Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sublime Summits of Nature Escapes: Come Curious Leave Changed

Autumn is here and Wiley rock pool is still warm. The colours on Trees at The Bluest Mountains are blooming in 50 shades of reds and yellows. Birds are singing. We're not engaged in any nuclear wars at the moment. 


Governor Lachlan Macquarie wrote of 'this grand prospect' when he stood at Sublime Spot or Point  in 1822 'On our arrival at the summit of the mountain, we were gratified with a very grand magnificent bird's eye view of the ocean, the 5 Islands, and of the greater part of the low country of Illawarra...The whole face of the mountain is clothed with the largest and finest forest trees I have ever seen in the colony'.

MEdia Dragons are moving to a historical house

Point Piper estate Elaine sold for more than $70 million, sets national price record



Magnolia And “Footprints”

This spring, the magnolia tree at the edge of the yard is in full bloom. I was determined to show you an image of just one of its magnificent blossoms. Then the ... read more



Yale 360 Environment: “A survey of 12,000 adults and children in the United States has shown that many people have lost a close connection with nature, although a wide cross-section of respondents expressed a desire to close that gap. The study, conducted by the public relations and marketing firm DJ Case and Associates in conjunction with state and federal wildlife and park agencies, underlines what many people have intuitively known for years: that the increasing use of computers, smart phones, televisions, and other technology, coupled with a growing movement from rural areas, is pulling many Americans away from the natural world. “It is increasingly normal to spend little time outside

People whose ‘brain age’ is older than their real age more likely to die early Guardian

Turmeric is a yellow coloured spice widely used in Indian and South East Asian cuisine. It’s prepared from the root of a plant called Curcuma longa and is also used as a natural pigment in the food industry. In the literature, curcumin is reported to be an antioxidant that protects the body against damage from reactive molecules. These are generated in the body as a result of metabolism and cause cell damage (known as free radicals). Sikh Tumric Magic at killing bacteria

Local Edition: Journalists need to unlearn ‘we are the authority.’ ‘We are not.’

 “The imagination,” wrote the trailblazing philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft in a 1794 letter“is the true fire, stolen from heaven, to animate this cold creature of clay, producing all those fine sympathies that lead to rapture, rendering men social by expanding their hearts, instead of leaving them leisure to calculate how many comforts society affords.” 

The Lysicrates Foundation aims to link Greece and Australia by honouring an ancient Athenian tradition in today's Sydney. Musical and drama contests at the annual Dionysia festival would bring the city to a standstill for a week.

 John and Patricia Azarias have the same aim as the Athenians did in their theatre contests: innovative, bleeding-edge ...


John and Patricia Patricia Azarias Azarias have the same aim as the Athenians did in their theatre contests: innovative, bleeding-edge drama written by locals for local audiences. Daniel Munoz
John Azarias looks up at the Lysicrates Monument in Sydney's Royal Botanic Garden. Above us, in newly carved sandstone, the Greek  god of wine and theatre Dionysus is once again turning his pirate attackers into dolphins.


The mass trespass that opened the gates of the countryside New Statesman. This month marks the 85th anniversary of the Kinder Scott Mass Trespass. Celebrate by taking a walk, preferably in the countryside.
Lazy fit animals: How some beasts get the gain without the painNew Scientist

SHORT ANSWER: BECAUSE HIS MOM POISONED HIS MIND AGAINST HIS DAD. Why didn’t I contact my father before it was too late?



It’s a great and self-serving mess, this claim to be “spiritual but not religious,” which we hear from almost anyone who talks about religion in public, outside those the worldlings define as fundamentalist (me, probably you, Joseph Bottum, David Goldman, Benedict XVI, Hassidic Jews, devout Muslims, religious families with more than four children)

Being “spiritual” does not do us any good. As I recently wrote elsewhere, it works fairly well when you are healthy and have enough money to enjoy life, and just want from your spirituality the feeling that all is well with the universe, particularly your corner of it. But it doesn’t help you much when things go from good to bad.
The man wasting away from pancreatic cancer will get no help nor comfort from the “spiritual,” which will seem a lot less friendly and comforting when he feels pain morphine won’t suppress. He has no one to beg for help, no one to ask for comfort, no one to be with him, no one to meet when he crosses from this world to the next. He wants what religion promises.






Plastic bags a snack for polythene eating wonder-worm



Via Bicycling: “Massive study finds cyclists and other active commuters experience dramatically lower risk of dying—from any cause—than those who drive or take public transit. Just in time for National Bike to Work Week (May 15 to 19 this year), a team of researchers from Glasgow University in Scotland found that people who bike to work slash their risk of dying from any cause by a whopping 41 percent, relative to those who drive or take public transit. The five-year study of more than 260,000 commuters in the UK found that among the commuters—half men, half women, with an average age of 53—those who rode their bike to work also lowered their risk of heart disease by 46 percent and their risk of cancer by 45 percent…"


We suffer from “nature-deficit disorder” and the accompanying pretenses of citified life. Take a cue from Hobbes, Rousseau, Einstein, Dickens, and Hazlitt: Take a hike..mmmMedia Dragons »

Are we about to see the end of the idea of an "actress"?

Instead of actually hiking, did you know you can sit back, relax, and watch videos of other people hiking?





Snobs: we hate them, but can we live without them? Insolence, ostentation, and the cultivation of arbitrary superiorityhelp make us all who we are... Imrich taxing parliamentary name dropping at work 


Kaiser Health News: “A new study looks at the effects of electrical stimulation on the brain, and how those pulses can improve and impair memory.”

  • The New York Times: ‘Pacemaker’ For The Brain Can Help Memory, Study Finds  – Well-timed pulses from electrodes implanted in the brain can enhance memory in some people, scientists reported on Thursday, in the most rigorous demonstration to date of how a pacemaker-like approach might help reduce symptoms of dementia, head injuries and other conditions.
  • NPR: Clues To Failing Memory Found In Brain Stimulation Study  – “When memory was predicted to be poor,” he explains, “brain stimulation enhanced memory, and when it was predicted to be good, brain stimulation impaired memory. “In other words, on a bad memory day, stimulation helped. On a good day, it hurt. When stimulation was delivered to the right place at the right time, the researchers found, it could improve memory performance among the patients by as much as 50 percent.”

NINA TEICHOLZ: Ditch The Egg White Omelet: “We were told for decades to avoid yolks and limit our dietary cholesterol to help protect against heart disease. Yet in 2015, the U.S. dietary guidelines dropped the daily cap on cholesterol. It turns out that studies since the 1950s had found that dietary cholesterol had little meaningful effect on blood cholesterol. What a shame for all of those delicious omelets we never got to eat. And, more seriously, for all the vitamins we missed — egg yolks are far more nutrient-dense than the whites, with super-rich amounts of biotin , choline and lutein.”





Joe McKendry

How to Kill a Lake




YThe northern lights over Tromsø, Northern Norway
Poprad, Slovakia
Take one small city with a heart of medieval mitteleuropean quaintness at the foot of magnificent, snowy mountains. Then add an open-air spa where everyone has year-round fun, be it quietly relaxing in hot pools or screaming down water slides. The happy result is Poprad in Slovakia. Its historic centre, Spišská Sobota, is not huge, but its baroque architecture places it firmly in an old and very central part of Europe. Vino and Tapas on leafy Sobostské Square does great-value fine dining; for accommodation, Pension Sabato (doubles from €60 B&B) has a lovely garden at the back.
Be sure to venture beyond the old town to discover the highlights of other districts, notably chocolatier Bon Bon on Dominika Tatarku, over the river near the station, and the Podtatranské historical museum on Partizánska Street further west. Best of all is the quick, cheap public transport to the High Tatra mountains, with cable car connections for skiing or just enjoying spectacular panoramas. Starý Smokovec is the main village. Back in town, the spa, Aquacity, is hugely popular with locals (family day ticket €52). Those whose idea of enjoying cold weather is a long lounge in an open-air hot pool before breakfast can even stay here (doubles from €119, including spa access). Zima: Top Secrets

Brother in Brat islava


I'm pretty sure James Gates Percival, author of this week's Forgotten Poem, is the only geologist-poet I've come across so far. He studied and practiced medicine, briefly taught chemistry, and was a state geologist both for Connecticut and for Wisconsin, where he died. He also assisted Noah Webster, of Webster's Dictionary fame. And he wrote poems. It's the kind of oddball career path you really don't see anymore, but he also seems to have been a kind of splendid oddball all around.


I Saw on the Top of a Mountain High (1822)
by James Gates Percival

I saw, on the top of a mountain high,
   A gem that shone like fire by night;
It seem'd a star, which had left the sky,
   And dropp'd to sleep on the lonely height;
I climb'd the peak, and I found it soon
A lump of ice, in the clear, cold moon.
Can you its hidden sense impart?
'Twas a cheerful look, and a broken heart.


I keep wanting to read Percival's scientific interests into this poem. Its central image -- the bright distant gleam that turns out to be "a lump of ice" when seen up close -- seems like something he could have plausibly seen while surveying geological formations, except he hadn't started doing that when he wrote this poem. At the same time, it's a weird image: how big of a patch of ice would it have to be in order to be visible in the moonlight from that distance? Are we talking about a glacier? Are we in the Alps, in reliably Romantic territory, or are we somewhere more like Percival's native Connecticut, where the highest summit is a lot more modest?

This poem's rhythm is a little on the jaunty side, with anapests breaking up the iambic regularity of nearly every line. (I'm not going to go off into an explanation of how meter works in English poetry, because we'd be here all week, but you can read more about ithere, if you're curious. But an iamb is a metrical unit of one unstressed and one stressed syllable, as in this line of five iambs: "The CURfew TOLLS the KNELL of PARting DAY." And an anapest is two unstressed syllables and one stressed: "I am MONarch of ALL I surVEY.") Instead of a more metrically regular line like


The world is suddenly obsessed with roses. But why? Jeff Ihaza investigates beauty.