Slow music, please. Shut your eyes, gents. One moment. A little trouble about those white corpuscles

China map lays claim to Americas

A map due to be unveiled in Beijing and London next week may lend weight to a theory a Chinese admiral discovered America before Christopher Columbus.

The map, which shows North and South America, apparently states that it is a 1763 copy of another map made in 1418.

National Geographic has some good background on Zheng He, China’s Great Armada’s

The greatest seafarer in China’s history was raised in the mountainous heart of Asia, several weeks’ travel from the closest port. More improbable yet, Zheng was not even Chinese—he was by origin a Central Asian Muslim. Born Ma He, the son of a rural official in the Mongol province of Yunnan, he had been taken captive as an invading Chinese army overthrew the Mongols in 1382. Ritually castrated, he was trained as an imperial eunuch and assigned to the court of Zhu Di, the bellicose Prince of Yan.

Just thinking about what a eunuch is might be painful to some. from – ” castrated human male, particularly a chamberlain of a harem in Asia. The custom of employing eunuchs as servants in wealthy or royal households is very ancient; it reached its epitome at the court of Constantinople under the Byzantine emperors, from whom the Ottoman sultans adopted it.” Removal of the testes.
There’s a copy of the map here.

THE brave seamen whose great voyages of exploration opened up the world are iconic figures in European history. Columbus found the New World in 1492; Dias discovered the Cape of Good Hope in 1488; and Magellan set off to circumnavigate the world in 1519. However, there is one difficulty with this confident assertion of European mastery: it may not be true.

It seems more likely that the world and all its continents were discovered by a Chinese admiral named Zheng He, whose fleets roamed the oceans between 1405 and 1435. His exploits, which are well documented in Chinese historical records, were written about in a book which appeared in China around 1418 called “The Marvellous Visions of the Star Raft”.

I’m not a Trekkie so I don’t know, but I wonder if Gene Roddenberry was inspired by the name “Star Raft”. Will future American children learn that their country was not “discovered” by a crazy Italian who thought that Cuba’s mountains were part of the Himalayas. America was discovered by an Asian Muslim that was missing some of his…ah…equipment. Even this account will not be true, since there were human beings already in North America with a fairly advanced civilization.

I tend to take a classic liberal view of censorship, that while its difficult to defend the rights of extremists, whether they are political or religious extremists, censorship is not the answer. Discourse doesn’t seem to be working too well either, but the alternatives are a little extreme. Censorship usually makes the censors looks silly. The Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression hands out annual “Muzzle” awards, “Since 1992, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has celebrated the birth and ideals of its namesake by calling attention to those who in the past year forgot or disregarded Mr. Jefferson’s admonition that freedom of speech “cannot be limited without being lost.”
Democrats and Republicans both earned a Muzzy in 2005 for their 2004 conventions:

When the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City concluded, Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared, “A very small number of people got out of hand. People had a right to protest, they came, they got their message out, and they didn’t take away other’s freedom.” One might infer from Mayor Bloomberg’s statement that very few protestors broke the law during the New York convention. In fact, over 1800 protestors were arrested, more than three times the number arrested during the infamous and often violent protests surrounding 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Those who actually broke the law in New York may well merit punishment. Unfortunately, there is much to indicate that many protestors were swept up in mass arrests of people whose only “crime” was the lawful exercise of their First Amendment rights. In one instance, charges were dropped against all 227 people arrested for an anti-war protest near the World Trade Center after the Manhattan district attorney’s office viewed a videotape that showed no unlawful activity by the protestors. Further, at other convention protests in the city, many people not even participating in the protests were indiscriminately arrested because they happened to be in the area when the police started making arrests.

Though far fewer arrests occurred during the 2004 Democratic National Convention, protestors in Boston were nonetheless detained for exercising their First Amendment rights. The area immediately surrounding the FleetCenter, site of the Democratic convention, was designated a “hard” zone in which protestors were not allowed to enter. The closest that protestors could come to the FleetCenter was an area a block away ironically designated as a “free speech” zone but which U. S. District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock described as bearing a closer resemblance to an “internment camp.”

Which brings us around to, Behind the Deluge of Porn, a Conservative Sea-Change

Unfortunately, that conclusion is almost always especially convenient for those most assiduous in proclaiming it, and that tends to impair their clarity in drawing critical distinctions between surplus and necessary repressions when they propose reforms. Keynes’ recognition that social life is too complicated to be redeemed through material progress alone is a rebuke not only to dialectical materialism but also, and perhaps especially, to capitalist materialism that rationalizes the most disruptive and degrading effects of mass marketing and production. While conservatives ignore criticism of corporate mass marketing and its ever-receding but insanity producing promesse de bonheur – or, indeed, while they rationalize pumping its offerings into the national bloodstream – young people’s love and libido are indeed “melting into air” as markets deliver us from censors to sensors. Every counterculture is absorbed into the over-the-counter culture; avant-garde creations mimick the planned obsolescence of durable goods; bohemians become bourgeois.

You’ll note that when social conservatives refer to the sexuality present in pop culture it is almost always as a general assult against the declining values of “society”, but that isn’t really the predicament and unless they have brains made of sawdust they know it isn’t. That girl in a short skirt selling a car, the guy with sixpack abs selling deodorant is the creation of corporate America that knows sex sells. The same corporate America that funnels most, though not all its money to conservative politicians. The corporate conservatives make money by selling sex, the cultural conservatives make money by asking their patrons to help fight the spread of pop culture sex. Its a very bizarre kind of parasitic relationship where one feeds off the other and liberals are just a convenient scapegoat. There are many creative liberals on Madison Ave and many of them are the minds behind how the imaginery is presented, but they are just clogs in the machine compared to the money bags at corporate headquarters or the right-wing million dollar mega-church.

Army’s Iraq Work Assailed by Briton,

The decision by the Army magazine to publish the essay — which already has provoked an intense reaction among American officers — is part of a broader self-examination occurring in many parts of the Army as it approaches the end of its third year of fighting in Iraq.

lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown,
ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him by the mild morning air. He
held the bowl aloft and intoned:


Halted, he peered down the dark winding stairs and called out coarsely:

–Come up, Kinch! Come up, you fearful jesuit!

Solemnly he came forward and mounted the round gunrest. He faced about
and blessed gravely thrice the tower, the surrounding land and the
awaking mountains. Then, catching sight of Stephen Dedalus, he bent
towards him and made rapid crosses in the air, gurgling in his throat and
shaking his head. Stephen Dedalus, displeased and sleepy, leaned his arms
on the top of the staircase and looked coldly at the shaking gurgling
face that blessed him, equine in its length, and at the light untonsured
hair, grained and hued like pale oak.

Buck Mulligan peeped an instant under the mirror and then covered
the bowl smartly.

–Back to barracks! he said sternly.

He added in a preacher’s tone:

–For this, O dearly beloved, is the genuine Christine: body and soul and
blood and ouns. Slow music, please. Shut your eyes, gents. One moment. A
little trouble about those white corpuscles. Silence, all.

from The Project Gutenberg EBook of Ulysses, by James Joyce