Saturday, January 31, 2009

More from Series Magritte

Just out from Bill Allegrezza's Moria Books, a second collection from my Series Magritte.



Available as a free downloadable pdf from here (at the bottom of the page).

Available for purchase in print form from here.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Tuatara Position



This is the image I was hoping to post on Wednesday, but at that stage it was only available as TV footage.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Today the
postman brought
me a fake
Louis Vuitton
suitcase inside
of which was a
real & very rotten
sheep carcass. God I
hate those overseas
call centers! This
wasn't what I had
in mind when I
rang the number
on the screen
to order a set of
carry-on luggage.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

11 @ 111


A rare reptile has become a father at the age of 111 for the first time. Henry, a New Zealand tuatara, confounded experts who believed he was past it when he succumbed to the charms of Mildred last year.

The female, who is estimated to be in her seventies, laid 12 eggs and yesterday, after 223 days of incubation, 11 baby tuatara successfully hatched.

Tuatara, which resemble lizards and can claim a lineage dating back 220 million years, are estimated to number 50,000, with most living in predator-free sanctuaries or on New Zealand’s offshore islands.

When the Southland Museum and Art Gallery, in the town of Invercargill, became his home in 1970, Henry was already aged at least 70. He proved to be “a grumpy old man”, and was kept in solitary confinement because of his aggressive behaviour. When staff first tried to persuade him to mate with Mildred 25 years ago, he bit off her tail. But last year his keepers found a cancerous tumour beneath his genitals and when the tumour was removed his libido was restored.

The offspring are being looked after away from their parents because adult tuataras sometimes eat their young. Tuataras reach sexual maturity at 20 and can live to between 150 and 250 years, which gives Henry plenty of opportunity to make up for lost time. He is expected to mate with Lucy, one of three females he currently lives with, in the spring.
Kathy Marks in The Independent

Pickett fences: take one

Hold the mid-
     night, my love—
     I'm gonna wait
          an hour to see
     that no one else
          comes tumblin'
          around to
     take you down.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Quad Rant

Monday, January 26, 2009

Australia Day,

today, celebrates the landing of the First Fleet & the beginning of the colonization of Australia by European settlers to the detriment of the indigenous inhabitants, the original owners of the land, who had lived here for something like 60,000 years. That's why I'm posting the Aboriginal Flag below.




Prof Mick Dodson, this year's Australian of the Year,



said it was inappropriate for Australia Day to be observed on the anniversary of the 1788 landing of the First Fleet and called for a debate on when the national holiday should be held.

"To many indigenous Australians, in fact most indigenous Australians, it really reflects the day in which our world came crashing down," he said.

"And I'm sensitive to that, I understand that. Many of our people call it Invasion Day. But I think . . . Australia is mature enough now to have the conversation about that."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Meanwhile, on Caprica



Like Ron Silliman, I am a fan of Battlestar Galactica. Unlike Ron, whom I'm guessing has watched it as a reasonably fluently programmed sequence, broken only by seasonal hiatuses & a writers' strike, my viewing of it has been somewhat chaotic.

Australian TV is separated into two streams, free to air & (cable or satellite) subscription. Free to air has two subsets, one (three channels) paid for by the airing of commercials & the other (two channels) subsidized out of the public purse. The introduction of High Definition has/will increase the number of fta channels, but there will still be only the same five players.

When subscription TV was introduced, the Federal Government of the day gave first option rights, mainly relating to sporting events, to the free to air channels in order to protect their revenue base. There were also restrictions added to drama shows along the lines of subscription TV being unable to show a series until the fta channels, if they had purchased it, had shown the last episode of that particular series.

It all sounds reasonable, until you remember that the commercial channels are driven by ratings, & that a program that doesn't rate can be suddenly dropped & the remaining episodes put on a back shelf somewhere so that the final episode never gets seen & therefore the series never makes it to cable. & you also can't buy a DVD in local format until the end, or very near it, of its fta "life".

West Wing was a prime example. A commercial channel just stopped showing it midway through the—I think—fourth series which was even then running two years behind its original U.S. showing. Eighteen months later, the main publicly-subsidized channel did a deal & picked up all the remaining episodes, showed them on a weekly basis in two-episode blocks, no break between series, & then, for the final series, reverted to the standard one episode per week. Even so, it was almost a year after the final episode aired in the States that we saw it here.

Battlestar Galactica is another show that has suffered in a similar fashion. The first two series made their way through fta TV in a pattern that you could only follow if you attached a tracking bracelet to its ankle. Series 3 took so long to go to air in Australia that I think some covenant must have been breached that allowed the DVD to be sold, eighteen months or so after that season finished in the U.S. & at least six months before it finally went to air here.

When the third series went to air here, it was on the network's High Definition channel. There's been no imperative so far for us to switch to HD—the offerings are, in the main, the same—&, even though the first half of Series 4 followed on immediately, the release date of the DVD was not that far away so we decided to wait for that.

We also had resigned ourselves to having to wait for the DVD of the second half of Series 4 to come out before we could watch it. But something weird has suddenly happened: the local SciFi channel has just announced that next Saturday it's going to be showing, one after the other, the ten episodes of the first half of Series 4, followed by the first three episodes of the second half of the series. Which means that we get to see the third episode the day after—nominally; the Date Line actually makes it two days—it goes to air in the States.

I have no idea what's going on. The regular scheduling of Battlestar Galactica continues later that night still in the first episodes of the third season. There appears to be no scheduling at this point of any new episode beyond the third. ¿Quien Sabe, Dude? Frak it. Who cares! All I can say is never look a gift Cylon in the vizor strip. I'll be watching.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

capt(ch)a







"I think it is a perfect poem"

or: Doing my bit for Aussie poetry
If one believes Clive James
the perfect poem rhames.

Friday, January 23, 2009

POLIZEIT GEIST: NO YOU CAN'T!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I'm / gonna wait / for the midnight

The sole purpose

for posting this news item is to give Tom Beckett something to lighten & brighten his day.
"A MAN accused of breaking into an adult shop and having sex with blow-up dolls in Cairns has been arrested.

The 23-year-old, who police have not named, was charged with breaking into businesses in the Cairns CBD, including the Laneway Adult Shop three times.

The man allegedly smashed his way into the shop, had sex with blow-up dolls and discarded them in an alley.

'Following intelligence-based inquiries, we attended a Manunda address and made an arrest,' acting Detective Senior-Sergeant Jason Chetham said.

The 23-year-old was charged with four counts each of enter premises with intent and one count of attempted break-in."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Signed, sealed, delivered

Let me
just say

that Stevie
Wonder

must have
made a

fortune in
royalties

from the
In-Awe-

Gu-Ration
Parade.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

pig(na)ku

buy
a pig
in a poke

*

happy as a
pig in
shit

*

silk
purse, sow's
ear; so what?

*

making a pig
of my
self

*

this
little piggy
went to market

this little piggy
stayed at
home

*

Miss
Piggy.....Kermit.....
Miss Piggy.....Kermit.....

sigh.....
a poke
in a pig.....

Monday, January 19, 2009

geographies: Chicago

The world of carcass value
is a bit elusive. The ongoing
story is full of confusing
terms, dirty tricks, payoffs,
voter manipulation, prostitutes,
a chicken in every pot. Save the
playlist & share it anywhere.

I really am

going to have to start carrying a camera around with me every time I go outside.

Today's addition to the wildlife sightings on the block, a bearded dragon.



We'd cut some branches off a tree that were beginning to block the back driveway. I'd gone down to shift them now that they were a bit drier, & discovered one of these sitting on top of the pile, about 30 centimetres — say around a foot — long, warming itself. First contact.

The picture above is taken from Wikipedia, but the same photo also appears in a number of other places, so I don't know who to acknowledge for it. But most of the photos I found in my websurf were from petshops, because, apparently, they make terrific, & oh so exotic, pets.

I've said it before,

& will say it again.

It's sad when a poetic site, in this case Milk Magazine, goes down & the domain gets taken over by something horrific & commercial.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A / score of / possible poem themes

1.     "Will the highways on the internet become more few?"
2.     "It’s a time of sorrow and sadness when we lose a loss of life"
3.     "I appreciate the fact that you really snatched defeat out of the jaws of those who are trying to defeat us in Iraq"
4.     "I remember meeting a mother of a child who was abducted by the North Koreans right here in the Oval Office"
5.     "We’re concerned about Aids inside our White House – make no mistake about it"
6.     "I’m honoured to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein"
7.     "I’ve coined new words, like “misunderstanding”
8.     "I recently met with the finance minister of the Palestinian Authority, was very impressed by his grasp of finances"
9.     "It’s in our country’s interests to find those who would do harm to us and get them out of harm's way"
10.    "One year ago today, the time for excuse-making has come to an end"
11.    "I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn’t here"
12.    "You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test"
13.    "I don’t particularly like it when people put words in my mouth, either, by the way, unless I say it"
14.    "[The Taliban] have no disregard for human life"
15.    "When the governor calls, I answer his phone"
16.    "Those who enter the country illegally violate the law"
17.    "I think we agree, the past is over"
18.    "America stands for liberty, for the pursuit of happiness and for the unalienalienable right of life"
19.    "My job is a decision-making job, and as a result, I make a lot of decisions"
20.    "One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures"

from The Times online
POLITI CIAN: DO NOT KISS

Saturday, January 17, 2009

PLATFORM

Friday, January 16, 2009

Today the
postman brought
me a tracking
cookie. I don't
mind it
following me
around the
house, but I
hate the crumbs
it leaves behind.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Don't / be fooled / by cheap imitations

These high-quality shirts will hold their shape & design in the wash.

We got tired of seeing the same old designs everywhere, so we went to one of Israel's top graphic artists and came up with a fantastic new line of t-shirts. We're sure you'll love it!

You may also like...

Wars of Israel. DVD
Retail - $27.00
Special - $19.95

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Temporeal

aug-
mented

black &
white movies
that color
the mind

songs
sung of

Saint-Saëns'
macabre dancers
animal carni-
vals

thought
étude

*

étude-
iously

he worked
knight after
knight on ways
to destroy the
temple of
the policiers

but was dis-
poemed by
the tracts he
read during
the day

"Have you a gold cup….?"

san greal
sang real

holistic-
ally

*

holistically

he was unable
to conceive

that the concept of the particle accelerator
he was working on to destroy the palace
of the templars would eventually
become the template for another temple

forgot that                (the
pure science               catapults &
begets im-                  burning
purities when               mirrors of
applied                       Archimedes)

forgot the
unforeseen con-
sequences
as he re-
played the
foreseen
sequences in
the games of
Capablanca

beneath a
poster
of Dali's
burning
giraffes

*

giraffes
eat the
higher
leaves
of the
McArbres

       im
part
       ial
to any
       part
of the trunk
       below

animated
animists
practising
self-love

leaving the
ground
cover for
et in arcadia ego
romantics &
other past-
oral lists

leaving
the temple
empty the
songs
sung un-

aug-
mented
*

Once a month, in early spring once a week, he would
drive up to the mountains, then walk for about thirty
minutes to a small creek he had discovered. There he
would pick watercress & dandelion leaves, wild straw-
berries in the spring. The dandelion leaves he turned
into wine, the watercress he added to his sandwiches
& salads. In late evening, in early spring, he would sit
on the small balcony of his 37th floor studio apartment
eating the strawberries, looking out across towards the mountains, bridging the gap between.

The View From Lebanon

"If the Israeli attack on Gaza that started 18 days ago was designed partly to send a message to the incoming Barack Obama, the United States Congress in the past week seems to have joined the battle to handcuff the new president and lay down the law for him, even before he takes office.

Obama has tried to remain aloof and stay out of the political battle over the Gaza war by making no substantive statements about it. Israel and its supporters in Washington have different plans. Obama has stayed away from the war, but they brought the war to him - shoving it down his throat as his first pre-incumbency lesson in how American presidents must behave with respect to Israel's desires, if they wish to remain in power.
.
.
.
This almost irrational absolute support for Israel in both the legislative and executive branches of the US government occurs amid a chorus of international condemnation of Israel for using excessive force. This includes calls by some United Nations officials and respectable non-governmental organizations to investigate whether Israel has committed war crimes.

Israel is using the two arsenals it is most comfortable with - military force to kill, injure, terrorize and displace thousands of Palestinian civilians; and the equivalent political overkill to bludgeon the American political establishment into total submission. After six decades of trying, Israel has been unable to turn Palestinians into vassals and subservient slaves - but it has succeeded in transforming an otherwise impressive American political governance system into a herd of castrated cattle who cower before the threats that Israel's Washington-based henchmen and hit men direct at them. Gaza will get its ceasefire soon, but will Washington ever find relief from the stranglehold of Israel's political thugs?
.
.
.
On no other foreign policy issue does Congress collectively stick its head in its back pocket, turn off its power of independent judgment, and disregard the impact of its decisions on how the US is perceived around the world. On no other issue does Congress vote according to the interests of a foreign country, rather than according to the US national interest. This kind of blind, wholehearted plunge into a maelstrom of pro-Israeli fanaticism and zealotry reflects precisely how strong the pro-Israeli lobby is in the United States, and how weak are the voices of reason, balance and justice as drivers of American foreign policy.

This is the distorted reality that Obama will inherit in one week's time, and what an ugly thing it is. It captures the worst of all worlds all rolled into one: the vicious force of the pro-Israel lobby in the US that buys and terrorizes politicians as easily as buying peanuts at a circus; the anemic, mindless and spineless Arab governments who stand naked before Israel and the US, and shameless before their own people; and the American political establishment that behaves on the Palestinian issue - with a handful of brave and decent exceptions - in a most un-American manner in the face of the pro-Israeli forces that decide if they live or die politically.

None of this is surprising or new. It only amazes me that Americans expect us to take them seriously and not to laugh - or throw up - when they preach to us about promoting democracy."
Rami G. Khouri
The Daily Star, Lebanon


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Three Frog Night

Apart from the snakes & birds & fruit bats & lizards & geckos & the beautiful grey possums we often hear throatily threatening but usually only see when it's time to show the young the tricks of tree-climbing, we also have frogs in the garden.

There are two varieties; a little brown & black one that bops off rapidly when we come on the scene & which I often have to rescue from the pool—I don't know if it's the expanse of water or the chlorine in it that causes them to get stranded—& a green one which we've seen in sizes ranging from fingernail to fist.

It's called a green tree frog, though I've never seen one in a tree—perhaps because of all those snakes & birds & fruit bats......—& you tend not to see them during the day but will occasionally hear their croak emanating from downpipes or drains or the space above the garage door when rain is in the offing. But they come out at night, drawn to lighted windows, which they'll sit nearby or even on, patiently waiting for the insects that are attracted to the light.


We have one that lives in the water reservoir at the base of one of our planter plots. As afternoon wears on, you'll first see its small head peering out of the opening, then the upper half of its body appears & finally, if it's sure there's nothing threatening about, it will come completely out & sit on the plastic stand the pot is on.

There's another, larger, one that takes up a position on the ramp that leads out of the laundry. The arc of the opening door misses it by about a centimetre. It doesn't move when the door opens, but I've noted a couple of times that it's shifted another millimetre or two when I come back in. I'm unsure where this one lives.

& there's a third, in between the size of the other two. We discovered its home the other day when, in the middle of a rainstorm, I cleared the drain by the side of the house & the released rush of water pushed it out from where the drain went under the driveway.

They're all very placid creatures. You can stroke them—preferably with a wetted finger—& even pick them up. They're unperturbed by a human presence, though the one on the outside table the other night re-angled its body to avoid the cigarette smoke. But they're also very agile; they can climb quickly, or spreadeagle their body across the screens on the window in quite bizarre positions.

Most of the time, it's as if there's a job-sharing arrangement going on as guardian of the house. There's usually only one about, sometimes two, & then one at the front of the house, one at the back. I'm never really sure which is which. But last night was a three frog night. One sitting on the garbage bin, one on the ramp, & the third on the back of the outside couch. All of them still, insect intent. I envy their ability to remain so focused.

Today's / essay topic: / compare & contrast

Bush, having just been told of the second WTC crash (9:06 a.m.), does not leave the Sarasota, Florida, classroom he entered around 9:03. Rather, he stays and listens as 16 Booker Elementary School second-graders take turns reading a story called Pet Goat, about a girl's pet goat. They are just about to begin reading when Bush is warned of the attack. One account says that the classroom is then silent for about 30 seconds, maybe more. Bush then picks up the book and reads with the children "for eight or nine minutes." In unison, the children read out loud, "The - Pet - Goat. A - girl - got - a - pet - goat. But - the - goat - did - some - things - that - made - the - girl's - dad - mad." And so on. Bush mostly listens, but does ask the children a few questions to encourage them. At one point he says, "Really good readers, whew! ... These must be sixth-graders!"
Paul Thompson: Bush on 9/11 Timeline

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he called President George W. Bush to seek an abstention from the U.S., a key Israeli ally at the United Nations.

"I said: 'Get me President Bush on the phone,'" Olmert said in a speech in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon. "They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn't care: 'I need to talk to him now.' He got off the podium and spoke to me."
AP 13/1/09

Monday, January 12, 2009

But it's too late, baby....

Commenting on the pwoemrd of the post below, Geof Huth writes "soon enough..."

Unfortunately, Geof, it's not something that's coming, it's something that's already here, & has been for some time.

In an article, Intellectual Property Landscape of the Human Genome, in Science, from 2005, Jensen & Murray wrote:
"Our results reveal that nearly 20% of human genes are explicitly claimed as U.S. IP. This represents 4382 of the 23,688 of genes in the NCBI’s gene database at the time of writing These genes are claimed in 4270 patents within 3050 patent families. Although this number is low compared with prior reports, a distinction should be made between sequences that are explicitly claimed and those that are merely disclosed, which outnumber claimed sequences roughly 10:1. The 4270 patents are owned by 1156 different assignees (with no adjustments for mergers and acquisition activity, subsidiaries, or spelling variations). Roughly 63% are assigned to private firms. Of the top ten gene patent assignees, nine are U.S.-based, including the University of California, Isis Pharmaceuticals, the former SmithKline Beecham, and Human Genome Sciences. The top patent assignee is Incyte Pharmaceuticals/ Incyte Genomics, whose IP rights cover 2000 human genes, mainly for use as probes on DNA microarrays."
Any Google search using the terms "gene patents" or "patented genes" will lead to a large number of links. Amongst them is an 2007 op-ed piece in The New York Times by the recently-deceased Michael Crichton.
"Gene patents are now used to halt research, prevent medical testing and keep vital information from you and your doctor. Gene patents slow the pace of medical advance on deadly diseases. And they raise costs exorbitantly: a test for breast cancer that could be done for $1,000 now costs $3,000."
The full piece, well worth reading, can be found here
genoe

Unsung,

but beautifully read.

Martin Edmond uses the Pyrmont Incinerator in Sydney—a photo of which decorated the cover of The Evolution of Mirrors, his recent book from Otoliths—



as the starting point for a reverie.



Images in the video are by Adam Aitken, the music is by Arvo Part.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It strikes me

that Bush could be singing in the picture below


& I am drifting between wondering what the song is if he is singing, & what the song might be if we were all living in an alternate universe.

A possible pick if it's the latter.....

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Snip its

The Palestinian death toll has risen to 821 people, and more than 3,300 have been injured since Israel began its offensive in the Gaza Strip two weeks ago.

A United Nations agency says nearly fifty percent of those killed in Israeli strikes across the Gaza Strip are women and children.
Ϋ

"But this is reality. You do your utmost to try and explain the difference between people aiming at women, children and babies in order to kill them because they are Israelis, and on the other hand – a democratic state trying to defend its citizens."
Dan Gillerman, retiring Israeli ambassador to the United Nations
Ϋ

"Many people in Israel call us traitors and war criminals because we talk about the war while it is still going on," said Teddy Katz of the Israeli peace group, Gush Shalom.

"But the truth is that this government ordered a criminal war."

Gush Shalom is one member of a coalition that held a news conference on Wednesday, January 7, 2009, to brief the media on peace camp positions.

Some speakers at the news conference focused on what they held to be Israel's real motives for the war - election success and, according to Katz, sanitising corrupt political reputations is also a factor.
Ϋ

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said senior Israeli military officials have confessed that there was no gunfire emanating from the school when it came under fire from one of its tanks.

Tel Aviv has attempted to justify its Jan 6 attack on the United Nations school as a response to "militant gunfire" and has released footage of the incident to substantiate its claims.

Gunness, however, asserted that the footage released by Israel dated back to 2007 and was not related to the current incident.

Gourmand eyes

Wearing a
seasonally
significant
hachimachi
headband

the kami-
kaze poet
prepares to
eat himself
to death.

He fails. &
the wind
is not
divine.

Friday, January 09, 2009

geographies: The Isthmus of Panama

A small section of
carapace grows
caudally as a tubular
duct. Camino Real.
Inside are two
clergymen & caravans
loaded with gold.
The phytoplankton
cannot keep pace.

extracts from a piece I / have decided not to write

The Israeli invasion of Gaza can be considered as being one of the last actions not by, but of the Bush Administration. Unsure of how President-elect Obama would react, but totally certain of having Bush's uncritical support, the timetable of the invasion seems inexorably to have an endpoint before January 20, even if the under-discussion escalation of the conflict goes ahead.
"...there is also a proposal to begin stage three, which would be to order the troops to fight their way into the heart of the urban areas, bringing with it much higher casualties on both sides. 'The plan is to enter the urban centres.' "

     *

Keep in mind, also, that the Israeli elections are set down for February 10, & that the popularity of the politicians in the forefront of the invasion, Defense Minister & Labour Party leader, Ehud Barak, & Foreign Minister & the newly elected head of the ruling conservative Kadima Party, Tzipi Livni, had been in decline until the air strikes began.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

POLICE LINE: DO NOT CRISS

The contents of this post
have been seized, & will be used
in a prosecution of the author
for publishing crap without a licence.

POLICE LIME: DO NOT CRUSH

Speaking through his attorney,
the accused has said he will fight
to have the charge dismissed
on the grounds that it was pap
& not crap that was produced.

POLICE LIEN: DO NOT CRUST

The police were reluctant to comment
but, off the record, said
pap in one end, crap out the other.
It's a fundamental fact about orifices.

POLITE LION: DO NOT CROSS

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

& / now for / something completely different

An Adelaide woman who allegedly set fire to her husband's genitals allegedly said that his "penis belongs to me", a court has been told.

Rajini Narayan, 44, had originally been charged with endangering life and arson offences after she allegedly torched the family's Unley home, in Adelaide's eastern suburbs on December 8.

The charge was upgraded to murder after her 47-year-old husband, Satish Narayan, died in hospital last week.

Prosecutors on Monday told the Adelaide Magistrates Court that Rajini Narayan confessed to neighbours that she had set her husband alight while he was sleeping after learning he was having an affair.

Lucy Boord, for the Crown, said Narayan told her neighbours she was a "jealous wife" and that her husband's "penis should belong to her".

Narayan allegedly said: "I just wanted to burn his penis so it belongs to me and no one else ... I didn't mean this to happen".

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

"we are trying to avoid civilian casualties"

says Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

Hasan Khalaf of the Palestinian Ministry of Health, said that the number of Palestinians killed due to the ongoing Israeli offensive is now over 577 residents. Among the casualties were 107 children and 36 women; at least 2,700 residents were wounded.

The ground offensive was launched on Sunday evening. So far over 70 residents, including 21 children and 11 women have been killed and over 371 wounded.



iconiche

A trillion dollars later.....

"Israel's addiction to violence is in part enabled by its vast military superiority over its neighbors, promoted by U.S. tax dollars averaging nearly $3 billion annually since 1973. Israel's military, equipped with 875 combat aircraft, 3,800 tanks, and, ultimately, up to an estimated 400 nuclear weapons, is attacking a population lacking an air force, air defenses, artillery, tanks, or any of the gear of a modern army."
George E. Bisharat, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/5/09

Monday, January 05, 2009

This place's / saving graces

As I mentioned before, the frog calendar has come down, replaced by one called "spectacular birds".

The January bird is the fairy penguin, most definitely not an inhabitant of these parts, though I remember them from my days in Wellington, New Zealand, where they would often live beneath seaside houses, & from a visit I made to Phillip Island, about an hour south of Melbourne, where their evening exodus from the sea is a tourist attraction.

The December bird, the tawny frogmouth, I haven't seen around here, but I have come across them on our regular trips up north, one instance in particular, driving through sugar cane country at night & being confronted by one in the middle of the road, guarding a mouse it had just caught, stubbornly refusing to budge from its prey so that we had to drive off the edge of the road to get around it.

But the ten remaining birds do live hereabouts, half of them—pink galahs, sulphur-crested cockatoos, blue-faced honeyeaters, blue-winged kookaburras & lorikeets—regular visitors to our garden; & two more—black swans & royal spoonbills—share the lagoon at the bottom of the street with the pelicans. There are peacocks in the local Botanical Gardens about a kilometre away & it's not unusual to come across them wandering about the nearby streets & common to hear their cries at night. & I have seen a bush turkey meandering down a street in the middle of town on its way to the grassed precincts of the old railway station.

The final bird is the brolga, a large crane which lives in swamps & wetlands. On one of my drives around the backroads of the area, probably about thirty kilometres away from home in a straight line, I came across a flock of about a hundred gathered around a farm dam. They are incredibly elegant, &, when they socialize or engage in courtship rituals, they dance. Fantastic to behold! "[They] bow, advance & retreat, trumpet, & fling objects in the air" to quote my bird book.

There are other birds around that I would class as more spectacular than some of the ones in the calendar. I'd include the black cockatoo rather than the white; would include some smaller birds such as the double-barred (owl-faced) finch, or the sacred kingfisher; would pick the jabiru before the spoonbill; would definitely include the coucal pheasant.

& they're just a few of the birds you get around here on a regular basis. There are about another twenty varieties of honeyeaters of various sizes, ten or so different birds of prey, there are more parrots, swallows, waterbirds, fantails, cuckoos. Such an abundance, keeping me sane during the day.

The night sky is the other benefit in living here. This year has apparently been designated the year of astronomy, & it was pointed out in an article announcing this that "a fifth of the world's population can no longer see the Milky Way with the naked eye due to artificial lights blocking out the view of the stars."

It was something that was very apparent when we lived in Sydney, & I suppose it's the same in any big city where there's light pollution. Half the time you could barely see the stars, &, even then, only a small proportion of them. Up here it's a different story. There is minor pollution from the city lights, but over the hill, away from us. If I go outside, it's a black night sky I'm confronted with, & the stars are so clear. Perfect viewing for such occurences as the recent one where Venus & Jupiter were close together, & both within the arc of the new moon. A natural smiley face—though in the northern hemisphere, with the moon arcing downwards, I believe it was a frowny face that was created.

This year the astronomers of the world are trying to persuade cities to turn off or dim many of the lights that stay on overnight. In a recent article in the journal Nature, Malcolm Smith, an astronomer at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, wrote of the project:
"Without a direct view of the stars, mankind is cut off from most of the universe, deprived of any direct sense of its huge scale and our tiny place within it."
aaghst

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Send in the clowns



Unfortunately, they bring with them brute force rather than farce brut.

& the Bushman of the Beltway continues to support them.....
"The Bush administration defended Israel’s military incursion into the Gaza Strip Saturday asserting that Israel had the right to defend itself against Hamas rocket fire. The U.S. also refused to pressure Israel into accepting an immediate cease-fire.

In US President George W. Bush's weekly Saturday radio address, the text of which was released by the White House late on Friday, he blamed Hamas for the violence.

Bush offers no criticism of Israel in the address."

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Hamas hay(na)ku

"Gaza
is the
Rock of God."

The Hamas leader-in-exile, Khaled Meshaal, on Al Jazeera TV.

Occasionally,

the spontaneous jukebox unleashes things other than music....



Robert Indiana
USA 666, the 6th American dream
oil on canvas
105 x 105 in. / 266.7 x 266.7 cm.
1964 - 1966


......but still usually from the 60s.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Sheesh! Eartha Kitt was James Dean's dance teacher!



My thanks to the ever-informative Vitro Nasu for bringing this to my attention.

Mosaic


Israeli warplanes have killed a senior Hamas leader and several members of his family, in an airstrike that marks a possible new stage in the six-day offensive on the Islamists in the Gaza Strip.

Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, said on a visit to Paris on Thursday that there was "no humanitarian crisis in the Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce," reinforcing her rejection of a French-proposed ceasefire to allow in humanitarian aid.

The blast decapitated Dr Nizar Rayyan and killed at least two of his four wives, as well as several of his children, and hurled his body into the street in Jabaliya, a refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip.

"Israel has been supplying comprehensive humanitarian aid to the Strip ... and has even been stepping this up by the day," the foreign ministry quoted her as saying according to Reuters.

Medics say 13 members of Rayyan's family, including his wife and three children, were killed in the attack on his five-storey home in the Jabaliya refugee camp on Thursday.

Barack Obama, the US president-elect, remains silent as Israel kills Palestinians with impunity. In his silence he expresses his complicity.

Sources: The Australian, Al Jazeera

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The e-mail as progenitor of an urban myth

A year & a half ago, I began a post "[this] arrived in my email after a couple of kangaroo hops, & being a word lover I couldn't resist........

The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition."

For some reason or other, I thought about the subject of the post again today, did the obligatory Google search, recovered lots of search results, spread across several years up to & including two days ago, many of which begin "the latest version of the WaPo's Mensa Invitational...."

But they're all the same set. It's the same e-mail, circling the world like some marine creature, coming up to breathe every so often, & cited when it's sighted. & the list has no connection with either Mensa or the Washington Post.

According to the Washington Post, "It still hasn't stopped: With mystifying regularity, we continue to receive (often passed through several mailboxes at The Post) unsolicited entries to what's sometimes called the "Mensa Invitational."

The reason for the e-mail's popularity—& perceived veracity—is that it's a genuinely funny list. Which is why I'm posting it again.

1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

2. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

3. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund which lasts until you realize that it was your money to start with.

4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

10. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

11. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

12. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

13. Decafalon (n.): The gruelling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

15. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

16. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

17. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

18. Caterpallor (n.): the colour you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.

yesterday's top temperature

40.1° C


multiply by nine
divide by five
add 32

=

104.2° F


The last day of the year was
the hottest day of the year.

I / take down / the frog calendar

photo by Tim Wimborne of Reuters

The fireworks
in Sydney
were finished
fifty minutes ago

but they're
being replayed on
TV as if they
were live

because this
state doesn't
believe in day-
light saving

fearing that
the cows
mightn't milk
& the curtains

might fade
because of
that extra
hour of sun.