Source – Fuck Yeah, Books Art
Available to read at The Internet Archive
A pale tint of yellow representing the color of the yellowish lower part of the petals of some white jasmine flowers. I found it when a gentle morning sunray hit a dew-covered fruit of my Euonymus fortune shrub.
Yup, losing heroes is nothing new to me personally. Everybody has flaws of course, but Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins and many other “Skeptics” and “Rationalists” have really quickly sailed past the “Cape of Flawed Human” through the “Straits of Doubling Down” right into the “Sea of Shitlords” where they finally found their stable and comfortable niche.
What really gets me about the Epstein case specifically – and Rebecca alludes to it in the video, although probably coincidentally – is the sheer arrogance. He had a private jet, he could travel wherever and whenever he wanted for his sexcapades, so he could travel to countries with a lower age of consent. It would still be shitty behavior, but he would avoid doing something blatantly illegal (if he also avoided forcible rape that is). But, as is typical for such rich privileged assholes, he just did what he did in the USA and he was sure he will get away with it because he is rich.
That is the part that makes me angry.
The part that makes me sad is that he did get away with it. Even if he goes to prison now, it is too late and even a life sentence will be thus too short.
I swear this is a true story.
Last evening after supper Jack and I took a short stroll down to the end of our street. On our way back home we spotted a rabbit sitting in the middle of the sidewalk a few houses ahead. The rabbit was small and looked young and he was watching us approach and not moving – basically, frozen with fear and that “Oh, shit, now what do I do feeling.” We approached slowly – Jack has been taught not to chase anything alive and I was sure the bunny would finally bolt when we got closer. Nope. Jack amiably walked up to the rabbit and then bent down and took a sniff. Well, that rabbit turned his head and then rubbed his nose on Jack’s nose and the two of them just stood there for a moment looking at each other. Finally, the rabbit got up on his hind legs and gave Jack a good sniff or two and then he slowly hopped away into the shadows. Jack waited for me to tell him “let’s go” and then he ambled home slowly, deep in contemplation. I got the feeling that Jack was right pleased with the encounter and couldn’t quite believe that it had happened. Me, too.
So far the hottest year in the Czech Republic since the history of measurements was 2018. The rest of the top were years 2017, 2015 and now it seems 2019 will bump one of them off and three hottest years will be also three consecutive years. Right now we have a third consecutive year of not only abnormally hot but also abnormally dry weather. The area where I live is still relatively well off – and here it did not rain for eight weeks by now. Four of my bonsai trees have nearly died (and will probably die definitively) because I do not have as much water as I need to water them. I have managed to keep alive my freshly planted hornbeams in the coppice, but only just, and if no rain comes, they are toast. If I did not have my own sewage cleaning facility that allows me to use wastewater for watering trees they would be toast already. The well did not dry out yet, but it has merely 3 m of water now, which is not much.
And to drive the point really home I encountered this at work during my lunch break walk – a tiny baby frog or (more probably) a toad, dried and mummified (the pictures were not taken on the same day btw, it is still there).
It is fairly common to find dead dry frogs/toads on the road, but they are usually squashed by a passing car prior to that. This poor little wee thing had dried mid-step.
I am not particularly squeamish, but this sight shook me. It is a warning of things to come.
I have a bit of bit of trivia to go with today’s book. According to Wikipedia,
Jude the Obscure, published in 1895, met with an even stronger negative response from the Victorian public because of its controversial treatment of sex, religion and marriage. Furthermore, its apparent attack on the institution of marriage caused further strain on Hardy’s already difficult marriage because Emma Hardy was concerned that Jude the Obscure would be read as autobiographical. Some booksellers sold the novel in brown paper bags, and the Bishop of Wakefield, Walsham How, is reputed to have burnt his copy. In his postscript of 1912, Hardy humorously referred to this incident as part of the career of the book: “After these [hostile] verdicts from the press its next misfortune was to be burnt by a bishop – probably in his despair at not being able to burn me”.
via: Books and Art
Available to read at The Internet Archive
A deep rich blue, inclining towards violet, and one of the seven colors of the rainbow as named by Newton. The indigo dye is one of the oldest dyes known, historically extracted from plants of the genus Indigofera, but I think I found it on the berries of a Viburnum shrub.
It’s been hitting other media sites as well, but I first caught the news of Snowball the dancing parrot at The Atlantic:
His owner had realized that he couldn’t care for the sulfur-crested cockatoo any longer. So in August 2007, he dropped Snowball off at the Bird Lovers Only rescue center in Dyer, Indiana—along with a Backstreet Boys CD, and a tip that the bird loved to dance. Sure enough, when the center’s director, Irena Schulz, played “Everybody,” Snowball “immediately broke out into his headbanging, bad-boy dance,” she recalls. She took a grainy video, uploaded it to YouTube, and sent a link to some bird-enthusiast friends. Within a month, Snowball became a celebrity.
What’s unusual about Snowball is his choreographic development:
Snowball wasn’t copying Schulz. When she danced with him, she’d only ever sway or wave her arms. He, meanwhile, kept innovating. In 2008, Patel’s undergraduate student R. Joanne Jao Keehn filmed these moves, while Snowball danced to “Another One Bites the Dust” and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” And recently, after a long delay caused by various life events, she combed through the muted footage and cataloged 14 individual moves (plus two combinations). Snowball strikes poses. He body rolls, and swings his head through half circles, and headbangs with a raised foot. To the extent that a parrot can, he vogues.
The article explains more about how his rhythmic ability was noticed and tested, but I will say this: he’s quite the talented bird, I definitely cannot lift my leg like that and still keep headbanging.
What’s interesting is the conclusions being drawn from Snowball’s dancing ability:
“Parrots are more closely related to dinosaurs than to us,” Patel says, and yet they are the only other animals known to show both spontaneous and diverse dancing to music. “This suggests to me that dancing in human cultures isn’t a purely arbitrary invention,” Patel says. Instead, he suggests that it arises when animals have a particular quintet of mental skills and predilections:
- They must be complex vocal learners, with the accompanying ability to connect sound and movement.
- They must be able to imitate movements.
- They must be able to learn complex sequences of actions.
- They must be attentive to the movements of others.
- They must form long-term social bonds.
A brain that checks off all five traits is “the kind of brain that has the impulse to move to music,” Patel says. “In our own evolution, when these five things came together, we were primed to become dancers.” If he’s right, that settles the eternal question posed by The Killers. Are we human, or are we dancer? We’re both.
Parrots also tick off all five traits, as do elephants and dolphins. But outside of trained performances, “do you ever see a dolphin do anything to music spontaneously, creatively, and diversely?” Patel asks. “I don’t know if it’s been studied.” He wonders whether animals need not only five traits that create an impulse to dance, but also a lot of exposure to humans and our music. Captive dolphins don’t get much musical experience, and even though they interact with trainers, their main social bonds are still with other dolphins. But Snowball, from an early age, lived with humans. He seemingly dances for attention, rather than for food or other rewards. And he appears to dance more continuously when Schulz dances with him—something that Patel will formally analyze in a future study.
I say, keep dancing, Snowball! And here’s two dancing songs for the rest of us:
Someone came into our peaceful, wee forest and deliberately plucked out plants by their roots and then scattered them along the entire length of the path. The wreckage looked fairly fresh so it must have happened yesterday or earlier today, but who would do that? And why? It isn’t exactly violence, but it has the look of violence about it and it’s certainly senseless and stupid. Those plants were probably minding their own business, just doing that growing in the summer thing that plants do. I doubt they were shouting out insults or hurling stones at passersby nor were they likely to be plotting to do mischief at midnight. Sheesh! I hope whoever did this get weeds.
I do not intend to use tropical hardwoods in knifemaking too much. Especially I do not intend to buy and use wood from endangered species, but even tropical hardwoods of not-endangered species are problematic – habitat destruction and all that is unfortunately still a thing, not many tropical hardwoods are grown in a sustainable and renewable fashion (although many species can be grown in a coppice, when handled properly).
I think that local species have very often beautiful wood too, and the high price of some tropical hardwoods has nothing to do with how they look, but with their rarity. However, I will use them if I get my hands on some pieces by accident (for example I received some pieces free of charge with the steel I ordered, as an advertisement gift).
One such accident just happened. I was ordering online wood dust briquettes for winter and when doing that I searched for some wood for kindling. The description on the webpage on one product was something like “Hardwood cuttings from furniture manufacture, size up to 15 cm, 320 kg, extra dry, jatoba and black locust”. And I thought to myself “OK, black locust is an invasive species in Europe, and jatoba is not an endangered species. And anyway these are probably mostly chips and splinters that will be burned regardless, but maybe I get lucky and there will be some 10-15 pieces usable for knife handles in there and that would be nice.” So I bought the palette for the circa 100,-€ it costs. That is a lot for a mere 320 kg of firewood.
This is how the palette looked like in my garden.
Nothing special but you can see a nice big rectangular chunk of wood bulging in there, so I reckoned, “There are 12 sacks on the palette, if in each is one such nice piece – big enough for 2-3 knife handles – then the palette has paid for itself in knife handles already, I will get wood for about 25 knives. Nice!”.
Oh, little did I know. The very top sack was brittle and tearing, I suspect it was standing for a long time in the sun so the plastic deteriorated. I reached into the hole and pulled out one random piece of wood. And I could not believe my eyes.
This is not what in my workshop counts as “a cutting for kindling”. This is a piece big enough for 4-5 knife handles (circa 25x100x200 mm). Jatoba is not very expensive (for tropical hardwood that is), but even at its cheapest, I would pay 4,-€ for a piece like this when buying it extra. But the price could be somewhere between 10 and 20,-€ as well for this amount of top knife-handle material. And then I pulled out five more pieces – four were like this, only the fifth was really crap fit for kindling only.
I am not exaggerating – I could barely wait and sleep after this. But I had other work to do than to muck about, so it had to wait until today evening when I finally got to taking this wood under the roof. The uppermost sack nearly disintegrated on touch and this is what I saw.
My jaw dropped. That is wood for about 50 knife handles right there, in the picture, and twice as much not seen. This one sack alone has set me for life as far as jatoba wood goes.
I did not open every one of them, but by the feel on the surface 6 sacks contain big chunks like this, and 6 contain splinters and small unusable cuttings that I initially expected. So I estimate I have enough material for 600 fat knife handles made from jatoba, enough to start small manufacture if I were so inclined.
Oh, there was one piece of black locust too. That is ordinary and real cheapo wood (except for burls, those are costly), but it is pretty, durable and really environmental-friendly to use, since it is a pest.
To summarize, the ratio between the two species was reversed to my expectations (at least in the first sack) and I need to order some more kindling because I do not have nearly enough now.
I still dislike the idea of using tropical hardwood at all though, it just feels wrong. Although I am not a moral philosopher capable of dissecting the morals and ethics of a situation like this. I should probably heed one Czech saying and “leave these musings to a horse, he has a bigger head.”. What do you think?
This peaceful patch of pines comes to us courtesy of Lofty,
On the winter solstice I rode along a wooded ridge and this little stand of pine trees was almost perfectly side lit. The temperature was around 5°C at the time and frost was still present in the valleys nearby even at 10am.