Thursday, December 12, 2013

Double Drummer Cicada

Holy cats:

Found this beauty at the tide pool here in Collaroy yesterday. It's Thopha saccata, the Double Drummer cicada, native only to a sliver of far eastern, primarily coastal New South Wales and Queensland. (Wikipedia page here.)

They're enormous:

A good deal larger than the cicadas I knew growing up in Buffalo, New York. (Or in Oregon.)

They're also loud. From
One of the loudest of all cicadas, the Double Drummer's high-pitched erratic whine sounds a bit like a bad bagpipe player. When populations are dense, these cicadas are almost unbearable to be near when they sing in unison.
Here's a good article on how cicadas produce their amazing sounds. And a video. And a recording.

In this photo, of our cicada's underside, and still on the subject of sound, you can see where the Double Drummer gets its name:

Do you see those reddish-brown sacs on either side of its abdomen? Those are the Double Drummer's "double drums," as it were. They're the two air sacs all cicadas have and use to amplify the sounds they produce, and while all cicadas have them, they are usually not as large and visible as they are on this variety—hence this one's name.

Also in that belly up photo, you can see the cicada's long, black, tubular mouthparts that it uses to pierce plants in order to feed:
The mouth parts of the cicada are enclosed in a long, thin, beak-like sheath. The sheath (labium) passes backwards from the lower surface of the head between the legs when the insect is not feeding. It contains four fine, needle-like stylets used in feeding.
(Just to note, this cicada appears to have had its butt end eaten off. They normally have a nice pointy end, as seen in the images provided in the links above.)

An interesting note about the Double Drummer, from the link above:
The Double Drummer seems to have a tendency to fly out to sea. Thousands of individuals have been reported as far as 8 km offshore. Their bodies are sometimes washed up on beaches. 
Which may be why I found this guy in the tide pools.

All in all a beautiful bug:

• Here's a good ABC article on Australia's many cicada species.

Note: Thanks to commenter honeyheights below for informing me that this is not a Black Prince cicada. Corrections made accordingly.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

New Song Draft

"Oh, Buffalo."

Used my Mac, and PhotoBooth to get this, and while it's fine on PhotoBooth, during the transfer the video and audio went slightly out of sync. Which drives me nuts. But I redid it three times and I'm not doing it again.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Egg Reside Dried in Stainless Steel Bowl, 11-13

Egss were mixed in a stainless steel bowl. [I had originally written that it was aluminum. Because I'm an idiot, as my wife was happy to point out.] The residue remained in the bowl for twenty-four hours or so. It did this. I do not know why it did this.

A few more:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013



I invented this soup yesterday. It surprised me - and even surprised (the famously fussy) Christine! Give it a go! 

Rating: A +++ This makes a thin-brothed soup with just the right amount of cinnamony sweetness—meaning not too much—combining perfectly with the savory zestiness produced by the tomato, leek, garlic, and cumin, all of this going smashingly well with the carrot pieces. Just very, very good.

Ingredients (for 2)

2 fat cloves garlic
1 fat bunch green onions
1 fat leek
1 big fat carrot
2 tomatoes
1 small carton vegetable stock
Balsamic vinegar
Soy sauce


Heat a few tablespoons of good olive oil in soup pot - good and hot

Chop garlic into very tiny pieces

Chop green onions into smallish pieces, well up into the green

Slice leek into thin slices

Add the above to very hot oil in pot, stir a bit

Chop carrot into big fat pieces

When the garlic, onions, and leek have gone a good bit soft, add carrot chunks, stir

Slice tomatoes into medium size pieces

When carrot has cooked some - 3 to 5 minutes or so - add tomato to pot, stir

Add a healthy splash of vinegar

Add a bit of soy sauce

Throw a good dash of cumin in

Throw a bit of cinnamon in, stir, stir, stir: you are going to want to be able to taste the cinnamon properly, so do not be shy - but don't go crazy, as too much cinnamon = very bad

Slowly add vegetable stock - keep pot noisy and sizzling/bubbling - stirring as you do

Turn heat down and let it cook for a while - and here's an important note: you want the carrots to be pretty firm, but you want them to have soaked up all the goodness of the other ingredients! So use the carrots as a texture-taste tester timer!

Eat, then...victory! 

(We ate it with rice.)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Underbelly Anniversary

Yesterday late afternoon we were sitting on the veranda reading and chatting and whatnot and Christine said, "You want to go out to eat somewhere?"

I said, "Hmmmmmmm yeah no, not really."

Then I felt bad. We rarely go out to eat. 

"Sorry," I said.

Christine said, "That's alright, maybe tomorrow."

Then she said something else.

"Happy Anniversary." 

And then she bent her head back to her newspaper, nonchalantly.

The thing that happened in my mind at that moment is almost impossible to describe. I could still see, sort of, but none of what I could see meant anything. My mind was a kind of sharp, white blank you imagine one experiences while being attacked by a large shark. My breathing went shallow. Then it stopped altogether. I felt my mind grasping fat-fingered for something, something I knew was dreadfully important, but that I could not put a name or even a meaning on. It has a shape, I thought. It's big, and block-shaped. It''s a MONTH! A MONTH! What is a month? I had no idea. But I knew, deep in my blood, that it was very, very important. 

I was finally able to hold this "month" thing in my mind, and determine that these things have names. "August" floated up from the depths of my horror. That's not it, I thought.

Christine was looking at me - queerly - all this time. Several seconds had passed. 

Then, I rose, as if a diver, perhaps in Antarctic waters - without a suit - and, in slow, slow motion, broke the surface of the water, with a name on the quivering edges of my mind: ""


"Is it," I asked, in a voice like breaking glass, a far, far away voice that didn't really want to be itself, "October...5th?"

I can only describe Christine at this point as something like a child who has just witnessed several elephants suddenly standing on their hindlegs and expertly swiveling hula-hoops around their hips. She clearly found this torture session of mine a very special kind of amusing. 

I of course deserved it.

Thankfully, it was October 4. I had, I must confess, somehow not registered the coming October 5. I kick myself for this. Bad, bad husband.

Christine was of course very forgiving. Did I deserve that, too? Hrrm.

Today we are taking a long city bus ride downtown, to watch one of the largest fireworks shows ever conceived - over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. 

Just for us.

Happy 11th Anniversary, baby. I love you more than this...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Headbutting Sleep

Just found this video showing me headbutting sleep, slowly, again, and again, and again, then…sleep.

Think of this next time you find yourself counting sheep.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Absorb This: Florida AG Delays Execution So It Doesn't Conflict With Her Re-Election Campaign Kickoff

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi
You may have heard this from a few weeks ago: convicted killer Marshall Lee Gore was scheduled to be executed in Florida on September 10 of this year. That didn't fit into Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's schedule: that was the same night as her re-election campaign kickoff! So what did she do? She got the execution delayed for three weeks:
Basically, Bondi told the families of victims who had been grieving for 25 years that they needed to grieve another three weeks so she could break out the champagne flutes and rake in the campaign checks.
Tuesday's event was billed as a "hometown campaign kickoff" at Bondi's waterfront home, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
And, as everyone knows, lethal injection can cast quite a pall on a party. So a few weeks ago, Bondi quietly decided to reschedule … the execution.
What special state of depravity do you have to molt to to even comprehend doing such a thing? For it even to cross your mind, much less to actually follow through and make the phone calls and speak the words and actually get it to happen? To delay by weeks the execution of a human being - so it doesn't conflict with the glitzy campaign kickoff fundraiser for your law enforcement position?

I didn't just throw up a little in my mouth—I threw up a little in my soul.

Bondi has apologized. As smarmily as you might expect.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was a staunch supporter of Gov. Rick Scott's Timely Justice Act, a controversial law that speeds up executions in the state by restricting "frivolous" appeals by inmates.
Isn't she special?


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

We Need a National DNA META-Database

Proposal: We should immediately begin collecting DNA samples from every single American citizen. We should use those samples to produce DNA identification profiles, and those profiles should be kept in a secure database indefinitely. A National DNA META-database. There wouldn't be any names or any other personal information attached to the profiles...unless we needed it. 

Legal Justicfication: People voluntarily allow bits of their DNA to be spread outside of their bodies and into the wider, public world - via a third party - every single day. DNA is therefore and obviously not private, as concerns constitutional protections of privacy. This is supported by long establised law.

Important Notes:

• It's just metadata!

• Haystack!

• Terror! (Extra Editor's Note: "Terror" does require a link. Terror is the link.)

• Just think how interesting a DNA META-database would make the "three-hop" system!


Monday, September 23, 2013

Dead Blog Revived By Zappa

This blog has been dead for some weeks while I recover from quitting smoking after 32 years and dabble in some arthritis. Get it? Cuz "arthritis" starts with "art"?

Anyway,  Zappa. A short one. An excerpt, actually, but holy Jesus:








Wednesday, August 14, 2013

John Oliver on Aussie Elections: Holy Crap

"He's gonna have to soak that thing in club soda for hours!"

Oh God, the dude is funny.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Eating With Little Australia: Tuna Fish Sandwich

Plain old tuna fish sandwich?


Tuna with pickled onion and crushed walnuts on Turkish bread roasted sandwich?


Ingredients: Turkish bread, one can tuna, mayonnaise, pepper, pickled onions, walnuts, cheese of your choosing (we had a dry, crumbly cheese).

Don't be afraid of the walnuts. They go really well with tuna. You don't need tons of pickled onion—but it doesn't hurt. Plenty of pepper, too.

Turkish bread is the bomb, people.

DO NOT overpower with cheese. Just a light covering.

It's like a disco in here!

Very Important Step: mix extra tuna, pickled onion, and walnuts and eat with a spoon.

After a little while put in the top piece of toast. Put a little mayo on it.

Toast until toasted.

Add chips, eat next to coffee table display of seahsells, driftwood, and shark egg. For the irony.

This has been another episode of "Eating With Little Australia." You are welcome.

Remember: Your tastebuds aren't armed guards protecting your stubborn ideas about food—they're plucky little infants wanting to explore and taste the world! Yes, there are risks involved. And?

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Details of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration program that feeds tips to federal agents and then instructs them to alter the investigative trail were published in a manual used by agents of the Internal Revenue Service for two years.
The practice of recreating the investigative trail, highly criticized by former prosecutors and defense lawyers after Reuters reported it this week, is now under review by the Justice Department. Two high-profile Republicans have also raised questions about the procedure.
A 350-word entry in the Internal Revenue Manual instructed agents of the U.S. tax agency to omit any reference to tips supplied by the DEA's Special Operations Division, especially from affidavits, court proceedings or investigative files.
Someone call Steve King!

NSA/DEA story here and here.

From here.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Alberta Wildlife Cam Snaps Bear Tree Party

Huh, so this is where Uncle Walter has been going all these years.


Surfing Tanzania

This is so cool. My old Oregon and Australia friend Jeff Stanley provides the music for this video, made by his photographer brother Peter Stanley, of he and friends surfing Coco Beach, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. (Pete has lived there for several years.)

More Jeff here.

Pete's National Geographic page.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Noise of the Green Wall

Walking in Narrabeen on July 10, 2013, the day of the death of my friend John, I stop and hold my phone to a green wall, to hear the sounds in my head.

This video is not sideways.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Recommended Blog: Prof Chris Daly's Blog

Just learned about this blog via comments on this review of that blogger's book, Covering America: A Narrative History of a Nation's Journalism, on Amazon, which was recommended by Reuters' Jack Shafer in this article which I got to via this tweet.

Alrighty then.

Chris Daly is a writer, journalist, professor, and historian. I live near Boston and teach at Boston University. Before that, I worked for many years for The Associated Press and for The Washington Post, where I was the New England correspondent. 
I'm going to read this newly found blog because I think it might make me smarter. Here's hoping.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

RIP, Tunch

I have never met this cat, or his owner, John Cole, blog master of the very good Balloon Juice, but it was an awful kick in the gut when I read about his very unfortunate passing this morning. This just sucks.

We kidded John about Tunch:

...but we all of course grew to love that good kitty over the years.

So sorry, John. And thoughts to your sister, and your brother, who both must be devastated in their own very painful ways. Too sorry.

Here's a link to John's "Cat Blogging" tag, where you can read hundreds of hilarious and tender Tunch posts (example), along with maybe even more cat rescue posts, as BJ is an animal rescue internet haven. (Please see the note at the end of the sad Tunch post.)

Too sad.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Reporter: To prevent pedophilia, we should give pedophiles children to have sex with! [update]

Josh Barro
Okay, not exactly, but close enough, theory-wise.

Josh Barro, politics editor for Business Insider, wrote an article yesterday with this headline:
Implosion Of Virginia Governor Shows Why We Need To Pay Elected Officials More
The Virginia governor he's talking about: Bob McDonnell. Barro tells us about him right off the bat:
Alex Burns of Politico expresses incredulity that McDonnell has apparently tossed away his presidential ambitions by accepting gifts like a Rolex watch—and a $120,000 payment that may or may not have been a loan—from one of his top donors.
That really doesn't give us the whole story: McDonnell is being investigated by both Virginia law enforcement agencies and the FBI on allegations of very serious wrongdoing:
The money to the corporation and Maureen McDonnell brings to $145,000 the amount Williams gave to assist the McDonnell family in 2011 and 2012 — funds that are now at the center of federal and state investigations.
Williams, the chief executive of dietary supplement manufacturer Star Scientific Inc., also provided a $10,000 check in December as a present to McDonnell’s eldest daughter, Jeanine, intended to help defray costs at her May 2013 wedding, the people said.
Virginia’s first family already is under intense scrutiny for accepting $15,000 from the same chief executive to pay for the catering at the June 2011 wedding of Cailin McDonnell at the Executive Mansion.
All the payments came as McDonnell and his wife took steps to promote the donor’s company and its products.
What's Josh Barro's response to this?
Politicians are human. They want sex and money and power like anybody else. They make crass and boneheaded errors in pursuit of them like anybody else.
But at least on the money dimension, we have a way to reduce the likelihood that elected officials will err: Pay them more. The Governor of Virginia makes $175,000 a year, and that is, in some sense, a lot of money. It’s about three times the median household income in the state. It’s plenty of money to live a nice lifestyle on.
But it’s not nearly enough money to match the lifestyle of the sort of people you become surrounded by when you are a powerful political leader. And while some people have the ability to make peace with that (Pope Francis comes to mind), many don’t.
There is a really lot of bad reporting and writing on politics in the U.S. (and the world) these days, so it's easy to write another plop on the pile like this off. But this is really in a league of its own.

• A powerful elected official is being investigated for what looks like taking bribes.

• Political reporter Josh Barro's response: If only we gave the guy taking bribes more money in the first place—he wouldn't have taken the bribes!

I'm finding it hard to follow that. Honestly. A prominent political reporter responds to allegations of bribery by an elected public official not by focusing on that possible crime against the public—but by saying the public should give elected officials more money.

The only thing I can honestly right this second come up with for a finish: What the fuck is wrong with us?

Update: Virginia's governor is 4th highest paid governor in nation.

Image of Josh Barro from here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

RIP, John Koch

Born in Denmark, 1957; died in Sydney's Northern Beaches, July 10, 2013.

So long, my friend.

Update: From John's wake.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Donut Mitosis

This may be the funniest thing that ever happened:

The sprinkles are the chormosomes and micotubules and whatnot. Oh heck, that is hilarious.

By New York artist Kevin Van Aelst.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Song: 'Inside Joke'

From my CD Bottomfeeders:

You can get that song for mere pennies at iTunes! (Look in "LT's Music" in the sidebar on the right for more places to get my songs. And you can listen to some others at MySpace.)

Lyrics and musician credits, from the liner notes:

Bonus: Forgot about this.

That is all. Thank you!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Four Wild Lorikeets in My Lap, Eating Apples

Don't quite know how this happens, but these guys are simply unafraid of people. It's probably something that's been passed down through many generations—evidenced by the fact that these four are made up of a mating pair and their two young (they ocassionally feed them via their crops still), who they have already taught that humans like us are suckers.

Full video, with exciting (not exciting) pixellation interruptions for first minute-and-a-half:


Rainbow lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) information at Birds In Backyards.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Man catches 200-year-old fish

I find this story depressing:
Fisherman Henry Liebman recently made a deep-sea catch he’ll never forget, reeling in a record-setting shortraker rockfish. Caught off the coast of Sitka, Alaska, Liebman’s fish weighed in at nearly 40 lbs. (the previous high was 38.69 pounds). That’s impressive and all, but here’s the mindblowing part: The fish is estimated to be nearly two centuries old.
From Yahoo!
News: Troy Tidingco, Sitka area manager for the state Department of Fish and Game, said the fish is still being analyzed but he believes it is at least 200 years old. Tidingco said that would beat the current record of 175 years. Researchers are able to determine the age of a shortraker by the number of growth rings along its ear bone.
That fish has been going about its business since Abraham Lincoln was learning cursive. Maybe longer. Now, some doofus has his hands in its dead gills, smiling for press photographers.


The shortraker rock-fish.

Hand-Cranked Wooden Toy Does Sleight-of-Hand Trick

Very cool:

Made by Swedish artist Per Helldorff. Much more at his website.

One more:

Thursday, June 20, 2013

I Made a Chicken Soup So Good...

...I believe it could cure the chicken.


Makes you want to stick your face in it, doesn't it?

Update with recipe, by request: Nothing special here, folks. I wish I could say there was a mystery ingredient—pumpkin pieces bathed in shark urine, or something—but this is pretty plain old chicken soup, at least according to me, who doesn't really know how to make chicken soup. (Note: I was wrong, I DO have a mystery ingredient! Read on!)

1. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a pretty big pot on pretty high heat. (Note: I didn't actually use a tablespoon. Or any other kind of measuring device. Guestimations are part of the magic of cooking in Chez Little.)
2. Cut up three medium-sized onions. Because your arthritis is killing you, and you therefore can't properly hold an onion for cutting, use a large, heavy knife and simply chop each onion into a few big pieces. If you have a cleaver, use that—because waving a cleaver around makes you feel AWESOME. Take as much of the skin off the onions as you can or care to. 
3. When the oil is good and hot—just starting to smoke—add the onion. Stir with a wooden spoon to ensure all the pieces get that nice hot oil on them. 
4. Take three large carrots, hold them by their ends over the pot, and using quick, hard slicing motions, cut carrots into large pieces, with the result that the pieces fall into pot. Some of the pieces will fly around the room. That's okay. Just pick them up and put them in the pot. 
5. Fill tea kettle with water and turn on.
6. Repeat onion and carrot sequence with 3 or 4 large potatoes and one large zucchini, respectively. Add to pot and stir.
7. Open the cupboard that has cooking stuff in it and look in it, and see what wants to be in the soup. In this case, salt, pepper, dried basil leaf flakes, dried bay leaves, and Worstershire Sauce wanted to be in the soup. There may have been other stuff. Add them. Stir stir stir.
8. Open the fridge and see if there's anything in there that wants to be in the soup. Small pickled onions wanted to be in the soup. Just plop three or four in the pot, and add some of that nice pickled onion juice, too. Stir vigorously—no real reason, just wanted to say "stir vigorously." (Note: See item 15.)
9. Put cover on pot, turn the heat down a little, and let everybody in there get to know one another. A few minutes should suffice.
10. Do you like wine? Me too. Let's have some. I have a peppery and cinammon-puddingy Merlot. Very nice.
11. When the kettle water boils, slowly add it to the mix. Slowly because you want the water to catch up with the flavor, if you know what I mean. You're going to want a pretty lot of water, because this is going to be cooking for a good while.
12. When the water is boiling, add the partially eaten roasted chicken from last night's dinner. Bones and all. It's got stuffing in it? All the better. Push it down into the mix so it's covered with water and tightly surrounded by it's companions.
13. Let simmer for two or five hours, depending on how patient you are, because the smell of this sucker is going to drive you nuts.
14. Final step: use a fork and fish around in the soup for bones. Take your time, get as many as you can. You will not get them all, though, so be prepared to find bones as you eat this soup.  
Your soup is ready! Enjoy! 
15. Holy cow! I just remembered that I do have an awesome secret mystery ingredient! I totally forgot! I added a great dollop of South Coast Providores fig conserve—kind of a fig jam—around the same time I added the pickled onions! (Step 8.) That's what that special sweet figgy flavor was! 
Your soup is even more ready! Enjoy the heck out of it! And it's going to be even better tomorrow!
- This has been another episode of "I Made a Chicken Soup So Good..." You are welcome.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Lorikeets and Their Ringwraith Babies

These birds are cracking me up.

Two parents, two babies. The babes are the ones giving the ringwraith hiss. (Sorry for the poor quality - the camera's batteries are down. This is via my old phone)

I didn't move fast enough for them:

Note: I'm no 'Lord of the Rings' freak - although I read them through three times as a teen. But I did love the screech Peter Jackson gave to the ringwraiths in the films. Exactly how I heard it in my head when I was a kid. And eerily similar to these 'keets.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Butcher Bird Just Flew Into the House

Our regular visitor Maggie Talonfail - a magpie with one bum foot - just came by with what I believe are her two babies. I mean I know they're babies, but can't be completely sure they're hers, but since she's come with them twice now, and is so confident around them - not usual - along with the fact that the youngsters seem to follow her around, makes me pretty sure. (This ignores that I really have no idea if Maggie is a she - could be male, and could be Dad to the two young.)

So I got some mince, and thereby allowed Maggie to teach her two younguns that we are easy marks, thus ensuring that magpies will be conning us for a good while.

Here's a pretty good shot (with phone, through window) of Maggie (in the middle) with her babes, showing thier distinctive ruffled grey coloring, which will before too long beome the adult magpie's distinctive glossy black. And it even shows Maggie's one lame foot.

While they were here a butcher bird came by. You can see her on the chair arm:

When she wasn't getting any of the mince, she got a bit peeved, and started jumping and fluttering here and there.

And then flew in the door, and landed on a box on the coffee table right behind me:

She hung around for a while, then flew back outside. I then gave her some mince. Everyone's happy.

Update: And back for a snack some minutes later. You can see the little hook on the end of his bill. (More here.)

(That's Christine's concrete snake sculpture behind the butchie!)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Monday, June 10, 2013

Proposed New Use of Word "Fire"

I hereby announce a proposal for a new and exciting use of the word "fire."

This proposal would see the word "fire" used as an adjective, with a meaning similar to, but unique from and superior to, the words "cool," "awesome," "rad," and, perhaps especially, "hot," as these words are used—by certain people—to describe things in a positive and flattering way.

Example of proposed new use: "That chopper motorcycle of yours is fire, Nancy."

Note: The italics in the above sentence are used simply to emphasize the word "fire" in this new use, as this is certainly the very first sentence in history using the word in this new and exciting fashion. (You may want to mark this page for historical and etymological reasons.)

Please spread this exciting linguistic creation of mine around, i.e., by using it in coversation with friends and coworkers.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Acquitted: Texas Man Shot, Killed Prostitute

A guy in Texas hired an escort through Craiglist. He gave her $150. She refused to sleep with him.

He shot her.

The 23-year-old woman, Lenora Ivie Frago, was paralyzed, and died 7 months later.

A jury just acquitted the guy, Ezekiel Gilbert, of her murder.

Why? Because the gun industry, which wants everything to do with guns made legal, helped pass a "Stand Your Ground" type law in Texas that allows you to use deadly force to protect your property in a nighttime theft, the $150 here being deemed the stolen property.

American voters really and finally have to choose what kind of world they want for their families. This is a horrible failure of justice and civilization. We may as well still have slaves and witch trials.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pregnant El Salvador Woman Denied Life-Saving Abortion

UPDATE: El Salvador has been ordered to provide Beatriz with care! Well done, Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica! (More: They are as of May 31 not allowing what would be a less invasive abortion procedure, but instead are sidestepping the country's abortion laws and are allowing Beatriz to undergo a cesarean section.)

This is the entire abotion debate in one story:
After more than a month of delays, El Salvador’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday to deny a critically ill woman a lifesaving abortion. The 22-year-old woman, identified only as Beatriz, is 26 weeks pregnant with a nonviable, anencephalic fetus; her doctors have warned that, due to severe health complications related to Beatriz’s lupus, cardiovascular disease and kidney functioning, she may not survive the pregnancy.
Abortion is illegal under all circumstances in El Salvador, and the court’s ruling is final, according to her lawyers. “The only way now is to go to the international courts,” Victor Hugo Mata, one of Beatriz’s lawyers, told CBS News.
Would you let your sister die if this were her? To give birth to a baby that doctors say will live no more than a few hours?
Beatriz is carrying an anencephalic fetus, which means it has no brain and is only expected to survive at maximum a few hours after birth, even if she carries it to full term.
Would you let your sister die if this were her? A really lot of people have to answer that question.

• Image from the video at link.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"Life Would Suck Without the Moon"

Related to the previous post, my friend Gene Burnett with a nice little moon song:


A better known Gene song here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cloud, Moon, High-Rise, Collaroy

From our veranda, over the building next to us, just a glimpse of the top of the high-rise (the only one) on Collaroy Beach.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dear Wayne LaPierre and Terribly Afraid People With Guns Everywhere

An unarmed woman named Ingrid Loyau-Kennett called. She has a lesson in courage for you.

That is all.


Oh, wait, one more thing. This is the tweet Ingrid's son posted when he saw his mum's pic in the paper:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Submissive Maggie T. and Big Bird Meanies

Here's a pic of two magpies on our veranda, taken in a hurry just a few minutes ago:

I wanted to get it, because it shows something curious. The maggie below is Maggie Talonfail - ahem - the bird that has been visiting us for several months now, a few times a week, for a bit of mince or ham or a grub I dig out of a flowerpot. She has one lame foot (hence the name)—the toes are all sideways and floppy—and while she can stand on it some, she is obviously hampered to a degree by it, and so remains a bit smaller and scruffier than other adult magpies we see.

I had just fed her a bit of ham about fifteen minutes ago. She ate it up, flew off. I continued working, heard something, and saw the scene you see above. The bird on top here is a big, healthy, glossy, thick-beaked magpie. When that bird, or ones like it, come around when Maggie T. is here, she goes into a submissive posture, as you can see here, sitting stock still. The big bird is looking off here, but spent most of the time looking straight down at Maggie, while she whimpered in fright.

It bugs me. But birds be birds, I guess.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Your Grandmother's Ovaries

Your grandmother, while still a fetus smaller than a grown man's foot, had in her just developed ovaries all the eggs she would ever in her lifetime have.

One of those eggs in Grandma's new ovaries, there in your great-grandmother's womb, was the egg that, with the help of your grandfather, became your mother. (The same is of course true for your father, his mother, and his grandmother.)

You're physically a lot closer to your grandmother (and your great-grandmother, for that matter) than you think.

That is all.

• Image of old woman wishing I'd shut the hell up about her ovaries from here.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Dear People Shocked By Video of Solider Eating Enemy's Heart


Dear people shocked by the video circulating online of a Syrian rebel soldier apparently cutting the heart out of a dead enemy soldier and taking a bite out of it:

That's not a Syrian problem, or a Syrian rebel problem, or a Middle East problem, or a Muslim problem, or whatever else that's springing to your mind to distance yourself from this truly gruesome act. That's a war problem.

If you're Australian, American, French, British, whatever—your own soldiers have committed similar atrocities while involved in the kindness-killing business of war, and maybe even worse ones. That's simply a fact.

That's what war does. It turns otherwise decent, normal people—the kind who live right down the street—into savages. Not all of them, to be sure, but some, and even many of them.

So, take the rag away from your face, and all that, and get out the mirror. Then maybe bring on the shock and tears.

Just one dude's opinion.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


If I'd been alive several thousand years ago and one sunny late morning were eating an aurochs hindquarters or something and suddenly an eclispse made the whole lighty thing go away, there's a healthy chance I'd have invented a god or three, and engaged in what now fairly seem like questionable activities, such as flinging virgins into volcanoes, to please said invented things in hopes that they stopped doing scary things like making the whole lighty thing go away.

Just my confession. I feel better now.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Magpie visits, sings me to look out the window

I don't have meat scraps for her.

I go out on veranda, dig fingers into soil of flower pots - magpie waits - I find grubs.

I carefully put grubs on railing. Step back.

Magpie hops along railing - eats grubs.

This, I'm just realizing, is a little weird.

• Here's a video of the maggie barking at a little butcher bird (small kingfisher relative of the kookaburra) bothering her, back when she dug for her own grubs. (That's the butcher bird singing, and maggie doing the little barks.)


Saturday, May 11, 2013

The U.S. of A. Has Never Had a Female President

I'm just this second really beginning to grok how much that says about our maturity as a country and culture.

Sorry it took me so long.

• This thought stream was born in this article. Which I got via a Patton Oswalt tweet.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The 'Lady Marmalade' Challenge

Musicians of the world - listen up!

Your music will from this day forward be judged by how it stands up to and beside the otherwordly, brain-melting awesomeness that is this: the best song and performance of said song ever conceived by the human heart, head, and other bits:


You have been warned.

* The moment starting around the 1:18 mark when they all start smiling at one another - god almighty.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dear people of South Carolina's 1st congressional district:

Gastropods secrete shells. I secrete lies.
Dear people of South Carolina's 1st congressional district:

If, tomorrow, you elect the human pile of lying and delusional maggot blister that is Mark Sanford to be your newest representative to Congress, you deserve to have wild pigs inserted into _______ and ______ hot chili sauce and a tuba _____  flaming _______ wildebeest.


Honest sane people everywhere

Raw Story [link fixed]

Collaroy Pub Broken Rainbow

Of a late Autumn afternoon at my local. Coulda warmed your hands by this sucker.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

What the Kids at Sandy Hook Saw

Picture yourself a 6- or 7-year-old, sitting in a classroom. Then this guy comes in:

This is is close as most of us are ever going to get to seeing what the kids at Sandy Hook Elementary saw on December 14, 2012. This is what an AR-15 type semi-automatic rifle sounds like, and what it can do in a very short amount of time.

Note: This is not an automatic weapon, this is semi-automatic, meaning one shot for every time you pull the trigger. (Police say the rifle was an FEG 7.62x39 AK-47 - or AK Variant.)

You can read the details of this shooting here. (Updated here and here.)

From Greg Mitchell.

U.S.: 5-year-old and 8-year-old Shoot and Kill Younger Siblings This Week [updates]

The NRA is having a big conference today. They're really whooping it up.

In related news: "5yo boy accidentally shoots and kills 2yo sister":
A two-year-old girl has become the second child in the US to be shot dead by a sibling this week, after her five-year-old brother shot her with a rifle designed for children, officials revealed on Wednesday. Officials in Kentucky say the five-year-old boy was playing with a rifle designed for children and given to him as a gift, when he accidentally shot his younger sister.
Here's the story of the other child mentioned.

Update: Also this week - 3-year-old shoots and kills himself with grandmother's gun.

Update II: From Greg Mitchell: Dashcam footage from March of a guy firing a semi-automatic rifle at cops, shouting "Kill me!" (They killed him.)

Remember this when you watch this guy firing that semi-auto right toward the camera: You're seeing something approximate to what the kids at Sandy Hook Elementary saw.  This is what a semi-automatic rifle can do.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

New Australian Word: Stoush

Found in this news story:
Former jockey Allan Robinson says he'll do everything he can to ensure John Singleton "won't go down" in the fallout of the stoush between the millionaire racehorse owner and trainer Gai Waterhouse.
 (This is a bis story in Australia right now. I'm not much interested in it—so there you go.)

This site from ABC News Radio (root) says stoush - pronounced "stowsh" - goes back to the late 19th century:
There was a time when “stoush” (meaning “fight”) was a very common piece of Aussie slang.
But does anyone still say "stoush"?
Stoush was both a noun and a verb: to stoush someone was to bash them or fight them, while a fight was called a stoush. It probably had its highest currency in the late 19th early 20th centuries. In typical Aussie fashion the Great War of 1914-18 was called “the big stoush”. The earliest citation is from a report in the Bulletin in 1893. The source of the word remains a mystery, but the English Dialect Dictionary records a somewhat similar word “stashie” meaning “uproar” or “quarrel”. So stoush may have started life as an English dialect word that immigrated, changed, and then lived on here while it died out back in the British Isles. 
Similar: blue - fight or argue ("She was having a blue with her husband.")

Extra: The Scottish word "stooshie," carrying a similar definition, might come from the Aussie "stoush."


Monday, April 22, 2013

"Do U-Turn Believe in Miracles?!"

Famed NBC sportscaster Al Michaels' was arrested on drunk-driving allegations after making a U-turn next to a DUI sobriety checkpoint, officials said.

A longtime announcer on NBC's "Sunday Night Football," Michaels was arrested about 10 p.m. Friday in Santa Monica, booked into jail and released on his own recognizance early Saturday.

Michaels is scheduled to appear in L.A. Municipal Court at 8:30 a.m. June 26.
Do you believe...!!!!  (Video.)

Two Shots: On the Veranda; From the Veranda

On the veranda:

From the veranda:

Note: The black and brown things in the first photo are shark eggs.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Glenn Beck Still Pushing Saudi as Boston Bomber

Beck has actually given the U.S. government until Monday to "come clean." "I don't bluff," he says.

People actually listen to and shape their lives around this guy. So hard to comprehend.

More here.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Missing Ive League Student Sunil Tripathi and Boston Events

Update III: And a body found in Providence Harbor has been identified as Sunil Tripathi. Just tragic.

Update II: A message from Sunil's family:
A tremendous and painful amount of attention has been cast on our beloved Sunil Tripathi in the past twelve hours.
We have known unequivocally all along that neither individual suspected as responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings was Sunil.
We are grateful to all of you who have followed us on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit—supporting us over the recent hours.
Now more than ever our greatest strength comes from your enduring support. We thank all of you who have reached out to our family and ask that you continue to raise awareness and to help us find our gentle, loving, and thoughtful Sunil.