Monday, May 21, 2007

Napoleon's penis, Shelley's heart

Also in today's blog
Misuse of blog comments
Dot com address theft
Helpful anonymous comment

An interesting article [link from Arts & Letters Daily] about these famous owners' organs here.

It was written by Judith Pascoe, a professor of English at the University of Iowa and the author of "The Hummingbird Cabinet: A Rare and Curious History of Romantic Collectors."

She tells us that the penis had "supposedly had been severed by a priest who administered last rites to Napoleon and overstepped clerical boundaries".

I was more interested to read : "After Napoleon's capture at Waterloo, his possessions toured England. His carriage, filled with enticing contents like a gold tongue scraper, a flesh brush, "Cashimeer small-clothes" and a chocolate pot, drew crowds and inspired the poet Byron to covet a replica. When Napoleon died, the trees that lined his grave site at St. Helena were slivered into souvenirs."

Professor Pascoe goes on, "If, as Freud suggested, the collector is a sexually maladjusted misanthrope, then the emperor's phallus is a collector's object nonpareil, the epitome of male potency and dominance. The ranks of Napoleon enthusiasts, it should be noted, include many alpha males: Bill Gates, Newt Gingrich, Stanley Kubrick, Winston Churchill, Augusto Pinochet. Nevertheless, the Freudian paradigm has never accounted for women collectors, nor does it explain the appeal of collections for artists like Lisa Milroy, whose paintings of cabinet handles or shoes, arrayed in series, animate these common objects."

I went in search of Lisa Milroy who was born in Vancouver but lives and works in London. Not sure what to make of her painting 'Handles'.

Misuse of blog comments

On Thursday, February 15, 2007 I wrote a blog headed Flower Confidential. By chance, yesterday, I saw that it had attracted 10 comments which I hadn't read. They turned out to be all advertisements for commercial sites.

On Monday, October 03, 2005, Grumpy Old Bookman wrote the following about Comment Spam.

"You will probably have noticed that this blog offers the chance to make a comment on what the blogger has written. Some people read these comments, some don't. And some of you, of course, go to the trouble of writing a comment.

Well, it seems to be an unfortunate fact of life that any blog which attracts even a modest number of readers will also attract the attention of people who put out what is known as 'comment spam'. That is to say, the spammers make a comment (of sorts) and then add a link to some other site which they are being paid to plug.

Much of this comment spam is done by machine, and until yesterday it wasn't a problem. There was only the occasional fake comment, which I deleted by hand. However, yesterday there were 37 fake comments, and this morning there are 384."

I hope Bookworm is not about to become a target for this form of spam.

Dot com address theft

If so, it won't be this year's first unpleasant online experience. In 1999, I signed up with a US domain name, email and website hosting service, thinking it wouldn't be long before I launched a website.

All went well for seven years, although the website didn't materialise. [It went through a lot of re-designs and I hope is nearly right.] Then the email forwarding to began to have problems. At the end of 2006 I decided to cancel the contract.

Foolishly, as it turned out, I didn't sign on with another host but switched to my Yahoo email address. Then - shock, horror - I discovered my dot com address was being used by a range of commercial firms.

On March 31 I received the following alert.

"Google Web Alert for: "Anne Weale"
anne weale homes for sale at
used cars car accessories cellular cell phone deals download"

The same day I emailed to the legal department at Whois. No reply. Maybe the next step is to ask the Society of Authors if any other members have had to deal with this problem.

Helpful anonymous comment

Some kind person who prefers to be anonymous left a link to "The Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club"

I went to look and at the About Us page, read the following -

"The Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club has been in existence for over 110 years, having celebrated its centenary in 1994. It has a membership of over 350, most of whom live in or around Edinburgh and Glasgow, but there is a considerable number from other parts of Scotland, and also from England and overseas.

The object of the Club is to foster the name of Sir Walter Scott through meetings, lectures, publications and excursions and to advance the education of the public concerning his life and works.

The Club is the senior and most active of its kind and has numbered among its Presidents distinguished statesmen, novelists, historians and men of letters, including Stanley Baldwin, John Buchan, James Bridie, Alec Douglas-Home, Harold Macmillan, David Daiches, and more recently, Allan Massie, Edwin Morgan, Dorothy Dunnett, Paul Scott, Magnus Magnusson, Tom Fleming and James Robertson. In its centenary year we were honoured to have as President of the Club the Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay of Clashfern.

Our 2007/8 President is A.N.Wilson."

I haven't read any of Sir Walter's books for years and now feel inspired to re-read him.