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June 30, 2003

Silbury Hill reloaded

British Achaeology rethinks ideas about Silbury Hill, a neolithic earthwork near Avebury:

Antiquaries and archaeologists have been visiting the site since at least the 17th century, and since then Silbury Hill has been interpreted variously as the burial place of an Ancient-British or Roman king, a platform for druid sacrifice, an astronomical observatory, a part of the Avebury temple, a temple to Mercury, a mound for assemblies and law making and a medieval motte.

Oddly enough, the first excavators of the mound, the Duke of Northumberland and Colonel Drax, were closer to the mark in 1776 when, announcing their intention of sinking a shaft 8ft square from the summit to the old ground surface in search of the contents, they issued what amounts to a press release.

Sadly, this article does not do justice to the '76 press release or suggest a radical revision of archaeological commonplaces about the site. A recent three-dimensional survey by English Heritage, however, has revealed the hill is built up in a series of polyhedrons linked by a spiral path. An English Heritage report on the work includes the Duke of Northumberland's press release:

Silbury-Hill, the largest tumulus or artificial mound of earth in this kingdom, supposed to be of between 3 and 4,000 years duration, was begun to be opened by the miners of Mendip, on Thursday last. They have made a hole at top of eight feet square. The Antiquarians promise to themselves wonders from the bowels of this mountain!

And then... Further investigation reveals bad navigation at the English Heritage website. Follow the link to "Archaeological Developments at Silbury Hill" then click through to the proper article in their archaeology section.

Posted by the Flea at 10:22 AM

Win a life size Lara Croft

Now there is a sure winner among blog entry titles.

The Sun features a Tomb Raider contest which may be of passing interest:

We’re giving away a life-size Lara Croft mannequin, pictured below, which stands at a cool 5ft 8ins tall. Imagine having that in your porch or hallway welcoming visitors or staring at you from the other side of the bedroom when you wake up.

Yes, for that would be non-creepy and sure to increase any Sun-reader's popularity with the ladies.

Posted by the Flea at 10:04 AM | Comments (1)

Mr. and Mr. Nash

The Flea is appalled this one flew under the pop-culture radar last November. Steve Martin announced he was going to produce Mr. and Mr. Nash for ABC's fall season which has been described as a gay Hart to Hart where "a pair of interior decorators stumble upon a murder each week."

Genius! But no news since last November... will the show make to it air? Casting Alan Cumming in a lead-role was a good idea but I am not convinced a gay remake of Hart to Hart was a good idea in the first place. The over-the-top original Hart to Hart already was the gay Hart to Hart.

Posted by the Flea at 09:55 AM | Comments (1)

Star Wars Kid Reloaded

The Star Wars kid taught us all the value of remembering to take the tapes with us when we finish with the A/V equipment. Now his image is caught in the Matrix.

Posted by the Flea at 09:18 AM

Matrix Reloaded in Japan

Matrix enthusiastics in Japan. Scroll down a Rotten Tomatoes member center thread to learn to astonishing truth which is the red pill in Japan.

Posted by the Flea at 09:14 AM

June 28, 2003

ReBattlestar

Dykstra-spawned, Star Wars ripped-off, evangelical science fiction masterpiece Battlestar Galactica makes its return December 7. 2003 as a Sci Fi Channel mini-series. This is some of the best news in a year already packed with speculative fiction goodness. Writer and producer Ronald D. Moore explains:

Here lies a slumbering giant, its name known to many, its voice remembered by but a few. For a brief moment, it strode the Earth, telling tall tales of things that never were, then stumbled over a rating point and fell into a deep sleep.

I think there's life in that old giant. But I think that just poking him with a stick and expecting him to leap to his feet and resume his journey as if no time had passed would serve only to hasten his final death throes. He needs a makeover. Especially that '70s hair.

Not sure about this claim as the Flea happens to think the '70s hair was the whole point of the show. Well, that and Lorne Greene. Sets for the new show do not look cheezee enough despite the promising trailers and rock-hard Cylon action. But Starbuck and Boomer both cast as women? I think not.

Posted by the Flea at 11:50 AM | Comments (6)

Identify this news source

According to the Bible, the Golden Age of the planet gave place to the Silver Age, then to the Bronze Age which ended in today's Iron Age. We can find the same information in the Veda sources. Legends of American Indians, of African and Australian people say that demigods (Titans) inhabited the planet; then Atlantes came to take their place. When the Atlantes (they were shorter than Titans) died, a civilization of giants was formed, then a boreas civilization appeared. We traditionally consider ancient civilizations as undeveloped and primitive. However, some discoveries reveal that ancient civilizations extracted coal, they had electricity and even produced plastic.

People were tall like giants in the ancient biosphere. All ancient written sources that are available now mention giants. It gives every reason to believe that giants were actually living on the planet in the ancient times. This fact explains why huge constructions (giant dolmens, 20-meter fortress walls and other giant buildings) appeared on the planet.

This work of journalistic genius is brought to you by... wait for it...

... Pravda! How did the theosophists take over a major Russian daily? And why is the Flea not on the editorial board? Enquiring minds want to know.

Meanwhile, Pravda also runs a story on a peculiar amulet with mixed Christian and pagan imagery which turned up on a Moscow building site. I may be in a mood this morning but this amulet looks to have great horror movie potential...

Posted by the Flea at 11:13 AM

Your Home, Our City

Your Home, Our City: 100 Years of Public Control Over Private Space is a current exhibition at the City of Toronto Archives. The exhibit is a history of regulatory engagements with housing and neighbourhoods in Toronto. This may sound yawn-inducing to non-policy wonks but is actually a story of the history of this city. The fire of 1904, slum housing and health reform and the building of the Yonge subway followed by a transformation.

One photo taken by city officials of 1913 investigating slum housing haunts me (not online I am sorry to say). Children pose for their picture in a small room with jury-rigged pipes running from a stove to a basin. Cheap paper covers a work table. A girl of about 8 is surrounded by her four brothers. Her slightly older brother is a bit of thicko, one is an infant sprawled on a chair and another is so small she holds him in her arms. Her younger brother - about 5 - is smiling because he is having his picture taken. It is the look on the girl's face which has got stuck in my head. She is clearly responsible for looking after her brothers and seems to be the only one who has worked out who the men in suits are and why they are after taking pictures. This is not a family portrait but a science project for the city and it is not going to change her poverty or her prospects in the slightest.

Posted by the Flea at 10:59 AM

Archaeology of the Carolinas

Archaeologists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have discovered the remains of two Catawba Indian settlements:

"Old Town, where the Catawbas lived on the eve of the American Revolution, should provide insights into what life was like at a time when they were still an important and strategically positioned ally of South Carolina on their western frontier," Davis said. "At New Town, occupied between about 1800 and 1820, the Catawbas' relationship to their white neighbors was more economic than strategic in that they were landlords to dozens of white farmers who leased lands on the Catawba Reservation and also were engaged in the commercial production of pottery for sale."

Posted by the Flea at 10:48 AM

June 27, 2003

All good things

We all thought it would never end but this first Kylie Week at the Flea™ draws to a close. We laughed, we cried and now we say good-bye. There is so much more to talk about in the life and thought of Kylie Minogue: her soap opera career... her sister Danii... I could go on and on. Well, I should be so lucky. When will the Flea return to Kylie-related news? Only the stars can tell.

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Posted by the Flea at 10:33 AM

Princess Diana's strange, mutant powers

Peter Milligan is "quite a good writer" best known for his quirky comic book work. He first became aware of Diana's mutant powers on the day of her death:

Speaking as a comic book writer, these powers were nothing compared to the flying, teleporting, lethally oscillating guys I usually deal with, but they were interesting all the same.

And then... Andrea Harris hands Milligan's ass back to him in a hat:

My mood of convivial amusement instantly changed to sour irritation at this example of, well, British insularity. Once again someone from across the big salty shows his blithe ignorance of the fifty states where his fellow comic artists probably get most of their income.

Posted by the Flea at 10:27 AM

Baudrillard decodes The Matrix

Jean Baudrillard is one of a coterie of classical and contemporary philosophers whose work is an inspiration for the Wachowski brothers. Baudrillard makes a virtual cameo in the first Matrix film through a hollowed out copy of his anthology Simulacra and Simulation which doubles as Neo's stash for contraband something-or-other. Despite/because of this tip of the hat from popular culture this master of cows and effect has fastidiously criticized the Wachowski brothers and their famous film for misunderestimating his ideas.

He continues this line of thought through an interview in a special Matrix issue of Le Nouvel Observateur (19.06.2003). The gist of Baudrillard's ex cathedra pronouncements is something like this: the Wachowski brothers have confused simulation for something which can be made concrete (i.e. through a computer simulation) when the truth is that reality is only ever a simulation in the first place. The Flea's gloss on the subject can only echo contemporary Belgian philosopher Jean-Claude van Damme when asked about the effects on impressionable minds of his stupid, violent films: "you're problem is your mother never told you the difference between the real world and a movie."

This snotty and obsequious introduction to Baudrillard has great high-lighter flash animation. I shall not rest until I have great high-lighter flash animation!

Posted by the Flea at 09:39 AM | Comments (1)

Submusic

Go Home Productions claims "Popular Music is an Artform.........use it and abuse it." This bloke from Watford mixes Madonna and the Sex Pistols for "Submusic" and a "Ray of Gob" video (via RiG).

Better yet, Kylie gets into the mix with The Who.

Posted by the Flea at 09:27 AM

Paul's Blog watch

Two days ago the Canadian Prime Minister in waiting's crypto-blog had not been updated since June 11. What a difference two days makes. Entries have appeared for June 12, 13, 17, 18, 21 and 23.

A note to the committee writing Paul's Blog... great job on the retro-posting but please give us permalinks.

The Flea is content throw popcorn from the cheap seats but Canadians Are Smug has some high-fibre commentary on Paul's Blog's content.

Posted by the Flea at 09:17 AM | Comments (1)

June 26, 2003

La la la. La-la la la la. La la la. La-la la la la.

Fun Kylie, Indie Kylie and Sexy Kylie are only a few of your incarnations. How we love them all.

Which Kylie are you?

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Posted by the Flea at 11:14 AM | Comments (5)

More Spanish piracy

American venture Odyssey Marine Exploration and the British Ministry of Defence are hoping to find lost British gold in Spanish waters:

Spain threatened yesterday to arrest members of a salvage operation that is authorised by Britain to recover up to £3 billion from the wreck of a 17th century warship.

The ship, believed by the British Government to be the 80-gun third-rater Sussex, lies at a depth of nearly 3,000ft in Spanish waters near Gibraltar. It is thought to contain 10 tons of gold and 100 tons of silver.

Yet this is not a fight over lost gold. This is one more skirmish in Spain's ludicrous fight for Gibraltar. Small wonder they have threatened to send in gunboats when the Spanish government is prepared to use force over their claimed sovereignty over a rock they call Perejil. Flea-readers may not be familiar with Ceuta, Spain's north African colonial possession. It seems an astonishing hypocrisy for Spain to occupy part of Morocco while disputing Britain's claim to Gibraltar. Or perhaps it is a simple colonial reflex. The people of Gibraltar expressed their wish to remain British in a referendum the Spanish government declared to be illegal.

Posted by the Flea at 11:07 AM | Comments (3)

I will drink to that

The following are the ingredients to a punch traditionally served at St. Barbarba's Ball:

1 1/2 fifths rye whiskey
1 1/2 fifths claret
6 cups strong black tea
1 1/2 pints dark Jamaican rum
3/4 pint gin
3/4 pint cognac
3 ounces Benedictine (for the red color)
3 cups of orange juice
1 1/2 cups of lemon juice

This year they left out the cognac (via USS Clueless).

Posted by the Flea at 10:24 AM

June 25, 2003

We can't get Kylie out of our heads

Wednesday is "hump day" for Kylie Week at the Flea™ and we still can't get her out of our heads, or indeed our bodies or hearts. Kylie's infectious rhythms maker her a figure of devotion to even the most cranky among us. Madonna may not have the best overall Kylie-compatibility but even Madonna's children love Kylie's music.

The Flea's compability rating is looking good:

Compatibility of Kylie Minogue with The Flea
Physical 92% Emotional 99% Intellectual 14% Overall 68%

Must work on that intellectual bit...

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Posted by the Flea at 11:46 AM | Comments (2)

The Flea may be more Welsh than suspected

The Flea's English and Welsh ancestry tilts heavily toward the English despite relatives up and down the border. A new study reported by Nature suggests my English ancestry is less Anglo-Saxon, that is to say less English, than is generally suspected:

Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Danes, Vikings and Normans invaded Britain repeatedly between 50 BC and AD 1050. Many historians ascribe much of the British ancestry to the Anglo-Saxons because their written legacy overshadows that of the Celts.

But the Y chromosomes of the regions tell a different story. "The Celts weren't pushed to the fringes of Scotland and Wales; a lot of them remained in England and central Ireland," says study team member David Goldstein, of University College London. This is surprising: the Anglo-Saxons reputedly colonized southern England heavily.

Posted by the Flea at 11:26 AM

The Parthenon Frieze

The Parthenon Frieze may now be viewed on-line stone by stone despite its component blocks being separated into three museums in France, Greece, and the UK:

The virtual tour of the frieze, which is over a metre wide and 160 metres long, includes an introduction and a stone by stone description of the frieze in both Greek and English. Furthermore, the photographs of the original blocks, many of which are incomplete due to damage, are supplemented with drawings of the missing sections dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Greek governments preparations to host the 2004 Olympics and gambit to replace the Elgin Marbles (the so-called Parthenon Marbles) includes the attractive New Acropolis Museum.

Posted by the Flea at 11:20 AM

Paul's Blog watch

If and when Paul Martin becomes leader of Canada's federal Liberal party and subsequently Canada's next Prime Minister his weblog will be a first for anyone in a comparable role. Shame he has not updated it since June 11.

What is a weblog, or "blog", you may ask? According to Paul's Blog:

No, it’s not a swamp creature. It’s a term used to describe an internet trend that has exploded over the last decade. A blog is a small web page made up of short, regularly updated messages that are arranged in chronological order — like a “what’s new” page, or a journal.

If anyone at Paul Martin's campaign is reading this - and the Flea's referral log suggests you are - try asking our next Prime Minister what a "permalink" is.

Posted by the Flea at 11:07 AM | Comments (3)

Barbie is known for her wide-ranging career

Barbie has had many occupations over the years. Astronaut, gadfly and Presidential candidate, Barbie still found time to pick up sign language.

Little did we know, Barbie has has been leading a number of secret double-lives as a horror movie diva, cartoon character, and all around goth girl. The Flea hesitates to report what Ken has been up to (via plep).

Posted by the Flea at 10:58 AM

t.A.T.u. meet Juemilia

Ersatz-lesbian pop-duo t.A.T.u. failed to take home Eurovision for Russia but their circle of international admirers can only continue to grow now they have spawned a Japanese clone act. The "informarion" at Juemilia's official website is written in characters I cannot ready so the Flea is reduced to looking at the pretty pictures and listening to the cover of "All the things she said" sung in English and Japanese. You can find it and "Debut Maxi Single" in their discography section.

Some Googling reveals Juemilia are not the first to cash in on the lesbian school-girls in uniform marketing craze (?). MetaFilter reports on "presumed girls" Suitei Shoujo.

Posted by the Flea at 10:43 AM | Comments (1)

June 24, 2003

Kylie Part Deux

Today's installment of Kylie Week at the Flea™ is dedicated to Abraca-Pocus! having scooped the Flea's favourite Kylie cameo: the Green Fairy! Hmm... must go study Kylie-themed quiz so as not to drop the ball again tomorrow.

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Posted by the Flea at 09:45 AM | Comments (3)

Spike TV

Risking lawsuits from diminuitive American directors is only part of the Flea's mandate (via the Chaos Overlord). Spike Lee may win his absurd claim his own-brand has been diminished by Spike TV leaving us stuck with the less dramatically named New TNN. Flea-readers north of the border should be so lucky. Canadian broadcast regulations hand power to an unelected body of guardians for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice called the CRTC. A complaint has reportedly been made to the CRTC by the operators of a digital "men's" channel nobody has heard of who are concerned the rebranded TNN impinges on their state-sanctioned monopoly on "men's" television. The vision of men's programming presented by Canadian digital television is a spectre so feeble I am loathe to contemplate it.

And think of what we will lose should the New TNN be kicked off Canadian television. Day long Friday the 13th film festivals and non-stop Next Generation Star Trek are only the beginning. Readers of Mondo Sismondo might have the impression of sober society and media commentary but the Flea has it on excellent authority MS's author is a fan of Most Extreme Elimination Challenge.

Posted by the Flea at 09:28 AM | Comments (3)

To Google or not to Google

That is the search engine (via GeekPress):

In the US Google has mutated into a verb. Singletons will "google" a new boyfriend or girlfriend - run their name through a search engine - to check them out. People now talk about "googling" and "being googled".

The Flea notes "singleton" has entered the language. Google is worried the same effect will diminish their brand-ownership as it follows a path laid out by Kleenex, Saran Wrap and all those other all too popular brands.

Robbie Williams - famous in the UK, nobody in the US of A - is happy with Google's ubiquity:

US women who initially reject his amorous advances often have a change of heart when they run his name through a search engine.

"I've since been told: 'That girl googled you because she knows who you are now.' So hurrah for googling!" says Williams. "Science got me laid."

Posted by the Flea at 08:56 AM | Comments (2)

Operatic, funky techno-pop

These were the words an anthropology professor used to describe Klaus Nomi. This particular professor's polymathic propensities perturbed me (sorry about that). With Klaus Nomi I thought I had found pop music so obscure I could stump him at last. I failed. It was in this way I learned the value of studying canon law before bedtime while channel-surfing to stay au courant rather than thinking of academic and popular cultures as mutually exclusive.

This Klaus Nomi tribute is thinking along the same lines (via b3ta).

Posted by the Flea at 08:21 AM | Comments (3)

Where are you, Angua?

Good question!

My personal life is a Brazilian soap opera, but without really hot sex on satin sheets with my twin sister's husband during an amnesia bout (cue muzak). Can someone either inject some sanity into my life, or some sex? I am not picky.

Sanity or sex is only the first choice with which the Fates confront us. Another is Newfoundland or New York.

Posted by the Flea at 08:13 AM

June 23, 2003

K is for Kylie

That's good enough for me.

Welcome to Kylie Week at the Flea™, a week devoted to providing you, the Flea-reader, with access to the finest Kylie resources of the world wide web. Today's letter K leads us to Kylie's official homepage. Do not forget to stop by the "video" section and check out her whimsical new "Love Kylie" ad. Fashionistas are sure to appreciate her continuing lingerie-related ventures.

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Posted by the Flea at 11:32 AM

A tomb with a view

Anyone feeling flush with cash should feel free to hit the Flea's alms button with the £150,000 needed to purchase a new Lair of a Flea:

One of the biggest Bronze Age burial chambers in Cornwall has been put on the market for £150,000. The barrow in West Penwith was built 4,000 years ago and was discovered two years ago by its owner, musician Nick Potter, who bought the land from relatives.

Posted by the Flea at 10:56 AM

Inca knot-writing may be a form of binary

The Inca are a satisfying anomaly for those of us teaching theories of the development of civilization. A system of writing is included in most systems for distinguishing a civilization from some other form of social organization. The Inca empire governed millions - possibly tens of millions - of people, displayed advanced skills in science, engineering and public planning and maintained whole castes of artisans producing fine art for trade. Yet the Inca did have a written language.

Quipu (or khipu) are a record-keeping system using knotted-string which have long been thought to take the place of writing for administrative, and particularly accounting, tasks. The ability to intepret quipu was lost along with the quipucamac specialists wiped out by smallpox and war at the time of the Spanish conquest. Harvard University anthropologist Gary Urton now believes he has found a "Rosetta stone" for quipu in his claim they could have stored information in binary code:

This could mean the code used by the makers allowed them to convey some 1,536 separate units of information, comparable to the estimated 1,000 to 1,500 Sumerian cuneiform signs, and double the number of signs in the hieroglyphs of the ancient Egyptians and the Maya of Central America.

Posted by the Flea at 10:50 AM

June 22, 2003

Moaning Myrtle merchandise

J. K. Rowling's books are fun and I suppose I can understand her reluctance to have Potter-branded everything. But did she have to draw the line at the Moaning Myrtle toilet-seat alarm?

"I can only say you should have seen some of the stuff that was stopped. Moaning Myrtle lavatory seat alarms and worse," Rowling said in a BBC television interview broadcast on Thursday.

Moaning Myrtle is the Flea's favourite character yet (second favourite being the Whomping Willow). I suppose I shall have to settle for a Hulk toilet-seat alarm.

Posted by the Flea at 10:26 PM | Comments (1)

These bearskin shoes are made for walking

Prehistoric 'shoes' made out of bearskin and hay are better for mountain walks than modern hiking boots, claims an expert. Shoe specialist Petr Hlavacek has been studying the shoes found on the feet of a prehistoric iceman whose mummified body was found in an Alpine glacier in 1991.

Bearskin lined with hay is very breathable, apparently, allowing the feet to stay dry in the cold and damp. The orginals are kept at a South Tyrol Museum dedicated to the ice age hunter. Hlavacek's reconstructions are on display at the German Leather Museum in Offenbach.

Posted by the Flea at 10:17 PM | Comments (1)

"Slovakian Skeleton" enters Wimbleton

She's being called the "Slovakian Skeleton" and officials fear for the health of Daniela Hantuchova as the Wimbledon tennis tournament starts in London tomorrow. The waif-like 20-year- old is the ninth seed, but she may be one of the most-watched players amid widespread speculation she is suffering from anorexia.

This New York Post article cites Hantuchova's claim her weight-loss is due to over-exercise. The Flea is no medical expert but in this lay opinion her image is distressing and disturbing.

Posted by the Flea at 05:59 PM | Comments (1)

June 21, 2003

What Element (heh, heh...) Are You?

FISH!
Xenon! You're the "strange one." HOORAY
FOR POKEY!!!!!


What Element (heh, heh...) Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

(via View From the Back Window of My Pickup Truck)

Posted by the Flea at 03:49 PM

The next James Bond

Clive Owen should, in the Raging Kraut's humble opinion, be the next James Bond. The Flea could not agree more. I had the same thought while watching The Croupier. Other reasonable candidates include Ewan McGregor, Hugh Jackman or Christian Bale. And before you point out Ewan McGregor might have to stand on a box to do the part allow me to run this horrific two-word scenario by you: Tom Cruise. Besides, McGregor would be the first Scot to play the part for some time.

I had not realized those BMW short-films were available on DVD. Yet another thing on the list of things to buy.

Posted by the Flea at 03:10 PM | Comments (42)

Major problem identified with gay marriage

Marduk points out a problem with gay marriage which makes the the Flea's ghostly shoulders shudder:

It looks like the Canada judiciary has, surprisingly, found its balls to do the right thing and sanction legal gay marriage. The problem is, that means that over the next year or so I can expect that I will have to attend at least 4, maybe 5 weddings. That means the dreaded tuxedo, tie, socks (from April until October I don't wear socks), shitty food, and worst of all, innumerable renditions of the execrable "I will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor, who should be tortured and shot.

Posted by the Flea at 11:45 AM

Like a reverse Superman

This is the best description of our blogging identities I have read. Sophia Sideshow's mysterious super-producer calls himself a reverse Superman with a secret identity as an independent journalist.

Posted by the Flea at 11:26 AM

Henry Wellcome's astonishing collection of medical artefacts

Henry Wellcome was a "pharmacist, entrepreneur and philanthropist" collected more than one million medical artifacts by the end of his life:

The overwhelming size of Wellcome's hoard, and the rather shocking fact that he never set eyes on some of it, suggests he lacked the finesse and dedication of the conoisseur. He bought job lots. Other men did his buying. Was this the vacuum cleaner approach to collecting? What sort of collector wants thousands of apparently identical ethnographic spears? Or buys 516 pairs of obstetric forceps? Or just cannot stop at 850 Roman votive objects if the 851st turns out to be a clay ear that's a different shape from all his other clay ears?

The British Museum's Medicine Man: The Forgotten Museum of Henry Wellcome exhibition runs from 26 June-16 November. Forgotten to many perhaps but not forgotten by the Flea. Abracadabra: the magic of medicine was a 1997 exhibition at the Wellcome Trust's small gallery space at their Euston Rd. HQ in London. I had it entirely to myself. The display included a first edition copy of the Malleus Maleficarum and the obsidian mirror through which John Dee claimed to receive communications from the angel Uriel.

Posted by the Flea at 10:32 AM

Ancient rice wine found in Xi'an

About five kilograms of light green rice wine were found in the western China city of Xi'an Friday afternoon when Chinese archaeologists unearthed a bronze wine jar shaped like a phoenix head.

The wine, which was believed to date to the Western Han Dynasty(206 BC-24 AD), was the best-preserved and largest quantity ever found.

And this People's Daily article includes a photo of the wine jar.

Posted by the Flea at 10:18 AM

An uplifting story of Phoenix justice

Right We Are! reports an uplifting story with inspirational meaning to Canadians denied the second amendment rights of our American cousins.

Posted by the Flea at 01:15 AM

Running List Of BlogSpot Defectors

The Flea is honoured to be among the Second 100 Defectors in Wizbang's explosively unique record of the BlogSpot exodus.

I am equally pleased by the new folks turning up to take a look at the MT-powered Flea. BugSplat archives are in transit so, for the new and curious, historic Flea can for the moment be found at the old Flea manor.

Posted by the Flea at 01:08 AM

June 20, 2003

Terminator becomes a gay icon

... spoiler alert ...

Arnold Schwarzenegger's man-machine menace reportedly enters a gay night club in search of clothes at the beginning of the soon to be released Terminator III: Rise of the Machines (via GeekPress). Schwarzenegger denies this is a naked grab for gay cult status:

"The Terminator has been associated with leather. It's the most memorable kind of outfit that was created for any character in the history of motion pictures. I think the gay population is part of our society and the Terminator is an icon character for people who are gay or not gay - liking him has nothing to do with sexual preference."

Posted by the Flea at 11:02 AM

German police arrest cow

No need for commentary on this one:

Drivers on the A7 motorway near Neumuenster called police after seeing the animal on the road. Officers found the cow in a row of bushes alongside the motorway. It took them 30 minutes and the help of a local farmer to catch it. Since they had no other vehicle to transport the cow in, they officially declared it arrested.

Posted by the Flea at 10:57 AM

Scottish empire in the Panama jungle

BBC Scotland sent a film crew to investigate the remains of a peculiar venture to build a 17th century Scottish empire:

"On one level it was complete folly to put so much of Scotland's hopes for the future in one basket, but in another way you can see what they were trying to achieve.

"If Darien had succeeded, Scotland may have remained independent with the possibility that the United Kingdom would never have been created."

The Darien venture may have failed. Another Scottish empire is still a going concern.

Posted by the Flea at 10:48 AM

Countdown to Kylie Week at the Flea

You have asked for... nay, demanded!... Kylie Week at the Flea and so it shall be done. Call this T-minus two or three or whatever it is counting backwards from next Monday, June 23 (hey, that MT calendar is already coming in handy).

Let joyous word ring out across the blogosphere! Kylie Week is near!

"Kylie Week at the Flea" has no legal relationship with Kylie or her noted posterior. Kylie does not, as far as I know, endorse "Kylie Week at the Flea" or any of the Flea's feeble attempts to interpret her life and thought.

Posted by the Flea at 10:36 AM | Comments (1)

Gay Marriage in Ontario

Some bawdy etiquette on the subject of gay marriage in Ontario (via the Architect):

Now that gay marriage is legal in Ontario, here are some rules we should
follow:

1) On the day of a gay wedding, it's bad luck for the two grooms to see each
other at the gym.

2) Superstition suggests that for good luck the couple should have:
Something bold, something flirty, something trashy, something dirty.

3) It's customary at gay and lesbian nuptials for the parents to have an
open bar during the entire ceremony.

4) Gay wedding tradition dictates that both grooms refrain from eating any
of the wedding cake because it's all carbs and sugar.

5) It's considered bad luck for either of the grooms to have dated the
priest.

6) During the first dance, it's considered unlucky to use glow sticks,
flags, whistles or hand held lasers.

7) For good luck at the union of a drag queen, the bouquet is always thrown
in the face of a hated rival.

8) The reception hall must have a disco ball and at least 1 go-go dancer.

9) The wedding singer is not allowed to play/sing Let's Hear It For the
Boy, It's Raining Men or I Will Survive.

10) The father of the Bottom pays for everything!

Posted by the Flea at 01:52 AM

Christie Pitts by night

The Flea cycles at speed through the Annex by night. Perhaps the best view of downtown Toronto (and there are some good views) is from the north side of Christie Pitts by night. The air had a hallucinatory clarity tonight with the bank towers etched against the sky and a surreal arc of sprinklers tending the fields below.

I have an exam to run tomorrow evening. It is written and ready for copying so no problem there despite my early inter-city commute. The problem is... not so much of a problem as I type this... my distraction with a new relationship in my life which I would much rather pursue to the exclusion of anything else. Fortunately, my job is at the centre of what I am about and this blogging hobby is a joyful obligation so there is plenty left over despite the wonder of a glowing baseball diamond at the early a.m. in downtown Toronto.

To all you Americans who read this blog: come visit Toronto. You have heard about the SARS and the decriminalization of marijuana and the gay marriage and suddenly this is a "world class city" despite itself for all the fuss. Think instead about an early a.m. visit to the north side of Christie Pitts and a stillness and majesty which equals anything I have seen in London or Paris or New York. This is a good place to be.

Posted by the Flea at 01:46 AM | Comments (2)

June 19, 2003

The modern destruction of the Temple Mount

There is no evidence of any kind to suggest that Moslems of Mohammed’s day recognized the Mount as anything other than a Jewish holy site writes Richard Benkin:

Ominously for our civilization, the Mount’s Moslem officials (Waqf), with backing from Mecca and elsewhere in the Moslem world, are attempting to destroy an archeological and biblical heritage and subvert the historical record in the service of transitory political goals.

Posted by the Flea at 03:09 PM

600 "Christians" equate SARS and AIDS with Pride Week

Damian Penny reports a demonstration of six-hundred people protesting Ontario Court of Appeals ruling granting consitutional recognition of gay marriage and the upcoming Pride Week in Toronto:

The "Christian right" may not have as much power up here as it does in the United States, but that doesn't mean we don't have religious nuts of our own

One protestor claimed SARS would end if only the "AIDS parade" would be cancelled. I have never understood the fixation some people have with disease and their evident glee in the suffering of people with whom they disagree. It strikes me as an attitude in profound opposition to the teachings of Christ even, and especially, if their personal views are in opposition to "homosexuality":

When Jesus heard it, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
Mark 2:17

The Flea does not claim to speak for all Christians. But those protestors do not speak for me as a Christian.

Posted by the Flea at 02:06 PM | Comments (1)

Kylie gets hair extensions

Kylie's seven-hour and US$5000 image-update is difficult to distinguish from Classic Kylie. Her extensions are reported to make her hair longer than it has been from years. The Flea's Kylie-Fever-2002 live in Manchester DVD (playing as I type this) begs to differ.

Posted by the Flea at 01:19 PM | Comments (11)

UK television war coverage ruled impartial

Despite complaints of bias in war coverage British television watchdog the ITC ruled news broadcasters did not violate impartiality rules. How did the BBC's blatant bias pass inspection? Easy. The complaints were not directed at the Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation but at FOX News.

And then... Give War A Chance takes on a selection of BBC poll-respondants for their views on America (via Pejmanesque).

Posted by the Flea at 12:31 PM

Crop circles not made by aliens after all

Pravda means "barking moonbats" in Russian yet even Pravda's enthusiasm for aliens and time-travel balks at aliens as the source of all those pesky crop circles. They are, rather, the result of a conspiracy by international corporations:

It is a natural process and harmless, but mysterious circles do appear. However, after the process was investigated, someone decided to use process for a specific purpose. It is clear that modern technologies can duplicate this natural phenomenon without difficulties. Since the early 1980s some formations have begun to appear, they were different from a simple circle as they had some patterns, geometrical figures, which signified that it was the product of someone's evil mind.

Posted by the Flea at 12:20 PM | Comments (3)

American gay couples advised against Toronto marriage trips

American gay couples can now travel to Ontario for a civil marriage. Ontario, unlike the Netherlands or Belgium, does not require a couple to be Ontario residents or Canadian citizens to marry in the province. Even so, several activist groups are suggesting American gay couples not seek an Ontario marriage as their actions might complicate legal initiatives in the United States:

"Couples should absolutely not race across the border just to set up lawsuits; the wrong cases could set us back for years," a coalition of five key groups said in a joint advisory to Americans planning to join the march to the altar that centers so far in Toronto.

The Washington Times claims most marriages are recognized internationally under a legal priniciple of lex loci contractus whose intent is at least in part presumably meant to prevent violation of bigamy laws. United States courts, however, must also consider the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act signed by radical scoundrel and hypocrite President Bill Clinton.

U.S. and Canadian officials yesterday said they know of no treaty that requires states to honor Canadian marriage licenses, although they always have done so, and that fact could produce a challenge under the equal-protection clause of the Constitution's 14th Amendment.

The 14th Amendment will come into play regardless of the status of Ontario marriages in the United States. Vermont is likely to recognize gay marriages in the near future. It is the nationwide status of Vermont marriages which will test US Constitutional obligations for states to recognize marriages sanctioned by other states. The 14th Amendment, introduced in 1868 as part of Reconstruction following the Civil War, has encountered an analogous situation in the past as "inter-racial" marriages granted in one state provoked outrage in others.

Posted by the Flea at 11:57 AM

June 18, 2003

Lord of the Rings coins to become legal tender in New Zealand

The currency has been commissioned by New Zealand Post to coincide with the release of the final part of Peter Jackson's movie trilogy, The Return of the King, in December. Officials are deciding which famous characters from the big screen version of JRR Tolkien's novels will appear on the coins but hope to finalise plans in July.

Gollum coins are sure to be a hit.

Posted by the Flea at 09:22 PM | Comments (7)

15th-century status symbol...

... or proto pocket-protector, found under the floor and wedged into a drain-pipe at Edinburgh Castle:

The simple counter - which would have been used to play backgammon or as a prototype calculator - may have been dropped by a member of King James IV’s court, as he counted his riches or relaxed with his fellow aristocrats.

Posted by the Flea at 08:50 PM | Comments (1)

Montreal WalMart sells new Harry Potter in advance of release date

Whether it's luck, a mistake or maybe a little magic, a copy of the newest Harry Potter book is in the hands of a Montreal woman before its official release.

Melissa, who spoke to The Gazette on the condition her last name not be used, bought Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the highly anticipated fifth volume in J.K. Rowling's series, on June 12 at a Wal-Mart on the South Shore.

Melissa was not so shy as to avoid having her picture taken for the Montreal Gazette. Must now rattle chains in irritation for lack of own copy of the new Harry Potter.

Posted by the Flea at 08:36 PM | Comments (5)

"Go to Toronto," says Alberta Justice Minister

A depressing prospect for the constitutional rights of Albertans suggests the Flea. A gleam of hope for Toronto's beleaguered tourism industry suggests Mondo Sismondo:

If Toronto's restaurants and hotels can recoup losses thanks to other provinces' intolerance, we should play this up as efficiently and grandly as possible.

Posted by the Flea at 08:07 PM

Blogspot exodus

Dean Esmay, a blogger and a gentleman, has helped one more blogger to escape the clutches of BlogSpot. Dean, the Flea is in your debt.

Posted by the Flea at 06:21 PM | Comments (3)

And Dean Said, "Let There Be Blog"

And lo, it was so.

Posted by the Flea at 12:44 PM | Comments (6)

June 01, 2003

Driving out ghosts

Indian village plans Hindu religious ceremony to drive ghost from a school toilet, or so reports Ananova:

Sub-Inspector of Police Hakim Singh told United News of India: ''Nobody has seen the ghost, but the school toilet, suspected to be the devil's den, was brought down by villagers.'' The villagers, who believe the ghost is still haunting the school, say they are determined to hold a yagya (a fire purification ceremony) to exorcise the ''ghost'' and to bring girls back to school.

As disturbing as ghostly exorcism is to the Flea this story has a synchronistic aspect. A second look at Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets prompted by a recent gift reminded me what a disappointment the film was in comparison with the book. One bright spot was Shirley Henderson's Moaning Myrtle. Henderson's goth aplomb features in her portrayal of Marie Melmotte in The Way We Live Now, a four-part serialization of Trollope's novel whose first episode aired this evening on Masterpiece Theater. The Flea would fall for her with or without her father's fortune (unlike that cad Sir Felix!).

Posted by the Flea at 11:45 AM