Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Big bone

My friend Philip Moss is showing some of his paintings next month at The Glebe Gallery, Churchill, Co. Donegal, from the 4th of September ’til the 2nd of October. The one above is titled Big Bone (for SS).

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Het Zeemans-ABC

A is for anchor and Z is for sailor, in Dutch that is. Het Zeemans-ABC (The Sailor’s ABC) is a children’s picture book written by Nienke Denekamp and illustrated by myself. Published as a Gouden Boekje, a Dutch Little Golden Book, it will be launched on the 5th of October, 2 pm, at Het Scheepvaartmuseum, the National Maritime Museum, Amsterdam.

A number of original paintings for the book will be on show in the museum shop from October ’til the end of the year. The museum has been closed for renovations for four years, and its grand reopening comes a few days before our book launch, on the 2nd of October. I visited the museum with Nienke shortly before it closed; it’s very nice that our little book can be a part of the reopening celebrations.

This little book has been some years underway, so if you’re in Amsterdam on October 5th, I hope you’ll meet us at Het Scheepvaartmuseum to celebrate making it to port!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Frolicking Fish

An early Disney Silly Symphony. Another beauty from the same period is Hell’s Bells, found via the Monster Brains blog.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Birds on holiday

Earlier holidaying birds here.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The end in sight

As Libya’s revolutionaries approach the finish in Tripoli, here are some links to follow the fight:
EA Worldview live blog for today

More from Chris Albon and Terry Glavin.

It has been clear for a long time that the regime was doomed, in an isolated position where they could only lose strength as the revolutionaries gained support, resources, and territory. Every death caused by the regime’s unwillingness to face the inevitable has been an unnecessary waste, or would have been unnecessary had there been any realism within the regime.

I’ve had a couple of Twitter exchanges during the conflict with a young Conservative blogger called Aaron Ellis. He pitches himself as a strategic thinker and a Realist. However his crude anti-interventionist stance has caused him to be continually blinded to the strategic realities of the war in Libya.

On the 17th of March he tweeted “Things that will not happen: 1) a no-fly zone; 2) a rebel victory; 3) Cameron and Sarkozy winning the Nobel Peace Prize”.

On the same day, in response to a pro-intervention Conservative blogger, he tweeted “I'll bet you £10 the rebels will be defeated by the end of the month and Gaddafi (or his regimr) stays in power.” He then modified the bet to say “Without help, end of this month; with help, end of April (if then)”.

As late as 13 July, when it was clear even to the ADD afflicted Western press that Gadafi was running out of resources, Aaron Ellis preferred to emphasise the revolutionaries supply difficulties, tweeting “the rebels are running out of fuel and cash too”. Of course the strategic difference was that the revolutionaries had supply routes available, and had allies willing and able to supply, whereas Gadafi was losing friends and losing control of his supply lines.

There are a number of other examples of Aaron Ellis letting his opinions get way out in front of his understanding of the facts, but Twitter is a nuisance to search, so I’ll leave it there for now. There’s also his blog, Thinking Strategically, for more of such stuff, and there he attempts a response to my inconvenient reminders of his past declarations.

To be clear, the problem isn’t so much that Aaron Ellis opposes intervention, but that he sells this opposition as Realist strategic thought. It is just not possible to be a good strategist if you are unable or unwilling to comprehend strategic realities that are inconvenient to your prejudices.

Earlier post on the failure of self-declared Realists on Libya here.

Aded 22 August: Juan Cole spends some time on ten myths about the Libyan war.  He explains in some detail the mis-reporting of the war, and why the outcome should have been no surprise.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

I like to walk in the rain

Every time in the last week when we’ve had the notion to walk on Hampstead Heath, the rain has come down. So it was today but we went anyway, and eventually it did clear, the woods becoming magical in the evening sun.

The song that I can never keep out of my mind at such times is I Love to Walk in the Rain, as performed by Shirley Temple and Bill Bojangles Robinson in the film Just Around the Corner. The above clip is colourised, I’m afraid. The song is preceded in the film by Mr Robinson performing Brass Buttons and Epaulettes, accompanied by the Raymond Scott Quintette.

I don’t recommend watching the whole film. The songs are great but the rest is tedious, and aside from the concert at the end the only other song is, I think, This is a Happy Little Ditty, performed by Miss Temple, Mr Robinson, Joan Davis, and Bert Lahr, better known as The Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz. You can find that song here.

Friday, 19 August 2011

More flags

Thursday, 18 August 2011


A ‘reticulated giraffe and calf’ it says on this back cover fallen from an old Dublin Zoo guide book. The front cover is missing. Inside the remains of the book is a rare photo of an Irish snake. Also included is a list of collective nouns for various species of animals, including the lovely ‘an exaltation of larks’ but omitting the essential ‘a murder of crows.’

A to M and N to Z

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Birds and their sticks

Found perched in a French farmhouse.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Nature notes

By train to France southerly we went, and found quarters in an ornamentally rustic accretion of stone huts. Waking next morning near Aix en Pains, I thought it good to rearrange my bones by exercising, and set to explore the nearby wood of stunted oaks. Its paths quickly vanished in briar and brush, so after a short struggle I turned to go back.

The sun was behind me now, but something seemed wrong with the direction all the same. A chasm lay inconveniently across the way. I tacked to port, and climbed heaps of loose mossy stones. Then. A snake. And me in holiday sandals. Crossways with fright, out loud swearing and roaring, "I'm not used to the likes of you!" Me an Irish lad who'd only seen them in zoos before. Yes, the ones behind glass were bigger, but this, as fat as my fat thumb and longer than my forearm, it was big enough, and enough was too much. A scramble, and I had barely recovered enough of my wits to reorienteer, when I saw another one! Bloody, bloody hell. Lost only ten minutes from the house, and surrounded by serpents!

Of course I made it back to safety, and was able to identify the snakes in a book: not deadly vipers, but Elaphe Longissima.

It was later, at evening time when I had locked the courtyard gate against wild boar and was carefully making my way back indoors, eyes peeled for peril, that I saw one of the biggest beetles on the loose in Europe...