Friday, 29 February 2008
A Cinematic Musical Interlude: Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man (Helen Morgan. Irene Dunne, Hattie McDaniel, Paul Robeson)
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Posted on 02/29/2008 8:31 PM by Hugh Fitzerald
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Friday, 29 February 2008
A Cinematic Interlude: Back To Blighty For Prince Harry
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Posted on 02/29/2008 8:19 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 29 February 2008
The Fate Of Reform
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"Make no mistake, we are not after modifying or revising the Hadith," Mehmet Gormez, deputy director of the religious affairs authority Diyanet and supervisor of the project, told IslamOnline.net in a phone interview.
-- from this news article

The initial report about the Turkish "reforms" made clear that the project had nothing to do with the Qur'an and Sira. As for the Hadith, they were not going to be added to, or subtracted from, but rather, it sounded as if those involved in this project would attempt to re-consider levels of putative "authenticity" assigned to the Hadith, so as -- one supposed -- to possibly downgrade in level of likely authenticity some of the disturbing Hadith, and possibly to upgrade those that were less dangerous. That would require, one assumes, study of the same isnad-chains that the most authoritative -- "sahih" -- muhaddithin, had already studied, but possibly with greater historical sophistication.

And the other suggestion was that the doctrine of "naskh" or "abrogation" would be criticized, and an attempt made to challenge its validity.

But both a re-assigning of "rank of authenticity" to the Hadith, and a challenge to "abrogation" would do little if the Turks involved in such reform could not convince more than a billion Believers to accept their authority, to prefer what they do to Bukhari, to Muslim, to other Islamic scholars of the hallowed past.

And how likely is that?

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Posted on 02/29/2008 6:38 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 29 February 2008
Evidence against Nordic terror suspects
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Aftenposten and The Local have more news on the recent arrests of the 6 men from Somalia suspected of financing terrorist activities.
The police agency in charge of Norway's national security believes it has secured evidence that three men arrested in Oslo Thursday have been funneling money to finance terrorism in Somalia.
All three suspects come from Somalia and have been linked to the radical group Al Shabab, which in turn has been linked to terrorist activity. Prosecutors claim the suspects have sent money back to Somalia to finance "holy war" against the government that has run the country since Ethiopian forces invaded in 2006.
The three suspects include a 39-year-old man who came to Norway from Somalia's war-torn capital of Mogadishu. He's married, has children, is a practicing Muslim and speaks Norwegian. He has been working in an Internet cafe that was raided by police on Thursday, and was at work when he was arrested.
The other two suspects are a 47-year-old Somalian who has lived in Norway since 1999 but has remained politically active against the sitting government in Somalia, and a 40-year-old man who has been in Norway for a the past few years and operates a "hawala" system of sending payments and transferring money overseas. Such systems are illegal, but often are used even by international organizations that need to get aid funds to underdeveloped countries.
None of the suspects has been identified by name, in accordance with Norwegian press practice. They face custody hearings over the weekend.
In SwedenTwo men, 37 and 42, are to be detained in custody following their arrest on Thursday on suspicion of preparing acts of terrorism, a court in Stockholm ruled on Friday.
There were insufficient grounds to seek a formal detention order for the third man arrested in Thursday's coordinated police operation, although suspicions about his involvement in the case remain, according to a statement from the prosecutor’s office. Swedish Security Service Säpo suspect all three men of having links to the Al-Shabaab organization in Somalia.  Al-Shabaab, which translates roughly as 'Youth', is an extreme breakaway faction of the Islamic courts in Somalia.  The group claimed responsibility for a bombing in early February in the coastal town of Bosasso in Somalia Puntland region.
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Posted on 02/29/2008 5:07 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Friday, 29 February 2008
Petition protesting the anti-Danish content of a Hamas-backed children's programme
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Up to 170,000 Palestinians are part of a mass protest against the Hamas-owned TV station al-Aqsa for its airing of a children's programme that told viewers to kill the cartoonist responsible for the controversial Mohammed illustration, reported Berlingske Tidende newspaper.
'Around 170,000 Palestinians have signed the petition against Al-aqsa because the station is considered fanatical and extreme. We hope to collect a million signatures,' said Rolf Holmboe of the Danish representation in the Palestinian territories.
Behind the many signatures were several Palestinian media organisations from the West Bank area, known for its more moderate political stances. In the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip, this kind of civil protest would not be possible, said Holmboe.
In response to the protests, Hazam Shaarawy, prgramme director for al-Aqsa, said yesterday that things had gotten out of control during the show which was aired live.
'Originally, we only wanted to explain that the prophet did not look like the way he was depicted in the cartoons,' he said. 'We will now ensure that better control routines are in place for live transmissions.'
However, Holmboe said it was normal practice for Al-aqsa to attack Israel, the US, president Abbas and other Palestinians who didn't support Hamas, even in children's programmes. 'Kurt Westergaard is just the latest person, the TV station wants to have killed'.
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Posted on 02/29/2008 4:56 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Friday, 29 February 2008
Denmark and Netherlands banned from Arab film festival
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Officials of an Egyptian-sponsored children’s film festival will not allow Denmark or The Netherlands to participate due to the countries’ mocking of Islam.
The director of an international children’s film festival to be held in Egypt next week has prohibited anyone from Denmark or The Netherlands to take part in the event or to submit films.
Fawzi Fahmi told Radio Netherlands that the action was ‘a symbolic gesture toward all those who have insulted and degraded monotheistic religions’.
Denmark has recently been the target of protests from Muslim countries because its media reprinted the infamous Mohammed drawings after police thwarted an assasination plot against one of the cartoonists. In The Netherlands, a new film from Dutch politician Geert Wilders attacks Islam’s holy book, the Koran.
The boycott will hardly affect any Danes, however, as the country has not participated in the festival since 2005 and had no scheduled entries for this year.
Films from The Netherlands will, however, be affected.
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Posted on 02/29/2008 4:49 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Friday, 29 February 2008
Muslim academic calls for book-fair boycott
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What’s the phrase? Speak of the devil . . . and see his horns. Or in the case of Tariq (come with me to the Kasbah) Ramadan hear his lying little forked tongue.
One of the most prominent signatories to the open letter issued this week calling for Muslim dialogue with Jews has urged a boycott of book fairs in Turin and Paris this spring because they honour Israel.
Professor Tariq Ramadan, senior research fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford, set out his view in a statement posted on his website earlier this month.
The Turin Book Fair, to be held in May, had initially designated Egypt as its “guest of honour”, he said, before choosing Israel instead in commemoration of its 60th anniversary.
In response to appeals from organisations supporting Palestinian human rights, he stated that it was “neither normal nor decent to commemorate Israel when Israeli state and government policies in the devastated Occupied Territories are clear for all to see.”
He added: “I have repeatedly stated that all women and men of conscience… should boycott the Turin Book Fair (as well as the Foire du Livre de Paris) when the guest of honour is a country that refuses to respect the rights and the dignity of peoples.”
Ronnie Fraser, director of the Academic Friends of Israel, said: “It is reassuring to read that he is calling for dialogue with Jews, but if you boycott events, you don’t have dialogue.”
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Posted on 02/29/2008 4:14 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Friday, 29 February 2008
Translations of Der Panther
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There are a few more translations here. The best, in my opinion, is the least literal, by Robert Bly:

From seeing the bars, his seeing is so exhausted
that it no longer holds anything anymore.
To him the world is bars, a hundred thousand
bars, and behind the bars, nothing.

The lithe swinging of that rhythmical easy stride
which circles down to the tiniest hub
is like a dance of energy around a point
in which a great will stands stunned and numb.

Only at times the curtains of the pupil rise
without a sound — then a shape enters,
slips through the tightened silence of the shoulders,
reaches the heart, and dies.

Panther was the name of the gunboat in the Agadir incident. How do I know this? Because I was told it wasn't important.  From a post last year:

Long ago, when an O-level was still an O-level, I had a history lesson on the Agadir Incident. My recollection is as follows:

 

“Bla bla bla bla …. and sent a gunboat, Panther – but you don’t need to remember the name of the gunboat …..bla bla bla.”

 

As the exam drew near, our history teacher tested us on the Agadir Incident. “Bla bla bla?” she asked. “Don’t know,” we replied. “And what was the name of the gunboat?” she asked, wearily. “Panther,” we chorused.

 

The name of the gunboat, Panther, was the one thing we didn’t need to know about the Agadir Incident. And to this day, it is the one and only thing I remember. The causes, the incident itself, its consequences, its significance, even the purpose and direction of the gunboat are all lost in the mists of time. But the name of the gunboat, Panther, will stay with me till my dying day.

 

I think this is human nature, not just my nature. Try not to think of a pink elephant. You can think about anything else, just not a pink elephant. See what I mean?

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Posted on 02/29/2008 3:13 PM by Mary Jackson
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Friday, 29 February 2008
A Certain Centenary
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The poem about the panther prompted thoughts of other Rilke-connected cats, and hence to this birthday acknowledgement which, if we are not careful to limit our thoughts, just might lead to Arezzo and that ovum struthionis noted by Millard Meiss many years ago:


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Posted on 02/29/2008 3:06 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 29 February 2008
Rilke interlude: Der Panther
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Der Panther, Im Jardin des Plantes, Paris, by Rainer Maria Rilke, contains the best imperfect subjunctive I have ever come across:

Sein Blick ist vom Vorübergehn der Stäbe
So müd geworden, daß er nichts mehr hält.
Ihm ist, als ob es tausend Stäbe gäbe
Und hinter tausend Stäben keine Welt.

Der weiche Gang geschmeidig starker Schritte,
Der sich im allerkleinsten Kreise dreht,
Ist wie ein Tanz von Kraft um eine Mitte,
In der betäubt ein großer Wille steht.

Nur manchmal schiebt der Vorhang der Pupille
Sich lautlos auf. -Dann geht ein Bild hinein,
Geht durch der Glieder angespannte Stille -
Und hört im Herzen auf zu sein.


"Stäbe gäbe" - only in German do you see the bars of the cage. There is a translation here, but, with the best will in the world, it isn't up to much.

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Posted on 02/29/2008 2:26 PM by Mary Jackson
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Friday, 29 February 2008
Hirsi Ali To Get EU Protection
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The Guardian: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born Dutch activist facing death threats for her outspoken criticism of Islam, is to come under national police protection anywhere in the European Union, the top justice official in Brussels said tonight.

Franco Frattini, the European commissioner for justice and home affairs, told the Guardian that Hirsi Ali and any other persons facing threats to their lives because of their opinions or writings, would be guaranteed protection wherever they went in Europe and that the host country would bear the expense.

The issue was discussed at a lunch of all 27 interior ministers of the EU in Brussels today after being raised by the Dutch. Frattini said the ministers agreed and that the pact would be effective immediately based on "unanimous consensus".

Other European sources doubted whether such an agreement could be implemented so promptly...

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Posted on 02/29/2008 2:31 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Friday, 29 February 2008
A Deeper Contradiction in the Administration's Palestinian Policy
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I have a piece this morning urging (hoping, praying) that the State Department not intervene on behalf of terrorists against American victims of terror.  The case involves a federal court judgment of $174 million against the Palestinian Authority and the PLO for killing an American in a terrorist attack in Israel in 2002.

My article discusses the insanity of a counterterrorism policy that rewards terrorists with aid and statehood.  Powerline's excellent Scott Johnson highlights a deeper contradiction:

It is the contradiction represented by the administration's efforts to create a Palestinian state when the PA has failed to take the first step of the roadmap requiring the renunciation of terror and the dismantling of the terrorist infrastructure reflected in the Ellis lawsuit.

It is the administration's abandonment of the roadmap — Secretary Rice's declaration that the administration was no longer "stuck in the sequentiality of the roadmap" — that perhaps most seriously contributes to the dilemma confronting the Bush administration today.

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Posted on 02/29/2008 1:10 PM by Andy McCarthy
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Friday, 29 February 2008
A Little More On Leap Year
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New Duranty: ...By Julius Caesar’s time, the calendar was running 90 days behind. Acting on the advice of an astronomer, he created a calendar based on the time it takes the Earth to circle the Sun. During the well-named “year of confusion,” in 46 B.C., Caesar lengthened several of the months and added a couple of temporary ones as a correction. The jubilant Roman public believed Caesar had extended their lives by the extra 90 days (you just can’t buy publicity like that). And by 45 B.C., the calendar was back in phase with the seasons.

The Earth’s trip around the Sun does not take exactly 365 days, however. It lasts an extra 5 hours and about 49 minutes. By adding an extra day every four years, Caesar could roughly make up for the discrepancy. Even then his scheme ended up being 11 minutes a year too long. This may not sound like much; you wouldn’t notice the difference during your lifetime. But by the mid-16th century, the calendar had moved ahead 10 days.

This shift had serious implications for the question of when to celebrate Easter. In 1582, a task force called by Pope Gregory XIII proposed that 10 days should be removed from October that year. And to make sure the calendar would then be self-correcting, leap years were subtracted from the last year of most centuries. Only those divisible by 400 would get the extra day. (That means 1600 was a leap year, but not 1700, 1800 and 1900.) This way, the calendar would gain only half a minute a year, and it would take 2,880 years before another day would need to be added. The trusty Gregorian calendar had arrived.

This wasn’t the best time in history to establish a new calendar, however. The Reformation had swept across Europe, and Protestant nations were reluctant to accept the pope’s invention. Some countries devised their own ways of making corrections. In what is now Belgium, the calendar went from Dec. 21, 1582, straight to Jan. 1, 1583, depriving everyone there of Christmas.

By the time Britain adopted the calendar, in 1752, 11 days had to be eliminated, and many people were enraged at the loss. “Time rioters” took to the streets of London and other cities chanting, “Give us back our 11 days!” And so the stage was set, the next century, for Gilbert and Sullivan.

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Posted on 02/29/2008 8:20 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Friday, 29 February 2008
Warehousing People
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WaPo: More than one in 100 adults in the United States is in jail or prison, an all-time high that is costing state governments nearly $50 billion a year and the federal government $5 billion more, according to a report released yesterday.

With more than 2.3 million people behind bars, the United States leads the world in both the number and percentage of residents it incarcerates, leaving far-more-populous China a distant second, according to a study by the nonpartisan Pew Center on the States.

The growth in prison population is largely because of tougher state and federal sentencing imposed since the mid-1980s. Minorities have been particularly affected: One in nine black men ages 20 to 34 is behind bars. For black women ages 35 to 39, the figure is one in 100, compared with one in 355 for white women in the same age group.

I'm not sure why prisoners are not put to work so that prisons could become self-sustaining. Is it crueler to warehouse people, or crueler to give them something to do?

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Posted on 02/29/2008 8:00 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Friday, 29 February 2008
Muting Wilders' Tocsin
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The Hague - Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen has called on right-wing politician Geert Wilders not to release his planned anti-Islam film. Mr Verhagen is the first member of the cabinet to make a direct appeal regarding Mr Wilders' controversial film plans. The Labour party has criticised the minister's statement as premature, since there is still no clear information about the content of the film.

The foreign minister's Christian Democrat party has also spoken out against the film, saying Mr Wilders should take responsibility for the possible consequences for the safety of Dutch citizens and for the Dutch economy. The Taliban previously threatened to step up attacks on Dutch troops in Afghanistan if the anti-Islam film is broadcast.

Mr Wilders, who is head of the right-wing Freedom Party, has responded in a text message by saying his critics can "get lost".
--from this news article

It's a case of being able to face down Muslim threats now, or attempting, under less promising conditiions, later. There is no time to waste. The publics of the Infidel world need to be alerted. The 10-15 minute movie will help to alert them. The Muslim attempt to prevent this effort from ever being seen, and to threaten the Dutch with collective punishment, will alert them even more.

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Posted on 02/29/2008 7:33 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 29 February 2008
Not so fast, Ramadan
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Those who criticise Islam are often tagged with the epithet "right wing". Hugh Fitzgerald has made mincemeat of this lazy, wilfully stupid thinking on more than one occasion:

How true. Such "right-wing populists" as Oriana Fallaci, for example. She managed remarkably well to keep her "right-wing" attitudes hidden for fifty years, from the time, as a young teenager, she helped her father and other Italians fighting the German soldiers in Florence, to her affair with a Greek left-wing political figure who was murdered for his views, and about whom she wrote in "Un Uomo" ("A Man"). Or such "right-wing" figures as Pim Fortuyn (murdered by a "animal-rights activist," mentally deficient, who had been persuaded that Muslims, being as "vulnerable" as the animals he was used to defending, had to be protected from the likes of Pim Fortuyn, that libertine leftist. As "right-wing" as Theo van Gogh, presumably. As "right-wing" as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, self-described "child of the Enlightenment" which she learned about in the Netherlands.

Here's another "right-winger" - Caroline Fourest:

Basically I'm an investigative journalist, with a University background. I work a lot on all types of Fundamentalism as a feminist and secularist journalist.  I work a lot on Christian fundamentalism too. I created a journal called Pro-Choice aimed at the pro-life movement, and the extreme right in France and the USA also.

Calling Fourest "right-wing" would be stretching an already elastic definition to snapping point.

Unlike her muddle-headed opponents, Caroline Fourest can see the wood for the trees. Especially when it comes to taqiyya-talking Tariq:

C.F. Most people here are convinced that he can be a moderate influence on Islam. It's true that he's more moderate than a Taleban or a Salaafist Judge; of course he's more moderate than that. But the problem is that he has no influence in Pakistan or the Middle East. Nobody knows him there. He is regarded as a clown, a Western Guy. So his influence is on the European Muslim. This is where his influence is bad, because instead of helping the European Muslim to be a citizen and a citizen first, he's helping them to become a citizen in order to make political Islam more important in Europe.

P.W. Could you give us an example of this double-speak?
CF If you listen to him in the media he will tell you that he's teaching the European Muslim to be a good citizen who respects the law of the country where he is a citizen. He says, "Respect the Laws of the country where you live." But when you listen to some of his tapes, he then continues the sentence "when those laws are not contrary to Islamic Principles."
Another example: when he says "I am for Islamic Feminism", you hear that he is feminist; you do not know his definition of Feminism. If you listen to some of his tapes about women's rights, you will learn it. For him real Islamic Feminism is a feminism which is against Western Feminism. It is a feminism where of course the woman is treated as equal in the eyes of God, but in the family the real power is in the hand of her husband, as with the religious principle. So, in a conference where people are attacking him on women's rights, he will only say "You're kidding. I am for Islamic feminism. Are you accusing me of not being an Islamic feminist? I am for it."
Read the full interview here. Fourest is French, but not at all irritating. To paraphrase 1066 And All That, though only a Frenchwoman, she is a Good Thing.
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Posted on 02/29/2008 5:48 AM by Mary Jackson
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Friday, 29 February 2008
An awfully small adventure
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Abroad is bloody.

“Don’t go abroad,” muttered George VI, speaking for his class and most of his realm. “Abroad’s bloody!” Nancy Mitford’s Uncle Matthew ventured abroad once, but “four years in France and Italy between 1914 and 1918 had given him no great opinion of foreigners . . . ‘Frogs are slightly better than Huns or Wops, but abroad is unutterably bloody and foreigners are fiends’.” From the BBC:

A man who planned to walk from Bristol to India without any money has quit, after getting as far as Calais, France.

Mark Boyle, 28, who set out four weeks ago with only T-shirts, a bandage and sandals, hoped to rely on the kindness of strangers for food and lodging.

But, because he could not speak French, people thought he was free-loading or an asylum seeker.

He now plans to walk around the coast of Britain instead, learning French as he goes, so he can try again next year.

Mr Boyle, a former organic food company boss, belongs to the Freeconomy movement which wants to get rid of money altogether.

In his online diary at the start of his journey to Porbander, Gandhi's birthplace, he said he was given two free dinners on his first evening away in Glastonbury.

Later, he was joined in Dover by two companions, and the three managed to get to Calais.

But in one of his last entries, he wrote: "...not only did no one not speak the language, they had also seen us as just a bunch of freeloading backpackers, which is the complete opposite of what the pilgrimage is really about..."

I'm now wondering which language it was that nobody couldn't not speak. Was it not French or not English?

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Posted on 02/29/2008 4:22 AM by Mary Jackson
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Friday, 29 February 2008
It's February 29. Look before you leap
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Generally I like the security of a monthly pay cheque, but today I'd rather be paid by the hour. My employer gets an extra day's work out of me for no extra pay. Not fair. The Telegraph suggests that we make this day really special:

If it's your 18th birthday today, you'll already have exceeded the biblical "three score years and 10" lifespan.

Those born on February 29 only have a birthday each leap year. Theirs are like years in a dog's life, deemed to be a multiple of the calendar year. Leap-year babes can marry at four and buy a drink before they're five. For them, life begins at 10.

Women are encouraged to propose today, and other once-in-a-blue-moon activities are contemplated too, as our Features pages suggest. But it is hardly novelty enough to take a day off from work, as some want.

Think instead of Christopher Columbus, who on this day in 1504, landing in Jamaica and, wanting help from the natives, announced that he would darken the moon. And, lo, it darkened. He knew a lunar eclipse was due. That really was an unusual trick.

It might be wise to plan now for something special next leap year.

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Posted on 02/29/2008 4:05 AM by Mary Jackson
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Thursday, 28 February 2008
Talking of beer goggles...
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Actually, I'm the only person on this site to talk of beer goggles. But that's nothing. I'm the only person on Google apart from two others to talk about "contributory negligee". And one of the google-thwarters was accidental.

Back to beer goggles - the excellent TV quiz programme QI (Quite Interesting) is hosted by Stephen Fry. When one of the panel mentioned "beer goggles", Fry, who is quite posh, didn't know what they were and had to have them explained. Beer goggles, said Alan Davies, are, like, when someone looks good because you've had a few. "Stephen doesn't wear beer goggles," heckled another panel member, "He wears Madeira pince-nez."

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Posted on 02/28/2008 7:37 PM by Mary Jackson
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Thursday, 28 February 2008
A Cinematic Musical Interlude: I've Got A Feelin' You're Foolin'
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Posted on 02/28/2008 7:32 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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