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Monday, February 28, 2005

Computer Pioneer Dead at 61


Pacifica, CA February 27, 2005--Jef Raskin, a mathematician, orchestral soloist and composer, professor, bicycle racer, model airplane designer, and pioneer in the field of human-computer interactions, died peacefully at home in California on February 26th, 2005 surrounded by his family and loved ones. He had recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Jef created the Macintosh computer as employee number 31 at Apple in the early 1980s, revolutionizing computer interface design. Jef invented "click and drag" and many other methods now taken for granted by computer users.... [Full Press Release]

Sunday, February 27, 2005

How to Remove SearchMiracle/EliteBar

The following is VGS's original "How to Remove SearchMiracle.EliteBar" page. The information and links continue to be valid. It was created before VGS began its ongoing series of "How to Remove... 'detail pages,'" which include detailed file and removal tool information. The regularly updated "How to Remove SearchMiracle.EliteBar" detail page is located >>> Here.

How to Remove (Delete, Uninstall, Get Rid of) SearchMiracle/EliteBar.

Darren_st maintains an informative site on SearchMiracle/EliteBar (also known as ETBRUN) which links to a freeware EliteBar Removal Tool developed by an Italian named Giancarlo Calo. The site provides:

1) background on SearchMiracle ("It was created by a company called Entranet Media who own a web site called the Trojan Downloader will [...] download files from a web site @");
2) a history page giving versions and the dates they were released (a placard informed me that I had the most recent version: "Version 59 (approx 1st January 2005) EliteToolBar");
3) a description of the method of infection it utilizes; and,
4) walks the reader through a process to remove it.

His description of the adware/virus generally squares with what I experienced but I have no way of knowing whether or not it is updated to the latest version of the Startpage trojan. My experience seems to have been slightly different and this may mean that the version I encountered was an upgrade.

Some who have downloaded the EliteBar Removal Tool have posted positive reviews. As always, each reader will have to use his best judgment. I make no representations whatsoever concerning the site or the software.

Also see:

  • PokaPoka.exe + Nothing = YupSearch (October 19, 2005). What do people mean when they say they have "YupSearch" instead of "EliteBar"?
  • Elite Toolbar Remover Information Page (October 17, 2005).
  • LQfix Information Page (October 15, 2005) There's a new tool in town!
  • How to Remove PokaPoka. (October 12, 2005) Does your EliteBar variant include PokaPoka.exe?
  • EliteBar Removal Tool Updates to 2.0.1. (September 21, 2005) The EliteBar Removal Tool now comes in two flavors and two generations!
  • SearchMiracle.EliteBar Then and Now (September 21, 2005). Hijacks, heroes, updates and links.
  • EliteBar Removal Tool Updates to 2.0.0!!!!! (September 15, 2005). Includes expanded list of infections removed by the removal tool.
  • More on Variant ADW_ELITEBAR.D. (May 27, 2005). "It is a standard XP with two top-end commercial anti-virus programs. Moreover, one of the anti-virus programs -- Trend Micro's PC-Cillin -- we already know..."
  • Diabolical new EliteBar variant Strikes the Web!!!! or the one the EliteBar Removal Tool can't remove (May 22, 2005).
  • EliteBar Removal Tool Updates to 1.3.0!!!!! (May 20, 2005). Includes expanded list of infections removed by the removal tool.
  • Adware & Malware Indentifier Index (updated regularly). "The following is an in-progress index of some of the more common malware toolbars/browser helper objects at large on the Internet."
  • EliteBar Removal Tool Alert: Update V.1.2.2.!!! (April 18, 2005). "The new variants of the malware also completely conceal the presence of the EliteToolbarRemoverV10.exe, so that if you are opening the archive you can only see the readme.doc file that is attached to that and you cannot see the *.exe even if though it is really there!"
  • HijackThis vs. SearchMiracle/EliteBar (April 11, 2005).

  • [re: SearchMiracle.EliteBar Search Miracle Elite Bar EliteToolBar Elite Toolbar Elite Tool Bar Elitum ETBrun YupSearch Yup Search.]

    Saturday, February 26, 2005

    A genius explains...

    A genius explains

    Daniel Tammet is an autistic savant. He can perform mind-boggling mathematical calculations at breakneck speeds. But unlike other savants, who can perform similar feats, Tammet can describe how he does it. He speaks seven languages and is even devising his own language. Now scientists are asking whether his exceptional abilities are the key to unlock the secrets of autism. Interview by Richard Johnson... [go to the full article]

    Source: The Guardian.

    MSNBC joins the fray.

    Well, the Arts/Litblog Obiter Dicta is thirteen days old now and it has its first link from MSNBC (to "Elite Bar Adventures", of course). The link traffic seems to be on a par with the traffic, now three days ago, from Metafilter. It looks like another big day. As for the correspondence, I dealt with that in the most recent Mailbag piece.

    Friday, February 25, 2005

    Selmer Bringsjord's and David A. Ferrucci's Brutus 1.

    Computers As Authors? Literary Luddites Unite! By DANIEL AKST. Published: November 22, 2004.

    For some people, writing a novel is a satisfying exercise in self-expression. For me, it's a hideous blend of psychoanalysis and cannibalism that is barely potent enough to overcome a series of towering avoidance mechanisms - including my own computer. Writers and computers nowadays are locked in such an enduringly dysfunctional embrace that it can be hard to tell us apart. We both rely heavily on memory, for instance. We are both calculating, complex and crash-prone. And like Hebrew National hot dogs, we both seem to answer to a higher power: writers, according to Plato, were divinely inspired; computers have Bill Gates.
    With little fanfare and (so far) no appearances at Barnes & Noble, computers have started writing without us scribes. They are perfectly capable of nonfiction prose, and while the reputation of Henry James is not yet threatened, computers can even generate brief outbursts of fiction that are probably superior to what many humans could turn out - even those not in master of fine arts programs. Consider the beginning of a short story dealing with the theme of betrayal:

    "Dave Striver loved the university - its ivy-covered clocktowers, its ancient and sturdy brick, and its sun-splashed verdant greens and eager youth...."

    Source: New York Times.

    Thursday, February 24, 2005

    More "Elite Bar Adventures" Links and Info.

    Popdex has just listed "Elite Bar Adventures" as their third most linked-to posting. I provide the short list:

    Popdex crawls over 14,000 sites daily to determine the most popular links on the Internet.

    1. Themed Fonts Movie and Music Fonts
    2. Matthew Yglesias: Closet Tolerants
    3. via blogs
    4. Blizzard Entertainment - World of Warcraft

    The following additional blog postings contain links to "E.B.A.": Blog Herald; La Coctelera (in Spanish); and News Burst. I haven't brought over links used for advertising or from subscription blogs. Of course, pretty much everybody has managed to list the piece without the blog name.

    Remember that there are further comments and clarifications to the article in the most recent Mailbag piece.

    Wednesday, February 23, 2005

    Thanks to Blogwise.

    Thanks to the Blogwise blog/RSS Directory for including Obiter Dicta's Atom XML feed in its listings. They provide an unusually attractive feed page over there and I've directed the following button to the page for O.D.:

    Blogwise - blog directory

    Blogwise will be added shortly to the O.D. sidebar.

    Thanks to Deskfeeds.

    Thanks to the Deskfeeds RSS Directory for including Obiter Dicta's Atom XML feed in its listings, under "Entertainment". It is a little unfortunate O.D.s moniker did not quite make the transition onto the listing, but it's available:

    Category: Entertainment">Home > Entertainmentcom,1999:blog-10644518 2005-02-14T17:19:49Z Blogger This is an Atom formatted XML site feed. It is intended to be viewed in a N ...

    Deskfeeds has been added to the sidebar links of the Gilbert Wesley Purdy Online Bibliography in the "RSS Directories" section and will be added shortly to the O.D. sidebar.

    Who's keeping score?

    Well, the Arts/Litblog Obiter Dicta is ten days old now. Who would have thought it would already have had its first 550+ hit day and been listed in Blogdex as tied for 51st place, among all Internet blogs, for "the most contagious information currently spreading in the weblog community". This via a raft of links to the piece "Elite Bar Adventures".

    By far the largest volume of hits came from the blog Metafilter. The first to link was the MT Law blog, which I had quoted in the piece. I could not find the permalink (or the posting) from Fishbucket but if the owner sends it along I will back-fit the link into this post. It was probably the second largest source of hits. Either MT Law or a Hungarian blog, IT-Biztonzag, was third. The following blogs also posted links: And I Am Not Lying, for Real; Legal Line; Look at this...; New Links; Privacy Digest. Thanks to Stat Counter for most of this information.

    As for the correspondence, I dealt with that in the most recent Mailbag piece.

    Just when I will ever get to arts and lit (etc.), who can say? Starting this blog has devoured so much time that I may be weeks in catching up on my various obligations, writing and otherwise.

    Tuesday, February 22, 2005

    More from the Mailbag re and SearchMiracle/EliteBar

    Well, my most recent post has certainly attracted attention. I had intended to write a follow up piece with further (and I hope) helpful information -- and now even moreso. For the moment, however, I will present a couple of items by way of a mailbag piece replying to the comments posted to "Elite Bar Adventures".

    First I would like to point out that I have not said, nor should anyone understand, that the Blogspot "Next Blog" button has a virus. The point is only that the random blog approach loads-up blogs, into one's browser, that one might otherwise choose not to visit for reasons of system safety. Presumably, we all try to steer clear of sites that are, for one reason or another, questionable. Regardless (for example) what one might think of sex sites, etc., they tend to purvey much more adware and many more viruses.

    Next, many thanks to Timothy Klein for doing a bit of research of his own that I was not able to do. According to Timothy:

    from looking at the source for the web-page in question, and downloading the Javascripts it downloads with wget and reading them, this is both specific to Windows AND Internet Explorer.

    Unfortunately, Internet Explorer is my only real choice for the time being , regardless of the fact that I understand it as being the target of virtually every virus or bit of adware presently being designed.

    Timothy's comments about the blog "owners" in question are also worth considering:

    the author of the blog in question may not even realize their page
    is doing this. IOW, they may not be malicious. It appears that the "cover"
    action is a bit of Javascript to play music. The author of the blog MAY have
    just cut-and-pasted that bit of code, hoping to snaz up their blog with sound.
    Or not.

    I had no wish to imply that the blog owner was intentionally malicious. In fact, I would be pleased to learn that they were totally unaware and just a little chastened.

    I'll quote Rob Thomas's comment in full:

    It's really sad you struggled with all those other, wierd,
    programs, when the two best ones, hijackthis and spybot are free, small, and
    easily downloaded. Also, 'defragging' and 'registry cleanups' do absolutely
    nothing to remove adware or virus infestations. Don't waste your time next time 8)

    I do not defrag in order to get rid of a virus. Whenever I suspect a virus, or other form of malicious code, is generating new files, perhaps with vital data strings, I alternate anti-virus/virus-removal attempts with defrags -- hoping the latter will maximize computer speed and either 1) alter a data transmission or 2) cause the virus to have to search a bit for where its data has gone. How likely this is, I can not say with certainty, but it seems to help. As for registry clean-up, I'm sorry but I have to disagree there.

    More importantly, about Hijackthis and Spybot: In researching the connection between SearchMiracle/EliteBar and I have come by enough information to say that they were working in tandem much earlier than February 10, 2005, when Panda Software first detected StartPage. A brief check shows desperate forum members crying out for help, to defend against StartPage symptoms at least as early as September of last year. The following forum-post gives some very helpful information, including, it would seem, the fact that neither SpyBot nor Hijackthis worked, at that time, against StartPage:

    My piece was intended, actually, to be a piece alerting everyone to the fact that (/sk) was the source of the problems people were having getting rid of their SearchMiracle/EliteBar. I have since learned that it showed up in all scans, of all commercial anti-virus software, prior to February 10th, as quasi-harmless "adware.elitebar". It is designed to overcome resident anti-virus software, as its first task, such that scans indicate it is adware. Instead it is a very sophisticated, voracious and destructive virus. After protecting itself and its Search/Miracle component from detection or removal, it apparently harvests site information and transmits it back to a remote data base.

    If Timothy Klein discovered only adware, he is absolutely correct. The initial injection is just that. The adware then pings the data bank and alters the IE browser such that the next software download or information placard that arrives at the subject computer has all of its button-urls replaced with the destination-url of the StartPage trojan. Click! It's all over!

    The following free online virus scan and information links have recently been added to the Gilbert Wesley Purdy Online Bibliography: Bit Defender; Free Country; Freedom; House Call; Panda; and Symantec. As I pointed out in the previous post, the Panda Software online scan can also remove

    Have you checked out the Online Bibliography yet? **

    Friday, February 18, 2005

    Elite Bar Adventures

    The following story is, unfortunately, true. What is even more unfortunate is that there is considerably more to the story. I, too, decided to end a long day of site maintenance (etc.) by browsing the Blogspot "Recently Updated" rolling index which dovetails into the "Next Blog" button. I'll let Mr. Alvin Borromeo , of Blogspots MT Law Blog, tell his story and will follow it with further vitally important information concerning our shared experiences and the astonishing results of my subsequent investigation:
    CAUTION: Mallory & Tsibouris Co., LPA does not endorse the use of the "Next Blog" icon at the upper right hand corner of this blog. Please see this post for further information. Monday, January 24, 2005

    Spyware on Blogspot?
    If you look to the upper right hand corner of this webpage, you will see an icon to go to the "next blog." Clicking on this icon will take you to a randomly selected Blogger blog. Yesterday I was surfing the web on my home computer and hit the "next blog" icon a few times to see what's out there. One of the hits was nana*** (the actual name has numbers in place of the astisks). Pop-ups immediately appeared on my computer immediately after I visited the nana blog, even though I have a pop-up blocker installed. I started getting messages about system resources, etc. I immediately closed all of my browsers, but it was too late. When I re-opened my browser it went to a different home page. My computer was hijacked! Sure enough, Ad-aware (from lavasoft) indicated that my computer had been infected with the Search Miracle/Elite Bar virus.I sent Blogger an e-mail to investigate. I will post their response. In the meantime, I will not be clicking on the "next blog" icon in the near future.

    The blog I was directed to, at the time my computer was attacked, was called "Cut Me Deep". But far more happened than the simple download of the SearchMiracle/EliteBar adware. Realizing that the destruction of my Yahoo Pop-Up blocker, and a flood of pop-up ads, at the rate of some dozens per minute, the considerable majority advertising Microsoft Anti-spyware/adware, indicated a possibly serious attack, I brought out the full bag of tricks and went to work. Norton is my first line of information/defense but it, too, was disabled after a few preliminary scans.

    I needed information from an uncorrupted source and logged back online and went to the Symantec Free Virus Scan page and spent an hour and more getting the Active-X scan files to download. Another hour was required in order to complete the search. Symantec informed me that I had about ten files infected with EliteBarB adware and nearly
    1500 files infected with some generic form of the adware called simply: "adware.elitebar". But one detail of the scan report was shocking: the majority of the infected files were Norton/Symantec program and data files. There were perhaps 10 other infected files, most of them infected with the "B" version of EliteBar adware. Something was clearly out of place.

    After a day of chasing down the the parasite files and digging out the Windows registry entries inserted by EliteBarB, my computer worked considerably better with the exception that pop-up ads continued at a much faster rate than normal. This lasted for another couple of hours, as I managed to do a Windows program integrity scan (no errors) and tried to disrupt any lingering remnants of the adware by doing repeated defrags and registry optimizations. Soon the Norton package was again inoperable: clearly attacked by the EliteBar adware! I was furious. This "adware" was a sophisticated and voracious virus. Surely, a criminal act. Why wasn't anyone going after these guys?

    The next day again, I decided that the Norton/Symantec data file corruption was something I had to get around somehow. I decided to try another Free Virus Scan site and to see how the results compared. As luck would have it, I choose
    Panda Software's Scan (a company nominally headquartered out of Bilboa, Spain). Panda's Active X files downloaded reasonably quickly. The scan was reasonably quick as well. But the results were very different. Like Norton/Symantec, Panda informed me that I had some files infected with EliteBarB, but only 5 rather than 10. Panda also told me that I had some 1500 infected files all tolled... But the files, it informed me, were not infected with some generic form of EliteBar adware. It identified them as a "" trojan!!!!!! This trojan, it informed me, had been detected for the first time two days before it attacked my computer. No further information, of any substance, was available.

    While Norton/Symantec only gives free scans, Panda also gives free decontamination of all detected worms and viruses (but not of any spyware or adware -- you must buy their software for that). I decided to take the decon. Sure enough, once the trojan was removed the pop-ups were reduced to a normal level and my computer ran normally again. Only the EliteBarB remained and I had manually removed its brain.

    But now I notice that shortly after pages are loaded up in my browser they begin to display dozens of links to a search engine with the address Numerous web searches inform me that this is the sign of SearchMiracle/EliteBar adware. Not only that, but they inform me that (there is also an ".sk" version) appears nowhere on Yahoo and in only a few listings on Google almost all of which are sites of Panda or its subsidiaries. Because Panda clearly operates under a number of subsidiary names in various parts of the world, it is possible that only Panda lists an advisory for and only it has the software to remove it. As for the search engine , it provides no information about its owner and none is available via any major search engine.

    Moreover, when a "HTTP Error 404 - File or directory not found" message would normally be the result of a search for a URL that did not exist, or link that was broken, my browser sent me to This is the same advertising search engine as It simply enters via a different front URL.

    The only thing that can be said, with any degree of certainty about, is that it may not be a trojan, per se, but may enter the host computer, install the searchmiracle/elitebar adware tool bar in place of the traditional Microsoft Elite Toolbar, and, then, protect itself and/or SearchMiracle/EliteBar from removal by corrupting the program and data files of at least Norton, and perhaps other major anti-virus competitors, so that they indicate simply, generic EliteBar adware. Somehow, Panda is the only Anti-Virus company that has yet detected it. In a matter of hours after it detected the trojan it had developed a program to remove it.
    Also see:

    [re: SearchMiracle.EliteBar Search Miracle Elite Bar EliteToolBar Elite Toolbar Elite Tool Bar Elitum ETBrun YupSearch Yup Search.]

    Wednesday, February 16, 2005

    Poets of the Palm Beaches Competition

    Poets of the Palm Beaches
    2005 Annual Poetry Contest

    ELIGIBILITY: This contest is open to Palm Beach County Residents only. You must maintain at least a part time residence in Palm Beach County to be eligible for this contest.
    DEADLINE: Categories (1 - 4) Postmark, 03/19/05. Student Poetry (5) Postmark 04/09/05..
    CATEGORIES: (1) Free Verse (No more than one page in normal font. 40 line limit)(2) Standard Form (Sonnet, Villanelle, Pantoum, etc. 39 line limit)... [More]

    Monday, February 14, 2005

    Many thanks to Mark Woods for citing Whittling Away at the Beast, The Citizen Strikes Back, Obiter Dicta and the Annotated Online Bibliography, in his exceptional blog Wood S Lot. Woods' is a nicely illustrated arts and literature blog covering all periods and places (but, most particularly, Modernist and Post-Modernist Europe and America).

    The following new links have recently been posted at the Online Bibliography: Art Journals: Art Newspaper, The; Arts/Lit Blogs: Edward Renehan, The Page, Wood S Lot; Classical Lit/Languages: Classics Pages, Perseus Project, Poesis Latina Hodierna; Cyber Law: Cyberlaw Blog / Stanford U., Law Meme Blog / Yale U.; Publishing Law: Author's Lawyer, Contract Watch, Scriviner's Error. There are hundreds over there, all tolled.

    Housekeeping Note

    A number of the previous posts are meant to serve as stand alone pages for which reason they have individually been provided with links and/or bios appropriate for that use. This includes the "Call for Submissions" and will include future calls and publication notices.

    How Filled with Joy, Happy and Well-Informed...

    translation by Gilbert Wesley Purdy

    How filled with joy, happy and well-informed
    with flowers, upon her golden tresses, that garland,
    as if it sent itself to her above all others, and
    as if its only desire were to kiss that forehead!
    All of the day that cloak is contented
    that cups her breast with the threat to set it free,
    and those golden strands ask only
    to touch her cheeks and neck without an end.
    But happier yet the lace like joy itself withal,
    gilding a secret place, made still gentler,
    that fondles and strokes the breast, which he charms.
    And that purest binding, that which covers us all,
    seems to say to me: "I want to cling here forever!
    "And what still finer embraces await these arms!"

    Gilbert Wesley Purdy has published poetry, prose and translation in many journals, paper and electronic, including: Jacket Magazine, Poetry International (San Diego State University), The Georgia Review (University of Georgia), Grand Street, SLANT (University of Central Arkansas), Consciousness Literature and the Arts (University of Wales, Aberystwyth), Orbis (UK), Eclectica, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. Links to his work online and to a selected bibliography of his work in paper venues appear at his Hyperlinked Online Bibliography.

    Return to the Poetry Index >>>

    To Himself

    translation by Gilbert Wesley Purdy

    Now you will rest forever,
    My tired heart. The fabulous deceit
    That I myself believed eternal has ended.
    Ended. How sharply I feel,
    In we of the dear deceit,
    There is no hope, desire being spent.
    Rest forever. So many
    Palpitations. Your flutterings
    Serve no one, nor do you dignify the earth
    With your sighs. Life is bitter and empty,
    Nothing more. The world is a slough.
    Calm yourself now. Despair
    For the last time. Fate gave your kind
    No gift but death. At last
    Nature disdains you, the brute
    Power that, lurking, imposes the common day,
    And the infinite vanity of all things.

    Gilbert Wesley Purdy has published poetry, prose and translation in many journals, paper and electronic, including: Jacket Magazine, Poetry International (San Diego State University), The Georgia Review (University of Georgia), Grand Street, SLANT (University of Central Arkansas), Consciousness Literature and the Arts (University of Wales, Aberystwyth), Orbis (UK), Eclectica, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. Links to his work online and to a selected bibliography of his work in paper venues appear at his Hyperlinked Online Bibliography.

    Also at Virtual Grub Street by/about Giacomo Leopardi:

    Friday, February 11, 2005

    The Infinite

    translation by Gilbert Wesley Purdy

    This solitary hill has always been dear to me,
    And this hedgerow, which closes in the view
    So well that one need hardly look upon the west.
    But sitting and reflecting, from out of the endless
    Expanse of night sky, and the supernatural
    Silences and so profound stillnesses,
    It comes to me here how I beguile myself;
    For a moment, then, the heart no longer fears.
    And, like the wind I hear whisper among these leaves,
    I hear within that infinite silence a voice:
    It overwhelms me with the eternal,
    And the seasons passed away, and that present
    And living, and with its own sound. Thus within
    This immensity my thoughts are drowned...
    And it is sweet to be shipwrecked in this sea.

    Gilbert Wesley Purdy has published poetry, prose and translation in many journals, paper and electronic, including: Jacket Magazine, Poetry International (San Diego State University), The Georgia Review (University of Georgia), Grand Street, SLANT (University of Central Arkansas), Consciousness Literature and the Arts (University of Wales, Aberystwyth), Orbis (UK), Eclectica, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. Links to his work online and to a selected bibliography of his work in paper venues appear at his Hyperlinked Online Bibliography.

    Also at Virtual Grub Street by/about Giacomo Leopardi:

    Thursday, February 10, 2005

    Call for Submissions - 02/10/05

    Re: Travelers' Tales.


    The "Cat Calls for Submissions Page" is an new adjunct page to Gilbert Wesley Purdy's Hyperlinked Online Bibliography. Selected calls will first be posted on The Catalyzer Journal's Full RSS feed and the Obiter Dicta Atom feed after which time they will be listed on the "Cat Call for Submisions" page accessible by link from the Online Bibliography. There are presently seven active calls listed on the "Cat Calls for Submission" page.

    If you wish to have your own call for submissions posted, contact Gilbert Wesley Purdy at A confirming link may be required in order to post the notice.


    Publisher: Private individuals.
    Publication: Travelers' Tales (anthology)
    Genre(s): Nonfiction prose.
    Source of Call: Written Road Blog via Vagabonding.
    Deadline: May 1, 2005.
    Publication Date: Spring 2006.

    Comments: "We're searching for funny, quirky, meaningful, adventurous and personal nonfiction tales based in Prague or its environs in the Czech Republic for an anthology of travel stories. We seek good writing about uncommon experiences that captures a sense of place and reveals something about ourselves. Writing beyond the anecdotal is encouraged."

    Full notice available at: (Prague and Czech Republic).
    Full listing of Travelers' Tales calls:

    free hit counter code

    Tuesday, February 08, 2005

    Pablo Neruda Centennial

    I would seem to be even more severely pressed for time than usual today. So then, I will once again link to a piece that might interest the O.D. reader, and, at the same time, give her or him a better idea of the range of interests that fall under its title.

    The year of July 12, 2004- July 11, 2005 is the year of the Pablo Neruda Centennial. My humble contribution, True Stone and Epitaph: the Poetry of Pablo Neruda , appears in the pages of the online journal Eclectica. Perhaps the following excerpt will serve to entice:

    As consul to Rangoon, his tasks were not onerous. His voyage to the city actually amounted to a tour of Europe and the Far East. He made his first visits to Paris and Madrid, communed with the ghost of Rimbaud at Djibouti, was robbed in Shanghai, and arrived in Rangoon after what would have been a lifetime of experiences for most people. For him it was only the beginning of a life of adventure and poetry that would make him an almost legendary figure.

    Such minor diplomatic posts were apparently provided, from time to time, by the governing elite of the country, to educate promising young Chileans in the ways of the world. Burma, India, Ceylon, India again, Java and Singapore: Neruda's posting changed almost yearly. In the process he met Mahatma Gandhi and the Nehrus. His sense of the injustice of colonialism had already begun to form, and his attendance at the great Panhindu Congress, of 1929, encouraged it even more.

    The work of a consul was nowhere particularly burdensome nor was the salary ever sufficient, and the young consul was left with long stretches of days to fill as best he could. He spent the time learning the local landscapes, seeking beautiful lovers, and, most of all, reading. After leaving the university and his homeland, he began desultorily reading the great works of the western tradition. He also continued his already extensive reading in Rilke and the great French writers from Baudelaire to Proust.

    His own poetry was proceeding apace. His Twenty Love Poems and a Desperate Song (1924), first published some years before he left for the Far East, had already brought him a degree of fame in his homeland. It remains among his more popular books, and four selections from it appear in The Essential Neruda.

    Monday, February 07, 2005

    Federal Budget

    There being no time, at the moment, to comment at length on today's big national news item (Bush Proposes Steep Cuts in $2.57T Budget - Newsday/AP), I will have to provide an extract from an earlier election commentary (Election 2004 Primer (Part 5): Cocaine) I published in The Catalyzer Journal:

    According to CBSNews:

    President Bush wants to make his tax cuts permanent. And now he's talking about simplifying the tax code. "I will lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the federal tax code," the president said at last month's Republican convention. Former IRS commissioner Fred Goldberg says something has to be done. "Tax reform is an imperative at this point," Goldberg says. "I think the current system is broken beyond repair." But it's not gonna be easy. "Fundamental tax reform will bring the lobbyists out of the woodwork like cockroaches," [Scott A.] Hodge says. That's because the current tax code includes incentives for social policies that we've gotten used to -- like eductions for home mortgage interest, charitable donations, even the purchase of fuel-efficient cars. The simpler the tax code, the less likely all these special exemptions will be in it. "Fundamental tax reform will bring some of these politically motivated social policies to an end," says Hodge.

    Privatization of Social Security is also on the list, as is expansion of sub-minimum-wage Workfare. As for overtime rules, the issue has been tabled until after the election. He fully intends to allow elderly to purchase Canadian drugs, if they prove to be safe, after the election. A great deal, it turns out, that one might think he wished to remove as an election issue he assures us is only waiting until after the election.

    The Scott A. Hodge referred to, in the CBS piece, is the President of the Tax Foundation and rose through the ranks of the Heritage Foundation to his position. The Heritage Foundation was the immediate progenitor of supply-side economics, just prior to the Reagan Administration, and is particularly well known for manufacturing supply-side "experts" via its minor league system. The Tax Foundation was itself formed in 1937 in order to oppose the Depression-era tax policies of then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It receives its grant monies from many of the same sources as the Heritage Foundation and makes the absolutely bizarre claim that it is "non-partisan". In other words, The Tax Foundation began as a Hoover-ite, laissez-faire propaganda unit and has since been wedded to the resoundingly supply-side Heritage Foundation in a marriage of first cousins.

    After a mid-2001 luncheon with Pamela Olson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Tax Policy, the Tax Institute informed its members that:

    For the long term, economists at the Council of Economic Advisers are studying a number of proposals to fundamentally overhaul the tax code, including the flat tax and the national retail sales tax. Any Administration action on these proposals will have to wait for a second Bush term.

    For the supply-side economist the Hoover-ite program lives on. These 80 years have only been a brief interlude. In his or her mouth, the phrase "bring some of these politically motivated social policies to an end" -- or any of its standard variations -- means one and only one thing: bringing graduated taxation to an end.

    The "politically motivated social programs" referred to also consist of such items as the minimum-wage, college tuition assistance, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Federal Communications Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Trade
    , the Department of Energy and the like, all or large portions of which are slated for demolition in the aftermath of "tax reform". Without graduated taxation, and the insidious government interference it underwrites, corporate America will once again be unleashed in all of its glory. Market forces will make the decisions once made in these bastions of socialism.

    Sunday, February 06, 2005

    Busy! Busy! Busy!

    Ben Regenspan has sent an e-missive to let me know that some of the changes on my wish-list for the Online Bibliography have been loaded-up and another is on the way pending discussion of the details. Not only does this remind me to mention Ben's Catalyst News Editor's Blog, but it reminds me just how much there is to do in order to get the Bibliography and Obiter Dicta operating at some meaningful fraction of their potential. It is going to be a busy week and the blog entries are likely to be on the functional side.

    For today, I will pass along some further GWP links:

    Most recent article: "Where the Strange Worlds of Fundamentalism and Homelessness Meet." The Catalyzer Journal.
    Most Recent Review: "The Citizen Strikes Back." The Catalyzer Journal.
    Present Number 1 Google Listing: "A T'Ang Canon". Quarterly Literary Review Singapore.

    For a slew of new links to interesting and/or practical sites, check out the Bibliography's spiffy new sidebar. I will be mulling over Obiter Dicta's "linking philosophy" as I grapple with its technical aspects.

    Saturday, February 05, 2005

    Two from the Mail Bag

    One of the interesting aspects of publishing on the Internet is reading the mail. The address has been spread around the web for several years now. Of course, that means I receive vast amounts of spam. Yahoo has kindly created a “Bulk Mail” folder which keeps it out of sight until I can delete it at my leisure.

    It also means that I receive feedback of one sort or another on a regular basis. I’ve decided to pass along some of the more interesting and/or informative items in a “Mailbag” feature. The first item looks bland enough:

    From: "MOUN"
    Subject: Congratulations for your nice article
    Date: Thu, 3 Feb 2005 13:50:17 -0500

    Gibert, Congratulations for your wonderful article. As a matter of fact it is in the english forum. Georges Saati

    Email: - Website: suggest for the latest news in 4 different languages!!!Email:

    Bland enough, that is, if it weren’t for the fact that the article referred to is “The Theater of Coup: Who is Guy Philippe.” which appeared in The Catalyzer Journal during March of last year. George Saati appears prominently in the article as “the co-founder of the extreme right-wing Haitian party Movement for National Unity, known by its acronym MOUN,” and a member of “The Opposition” which eventually overthrew Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide with scads of U.S. consulting help. Whether or not the letter is actually from Mr. Saati, who can say?

    I’m removing all identifying marks, as it were, from the second letter in order to save the correspondent embarrassment. Many of you out there have undoubtedly received letters in your e-mail boxes asking you to help free-up money trapped in a foreign bank. Generally the sender claims to live in an impoverished African country. The family patriarch has died in a political purge, or some such thing, leaving the family account in limbo. The amount is in the millions (US$$) and the money is allegedly trapped due to a legal technicality. The recipient is requested to help to circumvent the technicality by acting as an agent for the sender. The recipient will be entrusted with large sums of money for transfer to a US bank where it will then be safe and will be generously remunerated for his or her kindness. The following letter gives a somewhat vague (but nonetheless recognizable) description of the transaction and a very specific description of the results:

    Date: Thu, 3 Feb 2005 07:59:54 EST
    Subject: XXXXX news

    Here's another important piece of news which everyone in the US should know about.Nov. 28 brought Xxxxx Xxxx an e-mail, which as result, brought the FBI saying for the first time that this scam's check for $55,290.10, which cleared the sender's and our bank, should've been kept by the church. Xxxxxx Xxxxx had sent $6,000 of those monies to cover the supposed costs of the exchange, which was to bring $7.3 million to this poor ministry, along with an authenticate certificate and power of attorney from Europe. After sending the money, he checked upon the company who was supposed to have sent the check. The check was forged. Our secret service and FBI said they had never heard of a scam which the perpatrators sent money in advance, and that Xxxxxx Xxxxx should've kept the money. This loss is not covered by FDIC, and now we are responsible for the repayment of the $6,000. Thanks again for your support, but this is an issue of the attack we find ourselves, which the rest of the nation should be aware. G-d bless.
    Rev. Xxxxx Xxxxxxx, Associate Pastor

    I receive at least a half-dozen such “requests” each week. Be advised: they are all scams and they must be pretty successful scams if someone is spending all that time and money putting out e-mail and snail-mail letters in vast quantities.