July 13, 2008
The Mysterious Stranger — by Mark Twain
His final novel, it was written during his sixties and early seventies and took twelve years — and three drafts — to complete, remaining unpublished at the time of his death in 1910.
The book is set in medieval Austria at the dawn of the age of printing.
In it, a penniless printer's apprentice — a youthful mysterious stranger with the name 44 — slowly unveils his mysterious, otherworldly powers.
Sci-fi as only Mark Twain could do it.
- From the book:
"What is your name?" "Number 44, New Series 864,962."
I inquired about some of the refreshments that had outlandish names. Again that weird detail: they were non-existent as yet, they were products of the unborn future! Understand it? How could I? Nobody could. The mere trying muddled the head. And yet it was a pleasure to turn those names over on the tongue and taste them: Corn-pone! Arkansas! Alabama! Prairie! Coffee! Saccharin! Fourty-four answered my thought with a stingy word of explanation — "Corn-pone is made from maize. Maize is known only in America. America is not discovered yet. Arkansas and Alabama will be States, and will get their names two or three centuries hence. Prairie — a future French-American term for a meadow like an ocean. Coffee: they have it in the Orient, they will have it here in Austria two centuries from now. Saccharin — concentrated sugar, 500 to 1; as it were, the sweetness of five hundred pretty maids concentrated in a young fellow's sweetheart. Saccharin is not due yet for nearly four hundred years; I am furnishing you several advance privileges, you see."
With my race it is different; we have no limits of any kind, we comprehend all things. You see, for your race there is such a thing as time — you cut it up and measure it; to your race there is a past, a present and a future — of one and the same thing you make three; and to your race there is also such a thing as distance – and hang it, you measure that, too!... Let me see: if I could only... if I... oh, no, it is of no use — there is no such thing as enlightening that kind of a mind!" He turned upon me despairingly, pathetically, adding, "If it only had some capacity, some depth, or breadth, or — or — but you see it doesn't hold anything; one cannot pour the starred and shoreless expanses of the universe into a jug!"
"Well, it is so difficult! If I only had a staring-point, a basis to proceed from — but I can't find any. If — look here: can't you extinguish time?
"Look here: there are really no divisions of time — none at all. The past is always present when I want it — the real past, not an image of it; I can summon it out of the unborn ages, and there it is, before my eyes, alive and real, not a fancy, an image, a creation of the imagination. Ah, these troublesome limitations of yours! — they hamper me. Your race cannot even conceive of something being made out of nothing — I am aware of it, your learned men and philosophers are always confessing it. They say there had to be something to start with — meaning a solid, a substance — to build the world out of. Man, it is perfectly simple — it was built out of thought. Can't you comprehend that?"
"All things that exist were made out of thought — and out of nothing else."
"What are ten years, subtracted from ten billion years? It is the ten-thousandth part of a second — that is to say, it is nothing at all."
Where I come from we have a gift of which we get tired of, now and then. We foresee everything that is going to happen, and so when it happens there's nothing to it, don't you see? we don't get any surprises. We can't shut down the prophecy-works there, but we can here. That is one of the main reasons I come here so much. I do love surprises!
"Nothing exists; all is a dream. God — man — the world, — the sun, the moon, the wilderness of stars: a dream, all a dream, they have no existence. Nothing exists save empty space – and you! And you are not you — you have no body, no blood, no bones, you are but a thought."
"It is true, that which I have revealed to you: there is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a Dream, a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but You. And You are but a Thought — a vagrant Thought, a useless Thought, a homeless Thought, wandering forlorn among empty eternities!"
Verbarius Electronic Clock
From the website:
- Verbarius Electronic Clock
Verbarius is the first clock in the world that tells time the way people do.
It has five preloaded languages: Russian, English, German, Spanish and French.
You can easily upload any additional language you like — from Latin to Eskimoan — using the USB port.
The clock spells out time differently every minute: it’s either forty-five minutes past four, or fifteen minutes to five, or four forty-five, or a quarter to five.
Power supply cord, USB connector, CR2032 battery and 512 MB SD сard included.
Dimensions (W × H × D): 7.9" × 2.8" ×1.7" (200 × 70 × 42 mm).
Verbarius requires a 110/220 V main power supply source.
In case of power failure the clock has a backup battery.
My top 10 songs from the '60s
In alphabetical order:
96 Tears — ? and the Mysterians (1966)
California Girls — Beach Boys (1965)
Dirty Water — Standells (1966)
I Got You Babe — Sonny & Cher (1965)
I'm Alive — The Hollies (1965)
Liar Liar — The Castaways (1965)
Magic Bus — The Who (1968)
Soul Man — Sam & Dave (1967)
Spirit In The Sky — Norman Greenbaum (1969)
Surfin' Bird — Trashmen (1963)
When Manolo met Marimekko
Part of his spring/summer '08 collection, his new Mary Jane employs Marimekko's floral Unikko fabric, created in 1964 by designer Maijia Isola as a protest to a statement by Armi Ratia that Marimekko didn't design florals.
At Manolo Blahnik boutiques in London and New York.
'I don't like wearing a helmet, it ruins my hair'
Above and below,
ads from a campaign that the
Asia Injury Prevention Foundation ran in Viet Nam last summer.
World's most expensive AV cable
Pictured above, it's made by Nordost.
From the website:
- Whitelight Glass Fiber Optic Cable
Designed for the discerning customer who requires the highest level of signal transfer performance from this medium.
Developed by Nordost, this cable provides outstanding results when utilized in high-end 2-channel audio or multi-channel home theater systems.
Whitelight glass cable uses an extremely high grade of glass fiber conductor which has very highly polished surfaces to ensure an optimum signal path for digital data streams.
The 3 layers of very low loss insulation as well as an internal damping mechanism are designed to preserve the integrity of the digital signal.
Each cable is terminated with high quality composite Toslink connectors whose precision polished lenses ensure absolute signal integrity at the point of connection.
This cable is the ideal choice where the highest quality optical link is prerequisite.
$32,825 (£16,500; €20,630) a pair.
[via Jonathan Margolis's "Technopolis" column in the July 12, 2008 Financial Times "How To Spend It" magazine]
'With email, the greatest power you have is in not replying' — Susie Boyt
Yes, she is right, but there is a catch: it's exceedingly difficult not to reply, sometimes nearly impossible.
Because by not replying you have to imagine what the other party is thinking and no matter how well you think you know someone you can never be sure.
Meanwhile the sender of the email to which you don't reply waits and stews and frets, wondering if they've offended you or somehow said the wrong thing.
Dr. Maxwell Maltz, whom I'd bet Ms. Boyt has never heard of, was nearly a half-century ahead of his time when he wrote, in his once very popular 1960 book, "Psychocybernetics," "The best response is no response."
Mouse Arm Rest
See, it's for the arm that uses the mouse.
Not an arm rest for a mouse.
Mice don't use them, anyway.
At least, I don't think they do.
I mean, I've never seen a mouse using one — have you?
Stop, joe — enough already.
From the device website:
Arm Rest Pad
• Perfect for both home and office, especially if you need to work with a computer continuously for a very long time
• Minimizes strain to the wrist, arm and shoulder and may prevent carpal tunnel syndrome
• Special rubber pad ensures tight table grip
• Attaches to desks up to 5 cm thickness
• 180° flip from one side to the other
• Easy assembly — no tools required
• 14 cm x 29 cm (5.5" x 11")
• Simple and compact
Grey, Yellow or Black.