Recent blog entries for marnanel

Gentle Readers: the land of green ginger

Gentle Readers
a newsletter made for sharing
volume 2, number 5
27th November 2014: the land of green ginger
What I’ve been up to

I've been preparing for the funeral tomorrow of my grandmother Joy, who died earlier this month. I've written her a poem which I'll be reading in the service; I'll post it in the next issue of GR. I shall miss her a lot.

I don't have much of a Something Wonderful to write this time, except that in York there is a street called Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate, and in Hull there is a street called The Land of Green Ginger. Suggestions of other excellent street names are welcome to the usual address.

A poem of mine

SOLSTICE

Perhaps I might compare... oh damn it. No.
It's four, and it's already almost night.
The land lies suffocated under snow:
they say "the dead of winter", and they're right.
My life's on hold until the first of May:
until that morning comes I have to cope
with dragging on through every darkened day.
July will come: I have to live in hope.
No. You're the one I'm missing, not July.
Yours is the warmth, not April's, that I miss.
I miss your smiles far more than May, and I
lie longing, not for June, but for your kiss;
I'm cold and tired. I don't know what to do.
Shall I compare a summer's day to you?

A picture

https://gentlereaders.uk/pics/emotional-rollercoaster
Emotional rollercoaster

 
Something from someone else

Because it's that time of year, and because I remember that Gentle Reader Toby likes it:

NO
by Thomas Hood (1799-1845)

No sun — no moon!
No morn — no noon —
No dawn — no dusk — no proper time of day —
No sky — no earthly view —
No distance looking blue —
No road — no street — no "t'other side the way" —
No end to any Row —
No indications where the Crescents go —
No top to any steeple —
No recognitions of familiar people —
No courtesies for showing 'em —
No knowing 'em!
No travelling at all — no locomotion —
No inkling of the way — no notion —
"No go" — by land or ocean —
No mail — no post —
No news from any foreign coast —
No park — no ring — no afternoon gentility —
No company — no nobility —
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member —
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,
November!

Colophon

Gentle Readers is published on Mondays and Thursdays, and I want you to share it. The archives are at https://gentlereaders.uk, and so is a form to get on the mailing list. If you have anything to say or reply, or you want to be added or removed from the mailing list, I’m at thomas@thurman.org.uk and I’d love to hear from you. The newsletter is reader-supported; please pledge something if you can afford to, and please don't if you can't. ISSN 2057-052X. Love and peace to you all.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/316863.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-11-27 23:15:09 from Monument

Spell

SPELL
by Charles Causley

When I was walking by Tamar stream
the day was as sweet as honey and cream.
The air was brisk as a marriage bell.
(Kiss if you must, but never tell.)

When I was walking by Tamar flood
I plucked a rose the colour of blood.
The red ran out and the thorn ran in.
(Finish all, if you begin.)

When I was walking by Tamar brook
I met a man with a reaping hook.
The beard he wore was white as may.
(The hours they run like water away.)

When I was walking by Tamar race
I met a maid with a smiling face.
Out of her eyes fell tears like rain.
(You will never see this road again.)

When I was walking by Tamar lock
I picked a bunch of sorrel and dock,
Creeping Jenny and hart's-tongue fern.
(Days they go, but cannot return.)

When I was walking by Tamar spring,
I found me a stone and a plain gold ring.
I stared at the sun, I stared at my shoes.
(Which do you choose? Which do you choose?)

[I don't know whether Causley thought of the Tamar as magical because it's liminal, but I do. TJAT]

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/316543.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-11-21 22:06:42 from Monument

Gentle Readers: the phoenix rises

Gentle Readers
a newsletter made for sharing
volume 2, number 4
17th November 2014: the phoenix rises
What I’ve been up to

I've been missing writing Gentle Readers. During the last month or so I've been dealing with particularly severe depression: getting out of bed has often been impossible, let alone writing newsletters. Many days have come and gone when I said I'd start writing again yet no words would come. But the phoenix has risen and here we are once more. Thank you all for your patience.

I've been reading Viktor Frankl's book Man's Search for Meaning, and I recommend it. Frankl was a professor of psychology who was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp; the first part of the book is a fascinating and disturbing description of his time in the camp. What seems to have kept him going was finding a meaning in his suffering: the knowledge that he was uniquely well-placed to learn about the psychology of extreme deprivation, and that he had to write it up and tell the world. And he realised that this was an example of the general principle that people need to find meaning in their lives to want to carry on, by which he meant a person's knowledge there was work before them that nobody else could do, or that they were irreplaceable to someone else in the world.

Have you read it? What did you think?

A poem of mine

MARY

Her soul proclaimed the greatness of the Lord
who dwelt within her belly, and her mind.
The light shines on, the humble are restored,
and food and mercy given to mankind.
That day she saw the everlasting light
she memorised, and treasured up inside,
investing for the fading of her sight
the hope that living light had never died;
till hope itself within her arms lay dying,
a frozen journey, ready to embark,
and nothing more is left for her but trying
to comprehend the greatness of the dark;
yet somewhere shines the light, in spite of that,
and silently she sighed magnificat.

A picture

https://gentlereaders.uk/pics/et-in-arcadia-egoNicolas Poussin's painting of shepherds reading "Et in Arcadia ego" inscribed on a tomb.
https://gentlereaders.uk/pics/et-in-arcadia-lego
Et in Arcadia Lego.

 

Something wonderful

We begin with something not in the least wonderful. Mustard gas is a substance used in chemical warfare; its effects begin to show around six hours after contact, causing painfully blistering chemical burns, conjunctivitis, and potentially fatal damage to the lungs. It works by interfering with the DNA so that cells can no longer reproduce themselves. To put it mildly, mustard gas is seriously unpleasant stuff.

The Allies never used mustard gas in the Second World War, but both the UK and the US were secretly manufacturing it just in case. In 1944, the Americans sent sixty tons of the stuff to their troops in Italy aboard a Liberty (merchant navy) ship named the SS John Harvey, reaching the British-controlled Italian port of Bari in late November of that year. But there was rather a queue, and the John Harvey lay waiting in the harbour for a week: the captain was prevented from telling the harbourmaster that his cargo was dangerous and should have priority in unloading because of official secrecy.

On 2 December the Luftwaffe bombed Bari harbour, sinking seventeen ships including the John Harvey, releasing a cloud of mustard gas to drift across the town. Nobody knows for sure how many thousands of people were injured or killed, again because of official secrecy: the whole accident was hushed up and didn't become public knowledge until the late 1960s. Nor did the doctors treating the injured people know that mustard gas was involved. At this point, the Americans despatched a chemical weapons expert named Dr Stewart Alexander to work out what was going on. His quick thinking identified the mustard gas and saved many lives; nevertheless, he still had to go through many autopsies.

But it was at these autopsies that Dr Alexander noticed something odd: people who died from mustard gas exposure had very few white blood cells, because the effects of the gas had prevented the cells dividing. If it stopped white blood cells from multiplying, might it stop cancerous cells from multiplying as well? Dr Alexander's work led eventually to the discovery of mechlorethamine, a derivative of mustard gas that became the first chemotherapy drug, and thus saved the lives of millions.

Something from someone else

THE YAK
by Hilaire Belloc

As a friend to the children, commend me the Yak.
You will find it exactly the thing:
It will carry and fetch, you can ride on its back,
Or lead it about with a string.

The Tartar who dwells on the plains of Tibet
(A desolate region of snow)
Has for centuries made it a nursery pet.
And surely the Tartar should know!

Then tell your papa where the Yak can be got,
And if he is awfully rich
He will buy you the creature-- or else he will not.
(I cannot be positive which.)

Colophon

Gentle Readers is published on Mondays and Thursdays, and I want you to share it. The archives are at https://gentlereaders.uk, and so is a form to get on the mailing list. If you have anything to say or reply, or you want to be added or removed from the mailing list, I’m at thomas@thurman.org.uk and I’d love to hear from you. The newsletter is reader-supported; please pledge something if you can afford to, and please don't if you can't. ISSN 2057-052X. Love and peace to you all.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/316190.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-11-18 01:26:06 from Monument

obsolete offences

"Section 13 [of the Criminal Law Act 1967] abolished the common law offences of champerty and barratry, challenging to fight, eavesdropping or being "a common scold or a common night walker." It also repealed the offence of praemunire, which had survived on the statute books since 1392. It preserved the common law offence of embracery (which was later abolished by the Bribery Act 2010)." --
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criminal_Law_Act_1967#Part_II_-_Obsolete_crimes

If you're interested, I think these are:
champerty = paying costs of a civil action you have nothing to do with as an investment in order to get some of the money if you win
barratry = stirring up quarrels in court
common scold = disturber of the peace (apparently only for women)
praemunire = sending tax money to the Pope, or submitting to his jurisdiction in civil matters (yes, this was made illegal in 1392)
embracery = bribing jurors.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/316110.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-10-31 22:11:59 from Monument

street harrassment

[In a discussion on street harassment elsewhere, some dude said: "Hi [name of OP]. There, I did it. I harassed you. Oh the humanity. Do you NOT get how absurd this looks to us guys? The creeper 5 minute guy, yeah I get that. But just saying hi? Get over yourselves ladies. We have a right to say hi on public streets." This is my reply to him]

Here as everywhere else, context makes a big difference. Here's an example from my own life.

I'm male-bodied; people generally read me as a man. Earlier this year I went to a party in drag (and hey, I thought I looked rather fetching). I was walking down a busy street after dark, when someone in the shadows I couldn't quite see called out "Hello darling."

Ordinarily, I wouldn't hear that a threat. But I can tell you that in *that* context it was a moment of raw terror. All the recent newspaper stories of street assaults ran through my head. If he thinks I'm a woman, maybe he's going to assault me (hell, if he thinks I'm a man in drag, maybe he's going to assault me). By appearing female in public I had effectively painted a huge target on my back.

Now of course men get attacked in the street too. But you don't expect that sort of attack to begin with the attacker saying "hello". If someone had come up to me with a knife I'd have been terrified whether I was dressed as a woman or not. But "hello, darling" is often the start of a very different script, and I was someone who might plausibly be cast in that script in a very unpleasant role.

So I can attest to the terror it can cause when a stranger tries to greet you in the street.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/315765.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-10-28 20:28:59 from Monument

Dravidian languages

Today I drew a tree of the relationships between the Dravidian languages (because someone asked about Tamil). Source.



This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/315548.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-10-24 20:02:57 from Monument

Zophobas morio

We got some crickets in the post today, so I put them into a tank we use for feed insects, and there were some Zophobas morio worms in there still. Z. morio is a long wriggly worm when it's a larva, and this is the form in which it's used as spider food. I was surprised, because we haven't had new Z. morio in for months, and I'd assumed that if there were any leftovers they'd be dead by now. But then I noticed the large number of small brown-black beetles in the tank and realised that the worms were (at least) second generation. I don't think I'd ever realised what they looked like when they grew up before: they're small, about a centimetre across, around the size of a new halfpenny.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/315227.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-10-22 21:11:06 from Monument

and now, a word from 13-year-old me

A few years back, sorting through some of my old papers, I found this poem. It's dated 11th December 1988, when I was nearly fourteen.

FRIENDS

They will stand beside you
When all things are good.
And in the times when things are bad
Beside you they have stood.
They always tell the truth to you
As every good friend must
And they are reliable:
Friends you always trust.
They never will say nasty things
About the clothes you wear
They'll stand up for you against others
When you're not there.
You can always trust your friends
To hold your place in queues.
They'll always tell you "You played well",
Even if you lose.
Always keeping by your side:
Friendship never ends.
Yet, after all, we're only human:
Who has friends?

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/315117.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-10-19 02:00:23 from Monument

Why, why, why, Eliza?

Tell me some more about when you saw light on my window.
Earlier on you were lost like a slave I can't free.
I understand you.
Is it because I deceived you that you came to me?
My, my, my, Eliza!
Why, why, why, Eliza?
I can see you're just a conditional tree
But you remind me we came here to talk about me.

This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/314265.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-10-16 23:54:00 from Monument

today's bit of sexist nonsense

Here's a conversation on Twitter between me and a man I don’t know in China. (FWIW I have a rather androgynous-looking user picture.)

He said, “Is it true that less than half of UK MPs voted for the resolution to recognise Palestine?”
I said, “Yes. But that’s irrelevant to the validity of the vote.”
He said, “Oh, I think it’s the most relevant thing in the world, sweetheart.”
I said, “I can only tell you what the standing orders of the House say. And I don’t appreciate being called ‘sweetheart’.”
He said, “sorry but when I hear a little dumb-dumb girl talking silly things I think of my 8 year old girls.”



This entry was originally posted at http://marnanel.dreamwidth.org/313996.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Syndicated 2014-10-14 01:47:33 from Monument

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