Not while running

I decided to get one of those digital voice recorders. A fellow student recorded a lecture and it was pretty good listening to that again right on the eve of my exam. Amazing how much you actually miss out on while taking notes.
Dr Livingstone ordered a cheap one (a steal at only 25€!) and it arrived this morning.
Because I always RTFM before using something I decided this was the best way forward in this case too.
So I cracked the box open. No paper manual. There was however an 80 mm disc in there. Stupid PC junk.
So Dr Livingstone resurrected some ancient Toshiba, copied the pfd for me and I started reading.

I scrolled down for the Dutch version. Me oh my.
It started out with a warning: 'Verwijder de batterij niet wanneer u aan het rennen bent.'
Loosly translated as: 'Do not remove the battery while you are running'

Here's what went on in my mind:

1) Bollocks. Bloody dyslexia. Let's read that again shall we?
2) Hey! Why would I be running with my voice recorder?
3) Let's back up a little more. Why would I be changing the batteries while running? In case I would like to record my own panting? In case I would transform into a journalist trying to catch a sound bite? And I hate running. I thought this thing was battery operated, not motion controlled.
4) Wait a second. There must be something wrong with the translation. Let's have a look at another language.
5) Right. Scroll down to Italian.
6) 'Durante l'esecuzione non estrarre la batteria'
7) That can't be right either. Why would I want to have a voice recorder with me at an execution?
8) Wait. Lolwut?
9) Let's try the English version.
10) Pom pom pom po pom. No, that's Magyar. Must be further down.
11) Ah. Here we are: 'While in use, don't remove the battery'.
12) Oh I see. Just a sidesplittingly funny translation.

There's a fresh lecture on tomorrow, I'll be able to test it and hear the quality. Hope it is better than the translation.


Only one possible answer

Are you...?

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Or should we have made a button for the doubdting Thomases?

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(Taken from one of the online surveys I regularly fill out)


Happy Birthday Buzz!

A very happy birthday to Buzz Aldrin!
One of my favourite astronauts & advocator of science of all time.
And my personal hero for socking Bart Sibrel in the face!
Mr Aldrin: many many years to you and may you live to see the day man will walk on the moon (and Mars) again!



My lack of posting is due to those little things called exams. Only two more to go!
All went well up to now. Wednesday is a big one, I'll be taking an exam on the Art of the Renaissance. Which naturally includes Italian Art, but also the rest of Europe for a period spanning roughly 300 years and covering every discipline from Architecture to Statues to Paintings. I feel like a couple of Encyclopedia Britannicas.
I'm going to the gym now to let off some steam. And after lunch it's back to the books!


Borderline weather

In a kind of follow-up post to yesterday, I have hard hitting evidence even the weather does not cross the Flemish/Walloon border. Check out the cloud formation on the radar image from last night around twenty past nine. It's a severe case of borderline weather!


Zele is the new Brussels

So the director of Flanders Tourism in New York was reprimanded for omitting the Walloon part of Belgium on some kind of invitation. Instead it just said 'France'.
I don't understand what all the hubub is about. Americans know where France, Germany and Dutchistan are, but they've never heard of 'La Wallonie'.

They should have made trouble about the fact that Brussels was drawn in at the wrong point.
Brussels is now, so it seems, smack down right in the middle of Zele.
You won't have heard of it. Its only claim to fame is that a guy was born there who once was a goalie for the national football team. And then was shamed throughout the country (in the Northern part as well as the Southern part) when he was sent off the field during the Belgium - Turkey match with a red card because of a very clumsy move involving the bringing down of Arif. And all their substitute moves had been used up, so a regular footballer had to put on the goalie shirt. They lost by 2-0.

Anyway. Let me tell you about being struck off the map. If I want to see le météo for the Southern Part of Belgium on the site of RTL I get this message: 'Cette vidéo est malheureusement pas accessible pour votre territoire'.
So it just boils down to living on the wrong side of the rivers now does it? Fine. If you want your cake I'll make damn sure you'll bloody well eat it too.
I hope they get flooded or struck by locust plagues or something.

Hmm. Maybe that's too Jewish.


Blasphemy is an epithet bestowed by superstition upon common sense

“Blasphemy is an epithet bestowed by superstition upon common sense”
Robert Green Ingersoll (American Statesman and Orator, noted for his broad range of culture and his defense of atheism. 1833-1899)

Ireland has adopted an anachronistic blasphemy law, as part of the revision of the Defamation Act. From 1 January 2010, the new Irish blasphemy law becomes operational and the Irish Atheists have started a campaign to have it repealed.

Blasphemy is now a crime punishable by a €25,000 fine.
The new law defines blasphemy as publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby intentionally causing outrage among a substantial number of adherents of that religion, with some defences permitted.

This new law is both silly and dangerous. It is silly because medieval religious laws have no place in a modern secular republic, where the criminal law should protect people and not ideas. And it is dangerous because it incentives religious outrage.

Everyone has a right to be treated justly, and a responsibility to treat other people justly. Blasphemy laws are unjust: they silence people in order to protect ideas. In a civilised society, people have a right to to express and to hear ideas about religion even if other people find those ideas to be outrageous.

And one of the most crucial points is this: Because atheism is not a religion, the Irish blasphemy law does not protect atheists from abusive and insulting statements about their fundamental beliefs. While atheists are not seeking such protection they do want to point out that it is discriminatory that this law does not hold all citizens equal.

I hope the Irish blasphemy law will be repealed as soon as possible for a rational, ethical, secular Ireland.

So before I set foot in lovely Ireland again, I must repeat the words by Matthias, son of Deuteronomy of Gath:
"Look, I had a lovely supper, and all I said to my wife was that piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah.”

More information on the Irish blasphemy law and why it should be repealed: blasphemie.ie.
Also check out the list of 25 blasphemous quotes.


Bone-weary Turkish plea for return of Santa's bones

Turkey has seen the success its neighbouring countries Greece and Egypte have had in reclaiming their cultural heritage over the past years.
Turkish minister of Culture, Ertugrul Günay, seems to have become an adept follower of Zahi Hawass.
It looks like he wants to muscle his way in on the international stage by making equally challenging claims to robbed artefacts.

A puff piece appeared in the Turkish newspaper Milliyet stating that there are plans to build a Lycian Civilization Museum in Demre, displaying numerous artefacts of important historical persons, events and documents from Lycian history.
Demre, better known to us as Myra, was once the capital of Byzantine Lycia.
Not sure if there will be a focus on a specific part of history, although it seems they will just be using the term Lycian as a geographical denomer.
Apparently the museum is to be 'built' in Demre.
(I have put the word between brackets because the piece says a Roman ruin is to be re-used.) A thousand square metres to be recycled. 'The building is already there, it only needs a roof' it says.
Well, that's allright then...

Although everything is still on the drawing board, one thing is certain, once completed they will ask for the remains of the bishop of Myra, Sint Nicolas who lived there. Apparently it is not even a case of 'if' but 'when'.

Nothing like jumping the gun and making some spectacular announcements even before the whole concept of the museum is yet to be determined!

It sounds like Turkey is turning to the Elgin marbles and Cairo museum plot. They are circumnavigating the argument of countries claiming Turkey does not have the sufficient facilities to put artefacts on display.

I see some problems with this, although I am not an expert.
- Do human remains actually fall under the cultural heritage act?
- The body and person is being venerated up to this day, by no less than three (four?) sets of religious groups, it has not really lost its religious function to be displayed in a museum. My guess is the bishop of Bari is already on the phone with the legal people in the Vatican.

A side splittingly funny piece was written on the history of this bones extravaganza a couple of years ago by Dr Clive Gillis, who reports on 'The errors of Rome'. The bone repatriation is not a really new issue. But asking for them again under the guise of a museum is a new angle.

From Dr Clive Gillis' piece written in in December 2006:

"The Turks have a good case for return of the relics. The original raid was chronicled in enormous detail and the manuscript survives. The voices of the local monks absolutely refusing to surrender the bones still cry out from the parchment indicting Rome. The haughty reply of the crusading raiders condemns her still. [...]

Worse, when Vatican II demoted 90 saints as rank embarrassments in a modern world St Nicholas was amongst them, but with the proviso that devotion was allowable as a matter of personal choice. This is not how the Greeks, Serbs and Russians see it. St Nicholas is mainstream for them.

Now Benedict is trumpeting the cult as a bargaining chip for a take over of the Eastern Orthodox. Islamic Turkey he believes is not worthy to have the bones, but if the Orthodox agreed to reunion they would get some sort of possession of them.

But Bari would never agree to return the relics. These are the bones that work the ongoing tourism miracle.

Early in 2003, the bones dispute became public. A Turkish foundation dedicated to Santa Claus asked the Italian government to “retrieve the relics of St. Nicholas ... and return them to his native Turkey”. Muammer Karabalut, the foundation chairman, told the Associated Press, “We want them returned in 2003. We’re starting a campaign this year for them to be given back”. For the Turks this is possession by Antichrist.

But the priests of San Nicola in Bari were equally scathing. Besides rejecting any Turkish claim to the bones out of hand, Father Gerardo Cioffari, historian at the basilica, impugned Turkish motives. “They ask for the remains only to keep tourism alive ... They don’t venerate St. Nicholas”. He pointed out that the bones are now secured in blocks of reinforced concrete (which is actually intended to precipitate the “manna”). Cioffari said that local popular piety would prevent any such return of the relics. “If the remains were moved there would be a revolution here ... Even the Vatican couldn’t do anything about it.”

I don't think a secular Turkey would actually like the fact that a museum will be built with state money and then discover they'd be sponsoring a Christian pilgrimage site.

The renewed plea for the return of the bones is just a way of trying to rally some interest in the museum plans, or it might be yet another form of going head to head. I cannot really deem it a serious request in light of a museum context.
It looks like the original plan, to return the bones to the tomb in the St Nicholas church, has now been swept aside altogether.
Keeping tourism alive and well in Myra is one thing. Using the museum as an excuse is quite another.

But some bones will not really do the trick. As Dr Gillis, the pope bashing protestant concludes:
"After all, like the endless supply of wood from the true cross, there are usually sufficient bits of any relic to go round."

Demre has much redeeming features and rich architecture to prove it. The rock tombs and the amphitheatre just to name a few.

They do not really need bones.