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Red-rumped parrot on a gate, and other Christmas visitors

Some mowing required,pastoral scenes are no excuse for not keeping up the yard work

Some mowing required,pastoral scenes are no excuse for not keeping up the yard work – Christmas 2010, rural NSW

I had to have my dog put down before Christmas.  There is no art in that, nothing but bathos.  Orwell may have made something out of shooting an imaginary elephant, but there is no poetry or great message in the death of my cute little dog.  I stayed with him as the vet went about her work, because loyalty, a dog of a virtue which excuses cover ups and mass murders, is amongst the virtues I admire most, and having made the decision that he was to die, it is not in me to simply walk away and leave the dog alone to the process.  (In the waiting room, while I held him up so he wouldn’t enage in battle with animals ten times his size, he pissed blood down my shirt, his incontinence and internal bleeding a reassurance that i was doing the right thing.)  He  wagged his tail, happy at the attention, trusting me, and blubbering though I was, I hope I did not betray that trust.  Afterwards, I reflected on my sentimentality regarding animals, and how useless I would be on a farm, unless I had some reconditioning, and my brain went into over analytical overdrive: did I do the right thing? how dare you feel like that about an animal? how dare you do what you did? do I feel enough?  do I feel too little?  And I was left with the knowledge, I don’t want to go through that again any time soon.

Then I awoke to the news of the murder of 20 little children and others.  I cannot even begin to try to get into the imaginative head space of being able to watch those children die, let alone carry out that deed.  Empathy completely fails me, though  I am a broken person, filled with my own darkness.  I can think about the pain a person may have, the anger, and draw a path that may lead to such a deed, but I cannot colour that picture in, cannot give it substance.  I do not dare to put myself in the position of any of the parents who lost a child.  For most adults who have had their fair battering from life, that is too easy an imaginative leap to make.

There is no causality between these events, they are just the order in which I experienced them.  There is no other real connection either, they are an infinite degree of both kind and magnitude apart.  We lurch from day to day, getting by as best we can, hoping for small joys, experiencing our small sorrows, and hear news from a distance of great horror.  We hope that if nothing else, some small meaning can be taken from disaster if it leads to us changing our ways.  This happened in Australia after the Port Arthur massacre, but gun ownership is less entrenched in our culture.  It seems that this most recent tragedy will lead to no great change.

I am reading and very much enjoying “Unapologetic” by Francis Spufford.  He is brutal on the failure of most of theodicy to reconcile a belief in/the existence of a good and powerful God with suffering.  It is not my purpose to go into that here, but it contains one of my favourite recent quotes.  He talks of the horrors of the world, referring to Darwin’s description of a caterpillar being devoured by larvae, and more about disease and death in general, before touching on pantheism:  “To anyone inclined to think  in a happy wafty muddly way, that nature is God, nature replies: have a cup of pus, Mystic Boy.”

Here are some pictures of some recent visitors, just the usual suspects, nobody special:

Pied Currawong

always on the make…

Pied currawongs have been hanging around. I tried to feed one by hand, but we were both a bit jumpy and I threw the bread and he took it and fled.

King Parrots

always wanting a feed

A juvenile King Parrot has been making a nuisance of itself, wearing its parents out as it constantly demands a feed.  They are a beautiful bird.

Crimson Rosella

Crimson Rosella

Crimson Rosellas are not uncommon but they are a bit flighty.  This one was comfortable in my backyard, as he was a bit hidden amongst the branches.

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Morning kookaburra

Morning kookaburra

Caught this kookaburra in the morning light…

one of nature's gentlemen, when it is not breeding season

one of nature’s gentlemen, when it is not breeding season

My old friend the butcher bird, still taking thrown food on the wing …

Achtung!

Achtung!

Nothing escapes me

Nothing escapes me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the sulphur crested, or white, cockatoo, noisy and destructive but a true favourite of mine…

look to the left

look to the left

look to the right

look to the right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Joe Chip Empire is in decline, there are too many other calls on my time.  Over at the Joe Chip Laboratories, we have been spitting out Tall Poppy seeds as part of our investigation of the alleged Australian disease known as the Tall Poppy Syndrome.  It is an interesting condition, a disease diagnosed by those who have been subject to scrutiny, not by those doing the analysis … at the 6th Proletarian Anarcho Lottery Syndicate, the writer proves the revolution is nigh.  Finally advice for the lovelorn, and a bunch of other stupid stuff, over at What Would Joe Chip Do?

As the fireworks begin to see off 2012, I hope there is something on these pages to justify the moments you spent looking at them.  if not, I sincerely apologise.

Until next year, I remain your faithful servant, your mate, my mate Joe Chip

Modern day Ahabs, hunting the Great White … balloon …

JOE CHIP dreamed a dream , a dream that can unite us all, omnivores, carnivores, vegetarians, vegans, fruitarians, lacto-vegetarians, lacto-ovo-vegetarians, pescetarians, pollotarians, and pollo-pescetarians, the dream of the hunt of the giant pseudo-beasts in the sky that can sustain us all without troubling our consciences.

You Are What You Eat

Those of you who have been subscribing to the analytical reports of the Chip Laboratories since ancient times know of our well founded efforts to ethicise (ha! take that, dictionary) omnivorism.  We are trying folks, we really are.  We have put all of this week’s grant money into considering balloon animals.

Some of you maybe scoffing, as you associate these creatures with parlour games and carnivals.  However, I am not talking about simple domesticated balloon animals.   I am talking about great sweeping herds of massive fortean creatures, blocking the sun on their nomadic trek as passenger pigeons once did sweeping across America.  And no, there would be no reliance on foul, poisonous oxygen.  These are great helium or methane filled beasts, nodding and swaying as they are blown by the currents of wind, just as giant jelly fish are swept across oceans.  Picture them now in your…

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Strange internet search terms …

Jessica Accardi,the possessor of a fine ability to convey with subtlety and nuance her thoughts and feelings about literature and art and other things, and who sends my heart aflutter with her love of rhubarb, beats me hands down – I had thought “hindu cryptozoology” was a strange search term to lead to my blog, but she wins with … I’m not sure I can say it.  See the comments on my post “This title is kinda vanilla” below.  I’m interested to hear what interesting google entries may have led strangers along your garden path.

No other postings this week, but here is a picture I took a few years ago of a southern boobook balancing on a palm frond.  We have had one visiting in the night recently, but no photographs I’m afraid.  This owl was wild, but residing in a State forest is perhaps used to people getting a bit close, and was not disturbed at all:

I love the scrunched eyes

Speaking of nocturnal visitors, we had a very welcome intruder the other night.  Sneaking into my front yard in pyjamas to confront a prowler, I saw a huddled shape in the driveway.  A moment later it bounded away, and in the street lights I saw it clearly: a swamp wallaby!  (While a zoologist may condemn this description, a wallaby is basically a sawn off kangaroo.)  People may think that kangaroos bound down city streets here, but they do not.  This was very unusual for me, I’ve rarely seen a wild kangaroo, as a city slicker.  A couple of nights later, he was back.  They are dark and timid and I do not hold out hopes of much of a photograph if he returns, but I’ll see what I can do.  Very exciting, its the little things that keep us going after all!

Most excellent echidna, most spiny anteater

Don't get too close

Don't get too close ...

Another not so good photograph, but I record my encounter this evening with a nocturnal ambler 5 minutes walk from my home.   (My photographs are not as good as Mike’s, but I still wanted to brag about this meeting.)  It was an overcast afternoon, a light drizzle here.  I heard some movement in the bush and froze, hoping something interesting was about (and always cautious its not something that finds me, or more likely my wallet, interesting).  I thought there was a possibility it was a goanna.  I stayed still long enough and this fellow came along.  I was very happy to see this short beaked echidna, out and about a little early.  They are an ancient life form – the echidna and the platypus are the only extant monotremes, ie egg laying mammals, so they go back to early days of mammal evolution.

Thank you to those who comment in various places on my pieces.  A yell out this week to Thirsty Murphy, who put me onto Die Antwoord, and who has had me googling local kung fu schools to find a replacement for karate which has taken too much out of my knees and ankles.  In a similar vein, I am looking forward to the upcoming publication of “How Not to Get Hit” by Nathaniel Cooke in three months.

So: what has been happening around the Joe Chip Empire?  Here we go:

While there are some Trevor pieces in preparation, the fermentation is not complete.  A couple of alleged poems have been reblogged here recently, but you may wish to check them out in their natural environment over here.  (Of course if you prefer real poetry by a real poet, you would look here.) As well as a poem about the tragedy that is the story of Casper the tamed, hobbled, crushed so-called “friendly” ghost, the Marxian consequences of this disturbing story are considered here.  A warning to men who wish to stray because their wives do not understand them is here (speak more clearly, and perhaps brush your teeth occasionally).  Most importantly, fellow scientists, I have been wondering why we do not eat rocks, and acknowledging that I cannot eat eyes.

I’ve been reading a lot lately, but nothing has inspired me to actually say anything, so I won’t.  I’ve picked up a copy of “Basic Black”, tales of fear by Terry Dowling, and on the strength of a story I blogged about a little while back, I am very much looking forward to reading it.  I am at 75 000 words on the second draft of my own novel.  I say that out loud because it may make me have to do more work on it.

And as a reward for putting up with some not so good photographs, here are some pictures of a regular visitor to my home.  I feed them sometimes though I know I shouldn’t.  I have loved cockatoos since I was a young child, but it is not good to encourage them, they are very destructive.

very clever beggar

White cockatoo

very clever beggar

nice and fluffy

Old Tawny

Tawny Frogmouth

Tawny frogmouth - nocturnal visitor

Often mistaken for an owl, being of similar size and nocturnal habits, this is a Tawny Frogmouth.  I’ve come across them a few times.  This one was across the road from my old house, which was a nice surprise on returning home one winter evening a few years ago.

Those who place their faith in the competition of ideas and the holy grail of peer reviewed science should read “Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic” by Pamela Weintraub.  Self interest, self aggrandisement and self promotion are as rife in medical science as any other field of human endeavour, and just as often at the expense of truth and the well being of others.  I live in a country that does not even recognise lyme disease as existing within its borders, so that sufferers are seen as malingerers and liars.  This is an issue very close to my heart, and this book was more terrifying than any of the horror stories I read, but still, a very important books to read.  70 million stars out of ten.

Something strange is happening in Glossolalia – three reports in three weeks!  This week, read how childhood used to be – riding bikes, hiking, swimming unsupervised, building tree houses, wandering zombie haunted caverns – back in the days before children were cossetted and wrapped in cotton wool by helicopter parents.  Back in the good old days before Trevor ruined everything.  (Wander down an abandoned mine in my world and you are not going to meet the Wizard of Alderley or grumpy but kindly dwarves.)

Speaking of mines, were you aware that industrial rocks cannot fall from the sky and hit Albania?  Its a scientific impossibility, proven in poem.  And speaking of rocks and science, over at the Joe Chip Laboratory (somewhere around the corner from the Ponds Institute for the Morally Disabled), we have been taste testing rocks.  All in the name of science, and all for you, dear and gentle reader.

And on that note, farewell for now, and to paraphrase Jeff French, Readers, I love you all…

Yours faithfully,

Your mate,

My mate Joe Chip

The Power

Powerful Owl

Powerful Owl

This is not a great photograph, in fact it is not even a good photograph.  The light, the bush, my camera and my skill levels were all against me.  However I have not come across owls in the wild very often, and wanted to share my encounter with a Powerful Owl.  It is the largest owl in Australia, and in my state is listed as “vulnerable”.  This photograph was taken in Sydney Botanical Garden.  They mate at this time of year and can be heard calling particularly in March and April.  I have been fortunate to hear at least one over the last few weeks at home, but not spotted it yet.  I will try to keep to half decent photographs in future, but this one was more about the excitement of finally seeing one of these beautiful animals in the wild.  Check out those talons.

Joe Chip is at home amongst the dead this week.  I appreciate the interest of those who subscribe to and visit this site.  If I could ever encourage you to click on any of the links to have a look at my other work, could I encourage you to have a look at “Not Trevor” this week please?  It is not an easy site to publicise, and it is strangely personal.  Many thanks to those who have a look.

Attempts at humour and poetry appear here and here.

If anyone comes across Edgar Edgarberger, please tell him to get in touch.

Sticky beak

 

If only the beak had been on the other side ... if only he hadn't gotten himself so blurry

My best photo of an azure kingfisher so far, I have a lot of work to do on these.  They usually fly off before I can get my camera ready, so I’ll have to be a little bit happy with this.

Your mate has been busy and has a lot of work to do, so not much in the way of commentary today.  He has solved all of the world’s food security problems here.  I am a little surprised that he has gone all tabloid on us here and provided details of his own personal Cuban crisis ( a sultry night … a chance encounter … with JFK … you join the dots, but not on your screen, the ink may not come off).  He provides well meant advice on delicate family relationships here, but one is left wondering whether he understands what understands means.  He’s even managed to pen and publish a poem about adolescent longing and sunburn here.  True art.

Your mate was in geek boy heaven this week watching Shark Harbour.  What more could one ask for from a documentary – sharks, gadgets, sharks, cameras on sharks, satellite tracking devices on sharks, shark attacks, sharks?  I got to watch people at work who are absolutely enthused about what they do.  Your mate is passionate about very little (he is a plastic doll, after all, as evidenced by his gravatar), but he so likes to see enthusiasm in others.  It was odd, I was sitting there watching it (it isn’t gruesome) and I realised that I was feeling happy.  You have to realise that in my part of the world, reports of shark sightings and shark attacks are portents of Christmas, and I suspect there was a bit of childish enthusiasm bubbling up around that, together with some excitement about “safe fear” (that will not feel so safe next time I am at the beach).  Every Christmas holidays, the newspapers would report dangers and crises – funnel web spider bite fatalities, shark attacks, “Deadly blue ringed octopus found in children’s pool”, stranger danger, and brewery strikes, so that now emergencies give me a Christmassy feel.

 

 

 

 

 

The Crimson Pimpernel

Crimson Rosella

There we go, as promised in various places, if you don’t like the words, at least there is a bird to look at.

Your mate really has no business blogging when there are so many other calls on his time, such as hiding from creditors and looking at birds, but he cannot let you down.

Looking around the Joe Chippish traps, a message has got through from Glossolalia, though it is hard to understand.  I suspect evil Trevor has been up to something.  In honour of Valentine’s Day, the Joe Chip laboratories have conducted an in depth analysis of love (scientific name: LERV), to see what its all about, Alfie.  You may be surprised at our results.  Or you may not.

Continuing with the romantic theme, you may be intrigued by the strange attraction your mate has to the Australian billionaire, Gina Rinehart, and the question he asks: does she have ninjas?

In the poetic realms, we consider the effect of the cryptid creature, the numb-bat, and those who seek its bite to remove all feeling, and why light is a bad thing.  (Who is this “we”, Joe?  I don’t know, you tell me, Joe.)

This week’s shout out goes to Osteoarch, who is a freelance osteoarchaeologist, and how cool is that?  Most interesting job description I’ve come across in a while, and she gets to wear a white coat in her pictures, which I don’t.  Check out her site.

Just finished “Embassytown” by China Mieville, the bestselling communist fantasist.  He continues with an obsession about religion.  In earlier books such as “Perdido Street Station” he wrote of demons, though they were throughgoing materialists, existing on the physical plane.  In “Kraken” he was a bit more direct, depicting a London populated by members of thousands of obscure and generally warring sects.  He has a respectful Marxist approach to religion – he does not believe a word of it, but acknowledges it as a real and continuing part of human existence.  While a complete sceptic, he does not take the dismissive approach of a Dawkins or Hitchens, no doubt in part stemming from his Marxism, in that religion cannot be reasoned away until the material conditions of humanity change and the contradictions inherent in the capitalist system are resolved and the state withers away and so on – he has his own apocalyptic agenda whether he realises it or not.  I don’t know that too many religious believers would see themselves reflected in “Kraken”, though perhaps their detractors would.  yes, they can be evil, intolerant, scheming, whatever, but they can also be loyal, devoted, selfless and self sacrificing – in other words, human.  However, religion is reduced to subscribing to an arbitrary series of postulates (unlike, say, Marxism).

Here, the theological concerns are definitely non-theistic.  In “Embassytown”, humanity is confronted with a pre-lapsarian world, with creatures who cannot lie.  This is no “Case of Conscience” James Blish world – they are not innocents – they scheme, they kill, they profit.  However, for purely Darwinian reasons, they cannot lie.  Humanity then introduces the serpent into their world.

It is all very interesting, however for all the discussion in reviews of the cleverness in its discussion of language and so on, it still felt arbitrary.  This thing happens because these creatures happen to do this when this other thing happens.  Hardly a criticism, I know, isn’t that a description of life, however I don’t know that it is justified to raise the discussion of the book as high as it has gone in some circles.  It is one of the slimmest of his books (his books are getting a lot shorter than when he started, whether that is a good thing depends upon how much you were enjoying them), but frankly I thought it could have been a lot thinner.

There are many excellent science fiction touches.  I enjoyed the Turing machine, however it left me feeling a bit stupid – its role just drops off, and I  was left thinking that I must have missed something obvious about it and its inability to adapt.  Perhaps there was a comment in there about Turing machines being a test of whether humans are conscious independent sentient beings that I missed in reading it on my daily commute.  The stuff about interstellar travel on the immer and floaking are fairly lovely for those who enjoy sf.  Philip K Dick when interviewed  said that the pleasures of reading AE van Vogt for him included that they hinted at things unseen.  There are plenty of hints in this book – interdimensional lighthouses built in the immer – leading to the irony of the narrator, existing in a world so exotic to us, being led by the human instinct to leave her humdrum existence behind and strike off into even further beyond.  Whatever we reach, there is always something further.  However, while I enjoyed these aspects, to me they were a little bit of a cheat.  When I was elbowing my way into the novel, trying to settle in and get comfortable, there was a scene of a ship returning from the immer that was insufficiently quarantined.  Suddenly, something breaks out, and reality begins to be converted into the stuff of the creature.  A monster from the true beyond, something strange, a great weird moment.  I thought this was a hint of the crisis to come, of the crux of the novel.  No, it was mostly a throw away scene.  *Sigh*

An intriguing premise, some lovely dollops of weird, but in terms of playing with words and their manifestation, I preferred the playfulness of Steven Hall’s “The Raw Shark Texts”.  Perhaps I am shallow.

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Your mate loves youse all!

I am the King

Its good to be the king

You may like to click on a few links and see what else your mate has been up to this week.  Your mate has felt very poetic, as well as very Erich von Danikenish.  He has carried out a thorough scientific but also poetic analysis of ancient astronauts and relationships with fathers here.  In a not unrelated vein, he has considered what car God drives and resolved all intra-religious bickering about the issue of evolution here.  It is good to get these things settled and out of the way.

Speaking of things poetical, there is even a ditty about Leonard Cohen picking is nose.

If you did not catch last weeks “Not Trevor”, you may be interested, given the almost psychic way your mate predicted the announcement this week by an Australian scientist that a solution to environmental problems in Australia’s Northern Territory may be to release wild elephants.

Your mate has given advice to a fellow about the marriage his parents have arranged for him.  Heartfelt.  Touching.  Emotional.  Check it out here.

Interested in China and martial arts?  WHY WOULDN’T I BE, MR CHIP? Exaccerly.  This week’s shout out goes to Nathaniel, who can tell you how not to get hit.

This week:  Watched Moon.  Enjoyed it very much, even though they used a forbidden idea.  Read “The Afrika Reich” by Guy Saville – the action keeps rolling, interesting but less plausible than Deighton’s SS-GB, but I get annoyed when I get to the last page and find there is a sequel coming, which is not really a sequel, but a continuation.  Reading “The Watcher” by Charles MacLean – certainly horror, and getting weirder.  Worth a read: “Things we didn’t see coming” by Steve Amsterdam.

Brown is the new black

Brown falcon - a country killer

Hello Your mate hopes that you are comfortable.  What are you wearing?  That’s interesting.  This is the Joe Chip portal, with highlighted links to the various places Your mate rants during the week, only a left click away.

In an act of repentance for writing a mean poem about her, Your mate advised Ms Thatcher that he would not be going to see that new film about her (and that in any event, she was much nicer looking than that Meryl Streep), and she was very kind in her reply.  However, Your mate did see the new fascist propaganda film “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”, and while he enjoyed parts of it, he does not understand why they were making Kim Philby out to be a bad guy.  He was resourceful and a hard worker, what more can any employer expect?  This follows on from Your mate’s cry from the heart in favour of internet censorship (which did not meet universal approval, and left several people wondering if they were really Kate Bush.  NO THEY ARE NOT.)

There have been developments in Glossolalia, with Trevor taking action to ensure that the streets are more interesting (if not safer).

Following on from his discussion of wombats, Your mate has been considering the flavour of flags, in prose and poesy.  Mmm, yum.

The womb-bat controversy continues, with much debate in paranormal circles (is a paranormal circle a couple of wriggly lines?  Ahh, but if it is wriggly, is it a line?).

Please let the Great Lakes Socialist know that he has to knuckle down and study harder.  To twist the words of Kenny Rogers, there will be plenty of time for revolting, once high school is done.

Reading:  “Surface Detail” by Iain M Banks – I used to be able to devour these things, but I keep wandering away from it – no doubt I’ll finish it though it seems like every Banks sf novel ends in suicide*;  “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield (via Ron Dionne), so good on procrastination; “Toward God” by Michael Casey.  Enjoyed:  “The Misogynist” by Piers Paul Read (thank you Peter Craven); “River of Gods” by Ian McDonald.

*On this, I gave up reading a lot of genre fiction ages ago because of the sameness – yes one reads a genre because it meets certain requirements, but one of the requirements I have is to be surprised, to be dazzled, to be impressed, to go, yes, that inspires me.  One doesn’t expect that everyday, but you need it once in a good while.  (Clockworm has posted on some aspects of sameness here.)  Of course, literary fiction is also a genre, and so much of it is the same, or even if it isn’t, NOTHING BLOODY HAPPENS, or it is a reflection of those aspects of the modern world I don’t like.  (You don’t ask for much, Joe Chip.)  Goodness, I was even forced to read non-fiction.  And now I keep flapping about between it all.  Perhaps I am being dishonest – I’ve read too much indiscriminately over the years, and I want the old excitement without having to think too much. *sigh* Don’t worry Joe, you’ll cheer up when you win the lottery.