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My life continues a bit fractured, so there'll be no thoughtful exploration of a single theme in this post, but once again, a jumble of bits and pieces.  First, just for your pleasure, is a link to a photo of a beautiful white kangaroo

Second, a concert report!  Last weekend I heard for the first time Stokowski's transcription for orchestra of Bach's Fugue in G Minor - which absolutely entranced me for the first ... oh, about two-thirds, I guess.  And then it got a bit muddied, overloaded, too much jam on a piece of toast - which was more down to the orchestra than to Bach or Stokowski, I think, having come home and listened to other versions.  Still - great to hear, and I really was entranced for most of it, and in any case that was only the curtain-raiser to the main piece of the night, which was...
Daimo Eriko on marimba, playing a wonderfully complex piece, Lauda Concertata, by Akira Ifukube.   Here's a three-minute scrap of it, but it doesn't do justice to the excitement and dynamism of the full thing (which is about thirty minutes long).  Daimo Eriko was amazing, all whirling energy and intensity and total engagement, with the piece and with the orchestra, and they with her.  Overall, she and they and the whole experience - brilliant, and very exciting.
(There was some Brahms or other after the intermission, but ... Brahms just didn't cut it after that excitement.)

Third, and less pleasingly, in the category of Things I Didn't Know: 
I've only just learned that "Tonto", which is the name I know for the Lone Ranger's offsider, means "Stupid" in Italian and Spanish, which is really depressing..  :( 
Spanish is the more relevant, I guess, but it was Italian I saw it in, and only then cross-checked to Spanish.  
(Speaking of names, by the way - Reality Winner??)

Last:  Best wishes, UK voters! 

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Sorry to anyone perplexed by my putting up the wrong link about politics yesterday; I've gone back and fixed it now.  :)

Also about yesterday's post:  the move I mentioned to sell off public land in the US, which stank to high heaven, has apparently seemed too bad even for the current climate there - or was it that hunters and shooters threw their voice into the protests?  I don't care - it's been stopped, as reported by [personal profile] twistedchick  here.  and I'm glad. 

As for today:  it's World Wetlands Day, and people are celebrating the glorious world of places which aren't safe, steady land, and aren't clear open water - fens and swamps and marshes and bogs and quagmires.  (What a gorgeous word, by the way! - quag-mire.  Is it that the ground quakes, do you think, or does quag refer to its sticky, sucking character?).  
But leaving the words, lovely as they are, and just thinking about the wetlands themselves - places betwixt and between, and so which feel mysterious and not quite in our ken - and thus in turn have given us so much, much wonderful literature: desperate freedom fighters holding out against the Normans, and the Swamp Creature, and a gigantic hound with dripping phosphorescent jaws, lolloping towards to an island in the fog, and the Black Lagoon, and bells ringing out from a huge church rising from the flood, and mangroves which are a story in themselves, and strange girl butterfly hunters, and Puddleglum and all Marshwiggles, ever.  

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The stuff that's happening in the US - I don't know what to say.  There are so many things happening so fast - and as [personal profile] twistedchick  posted some days back, behind the smokescreen of the more publicly outrageous things, other very damaging things might be happening, like the proposed sell-off of public land, where according to the Guardian, "the sale does not [even] have to make money for the federal government".  (I added the "even" because I think it's a staggering aspect.)

editing to add:  this link spells out the scenarios, much more informedly than I could, what might be behind the "smokescreen" I was talking about.

All honour to those who are making a stand against unethical, illegal or immoral acts, especially the former Acting Attorney-General, who is one of those described in last Sunday's psalm, about those who can't be moved or shaken, who stand by their undertakings, (as she, Sally Yates, stood by her oath to uphold justice) and don't sell out the innocent - for money or a career move or for anything else.  
I said especially her, but I suppose there are others not in the public eye, in humbler positions who dare not go public, but are quietly not selling out the innocent.  All honour to them, and may they one day get their due as people who upheld humanity when the system around them went the other way.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to trawl through mainstream media for good news on a daily basis, following [personal profile] megpie71 's lead.  Not always easy to find things, but I find it useful, to keep afloat.

February means that halfamoon has opened - fourteen days of celebrating women in fandom.  

I'm not feeling any fiction nudging to be written by me, but I'll be contributing by posting about some women characters, anyway, and maybe about a TV series which is crammed with women characters.

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Lovely to read of so much exhilaration and hope on the many marches.  I'd been anxious - about communications systems, amongst other things - and it was so good to find that it wasn't necessary at all, in the event!  :)    (But it was interesting to see it confirmed by some people involved, that mobile phone/cell phone coverage does indeed falter in large crowds - something to be aware of, going forward.)

In more local news:

The Tet goldfish have all been released into waterways, to become celestial dragons for the three kitchen gods to ride back to heaven.  I mentioned last year that student groups and other young volunteers were asking people not to toss their fish-carrying plastic bags in when they released their fish - this year that's become a campaign, with posters and more volunteers and council workers, stationed at the likely places (where there are steps down into the water, mostly).  

The poster says: Let loose the fish, hold onto the plastic bag!  

I have new glasses, and the world is crystal-clear.  (Or as close to it as my eyes allow, anyway.)   I am being amazingly conscientious about putting them back in their case, but I expect it won't be terribly long before they're being slung around casually, and ending up as battered as all previous pairs of glasses have been.

Yesterday I made crumpets from scratch!   I used this recipe, which weirdly doesn't reveal that the crumpet so made should be toasted later - i.e. that it's not intended to be eaten in its flabby original first-cooked state.  The dough/batter was really strange - very gloopy and gluey - but the result on cooking was instantly recognisable as crumpets, though not exactly round due to my not having the poaching rings to make them in.  They toasted up well this morning, but were regrettably doughy inside.  :(  If I do it again, I'll cook them longer at lower heat, in the first cooking.

Thanks to a tip from puddleshark, I've been looking at and enjoying Nirvana in Fire, a 54-part series (I'm up to part 9) set in eighth-century China.  Read more, if you like... )

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I've seen the furore about the change in the LiveJournal server's location, and note that some friends have in response either moved to Dreamwidth completely or decided to duplicate their posts there.  Of course I will subscribe to and allow access to anyone to whom I've given access on LiveJournal, but I don't myself see much to panic about in the change. 
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We're only now facing the terrible damage done by deception decades ago; when no-one can tell any more who to trust, any source of information is as good as any other, which leads to to either erratic knee-jerk responses, or bewildered passivity. 
I can feel both of these in myself, at different times, and I can feel in myself how trust in authorities has eroded
- I don't trust any government and scarcely any politician to tell the truth at any point (note for Australians:  I was fooled by the children overboard story, because I couldn't imagine that the then Prime Minister would flatly lie). 
- I don't trust news sources, other than for the broadest outlines of stories (yes,  Aleppo's being bombed - that's the broad outline; after that, it's murky).   There's moves in Germany to make the deliberate publication of false news a crime - which is not an idea without precedent or problems. 

All of which is hideously dangerous, and not just for any one political system. 

Meanwhile, there are still people trying in good conscience to analyse what's going on (politically, environmentally, economically, socially) and to put their analyses out there - ie sharing what is as close as they can get to the truth.  I was hanging about in a hospital waiting room this week, and read an old article in the Guardian weekly.  It's a long article, but very impressive.  In fact the Guardian is one of several news sources which has seemed to me to nosedive over the last few years, but I was impressed enough by that article - not least because the writer (Kathryn Viner) was honest about how her own paper had colluded gleefully in spreading a not-exactly-true story earlier in the year - that I took out a subscription to it.  Oh, and I've been trying to get my head around writings by the economist Wolfgang Streek
Does anyone have any other suggestions, for news sources or particular analysts?

Here - something not at all angsty!  Isn't this a terrific picture?  A guess at what it is )

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...and a lot of travelling, and flights getting tighter as Christmas nears.  Still, everywhere I go is beautiful - at least, the sky is always beautiful, and there's often so much else.  Today was glorious; I do love the sharpness of the light here, and the clear, clear air - trees and the sea and animals are an added bonus, when they turn up.  (A horse! lots of seagulls, pigeons and cockatoos! Rabbits! A strange, striped caterpillar unlike any I had seen before!)

I have finished Sock One.  :)  I had no actual trouble until I got to the decreasing for the toes part, when I lost track of my stitches, and didn't see where the decreasing was meant to be happening anyway.  Still, I bashed ahead, and got there in the end, even if the sock in question looks a bit boofy (ie boofheady).  I hope Sock Two, now on the needles, is a more polished production.

I have watched the whole of Class, and especially like Miss Quill, and the Quill-centric seventh episode.  I deplore the spoiler ).  I have also watched several episodes of Rosehaven, and while it's a bit mixture-as-usual in its Small Town with Characters set-up, still, I liked the relationships, and how they developed, and did once actually laugh out loud at a scene.  And the language is good - recognisable, which is more than can be said for the appalling Upper Middle Bogan.

Finally, a word from Brenda the Civil Disobedience Penguin.

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Well, DW just lost another draft post, but this was was very underdeveloped, so no crankiness ensues.

The busy month of October is almost on me, and is casting its busyness before.  I don't expect to be posting much in the next few weeks, and my responses might be slow, and less loquacious than usual, as well, which is probably not a bad thing.  :)

But October busyness doesn't fret me, because I've got my Shakespeare story done and ready to post!  and am very much looking forward to the opening of the collection, because that'll mean I can finally talk about all the things I found while thinking about what story to write, and can ask other people what they think about the plots and characters Shakespeare wrote, and hear about productions people have been to, or what's coming up that I might be able to see.  (There's an Othello I could maybe get to, later this year - but that's one tough night in the theatre.  :( )

I've only just seen that art can be entered as prompts for Yuletide - a revelation!  Because there's no huge amount of backstory which has to be known with a painting (err... generally); you can just take the image and go!.    I don't imagine I'll be in Yuletide - see above about incipient time-stress - but it's a way that would make it more possible for me. 

There's too much sadness and madness going on in the world in the world for me to even want to think about political things at the moment, but I did bestir myself up to asking my local representatives (Senate and House of Reps) to take action about the very dangerous (and depressing) Clause 42D of the Border Security Act in my country.  I'm not in the swim of what's happening on those lines currently - if any other Australians can fill me in, I'd be grateful.
On the more positive side, several very small Pacific nations have spoken out about human rights abuses in West Papua.    Human rights abuses, and also the long-standing trampling over self-determination.  I'm very grateful to them for raising the issues.

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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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as every election night of my adult night, this one's being spent watching the results roll in. The voting's still going on in W.a. - I think it's bad practice to have any results made public before all the polling booths are closed, but of course, since the results are being made visible (still only a few percent of the votes counted) I'm watching.

The brilliant Senator Penny Wong is one of the commenting team on the abc - http://www.abc.net.au/news/abcnews24/ - and old hand Barrie Cassidy giving running commentary - and quiet number-cruncher anthony Green. (Go, Penny Wong!)

Oh, so much at stake. Tonight the tense watching, tomorrow... exhaustion, probably. Relief and some celebration, I hope. Much analysis, either way.
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I've finished reading W&P, and was actually full of thoughts about it, but yesterday's news of the UK referendum has overwhelmed that, or made it seem not the time for that post. (If anyone does want to talk W&P, let me know.)

The next bit is about the UK referendum, behind a cut because it's not my country, and I feel I haven't really got the right to comment, other than to reiterate my previously-expressed good wishes for the future of all countries involved. So "read more" means "read more but only if you want to".
Read more... )
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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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Who does the internet think I am? Why have I been bombarded for weeks with an ad for bunk beds? and one for a military-grade torch? (Should it be banned? the ad asks.) and today, $99 sports shoes. I think the internet thinks I'm running a kids adventure camp, with exciting night activities, which I'm so not!

I don't have any great news stories to link to, but I enjoyed this metafilter discussion about who rules canon, or whose canon rules, beginning with Harry Potter, but taking off from there to discuss more widely.

In other non-news, it's Year of the Pulse! This weekend's celebratory pulse-focused meal at my place: Chickpea patties, served with yoghurt and the mango chutney I made a little while ago, and lettuce etc. Huge success. :)

More about W&P:
It's getting better and better! (Not to say it's flawless, though). Read more... )

I'm a little anxious about the coming election at home, especially about how the changes to the Senate voting will play out. (More than a little, actually.) But not to end on a morose note, here's a campaign ad (30-second youtube, not haranguing) put out by the classical music arm of our national broadcaster.
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My life is at sixes and sevens again, but to at least be posting something here are three idle thoughts, and a question.

1. Trollope is hideously unfair to the Marchioness of Hartletop. Read more... )

2. I read a short piece in the Guardian about what is and isn't proper grammar - it was very scathing about the use of 'amongst', saying:
"How longeth wilt thou persist with “amongst” and “whilst”? Yea though thine prose doth ring fanciful, long hath the “st” lain banish’d ’pon the pebbl’d shore. (These days, it’s always “among” and “while”.)"

Bah, humbug! 'amongst' is a perfectly good word, and I will jolly well continue to use it any time I feel like it. (also, "How longeth" is simply silly.)

3. I think the science here is open to doubt, because the CSIRO say so, but it's interesting in itself, and also for a glimpse of a very country Greens Party pollie in australia: the Condamine river, famed in song and story, set on fire. (videolink, one minute.)

and the question:
Four years ago, just about, I posted my first ever fanfic to fanfiction.net. Is it worth overhauling it, smoothing off some of the rough edges, and reposting it on ao3 - or is that boring? (This is partly inspired by seeing someone asking for fics starring older characters, which this does.)
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Life is getting busier and busier in the streets around me - everyone's gearing up for Tet, with frantic cleaning and gift-buying and planning to get back home (wherever home is).  Last weekend, though, Read more... )

For those interested in the diplomatic side of environmental matters: Read more... )

Fandom is bustling,too, with many challenges and fests happening - including halfamoon: 14 days of celebrating women.  I'm thinking hard about what I can contribute.  Recs? Meta? Maybe I'll seize a prompt.  Can't let the chance go by to join the celebration, anyway!

From Ethiopia - the Lion returns.  This, the dark-maned largest lion, is the kind I've preferred to write as aslan in my Narnian fanfic. 

Speaking of Narnia:  over on the NFFR site the Narnia LWW Reread has reached Chapter Twelve, with some very interesting meta, sources, questions, suggestions...

after last week's complex-character exertions ( :P to all those laughing!) it's back to the simple side for this week's character! 

and in the tiny domestic triumphs department:  the last of the missing socks has revealed itself!  My sock-bag is now only holding pairs!

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I'm a bit stunned, right this minute. I was going to post today about the books I've read this month:

Peter Dickinson: King and Joker
Read more... )

Celia Blay: Margaret Bisset: Maiden of Bradley 1158-1242
Read more... )

Nevil Shute: Pied Piper 
Read more... )

and the one I've just this past hour finished reading
Christopher Duggan: The Force of Destiny: a history of Italy since 1796
more; warning for violent death. )

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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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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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