Thursday, April 28, 2016

2 million Flickr views ... and counting

2013.11.02-IMG_7335a.I joined Flickr back in March 2006, just a touch over 10 years ago (my how time flies!)

Over that time I've uploaded nearly 50,000 pictures to Flickr (stay tuned to see what #50K is!), worked on a number of Flickr related projects in my professional life (and visited Flickr HQ in San Francisco twice!)

The item with the single most views is still "Angry Fish" (from 2007) ... but this picture of the beach at Palm Beach, FLA, zoomed to second place in just a year).

Angry Fish : Dr. Seuss


Sunday, April 24, 2016

2016 BHL Program Director's Report #BHLat10 @BiodivLibrary

.... and here's the BHL Program Director's report from the BHL London meetings.

2016 BHL Program Director's Report. Martin R. Kalfatovic. BHL Open Partners' Meeting, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. London, 13 April 2016.

The Biodiversity Heritage Library. 10+1 and Beyond: Looking Forward, BHL Day 2016, Natural History Museum. London, 12 April 2016.

Catching up on my recent London business.

The Biodiversity Heritage Library. 10+1 and Beyond: Looking Forward. Martin R. Kalfatovic. BHL Day 2016, Natural History Museum. London, 12 April 2016.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Ministry of Truth, er the Ministry of Fear, er, the Senate House at University of London

2016.04.15-DSC06435_EditOn a suitably gritty and rainy day in London today, I strolled past Senate House which houses a number of offices and units of the University of London (including a library!).

It was also the inspiration for George Orwell's Ministry of Truth and Graham Greene's Ministry of Fear ...

The Ministry of Truth— Minitrue, in Newspeak— was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, three hundred meters into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:   


- George Orwell, 1984 (1948)

Previous post on Minitrue.

"It was a Linnaean décor; species clined into each other." from Kraken by China Mieville #QotD

2016.04.14-DSC06367Read the excellent Kraken by China Mieville. Quite fascinating book that crossed a lot of genre boundaries. Since I was heading to London for meetings at the Natural History Museum, it seemed like a perfect fit ... sadly, I didn't get to go and see the giant squid (perhaps it was stolen?) but some some it's smaller cousins.

* * * * * * * 

From Kraken by China Mieville.

The boy peeped. He looked at the bone apatosaurus that Billy had seemed to greet. Or maybe, Billy thought, he was looking at the glyptodon beyond it. All the children had a favourite inhabitant of the Natural History Museum’s first hall, and the glyptodon, that half-globe armadillo giant, had been Billy’s.

The visitors stopped still. They were in a specimen maze. Ranked intricacies. Kilometres of shelves and jars. In each was a motionless floating animal. Even sound sounded bottled suddenly, as if something had put a lid on it all.

The big room was walled with more shelves. There were hundreds more bottles, from those chest-high down to those the size of a glass of water. All of them contained lugubrious animal faces. It was a Linnaean décor; species clined into each other. There were steel bins, pulleys that hung like vines. No one would notice. Everyone would be staring at the great tank in the centre of the room.

This was what they came for, that pinkly enormous thing. For all its immobility; the wounds of its slow-motion decay, the scabbing that clouded its solution; despite its eyes being shrivelled and lost; its sick colour; despite the twist in its skein of limbs, as if it were being wrung out. For all that, it was what they were there for. It would hang, an absurdly massive tentacled sepia event. Architeuthis dux. The giant squid.

He left the Darwin Centre for the main museum. He saw no police there. He walked the route he used to take as a boy, past the staring ichthyosaur, stone ammonites, past where was now the café. There at last, in the middle of everything and everyone, he thought perhaps he heard a sound. The noise of a jar rolling. Very faint.

But they’ve got some questions about you, for obvious, and curiosity can be a bit of a millstone.

Remember two things. The gods don’t owe us anything. That’s not why we worship. We worship because they’re gods. This is their universe, not ours. What they choose they choose and it’s not ours to know why.”

2016.04.14-DSC06365 “I know, I know,” Moore said. “Mad beliefs like that, eh? Must be some metaphor, right? Must mean something else?” Shook his head. “What an awfully arrogant thing. What if faiths are exactly what they are? And mean exactly what they say?”

What was the point of dedicating your life to giving warnings if everyone who might have listened—because the majority were still unbothered and would possibly remain so till the sun went out—merely nodded and agreed?
Dane drove past a small gallery and a dry cleaners, a market collection of junk, tchotchkes in multiplicity, urban twee.

IN FRONT OF THE BRITISH LIBRARY, IN THE GREAT FORECOURT, A little crowd was gathered. Students and other researchers, laptops clutched, in trendy severe spectacles and woolly scarves. They were gaping and laughing.

“Have you heard of mnemophylaxes?” he said. “No.” “Another word for the angels of memory.”

Each museum of London constituted out of its material its own angel, a numen of its recall, mnemophylax. They were not beings, precisely, not from where most Londoners stood, but derived functions that thought themselves beings. In a city where the power of any item derived from its metaphoric potency, all the attention poured into their contents made museums rich pickings for knacking thieves. But the processes that gave them that potential also threw up sentinels. With each attempted robbery came the rumours of what had thwarted it. Battered, surviving invaders told stories.

And in the Natural History Museum, the stored-up pickled lineage of the evolved was watched by something described as of, but not reducible to, glass and liquid.

THERE ARE MANY MILLIONS OF LONDONERS, AND THE VERY GREAT majority know nothing of the other mapland, the city of knacks and heresies. Those people’s millions of everydays are no more everyday than those of the magicians.

Why’d you think we’re low on numbers? Some of us are a bit futuresick.”

“Yeah,” she said. “I think we got that.” She smoked with the offhand elegance that reminded him of the girls he had been unable to get with at school.

It was a skull on the top of a giant jar. A huge glass preserving bottle, of the type that Billy had for years been filling with preservative and animal dead. This one was nearly five feet high, full of flesh slough and clouding alcohol. On its glass lid was a shabby human skull liberated, Billy absolutely knew, from one of the cupboards of remains in the Natural History Museum.

“in a goddamn while, it would really be a pleasure if the goddamn world worked the way it’s supposed to. I am tired of the universe being such a bloody aleatory frenzy all, the bloody, time.”

The custodians of the museums could hardly be comprehended: their agenda was memory’s, which is not human.

There are only so many ways to experience pain. There are an almost limitless number of ways to inflict it, but the pain itself, initially vividly distinct in all its specificities, becomes, inevitably, just pain.

How about—look, I’m just throwing this out there. How about we save the world first, and then you arrest us?”

What would evolution be if humans had not noticed it? Nothing. Not even a detail. In seeing it, Darwin had made it be, and always have been. These Beagle things were bloated.

2016.04.14-DSC06368 DARWIN’S SPECIMENS WERE SAFE. BILLY TOUCHED THEM, ONE BY one, stretching out his tethered hands behind him. He ran his fingers along the steel surface where no Architeuthis had ever been. The tiny mnemophylax watched from under its bell jar. Its bone head tracked his movements.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Come take a walk in sunny South Kensington / Any day of the week - Donovan #QotD

Come loon soon down Cromewell Road in sunny South Kensington #london #donovanCome take a walk in sunny South Kensington
Any day of the week
See the girl with the silk Chinese blouse on
You know she ain't no freak

Come loon soon down Cromwell Road, man
You got to spread your wings
A flip out, skip out, trip-out, and a make your stand, folks
To dig me as I sing

* * * * *

Come loon soon down Cromwell Road, man
You got, you got to spread your wings, yeah
See the girl with the silk Chinese blouse on, yeah
You know she ain't no freak
Hmm, hmm

- Donovan - Sunny South Kensington

"Meet me under the whale in the Natural History Museum" - Donovan #QotD

The Natural History Museum in London is doing some renovations and the whale will be moving back to the main hall in the near future.

Just like in the 60's when Donovan sang it:

"Meet me under the whale in the Natural History Museum,"
I think that's what she said, a little bit sad about having to leave them.
Yawning in the sun, like a child I run.
But don't do it if you don't want to, I wouldn't do a thing like that.
No, don't it if you don't want to, I wouldn't do a thing like that.
How little do you speak of beauty, isn't it a shame, what ho
Maybe you should go get a power ring, you'd make all your troubles go.

 - Donovan, "Museum"

Good morning to London, over looking Queen's Gate Gardens

Saturday, April 09, 2016