Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Visiting a spaceship: Buzludja

When visiting a spaceship built for the future, be prepared to encounter the past.





More when I can.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Secret lives: it's a kotwal, ya drongo


Continuing in the theme of names:

A black form flies
chasing would-be thief
and with harsh cries
defies him to try again.
He's a king, not crow,
he's a black drongo.

Before him a bee
twists him in flight.
Though you cannot see,
he has it in a trice.
He's a king, not crow,
he's a black drongo.

My song is mine
but yours is too.
I use it as a sign
to misdirect and fool.
I am a king, not crow,
I'm a black drongo.

But he too is fooled
raises anothers child
and is cuckool'd.
Sometimes it no use
being a king, not crow,
sometimes, you're just
a black drongo.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Secret lives: Parasitoid wasp


This caterpillar puts up an impressive display of defences.  An bushy density of barbed utricating hairs covering every segment, pointed in all directions. And for all that they mean naught to our elegant little wasp, the wasp with iridescent wings, and a fragile waist. A slick player so small that it gets lost within the defences of the caterpillar. It is precisely because it is so small that it can get past the hair that keep large predators and perhaps even larger wasps away. Good things, small packages.

It is leaving some packages of its own behind. This is a parasitoid wasp. Such an innocuous sounding word, not parasite, merely like a parasite. An -oid, eidos, form of, an imperfect resemblance. But this imperfection is not in the least bit innocuous, it is very very sinister. This wasps imperfection is that it will kill the caterpillar. Well, its progeny will. The eggs it is laying in that caterpillar will hatch into larvae. These larvae will feed on the caterpillar from within until they are ready to pupate. At this point they will eat their way out of the caterpillar, now an emptied and dead cul-de-sac, and will pupate once outside.

A good parasite loves its host. It keeps it alive. In possibly the most ancient case we know, it loves it so much it nurtures it (our lovely endosymbionts: mitochondria, chloroplasts). The perfect parasite is one where the host cannot live without its parasite. To kill your host means you must find another one: a very imperfect situation. So, a parasitoid, an imperfect parasite.

'I'm Gentleman Death in silk and lace, come to put out the candles. The canker in the heart of the rose.'

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Secret lives: Pariah / Black kite (Milvus migrans)


It used to be called the pariah kite on the Indian subcontinent, the shite-hawke in England. Its lovely habit of rooting through your dustbins probably earned it this name. Now its more simply called the black kite in India and the black-eared in England. To seperate it from the red, which the English seem to like better and perhaps the Brahminy kite (Haliastur indus) in India, so named for its white head. In Australia, the Brahminy is called the much more regal name of red-backed sea eagle. It's a dumpster diver just the same. 

I cannot help but think that the Pariah was pejorative name, and referred specifically to the occupations of pariahs in India. (Pariah was a catch all name for all lower castes who usually did the dirty work, collecting and clearing garbage, including said shite.) Bird names and identities have always had their own heirarchy. There are the special birds we see when we go out twitching, the ones we keep records of. And the others whose existance goes unnoted. The Pariah was onesuch. 

From the 'Boke of St. Albans'

An Eagle for an Emperor, 
a Gyrfalcon for a King; 
a Peregrine for a Prince, 
and a Saker for a Knight; 
a Merlin for a lady, 
a Goshawk for a Yeoman, 
a Sparrowhawk for a Priest, 

the movie.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Secret Lives: Scarab beetle


The iridescent colour of these beetles is a form of structural colour. The most common form of iridescence in beetles is through multilayer reflection. Imagine a multi-layered cake, sponge layers alternating with cream layers. (If you're still here and not having a snack in the kitchen) Now imagine that each layer is transperant but has a different refractive index. White light falling on our cake will go through each layer, but when it hits a boundary, this light will get split, some will get reflected back upwards. If boundaries are between 380–750 nm apart, ie the wavelengths within the visible light spectrum, the returning light will interfere other relflected light from the top surface. And depending on the depth of each our layers, constructive interference will occur for some visible light wavelength, i.e. some colour will be made super bright within the white light spectrum, and voila presto, structural colour. Here's a nice review on beetle iridescence.

But this picture is about hairiness really, rather than colour. Why are so many insects so hairy? My thought is electrostatics, what's yours?

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Secret Lives: Funnel web spider


I don't have my kit with me. I'm bored. You shouldn't have to be. So here's some stuff from the past...also serves the purpose of making the images available under the new terms of CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Feel free to upload to Wikimedia Commons under these terms and to request any that you want.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Dust in the wind






It's nice to finally figure out when you're happiest. I need a road trip. I need to learn to drive.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

This too shall pass


Besides the Hatton gallery in Newcastle

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Upon reflection

Things do not necessarily become clearer upon reflection.



Saturday, March 29, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

I'm not there

Dylan is always about nostalgia to me.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Red


Spring is here and there are imperatives other than running away from photographers.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I, too, am Berlin



Anyone wanting to turn this into fabric, get in touch and I'll send you a file.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Tightrope

HTC Desire C