31 August 2011

[35/52] Rainbow

[35/52] Rainbow by kcm76
[35/52] Rainbow, a photo by kcm76 on Flickr.

Week 35 entry for 52 weeks challenge.

Rainbow seen from our study window. Should I be measuring the quality of the summer by the number of rainbows we've had this year: rainbows are probably inversely proportional to the goodness of the summer. If so then this has been an awful summer. But there have been lots of good rainbows.

Fact of the Week

Rodents are the largest group of mammals with over 2000 different species.

30 August 2011

29 August 2011

Word of the Week

Cundy.

[Northern England and Scottish dialect]
A conduit, covered drain or culvert.

27 August 2011

[34/52] Fire Cure

[34/52] Fire Cure by kcm76
[34/52] Fire Cure, a photo by kcm76 on Flickr.

Week 34 entry for 52 weeks challenge.

Don't ask, I don't know! It's just a photograph.

25 August 2011

Fact of the Week


Cornflakes (invented by John Harvey Kellogg) and Graham's Crackers (invented by Sylvester Graham) were both specifically designed to discourage masturbation.

[Found in Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá, Sex at Dawn. See also Wikipedia on Cornflakes]

24 August 2011

Barking and Beyond

It's a pretty safe conclusion that most people we come across (and likely many we don't) think Noreen and I are Barking — if not a few stations beyond. And, in their world view, they're probably correct. Because over the years we have come to the conclusion that we’re really not like other people. We’re eccentric — barring that we don’t walk the streets wearing silly hats or clown outfits. Just compare our modus vivendi with that of most “normal” people:
  • We don’t have children. We actually made a conscious decision not to!
  • Neither of us drives a car. Indeed neither of us has even learnt to drive. But it doesn’t stop us being where we want/need to be.
  • We read books; difficult books. We thirst for the knowledge they contain.
  • Consequently we have a house full of books, and we’ve read most of them!
  • We were taught the basics at school, and taught them so well we remember them.
  • We believe what we think is right, not what the tabloid press tell us we should.
  • We passionately believe in freedom of speech. We may not agree with you, but we will defend to the death your right to hold and express your views however uncomfortable they may be.
  • We don’t have a mortgage. We did have one and we paid it off as soon as we could (like about 7 years early!).
  • Neither do we have a bank loan or an overdraft.
  • And we pay off our credit card bills in full every month.
  • We live in a small terraced house in an unfashionable area of London. We could afford something more prestigious (bigger and in a better area) but we don’t need it so why move?
  • We both went to university and have post-graduate qualifications.
  • We were taught to think — and we do!
  • We don’t wear clothes of any sort in bed and haven’t since we were students and left home.
  • We walk naked around the house and even sometimes in the garden. We only don’t do it more because we know it would frighten the horses neighbours. And that’s unfair on them, poor souls.
  • We sleep together, in the same bed; we think this is part of what a relationship is all about.
  • We talk to each other; about meaningful things like history, literature and science.
  • We value money. We didn’t have any as kids. We (try to) look after it now.
  • We don’t have a bath or a shower every day. It isn’t necessary. We have a good wash every day and a shower a couple of times a week or if we’ve been getting mucky/sweaty. Think how much water we save!
  • We don’t generally take foreign holidays and we don’t fly off places for leisure. (And now we’re retired we don’t have to fly on business.)
  • We like this country. It is our heritage. It is rich and fascinating. Even if it could be better.
  • We were brought up to take an interest in things around us: history, nature, architecture. And we still do.
  • We acquire knowledge. On average we two do as well at University Challenge ("an upmarket TV quiz show, M'lud") as the student teams of four do.
  • We use unusual words, not to sound poncy but because they have specific meanings. Words like: vespiary, peripatetic, antepenultimate, vermifuge, analgesic and decimate.
  • We don’t buy new stuff if we don’t need it. If it’s sensible we get things repaired rather than throwing them away at no provocation and buying new.
  • On the other hand we know when not to waste time on something which is life-expired and buy a new one.
  • We don’t have net curtains. We like daylight and sunshine.
  • We open our windows — to let in the fresh air and the birdsong.
  • We watch very little television. We never watch soap operas, films, dramas, docudrama, game shows. We watch programmes to be informed, not as an opiate substitute.
  • We don’t play golf.
  • We don’t follow fashion. We wear what we find comfortable. And we don’t buy new clothes twice a year because the fashion colours have changed.
  • We don’t give a toss what the neighbours think although we try not to gratuitously upset them.
  • We try to live by two mottoes: “if it harm none, do as you will” and “treat others as you would like them to treat you”.
  • Above all, we’re our own people.
Huh!? You mean you still think we're sane? Oh, bugger!

23 August 2011

Listography - Last Week

In this week's Listography Kate is asking us what we did last week. So ...

1. Spent Sunday morning driving round London testing a coach tour I'm conducting in under two weeks time. Can I get a coach in there? What is there interesting to say about this boring street?

2. Had coffee with a TV Producer and lunch with a publisher the same day. No not as exciting as it sounds, deals to pay me loads of dosh were not being done, nor did it relate too ...

3. Sent off the (I hope) final proofs of my book. It should be out in October. Watch this space.

4. (Finished) reading four books.
Steve Burgess; Famous Past Lives. Very interesting, even if one isn't totally convinced. Can't put it down!
Christopher Ryan & Cacilda Jethá; Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships . Although interesting and makes a lot of sense it could have been much more tightly written. In the words of Ambrose Bierce "the covers of this book are too far apart".
Tony Thorne; Jolly Wicked, Actually: 100 Words That Make Us English. Curate's egg-ish; by turns interesting and dull; mostly dull.
Anthony Powell; Caledonia: A Fragment. Spoof pastiche poem, written in 1930s (and privately printed) which takes the piss out of the Scots unmercifully. Now publicly published as an entity in its own right. Introduction by the Earl of Gowrie.

5. Went to see my hypnotherapist. Yes, we're making progress but it's slow. Come on subconscious ... LET GO!

And in between all that lot I was working full time getting everything ready for the conference I'm organising in 10 days time. Busy. Busy. Busy.

Cartoon of the Week


22 August 2011

Word of the Week

Persiflage

Light banter or frivolous talk; a frivolous manner of treating any subject.
Also a variety of modern cultivated lily.





20 August 2011

[33/52] Small Glum Child

[33/52] Small Glum Child by kcm76
[33/52] Small Glum Child, a photo by kcm76 on Flickr.

Week 33 entry for 52 weeks challenge.

One from the archive. Here's a small very glum-looking child. Yes, it's me. I must be about 5 or 6, I guess, so we're talking around 1956/7. I also guess it was taken by my father somewhere in Hertfordshire, Essex or Kent - most likely somewhere in the Lea Valley. Beyond that have no idea where or exactly when.

Sartorial elegance never was a strong point of mine!

18 August 2011

Quotes of the Week

This week's accumulation of leaf-mould ...

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
[Martin Luther King, Jr]

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
[Steven Weinberg]

What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are.
[Anthony Robbins]

The idea of monogamy hasn't so much been tried and found wanting, as found difficult and left untried.
[GK Chesterton]

The prerequisite for a good marriage, it seems to me, is the license to be unfaithful.
[Carl Jung in a letter to Freud, 30 January 1910]

Why does society consider it more moral for you to break up a marriage, go through a divorce, disrupt your children's lives maybe forever, just to be able to fuck someone with whom the fucking is going to get just as boring as it was with the first person before long?
[Susan Squire, I Don't: A Contrarian History of Marriage]



If Botticelli were alive today he’d be working for Vogue.
[Peter Ustinov]

When we were kids, our mums used to write our name in our school uniform. Now we are adults, we have other peoples names on the front of our clothes!
[Thoughts of Angel]

17 August 2011

Fact of the Week

Because fit is so important in the effectiveness of condoms, World Health Organization guidelines specify different sizes for various parts of the world: a 49-millimeter-width condom for Asia, a 52-millimeter width for North America and Europe, and a 53-millimeter width for Africa (all condoms are longer than most men will ever need) ... According to an article published in Nature, Japanese and Chinese men's testicles tend to be smaller than those of Caucasian men, on average. The authors of the study concluded that "differences in body size make only a slight contribution to these values." Other researchers have confirmed these general trends, finding average combined testes weights of 24 grams for Asians, 29 to 33 grams for Caucasians, and 50 grams for Africans.
[Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá, Sex at Dawn]
So there you are girls ... Negroes really do have larger equipment. And the Chinese remain inscrutable. Not exactly PC but then that's science for you!

15 August 2011

Listography - Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

As this seems to be confessional time, here is Kate's Listography from last week that I missed doing. It's Things I'd Change About Myself ... but more specifically characteristics I'd change. (Apparently the vanity of how I look is not allowed.) Hmmm...

My Weight. What do you mean this counts as looks? No it doesn't. I'd look like a sack of spuds whether I was twice the size I should be or not. I have this characteristic which means I eat too much. Not necessarily the wrong things. Just too much. And if I'm not careful I drink too much beer as well. And I seem to be unable to switch it off. Why can't I be down to fighting weight and sexy? Even hypnotherapy has so far only succeeded in chipping odd bits off the corners. And it's all linked to ...

Depression. Wouldn't I love to get rid of my depression. It is so destructive. And I suspect I've had it since childhood. I also suspect that, although it is probably multi-factorial there is a genetic component; my father and his father were both depressive. I do seem to have made some progress here as a result of the hypnotherapy. My depression is now much less (giving up work helped a lot!) and I've halved the dose of my anti-depressants. Maybe that one is amenable to being smacked on the head.

Patience. I admit I'm not patient. I never have been. Although again I'm a lot better than I used to be. I hate being late. I hate others being late, or dithering, or being stupid, or disorganised. I hate standing in queues. I hate it when things don't go my way; I get annoyed and sweary. Gggrrrrrrr! Just get a life and relax will you! NOW!

I'm not quite sure how to sum up this next one. But I would like to be less prone to having my arse stuck in my chair, doing more around the home, helping and generally being more engaged. I don't mind being inept with my hands and having ten left thumbs for fingers (after all my father had twenty left thumbs and he survived to be 86). It's partly down to the depression, but I feel that is really only an excuse. But I would appreciate being able to make myself do more; things might get done then. And I know Noreen would appreciate this too.

Finally, I need to be able to let go; be less "in control" all the time. Everything I do and say seems to be controlled; thought out; calculated. There isn't enough spontaneity; not enough emotion. I seem to be frightened of being emotional, letting my emotions out and just allowing my self to relax into things and go with the flow. And for some strange reason it feels as if it has gotten worse recently. Or maybe I've just become more aware of it. Definitely something I need to work on.

Listography - Guilty Pleasures

I haven't done Kate's Listography for the last couple of weeks — one has to have a break sometimes! One of the weeks I missed was because the subject (kid's films) does nothing for me at all: I don't have kids and I don't do films. The other I just never got round to doing. So I've come back in this week on a really difficult topic: guilty pleasures.

What makes this the more difficult is to interpret what the topic means. Kate's definition of a guilty pleasure is something that you shouldn't really like but you actually do. But that isn't quite my understanding, which is more like something you like (regardless of whether you should or not) but which you don't normally talk about in public (for whatever reason).

So my five choices are going to be a mix of the two. Here goes ...

Fried Food. Bad. Hideously bad. Both in calories and cholesterol. Just what is it about fried food that make it so good, and means it's comfort food? There's nothing quite like good fish & chips, or sausages, or full English breakfast. Then again there's ... chips! I do try to resist. Honestly, I do! But I usually fail. It's no wonder I'm the size I am!

Dr Alice Roberts. Well if all you girlies are going to drool over a half-baked men like Tom Jones and Andrew Marr, then I can have a girlie. A real, sexy and frighteningly bright one at that: Dr Alice Roberts. Formerly of Time Team and latterly of Coast. As I say, not just sexy and frighteningly bright, she's a talented artist, a medic, teaches anatomy and is no mean anthropologist and archaeologist. There seems to be nothing this girl can't do! Geek girls are definitely sexy.

Plane Crashes. Yeah, ghoulish. Well no, not really. I would never wish a plane to crash nor for anyone to be involved. But they do. And I take a forensic interest (albeit from my armchair) in why they crash; what happened. I do the same with train crashes and other disasters like the demise of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility in Japan. I like working out what happened and why.

My PA. [NSFW warning] No idea what I'm talking about? See here for an explanation. And no you don't get a picture — not publicly anyway.

Onanism. This is squarely in the "we all do it but guiltily we never talk about it" category. Why don't we talk about it? Why is it such a taboo? It's normal, natural and healthy. We all do it, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, relationship status etc. So where's the problem?

So what would you own up to?

Word of the Week

Dzong.

A religious and/or governmental centre in one of the Buddhist kingdoms of the Himalayas (Bhutan and Tibet). A Buddhist monastery. The architecture is massive in style with towering exterior walls surrounding a complex of courtyards, temples, administrative offices and monks' accommodation.


14 August 2011

Weasel!

Weasel

Weasel!

Weasel??!!??

Blimey, that is a weasel!

Something I never expected to see in suburban London — at least not in broad daylight. And I think it is only the third time I've ever seen a weasel, the previous two times being fleeting glimpses in the twilight as they disappear out of sight at breakneck speed.

This one was running around on the pavement and road (trying hard to get run over - stupid creature) on the busy Greenford Road right outside the Bridge Hotel about 1130 yesterday morning. (If you go to the "Location" tag at the bottom of this page, or to the Flickr image, you can see exactly where this is on the map.) The beastie is here seen lurking under a piece of metal barrier; (s)he's probably about 15cm (6 inches) long in the body.

It was so fast it was a question of point the camera out of the car window in vaguely the right direction and hope. I got one shot in before the lights changed (and I almost missed that!). This is a tiny crop from the middle of that one shot.

Secure Your Own Mask Before Helping Others

There is often criticism of Zen Bhuddism for being self-centred, selfish and insufficiently altruistic. This is true up to a point; as Brad Warner explains in a recent post on his Hardcore Zen site it is difficult to help others if you're woozy yourself because you ain't fixed your own oxygen mask. Here's an extract of what Brad has to say ...
Zen [seems to be] self-centered. Rather that hearing a lot about how we should be of service to others, the standard canonical texts of Zen appear to focus on what we need to do to improve our own situation and state of mind ... They say we need to help others, but don’t go very deeply into how that might be done. This focus on the self is ironic considering that Zen is often portrayed as a practice aimed at eradicating the self.

But have you ever glanced up randomly when you’re on an airplane ignoring the flight attendants safety instructions? When they tell you how to use those oxygen masks they say that you should first secure your own mask before helping others. There’s a good reason for this. If the plane is losing oxygen you’re going to be too woozy to be of service to anyone else until you first get your own stuff together. This is the way it is in life as well.
...
Much of what passes for religion ... takes as its underlying unstated assumption and starting point that we ourselves are OK ... It’s painful when that assumption is challenged ...

The underlying problem is the same as the problem with the emergency oxygen masks on airplanes. In our usual condition we are far too woozy to be of much service to anyone else. When our own condition is all messed up our attempts to be helpful are more likely to make things worse than to improve them.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t do anything when we see someone is in trouble. We always have to act from the state we’re in at this moment. It’s our duty to do what we can with what we have.

One of the greatest and most useful lessons I’ve learned from Zen practice is how not to help ... People learn best from their own mistakes and learn nothing when you fix things for them.
...
The problem is not whether we should live for others or not. The problem is how we should live for others ... It’s important to discover how to truly help. And sometimes that means not helping.
Immediate take-away moral: don't jump in and fix things for people but teach them how to fix the problem themselves. Kindness can be cruel in the short-term. It's a bit like school is dull, tedious, boring and apparently pointless but later in life you realise it did actually enable you to fulfil your dreams.

Moral Decay


There's a thought-provoking post from a couple of days ago by Peter Osborne on the Daily Telegraph blogs site under the title "The moral decay of our society is as bad at the top as the bottom".

He takes our revered leaders — politicians and businessmen alike — to task for being hypocritical over the recent looting when they have equally been found with their hands in the petty cash box. As the good book says "Let those who are without sin cast the first stone".

Worth a read.

12 August 2011

Fact of the Week

An educated person would be expected to have an active vocabulary of about 30,000 words, whereas to read The Sun newspaper you require a vocabulary of just 800 words.

from AC Grayling, The Form of Things


11 August 2011

Quotes of the Week

Some odd bedfellows this week ...

Politics is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary.
[Robert Louis Stephenson]

Your car is Japanese. Your vodka is Russian. Your pizza is Italian. Your kebab is Turkish. Your democracy is Greek. Your coffee is Brazilian. Your movies are American. Your tea is Tamil. Your shirt is Indian. Your oil is Saudi Arabian. Your electronics are Chinese. Your numbers are Arabic, your letters Latin. And you complain that your neighbour is an immigrant? Pull yourself together!
[Seen on Facebook]

'chav' (vogue label of 2004, originally a traveller's term of address or endearment, from a French nickname for a young fox), who represents an imagined social grouping, a troublesome, truculent, feckless, shameless underclass delighting in petty criminality and conspicuous consumption (of, inter alia, illicit substances, electronic stimuli, pimped technology and 'bling').
[Tony Thorne, Jolly Wicked, Actually]

An eye for an eye makes the world go blind. A tooth for a tooth gums up everything!
[Thoughts of Angel]

Sex was an expression of friendship: in Africa it was like holding hands ... It was friendly and fun. There was no coercion. It was offered willingly.
[Paul Theroux quoted in Christopher Ryan & Cacilda Jethá, Sex at Dawn]

I had a friend at university who used to propound this latter theory that sex was (and should be seen as) not necessarily more than an expression of sincere friendship and that why should one not have sex with ones friends just as one might have a beer with them. Not sure he ever managed to put it much into practice though.

More Pussy Porn : Rosie

Meet Rosie ...

Rosie

She is our next door neighbour's young Persian cat who is currently being fed and watered by Noreen.

She is also about to drop a bundle of kittens. The owners get a female cat, don't have her spayed and then wonder why every tomcat in the area comes to call. They then bugger off on holiday for 3 weeks - although to be fair they have gone "home" to Lebanon because the husband's father is seriously ill. So Noreen has had to man the breach. Fortunately they're due back today, although who knows if that will materialise!?

Rosie

Fortunately Rosie is a placid and amenable pussy, although that lovely soft, long fur needs a lot of brushing to stop it getting matted. I love her Hobbit feet - in this second photo you can just see the tufts of fur between her toes.

10 August 2011

Pussy Porn : The Lodger

Meet "The Lodger" ...

The Lodger

She appears to have been abandoned (she's been around for some months) and decided about a week ago she wanted to adopt us. She was clearly starving hungry and is very friendly and easy to handle. Sadly our current two felines are very not impressed, so she's having to live in a box in our front porch for the time being. After a week she is still hungry but is already looking in much better condition.

The Lodger

This morning we took her to the vet (we were taking our two as well for their injections) to get her the once over. It turns out she has been chipped and the registered owners live a few streets away. She's clearly in reasonable health and as there is no sign of kittens she's likely been spayed. The vet reckons she's probably about a year old.

The vet is going to try to contact the registered owners and see what gives; he'll also hopefully contact our nearest vet's where she may be registered. If there's no dice in a week or two we'll get the OK for her to move in with us @ndash; the present two permitting. It would be nice if she does move in as she's a lovely, friendly small cat who deserves a good home.

Meanwhile she's doing sentry duty at our front door.

09 August 2011

Ten Things - August

Number 8 in my monthly series of "Ten Things" for 2011. Each month I list one thing from each of ten categories which will remain the same for each month of 2011. So at the end of the year you have ten lists of twelve things about me.
  1. Something I Like: Sunshine
  2. Something I Won't Do: Eat sheeps' eyes or tripe
  3. Something I Want To Do: Win £2M (no-one said I wasn't allowed to dream!)
  4. A Blog I Like: Norn's Notebook
  5. A Book I Like: AN Wilson, After the Victorians
  6. Some Music I Like: William Byrd, The Battell
  7. A Food I Like: Smoked Fish, especially eel
  8. A Food or Drink I Dislike: Absinthe
  9. A Word I Like: Halberd
  10. A Quote I Like: The gap between strategic rhetoric and operational reality remains dangerously wide. [Prof. Gordon Hewitt]

Cartoon of the Week

This week something for the cat lovers amongst you ...


No, I'm Not Ashamed

As a result of the current "little local difficulties" being experienced in London (see, for example, here) there are a lot of people around saying they are ashamed to be Londoners.



But I'm not one of them.

Yes, I'm a Londoner. But I've never been ashamed to be a Londoner. Because I've never been proud to be a Londoner. I've always known that London is, under a thin surface veneer, crap. And I have never understood why anyone would have any interest in, or get any enjoyment from, the place despite all it's interesting history (which I love).

London is crap. It always has been. And likely always will be. All that's happening now is that it is living up (down?) to it's true nature. And this is a nature which is probably that of many large cities.

That is not to condone what is happening in the smallest iota. I wish it wasn't thus. Probably we all wish it wasn't thus. But it isn't. Shit happens. Always has. Always will. The best we can hope for is that some semblance of the rule of law returns and we're allowed to back to being crap in our own, relatively peaceful way.

I recall some proverb about leopards and their spots.

Plus ça change!

08 August 2011

[32/52] Rainbow

[32/52] Rainbow by kcm76
[32/52] Rainbow, a photo by kcm76 on Flickr.

Week 32 entry for 52 weeks challenge.

Rainbow seen this evening from our study window. When Noreen first drew my attention to it, it was very bright, almost a complete arc with a second fainter rainbow outside it. By the time I got a camera on it, leaning out the window, it was beginning to fade. Still it looks like someone in the next street has a crock of gold for a TV set.

Word of the Week

Hoatzin

A species of colourful, remarkably saurian, chicken-like bird, Opisthocomus hoazin, found in swamps, riverine forest and mangrove of the Amazon and the Orinoco deltas of South America. It is notable for having chicks that possess claws on two of their wing digits; the chicks are also able to swim and climb — useful when you're a pheasant-sized bird which nests in trees over water!

It is brown in colour, with paler underparts and an unfeathered blue face with maroon eyes; its head is topped by a spiky, rufous crest. The Hoatzin is herbivorous and has an unusual digestive system with an enlarged crop used for fermentation of vegetable matter — broadly analogous to the digestive system of mammalian ruminants. It's common name of Stinkbird is due to the strong smell produced by the bird, perhaps due to its consumption and fermentation of leaves.

Despite its striking plumage, unwary nature and poor flight it seems to be only rarely hunted by the indigenous peoples of its native range. Consequently it is not endangered. It is the national bird of Guyana.

07 August 2011

More Auction Oddities

Another collection of oddities from the catalogue of our local auctioneers. Not such an interesting-looking sale this time around but as so often it's a combination of the curious descriptions and the odd juxtaposition of items in the lots which amuses.

First off, who is sitting on whom? ...

A boy in a Tyrolean hat holding a monkey seated on a step with three dogs, by W A Richards, signed, oils, gilt framed ... and a vacant picture frame.

A shelf full of interesting items including a barometer, binoculars, a model economiser invented by Robert Sterling 1816, a bondage mask, games, etc.

An I.C.A.N. calibration gauge for airspeed corrections, a whisky flask, a Turkish coffee pot, binoculars, and an old camera.

A set of Diplomatic costume by Moss Bros, early 20th century, including frock coats, trousers, boots, bicorn hat and sword, the etched blade marked Scott Son & Claxton, 31 George Street, Hanover Square, London, in original tin carrying box.

6 glass demijohns and a set of golf clubs.

A quantity of garden tools, a Pogo stick, a signed copy of ‘Double or Nothing’ by Thelma Frye, 3 LG mobile telephones and 2 shelves of miscellaneous items, ornaments, miniature coffee cups, a desk blotter, magazine rack, vases, miniature pictures, hand mirror, carriage clock, knick-knacks, etc.

One is left wondering "Why?".

04 August 2011

Quotes of the Week

Here's this week's usual eclectic and eccentric mix ...

Biologists and philosophers have pondered for generations the ways in which our modern lives may be disconnected from our pasts, out of synch … When you look beside you in bed, you notice no more than one animal (alternative lifestyles and cats notwithstanding). For nearly all of our history, our beds and lives were shared by multitudes.
[Rob Dunn, The Wild Life of Our Bodies]

The moment that made us human in that series of happenings was not the language, the gods, or even the ability to draw Rubenesque women in stone. It was when we decided that when a leopard stalked the cave, we ought to go after it and kill it. When we decided to kill a species not for food or in self-defence, but instead in order to control what lived and did not live around us, when we did that, we were then fully human.
[Rob Dunn, The Wild Life of Our Bodies]

Grasses and cows were not the only species we favored. We also came to choose species that were beautiful to our senses … tulips and other flowers are shipped around the world at huge expense. Goldfish live in houses in nearly every country. Dogs, which appeal to our social sense of appeasement and connectedness, were brought into our beds. (Cats – well, no one can explain them.)
[Rob Dunn, The Wild Life of Our Bodies]

Anyone offering subtitles for the following?

[It's] amazing how the secondary endosymbiosis has left its signature in the topography of plastid membranes like in dinoflagellates and cryptophytes.
["fer" in a comment at The Loom]

Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.
[GK Chesterton]

There are more fools in the world than there are people.
[Heinrich Heine]

Is it true that cannibals don’t eat clowns because they taste funny?
[Thoughts of Angel]

[31/52] Mother at Nearly 96

[31/52] Mother at Nearly 96 by kcm76
[31/52] Mother at Nearly 96, a photo by kcm76 on Flickr.

Week 31 entry for 52 weeks challenge.

This is my mother who will be is 96 in October enjoying the summer in the gardens of her care home yesterday. She spends quite a bit of time just sitting quietly under the trees watching the wildlife; apparently in the Spring there were hares running around the lawns quite oblivious to her presence. OK she's very frail and needs a zimmer frame, but she's mentally all with it and can still draw and paint and read. And although she's very deaf with her hearing aids she can still hear the birdsong.

And yes, that's Noreen in the background who will be 60 also in October.

02 August 2011

Cartoon of the Week

Here's one for the geeks amongst you ...

01 August 2011

Word of the Week

OK, sorry, there's been somewhat of a hiatus here. Mainly because I had a major computer malfunction last Wednesday evening — basically a dead Windows installation that refused to repair. Luckily all the data was safe and I have a laptop which kept the essential functions running, but I've had to build a new system from Ground Zero. Anyway we seem to be back fully on the air now.

So without more ado, here's this week's word:

Hecatomb.

Originally in Ancient Greece a sacrifice to the gods of 100 cattle but extended as early as Homer to mean a great public sacrifice. Thus also a sacrifice of many victims; a great number of persons, animals, or things, presented as an offering, or devoted to destruction.