Henry David Thoreau, United States environmentalist author bicentenary


Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was an essayist, poet, philosopher, opponent of slavery, naturalist, and historian from the USA.

This video from the USA says about him:

31 May 2009

Henry David Thoreau sought the simple life in 1845 when he moved to the woods outside Boston to live on Walden Pond. We visit the remains of his home. …

In wildness is the preservation of the world,” wrote Henry David Thoreau in 1851 at a time when he was one of the few thinking about environmental conservation. Six years previous he had embarked on a now-famous experiment in simple living. He’d gone to the woods outside Boston to live in a 150-square-foot cabin to avoid living “what was not life”. …

He spent two years, two months and two days in his cabin at Walden Pond and in 1854, he published his reflections on life in the woods in the book Walden. The book is credited with helping to inspire environmental awareness. …

Due to his detailed observations of the natural world during his days at Walden, his work is now being used to help modern scientists study climate change.

When he died in 1862, the industrial revolution was just beginning to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. His recordings of when and where plants flowered in the area are now being studied to show patterns of climate change.

Conservation biologists reported in 2008 – based on Thoreau’s research- that common species are flowering 7 days earlier than they did during his day and 27% of the species he studied have disappeared (another 36% are endangered).

Henry David Thoreau did not only inspire environmentalism in the USA, but also in many other counties. This morning, Dutch Vroege Vogels radio said that without Thoreau, famous Naardermeer nature reserve would now be a landfill.

Thoreau was also a big influence on literature, both in the USA and elsewhere. Walden, the name of Thoreau’s cabin and book, became the name for the Walden utopian socialist community in the Gooi region as well; founded by Dutch poet Frederik van Eeden.

From the site of The Thoreau Society in the USA:

Thoreau Bicentennial Gathering: Celebrating the Life, Works, and Legacy of Henry David Thoreau

The Thoreau Society Annual Gathering & Bicentennial Celebration of
Thoreau’s Life, Works, and Legacy

July 11-16, 2017
Concord, Massachusetts

Be it life or death, we crave only reality.
Henry D. Thoreau

Miffy the rabbit artist Dick Bruna, RIP


This video says about itself:

Farmer John • Miffy Classics

17 February 2017

Farmer John is plantings seeds. The hungry birds are eating all his seeds. He is angry and makes a scarecrow to scare them of. After a while the seeds turn into beautiful blue flowers. He also makes a birdhouse. Now he can enjoy his flowers and the birds eating the seeds he gives them.

From the Daily Mirror in Britain:

Dick Bruna dead: Creator of cartoon rabbit Miffy dies in his sleep after selling 80 million books

Bruna began his career as an illustrator of covers for books including Ian Fleming‘s James Bond series and the Inspector Maigret thrillers of Georges Simenon

By Thomas Escrit

14:07, 17 FEB 2017

Dick Bruna, the children’s author and artist who created the cartoon white rabbit Miffy, has died aged 89.

Bruna, who sold more than 80 million Miffy books, died in his sleep last night in his hometown of Utrecht, his publisher said in a statement.

Bruna created the character to entertain his infant son after seeing a rabbit in the dunes while on a seaside holiday.

He went on to relate the giant-eared, orange-pullovered bunny’s adventures in dozens of books sold worldwide.

Born in 1929 into a family of publishers, Bruna began his career as an illustrator of covers for books including Ian Fleming’s James Bond series and the Inspector Maigret thrillers of Georges Simenon.

Miffy, known as Nijntje in Dutch, was his best known creation, enjoying great popularity in Asia and adorning lunchboxes the world over.

New crab species gets Harry Potter name


This video says about itself:

1 February 2017

A new species of crab has been named after two characters from JK Rowling‘s “Harry Potter” stories, according to a new study in “ZooKeys”.

From Science News:

Coral reef crab named after Harry Potter characters

16 years after its discovery, the crustacean is labeled a new species

By Helen Thompson

7:00am, February 13, 2017

Deep beneath coral rubble in reefs off the coast of Guam, there lives a pale, black-eyed crab whose true taxonomic character has long been unknown.

In 2001, amateur researcher Harry Conley discovered the translucent crab burrowing among reef rocks. Eventually, two specimens — each several millimeters long — came to the lab of biologist Peter Ng at the National University of Singapore. Now, Ng and colleague Jose Mendoza have identified the quirky crustacean as a new species and bestowed on it the moniker Harryplax severus, the researchers report January 23 in ZooKeys.

The genus name honors two Harrys: Conley, who died in 2002 and had a reputation for finding otherworldly ocean critters, and Harry Potter, the titular character in J.K. Rowling’s popular books. Mendoza, a Potter fan, suggested the species designation severus — a reference to the books’ notoriously uptight and misjudged Severus Snape, whose true nature remains elusive until the series’ end.

H. severus belongs to a group of crabs first found in shadowy caves on Christmas Island. With small beady eyes, well-developed antennae, washed-out coloration and long legs, the crabs are suited to the dimly lit nooks and crannies of Guam’s rubble beds — a place where Snape, a prickly potions master who worked in a dungeon, might feel right at home.

Donald Trump, Attila the Stockbroker poems


This satiric video says about itself:

Belgium welcomes Trump in his own words

2 February 2017

After the Netherlands’ video, Belgium wanted to present itself to Donald Trump as well, so here we go.

Watch other European countries’ videos here.

These three poems by English poet Attila the Stockbroker are about United States President Donald Trump:

A TALE OF THREE BUSHES

Thatcher met Bush senior.
Blair met Bush no-hoper.
But May has drawn the short straw.
She just met Bush groper.

A MAN OF HIS WORD

As the last Trump
exploded from the febrile rectum
of the loathsome demagogue
enveloping all before him
in a stinking fog of bigotry and hatred
he turned to the cameras
and spoke.
‘My fellow Americans:
During my election campaign
I made you some promises.
I am following through
on those promises.
Here are three of them.
I promised to build a wall.
To ban Muslims.
To end free healthcare.
I am keeping those promises.
I repeat:
I am following through.
All over America.’

THERESA THE APPEASER

Theresa The Appeaser
Met the lady garden squeezer
Her brain was in the freezer
She treated him like Caesar
He’s a really nasty geezer
So tell Queen Liz, if he sees her,
“Grab his knob with a tweezer
And revoke his sodding visa!”

Donald Trump, a Scottish poem


This video from Scotland says about itself:

A Scot’s Lament fur her American Fellows (Oan their election of a tangerine gabshite walloper)

29 January 2017

Scathing Trump poem – winner of New Zealand poetry competition

Lorna Wallace (Kilmarnock, Scotland) hopes “President Donald Trump” reads her poem in Burns style.

By Lorna Wallace in Scotland (in Scots language):

A Scot’s Lament fur her American Fellows (Oan their election of a tangerine gabshite walloper)

America, aw whit ye dain?!
How could ye choose a clueless wain
Ti lead yir country? Who wid trust
A man sae vile?!
A racist, sexist eedjit
Wi a shite hairstyle?

Yet lo, ye votit (michty me!)
Ti hawn’ this walloper the key
Ti pow’r supreme, ti stert his hateful,
Cruel regime
.
A cling ti hope that this is aw
Jist wan bad dream.

But naw, the nightmare has come true,
A curse upon rid, white an’ blue,
An’ those who cast oot Bernie
Must feel sitch regret
Fur thinkin’ Mrs. Clinton
Was a safer bet
.

So noo we wait ti see unfold
Division an’ intolerance, cold;
A pois’nous bigotry untold
Since Hitler’s rule

As the free world’s hopes an’ dreams
Lie with this fool.

Alas, complainin’ wullnae change
The fact this diddy has free range
Ti ride roughshod ow’r human beings
That fall outside
The cretinous ideals borne of
His ugly pride.

Awch USA, we feel yir woes
An’ pour oor wee herts oot ti those
Who ken this oarange gabshite isnae
Who they chose,
But jist sit tight; Trump’s cluelessness
Will time expose.

Fur sittin’ there beside Obama
Efter the election drama,
Trump looked like reality
Had finally hit:
Aboot the role of president
He knew Jack shit.

Poutin’, glaikit through this farce,
His mooth wis pursed up like an arse,
His Tangoed coupon glowin’ like
A skelped backside.
Despite all his bravado
Trump looked keen ti hide.

Let’s therefur no despair an’ greet,
Or see this outcome as defeat.
Let’s wait an’ watch this bampot
Flap his hawns an’ squirm
When presidential pressures
Crush him like a worm.

Hawd oan ti values you hold dear,
Don’t let this numpty bring yi fear,
His chants of hatred don’t speak fur
The human race.
Love will endure despite this
Oarange-faced disgrace.

So USA, in ma conclusion,
Know we Scots feel your confusion:
We are also chained ti those
Not of oor choosin
’.
Stand firm fur unity will break
Through Trump’s delusion.

This poem won the Robert Burns Poetry Competition in New Zealand.

Lorna Wallace is 24 years old and currently work in her mum’s fabric and wool shop. She studied English with Journalism and Creative Writing at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, and in her third year (at the beginning of 2014) she decided to set up a poetry blog to go along with her coursework.

Lorna has always loved Robert Burns’ work and can’t think of anything more expressive and heartfelt than the Scots dialect. For her, it conveys a warmth and honesty unlike any other.

In January 2014 Lorna wrote her first ever Burns inspired poem, ‘Tae A Selfie’, which went viral on Facebook and Twitter overnight and was published in the small poetry magazine, ‘Poetry Scotland’. Excerpts were also published in The Times. Since then it’s also been published in the poetry anthology, ‘Funny Ha-Ha: Funny Peculiar’ by Bloodaxe Books.

Lorna’s interest in Burns stems from learning about him in primary school and falling in love with the dialect and rhythm of his writing. She also thought it would be fun to imagine the things he’d write about if he were alive today (cue her poems about selfies, social media, student living and politics).

On Tuesday and Wednesday, protests continued across the US against the policies of the twelve-day-old administration of Donald Trump … The demonstration in Washington surrounded the Supreme Court building. In New York, protesters marched on Trump Tower, where 11 were arrested, including Gwen Carr, mother of the late Eric Garner, who was murdered by New York City police in 2014 for selling individual cigarettes on the street: here.

Screen Actors Guild award winners, artists, athletes and others protest US travel ban: here.

Immigration Ban Separates Breastfeeding 11-Month-Old From Mother For Hours At Airport: here.

CIA’s New Deputy Director Is A Veteran Spy Who Oversaw Black Sites Where Detainees Were Tortured. Her selection for the role may mean Trump is ready to move back to harsh treatment of detainees: here.

Free speech threatened in Turkey


This video says about itself:

Turkish author Pamuk ‘worried about free speech in Turkey’

31 March 2016

Orhan Pamuk is Turkey’s most famous author. The Istanbul native was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006. His books, such as “Snow” and “My Name Is Red”, have been translated into more than 60 languages. We caught up with him in Paris, where he is promoting director Grant Gee’s film “Innocence of Memories“, based on his novel “The Museum of Innocence”.

Orhan Pamuk gave us his point of view on the current political climate in Turkey.

By Steve Sweeney and Caroline Stockford in Istanbul, Turkey:

Turkey: Writers defiant as trial is adjourned

Friday 13th January 2017

Three facing terrorism charges pledge to defend free speech

THE trial of three prominent Turkish writers was adjourned in Istanbul on Wednesday as the defendants vowed to defend the “basic human right of freedom of speech.”

Ahmet Nesin, Professor Sebnem Korur Fincanci and Reporters Sans Frontieres journalist Erol Onderoglu appeared at the Caglayan High Criminal Court in Istanbul on Wednesday, charged with “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation” — namely the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The three had acted as guest editors of the pro-Kurdish newspaper Ozgur Gundem as a symbolic act of solidarity with Asli Erdogan and Necmiye Alpay, who were recently released on bail.

A packed courtroom, with international writers’ and solidarity groups from Germany, Italy and Welsh PEN present, heard the judge adjourn the trial until March, when the case will be heard alongside others related to Ozgur Gundem.

Following the adjournment, the defendants addressed people gathered outside the court. Prof Fincanci said: “We are here to defend the basic human right of freedom of speech. There can be no freedom for us while journalists are still in prison.

“Our solidarity struggle is to create a better environment both in Turkey and the world. International solidarity shows that we are all struggling together.

“We thank all of our colleagues from abroad and we have had thousands of messages of support from people saying that we are in their hearts. So feel this support and feel powerful.”

Newspaper Evrensel editor-in-chief Fatih Polat said: “There is not much difference in being inside or outside prison for journalists in Turkey at the moment.”

Earlier, in the same Istanbul court, the trial of Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Can Dundar and journalist Erdem Gul was also adjourned.

They face charges over a story in 2015 in which they alleged to have uncovered the smuggling of arms to Syria by intelligence services.

Mr Dundar did not appear at the court as he is in exile in Germany.

But Mr Gul remained defiant, stating: “The only evidence in our case is journalism. The media is on trial.

“All journalists should be freed immediately from prisons in Turkey. The only organisation we are members of is the journalists’ organisation.”

He finished by quoting the words of poet Can Yucel: “However much we are able to live without lies, so much the better.”

See also here.

Turkish media banned from reporting on terrorism: here.