January 17th, 2011

vulnerable planet

January 15th, 2011

adventure with a purpose

Palaeontologist Paul Sereno talks about his archaeological adventures, dinosaur evolution, the connection between art and science, and more. Great talk!

January 15th, 2011

the first few nights this week could grow fog

Nick Ashbury at CreativeReview has been collecting amusing or poetic linguistic constructions by weather forecasters on television. He has a post that collects the “best of” the recently retired Robert McElwee‘s expressions.

“This first week of the four will produce rain a-plenty, some thunder, Met Office warnings and limited area hotness.”

“From Tuesday to Thursday, a flabby low pressure area will allow warm sunshine between slow-moving heavy showers.”

“The thought of increasing cloud and rain is there with you in Wales.”

“Then, to end the week, pressure starts to build, the northerly is cut off and the sun can be bolder.”

“Settled, sunny and increasingly warm weather inhabits the south of the UK.”

“We are still in the story of rain for the time being.”

“That tongue of cloud is a forecast – it may be a little more dispersed than that.”

“A cloud envelope coming up through Cornwall late in the day…”

“Someone seems to have pressed the button marked ‘Rain’. At night.”

“This coming month will prove the point as we bring back very cold air and then sit in it.”

“Monday and Tuesday sees the decay of this cloud and its showers.”

“This week is not characterised by excessive sunshine.”

“A cold southeast breeze with much cloud will be our fate.”

“With low confidence, the signal from the virtual atmosphere suggests that central Europe will now be under the centre of the cold anticyclone.”

“Temperatures remain below average but snow will probably be more of a hill or temporary event.”

“Do not dismiss February as a potentially cold month.”

“There seems to be a reluctance on the part of the atmosphere to move with any speed.”

“It’s a jagged translation and rain is still in the story.”

“The first few nights this week could grow fog.”

“It’s breezy and the sky responds to that by breaking the cloud up and letting the sun through.”

“I say rain proper because behind my head is lime green and yellow.”

“Windy and wet, or wet and windy: it works either way.”

“Otherwise, it’s just a scattering of showers and big holes in the sky.”

“…and here’s the line of familiarity that brings rain to Northern Ireland.”

“The wind is very much not there.”

From CreativeReview

January 14th, 2011



In the 70’s, Rainer Wehinger created a visual listening score to accompany Gyorgy Ligeti’s Artikulation. I scanned the pages and synchronized them with the music. Enjoy!

January 12th, 2011

species pep talk

January 9th, 2011


January 8th, 2011

if it’s good enough for you, it’s good enough for me, Universe

Marcus Aurelius

  • “Get rid of the judgement, get rid of the ‘I am hurt,’ you are rid of the hurt itself.”
  • “Everything is right for me, which is right for you, O Universe. Nothing for me is too early or too late, which comes in due time for you. Everything is fruit to me which your seasons bring, O Nature. From you are all things, in you are all things, to you all things return.”
  • “How ridiculous and how strange to be surprised at anything which happens in life!”
  • “Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also” .
  • Seneca the Younger

  • “That which Fortune has not given, she cannot take away.”
  • “Let Nature deal with matter, which is her own, as she pleases; let us be cheerful and brave in the face of everything, reflecting that it is nothing of our own that perishes.”
  • The wikipedia page for Stoicism has some nice quotes to illustrate the philosophy. Those above are just a selection of ones I like most.

    Addendum: Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations is online.

    January 8th, 2011

    the closet scenario

    A closet scenario or closet screenplay “is a screenplay intended not to be produced/performed but instead to be read by a solitary reader or, sometimes, out loud in a small group”. Wiki.

    From Friedrich Schiller’s Preface to his Die Räuber (a closet drama):

    This play is to be regarded merely as a spectacular narrative in which, for the purpose of tracing out the innermost workings of the soul, advantage has been taken of dramatic modes, without otherwise conforming to the stringent rules of theatrical composition or seeking the dubious advantage of stage production. … A greater amount of incident is crowded together in this play than was possible to confine within the narrow limits prescribed by Aristotle and Batteux … And for this reason, I would have been ill-advised to attempt bringing my drama to the stage.

    Kevin Alexander Boon in Script Culture and the American Screenplay:

    Whether or not a screenplay is ultimately produced (read: performed) is a matter of consequence, not necessity.

    These quotes head an article by one Quimby Melton, discussing closet dramas and closet screenplays, called Production’s “Dubious Advantage”.

    January 3rd, 2011

    the kakapo and the ayeaye and other creatures

    In this (1hr 30mins) video, Douglas Adams recounts his wildlife adventures. A keen storyteller, Adams is good at making a connection with the audience, inviting them into his world and rewarding them with humour and insight for paying attention.

    January 3rd, 2011

    please, nasty rain, don’t drench my love

    January 1st, 2011


    Koupepia is the Cypriot name for stuffed vine leaves or what the Greeks call “dolmades”. Yesterday I tried a variation on the traditional recipe, using apricots instead of raisins, and it was very successful. So I typed out the recipe for future reference.

    January 1st, 2011

    Modern people are inwardly thoroughly bored.

    D. H. Lawrence on wonder. From “Hymns in a Man’s Life” – Evening News, 13 October 1928:

    Nothing is more difficult than to determine what a child takes in, and does not take in, of its environment and teaching. This fact is brought home to me by the hymns which I learned as a child, and never forgot. They mean to me almost more than the finest poetry, and they have for me a more permanent value, somehow or other.

    It is almost shameful to confess that the poems which have meant the most to me, like Wordsworth’s Ode to Immortality and Keats’s Odes, and pieces of Macbeth or As You Like It or Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Goethe’s lyrics, such as Uber allen Gipfeln ist Ruh, and Verlaine’s Aynte poussela porte qui clancelle — all these lovely poems which after all give the ultimate shape to one’s life; all these lovely poems woven deep into a man’s consciousness, are still not woven so deep in me as the rather banal Nonconformist hymns that penetrated through and through my childhood.

    Each gentle dove
    And sighing bough
    That makes the eve
    So fair to me
    Has something far
    Diviner now
    To draw me back
    To Galilee.
    O Galilee, sweet Galilee,
    Where Jesus loved so much to be,
    O Galilee, sweet Galilee,
    Come sing thy song again to me!

    To me the word Galilee has a wonderful sound. The Lake of Galilee! I don’t want to know where it is. I never want to go to Palestine. Galilee is one of those lovely, glamorous worlds, not places, that exist in the golden haze of a child’s half-formed imagination.

    And in my man’s imagination it is just the same. It has been left untouched. With regard to the hymns that had such a profound influence on my childish consciousness, there has been no crystalising out, no dwindling into actuality, no hardening into commonplace. They are the same to my Man’s experience as they were to me nearly forty years ago.

    The moon, perhaps, has shrunken a little. One has been forced to learn about orbits, eclipses, relative distances, dead worlds, craters of the moon and so on. The crescent at evening still startles the soul with its delicate flashing. But the mind works automatically and says: ‘Ah, she is in her first quarter. She is all there, in spite of the fact that we see only this slim blade. The earth’s shadow is over her’. And willy-nilly, the intrusion of the mental processes dims the brilliance, the magic of the first apperception.

    It is the same with all things. The sheer delight of a child’s apperception is based on wonder; and deny it as we may, knowledge and wonder counteract one another. So that as knowledge increases wonder decreases. We say again: Familiarity breeds contempt. So that as we grow older, and become more familiar with phenomena, we become more contemptuous of them.

    But that is only partly true. It has taken some races of men thousands of years to become contemptuous of the moon, and to the Hindu the cow is still wondrous. It is not familiarity that breeds contempt: it is the assumption of knowledge. Anybody who looks at the moon and says, ‘I know all about that poor orb’ is, of course, bored by the moon.

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