December 31, 2003



Some Viking longship action underway in Edinburgh. Anyone for roast Spam?

A 40 foot-long (12 meters) viking longship is burned on Calton Hill in Edinburgh, as the launch-pad for the city's Hogmanay (New Year) celebrations, December 29, 2003. The festival was attended by thousands of spectators and people dressed as Vikings from Shetland.
Posted by the Flea at 10:29 AM | Comments (1)

Flea Dance Party 2003

Several tunes have kept the Flea's phantom toes tapping throughout the year. Tunak Tunak Tun was a hit-generating machine while Laibach was an office-favourite. Satisfaction is sure to please power-tool fanciers, breakfast enthusiastics can croon along with spoon in hand to Milk and cereal and who has not nodded their head as they asked the eternal question: What is love?

All these and more I have loved but none so much as my favourite of the year 2003...

the Cheeky Girls!

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

Contract law

"As a small token of your friendship Sauron asks this," he said: "that you should find this thief," such was his word, "and get from him, willing or no, a little ring, the least of rings, that once he stole. It is but a trifle that Sauron fancies, and an earnest of your good will. Find it, and three rings that the Dwarf-sires possessed of old shall be returned to you, and the realm of Moria shall be yours for ever. Find only news of the thief, whether he still lives and where, and you shall have great reward and lasting friendship from the Lord. Refuse, and things will not seem so well. Do you refuse?"
--The Fellowship of the Ring, in "The Council of Elrond"

Heidi Bond discusses Sauron's contractual obligations in an offer reportedly made to Dáin, Lord of the Dwarves of the Iron Hills, King under the Mountain and King of Durin's Folk.

A few comments on material facts: You might say that Sauron should have disclosed the Balrog living in the deeps of Moria. But the Dwarves had ancient records of Moria which probably mention this, and Sauron is old enough to imagine that the Dwarves knew. It seems silly to require disclosure of a fact which, though admittedly material, is known to both parties, even though they never actually mention it to each other. The same sort of reasoning applies to the fact that the Dwarven rings are actually tainted (although Dwarves tend to resist his power a little better than men).
Posted by the Flea at 10:11 AM

Page 217

Life of a Flea, line 1-2, pg. 217 of 300 (via Red Wheelbarrow).

...was after the divorce but they remained the best of friends. "I should be so lucky," he often thought to himself.
Posted by the Flea at 10:07 AM


Judie Dench meets H.R. Giger as Pitch Black has at long last spawned its sequel.

Posted by the Flea at 10:05 AM

A hero will rise

Spongebob Squarepants: the movie.

Everyone will want to dive in and soak up every second of this full-length animated feature when SpongeBob, one of Nickelodeon's most absorbing characters, makes a huge splash in his first venture onto the big screen.
Posted by the Flea at 10:04 AM | Comments (1)

Royal Marines Commando

99.99% need not apply.

Do you have the strength of mind to become a Royal Marines Commando?
Posted by the Flea at 10:02 AM


The Flea tips a spectral hat to December visitors from Jersey, Belize, Vietnam, Kenya, Vatican City, Moldavia, Niue, Bermuda, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Dominican Republic, Latvia, Honduras, Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Pakistan, Andorra, Fiji, Malta, Morocco, Venezuela, Kyrgyzstan, a United Nations server, Afghanistan, Thailand, Ukraine, Gibraltar, Lebanon, South Korea, Oman, Trinidad and Tobago, Jordan, Columbia, Brunei Darussalam, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Bulgaria, Qatar, Chile, South Africa, Egypt, Peru, Indonesia, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Syria, India, United Arab Emirates, Cyprus, Romania, Yugoslavia, Slovenia, Slovak Republic, Luxembourg, Ireland, Russia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Cayman Islands, Spain, Malaysia, Croatia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Austria, Portugal, Hungary, Argentina, Switzerland, Estonia, Iceland, Denmark, Poland, Philippines, Singapore, Brazil, Italy, Belgium, Norway, Finland, Mexico, New Zealand, Taiwan, Germany, France, Sweden, Hong Kong, Israel, the Netherlands, Greece, Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan, the United States and Canada.

I am pleased especially to see a hit or two from Vietnam, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. Truly, love of Kylie unites us all in peace and justice. And now, peoples of the world, is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 10:01 AM | Comments (3)

December 30, 2003



Paola and Chiara are a new Flea favourite. What's Italian for cheesecake? Call me Landru because I am here for Festival (and I cannot believe I just wrote that).

Festival, io sento questa musica,
che ci prende l'anima
Festival, sei tu la mia felicita
La mia notte magica
Posted by the Flea at 11:10 AM | Comments (3)

Date with Kylie

There is something vaguely offensive about this. A 21-year-old Canterbury student has bet £25 he can convince Kylie Minogue to go out on a date with him in 2004 and William Hill has offered him good odds. The cads!

He said: "100/1 sounds like I would have a good chance. It's nice to think that I have got a much better chance of dating Kylie than winning the lottery." Mr Allen - also a keen rugby player, fencer and horse rider - said the bet was prompted by his experiences in Canterbury, where he is studying law at the University of Kent. He said: "I have a bit of a reputation with some people at my university for being a ladies' man, hence the idea for the bet."

And then... On an unrelated note, can kindly Flea-readers please tell me the MT code that would allow me to put quoted text in boxes? Preferably with a very light-grey fill? I am thinking I would like to more clearly define materials I am quoting than simple italicizing but am not certain how the end result will look at the Flea until I try it.

And then... The new-look text-box is courtesy of the Raging Kraut!

Posted by the Flea at 11:09 AM | Comments (5)

Superman T-shirt

I feel compelled to point out nobody wearing a Batman T-shirt would rob a bank let alone be caught minutes later waiting on a breakfast order.

A Jackson man wearing a blue Superman T-shirt robbed a bank, then headed to a nearby fast food restaurant for breakfast before his arrest, police said. Timothy Johnson, 35, was in jail facing charges of robbing a Trustmark bank branch after being nabbed Monday with the blue T-shirt still on minutes after the robbery, police said. Police said he was waiting for his order at a Krystal restaurant.
Posted by the Flea at 11:08 AM

Stonehenge 360

Panoramic views of Stonehenge are nice.

Posted by the Flea at 11:06 AM

Aircraft carrier

A $2000 deposit and a winning eBay bid in the six-million dollar range buy you a decommissioned aircraft carrier. Suggested uses include "tourist attraction, ocean-restaurant, museum, amusement park, hotel-on-the-ocean, etc." I think "floating Bond-villain headquarters of a Flea" would also work well. My favourite part of this auction is not my alarm at other possible uses for the vessel but that this ship-broker will accept payment by PayPal.

Posted by the Flea at 11:05 AM

Neutral zone

I like the Tholians. Also the Iconians and their mastery of intersteller portals to Toronto City Hall. Find out more using an alien ship database that provides one more solution to your time-wasting needs. A variety of galactic maps are another (including an impressive Voyager route-map from a book sent to me by a generous Flea-reader!).

Posted by the Flea at 11:04 AM

Zip code

This zip code decoder could come in handy. I always register my faux U.S. addresses as 90210 naturally.

Posted by the Flea at 11:03 AM | Comments (1)

The West

The aptly named John West discusses The Lord of the Rings as a defense of Western civilization and a warning for "the disrepair into which Western civilization has fallen".

As Tolkien would sometimes write, "We face Mordor in our midst." Since September 11, it is easier for most of us to believe that.

West's argument takes on issues of natural law, freedom, transcendence and the Fall. One passage is an apt reminder to reject moral equivalence.

The Lord of the Rings does not glorify war, but it does suggest that its profound tragedy may be unavoidable in a fallen world. When the Warden of the Houses of Healing in Gondor laments to Lady Eowyn that "the world is full enough of hurts and mischances without wars to multiply them," Eowyn responds tartly: "It needs but one foe to breed a war, not two." Good people cannot stop a war merely by turning the other cheek.

At a more general level, Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings challenges the utopian thinking that prevents one from taking sides in a moral controversy because no side is perfect. Far from portraying the conflict between good and evil as a battle between cardboard people who are perfectly good or perfectly evil, The Lord of the Rings does a superb job in uncovering the conflicting and even dishonourable motives of those on the "right" side of the controversy - think of Boromir and Denethor. But part of the recognition of the Fall is to realize that though no person is wholly good or wholly evil, one is still obliged to fight on the side of justice, even if one's side is tainted by sin and impure motives. "Ther are... conflicts about important things or ideas," wrote Tolkien. "In such cases I am more impressed by the extreme importance of being on the right side, than I am disturbed by the revelation of the jungle of confused motives, private purposes, and individual actions (noble or base) in which the right and the wrong in actual human conflicts are commonly involved."
Posted by the Flea at 11:00 AM | Comments (2)

December 29, 2003

The Great War


"Frodo and the Marshes of the Great War" reports Priscilla Tolkien's contention that much of her father's writing was in response to his experiences in the trenches of the Somme. This is the first time I have read in detail just what Tolkien survived and just how many of his close friends did not. This is harrowing stuff and concludes with a moving comment on the character of Samwise Gamgee.

Tolkiens first experience on the front came on Friday 14th July with an unsuccesful attack on the village of Ovillers. British gunfire should have destroyed the barbed wire defences in front of the German trenches, but it had not, as the men found out when they crawled and runned towards the German lines. Many of his battalion were killed by machine gun fire. After 48 hours of carnage, followed by 24 hours in a dug-out, Tolkien's unit was relieved. When he returned to his hut in Bouzincourt he found a letter telling him that Rob Gilson, one of his dearest friends, had been hit by a shell.

Posted by the Flea at 09:08 AM | Comments (1)


A website chronicles a soldier's funeral: Texas style (via Argghhh!!!).

When we turned off the highway suddenly there were teenage boys along both sides of the street about every 20 feet or so, all holding large American flags on long flag poles, and again with their hands on their hearts. We thought at first it was the Boy Scouts or 4H club or something, but it continued .... for two and a half miles.

Posted by the Flea at 09:05 AM

War rugs

Despite the typos, prices make this a good resource for Afghan "war rugs". A better introduction to this style can be found here, here and here. I own a small Turkoman rug that is about ten years old depicting what I now discover to be a Soviet HIP-8 troop carrying helicopter and a BMD-2 armoured troop carrier. Alongside them is an AK-74 and a stain of blood.

Shortly after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan smaller rugs bearing images of Soviet weaponry began showing up in the world's markets. They came in a range of sizes and were woven by many of the different groups who had traditionally woven rugs in Afghanistan.

I had a friend who had lived for some time in Baku, Azerbaijan having grown up in Dubai. She was appalled by war rugs, seeing them as artifacts of a kind of voyeuristic tourism that only served to undermine traditional weaving styles and a history of non-representational art in Islamic cultures. There is no question her knowledge of the region is superior to mine but I think she was mistaken in this. If anything, it is an international market for traditional rugs that fetishizes a fantasy of flying carpets while ignoring the devastation wrought by Soviet occupation, warlordism and the disaster of the Pakistani-funded order of the Taliban. I look at these rugs and see a woven scream.

Posted by the Flea at 09:03 AM

Fictional flags

An index of fictional flags is another excellent use of "the internet".

Posted by the Flea at 09:01 AM

December 27, 2003

C is for Cookie

You are a snickerdoodle.
What Kind of Cookie Are You?

brought to you by Quizilla

This cookie quiz comes courtesy of Classical Values. The eerie coincidence of results continues (and his punishment will be announced as soon as I figure out how he cheated in a related matter!).

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


This Shakespearen Insulter is sure to come in handy.

[May] the worm of conscience still begnaw thy soul.
Taken from: Richard III

Posted by the Flea at 10:27 AM | Comments (2)

Dancin' Ross

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 10:26 AM


An Ukranian orthopaedic surgeon takes on the "fable" of Joan of Arc and in doing demonstrates rather more confidence in forensic osteology than I possess. This sort of thing makes my head hurt.

One skeleton, in particular, shocked him. "The bones indicate that the woman wore heavy armour and had developed muscles that I have seen in other fighters of the age. For instance to ride a war horse took special kinds of skills and training which you can detect from the remains if you have enough experience," he said. "Each skeleton is as distinctive as a fingerprint. Each bears signs of wear or disease that allow you to match them up. You can establish family relations using skeletons with a fantastic degree of accuracy."

Posted by the Flea at 10:24 AM

Metal detecting

The coroner of the Isle of Wight credits enthusiasts with metal detecters for "expanding our knowledge and changing it out of all recognition." The claim comes hard on the heals of the discovery of a Roman coin hoard.

IW Council archaeological officer Frank Basford said two rare Roman gold coins and seven silver coins from a period immediately preceding the collapse of the Roman Empire made up the hoard discovered in a Shalfleet field.
One gold coin came from the Lyon mint during the reign of Eugenius between AD 393 and 394 and the other was minted in Milan during the seven-year reign of Arcadius, which ended in AD 402. He said the coins had probably been in one hoard, which had been disturbed by ploughing and distributed within a radius of several metres.

Posted by the Flea at 10:24 AM

December 26, 2003

Boxing Day

This is a family day at the Flea... enjoy your turkey left-overs and may the forces of bargain-hunting be with you!

Posted by the Flea at 11:11 AM | Comments (1)

December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance (with tongue firmly in cheek).

Merry Christmas!

Posted by the Flea at 12:01 AM | Comments (2)

December 24, 2003

The great stories


Frodo Baggins: I can't do this Sam.

Sam Gamgee: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding on to Sam?

Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.

Posted by the Flea at 07:07 AM | Comments (4)


I had my speakers turned up too loud when I clicked through to this Botticelli Mystic Nativity site.

At first inspection the painting appears to depict another typical Christmas scene, however it is loaded with symbolism and the millennial prophesies of Savonarola, the demagogic Dominican friar. The amazing accuracy of these prophesies brought him to power between the expulsion of the autocratic Medici family in 1494 and his ultimate overthrow and execution in 1498. He linked the French invasion of Italy in 1494 to the coming Apocalypse and, to ensure Florence's salvation he stressed the avoidance of worldly excess, lighting the original Bonfire of the Vanities.

Posted by the Flea at 07:06 AM

Specs of the Century

It's Specs of the Century... live from Norwich! (And via b3ta.)

Posted by the Flea at 07:05 AM

Imperfect symmetry

Photos of snowflakes offer a contemplative moment.

Brushes with other snow crystals, changes in humidity and temperature, the effects of sublimation and the trauma of landing on earth all take a random toll on their crystalline structure. Like us mortals, snowflakes show the wear and tear - but also polish and glitter - of the cumulative effects of existence. They emerge from their experience unique, irregular, complex.

Posted by the Flea at 07:04 AM | Comments (1)

The Third Space

I did not know what I was looking at until I read the instructions. I was pleased with myself when I found the Song Cube. The third place is something else again.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM


Cronaca posts a selection from a Times of London article detailing traditional farming techniques espoused by contemporary environmentalists. The irony is that medieval farming methods introduced high levels of cancer causing dioxins and other toxic substances to the soil (with a hat tip to Fred Kiesche).

Posted by the Flea at 07:02 AM

December 23, 2003

LoveKylie 2004


Smart, popular and pretty, Kylie Minogue's new calendar is a best-seller for the second year in a row.

Posted by the Flea at 10:27 AM | Comments (1)


Noted Shakespearean and Canadian living treasure William Shatner has gone again where we so notably went before.

William Shatner has recorded a new album featuring a guest appearance by US punk legend Henry Rollins. Shatner, who played Captain James T Kirk in the original TV series of Star Trek, has also enlisted Joe Jackson and US country star Brad Paisley to guest on the album.

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


Ith posts a list of cameos in The Return of the King. I want to add several thoughts of my own:

is it just me or was that the Battle of Hoth Fields;
complete with Legolas swinging up underneath an Imperial Walker;
and those were Aliens guarding the tower of Cirith Ungol right? I figure these Watchers were an homage to the Alien-ish Shelob fighting-stylee.

I need to see the film again before confirming my suspected Gone with the Wind references.

Posted by the Flea at 10:14 AM | Comments (3)


The original provides context for an internet in-joke.

Posted by the Flea at 10:11 AM

Weiner dog

This only confirms my choice for hypothetical pet of the future.

As at least three art historians allege, St. George never vanquished a dragon, as legend asserts. Over the centuries, after countless retellings, the story has been slightly embellished. Quoting from an ancient fifth-century scroll (and usually in unison), they maintain that George rode into the countryside that famous day to dispatch "an extremely long and mean little creature living near a well-traveled road in the north of England that caused great irritation to passersby, be they Angle or Saxon." And this so-called creature, these same historians theorize, was most assuredly a wiener dog. The subsequent discovery of this very old painting has only reinforced the views of these three experts, causing them to become insufferable dinner guests.

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


The Meatriarchy just passed through the blogversary barrier!

Posted by the Flea at 10:09 AM

Argghhh!!!, he said

The master of the Tula Arsenal has been interviewed at Jennifer's History and Stuff.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Depends. How big is this sucker? How big is the wood in question? Has he trained for the event, or is he just winging it? What's his motivation level? Has he been under fire for weeks, with poor rations, or is he fresh from boffing Ms. Chuck and feelin' chipper? Are Ms. Chuck and/or his drinking buddies watching, or is he having to do this as punishment from his parents on a hot August afternoon. In the words of HAL, "Insufficient Data for a Meaningful Answer." Did I mention I was a contract analyst working for the government?

Posted by the Flea at 10:07 AM

Bernard Pivot

I interviewed Bruce Campbell for a National Post article I wrote connected to his recent work of biographical genius. I did not get to include his response to Bernard Pivot's interview questions but will post them here when I get a free afternoon some time in 2004...

In the meantime, Flea-readers can make their own comparisons with this on-line Personality Profile. Fair warning: this abominable quiz thinks I am somehow like Hugh Grant.

Posted by the Flea at 10:06 AM | Comments (1)

Tis the season

The Flea gasps in ghostly gladness to receive another delightful Christmas card... thanks!

Posted by the Flea at 10:06 AM

Edam and Eve

So begins the Bible according to cheese.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very gouda. And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day.

Posted by the Flea at 10:05 AM

Gospel of Thomas

77. Jesus said, "I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there."

I keep a copy of the Gospel of Thomas on the shelf by my desk. It is a reminder of those works by the early Christians that were not taken up by later committees. A few scholars place the Gospel of Thomas alongside the synoptic gospels and the Gospel of John.

Elaine Pagels is part of that minority, which sees certain verses in John as refutations of Thomasine thought and a valuable illustration of how the early Christian communities lobbied for their version of Christ and his message. "I'm not saying [John] was responding to Thomas as written, because there may not have been a written text [yet]," she says. "But after you study them, it is inconceivable that the Gospel of John is not responding to some of these ideas." In her book Beyond Belief, Pagels adopts an argument proposed by Claremont Graduate University religion professor Gregory Riley. John's author, she says, was infuriated by Thomas' suggestion that Christians could gain salvation through esoteric knowledge and internal quest rather than straightforward belief in Jesus' divinity and atoning sacrifice. She claims that John "hammers home" that displeasure in a series of prickly interactions between Christ and—who else?—the Apostle Thomas.

To my mind, the phrase "esoteric knowledge and internal quest" misunderestimates this Gospel. This is like saying Christians believe they are saved by being ducked under water (though I suppose there are some who do) rather than understanding baptism to be a symbol or sacrement. The Gospel of Thomas is a clearly gnostic, and in this limited sense, esoteric text but the "quest" is not a new age, Jungian contemplation. It propounds revelation and salvation fully consistent with the Word revealed in other scripture. This gospel teaches through parables and is closer to the Sermon on the Mount than anything else in the canonical Bible.

107. Jesus said, "The (Father's) kingdom is like a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. One of them, the largest, went astray. He left the ninety-nine and looked for the one until he found it. After he had toiled, he said to the sheep, 'I love you more than the ninety-nine.'"

Posted by the Flea at 10:03 AM | Comments (1)


Fifty Medicis are to be exhumed and their remains examined to learn something of how they lived and to determine just how everyone was related (those rumours about the LeMarchand family connection are no doubt false).

The first members of the family who ruled Florence from the 15th century to 1737 will be removed from the Medici Chapels in Michelangelo's church of San Lorenzo in June. Experts say DNA testing could yield some "sensational surprises" and also provide a true family tree, showing who was related - and who not - and who their natural fathers were.

Posted by the Flea at 10:01 AM | Comments (2)

Mobile phone

I am posting this early in case anyone in southern Ontario with mobile phone advice is up late. I am after a cell phone to use in Toronto, Kitchener/Waterloo and the highway between. I have pamplets from Bell, Rogers, Fido and Telus and cannot make heads or tails of them. I am after a reliable phone for occasional event coordination and for emergencies on the road. I do not see why I would need something to take pictures or play Tetris, etc. Any suggestions? Are there models of phone to seek out/avoid? Is it better to pay-as-I-go or get a fixed term contract? I have been told Fido has bad coverage and I have a long history of fear and loathing of Bell and Rogers. This left me leaning toward Telus and a Kyocera phone but their pamphlet is just as confusing as the rest.

And then... Hmm... I am now perusing Steve's Southern Ontario Cell Phone Page instead of publishing this morning's Flea. Yay, "internet"! Boo, late Flea!

And then... Ok, I picked up the Motorola V60i yesterday. Good: It is a stylin' little phone. Not good: Rogers tried to charge me twenty-five bucks to change my assigned phone number, did the hard sell on the more expensive voice mail option, forgot to sign me up for the less expensive option I wanted and Radio Shack did a Wormtongue routine on every extended warranty. Good: The Rogers customer service representative out in Vancouver was incredibly friendly and helpful. Not good: The reason I know the customer service rep out in Vancouver is friendly and helpful is because the phone turns itself off thirty seconds after turning on. Bad battery? Defective battery charging software? Automatic energy saving feature I have activated without knowing it? Motorola products cannot be relied on and Rogers is demonstrating the same qualities that have earned them my wrath in all their other business ventures? Who can say?

Posted by the Flea at 12:55 AM | Comments (6)

December 22, 2003

Gondorian imperialism


The Commissar reviews Gandalf the "White" and his role in Gondorian imperialism in The Return of the King (via Argghhh!!!). I humbly repeat my own comments.

His illegal, immoral invasion of Mordor was typical. He is "all hat and no magic," so arrogant riding on big white horse. Who he think he is? Never bothered to get authorization from White Council for his war on Mordor.* Never even tried to get Sarumance on board. And Sarumance ended up vetoing his plan at the White Council.

Never proved to me that Sauron actually had the Ring of Mass Destruction. It seems to Commissar that GW and HIS side are only ones that actually USED Ring of Mass Destruction. Why not GW give up HIS Rings of Mass Destruction, huh? Now that would have been fair!

Let's talk about the role of Numenor in propping up Sauron after the so-called "Dark Years". Let's talk about Gondorian arrogance toward the Woses. Let's talk about crippling economic sanctions against Near and Far Harad. Let's talk about illegal Gondorian "settlements" in Ithilien. Besides, I have it on good authority from the Mouth of Sauron that the so-called Last Coalition is nowhere near the Vale of Udun! This is racist, genocidist, colonialist Gondorian imperialistism!

Hey hey! Ho ho! Racist, genocidist, colonialist Gondorian imperialistism has got to go!

Posted by the Flea at 08:20 AM | Comments (4)


The notorious Christmas 2003 Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue was pulled from stores but could not elude "the internet" for long. The images confirm my earlier fuddy-duddyism on the subject. I see some blankets and two pairs of jeans but otherwise a distinct lack of clothes. It could be simple envy of my part but pictures of the young, the blond(e) and the nubile frolicking in lakes do not make me an eager customer.

Posted by the Flea at 08:18 AM

World Idol

I wonder what the collective term for a group of national "idols" is? Polish Idol "Alex" Janosz is more googlable under her proper name Alicja. What's wrong with transliterating that into Alicia? I suppose Alex is hip and tom-boyish or something. Here she is on a trip to Toronto and other sights of southern Ontario. I would offer news coverage of Canadian Idol whats-his-face but his totally unwarranted media saturation gives me a pain in the eye.

Posted by the Flea at 08:17 AM | Comments (1)

Eye patch

It irritates me to no end when trailers use evocative theme-music from another film to promote an up-coming feature. I forgave the producers of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow their Stargate SG-1 borrowing when I saw Angelina Jolie in an eye patch.

Posted by the Flea at 08:16 AM | Comments (4)


Are you a giant lizard?

"So, I’m A Giant Lizard": What To Do
If your doctor discovers that you are, in fact, a giant shape-shifting lizard, there are several basic steps to follow.

1. Don’t Panic. It is important in moments of stress to remain cool. Since you’re cold-blooded, that shouldn’t be a problem. Don't chew your claws: it's not only a bad habit, but you're probably treif.

Posted by the Flea at 08:16 AM | Comments (1)


Canadians Are Smug comments on the on-line content of a symposium on web semantics.

That the site construction is in direct opposition to the ideas presented in the content is all the more hilarious. These people hate the web (even though they don't really understand it) and it shows.

It's not difficult to present new ideas about how to build websites: put up a d*** page that embodies those ideas. A page about a conference about an argument about some theories that violates every principle to be discussed shows how far removed from reality you like to be.

Posted by the Flea at 08:14 AM

Thank you

The Flea rattles its ghostly chains in glee at a seasonal gift from my wish list! Of course, this means I have been examining Starfleet star-charts instead of working toward the education of the young folk of Ontario but I think they can do without me until Monday morning.

Posted by the Flea at 08:11 AM

December 20, 2003


deconstructionist weirdo
You are a Deconstructionist Weirdo. Although
ostensibly originating with Derrida, the
theories of your particular school have long
since passed beyond intellegibillity; half the
time you don't even understand what you're
saying anymore. That's okay, though. You're a
lot more fun to party with than a bunch of
stodgy new historicists.

What kind of postmodernist are you!?
brought to you by Quizilla

My loathing of Derridean strategies of non-intelligibility only serves to destabilize the categorical limitations of this quiz (via Raging Kraut who is also definitely a Deconstructionist).

And then... Anthony's result is the best.

Posted by the Flea at 08:21 AM | Comments (8)


Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 08:15 AM


This panorama of the Eiffel Tower shows Paris on a clear day. I am most impressed by the view straight up. A more audacious view of the same monument is courtesy of a Marine aviator.

Someone has flown through the Arc de Triomphe, with mere feet to spare. In comparison, the Eiffel Tower made the aircraft carrier Lexington look like a postage stamp. You could fly a 747 through the Eiffel Tower with a bit of room to spare.

Posted by the Flea at 08:14 AM

Broomstick One

Argghhh!!! has the details.

Posted by the Flea at 08:11 AM


The Flea's barcode shall remain confidential naturally.

Posted by the Flea at 08:09 AM


For the discerning Flea-reader's time-wasting needs.

I did it in 36 seconds.
I deserved a C+!!
Take the How Dexterous Are You? Quiz!!

Posted by the Flea at 08:07 AM | Comments (1)

Looking Glass

Sun Microsystems could use an injection of cool for the lame PowerPointy beginning of this presentation on its new desktop interface. Hang in until the demo for Project Looking Glass to have a look at what we are all going to be using to navigate our files and "the internet".

Posted by the Flea at 08:05 AM


A timelapse video of downtown Toronto is interesting to look at. My only question is why this not-very-interesting view was chosen.

Posted by the Flea at 08:03 AM


The Jerusalem Archaeology Park on-line interface features a nifty interactive time-line and several virtual panoramas including the Temple and the city of David. My research interests attract me to discussion of ancient water supply systems but another part of me can only look at this material and wonder what it must have been like to look upon Temple.

Posted by the Flea at 08:01 AM


I had wondered why Toronto did not host an exhibit of props and costumes from The Return of the King after the Fellowship exhibit at Casa Loma and Two Towers exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum. It turns out the Science Museum in London has got the goods. I am yet more frustrated to miss the Middle Earth Shuttle.

Posted by the Flea at 08:00 AM

December 19, 2003

Glass Essay


The Flea casts about looking for an excuse to run an image of my current desktop wallpaper. Aha! A radio play... fascinating! Canadian content... gripping!

Nicole Kidman wants to star in a radio play for the BBC and she's so keen that she'll do it for nothing. She wants to record a verse narrative called The Glass Essay, by Canadian poet Anne Carson, reports the Daily Mail.

Posted by the Flea at 11:49 AM | Comments (2)

Voynich manuscript

The Voynich manuscript is a peculiar product of Elizabethan espionage and the need of the early modern state to keep its secrets. But the work that has long stumped code-breakers may only be "elegant gibberish".

The Voynich manuscript is often described as the world's most mysterious book. It is hand-written in a unique alphabet, about 250 pages long, and contains pictures of unrecognizable flowers, naked nymphs and astrological symbols.

Posted by the Flea at 11:26 AM | Comments (1)

Art or not

It's quiz time at the Flea. Today Flea-readers are asked to distinguish their Dada from their Moma!

Posted by the Flea at 11:22 AM | Comments (2)


Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 11:21 AM


No sooner had the Flea's thought turned toward other Inkling efforts than it transpires a five-part film rendition of C.S. Lewis' Narnia chronicles is in the works. The films are to start with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, actually number two of the seven-part books series, courtesy of Peter Jackson's Weta Workshop and New Zealand's landscape.

Posted by the Flea at 11:17 AM | Comments (2)


The Flea rattles its ghostly chains in welcome to a lone visitor from the Vatican. Flea-readers enamoured with Renaissance art should consider a virtual tour.

Posted by the Flea at 11:14 AM


The Freedom Tower design has been made public.

The tower, designed to be a centerpiece of the rebuilding plan for the World Trade Center site, will rise 1,776 feet -- a nod to the year the United States declared its independence. The height stays as originally proposed a year ago by architect Daniel Libeskind, since designated the site's master planner.

And then... The New York Times has a slide-show.

Posted by the Flea at 11:11 AM | Comments (1)

December 18, 2003



A reported analysis of climatological conditions at the time Edvard Munch painted "The Scream" is yet another natural science attempt to explain the ineffable. This sort of analysis is vexing because it purports to explain a psychological effect by banal recourse to a physical one and in so doing misses the point of this painting and much of Munch's oeuvre. The sky has a symbolic value regardless of the actual sky over Oslo on the day. Next up: the inevitable annual "explanation" of the Star of Bethlehem by some literal-minded astronomer (via Rocket Jones).

"One of the high points of our research trip to Oslo came when we rounded a bend in the road and realized we were standing in the exact spot where Munch had been 120 years ago," Olson recalled in a statement. "It was very satisfying to stand in the exact spot where an artist had his experience," he said. "The real importance of finding the location, though, was to determine the direction of view in the painting. We could see that Munch was looking to the southwest -- exactly where the Krakatoa twilights appeared in the winter of 1883-84."

Posted by the Flea at 07:15 AM | Comments (1)


The American Package Museum preserves and displays early 20th-century American packaging and design including some exhibits in 3D. Royal Crown Cola used to have a pyramid theme and I like the look of this Flit insecticide sprayer. It turns out Ex-Lax is "chocolated". Who knew? More important, has James Lileks been informed? And there is a gift store...

Posted by the Flea at 07:12 AM | Comments (1)


Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 07:10 AM


The Chaos Overlord threatens the blogosphere with poetry.

Why can't I get anywhere?
Am I not good enough?
I get pushed around,[I know! frighteningly clever!]
and round I go,
Sometimes you suck at using me,
and stub your toe.
That's what you get,
you elitist, biped b*******.

Posted by the Flea at 07:09 AM

Season's eatings

The Flea intends to wish everyone a Merry Hissmas and to all a Good Bite (via Daimnation!).

Posted by the Flea at 07:08 AM

December 17, 2003

Another journey

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

I commented on Peter Jackson's film interpretation of The Return of the King after my good fortune at seeing the Toronto premiere last week. I return to those comments here now the film is in general release:

Let's see... at 3 hours and 12 minutes I figured I would want to stretch my legs at some point but for that first two and a half hours I was completely lost in the world of the film. Rushed, yes, even at three hours plus the story is rushed and abbreviated. I have high hopes for the extended version... there are points where scenes have almost clumsily been removed. At this point, however, I am prepared to give Peter Jackson almost any leeway. If not for the last half hour this would have been the greatest film I have ever seen (and others may be happier with the last half hour). If there is any justice we are looking at Best Actor and Best Film Oscars. The special effects are stupendous. In the year between films the Gollum cgi has become flawless. Flawless. In scene after scene I found myself looking at vistas I have seen in my mind's eye since my mother first read the book to me as a child. Minas Tirith. The throne of Gondor. The gangrenous light of the Morgul vale. There are plenty of homages to other epic films too... and the debt to "Meet the Feebles" works alarmingly well in Middle Earth.

But the special effects and technical aspects of the film are almost beside the point. It is the emotional impact of the film that makes it a triumph. The person next to me was sobbing uncontrollably for the last hour. I found myself gasping outloud in a kind of empathic shock over and over again. I cannot tell you what the first scene of the film is but I can say it is among the most shocking and brutal I can remember.

I can also say something about a topic I want to write about at greater length next week [the previous post on Proverbs addresses some of what I have to say - Flea]. My Christianity includes Tolkien. The story is a parable, obviously, and one grounded in a Roman Catholic worldview. This is a mystical Catholicism that sits well with my Protestantism via William Blake. I recommend Middle Earth to anyone who wants to understand something of a genuine faithful relationship to Creation. Some people sneer at a metaphorical reading of scripture and Tolkien himself was opposed to allegory as a rhetorical form. I think instead that The Lord of the Rings is an extended parable whose wisdom reveals the truth through story in much the same way as the Psalmists. This isn't the "literal" reading of scripture some people call Christian but is instead true to the heart of the message of the Gospels and a guide to living in the Spirit. Stories of faith, friendship and loyalty in the face of adversity are all useful to us no matter our circumstances. But they are critical to us now it is our turn to take up the light against the Shadow of our time.

"Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?"

"A man may do both," said Aragorn. "For not we but those who come after will make the legends of our time. The green earth, say you? That is a mighty matter of legend, though you tread it under the light of day!"

And then... Sam Mikes and Colby Cosh express similar reservations about that last half hour (via the Campblog). I have called the Battle of Bywater triumphant. If you have not read the books I urge you to do so. The films are a triumph of a different kind but it is in the pluck and belated resolve of the Hobbits to see to their own defence that we can draw a moral lesson that resonates with Tolkien's most important political lesson for his time and ours.

And then... ***Dave has yet to see the film and thus has a request for us all. The Chaos Overlord has much to say about the book and the films. And Andrew Sullivan links to an interview with Welsh culture hero John Rhys-Davis and tells us that unlike Aragorn, Gimli gets it (and, I would imagine, Treebeard).

If you want an antidote to Viggo Mortensen on the meaning of Tolkien, check out this interview with John Rhys-Davis, who plays Gimli. I saw Mortensen on TV the other night saying that the "Lord of The Rings" was all about bringing people together, eschewing violence, promoting peace, etc etc. Poor guy. Cute, but dumb as a post.

And then... The Daily Dish then links to W.H. Auden's famous review of The Lord of the Rings.

To present the conflict between Good and Evil as a war in which the good side is ultimately victorious is a ticklish business. Our historical experience tells us that physical power and, to a large extent, mental power are morally neutral and effectively real: wars are won by the stronger side, just or unjust. At the same time most of us believe that the essence of the Good is love and freedom so that Good cannot impose itself by force without ceasing to be good.

The battles in the Apocalypse and "Paradise Lost," for example, are hard to stomach because of the conjunction of two incompatible notions of Deity, of a God of Love who creates free beings who can reject his love and of a God of absolute Power whom none can withstand. Mr. Tolkien is not as great a writer as Milton, but in this matter he has succeeded where Milton failed.

Posted by the Flea at 09:00 AM | Comments (2)


J. R. R. Tolkien wrote in a letter to a friend, "The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Christian work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision."

Christian truths may be discovered in Middle Earth myth. David Finnamore explores these truths and has compiled a handy list of "proverbs" from Tolkien's writing.

Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.

Posted by the Flea at 08:57 AM


J.R.R. Tolkien is a model for the professorial life. He would meet reguarly with C.S. Lewis and other habitués of the Bird and the Baby to discuss language, myth and their own writing.

Inklings, they and its other members called the informal club, one that emphasized such Hobbity virtues as a liking for beer, blazing fireplaces, old stories and collegiality. In fact, one can see "The Lord of the Rings" as a hymn to those masculine values of "fellowship": Isn't it largely a story about bonding and comradeship, about loyalty and duty to others?

The Flea's colleagues meet to discuss select topics at a regular "Drink and Think"...

Posted by the Flea at 08:56 AM

Elf sex

Everything Tolkien had to say about Elf sex (via ***Dave).

Ever since the movie of the book Fellowship of the Ring came out, there seem to be two popular ideas about Elves’ sex lives. Either they are radiantly asexual, or they are all screwing each other madly, along with any dwarves, hobbits, and men who happen along. Whichever you prefer is usually based on how attractive you think Orlando Bloom is. Tolkien’s history of Middle-Earth provides us with some information about elvish sex lives.

Posted by the Flea at 08:55 AM


A team for the German Archaeological Institute is investigating how a system of trapdoors, gangplanks and levers allowed the Flavian Amphitheatre, or Colosseum, to stage its shows. An effective system of worker incentives was a factor.

Under the 55,000-seat Colosseum, pulleys and ropes were operated at split-second intervals to connect passages, open gates and hoist cages from the basement to the floor of the arena. The system was run by teams of trained slaves who faced being fed to the animals themselves if their timing went awry.

Posted by the Flea at 08:44 AM


The 24th Bonfire of the Vanities has been lit. Meantime, breakfast is $6.99 in itty bitty Canadian dollars at the inaugural Carnival of the Canucks.

Posted by the Flea at 08:33 AM

December 16, 2003


It is the thought that counts (via ***Dave).

Posted by the Flea at 08:20 AM


All glory to the Hypnotoad!

Posted by the Flea at 03:57 AM

Slingshot Santa

Once again I feel that seasonal cheer creeping up on me (and my best throw was 240.1).

Posted by the Flea at 03:56 AM | Comments (3)


An etiquette and protocol quiz for Flea-readers in this festive season.

Posted by the Flea at 03:55 AM

Activist Cash

Another useful resource brought to you courtesy of "the internet".

This award-winning project of the Center for Consumer Freedom has already brought you profiles of over thirty anti-consumer activist groups, along with information about the sources of their exorbitant funding. Over the course of 2003, ActivistCash.com will continue to grow, adding new profiles every month; by the end of the year you'll be able to get the facts on more than 50 groups that use junk-science, intimidation tactics, and threats of violence to push their radical agendas.

Posted by the Flea at 03:53 AM

December 15, 2003



That Roman twenty-sider was so popular I thought it best post a link to some much more affordable sterling silver Elder Futhark Norse rune dice. Badali Jewellry also caters to all your Lord of the Rings jewellry needs. Paul Badali explains his decision to forge copies of the Ring.

Some have asked why would anyone want an object of abject evil like Sauron's Ruling Ring; created to enslave all of Middle Earth under his dark tyrannical rule. While that is the purpose for which evil created The Ruling Ring, that is NOT what resulted, nor the only thing The One Ring represents. I feel the ring is a symbol much like that of the cross to Christians. The crucifix is in all reality a symbol of the greatest evil done in this world, but instead it has become a symbol of the greatest sacrifice ever made to rid the world of a great evil. I feel that the One Ring as well is a symbol of Frodo's willing sacrifice of his life to rid the world of a great evil. It is also a symbol of the bonds formed within the Fellowship's journey and their struggles to overcome evil.

Posted by the Flea at 07:43 AM

Tolkien's not-so-secret vice

An eagle-eyed Flea-reader spotted an article summarizing Middle Earth's linguistic heritage.

Around a dozen languages are mentioned in the Lord of the Rings but Tolkien only properly developed two of them - Qenya and Sindarin, the languages used by the elves. "Qenya is the Elvish Latin - a literary language not used as a spoken vernacular; it was reserved for poetry, for song, for lament, for magic," says Hoyt. "Whereas Sindarin, at least among the elves in his book, was a spoken language."

There are excellent resources on "the internet" for learning more about the tongues of Arda including an on-line Quenya course. The University of Texas has even offered some in-class thoughts on the subject. Flea-readers wishing to test their proficiency in Tolkien-speak can do so with the aid of... wait for it... mind-bending quiz action!

Posted by the Flea at 07:41 AM


Lost in a Sumerian afterlife? Avoid embarassing mishaps such as mistaking the Lady of Beer (Ninkashi) for Ninagal (Prince of the Great Waters) because one clearly comes before the other. Take this handy keyword and phrase reference for all your Sumerian deity identification needs. With any luck, the Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary Project will be up and running as well.

Posted by the Flea at 07:40 AM


Gentleman blogger Dean Esmay posts a picture of a male cat.

Quite right.

Posted by the Flea at 07:39 AM

Ginza Apple

Apple's new outlet in Toyko's Ginza shopping district only attracted modest interest from Japanese consumers due to inclement weather.

Be sure to watch the whole thing, it's truly UNBELIEVABLE

Posted by the Flea at 07:36 AM


These animated engines are nifty. I talk about flyball governors to illustrate concepts in communication and I think the CO2 and Locomotive engine animations will help illustrate the point.

I have loved mechanical things since I was a kid. Engines in particular have always intrigued me. All my life I've pored over books, studying cutaway diagrams, hungry to understand how things worked. These pages are an attempt to share that magic.

Posted by the Flea at 07:33 AM

Ghost fleet

The sunken and buried remains of a Roman "ghost fleet", and speculation as to the pre-Roman lie of the land, lead archaeologists to argue Pisa was a kind of Etruscan Venice.

"The situation in Venice is not just similar to that of Pisa, but is practically identical," said Professor Stefano Bruni of the University of Ferrara. The find first came to light five years ago when a bulldozer involved in work near the San Rossore station on the outskirts of Pisa came across an ancient wooden ship 10 metres below ground. A large archaeological dig, which was started under Professor Bruni's direction, later found four ships dating from various Roman periods. The number of vessels rose to six, then nine, and finally 21, including what experts believe may be a Roman warship. They date from 200 BC to AD 500. The ships will soon be housed in a new museum in Pisa's old shipyards.

Posted by the Flea at 07:32 AM | Comments (1)

December 13, 2003

Sam Eagle

sam jpeg
You are Sam the Eagle.
You are patriotic and devoted. And extremely anal.
Patriotism, Being appalled at what everyone else is doing.
The National Anthem of America
"An American In....America"
"Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Eagles are from America"
"Please stop that now! It's un-American!"

What Muppet are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

This is an excellent choice. Sam Eagle is my second favourite Muppet after Pepe (via ***Dave).

Posted by the Flea at 11:00 AM | Comments (4)


This is distressing.

Kylie Minogue has hired people to remind her to eat. The singer says she employs staff to tell her when to have meals - because she often loses her appetite. But she insists she does not have an eating disorder, says The Sun. Kylie says: "My problem is that I forget to eat in stressful situations. Without these people, I'd have serious problems getting enough calories to cover what I need when I'm on tour."

Posted by the Flea at 10:56 AM

Butch Beyoncé

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 10:55 AM

Don't touch

Another answer to your time-wasting needs.

Posted by the Flea at 10:53 AM | Comments (2)


WOW! What a suprise! You're an "Emo Kid" We have no clue if you are gay or not, you damn emo boys look gay but sometimes you're not! MAKE UP YOUR MIND AND **** ****! You're sad and lonely, you find yourself quoting lyrics and writing some of your own.

What kind of queer are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

A minor edit for language and a corrected typo in this Quizilla test once again turns up the same result as the philosopher of Classical Values. This also explains for me what "emo" means about four years after a punk-rock person in Manchester accused me of wearing an emo sweater.

Posted by the Flea at 10:50 AM


Malaria is one of the world's most common diseases, caused by a parasite that is transmitted to humans by a female mosquito's bite. The discovery of this parasite in mosquitoes earned the British scientist Ronald Ross the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1902. In 1907, Alphonse Laveran received the prize for his findings that the parasite was present in human blood.

The Nobel e-Museum introduces the subject of malaria. But wait! Malaria can be fun and interesting.

Posted by the Flea at 10:49 AM

Flu shot

The A/Fujian/411/2002-like virus was only detected shortly before the composition of the Northern Hemisphere vaccine was decided. No vaccine could be produced in time to thwart A-Fugian so it was decided to include the available vaccine for the closely related A-Panama strain (that is A/Panama/2007/99 along with A/New Caledonia/20/99 and the Type B strain Hong Kong/1434/2002). It is hoped immunization against A-Panama will provide partial protection against A-Fujian.

I get vaccinated every year due to the hundreds of coughing students to whom I am exposed in the course of a week. The Flea does not have time to be sick! It is probably also better for them not have a professor hacking away at the front of the lecture hall or sneezing in the proximity of unmarked examination booklets. If the vaccination means I have an attenuated A-Fujian experience it is still worth getting the partial protection. And I am quite happy to be buffered against flu caused by other viral strains.

Posted by the Flea at 10:47 AM | Comments (1)

December 12, 2003

The Good Machines

Ok, I have the day and the hour right this time. David Ferguson and the Good Machines are going to be live at WUGA after the news.

And then... So that's what David's accent sounds like!

Posted by the Flea at 04:03 PM


The most useless test ever comes to you courtesy of ***Dave.

Posted by the Flea at 09:21 AM

The Hobbit

Smaug Awakens
December 19

I wish.

Posted by the Flea at 09:17 AM

Fade to Bluegrass

A bluegrass Metallica tribute album is right up my street. I love the cover of Enter Sandman.

Metallica’s thundering drums, heart-pounding guitars and anguished vocals tell the story of people lost in the hustle of modern society. Bluegrass music sings the tale of people stuck between heaven and hell, the farm and the city and love and hate. In many ways Metallica and bluegrass are brothers, one raised in the urban jungle and the other in the country. So what happens when these two estranged siblings get together?

And then... Anthony's right! "Pickin' on Zeppelin" is a bluegrass Zeppelin tribute album. The link leads to music samples at Amazon (and no, the Flea does not take a cut from any sales). I love bluegrass Kashmir...

Posted by the Flea at 09:14 AM | Comments (2)

Little Red Riding Hood

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 09:10 AM


It is difficult to think of a more basic marketing strategy. Ryanair tries to increase its appeal by increasing the breast-size of its goddess-logo.

Ryanair explained that the logo change was due to the need to get a more aerodynamic image. “We decided to give our customers a more uplifting experience,” said a spokesperson for the company. “We think she is rather aerodynamic.”

Posted by the Flea at 09:09 AM


Gillette used Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips in conjunction with retailers to secretly track and photograph customers buying their products. This website called for a boycott of Gillette in response (it seems to have worked).

The tracking system uses sensors hidden under Gillette shelves to detect when products are picked up. Whenever a shopper picks up a packet of razor blades from a spy shelf, SNAP! A hidden camera secretly takes a closeup photo of the shopper's face. (And a second photo is snapped at the cash register to make sure the product is paid for!)

Posted by the Flea at 09:05 AM

December 11, 2003



No, not the backlash of weasels, the far more pressing backlash against the new Kylie. Bring back Kylie Classic!

Kylie's was a performance so static that it bordered on catatonia. Mostly, she was just vogueing. I know the new single is called Slow, but she looked more like a tai chi instructor than a pop star.

Posted by the Flea at 09:17 AM

Pillow Dance

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 09:16 AM

Command tunic

Flea-readers with a spare thirty-thousand dollars or so for the tip-jar should know the money will be well spent.

William Shatner second season command tunic from Star Trek. (NBC-TV, 1966-69) Captain James T. Kirk's pea green velour jersey tunic with black knit collar, gold Starfleet command insignia on the chest, and gold braid ranking stripes on each cuff. The tunic has a concealed zipper on the left shoulder, and an internal white label in the collar handwritten "Bill Shatner #2". Also identifying this as a Shatner tunic are three pleats on each side of the torso, as his were the only Star Trek tunics constructed with this special detail. Early Shatner tunics are exceedingly rare, and this is without question the finest example we've ever encountered. A fantastic and instantly-recognizable garment worn by the star of the show, this important piece of science fiction history remains in absolutely pristine condition. This is a totally original tunic with original ranking stripes - the finest Kirk tunic known to exist! $30,000 - $40,000

Posted by the Flea at 09:16 AM | Comments (1)


This Death Test is a quiz with a difference.

Disclaimer: We, despite being proficient with the human anatomy, are not doctors. Keep that in mind before calling your lawyer as you're clutching your left arm moaning "Damn you, Spark, Damn YOU!" on November 21, 20**, as you slip silently into the night.

Posted by the Flea at 09:15 AM | Comments (3)

Internet maps

The Opte Project produces maps of the internet (via Geographica).

This project was created to make a visual representation of a space that is very much one-dimensional, a metaphysical universe. The data represented and collected here serves a multitude of purposes: Modeling the Internet, analyzing wasted IP space, IP space distribution, detecting the result of natural disasters, weather, war, and esthetics/art.

Posted by the Flea at 09:15 AM

Canadians Are Smug

The Flea's peripatetic existence means I am catching up on the blogroll and am belatedly wishing Canadians Are Smug my regards on the event of a second blogiversary.

Posted by the Flea at 09:12 AM

Bonfire 23

This week's Bonfire of the Vanities has been lit. See the light racing down the mountains as blogger after blogger light their bonfires in turn!

Posted by the Flea at 09:10 AM


This coordinates with my new Dr. Who scarf (via Argghhh!!!).

What Pattern Are You?

Posted by the Flea at 09:09 AM


Is there any hope for a philosopher, writer, poet, dancer or sculptor in the unfair economic system of the West? Ranting and Roaring offers some advice (via The Campblog).

A retail clerk who does sculpture on the side has a far higher income than does your typical sculptor working in India. Try visiting most of the rest of the world - where science and business are not glorified - if you want to truly understand "drudgery."

Posted by the Flea at 09:06 AM

December 10, 2003

Who will be eaten first?

This Cthulhu Chick Tract reveals the horror that gapes on the other side of consciousness! Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fthagn! Ph'nglui mglw'nfah Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn! (via ***Dave)


If you start to have dreams about cities where the geometry is all wrong and get inspired to make weird sculptures, do it!
1. Don't worry about going mad. There's no avoiding it.
2. Be prepared for horrible visions and creatures that will chill you to the bone!
3. Remember... Yog Sothoth is the gate!

Ph'nglu mgiw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn. Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn. Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.

Posted by the Flea at 10:05 AM | Comments (1)

Who's The Mensh?

The Flea the mensh!

INJEWCON can now announce that it was industrial saboteurs from the International Jewish Conspiracy’s Chutzpah Committee who successfully ensured that the new Mini Cooper™ would be substantially larger than the original in every dimension, giving the Germans, who now manufacture the diminutive automobile, the impression that they are shrinking.

I had a sneaking suspicion about these new-fangled larger Minis. This news and more at the International Jewish Conspiracy website (via Up Pericope). Don't forget to stop by the store... Shalom!

Welcome to the International Jewish Conspiracy's Secret Online Emporium, where YOU control the media!

Posted by the Flea at 10:04 AM

Cross stitch

The "subversive" cross stitch kits are perversely appealling. Even so, it seems to be quite a bit of effort for a dumb joke. Perhaps cross-stitching is another good time-wasting activity.

Posted by the Flea at 10:01 AM

Visual thesaurus

This is stunning.

Type in a word in the text box to the upper left of this window, click "look it up," and you'll be rewarded with an interactive map showing the meaning of your word.

Posted by the Flea at 09:59 AM | Comments (2)


The Verulamium Museum's new staff archaeologist is on his way to London with a Viking sword.

"It's been knocked around by the the plough for more than 1,000 years and still it has survived in this condition," he said. "To actually find something made by a Viking is fairly rare. The British Museum's Viking department are keen to look at it so it's probably of national importance."

The BM is coordinating a national website of historic treasures. I imagine there is more in the Verulamium collection that will be included.

Posted by the Flea at 09:53 AM


It turns out only the lack of light-weight materials prevented Leonardo's "Feather" from slipping the surly bonds of earth. His wood and canvas version would have weighed 220 pounds but at 50 pounds the modern aluminum and dacron version took flight at 22 miles per hour.

A flying machine sketched by Leonardo da Vinci 500 years ago, flew gracefully last week, proving that the Renaissance genius could have made flight history long before the Wright brothers.

Angelo D'Arrigo, a former world champion hang glider, made Leonardo's dreams on manned flight come true as he flew the "Piuma" (feather), a flying machine conceived by the Florentine visionary during his studies on ornithopters — planes with bird-like flapping wings.

Posted by the Flea at 09:51 AM | Comments (1)

December 09, 2003

Where to start

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

But wait... there's more!

Posted by the Flea at 08:11 AM | Comments (1)

Another quiz

American Flea-readers should take this quiz and show the cheeky so-and-sos a thing or two (and that's eighteen out of twenty for me on this one).

Posted by the Flea at 08:10 AM | Comments (6)

University of Saskatchewan

Victoria Beckham has been wearing a "vintage" 1980s University of Saskatchewan sweatshirt. This makes the U of S brand all the more desirable.

Last month Beckham was caught on film wearing the sweatshirt and a $4.5-million diamond ring. The photo, which ran in the popular British magazine Hello, caught the attention of U of S officials. They wanted to find out how the former Spice Girl and wife of David Beckham -- reputedly the world's best soccer player, came to be wearing clothing from a Canadian Prairie university.

Posted by the Flea at 08:10 AM



Ugh. What was I thinking? Why did I eat this?

Posted by the Flea at 08:10 AM | Comments (5)


James Fenton writes on art criticism in The Guardian.

This kind of stance - "nothing is good enough for me!" - is extremely easy to maintain. All you need is a gift for disparagement, and disparagement in this world can be extremely effective.

Fenton's article makes an interesting case for the perils of too exclusive taste for the life of museum collections. But I think this observation on how easy it is to adopt of pose of disparagement speaks volumes for much else our elites have to say to us.

Posted by the Flea at 08:08 AM

December 08, 2003

The Return of the King


My family travelled to or through Toronto a few times when I was growing up. My Dad made a special point of having us visit when the CN Tower was being built. The idea of the tallest freestanding tower in the world, alongside the rest of the Toronto skyline, got connected in my head with the spires of Minas Tirith. Every time I see the CN Tower on the horizon... a third of a mile high gleaming white in the sun... I still think of Minas Tirith.

The Tower is a short walk from Paramount Festival Hall where the Toronto premiere of The Return of the King will be hosted tonight. Good thing the Sister of a Flea has a more glamorous job than I do... because this means we have tickets!


And then... Tolkien's great-grandson has a cameo in the new film (via Suburban Blight).

Royd Tolkien, 34, took the part of a Gondorian Ranger in the new film adaptation of his famous relative's stories after director Peter Jackson invited him to join the cast. Mr Tolkien said: "I was just blown away when Peter Jackson came up with the idea of putting a Tolkien into the film and to be a Gondorian Ranger is a huge privilege."

Posted by the Flea at 06:17 AM | Comments (8)


"Hey Dad," I say cheerily. "What's up?"
"Hamlet," says the old man after a sigh, "you remember how I was found mysteriously dead in the orchard a couple of weeks back? Well... it's like this. Your uncle Claudius poisoned me so he could become king and marry your mother. I'd be awfully grateful if you could kill him for me."
"All right," I say, "I'll do it!"
My life suddenly seems to have purpose.

Hamlet: the text adventure! The b3ta review.

Robin Johnson's mind has been very much on the past of late. To this end, he has created an old-school, text-based computer game, based on Shakespeare's Hamlet. This may very well be the way the Elizabethans themselves experienced The Immortal Bard, on their primitive 386-based PCs.

Posted by the Flea at 06:14 AM

Lord of the Badgers

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance (via b3ta).

Posted by the Flea at 06:11 AM


Take care not to hit your White Knight while you are trying to hit the Keep.

Posted by the Flea at 06:09 AM | Comments (1)

Gandalf Greyhame

Ahem. Have we been introduced? That's Tharkûn to you with the beard, Mithrandir to the beautiful people and Olorin to my special friends back home. You can call me Incanus if you like but unless you are from the south I shall give you a funny look (via As I see it..).

Congratulations! You're Gandalf!

Which Lord of the Rings character and personality problem are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by the Flea at 06:06 AM


The Campblog asks after the names of new aircraft carriers to be built for the Royal Navy. Global Security.org reports tentatively "Courageous" and "Glorious".

Posted by the Flea at 06:04 AM | Comments (1)


Michael Jennings provides another reason why globalization is good.

I am not sure that there is a point to this story, other than that a globalised world in which I, an Australian who lives in London, can spontaneously start singing a song from a musical episode of a television series of light gothic horror set in a Californian high school with a beautiful somewhat anglicised Argentine woman in an underground train station in Antwerp is something I like immensely. And also, Joss Whedon is a genius.

Posted by the Flea at 06:00 AM

Abercrombie & Finch


“I can't look the people that work for me, that wanna be there, in the eye and say, ‘You know, lie to them and say, ‘Oh, we don't have hours.’ When really it's because they weren't pretty enough.”

I am not sure what to make of the lawsuit directed at Abercrombie & Finch's purportedly racist hiring policies but I have a sneaking suspicion the Flea's balding thirty-something look might prevent me from reaching the group interview stage. Does the company rely on "nazi chic" for its catalogue? Perhaps. Or it could be there are only so many ways to photograph youthful athletic blond(e) people. After some googling I decided this sort of comparison is just not funny.

And then... William F. Buckley skirts fuddy-duddyism in his catalogue review. I think the Flea is a junior fuddy-duddy. So... where do I get a copy of this document now that the A&F censors have withdrawn it from sale?

Speaking of nakedness, there was never a pitch more naked than Abercrombie's: the non-display of its products, in deference to sheer biological exhibitionism.

Posted by the Flea at 12:57 AM | Comments (5)

December 07, 2003

December 7

To have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy. Now at this very moment I knew the United States was in the war, up to the neck and in to the death. So we had won after all! ...Hitter's fate was sealed. Mussolini's fate was sealed. As for the Japanese, they would be ground into powder.

I usually do not post on a Sunday. Today is December 7 so I make an exception. It is truly a day that has lived in infamy. Yet it is also a day that inspired a heroism we must echo in latter-days all too often characterized by cynicism, conspiracy and appeasement.

I hope American readers forgive Sir Winston Churchill's relief to have the United States enter the war at long last. He had faced the nightmare across the Channel long enough to celebrate the awakening of the giant no matter how tragic the circumstances. Here is a reminder of more words that place Churchill's joy in context. They remain as moving and inciteful as they were when they were first spoken.

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”

And then... Mike Campbell has more to say about Churchill and Pearl Harbor, Ith posts a tribute and the Emperor asks us to transform our anger into action. Jay Solo has links to more blogospheric commentary.

And then... John posts FDR's historic speech to Congress and the American people.

Posted by the Flea at 12:53 PM

December 06, 2003

Jennifer Love Hewitt


Now is the time when the Flea asks you, the Flea-reader, a pressing question in these troubled times. Call me crazy but...

... shouldn't Jennifer Love Hewitt star in a remake of I Dream of Jeannie?

Now counting pennies to save up for the Jeannie's Evil Sister bottle.

And then... Ok, now thinking I should have worked "Jeannifer" in there somewhere.

Posted by the Flea at 12:00 PM | Comments (2)

Fan and ball

Another great solution for your time-wasting needs.

Posted by the Flea at 11:17 AM | Comments (1)


Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 11:14 AM

Downtown Chick Chat

Say farewell to Right We Are! Say hello to Downtown Chick Chat. Like the Flea, Lori is still stuck in the 80's time period and loves 80's music.

Posted by the Flea at 11:11 AM | Comments (1)


The Sloan School of Management is now sponsoring workshops on weblogs, or "blogs" for short, and ozguru wonders if this is a sign of dumbing down at MIT.

Weblogs, or "blogs" for short, have emerged in recent years as an important new tool for writing on the Web. They are gaining widespread use as personal Web sites and for topical sites about education, research, law, journalism and even presidential politics. What are weblogs? How are they different from ordinary home pages? Should I write a weblog? How do I get started? In this workshop, we will introduce weblogs and attempt to answer these questions. We'll present a simple definition, survey a variety of popular weblogs and weblog writing styles, help you set up your own MIT weblog at http://weblogs.mit.edu/ and write your first post, and demonstrate how a news aggregator works.

Posted by the Flea at 11:08 AM


John forwards a list of reasons men are happier than women. I am now off to see what WonderWife has to say in reply... I like reason number 29 especially seeing as I have adopted the hairstyle I intend to keep until I drop dead.

29. The same hair style lasts for years, maybe decades.

Posted by the Flea at 11:05 AM | Comments (4)


BuzzMachine asks what they do in there.

So New York is trying to mandate that women get twice as many restrooms as men because they take longer. I have a simpler solution: If women didn't always take another woman to the bathroom with them, there'd be half as many of them in there and it would take half the time.

You're welcome.

Posted by the Flea at 11:05 AM | Comments (1)


Michael Crichton speaks on environmentalism to the Commonwealth Club (via Chaos Central).

Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it's a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.

There's an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there's a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.

Posted by the Flea at 11:04 AM | Comments (1)

December 05, 2003



I have a new goal in life: I must own this twenty-sider. Four to six-thousand U.S. dollars is beyond of my current seasonal shopping budget so I must bide my time but this twenty-sider, or one like it, will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine (via Byzantium's Shores).

Circa 2nd Century A.D.
Deep blue-green in color, the large twenty-sided die incised with a distinct symbol on each of its faces
2 1/16 in. (5.2 cm.) wide

Several polyhedra in various materials with similar symbols are known from the Roman period. Modern scholarship has not yet established the game for which these dice were used.

And then... We are not the only ones with Roman twenty-sider envy (via Fred).

Posted by the Flea at 07:27 AM | Comments (10)

Big Mac Tonight

Me and one of my favourite bartenders burst into song the other day but could not quite remember the '80s lyrics we needed. Ok, for this you have to imagine a moon-headed guy in evening-wear playing piano and singing to the tune of "Mack the Knife".

When the clock strikes
Half past six, babe
It's time to head for
Golden light
It's a good time
For the great taste
(Dinner) at McDonald's
It's Mac Tonight!

Come on make it right tonight.

And then... The Flea can only echo this question: what the schmeck happened to Mac Tonight?

I seem to remember Grimace always trying to steal milkshakes and such, which I don't have anything against. But when you decide to push the spotlight off of a human/moon hybrid as the #2 mascot to make room for some sort of rotten fishstick? That's ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.

Posted by the Flea at 07:26 AM | Comments (14)

The Good Machines

Take some time out for the musical stylings of The Good Machines this afternoon between 4 and 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. You can listen in at WUGA, "serving Athens and the Athens area with news and cultural programs since 1987".

And then... Hmm. Should have read that part where it said "December 12" more carefully! I am just too impatient to hear this band.

Posted by the Flea at 07:25 AM | Comments (1)

Beauty with a Purpose

Nazanin Afshin-Jam is the Canadian entrant in today's Miss World contest. Favourite colour? Fuschia! Is that close to hot pink? She also love tribbles!

I am not a pageant fan but thanks to some goings-on in the life of a Flea I can relate to part of the challenge facing Ms Afshin-Jam.

"The interview is the most important part. It's make it or break it," said Afshin-Jam, whose talent portion for the competition is a Middle Eastern dance.

That would be the interview part rather than the Middle Eastern dance part. I think I could ace Middle Eastern dance.

And then... I forgot to mention this post is in response to observations by the indefatigable Chris Taylor in comments to earlier pageant coverage.

And then... Hooray for Persian-Canadians as Ms Afshin-Jam takes first runner-up to Miss Ireland who now claims the special hat.

Posted by the Flea at 07:24 AM


I suppose "hot pink" prevents me from getting lost in snow-banks and so forth (via Jay Solo).

you are hotpink

Your dominant hues are red and magenta. You love doing your own thing and going on your own adventures, but there are close friends you know you just can't leave behind. You can influence others on days when you're patient, but most times you just want to go out, have fun, and do your own thing.

Your saturation level is medium - You're not the most decisive go-getter, but you can get a job done when it's required of you. You probably don't think the world can change for you and don't want to spend too much effort trying to force it.

Your outlook on life is very bright. You are sunny and optimistic about life and others find it very encouraging, but remember to tone it down if you sense irritation.
the spacefem.com html color quiz
Posted by the Flea at 07:24 AM | Comments (1)


Spybot is must have freeware. It seems to have caught spyware that breezed by my firewall and antivirus software. I am delighted to finally get rid of the super-irritating iGetNet stuff I could not figure out how to remove on my own (via All AgitProp, all the time...).

Spybot - Search & Destroy can detect and remove spyware of different kinds from your computer. Spyware is a relatively new kind of threat that common anti-virus applications do not yet cover. If you see new toolbars in your Internet Explorer that you didn't intentionally install, if your browser crashes, or if your browser start page has changed without your knowing, you most probably have spyware. But even if you don't see anything, you may be infected, because more and more spyware is emerging that is silently tracking your surfing behaviour to create a marketing profile of you that will be sold to advertisement companies.

Posted by the Flea at 07:22 AM | Comments (2)


The Ontario government is on the job protecting us from pronography (via Samizdata).

Ontario's provincial auditor says the Ministry of Consumer and Business Services officials have carried out almost 1,600 inspections of adult video retail stores after claiming to have received eight complaints - none in writing. Those inspections involved checking whether the stores had valid licences "and were selling adult videos only with proper stickers indicating their ratings," the report states.

In the same time there were about 4,000 complaints and inquiries related to debt collectors last year, including 800 written, formal complaints. Despite the avalanche, it's claimed the ministry carried out only 10 inspections. Similarly, almost 2,000 complaints about motor vehicle repairs prompted just six inspections.

Posted by the Flea at 07:03 AM | Comments (3)


I worked for the guys building the new British carriers for a couple years. I can imagine the satisfaction people are feeling at this news. Have a pint or three for me, lads (via InstaPundit).

December 4, 2003: France is considering quietly retiring their new nuclear powered aircraft carrier and joining with Britain to buy a new carrier of British design. Actually, the French had planned to built a second nuclear powered carrier, but they are having so many problems with the first one that they are quite reluctant about building another one. Britain is building two 50,000 ton conventionally powered carriers, at a cost of $2.5 billion each. France would order a third of this class, and bring down the cost of all three a bit. The new French nuclear carrier "Charles de Gaulle" has suffered from a seemingly endless string of problems. The 40,000 ton ship has cost over four billion dollars so far and is slower than the diesel powered carrier it replaced. Flaws in the "de Gaulle" have led it to using the propellers from it predecessor, the "Foch," because the ones built for "de Gaulle" never worked right. Worse, the nuclear reactor installation was done poorly, exposing the engine crew to five times the allowable annual dose of radiation. There were also problems with the design of the deck, making it impossible to operate the E-2 radar aircraft that are essential to defending the ship and controlling offensive operations. Many other key components of the ship did not work correctly, and the carrier has been under constant repair and modification. The "de Gaulle" took eleven years to build (1988-99) and was not ready for service until late 2000. It's been downhill ever since. So the plan is to buy into the new British carrier building program and keep the "de Gaulle" in port and out of trouble as much as possible. The British have a lot more experience building carriers, and if there are any problems with the British designed ship, one can blame the British.

And then... Further googling suggests StrategyPage may have too optimistic a spin on the story. One plan reportedly under consideration is not only bad for the ship-builders in Barrow but a bad idea for the Royal Navy.

Under this plan Britain would build only one aircraft carrier while France would build the second. Both would be compatible with the French Dassault Rafale aircraft rather than the Joint Strike Fighter, which had been earmarked for the British carriers. The carriers could be used by the air and naval air forces of both countries.

Nicholas Soames, the shadow defence secretary, described the plans as a "lunatic suggestion".

"The British carriers are part of our strategy for expeditionary capabilities. It is simply not possible for Britain to operate in such a way with a country with which it finds itself so frequently at odds," he said.

Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat’s foreign affairs spokesman and MP for North East Fife, said: "If these reports are true, they would represent a remarkable development in European defence co-operation.

"But previous experience with the French leads one to believe that such arrangements, while desirable in principle, could be very difficult in practice."

Posted by the Flea at 07:02 AM | Comments (1)

December 04, 2003


My chrome-dome powers come through once again! John's result is (un)surprisingly Canadian...

professor x
You are Professor X!

You are a very effective teacher, and you are very
committed to those who learn from you. You put
your all into everything you do, to some extent
because you fear failure more than anything
else. You are always seeking self-improvement,
even in areas where there is nothing you can do
to improve.

Which X-Men character are you most like?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by the Flea at 09:20 AM | Comments (7)

12 pixel heroes

Twenty out of twenty-one is not bad. This is a brilliant teaching-tool for thinking about perception and pop-culture.

Can you identify all twenty one pixelated superheroes?

Posted by the Flea at 09:18 AM | Comments (5)

Mount Asgard

The "making of" documentary included in the MGM special edition dvd for The Spy Who Loved Me discusses the filming of the opening ski sequence. This is one of my favourite Bond moments as much for the '70s slap-bass score as for the mountains and snow but it is Bond's escape into the abyss, and special parachute, that make the scene. The stunt was filmed in Canada north of the Arctic circle at Mount Asgard.

Rick Sylvester donned skis for the breathtaking ski jump that has been ranked among the ten best stunts ever captured on film. The cliff was Asgard Peak on Baffin Island in Northern Canada. Sylvester, second unit director John Glen, and 14 crew members braved freezing temperatures and snowstorms for 10 days while waiting for a perfect opportunity to make the jump. (An excellent account of this stunt can be found under the entry "The Asgard Jump" in Steven J. Rubin's "The Complete James Bond Movie Encyclopedia.")

I have no interest in climbing up the sides of mountains but would visit Baffin Island quite cheerfully to have a look at the peak from a distance. Mount Thor is also impressive.

Posted by the Flea at 09:15 AM


Depending on how things go for me in my job search I may be looking for sessional teaching opportunities at the Icelandic Elf School.

That’s right, Elf School. With a curriculum, classrooms, textbooks, diplomas, and ongoing research, Álfaskólinn (Elf School) teaches about the five different types of elves, hidden people, and other invisible beings that inhabit this island nation. There are elves, light-fairies, hidden people, dwarfs, gnomes, and mountain spirits, and, thanks to my Elf School textbook, I have drawings to tell me how each type appears.

Posted by the Flea at 09:13 AM

Dûrbrárz the Deathskull

Nibinkrision, Tolman Tussle from Grindwall and Kîm Elfcryer are all possible Middle Earth names of a Flea.

And then... John has the right idea running his nom de blog through the system. As Ghost of a flea my Orc name is a most satisfying Krumbrúg the Sly. Asphodel Mugworts from Sackville, Norin Cleverrage are Hobbit and Dwarf respectively while my super-elegant Elven name is Astaldoserkeion.

Posted by the Flea at 09:11 AM | Comments (1)


Here is another resource I do not have time to look at properly (via Venemous Kate). I love the numbered typology of folklore used to make sense of this electronic text database. Take "name of the helper" tales, for example.

The Name of the Helper. Folktales of type 500, in which a mysterious and threatening helper is defeated when the hero or heroine discovers his name.
Rumpelstiltskin (Germany).
Doubleturk (Germany).
Mistress Beautiful (Germany).
Dwarf Holzrührlein Bonneführlein (Germany).
Nägendümer (Germany).
Kugerl (Germany).
Purzinigele (Austria).
Tarandandò (Italy).
Winterkölbl (Hungary).
Kruzimugeli (Austria).
The Girl Who Could Spin Gold from Clay and Long Straw (Sweden).
Tom Tit Tot (England).
Duffy and the Devil (England).
Whuppity Stoorie (Scotland).
Peerie Fool [Peerifool] (Orkney Islands).
Gwarwyn-a-throt (Wales).
The Rival Kempers (Ireland).
Penelop (Wales).
Kinkach Martinko (a Slav folktale).

And then... I should have explained the typology in question is the Aarne-Thompson Tale Type Index, an eclectic classification scheme for folkloric stories. One of my side projects is thinking about chimneys as routes for exchanging good things and bad things. Good things can come down the chimney such as elves bearing presents but only in exhange for milk and cookies. Equally, there are things that want to get into the house through the chimney and you may find yourself having to reach inside to close the flue lest they make off with your child. The best example of this latter example of negative-reciprocity is from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, perhaps the most terrifying scene ever filmed.

Type numbers were assigned to the major Indo-European tales by Finnish scholar Antii Aarne in his 1910 book (revised in 1928), The Types of the Folktale. For Aarne, a type was a collection of similar stories that bear a historical relationship to each other. Therefore, to say that a story is an example of type 510A means, strictly speaking, that the story is historically derived from some of the others in the type. In other words, the type index was not begun as a purely descriptive tool, but as an instrument of the theory of folk-tale dispersion within the Indo-European culture areas.

The great U.S. folklorist Stith Thompson added a second, more detailed type of numerical index, the motif index, which catalogs smaller elements of a story and implies no historical connection between stories listed together. Thompson then revised Aarne's Types of the Folktale to include the motifs most commonly associated with each type.

Posted by the Flea at 09:03 AM | Comments (3)

Bonfire of the Vanities

This week's Bonfire has been lit at Wizbang. Kevin claims this week's entries have been charred beyond recognition...

Posted by the Flea at 09:02 AM

December 03, 2003



Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 10:55 AM | Comments (4)

Warblogger Awards

John Hawkins has posted the winners of the 2003 Warblogger Awards.

In order to recognize the excellent work some of our fellow bloggers have been doing, RWN has put together the "2nd Annual Warblogger Awards". More than 150 bloggers were invited to vote for their favorite blog in numerous categories.

The results are broadly representative of the Flea's ballot. Neither my vote for best looking blog (I owe White Rose for my font selections) nor for most missed blog made the list so I link to them here.

And then... Bill Whittle comments on the night.

It was an interesting evening, let me assure you. Security at the event was very tight – I think I must have passed through three metal detectors from the time I got out of my limousine at the Kodak Theatre until I took my seat in the second row. Charles Johnson just stunned the crowd with an open-shirt tuxedo, but really, the height of the star-studded runway was Glenn Reynolds, absolutely breathtaking in a red strapless number that left very little to the imagination, if you know what I mean! Rrrrrrooowwww!! Of course, Frank J. wore his goddam NUKE THE MOON t-shirt – and nothing else. Me, personally, I found it a little tacky. Let’s just say there were some looks exchanged. But that’s Frank – always going for the shock value. Message to Frank: Class is more than something you skip on the way to becoming a famous celebrity.

Posted by the Flea at 10:47 AM

Passage to Aldershot

Obi wan Kenobi in search of a car.

Come my young apprentice. Remember these used-car salesmen can be very wily. We better keep our wits about us.

Posted by the Flea at 10:34 AM


Angua has no heat and is concerned about Canadian life. At least she has something to eat.

Incidentally, everyone should eat a pomegranate. "Eat the pomegranate, for it purges the system of envy and hatred," said the Prophet Mohammed, apparently, and I am totally with him. There is no way to hurry pomegranate-eating. There are no elecrical pomegranate-peelers. To get at the pomegranaty goodness, you must get your hands dirty, and be patient, and slow, and steady, and all those other attributes we don't get enough of in these modern fast-paced days.

Posted by the Flea at 10:32 AM | Comments (2)


The contestants for Miss World are a bit of a muchness but Miss Moldova, Elena Daniliciuc wins in the Triumphant Hat category (via the Melbourne Truth of blogs).

Elena is a student at the Academy of Economy. It is her ambition to own her own model agency. Elena enjoys, cooking, Latino & disco dancing and playing basketball.

Economics and basketball go together like Moldova and triumphant hats. A separate issue is that of Miss Wales... despite/because of my triumphant Welsh heritage I confess some confusion as to what gets counted as a country (though I can only approve of Ms Thomas' kick-boxing abilities).

Posted by the Flea at 10:29 AM | Comments (2)

Elgin Marbles

A photo of Waffa bin Laden is sure to attract comment and the expression of political views of any variety are sure to provoke controversy. The majority of abusive comments left at the Flea by anonymous cowards with no argument, no justifiable opinion and no manners, however, are directed toward my posts on the Elgin Marbles. It is not that there are no coherent arguments in opposition to my own (Christopher Hitchens has written a book espousing the cause of the "Parthenon Marbles", after all). It is that opponents of my views do not bother to make any of them, let alone advance arguments of their own, by preference to garbled expressions of nationalist rage. The libidinal impetus of my anonymous opponents is made clear in the subject of the single post that has attracted more abuse than any other. I could care less whether the French or the Japanese invented the bicycle (it was the French) but there is a legion of idiots prepared to believe anything provided it lets them live in an imaginary Ewok village and be nice rather than, say, learn anything or accomplish anything for themselves. Pay attention archaeology trolls: I will not pay to publish your slogans. Your comments are deleted faster than you come up with a fake email address.

This latest foray into the Elgin Marbles debate is most satisfying. A statement by Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum is haltingly contradicted by Evangelos Venizelos, the Greek minister of culture. The exchange is made all the more refreshing for its appearance in the Guardian. My favourite bit about the lack of construction since 500 B.C. is "well snide" as they say in the UK, home of the Elgin Marbles.

"The British Museum is not in 'secret talks', negotiating with the Greek authorities about lending the sculptures,' he wrote to The Sunday Times in reply to an article reporting he was in talks over the new Acropolis Museum. "The Greek Government has acknowledged that the British Museum has proper legal title ... and no longer disputes ownership."

Evangelos Venizelos responded: "I have to repeat once more that the Greek Government has never acknowledged a legal title of the British Museum to the Parthenon marbles."

A puzzled British archaeologist asked the museum for clarification. "The Greek Government's request for the loan of the sculptures," we were told, "logically presupposes recognition of the British Museum's trustees' ownership of the objects."

With such repartee, the headline, British Museum to be moved to Athens, seemed believable.

Posted by the Flea at 10:20 AM


A coin horde is being recovered from the wreck of a Union ship bound for New Orleans in 1865. A variety of bottles from Republic's cargo, along with the ship's bell, have also returned from the deep.

"It goes from pepper sauce to pickles to champagne to mustard to patent medicine," Stemm said. "They're in beautiful condition and they tell a beautiful story of what the North thought the South needed after the war."

(He said he was puzzled about one thing. "It's the beginning of Reconstruction," he said. "In this valuable space, why were they sending down pickles?")

Posted by the Flea at 10:16 AM | Comments (2)

Frozen Fritz

Oetzi is on the move to a new home. This is the first I have read the Austro-Italian mummy was losing weight or that he had picked up a nickname.

Oetzi's new home is a refrigerated igloo covered with dozens of iced tiles. Visitors will be able to take a peek at him through a small window shaped like those found on ships. Experts hope the new location will prevent the corpse from shedding weight. The mummy, which currently weighs just over 14kg, had been losing five grams per day. Experts hope the new location will cause the mummified remains to drop just six grams per month.

Posted by the Flea at 10:11 AM

December 02, 2003


A Latin tribute album to Sabbath is right up my street. "Post Murum Somnii" and "Verres Militares" are worth a listen (via Anarchismo).

Can You imagine what Black Sabbath would have sounded like if Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward would have formed the band in the 14th century? Would “War Pigs” or “The Wizard” have been as powerful if played on medieval instruments like lute, fiddle and harp?

And then... I picked up the album this afternoon and the answer to that question is "yes". This is gorgeous production and virtuoso performance independent of the fun Black Sabbath source material. Strangely, the new context underlines the beauty and distinctiveness of Ozzy's voice that sings along in my head as I try to keep up with the translation...

Posted by the Flea at 11:08 AM | Comments (1)


The Flea stands post with the Campblog on Captain Archer wobbly watch. I tend not to see Enterprise on Wednesdays, however, so must read The Campblog with care until the Sunday evening repeat. The past week's episode saw Archer fend off biological weapons aimed at Earth's past... the past of Detroit, Michigan 2004! In fairness to the producers, I can imagine the occasional western studio-lot episode brings down production costs in a way that is satisfying even to the deep pockets at Paramount. Every ST:TOS premise brings a groan until I see the episode itself. The show is getting better and better and darker and darker as the metaplot drifts ever closer to commentary on the current troubles. Archer is certainly hard-boiled compared to the other Starfleet captains we have met. He may be the toughest since Kirk.

Posted by the Flea at 11:05 AM | Comments (2)

Rocket Man

Now is the time at the Flea when we dance.

Posted by the Flea at 11:04 AM | Comments (1)

Feed me

Feed me. I'm hungry. I'm really hungry. Pick a muffin before I die! Beware and The Muffinless are among the creepiest muffin-themed media I have ever seen.

Posted by the Flea at 11:02 AM

Brio chinotto

I am most pleased to discover my favourite cola comes in one litre bottles. I had been condemned to drinking it by the can up until now. Not everyone likes its sort-of-cola, sort-of-San Pellegrino taste but I prefer it to the non-difference between blah Coke and blah Pepsi. Also, I am convinced that quinine is good for me.

Se sei un consumatore di Cola FERMATI, NON PROSEGUIRE! Se decidi di intraprendere il cammino verso il Chinotto NON POTRAI TORNARE INDIETRO, se decidi di proseguire non potrai ritenerci responsabili per i tuoi comportamenti futuri

Posted by the Flea at 10:59 AM | Comments (6)

Chaos Central

Chaos Central has made the move to Movable Type!!!

Call me Ismail!

On second thought, don't call me Ismail. Ismail is a stupid name. I think I would prefer my nom de plume, CHAOS OVERLORD!!!

Isn't that more awe-inspiring? I think so. Deep down, so do you. Now to the pertinent information.

Posted by the Flea at 10:58 AM


Sketches of Strain is not quite back in action... but its gentleman blogger is! The Flea looks forward to this Friday's debut of The Good Machines at wuga.org.

Posted by the Flea at 10:56 AM


A Daily Dish reader submitted the following excerpt from the 1790 edition of the Falconer Dictionary of the Marine.

"RETREAT, the order or disposition in which a fleet of French men of war decline engagement, or fly from a pursuing enemy. The reader, who wishes to be expert in this manoeuvre, will find it copiously described by several ingenious French writers, particularly L'Hôte, Saverien, Morogues, Bourdé, and Ozane; who have given accurate instructions, deduced from experience, for putting it in practice when occasion requires. As it is not properly a term of the British marine, a more circumstantial account of it might be considered foreign to our plan. It has been observed in another part of this work (see the article HEAD) that the French have generally exhibited greater proofs of taste and judgment in the sculpture, with which their ships are decorated, than the English; the same candour and impartiality obliges us to confess their superior dexterity in this movement."

Posted by the Flea at 10:42 AM

December 01, 2003



Andy Serkis, Gollum from Peter Jackson's screen-adaptation of The Lord of the Rings talks about the role, the film and whether his Gollum-voice ever emerges of its own accord (a quasi-spoiler warning applies to the interview).

No, it doesn't just pop out. A lot of people have asked me to do their answer phone messages and that. And it's great the fans are into that and excited by it but I guess it will get to the point where I'll say 'right that's it, I'm not doing it any more'.

The films appear to have prompted a New Zealand tourism boom. The Flea has been scanning the antipodean academic job ads on the strength of the movies... The New Zealand Herald features more Tolkien goodness with Sean Austin, barking moonbat Viggo Mortensen and Gollum himself.

Posted by the Flea at 09:30 AM | Comments (5)

Dating-Industrial Complex

"In the e-mails, he would say, `Tell me a story,' which I thought was kind of charming," said Ms. Cambridge, 38, a graphic designer in San Francisco. "When we got together it was, `Tell me stories, tell me stories, tell me stories.' I felt like I was auditioning for a play."

That was it.

"I realized I could be starting my own business in the time I was spending looking at these ads and crafting these responses," she said. So instead of going back online, she began taking a Small Business Administration class and designing funky planters.

On-line dating services make it easier and easier to waste time fretting about the perfect mate. Funky planter design is one example of resistance against the imperative to live life as part of a couple. If funky planters fail to meet our innate human time-wasting needs I can heartily recommend doctoral study, anthropological fieldwork and, of course, blogging. Hmm... must now look into a new genre of planter-blogging.

Posted by the Flea at 09:28 AM


Bra-technology has been on my mind lately as the Flea has somehow been roped into two bra-related shopping trips in as many weeks. Heidi Klum's 11-million-dollar effort is only one example of bra excellence. An anti-smoking bra could come in handy. I am less certain of the efficacy of sports bras, light-up bras, tile bras or festive autumn season pumpkin bras. Sadly, the waffle bra is no longer on-line... Jennifer Love-Hewitt has more to say.

Posted by the Flea at 09:25 AM

Kool-Aid Man

A website delivers on its claim to provide way too much information on the Kool-Aid Man. For starters, he was known initially as "Pitcher Man." Who knew? A Kool-Aid comic, doll and Atari-based video game are all covered.

Atari's Kool-Aid Man game. Lord up in Heaven, why oh why did you let such a travesty come to be? I spent two hours downloading an Atari emulator and another three trying to get it to play this game today, and for what? So I'd be prepared next time someone brought up the worst video games of all time at the next social gala? I've seen some bad games before, but this really doesn't fit into the 'bad' category. I don't think there's an actual word that's fit to describe this one.

Posted by the Flea at 09:22 AM


The Flea welcomes November visitors from Fiji, Chile, Columbia, Syria, Tuvalu, Peru, Kyrgystan, Burkina Faso, Christmas Island, Dominica, Vanuatu, Qatar, Guatemala, American Samao, Cayman Islands, Nigeria, Belarus, Malta, Bulgaria, India, Egypt, Honduras, Togo, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Brunei Darussalam, Mauritius, Benin, Uruguay, Cyprus, Belize, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Niue, South Africa, Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, South Korea, Indonesia, Yugoslavia, Trinidad and Tobago, Slovak Republic, Romania, Thailand, Spain, Ireland, Lithuania, Croatia, Turkey, Russian Federation, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Czech Republic, Malaysia, Argentina, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, Portugal, Estonia, Iceland, Philippines, Denmark, Poland, Norway, Brazil, Israel, Singapore, Belgium, New Zealand, Taiwan, Sweden, Italy, Finland, Hong Kong, Mexico, France, Germany, Netherlands, Australia, United Kingdom, Japan, United States and Canada.

There were also visits from a United Nations server and someone lurking in from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Hooray! Now back to work looking for Iranian nukes!

Posted by the Flea at 09:14 AM | Comments (4)


Argghhh!!! is located in Tula, southwest of Mischaw. If the Flea was on the map it would be a bit further west in the suburbs of Sullivansk.

Posted by the Flea at 09:11 AM | Comments (3)

MT spam-email

***Dave points to a critical post at [the girlie matters]. A bug in Movable Type allows spammers to hijack the "Mail This Entry" blog feature. This vulnerability applies even to blogs that do not actively use this feature...

Posted by the Flea at 09:11 AM


The words "testicular cancer" should have the undivided attention of many Flea-readers. Thanks to GruntDoc via Argghhh!!! for a useful health tip.

Because it is typically a fast-growing cancer, recognizing the symptoms is important. The average time from the first symptom to the disease spreading to the lymph nodes is about 3 months, according to Dr. George Bosl, chairman of the department of medicine at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. From the first symptom, it takes about 4 months for the disease to spread to other parts of the body such as the lungs or brain.

Posted by the Flea at 09:07 AM | Comments (1)