W. G. Sebald, Humorist
18 hours ago
MY morning walk takes me past a moderately-sized rookery, although there is a larger one at the far side of the dale, just beyond my sight.
The resident birds in each community are fairly predictable in their behaviour because at dawn they rise in thousands to head noisily towards their feeding grounds.
At sunset they return, still chattering among themselves as if discussing the day’s adventures and their route takes them directly over our house.
We can hear and see them leaving and returning almost like commuters going to work and coming home afterwards, and all seem to head to and from the same area for their daytime activities.
However, their routine has changed in recent weeks. This might have been linked to the fact that their feeding grounds, which are often freshly-ploughed fields, were covered with snow or it could be due to the birds being far too busy with this season’s nests.
As early as the preceding autumn, rooks will begin to construct new nests or repair their old ones and certainly on the morning I am compiling these notes, they are all at home, chattering in the trees and tending their bulky and untidy nests of twigs.
Unlike crows that prefer the solitary life, rooks are among the most sociable of our birds, gathering in massive flocks which, in winter, can be enlarged by visitors from overseas or through neighbouring rooks joining them to form super flocks.With the trees being leafless at this time of year, it is easy to see rooks tending their nests among the bare branches.
Other species might also join a flock of rooks, jackdaws in particular.
On many occasions, I have heard the calls of jackdaws among our rooks as they head for their feeding grounds. Jackdaws are members of the crow family and so the species does have lots in common.
There is quite a lot of lore surrounding rooks and one is that they will never build their nests in trees that are likely to fall down.
Many country folk will tell tales of rooks steadfastly avoiding a particular tree while constructing their nests even though the tree appears to be healthy. Sooner or later, that tree will crash to earth, perhaps in a storm or maybe from disease.
Whether this is true, and whether the birds possess some kind of extra sense about such things is always open to debate.
Another persistent tale about rooks is that they make use of a system of group discipline through what has become known as the rooks’ parliament.
Because they have a very well developed communal way of life, the theory is that they require some form of control over the behaviour of those who do not conform to the rules.
According to lore, the flock will assemble to discuss the behaviour of a rebel in their midst – perhaps the rogue has stolen sticks brought by others for nest-building, taken their food or committed some other offence.
After due deliberation, the offending bird is chased away from the flock, never to return.
That is one interpretation of their behaviour, but although they are very sociable birds who live happily together in a large community, they do have a strong sense of individual territory.
The male and female will defend the area around their own nest, chasing off and even attacking those who venture too close. It is that kind of activity, invariably accompanied by lots of noise, that might have persuaded observers that the birds have a court system of their very own.
The record books give examples of massive rookeries. One in Scotland is said to have consisted of more than 6,000 nests with another reaching more than 9,000. At the other end of the scale, some smaller colonies might muster only a few dozen pairs of birds.
Landowners do experience problems when such huge flocks descend to feed upon their land.
Rooks are known for their appetite in keeping down pests, such as leather-jackets and wireworms, but they will also eat earthworms, beetles, eggs, fruit and seeds. In seeking their food, they can cause immense damage to young crops and so they are not always welcome.
It is perhaps apt to mention here that rooks and carrion crows are quite different birds. They are very similar in appearance but an adult rook has a bare white patch around its beak and baggy trousers on its legs.
Rooks assemble in flocks, whereas the carrion crow is a solitary bird, usually seen alone or with a partner.
If you see only one, therefore, it’s probably a crow, but a crowd usually means they are rooks.
Drenched to the bone, the bone of loneliness, the bone of
silence, we plod back to the truck.Where are you Holden? Never mind the Missing stuff. Stop playingaround. Show up. Show up somewhere. Hear me? It's simply because Iremember everything. I can't forget anything that's good, that's why.So listen. Just go up to somebody, some officer or some G.I., and tell them you're Here--not Missing, not dead, not anything but Here. Stop kidding around. Stop letting people think you're Missing. Stop wearing my robe to the beach. Stop taking the shots on my side of the court. Stop whistling. Sit up to the table!
Knocknarea mountain is supposed to be the final resting place of the Warrior Queen Medb
Edith Wharton’s work has been part of my own world for many years. My first connection, as a reader and writer, came in my senior year at boarding school, when I first read The Age of Innocence. It was then that Wharton’s work took up residence in my mind. I was mesmerized by the elegance of her style and the acuity of her intellect, by her courage and her compassion.One of the brave things that Wharton does is to recognize the coexistence of the world of passion and the world of strictures. I don’t know another writer of her era who felt so seriously bound by the rules of society, and who took so seriously the great forces of emotion that were aligned against those rules. Since one of these rules was silence, it took great courage merely to declare the conflict, merely to write it down and speak it out.I was also struck by Wharton’s courage in declaring a woman’s story to be a tragedy. I don’t mean the story of a beautiful woman betrayed by her lover, for many writers have made that into a tragedy. I mean the story of a woman on her own, forging her own way, and making her own terrible mistakes. Lily Bart is beautiful, but her story is hers alone, and depends on no one else for its outcome. She is the tragic hero of her own narrative, the sole agent of her own downfall, just as King Lear was, or Oedipus, and this is remarkable.But most important to Wharton’s work is her own sense of compassion, something essential to all great fiction. It is Wharton’s empathy for her characters that makes our own possible. Wharton allows us to know them, to admire them, to understand their flaws and to forgive them — in short, to love them — as she does. For a writer, there is no greater skill.The way a young writer learns what is possible is by reading what other people have done. Wharton showed me that it was possible to write about the collision between passion and responsibility, about the complexities of class. That it was possible to write about a society in a way that was both ruthlessly observant and fundamentally forgiving. That it was possible to write beautifully and cleanly and intelligently. I aspired to all those things, and the awareness of what she accomplished has entered into my own sense of possibility.
Hana caraka There (were) two messengers
data sawala (They) had animosity (among each other)
padha jayanya (They were) equally powerful (in fight)
maga bathanga Here are the corpses.
This visualization shows ocean surface currents around the world during the period from June 2005 through December 2007. The visualization does not include a narration or annotations; the goal was to use ocean flow data to create a simple, visceral experience.
This visualization was produced using NASA/JPL's computational model called Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, Phase II or ECCO2.. ECCO2 is high resolution model of the global ocean and sea-ice. ECCO2 attempts to model the oceans and sea ice to increasingly accurate resolutions that begin to resolve ocean eddies and other narrow-current systems which transport heat and carbon in the oceans.The ECCO2 model simulates ocean flows at all depths, but only surface flows are used in this visualization. The dark patterns under the ocean represent the undersea bathymetry. Topographic land exaggeration is 20x and bathymetric exaggeration is 40x.
credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
In the early nineteen-seventies, my Uncle Walter, who wasn’t a “real” uncle but had a better intuition about my hobbies and interests than some of my blood relatives did, gave me a thrilling gift: membership in the Titanic Enthusiasts of America. I was only twelve, but already hooked. The magnificence, the pathos, the enthralling chivalry—Benjamin Guggenheim putting on white tie and tails so he could drown “like a gentleman”—and the shaming cowardice, the awful mistakes, the tantalizing “what if”s: for me, there was no better story. I had read whatever books the local public library offered, and had spent some of my allowance on a copy of Walter Lord’s indispensable “A Night to Remember.” To this incipient collection Uncle Walter added the precious gift of a biography of the man who designed the ship. It has always been among the first books I pack when I move. A little later, when I was in my midteens, I toiled for a while on a novel about two fourteen-year-old boys, one a Long Islander like myself, the other a British aristocrat, who meet during the doomed maiden voyage. Needless to say, their budding friendship was sundered by the disaster.
I wasn’t the only one who was obsessed—or writing. It may not be true that “the three most written-about subjects of all time are Jesus, the Civil War, and the Titanic,” as one historian has put it, but it’s not much of an exaggeration. Since the early morning of April 15, 1912, when the great liner went to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, taking with it five grand pianos, eight thousand dinner forks, an automobile, a fifty-line telephone switchboard, twenty-nine boilers, a jewelled copy of “The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam,” and more than fifteen hundred lives, the writing hasn’t stopped. First, there were the headlines, which even today can produce an awful thrill. “ALL SAVED FROM TITANIC AFTER COLLISION,” the New York Evening Sun crowed less than twenty-four hours after the sinking. A day later, brute fact had replaced wishful conjecture: “TITANIC SINKS, 1500 DIE.” Then there were the early survivor narratives—a genre that has by now grown to include a book by the descendants of a Lebanese passenger whose trek to America had begun on a camel caravan. There were the poems. For a while, there was such a glut that the Times was moved to print a warning: “To write about the Titanic a poem worth printing requires that the author should have something more than paper, pencil, and a strong feeling that the disaster was a terrible one.” Since then, there have been histories, academic studies, polemics by enthusiasts, and novels, numbering in the hundreds. There’s even a “Titanic for Dummies.” This centennial month alone will see the publication of nearly three dozen titles.The books are, so to speak, just the tip of the iceberg... (Read more)