Friday, March 18, 2005

Having decided that all was lost (see below – "Maybe we simply have to accept that we’re an aberrant species of sociopath and the only sane strategy is one of high-speed hedonism and fast demise.") a whole clutch of decadence came down the cyber-pike. Most of it had a decidedly Victorian tone but that may be a synchronic, near-miss, side effect of my work on the steam punk novels Kindling and the sequel Conflagration, that is nearly finished.

The first was an entire website devoted to recipes for cocktails involving absinthe.

The second came from the magnificent Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia – that seemed to indicate that the 19th century was way more perverse in its perversions that the 21st, and also that Al Swearengen had nothing on Mrs Berkley...

The 19th century British dominatrix Mrs Theresa Berkley (died September 1836) ran a brothel in at 28 Charlotte Street, just to the north of Soho, specializing in flagellation. She is notable as the inventor of the Berkley Horse, a piece of BDSM apparatus. According to an un-named source quoted by Henry Spencer Ashbee,
"Her instruments of torture were more numerous than those of any other governess. Her supply of birch was extensive, and kept in water, so that it was always green and pliant: she had shafts with a dozen whip thongs on each of them; a dozen different sizes of cat-o'-nine-tails, some with needle points worked into them; various kinds of thin bending canes; leather straps like coach traces; battledoors, made of thick sole-leather, with inch nails run through to docket, and currycomb tough hides rendered callous by many years flagellation. Holly brushes, furze brushes; a prickly evergreen, called butcher's bush; and during the summer, a glass and China vases, filled with a constant supply of green nettles, with which she often restored the dead to life. Thus, at her shop, whoever went with plenty of money, could be birched, whipped, fustigated, scourged, needle-pricked, half-hung, holly-brushed, furze-brushed, butcher-brushed, stinging-nettled, curry-combed, phletbotomized, and tortured till he had a belly full. For those whose lech it was to flog a woman, she would herself submit to a certain extent; but if they were gluttons at it, she had women in attendance who would take any number of lashes the flogger pleased, provided he forked out an ad valorem duty. Among these were Miss Ring, Hannah Jones, Sally Taylor, One-eyed Peg, Bauld-cunted Poll, and a black girl, called Ebony Bet."

The Wikipedia home page is at...

But as a gauge of the vastness of its database, it even, to my eternal delight, has an entry on my fictional vampire Victor Renquist...

And finally, for all who dream of saloon girls and Lola Montez, this on-line corset catalogue is worth a visit for the glamor art alone...

The secret word is Oyster

CRYPTIQUEDoes life hold more than rage and lewd proposals?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

(As in "we’re probably fucked")

That Bush wants to make Donald Wolfowitz the head of the World Bank may well be a global catastrophe on a par with a largish asteroid impact. Watching Wolfie on TV has always left me feeling that here was a paranoid and very unpleasant little man seeking deep psychological payback for real or imagined childhood slights. Of all the swamp-draining, neocon weasels, his philosophic mindset always seemed closest to that of a stunted Ming the Merciless, and to give him such power over the global economy is nothing less than arming a weapon of mass inequality. With Wolfowitz holding the purse-strings, or, at least, the lines of credit, ideological blackmail will be the order of the day, and the fucking of poorer nations will, in the future, be conducted with all the finesse of a San Quentin gang rape.

Meanwhile, down at the South Pole, the South Antarctic ice sheet is going to collapse. About the only thing that can prevent it – along with a diversion of the Gulf Stream that would disastrously impact the climate in Northern Europe – is a 60% cut in carbon dioxide levels. Which is a dream. The Kyoto treaty calls for only a 5% CO2 cut and that’s being largely ignored. Humanity is simply too locked into its immediate greedy moment of gratification to do what’s needed. Middle America will only give up its SUVs when they’re pried its cold dead fingers. Europe and Japan might adjust but only minimally and avoiding any radical change of the lifestyle. Military industrial China is burning metaphoric aviation fuel, and the developing nations are going to go through some approximation of 19th century smokestack culture before they ever reach the modern world. Maybe we simply have to accept that we’re an aberrant species of sociopaths and the only sane strategy is one of high-speed hedonism and fast demise.

The secret word is Damned

Our lovely hipspinster has a thought provoking blog on the Haidel rape trial.

CRYPTIQUEYou stepped on the dog.
A medical epic in the family has slowed things down some. (No, not me.) I hope I’ll be putting more out on the morrow. In the meantime play with this link. Just type in anything. Like Doc40. It’s totally amazing, wonderfully pointless, and comes courtesy of some girl who assures us "this shit is crunk, yo."

The secret word is Insurance

CRYPTIQUEY2K was a psych test.