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Thundercats, HO!


This is de Löwenmensch, the Lion Man. He’s about a foot tall, carved out of a single mammoth tusk (which explains his pose, to some extent). The head is a cave lion, a creature from before the last Ice Age. Actually, Löwenmensch translates more to “lion person” — there’s some dispute whether the figure is male or female.

He was found in a cave in Germany in 1939 and, owing to some little distractions in the country at the time, forgotten for thirty years. More bits (including the head) were found in the same cave in the Nineties and a thorough restoration was undertaken in 2012/13.

Dude is forty thousand years old, the oldest undisputed representational sculpture found to date. If he looks stylistically familiar, he was made (probably) by the same people who did some of the better cave paintings found in France. The known territory of his makers — the Aurignacian culture — extends right through Europe into Asia.

More pics. He’s in a museum in Ulm and his official page is here (Google translate does a surprisingly good job with these pages).

Yeah, that’s right. I’m doing neolithic pinups now.

March 31, 2016 — 9:12 pm
Comments: 16

I want to decide who lives and who dies


I have no idea where I saw this, but today is National I Am In Control Day. It’s said to date from the day Reagan was shot, before Bush was sworn in, and Sec’y of State Al Haig declared, “As of now, I am in control here in the White House.”

Then they go on to ruin it by suggesting we celebrate by making lists and using a daily planner.

Pff! Please.

I want the ability to administer small, painful, non-lethal electric shocks with my mind. So when my boss says, “I suppose next time you’ll remember to order a backup printer cartridge,” the next thing she says is, “oh, OW! Wow, what the…?”

I want to be able to reverse the energy coming out of a car stereo, so the signal bounces back and blows it up. In proportion to the strength of the sound, so that guy with the thumping bass lit’rally sees his stereo explode in a shower of metal and sparks all over the inside of his hoopty.

I want prescription drugs legalized, so I can do my own research, decide what (for example) blood pressure meds I should try and prescribe them for myself. And if I screw it up…well, I’m a grownup. I’ll take responsibility. (Okay, this one’s boring, but I really want it).

I want a lot of other things I can’t say out loud. Anything mentionable on your wish list?

March 30, 2016 — 8:47 pm
Comments: 18

I try…


That’s an old diagram of a carved stone called Haystack Rock (Google images at the link) on Ilkley Moor in West Yorkshire. The marks are called cup and cup-and-ring respectively and appear in early neolithic contexts all over the UK and Europe, but also as far as Israel and India.

Could be coincidence. Pockmarks and rings (and, in some cases, straightish lines) are about as basic a shape as you can carve into a stone. Could be the result of some kind of pan-neolithic belief, religious or otherwise. Could be something purely mechanical: it has been suggested the marks might have something to do with shaping or polishing stone axes.

I don’t usually like fanciful explanations — particularly the tendency to assume every difficult thing our ancestors did had a religious significance — but the location of this stone in particular, in the midst of a neolithic burial ground, makes me wonder if the marks are some kind of memorial. I can so imagine myself working through a bereavement by slowly grinding a little permanent mark into a sacred stone.

Oh, well. Too fanciful. Never mind.

I retreat into history to avoid rage-inducing current events. I found a nice article on Haystack Rock on a good antiquarian blog (much recommendo), at the end of which:

On a very worrying note, we need to draw attention to what amounts to the local Ilkley Parish Council officially sanctioning vandalism on the Haystack Rock, other prehistoric carvings and uncarved rocks across Ilkley Moor. As we can see on a couple of photos here, recent vandalism has been enacted on this supposedly protected monument. […] The recent vandalism on this stone and others has now been officially recognised as an acceptable form of — get this! — “twentieth / twenty-first century informal unauthorised carving” and has been deemed acceptable by Ilkley Parish Council as a means to validate more unwanted carving on the moorland “in the name of art”!

Holy shit, they’re letting special snowflakes vandalize neolithic monuments in the name of muh art!

March 29, 2016 — 8:43 pm
Comments: 14

prehistoric fun


I’m still officially on holiday (back to work tomorrow and an hour short on sleep, hurrah) but here’s something fun for you to play with: it’s a map of prehistoric sites in Britain.

We’re in the Southeasternmost whole square, a territory we share with London (stupid London always bigfoots all over our local news headlines) and, from the top map, it looks like there’s nothing here. But those black dots are just megaliths. If you click our map square, we have plenty of forts, sacred wells, barrows and tombs.

It is all, needless to say, impossibly cool. And makes all the housing construction in this area — mostly to accommodate immigration — doubly tragic.

Oh, dammit, I went there and sucked the fun out of it.

March 28, 2016 — 8:48 pm
Comments: 13

Grocery shopping


So, the girls met Satan this morning. Also, grass. They liked grass better.

There were a few hours of sunlight before cloud descended (Atlantic gales for the rest of the weekend, boo) so we had another episode of Learning to be Chickens. A good time was had by all –including Jack, who crawled all over the cage, making them peep and flitter.


Also, the very first egg of the season — on Good Friday! How cool is that?

My girls don’t lay between October and March. It has to do with hours of daylight. I could make them lay all Winter if I provided a couple of hours of artificial light, but I think laying eggs is pretty hard on a chicken. Since mine are more pets than practical, I give them five months off a year.

Britain is not constrained by that whole ‘separation of church and state’ thing, so Easter is one of the major holidays. I gots a 4-day weekend, starting today. Also, our clocks change this weekend, a thing I find unaccountably painful. I think I’d rather lay an egg.

And so ends the Week of New Chickens. Maybe I’ll post about something else next week. Maybe I won’t. I’m really hating politics at the mo.

Good Easter weekend!

March 25, 2016 — 9:59 pm
Comments: 17

We learned a chicken thing today!


So, I put a stick through their box today and this happened. Immediately. Completely expectedly.

Chickens were originally creatures of the forest floor, which you can see in many of their behaviors — like clinging onto branches. Like all roosting birds, chooks have a flexor tendon that automatically locks their feet closed when their knees are bent. Hence, they can fall asleep clinging to a stick and never fear falling off.

When they’re little, they’re especially well able to fly. I spent an uncomfortable afternoon one day when tiny baby Coco and Maggie flew up into a tree and disappeared into a tangle of blackberry bramble. Blood was shed.

The new girls haven’t figured out perch is for sleep yet. Which is a pity — the whole point of the exercise is that no chicken should have to sleep in her own poop.

March 24, 2016 — 9:31 pm
Comments: 8

Oh, HELLS, no say the fat old hens


We had an afternoon of glorious sun yesterday (the first for a while and the last for a while), so I took the little girls out in a bird cage for their first sight of the sun. They were born in a dark incubator and reared in a windowless shed, so this was something pretty spectacular in their chickeny lives.


The big girls took one look at the cage and vanished into the henhouse. It was probably the cage, not the chicks, that spooked them. I don’t think they’ll recognize what the chicks are until they’re all pecking around in the grass together. And then it’ll be like the Sharks and the Jets.

Nah-nah-nah nah nah.

An interesting note on chicken society. Violence, the white-ish hen at the far left, is the smallest in the flock. Her sister (from the same hatching, but not the same parents) Vita, the hen at the far right, is a big, beautiful bird, half again bigger than Violence.

But Vita is and always has been the bottom of the pecking order, and how. Violence, after the death of Lucia, became head chicken. And so Violence has grown a little, Vita has shrunk a little — and look at the difference in their combs! Vita has a little baby comb, but Violence has a big, fat red flag on her head proclaiming her Queen Shit of the Chickens.

The size and color of a chicken’s comb tells you a lot about their health and place in society and can change very fast when conditions change.

When the babies are mixed in, Violence and Mapp will probably give ’em a few judicious pecks and then settle in as a flock.

Not Vita. This is her chance not to be the bottom hen any more. She will be ruthless and cruel to the little ones until her new place is firmly established.

To be honest, I don’t mind. It’s been awful watching the others pick on her all these years. No hen likes to be bottom hen, but most self-respecting chooks will squawk and get out of the way of a good pecking. Not Vita; she’ll lie still with her beak in the grass and let them punch her until they tire themselves out. Horrible.

She’ll have to be watched, though.

March 23, 2016 — 8:48 pm
Comments: 7

Your chicken questions, answered


Too many questions to answer in the comment thread below, so I’ll squeeze a post out of ’em.

The original two were Mapp and Lucia after two characters in a novel set in nearby Rye. The next two were Vita and Violet, named after Vita Sackville-West from nearby Sissinghurst (it has a famous garden we love to visit) and her long-time lesbian love Violet Trefusis. But we call Violet Violence on account of her dreadful anger management issues. The next two were Coco and Maggie, for no particular reason.

We were going to continue with famous Edwardian lesbians, but we worried we’d run out of them, so we decided notorious Edwardian women would do. These three are the Dolly Sisters, Rosie and Jenny, and Colette.

Chicken math: Lucia, Coco and Maggie have fallen off the — I almost said proverbial, but I suppose it’s literal — perch. So, flock of six. Which I have decided is just right.

Jack has not met them yet and I fully expect him to be a beast. I don’t think he’d kill them, but I’m pretty sure he’ll chase them. We’re going to control this very carefully; they may have to free range in an enclosed run until they’re all growed up. That will be roughly July or August.

The big chickens met the little chickens for the first time today. They were not impressed. I had the little girls in a bird cage and I think the big girls were afraid of the cage. They vanished into the house and wouldn’t come out. That will change.

It will take all Summer to unite them into a flock and maybe a year before the pecking order is fully established. There will be much pecking.

Several birds can share a nest box. The current house (we’re getting a bigger one) has two, but it’s not at all unusual to find all three birds crammed on top of each other in the same nest box while the other is empty. Chickens, eh?

Yes, I feel terribly conflicted eating chicken. I feel terribly conflicted eating meat in general. I am a terrible slop-bag. I have nearly gone vegetarian several times in my life out of chronic slop-baggery. I swear to gott, I’ll end up a Jain some day.

MEANWHILE! Something tried to dig its way into my chicken run last night and very nearly succeeded! I assumed it was a fox after the chickens, but a neighboring farmer told us digging = badger. He was probably after the chicken food, but I’ve locked the girls up for the night. Badgers, eh?

March 22, 2016 — 9:17 pm
Comments: 13

She knows she’s beautiful



I hadn’t intended to buy chicks just yet, but I located a source nearby that had the right kind of girls, ready to go. So…!

I bought two mille fleur and a lavender (that’s the lavender). Mille fleur doesn’t look like much when they’re little, only after their first moult. They’re kind of a speckledy mess right now.

Those of long memory may recall that my bestest chicken ever was mille fleur (who, sadly, has joined the choir eternal), so this is a bit of a science experiment: seeing how much of Lucia’s personality was mille fleur personality.

There is something to this, you know. Different colors (and certainly different breeds) share personality characteristics. It’s uncontroversial in livestock circles; you get into trouble when you apply it to people. Except gingers.

Let’s hope it’s not too powerful a rule in chooks. I already have a lavender, too, and she’s a nasty-tempered little bitch.

These are younger than I’m used to, about four weeks (chicken lady is confident she’s got the sex right, but it’s tricky this young). It’s also earlier in the year and colder, so these peeping little shit-machines will be living in the house for the next month, at least.

I don’t mind a bit.

March 21, 2016 — 10:38 pm
Comments: 15

Round 84: well, that was quick

Carl takes the dick with Paul Daniels. I must say, I never heard of the man before he died, but the internet says he was all over British TV in the Eighties, so hokay! Funny-looking cove.

Were you caught out by the clocks? Weasel Blog Time is GMT, and GMT doesn’t observe the time change. And anyway, our clocks don’t change until the end of the month. You’ll know when it happens; I’ll be intensely grumpy for weeks.


0. Rule Zero (AKA Steve’s Rule): your pick has to be living when picked. Also, nobody whose execution date is circled on the calendar. Also, please don’t kill anybody. Plus (Pupster’s Rule) no picking someone who’s only famous for being the oldest person alive.

1. Pick a celebrity. Any celebrity — though I reserve the right to nix picks I never heard of (I don’t generally follow the Dead Pool threads carefully, so if you’re unsure of your pick, call it to my attention).

2. We start from scratch every time. No matter who you had last time, or who you may have called between rounds, you have to turn up on this very thread and stake your claim.

3. Poaching and other dirty tricks positively encouraged.

4. Your first choice sticks. Don’t just blurt something out, m’kay? Also, make sure you have a correct spelling of your choice somewhere in your comment. These threads get longish and I use search to figure out if we have a winner.

5. It’s up to you to search the thread and make sure your choice is unique. I’m waayyyy too lazy to catch the dupes. Popular picks go fast.

6. The pool stays open until somebody on the list dies. Feel free to jump in any time. Noobs, strangers, drive-bys and one-comment-wonders — all are welcome.

7. If you want your fabulous prize, you have to entrust me with a mailing address. If you’ve won before, send me your address again. I don’t keep good records.

8. The new DeadPool will begin 6pm WBT (Weasel’s Blog Time) the Friday after the last round is concluded.

The winner, if the winner chooses to entrust me with a mailing address, will receive an Official Certificate of Dick Winning and a small original drawing on paper suffused with elephant shit particles. Because I’m fresh out of fairy shit particles.

March 18, 2016 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 91