Rereading “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass”

Haven’t seen the new movie, but it was good to remind myself what a brilliant pair of books these are.

"But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here."

The prefatory poem to Through the Looking Glass is really quite sad:

jabberwock.jpg.display Child of the pure unclouded brow
And dreaming eyes of wonder!
Though time be fleet, and I and thou
Are half a life asunder,
Thy loving smile will surely hail
The love-gift of a fairy-tale.

I have not seen thy sunny face,
Nor heard thy silver laughter;
No thought of me shall find a place
In thy young life’s hereafter –
Enough that now thou wilt not fail
To listen to my fairy-tale.

A tale begun in other days,
When summer suns were glowing –
A simple chime, that served to time
The rhythm of our rowing –
Whose echoes live in memory yet,
Though envious years would say ‘forget’.

lewiscarroll-image Come, hearken then, ere voice of dread,
With bitter tidings laden,
Shall summon to unwelcome bed
A melancholy maiden!
We are but older children, dear,
Who fret to find our bedtime near.

Without, the frost, the blinding snow,
The storm-wind’s moody madness –
Within, the firelight’s ruddy glow,
And childhood’s nest of gladness.
The magic words shall hold thee fast:
Thou shalt not heed the raving blast.

And though the shadow of a sigh
May tremble through the story,
For ‘happy summer days’ gone by,
And vanish’d summer glory –
It shall not touch with breath of bale
The pleasance of our fairy-tale.

But the sheer inventiveness of the books, the philosophical games and verbal tricks!

Humpty-Dumpty-Carroll1871 `And only one for birthday presents, you know. There’s glory for you!’
`I don’t know what you mean by "glory,"’ Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant "there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!"’
`But "glory" doesn’t mean "a nice knock-down argument,"’ Alice objected.
`When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
`The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
`The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master – – that’s all.’
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. `They’ve a temper, some of them — particularly verbs, they’re the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!’
`Would you tell me, please,’ said Alice `what that means?`
`Now you talk like a reasonable child,’ said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. `I meant by "impenetrability" that we’ve had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you’d mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don’t mean to stop here all the rest of your life.’
`That’s a great deal to make one word mean,’ Alice said in a thoughtful tone.
`When I make a word do a lot of work like that,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `I always pay it extra.’

Do take these books down and read them again. I really don’t think I’ll bother with the movie.

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Top posts for the first quarter of 2010

I retrieved this information last night, but it is unlikely to change significantly in a day.

1. Active blogs

This blog

  1. Home page 3,725 views
  2. Climate change is real, real, real… 183
  3. Nostalgia and the globalising world… 123
  4. SBY’s speech in the Australian parliament 104
  5. About 95
  6. Open Letter from U.S. Scientists on the IPCC 75
  7. It’s no wonder we have infrastructure challenges 73
  8. What do we know about climate change? 56
  9. Ghosts and other tales of Kiama and district 52
  10. Erasmus Darwin “Visit of Hope to Sydney Cove near Botany Bay" 47

Photoblog

  1. Home page 2,731
  2. Mardi Gras Fair Day 4 – Mad Hatter 84
  3. Saturday: Sydney Future Music Festival 2 79
  4. Small Buddhist temple 3 65
  5. 2010 64
  6. Old haunt derelict now 52
  7. New skate facility in Ward Park Surry Hills 42
  8. Light, texture, architecture: Surry Hills 38
  9. Wollongong Mall 36
  10. 10 best nature shots from 2008: 9 34

2. Inactive blogs

Floating Life Apr 06 ~ Nov 07

  1. Friday Australian poem #17: Bruce Dawe, 729
  2. Two Australian poems of World War II 558
  3. Book and DVD backlog 487
  4. Home page 437
  5. Ian McKellen and Judi Dench in Macbeth… 393

Floating Life

  1. Home page 2,629
  2. Australian poem: 2008 series #9 — 1,796
  3. How good is your English? Test and Answers 1,232
  4. Dispatches from another America 654
  5. The Great Surry Hills Book Clearance of 2005 607

Ninglun’s Specials

  1. 10. But is it art? Responses to the Bill Henson controversy of 2008 783
  2. Home page 628
  3. Gustave Dore’s "Ancient Mariner" illustrations 448
  4. Chinatown 13: Chinese Gardens Darling Harbour 8 310
  5. Family stories 3 — About the Whitfields 262

That’s all the “Floating Life Blogs” with one Sitemeter covering all of them. It is already (30 March) showing March to be the best month in the past twelve months.  You’ll note the role played by inactive blogs. That just means they get no new entries, obviously not that no-one ever reads them!

English/ESL

  1. How should I write up a Science experiment? 5,083
  2. Home page 3,419
  3. A student’s “Belonging Essay 1,800
  4. Mary Shelley, "Frankenstein" — and "Blade Runner" 1,788
  5. The "Belonging" Essay 1,535
  6. Essay writing: Module C “Conflicting Perspectives" 1,118
  7. Belonging pages: HSC 2009-2012 936
  8. What tense should I use when I write about literature? 868
  9. Studying the Gothic, or Emily Bronte? 857
  10. Physical journeys and Peter Skrzynecki’s poems 806

This blog is also inactive! It has its own Sitemeter showing 9,958 so far in March, the second highest in the past twelve months!

Old friend reappears – thoughts on gays in the military

They’re still toiling away on this one over in the USA. The most widely publicised intervention on the subject was US General: Dutch Gays in Military to Blame for Massacre, unfortunately. What a dill!

As for the old friend: he didn’t actually disappear, though he has been several times away in the Persian Gulf in the past ten years. Rather, I don’t get around the gay traps all that much these days – a combination of choice and necessity. But I was chuffed to see Sailor Andy in the Herald the other day.

Anzac-Day-420x0

He has been in even more august company than that of the RSL president.

20081218adf8246638_252.JPG

Source: ADF

Can Gays Serve Openly in the Military? Yes, since 1992

And there’s more:

The Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Hon. Warren Snowdon MP, today welcomed changes to Commonwealth laws that mark a significant step forward in the recognition of same-sex relationships for Australian Defence Force (ADF) members.

“From 1 January 2009, the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws – Superannuation) Act 2008 will ensure that same-sex couples are treated the same as opposite-sex couples for the purposes of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1948 and the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Act 1973,” Mr Snowdon said.

“In addition, I have signed a legislative instrument to remove discrimination against same-sex couples and their children in regards to superannuation benefits paid under the Military Superannuation and Benefits Scheme.

“Same-sex partners of ADF members will no longer be denied the payment of death benefits from superannuation schemes,” Mr Snowdon said.

“The tax concessions on death benefits, currently made available to opposite-sex couples, will also be available to same-sex couples.

“These changes have been a long time coming, and further reinforce the ADF’s commitment to recognition of same-sex relationships, seen in areas such as the Defence Home Owners Scheme and access to Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Veterans’ Residences.”

So things have come a long way – some of it, be it noted, during the Howard years.

21 October 2005: Gay rights advocates have congratulated the Australian Defence Force (ADF) on extending equal partner and family benefits to service personnel in same-sex relationships. The extension of these benefits comes 13 years after the removal of the Australian Government’s ban on gays and lesbians serving in Australia’s military.

The Australian Defence Force is not backward in education on GLBT issues.

heading4

There is also a non-official Defence Gay & Lesbian Information Service website. Chief Petty Officer Stuart O’Brien is Chair of this group.

In 2007, after only six months back in Australia, he returned to the Middle East at short notice to take on the role of Chief Clerk within the International Zone at the Multi-National Force – Iraq headquarters, Baghdad. During his service here, he was awarded the US Meritorious Service Medal for his service within the Staff Judge Advocate’s Office.

Chief O’Brien is partnered to Christopher and lives in Sydney Australia.

See Out in Baghdad. See also Watch: Australian Navy’s Stuart O’Brien discusses lifting the gay ban in his country.

There’s a fascinating 2000 white paper called THE EFFECTS OF INCLUDING GAY AND LESBIAN SOLDIERS IN THE AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE FORCES: APPRAISING THE EVIDENCE. Our Sailor Andy figures in it.

The fact that these people were there had no effect whatsoever on the effectiveness of the units, unit cohesion or morale. People are accepted for who they are and, as long as they can do the job, who cares. That’s pretty much the view of most, I would say, in defence, here in Australia. As long as you are capable of doing your job, they don’t care what you’re doing in your spare time…

I’m quite open about my sexuality. Sometimes the boys decide to give me a bit of a ding-up with a joke or something like that, but that doesn’t bother me. We work really well together, and I’m sure it’s the same for other gay and lesbian soldiers and sailors who are out, and they’re accepted by their peers. O.K. — they’re the object of ridicule sometimes, but everybody is…

We’ve come so far on gay rights but it’s not enough

Former Australian Foreign Minister Bill Hayden recalls (6 October 2009):

Fifty-eight years ago, as a conscript in the Australian Navy, I was on parade with ship’s company on the wharf at Williamstown, I believe it was.  A police identity check was taking place. Two rather hefty men, wearing dark fedoras, so favoured by celebrated criminals and successful detectives of the day, and bearing police standard issue suspicious scowls, moved between our ranks.

A third, slighter and very nervous, man was in tow. The offence being investigated was the bashing and robbery by sailors of a homosexual man in a park, the third person with the two detectives.

The exercise was abortive. It always was I was told. In such cases homosexuals really had no rights in practice, regardless of what the law might have said more generally.

Defence counsel would unmercifully shred their character in the witness box and with that would demolish any crushed remnant of self-respect to which the witness might attempt to cling.

The witness’s credibility as a complainant would be zilch by this time. Police, courts and the general public had little sympathy for homosexuals. No, it was an oppressive period which, by its prevailing bullying intolerance of non-conforming minorities about whom it was uneasy, made bashing and rolling gays for their wallets a reasonably safe and lucrative pastime.

Only the brave and foolhardy among victims would complain in such conditions. Nothing came of this incident I relate…

Where the issue of homosexuality has been concerned, so much outstanding human talent, even genius, has been wantonly sacrificed over so much time on the grotty altar of personal prejudice and community ignorance and petulance.

We have now had more than a couple of decades’ experience of living with legally sanctioned homosexual practices. The sky has not splintered apart, and our community has not degenerated into a Sodom and Gomorrah, as had been gloomily predicted earlier by fervid opponents of homosexual rights.

In fact, we have generally found gays to be good neighbours and friends, helpful and respected workmates, people whose presence is most frequently welcome as desirable fellow citizens…

The times are nowhere near as tolerant of and respectful towards those people as would be the case if the community accepted them as fully equal with us, the dominating majority, the heteros. We allow them a sort of provisional, limited citizenship; freedom on a short leash, as it were…

…That very conservative institution, the Roman Catholic Church, recently ruled that the much excoriated gay, Oscar Wilde, was a “lucid analyst of the modern world”. But do not hope for too much too soon. The wheels of progress grind exceedingly slow indeed in that institution.

On the other hand gay hate crimes, bashings and murders, still occur, reportedly as recently as last weekend, in Centennial Park.

Many of these issues have been discussed during the recent national Human Rights Consultation.  My hope is that this soon to be released report recognises there is a lot more work to be done before we can feel confident that gay people are treated decently and with equality as our respected peer.

There was a very memorable Anzac Day we spent with Sailor Andy some years ago in an Oxford Street establishment. He brought all his mates. Every service was represented! I had some very interesting conversations.

With apologies to my grandnephews and grandniece

On two counts really.

Newspoll 30 March: Iron Man Abbott vs the Ruddbot.

[YouTube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cb6qaZmJC4o”%5D

SOUTH Sydney hooker Issac Luke only arrived at Toyota Stadium 20 minutes before kick-off last night – but he had a good excuse.

While his teammates were preparing for their game against Cronulla, Luke’s mind was on other things – namely his pregnant partner Makahlia, who suffered complications in the lead-up to the game.

In the hours before kick-off, Luke was at the hospital. When Makahlia was given the all-clear, Luke made a frantic dash across town in a car driven by a friend. His problems didn’t end there. The car was pulled over by police on the way – another spanner in the works.

Luke made it in time and then went to work. The New Zealand international scored one try and kicked four goals as the Rabbitohs handed Cronulla another loss, this time a 30-8 thrashing which extended the Sharks’ losing streak to 13 games, one short of the NRL record set by Wests in the 1998-99 seasons. — The Australian

At last: a genuine climate change debate

Lord-Monckton Back in February there was a debate in Sydney between Lord Monckton (right) and Tim Lambert, UNSW computer scientist of Deltoid fame. At the opening Lord Monckton generously acknowledged that such a debate was almost unprecedented and warmly thanked Lambert for agreeing to it. The chair was 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones, who conducted the event in a scrupulously proper manner. (Coaching debating was one of my duties during my teaching career.)

Monckton in fact began strongly with an account of the serious and tragic unforeseen consequences of biofuel production – the wrecking of third world economies and death by starvation. From here on things went downhill for him. His opponent was unfailingly polite in front of a largely hostile audience and unfailingly logical.

I am reminded, having at last been able to see the debate on Youtube, of the great Bishop Soapy Sam Wilberforce versus T H Huxley on Darwin in the 19th century.

Supporters of Monckton crowed rather in publicising it:

Christopher Monckton will debate Tim Lambert in Sydney on 12 February. We all know Monckton of course. Tim Lambert is responsible for the insufferably smug warm-blog "Deltoid." Details:

Friday 12 February 2010 – 12:30pm
at
HILTON HOTEL SYDNEY, Grand Ballroom

The Moderator and MC will be
Australia’s leading Broadcaster, 2GB’s
Alan Jones AO

Please register by providing name, address, phone & email details.
Email to: ———–

or FAX: (02) 4861 2029
Special enquiries ring 0419 703 465…

Deltoid has posted about it (obviously), and one of the comments sums it up rather well:

This will be a turkey shoot. I almost feel sorry for you Tim. (No, not really).

Still, you can always come back here, lick your wounds, and explain how you would have won if only it was a fair contest. You know, if you hadn’t taken a knife to a gunfight!

LOL!

Not so sure they (rather than Tim) would have had reason to be smug after the event.** Afterwards right wing columnist Andrew Bolt had this to say:

UPDATE

Computer scientist Tim Lambert may be vituperative, deceptive, a cherrypicker, an ideologue, a misrepresenter and a Manichean conspiracist only too keen to smear a sceptic as a crook who lies for Exxon’s dollars. Oddly enough, he seems to have restrained his worst and most suspect traits to offer Lord Monckton a genuine debate at last.

True, Lambert is hardly the best authority on Lambert, but his summary of the debate at least indicates he landed a few blows, which sceptics who were there have conceded in comments on various threads is indeed the case, even if they scoff at Lambert’s claim that he “wiped the floor” with Monckton.

Anyway, this is how debate should be, and just to read even Lambert’s admittedly partisan account is to see how much faster we are likely to arrive at truths, or at least save ourselves from error, if we promote debate and insist it be held in good faith. If nothing else, it encourages a sceptic to publicise the point of view of a warmist.

Don’t ask me to adjudicate on the Lambert-Monckton stoush. Many of these issues are over my head, and I was not there in any case. All I know is that there was a debate, and that we have until now had terrifyingly few of them.

Not that Bolt is biased in any way… Seeing the actual debate vouches for the accuracy of Lambert’s account (linked in Bolt’s piece) and the degree of prejudgement and wishful thinking Bolt indulges in.

But best you judge for yourselves. 

See also Snowballs, Snowjobs and the Lambert-Monckton Debate and I went to a circus and a science debate broke out. From the latter:

Today I attended the debate between UNSW computer scientist Dr Tim Lambert (author of Deltoid blog) and Lord Viscount Christopher Monckton of Brenchley.

The venue was the Hilton Hotel Grand Ballroom, and attendance was about 60% of capacity, that is roughly half the number of people who attended last time I was there, when it was packed to 120% of capacity for the launch of MySpace (remember MySpace? Neither do I…)

At any rate, I am pleased to report that the debate was indeed just that, a real debate, conducted civilly, in front of an attentive and polite crowd, and well moderated by Alan Jones.

It was neither the rabble-rousing denialist circus some feared it would be, nor an embarrassing excursion into Monckton’s many personal foibles. It was instead, a robust, articulate presentation and dissection of the factual content behind Monckton’s denialist propositions. Both speakers were modest, neither hyperbolic, and both approached the question in an open and non-dogmatic fashion.

In two fifteen-minute presentations, each speaker addressed the proposition that “manmade global warming is a real threat”. The substance of the debate hinged, I am happy to say, on a scientific question concerning the degree of climate sensitivity to differing concentrations of CO2. Namely, Monckton has independently calculated a level of climate sensitivity that is lower than the IPCC’s estimate, by a factor of approximately 7-8 times. Dr Lambert showed Monckton’s calculation to be based on a misunderstanding of data provided by a satellite scientist, one Professor Rachel Pinker (2007). Dr. Lambert also showed that Monckton’s thesis depends entirely on the climate sensitivity being a very low estimate, while the other denialist darling, Ian Plimer’s, thesis depends on climate sensitivity being a very high estimate. They cannot both be right, and perhaps both are wrong.

What followed was about 90 minutes of questions from the floor, which again was handled very calmly and coolly by all the proponents. Some of the questions were truly odd, and showed a very low level of understanding of science, and a very high level of paranoia and confusion among the (predominantly old and angry) audience members:

  1. One gentleman attempted to suggest that, since a lot of the world’s carbon is in the oceans, it is water vapour evaporating from the oceans, and not fossil fuels, that is causing warming (what is causing all that extra evaporation, he didn’t say). Neither proponent had the heart to tell the gentleman that water vapour is made of, well, water, not CO2.
  2. Another questioner thought that the 1976 international treaty banning weather-control devices (anyone heard of this?) showed that nations already had the technology to control the weather, so why aren’t they using it?
  3. Another questioner said that our government is being totalitarian about environmental issues, and he lived under Soviet occupation in the former Czechoslovakia, so he should know.
  4. Another questioner wanted to know whether Dr. Tim Lambert wanted to stop him from procreating with his wife (ewww).
  5. Another questioner wanted to know if continental drift wasn’t the real driver of sea levels.

Contrary to many who worry about functions like this providing a platform for denialists, I think the debate generated far more light than heat (sic). It is a credit to the way both proponents, and the moderator, and indeed the audience, conducted themselves that it was a fruitful and enlightening discussion.

I think perhaps the most important thing that came out of the debate is that it takes a lot of wind out of denialist sails when they meet a real-life supporter of AGW science and realise that we are not trying to drag civilisation back to the stone age, prevent people from having babies, wreck the economy, keep the developing nations in poverty, or any of the other shibboleths that drive the denialist circus. As Tim Lambert explained to the audience, as a computer scientist, he is first and foremost an engineer, and it is an interesting and important engineering problem to work out how to get as many people as possible enjoying a high standard of living, without trashing the planet in the process. That’s all…

Check my Climate Change page for some new resources.

Embedded Youtubes of the debate Parts 1-4 over the fold. I have now downloaded the whole thing.
Continue reading

Around the blogging traps…

A steal from Jim Belshaw, that, who in turn echoes an Australianism that probably relates to dingoes or rabbits.

These have all appeared on my Google Reader selections over the past few days.

It seems, doesn’t it, that it is very easy to be a Marxist in the USA. So many people are, at least according to some of the more strident parts of the American Right, that you’d think the place was already the People’s Republic of America. It seems that all you have to do to be a Marxist is have a generous or unselfish idea from time to time… Ask Jim Wallis from the socially aware evangelical group Sojourners.

Last night Glenn Beck distorted the truth again: He called Jim Wallis a Marxist and denied the Christian calling to social justice.

He also claims that we started a campaign against him (and that Obama is behind it). Sojourners simply initiated a response of people who "turned themselves in as Christians who believe in the biblical call to social justice." Now he’s thrust Sojourners into a familiar role – countering the conservative agenda. He’s used labels such as Marxist, communist, and socialist against political leaders, against advocates of health-care reform, and now multiple times against Sojourners and Jim Wallis.

Now I concede there are real critiques that can be made of the very imperfect package that politics and compromise have so far delivered to the American people as “universal health care”, but “socialism” is hardly its most obvious feature.

Australian economics blogger Bill Mitchell, Research Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at the University of Newcastle (NSW Australia), puts our Antipodean view rather well in The US should have universal public health care.

To start with here is a personal message to all the fine American readers of my blog (there are thousands). I live in a nation where I can ride my bike for hundreds of kms unimpeded although I do have to wear a helmet these days as a result of invasive law changes. I live near the beach and can go and surf the waves whenever there are some as free as a bird. I walk the street each day without fear of arrest and interrogation.

I even criticise the national government relentlessly on national media and no-one comes round in the dead of the night to take me away. I can travel where I like (mostly). The citizens can toss a government out of office if they do not like them at regular (relatively short-spaced) intervals.

The only time I see the Australian army is on TV when the news shows them getting shot up in far of lands where they have no place to be.

I have to stop at red lights but consider that probably is a health issue rather than an infringement on my civil liberties. Which brings me to the next point …

I live in a system with universal health care where the poorest Australian can access first-class medical and hospital services on demand. It is not perfect and there are significant inefficiencies in certain areas mostly involving private insurers and greedy medical professionals. But overall it works fine.

This health system hasn’t turned Australia into a totalitarian state. The material means of production are mostly privately owned. And even though I agree with Marx, that capitalism represents the chimera of freedom … we do not live under the oppressive iron glove of a dictator – communist or otherwise!

So when President Obama’s health changes were passed the other day, the reaction among some was idiotic. I got this retweet which was originally tweeted by one Solly Forell who calls himself a conservative American blogger:

ASSASSINATION! America, we survived the Assassinations and Lincoln & Kennedy. We’ll surely get over a bullet to Barrack Obama’s head.

Some reaction to a piece of legislation that hands over billions in public funds to corrupt and powerful private health insurers.

Even the right-wing News Limited press in Australia, which is usually rabid on these matters, noted in relation to President Obama’s health changes:

On the lunar Right, claims that the legislation follows the mindsets of Lenin, Stalin and Kim Jong-il are equally wide of the mark.

Jon Taplin also has an economics blog, but his is in the USA. In University of Fox he writes:

Thomas Jefferson stated an essential truth of democracy when he said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” So what are we to think of the incredible level of ignorance across our land as evidenced in the latest Harris Poll? Majorities of Republicans believe President Obama

  • Is a socialist (67%)
  • Wants to take away Americans’ right to own guns (61%)
  • Is a Muslim (57%)
  • Wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one world government (51%); and
  • Has done many things that are unconstitutional (55%).

They also believe the President

  • Was not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president (45%)
  • Is the “domestic enemy that the U.S. Constitution speaks of” (45%)
  • Is a racist (42%)
  • Want to use an economic collapse or terrorist attack as an excuse to take dictatorial powers (41%)
  • Is doing many of the things that Hitler did (38%).

One last thing, 24% of Republicans believe Obama “may be the anti-Christ.” The only answer to this mass delusional ignorance is that these people are getting all their information from Fox News and most especially Professor Glenn Beck.  Here is one Professor Beck’s most famous students, Rep. Michele Bachman.

“It is really quite sobering what has happened. From 100% of our economy was private prior to September of 2008, but as of Tuesday, the federal government has now taken ownership or control of 51% of the private economy.”

I swear to God, you couldn’t make such brainlessness up if you tried, but here is a U.S. Congresswoman spouting complete nonsense in public…

Brainlessness is right! Before we leap too far, however, read some of the commenters on Jon’s post. The Harris Poll may not be very reliable. Trouble is you really do see examples of what appears to be a specifically American madness on blog after blog.

Away from politics, but not too far away, read The age of Innocence: Some Thoughts on The Chimney Sweeper by William Blake.

The Chimney Sweeper (Experience)

A little black thing among the snow,
Crying ‘weep! ‘weep! in notes of woe!
“Where are thy father and mother, say?”
“They are both gone up to the church to pray.

Because I was happy upon the heath,
And smiled among the winter’s snow,
They clothed me in the clothes of death,
And taught me to sing the notes of woe.

And because I am happy and dance and sing,
They think they have done me no injury,
And are gone to praise God and his Priest and King,
Who make up a heaven of our misery.

Wildlife in Surry Hills

Back in January 2007 I posted under this same header:

I was, um, bushwalking through the local forest — the one near the Juice and Java Lounge as you see below — when I saw a pair of the most beautiful butterflies.

local_forest

I watched them for a while, came up and searched the Net, and I am pretty sure this is what I was seeing:

papilio_anactus

That picture tells you more.

Meanwhile, I just noticed someone arrived here a short time ago after searching for “marxism in mary poppins”. Eh? I wonder what he/she found?

Yesterday afternoon at much the same spot I took these photos. There were around four butterflies in fact.

Our Indian Summer continues, though today it hasn’t gone as high as 30C. Some autumn so far!

Note the laptop. Open air blogger?