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.....