Friday, October 22, 2010

Milk Through The Nose Time!

Truly, the internet is a wondrous place:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Civic Election Blogging

And thus ends an interesting month or two in local politics. It was actually, on the night, a bit anti-climactic here - every single incumbent got in, most of them handily. And, while the turnout was still low, it was (a lot) better than last time.

In the end, the right choice was made, at least as far as the mayoral race was concerned. Mandel may not be perfect, but he's better than the other guys, good Lord. He campaigned basically by not making mistakes, and by not getting that grumpy, even as his character, morals, business connections, leadership ability, and general decency were hammered away at by a consortium of shrill, petulant, passive-aggressive, dirty-tricks-playing whiners (yeah, Envision Edmonton, I'm talking about you), a mob whose repeated accusations of undemocratic behaviour were made all the more galling by the fact that they couldn't and didn't recognize democracy when it rose up and repeatedly bit them in the ass.1 In facing them down, Mandel never stooped to the level that, y'know, I just did.

And so congratulations to Mr. Mandel! The next three years should be good ones for Edmonton.

1Perhaps I am hard on Envision Edmonton. However, I remember overhearing a conversation one evening at the pub involving an EE volunteer, someone who'd been working fairly hard on their petition drive. That conversation dealt, in part, with Steven Mandel, and featured repeated uses of the word "Jew-boy." Now, I do not for a moment assert that Envision Edmonton is an anti-semitic organization, but one can occasionally be judged by the company one keeps.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Remember the bad old days? Remember how, back in Medieval times, if the bubonic plague or rampaging Vikings didn't get you, well, there were always the marauding packs of wolves to contend with? Remember that?

Yeah, marauding wolves. Good thing we don't have to worry about them any more!

In unrelated news, here's some surveillance footage of a completely routine traffic stop just outside Rostov-na-Donu, Russia:

And we would be remiss if we were to pass up this opportunity to provide the following musical interlude:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Good News, Everybody!

This was just plain heartwarming to watch:

Thursday, October 7, 2010


John Ulan/CP

And so another hockey season is upon us, and for those of us in Oiler land, it couldn't come fast enough given the debacle that was last season. And what's that wafting through the air? Could it be the sweet sweet smell of optimism drifting down this way from RX1?

Well, probably not, actually, at least not in the short term. I've seen the phrase "exciting last-place hockey" being bandied around the Oilogosphere, and it's not entirely tongue-in-cheek. Yes, there are going to be some long, long nights this season. The nights when the three musketeers (pictured above) are looking every bit as young as they actually are. The nights when whichever one of our 523 goaltenders is in goal is doing his best impersonation of a menhir. The nights when it is painfully obvious just how little depth we have on defense. The playoffs are almost certain to remain a phenomenon that happens to other teams.

Oh, but there will be other nights. The nights when the sheer amount of latent skill on this team shines through, and it feels like the kids can score at will. The nights when the breakout passes are hitting guys in stride. The nights when it's the Oilers taking liberties, and not, as has been so often the case in the past, the other team. The nights when it is obvious that Shawn Horcoff was the right choice for captain, thank you very much. The nights when we can see the first germinations of playoff runs yet to come.

So sit back and enjoy - these are the humble beginnings of something pretty special!

On a side note, various sibling units are taking part in the pre-game singing of "O Fortuna," from the Carmina Burana. If that's not an awesome way to kick off a hockey season, I don't know what is! May it inspire the lads to roll over the Flame-like things from Calgary.

Oh, and the Stanley Cup? Pittsburgh over Vancouver. Book it, done.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pangur Bán

Well, I did say there was going to be something about an Irish monk...

View Larger Map

Ok, so it's about the 8th century A.D., and the scene is Reichenau Island,1 in the very very South of what is now Germany, as seen on the map above. Specifically, we are looking at the Benedictine Abbey of Reichenau, founded in A.D. 724 by St. Pirmin, who may have been a Visigoth although that's beside the point. The Abbey of Reichenau is believed (to this day!) to contain the jug used at the Wedding at Cana, although that too is irrelevant to our purpose.

No, our interest today is drawn to the abbey's scriptorium, wherein we shall find a possibly bored monk.2 He is busy working on a document that will become known as the Reichenauer Schulheft (Stift St. Paul Cod. 86a/1), which translates as the Reichenauer Primer. The Primer contains a general miscellany of writings, mostly in Latin, but including some Greek and bits of Old High German. It was probably intended purely as scribing practice, which may explain why the monk is bored. Here's a sample page:

One folio of the Reichenauer Schulheft. The chart on the right-hand side appears to be astronomical in nature, to judge from the constellation names. Click to see larger version.

And how do we know/suspect that the monk is finding this day's work a bit tedious? Well, we know because he has become distracted by the antics of his little scriptorium cell's other denizen. The end result of this distraction is a short poem, jotted down in the Primer in Old Irish, which we may safely assume is the monk's mother tongue. The poem is at the bottom of the left-hand page in the above picture, but here it is, in its original language, so that you don't have to squint:

Messe ocus Pangur Bán,
cechtar nathar fria saindan:
bíth a menmasam fri seilgg,
mu memna céin im saincheirdd.

Caraimse fos (ferr cach clu)
oc mu lebran, leir ingnu;
ni foirmtech frimm Pangur Bán:
caraid cesin a maccdán.

O ru biam (scél cen scís)
innar tegdais, ar n-oendís,
taithiunn, dichrichide clius,
ni fris tarddam ar n-áthius.

Gnáth, huaraib, ar gressaib gal
glenaid luch inna línsam;
os mé, du-fuit im lín chéin
dliged ndoraid cu ndronchéill.

Fuachaidsem fri frega fál
a rosc, a nglése comlán;
fuachimm chein fri fegi fis
mu rosc reil, cesu imdis.

Faelidsem cu ndene dul
hi nglen luch inna gerchrub;
hi tucu cheist ndoraid ndil
os me chene am faelid.

Cia beimmi a-min nach ré
ni derban cách a chele:
maith la cechtar nár a dán;
subaigthius a óenurán.

He fesin as choimsid dáu
in muid du-ngni cach oenláu;
du thabairt doraid du glé
for mu mud cein am messe.

Now, I confess that my knowledge of Old Irish is practically non-existent. I know that "bán" means "white," or "pale," or, in modern Irish, "blonde," and I can hazard a guess that "lebran," in the second verse, means "book," on account of us dealing with an Indo-European language. I've got some vague notions about a coupld of other words in the poem, but that's about as far as I can go, so I will step aside, and hand things over to a translation by J. Marchand (found here, with some other translations). Of all the translations of the poem that I've seen, I prefer this one, as I get the sense that it sticks quite closely to the original language.

The Scholar and his Cat

1. I and White Pangur, each of us in his special craft. His mind is set on hunting; my mind is on my special subject.

2. I love resting (better than any fame) at my book, with diligent understanding; White Pangur is not envious of me; he loves his childish craft.

3. When we are (tale without tiredness), in our house, being alone, we have an endless sport, a thing to which we may apply our skill.

4. It is usual, at times, by feats of valor, that a mouse sticks in his net. As for me, there falls into my net, a difficult rule with hard meaning.

5. He points fiercely against an enclosing wall his eye, bright, perfect. I myself direct against the keenness of knowledge my sharp eye, though it be quite weak.

6. He is happy with swiftness of movement upon a mouse sticking in his sharp paws. Which I understand a difficult pleasant problem, as for me, I am happy, too.

7. Though we may be indeed (like this) at any time, neither disturbs his partner; good to each of us is his art, each rejoices in them.

8. He himself is master of it, the work which he does every day. To bring clarity to difficulty, I am at my own work.

A more poetic translation may be found here. Anyway, there we have it. A monk at work in a scriptorium took a brain-break, and because of that, 1250 or so years later, we know of the existence (and name!) of a particular white cat. Neat, hmmm?

1At least, it's probably Reichenau Island, or at least somewhere in the vicinity.
2It is just possible that this monk is Sedulius Scottus, but we don't know for sure.