All things weird and wonderful, 37

30 01 2014

Dancing bear! Real live honest-to-pete dancing bear!

Not in a circus—in the wild!

Photo by Nikolai Zinoviev

I don’t know if the story told by the photographer is true (and there are more pics at the link, above, so go see!), but he surmises that the Mr. Dancer was excited to see his long-lost sister.

Let’s see if my brother dances the next time he sees me. It’s been a few years, y’know.

h/t Cute Overload





All things weird and wonderful, 36

8 01 2014

Why do we sing?

Why do we dance? Why paint and hop around and declaim in pentameter and chop stones into bodies and trees into ravens and how can people become so naked in themselves so as to become someone else, in front of god and everyone?

There were times watching some of the would-be soloists in the Gotham Rock Choir that I was embarrassed at how they let themselves just sing—just sing!—and let the song cover every missed note and skipped tempo and just, just sing.

And then I would be abashed, for so missing so much.

I don’t understand why we do this: let ourselves go in front of one another. I don’t understand why we sing and dance and conjure beauty and sorrow out of the rough leavings of this small world, I don’t understand this at all—except to know that I am moved by these conjurers, and their conjurings.

When I say there must be something more I don’t mean magic or angels but these conjurings, the way we take what we’ve got and make something other, something more, than what was there before.





All things weird and wonderful, 35

7 10 2013

A cave big enough to have its own weather system:

Robbie Shone/Caters News Agency

‘Tis a glorious planet upon which we live—and weather system or no, I plan to stay “upon” and not “in” said planet.





All things weird and wonderful, 34

26 09 2013

Tamarin monkeys whisper to avoid being overhead by shifty humans.

Photo : Flickr/Tambako

Cheeky monkeys!

~~~

h/t Megan Seling, The Stranger





All things weird and wonderful, 33

14 08 2013

I’ve mentioned the wonderful weirdness at Yellowstone before; this is more wonder-ful than weird:

A volcanic planet, our tiny home in the galaxy. The Milky Way and bright star Antares at the heart of Scorpion appear above hot springs in the Yellowstone National Park, United States. Caption and photo: Babak Tafreshi, Dreamview.net

This image (which you can see in full glory here) is a part of The World At Night series, “an international effort to present stunning nightscape photos and time-lapse videos of the world’s landmarks against celestial attractions.”

Beautiful, beautiful photos; beautiful, beautiful world.

~~~

h/t Phil Plait, Bad Astronomy





All things weird and wonderful, 32

14 05 2013

Not weird, definitely wonderful:

Photograph by Gunjan Sinha, National Geographic Photo of the Day

You should really pop over to the Nat Geo site to see this in full form. Gorgeous.

I’ve mentioned my tornado dreams in the past; this isn’t a tornado, but this is the kind of cloud that if you see it you know something’s brewing.

I miss that, being able to see the weather brewing.

 





All things weird and wonderful, 30 & 31

31 01 2013

Two-fer weirdness!

Fred Clark at Slacktivist/Patheos tipped me off to both of these—okay, he didn’t email me personally and say, Hey, Absurdbeats, these might be candidates for your weird wonder series, but as I’m a reader and he presumably writes for his readers, why not say he wrote about these for me?—where was I? Oh, yes, while trying to decide which to use, it occurred to me that this is my blog, and I can both of these suckers if  I damned well please.

Which I do.

So the first:

It Takes Planning, Caution to Avoid Being ‘It’

Group of Men Have Played Game of Tag for 23 Years; Hiding in Bushes, Cars

Russell Adams, Wall Street Journal

[...]

One year early on when Mike Konesky was “It,” he got confirmation, after midnight, that people were home at the house where two other players lived. He pulled up to their place at around 2 a.m., sneaked into the garage and groped around in the dark for the house door. “It was open,” he says. “I’m like, ‘Oh, man, I could get arrested.’ “

Mr. Konesky tiptoed toward Mr. Dennehy’s bedroom, burst through the door and flipped on the light. A bleary-eyed Mr. Dennehy looked up as his now-wife yelled “Run, Brian!” Mr. Konesky recalls. “There was nowhere for Brian to run.”

[...]

That’s right, ten men have been playing tag for 23 years.

That’s some fuckin’ dedication, man, and if it isn’t quite as weird as some stuff (or the next item), it’s still a damned fine enough to count as wondrous.

Now this, this is weird:

Source: scuba.com

The comment on this delightful specimen:

Come on, evolution, you cannot be serious with this sh—

Oh, wait. OH. Ha! I get it. Clearly the red-lipped batfish is a work of satire, not meant to be taken as a literal “animal,” which would of course be ridiculous. Sorry, I can be a bit slow sometimes. Nice one.

The site is WTF, Evolution?, and it’s only two weeks old, so go ahead, catch up, then follow it FROM THIS DAY FORWARD.

I was talking with one of my students today about how amazing biology is—I did manage to restrain myself and not use the phrase ‘weird wonder’—especially in comparison to non-quantum physics.

Nothing against non-quantum physics—gravity and the conservation of matter and the principle of inertia are all deeply practical things—but it’s not. . . ohmyfuckinggod mindblowing the way quantum physics and almost all of biology is.

Newtonian physics, I mused to the student, is efficient and predictable, but biology, emmm, not so much. Biology is all about survival, so anything that will get you there, well by gum, let’s do it! And if conditions change such that more adaptations help with survival and reproductive fitness, go ahead, just tack those adaptations on!

If physics is sleek and efficient, then biology is a Rube Goldberg contraption.

“I’m not sure we’re done with this fiddler crab yet.” “Don’t be such a perfectionist, evolution, it’s good enough.” “But the claws are totally different sizes, don’t you think people will notice?” “Dude, it’s fine, let’s go make some birds with funny butt feathers.”  (Thanks to @davelevitan for the suggestion.)

It’s true, I don’t always love life, but damn! I do loves me some Life!





All things weird and wonderful, 29

15 01 2013

The poetry of material things

What a lovely name for a Tumblr.

I am a materialist—tough to be Marxisch and not a materialist—but, honestly, I hadn’t really considered the poetry in the material, itself.

It was there, of course, in every Art Deco building or carved lintel, every curving bridge, strutting muscle car, and heavy-ceramic diner coffee cup. I noticed the beauty, but not the material, the sea, not the water.

I love this image. Ordinary and sublime and balanced without fussy symmetry. Just so.

How can this be real? It must be a poem. . . .

(h/t The Near-Sighted Monkey)





All things weird and wonderful, 28

11 01 2013

Galaxy’s centre tastes of raspberries and smells of rum, say astronomers

How is this not among the best news in, um, the galaxy?

Astronomers searching for the building blocks of life in a giant dust cloud at the heart of the Milky Way have concluded that it would taste vaguely of raspberries.

Ian Sample of the Guardian reports that after years of pointing their telescope into the nether regions of the ‘verse,

astronomers sifted through thousands of signals from Sagittarius B2, a vast dust cloud at the centre of our galaxy. While they failed to find evidence for amino acids, they did find a substance called ethyl formate, the chemical responsible for the flavour of raspberries.

“It does happen to give raspberries their flavour, but there are many other molecules that are needed to make space raspberries,” Arnaud Belloche, an astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, told the Guardian.

Curiously, ethyl formate has another distinguishing characteristic: it also smells of rum.

I’m a gin and whisky woman, myself, but still. . . .

(Whoops, forgot to note: h/t Charlie Pierce)





All things weird and wonderful, 27

12 12 2012

This cat

028

is afraid of this.

014

I do not understand.

He clearly likes the soft:

005

But only the human bed. Not the cat bed.

Strange boy.








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