21 January 2008

Fine illustration – The Heron's Nest haiku magazine

I've always considered illustrators to be the finest of fine artists, though the really great illustrators are proud not to call themselves 'artists' and actually like being called 'illustrators'.

Their work must complement. Is it because of the non-self-related thought inherent to the job, that great illustrations not only complement – but transcend?

The Third Annual Heron's Nest Illustration Contest is a fine example.
Jamie Edgecombe
C. Avery
Natalia L. Rudychev
Doris Thurston
Ruth Yarrow
Sandra Simpson
Christopher Patchel

A mistake to fly in the face of nature—a frog may wear galoshes, but I don't hold with toads having beards or wigs.
– Beatrice Potter

What 'ordinary' really means


That was in the morning,
and this is in the late afternoon, from another view —

Those are butterfly eggs.

16 January 2008

Goose barnacles, voters and drift

Goose barnacles often look as if they're gregarious, but a group isn't necessarily a collective. These two individuals settled poles apart in their infancy and then could only do the goose-barnacle wave when their lushly forested home turned out to be only a pebble anchored to nothing, and was beached.

Although goose barnacles aren't known for existential choices, it is surprising how often the word drift comes into play when one puts it together with voters and decisions.

Read, for instance, this thought-provoking column in The Jamaican Gleaner.

The drift of public opinion these days is disturbing. Most commentaries and editorials seem to want the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader to sit down together in private meetings. They seem to want them to arrive at a consensus on the way forward. This is ludicrous. These are not merely opposing political parties, but under any reasonable system of government, they represent separate and different views from which the public are asked to choose. That is the basis of democracy.
– Dawn Ritch, Political correctness gone mad, 6 January 2008
And this column in The Daily Yomiuri.

...victory or defeat in upper house elections might hinge upon the drift of public opinion.
– Tetsuya Harada, Political Pulse, 8 January 2008

Goose barnacles are sometimes called simple, but they have baffled great minds and have given rise to much romantic myth and confusion. They are, for example, no more barnacle geese than they are clams with long necks.

See The Secret Life of Barnacles by Phil Rainbow of the Natural History Museum, London.

07 January 2008

Wild sorrel

Every year sorrel grows here as if it's been planted — but no.

Better than that, all over our lawn and fields. It grows, to be precise, with the vigour and health of a weed.
And every year that Rosie was alive, we'd spend time every day picking these burrs out of her coat. How I miss those times!

When A____, a girl of 12 and her sister L_____, 7, first came here on holiday, they wanted only to stay indoors, but that didn't last long for without a TV, their smothered curiosity that I hated to think was just barren fields – now topped with a fertiliser of boredom, grew a rampant crop of adventuresomeness.
Soon they were exploring the creek, collecting stones and bones and unidentifiable things they treasured. And when A____ saw me picking and eating that strange weed, she tried some too. Her face made me laugh, and then she decided she loved it.

They began to beg their parents to come here every year, and one year A_____ brought her first boyfriend along, too. The first thing she did after unpacking was to look for sorrel to pick for him.
Sorrel often weaves circles of itself.

I like to eat sorrel leaves under the sun, fresh-plucked, but there is so much more you can do with this green that anyone who loves sour will find irresistible.

is one of the great soups and childhood memories, told about beautifully by Food Maven Arthur Schwartz in Cold Schav.

06 January 2008

Exorcists and Excorcists and Warnings - what's the real stuff?

Personnel Today puts right the confusion as to whether the Pope is or isn't into ending that terrible shortage of exorcists which he was reported to want to fix last month, only to deny .

PT, the "Interactive business and professional magazine of 2006" with a banner ad by Monster of When you find the right person, it just fits, reported two days ago:

Pope sanctions first ever formal exorcism training course
Regina Apostolorum provides 10-week courses for priests who want to learn how to conduct exorcisms. It includes sessions on rites, how to talk to the Devil, and how to recognise the tricks he uses ...

It's about time. For reading between the lines of Catholic Online could cause one's head to spin. Warning: it says. An Excorcism Prayer - To be said by a Priest only

No wonder. It's powerful stuff, to be used only as directed. Here's the prescription guidelines:

Its use is recommended whenever action of the devil is suspected, causing malice in men, violent temptations and even storms and various calamities.
Read the whole incantation here: An Excorcism Prayer: Warning: To be said by a Priest only

Some questions
What does the Warning mean?

That amateurs are as efficacious as FEMA?

That the Devil only listens to Priests?

And in the case of, say, storms and v.c.'s, what can we consumers expect from an excorcism (or an exorcism - as the whole thing is a ritual of symbols, there must be forces on high who are warring about the spelling as we read - and this mortal quakes at the result of choosing the wrong side).

An implied warranty for goods as well as services is a legal consumer's right under Australian state and federal laws, as when someone like an exorcist or a plumber does something, you expect that when he says it's done, it's done.

"The term 'warranty' is often used to describe certain 'promises' that a trader makes with every item or service that they sell." - Smart Shopping, South Australia Gov't consumer advice

Now, the Church might quibble with the term "sell", but there is an expectation that money will move when the prayer is said, or a soul, which is much more valuable.

Or does the Warning mean that, like what'll happen to us if we ignore warning labels on equipment, calamity will strike if a prayer isn't said by - not only a Priest, but as the small print says in the prescription: a priest, in the name of the Church and only with a Bishop's permission.

Is this Warning, in fact, an implied Threat? You get what you pay for, or you pay? The consequences of not knowing are possibly so dire that there is no time to dither in ignorance.

Consumers associations around the world are therefore remiss in not covering exorcists and excorcists as an industry; comparing the ones that are licensed by their guild and practice according to its rules, private operators, and opposing guilds (for there are many branches of the industry, with as many opposing factions as in any political party and amongst angels in the firmaments).

Say you're ready to call. Do you get what you pay - nay, pay and pray for?

How can you, as a consumer, choose?
And have you noticed that nowhere does the Prayer or the directions for its use, state the permanency of the treatment by the exterminator, or the length of the guarantee? Exterminators are expected to provide a very specific guarantee for a period of time nowadays, even in the USA.

Repossessed house

As Tracy McVeigh reported in The Observer last month, in Children are targets of Nigerian witch hunt, exorcists can be more expensive than shonky termite experts, and less reliable than FEMA.

... In the small delta state of Akwa Ibom, the tension and the poverty has delivered an opportunity for a new and terrible phenomenon that is leading to the abuse and the murder of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of children. And it is being done in the name of Christianity.

Behind the smartly painted doors pastors make a living by 'deliverances' - exorcisms - for people beset by witchcraft, something seen to cause anything from divorce, disease, accidents or job losses. With so many churches it's a competitive market, but by local standards a lucrative one.

But an exploitative situation has now grown into something much more sinister as preachers are turning their attentions to children - naming them as witches. In a maddened state of terror, parents and whole villages turn on the child. They are burnt, poisoned, slashed, chained to trees, buried alive or simply beaten and chased off into the bush.

Some parents scrape together sums needed to pay for a deliverance - sometimes as much as three or four months' salary for the average working man - although the pastor will explain that the witch might return and a second deliverance will be needed …

These exorcists are Anglican, and though they are most likely amongst those who have split from the devilish Anglican churches of the UK and USA, they hold exorcism in common, especially in the UK.

Read Deliver us from Evil - BBC

and read about the slackness of the Anglicans in Ireland in regards to this most serious pest problem.

Ireland's demon chaser questions TV exorcism - The Observer
Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, which has a dedicated team of trained exorcists, the Church of Ireland has no formal structure for preparing its clergy for the casting out of demons.

Finally, since this ramble started with a man named Ratzinger and a buighniduhgygheyy called ex(c)orcism, and led to Ireland of all places, what better way to end it than by strongly directing you to:

Rat, a 2000 flick I adore. The story is set in Ireland and stars Pete Postlethwaite, Imelda Staunton, Kerry Condon, and a rat. Of course there's an exorcism, but the laundering in the story might be more effective.

What if you can't afford the DVD and can't find the movie? What if you need help now? Who you gonna turn to if you're not even, h'm, properly saved? Demon-B-Gone!

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04 January 2008

Beach toss-ups and blow-ins

At this time of year, the most common animals that are beached here in southern New South Wales are insects, though on this trip I also saw a huntsman spider. These Christmas beetles (Anoplognathus ) were picked up from the lapping waves. Neither of them moved till the photo shoot, when they both remembered they were late for a date, though the upside-down one's scurrying was futile, as this picture shows its best side. Its wings are terribly fractured.

There are enormous numbers of insects that meet their death at the sea's edge and in the ocean. During some Decembers, large numbers of butterflies can be picked out of the waves, and it's surprising how many flap their wings once they dry. Many insects that are blown into the sea can be plucked from it, taken out of the wind, and released to live another day or the few moments they have left. Yes, it's pointless, but what is the point of Wii?

As to the ones crawling close to the waves, there are often confused ants to be seen, and I have been stung more than once by bees when I accidentally stepped on them. The windier the weather, the more insects. Wind cannot be blamed, however, for the mystery (to me) of the sometimes lemminglike deaths of those that are not known to travel in swarms. There was the instance a few months ago when I counted a sopping dragonfly every few metres for almost a kilometre, just at the tideline.

A large variety of seeweeds are often to be found on the beach, and this is only a sprig of one type that is lying in heaps and sprigs all over the beach here now.

The little fish, already worse for wear when I picked it up, is a Southern Pygmy Leatherjacket (Brachaluteres jacksonianus), about which The Australian Museum has a page with much information, as well as gorgeous pictures of the living.

As with many outdoor photo shoots, the model was pestered by unwanted attention.

The right to bear machetes

Several weeks before the Kenyan election, a curious story by Charles Onyango-Obbo in The East African (Nairobi) reported: "A leading supermarket in Kenya has slapped an embargo on large sales of machetes, or pangas as they are popularly known around East Africa."

He went on to say, somewhat alarmingly:

The panga moratorium follows reports that unusually large numbers were being bought, and there were fears they would be used to hack political rivals to death during elections.

As an East African, the surprising thing about this was that the story did not make newspaper broadcast headlines until police intercepted a car with government number plates carrying a rich mix of pangas, bows and arrows, and rungus (clubs).

In Rwanda and Uganda, the story would have been bigger and stayed alive for days because, for historical reasons, machetes evoke a particularly frightening spectre of violence.

Then he goes on to tell what he has seen, having been an eye-witness shortly after events in those other places — and his tone gets quite unreasonable. I didn't tell you the title of the article, but it sums up his paranoia:

Beware the Machete , Kenyans. It Commits Murder Most Intimate

Today there's an opinion piece in The Monitor (Kampala) by the wonderfully named John Smith, which refers twice to the previous article by saying, first, "the Kenyan press warned the public a few weeks back that some people were buying large quantities of machetes from supermarkets prior to the elections." – and next, "Coming back to the fact that the Kenyan press warned the public a few weeks ago about large quantities of machetes being purchased from supermarkets, I would like to ask the question, is the world falling into Oginga's trap?"

Smith ignores the information in the previous article about the government's own pre-election preparations. But in other respects, he is much more a man of the real world than that wimp, Onyango-Obbo. Smith doesn't condemn the machete. He targets the opposition leader.

For, as the National Machete Association says: It's not machetes that kill people. It's people that kill people.