Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Happy Feet" beats feet towards home

Okay, this is a heart-warming story of New Zealand's famous emperor penguin, "Happy Feet", but it does raise some interesting questions of man's interference in animal kingdom scenarios as well as human activities. There is a long history of man saving whales, porpoises, elephants, lions, etc. But why? Shouldn't nature take its course...survival of the fittest philosophy. Maybe man should remain only an observer. I remember a specific case in an anthropology course involving a group of researchers studying the feared Jivaro Indians of South America. The researchers accompanied the Jivaro Indians on a raid on a rival tribe. Savagery was the rule of the day and one researcher witnessed the partial decapitation of a native woman. She was still alive and he could have easily dispatched her pain and suffering with one shot from his pistol. But he knew better and allowed the drama to reach its own conclusion. Now animals are different and mostly carry the "cuteness" factor. We are somehow drawn to rescue wild animals [as well as domestic]. Maybe this was the case with "Happy Feet"; maybe the players knew that world attention would be drawn to the Wellington Zoo...good public relations? And this little guy was brought back to health to the tune of $75,000 to be released and allowed to face the elements and hungry predators. Maybe that money could have been spent better in other areas. And suppose, when he is released, that he discovers hunting for himself is difficult and has fond memories of "fish milkshakes". "Happy Feet" beats feet back to New Zealand.

"New Zealand's lost penguin heads home"


Neil Sands

August 28th, 2011

New Zealand's most famous penguin "Happy Feet" in his ice-lined, air conditioned room at Wellington Zoo's hospital. Fattened up on a diet of "fish milkshakes" and escorted by his own personal veterinary team, Happy Feet sets sail on August 29 for the icy waters he calls home. The penguin washed up on a beach just outside Wellington in mid-June, more than 3,000 kilometres from the Antarctic.

Fattened up on a diet of "fish milkshakes" and escorted by his own personal veterinary team, the world's most famous penguin, Happy Feet, sets sail Monday for the icy waters he calls home.

The emperor penguin washed up on a beach just outside the New Zealand capital Wellington in mid-June -- weak, emaciated and more than 3,000 kilometres (1,900 miles) from the Antarctic colony where he hatched about three-and-a-half years ago.

The wayward bird's unexpected appearance stunned wildlife experts, who said he was only the second emperor ever recorded in New Zealand, and captivated the public, which closely followed every turn in his struggle for survival.

"The level of interest has been incredible, not just in Wellington or New Zealand, but around the world," Wellington Zoo's veterinary manager Lisa Argilla said.

"Everyone's been really curious to see what happens."

Initially, vets hoped the giant penguin would swim back to the Southern Ocean of his own accord, but when he became ill after eating sand and sticks in a bid to cool down, it was obvious he would die without human intervention.

Happy Feet, named after a smash-hit 2006 animated feature about a tap-dancing emperor chick, was rushed to Wellington Zoo's animal hospital, where a top human surgeon performed an endoscopy to clear his gut.

He was housed in an air-conditioned room with a regularly replenished bed of ice to simulate Antarctic conditions and responded positively to a diet of fish milkshakes consisting of pulverised salmon fillets.

"It was touch-and-go there for a while but he's doing really well now," Argilla said.

"He's put on a fair amount of weight and is now about 27.5 kilograms (60.5 pounds)."

Happy Feet has become a wildlife celebrity during his two-month rehabilitation, attracting global media interest and inspiring plans for a book and documentary recounting his story.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key set aside matters of state momentarily to wish the penguin well, while actor Stephen Fry, in Wellington to film "The Hobbit", visited him in his sub-zero living quarters.

Attendances at Wellington Zoo have almost doubled, even though Happy Feet has not been on public display.

"It's put our little zoo on the map, which has been exciting," Argilla said.

The VIP treatment will continue Monday, when Happy Feet is loaded onto the New Zealand research ship Tangaroa in a custom-made insulated crate to hitch a ride to the Southern Ocean.

With Argilla and two assistants on hand to ensure smooth passage, he will be released into the notoriously rough seas after a four-day voyage.

"He won't mind about 10-metre (33-foot) swells, this guy's used to harsh conditions, he'll probably be pretty excited actually and just dive away and that'll be the last we see of him," Argilla said.

"He'll hopefully bump into some penguins that he recognises, fingers crossed. Otherwise, he'll just go and probably establish himself in another colony."

The area where Happy Feet will be set free is still 2,000 kilometres from Antarctica but Argilla said it was within the normal feeding range of emperor penguins and his chances of survival were good.

"We're pretty hopeful," she said. "He just needs to deal with being an emperor penguin out in the wild and survive the predators.

"The wild is a harsh, cruel environment and obviously there are risks, but we're giving him the chance to live out his normal life cycle."

For those suffering Happy Feet-withdrawal, the bird wil be fitted with a GPS tracker so researchers and the public can monitor his progress in the wild at .

Despite the feel-good factor surrounding Happy Feet, there have been grumblings about the estimated NZ$90,000 ($75,500) spent saving the bird, with critics saying he should have been euthanised or left on the beach to die.

"We're letting ourselves get carried away with emotions," Wayne Linklater, a biologist at Wellington's Victoria University, told the Dominion Post newspaper, arguing the resources would have been better spent elsewhere.

Jenny Lynch, who coordinates a Wellington-based volunteer scheme for conservation group Forest & Bird to help little blue penguins, disagreed saying Happy Feet had raised the public profile of wildlife preservation issues.

"He's been invaluable," she said, citing increased interest in her programme from schoolchildren and volunteers.

"It's been quite an ordeal for a penguin to go through and now that he's come out the end of that it's made a nice, happy story.

"There's a lot of doom and gloom around the place and it's good to have something to use as an icon for conservation in New Zealand... I think the ultimate happy ending would be for Happy Feet to end up back in Antarctica with his colony."

Palomar Observatory...1940 footage of construction

Well, here are reels #2 and #3 of some historical footage of the construction of the Palomar Observatory. Unfortunately reel #1 has not been digitized as this time.

The Online Archive of California is an initiative of the California Digital Library.

Historical Note:

Palomar Observatory is located in San Diego County, California, 90 miles (140 km) southeast of Pasadena's Mount Wilson Observatory, in the Palomar Mountain Range. At approximately 5,570 feet (1,700 m) elevation, it is owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology. Research time is granted to Caltech's faculty and staff members and to research partners, which include the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Cornell University. The 200-inch Hale reflecting telescope is the principal instrument at the Palomar Observatory. It was built by Caltech with a 6-million dollar grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The historic 200-inch mirror was manufactured using a Pyrex blank by Corning Glass Works, in Corning, New York, and was shipped by rail to Pasadena for grinding and polishing. It was the vision and effort of the astronomer George Ellery Hale that caused the project to be funded and to go forward. The building of the 200-inch telescope was easily the most famous scientific undertaking of the 1930s. From the beginning, everyone associated with the project realized that the work must be done right or not at all. Every task associated with the Palomar project required a considerable extension of the technology of the day. In an article in the April 1928 issue of Harper's Magazine, George Hale set forth the case for the building of what was to become the 200-inch Palomar reflector. The purpose of this article was to inform the American public about his proposal to construct the largest telescope in the world to answer questions relating to the fundamental nature of the universe. Hale hoped that the American people would understand and support his project. George Ellery Hale died in 1938 and did not live to see the completion of his last and biggest telescope. In June 1948 the 200-inch reflector was dedicated to his memory. The telescope (the largest in the world at that time) saw first light on January 26, 1949, targeting NGC 2261. Russell W. Porter was primarily responsible for the striking Art Deco architecture of the Observatory's buildings, most notably the dome of the 200-inch Hale telescope. Porter was also responsible for much of the technical design of the telescope, producing a series of remarkable cross-section engineering drawings that are considered among the finest examples of such work. Porter worked on the designs in collaboration with many engineers and Caltech committee members. The iconic, gleaming white building on Palomar Mountain that houses the 200-inch Hale telescope is considered by many to be "The Cathedral of Astronomy."

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"Geocentrism"...still believed

You are not alone "Flat Earthers"..."Geocentrism" is crouching in the shadows.

"A few Catholics still insist Galileo was wrong"

They say Earth is the center of the universe, embracing church teachings of four centuries ago.


Manya A. Brachear

August 27th, 2011

Chicago Tribune

Some people believe the world revolves around them — and their belief is born not of selfishness but of faith.

A few conservative Roman Catholics are pointing to a dozen Bible verses and the church's original teachings as proof that Earth is the center of the universe, the view that was at the heart of the church's clash with Galileo Galilei four centuries ago.

The relatively obscure movement has gained a following among those who find comfort in knowing there are still staunch defenders of early church doctrine.

"This subject is, as far as I can see, an embarrassment to the modern church because the world more or less looks upon geocentrism, or someone who believes it, in the same boat as the flat Earth," said James Phillips of Cicero, Ill.

Phillips attends Our Lady Immaculate Catholic Church in Oak Park, Ill., a parish run by the Society of St. Pius X, which rejects most of the modernizing reforms made by the Vatican II council from 1962 to 1965.

But by challenging modern science, proponents of a geocentric universe are challenging the very church they seek to serve and protect.

"I have no idea who these people are," said Brother Guy Consolmagno, curator of meteorites and spokesman for the Vatican Observatory. "Are they sincere, or is this a clever bit of theater?"

Those promoting geocentrism argue that heliocentrism, or the centuries-old consensus among scientists that Earth revolves around the sun, is a conspiracy to squelch the church's influence.

"Heliocentrism becomes dangerous if it is being propped up as the true system when, in fact, it is a false system," said Robert Sungenis, leader of a budding movement to get scientists to reconsider. "False information leads to false ideas, and false ideas lead to illicit and immoral actions — thus the state of the world today.… Prior to Galileo, the church was in full command of the world, and governments and academia were subservient to her."

Sungenis is no Don Quixote. Hundreds of curiosity seekers, skeptics and supporters attended a conference last fall titled "Galileo Was Wrong. The Church Was Right" near the University of Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Ind.

Astrophysicists at Notre Dame didn't appreciate the group hitching its wagon to America's flagship Catholic university and resurrecting a concept that's extinct for a reason.

"It's an idea whose time has come and gone," astrophysics professor Peter Garnavich said. "There are some people who want to move the world back to the 1950s when it seemed like a better time. These are people who want to move the world back to the 1250s."

Garnavich said the theory of geocentrism violates what he believes should be a strict separation of church and science. One answers why, the other answers how, and never the twain should meet, he said.

But supporters contend there is scientific evidence to support geocentrism, just as there is evidence to support the six-day story of creation in Genesis.

There is proof in Scripture that Earth is the center of the universe, Sungenis said. Among many verses, he cites Joshua 10:12-14 as definitive proof: "And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, while the nation took vengeance on its foe.… The sun halted in the middle of the sky; not for a whole day did it resume its swift course."

But Ken Ham, founder of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., said the Bible is silent on geocentrism.

"There's a big difference between looking at the origin of the planets, the solar system and the universe and looking at presently how they move and how they are interrelated," Ham said. "The Bible is neither geocentric or heliocentric. It does not give any specific information about the structure of the solar system."

Just as Ham challenges the foundation of natural history museums by disputing evolution, Sungenis challenges planetariums, most notably the Vatican Observatory.

But Consolmagno said the very premise of going after Galileo illustrates the theory's lack of scientific credibility.

"Of course, we understand the universe in a far more nuanced way than Galileo did 400 years ago," he said.

"And I would hope that the next 400 years would see just as much development."

Robert Sungenis [Wikipedia]

Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right


Robert A. Sungenis


ISBN-10: 0977964000
ISBN-13: 978-0977964000

Galileo Was Wrong is a detailed and comprehensive treatise that demonstrates from the scientific evidence that heliocentrism (the concept that the Earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun) is an unproven scientific theory; and that geocentrism (the view that the Earth is in the center of the universe and does not move by either rotation or revolution) is not only supported by the scientific evidence but is admitted to be a logical and viable cosmology by many of the world's top scientists, including Albert Einstein, Ernst Mach, Edwin Hubble, Fred Hoyle and many more.

Hurricane's show biz for news organizations

George Carlin on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show as Al Sleet "The Hippy Dippy Weatherman"--1966

In the local 40 plus year old television industry, the whole news broadcast was given in about 15 minutes with about one minute for weather. How things have changed: The television weather department has it's own section surrounded with very expensive electronic goodies and a blue screen for meteorologists' interactions, fancy computer software [in vivid color and 3D], a helicopter to chase a tornado [and hopefully witness a direct hit on a houseful of people or the semi blown off the road], a cadre of certified storm watchers/chasers linked by cell phones [so we can see destruction], and charismatic weather anchors. They have the power to interrupt and pre-empt regular programing for hours if necessary. "The mother of all storms will strike soon"...oops, the wind shifted a bit and we were saved. It's all entertainment complete with weather hyperbole.

Furthermore, be careful about drawing umbrella conclusions about climate changes.

"Hurricane Irene: Why hurricane hyperbole never goes out of style"

Where should the media draw the line between reasonable warnings and fear-mongering? A few mistakes and a partially missed prognosis aren't necessarily proof that the media blew the story.


Patrik Jonsson

August 27th, 2011

The Christian Science Monitor

On one 24-hour news channel, a correspondent described the calm before hurricane Irene as the calm before a B-movie zombie attack. One anchor proclaimed the storm to be “as big as Europe.” Elsewhere, the hurricane was touted as the storm of a lifetime.

Storm hype is of course nothing new, neither is saying overwrought things when trying to fill up hours of airtime.

But as the hurricane approached, the fever pitch of the Irene coverage took on a life of its own, with government officials leading a chorus of caution even as closer watchers of the weather, especially on the ground in North Carolina, grew increasingly convinced that Irene would not strengthen, but steadily weaken instead into something closer to a massive tropical storm.

Hurricane prep: Are you smarter than a storm tracker? Take our quiz

On one network, "they are desperately trying to [show] a nail, a shingle, anything. It's getting embarrassing,” one Internet commenter said as Irene's core made landfall with 74 mile-per-hour ground speed readings in many locations near its eye – right on the line between a tropical storm and a hurricane. Days earlier, forecasters believed a catastrophic Category 4 storm was a distinct possibility.

The fact is, hurricane Irene's massive, lumbering pace, heavy storm surge and driving rains is still spelling major trouble across mid-Atlantic states and into New England, downing power lines and threatening the New York City subway system, which the city closed, along with the rest of its mass transit system, for the first time in its history upon Irene's approach.

But the difference between damage predictions and the actual impact of Irene as it made landfall in eastern North Carolina was duly noted by some Americans, who felt the government and the media missed the call.

“Weather channel is calling Irene 'storm of a lifetime'?” one person tweeted. “Did they already forget about Andrew, Rita, Katrina, Hugo, Floyd?”

But many such assessments followed governmental warnings as well as the storm's size, unusual path and potential bull's eye on New York City.

Only a day earlier, President Obama urged Americans to follow the advice of the Second Fleet, which moved an aircraft carrier out of the storm's path. Moreover, Craig Fugate, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, warned Americans against following wind speed categorizations of the storm too closely, since destructive, even deadly, floods and major power outages from the storm's formidable rain and surge remain a possibility.

If authorities struggle with getting the balance of forecast and warnings right, a few mistakes and over-representations from the media are understandable, says Leonard Steinhorn, professor of communication at American University.

“There's really nothing negative about the media erring on the side of public safety,” he says, “But on the other hand, the media love these sort of dramatic, exciting stories, they love the visuals of reporters sitting out there rain-drenched with wind blowing through his or her hair – it's excellent visuals, and it's a visual medium.”

And the stakes are, in fact, sky high: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been trying to move over 300,000 people away from low lying areas in the city. Entire areas of the New Jersey coast are devoid of people. At the same time, the eye-popping predictions – including a $35 billion estimated price tag for the storm's damage – have been built on the assumption that the storm would come ashore as a Category 1 hurricane rather than a tropical storm, a distinction that's likely to be debated in the aftermath.

“The reduction in storm intensity likely confirms that this storm is not going to be as monstrous as it has been publicly forecast to be,” wrote Dr. Simon Atkins, the CEO of Advanced Forecasting Corporation, on Friday afternoon.

So what happened? Given concerns about the safety of tens of millions of people along America's most populated coastline, goes one theory, some forecasters may ultimately have heeded forecasting assumptions and official concern about the storm strengthening over the reality on the ground.

“They may have held onto that moment a bit long,” says Mike Biggerstaff, a meteorology professor at the University of Oklahoma, in Norman.

“The public needs to understand that sometimes they want scientists to give them such accurate information and with incredible confidence, and one of the things science needs to do is say, 'This is our best prediction, but also here is the uncertainty associated with it’," he adds. "That way people can make their own decision on what they want to do with that uncertainty in a threat like this. At the same time, it's always better to be safe than sorry in a major severe event like the landfall of a hurricane.”

Disney, Apple, Walmart, others...profit margin is in "rule"

"Disney factory faces probe into sweatshop suicide claims"

Human rights campaigners say Chinese factories using children as young as 14 and that workers forced to do overtime


Gethin Chamberlain

August 27th, 2011

Disney's best-selling Cars toys are being made in a factory in China that uses child labour and forces staff to do three times the amount of overtime allowed by law, according to an investigation.

One worker reportedly killed herself after being repeatedly shouted at by bosses. Others cited worries over poisonous chemicals. Disney has now launched its own investigation.

It is claimed some of the 6,000 employees have to work an extra 120 hours every month to meet demand from western shops for the latest toys.

The factory, called Sturdy Products, makes toys for the giant Mattel company, which last month announced quarterly profits of £48m on the back of strong sales of Barbie dolls and Cars 2 toys. Sturdy Products, in the city of Shenzhen, also makes toys for US superstore chain Walmart. Among the brands produced are the Thomas the Tank Engine range, Matchbox cars, Cars, Toy Story, Barbie and Fisher Price products, Scrabble and the Hot Wheels sets.

The undercover investigation was carried out with the help of human rights group Sacom (Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour), which helped to expose abuses in Apple's Foxconn plant in China this year.

Workers were interviewed away from the factory, and an investigator then spent a month working inside it to gather more information. He found evidence of the use of child labour and illegal working hours, along with concerns over the use of poisonous chemicals.

Sacom's accusations against the factory include:

1. The employment of a 14-year-old. Staff also reported the presence of other child workers, according to the investigator.

2. Routine excessive overtime. Employees produced a "voluntary" document they said they had to sign agreeing to work beyond the maximum overtime legal limit of 36 hours a month, along with wage slips that suggested they were averaging 120 hours of overtime a month.

3. A harsh working environment in which workers complained of mistreatment by management. One worker injured on the production line was shouted at and ordered back to work despite needing medical treatment.

4. Concerns about the chemicals in use and poor ventilation. Employees claimed three workers had fallen ill. They said they had to hide pots of adhesive and thinners during audits of the factory by its client companies.

5. They also claimed that they were paid by the factory to give misleading answers during audits and that they were fined for failing to hit targets. The calculation of wages for different workers was described by Sacom as arbitrary.

Concerns were raised about conditions at Sturdy Products when a 45-year-old female employee, Hu Nianzhen, jumped to her death from a factory building in May after she was allegedly shouted at by managers.

Colleagues subsequently described the environment in the factory as tense and complained about the demanding workload. "A female worker committed suicide," one said, "because she was always scolded. However, I feel helpless because it is not easy for me to find another job."

The allegations are sure to concern many parents whose children are pestering them to buy the extensive range of Cars 2 toys launched to coincide with the movie, which hit UK cinema screens in July. Cars 2 has so far grossed £303m worldwide, overtaking the original movie despite being panned by critics. The poor reviews have not hindered sales of the merchandise, which Disney expects to exceed the £1.7bn spent last year on Toy Story 3 merchandise. Cars 2 toys will compete with Transformers and Smurfs items as the must-have Christmas toys.

But Sacom said that parents should think twice before buying the toys. A spokeswoman said: "Mattel, Walmart and Disney, the renowned toy companies, always claim they strictly comply with local laws and adhere to their respective code of conduct. The rampant violations at Sturdy Products, including excessive overtime, arbitrary wages, unfair punitive fines, child labour and negligence of occupational health, prove that the pledges are empty statements. There is no effective enforcement mechanism and remedies for workers at all."

She said the violations exposed the failings of the International Council of Toy Industries, which is supposed to police the industry.

"Consumers could never expect that the lovely toys which bring joy to children are manufactured in such deplorable conditions. They should convey messages to toy companies including Mattel, Walmart and Disney to launch remedial actions to compensate the wronged workers. Without remedies, there is no cost for labour rights violations."

She said the companies should already have been aware of the dangers of dealing with Sturdy Products after a previous investigation in 2007 uncovered similar problems. That investigation also found a six-day working week, with staff working up to 288 hours a month. During peak periods there was a compulsory seven-day week and the company was found to be failing to pay the minimum wage. Investigators said that some employees had attempted to raise awareness of the abuses by setting up their own group to inspire colleagues to fight for their rights.

Sturdy Products' parent company, Winson, failed to respond to requests to discuss the allegations.

Walmart issued a statement in which it said: "As soon as we learned of the allegations of human rights abuses at the Sturdy Products factory, we immediately launched an investigation. We are also in contact with the International Council of Toy Industries, a worldwide toy industry organisation that is also investigating this issue. We take reports like this very seriously and we will implement a corrective action plan if our investigations confirm any of the findings.

"We remain committed to sourcing merchandise that is produced responsibly by suppliers that adhere to Walmart's rigorous Standards for Suppliers code of conduct."

Disney said: "We take these matters impacting our licensees and business partners very seriously and will continue to evaluate this situation based upon the information available to us."

Mattel declined to comment directly on any of the allegations other than to note that the company was "deeply saddened" by the suicide but that, while it was "very tragic", it was an isolated event and local authorities had found nothing suspicious about the circumstances.

The company said it had carried out a detailed investigation. It said it was committed to working collaboratively through the International Council of Toy Industries' Care (Caring, Awareness, Responsible, Ethical) process "to achieve continuous improvements in factory working conditions".

Sacom's findings brought a rebuke from the International Council of Toy Industries' Care Foundation. "We are the first to concede that much more work lies ahead of us, but we refuse to accept the sensationalist, media-oriented declarations of any group, especially when they are carping and filled with incorrect information. It is simply counter-productive," the foundation said.

"The plain truth is that workers in many toy factories in China are better off now than they were before and that this is due in considerable part to the ICTI Care Process."

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Little Richard...the true "king" of rock 'n roll

Yes, there is a lot of room for debate...Little Richard or Elvis Presley. Frankly, Elvis' creativity died after he returned from the Army. His early material from Rock 'a Billy to gospel was great but..."king of rock 'n roll"?--naw. Little Richard takes the honors.

Good Golly Miss Molly


John Goodman

Little Richard at a 50th birthday celebration for Muhammad Ali

Long Tall Sally



Tutti Frutti

Imitations...some good; some bad.

Long Tall Sally

The Beatles


Long Tall Sally

Elvis Presley


Tutti Frutti

Pat Boone

Russian space programs having launch problems

In this image from Rossiya 24 television channel, a Soyuz rocket booster carrying the Progress supply ship is launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Wednesday. The spacecraft, which was bound for the International Space Station, failed to reach its planned orbit Wednesday, and pieces of it fell in Siberia amid a thunderous explosion, officials said.

It still may be a good idea to scrap the ISS earlier.

"Russian spacecraft falls from the sky. Is the International Space Station in trouble?"

The second embarrassing loss of a Russian space vehicle in a week spells trouble for Russia's space program and its ability to maintain the International Space Station.


Fred Weir

August 25th, 2011

The Christian Science Monitor

An unmanned Russian space freighter, which was launched on a resupply mission to the International Space Station, careened out of control and blew up in a "thunderous fireball" over Siberia Wednesday.

The blast triggering a state of emergency over a wide region and calls into doubt Russia's ability to handle its space obligations in the post-space shuttle era.

"The explosion was so strong that for 100 kilometers glass almost flew out of the windows," Alexander Borisov, an official in the remote and mountainous Altai Republic, on the Mongolian border, where most of the debris from the destroyed Progress spaceship rained down, was quoted by RIA-Novosti as saying.

Russian media reported Thursday that none of the wreckage fell on populated areas, and 40 lumberjacks who'd been working in the affected zone were all safe and accounted for.

But the main casualty may be Russia's ambitious space program, which is the only link to the ISS since last month's final space shuttle mission left NASA without a spacefaring capability.

The loss of the Progress freighter, which was carrying three tons of food, fuel, and water to the ISS, is the second embarrassing loss of a Russian space vehicle in barely a week, and the third so far this year. Last week, an Express AM-4 telecommunications satellite failed to separate from its Proton-M carrier rocket, and had to be jettisoned.

Yet another crippling setback occurred last December, when three satellites crucial to finalizing Russia's ambitious Glonass orbiting navigation system crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

All of the mishaps apparently involved the Proton-M rocket, the workhorse of Russia's space program, which is used to launch most satellite packages as well as the Progress robot freighters and the Soyuz manned space vehicles.

The good news is that the six astronauts currently aboard the ISS, orbiting some 250 miles above the Earth, apparently have "fat reserves" of food and water after being visited by the space shuttle Atlantis on its last voyage in July.

"We're in a good position logistically to withstand this loss of supplies," Mike Suffredini, manager of the space station program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, was quoted by news agencies as saying. "And in fact, I would tell you we can go several months without a resupply vehicle if that becomes necessary."

The bad news is that they may be stranded, at least for some time. Three of the ISS crew members were slated to be replaced by a Soyuz mission in late September.

But Russian space officials say they will probably ground all Progress and Soyuz spaceships until the fault can be analyzed and corrected.

"The scheduled launches of the [Soyuz] rockets are likely to be suspended because of the space freighter accident until the reasons [for the accident] are established," an unnamed Russian space official was quoted by RIA-Novosti as saying Thursday.

Four Russian flights to the ISS, two of them manned, had been scheduled for later this year. After retiring its last space shuttle, the US space agency NASA agreed to pay its Russian counterpart, Roskosmos, more than $1 billion for resupply missions to the ISS over the next four years.

Russian space experts argue that the problems, while serious, are not necessarily crippling. They insist that Wednesday's Progress crash was the first such failure in the 130 launches that have taken place since the robot freighters entered service in 1972.

They also point to recent key successes for Russia's space program, such as last month's launch of RadioAstron, a Russian space telescope that will deliver images of distant cosmic objects with 10,000 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Will smoking a pipe enhance an IQ?

Well, maybe not. I smoked a pipe during my long university existence and my two choices were the ones above. Tobacco was cheap then and imported blends were highly prized. I often wonder how many sweaters I ruined? Anyway, here is an amusing essay on pipe smoking.

"Weekend Science: The Physics Of Smoking A Pipe"


Hank Campbell

August 27th 2011

science 2.0

If you're one of those cultural mullahs who thinks smoking causes lung cancer - even a cigar or a pipe - you can stop reading. This article is not for you. I have never smoked a cigarette in my life but gradual efforts by the modern temperance movement to ban smoking everywhere(1) should be resisted by anyone claiming they care about independence, tolerance and diversity.(2)

Cigars and pipes are the perfect way to clench your fist in indignant rage at yet another progressive inroad into our personal lives(3). If your significant other is on the fence regarding your new potential pastime(4), I recommend a pipe and an aromatic tobacco - they're quite nice. But smoking a pipe isn't as easy as you might think and you will still need the awesome power of science.

If you are like me, and you grew up watching Sherlock Holmes, heck even if you watch "Mad Men" today, you see pipes. Once a minute, someone will thoughtfully take a puff, a cloud of smoke will appear and something intelligent will happen.

I call rubbish on the media. If there is one thing I know, it is that you, being a novice pipe smoker, have zero chance of looking intelligent smoking a pipe. Instead, you will be spending all of your time lighting it. A lot. I am here to help.

The pipe itself

A pipe is essentially just what it is called - a pipe. That means the laws of physics trump what you see on television. Fluid dynamics is crucial and because bodies are different, so will the best pipe be but you can narrow down your odds. If you are getting a new pipe or trying out an 'estate' pipe you found at your grandfather's, the simple test is to draw air through it, just like you might when smoking, so take your best guess. Whistling is bad because of our friend Bernoulli. If the airflow is restricted the air is moving faster and you hear that turbulent whistling sound. Restricted airflow means it will be a struggle to smoke and stay lit, the turbulence in this case is the smoke being separated from the air; smoke is essentially heavier moisture particles and it is being pushed to the sides when that happens.

If you are looking at a cheap pipe, try a different pipe, they're all machine-made to tolerances but you may just have gotten a bad one. If the pipe is an older one, there may just be some build up in it. If your pipe is curved, like my Stanwell, boring is crucial so if you are getting a cheap pipe, keep it straight and there is less chance of getting a bad one.

If airflow is a concern, the obvious question becomes why don't pipe makers just make a bigger aperture and bore out the stem. There's an aesthetic and structural concern. People want a pipe to look like a pipe so boring a larger aperture means less structure. A novice smoker will be more likely to bite through the bit and claim the pipe is lousy.

My Stanwell is a briar pipe, but if you want to just try a pipe, get a cheap corn cob variety. Seriously, it is a low cost way to figure out what you like. A Briar pipe is made from the burl of the Erica Arborea tree and it is literally the default in the pipe smoking world. You can't go wrong if it is decently made. You may even get crazy and try pipes made from different woods, like Rosewood or whatever - due to the many factors that go into taste and the numerous 'tones' it has, materials and structure and type all make a difference, just like in music.

Like an iron skillet, you want the pipe to be a little seasoned. If you got an old one, no issue, but if you have a new one you may get inconsistent behavior. The fast route to seasoning your pipe is to 'cake' it. Take some honey or scotch, depending on how hardcore you are, mix in some pipe tobacco ash so that it is just like it sounds, a cake, put a pipe cleanere in the stem airway so it doesn't clog and spread a thickness of about a U.S. dime coin in the heel of the bowl and the bottom half. Let it dry for a day and then smoke a bowlful all the way to the bottom. The heat does the work for you. If you bought an old pipe it may have a substantial cake and you need to ream it out. You can use anything for that, though in modern times pipe aficionados will tell you to buy a tool for 20 bucks.

Keeping it lit

Good luck. I will give you advice, just like I could give you advice on starting a site like Science 2.0, but experience will make the difference. Heat, like airflow is a killer. Airflow is a controversy, like I said, because of the aperture. Some say a wider bore will be too hot and the pipe won't stay lit, others feel it is a better draw. How will a new person know? If you are buying a pipe in a store, they are not selling you something bored at 5/32 inches or larger and if I wanted mine larger, well, look at the thing. It's curved. Not a trivial matter to re-bore a curved pipe.

If the draw is too little, you will get a sore mouth - you are literally working pretty hard at it, and the same goes if you are puffing all of the time trying to keep it lit.

Intuition says staying lit is a matter of making sure the material is dense so heat transfers easily. Not in this case, though you are right with a cigar and its gigantic draw. The bite and a sore mouth are a sign the pipe is packed too tight.

To get the best chance of having an even draw, fill the bowl up, and press it down lightly. Then fill it again and press it down firmly. Fill it again and press it down with a pretty good use of your finger. It will be below the rim. Use a match and try to light the entire thing evenly at first, charring the tobacco a little, then light it and take 5 or 6 puffs. Don't puff too often, even if you are worried about it going out. The throat strain is not worth it. Tamp it down here and there and that should help. Some people recommend blowing gently into the stem and then covering the chamber and drawing on it but use with caution until you know what you are doing.

With practice, it will come to you but get used to the idea of re-lighting it a lot at first. If you need a dramatic pause in the conversation before saying something pithy, that is a good time to re-light your pipe. Then you can lean your head back and intone, "You know, it's all inductance when you get right down to it" and people will nod their heads as if you said something profound - because you are smoking a pipe.


(1) Dal Baffo in Menlo Park, California was one of the best cigar restaurants in the entire country. When California did its back-door banning of smoking in restaurants, not only did it eliminate a thousand businesses that did not have outdoor patios for smokers, it eliminated an elegant pastime and further homogenized California culture into being mainstream, vanilla plastic people. I literally have not been to Morton's or an expensive steakhouse in California since. It feels wrong to not have a cigar afterward.

(2) Yes, of course smoking is bad for you. Everyone knows this. Continuing to pile on smokers with fundamentalist nonsense is pointless, some people are going to do it. If your next argument is "society will have to pay their medical bills' then you obviously recognize we should not be paying medical bills either. 10% of smokers get lung cancer and 50% of lung cancer victims never smoked. It is a risk factor, and smoking certainly aggravates it, but medical science finally got called on the carpet after three decades of a supposed 'war on cancer' so they have stopped exaggerating.

(3) Not in the house. Divorce will not be all that great for you either.

(4) I also tell young men who ask for advice to not only introduce every flaw, vice and bad habit early on in a relationship, but to throw in a few new ones as placeholders. It has been long established that significant others allow bad habits you showed up with - but not a single new one. Ever.

(5) Curious George, for example. No one ever called him dumb.

September 11th...the Jerry Weist collection of science fiction, fantasy art and books to be auctioned

A terrific 1929 painting for the cover of Science Wonder Stories by Frank R Paul (“the undisputed king of the pulp artists” – Arthur C Clarke) featuring a crew of proto-Katamari Damaci miners is estimated to go for between $15,000 and $20,000.

"Great vintage science fiction art up for auction – Frazetta, Wally Wood, Virgil Finlay"


Mark Frauenfelder

August 22nd, 2011


Heritage Auctions is auctioning off the Jerry Weist Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy Art and Books on September 11 in Beverly Hills. Some amazing pieces of art and artifacts are being offered.

Heritage Auctions

Here are two more samples...

What kind of savage wouldn't want a complete 8-page story by the inimitable Wally Wood? According to the catalog it's a "reworked 8-page version of the Weird Science #6 classic, 'The Spawn of Venus,'slated for a never-published third issue. The art is rendered on Craftint art paper as well as multiple pieces of acetate, each piece representing a 'level' of art. The pieces were then stacked together, with eye-popping results -- the 3-D effect is striking. Unlike the previous issues, this story was actually rendered in six levels of depth, rather than the previous standard of four levels. This science fiction masterwork finally saw print in Wally Wood's own prozine, Witzend #6 in 1969."

Only 200 copies of Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451 were printed with an asbestos cover. What lucky future mesothelioma victim is going to get this copy, signed by the author? Opening bid is $3000.

"Jerry Weist Dies"


R.C. Harvey

January 14th, 2011

The Comics Journal

Jerry Weist, pioneering comics fan, scholar, retailer and author, died Jan. 7 at the age of 61, reportedly of mulitple myeloma cancer. According to SFScope friend Andrew Porter and the PulpMags mailing list, Weist had been battling cancer for several years.

Weist first began collecting comic books and science fiction in 1958, when he picked up the second issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland at his father’s grocery store. According to Bill Schelly’s Founders of Fandom, Weist produced his own monster fanzines in the early 1960s, attended his first World Science Fiction Convention in Cleveland in 1966, and in 1967 edited and published the groundbreaking EC Fanzine Squa Tront. He moved to New York City in 1972 and established himself as an artist on the Lower East Side, eventually having one-man shows at galleries in SoHo, and then moved to Boston.

Weist opened The Million Year Picnic in the summer of 1974, one of the first specialty comic stores in North America. He has worked with Al Feldstein, Jerry Siegel, Murphy Anderson, James Steranko, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers, Bill Gaines, Ray Bradbury, Roy Thomas, Burne Hogarth, Danton Burroughs, Frank Frazetta, Robert Crumb and a host of other professionals in the comics field for the past 20 years in helping them sell their artwork or collectibles.

After spending 10 years in retail, Weist moved back to New York and convinced Sotheby’s in 1991 to mount the first major Comic Book and Comic Art auction. He served as Sotheby’s comics consultant from 1990-2001, launching the first world-class market auctions. He has appeared on national television and in USA Today and The Wall Street Journal and has been quoted in numerous other sources for comics history and auction results. He is one of the first five members of the Certified Guaranty Company, and had just become one of the only independent dealers in America to be granted status enough to be included in the new C.G.C. “Signature” series comic labels.

Weist has a lifetime of experience grading, cataloging, writing historical articles, identifying restoration on comics, distinguishing original artwork from fakes, making finds that become “pedigree” comics collections — and a wider range of experience with the comic book and comic art mediums than many other professionals. He is the author of Bradbury: Illustrated Life, a Journey to Far Metaphor (William Morrow, 2002), Original Comic Art: Identification and Price Guide (The confident collector) (Avon 1992), 100 Greatest Comic Books (Whitman 2004), Frank R. Paul: Father of Science Fiction Art (with Stephen D. Korshak and Roger Hill) (Book Sales 2010), and The Comic Art Price Guide (Krause 2000) and the second updated edition (Arcturian 2000). Prior to his death, he reportedly completed the third edition of The Comic Art Price Guide, which is scheduled to appear this summer.

Thanks to Patrick Neas for the information.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Great Moon Hoax of 1835


New York Sun headline

New York Sun lithograph

People will believe just about anything when a scientist celebrity is involved...and no this has nothing to do with Moon rocks and the Apollo astronauts.

The Writer's Almanac...

On this date in 1835, the New York Sun ran the first of six articles claiming there was civilization on the Moon. Known as "The Great Moon Hoax," the articles were said to have been reprinted from the Edinburgh Journal of Science, and their author, Dr. Andrew Grant, claimed to be a colleague of Sir John Herschel, the most famous astronomer of the day. Grant reported that Herschel — who was setting up a powerful new telescope in Cape Town, South Africa — had witnessed fantastic creatures like unicorns, two-legged beavers, and bat-human hybrids; he also reported huge caves full of amethysts, jewel-encrusted temples, and lush jungle vegetation.

The articles were intended to be a satire of speculation on extraterrestrial life, but people believed they were true, and the increase in the "penny press" paper's circulation that resulted was a welcome side benefit. A team of Yale scientists even traveled to New York to track down the original Edinburgh Journal articles; unfortunately for them, the Journal had ceased publication several years earlier. When the New York Sun admitted that the articles had been a hoax, the public greeted the news with good humor, and sales of the paper remained vigorous.

Great Moon Hoax [Wikipedia]

Another bookstore bites the dust...The Travel Bookshop

"Give bricks-and-mortar bookselling a future"

Faced with the Amazon juggernaut and high rents, bookshops are battling to survive. 'Use them or lose them' is the message


Nik Gorecki

August 25th, 2011

The news that The Travel Bookshop is set to close is upsetting for those who still believe in the importance of such stores, and even more so for the staff losing their livelihoods, but it's an announcement that comes after a string of closures and gloomy headlines for booksellers. Independent bookshops have been struggling for a long time now (more than 100 closed in 2009), but as the closure of Borders in December 2009 demonstrated, chain booksellers are in real trouble too. Borders' closure left Waterstone's in the perfect market position, yet Waterstone's has still had to find a foreign investor to keep trading. Faced with these kind of developments it's easy to doubt whether bricks-and-mortar bookselling has much of a future at all.

The bookshop I work at, Housmans in London's King's Cross, has been around for more than 60 years, and through that time has had several brushes with closure – to a certain extent the pressures are nothing new. An expensive libel case, and the shutting of neighbouring businesses during the King's Cross "renovation" dispute were particularly stressful periods specific to us, but all independents have had to weather the storms of the tearing up of the net-book agreement (which allowed for the heavy discounting of books by mass retailers) and the online market domination of Amazon, whose practice of price-squeezing publishers and authors has perhaps given readers unrealistic ideas about book prices.

On a day to day basis the biggest burden for bookshops is overheads, namely rates, utility bills, wages (almost always very low), and especially rent. The frankly insane rental prices in London may be great for landlords, but are crippling many small businesses, and workers alike. André Schiffrin's book Words & Money (Verso 2010) examines the crisis facing all aspects of the publishing world, and cites some interesting initiatives in France and Germany, where policymakers are agreed on the importance of bookshops as part of the wider social fabric, and have legislated for discounts in rates and rents in order to keep bookshops alive. All small businesses are suffering in the shadows of the ever-growing dominance of an oligopoly of corporate traders, but bookshops are particularly vulnerable, as the profit on each sale is so much smaller than in many other sectors.

Perhaps the bookshops themselves are partially to blame. We've been thinking hard how to turn things around, and haven't avoided being self-critical of the work we do. People have high expectations of bookshops, and we try hard to match them, and provide the services they want. Making bookshops into a hub for the community, through in-store events and outreach is essential, but even the most ingenuous transformations and improvements may not be enough when the core numbers don't add up.

On 6 October 2011 we'll be launching an initiative called the Alliance of Radical Booksellers, a loose coalition of left-leaning political bookshops from around Britain. We hope this will allow us to share ideas, support one another, and communicate better with publishers, the media, and book lovers. It's important that we get the message out that bookshops need support: "use us or lose us" is the maxim of the day. That extra help may take the form of better deals from publishers, promotions in the media, or even preferential business terms from national or local government, but the change we would all like to see the most would be more people coming through the door and enjoying bookshops and what they have to offer: hopefully good advice and a chance to browse and buy from shelves of well-selected titles in a pleasant environment.

Words & Money


Andre Schiffrin

ISBN-10: 1844676803
ISBN-13: 978-1844676804

D. H. Lawrence, "The Rocking Horse Winner", and belief

Anthony Pelissier directed the film [1949 UK and 1950 USA] starring John Howard Davies, Valerie Hobson and John Mills.

[Note: John Howard Davies passed away on August 22nd, 2011.]

Here is the entire film followed by the complete short story.

Plot [Wikipedia]...

The story describes a young middle-class Englishwoman who "had no luck." Though outwardly successful, she is haunted by a sense of failure; her husband is a ne'er-do-well and her work as a commercial artist doesn't earn as much as she'd like. The family's lifestyle exceeds its income and unspoken anxiety about money permeates the household. Her children, a son Paul and his two sisters, sense this anxiety, and Paul even claims he can hear the house "whispering" There must be more money.

Paul tells his Uncle Oscar Cresswell about betting on horse races with Bassett, the gardener. He's been placing bets using his pocket money and has won and saved three hundred twenty pounds. Sometimes he says he is "sure" of a winner for an upcoming race, and the horses he names do in fact win, sometimes at remarkable odds. Uncle Oscar and Bassett both place large bets on the horses Paul names.

After further winning, Paul and Oscar arrange to give the mother a gift of five thousand pounds, but the gift only lets her spend more. Disappointed, Paul tries harder than ever to be "lucky". As the Derby approaches, Paul is determined to learn the winner. Concerned about his health, his mother rushes home from a party and discovers his secret. He has been spending hours riding his rocking horse, sometimes all night long, until he "gets there", into a clairvoyant state where he can be sure of the winner's name.

Paul remains ill through the day of the Derby. Informed by Cresswell, Bassett has placed Paul's bet on Malabar, at fourteen to one. When he is informed by Bassett that he now has 80,000 pounds, Paul says to his mother:

"I never told you, mother, that if I can ride my horse, and get there, then I'm absolutely sure – oh absolutely! Mother, did I ever tell you? I am lucky!"

"No, you never did," said his mother.

The boy dies in the night and his mother hears her brother say, “My God, Hester, you’re eighty-odd thousand to the good, and a poor devil of a son to the bad. But, poor devil, poor devil, he’s best gone out of a life where he rides his rocking horse to find a winner.”

The Rocking Horse Winner


D. H. Lawrence


There was a woman who was beautiful, who started with all the advantages, yet she had no luck. She married for love, and the love turned to dust. She had bonny children, yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them. They looked at her coldly, as if they were finding fault with her. And hurriedly she felt she must cover up some fault in herself. Yet what it was that she must cover up she never knew. Nevertheless, when her children were present, she always felt the centre of her heart go hard. This troubled her, and in her manner she was all the more gentle and anxious for her children, as if she loved them very much. Only she herself knew that at the centre of her heart was a hard little place that could not feel love, no, not for anybody. Everybody else said of her: "She is such a good mother. She adores her children." Only she herself, and her children themselves, knew it was not so. They read it in each other's eyes.

There were a boy and two little girls. They lived in a pleasant house, with a garden, and they had discreet servants, and felt themselves superior to anyone in the neighbourhood.

Although they lived in style, they felt always an anxiety in the house. There was never enough money. The mother had a small income, and the father had a small income, but not nearly enough for the social position which they had to keep up. The father went into town to some office. But though he had good prospects, these prospects never materialised. There was always the grinding sense of the shortage of money, though the style was always kept up.

At last the mother said: "I will see if I can't make something." But she did not know where to begin. She racked her brains, and tried this thing and the other, but could not find anything successful. The failure made deep lines come into her face. Her children were growing up, they would have to go to school. There must be more money, there must be more money. The father, who was always very handsome and expensive in his tastes, seemed as if he never would be able to do anything worth doing. And the mother, who had a great belief in herself, did not succeed any better, and her tastes were just as expensive.

And so the house came to be haunted by the unspoken phrase: There must be more money! There must be more money! The children could hear it all the time though nobody said it aloud. They heard it at Christmas, when the expensive and splendid toys filled the nursery. Behind the shining modern rocking-horse, behind the smart doll's house, a voice would start whispering: "There must be more money! There must be more money!" And the children would stop playing, to listen for a moment. They would look into each other's eyes, to see if they had all heard. And each one saw in the eyes of the other two that they too had heard. "There must be more money! There must be more money!"

It came whispering from the springs of the still-swaying rocking-horse, and even the horse, bending his wooden, champing head, heard it. The big doll, sitting so pink and smirking in her new pram, could hear it quite plainly, and seemed to be smirking all the more self-consciously because of it. The foolish puppy, too, that took the place of the teddy-bear, he was looking so extraordinarily foolish for no other reason but that he heard the secret whisper all over the house: "There must be more money!"

Yet nobody ever said it aloud. The whisper was everywhere, and therefore no one spoke it. Just as no one ever says: "We are breathing!" in spite of the fact that breath is coming and going all the time.

"Mother," said the boy Paul one day, "why don't we keep a car of our own? Why do we always use uncle's, or else a taxi?"

"Because we're the poor members of the family," said the mother.

"But why are we, mother?"

"Well - I suppose," she said slowly and bitterly, "it's because your father has no luck."

The boy was silent for some time.

"Is luck money, mother?" he asked, rather timidly.

"No, Paul. Not quite. It's what causes you to have money."

"Oh!" said Paul vaguely. "I thought when Uncle Oscar said filthy lucker, it meant money."

"Filthy lucre does mean money," said the mother. "But it's lucre, not luck."

"Oh!" said the boy. "Then what is luck, mother?"

"It's what causes you to have money. If you're lucky you have money. That's why it's better to be born lucky than rich. If you're rich, you may lose your money. But if you're lucky, you will always get more money."

"Oh! Will you? And is father not lucky?"

"Very unlucky, I should say," she said bitterly.

The boy watched her with unsure eyes.

"Why?" he asked.

"I don't know. Nobody ever knows why one person is lucky and another unlucky."

"Don't they? Nobody at all? Does nobody know?"

"Perhaps God. But He never tells."

"He ought to, then. And aren't you lucky either, mother?"

"I can't be, it I married an unlucky husband."

"But by yourself, aren't you?"

"I used to think I was, before I married. Now I think I am very unlucky indeed."


"Well - never mind! Perhaps I'm not really," she said.

The child looked at her to see if she meant it. But he saw, by the lines of her mouth, that she was only trying to hide something from him.

"Well, anyhow," he said stoutly, "I'm a lucky person."

"Why?" said his mother, with a sudden laugh.

He stared at her. He didn't even know why he had said it.

"God told me," he asserted, brazening it out.

"I hope He did, dear!", she said, again with a laugh, but rather bitter.

"He did, mother!"

"Excellent!" said the mother, using one of her husband's exclamations.

The boy saw she did not believe him; or rather, that she paid no attention to his assertion. This angered him somewhere, and made him want to compel her attention.

He went off by himself, vaguely, in a childish way, seeking for the clue to 'luck'. Absorbed, taking no heed of other people, he went about with a sort of stealth, seeking inwardly for luck. He wanted luck, he wanted it, he wanted it. When the two girls were playing dolls in the nursery, he would sit on his big rocking-horse, charging madly into space, with a frenzy that made the little girls peer at him uneasily. Wildly the horse careered, the waving dark hair of the boy tossed, his eyes had a strange glare in them. The little girls dared not speak to him.

When he had ridden to the end of his mad little journey, he climbed down and stood in front of his rocking-horse, staring fixedly into its lowered face. Its red mouth was slightly open, its big eye was wide and glassy-bright.

"Now!" he would silently command the snorting steed. "Now take me to where there is luck! Now take me!"

And he would slash the horse on the neck with the little whip he had asked Uncle Oscar for. He knew the horse could take him to where there was luck, if only he forced it. So he would mount again and start on his furious ride, hoping at last to get there.

"You'll break your horse, Paul!" said the nurse.

"He's always riding like that! I wish he'd leave off!" said his elder sister Joan.

But he only glared down on them in silence. Nurse gave him up. She could make nothing of him. Anyhow, he was growing beyond her.

One day his mother and his Uncle Oscar came in when he was on one of his furious rides. He did not speak to them.

"Hallo, you young jockey! Riding a winner?" said his uncle.

"Aren't you growing too big for a rocking-horse? You're not a very little boy any longer, you know," said his mother.

But Paul only gave a blue glare from his big, rather close-set eyes. He would speak to nobody when he was in full tilt. His mother watched him with an anxious expression on her face.

At last he suddenly stopped forcing his horse into the mechanical gallop and slid down.

"Well, I got there!" he announced fiercely, his blue eyes still flaring, and his sturdy long legs straddling apart.

"Where did you get to?" asked his mother.

"Where I wanted to go," he flared back at her.

"That's right, son!" said Uncle Oscar. "Don't you stop till you get there. What's the horse's name?"

"He doesn't have a name," said the boy.

"Gets on without all right?" asked the uncle.

"Well, he has different names. He was called Sansovino last week."

"Sansovino, eh? Won the Ascot. How did you know this name?"

"He always talks about horse-races with Bassett," said Joan.

The uncle was delighted to find that his small nephew was posted with all the racing news. Bassett, the young gardener, who had been wounded in the left foot in the war and had got his present job through Oscar Cresswell, whose batman he had been, was a perfect blade of the 'turf'. He lived in the racing events, and the small boy lived with him.

Oscar Cresswell got it all from Bassett.

"Master Paul comes and asks me, so I can't do more than tell him, sir," said Bassett, his face terribly serious, as if he were speaking of religious matters.

"And does he ever put anything on a horse he fancies?"

"Well - I don't want to give him away - he's a young sport, a fine sport, sir. Would you mind asking him himself? He sort of takes a pleasure in it, and perhaps he'd feel I was giving him away, sir, if you don't mind.

Bassett was serious as a church.

The uncle went back to his nephew and took him off for a ride in the car.

"Say, Paul, old man, do you ever put anything on a horse?" the uncle asked.

The boy watched the handsome man closely.

"Why, do you think I oughtn't to?" he parried.

"Not a bit of it! I thought perhaps you might give me a tip for the Lincoln."

The car sped on into the country, going down to Uncle Oscar's place in Hampshire.

"Honour bright?" said the nephew.

"Honour bright, son!" said the uncle.

"Well, then, Daffodil."

"Daffodil! I doubt it, sonny. What about Mirza?"

"I only know the winner," said the boy. "That's Daffodil."

"Daffodil, eh?"

There was a pause. Daffodil was an obscure horse comparatively.


"Yes, son?"

"You won't let it go any further, will you? I promised Bassett."

"Bassett be damned, old man! What's he got to do with it?"

"We're partners. We've been partners from the first. Uncle, he lent me my first five shillings, which I lost. I promised him, honour bright, it was only between me and him; only you gave me that ten-shilling note I started winning with, so I thought you were lucky. You won't let it go any further, will you?"

The boy gazed at his uncle from those big, hot, blue eyes, set rather close together. The uncle stirred and laughed uneasily.

"Right you are, son! I'll keep your tip private. How much are you putting on him?"

"All except twenty pounds," said the boy. "I keep that in reserve."

The uncle thought it a good joke.

"You keep twenty pounds in reserve, do you, you young romancer? What are you betting, then?"

"I'm betting three hundred," said the boy gravely. "But it's between you and me, Uncle Oscar! Honour bright?"

"It's between you and me all right, you young Nat Gould," he said, laughing. "But where's your three hundred?"

"Bassett keeps it for me. We're partners."

"You are, are you! And what is Bassett putting on Daffodil?"

"He won't go quite as high as I do, I expect. Perhaps he'll go a hundred and fifty."

"What, pennies?" laughed the uncle.

"Pounds," said the child, with a surprised look at his uncle. "Bassett keeps a bigger reserve than I do."

Between wonder and amusement Uncle Oscar was silent. He pursued the matter no further, but he determined to take his nephew with him to the Lincoln races.

"Now, son," he said, "I'm putting twenty on Mirza, and I'll put five on for you on any horse you fancy. What's your pick?"

"Daffodil, uncle."

"No, not the fiver on Daffodil!"

"I should if it was my own fiver," said the child.

"Good! Good! Right you are! A fiver for me and a fiver for you on Daffodil."

The child had never been to a race-meeting before, and his eyes were blue fire. He pursed his mouth tight and watched. A Frenchman just in front had put his money on Lancelot. Wild with excitement, he flayed his arms up and down, yelling "Lancelot!, Lancelot!" in his French accent.

Daffodil came in first, Lancelot second, Mirza third. The child, flushed and with eyes blazing, was curiously serene. His uncle brought him four five-pound notes, four to one.

"What am I to do with these?" he cried, waving them before the boys eyes.

"I suppose we'll talk to Bassett," said the boy. "I expect I have fifteen hundred now; and twenty in reserve; and this twenty."

His uncle studied him for some moments.

"Look here, son!" he said. "You're not serious about Bassett and that fifteen hundred, are you?"

"Yes, I am. But it's between you and me, uncle. Honour bright?"

"Honour bright all right, son! But I must talk to Bassett."

"If you'd like to be a partner, uncle, with Bassett and me, we could all be partners. Only, you'd have to promise, honour bright, uncle, not to let it go beyond us three. Bassett and I are lucky, and you must be lucky, because it was your ten shillings I started winning with ..."

Uncle Oscar took both Bassett and Paul into Richmond Park for an afternoon, and there they talked.

"It's like this, you see, sir," Bassett said. "Master Paul would get me talking about racing events, spinning yarns, you know, sir. And he was always keen on knowing if I'd made or if I'd lost. It's about a year since, now, that I put five shillings on Blush of Dawn for him: and we lost. Then the luck turned, with that ten shillings he had from you: that we put on Singhalese. And since that time, it's been pretty steady, all things considering. What do you say, Master Paul?"

"We're all right when we're sure," said Paul. "It's when we're not quite sure that we go down."

"Oh, but we're careful then," said Bassett.

"But when are you sure?" smiled Uncle Oscar.

"It's Master Paul, sir," said Bassett in a secret, religious voice. "It's as if he had it from heaven. Like Daffodil, now, for the Lincoln. That was as sure as eggs."

"Did you put anything on Daffodil?" asked Oscar Cresswell.

"Yes, sir, I made my bit."

"And my nephew?"

Bassett was obstinately silent, looking at Paul.

"I made twelve hundred, didn't I, Bassett? I told uncle I was putting three hundred on Daffodil."

"That's right," said Bassett, nodding.

"But where's the money?" asked the uncle.

"I keep it safe locked up, sir. Master Paul he can have it any minute he likes to ask for it."

"What, fifteen hundred pounds?"

"And twenty! And forty, that is, with the twenty he made on the course."

"It's amazing!" said the uncle.

"If Master Paul offers you to be partners, sir, I would, if I were you: if you'll excuse me," said Bassett.

Oscar Cresswell thought about it.

"I'll see the money," he said.

They drove home again, and, sure enough, Bassett came round to the garden-house with fifteen hundred pounds in notes. The twenty pounds reserve was left with Joe Glee, in the Turf Commission deposit.

"You see, it's all right, uncle, when I'm sure! Then we go strong, for all we're worth, don't we, Bassett?"

"We do that, Master Paul."

"And when are you sure?" said the uncle, laughing.

"Oh, well, sometimes I'm absolutely sure, like about Daffodil," said the boy; "and sometimes I have an idea; and sometimes I haven't even an idea, have I, Bassett? Then we're careful, because we mostly go down."

"You do, do you! And when you're sure, like about Daffodil, what makes you sure, sonny?"

"Oh, well, I don't know," said the boy uneasily. "I'm sure, you know, uncle; that's all."

"It's as if he had it from heaven, sir," Bassett reiterated.

"I should say so!" said the uncle.

But he became a partner. And when the Leger was coming on Paul was 'sure' about Lively Spark, which was a quite inconsiderable horse. The boy insisted on putting a thousand on the horse, Bassett went for five hundred, and Oscar Cresswell two hundred. Lively Spark came in first, and the betting had been ten to one against him. Paul had made ten thousand.

"You see," he said. "I was absolutely sure of him."

Even Oscar Cresswell had cleared two thousand.

"Look here, son," he said, "this sort of thing makes me nervous."

"It needn't, uncle! Perhaps I shan't be sure again for a long time."

"But what are you going to do with your money?" asked the uncle.

"Of course," said the boy, "I started it for mother. She said she had no luck, because father is unlucky, so I thought if I was lucky, it might stop whispering."

"What might stop whispering?"

"Our house. I hate our house for whispering."

"What does it whisper?"

"Why - why" - the boy fidgeted - "why, I don't know. But it's always short of money, you know, uncle."

"I know it, son, I know it."

"You know people send mother writs, don't you, uncle?"

"I'm afraid I do," said the uncle.

"And then the house whispers, like people laughing at you behind your back. It's awful, that is! I thought if I was lucky -"

"You might stop it," added the uncle.

The boy watched him with big blue eyes, that had an uncanny cold fire in them, and he said never a word.

"Well, then!" said the uncle. "What are we doing?"

"I shouldn't like mother to know I was lucky," said the boy.

"Why not, son?"

"She'd stop me."

"I don't think she would."

"Oh!" - and the boy writhed in an odd way - "I don't want her to know, uncle."

"All right, son! We'll manage it without her knowing."

They managed it very easily. Paul, at the other's suggestion, handed over five thousand pounds to his uncle, who deposited it with the family lawyer, who was then to inform Paul's mother that a relative had put five thousand pounds into his hands, which sum was to be paid out a thousand pounds at a time, on the mother's birthday, for the next five years.

"So she'll have a birthday present of a thousand pounds for five successive years," said Uncle Oscar. "I hope it won't make it all the harder for her later."

Paul's mother had her birthday in November. The house had been 'whispering' worse than ever lately, and, even in spite of his luck, Paul could not bear up against it. He was very anxious to see the effect of the birthday letter, telling his mother about the thousand pounds.

When there were no visitors, Paul now took his meals with his parents, as he was beyond the nursery control. His mother went into town nearly every day. She had discovered that she had an odd knack of sketching furs and dress materials, so she worked secretly in the studio of a friend who was the chief 'artist' for the leading drapers. She drew the figures of ladies in furs and ladies in silk and sequins for the newspaper advertisements. This young woman artist earned several thousand pounds a year, but Paul's mother only made several hundreds, and she was again dissatisfied. She so wanted to be first in something, and she did not succeed, even in making sketches for drapery advertisements.

She was down to breakfast on the morning of her birthday. Paul watched her face as she read her letters. He knew the lawyer's letter. As his mother read it, her face hardened and became more expressionless. Then a cold, determined look came on her mouth. She hid the letter under the pile of others, and said not a word about it.

"Didn't you have anything nice in the post for your birthday, mother?" said Paul.

"Quite moderately nice," she said, her voice cold and hard and absent.

She went away to town without saying more.

But in the afternoon Uncle Oscar appeared. He said Paul's mother had had a long interview with the lawyer, asking if the whole five thousand could not be advanced at once, as she was in debt.

"What do you think, uncle?" said the boy.

"I leave it to you, son."

"Oh, let her have it, then! We can get some more with the other," said the boy.

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, laddie!" said Uncle Oscar.

"But I'm sure to know for the Grand National; or the Lincolnshire; or else the Derby. I'm sure to know for one of them," said Paul.

So Uncle Oscar signed the agreement, and Paul's mother touched the whole five thousand. Then something very curious happened. The voices in the house suddenly went mad, like a chorus of frogs on a spring evening. There were certain new furnishings, and Paul had a tutor. He was really going to Eton, his father's school, in the following autumn. There were flowers in the winter, and a blossoming of the luxury Paul's mother had been used to. And yet the voices in the house, behind the sprays of mimosa and almond-blossom, and from under the piles of iridescent cushions, simply trilled and screamed in a sort of ecstasy: "There must be more money! Oh-h-h; there must be more money. Oh, now, now-w! Now-w-w - there must be more money! - more than ever! More than ever!"

It frightened Paul terribly. He studied away at his Latin and Greek with his tutor. But his intense hours were spent with Bassett. The Grand National had gone by: he had not 'known', and had lost a hundred pounds. Summer was at hand. He was in agony for the Lincoln. But even for the Lincoln he didn't 'know', and he lost fifty pounds. He became wild-eyed and strange, as if something were going to explode in him.

"Let it alone, son! Don't you bother about it!" urged Uncle Oscar. But it was as if the boy couldn't really hear what his uncle was saying.

"I've got to know for the Derby! I've got to know for the Derby!" the child reiterated, his big blue eyes blazing with a sort of madness.

His mother noticed how overwrought he was.

"You'd better go to the seaside. Wouldn't you like to go now to the seaside, instead of waiting? I think you'd better," she said, looking down at him anxiously, her heart curiously heavy because of him.

But the child lifted his uncanny blue eyes.

"I couldn't possibly go before the Derby, mother!" he said. "I couldn't possibly!"

"Why not?" she said, her voice becoming heavy when she was opposed. "Why not? You can still go from the seaside to see the Derby with your Uncle Oscar, if that that's what you wish. No need for you to wait here. Besides, I think you care too much about these races. It's a bad sign. My family has been a gambling family, and you won't know till you grow up how much damage it has done. But it has done damage. I shall have to send Bassett away, and ask Uncle Oscar not to talk racing to you, unless you promise to be reasonable about it: go away to the seaside and forget it. You're all nerves!"

"I'll do what you like, mother, so long as you don't send me away till after the Derby," the boy said.

"Send you away from where? Just from this house?"

"Yes," he said, gazing at her.

"Why, you curious child, what makes you care about this house so much, suddenly? I never knew you loved it."

He gazed at her without speaking. He had a secret within a secret, something he had not divulged, even to Bassett or to his Uncle Oscar.

But his mother, after standing undecided and a little bit sullen for some moments, said: "Very well, then! Don't go to the seaside till after the Derby, if you don't wish it. But promise me you won't think so much about horse-racing and events as you call them!"

"Oh no," said the boy casually. "I won't think much about them, mother. You needn't worry. I wouldn't worry, mother, if I were you."

"If you were me and I were you," said his mother, "I wonder what we should do!"

"But you know you needn't worry, mother, don't you?" the boy repeated.

"I should be awfully glad to know it," she said wearily.

"Oh, well, you can, you know. I mean, you ought to know you needn't worry," he insisted.

"Ought I? Then I'll see about it," she said.

Paul's secret of secrets was his wooden horse, that which had no name. Since he was emancipated from a nurse and a nursery-governess, he had had his rocking-horse removed to his own bedroom at the top of the house.

"Surely you're too big for a rocking-horse!" his mother had remonstrated.

"Well, you see, mother, till I can have a real horse, I like to have some sort of animal about," had been his quaint answer.

"Do you feel he keeps you company?" she laughed.

"Oh yes! He's very good, he always keeps me company, when I'm there," said Paul.

So the horse, rather shabby, stood in an arrested prance in the boy's bedroom.

The Derby was drawing near, and the boy grew more and more tense. He hardly heard what was spoken to him, he was very frail, and his eyes were really uncanny. His mother had sudden strange seizures of uneasiness about him. Sometimes, for half an hour, she would feel a sudden anxiety about him that was almost anguish. She wanted to rush to him at once, and know he was safe.

Two nights before the Derby, she was at a big party in town, when one of her rushes of anxiety about her boy, her first-born, gripped her heart till she could hardly speak. She fought with the feeling, might and main, for she believed in common sense. But it was too strong. She had to leave the dance and go downstairs to telephone to the country. The children's nursery-governess was terribly surprised and startled at being rung up in the night.

"Are the children all right, Miss Wilmot?"

"Oh yes, they are quite all right."

"Master Paul? Is he all right?"

"He went to bed as right as a trivet. Shall I run up and look at him?"

"No," said Paul's mother reluctantly. "No! Don't trouble. It's all right. Don't sit up. We shall be home fairly soon." She did not want her son's privacy intruded upon.

"Very good," said the governess.

It was about one o'clock when Paul's mother and father drove up to their house. All was still. Paul's mother went to her room and slipped off her white fur cloak. She had told her maid not to wait up for her. She heard her husband downstairs, mixing a whisky and soda.

And then, because of the strange anxiety at her heart, she stole upstairs to her son's room. Noiselessly she went along the upper corridor. Was there a faint noise? What was it?

She stood, with arrested muscles, outside his door, listening. There was a strange, heavy, and yet not loud noise. Her heart stood still. It was a soundless noise, yet rushing and powerful. Something huge, in violent, hushed motion. What was it? What in God's name was it? She ought to know. She felt that she knew the noise. She knew what it was.

Yet she could not place it. She couldn't say what it was. And on and on it went, like a madness.

Softly, frozen with anxiety and fear, she turned the door-handle.

The room was dark. Yet in the space near the window, she heard and saw something plunging to and fro. She gazed in fear and amazement.

Then suddenly she switched on the light, and saw her son, in his green pyjamas, madly surging on the rocking-horse. The blaze of light suddenly lit him up, as he urged the wooden horse, and lit her up, as she stood, blonde, in her dress of pale green and crystal, in the doorway.

"Paul!" she cried. "Whatever are you doing?"

"It's Malabar!" he screamed in a powerful, strange voice. "It's Malabar!"

His eyes blazed at her for one strange and senseless second, as he ceased urging his wooden horse. Then he fell with a crash to the ground, and she, all her tormented motherhood flooding upon her, rushed to gather him up.

But he was unconscious, and unconscious he remained, with some brain-fever. He talked and tossed, and his mother sat stonily by his side.

"Malabar! It's Malabar! Bassett, Bassett, I know! It's Malabar!"

So the child cried, trying to get up and urge the rocking-horse that gave him his inspiration.

"What does he mean by Malabar?" asked the heart-frozen mother.

"I don't know," said the father stonily.

"What does he mean by Malabar?" she asked her brother Oscar.

"It's one of the horses running for the Derby," was the answer.

And, in spite of himself, Oscar Cresswell spoke to Bassett, and himself put a thousand on Malabar: at fourteen to one.

The third day of the illness was critical: they were waiting for a change. The boy, with his rather long, curly hair, was tossing ceaselessly on the pillow. He neither slept nor regained consciousness, and his eyes were like blue stones. His mother sat, feeling her heart had gone, turned actually into a stone.

In the evening Oscar Cresswell did not come, but Bassett sent a message, saying could he come up for one moment, just one moment? Paul's mother was very angry at the intrusion, but on second thoughts she agreed. The boy was the same. Perhaps Bassett might bring him to consciousness.

The gardener, a shortish fellow with a little brown moustache and sharp little brown eyes, tiptoed into the room, touched his imaginary cap to Paul's mother, and stole to the bedside, staring with glittering, smallish eyes at the tossing, dying child.

"Master Paul!" he whispered. "Master Paul! Malabar came in first all right, a clean win. I did as you told me. You've made over seventy thousand pounds, you have; you've got over eighty thousand. Malabar came in all right, Master Paul."

"Malabar! Malabar! Did I say Malabar, mother? Did I say Malabar? Do you think I'm lucky, mother? I knew Malabar, didn't I? Over eighty thousand pounds! I call that lucky, don't you, mother? Over eighty thousand pounds! I knew, didn't I know I knew? Malabar came in all right. If I ride my horse till I'm sure, then I tell you, Bassett, you can go as high as you like. Did you go for all you were worth, Bassett?"

"I went a thousand on it, Master Paul."

"I never told you, mother, that if I can ride my horse, and get there, then I'm absolutely sure - oh, absolutely! Mother, did I ever tell you? I am lucky!"

"No, you never did," said his mother.

But the boy died in the night.

And even as he lay dead, his mother heard her brother's voice saying to her, "My God, Hester, you're eighty-odd thousand to the good, and a poor devil of a son to the bad. But, poor devil, poor devil, he's best gone out of a life where he rides his rocking-horse to find a winner."

D. H. Lawrence [Wikipedia]