21 February 2011

Rushed away without staying for a cuppa

Crude snaps of today's visitor to our front yard ~

Re-reading pleasure

MindMeld's latest question posed to a dozen (of which I was one):

Sometime we love certain books so much that we like to read them again from time to time, so we asked this week's panelists:

You might find the answers and comments interesting. Rachel Swirsky's side-step into her reasons for reading would make a beaut column all on its own.

09 February 2011

Better than a poke in the eye

Well, well.

I've just been told that the new infinity plus e-edition (now enhanced with some extra somethings to be opened up only after reading the book) of

is #10 on Amazon UK's contemporary fantasy Kindle chart.

So I guess this means that if you live in the UK, you can help make history, too.
Amazon says:
"Kindle Price: £2.15 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet"

I say: You don't have to have an overpriced Kindle to read this. This can be read on many screens, including an antediluvian monitor. And of course the delivery is wireless and should bloody well make less noise than a whisper. You could download this in a library and not earn a librarian's frown.

01 February 2011

The case of the galloping case moth caterpillar

My hero of the photography of the small, Paul Harcourt Davies, in Raindrops on roses … and whiskers on kittens, the best essay about nature photography that I've ever read, opened my eyes to some of the reasons for the spectacular difference in wildlife photos. His horror stories of artifice to create breathtaking beauty remind me of Octave Mirbeau's Le Jardin des Supplices (The Torture Garden), and of some discussions I've had with other haiku poets whose poems spring from newspaper articles that they pick from and exaggerate, rather than finding the profound in actual life.

Davies, and the equally superb photographer and teacher, Niall Benvie, spoke about an ethics declaration that I've now signed, too, as I not only agree with it, but until they mentioned it, wondered if anyone else felt like I do — that all this fiddling with nature and the image to create the best shot isn't respecting nature at all, but setting up people to find nature as deficient as a pooping dog when you can get your kid something that only needs to be recharged, or your grandmother something that can not only clean up after her, in a perfectly imagined future, but pretend interest at appropriate intervals.

Which brings me finally, to yesterday's extremely hot day, and the galloping c.

This case moth case was in the middle of a road, so I picked it up before it could be flattened.

Oeceticus elongata

I thought to keep it with my other case moth cases, which I find fascinating, but little did I expect it to wriggle. Not only that, but its caterpillar inhabitant was extremely active. I put it down in a place more friendly than the middle of a road, and watched it for a while, as it emerged from its case and began to move, surprisingly fast, dragging its case behind it. But the time was noon, and the heat, intense.

"In walking, the caterpillar has only the head and three pairs of horny legs without the case, and this part of the body is consequently hardened, and is much darker in colour than the rest of the body which is protected by the case. It drags the case along as it walks … Everyone has noticed these case moths and the wonderful arrangement of the 'sticks' or leaves. The inside of the case is smooth and silky. If the caterpillar be placed in a box with a glass lid, one will soon see regular transverse lines of short silken threads, not unlike railway sleepers, all over the surface of the glass. These are the 'foot-holds' of the caterpillar to enable it to move over the smooth surface of the glass. It does it so quickly that one can hardly see the placing of the threads."

from Life Stories of Australian Insects by Mabel N. Brewster, Agnes A. Brewster, and Naomi Crouch, Dymock's Book Arcade, Sydney, 1946

I left my pen by it and went out again two hours later to take further (and I hoped, better) pictures, but if there was any sign of it when I returned, I am illiterate. The case moth caterpillar had scarpered, taking its home with it.

For more about case moths, see my earlier post with pictures:
Case moth feelings and feltings

How you can help the Egyptian people

Here are three ways.

1) Join the Access campaign, to help open up communication.

2) Disagree in public, if you think your country's government is hypocritical about democracy. Ours is, and Australia isn't alone. Two excellent and informative posts are:
3) Say in public that you want your government and the mass media to stop fear-mongering about what is the most beautiful sight in society — mass demonstrations for the common good. One of the chants is my favourite, a simple one that has gone truly international and been translated into countless languages, in the universal language of audacious hope:
The people united will never be defeated.

Many stories and headlines have called the mass protests "riots", a term that would please any dictator, just as Mubarak called the demonstrators "gangs" and "thugs", but the thugs are his.

This is a dangerous and thrilling time when a people stops fearing a dictatorship, and audaciously hopes to seize the future for themselves — and by themselves, I don't mean the self-centred hysteria that our media has focussed on, wherein tourists can't get out of Egypt soon enough, now that real history is being made. And I don't mean the self as in Australia's relentless taxpayer-paid "More for me" campaign that tells us over and over again, that we have more TV channels (with even more repeats!) in which to channel surf in our homes with more TVs than people. Sure it's a dangerous time now in Egypt, but what was called riots were demonstrations in which fathers held their children on their shoulders (an act that wouldn't be allowed here) so they could see with their own eyes what they would never forget.

As for all those commentators saying how this can only end, as some Iranian-style "French revolution"— democracy is messy, and an educated electorate can still make mistakes. After all, Ms Palin could almost see the White House from her governor's office, and sees it glittering before her now. And Mr Bush was not only elected once, which could be forgiven as an accident, but . . .

One important under-discussed element in Egypt is the army, which is of the people. If these demonstrations and this army were in Europe, we'd be cheering them on.

Finally, I think that the best assessment has been put forward by Ergun Bahaban here:
Human Dignity and Egypt
"Some claim that a society that has lacked any democratic organization for many years cannot transition to democracy overnight. I think they’re wrong. But the most well-organized powers will obviously benefit greatly from this change … Turkey is a good example of how Islam and democracy can coexist and how people can receive equal treatment despite their different beliefs. Of course, there is a long way to perfection, but even its current position is sufficient to be taken as a model. As a country that has been a cradle of major civilizations, Egypt can successfully implement the Turkey model."