27 August 2010

"How Galligaskins Sloughed the Scourge" in Andromeda Spaceways #46

Put thereto an ounce of grains of paradise, a gill of satire …
Another of my food- and fashion-based stories, "How Galligaskins Sloughed the Scourge" is my spiciest story yet.

Out now, in zombie-tree and pdf formats —
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #46
edited by Mark Farrugia

Short stories—John Dixon & Adam Browne, Christopher Green, Jason Fischer, Amanda J. Spedding, Patty Jansen, Simon Petrie, Felicity Dowker, Anna Tambour, Pete Kempshall, Paul Haines
Poetry—K.S. Conlon, Grant Stone
Artwork—Andrew J. McKiernan
Interview of Chuck McKenzie
& more

A note about one story in particular

I have read this edition, and the period piece " 'The Laughing Girl of Bora Fanong' a Tale of Colonial Venus" by John Dixon and Adam Browne is as scrumptious as spooning coconut jelly from its unripe shell while having one's feet massaged by sea hares. Seizing my prerogative to quote from Dixon/Brown's story completely out of context: "I fell into her complicated embrace."

Though they live in different contexts, I am sure that Galligaskins is also pleased as planter's punch to be cavorting in the same issue as This Girl.

The invisible natural disaster in Pakistan

"August is a notoriously slow month for news, and lacking a natural disaster or missing blonde to obsess over, the cable networks and commentators who fuel the 24-hour news cycle have made the proposed Islamic center and mosque the centerpiece in their overheated echo chamber."
— Tim Rutten, yesterday in the Los Angeles Times

Well, there is the 5th anniversary of Katrina. That made our news last night here in Australia, though there was also something about those few million people (about the number of people in New York state) whatevered in Pakistan's current wetness.

If the natural disaster in Pakistan, with its rising death toll and displacement of millions were happening in the US, it might make our news, too. In fact, it would bump off everything else in our media for some time.

One angle that could be covered now is the upright stance so many people have now about aid to some of the poorest and most dispossessed people on earth. Why give to them when corruption is so great in their government? A good thought in ideal times—and one that luckily or not, didn't stop people giving to the victims of the Asian tsunami, Haiti quake, and even the victims of that manmade disaster, Katrina.

Pakistani government corruption isn't the only reason giving is so low. Let the Islamic countries do it, is another popular reason. Saudi Arabia is giving, but to have aid come from this regressive and corrupt dictatorship that spreads medieval religion and intolerance should stick in any decent person's craw. Otherwise, to blame the victims in this disaster for the ungenerosity of other dictatorships is also pretty stupid. After all, people around the world were sympathetic to the victims of Katrina despite the people in power who exacerbated a situation that unfolded ever more unbelievably and over many incredible days, before our eyes. It flooded our not only our news, but our thoughts.

How you can help
Secular Pakistan's Flood Relief list of agencies

Current reading:
The human cost of Pakistan's floods by Rebecca Barber, The Sydney Morning Herald
Help the secular, or face the extremists by Daud Khattak,
Daily Times (Pakistan)
Pakistan flood aid from Islamic extremists by Rob Crilly,
The Telegraph (UK)
and finally, this is a very interesting article from Pakistan, about the New York Islamic Center controversy.
The limits of tolerance by Irfan Husain, Dawn

26 August 2010

Sticky morals on cat cruelty

First, one of those incidents called a "personal journey"— I've fine-arted it into a Sijo

hunting rat marauders, I set a trap by the chicken shed -
currawong songs, morning mist rising, my dog and I stroll down
a pink hand caught by the wrist - two whiskered faces looking to me

Now, to today's gotcha about another sinner with a godgivenly great name
As the Sun crows, "Mindless Mary Bale was condemned around the world" for throwing Lola the tabby into a wheelie bin. She must have been baled up. She was certainly "quizzed by the RSPCA and police … and could face prosecution for animal cruelty."

Yet if she'd set a glue trap and caught a rodent, then tossed the critter in the bin to die a slow death with no chance of escape, that's just life.

Another poor moggie was recently covered by the Daily Mail. "Meet Sticky, the kitten who was saved from a rat-catching glue trap."
RSPCA Animal Welfare Officer Boris Lasserre said: 'This kitten has suffered as a result of the irresponsible and inhumane use of traps.'
Common advice to soft-hearted souls with pest problems is that you can use these traps humanely by pouring vegetable oil over the rodents so they can release themselves. This must be after you gather them up at morning cockcrow, and after talking soothingly, transport them on their traps (strapping them in securely with your little backseat harnesses always ready for humane transportation, and making sure the cup holders are filled with fresh hydration fluids and within their reach) to sylvan countryside where they, the little mice and/or rats or giant rodents that prefer to live in the tropics, can scamper off.

I don't know why no one thought of doing this to the kitten—at least pouring oil over it. Possibly the trap was more like this one described by a satisfied, though once scowering, user.
"Please note that these sheets are extremely sticky and if any of the glue gets on your shoes or floor you will have a hard time removing it. I ended up having to use some bleach and a scowering pad to lift if off the kitchen floor."

Once was a vegeraptor

21 August 2010

Bracket fungus portraits

The top picture of this Trimetes versicolor shows the hairy surface of the fruiting body of this common bracket fungus. The picture below shows the underside with its pores. Inexorable is a word that could have been invented just for the fruit of bracket fungi. Whatever lightly touches them, they end up clutching, growing round, subsuming.

There is another reason for these photographs today, besides the beauty of body that has a deadly side to its hidden strength. (This fungus has killed many of the medlars here, as it has, many pome fruits, not necessarily because of pruning wounds.)

The background is the underside of a baking sheet. All true bakers have pans and sheets that make such beautiful backdrops, they could compete with the subjects if they weren't so used to being used.

Her Comes Up Plum Happy Germknoedel

A dampfl piece of yeast
to the Germknoedel dumplings make:
From something flour with sugar and yeast,
into lukewarm milk agitate,
take and coming up to the side place.
Yeast dough prepare: All added
with the dampfl mix and well knead.
To a ball form,
something flour over it strew
and with a cloth covered to go leave . . .
The thick plum paste jam Powidl, with rum blend
and with a spoon cams outdo,
with which hand photolithographies.

Powidl set a coffee spoon
into the center,
which edges pull up to a Knoedel form, again
on a bemehlten floured board
come up let.
One can
cook the Knoedel
also in the water.
Her comes up not as
beautifully as over steam refined.

I have today
have make the Germknoedel.
Sind fairly succeed
only it zerissen at the surface,
and badly powidl that found we
that ist.
Und too much
can one now divide how.

It has well taste
only in the hotel was it more airily,
perhaps was also from freezing
specialized that white one never.
The color with me
was also darker
from the paste.
But on the whole
I am nevertheless
contently for first time.

18 August 2010

Pisolithus glamour shoot

Whether going by the name of dead man's foot, horse dung fungus, dog turd fungus, Bohemian truffle or dye ball, the various species of this fungus "don't get points for beauty". Maybe that depends upon the contest.

Beautiful! Now move your lower bowel toward . . .
Take any common roadside Pisolithus; the more intimate the view, the more delicious it will look, and it doesn't have to move a peridiole—not a fact that would hold true for most models. And this one is even pretty mature.

12 August 2010

Berry the bulldozers; tweet if you like to eat

Yesterday a Russian court proved that satire can never die as long as there are courts and bureaucrats.

In what appears Kafkaesque logic, the property developers argue that because the station contains a "priceless collection", no monetary value can be assigned to it and so it is worthless.
In another nod to Kafka, the government's federal fund of residential real estate development has argued that the collection was never registered and thus does not officially exist.

—John Vidal, The Guardian, Pavlovsk seed bank faces destruction, 8 August 2010

Yesterday in court, the arguments won. Gogol couldn't have written it better. But that is not necessarily The Last Word. You can help save this truly priceless (not to mention delectable) collection by spending nothing more than a few moments.

Read all about it, and what you can do in today's story in Nature, by Ralf Strobel:
Europe's largest berry bank faces closure
"We expected to lose," [says] Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust in Rome, who has spent months campaigning against the station's destruction. "Our real hope lies with President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin, who could both override the decision of the courts."
The station isn't just a seed bank. It's an irreplaceable garden. For more about the collection, Vavilov, Russian taste and food food food, see my 8 July post:
Foodies arise, for luscious fruits you've never eaten.

11 August 2010

Meteorites: Legal protection does not lead to preservation

"It belongs in a museum, or untouched where it is" could be the title for a story in this week's New Scientist.

Deep Impact Market: the race to acquire meteorites by Laura Margottini focuses first, on a meteorite-impact crater recently discovered in Egypt that "is like an open-air lab". Unfortunately for scientists, the meteorites that define it are now disappearing piece by piece, as did the bottle that the scientists tossed into the crater, gods-must-be-crazy style.

What to do?

The article's conclusion is:
"The Kamil crater should be listed as a protected site by UNESCO, which would put pressure on the Egyptian government to step in to preserve it. Otherwise, the fragments will all disappear, just like the bottle left on the sand."

Legal protection is a mirage
This is the problem explored in my short story, "Sincerely, Petrified", about a much easier site to protect, the Petrified Forest National Park in the USA. Petrified wood in the Park is disappearing at more than 12 tons a year.

Fiction faction
"Sincerely, Petrified" is another of my fiction-about-science stories (as opposed to science-fiction) and appears in this collection:
Lovecraft Unbound
edited by Ellen Datlow
published by Dark Horse, September 2009

The reason I mention this story is that the petrified forest's protectors depend on something either surprisingly unscientific or brilliantly scientific (flawless theory) to help this forest's last fragments from disappearing. I wrote my story based on this fact, a fact that has so far missed a readership more used to reading (and wanting to believe) that myths are true. Scientists would never put up with that bunkum, would they?

Sprawl anthology pre-order special

Sprawl edited by Alisa Krasnostein

Paperback • 340pp • RRP AUS$29.95
ISBN 978-0-9804841-8-2
now on pre-order discount at Twelfth Planet Press

From the publisher:

"Sprawl is an exciting new original anthology, edited by Alisa Krasnostein and published by Twelfth Planet Press, that will give readers from around the world a unique glimpse into the strange, dark, and often wondrous magics that fill the days and nights of Australia’s dreaming cities and towns, homes and parks, and most of all, its endlessly stretching suburbs."

From me:
To read Sprawl is to be surprised. I think this is one anthology that will end up a collector's item, not just because it includes work by some of today's most stealthy kidnappers of attention spans. The book is very well designed, Twelfth Planet Press is a publisher to watch, and best of all: Alisa Krasnostein is an editor who has an irreparably warped sense of appropriateness. I loved working with her, and am myself excited to explore the long stretch beyond this intriguing Table of Contents.

Table of Contents (listen to the podcasts)

  • Liz Argall/Matt Huynh – Seed Dreams (comic)
  • Peter Ball – One Saturday Night, With Angel (podcast here)
  • Deborah Biancotti – Never Going Home
  • Simon Brown – Sweep
  • Stephanie Campisi – How to Select a Durian at Footscray Market
  • Thoraiya Dyer – Yowie (podcast here)
  • Dirk Flinthart – Walker
  • Paul Haines – Her Gallant Needs
  • L L Hannett – Weightless
  • Pete Kempshall – Signature Walk
  • Ben Peek – White Crocodile Jazz
  • Tansy Rayner Roberts – Relentless Adaptations (podcast here)
  • Barbara Robson – Neighbourhood Watch
  • Angela Slatter – Brisneyland by Night (podcast here)
  • Cat Sparks – All The Love in the World
  • Anna Tambour – Gnawer of the Moon Seeks Summit of Paradise
  • Kaaron Warren – Loss
  • Sean Williams – Parched (poem)

Sprawl will be released in September 2010.

10 August 2010

Read "Come Tomorrow" by Jayaprakash Sathyamurthy

A new short story by Jayaprakash Sathyamurthy, Come Tomorrow is the newest feature in my Virtuous Medlar Circle.

04 August 2010

Season of falling nests

Late winter, early spring – nature knows no terminology. The first inflorescences of wattle splash chrome yellow as the wind rips nests from thrashing limbs. Can you find the nest? It was camouflaged be unnoticed high up, just part of a shaggy stringybark.

02 August 2010

"obstacles that had to be cleared on a difficult path"

"… The scenes from al-Arakib, from the demolished homes to the uprooted gardens to the grinning teens who joined the mayhem, can be viewed as much more than the destruction of a village. They are snapshots of the phenomenon that is laying Israeli society as a whole to waste."
– Max Blumenthal, The “Summer Camp Of Destruction:” Israeli High Schoolers Assist The Razing Of A Bedouin Town

"It is my wish that your heart should beat for all suffering peoples. That your brain should think with those who conceive a better world. That as a Jew you should fight for all those ideals which make up human greatness. I know, my son, that I impose a difficult task on you. But I love you so much, that I want to see your life dedicated to noble things.
And now decide whether you want to be born!"
– B.Newman Jubal, The Smile of Herschale Handle, Currawong Publishing Co., Sydney, 1947

He impersonated a human by Gideon Levy, in Haaretz

"I guess I can be grateful to the IDF for giving me the chance to see the world in a new way."
– Emily Henochowicz
quoted in A Cooper Union Student Lost an Eye Protesting in Israel—But None of Her Vision, by Steve Thrasher, in the Village Voice