Friday, October 29, 2010

Dream Birds Untangle Dream Knots

“Silent Seasons - Winter,” Will Barnet

Donald Brightsmith, the principal investigator of the Tambopata Macaw Project, located at the Tambopata Research Center (TRC) in Peru, has studied the clay eating behavior of parrots at clay licks in Peru. He and fellow investigators found that the soils macaws choose to consume at the clay licks do not have higher levels of cation exchange capacity (ability to adsorb toxins) than that of unused areas of the clay licks and thus the parrots could not be using the clay to neutralize ingested food toxins. Rather, the macaws and other bird and animal species prefer clays with higher levels of sodium. Sodium is a vital element that is scarce in environments >100 kilometers from the ocean.

Someday, I don’t know how
I hope she’ll hear my plea
Some way, I don’t know how
She’ll bring her love to me

Dream lover, until then
I’ll go to sleep and dream again
That’s the only thing to do
Till all my lover’s dreams come true

Why do macaws eat clay? Scientists think
it’s for the salt. Many miles from the sea
salt spray isn’t free so geophagy
gets the birds salt they can’t randomly drink.

Geophagy. The word requires a wink.
Eating the earth to keep yourself healthy.
Eating dirt, so reads this cryptic study,
is like drinking ocean—a mystic link.

I’m dreaming of parrots in Ecuador
instead of sailing off from the East Coast
into the sea’s Bermuda Triangle

and escaping out through that mystic door
to the lost embrace of that cryptic host.
Dream birds tug at strings, dream knots untangle.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

A Craft Of Knots

The Donut Shop Parking Lot Is Not Enough

This Scary, Pumpkin Time Of Year

This Scary, Pumpkin Time Of Year, Part Two

Thursday, October 28, 2010

This Scary, Pumpkin Time Of Year, Part Two

In his “Society Must Be Defended,” Michel Foucault posited that the victors of a social struggle use their political dominance to suppress a defeated adversary's version of historical events in favor of their own propaganda, which may go so far as historical revisionism.

If we accept as axiomatically true
or even simply as a useful truism
the notion that winners write the history books
then that seventeenth century confrontation
in Massachusetts was won by the occultists
because today all our history books agree
there were no witches in the Salem witchcraft trials.

If we rearrange our thinking to speculate
that rigorous philosophy here can guide us
and that our histories of that confrontation
were written by the winners and the witches won
that would explain a lot about the modern world
and the role the United States has been playing
in shaping the planet into its own image.

It’s cold and it’s this scary, pumpkin time of year
and I’m trying to be like the French Resistance
without becoming (they all died) like the White Rose
but at the same time I have known some real witches
who were fun people to share a glass of wine with
but I don’t want to be a collaborator
if we — I — have a choice as the world goes to Hell.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

White Rose, at Wikipedia


The Occult Technology Of Lost Songs

A Lost World Where Distance Is God’s Anger

This Scary, Pumpkin Time Of Year

Fluorescent Lights On A Book Of Shadows

Something Like Fear Whispers Over Tea

Christmas Witches I Mean Wishes

Christmas Witches: A Present Of The Past

The Donut Shop Parking Lot Is Not Enough


“Cryptic riches come from intercourse with witches.”

The green witch, quoted in,
Christmas Witches: A Present Of The Past

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pushing Past The Servant

The door of Briony Lodge was open, and an elderly woman stood upon the steps. She watched us with a sardonic eye as we stepped from the brougham.

“Mr. Sherlock Holmes, I believe?” said she.

“I am Mr. Holmes,” answered my companion, looking at her with a questioning and rather startled gaze.

“Indeed! My mistress told me that you were likely to call. She left this morning with her husband by the 5:15 train from Charing Cross for the Continent.”

“What!” Sherlock Holmes staggered back, white with chagrin and surprise. “Do you mean that she has left England?”

“Never to return.”

“And the papers?” asked the King, hoarsely. “All is lost.”

“We shall see.” He pushed past the servant, and rushed into the drawing-room, followed by the King and myself.

fromA Scandal in Bohemia,”
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

That’s toward the end of the very first published Sherlock Holmes short story. Irene Adler has out-witted Holmes and prevented him from recovering her compromising photo of herself and the King. Although Holmes was out-witted, he wasn’t defeated, because the King is satisfied that she will be true to her promise to Holmes not to reveal the photograph to the press.

Fans of Conan Doyle suspect Lillie Langtry (and her affair with Prince Albert Edward) may have been part inspiration for Irene Adler.

Fans of Conan Doyle also suspect something almost surreal may be happening in this scene.

Dr. Watson, Holmes’s friend and the narrator of this story, certainly assumes that Irene Adler has out-witted Holmes. But does Conan Doyle?

This is a story built around false identities. The King originally tries to fool Holmes by appearing as a Count Von Kramm. Holmes, disguised as a laborer, serves as a witness at Irene Adler’s wedding. Holmes, disguised as a clergyman, fools Irene Adler into revealing the location of the photograph. But then Irene Adler disguises herself as a young man and follows Holmes and Watson back to Baker Street, and even wishes Holmes “Good night,” without giving away her identity.

Fans assume the ‘elderly woman’ standing on the step watching with a ‘sardonic eye’ is really Irene Adler again in disguise.

But does she fool Holmes?

Holmes certainly doesn’t confide any complicity in Irene Adler’s mischief to Watson.

But what is Conan Doyle confiding to the reader?

Conan Doyle writes that Holmes looks at the old woman with a ‘questioning’ and ‘startled gaze.’ When the old woman informs them that ‘her mistress’ has gone to Europe, Holmes is ‘staggered back, white with chagrin and surprise.’

Holmes already knows the King’s secret is safe because of Irene Adler’s marriage. Is he really fooled, or is this just the mischievous Holmes indulging in some melodrama to sell Irene Adler’s story to the King and indulge the woman herself—after all, Holmes is about to ask the King for Irene Adler’s (non-incriminating) photograph as payment for his involvement in the case, and Holmes is about to describe her by saying to the King, “From what I have seen of the lady, she seems, indeed, to be on a very different level to your Majesty.”

This story was published in 1891. This isn’t what we would now call metafiction.

But when you have the narrator of a story narrating events that pass right over his head but are intended by the real writer to be understood by the reader, that is some pretty cool stuff.

Very cool stuff.

There is a reason some fiction remains popular for more than a century after it is first published.

Is anything that’s getting written today going to be popular a hundred years from now?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Metafiction at Wikipedia


Pictures Of Lily As A Zombie

Diane Wakoski And Batman

The End Of A Barry Malzberg Romance

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Donut Shop Parking Lot Is Not Enough

We had a storm last night and this morning
in the grass out front I found a black bra.

I don’t know if lightning struck a woman
and like a character in a cartoon
her clothes were blown off in a puff of smoke
leaving her to try to cover herself
with her hands while she ran inside somewhere.

When I checked the mail the bra was still there.

I don’t think its owner is coming back.

I’m afraid that black bra is a lost bra.

Or maybe it’s a bra that ran away.

Maybe during the storm the bra’s owner
was parked in the donut shop parking lot
necking with some guy who bought her donuts
and the bra said, “Donut sex is too much,
storm or no storm, I’m getting out of here.”

And then the bra unhooked itself, squeezed out
from in-between the two donut lovers
and escaped into the dark, stormy night.

The black bra didn’t get far, the lawn here
is about a mile from the donut shop.

But the bra did escape the donut sex.

A bra that escapes can look like it’s lost.

A bra running from donut sex teaches
the metaphysics of lost and escape.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Orbis Non Sufficit And The Status Cow

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Craft Of Knots

“Three kinds of knots there are,” she said, “to tie things
because things can blow away when the wind sings
because things can try to fly with broken wings
because things can still fall where an embrace clings.”

“A noose makes a secure loop,” she said, “like rings.
A bend makes fast flexible things, like queens, kings.
A hitch makes a kind of unity and brings
flexible and firm both away from their flings.”

Damn it, she thought, the cabin of a boat
should be bright with sun, fresh with a cool breeze.
This boat is cluttered. Dirty. Closed. Hot. Dim.

Kiss? she thought. A reply caught in her throat.
Am I supposed to get weak in the knees?
“I think not,” she said. And laughed. And shot him.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

An Embrace On The Past

Friday, October 22, 2010

“Now I Dream Of The Plum Rains”


The East Asian rainy season (Chinese: 梅雨 méiyǔ; Japanese: 梅雨, tsuyu, baiu; literally plum rain; Korean: 장마, jangma) is the frontal precipitation caused by a front, a persistent east-west zone of disturbed weather during spring which is quasi-stationary and stretches from the east China coast, across Taiwan, and eastward into the southern peninsula of South Korea and Japan. The rainy season usually lasts from June to July (approximately 50 days) in Japan and Korea and from July to August in Eastern China (especially the Chang Jiang and Huai He regions) and in Taiwan.

The weather front forms when the moist air over the Pacific meets the cooler continental air mass. The front and the formation of frontal depressions along it brings precipitation to Japan, Korea, eastern China, and Taiwan. As the front moves back and forth depending on the strength of cool and warm air masses, there is often prolonged precipitation and sometimes flooding in eastern China. However, in the years that it does not rain as much as usual, a drought might result. The rainy season ends when the warm air mass associated with the subtropical ridge is strong enough to push the front north and away.

“Now I dream of the plum rains,” Chloe said.
“They were so long ago it is as if
they never happened, or it was a dream.
They won’t come for so long it is as if
they can’t happen, like things we just wish for.
When I’m working on a drawing, the world
isn’t the same world I was living in
before I started drawing that image.
Then when I’ve finished drawing an image
I cover the drawing with a tissue
and put the drawing on a shelf and then
the world around me is another world.”

Chloe touched a photograph. A woman
is in the rain under an umbrella.

“When that woman gets inside,” Chloe said,
“and closes her umbrella that doesn’t
make the rains go away it just closes
her umbrella. It doesn’t change the world.”

“By drawing, just by drawing,” Chloe said,
“I’ve made the old worlds go away, lost them,
and now I dream of them like the plum rains.
I wish drawing was like an umbrella.
I wish drawing didn’t make a new world.
This must be why people stop diaries.
Every entry they write makes a lost world.”

“Now I dream of the plum rains,” Chloe said.
“I dream of drawing that isn’t drawing.
Like this photograph. A world that will stay.
This must be why people stop diaries.
Every entry they write makes a lost world.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

plum rains 梅雨 at aShanghaiBlog


Adventure’s Waiting Just Ahead

Shanghai Rain


Thursday, October 21, 2010


Today’s post is one of those topics that I don’t have much to say about today, but at some point in the future I may want to talk about this some more so I want to just get the topic started.


A few days ago I was trying to remember the name of an oddball Canadian guy. I couldn’t think of his name so I opened up a Google search and typed the keywords:

        canadian eccentric crackpot inventor

And don’t you know the results got the guy I was looking for just a few entries down from the top. There he was, John Hutchison. I recreated the search today to make sure it still works and it does:

Maybe I’m too modern for my own good, but I think I would be really proud if a “crackpot inventor” search pulled up my name near the top of the results. I mean, just think about how many “crackpots” Google must have indexed. And Hutchison comes out fourth from the top. That’s pretty cool!

Here’s John Hutchison at Wikipedia.

John Hutchison is an interesting guy. I don’t think he has any real qualifications for anything. But over the years he has been studied by scientists from colleges, corporations and governments. So far as I know, all of the evaluations of Hutchison come to similar conclusions: He can demonstrate bizarre, almost unthinkable effects but he has absolutely no control over his demonstrations and they are completely unrepeatable and cannot be reproduced by anybody else. I’ve never heard or read of anyone calling him an outright fraud but I’ve never heard or read of anyone continuing to study him or his work once they decide that his demonstrations are almost totally random events that—they decide—he has no control over and no understanding of.

John Hutchison is something like a real-life version of a Medieval alchemist. He does wildly weird things, he has wildly weird theories about how he does it, but when anybody actually looks closely he can’t duplicate his effects on demand and he can’t create a procedure that allows anyone else to do what he does.

But it is very interesting that just about everybody who studies him eventually sees something happen that appears to be what a reasonable person would call “magic.” Heavy objects levitate. Solid objects pass through other solid objects. Things become invisible.

I’ve never heard or read anybody say Hutchison is a fraud and I’ve never heard or read anybody say his demonstrations don’t really happen. Everyone just agrees that he can’t duplicate these effects on demand and he has no idea at all how he causes these things to happen.


John Hutchison, however, has been getting some attention from a wider audience recently.

Dr. Judy Wood, a so-called “9/11 Truther,” has noticed that many of the after-effects of the attack on the World Trade Center seem to resemble after-effects from a successful Hutchison demonstration.

Dr. Wood suspects—as do a good many others—that perhaps one or another group of people who have studied Hutchison over the years has gone on to figure out the physics behind the bizarre effects Hutchison demonstrated. These people, perhaps, have figured out how to control and reproduce the physics and have built applications of the physics in the weapons arena.



I’ve been interested in John Hutchison for many years. I’m not particularly interested in the specific physics of his demonstrations. I’m more interested, simply, in the blunt reality that what most people would call “magic” can happen, has been observed to happen by many people and continues to happen.

Magic really can happen.

Maybe some “impossible” kisses aren’t really impossible after all.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

French Guns Come Out Of Little Purses

So far as I know I’ve never met
a real-life spy and I’ve certainly
never stumbled upon a red-haired
French woman who said she was a spy
when she saw me watch her shoot a guy
in the alley behind the building
that used to be a video store.

“That’s more interesting than the movies
this place used to rent,” I’ve never said
when a woman with a silenced gun
explained that she had to shoot a guy
because he was planting devices
that piggy-backed power-line currents
and projected an electric field
that interfered with nerve impulses
propagating in spinal columns
of people living within the field
making those people chronically tired
making those people chronically glad
to get home from work and just sit back
and watch whatever’s on the TV.

“I never would have thought that French spies
would be running around the suburbs
shooting guys so that Americans
would feel they had enough energy
to do more than watch television
when they got home from work,” I’ve never
said to a beautiful French woman
as she was putting a silenced gun
into one of those little purses
with very long shoulder straps that hang
all the way down at a woman’s hip.

“There are no passports,” I’ve never heard
a beautiful French woman explain
somewhat cryptically I would have thought,
“in non-zero-sum geography.”

“But there are guns,” I never replied.

“You’re sweet,” a French spy never told me
before turning and walking away
swinging her hips the way women do
across every known geography
when they know a man’s watching them walk.

I’ve never met a beautiful spy
and I’ve never heard a cryptic phrase
like non-zero-sum geography.
Nope. I made this up. Ex nihilo.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Trees Look Up

In about a week
the Moon returns to the west
by disappearing

a few days from now
in the east into the dawn.
Someone can know this

by watching the Moon
travel eastward every night
or by looking at

the annotations
on any good calendar.
If the Moon looks down

I’d rather the Moon
saw me looking up at her.
Even if the Moon

never looked at me
I’d rather look at the Moon
than a calendar.

Today the Moon, now 92% illuminated, has moved over to Jupiter and the two are only about six degrees apart. However it is cloudy here.

I was going to skip trying to get a photograph, but when I looked outside I saw that the clouds were moving quickly and alternating between thick and thin. So I thought I’d give it a shot and see what kind of photos I could get.

I wanted to get something in the foreground to make the scene kind of a landscape with a backdrop of the sky, but with the illumination constantly changing from the shifting clouds I didn’t have a lot of choices. Also it’s a little cold outside. And my main priority was to get an exposure that included Jupiter. I ending up taking about half a dozen pics, but I wasn’t happy with too many of them. Here are a couple that I cropped a little and fiddled with a little and like a little.

The Moon is so bright and the clouds catch and spread the light so effectively that it was hard to get definition of the Moon and still show Jupiter below and the trees down to the left. I don’t own Photoshop and I don’t want to start doing selective dodging and burning so I’ve limited myself to fiddling with overall picture values. This isn’t a great shot, but it does show the Moon, Jupiter and a few tree branches.

I’ve pushed around the mid-range values quite a bit in this next image. This is closer to what the scene visually looked like. I like the lunar halo shining on the clouds, but I would have liked more definition to the Moon itself, and I wish the clouds had been thinner over Jupiter so the planet would have stood out more below the Moon.

I’m glad I got this image. This is how I’ll remember this cycle of the Moon starting near Venus and pushing across the sky to Jupiter.

The trees were looking up, watching.

I was looking up, too.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Selene Still Loves Endymion

Looking Away From Selene And Endymion

Endymion Still Loves Selene


Monday, October 18, 2010

Comet Hartley 2 Fail

As I type this it is Monday, October 18, at about 11:15pm CDT and I am in a bad mood.

There is a comet in the eastern sky and I cannot see it.

Comet Hartley 2 is not a bright comet. It is small, and its estimated brightness right now is only about 8th magnitude. However it is just a couple of degrees away from a bright, easy-to-find star.

I looked with my four inch refractor and I couldn’t see it.

Damn it.

Here is the link to the Sky & Telescope page about the comet: Comet Hartley 2 At Its Best

Here is the link to the finder chart for the comet: Path of Comet Hartley 2 Oct. 18 - Nov. 3, 2010

The constellation of Auriga is not a picturesque constellation, but the bright star Capella is the only bright star to the east-northeast right now. And there is a little “triangle” of smaller stars to the right of Capella that serve as great landmarks for judging the comet’s position.

Observers are reporting that you need dark skies and good optics to see Comet Hartley 2. I’ve got terrible Chicago skies and so-so optics. But it still pisses me off that I couldn’t even get a glimpse of this comet.

Anyone living away from a city has a great opportunity now. Capella is so easy to find and easy to see that getting a look at Comet Hartley 2 should not be too hard, if you just have dark skies and a reasonable aperture.

If anyone from Chicago or another city with bright skies gets a look at Comet Hartley 2 please leave a comment or drop me an e-mail,, I’d love to hear your experience tracking down this little gem.

I’m going to be grumpy all week now.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Trans Am Girl


Trans Am Girl wants to drive her ’75 Trans Am—
it’s older than she is and has a bird on the hood—
south from Los Angeles to Tierra del Fuego.

“I can drive farther in one trip than my mother drove
in her whole life,” she said, “but that’s not why I’m going.”

“The Pan Am Highway,” I said, “is more of a concept
in many places than what you’d call a real highway.”

“Then I’ll help think those sections,” she said, “into being.”

“What will you do,” I asked, “in Tierra del Fuego?”

“Turn around, I guess,” she said, “drive up to Chicago,
make you look at all the pictures I’m going to take.”

“These days,” I said, “you meet a lot of nuts on the road.”

She laughed, got close to me, asked, “Do you want to come with?”

I exhaled, said, “No.”

She laughed again, said, “Then shut up.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Pan-American Highway (North America)

Pan-American Highway (South America)

Pontiac Firebird


A Lost World Where Distance Is God’s Anger


Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Lost World Where Distance Is God’s Anger

Trees never go anywhere, at least not
in a direction anyone can see.
But trees, to me, look like they know a lot.

“A lone female humpback whale
travelled more than 9,800 kilometres
from breeding areas in Brazil
to those in Madagascar,
setting a record for the longest
mammal migration ever documented.”

Imagine a world without any trees,
without any grass growing on the ground,
no green above or below to be found.
Gray clouds. Gray wood. Gray dust in a gray breeze.

Gray rain falls to gray puddles, sidewalk seas
reflecting gray birds flying, somewhere bound.
Gray squirrels scraping gray dead wood, gray dead sound.
This gray world the gray iron sewer grate receives.

Red, yellow, the last refuge of bright green,
traffic lights will flash while power grids hold.
Above the sewer grates cars will pass, pass, pass.

When US paper currency is clean
it’s green and will buy things until banks fold.
The last thing I’ll buy will be gas, gas, gas.

Like A Bright Green Fantasy
quoted in Quasi Una Petroleum Fantasia

Nowhere to go
But, oh, that magic feeling
Nowhere to go

Soon we’ll be away from here
Step on the gas
Wipe that tear away

“You Never Give Me Your Money”
Beatles, Abbey Road

If Pangea broke apart
not millions of years ago
but in the time of Peleg
and not from plate tectonics
but as punishment from God
when Man attempted to build
what’s called the Tower of Babel
then animals migrating
are animals holding fast
to a lost world where distance
is God’s anger shaped to space
and moving across that space
is apology and love
and getting from here to there
is a way to be with God.

Between us and that lost world
the distance is God’s anger
and moving across that space
is apology and love.

There is nowhere to go but
it is a magic feeling
because it is a lost world
and we can get there from here.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Two sons were born to Eber:
One was named Peleg, because in his time
the earth was divided;
his brother was named Joktan.

Genesis 10:25


Paris Hilton And The Butterflies From Atlantis #4: Atlantis

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ten Thirteen Unanswered Questions #2

In the year 1990, 12.4 million people worldwide had cellular subscriptions. By the end of 2009, only 20 years later, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide reached approximately 4.6 billion, 370 times the 1990 number, penetrating the developing economies and reaching the bottom of the economic pyramid.

The early and mid-1990s saw the launch of several soap-opera dramas aimed at younger audiences that became quick hits: Beverly Hills, 90210; Melrose Place; New York Undercover; and Party of Five. September 1993 saw the heavy promotion and debut of a short-lived Western with science-fiction elements, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. However, it was the Friday night show that debuted immediately following it, The X-Files, which would find long-lasting success, and would be Fox's first series to crack Nielsen's year-end Top 20.

As The X-Files saw its viewership expand from a "small, but devoted" group of fans to a worldwide mass cult audience, digital telecommunications were also becoming mainstream. According to The New York Times, "this may have been the first show to find its audience growth tied to the growth of the Internet." The X-Files was seen to incorporate new technologies into storylines beginning in the early seasons: Mulder and Scully communicated on cellular phones, e-mail contact with secret informants provided plot points in episodes such as "Colony" and "Anasazi", while The Lone Gunmen were portrayed as Internet aficionados as early as 1994.

I remember how
Fox and Dana saved the world
by talking out things

on their telephones.
Now everyone constantly
talks out everything

on their telephones.
Everybody’s on the phone
making things happen!

Did the X-Files single-handedly turn cell phones from fringe, fad, yuppie toys into mainstream cultural artifacts?

I’m sure a rigorous answer to this question would conclude that a lot of corporations invested billions of dollars into cell phone technology and advertising, and psychologically human beings in general have an intense desire to stay “in touch” with friends and loved ones.

Anecdotally, however, speaking as someone who lived through those pivotal years of phone technology in the 90s—and speaking as someone who was paying attention because I hated, and continue to hate, people who turn public spaces into their personal phone booths—I would answer this question with a resounding yes.

Before the X-Files, nobody I knew used cell phones. In the early seasons most people I knew would laugh at the endless cell phone conversations between Scully and Mulder. By the time the X-Files movie came out and Scully and Mulder are introduced talking on their cell phones next to each other on the roof, pretty much everybody I knew had a cell phone and, though they continued to laugh at the endless phone conversations of Scully and Mulder, the laughter was affectionate laughter. It was laughter like, Hey, that’s just like us, we talk on the phone all the time, too.

I strongly suspect there is a physical addiction involved in cell phone usage, with the low-level radiation warming and/or stimulating the user’s brain and causing a subliminal sensation that their unconscious seeks to continue and/or repeat.

But, too, I strongly suspect the educated, attractive and very likeable characters of Scully and Mulder on the X-Files constantly talking on their cell phones turned the technology into a socially acceptable—even socially desirable—symbol of coolness and belonging.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Ten Thirteen Unanswered Questions #1

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ten Thirteen Unanswered Questions #1

How come the entomologist named Bambi
who was smart and attractive and a good guy
only appeared one time, but Morris Fletcher
the sleazy bad guy had a recurring role?


Monday, October 11, 2010

Street Lights And Slutty Bluetits

Among birds called blue tits in a forest on the outskirts of Vienna, a yearling male often fathers at least one illicit chick if he nests within 50 meters of a lamppost, says Bart Kempenaers of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany.

In dark nests in the woods, though, roving females generally overlook youngsters in favor of older males, Kempenaers and his colleagues report in the Oct. 12 Current Biology.

The young males’ strange success may come from a quirk linked to light pollution, the researchers suggest. Males near night lighting start singing on average about three minutes earlier during the dawn chorus of bird song than naturally lit birds do, Kempenaers and his colleagues found.

That’s not a long time, but a female taking a quick break from her usual mate often flits over to visit a neighbor for only a matter of minutes. Kempenaers’ previous work has shown that early serenading has extra appeal for wandering females.

Streetlights turn young duds into studs

Susan Milius, in Science News

You damn punk kid bluetits blaming technology
for your orgasm odyssey dragging music
into it some guy bluetit trying to compose
a Jonathon Livingston Seagull cantata
has to take a break to give you a little peace
and then then when he tries to talk about music
you roll your eyes and say you have to get back home
to the nest to the husband and little bluetits
so then he watches your shadow fly off one way
and you the other way you damn punk kid bluetits.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Endymion Still Loves Selene

The Moon is back in the evening sky.

I’d hoped to get a picture of both the Moon and Venus. Visually I was able to see both of them with my 10x50 binoculars. But by the time the sky got dark enough for me to get photographic separation between the sky and the thin crescent Moon—only 7% illuminated!—Venus had gotten lost in the ground clutter.

This is one of my favorite kinds of astronomy photos. I like juxtaposing foreground scenery—man-made and natural—with elements from the heavens. A lot of media images of the stars are taken with either wide-angle lenses or telescopes, and the viewer almost never gets an idea what something looks like with the naked eye, the actual real-life scale of something. If I get the time and opportunity, I’m going to try to do more photos like this.

I was thinking this kind of wraps up my sequence of posts about Selene and Endymion, but as I type this it occurs to me that in a few days the Moon—much more fully illuminated—will be passing Jupiter. That might give me a chance to try another photo like this, with trees or a building in the foreground and the Moon and Jupiter in the background. I’ll have to setup my tripod for that, but it would be a fun image to try and capture. Okay, this doesn’t wrap up my Selene and Endymion sequence, not quite yet. I’m going to try to do one last post, in a few days, which will be a photo of the Moon and Jupiter. If the sky cooperates, and the imaging technology and my abilities cooperate.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

If The Moon Looks Down

Exactly As Beautiful To Us

Selene Still Loves Endymion

Looking Away From Selene And Endymion


Friday, October 08, 2010

Coastal Creatures

Small boats are easier to take care of than large boats
and small boats can be constructed very seaworthy.
A newspaperman once sailed across the Atlantic
in a fourteen-foot sloop without too many problems.
But there’s very little storage space on a small boat
and there isn’t a lot of space for moving around.
The newspaperman on the fourteen-foot Tinkerbelle
spent almost three months sailing across the Atlantic.
Provisions took up so much space he could barely move.
Just a few days in and throughout much of the voyage
he suffered through intense prolonged hallucinations.

Small boats are coastal creatures so you can buy supplies
and stretch your legs and look at more than the horizon.

You want to go away. You don’t want to go insane.

United States. Canada. Greenland. Iceland. Norway.

There are coastlines all the way across the Atlantic.

I know a guy sailed a fourteen-foot boat straight across.

I don’t know if anyone ever coast-hopped across.

Small boats are coastal creatures. But the coast can be big.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Tinkerbelle at Wikipedia


Princess From Atlantis Without A Band-Aid


Thursday, October 07, 2010

Once There Were Other Worlds

One of my favorite themes for this blog is the concept of a lost world.

I’ve quoted from both Conan Doyle’s novel of that name and Michael Crichton’s novel of that name.

I’ve written about Atlantis.

I’ve briefly touched on the Biblical usage by quoting a commentary on the Book of Jonah.

For this post I’m just going to quickly mention two times today I thought about lost worlds, in wildly different contexts.

First, I finished re-reading Michael Crichton’s great early novel, “The Terminal Man.” Near the end, the hero—a beautiful and resourceful psychiatrist (who warned the male doctors not to operate on Harry Benson but they wouldn’t listen to her)—is trapped in the basement of the hospital with Harry who has, by then, had his brain tragically re-programmed by the little computer the doctors implanted in his neck. Crichton, not typically known as a “poetic” writer, includes this paragraph:

His words frightened her. She was afraid that she would shoot him, and afraid that she would not. It was the strangest set of circumstances, alone with this man, surrounded by the wreckage of a computer.

That’s pretty cool stuff. They were in a computer room that Harry had just demolished, so they were literally surrounded by the wreckage of a computer. And Harry himself, his brain scrambled from the electrical impulses of his implant, a man who had become the malfunctioning terminal of a computer, was himself the walking wreckage of a computer.

That’s pretty cool stuff.

It’s a great novel and it’s a window onto a number of lost worlds. On one hand there is the notion of a computer room “full” of a mainframe computer, complete with large cabinets containing tape storage units, reel-to-reel devices with tape flowing from one reel to another. That kind of technology is gone, gone, gone. Would a young reader, today, even know what such a description was refering to? And, on the other hand, there is the notion that some people—many people?—felt that computers were intrinsically evil. Not that computers could be used for good or ill, but simply that the technology itself was dehumanizing and would inevitably redefine humanity along mechanistic lines. This was fairly common thinking just, say, a generation ago. Would a young reader, today, even connect today’s phones and cameras and tablets and desktops with concerns about good and evil, about humanity and machines?

Lost worlds!

Secondly, I was reading an entry at the Wolfram blog and it contained a link to a great speech made by Stephen Wolfram about the history of an area of mathematics called special functions. Wolfram’s speech included this paragraph:

Israil Solomonovitch Gradshteyn was born in 1899 in Odessa, and became a professor of mathematics at Moscow State University. But in 1948, he was fired as part of the Soviet attack on Jewish academics. To make money, he wanted to write a book. And so he decided to build on Ryzhik's tables. Apparently he never met Ryzhik. But he created a new edition, and by the third edition, the book was known as Gradshteyn-Ryzhik.

Yeah, once upon a time an academic could and would think about making money by writing a book. About mathematics. Using actual numbers.

Lost worlds!

It reminded me that a physicist named Oliver Heaviside used to write a monthly column about electricity and magnetisim for a mass-market magazine. It was such a popular feature that the monthly columns eventually got collected into a book that itself became very popular for many decades.

Not in today’s world.

But once there were other worlds.

They’re lost now.

But the thing about lost worlds is that sometimes they get rediscovered.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Exactly As Beautiful To Us

For sky watchers this weekend might be pretty exciting if the sky stays clear.

Venus is getting ready to leave the evening sky.

The Moon is getting ready to return to the evening sky.

Late Saturday afternoon Venus and the Moon will share the evening sky for one last time this year.

Venus is already so low in the twilight it is easy to think she has already disappeared.

But if you use binoculars—or a camera with something like a 250mm or 300mm lens, something with good German optics Beethoven might have liked—and scan the horizon immediately as the Sun sets you can see Venus by looking just a little south of due west. Right now Venus is only about five or six degrees above the ground clutter around here just at sunset, but generally easy to see in 10x50 binoculars.

With a small telescope Venus shows a beautiful bright crescent.

When the Moon and Venus are only about three degrees apart in Saturday’s dusk through binoculars or a small telescope they will both be displaying beautiful crescents.

Just a few hundred years ago, looking at crescent Venus and the crescent Moon would have marked somebody as a revolutionary because they probably would have wondered why both bodies can appear as crescents and the answer, of course, is all wrapped up in the notion of the Sun as the center of the solar system, not the Earth as the center of the solar system and—in those days of Vatican controlled politics and science—speculating about the Sun as the center of the solar system marked somebody as a heretic.

Saturday the crescent Moon and crescent Venus will be exactly as beautiful to us as they were to Galileo when he looked at them through his little telescope in 1610.

He risked his life looking at them and talking about them.

Cynthiae Figuras Aemulatur Mater Amorum

The crescent Moon and crescent Venus will be exactly as beautiful to us as they were to Galileo.

How many people even will know they are there, low in the west? How many people will look?

Have you seen the stars tonight?
Would you like to go up on A-deck
And look at them with me?
Have you see the stars tonight?
Would you like to go up for a stroll
And keep me company?
Do you know
We can go
We are free
Any place we can think of
We can be
Have you see the stars tonight?
Have you looked at all
Around this room of stars?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sundown In The Place Called Atlantis

Selene Still Loves Endymion

Looking Away From Selene And Endymion


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

An Attractive Cold Shoulder

I talk to the trees
But they don’t listen to me
I talk to the stars
But they never hear me
The breeze hasn’t time
To stop and hear what I say
I talk to them all
In vain

“I Talk to the Trees”
What Is Love? 6—Broadway Diamond

Both my guitar amplifier
and my keyboard have headphone jacks.

I can play, ‘I Talk to the Trees,’
on either guitar or keyboard
and the trees, the stars and the wind
couldn’t hear if they wanted to.

I don’t think they want to listen.

Maybe I’m just getting seduced
by my headphones but if I could
I wouldn’t take off my headphones
but rather when I was finished
playing, say, ‘I Talk to the Trees,’
on guitar or keyboard, instead
of unplugging and taking off
my headphones I’d crawl into them.

I think I would like it in there.

Maybe I’m just getting seduced
by technology with switches
and the trees, the stars and the wind
are only playing hard to get.

Technology is a groupie.

But the trees, the stars and the wind
have an attractive cold shoulder.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Like A Tree I’m Going

If distance acts anything like we think distance acts
then Pluto is too far away for us to sing to

“There's only so far you can go on a lake.”

Sailor Debbie Starnes,
on why she’s planning to sail the
‘Great Loop’ voyage around the eastern US.
Quoted in
Crusing World magazine

You can only go so far on a lake
but on the ocean you can only go
so far, too. It’s just a bigger number.

Trees never go anywhere, at least not
in a direction anyone can see.
But trees, to me, look like they know a lot.

I wrote this leaning against a street light.
When I finished writing the first stanza
the bulb in the street light switched itself off.

I finished under another street light.
Wherever the light from that first light went
that’s where like a tree I’m going to go.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Street Light Phenomenon at Wikipedia


A Long Walk

Cell Phones, Street Lights, Something Like Honey

A Bird Who Could Fly To Neptune

Sunday, October 03, 2010

2010 3rd Quarter Index

September 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010 -- Immortal Weapons

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 -- Pictures Of Lily As A Zombie

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 -- Careful Thoughts And Getting Lost

Monday, September 27, 2010 -- A Pretty Bit Of Philosophy

Friday, September 24, 2010 -- The Optimum Expressive Moment Of Time And Place

Thursday, September 23, 2010 -- “Strictly Speaking She Harmonizes”

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 -- Equally And As Hopelessly Lost

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 -- Heavy Weather In The Third Kind Of Water

Monday, September 20, 2010 -- The Margins Of Water In The Wild

Friday, September 17, 2010 -- Notebooks (A Start)

Thursday, September 16, 2010 -- Looking Away From Selene And Endymion

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 -- Whatever Pretend Means

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 -- Bluetits

Monday, September 13, 2010 -- Selene Still Loves Endymion

Friday, September 10, 2010 -- Religion, Politics And The Great Pumpkin

Thursday, September 9, 2010 -- The Application Of Beyond Understanding

Wednesday, September 8, 2010 -- On Being A Sad Tennis Fan

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 -- Fluorescent Lights On A Book Of Shadows

Monday, September 6, 2010 -- Dreaming Of Ice Age Tribulations

Friday, September 3, 2010 -- Princess From Atlantis Without A Band-Aid

Thursday, September 2, 2010 -- Turning Away From A Bookshelf

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 -- Lidian Emerson As Vertical Lines

August 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 -- When The Planet Convulses And Glowing Lava Flows

Monday, August 30, 2010 -- Questions From The Gulf: Is That A Whale?

Friday, August 27, 2010 -- There’s Not Even A Blue Sky Any More

Thursday, August 26, 2010 -- A Bird Who Could Fly To Neptune

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 -- In The Mind Of Everyone Seeing Paris

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 -- No Doubts About The Party

Monday, August 23, 2010 -- The Opposite Of Washing Machine

Friday, August 20, 2010 -- Where The Tree Goes Into The Ground

Thursday, August 19, 2010 -- Lame Thursday (Another [!] Sick Day)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 -- Prehistoric Sharks In The Atlantic?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 -- Looking At A Street Light In The Jungle

Monday, August 16, 2010 -- Dinosaurs Are Searching For A Path To Disney

Friday, August 13, 2010 -- Quasi Una Red Guitar Fantasia

Thursday, August 12, 2010 -- True, Ugly, Ravished, Lost

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 -- More Than Color

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 -- The Hopeless Chaos Of An Actual Field

Monday, August 9, 2010 -- We’re Going To Need A Bigger Boat

Friday, August 6, 2010 -- A Typewriter Preserved From Roman Times

Thursday, August 5, 2010 -- Sitting Here Cruising Thousands Of Feet Down

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 -- Cockroaches From Space Redux

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 -- Thinking About Watercolors, Drawings And Photos

Monday, August 2, 2010 -- I’m Thinking Of A Room With A Calculator

July 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010 -- Steam And Laughter By The Somewhere Tree

Thursday, July 29, 2010 -- “Yet Baghdad Is”

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 -- “Heavy Cargo In The Heart Of The Sea”

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 -- Calculating Marigold Space

Monday, July 26, 2010 -- The Endless Death Of Maple White

Friday, July 23, 2010 -- Sunlight On Lidian Emerson

Thursday, July 22, 2010 -- The Endless Death Of Chrissie Watkins

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 -- Singing Is For The Birds

Tuesday, July 20, 2010 -- A Mussel Of A Different Color

Monday, July 19, 2010 -- The Point Of A Pin

Friday, July 16, 2010 -- Quasi Una Petroleum Fantasia

Thursday, July 15, 2010 -- Tears From The Heart Of The Sea

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 -- Molly Malone Redux

Tuesday, July 13, 2010 -- One Quick Megan Fox Moment

Monday, July 12, 2010 -- Like A Bright Green Fantasy

Friday, July 9, 2010 -- Women From The Ancient Cities

Thursday, July 8, 2010 -- Electric Golgotha

Wednesday, July 7, 2010 -- Lex Luthor Versus Ludwika Chopin

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 -- A Thomas Dolby Update (Sick Day)

Monday, July 5, 2010 -- Homeopathy And The Groupie Hierarchy

Friday, July 2, 2010 -- Sharks In Shoes

Thursday, July 1, 2010 -- 2010 2nd Quarter Index

Friday, October 01, 2010

If The Moon Looks Down

In about a week
the Moon returns to the west
by disappearing

a few days from now
in the east into the dawn.
Someone can know this

by watching the Moon
travel eastward every night
or by looking at

the annotations
on any good calendar.
If the Moon looks down

I’d rather the Moon
saw me looking up at her.
Even if the Moon

never looked at me
I’d rather look at the Moon
than a calendar.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Selene Still Loves Endymion

Looking Away From Selene And Endymion