March 23rd, 2014 § 0 comments

But first, a farewell to Bob Crow, admirable trade unionist – seen here with a friend, Paul, on a Palestinian solidarity trip in the Jordan Valley.


Following his death, and that of Tony Benn (and Stuart Hall), there has naturally been much loose talk in the kind of bars which I frequent of the type which starts ‘they don’t make them like that any more’ and ends ‘they threw away the mould’. FYI, loose talkers, that’s what they do with moulds – they are made to be thrown away. At this season of Nowruz - you thought I’d forgotten that – we should look forward to the new year, rather than lamenting the old. As Swinburne (oh no, must be the second quote in three weeks, I knew he’d become an addiction) says:

For winter’s rains and ruins are over,
And all the season of snows, and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins;
And time remembered is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.

Respect the old and dead, I’d be the first to say, but don’t forget the young and alive, who are constantly facing fresh and unexpected challenges. I’d call to your attention in particular Natalia Poklonskaya, the Crimean prosecutor, whose appearances on RT denouncing the illegal Ukrainian putsch went viral in Japan;anime

Natalia Poklonskaya

or Anne-Marie Eklund Löwinder, who has so far broken the glass ceiling as to become a ‘keyholder’ in ICANN, which in a sense controls the internet; and so trusted with the assignment of IP numbers worldwide at a top secret meeting. To make sure the room looks decent for visitors, she went in the day before to vacuum with a $20 dustbuster – none of the male keyholders volunteered for the job, it seems.

A friend has also called attention to the talented young Uzbek singer Yulduz Usmunova, seen here driving with complete contempt for even the Uzbek régime’s idea of the highway code. It is this blog’s principled position, which would probably have been shared by long dead fighters like Timothy Leary and Emma Goldman that you fight the beast where you are with whatever means you have.


Michael Gove (see previous remarks) is now proposing to introduce teaching in Roman numerals (starting from age 3, or III). It has always been obvious that Arabic numbers (apart from their dubious non-Western origin) made everything much too easy. And yet, with a bit of practice, anyone can multiply XXXVI by XXIX; you just multiply by XXX and subtract XXXVI again. Decimals (if that’s the word) are a bit harder and never quite made it in the Roman world – I wonder how Mr Gove proposes to deal with them?

Enough facile tilting at the education system. I mean to turn my attention to the world around us (it’s a beautiful day, and I’ve been for a walk on Hampstead Heath, saw a brimstone butterfly and a variety of dogs). So,

Today’s wader or shore bird: is the Knot. There are obviously (my source is the RSPB) huge flocks of these around – in the Thames estuary, for example, in winter; but I can’t honestly own to having ever had a positive ID on one of them.

knotA Knot

‘Dumpy, short-legged, stocky’ says the RSPB, which seems a bit careless about the knot’s feelings. (Do knots read the net? Is there a knot-net – isn’t is common, e.g. for fishermen, to make your nets by knotting? But I digress.) Could I perhaps find a comfortable spot near the DLR where I could observe such a huge flock? And tangentially, what is the collective noun – a tangle of Knots? So many questions, as Brecht observed in a different context.

Today’s weed is dog’s mercury, which can be observed around this time of year. And, unlike the Knot, it will stay still while you look at it.mercury

Today’s invented plant is Manypeeplia upsidowniamanypeeplia

Today’s endangered species is Anopheles, the malarial mosquito (it seems the Greek name translates insultingly as ‘good for nothing’. Speciesism again.)

The efforts of so-called superior human beings to wipe these insects off the face of the earth merely because they have in their turn become vectors of a nasty parasite called Plasmodium, seem truly appalling – particularly when you think that the mosquitoes are not actually motivated by ill-will towards humans, whom they must consider an essential food source. Consider this:

‘Blood meals were spiked with various toxicants and were then offered to adult Anopheles arabiensis and killing effects were observed. Varying concentrations of the most effective substance were then tested in subsequent trials to obtain an optimal dose for quick and total female elimination. The remaining males were mated with untreated virgin females to assess whether their mating efficiency had been compromised.’

The cold-blooded and ruthless programme outlined in this extract should surely be outlawed by some universal ethical considerations, if not by so-called ‘human rights’. Since when did we feel it was OK to spike blood with poison; observe how well it worked; obtain an optimal dose for ‘total female elimination’; and then offer up untreated virgins to the unwanted attentions of the poisoned males? Imagine the outcry if this programme were carried out with badgers, never mind unsociable young people from Dalston.

Enough Nature. I should go on to Art, but I’m getting tired, and it’s late.


is from South Sudan (I haven’t had any before, have I?) Not in the vernacular, I’m still a bit lazy on that.

By Constants Dc

My compatriots,
My countrymen,
Patience is all what we need,
The calmness and observance,
The strength of heart,
To hold your pesticide and medicine, And observe the pest and disease,

Yes! You need to stay watchful, Cross your legs and fold your hands. Watch! As the seed grows.
Don’t get influence by extremists, We need no money,
Neither any honey,
But! Patience and trust,
For what we have sow is a seed,
Which needs pruning after five years? And harvesting after six years,

Yes! We need endurance and tolerance, For this seed is in bad soil and conditions. But! Be patience,
All it takes is tolerance.
The sense of being stone-hearted.
Yes! It will grow,
For we took time and money to plant it,
We took 21 yrs for land preparation,
Also 21 months under strict laboratory examination, 21 days in fertilization and control,

Yes! It has matured,
But not pruned,
So, roll your chairs and sit back,
Just take your time and watch.
Don’t get influence.
Be a good farmer.

Yes! What it needs is patience, The cleverness of snake,
The calmness of a dove,
And the Wisdom of Solomon,
To carefully harvest the first fruit, Many tried, but futile.

Alas! For any mistakes will lead to many stakes, So, be extra cautious,
We have lost the scientist,
For any Adventist.
All it needs is patience,
Endurance and tolerance.
Inshallah! Not to regret the scientist.

After C. P. E. Bach, something a bit more modern – if still quite antique. Here’s ‘Bubble Bobble‘.




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