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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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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

heliopausa: (Default)
So... still catching up with things that have been posted over the past little while...

The Pirate Queen is back! Narniafic by [personal profile] autumnia - a gorgeously zesty story (and highly political - including political philosophy - good meaty questions to consider) slotted into the time of Caspian's visit to the Lone Islands in Prince Caspian. I gave myself the pleasure of rereading it from the beginning, and enjoyed every word. :) 

I also took a look at [personal profile] rthstewart 's Tumblr page, and found a lovely round-up of australian birds, which was a delight in itself, and also pleased me much by having as one of its tags the line "they really are dinosaurs, you know" - pleased me very much, because I've only just learned about this fabulous (but not fabulous,however much it seems so - absolutely four-square, solid-as-a-rock real) South american bird, the hoatzin:

bright-crested bird

(Pic by Thore Noernberg.  I love how wildly mythological the hoatzin looks, like a phoenix.  Its body-shape is rather like a peacock, but with stronger wings and less tail, so a better flyer.)

which has - the juveniles have,anyway - functioning claws on their wings!!  like archaeopteryx.  Yep - they really are dinosaurs. 
Here's a David attenborough clip showing the claws in action.  I was just gasping at how amazing they are - four clawed limbs - and feathers!  and that gorgeously fierce crest!. Hoatzin.  I'd never heard of them, and they are brilliant
(I love this world! The surprises just never stop coming. :) )

extra, for no good reason: One of my favourite politicians is the absolutely straight-down-the-line terrific Shadow Trade Minister and Labor Senate Leader Penny Wong, who if all was as it ought to be, would be Prime Minister.  Here she is being interviewed this morning on television  (nine-and-a-bit minute clip - for politics junkies only, probably) about the TPP, amongst other things.   Note how she is calm, humorous, totally across the brief and sane.  (What isn't sane is how the current government is leaving her and her fellow Labor members out of the loop on these important issues.  Not sane because the country can't afford to be without her talents being used to the full.)
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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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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!

heliopausa: (Default)
Oh my - the up and the down and the up.  Life can get a bit tumultuous at times. 

The past eighteen hours have seen news of one friend free and I think safely back in his own country.  (was not being held here), then news of another friend in Vanuatu not located,  missing,and obviously fears for him - he was in the Cyclone Pam turmoil, and now - maybe ten minutes ago - news that he's been found

Have something little and calm, to hint that the good keeps on, despite the negatives:  new life in a dead tree.

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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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It's been a weekend of going  nowhere, literally and metaphorically.  But here are two clips of black swans which I came across....

Black swans having fun in Queensland

Black swans giving food aid, in Taiwan


I think having fun - at any rate, going back for second goes.  And.... 'giving'?  possibly reluctantly, like when you try to eat something at the beach, and seagulls cluster about insistently - but still, giving.  :)

heliopausa: (ID pic)
This one is well-known, but what the heck....

The Red Cockatoo

Sent as a present from Annam -
A red cockatoo. 
Colour'd like the peach-tree blossom, 
Speaking with the speech of men. 
And they did to it what is always done 
To the learned and eloquent. 
They took a cage with stout bars 
And shut it up inside.

(From Arthur Waley's translation of the ninth-century Chinese of Po Chu-I (772-846 AD))
heliopausa: (ID pic)

Sleeping in the spare bedroom/library of someone who has a great many more books than I have, I recently came across something which you all may know already, but I didn't and I loved it! 

It was John Skelton's poem, 'Speke, Parrot' -- not that I've read any more than a few bits, but the part which amazed and enchanted me was the portrait of the parrot itself, in the parrot's own voice. 

I was amazed (which I shouldn't have been, because crusaders and trade routes and 1521 being early modern anyway, really, and also because nothing new under the sun) by there being parrots and dates and almonds and parrot-cages with little mirrors at the court of Henry the Eighth!

And then, I was entranced by the whole picture presented... by Tudor England's view of the romance of the exotic bird from distant lands:

My name is Parrot, a byrd of paradyse,
By nature devysed of a wonderous kynde,
Daintily dieted with dyvers dylycate spyce,
Tyl Euphrates, that flode, dryveth me into Inde
Where men of that countrey by fortune me fynd,

And by how the parrot in a cage is so like the way people do keep birds in cages, mirror and all, and say the same things to them ("Parrot is a good bird"!).

And send me to greate ladyes of estate :
Then Parot must have an almon or a date ;
A cage curyously carven, with sylver pyn,
Properly paynted, to be my covertowre
A myrrour of glasse, that I may toote therin

(Does anybody have a lead on what "toote" means here? Any etymology or other use of the word?)
These maidens ful mekely with many a divers flowre
Freshly they dresse, and make swete my bowre,
With, "Speke, Parrot, I pray you," full curtesly they say;
"Parrot is a goodly byrd, a pretty popinjay":

And then, and most especially, by the parrot's self-portrait:

With my becke bent, my lyttyl wanton eye,
(I love that!  the "little wanton eye"!)
My fedders freshe as is the emrawde grene,
About my neck a cyrculet lyke the ryche rubye,

(Gasp!   I raced off and googled until I decided it was an African (or Indian?) Ring-necked Parakeet)
My lyttyll leggys, my feet both fete and clene,
(I loved that too, the little legs, and the feet both feat and clean.  It jumped my mind to "foot it featly, here and there".)
I am a mynyon to wayt uppon a quene ;
"My proper Parrot, my lyttyl prety foole";
With ladyes I lerne, and go with them to scole.

"Hagh, ha, ha, Parrot, ye can laugh pretyly! "
Parrot hath not dyned of al this long day :
Lyke your puss-cat, Parrot can mute and cry
In Lattyn, in Ebrew, Araby, and Caldey;
In Greke tong Parrot can bothe speke and say,
As Percyus, that poet, doth reporte of me,
'Quis expedivit psitlaco mum chaire?"

I don't know what that last line means: "who has made the parrot something something"???  The Latin would be in odd oldish spelling as much as the English, and I don't know Latin anyway.  Information gladly received!

And there's lots more, including Katherine of Aragon being called a "peerless pomegranate", and what looks like, to me, the first use of what has developed into an Australian slang expression.  But this entry has probably gone on long enough.  I really hope that someone gets as much pleasure from the scraps as I did!

(I used  https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=zJYNAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&authuser=0&hl=en&pg=GBS.PA1 ; and pages following for the text, and modernised the spelling very mildly in a few places.)


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