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I'll get back to Shakespeare, and vaguely Shakespeare-related notes, sometime this coming week, but in the meantime:

It's been strange and unseasonable weather here - mid-November, and cold!  Even stranger, a few days back, we had a hailstorm, with largeish hailstones - some rounded, but others just irregular chunks of ice - falling from a clear, dry sky.  The rain came before too long, but at the beginning it was strange.

This one's left me with mixed feelings - how grim to live in a society where domestic violence is so common that unions are working on a special leave provision for those affected - on the other hand, how heartening to see the employer group concerned, the National Retail Association, backing the claim.  Their Chief Executive said "As the largest employer of young people in this country, and one of the most gendered industries, we simply cannot ignore the fact that the highest proportion of victims - women aged between 18 and 24 - are also the most likely to be working in retail."  This support doesn't make it a settled matter - but the support is good to hear about.

Old news, but here it is anyway:  As if the year hasn't been long enough and hard enough - there'll be an extra second added in, a leap-second.

Do you recall the noble dogs protecting fairy penguins from predators?  Well, hot news!  The same dogs - well, the same breed, Maremmas - are now putting their watchfulness and valour to work protecting bandicoots!  Go, Maremmas!  \o/

This last isn't Australia, but New Zealand.  Friends in New Zealand, I hope you're all all right - psychologically as well as physically.  I don't think anyone likely to read this is at Kaikoura, but I know that survivors of earthquakes can be really stirred up by even slight or quite distant shocks later, so this is for all New Zealanders affected.
(Relatedly:  earthquake lights captured on video.)

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The weekend was crammed full of things, so I didn't get around to reading or posting much - and the week is also looking pretty full-on - but yes! there's still time for self-indulgence and various cultural excitements.  Not the terrific free lecture with excerpts and explanations of the puppetry of Bao Ha village, though - it was crammed full by the time we got there.  But never mind, there was a very nice indeed new (to me) patisserie nearby (cue: tarte framboise and iced coffee) and I was also able to spend some time in a bookshop buying delayed birthday presents for a quasi-godchild plus bonus treat of a new big Vietnamese-English dictionary for me.

and later that night culture reigned! in that I continued the Season Eighteen Old Who project,and saw the story titled "Full Circle", with the introduction of the mysterious adric  Read more... )

There's a Shakespeare story exchange happening! on both LJ and DW - I'm pondering it as a possible way to help rejig my story-writing zest.  :)  I'd have to find four plays (excluding histories) that I'd feel capable of writing a thousand words on, to an unknown prompt, sometime in September.   Hhhmmm... 

and as mentioned previously, an ongoing salute to International Year of Pulses - this time, courtesy of [personal profile] asakiyume , Spicy Roasted Chickpeas, a pleasingly spicy snack, involving cayenne pepper and chickpeas. Thank you, [personal profile] asakiyume !  I snacked on them through the weekend, and ate them all up!

Of interest mostly to australians: about the census. )

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It's been a long week, for one reason and another, including personally.

In Australia, the election is still not quite settled. Read more... )

Thursday night a couple of us sat up, following with fear and horror #whereisLavishReynolds. Read more... )

Oh, heavens. Something by way of relief. It's NAIDOC week in australia - i.e. celebrating indigenous people, culture, heritage. Here's an article from the abc about the billabongs of the Top End, and the people who know them and love them and keep them best. (Comes with a lovely picture of Cherry Daniels with waterlilies. :) Recommended for the picture alone, let alone the rest. and there's lots of other articles linkable from there.)

Well. Saturday morning, and I'd better start the day.
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There's so much stinking, stinking sad news out there. :(

Well... to some better news, or cheerful things, if not exactly news:

Scotland has achieved its emissions reduction target six years early! :) Go, Scotland!

The 50,000 hectares of Yarralin Cattle Station (which had been held under leasehold from the Crown, most recently by the Hooker Corporation) has been formally handed back to its traditional Aboriginal owners.

Is a comedy sketch art? If it is, then here's art protecting nature, in an ad made by two well-known comedians for an NGO in Vietnam, to campaign for tiger protection (youtube, one minute)

Where nature starts to look like art:
I really liked these eggs, all from the same species of bird - the tawny-flanked prinia, in Africa. So beautiful, like marbled silk!

The photo is by evolutionary ecologist Martin Stevens, and I found it and the info in this Guardian article.

Beautiful, and sneaky, too! The origin of these lovely patterns lies in the habit of the Zambian cuckoo finch, doing what cuckoo finches do, i.e. laying eggs which mimicked typical prinia eggs in prinia nests - but the tawny-flanked prinia has been - and still is - fighting back, by each individual hen now laying her own special signature style of egg! The egg-forging finches can't keep up! Go, wonderful tawny-flanked prinias!

Writing news: What with one thing and another, I haven't written a thing all year, apart from some three-sentence fiction, so I've been trying to kickstart my writing by launching back into a Narnia project I started last year. Read more... )
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I'm envious of those Australians who will be at home this week to see the first episodes of the new show Cleverman. It does look like it could be a bit tough, i.e. with depictions of violence - I usually steer away from such. (Here's the youtube trailer - it's a bit over two minutes long.)
Still, I'd like to see it; it'll be the first big Aboriginal-led futureish dystopian fantasy action show (and heavy on the social commentary) on television. Though it's not true, as is asserted in this Guardian article, that this'll be the first Aboriginal superhero; I remember the AIDS-inspired Condoman - don't be shame, be game! - even if no-one else does.
If anyone sees it, I'd love to hear what you think.

Two cheerful pieces of environmental news - from the giant karri forests of Pemberton, WA, and
from the tiny wastewater treatment plant in Jamestown, SA.

One pleasant indicator of social change, perhaps: a clue in the Friday crossword this week was She classifies Chinese religion, not film.
(The answer was taxonomist; the X was part of a larger pan-crossword clue.)
True, as a clue it's not especially exciting, but what I thought was pleasant was to see "she" used to mean "ordinary human", and not meaning something different from the default male.

War & Peace is back - I'm pushing determinedly for the end now, since the friend I was reading it with most unfairly gallopped ahead while I was away doing other things. I've just finished about the battle of Borodino, Read more... )
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This city never stops changing;this morning I found that the buses no longer run along the pleasant garden-nursery-lined road close to home, but instead are a good (not-so-good) long walk away, and...there has been much foot-slogging and only minor getting things done today.  The fair trade shop has vanished, too, despite their website saying they're still there, grump, grump.  I was hoping to make more progress in getting and sending presents today.

So I got home tired, and revived myself in watching the latest episode of Doctor Who.  Here are some thoughts on that, and on the last few episodes, cut because they're long, and so that non-Who followers can skip them.

Read more... )

I saw a local production of Hamlet recently, too.  My, but that play's a knockout.  always, always something new to shine out. This time what hit me was the pity of Polonius' story. How much love and desire to protect and foster up his children there was (the scene of the three of them together was terrific) , and how hopelessly inadequate he is for the task of making any sort of safety for any of them (himself, his children) in the stinking quagmire that Denmark has become, thanks to the brutally reckless crashing about of the powerful. 

and two Russianish links to finish with:

In the Pirmosky Safari Park,
a tiger has unexpectedly struck up a friendship with a goat offered him as food.  (Youtube video, about a minute.)

In australia's Northern Territory, Boxing Nick, the last of the Romanovs in my country (I expect) has diedIt's such an NT story: the long trip going nowhere much, the car breaking down, and five years in Katherine, and spending his time teaching his dog to balance a can of beer on his head.  :)  Not a sad story, really.  The Russian representative in the NT called his death a "tragic end", but there are worse ways to die than of a heart attack, under a tree, with your dog alongside. 

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Links first!

The Royal Society has been publishing in science matters for 350 years, and is celebrating by flinging all their online archives open free until the end of November. 

Here's an interesting and fun interview with a Tourette's Syndrome activist. (about ten minutes, you tube.)

Here are some great photos of Kazakh eagle hunters - like falconers, except they ride out with eagles on their wrists.  There's a recording of an interview with someone who's just written a book, too, but I haven't listened to that, just looked at the pictures. (Do I hear cries of "shame!" out there?)

Late addition!  News from the Melbourne Cup!  I love that it was an outsider who won,that it was a female jockey, that her brother (with Down's Syndrome) is working right alongside her as a strapper

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Our PM's gone!  Good luck with yours.  :)

Yes, who knows how it'll
all end - and Malcolm isn't a really astute pollie*, not skilled in the really cunning political infighting - but for now it's a good result.   (Here's some pretty good early analysis.)

*I me
an he's not astute in internal party politics and back-stabbing - he's certainly astute enough not to have made any of our former PM's on-record blunders.

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To amuse those of you who live where it really snows: the news story about snow falling in Hobart recently - even on the beach!  and some schools were closed, for a snow-day.  :) 

In delight that maybe only other Australians will follow: Bronwyn Bishop has resigned!  a blow against arrogance and corruption.  Just one blow - corruption is still around and corroding our political system, but still... this is good news.  It's also left our Prime Minister looking even more of a loose cannon - since he plainly didn't know how to handle the situation, at first making light of it, and then going to ground to avoid it. 
It wasn't giant corruption on a world scale - swanning around using taxpayers' money to bignote herself, and travel in luxury - but she's been riding for a fall with her blatant self-interest and partiality as Speaker, and I am very glad to see her go. 
There's other alarm bells in the story, too - why the Federal Police handed the matter over to the Department of Finance to investigate, and why the Department of Finance seem disposed to let her off the hook.  But for today, I'm glad she's gone as Speaker.

also in the category that this might only interest other Australians: I hope like mad that Adam Goodes returns next weekend and is met with sustained cheering.  I can't do a blinking thing about it, though, that I can think of.  Not all the opinions in the world (like this from the Age newspaper) can help unless the crowd themselves see themselves for what they are - racist and baying for blood.  Suggestions welcome.
(For non-Australians - Goode, a football player, has been booed incessantly whenever he takes the ground ever since he over-reacted badly to a young girl shouting abuse at him (she claims she didn't know it was racist, which I think is garbage, but irrelevant). The crowds have seized on this to boo him, allegedly because he was bullying to the girl, but... oh, come on!  They're not fooling anyone.)

Does this constitute a mass spoiler?  British academics come up with a formula to predict whodunnit in any Agatha Christie crime novel.

Great to see mangroves getting the attention they deserve!    They're the Puddleglums of the plant world - they don't look heroic, but they hang in there and achieve much, unsung.  (also: Sri Lanka has passed legislation preserving all of its remaining mangrove coasts.  Cheers!  \o/)

Les Miserables ground to a halt in last week's busyness, just as four young couples were spending a glorious holiday together around Paris -not just because of the busyness, but also because I could tell that this delicate happiness was not going to last - so I stopped to enjoy it before Hugo unleashes whatever mad dog/volcano/general depressing event he has planned.  The writing is amazing.  Here's one sentence about that idyllic holiday:
"That day was composed of dawn, from one end to the other."  

It's even more beautiful in French.  Not that I'm it reading in French! - just that that sentence was so stunning that I wanted to see how Hugo said it, which was:
"Cette journée-là était d'un bout à l'autre faite d'aurore."

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Here it is Monday morning, and I'm feeling mildly cheerful about productivity, having put the finishing touches to the footnotes on a due-today report before breakfast, and after having gone to morning exercises. 

However, getting to that stage did mean that I missed large lumps of the weekend, and hence am late in linking, for anyone who missed it, this wonderfully detailed fossil of a winged-and-feathered dinosaur (you can see the feathers!).  The wings have been judged too small to be effective for actual flight, but I'm imagining it could go as far as wing-assisted hops up into trees, like peacocks.

and as a follow-up to the link about bird and languages last time, it seems birds can also learn other bird languages - though only at the most basic level.  :)

The cricket has been being watched live in this house, thanks to the Indian internet - and lo! there was scored the first double century at Lords by an australian batsman since Bradman!  :)  I know this won't mean much to lots of you out there, but it's significant to australians anyway, since Bradman is a name to conjure with.  (Who reading this does know the name?)

In reading, I have begun Les Miserables, which I have never yet read - so far, just book one of the first volume, and the only main character has been the bishop, the one with the candlesticks, though Jean Valjean has yet to appear.  I felt Hugo was laying it on a bit thick to start with - I get it, I get it - the Bishop is a Good Man.  But in the end, it really is a very winsome portrait of goodness (leaving aside his treatment of the women of the house) - which is causing me to mull over the whole matter of the depiction of goodness in fiction - both nineteenth century and fan-.  How often is it attempted, how is it shown as interesting - or even exciting?  I don't think Dickens ever succeeds, does he?  There's Joe and Biddy in Great Expectations, of course.  Good but ineffectual.
(Mildly relevant quote from Simone Weil, more or less: 
“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring.
Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvellous, intoxicating.”
Hugo uses this section, though, to shoe-horn in several essays and reflections about the wrongs of the time (which are also wrongs of our own time).  I liked the essays and reflections, but they are very obviously primarily things he was determined to get into print somehow, whether it was part of the story or not - especially the long colloquy with the dying revolutionary.

as for my own writing:  I'm 500 words into an NFE possibility, without knowing if this is a story I really want to write or not, or if it's the one I'll end up writing, or if I'll end up throwing in the towel.  So far there's nobody particularly Good in it.
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It was a very full-on week, followed by a surprisingly quiet weekend, which had the great benefit that I could at last find time to begin to think about the Narnia Fic Exchange.  And there was some little struggle involved,wrestling with the form, but finally I can say that
I've managed to sign up for the NFE 2015!

and am feeling tentatively hopeful about the prospect. The freeform tags alone looked like there was a lot of fun to be had.  :)
(If anyone's reading this and wondering if they'd like to play, I assure you it's a most exhilarating way to leap into the Narnia fanfic game!  Here's how!)

Does anyone remember, by the way, that in last year's NFE I wrote about Tirian remembering being taken as a child to "float in darkness where waters lapped and glow-stars spread across the cavern-roofs..." 
That was based on my remembering a visit ages ago to these caves in beautiful New Zealand - truly, almost magically beautiful.

This is the week designated to celebrate indigenous peoples and culture in Australia, called for historical reasons NAIDOC Week; this year's theme is "We all stand on sacred ground: learn, respect and celebrate".  (Yes!)
Of course there's an absolute plethora of things in Australian media I could be linking to, but this is something from the Guardian - about an Aboriginal activist I'd never even heard of, but whose story I won't be forgetting. 
(The business about the search for a photograph puzzled me - surely if you're arrested, there's going to be a photograph somewhere? and then I remembered the Blitz...)

This weekend also is Greece's referendum on its future, and today, fittingly, the psalm-of-the-day was 123, ending: "... we have had more than enough of contempt, too much of the scorn of the indolent rich, and of the derision of the proud."  Yes, for sure - feeling for you, Greece! 
Oh, and here's Joseph Stiglitz on that situation.

and... this weekend's not quite finished, so I still have time to tackle the Great Mango Glut.  For the first time in my life: fruit leather!  Wish me luck!  :)

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Some links...

For those who recall the galah tea-cosy - proof that there's acres of textile creativity in australia!

more about birds -in this case, the suggestion of a bird language. 

In minor news- they did find matching tiles.  :)  So the kitchen floor is restored, with only those subterranean changes already spoken of.  :)

and the political snarling...  oh dear.   ranting behind the cut )

Oh, I don't want to leave it there.  Surely I can find something positive to end on...  give me five minutes...

oh, of course!  this!  I've been watching Venus and Jupiter for a few days, and tonight sounds like it's when Saturn joins the party - and a fullmoon too!  Oh, yes, despite morally bankrupt pollies, beauty remains!

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Summer! I really, really don't like the heat, but oh yes, I love the fruit! Right now, in this very kitchen (and the kitchen update comes later) there are:
  • plums - small, sweet, red plums, but not so sweet as to forget that a plum's essential mission is delivering the tartness hit.
  • lychees - fresh! still on the twig
  • watermelon - well, watermelon!
  • mangoes - which drop free from the tree next door! :)
  • and lastly... pineapple! this time, very little ones - just about fist-sized, once peeled (I bought nine!)
So there you go - summertime!

anwhile, in the kitchen... the floods have gone,and the mysterious well has been utterly transformed; instead of a well, we now have hidden under the floor a neatly tiled (around the edges) miniature Roman bath, and leading from it, an open channel cut down through the floor tiles, with two pipes in it, running away to underneath the sink. Which will be covered over like the bath, they say, with all due dispatch - but I have a gloomy feeling that the covering and retiling is going to wait until they can find tiles to match, the tiles which formerly ran along that bit of the floor having been used to tile the hidden Roman bath, of course. What chance will there be, of tiles to match for a decades-old house? I wait excitedly to find out!

Links, links.... here's two from australia, of very different life-forms:

a video of a joey koala, emerging from its mother's pouch.

and some still photos of
an ethereally blue bioluminescent bloom in Tasmania. I especially like the one where someone has walked away across the sand leaving glowing blue footsteps.

Syrena_of_the_lake has curated a second collection of stories from rthstewart's 3SF this time it's the Wings But No Feet (Dragon!Sherlock) collection - so far six stories are up, and I think about the same number still to come.

When I put up the two for Kangarooverse, by the way, I deleted them from my own 3SF post, which left me two chapters short in what was billed as a six-chapter collection.  So I added two more, offering a reason why Susan might have been thought to be no good at schoolwork. (Chapters 5 & 6)

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So... I still feel pretty at sea tonight, after being alerted earlier today (thanks, [profile] learnsslowly!) that a story of mine had been pinched and put on that ebooks-tree site.

Curiously enough, it was a story which had gone close to unnoticed, even by the recipient, when it went up as part of the NFE 2014*; so however they decide to take what they took, it wasn't obvious merit. I thought at first that the story-takers were working backwards (ie most recently posted first) from the date on which they began,but that doesn't seem to work, either.

Well, whatever was their grounds for taking what they took, to be using work which I put up as a gift, as part of the gift economy, for money-making (however they do it) is not something I can let go without protest, so though I find such stuff pretty alien, I've begun the process of registering my non-approval of this use of my work.

So - I didn't plan a post today, but there it is.


Plus, for lighter relief, of mild interest to australians - Julia Gillard on Game of Thrones - the politics! the unexpected twists! (and twistings of the knife). It's like those ex-cricketers who become commenters on TV.

*and hasn't been much noticed since, either. Who? Me? Chagrinned? What makes you think that?

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Bother, bother, bother... it's no longer Sunday morning, and due to too-long delay, I've lost nearly all of a long post, and nothing's left but the links, essentially. I suppose at least it spares you all the idle thoughts!

There was this story which begins by being about a not-exactly plagiarism,but ends in mulling the possibility that tumblr is changing the mode of self-expression from private individual creation to a more collective, curatorial form. (The idle thoughts I had were about whether this wasn't more akin to the old commonplace book method.)

Then there was the Owl as stealth warrior and I wondered about writing some more Narnia, with a story about Peter in the North, giving the Owl Shortfeather a much more active role than just messenger. (That link talks about a wingspan of nearly six feet! attacks with razor-sharp talons!)

and there was the death of a man in the Northern Territory, who will be much missed. I'm sorry I lost those stray thoughts - in sum, a great story-teller, a sharp analyst of people and situations, a valuable doer of things, and not a scrap of malice in him.

From the same source, a tiny glimpse of more traditional indigenous story-telling, in contemporary life.

and that's it from the Lost Post! :)
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...and everybody's preparations are done, and now people are mostly back in their family home.  I feel very much like sleeping, but may yet see it through to midnight, and fireworks all around.  Tomorrow will be very quiet indeed.  (As befits the year of the restful, meditative Goat?)

In terms of Wednesday reading, I have no books to report, only lots of three-sentence fictions.  :D 

And I've managed to post most of my own 3SF fills so far, too, over on AO3:-

There's a round-up of more-or-less Narnia fills - four so far

and a round-up of Tolkienish fills - two so far

(These leave me with the problem of where to put the Susan/Maglor fic - Narnia or Tolkien?  I haven't put it in either so far.)

and a round-up of everything else, ranging from Antigone to Bertie Wooster.  

Two and four seem very paltry numbers to have separate sections to themselves - I'll have to go and look for more Narnia/Tolkien prompts to fill.  I do have a couple more fills written (not Narnia, not Tolkien) which haven't been posted yet, but they'll get AO3'd eventually.  :)

And on quite a different tack, a good news story from my home country, for no good reason -  I just liked the gumption of the boy:

"And then it just sort of hit me that my life isn't going to be all coins, so I thought I'd better make things a little easier, and easier for others as well."

and I like that it paid off!  :)  A sucker for happy endings.

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Phew!  This is meant to be the quieter time of year - in between the solar and the lunar new years.  But this year it seems not so - or not right now, anyway.  Still, there's time to note a few odds and ends...

Trustees strain at gnats )

The Three-Sentence Ficathon offered to everyone by kind and lovely[personal profile] rthstewart  is rollicking along - as it has in other years, it's producing some enormously funny fills, and some stunningly beautiful, or sad or inventive or grim or all-good-things fills and some brilliantly provocative prompts (ie provoking ideas and writing, not arguments!) 

[community profile] halfamoon  is on, too - still four days left to post female-centric fics or vids or recs or anything!  (Maybe I should put some links to the female-centric fics from the last NFE?)

[personal profile] transposable_element  has passed on that the New Yorker magazine has published an unabashed work of fanfiction - and it's not for the first time, either! 

It's nearly the end of the Year of the Horse - just one week to go!  Today the excitement starts; it's the day when people release goldfish into rivers and lakes, to transform into dragons for the kitchen gods to ride to the court of the Jade Emperor, to report on the year's doings in each household.  Then with the New Moon, the year changes!  :)  So - does anyone have the lowdown on what are the influences to be expected in the Wood Year of the Goat?

It's raining!  - for which, cheers, because it means I feel I'm able to skip morning exercise group with a clear conscience.

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Just to say that the next Governor of South Australia (this is a ceremonial position, not a directly political one, but of real importance and impact in the state) is Hieu Van Le, who arrived in this country in 1977, as a refugee.

Things have been vexed and unhappy in my country for a good while, regarding refugees and refugee policy, and have been even worse recently.  This might help, just in terms of shifting the general climate to a positive view of refugees, and by re-igniting the pride we used to have in welcoming people to this country.  (But it's not the general population who're making things horrible now, it's the decisions of politicians.)


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