Wednesday, November 30, 2005
... skiing, sledding, snowman-building, not to mention the cozy evenings by the fireplace, the hot mulled wine, the rosy-cheeked faces and the storytelling ... (Never mind about the icy roads, the endless snow-shoveling and the astronomical heating bills, we will not speak of those).
In anticipation of the first snow, we are proud to exhibit this dynamic and joyful Russian winter scene on a large oval black Russian Lacquer Plaque, celebrating the famous RUSSIAN TROIKA. It was painted in 1992 by master artist Tatyana Tipyakova of Fedoskino.
"Let us remember ... that in the end we go to poetry for one reason, so that we might more fully inhabit our lives and the world in which we live them, and that if we more fully inhabit these things, we might be less apt to destroy both."
- Christian Wiman, poet, essayist and editor
[See also: The Power of Art]
When the black ducks come,
Winter opens, a kick pleat
Eyelash fringe of ferns on shore.
Late fall thunder
after a long
Branches creak. A muskrat slithers into
the pond, a stone the tide covers
in the glow of a stranger's
[Another poet: George Tsongas]
Along with basketball games, Thanksgiving turkey and night frost comes the annual flu epidemic. We are talking about fever, sore throat, headaches, respiratory problems and general body aches and pains: Enough to put you out-of-commission and under a warm blanket, riding out this most serious of all seasonal afflictions.
Influenza is caused by rapidly mutating viral strains. The flu virus is abundantly present in schools, offices, busses and planes, and any public areas where people crowd together. Unless you are a housebound shut-in or a monk in his solitary cell your body's immune system will be put to a rigorous test and most likely will be defeated by this aggressive and omnipresent virus. Time to get the proverbial 'shot-in-the-arm', the flu vaccination. See your doctor, go to a clinic or consult your local (public) health-care resources. Don't delay!
Important Note :: The Flu shot will not protect you against the Common Cold. It is up to you to take precautionary measures to avoid catching it. Here are some important tips:
* Because cold germs on your hands can easily enter through your eyes and nose, keep your hands away from those areas of your body.[See also: The Common Cold]
* If possible, avoid being close to people who have colds.
* Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based anti-bacterial hand gels several times a day.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Although disputed by some, the fact is, that corporate giant Google.com is among the highest ranking, if not the #1, search and services modality on the Web.
Amalgamated Perspectives makes frequent use of the many special features offered by Google. They are helpful and time-saving resources for webmasters and for the general web-surfing public alike.
Speaking in Tongues :: We are multi-lingual as is our Webzine readership. Now we can launch our Google searches from the language specific homepage of our choice.
Countries to choose from are FRANCE, GERMANY, UK, RUSSIA, CHINA, SPAIN and several others.
These country-specific homepages contain directories, news headlines and weather forecasts for their respective geographical regions.
On the other side of the coin, and for the sake of establishing balance and critical perspective:
We highly recommend Google-watch.org (or "goowatch").
It is best to sample their numerous exposés with the proverbial grain of salt.
You might find, however, that many of their articles and arguments ring true!
For webmasters who are concerned with SEO (search engine optimization) there is a nifty web page ranking tool which cross-links into Yahoo.
[See also: Bloggers v Online News Services, an Editorial]
[Reprised: Blogging Reviewed]
Monday, November 07, 2005
The atrocities committed in 2003 at Abu Ghraib, where prisoners were abused and tortured, are far from being forgiven and forgotten:
Artists and Poets world-wide have created an enduring record of the shameful and outrageous human rights violations that will live on not just in history books, but also in the annals of art, culture and literature.
One such artist is the famous Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero (born 1932), who exhibited a series of 50 interpretive works on the subject at the Palazzo Venezia in Rome in 2005.
When asked why he painted such horror, he replied (in his own words):
"Por la ira que sentí y que sintió el mundo entero por este crimen cometido por el país que se presenta como modelo de compasión, de justicia y de civilización."
"La injusticia me hace hervir la sangre" - Fernando Botero
All of Botero's paintings in his Abu Ghraib series, numbered 1 through 50, are based not on photographic evidence alone, but mainly on transcripts of actual testimony from the investigation into the prison scandal.
Botero made the paintings so that 'this crime against human dignity will be forever etched upon the collective consciousness of mankind'.
- Photo: The Artist in front of his canvas expressing in no uncertain terms his contempt for the perpetrators and their superiors, and his profound moral outrage.-
Having previously called himself an admirer of the United States (one of his sons lives in Miami), Mr. Botero said he became incensed because he "expected better of the American government".
Throughout Europe, where sentiment against the Iraq war is strong, news of the paintings and sketches has already generated interest. In 2006, museums in Hanover and Baden Baden, Germany, plan to hold special exhibitions of Mr. Botero's Abu Ghraib series.
[Remember Theodore Roosevelt's words on criticizing the president.]
...... A PROFILE ......
The Baptist Church is a member of the Protestant Evangelical Christian movement. Believers are baptized by full immersion and accept the Bible as being the only authority on God's truth. Salvation can be achieved solely by repentance of sins and by strict adherence to chapter and verse of the Bible.
Individual Baptist congregations are completely autonomous and do not report to any central governing administrative body.
Baptists are predominant in the southern United States, an area known for strong support of the military.
- The photograph is authentic and self-explanatory -
[A Satirical Take: Which Jesus?]
"Of all religions, Christianity is without a doubt the one that should inspire tolerance most, although, up to now, the Christians have been the most intolerant of all men."
Voltaire, French Philosopher and Writer (1694-1778)
Amalgamated Perspectives Editorial Comment: This assessment is as true in the 21st century as it was in Voltaire's time.
[On a Lighter Note: Windows Operating System Alert]
BRA, short for Brassiere: An undergarment that supports and covers (and sometimes deceptively augments the appearance of) the female breasts.
Factoid: The average American woman today owns six bras.
A comment found in Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book:
"...wearing a bra ...has no medical necessity whatsoever... Except for the women who find bras especially comfortable or uncomfortable, the decision to
wear or not wear one is purely aesthetic or emotional ... If you don't enjoy it, and job or social pressures don't force you into it, don't bother."
Friday, November 04, 2005
: Attention All Blogspot Bloggers:
Ever click open your blog, quick-scan the 'Comments' numbers and notice that several new ones have been posted? Oh, the glee, oh, the anticipation of resonance, of popularity, of meaningful dialog!
You click the permalink only to discover that your comments page is cluttered up with imbecilic one-liners, thinly veiled advertisements containing hyperlinks to this commercial site and that. - Yep, you have been link-spammed!
Do not fret, the clever folks at Google/Blogger have come up with a feature that lets you SCREEN each comment before it goes live on your blog. Works just like your trusted friend, the telephone answering machine: You choose who you talk to - you choose which comments get posted and which ones deleted. See how to activate this new feature.
We sure hope that other blog-hosts will follow suit and implement comment-spam screening tools, if they have not as yet done so.
[Find more details on blocking spam links on the googleblog.]
[Related reading: "So, now you are a blogger..."]
With the invention, in the 1870s, of the first 'typewriter machines' came the slow but steady decline of the age-old practice of handwriting.
As the mechanical and later digital means of producing text took hold, pen and ink were relegated to being mere artifacts, rather than essential communication tools.
Winnowed down to the singlemost and only application of handwriting, that of rendering a signature onto a legal document, writing by hand all but vanished from our daily lives.
Even this last vestige of exercising one's own hand on paper is fast being replaced, outside a legal context, by the signature stamp and the digitized signature imprint.
We are of the opinion that this modern-age development represents a tragic loss of a uniquely personal form of self-expression. Even as we avail ourselves to the immediacy and convenience of digital Word processing, we are nonetheless deeply devoted to keeping alive the elegant and meaningful tradition of cursive script, in the true sense of the 'MANUscript', i.e., 'Written by HAND'.
Borrowing the words of Swiss poet, writer and philosopher Max Pulver (1889-1952):
"The feeling for and love of handwriting are
spontaneous happenings. At a precise moment of our life, their written form falls suddenly under the light of consciousness."
The handwriting movement as such is directed by neurophysiological mechanisms which are governed by the writer's behavioral and personality traits. The brain generates the impulse which is executed in a biomechanical dynamic mode. The resulting script is as unique as a person's fingerprint and gives, in turn, significant insight into the writer's psychological make-up and personality profile. The analysis of this data is called Graphology. It is by no means an exact science, relies on empirical evidence and remains highly controversial.
Findings and Conclusions on Graphology - Having subjected one of our staff members to undergoing a graphological analysis, AMALGAMATED PERSPECTIVES has found some basic indices and interpretations to be accurate and valid.
For those of you who still engage in handwriting, and are fluent in the German language, you can try out a self-guided handwriting analysis (complete with interpretation) directly online at Graphologies.de.
(Unforunately, we have not been able to find a site that offers online handwriting analysis in the English language. If you locate such a site, please let us know by way of the 'Comment' feature. )
[Look at a sample of Leonard Cohen's handwriting]
[See also: The Wikipedia page on Graphology]
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
You brush your teeth, you comb your hair, you pay
Well, just as important, if not more so, is
practicing proper E-mail Hygiene.
Plain späm is easy to recognize in your inbox. The subject line is a dead giveaway with phrases such as "get Viagra", "Special Offer", "You have been selected" etc.). But when it comes to the so-called phishing scams that invade mailboxes web-wide it gets a bit trickier.
These emails are disguised as coming from major websites that you are familiar with, such as EBay, PayPal or even your own ISP (Internet Service Provider). When you open them you will be urged to click on a given link in order to 'update your account information'.
Maybe you are tired or distracted and automatically click on the link. You land on an official looking website prompting you to type sensitive personal information, passwords and credit card numbers into the boxes conveniently provided. STOP right then and there! Chances are that you are about to fall victim to a phishing scam leading up to identity theft and other disastrous consequences.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: We strongly recommend that you adopt good email hygiene: sort out and DELETE each and every item which you do not immediately recognize as stemming from, or being related to, your prior correspondences. If you have the slightest doubt, resist your curiosity and hit the 'Delete Button' (that is what it's for).
If you accidentally delete a legitimate message from a service provider with whom you do business, do not panic: You will get the message when you sign on to the password-protected control panel of your established accounts.
Perpetrators of phishing scams often work in gangs of 5 or 6 members and are hard to track down and prosecute. In a recent case, however, a 29-year old British man was picked up and sentenced to four years in jail for stealing identities and bank details from over 100 Ebay users and defrauding them of a grand total of $360,000.
Until the offenders are caught and brought to justice, which may or may not happen, it falls to each individual net-citizen to stay informed and alert and to exercise caution when conducting any kind of financial transaction online.
[Read more about 'phishing' here.]
[See also: The impact of online fraud schemes on e-Commerce]