Biodiesel

These Canadians have just started out to drive from Barcelona to Beijing and they need your prayers: not because their van is powered by cooking oil or because of potential difficulties during the Turkey-Iran-Pakistan-China stretch of the journey, but because they appear to have taken six weeks to get from Barcelona to the French border,…

Armless?

Our present troubles may seem like extremely dark shadows in what I am convinced is otherwise a remarkably beautiful picture, but I wish AP had put this slightly differently: A deadly car bombing outside the Australian Embassy in Jakarta left bloody corpses and severed human remains strewn across the busy commercial street. [snip] “I can’t…

Sand!!

Tired of my never-ending get-poor-slow schemes, I went gold-panning in the national park today with Lluís, who is 74 but doesn’t look a day over 90. Scrupulously avoiding bars and the agents rurals in them on the way up (mining is illegal in national parks unless you build a really big one), we found a…

Submarooned

We just had a typically ill-informed discussion here about how Narcís Monturiol’s second submarine, Ictíneo II, worked. Robert Hughes’ Barcelona says that for surface running, Monturiol decided to save the muscles of his crew and install a six-horsepower steam engine. But you could not run a steam engine underwater: it would use up all the…

Slavery and the Nigerian horse scam

Franco Alemán at Barcepundit quotes Susan Llewelyn Leach, a Christian Science Monitor hack, who writes that: Slaves are cheap these days. Their price is the lowest it’s been in about 4,000 years. And right now the world has a glut of human slaves – 27 million by conservative estimates and more than at any time…

La Caixa courting China’s torturers and thieves

Jia Qinglin is probably only alive and flourishing today because his best friend is called Jiang Zemin. In the mid-90s his wife was implicated in a massive corruption scandal in Fujian province, but neither she nor he suffered the normal consequence of such behaviour: execution. Instead Mr Jia was promoted to become party boss in…

Sure thing

The Bombay-based Life Insurance Corporation says that a eunuch called Janaki is ineligible for cover because he (the BBC uses “she” for some reason) is neither man nor woman. If I were an actuary, I’d be more worried about Janaki’s fortune-telling skills.

Old media

Hey, it only took the Guardian a year longer than bloggers to hear the Mostar Bruce Lee statue story. Ah, but the Guardian is a proper brand, so that’s OK.

Don’t mess with Chinese girlie-men, and other Sumatran colonial tales

Here, from Emil Helfferich (1878-1974)‘s Südostasiatische Geschichten (Jever/Oldenburg, 1966), is an account of what happened to another German-speaker who made light of girlie-men: He was German, early 30s, and came from a forest ranger’s family in Hannover. If not poverty, then extreme thrift had probably stood at the cradle of him and his numerous siblings.…

Locke & Habermas

If someone pulls the “Locke-Habermas” flashcard on you, you’ll probably mutter something along the lines of “critique by the latter of the belief of the former in the compatibility of capitalism and freedom mine’s a pint.” So it’s interesting to note–spin aside–how close the two seem to each other, as well as to certain dead…