Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Friday Crab Blogging (a little late)

First we have a guest crab from "over there":

I am told by reliable sources that the image on the bottom right is that of a crab. However, referral to the diagram immediately below seems to indicate that whilst this crab might be capable of walking, it most certainly would not be able to swim. Furthermore it lacks the essential chelipedae necessary for anything comestible. This is certainly not to cast dispersions on any creature wishing to assume the mantle (carapace) of a crab (especially a guest crab,) but to register awe at its ability to disguise itself as a revolutionary gnat.

Jesiah's effort is quite nice. His deeply indented chelipedae indicate a correspondingly deep understanding or the ravenous soul of the crab.

Finally we come to a close approximation of the ultimate crab. THE crab, in many's estimation, combines crabs, chocolate and, of course, red wine. (These replace "good weather" and "a twelve string guitar" as the ultimate desires of my youth.)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Random pics

Santa Claus and Dr. C.
Many people do not believe that Santa Claus is my brother. Here is irrefutable proof. Oh, and by the way, we had a record snow last night.

Getting in Line to Sing Silent Night

Serious Christmas

Snow Attack on the Yew

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday Crab Blogging (a little late)

I'm glad I waited. Received an excellent crab from across the pond courtesy of an acute observer:

I don't know what the scale of the photograph is, but I'll venture a guess:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Having a Yogi Berra Moment

Everyone knows the Yogi Berra quote "It's like deja-vu, all over again." Rummaging around the internets on the instigation of Unreal Nature with her post on a wonderful photograph of Native Americans that brings in that most interesting character, Rudyard Kipling (who, strange as it may seem, lived in Vermont for four years where he wrote Jungle Book.)

It is strange how some one's reputation changes over the years. My father, a Roosevelt Democrat, was enamoured with Kipling. But then, my father was born in 1901. Now, I see Kipling mainly as an exponent of empire, the Indian version of it in particular. All of this is coming home to roost with Obama in his Afghanistan policy. Of further interest was that Kipling's son was killed at the battle of Loos in Belgium. One site of dispute was the Hohenzollern Redoubt. One can read about it in the Australian newspapers of the time. Right next to the description of the fight, in all the rhetoric of the time, is this little piece about Baghdad.(click to expand)

As Yogi says....but I repeat myself.

P.S. Stay tuned for a similar thread suggested by JSBlog.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Jedi and the Farie

I just finished watching the six Star Wars movies in sequence. It was an interesting experience, especially since the first one to be filmed was the 4th in the series and Lucas didn't finish the series until 25 years later with vastly improved technology. It is certainly true that the the acting is, in most cases, atrocious. Carrie Fisher at least started out smiling, but, by the end she was on autopilot.

There are an infinite number of observations that can be made about the series. Having just read Dune, it is remarkable how close some of the symbolism comes and, in particular, the use of the feudal power structure (e.g. Lord Vader and Count Harkonnen). There is also the mystical aura and the quasi religious aspect of the Jedi and the Fremen. (That's why I wear a hoody at home; I pretend I'm a Jedi Knight.)

I don't know why, maybe because I am growing old and sometimes dwell on these things, but I was impressed by what usually happens when a Jedi knight dies (but not always). Both Obi-Wan and Yoda simply disappear into their robes. This is so excellent. There is nothing messy with their exit (and, trust me, I have seen messy). It reminds me of Flann O'Brien and his novel "The Third Policeman." At some point, in one of the totally fascinating footnotes concerning the scholar De Selby, there is a description of what happens to faries in their life. (I may be getting this a little wrong but I'll be damned if I am going to correct it because I like the way I remember it.) In any case, faires (and for a true explanation of these critters you have to read "At Swim To Birds") receive a color when they are born. The color depends on which way the wind is blowing at the time. I suspect that North is Blue but, in any case, there are a lot of gradations so no farie is the same. As a farie grows older, the color fades. And, more importantly, the farie fades from being seen by others (e.g. mundane people). Now this is something that one might think awful or great, depending on how you look a the world. I think it would be great to fade out. Frankly, as one gets older this tends to happen. Young people ignore you. It happens to me every day (this having a lot to do with cell phones, which are ever so much more interesting than a doctor telling you not to get an STD and how to do it.)

Think about it. Fading or disappearing is an age old desire. It certainly finds its place in religion (Christ is a good example). Somehow having the corpus delecti disappear has a sanctifying influence on the narrative. I think.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Friday Crab Blogging

All readers beware: CRABS ARE DANDRIS and THEY HURT YOU so only very special people, like Dr. C., can handle or even, God forbid, EAT THEM.

Cezzane gets around (and has trouble spelling his own name.)

There was some confusion at the studios this AM whether this represented a crab or a Coccinellidae.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

My Favorite Portmanteau

Way back when I learned the true meaning of portmanteau, having once thought it was that big thingy that carpetbaggers and scalawags carried around down South after the that little tiff we had wid the Yankees. But no, it is an amalgam word and "Oxbridge" seems to be the quintessential expression, though Chocoholic (not to be confused with Apostolic) runs a close second.

In any case, I was boning up on my Star Wars sextet when Qui-Gon Jinn (Obi Wan's mentor) starts rambling on about how many midichlorians young Darth Vader (excuse me, Anakin Skywalker) has in his blood cells. Something like 20,000 I think. Anyway, 20,000 is the most midichlorians anyone has ever heard of slating him to be "THE ONE." So, I thinks to myself, I've got to find out what in the galaxy are these midichlorians?

Well, first of all, to the point. The name is a portmanteau of mitochondria and chloroplast and refers to little boogers that live in the cells of human beings and commune with THE FORCE. George Lucas (may the Force be with him) indicated in an interview with Rolling Stone that the midichlorians were endosymbiotic. This refers to the process by which cells of multicellular organisms evolved by incorporating single cell organisms.

This theory was originally proposed by Konstantin Mereschkowski, an early 20th Century Russian biologist. It suggests that mitochondria were originally bacteria that found their way into larger cells and were given the job of producing energy (droids). Also, chlorplasts, the nitty gritty of all green things, were cyanobacteria that did the same thing in plant cells. Interestingly enough, the bacteria that went on to form mitochondria were originally Rickettsiaes, of Rocky Mountain Spotted fever fame. (They also cause a nasty disease called typhus, "The name comes from the Greek typhos (τῦφος) meaning smoky or hazy, describing the state of mind of those affected with typhus. A state of mind yours truly experiences all too often. " Also: "During Napoleon's retreat from Moscow in 1812, more French soldiers died of typhus than were killed by the Russians.").

Mitochondria are interesting in their own right. They carry only mother's DNA (little spermies only have nuclear DNA; big ova have mitochondria too), and they have a highly efficient respiratory chain (that doesn't sound like Darth). We all have a little Eve in us. But, we digress...

Not only do midichlorians allow you to commune with the Force, they also, in sufficient numbers, allow you do do interesting things like make babies in a "chaste" way. (One can also become immortal and immortalize others; how boring). But making babies, we're talking Virgin Birth. So who, exactly, was Darth Vader's father? Who manipulated the midichlorians in Shmi, Anakin's mother? For some reason Anakin never seems too concerned about this. One suspects that it might have been Qui-Gon Jinn but that can't be true because Anakin's mother doesn't recognize him. To suspect that it was a Darth Whoever would shatter my world beyond belief.

(of interest: The iconic sound of the character's (Darth Vader's) respirator breathing was created by sound designer Ben Burtt, who created the sound by recording himself breathing into a scuba regulator.)

One could go on and on.....

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Crab Blogging

We are very fortunate to have a Guest Crab (Doctor of Necrophagia*) today as you can see:

Hat tip to Felix from across the pond.

*AKA bottom feeder. May be related to Lawyers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Taking Liberties

Over at Unreal Nature, there is posted some early works by Wegman, of doggy fame. I found one of the works not quite what I expected from the title. So, in violation of every copyright imaginable, I have spiffed it up a bit.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The City Party of Yes and the City Party of No

When I was young and randy*, all the young ladies thought it was the height of romance to read "The City of Yes and the City of No" by Yevtushenko. I can't quote it (my copy is at home and its not on the nets), but it did not take one long to be dulled to insipidity with his slurpy, Rod McKuenesqe verse.

However, I was reminded of that doggerel by the history of Republican votes in Congress this year, and especially last night. Not one Republican voted to debate the health care bill. No, not to pass it, but to debate it.

I had thought that the glacial pace of legislation might have picked up a bit with global warming, particularly with in increase in hot air in our Congress. But no, we are to be forever hamstrung by a Party that wishes nothing more than to deliver a stinging blow to the President. This might be acceptable behavior when voting for secretary of the eighth grade, but not when voting for something that will determine the course of healthcare for years to come.

Its going to be a rough time coming.

*Poem - maybe post in future

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday Crab Blogging

A little late and a sparse collection. Blame it on the "Swine" flu.

I've been thinking of "swine." It really is a pejorative appellative. If I were a pig, I would be offended. Pigs are pretty smart, you know.

I think that it gets is nastiness from Mark 5:10-20:
11 Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. 12 And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. 13 And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.
One is not completely sure why Jesus did this, but I suspect that they had the flu. Seasonal, not H1N1.

On the other hand, the site just linked to has this interesting thing to say about the episode:
Because this event occurs in “country of the Gadarenes,” which means near the city of Gadara, we are probably dealing with a herd of domestic swine owned by Gentiles because Gadara was a part of the hellenized, Gentile cities of the Decapolis. Thus, Jesus caused the death of a large number of pigs that were someone else’s property.
Perhaps one clue to the meaning of the passage can be found in the fact that the spirits feared being sent out of the country. This would be in keeping with a point raised regarding the first part of this story: this possession and exorcism may traditionally be read as a parable about breaking the bonds of sin, but at the time it may have been more properly read as a parable about the unwanted presence of the Roman Legions. They, of course, would not have wanted to be sent out of the country, but many Jews would have wanted to see them driven into the sea. I wonder if there was an earlier version of this story in which the theme of driving out the Romans was stronger (emphasis added).
Now this speculation is fascinating on several levels. Most importantly, however, is the suggestion that Jesus was involved in proscribed political activity. Never, in the whole of my Catholic childhood, was it ever admitted that Jesus was politically active. In fact, the whole trial and crucifixion was presented as a big mistake in that Jesus's contention that he was "King of the Jews" was always presented as a spiritual thing. I don't rememver how Kazantzakis presented Jesus in "The Last Temptation of Christ" but I'm pretty sure that it didn't deal with him as a political figure.

In that last line I typed the pronoun originally as "Him." It is amazing how these things stick with you. Once, many, many years ago when I lived in Ireland I was playing the guitar at a party and we were all singing "Plastic Jesus". I looked around the room and every time we came to the word "Jesus" all the young ladies in the room would do a quick little bow of there head.

Incidentally, the link to "Plastic Jesus" didn't have my favorite verse:
Hail Mary full of Grace
Help me find a parking place

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


From here in response to a comment from the previous post:

Its hard to imagine the cartoonist (Clay Bennett) is in the small town Chattanooga Times - Free Press he is so good. Of course the Chattanooga Times is the sister of the NYT, both having once been owned by Adolph Ochs. But the News Free Press? It was quite to the right of Rush Limbaugh when I was growing up. However, as the Wikipedia article on this newspaper points out:
The Times Free Press is unusual among U.S. newspapers in that it runs two editorial pages, one leaning liberal, the other leaning conservative, reflecting the editorial leanings of the previous standalone Times and Free Press.
I guess stuff like this is only interesting to Chattanoogians.

As for Sarah, well, I think her days are numbered. At least she provided some entertainment and, hopefully, one more SNL appearance by Tina Fey.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Politics are something you can't make up

As a work of fantasy, Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household even now is a good read (I couldn't find the original cover so the above is from a British movie in the 1970's. Also, I like Peter O'Toole.) This week another work of fantasy, Going Rogue by our favorite politician (sic) Sarah Palin, hits the news stands.

If I wasn't depressed by the level of discourse in America before, the fact that this clueless idiot is afforded a place at the table as if she had something important to say just makes me want to cry. I know, I know, America has always had its incompetent politicians. But, to think that she thinks that she has a chance at being President of the United States is just mind boggling.

Oh, did I mention that she resigned as governor of Alaska for no good reason? Oh, I see. This is one of her strong points. Sorry. Didn't figure.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Crabs in the Time of Swine Flu - IV

As you can see from this graph, we are starting to tail off the "epidemic" of 2009 H1N1 previously known as Swine Flu. Of course, the shipments of vaccine are just starting to trickle in. Nothing like closing the barn door after whatever.

I only have two crabs for you today.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Crabs in the Time of Swine Flu - III

First we have two Guest Crabs.

Crab indiginous to the Isle of Wight. There is some indication that this is left over from the England, England theme park of an earlier age. (h/t to JSBlog)

I will not, under any circumstances, attempt to discuss this crab. Please go here and, if you are brave, here.

The Sea, The Sea, where is the Sea.


The essence of good grits lies (in) freshly milled whole-grain products, which helps to retain the flavor. Quick or instant grits are available in cans but the quality seems to suffer in the canning process. The result is grits that are usually described as tasting like "library paste."
That would be my opinion.

The world can be divided into two camps, those who love grits and those that despise them. There is no middle ground. -- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Sunday, November 01, 2009


There is some confusion as to the origin of the word "Chattanooga." This holds great interest to me since I be a home boy. I, for one, believe it to refer to Lookout Mountain. This source lends support to this with:
"Joshua Ross, a nephew of the chief, declared that the word was taken from the Creek Indian word "Chat-to-to-noog-gee" which means "rock rising to a point," a fitting description of Lookout Mountain."

Lookout Mountain with Moccasin Bend in the mid-ground taken from the side of Signal Mountain.
Tennessee, where the grass is green,
The sky is blue and the water too,
I wish I was rolling home to Tennessee..

I've been to London and to Paris, France
I'll go anyplace that I get the chance,
But I wish I was rolling home to Tennessee...

Tennessee, where the grass is green,
The sky is blue and the water too,
I wish I was rolling home to Tennessee..

I've dined out elegant at the Ritz,
But it don't beat my momma's grits,
But I wish I was rolling home to Tennessee...

Tennessee, where the grass is green,
The sky is blue and the water too,
I wish I was rolling home to Tennessee..

Dublin, Ireland, 1970

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Crabs in the Time of Swine Flu - II

First, a correction:

An astute reader observed that this enticing crab actually appeared to be supra sol last week. We apologize for the error and present the crab in all its depicted splendor, sub sol and sunny side up.

All the elements of a great crab though the eye placement is a little clammy.

What can one say when approached with the absolute genius of the crab. Genuflect, please.

Mother's always want to get into the act. It takes a strong hand to keep them on the sidelines. This one has potential to be a future "Sikorsky" mom.

I Don't know where Alexis got this but it shows an excellent appreciation for the articulated appendages of Mr. Crab. Note also the double smiles. I don't care what people say, kids are inherently happy.

It is Halloween, after all.

People and balloons, if you will.

Absolutely refused to draw a crab. Insisted on a turtle. So, there you go. Not sure what is on the shell. But then, I am not a herpetologist.

A Surfeit of Irony

Why is it when the nabobs in Washington start slugging it out, hot and heavy, irony seems to rear its chuckling head?

From here:
HEALTH CARE -- FIFTY-FIVE REPUBLICANS WHO ARE 'STEADFASTLY OPPOSED' TO A PUBLIC OPTION ARE CURRENTLY ON MEDICARE: Yesterday, the office of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) released an internal study showing that 151 members of Congress "currently receive government-funded; government-administered single-payer health care -- Medicare." Of those 151 members, 55 are Republicans who also happen to be "steadfastly opposed [to] other Americans getting the public option, like the one they have chosen."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Crabs in the Time of Swine Flu

First we have a guest Crab. Not quite the same as a crab à l'état sauvage (you can tell by its nice cooked color) but we are always ready for crabs of any stripe (now there's an interesting phrase to look up; see below), particularly if they look like they just ralphed.

I think this is an excellent effort by a three year old

This was Carlie's second effort, after her mother showed her what a crab looked like.

I like her first effort much, much better. It is a little like Casper the ghost.

While not technically a crab, this drawing certainly employs the joie de vivre inherent in the mere concept of crabs. I know that seems contradictory, but, trust me (said Fozzie Bear.)

"of any stripe"
from here:
Just as textile fabrics can be made with a great variety of patterns characterized by different stripes, so men can be sorted into different types, or metaphorically, stripes.
Of course some of us have access to the OED online and could tell us when the earliest use was. It seems (from the source just referenced) to be an American political term.

I did find a reference in Don Quixote, but it was referring to the results of bantamweight flagellation. (note in particular that Google Search translates as "s" the old use of "f").