edel
Tanz Um Den Heiligen Bim Bam. Gerd Köster. October 30, 1995. Chlodwig (BMG)
Stars On Classic, Rod Stewart. Classic Dream Orchestra. May, 1997. Ariola (Germany)
Street Jams. David Roe. October 1998. Self-released
Gerd Köster und... Gerd Köster. March 22, 1999. Chlodwig (Pavement Records)
Bukowski Waits For Us - Vol. 1. Michael Kiessling. September 25, 2000. Buschfunk (Germany)
Nach mir die Sintflut - Ambros singt Waits. Wolfgang Ambros. October 9, 2000. Ariol/ Gig Records 74321 797002 (in German)
The Carnival Saloon Live. The Carnival Saloon. October, 2001. Self-released (Ireland)
Sand And Water. Tommy Fleming. March 15, 2002. Clann Records (Ireland)
Unruly. English Country Blues Band. June, 2002. Weekend Beatnik
The Collection. Tommy Fleming. December, 2002. Clann Records/ Ireland (same version as on "Sand And Water", 2002)
Under The Influence - The songs of Tom Waits. Barry Charles. 2003. Tara Hall Productions (Australia)
Undercovers. Maria & Laginh Joao. March, 2003. Emarcy Rec (Universal)
Greetings From Hell - The Tom Waits Songbook, Hell Blues Choir. September, 2003. Tylden & Co (Norway)
Waltzing Matilda. Waltzing Matilda. September 15, 2003. Factory Ou (Leicom)
Lazy Sunday Afternoons. Dressy Vagabonds. November, 2003. Self-released
Somebody's Darling. Carol Noonan. May, 2004. Noonan Music/ Self-released
Rein Alexander. Rein Alexander. November, 2004. Sony/ Epic (Norway)
Austropop Kult. Wolfgang Ambros. January, 2005. Sony BMG/ Ariola (same version as on "Nach Mir Die Sintflut", 2000)
Playing For Change. Various artists. February 15, 2005. Higher Octave (performed by The Royal Rounders)
Deep Forbidden Lake. Jazz Mandolin Project. May 3, 2005 Label: Doyle Kos Dk.E.
15 Jahre Buschfunk. Various artists. December 9, 2005. Buschfunk/ Germany (performed by: Bukowski Waits For You. Michael Kiessling)
Heroes And Villains. Heroes And Villains. March 14, 2006. Emeritus Records


Watch Waits performing "Tom Traubert's Blues"
With Frank Vicari: tenor saxophone, Dr. Fitz(gerald) Jenkins: upright bass and Chip White: drums.
Taken from The Old Grey Whistle Test (1977).
BBC television live music show with Bob Harris. London/ UK. May 3, 1977

Might be Waits' most famous song. Covered by artists like: Rod Steward, The Pogues, The Dubliners, Rolf Harris, John McDermott and Dave Gannet. Featured on the Basquiat soundtrack (Polygram, 1996). A tune easily recognized and easy to sing along. It's 1976, Waits at the crowning moment of his" beatnik-glory-meets-Hollywood-noir period". But "Tom Traubert's Blues" stands out from his other more jazzy tunes. Waits himself must have had special feelings for the song, because in the 1970's and 1980's he used to close his shows with this song, giving his audience some food for thought on their way home. And unlike most of his other songs, he kept it unchanged for over 20 years. It's finished, nothing to add, it doesn't get any better.

It's the opening track on the album "Small Change", recorded from July 15 to July 20 1976 at the Wally Heider Studios in Hollywood and released in September 1976 by Asylum Records. Most of the songs were written in May/ June 1976 in London after his gig at: "Ronnie Scott's Club", Soho/ London. It is said Waits stayed there for about two weeks after which he continued to tour Europe.

Q (1988): "When did you first see yourself as a songwriter?"
Tom Waits: "Actually, even after I had made records. I didn't feel completely confident in the craft until maybe Small Change. When I first put a story to music. I fell I was learning and getting the confidence to keep doing it. "Tom Traubert's Blues" "Small Change" and "I Wish I Was in New Orleans" gave me some confidence." (Source: "Tom's Wild Years" Interview Magazine (USA), by Francis Thumm. October, 1988)

Tom Traubert's Blues is evidently based on the Australian hymn Waltzing Matilda (written by A.B. "Banjo" Paterson). So it's tempting to assume both songs deal with the same subject-matter. But this is not the case. The only thing similar in both songs is the chorus.

In 2007 Waits was asked by Mojo Magazine to nominate a record for their list of “100 records that changed the world”. Waits nominated Harry Belafonte’s “Streets I Have Walked” (RCA/ Victor LPM-2695) which features Waltzing Matilda. So Waits had been familiar with the song from a very young age.

Tom Waits (2007): "Streets I Have Walked (RCA 1963) is a beautiful record. It's collected songs - lullabies from Japan, Woody Guthrie, Waltzing Matilda, cowboy songs, Jewish songs, all kinds of things. Belafonte was a great collector of songs - he had that Lomax bone, I think. And he introduced a lot of songs from different cultures that had never , in that sense, been heard. The first time I heard Hava Nagila it was Harry Belafonte who sang it... I think I was maybe 13 when I first heard , and I still have it. It definitely had an impact. You see, he loved melody, and I was at a time in my life when I was really nourished by that, by melody itself. I know that with kids, at a certain point, music becomes a costume - you wear the music, and there's certain music that you wouldn't be caught dead wearing - but to me music was always a completely interior experience, not a fashion." (Source: “100 records that changed the world”, Mojo Magazine 163. June, 2007/ May 2, 2007).

There has been a lot of discussion about the origins and copyrights of the Australian version. For more info on "Waltzing Matilda" go to this site by Roger Clarke, or try WaltzingMatilda.com.

Waltzing Matilda:
'Banjo' (A.B.) Paterson, c. 1890
(Lyrics submitted by Wayne T Pickett as sent to Tom Waits Library April 26, 2002)

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolibah tree
And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me

Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me
And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me

Down came a jumbuck to dri-ink at that billabong
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee
And he sang as he stuffed that jumbuck in his tucker-bag
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me

Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred
Up Jumped the troopers, one, two, three
"Who's [as in "whose IS"] that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker-bag?"
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me (10)

Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong
"You'll never take me alive!", said he
And his ghost may be heard as you pa-ass by the billabong
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me

In Australia the song gained such popularity, it more or less became their second national anthem, an Australian icon.

Waits introducing "Tom Traubert's Blues" in Sydney Australia, March 1979:
"This is eh, a song here uh. I kinda borrowed your unofficial national anthem on this whole thing... I'll give it back when I'm done! Uh, well I met this girl named Matilda. And uh, I had a little too much to drink that night. This is about throwing up in a foreign country. The feeling..."

Roger Clarke did some interesting research into the copyrights of the song:
"The copyrights in the song and the words passed through several hands. At one stage it was owned by the once-famous Billy Tea' company; Copyright can of course exist in variants and performances of the song; The copyright has expired in Australia (and in almost every other country in the world), because in civilized countries copyright lasts for 50 years after the death of the originator, and Banjo Paterson died in 1941. In that renegade nation, the U.S.A., other rules hold, and copyright still exists. The copyright is owned by Carl Fischer New York Inc. As a result, the use of the Australian tune in the Atlanta Olympics Closing Ceremony resulted in a payment by the Australian organisers to an American company. Ergo ... If we decide to make 'Waltzing Matilda' the real national anthem, we will have to either buy back the copyright from an American company, or pay royalties on such occasions as our national anthem is played in the United States. "

One wonders whether "Tom Traubert's Blues" is subject to these Fischer owned copyrights.

Some claim "Tom Traubert's Blues" to be about Vietnam. The lyrics however don't give any reason to assume this is true. The idea probably came about after Eric Bogle's 1972 version: "Eric Bogle wrote, performed and recorded a song that ends with a haunting rendition of "Waltzing Matilda" (And the band played waltzing Matilda). It's an anti-war song, nominally about Gallipoli, but really about Vietnam (different decades, different countries, different protagonists, but much the same outcome)".

Its title suggests it is about a guy named Tom Traubert. But other than this title Waits never referred to this character. Some people claim to have known Tom Traubert, some claim to be his only legal child, some claim to be Tom Traubert. For now he will probably remain a mystery forever. Only Waits himself could give us a clou, but he won't.

What does Waltzing Matilda mean? There are numerous explanations. Most of them have to do with traveling. Here's an explanation by Senani Ponnamperuma: "The phrase Waltzing Matilda is believed to have originated with German immigrants who settled in Australia. Waltzing is derived from the German term auf der Walz which meant to travel while learning a trade. Young apprentices in those days traveled the country working under a master craftsman earning their living as they went - sleeping where they could. Matilda has teutonic origins and means Mighty Battle Maiden. It is believed to have been given to female camp followers who accompanied soldiers during the Thirty Year's War in Europe. This came to mean "to be kept warm at night" and later to mean the great army coats or blankets that soldiers wrapped themselves with. These were rolled into a swag tossed over their shoulder while marching. So the phrase Waltzing Matilda came to mean: to travel from place to place in search of work with all one's belongings on one's back wrapped in a blanket or cloth."

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Re:En Passant
« Reply #57 on: 2010-06-23 06:26:30 »
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[Blunderov] Anniversary of the birth of our newest Virion saint.

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2010/06/0623alan-turing-born


1912: Alan Turing, who will go on to become one of the 20th century’s greatest mathematicians, computer scientists and philosophers, is born.

Turing is probably best known to Wired readers as the inventor of the “Turing test,” a way of measuring a computer’s ability to simulate intelligent human conversation.

But he’s more significant as one of the most influential computer-science pioneers of the 20th century, the man who invented and formally described the concept of a universal computing device, now known as a Turing machine.

He’s also a genuinely interesting figure, albeit a tragic one. An eccentric who liked to bicycle while wearing a gas mask and who occasionally wore pajama tops underneath suit jackets, he was also a prodigious and eclectic genius. He was elected a Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge University, just four years after entering as an undergraduate. Imagine enrolling at Harvard at 19 and becoming a faculty member in the mathematics department at 23, and you’ll have an idea how sharp he was.

A nearly Olympic-class marathon runner, Turing’s best time was 2 hours, 46 minutes, 3 seconds (by comparison, Delfo Cabrera won the 1948 Olympic marathon in 2:34:52). Yet, he was bookish, retiring and solitary in his study habits.

Turing was also a gay man in an era when homosexuality was not just taboo, but illegal. He was punished for his homosexuality in 1952 under the same 1885 law that had brought down Oscar Wilde more than half a century before. In lieu of a prison term, Turing was sentenced to a year of hormone “therapy” — basically, chemical castration with estrogen treatments aimed at curbing his sex drive.

Intellectually, Turing’s work defies easy categorization. He was influenced by Bertrand Russell and the circle of progressive intellectuals around John Maynard Keynes at Cambridge. His earliest work was mathematical, extending Kurt Gödel’s proofs that any mathematical system must necessarily be incomplete. But in solving that problem, Turing invented the notion of a universal machine, a now-fundamental concept in computer science.

A Turing machine is a device with an infinitely long tape, which it can use to write, read and alter arbitrary symbols (such as 1s and 0s). Starting with a basic set of operations, even the simplest Turing machine can be used to compute anything that is computable, Turing proved.

Interestingly, Turing machines can be used to simulate the behavior of other Turing machines — much as emulators let today’s Windows PCs play the same code that used to run on coin-operated Atari consoles in the 1980s.

After completing a Ph.D. at Princeton in just two years, Turing went on to play a pivotal role in the codebreaking work at Bletchley Park in England during World War II, cracking the code of the German “Enigma” cipher machine. After the war, he designed an ambitious computer, but the machine was never built.

Unfortunately, Turing’s work wasn’t widely recognized during his lifetime, in part because so much of it was done as part of classified government work.

In the last years of his life was working on what would now be called computational biology, using a computer to model how an organism’s genes manifest themselves in physical traits.

Turing died on June 7, 1954, in an apparent suicide. An apple found by the side of his bed may have been laced with cyanide.

It took more than 50 years, but in 2009, the British government apologized for the country’s appalling treatment of one of its great intellectual and wartime heroes. “It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of World War II could well have been very different,” then–Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote. “So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work, I am very proud to say: We’re sorry, you deserved so much better.”

The Alan Turing Year will commemorate Turing’s centennial in 2012 with a wide-ranging array of events.

For an accessible introduction to Turing, his concept of a Turing machine, and his contributions to artificial intelligence theory, check out the 4-minute video below from BCS, a British nonprofit.



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Re:En Passant
« Reply #58 on: 2010-06-28 11:15:40 »
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[Blunderov] There seems little doubt as to who is going to be the next chess world champion: Magnus Carlsen. It even seems possible that he will exceed Kasparov's record Elo rating - aready he has achieved the 2nd highest rating in chess history and he has not yet peaked. One of the aspects of his play that makes him so very powerful is that he plays almost any opening at the very highest level. This makes it extremely difficult to prepare openings against him. An example of this is when he completely outplayed Wang Yu at the recent King's tournament. Carlsen opened with the ancient King's Gambit which is not an opening which he has ever used in tournament play before. Wang Yu was never in the game.

Carlsen's style is quite reminiscent of the great genius Capablanca: it is like watching a river flowing down to the sea.

http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail.asp?newsid=6460

Magnus Carlsen: King Among Chess Kings
By GM Lubomir Kavalek

<snip>Imagine Usain Bolt, the fabulous Jamaican sprinter and world record-holder, running a 100 meter dash against some of the world's best contenders and winning by 20 meters. This is how the Norwegian chess superstar Magnus Carlsen dealt with the opposition at the elite Kings tournament in Medias, Romania, last week. Undefeated, with five wins and five draws, Carlsen left his nearest rivals two full points behind, scoring 7.5 points in 10 games. It was an amazing display of chess dominance.</snip>

[Bl.] The link features a replay of the game against Wang Yu with annotations by Kavalek.
« Last Edit: 2010-06-28 11:20:07 by Blunderov » Report to moderator   Logged
Blunderov
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Re:En Passant
« Reply #59 on: 2010-09-22 16:21:16 »
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[Blunderov] I am much taken with ED. Here is there article on flame wars and some other goodies. Sounds all too horribly familiar.


http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Flame_wars

http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Ad_hominem

http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Ann_Coulter

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